Ural M66 Rebuild
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I had been looking for another motorcycle for sometime, you know what it’s like when you have a combination outfit, you get stuck in traffic jams! With all the cars in Salisbury (Wiltshire) it is fast becoming a car park these days and if you don’t catch the traffic at the right time, you can be there for 30 minutes or so. The poor old outfit would just sit there and overheat, so as you may have gathered the motorcycle I was looking for is a solo. I had made a few tentative enquiries to various people but hadn’t made too much progress.
Chris Smith, then of Speedway Motorcycles, knowing that I was looking for something, had a phone call from a chap in Weston-Super-Mare who had been asked to sell a Ural for a client who was no longer able to ride, restore or even know what a motorcycle was. Unfortunately this can happen to any of us in our later years.
Not knowing how much our beloved Russian motorcycles are worth he phoned Chris Smith to find out, of course Chris gave him a completely honest price not having seen the machine for himself and thought it worth around £200, this was on the assumption that it was an M66 and made in 1975 and that it was blue and in stages of some restoration. With that in mind he phoned me to say that he may have found me a bike that I could do something with, as this price fell right into my price bracket (cheap).
I rang a nice chap called Lea who was selling the motorcycle the next day and said to him I believe you have an old Ural M66 for sale. After a few conversations about the motorcycle, like what he wanted to sell it for, and what I was prepared to pay for it, I arranged to go and have a look at the bike. Lea must have spoken to someone as he said, “I want to make something out of this deal but I understand that they are not worth a round of drinks really”. With that I felt that this could work. I said that I would be down on the weekend with the trailer and I will possibly buy it after seeing its condition.
He then dropped a small spanner in the works and said that there was another engine mixed up with the Ural stuff but didn’t say what it was, on hearing that I wasn’t sure what I was going to find, I made a quick phone call to a friend Chris Northcote, who already has a M66, and would know the different parts; he tried to explain the differences. In the end I said come with me, at this suggestion Chris was very eager to come with me and have a look at the Ural, so I picked him up and away we went.
When we got to the building it had one these large steel garage doors, one of these motorised jobs that takes ages to rise. You tend to get that anticipation jittery feeling when you have to wait for something you want and you know its on the other side and its taking a long time to see it.
Once the door was opened there stood this M66, looking at it for the first time you could see that it was in very good condition.
The pictures do not do the motorcycle real justice, but give you an idea what we saw.
It looked like the restoration of the motorcycle had been started, but events took over the gent and this is how it has been left, for 8 years I believe.
The rest of the motorcycle was in several boxes and in each one the parts were carefully wrapped in material and newspaper or placed into ice cream tubs, none of which were labelled to show what they were, or even what motorcycle they belonged to.
This is the pile that greeted us and at first glance, it looked, as Chris Northcote put it, “Old tut for the scrap pile” and that was the way we left it and didn’t mention it again.
Little did we realise at the time what was wrapped up in the boxes.
You can see that there is part of an engine sat on the top; lifting it up revealed a complete gearbox, but in pieces – am I any good at jigsaws I thought to myself? With a closer inspection of the boxes we found that there was another engine in there and it was not a Ural. We couldn’t make out what it was at first but later discovered it was a complete engine, but in parts. I found in one of the boxes carburettor parts for a Villiers engine, so what that fitted onto who knows?
After quite some time talking to the dealer, we managed to convince him that the motorcycle was not worth his now £500 asking price. I offered him £220 plus £30 for all the bits that went with it. Again he scratched his head and walked around a bit, then said, “what about the other bike that came with it”. Both Chris and I wondered what he was talking about, and asked the obvious question, “what other bike”.
He took us to over to this 350 Jawa leaning against some shelves, “that bike he said”. Looking at the bike it seemed in very good condition for1990. What was the only thing that was missing – the engine – and guess where that was? Yes your right, reduced to kit form and in the box with all the Ural parts.
“How much do you want for that” I asked, “how much will you give me” came back.
