Uncovering An Original 1968 Triumph Tiger TR6R Motorcycle

Uncovering An Original 1968 Triumph Tiger TR6R Motorcycle

Uncovering An Original 1968 Triumph Tiger TR6R Motorcycle

 

  1968 Triumph TR6R Tiger 650 Motorcycle

 

This is the story of "Uncovering an original 1968 Triumph TR6R motorcycle". From the beginning to the.... well, not the end! Please feel free to read on how I found my 1968 Triumph 650 Tiger and how I got it road worthy again to it's new life. It's amazing wait time can do when you put all your effort in. A lot of time, energy, and money has gone into this motorcycle and it's been worth every single minute of it. Enjoy  

 

 

It started off as a Craigslist find, not the TR6R, but a BSA motor that I initially found. Scrolling through each page on Craigslist looking for miscellaneous British motorcycle parts or complete bikes. I ran into an ad for a BSA A65 motor for sale. It was missing the top end but the bottom end was complete, and it turned over. The price was right and he was local, it couldn't get any better. Phoned the owner, set a date and time and began my journey to his location.

 

Upon arriving to his house, I was greeted by a very nice chap named John. John was also a British motorcycle collector and enthusiast, he stated to me that he use to own many British motorcycles but had "fallen out of the scene". We talked more about British motorcycles and history then we did the motor that I was going to purchase! But hey, that's fine with me. I'm always open to other peoples story's. As I'm looking at his collection, or what's left of it, I noticed a very original Triumph on the end. I could see the original paint on the tank through the frame of the bike that was next to it. I quickly looked over it and was in a stunned state. I couldn't believe it... an all original 1968 Triumph TR6R was sitting in front of me. I have always wanted to find an all original Triumph Twin, any year was fine with me. Could this be my lucky day?

 

 

Triumph TR6R 1968 Original
The TR6R as it sat before it was rescued.


After talking and sharing our stories, I just had to ask John, "is this 1968 Triumph TR6R something you would be willing to sell?" This was the moment of truth! I was hoping what ever price he brought to the table, I could afford. He thought for a few seconds... pondering...  "You know, I think i better hold onto it, I sold many of my bikes and I would like to hold onto this one." Well, my hopes where so high then they dropped so quickly. I didn't even want the BSA motor anymore after I saw that '68, but I wasn't going to let the word "no" detour me away.

 

 

1968 Triumph TR6R With Dealer License Plate Frame

Dealer license plate frame. "Good Guys"

 

I ended up leaving Johns place with the BSA motor that I originally planned on purchasing. Its an early 1963 Star Twin motor in nice shape. (If anyone is interested, the motor is for sale) With the TR6R on my mind that night, the following morning I had to send John an email. I always remember this,  "A closed mouth wont get fed". I proceeded with the email, initially it was a thank you email for letting me purchase the BSA motor, but I had to ask him about his TR6R. "If you ever think about selling your TR6R, please let me know, it would be going to a great home. Thank you again for your time." I typed. An hour later he sent a reply. "I would sell the TR6R for $X,XXX, it has a clean title". I almost fell out of chair from joy! I wasn't looking to buy a motorcycle and all the sudden so quickly I could be a new owner.

 

 

Side View Of Triumph Tiger TR6R
Side view; Original paint, 1968 DLS brake, original reflectors, etc
I proceeded to load up the trailer and head out to Johns place, again. Upon entering Johns driveway, there was my '68 sitting outside in the sun for its new owner. This TR6R still has the original paint, wiring loom, large MA12 coils and even the dealer sticker placed on the chain guard. Originally sold at "Good Guys" Honda-Triumph back in 1968. They where located in Ventura, Ca. Once we got it back to the shop we changed the oil, cleaned the points, checked the gaps, cleaned the carb, checked oil return flow, new spark plugs and kicked her over.... and she runs! I believe this TR6R has had a top end job many, many years ago. But the bottom end I'm sure has not been touched. With 26,XXX miles, there should be plenty of life left in the bottom end. Please click on the link below to see a short clip of the 1968 Triumph TR6R in action. By the way in case your wondering... we will not be restoring this bike, we will keep it original "as is". -C.B.S.

