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Author Topic: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500  (Read 1016 times)

JamesJoeyKing

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Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« on: April 15, 2013, 03:17:20 AM »
Hello all,

In 2002, my dad came home from India toting a crate containing what he identified as a 1966 Royal Enfield Bullet 500.  He walked it out of the crate, put oil/fuel in it, and it started on the first kick, so he rode it around the block a couple times, pronounced it "pretty neat", and put it in the shed, where it sat for the next 3 years.  We lived in Okinawa at the time, so you can imagine the toll that the extremely humid weather took on the chrome and pretty much every other metal part.  Since then, we've moved to Virginia, and are just now getting around to thinking how cool it would be to restore it and getting it back on the road (mostly me, because I'm older now, and have a motorcycle license/dreams of riding a classic bike). 

     My dad has a good bit of mechanical experience, and doesn't think that we should break the engine down and replace seals/o-rings, but I wanted to get a second opinion while we have it off the frame, because I would hate to refurbish all the other parts just to have the engine fail.  We have all the seals and O-rings, so if we DO have to break it down, it won't be an absolutely huge deal.  We're also having a hell of a time taking the front fork apart, so any tips on how to do that would be appreciated!

     Mostly I just want to know if there are any specific things to watch out for when completely restoring an old Enfield, and I figured I would ask the experts! Any advice at all is appreciated!

Cheers,

-James

Ice

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #1 on: April 15, 2013, 03:53:27 AM »
Hi JamesJoeyKing and welcome aboard.

 The 500 single was discontinued in English production in 1962 and IIRC didn't REappear in Indian production until 1990.

 Since yours is a '66 my guess is your Bullet is either misidentified or the recipient of an engine swap. Either case is no big deal IMHO as both engines are sweethearts.

 My advice is save restoration for a later date, just clean it up a bit and run it.

 This gives you
(a) time to save up for the re$toration and
(b) time to decide based on riding and ownership experience how much of what needs to be done and how much of what you want to do.



« Last Edit: April 15, 2013, 03:59:52 AM by Ice »
I can break it better,,,,at night, in the rain, on the trail,, 20 miles from nowhere.

REA #136

"TIMEX", the '06 Iron Barrel Military that takes me everywhere I want to go... and some places I shouldn't.

JamesJoeyKing

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2013, 04:06:45 AM »
Thanks! According to what my dad said when he brought the bike home (this is only what I've heard, correct me if I'm wrong), someone bought an old abandoned factory with a bunch of motorcycle parts, and just decided to start manufacturing/selling them.  When we sandblasted the gas tank, we found a spot that had been dented and bondo-ed over!  Definitely not a new tank by any means, so I'm thinking there is at least some truth to this story.  If this is true, would they be selling it as a newer model? Say a 2002 or something? Also, my dad originally thought it was a 535cc, but all I can find on the forum about the 535cc are people that over-bored their engines... did Enfield ever make a stock 535cc bike? 

Sorry for being clueless, and thanks for the welcome!

-James

Ice

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #3 on: April 15, 2013, 05:20:09 AM »
No worries mate you will catch on quick.

 RE did make 535's for the domestic market in the Lightning and I think ( not sure ) it might have been an option in the Machismo.

 Don't sweat the bondo on the tank.
That means yours was no patio princess but was a riding machine with some history to it !  8)

 Here's a link to some Bullet history
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royal_Enfield_Bullet

 The story of the factory could be mostly true. The factory in question could have been a warehouse or works shop or some such.

 It is common practice to swap frames between vintage and newer machines for gray market export.

 If the motor is a 535 it will have a 87 mm bore, a 500 will have an 84mm bore and a 350 will have a 70 mm bore.
These are factory standard nominal bore diameters.
 Service spare pistons and rings are available oversizes for re bore.

 All three engines have a 90mm stroke and share the same basic crank with the only real difference being the flywheels of the 350 weigh less that the 500 otherwise they are the same.

