Crank project - latest news

Information relating to the Matchless G12 or AJS Model 31 650cc twin
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Crank project - latest news

Postby MG » Sun Aug 17, 2014 4:17 pm

Hello to all members!

I know it’s been a while since we’ve issued any real news on our crank project. Indeed, progress has been painstakingly slow and we had a number of problems to address before we could proceed. But I am happy (as well as very relieved, I hasten to add) to anounce that the full batch of cranks is currently being machined and we can finally see the light at the end of a long dark tunnel...

We (or better RWT, the company in charge of the machining jobs) have encountered a number of problems with machining the ADI (austempered ductile iron) castings, owing to the material’s tough nature. Especially drilling the long, small diameter oil galleries as well as some milling operations have raised serious difficulties concerning machining times, tool wear and accuracy. Hence we have decided to add an additional step to the whole process and do most of the machining jobs on the untreated, as-cast parts, which are basically nodular iron and thus much easier to deal with than the actual ADI. The pre-machined cranks will then go back to Zanardi (the foundry) for heat treatment, where they will be “converted” into the tough and durable ADI material we are looking for, and then go yet back again to RWT for the final machining jobs (basically grinding the journals, some minor milling and thread-cutting jobs).

Furthermore, RWT have obviously underestimated the size and weight of the parts and with their machinery could not guarantee the accuracy and quality we were looking for, at least not within reasonable machining times (read: costs!) Thus some jobs had to be outsourced to another company with machinery large enough to do the job properly and in line with the budget – causing yet more hold-up

Introducing the additional heat treatment step has caused more delay than we would ever imagine unfortunately, with yet more testing and prototyping jobs and some more unexpected issues. Material allowances and ways to guarantee dimensional accuracy for the heat treatment process had to be determined, and ways of removing salt occlusions from all the drillings in the “hardened” part had to be found, etc etc. Nothing too serious, but a good number of small obstacles to be overcome.


But, good news is, it all is under control, the whole process has been tested on some prototypes successfully and as I mentioned at the outset, the whole batch of castings is currently being machined and will go back to Zanardi for heat treatment early September, right after their summer holidays. RWT will then do the final machining and we shall be able to start shipping the finished cranks by mid to late October.

On the credit side, two prototype cranks are still going strong in their respective engines after many miles, so technically we are good. The operational side of the project did prove more difficult however...


I want to thank everyone for their patience and confidence so far. And I would like to emphasize again how close we are to the final result we have all been waiting for so long. I know progress must look ridiculously slow from the outside, but please rest assured that everything is done to see it through to a happy finish. If you can hold your breath just a wee bit longer, I know you will be happy with what you’ll get.


Thanks again and best wishes,
Markus

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Re: Crank project - latest news

Postby G15 Roy » Sun Aug 17, 2014 4:55 pm

Great news and well done Markus for all your efforts.
Roy

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Re: Crank project - latest news

Postby zwarts » Sun Aug 17, 2014 8:06 pm

Thank you for all your hard work on this Markus. Time to get saving up again now then!

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Re: Crank project - latest news

Postby Groily » Mon Aug 18, 2014 8:45 am

Great update Markus - and yup, as you know, my prototype is running beautifully after 15 months and 5000 miles odd. It's become one of my favourite rides actually - smooth, torquey, and quite quick for a girl of her age. FWIW, I've had no hassle at all with the JP pistons I used, but I did run it in very carefully. When I last commented on it in the Jampot, it was running a 928 concentric; since then it's been on a new 389 Monobloc, and has, for whatever reasons, been a lot better.

I feel bad that you've had to face all the unforeseen technical problems single-handed, but I am looking forward to my second crank soon - just need another tired dynamo engine to play with to build up another good motor (hoping new con-rods will still be available of course!). Derek at T&L did say to me though, when I was having my prototype balanced, that the thing was made of 'bloody tough stuff' and was not very easy to machine. And that was just for taking bits off to balance it dynamically.

If and when I get to build up the second engine, I'll maybe be interested in 'that' discussion we had about Rainer's new oil pumps and associated mods . . . they sound just the ticket . . .