Not wanting a 350 Jawa anyway, (especially a 2-stroke), those days ended many years ago, so I said it’s not worth anything to me at all, then looking at Chris I said, there you are Chris, you can have it in your garage? Chris was in agreement I asked again what was his price. You could see it in the poor chaps face that he was not going to get any decent money from me and walked around the garage scratching his head again. By now you could tell he wanted to get both of the machines out of his workshop so he could work on his sport bikes, some of which were very nice, if you like that type of bike.
Finally he came over and said “Tell you what, give me £300 for both machines”. Not trying to say yes straight away I turned my head and looked at Chris who was desperately trying not to give anything away but managed to raise the eyebrow again in his expressionless face. I also managed to indicate my agreement and said to the dealer, “Well OK but the Jawa is scrap value really but I’ll take them as they are a pair”. We shook hands and the deal was done, I had managed to get both machines for £300 as well as all the bits that came with them.
Very casually we loaded the trailer with both machines and all the boxes, I had only thought that I was going home with one not two motorcycles. Now we had an agreement, Lea became very relieved and relaxed about the whole thing, and it turned out that he didn’t want them anyway and just needed to shift them for the best price he could get. He then told us that he was also given a Harley Tank and would make his money on that. I think he was happy with the price he got, although I’m sure he wanted quite a lot more for them but realized he was not going to get it. I suspect other bikers had told him the same old story, Its Russian crap and worth nothing. But in the real world away from the sport bikes we know they are very good motorcycles.
Having struck the deal, you may now notice a pleased look on Grim the younger’s face, we had just bought a 1990 350 Jawa for £50 with a clock reading of 4,000 km. The engine had literally been reduced to kit form, which means every nut, bolt, spring, washer and stud has been removed and placed in boxes, why, who knows but on inspecting the engine we found that the crankcase has been damaged quite severely, but time will tell what the real damage is.
Having loaded the trailer, which now had a little, more weight on than expected we drove away, waving out of the window to Lea who thought he had a good deal.
It was only when we got out of sight and round the corner both Chris and I shouted together - Yessssssss!!!!! Had we got a good deal or what? We stopped and got out to just look at what we had got ourselves and again let another display of completely childish expressions. Every few miles we had to stop and tighten the ropes holding the machines on the trailer, and each time those childish expressions kept coming out.
After a slow careful trip back to Sherbourne we arrived at the garage where Chris keeps his M66 outfit, better known as ‘Boris’. It didn’t take us long to unload the Jawa into the garage, but now he will have a bit of sorting out to do as his garage is about the same size as mine, medium to small. When the outfits are in, there is not a lot of room left.
Driving back we were trying to think of a name for the Jawa, but not knowing any Czechoslovakian we couldn’t think of any appropriate names, well not clean ones anyway, apart the one name that always used to come to mind to so many 2-stroke owners, especially in winter and that is “B - - - - - d” short for “Start yer b - - - - - d”. Hopefully this will not cause offence any 2-stroke owners who whole heartily reject such names, but I refer to my early memories when I owned an Aerial Leader, sorry, Aerial Pollution.
I have now had a chance to look at the M66 carefully and have discovered that not only has the engine in the motorcycle been restored, but also when all the parts had been unwrapped there is a brand new M66 engine there, with the parts in various stages of disassembly. The crankcase still has the con rod supporting plates bolted on. Nearly everything is there to make two complete engines with just the carbs missing from the new engine.
There are signs that the gent who owned it had a problem at some stage during its early life, as there are several seized bearings and graunched gears sitting in old greased boxes along with old split pins, rounded nuts, bolts that have been cross-threaded as well as old washers, etc.
I think it’s a disease that we all get at times called ‘Jackdaw syndrome’. All of these items have been carefully placed into old matchboxes and cigar tins. It gets you thinking and recognising the same behaviour that we all do when keeping old bits, thinking that someday it will come in useful, but actually they’re not a lot of use, but we keep it anyway just in case someday you think, ah, I’ve got something that will fit that. Of course this never happens?
The tank is the one item that has not been painted as yet, but it still is in very good condition. The key for the toolbox was sitting in it along with the steering lock keys. The inside of the fuel tank looks like it has been lined and I think that re-spraying it was the next stage.
I’m told that it is rare to have the white banding round the tank, it is very discoloured but I shall try and do something with it.
