Author Topic: My Trip Through The Mountains Was Mostly a Success  (Read 436 times)

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Mid Mod

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I had wanted to ride a motorcycle over the Beartooth pass for many years now. After a lot of planning and buying a Royal Enfield it all fell into place. If you’re not familiar with this stretch of highway, it connects Red Lodge Montana to Cooke City Wyoming. It climbs in elevation to 10,900 feet at its summit. A Bullet 500 might not be a logical choice for such a trip but I’ve never been too logical to begin with.
We trailered our bikes to Billings MT and began our ascent. The bike ran great. As we went through Red Lodge, I felt that the bike was running a bit rich. Five minutes on the side of the road raising the clip on the needle and away we went. I have marks on the grip to show how far I’m opening the throttle. I was never going more than a third so I knew I wasn’t in main jet territory. The bike ran great and over the pass we went. It’s a beautiful ride going from switchbacks in the woods to narrow roads above the tree line with occasional snow banks. The descent was even better on the Wyoming side. The scenery included a couple streams, lakes and lots of mountain views. We stayed in Cody Wyoming that night.
The next day we took the same route back. We crossed the mountains and everything was perfect. I moved the needle back to its normal position once we got to lower elevations. The last part of the trip is an hour of downhill highway on a straight road. This is where things went awry. I have a little digital tach on the handlebar that I was watching like a hawk. I knew that lugging could lead to a soft seize and over revving was not a Bullets forte’. I kept it between 3 and 4 thousand almost exclusively. On this long downhill I was letting the revs creep up. First 4200 for a couple miles, then 4500 for a bit. Here’s where I made my mistake. I downshifted at a slow spot in the road and maybe revved the engine a bit too high. Within a few miles I heard a ticking that was getting louder by the second. The engine had power but I pulled in the clutch and coasted to a stop. I believe it’s the crank but I haven’t had time to look at the bike.
I had a great time going over the pass twice. I love the way the bike handles and it fits me very well. Now I need to tear it apart and decide if I want to go all out on the rebuild.
Thanks for letting me tell my story.


Mr_84

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Reply #1 on: June 14, 2021, 07:03:49 am
This sounds like an absolute adventure , I have a few of these planned for spring / summer here. Hope the fix for you bike is not to in-depth ,cool photo cool bike


Paul W

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Reply #2 on: June 14, 2021, 01:12:43 pm
I’d suggest it’s more likely to be a valvegear issue. Slightly bent pushrod, perhaps? I’d start by checking the valve clearances.
Paul W.


Mid Mod

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Reply #3 on: June 14, 2021, 05:04:07 pm
I’ll take a look at the pushrods. Hopefully it’s nothing too catastrophic haha
I’ve already priced out all the performance parts at H’s. Most things are reasonable but the crank is a bit more than I’d like to spend.
If the noise is in the bottom end, I bet it’s the big end of the rod. The engine has 23,000 miles and probably couldn’t handle the flogging I was giving it. 


AzCal Retred

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Reply #4 on: June 14, 2021, 05:27:03 pm
The 103mm stroke needle rod big end bearing crank & the 6.5/1 forged slug/alloy barrel give you a nice tractor motor about 7.5/1-ish C.R. for the same money. It'll do what the Bullet does best - drag us geezers around making a pleasant engine note, just better. It'll laugh at hills. Unless you have the 5-speed, that's the route I'd take. You can buy a used Japanese bike with plentiful power & superb shifting for less than rebuild parts, but that's not really the point, is it? The H's stroker crank as a 570 lower compression build gives you more of what we bought the Bullet for in the first place, a pleasant, low RPM tractor motor. The market is awash with persnickity high compression Bullet-based super racers. Use the 570 to continue to enjoy easy starting and a compliant powerband but with a bonus.
A trifecta of Bullets: a Red Deluxe 500, a Green Standard 500, and a Black ES 350.


Mid Mod

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Reply #5 on: June 14, 2021, 07:31:21 pm
It’s always on my mind that I can buy a used bike that will perform better and break down less than a Bullet. It comes down to my desire to fiddle with stuff and this guy satisfies that and makes me smile.
I’m leaning towards staying with the stock stroke and going with the US made piston. The only unknown for me is what camshaft to run. H’s has a couple to choose from and there’s the S cam which would be my first choice if there was one availed. Maybe someone has an opinion or can suggest other options.


