l - Maidstone Motoliner

l - Maidstone Motoliner
Bent your bike? Ray Palmer has thirty years
of experience straightening out the problems
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Very close tolerances can be achieved with a dial gauge
90 SEPTEMBER 2009 Classic Bike
A BMW R60 frame is
wrapped in the Motoliner
jig'sembrace. Tom Palmer
applies the pressure
Maidstone Motoliner have been unbending motorcycle
chassis, straightening forks and pressing the kinks from cast
wheels for over thirty years. Ray Palmer explains what can
be done to get a bike back on the straight and narrow...
Interview & Photography Danny DeFazio
Often owners simply don’t notice that their
frame is bent. It might be just minor damage.
Sometimes it’s not until someone else rides the
bike, someone unfamiliar with it, that the problem
comes to light. But usually, you’ll know soon after
a bump that there's something wrong. You should
'sight” the bike carefully all round and look for
obvious buckling or fractures. The human eye is
fairly good at spotting small angular changes. But
if you can’t see any damage and still have doubts,
try turning the forks from side to side and looking
and listening. Things might have tightened, or
loosened. Paint might have flaked off. Brackets
may no longer line up. Owners can try and
measure a few angles and dimensions, but not
many people will have the right equipment. If
you've got serious suspicions, it’s best to take it
to a specialist and have it checked out properly.
Our main repair job is bent forks - which often
bend the chassis too. Usually, the damage is
around the yokes and headstock. But impact
damage can migrate anywhere, so we check
everything as a matter of course. If the stanchions
haven't been creased, we can usually straighten
them. Creasing will generally reveal itself as an
indent in the tube, usually where the back of the
yoke has been driven down into the stanchion
tubing. It’s pointless, and it can be dangerous,
to try and repair a crease like that. And in any
case, replacement stanchions are almost as cheap.
Straightening a stanchion is generally a matter of
putting the fork tube on vee-blocks and using
a hydraulic press to true them. We use a dial test
indicator to check the run out and we work to
manufacturer tolerances, or better.
We begin by talking to customers and asking for
details of what’s bent and how it happened, and
then we give advice on remedies. We do discuss
creasing on the phone, but we really need to see the
bike before we can confirm the extent of the
damage. It’s not always clear until we take a look.
The Motoliner itself is a jig. You attach the
motorcycle primarily by using the swinging arm
pivot points. If it hasn't got such points, perhaps
because it’s a rigid frame or plunger bike, we have
to pick up on symmetrical frame points on either
side. If we can’t get that, we have to improvise. It
can get quite tricky. Once the rolling chassis is
attached, you can measure the rake and trail, the
headstock angle, and the wheel alignment. Not all
motorcycles have the front and rear wheels in line,
by the way. Some shaft driven bikes are out of line
a few millimeters or so. We're never sure why that
is despite asking manufacturers and experts.
There's no clear answer.
With the measurements taken, the bike is
clamped into the jig. Then, using mandrels, the
headstock is either pushed or pulled hydraulically
to the correct angle and the correct positioning,
and carefully re-trued to the centreline of the
chassis. Steel and ally are very plastic materials and
will generally yield to the right pressure without
much difficulty. The trick is to keep the bike secure
and constantly recheck angles and measurements;
something that would be very difficult to do at
home unless you have a suitable jig or fixture. We
can also straighten subframes and swinging arms
in much the same way.
We do sometimes have to cut and repair a frame.
One bike that we're working on at the moment has
a frame that's quite badly damaged because it was
heated up by the owner and hammered into place.
The job wasn't very well done and it left a lot of
damage that can’t simply be pressed out. We've
fitted new tubes made from good quality steel
stock and cut and re-welded, taking care to
internally sleeve the tubing to avoid a circular
breaking point. Welds will be ground and
smoothed and finished, and when it's done you
won't know that it’s been repaired. It will be as
good as, or better, than new.