 

Update (Getting The 1968 Triumph TR6R Road Ready)

 

Inspecting the Lucas wiring on a 1968 Triumph TR6R Tiger 650

 Inspecting the original Lucas wiring harness

 

Getting the 1968 Triumph TR6R Tiger road ready will take more additional work. When it comes to safety, that is step number #1. With the bike sitting for a very long, bearings can develop rust inside and outside the engine. In particular, wheel bearings. Wheel bearings must be changed and replaced with sealed ball bearings to ensure long life. "Fit and forget". We started with the wiring. As we all know Lucas is known as the "Prince of darkness"! The original wiring harness would have been cloth covered from the factory. Now the cloth is gone and has been taped over by a previous owner at sometime. I cut the tape from the headlight bucket all the way down to the coils. I noticed that a wire had been repaired at sometime, other then that, everything appeared to be fine. I also added a solid white wire to the negative terminal on the coil for the ignition switch green indicator light as it was strangely missing it. It does have the correct Lucas 31356 dipper switch on the bars and works very nicely. We also installed a pilot light for the parking light as it was also missing that. All terminals connecting to the coil and grounds where cleaned very well to ensure a nice solid ground. This bike was exposed to nature at some point near the ocean, and some sections of the frame show the damage from rust. Nothing major.

 

New 1/4" Steering Ball Bearings Installed

   New 1/4" steering stem ball bearings installed

 

 We needed to remove the front wheel, trees and forks to obtain accesses to the steering bearings. Usually the bottom steering race is subjected to rust and corrosion. In fact, I was surprised that the top and bottom races where in very nice shape. As you can, I left the rust on the bottom yoke exactly where I found it! I want to keep this bike "as is" as much as possible. 40 new 60-2364 1/4" chrome ball bearings where installed for the top and bottom races. While we had the top and bottom yokes off, we went ahead and changed the p-clamps, bushings and p-clamp isolastic rubbers. Unfortunately we couldn't salvage the p-clamps. The lock nuts on the bottom where stripped and the clamps had to be cut off. That task in its self took hours of delicate work. 

 

 

Front Forks Installed & Rebuilt On The 1968 Tiger

 Rebuilt front forks installed with new seals, springs and oil

 

Surprisingly the front forks worked quite well for them not being serviced. The bottom stanchions where in nice shape. The top, not so much. Getting the tubes out of the yokes was a real chore. The slight surface rust caused the tubes to become stuck but with the help of WD-40, we managed to get them off. Fork tubes and seals where replaced by EMGO parts that we stock. We recommend using 20W Maxima non-foaming fork oil which can be found at a local motorcycle shop.

 

 

Grey Face Smiths Tach & Speedo For Triumph Rebuilt
Original Smiths grey face tach & speedo rebuilt
The original grey face Smiths tachometer and speedometer gauges where rebuilt by Bob Carter in Oregon. Bob does an amazing job on restoring Smiths magnetic gauges. Miles where not reset as requested. 26,XXX happens to be the original miles on this 1968 Triumph TR6R. 1968 appears to be the last year they used the Lucas 987 screw-in bulbs for the tach and speedo. A 987 bulb happens to be only 3 watts so we changed the bulb holders to the later type as used from 1969 & on that use a 989 push and turn 4 watt bulb. The Lucas 31788 toggle switch was replaced with a new EMGO switch as the original switch had a broken know. Of course, we saved all the old parts that did work and did not. Ammeter is not correct for 1968 but it works well with a smooth function therefore we will leave it for the time being. 

 

1968 Triumph TR6R Tiger Photo Shoot
Photo shoot with the 1968 Triumph TR6R on a local back road 
Today was the maiden voyage for the 1968 Triumph TR6R Tiger 650. All the prepping and additional work would now be put to the test. We where set back during the testing stages around the shop a few days prior. The carb that was on my '68 was an Amal 928 28MM carb. As most know, the TR6R had an Amal 930 Concentric carburetor as stock. I was happy with the 928 carb and had plans to use it. I really liked the throttle response that it provided. I would loose some top speed, but I wasn't worried about that. I raised the throttle needle clip to the highest groove to lean it out a bit. As soon as I fired the bike up it started to idle funny. It was actually running richer despite the fact that positioning the clip on the highest groove would lean it out. I used my pilot jet cleaning drill, checked the float height, cleaned the carb and still, the problem persisted. Swapped out the incorrect carb with a new Amal Premier 930 Concentric carb and it started right up without any issues. I previously checked my timing and my advanced unit springs. With the 928 carb, it was performing very poorly once I changed the needle settings. Ill have to invest in an ultrasonic cleaner and really perform a deep clean on it, but for now the new Amal Premier 930 Concentric carburetor will do just fine. Our first destination was our local gas station. Once we filled up we headed out to Rosamond, Ca. Rosamond is approx 10 miles away. All flat and lengthy empty roads in the high desert, great for testing. As we approached a stop sign everything felt good. As we began to leave the stop sign we heard a pinging noise. We suspect it was the cheap non-premium gas that we put in. We rode over to grab some grub at a joint called Crazy Ottos. Other than the pinging at take off under load, the bike had 0 problems. The engine sounded like a typical Triumph twin... full of noises! Tappets, lifters, gears, etc. A quick spark plug check before we ate, everything looked good. Slightly on the lean side but all looked good for now.