 Your Bullet almost certainly has whitworth threaded nuts and bolts so be extra careful not to loose any.
 If so Nfield Gear, Mail order or the nearest vintage Brit bike or vintage Brit car shop will be your source for replacement fasteners.

 
I can break it better,,,,at night, in the rain, on the trail,, 20 miles from nowhere.

REA #136

"TIMEX", the '06 Iron Barrel Military that takes me everywhere I want to go... and some places I shouldn't.

ace.cafe

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #4 on: April 15, 2013, 11:36:38 AM »
The Bullets that get imported from India by private owners are typically sold with papers that say they are from the 60s or 70s, so that they can get imported as an "antique". This is the common practice.

As previously mentioned, there were no actual 1966 500 Bullets, so this bike is following the usual practice, and is almost certain to be one of those. This means that it is most likely to have an Indian-made engine from the 1990-2002 period, and that should be fine as long as it is/was in properly built condition(which is not always the case). But it may have an actual 1966 350 Bullet frame, since they are the same. Or it may just be a late model Bullet 500 with papers that were changed before exporting.

It could be a 535 Lightning, or it might be a Bullet with a 535 big-bore kit on it. If it's a Lightning, then it will look more like a cruiser style bike instead of the 50s style of the normal Bullet.
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dampking

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #5 on: April 15, 2013, 12:11:05 PM »
If it's a 1966 model 500cc then probably the 350 was converted to a 500? I have seen a lot of bikes going through such kind of conversion. Same happens with the AVL engine bikes.


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Kevin Mahoney

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #6 on: April 15, 2013, 06:30:45 PM »
As has been pointed out here you almost certainly have something with a forged title. I think there is about a 100% chance. You can't find many old Bullets around in India anymore. If people have them they are not selling them. It is a common trick to get around import laws.
RE did make a 535 and for a while pistons etc were available. They also had the higher capacity oil pumps. Of course there are also aftermarket pistons or there are 500's being called 535's. At the end of the day it really doesn't much matter as performance was not much different. I have a 200 Bullet (prototype ES)  that I made into a 535 and then put it back to original.

There is NO WAY to tell how well the engine was done. It could be great or not! My suggestion is to fix any obvious leaks, retorque the head CAREFULLY, put in new fluids in the engine, primary and tranny and be done with it. Others may disagree. When you finish the body you can always remove the engine later for overhaul if needed.

We carry some "scratch and dent" body work for most of the iron barrels, at least those models which were sold in the export markets (Tim at 800-201-7472) as well as first quality. The "scratch and dent" often time are all but perfect. Get a VIN number from the frame and one from the engine and it will help us help you.


JamesJoeyKing

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #7 on: April 16, 2013, 02:16:57 AM »
I spoke with my dad a little more in-depth, and he said that he got the bike from a re-seller, not an official Enfield dealer or anything.  He also confirmed that it is a 535cc, and it had been bored out by someone, so it is not a stock bike.  He has the VIN numbers on the Indian version of the title he has, and will get them to me "Whenever he has time" (which means I need to keep bugging him until he finally gets them to me).  He also said that the engine was very smooth when he started it up and rode it the first time, so as far as I'm concerned, we don't really need to mess with it at the moment, though I would like to correctly identify the engine/frame/model of the bike for future reference, so that if we ever need parts for it, we know exactly what to order.

Thanks for all the input!  You all are a really good help so far.

