I have had my 1954 Triumph Thunderbird 650CC for a while now. It is exactly as old as I am, and we have been together for most of our lives. It is a beautiful green-golden bike with a suede buddy seat, with fringe and all. It is a magnificent beauty. I always use it for my daily commute. In the weekends, I take it for long trips. But that is where we are having problems,
my Thunderbird and I. She is not really fond of our long trips, and lets me know that by breaking down almost every week. I tried to get it fixed by a mechanic, multiple times. Every time I picked it up, I was able to ride it without problems for about two weeks. But after that, it was back to square one. Getting sick and tired of paying the mechanic for nothing, I decided it was time for me to try to replace the gearbox myself.
Adventures of a first time DIY motorcycle mechanic
So, first things first, where is an unexperienced wannabe mechanic going to find a gearbox? The answer was quite simple: Google. In one search, I found an online motorcycle wholesaler, that also happened to have a location near my house. They sell new parts, but also used parts in perfect condition. I went down to their location and learned a lot about motorcycle parts. They were able to help me find the perfect gearbox for my old Thunderbird, and even offered to import it for me. When the gearbox arrived, I started working on my motorcycle. Luckily, I had saved a very old Thunderbird manual, which helped me to get started. And after a YouTube search, I found out that I am not the only one crazy enough to keep such an old motorcycle around for such a long time. I even found tutorials on how to replace the gearbox on a 1954 Triumph Thunderbird 650CC! I followed the tutorial step by step, and you’ll never guess what I found out.
Outsmarting the mechanic
When I took out the old gearbox, I noticed six gear rings inside. And the strange thing? The new gearbox and the gearbox in the tutorial only had four rings. I decided to follow my gut and the tutorial step by step. And what do you think? My Thunderbird works perfectly again! It doesn’t break down every two weeks and I can take it on every long trip I want. Turns out
the two extra rings were not necessary at all. The mechanic never noticed it. So, from now on, I will fix my Thunderbird myself.