 

1968 Triumph TR6R Tiger & 1969 BSA A65 Lightning 650
1968 Triumph TR6R Tiger along side my 1969 BSA A65 Lightning 650
I rode my 1968 Triumph TR6R Tiger and my brother rode his 1969 BSA A65 Lightning to a local a bar just south of us in Lake Elizabeth. The "Rock Inn" (not pictured) is a historic building. At one point it was a Hotel dating back to the 1930's? Perhaps even earlier... None the less, the ride is a real joy and you can really put your bike to the test as it is mostly moderate canyon roads. Another plug check and I have decided to go up one size on the main jet. Anymore lean could be an issue. I would rather be safe then sorry. Here in the high desert heat can be a problem, summer heat ranges from 90-110 degrees daily. I am very happy with the handling and performance of my 1968 Triumph TR6R Tiger. There are some things that I still have to sort out and would like to check. If time permits, I will be taking off the rear wheel to inspect the bearings and the brake shoes. The oil will be flushed again along with the oil tank. I want to make sure everything gets thoroughly cleaned. Now that the bike has been deemed to be road ready, I can invest more time that is needed.   

 

X Long Swing Arm On The Triumph 650 Tiger
Swing marked with an "X" from the Triumph factory to state that this is the stronger variation.
I pulled the rear wheel off to inspect the brake shoes and bearings. Overall, the condition of all components where not to bad. It still had the original SKF Great Britain wheel bearings which are original. We replaced both bearings with the same sealed bearings we stock and the same bearings we also used on the front wheel. Once the new bearings where installed, the wheel spun very nicely without any hang ups. The brake shoes where original but had new liner installed at some point. The drum is in nice shape with some signs of where but nothing to take away from the performance. We used a fine sand paper to clean up the brake drum lining and used the same brake shoes. The rear tire that was on it was cracking from age so we decided to install a new tire while the wheel was off. We wanted to keep the bike as close to original as possible so we installed a genuine Dunlop K70 rear 4.00X18 tire. Also, the wheel bearings that where removed from the front and rear wheels where all a C3 condition wheel bearing. Many are unaware of the different conditions that bearings have. Most wheel bearings that I have seen are usually a C3 fit. The bearings we stock in most cases are a C3 fit which is correct for my 1968 Triumph TR6R. A quick Google search on "bearing clearances" and you will find more in depth information. The Renold final drive chain had to go in the trash... it was stretched beyond use. Notice the X stamping on the swing arm? I have been told that early 1968 650 models had an X on the swing arm as it was much stronger in design than the prior years.

 

 

 Under the seat of the 1968 Triumph TR6R.

Over the weekend I wanted to replace all the rubber components under the seat, which include the battery tray / strap rubber grommets and the large bottom oil tank grommet. Since I needed to change the oil... I decided to drain the oil and to pull the entire oil tank off. The oil tank filter was spotless,  but I wanted to be 100% sure that it was clean inside. I used my LED flashlight to shine some light inside and I could see sludge sitting at the bottom. I literally cleaned this oil tank for an hour flushing out the oil and sludge out with petrol and cleaning solevant. I squeezed in a steel wool pad to help remove the thick sludge. It worked very well. With the front wheel, rear wheel, forks, electrical, Amal carburetor, and oil tank having been rebuilt, cleaned or inspected, its safe to day that this bike is now ready for the road. I feel much more confident that the oil tank is clean. You can see I installed the optional blue Lucas 2MC capacitor. Disconnect the fuse, turn the key on, tickle the carb and it will run off the Lucas 2MC capacitor. Once running you will be able to turn your lights on. The Lucas 2MC capacitor was designed for emergency use if your battery where to fail but it was quickly picked up by off road enthusiasts that liked the idea of eliminating your battery. Today, many British bikes and even American / Japanese bikes have retro fitted the Lucas 2MC capacitor to there machines. It's pretty amazing of what a little capacitor can do...     