And great to have seen you in your amazing Histo-Tech workshops last week on our travels - quite the best part of our visit to the German-speaking world from my point of view. I wonder if I could ever persuade the boss that a lathe along the lines of your new one might be a good investment!? (Hmm, suspect NOT!)
Cheers, Bill

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Re: Crank project - latest news

Postby TommoT » Mon Aug 18, 2014 8:52 pm

Yes, great news indeed and looking forward receiving the crankshaft! Thank you for all your efforts, I imagine you must have spent countless hours getting the project back on track.
TommoT

Ride Your Motorcycle As If Your Life Depended On It - Cos' It Does!

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Re: Crank project - latest news

Postby JohnHewes » Mon Aug 18, 2014 9:45 pm

I don't have a twin, and therefore don't need one of these, but I have to say that this is a project which I have followed in the mag and the forum.
What a fantastic thing for the club to have done, and for the individuals to have achieved, I am completely in awe of them.

Well bloody done!

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Re: Crank project - latest news

Postby GrimJim » Thu Aug 21, 2014 3:27 pm

Markus

Many thanks for the update, I was wondering what was happening. I greatly appreciate all you hard work you have put in to ensure that the
finished product will be up to expectations. It must be a bit wearing ensuring that progress does not stall when the snags come up.

Will there be a documented history of the project? Will anyone be able to face doing it again?

"Rainer's new oil pumps and associated mods." very interesting!

Jim

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Re: Crank project - latest news

Postby Groily » Thu Aug 21, 2014 5:18 pm

Ah, the oil pumps . . . I chucked that in as a teaser really to see if anyone commented! Thanks for picking it up Jim. I haven't seen them, and there is not, as far as I know, a commercial plan here, but Markus referred to them very flatteringly when we chatted the other day in his workshops, and in previous correspondence we've had.

If I understand things right - and I may well not have it 100% - Rainer's made some one-off new pumps which are a bit 'good' (having rejected existing options), to the point where they deliver pressure most of us can only dream of, together with superb flow. So much oomph, apparently, that 20/50 is too thick a brew. But whether that hints at the possibility of something that could be converted into a small production run, I really don't know. Although I'd have a pair or two like a shot myself if they were. Anyway, I sort of wondered if other people would too, and if there was any way of encouraging a 'plan' (preferably without the delay we've suffered on the machining side with the cranks).

Thing is, with a new crank I wanted new rods - and got them for the prototype from Steve Surbey (who's going to hold a second set for me when he has more, for a second engine). But I don't have any known-good oil pumps that I'd want to run a second new bottom end on. And because it's the daftest cheapskate false economy to spend serious money on a pretty expensive rebuild without having a lubrication system to match . . . hence my sideways glimmer of interest if there was any chance of getting a brand new set + a recipe for any related mods required relating to pressure relief valves etc.

Wonder what it would take . . . . . and this is something that would work for all the twins of course, in theory . . . . . now that we can't get the Rik Gibbons jobs any more . . . .

Of course, we could spend the money on paint and polish - but in my world, they're the last things to worry about when it comes to what to prioritise!

Pipedreams, pipedreams.

Cheers, Bill

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Re: Crank project - latest news

Postby 56G80S » Fri Aug 22, 2014 6:24 pm

Also not a twin owner but a great thing to do and I'm sure countless hours invested by volunteers.

Johnny B

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Re: Crank project - latest news

Postby MG » Mon Jan 19, 2015 5:29 pm

Good evening gents!

Thanks a lot for your kind words! :oops:

Yes, it's been one hell of a Job indeed, not so much from a technical point of view, but getting all involved parties hanging in there and doing their job proved to be the most difficult and time consuming aspect of the whole venture.
Would I do it again? Well, better ask me in a year or three, time is a healer as they say... ;)
Will anyone be able to do it again? Most certainly, it is all well documented and there are now decent 3D CAD models and manufacturing drawings of the cranks which I will keep stored safely and which will all go into the Club's possession as well, who knows what the future might bring, they might come in handy some day.

HOWEVER, the good news is, the cranks are back from heat treating which all went absolutely fine and are currently undergoing their final machining. It took a few weeks longer than expected (again...) since we ran into the usual Christmas/New Year's Holidays down time, but we are getting there.
Final machining will probably take some more weeks from now, and then we will finally be able to start shipping the cranks. I will try to get some more accurate dates and will let you know as soon as I have something definite. For an educated guess atm, I would say end of February/early March to start shipping.

The end of the tunnel is near, thanks again for your patience and best wishes,
Markus

PS: I will get some pics of Rainer Traupel's high-end oil pumps and post them together with some Information in the next few days!

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