Triumph 650 History Lesson

Well, here is some history on the Triumph 650 project I’ve post some pictures of. It all started by purchasing an incomplete, non-running engine on ebay back in 2002. It was delivered the day before Chad and Jenny’s wedding, so I didn’t have any time to play with it for several days, which drove me nuts!


I started tearing it down, and found that it was a rusty, dirty, sludgy mess.

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If you’re building a Triumph engine, then the cam gear puller pictured is an absolute must! I ordered up some brand new pistons, and cylinders, and all of the bushings and bearings for the engine and transmission.

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One thing I’ve learned over the years is to keep things organized. Not that I always heed my own advice, but this time I did… Mom, are you proud? Haha!


I tried my hand at polishing the aluminum intake… it worked… sort of. I don’t think I’ll try doing that again, unless I have to. It took a really long time, made quite the mess, and wasn’t really much fun. Also, it didn’t work so well…


I bought a frame and little mustang gas tank on ebay, from a guy in Florida… the frame was cool, but it was gobbed up with bondo. The front end is a CBR600 setup, which I adapted to work with the triumph frame.


Man, what an ugly beast! When I first put this together, I wasn’t sure what I had gotten myself into… I got the engine cases back from the bead blaster, and spent about a week cleaning them in soap and water, with a gun cleaning kit… it’s amazing how much junk gets in the oil passages!

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I also bought a rim, and spokes at work, and a sportster hub at a swap meet. The spoke wrench was a freebie that a vendor sent to us to see if we wanted to sell… I believe we didn’t… and the reason is because it didn’t work so well…

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I did a mockup of the bike with an 18″ Honda read wheel and the partially clean engine to see what it would feel/look like. Look at the gap between the top of the fork sliders and the bottom of the triple tree in the next photos. I shortened the forks about 3″ to keep the stance with the new 21″ front wheel. I was feeling pretty good about the bike at this point.

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Oh my lord was there gunk behind this plug in the crank! If you’re ever rebuilding one of these, be CERTAIN to pull this plug. Ish.


I bought some lopey-er cams off ebay, here are the new and old ones.


You can never keep your build area clean enough! The red is not blood, but red loctite.

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Another must have when building one of these, is an engine stand like this one. I bought it for about $45 plus shipping. It made assembly so much easier!

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This is why I bought new cylinders… the old ones were really rusty, crusty, and pitted in the bores. I would have had to sleeve them, and the cost was almost as much as new ones.


Installing the new pistons, cylinders, and pushrod tubes. It’s really handy to have two ring compressors when doing this type of engine…

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Now this, this is a mean looking bike. Despite Pete’s best efforts to make it look cheesy. Haha!
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…to be continued…

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