 

 

35601 Lucas Kill Button

 Lucas 35601 cut-off button installed

I had an extra Lucas kill button laying around and decided to install it on the handlebar. Although it's not technically "correct" for a 1968 model, it does also look good and may come in handy. In an emergency, I don't have to reach over and turn the key off, I can simply use my left hand thumb and press the cut off button. This Lucas kill switch is also called the Lucas "mammoth" kill button as it is rather large for a typical kill button. This is the brown button variety as used on Triumph twins with standard ignitions from approx 1966-1967 according to factory Triumph parts books. This kill button looks the same as the types used on Triumph and BSA models with the E.T. ignition, they are different and should not be interchanged. Original part number for the Lucas brown button kill button is 35601.   

 

 Inside The Inner Gearbox Cover Triumph TR6R

Outside view of the inner transmission cover once cleaned

 

Your probably wondering how we went from praising this motorcycle, stating that this TR6R is now road worthy, how original it is, down to pulling the inner and outer gearbox covers. Don't let the photo fool you as there is no problem at all. In fact, we pulled the inner and outer gearbox covers to simply change the gaskets, that's all. We did find some interesting aspects about this 1968 Triumph TR6R that may tell a little history of its life story. Upon pulling the outer gearbox cover off, I noticed that the mainshaft nut was loose. When I mean loose, you could remove it with your hand. The only way it was secured was by the tab washer. There was also a random spring sitting on the bottom cover. To this day, it is unknown where it came from and why it was in the outer cover. As pulled the inner cover off, I was amazed to see the condition of the transmission. No rust, no wear, and no sludge. It almost appeared to been rebuilt at some point? Which leads me to believe, has this motor been rebuilt? If so, why? Was it rebuilt under a warranty for some reason? Its really hard to say, the condition internally is mind blowing considering where it was found and its use. Still had the original RHP mainshaft bearing and Torrington needle bearing. While I was in the transmission,  I decided to replace the kickstart return spring, all gaskets, kickstart bushing, shifter return springs, and the gear change o-ring. I inspected all parts and everything was fine. Again, there where no problems before, so I wasn't expecting to find anything out of the ordinary. The inner and outer gearbox cases where meticulously cleaned to allow an oil tight seal once I installed the new gaskets. Some folks do not like putting gaskets on the inner gearbox cover as it may increase the end float. While that is true, the workshop manual states that the end float should be "perceptible". Interpret that on your own. I Indexed the transmission with the camplate in 4th gear. It took me a few tries to get it right but I got it. Torqued the mainshaft nut to 45 Ft lbs and buttoned everything else up. If your curious, the selector forks in my 1968 Triumph TR6R where cast iron and not the later bronze types. From what I can tell, everything in this transmission is correct for a 1968 model as show in a 1968 Triumph parts book.

 

Dunlop K70 Front Tire

New Dunlop K70 front tire installed and mounted 

 

Adding more than 400 miles on my 1968 Triumph TR6R, all have really been trouble free miles. I did happen to pop the front tube. The front tire is new, but the quality was poor. It was made by "cheng shin" in Taiwan.  I replaced the front tire with a new genuine Dunlop K70 gold seal tire along with a new tube and rim tape. We did a quick static balance to keep everything in balance. Riding at night with the lights on, I noticed once I applied the rear brake, the whole electrical system would seem to fail. Almost as it was running strictly off the capacitor. I went through about 70% of all the electrical already, perhaps there is a short. I will go ahead and start fault finding. So far, Lucas has done me well!

