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“Real Classic” Readers Recommend……Wheelwise Engineering

In the November 2018 Edition of the Real Classic Magazine, we received testimonials from two members in the RC READERS RECOMMEND section.

“What a pleasure to unreservedly recommend Steve of Wheelwise Engineering (01403 864533). We presented him with a difficult to find and stupidly-expensive-to-replace rim that not only had numerous flats (major and minor), it also turned out to have twists present. The true extent of the many faults really only became painfully apparent when the wheel was in the jig and proved to be a real challenge to eliminate.

The wheel was cleaned, trued and rebuilt and is now fit for another 60-odd years of service. It’s a credit to both the original materials, which six decades from manufacture still permitted the straightening to be achieved, and Steve’s infinite patience and craftsmanship.

When we arrived, there was a chap who had travelled from Wales to drop off rims, which must say something for Steve’s reputation.

Many thanks also to those who recommended him to us. Much appreciated!”

leish Gamah, member

“He rebuilt both sets of wheels for my pre-war TSOs and did a super job, including finding the special taper roller bearings for the front hubs.”

Bill Barnes, member

Thank you,leish and Bill!

BMW R9T Cafe Racer

Pier City Cycles builds and customizes motorcycles and has been a valued customer of Wheelwise Engineering for many years. The BMW R9T is one of their specialities and they have just completed the build of a classic café racer. The result is stunning and is shown below. (You can read more about it on their blog.)

BMW R9T Cafe Racer

Tiger Cub 30 years on!

We built the wheels for this Triumph Tiger Cub thirty years ago.

We have just heard from the owner  – he has competed in anger on the bike every month for all those years and says that it is still as good as new!

Photograph from the 1920s

With much of our work involved in the restoration of old machines, we are always on the lookout for photographs and postcards featuring motorbikes from the past in our local area.

Here is a great photo of a motorcycle/sidecar in the centre of Cowfold village, outside Sprink’s Stores, probably, we think, in the 1920s.

How times have changed! – we now have a roundabout at the junction of the A272 and A281 which is congested with traffic for much of the day, a major air pollution problem and the Stores, which originally opened in 1887, is in desperate need of renovation and a new purpose in life.

If you have any photographs of motor cycles in our local area, please let us know – we would love to see them!

1924 Fracis Barnett “Zarabout”

We were extremely pleased to have been have involved recently in a very rewarding project to restore an old Francis Barnett “Zarabout”.

The story behind this is presented below.

The machine “as found”

The early history of this machine is not known until it appeared at the auction of the collection of the late restorer and collector Bill Fruin in 1984. Bill hadn’t got round to restoring the bike and it was missing many parts. An acquaintance bought the bike at the auction and  stored it in his loft untouched for 30 years until the present owner bought it in 2014.

Initial research revealed that it was an example of one of the first and most basic models of ‘Built like a Bridge’ Francis Barnet’s, which were introduced in October 1923.

This machine has been dated as early 1924. It has a 147cc Villiers two-stroke engine and an Albion two-speed hand change gearbox with no clutch or kick start.

The picture of the bike ‘as found’  shows the extent of the missing parts, most of which had to be made, copying those of an original machine. Some parts were made by modifying pattern parts such as the mudguards and saddle.

The machine with new parts painted in red oxide./

The bike had obviously been subjected to rough treatment in the past, the wheels were buckled and the rims had flats in places and were dented. The obvious choice was to rebuild the wheels using new beaded edge rims but these were not available in the original narrow section, so the wheels were dismantled by the owner and the existing rims straightened using a variety of methods. The wheels were loosely reassembled using a home-made wheel building jig then taken to WheelwiseEngineering for truing up and the fitting of the rear wheel drive belt rim. The rear wheel needed new spokes to ensure a safe result.


The second picture shows the bike in 2017 with its new parts painted in red oxide BondaPrimer, after which the machine was dismantled for final painting and assembly by the owner.

The final picture shows the finished machine.

The finished product!


1972 Kawasaki Z1

Here are photographs of a beautifully restored 1972 Kawasaki Z1, which was rescued from the USA.

The Z1 was the first large capacity production motorcycle to use a double-overhead-camshaft system and its 903cc, four cylinder engine enabled it to achieve a top speed of over 130mph.

New Hudson and Raleigh R5 Supermatic Mopeds

We have just received pictures of two beautifully restored mopeds from one of our most valued clients.

The New Hudson is a 1950 model and is powered by a Villiers 98cc 2F engine with a single speed gearbox.

The Raleigh is really a Mobylette, made under licence in 1965. (Manufacture was stopped the following year.) It has a constantly variable gearing belt drive.