Mid Mod

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Reply #6 on: June 14, 2021, 07:38:26 pm
I opened the side and found a pile of shaved aluminum and maybe brass mixed with in. It’s going to be a long process of gathering parts. I don’t really want to take it apart and have parts scattered about. I need to complete my projects quickly or some other crazy thing will pop up and sidetrack me.


AzCal Retred

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Reply #7 on: June 14, 2021, 08:17:44 pm
Here is a source of needle-bearinged 500 cranks for about $550 USD delivered, and a link to a 535 slightly higher CR piston.
I dunno where you'd get a crank repaired for that even if you supplied all the parts. This Price crank is about 1/2 of an H's crank but uses the stock pot metal rod. Not a real issue if you aren't going to buzz it.

Sounds like you are chasing the HP Demon. I'm ambivalent on changing cams. The stock bump sticks make good power appropriate for the design. Spinning up a Bullet sans a steel rod & well balanced crank, alloy barrel & tough forged piston is a dead end. A new stock-stroke crank and larger slug will liven things up a bit, but still requires a "mechanically sympathetic" rider. As you point out, there are savagely better designs on the market using Post-1940 engineering if you want to go fast. I'm constantly amazed at what $2500 will purchase, and how much performance is available for that meager amount.

The Price crank, piston and fitted alloy barrel will set you back about $1000 out of pocket. If you don't want to tear into it, maybe now's a good time to sell it to a fellow enthusiast and move on. Time is limited for all of us - if you'd rather be riding than wrenching, there's a LOT of available options, cheap.

https://www.pricepartmotorcycles.co.uk/ourshop/prod_2986111-144693sx-needle-crankshaft-500cc.html
144693s/x needle crankshaft 500cc ; £375.00
Special crankshaft remanufactured for 500cc Bullet
New style needle bearing with 35mm diameter pin fitted.
Connecting rod has new bearing bush fitted and honed to use the 35mm needle bearing
This is on service exchange basis with a cost of £375.00
There is a surcharge of £50.00 if the returned crankshaft assembly is beyond repair,  or the main drive or timing side shafts are damaged/worn

https://www.pricepartmotorcycles.co.uk/ourshop/prod_1090642-144162-87mm-high-compression-piston.html
144162 87mm high compression piston ; £105.00
High Compression Piston 87.00mm standard size for Royal Enfield Bullet 535cc
Comes complete with piston rings, piston pin & retaining clips
Convert your 500cc to 535cc for that bit of extra power.
Please note, changes to carburation & timing may be required,
Warranty is restricted to faulty materials or product,
No  other  warranty can be given due to any fitting outside of our control

https://the-enfield-strikes-back.blogspot.com/
A trifecta of Bullets: a Red Deluxe 500, a Green Standard 500, and a Black ES 350.


Mid Mod

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Reply #8 on: June 26, 2021, 04:02:18 am
I checked the recall on the tach. I revved the motor to 5800. That shouldn’t be too much for a few seconds?


AzCal Retred

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Reply #9 on: June 26, 2021, 08:45:08 pm
I have heard 6000, 6200 is a good upper limit point. For a machine that happened to have a good oil pump, actual round & correctly clearanced rod, bush and crankpin, proper weight piston, properly fitted & clearanced main bearings, etc., etc., 5800 for a few seconds wouldn't kill it. For the rest of us, unless you have personally verified all of those factors it's a crap shoot. That's why the stock machines are ridden "sympathetically", you simply don't know what dragons are living in there. The Indian videos seldom have the riders "throttling up", I'm pretty sure for that exact reason. No lugging, no buzzing, just downshift & endure whatever road speed the machine is willing to run whilst operating at a "happy" engine loading. Mine live between 2000 & maybe 4500 RPM. I tossed the stock piston & iron barrel after a light seizure at moderate throttle on a long mild uphill. An H's forged unit is ever so much more heat resistant that the "Velveeta" stock units and comes with real steel piston rings that seal. The alloy barrel sheds heat right now, not 30-45 seconds after load begins.
These machines can make 35HP with good reliability, but require a solidly built bottom end, bulletproof oil system, and alloy barrel/forged piston top ends; that's about $3000 if you do the work. An H's crank is a good start, it's true, balanced, & has a steel rod that will take abuse. Speed costs money, how "fast" are you willing to go? The cases need to be split, it's definitely crankshaft time. Now is a good time to either make it the way you'd like it to be, or "punch out" and get something that doesn't need pampering. The 650 Interceptor comes to mind...reasonably light, 6 speeds, more power than anyone our age really needs, and a big dose of appliance-like reliability.
A trifecta of Bullets: a Red Deluxe 500, a Green Standard 500, and a Black ES 350.


axman88

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Reply #10 on: June 26, 2021, 09:20:16 pm
I opened the side and found a pile of shaved aluminum and maybe brass mixed with in. It’s going to be a long process of gathering parts. I don’t really want to take it apart and have parts scattered about. I need to complete my projects quickly or some other crazy thing will pop up and sidetrack me.
Sorry to hear about the failure.  The nice thing about the REs is that, next to a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engine, they are, in my opinion, the easiest and most accessible engines to work on that I've ever experienced.

