Page 1 of 3

Looking for trouble Mk2 Sq4

Posted: Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:28 pm
by KLester
Hello from deepest Burgundy, fine bike country!
I just joined this august company of AOMCC so naturally I have a question or two. I am intending to buy a Sq4 Mk2 and would like to know what to look out for when I start looking seriously with cash in my hand. Any advice would be very welcome either on this posting, which may help others as well, or by PM.
My first ever bike some 52 years ago was a 1948 VB600 with the prettiest sidecar I have ever seen. Sadly it wound up imbedded in a n°15 bus somewhere between Rowledge and Farnham just beside a Methodist church! From then on I continued solo for a couple of years until I sold it for a fiver! Good memories. Now, forty or so bikes later, with just a few years of motorcycling left I fancy the Square 4.
Happy to be here and looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Re: Looking for trouble Mk2 Sq4

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 1:58 pm
by roger.fellows
Hello in deepest Burgundy, and welcome to the forum. How long is a piece of string?

I'll put a longer answer together later on if nobody else has thrown their spanner in, but it would be useful to know what mechanical experience you have, what tools/facilities/knowledgeable friends.

I guess you'll have been reading some of the Mk11 threads on here anyway. Not sure whether beating the March deadline might make import/export simpler.

I am no expert, but there are such here, as you will gather. Joining the AOMCC will be helpful if you haven't already.

Happy hunting, there is a very pretty outfit on fleabay if your pocket is very deep, or there was last night anyway. Roger

Re: Looking for trouble Mk2 Sq4

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 7:19 pm
by roger.fellows
Nev Hunter, who is one of the experts on the forum, refers to the 'ocean of expense' of owning a Square Four. Most in the know would not consider purchasing a Square and running it without stripping the engine. The design of the sludge traps is such that if they reach capacity there is a seizure. If the rebuild which follows does not remedy that problem another blow-up follows as night follows day.

Your history of forty bikes implies at least some mechanical experience, but a Mk11 rebuild is quite an undertaking.

Many spares are available from Draganfly in Bungay, crankcases are usually not.

If you've been perusing ebay you'll have seen a range of prices from £4,000 - SCAM - to over £20,000. I think the outfit shown at nearly £22,000 belonged to a club member and probably would not need a rebuild - advice from others will likely be available if you take this option. I don't know about the one for nearly £12,000 in Sunderland.

I rode a Square for a few years as a twenty-something, I ache to have mine on the road again.

I probably don't need to tell you about gear levers on the 'wrong' side and the 'wrong' way up if you've been riding modern machines, or about less effective brakes. You'll not have trouble keeping up with most modern vehicles.

Club members reach an age at which they no longer wish to maul with a Square. If you're a member that may afford an opportunity to acquire something reliable.

I'll send this before I navigate away by mistake and lose it all as I did with a previous attempt. All the best. Roger

Other views as in - why put a car engine in a motorbike? - are available.

Re: Looking for trouble Mk2 Sq4

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 8:18 pm
by KLester
Roger, thank you for your reply. It is indeed the one big nightmare, the sludge trap, along with the other nightmare of "I was a mechanic and I re-built the engine but I want to sell it now because the wife wants a motorhome" My feeling is that there is only one way which is to strip and re-build anything unknown. I am kind of hoping that a trusted and respected club member may one day put one up for sale!! Regarding mechanics I have all the tools and given a good workshop manual I can fight my way gently through most things having said which a Square Four engine I would be inclined to find someone who really knows their way around. And, yes, I may well only be looking at a three month window of opportunity between Christmas and March to find a suitable beast!!!
I am very keen on the Mk2, but, from when on did the Mk 1's stop overheating?
Many thanks.

Re: Looking for trouble Mk2 Sq4

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 9:26 pm
by roger.fellows
Others may say something different, but it's a bit of an urban myth. Correct clearances for pistons should mean no problem. You'll see various people on the forum who run Mk1s. There are fewer head bolts, Otto gaskets have a good reputation, but I prefer the idea of five round each cylinder. You're probably aware that a machine which has had a sidecar attached may have a skewed frame. Many Squares were used in that way in the past.

Re: Looking for trouble Mk2 Sq4

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:48 pm
by Bob.Murphy
Regarding sludge traps . . . .

When I was running a 'Square' as a 25 year old in the early 1970s I used to change the oil every 1,000 miles and strip the engine for a 'de-sludge' every year. It was worth it for peace of mind and I recommend that course of action.


Re: Looking for trouble Mk2 Sq4

Posted: Tue Oct 02, 2018 10:52 pm
by simon.holyfield
Mk1s don't 'overheat' - but, as you will see if you check my temperature readings, they do run very hot. This has various effects, all of which are easily overcome. Secondly, this is a 60-70 year old design - don't let a perception of complexity put you off.

Having said that, it's not an engine where you can hope for the best. It needs to have been rebuilt properly and that can be expensive but spending time and money to end up with a reliable bike is a whole lot better than crying over a set of broken crankcases!

I'd encourage you to get on board a SQ4 and see how you like it. I've had mine for almost 7 years and whilst it throws up the odd problem I wouldn't be without it.

Re: Looking for trouble Mk2 Sq4

Posted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 7:54 pm
by KLester
Thank you all and don't hesitate to add anything that comes to mind. Last night I was going off the idea, this afternoon I was back on it !
I sent a message to the guy in Tyne on Wear, tis Mk2 is in Car and Classic I think, to ask about any recent work done. He tells me he bought it ten years ago and that since that day has only done one mile 'but runs real nice an sweet'. If it was cheaper it might be tempting providing I can find someone who is great on engines to re-build it. As it stands I have that feeling it could be a show girl with a problem:) I would really like to find a beat up one, visually, not expensive and get the engine tip top. Thanks to you guys it could now be a mk1, I will of course hold you responsible, so out of the mk1's which years are the best? I had this conundrum with my '73 T140 Tiger. Re-did the engine and gearbox as new, by Arthur at the Rockerbox, but in the end didn't restore the rest. I think they become too precious that way. I have three, the T140 an AJS 18s and a Twenty one and they all get out at least once a week.
A bientôt.
ps: I hear Theresa saying it's the end of austerity. No doubt the value will now go up :))))))

Re: Looking for trouble Mk2 Sq4

Posted: Wed Oct 03, 2018 9:26 pm
by simon.holyfield
KLester wrote:so out of the mk1's which years are the best?

Well, there are not too many changes: the chrome tank carries the instrument panel up to and including 1949; it keeps its chrome and panel for 1950 but the speedo moves to the fork crown. Up to now, the SQ4 has the prewar rear mudguard with the hinged tail and a valenced front mudguard with a sheet metal number plate; 1950 marks the arrival of the kidney shaped toolbox, replacing the prewar triangular shape. In '51 the tank loses its chrome, being replaced with the all-maroon paint, the rear mudguard changed to a one piece lift up design and the cast aluminium front number plate arrives. In 52 its just the same but the BA gearbox is replaced with a GB; 53 is the last year of the Mk1 and the first year of the Mk2, as they were sold alongside each other for a while.

That's about it I think. There were very few engine changes to the Mk1 - though I think two versions of the Solex were in use. There's a rear lamp change in there somewhere, between the MT211, the MT1130 and the 480...

There's a three part detailed history in Cheval, November 2016 onwards.

As to the best one - notwithstanding the contents of my garage, I think the speedo-in-chrome-tank 1949 model is the best looker.

Re: Looking for trouble Mk2 Sq4

Posted: Thu Oct 04, 2018 7:31 am
by KLester
Thank you. So here is the 65000$ question. Who does one go to for an engine strip down and re-build?