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How To: Eclipse clutch linkage rivets

June 18, 2010


As we’ve seen before, Excelsior used a multitude of linkage rods to operate the motorbike.  At the bottom of the Eclipse clutch throwout arm, there are three linkage attachments: 

1.  foot pedal to operate clutch

2.  left handlebar to operate clutch

3.  rear brake (gets pulled on after the clutch is fully loose).


excelsior-teardown 001IMG_3446


The last two linkage rods attach to pivots with 3/8” riveted ends.  The old pivots had worn out, so I made up several new ones on the lathe and mill.  Normally rivets would clamp tight, preventing any rotation.  But these need to spin, so there is a small step in the end of each rivet.  This is riveted over a washer, and the pin and the washer are then free to spin in the hole in the clutch arm.  A little grease helps them to spin, and a three pound sledge hammer does a quick job of peening over the metal.  The photos show the rest of the story.


IMG_3710 IMG_3713 IMG_3714 IMG_3712 IMG_3715 IMG_3716 IMG_3717

IMG_3721 IMG_3722 IMG_3723 IMG_3724 IMG_3725  IMG_3727

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Lee permalink
    June 18, 2010 8:22 pm

    From the great oilpatch staging industrial Park of Nisku, AB (South of Edmonton).
    For rivetting purposes we dished the center of the pin/rivet which let the edges expand out more readily.

  2. Pete Young permalink*
    June 22, 2010 4:46 pm

    Hiya Lee. Yes, dished heads do work well. But I wanted these ones to look just like the originals, so I left them flat before peening.


  3. Anonymous permalink
    June 25, 2010 8:59 am

    Rivetting is easier if you start out with a ‘light’ 16oz ball peen hammer and use the rounded ‘peen’ head.
    This head stretches the metal slowly as you peck away like a woodpecker.
    Less risk of ovalling the link hole on the other end with light hits than with the big 3 pound hammer you described.

    • Pete Young permalink*
      July 1, 2010 8:40 am

      Hi Anonymous. Agreed, the little hammers work well. I use them on the 3/16″ and 1/4″ rivets. For the big 3/8″ rivets, I used the bigger hammer, but with many light blows, pecking like a woodpecker as you suggested.

  4. Paul Louis Venne permalink
    August 22, 2010 10:29 pm

    Pete, I’m wondering what you think about paint. I have always wondered about original finishes in this era. My current thinking is they were thinly brush painted with several coats and sanded lightly between coats. I am not sure if laquer or enamel was used, but surely not modern stuff. Finally I think they got a varnish coat and this is why some of the bikes have turned brown over time. Comments appreciated. Also I, a proponent of under restoring bikes, think some of the hardware was “flash nickle,” ie, cheaply nickle plated and not polished and not copper underplated. Finally it seems the tank graphics were stenciled and not decals. Moreover it is likely the gold “X” was a special expensive gold containing ink or paint or gold leaf similar to circus wagons. Comments appreciated. Thanks, Paul Venne 1916 Series 16 and 1914 Model T.S. Excelsiors

    • Pete Young permalink*
      August 23, 2010 1:02 pm

      I don’t know much about paint! I’m more excited by gears and linkages. Maybe some of our readers know more about this, or have educated guesses? I know that tank decals were available from the factory stocks after Mr. Schwinn shut them down during the great depression. But I don’t know if those decals were used when the bikes were new, or if they were just made up for use later.

      Flash nickel is definitely cheaper than ‘show’ nickel. But X didn’t cut corners too much on the early models. I have heard that the sheetmetal primary covers were not as high quality as other bikes, but the finishes were pretty highly regarded back then. The nickel on some parts of my bike is still very good 94 years later. 🙂

  5. eric smith permalink
    June 25, 2013 1:37 pm

    I agree with Pete that Excelsior did offer decals, however genuine H-D decals of that era required an application of sizing to make the decal stick. I believe Excelsior decals are more like the the water slide decals we are all used to. Regarding paint; the original examples I have seen from the big 3, were all very well done and show great attention to asthetic quality. I think it’s as simple as flash sells and that was not lost on early motorcycle makers. Also, bikes, and cars were made by people with tons of experience in the carriage trade and quality, finish, and detail were very important, but they had to work with enamel and the long drying, and baking time it required. Lacquer was a duPont invention and it’s rapid drying time revolutionized automobile manufacturing, but that came about in the 20s. I agree with P.L. Venne that a copal varnish was used as a protective “clear coat” and did yellow with time. NIckel plating was also very good back them and I believe Excelsior gave their show parts (i.e. shift lever, handlebars, shift gates, and valve covers) a bit of extra polish to make them stand out. The pedestrian parts like nuts, bolts, and clevises got a protective plating but even that stuff has held up well over the years.

    I love this site Pete, and so appreciate what you are doing. Sorry it took so long to reply to this conversation.

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