The First Year by Phil Whitter

In Early Summer 2004 newsletter told you how came to own a Triking and what my initial impressions were, so now I thought it might be useful to share with you the things I have done to it in my first year of ownership. We all own Trikings for different reasons and have different ideas on how they should look or be maintained. My own thoughts are that although it is not a replica Morgan, I still like to put some period fittings and well engineered modifications on it. As far as maintenance is concerned, I try not to compromise on quality and refuse to do long distances until I know that my trike is as near perfect mechanically and electrically as I can make it and that means taking off and putting back all its primary parts so that: a) I am assured of their condition and lubrication and b) I know how to!

Shortly after my acquisition I asked Tony and Alan a few questions and it struck me that with the absence of any written manual (legal liability problems?) many of us are probably ringing them up or e-mailing them with the same problems or questions so instead of spending their time meeting customer orders from superb trikes, they are spending a lot of time answering queries from existing customers or changed owners.

With this in mind perhaps it would help all of us if someone could see their way to producing an owners handbook with all the necessary disclaimers that only involved the author asking Tony and Alan the answers once! Any volunteers?. Anyway just a thought on with sharing some of my mods and customising.

Before I started anything I popped down the road to Motomecca and purchased a copy of “Guzziology” by Dave Richardson, surely the finest and most comprehensive manual I have even come across and well worth its price of £40. In order to try and group things together I have used the following headings: Engine/Gearbox, Electrical, Trim, Steering and Wheels and finally Fittings.


As my newly acquired trike had done only 3600 miles in six years, my first priority was to change the oil and filter. In the first 100 miles of use I changed the oil twice to flush out the old unknown (I always use GTX Basic) and on the second change I decided to take the engine out to change the oil filter (mine has the conventional chassis).

Before starting, I acquired some stainless 12mm studding, lock nuts and dome nuts to replace the existing mild steel engine bearers I was surprised to see the use of studding on an alloy crankcase but no doubt Tony has tested it well! To assist engine removal, I made up a tight fitting ply plate to fit between the sump and the cross member and when I removed the engine studding I was pleased how the rear of the engine balanced so well on the steering rack. With the engine placed on a Workmate and the sump removed, it was surprising how much oil was retained in the sump and filter (any ideas on how to remove this during normal oil changes?).

On the subject of oil filters has anyone seen the oilway blanking plugs on the sump used to route external oil pipes to an external filter it would save taking the engine out on a normal chassis Triking!

On replacing the engine and using the stainless bearers I had made up, I radiused the ends to assist their entry and carefully measured the clearances between the chassis bearers and the engine so that I could grind close fitting wide spacer washers to spread the load and ensure equal compression on all mating surfaces when the locknuts were tightened. The additional use of dome nuts gives the finished job a quality look and I have also fitted these to the front suspension pivot threads.

When I first acquired the car, the previous owner had filled K&N air filters and a very smart alloy tank at the base of the passenger foot well to take the output of the engine breather with the breather tubes from each head being allowed to hang in the chassis. The result of this was that the chassis got covered in oil and any oil mist from the breather was a total loss!

In “Guzziology” Dave Richardson tells us to use a Le Mans breather box with K&Ns. I purchased one from Motomecca for £20 and mounted it above the level of the head breathers to allow excess oil to drain back into one of the breather tubes via a I piece problem solved and no oil leaks!

Other work on the engine included tappet adjustment, replacing the flex. oil pipes and union with stainless, fitting stainless screws on the rocker covers and replacing all exhaust clamps with stainless.
Looking next to the gearbox, I found the gear change to be very slack and feeling disconnected from the actual change mechanism. This was due to a combination of excessive side play in the gearlever and front linkage lever and in the linkage joints themselves.

To overcome this, I have removed the main flat steel link and replaced it with a ball jointed rod and then made phosphor bronze washers to take up the side play on the front and rear lever pivots. This mod has totally transformed the feel of the gear change making it really positive.

On the subject of gear levers and knobs, thanks to Bob Dixon’s article and a friendly colleague in the medical profession I also was able to obtain an old hip joint and make a similar gear knob try cutting titanium with a disc cutter!