Both wheels are matched and painted green with gold spokes; each spoke adjuster has been painted black which, looks quite good and I may try and keep this feature.
Around the rim on both sides are painted a black, blue and white stripe, if this is the original wheel I shall attempt to keep this, as it is quite attractive.
Carefully wrapped in material and newspapers is the front mudguard, this I think has been re-sprayed and a teardrop light attached. Combined with the white side with black and gold striping the whole wing looks good.
The newspapers are dated 1985; perhaps that’s how long it has been wrapped up?
I was just going to rebuild it and leave the paintwork as it is, but I have decided to strip it down again and start from scratch. The motorcycle could have stood for years with no attention, so if I just rebuilt it I could get problems later on. I reduced my Dnepr to kit form and rebuilt it and I must say it has been worth it. The M66 is almost original so I am going to try and keep it that way with the exception of the white side panels. The frame has been painted black, so I will re-spray it the same blue as the rest, with a gold coach line around it. Hopefully this will look good and in keeping with the original. The pots have also been painted black; hopefully I will be able to find some paint to match the rest of the bike without making it look odd.
It hasn’t taken me very long to completely strip the bike down, just a few days. As you can see, I’ve decided to go for broke and do a complete job on it.
So here we have the frame, once stripped I could see it had at some stage been painted, but not very well. It looks like the type of spray job that I could do in the garage, OK, but not brilliant, I could never get that final deep shine on DIY spraying. Mind you that was a few years ago, stood in the garage door with a spray gun, these days its all done with hot ovens and very modern paints.
I had problems getting the swinging arm bushes to move – so they are still in there. If it won’t shift and it looks like you’re about to screw it up – leave it alone or get someone else who knows what they’re doing.
The wheels are also stripped with the rims and the spokes currently with some chap, who, I’m told is a very good at chrome plating. James Wheildon is once again rebuilding the wheels for me, and will make a good job of it if my MT9 wheels are anything to go by.
Building wheels is one of those arts that look easy until you come to try it for yourself. Just to hold the rim and hub in the right place and trying to attach a few spokes is mind-boggling enough without even trying to tighten them. I was amazed how easy it was for me to destroy a good wheel. It started off round, and by the time I had my hands on it for a while, it began looking like an egg. Then I remembered when I was in short trousers a few years ago, I had screwed up several wheels on my pushbike. With the puncture repair outfit came this curious tool called a spoke spanner.
Being an inquisitive little brat, I tried this tool on my wheels and Hey Presto! egg shaped wrinkly wheels. I always wondered how I managed to do it, I know now. It’s amazing how easily you can read your parents minds, just the right look from them and you know you’ve been a dickhead.
As well as the wheels, everything else that needs chroming has been sent away. I’ve been a bit excessive in chroming, as it has reached parts that chrome has never reached before, such as the rear brake rod and levers, it may look silly but we shall see. All the essential parts will be plated; luckily none of the bits have any dents so hopefully it will all look very new.
On my last visit to the sprayers I took along some tank transfers, and it so happened that my bits had been delivered back from blasting that morning. They were in the middle of the first coat; I think it’s a coating of something to stop it rusting. At that stage the metal would be very venerable to damp.
Looking at it you could see some very funny welds in the frame and other places. It makes you wonder why they had to weld up the frame. Really, I wish I hadn’t seen that, it will always be in the back of the mind, especially when leaning the bike over round hard bends, would the weld hold??
The fuel tank and mudguards didn’t look very pretty sat on the floor. It’s strange to look at metal that has just been bead blasted, every spec of old paint, rust and grease patch has gone leaving a surface that an etch primer can cling to, strange colour as well.
As promised, I delivered the engine to Chris Smith at Speedway and he is performing a close inspection on it. I have asked him while he has it apart to get the crank balanced. It’s the one thing that always worries me, not so much with the Ural engine, but the Dnepr engine if over revved, the crankshaft spends the last two seconds of its life as shrapnel. It would be most embarrassing picking up parts of engine by the side of the road. That will hopefully be an experience that I will avoid.
To sum up, at the present time, I don’t have a motorcycle in the garage; it’s spread all over the country.
The story will continue in Chapter Two.
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