When I was in college back in Albuquerque NM I bought a used 250cc Greeves Griffon that was on consignment at the very small local Greeves dealer. I rode it for a couple of years, selling it when I graduated from college and moved away from home.
The bike was fairly stock. I had the head skimmed a bit by a local machinist to boost the compression (Albuquerque is a mile high), converted the Ceriani forks to air spring (which was all the rage at the time - I can't recall if it made much difference) and replaced the AMAL carb with a Kendick "pumper" carb. Since I didn't increase the carb size it didn't make any noticeable power improvement, but it did make the bike start easier. On a trip to visit some friends in Los Angeles I did get a chance to make a brief stop at Nicholson Motors, and met Nick Nicholson, the US importer - and I still have the Nicholson Motors sweatshirt he gave me.
That was pretty much it for my Greeves involvement until the fall of 2001. At that time I saw an ad from one of the people on one of the many email lists I'm on who was selling off some bikes. Among them was a 360cc Greeves Challenger. model 36MX4. This should be a 1967 or 1968 model. The serial number on the engine is GPB2 180 - I haven't yet determined what year that falls into. I haven't found a serial number on the frame yet. The bike has the "banana" leading link fork and the conical cast aluminum hubs that were introduced with the Challenger.
The price seemed very reasonable, and what more justification was needed to drop Hans an email? We exchanged some mail clarifying what he did and didn't know about the bike and its condition, and struck a deal. He brought the bike up a few weeks later when he was coming up to the city.
This was a multi-basket case bike, and had come to Hans in that condition. He did buy a few parts from Frank Conley for it, and also ordered up a nice new set of Akront rims for the bike. Missing was the tank, seat, airbox, exhaust, carburetor, and probably sundry other bits - I've not yet done a full inventory yet. I contacted Frank and was lucky to catch him with the correct airbox, tank and seatbase. I found a original factory service manual in good condition on eBay and snatched that up. That's the extent of the progress as of early January 2002. Once I can get an inventory done (I need to do a lot of cleanup first) I'll get into serious parts acquisition mode. I expect I'll be making my own exhaust system, which is a dual-headpipe expansion system running under the engine. I've already got a Mikuni carb for it - I have no intentions of messing with an AMAL concentric - been there, done that, didn't care for it.
In the summer of 2002 I picked up another 360MX4 - this a somewhat running bike with desert tank, Cerianis and a 19" front wheel. Details on it appear in the update section below..
In December 2001 I was looking through eBay for Greeves parts, and noticed some items from a 380 QUB Griffon for sale. I contacted the seller and arranged to buy the rest of the bike before he broke it down and parted it out. He had already sold the carburetor, aluminum fuel tank and the under-seat side cover on the right side where the exhaust exits. Other than collecting the bike I've not had a chance to do anything with it other than to pick up a Mikuni carburetor for it. I don't know the condition of the engine or transmission, and I've noticed a few broken spokes and a pretty good dent in the rear rim. I have hopes the powertrain is in good enough shape to make it fairly easy to ready for the 2002 AHRMA vintage motocross season. I expect the Griffon to come together much quicker than the Challenger.
Last Saturday (July 05, 2003)I went out to the home of fellow Greeves-lister Mark Hanna and graciously deigned to let him help me take apart the engine from my 360 Greeves scrambler (I let him feed me a tasty lunch too - am I nice or what? :) )
In all seriousness, I was very glad to have Mark's help/advice, and the use of his special tools.
Here are some photos of the bike as I got it (and it has remained in that condition until now):
We did run into one odd thing while removing the flywheel of the Stefa magneto. Mark got out his puller for that and the small screws that engage the flywheel were quite loose in the flywheel. I'd think that a Swedish flywheel would probably be tapped for metric threads, but the one on my 360 has threads that match the inner primary case bolts (Whitworth, and larger than the screws in the puller). I don't know if someone stripped out the stock threads and retapped the holes to match a readily available Greeves bolt, or if this is some modification that the Greeves factory did. Mark said he'd used that puller on a variety of his Greeves that pre and post- dated the 360. Ummm, mysteries, can't get enough of them.
What else did we find? There is a seal carrier in the back of the primary case for the transmission mainshaft, and it is supposed to slide around as the transmission is moved around to adjust the primary chain tension. However, mine has a screw inserted into it that makes the seal carrier pivot around it. The odd thing is that this screw is between the countershaft and the swing arm pivot, so the seal wants to move up/down, instead of backwards/forwards. I can't figure out the reasoning on that, so I'll plan on removing the screw and plugging the holes up.
There are some signs of the primary chain having nibbled at the cover screw bosses at the front of the case in the past, but the insde of the case was pretty clean. Mark thought that the primary chain seemed in pretty decent shape - better than some he'd seen.