 

 

Dead Battery On Triumph Tiger 650 

Side of the road on the outskirts on Lancaster, CA

 

Well, the Lucas "Prince of darkness" demons have taken over my 1968 Triumph TR6R for the moment. I may have to take it to a priest... Using my multi-meter and wiring diagram I went ahead and started searching under the seat and then moved to the headlight. Checking all wires I could rule out corrosion or a break in the wires. I also disconnected the capacitor. Once I disconnected the Lucas 2MC capacitor, I started the bike. Flicked the toggle switch to the center position and the lights came on. Took it down the road and it died in me. I had my meter on me so I checked the battery voltage right where the bike stood. Voltage was at a whopping 0.00 volts. There's my problem... Well, sort of. The electrical system is showing a charge, but what would cause the battery to go flat? The battery is new and the sealed type. I turned my focus on the Lucas zenor diode. If the Lucas zenor diode where to fail, it would basically over charge the battery. Perhaps that is why my battery went flat, at one point when the Lucas zenor diode failed, it could have overcharged the battery and damaged it. I did some testing on the old Diode and it appears to be the root of the problem. I cleaned all ground contact points with emery cloth to ensure a solid ground. Judging by the surface rust, the Lucas zenor diode may have failed simply because the ground was poor. As the Lucas zenor diode is the voltage regulator, if the ground is poor, the extra voltage cannot shed to the frame or heat-sink. I installed a new sealed battery and also a new Lucas type zenor diode. Took the 1968 Triumph TR6R for a long local ride and everything was operating smoothly. I took my multi-meter with me and watched the voltage on the battery. I just wanted to make sure that the zenor diode was regulating the voltage and not overcharging the battery. Since the battery was new @14V, the zenor diode technically shouldn't be charging the battery as it is at it's safest peak (voltage rating speaking). Ammeter shows a nice + charge. To sum it up, when I was experiencing dim lightning almost as it was running on the capacitor, in reality, it was running on the capacitor. With the battery being @0.00 volts, the capacitor was the "backup". I'm glad I installed the Lucas 2MC capacitor, if I did not install it, I would have been stranded in the middle of no where.... Thank you Joseph Lucas, always a pleasure.

 

 

Under The Seat

 Under the seat. Shown sealed battery and Lucas 2MC capacitor.

 

Since I was working under the seat, I cleaned up the wiring, installed a new fuse holder, and added a safety check wire for the seat and also removed the long ugly ground wire that was running from the + side of the battery to the center of the rear fender. I instead added the ground wire from the + side of the battery to the oil tank bracket. It's a good location for a ground and it's barley visible. By the way, all parts that I use on my 1968 Triumph TR6R, and on my other motorcycles can be found here in store if anyone is interested or is experiencing something similar to my problems!

 

Triumph Tachometer Drive Gear Box

Triumph 650 tachometer gearbox disassembled

 

I've been procrastinating on removing the tachometer gearbox on my 1968 Triumph Tiger. It had developed a leak as I suspected the seals and o-rings needed to be replaced. Everything was cleaned and thoroughly checked with a magnifying glass. There was slight surface rust on the ends of the gears but where easily buffed off using a soft brash brush. The gears where in almost perfect shape. There was very little "play" once the gear drive was installed in the bushing but I would imagine the "play" was adequate as oil does have to travel around the bushing. Everything checked-out ok.  

 

 

 


36 comments

  • Tim Winfield

    I’m going to spend the winter putting my ‘68 Tiger back together. I rescued it from life as a badly built and dangerous bobber. Silicone had, I swear, been applied with a caulking gun and one of the cam followers had actually broken and seized! The motor was stripped and the sludge trap was removed as it was about 99% full. The motor has been given a complete rebuild and will be going into a powder coated frame along with a stock sub frame and swing arm set up. This is definitely going to be a “shiny bike” restoration but I have to say that the “as found” look is very cool. In fact that’s how I’m going with a 1950 Royal Enfield J2- rusty chrome, faded paint and all. Chrome don’t get you home! Cheers, Tim.

  • Stephen Fellowes

    Came across this article by accident whilst looking for the correct ammeter for a 1970 Bonneville, like what you’ve done and how you explained it.
    Did you ever get the correct ammeter as I can’t find one, the part number is right but wrong type of ammeter is shown in the picture by vendors.

  • Paul Bushey

    I found a 67 tiger 650 and it needs a lot of work but my plan is to fully restore her with your help.
    I’m in tear down mode and I know it will take me a couple years

  • Joe Michaud

    Great article. Very dense with info. ‘66-’68 Triumphs are my drug of choice. Building a ’66 bitsa right now and had a tough time finding useable fork parts to build a shuttle-valve setup to run a TLS brake.
    My wife reminded me, after I threw a wrench, that “patience is the capacity of calm endurance.”
    Playing with old bikes requires patience. Still love ’em, though.
    Thanks for the tech tips.

  • Don Nelson

    enjoyed your story,very well done,i also have a 66 TR 6 R,a great Bike ,everyday rider for over 35 years

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