-James

bullethead63

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2013, 01:38:49 AM »
Welcome to the finest forum on the web...this will be the best source of Royal Enfield advice that you EVER get...I'll echo what Kevin and Mike said...clean it up,top it off with proper fluids,and RIDE IT...if anyone asks,as far as you know,it's titled as a 1966 Bullet...ALWAYS USE ETHANOL FREE PETROL...ethanol eats cheap Indian rubber for lunch,dinner,and breakfast...a little rust just adds to the mystique,and you can replace things one at a time if you need to...PLEASE POST SOME PIX...ride safe,brother,and watch out for idiots on cell phones!
1959 Royal Enfield/Indian Chief 700~(RED)~1999 Bullet Deluxe 500 KS~(BLUE)~2000  Bullet Classic 500 KS~(WHITE)~2002 Bullet Classic 500 ES~(GREEN)~Ride-Wrench-Repeat~your results may vary~void where prohibited by law~batteries not included~some restrictions may apply~subject to change without notice~

Arizoni

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2013, 04:26:30 AM »
I hate to have to say it but finding ethanol free fuel in the US is getting to be just about impossible.
There are some companies that are selling pure gasoline for lawn mowers and string trimmers but that stuff is going for $20-$32 a gallon (sold in quart sized containers at $5.00 - $8.00 each).

About the only thing that can be done is to try to find a place that will sell pure racing gasoline or aviation gas to the public and that is also just about impossible.

It would help to replace any rubber fuel hose with some of the high pressure fuel injector rubber hose available at auto supply stores.  It's expensive but it is also pretty resistant to this alcohol polluted gasoline we're stuck with.

Adding some Sta-Bil or Seafoam is supposed to slow down the decomposition and separation of the alcohol/gasoline and that can make it less likely to cause problems.

If a new fuel hose is going to be installed it would be a good idea to buy a in-line fuel filter too to keep the floating bits of rust out of the carb. jets.
Jim
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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2013, 04:53:00 AM »
Quote
About the only thing that can be done is to try to find a place that will sell pure racing gasoline or aviation gas to the public and that is also just about impossible.

Not in bigger cities, you just have to look for it.  The cycle store in Denver here sells 5 gallon cans of race fuel for $60-$100 depending on what you get.  It's also readily available at your local drag strip and most circle tracks.  What I've done in the past is mix 1 gallon of race fuel to 4-5 gallons of pump gas.  It makes a big difference in improving the quality of the gas and puts your octane level around the 90 mark (again, depending on what you go with).

Seafoam is a great product as well.  I personally like the Lucas Fuel Treatment and BG 44K.  The BG 44K is out of this world if you can get your hands on it.  HIGHLY HIGHLY recommended.  It is the ONLY fuel product I know of that actually eliminates most fuel related problems in 1 treatment.

And as for your Bullet, Great Score!  I acquired my '58 Trailblazer in a similar fashion.  (Finishing my restoration right now)  My personal opinion on restoring your bike is most importantly get it running again and put some miles on it.  Only replace what you need to make it safe and legal.  Once you've ridden it for a while, 1 day you realize just how you want to paint it and what not.  Tear it apart next winter when you can't ride and restore it then.  Just my 2 cents.    :)

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ace.cafe

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2013, 10:56:30 AM »
It's fairly easy to replace the few rubber parts that contact the fuel.
Most modern fuel line at the auto parts stores will resist ethanol pretty well.
The rubber connector between the Mikarb and the manifold stub can be replaced with a short piece of heavy-duty radiator hose and 2 clamps, and it will last a long time.
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Lwt Big Cheese

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2013, 03:26:01 PM »
Ride it. Just fix/improve when necessary.

Post some pics, they may help to identify exactly what you have as there were minor alterations over the years.
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JamesJoeyKing

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2013, 01:15:47 AM »
The only pictures I have are of the parts... because it's completely disassembled!  It will probably be about 100 hours of restoration work, which will take us awhile, because we run a local swimming pool maintenance franchise and summer is the busiest season for obvious reasons.  I'll try to post pics as we get things together though! I'm excited for this one.


The Garbone

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Re: Complete (sort of) Restoration of a 19?? Bullet 500
« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2013, 02:45:19 PM »
Your local marina will sell 89 octane with no ethanol.  Bought 14 gallons last week for... $76....  $4+ a gallon,   uggggggg...
Gary
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