The clutch hub and basket are pretty noticeably hammered by the clutch plates. This makes the clutch reluctant to free off. I'll take a file to them (they seem pretty soft) and clean them up, but the more clearance that is made the more the plates can slam back and forth. An all-metal clutch out of a later Griffon is supposed to be the hot setup, but I'd need to have a spare one. I do have a basket case 380 QUB that I could rob the clutch from, but I'd just as soon not make that into even-more of a non-runner than it currently is. Maybe I could look into having the hub and basket (both steel) mildly heat treated. I think that a surface hardening like nitriding/Tuftriding might not do much good (if the softer substrate deforms under the thin hardened skin).
The state of the crankshaft, where the main bearings run directly upon the mainshafts, was a major concern of mine. Much to my relief, the mainshafts looked just fine - you can barely detect a ridge between the tracks where the rollers run, but the area under the rollers is quite smooth and free of pitting. The big end and small ends also seem pretty tight, so it looks like the crankshaft is fine. Phew!
There are a couple of threads on various bolts/studs that need to be dressed up, but that's no big deal.
The piston shows 360 degrees of blowby past the rings. The guy I bought the bike from said it was hard to start, but seemed to run OK once started. I haven't measured the piston and cylinder yet to see if the .020" piston is going to need to be replaced, or if a new set of rings may do the job. Of course a new set of crank seals will be installed while the engine is apart.
The bike has a 32mm Mikuni on it, and that's just fine with me, though I was amused by the big mismatch (in the wrong direction) between the Mikuni rubber manifold and the intake port on the cylinder). I'll pull the carb apart and run it through the ultrasonic cleaner - it looks pretty clean so it shouldn't need much work. One of the Greeves guys has been asking me about the jetting in the carb, and now that I"ve finally had a chance to work on it I'll have to post that info (and hope that it is actually somewhat close to what the engine needs - I've never ridden the bike).
All in all, things look pretty good in the engine. We didn't pull more than the outer cover off the transmission, but that area looked pretty clean so I'll leave it alone for the moment. The next step is to do more cleaning up/inspection, and make up a parts order to send down to Frank Conley.
The frame and bodywork are going to need repainting. The inner rear fender still has the original British racing green color in the gelcoat, but the rest of the bodywork has been painted yellow as you will have noticed from the photos. I'm just going to try and find a reasonably close match for the BRG in a spray can - I'm not going to bother having paint mixed up, or paying a painter to do the work. Fancy paint jobs on racing dirt bikes don't make much sense to me.
The tank and side covers have a lot of stress-cracks (and major cracks in the sidecovers along the underlying frame tube). The tank is the bigger desert version, and I'm going to MX the bike. Mark and I were impressed at the difference in weight between the 360 tank and a 380QUB MX fiberglass tank - the earlier item must easily be twice as thick (and heavy).
I'll either find a smaller MX tank or make an alloy tank. Patching the side covers would be expedient, but maybe I'll try making some alloy copies - I do have a friend with a beading machine that I could use.
The 21" front wheel from the 380QUB will be substituted for the 19" that is on the 360. If we ever get enough smooth scrambles events available (picture a very groomed cross between a TT and MX ) I might consider lacing up a matching 19" rear and mounting a set of modern 19" dirt-track tires.
I'd like to run the leading link "banana" fork from my basket-case 360. After all, LL forks just seem traditional for a Greeves. The drawback is that the Girling dampers on the banana forks are severely clapped out, so I'll have to find a modern replacement for them.
The exhaust looks in good shape except for a big dent in the underside of the convergent cone. I'll cut it apart and fix that. The steel skidplate looks pretty nicely done, and I'll certainly continue using that. I'm not going to worry about rechroming the head pipes - hi-temp paint will be good enough for me. I'm interested in a race bike, not a show restoration.
The seat foam is definitely of the well-weathered 35 year old variety, so I'll need to find someone who is familiar with dirt bike seats to refoam and recover it.
So there you have it. I've got hopes that this will be a fairly straight- forward rebuild - maybe I can even get it running in time to race at the AHRMA national at Hollister this fall.
Photos - I don't have any of my bikes yet. Here's a few photos from elsewhere on the site - I may have missed one or two:
90cc Grapevine Trials This picture is shows the Grapvine Trials bike, designed and built by Bill Grapevine, one of the leading proponents of observed trials in the USA in the 1950/60s. The companion photo is Bill Stewart, 1966 US Observed Trials Champion. He is on a Greeves. 157K jpeg file
Before Spondon was founded, Bob Stevenson and his friend Geoff Galloway built the Phoenix, a 500cc two stroke twin. They made their own chassis, crankcases, etc. The bike used Greeves Silverstone barrels and DOT heads. Photos of this really cool bike from the 10 Jan 68 Motor Cycle.
On 13 January 2002 I started the Greeves mailing list - subscription information for that and my other email lists is on the mailing list page here on my site.Click here to go to the mailing list page
There doesn't seem to be a lot of Greeves information available on the Internet - a situation I hope to alleviate as I find time to add information to this page.
For more information contact us by usinghttp://www.eurospares.com/greeves.htm