SPA TREATMENT - PART ONE
THE STORY OF A TRIUMPH-GREEVES HYBRID
Inspiration, ideas, motivation, and enthusiasm can flow into our lives from lots of different angles and sources. Andy Haworth's inspiration was formed by two key moments when the project that first entered his head back in 1998 moved from idea to reality.
The back story is that Andy acquired a 1961 Greeves Scottish 250 with the idea of building a Triumph-Greeves hybrid; having been told about these specials by his dad, a Triumph man. It didn't happen at this stage: he rebuilt the bike as a standard trials iron and the nascent project stalled.
The March 2000 edition of Classic Bike magazine was dedicated to Triumph specials, and the front cover featured a Triumph Greeves built as a sprinter and powered by a 500cc Tiger 100 engine unit. This was key moment number one for Andy: the photographs of the beautifully constructed bright blue bike and the story of the build reinvigorated the venture.
Key moment number two happened last year at the big classic meeting at the Spa circuit, in Belgium. Andy had built a Suzuki SP370, to take part in the track sessions that are open to riders of pre-1982 motorcycles. These are rare bikes nowadays, but the one he had restored looked better than those produced by the manufacturer. A friend and customer who was riding there too, set him the challenge and task of getting the long-delayed Triumph-Greeves build finished in time to ride at Spa 2016, on 1st - 3rd July.
I can't recall the year, but Andy was recommended to me as the go-to mechanic/technician in the area of W. Yorkshire, where I live. He runs Moll Springs Motorcycles, and when I first showed up at his workshop, a Greeves rolling chassis was on view, along with other interesting pieces of two-wheeled machinery that I asked questions about in my capacity as a bike journo and enthusiast.
He had acquired this Greeves in 2002, which he described as the remains of a 1964 25DD Mk2. They were pretty ugly road bikes, powered by a 250cc Villiers twin-cylinder engine. Those special builders who had gone before with their Tri-Greeves projects used various twin-cylinder units. But not content to follow convention, Andy's idea was to install a Trident three-cylinder unit into this frame. Except he couldn't find one.
This was in the days before widespread internet use and eBay, so Wanted ads in Old Bike Mart and other magazines was the medium for buying and selling. Eventually, persistence was rewarded, and a phone call came in from a bloke in Wakefield, W. Yorkshire, who had an engine for sale – just forty minutes' drive away.
"Store in a cool dark place", runs the labelling advice for some products. Not Trident engines, and this one had been in a damp shed for a couple of decades with the cylinder head removed. Andy handed over £500 for the remains of this unit when he found that the pistons had completely seized and had to be released by heating the barrels and then vibrating them with an air chisel. The cylinder liners split as the pistons came out, but he was undaunted.
The Greeves frame was found to be out of true, so the next problem was to get that straightened using a mate's frame jig. Strong engine plates would need to be designed and made from scratch, and the templates were formed using half inch plywood prior to the metal ones being fabricated. This was after Andy had taken a hacksaw to the frame and lengthened it by around four inches to accommodate the engine.
We now live in a time where nothing much is, or can be, hidden in terms of information and knowledge. In the known world it is suspected that no on else has constructed and ridden a Triumph/Greeves combination using Trident engine power. And so it was, in August of 2015, that Andy, along with his colleague Nick Parkins, began the long, long delayed build. The possibly imprudent project started to take shape.
The swinging arm and other sections of the frame needed strengthening struts, and the subframe was modified to accommodate the seat and the tank, which, along with the half fairing, had previously been used on a Greeves Silverstone racer. The seat will house all the electrics. At the moment, the rear shocks are from a Triumph Trident, but will be replaced by a built-to-measure set from Falcon Shock Absorbers, a company Andy had used previously for his special builds.
Once the frame modification and strengthening had been carried out and the engine was in place, the next major task was to construct the oil tank and oil feed system. Nick's fabricating and welding skills came to the fore and the oil tank was measured and fitted into the triangular space between the frame struts. As the bike is being used on the track, an oil catch tank is needed to capture oil vapour from the breathers into a separate small tank – on a standard engine this would be delivered back into the intake system, but it's not ideal for tuned or competition engines.
All this had to be designed by Nick and Andy, as did the three beautifully crafted exhaust pipes that will feed into a megaphone silencer. They have been created to the exact dimensions that were used on the Triumph Trident race bikes.
It's at the front end where the Greeves identification stands out, as they have retained the original leading link forks but have incorporated a Triumph front brake. In order to make the front wheel fit, a mongrel modification using Greeves and Triumph wheel spindles had to be engineered with the help of Peter Brook, who is Tom Sykes' grandfather – Tom Sykes rides for Kawasaki in World Superbikes, and won the championship in 2013. He has also assisted with the fiendishly complex exhaust system.
The leap of faith here is that there is uncertainty as to whether these Greeves-leading links will be strong enough to cope with the additional weight of the three-cylinder engine and the weight derived from the frame strengthening work and engine plates – a Villiers 2T engine puts out 17bhp against the 58bhp of a Trident unit. They may have to look at alternative front suspension, but time is not on their side, and the bike has to be stripped back down again ready for powder coating.
The Tri-Greeves has to be on a cross channel ferry on June 30th. Not only that, Andy and Nick have two other customer bikes to prepare for Spa: a fast and special 1981 BMW R100RT that now has a 1070cc unit and requires a rebuild using strengthened cams and alternative gearbox ratios, and a Yamaha XS650 believed to be a 1978/79 model, which, at the moment, is in the 'shed' next door to the workshop. The target is for all three bikes to be ready for testing on a dyno at the beginning of June so that 'final' engine tweaks and modifications can be carried out.
In Spa Treatment Part 2, we'll bring you the story of the build(s) up to the moment they are dyno tested, and in Part 3, we'll be at the Spa Classic meeting to report on the bike's progress and to describe the action and some of the dazzling machinery that this meeting attracts.
What do you think of the build so far? Any comments, send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
09/03/16 Interesting reading guys, keep it up
10/03/16 Strange brew to use a frame of one third the engine size and power.
11/03/16 My dad had a triumph engined greeves trail bike years ago,will try and find photo
22/03/16 Nice to see real process on this unique project. Having encouraged Andrew at the start I can't wait to see the finished job. Good luck.
12/05/16 I was very interested in the Triumph/Greeves racing machine, I had some success with a 250cc Greeves Silverstone Racing Machine in the UK and the Isle of Man. I kept this machine until I was sponsored on a 250cc Yamaha. After a couple of years in the 250cc class I was asked if I would ride a factory 350cc Greeves and I rode both machines until I retired from racing. The Greeves handled very well until taken to the limit and it then lost traction very quickly. I wish Andy and the guys great success with his thoroughbred
12/05/16 As a Greeves 2t powered owner way back in the mid part of last century, which was always an entertaining machine to use as my only means of transport, I am fascinated by this intriguing project, and wish the lads all the best with it. Riding the beast will certainly be entertaining......memories of braking on my road bike where the front of the bike would rise up instead of diving come flooding back, and the 2t only had around 12 bhp at its disposal
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