Aluminium is a bit more tricky to work with than
steel, and the design of Delta-box type alloy
frames means that it takes more time to set up the
various hydraulic jigs and presses that we use. But
we do offer a ride-in service that needs to be
booked. With that, we offer same day frame
straightening which is useful for anyone who has
Alignment is everywhere at Motoliner. Never mind forks - just look at those spanners
to travel any great distance. If it’s a steel frame,
the cost is usually £150-£200. Aluminium alloy
frame repairs are in the region of £200-£250.
We want the cosmetics taken off a bike before
we start work - all the plastic, the seat, the fuel
tank, headlight, front mudguard, exhausts and
carburettors. Basically, all we want is an engine
bolted in correctly at all mounting points with
little else around it. The bike ideally needs to be on
its wheels, with swinging arm, rear wheel, shock
absorbers and forks. But we can handle a frame,
engine and rear wheel without the forks.
Some frames can be bent inches out of line.
Others you can’t even begin to look at because
they're too badly damaged. But overall, there’s not
many that come in to us that we can’t repair. I can
count on one hand the number of frames in a year
that we've been unable to fix.
Headstocks are, as you'd expect, a critical area.
If there’s any serious damage there, you need
a new frame. We don’t make or fit new headstocks,
although we have the skills and experience to do
that. We concentrate on repairs rather than
refabrication of major frame components.
Frames with lugs present no special problems, and
neither do brazed frames. MIG welding, TIG
welding or gas welding, it’s all the same to us.
We'll happily rebraze if need be, and we can
replace lugs providing we can get the lugs.
Beam or delta box type frames, meanwhile, are
trickier to repair. We can press and squeeze them
back into shape after a shunt or a crash. But we
can't replace anything on those. If the break is
directly on a weld, we can usually re-weld it. But
if it breaks where there wasn't originally a weld,
we won't put one in. We won't weld-in repair
plates either. With these types of chassis, you just
can't afford to play around with the natural |
stresses. They've all been carefully worked out by
the manufacturer, and it doesn’t make sense to
second guess them.
Ducati trellis-type frames are another type of
chassis that we work on. These frames are very
tough in service, and once again we can replace
basic tube damage (they're normally all straight
tubes). But we won't rebuild headstocks or other
critical components.
Turn around for frame work is usually the same
day. The work usually takes about five hours, and
visitors often take themselves off into Maidstone
while we get on with the work. We don’t work for
insurance companies, by the way. Roughly half
our work comes direct from customers, the other
half from the trade.
Yokes are often bent even after a relatively mild
shunt. The usual charge to straighten a pair of
yokes is £50, and we offer a postal service for that.
They can be turned around within a day or so.
Repairs to cast wheels cost between £55 and £65.
The typical damage is due to a pot hole bending
and buckling the rim. We can usually press out the
damage, and it’s a safe repair. We have crack
detection equipment if we have any doubt. About
three or four per cent of alloy cast wheels can’t be
repaired and we won't re-weld cracks or broken
spokes. We only handle repairs to cosmetic
damage. Cast wheel can snap in a crash — if that
happens, they're write offs. There's no way they
can be repaired, and you should ignore anyone
who says they can.
Maidstone Motoliner Ltd
11 Yew Tree Industrial Estate
Mill Hall, Aylesford, Kent ME20 7ET
WWW, motoli ner.com
AA gl
Sart aru
Essential for establishing the
‘run-out’ on wheels beforeand +
after rebuilding. We work to close
tolerances, often just thousandths
of an inch - a dial gauge is the
only way to achieve this.
PRICE £46, plus £78.52 for the
adjustable stand (plus VAT).
CONTACT vwww.cromwell.co.uk
A four-ton hydraulic ram thatwe
use in conjunction with the
Motoliner jig. It's supplied with
attachments. We generally use at
least two of these rams to push
bent frames back into shape, but
we have four rams in total for
more complicated alignment
jobs. This tool is the business.
PRICE £109 (5179)
CONTACT www. toolcentral.com
; Вы. 4 = a
Used for checking steering head
angles when frames come in after
a shunt. Its an expensive German
item that we've cut down to suit
our needs - it's precise, easy to
read and saves a lot of time. We
use a high-tech elastic band to
secure it. It gets used everywhere.
PRICE £99.95 (inc VAT)
CONTACT www .tooled-up.com
Telephone 0870 840 2141
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