Our research revealed the frame to be 1939, the engine 1937 and the chain case 1935. Whilst this model is not an absolute original bike it was (and still is) common for competition bikes to combine the best from multiple years and models.
Being new to the world of the AJS, we encountered an early challenge on discovering the machine's incompatibility with both metric and AF spanners. In fact, British Motorcycles in 1939 used British Standard Whitworth spanners - and so a quest began.
The quest for Whitworth spanners
Like vinyl records and drive-in movies, Whitworth spanners belong to the past. After persistent searching and many phone calls, we finally struck paydirt when a contact pointed us to a secondhand tool store called Woodpak Antiques in Melbourne's Deepdene. (Bill, the store's proprietor, has a shop full of old tools and a wealth of information - candy to the restoration kid!)
With the right spanners on hand, the engine was soon persuaded to yield its secrets. Our good mate (a 'mechanical Ninja') went to work, making his own timing marks to set up the ignition timing and finding 'top dead center' by removing the rocker covers and getting both valves closed at the same time. And of course the AJS came complete with an oil leak - a standard feature of many old bikes.
Sparking up the AJS
Having acquired a new, rewound Lucas magneto to supply the spark, our focus turned to getting the engine running. With a few sprays of fuel and a big kick in the guts (or 37!) the old single stroke filled the shed with smoke. Now that we know she runs, it's time to strip her down and start the frame rebuild.
With a springy saddle-style seat and sporting lines, this gracious old beauty combines a little comfort and a whole lot of style. The aim is to turn her into a good reliable machine to take out on weekends, as well as the occasional track run. In the meantime, the restoration process is a labour of love.