Work in this area has been a mixture of solving problems, modifications and customising.

First problem was when the indicators would not cancel - this simply meant moving the switch forward on the column but a bit more about the cancelling later! Being inquisitive I took all the fuses out and replaced them, only to find some things did not work - reason was fuses and holder were badly oxidised. Soon after acquiring the trike the fuel gauge packed up this was due to a fine wire having been shaken off a contact post inside the gauge which I soldered.

Round about this time I ordered some small Triking logos (in black and white for my use only - hope you don’t mind Tony!) from Vintage Transfers (super quality) to customise all my gauges by putting the transfer over the Veglia or Smiths scripts. The “Electronic” word on the rev counter was covered by mall black paint and I also coated all the instrument bezels in matt black. It is not easy to remove the bezels on the speedo and rev counter as they are spun over and I had to carefully cut them on a lathe.

Changes to other dashboard fittings have involved hiding the cigarette lighter and starter knobs with vintage medallions and replacing the modern switches with a bank of vintage aircraft on/off ones which fit exactly into the vacated space on the dash, however it has been necessary to replicate the original switch functions with relays mounted along the glove box under the bonnet.

I have also removed the rear lights and fitted stainless “vintage” Model A Ford units with indicator lenses from SVC and mounted pre-war round commercial reflectors below them to hide the original fixing holes.

Having changed the rear lights decided to do away with the front “modern” motorcycle indicators and modified some period looking torpedo sidelights making an angled rubber shoe for them to align on the headlights.

While doing this I noticed that the earth wire on each headlight was a bit suspect being pinched by the mounting bolt. I also spotted that on one lamp the spot welding between the mounting flange and the headlamp bowl was just about to part company. To cure this I drilled and fitted six rivet headed 4BA stainless setscrews to each bowl and flange(Lucas originals were similarly riveted) Turning to the earth problem I decided I could customise the lamps with Lucas medallions and cure the problem at the same time!

I carefully drilled a 1/8 hole in each headlight where the medallion would go and then fitted a copper pop rivet in the hole. I tinned the top of the rivet with solder and then having ground away the fixing flange on the Lucas medallion and removed the internal chrome with a Dremel, I put a blob of solder on the badge. It was then placed in position over the rivet head, heated up and hey presto the solder melts to hold it in position and you have a fake Lucas headlight and you can use the male end of the rivet inside the lamp to affix the earth wire with a push on connector.

Another mod has been to wire up the fog light with a relay and diode to operate as an additional brake light for safety.

My son donated a pair of lightweight stainless boat horns which I managed to mount under the bonnet via a relay to do away with the modern Guzzi item. While doing this I cut the ties on the speedo cable which allows it to take a more relaxed route to the gearbox and where it touches the body flange I drilled two small holes to allow a plastic tie to hold it in place. On the drivers side the same body flange is adjacent to the clutch cable and because the bonnet keeps moving the cable out of its vertical position, I have ground a semicircle for the cable to rest in, holding it in that slot with another plastic tie. As a final belt and braces I have fitted an earth strap between the engine air cleaner mount thread and the body frame cross member adjacent to the electronic ignition and all earth connections have been remade and soldered.
Moving to the back of the car I have fitted a Lucas master isolation switch on the rear bulkhead above the battery in the main earth lead, which has allowed essential items such as the clock and dash light to remain live via a separate wire.

I decided that the column switch was too modern for me and so I removed the plunger end and machined a vintage bakelite plum shaped knob to receive all the horn operating bits - not an easy job but the result does look more period.


Moving on to more basic stuff, I have fitted a replacement gear gaiter in leather as the original Ambla one was thick and got cut on the tunnel slot when changing gear. To help this I have also covered the sharp edges of the slot.

When I first had the car noticed my left shoe catching on the side of the transmission tunnel when operating the clutch. The cure for this was to simply cut off the bound edge of the carpet adjacent to the clutch pedal.
In the same area I have adjusted all the pedals to fit me and have also put a rubber pad on the brake lever to prevent any trouble from slippery shoes!