If I was in your situation, I'd be looking for a good replacement engine to put in, so I could continue riding for the rest of the season, while I rebuilt the first engine.  I don't see any likely candidates on Ebay at the moment, and the IBs are relatively scarce in the US.  It might be possible to reach out to RE part sellers in India, and let them know that you are looking for a complete, running IB engine and have them obtain and ship you a good engine for a reasonable price, but I don't think this would be very quick in arriving from India, and there is financial exposure to consider.

All I'm seeing available in IB engines at the moment is this short block, which is apparently in worse shape than yours.
https://www.ebay.com/itm/203480883856?hash=item2f6067e290:g:Ls4AAOSwDl1grmPv

Another short term solution is to buy another bike, which is the route I just took to save the rest of the riding season due to my UCE C5 being down.  $2K bought me a nice running, nice looking, 40 hp Honda VLX600, which is in no way a RE Bullet, but gets me riding again today.  I'm sure I can get my money back out later, plus a little profit to cover the title transfer and registration.


AzCal Retred

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Reply #11 on: June 27, 2021, 08:24:53 pm
I think the "affordable replacement engine" window closed about 10 years back. That's about the last time I saw an iron barrel motor on Craigs list out of Texas, "crash forces sale, $500" sort of thing. H's has 350/500 "builders" for around $1200- $1500 USD, plus shipping. Mid Mod has said he's not up to a complete rebuild, maybe it's time to sell the beast for an "as is roller" for $1500 and get something he can just "add gas 'n go"...? None of us has unlimited time, but we do get to choose how we spend it.

A trifecta of Bullets: a Red Deluxe 500, a Green Standard 500, and a Black ES 350.


axman88

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Reply #12 on: June 28, 2021, 06:18:12 am
I think the "affordable replacement engine" window closed about 10 years back. That's about the last time I saw an iron barrel motor on Craigs list out of Texas, "crash forces sale, $500" sort of thing.
IBs were never plentiful in the US, but they come up now and then, and if priced right, go quickly.  It's not so much of a market as a truffle hunt.  I found my IB engine less than 2 years ago, in running condition, with a complete bike around it.  The young man's ad was only up for 7 hours when he accepted my offer of his full asking price, eight hundred.  I bought him two beers, and had a third myself, after he excused himself.  Nice young man, smart, just not sympathetic.  He had used strong string to fix things as they broke, the saddle bag mount, the speedo cable retainer, the center stand hold up spring.  String couldn't fix the rectifier, and his patience ran out.  I suggested a few models of japanese motorcycles I thought he might like and we talked about other things.

I imagine spare IB engines are plentiful and cheap in their own country, and likely all in need of rebuilding.  I'd expect to find ones in better running condition in the US.

Here's one in the OP's end of the country, if not exactly inexpensive, at least it offers Ebay / Paypal buyer protection: 
https://www.ebay.com/itm/333976622803?hash=item4dc28ed6d3:g:0hUAAOSwvM9ghwLP


Mid Mod

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Reply #13 on: June 28, 2021, 11:25:19 pm
No, I AM up for a rebuild. The sticking point is my weird need to do it right. I could ship my crank to Paul in Wales or get one from H’s that’s ready to go with an improved rod and superior metal. I have time to think about it while I save my pennies.
I haven’t contacted Paul so that option might not be viable. We’ll see
« Last Edit: June 28, 2021, 11:34:11 pm by Mid Mod »


AzCal Retred

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Reply #14 on: July 22, 2021, 05:38:07 am
Here's some fellows, working with very little, turning a Bullet with a fornescued crank back into a daily driver. Humbling...
"What one man can do, another can do..."  :o

Old model Cast Iron engine full engine work
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGYUsf-pwpQ
A trifecta of Bullets: a Red Deluxe 500, a Green Standard 500, and a Black ES 350.