1961 Heinkel Tourist A1 ‘all up together again’ as they say in Dorset
by Colin Green
In Spring 2007 I hired a van with my wife as co-driver to collect HSK882 from its then owner in Leighton Buzzard, having spotted it on the web as a ‘failed to sell’ item in a Cambridge motor auction report. Bodywork was sound, apart from lacework at the bottom of the legshield. Despite new batteries, it could only be bump started and the stand bushes were shot, but it seemed restorable and a suitably challenging retirement project. Having owned an A1 in the late 50’s as my sole transport to commute into London and even trips on the then new M1 (my longest journey in a day was 350 miles!) and having restored an A2 with the inferior trailing link front suspension some eight years ago, I reckoned I knew my way round with the help of an original workshop manual. To my wife’s shock, it was down to bare chassis and bits everywhere in a couple of days. Faults soon identified included cracked wiring, dead starter, seized solid chain case swinging arm, almost useless stand and three lovely new tyres, but Lambretta 3.50 instead of 4.00 – no wonder it looked so odd and low to the ground!
Apart from the wrong tyres, an uninformed previous owner had assembled the swinging arm with the ‘O’ rings on the wrong side of the bush flanges and without all the bolts and the drive sprocket thread had been damaged – hence the seizure and I couldn’t even fit the sprocket puller. Defeated, I took the engine to C T Motorcycles in Bridport (01308 420661), who used their trade secret methods to sort all the problems including the sprocket thread. The frame went to Townsend Engineering (01308 423305), also in Bridport, who bored out the cast metal stand bushes and inserted Oilite bushes and fitted a fixed nickel steel pin into the former frame bush. So instead of relying on a single central bush, which has limited lateral strength and wears rapidly, the stand now has two wider spaced self lubricating bushes – a definite success and better engineered than the original. Undoing the two body to frame clamps under the seat is a fiddle, so I have had two tabs welded into the bolt screwdriver slots to turn them into wing nuts – now no tools needed and its an easy finger job. A beauty of the Heinkel design is that there are only three fixings and a multi contact electrics connector to be released before the whole rear body lifts off giving total accessibility to the engine and rear suspension. The flywheel puller worked and there was no visible reason for the Siba Dynastart not functioning. After yet another consultation with the ever helpful and patient Nick Haddon, spares supremo of The Heinkel Trojan Club (www.heinkel-trojan-club.co.uk), I received a pack of new Bosch insulators and new brushes, as usual more or less on the next day. I think the cheapest parts I bought, but that was all that was needed to bring full power back to the starter. To my joy Nick also had a complete new A2 wiring loom in stock and has also been able to supply new rubber engine mountings, a new chrome rear carrier, new screen, side stand and numerous other essential bits – there never seems to be problem! The Heinkel bubble car shares the same robust 4-stroke engine as the Tourist scooter and some 120,000 Tourists were built, though there are probably no more than 20 now on the road in the U.K. Extensive use has been made of replacement stainless steel nuts and bolts and the wheels have been powder coated. Bright metalwork, including very rusty wheel nuts, the front badge and bumper and the footplate have all been treated successfully by Metal Finishing Ltd of Ferndown (01202 895595). The legshield bottom has been remetalled and beautifully painted black by JBS Motorcycle Painting near Yeovil (01935 863676). Whilst retaining the yellow front shield and main body, the side panels have been cut in and painted black by JBS to give a more attractive and balanced look and the colour scheme has turned out to be both elegant and safely conspicuous.
Other modifications I made included the addition of flashing indicators mounted on a plate under the handlebar, which also carries the screen mounts and rear flashers projecting from the top box. This means the A1 bodywork has no extra holes and can easily be restored to original 1961 non-indicator spec. I have also shoehorned a switch under the handlebar shroud, so both the front brake lever and the footbrake will activate the brake light, which makes one feel safer in today’s traffic. I think Tourist owners accept that the long gear change cables and lack of gear position location within the box have always been a weak feature. Whilst I understand the foot change conversion that is now available works well, I was not keen to cut holes in the cast aluminium footplate, so I purchased only the exterior ratchet system to be mounted on the engine clutch cover. Fitting was a fiddle and needed fine adjustment, but is a distinct improvement on the 4 speed locating system at the handlebar twist change. The black plastic oil bath chain case cover was a real let-down and it leaked. Generously, David Dawkins, a former Tourist enthusiast in Emsworth, gave me a pressed metal cover, which I had chromium plated and I think it really sets off the Tourist projecting below the black part of the bodywork.
On 14th June my Tourist sailed through its second MOT and on 15th June took part with some 103 classic motorcycles in the 100+ mile ‘Top of Dorset’ charity run from the Dorset Somerset border, around Dorchester down to Lulworth and back West along the very scenic and hilly Jurassic Coast road. My Tourist loved it, never missing a beat and returned over 75mpg, but I now very reluctantly have to admit that perhaps it is time for me to retire from riding a classic scooter. However, I have really enjoyed restoring HSK882 and am proud of the way it has turned out – so my Tourist is now ready to give pleasure to an appreciative new owner with an eye for a classic ‘Rolls Royce’ of a scooter that is different yet easily maintained.