I've owned and ridden Ariels for more than half a century now.
I've gone to work on them and down to the pub as well. I've trialled
then, solo and sidecar. I've grass-tracked them and hill-climbed them
with the VMCC. My wife and I have done the classic trials - Land's End and Edinburgh -
and this has never happened before. Not only has it happened once but I've
managed to have it happen twice, both times to the same bike.
I've had my Ariels, all except the one involved that is, for a very long time.
The exception is the HS which I've only had for a few years and haven't used that
hard up until recently. It was road registered and the price was right. I'd wanted
one of these for more years than I care to remember and I'd been collecting bits for
as long as well. It had lost the original mudguards and seat, the gearbox wouldn't
hold oil and the primary drive was full of water. The BTH TT mag was a distinct bonus.
I hadn't wanted a concours one. I wanted a real one - bent footrests and mud in the
end of the handlebars sort of thing and that's exactly what I got. One of those
rare deals where both the buyer and the seller went away happy.
Someone had spent some money on it and this included a pattern dual seat which
made getting the oil cap off and on nearly impossible. It has the early timing side
oil tank. I've got the drive side one waiting for the arrival of a drive side air
cleaner. Also in the list of new parts was a set of rear sprocket bolts and washers
and It's these that are part of the 'bad thing'.
I went on a 60 - odd mile run with the local section of the VMCC and at the end things
were beginning to feel not quite right with the final drive. Three sprocket bolts
missing and two on their way and the rest slack. Not good.
I replaced the missing bolts with originals from my collection, tightened up the
rest and thought no more about it.
Until the next outing, again with the VMCC and this time only 50 - odd miles.
The last 15 were done very gingerly and I arrived home with just 5 bolts left.
Something was obviously not right somewhere. The three origial bolts were still
there although somewhat slackened. The other two were removed, cleaned and inspected.
Where the originals have a plain shank which is a snug fit in the hole in the sprocket
the ones that came out had very little in the way of a shank and what there was wasn't
a particularly good fit in the hole. Needless to say the thread was somewhat undersize too.
The threads in the hub have suffered too but none are completely stripped.
A visit to Acme Stainless's website found a set of bolts and washers together with
nuts which must have been made for just this sort of disaster. A few days later a
package arrived. Inside quite the most impressive packaging I've seen were the nuts,
bolts and washers.
They fitted without any issues - even fitting the washers and nuts the other side
of the sprocket flange was easier than I expected.
There is another VMCC run coming up in a couple of weeks - third time lucky?