Here my first job was to replace all visible posi-drive with conventional slotted/hexagon stainless but you do need to be careful not to slip with a normal screwdriver!

Next I made thumbscrews to fix the rear lid. On the bonnet I incorporated a milled sleeve on each fixing screw to make them easier to remove and replace. In order to make the location of these screws easier to find I have drawn vertical white paint lines down from each fixing hole.

The previous owner had made a nice job of putting I“ x 1/8 closed cell foam around the bonnet seating line which prevents wear and abrasion.

Moving to the rear of the car the fibreglass lip on the underside of the body is vulnerable at its lowest point if you hit a bad patch of road and twice I have had to repair it ,so am currently making some alloy skids to protect not only the body at this point but also the front cross member under the engine.

Steering / Wheels

When I got the trike the steering wheel was 75° out of straight ahead alignment. An ideal situation seems to exist when the wheels are straight ahead, the steering wheel is aligned and the rack spline cut out is aligned with the pinch bolt acting as a cotter. On my car this would only be possible by adjusting the track rod ends and someone had used a thin 6mm setscrew to overcome the lack of cut out alignment. As I did not want to upset the tracking I used an 8mm bolt and filed the minimum possible flat on it and then as belt and braces safety to prevent the column from lifting and coming off the spline if the pinch bolt ever came loose, I fitted a jubilee clip around the column just below the column tube under the bonnet.

It is interesting that in the straight ahead position the cancelling pip for the indicators was at 6 o’clock instead of 8 o’clock to line up with the centre line of the switch which would seem to bias the cancellation in one direction - the only way round this would seem to be to drill the three steering wheel fixing screws when the pip is at 8 o’clock in the straight ahead position?

When I got the car I found that each front wheel bearing had been allowed to get slack and the nearside was running rough.
On dismantling the hubs I found that the inner and outer bearing tracks had become slack in their alloy housings due to the hammering effect of loose bearings in alloy hubs. Also to remove the inner track I found it necessary to cut two grooves opposite each other in the alloy track flange such that a narrow punch could be used to drive out the track.

On reassembly I used Loctite Bearing Fit and a new bearing on the nearside but long term when the piggy bank allows, I am looking to buy some new hubs and have a stainless set of wheels made up to overcome the problems of rust on the original steel ones. Its jobs like this that show how useful a handbook could be in helping the uninitiated, specifying such things as the bearings used, how to remove them and setting the endfloat with the locknut.


Most of the work here has been about customising the car to suit me but you may find some of the things useful on your own trike.
A friend came up with a pre-war flying eagle mascot which I mounted on a block of alloy on top of the timing case and he also had a flat eagle badge which looks nice under the number plate which I changed to a three letter three number transferred from an Austin Seven.

The front number plate has been backed with a sheet of alloy to make it more rigid and to allow it to carry a couple of period badges.

On the dash I removed the glove box lid and have replaced its handle with a thirties one and changed the magnetic catch to a brass socket and ball (not an easy job!)

Vintage Supplies do a nice rear view mirror which clamps on the windscreen upright and although designed as an interior mirror, a thin bead of clear silicone between the frame and glass make it weatherproof.

A stainless tax disc holder has been fitted on the hood frame mounting bolt. The car came with a hood and tonneau thanks to the original owner but I have found it necessary to realign the hood frame and am now going to have it zinc and powder coated, masking the paint from the slot-in parts.

Well that’s about it in terms of the first year of ownership but I have some more modifications in the pipeline.

I would like to fit a lower ratio crown wheel and pinion to reduce the overall gearing, particularly when pulling away in first and I still haven’t given up on designing a motor driven roller to give reverse, pulled on by a lever. When pushing the trike backwards I would feel safer grabbing an outside handbrake and I also find the internal one under the dash a bit fiddly for hill starts.

Well folks, I hope I haven’t bored you with all this info, on some of the things I have done or intend to do, but hope that sharing it with you may stimulate some thoughts for your own trike and perhaps some of your own ideas to share with the rest of us.

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