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I am looking for advice on the Auto Lubrication system on my FB 1928 Model 9. It has the Villiers Super Sports TT 172cc engine. I think I have the Mark 1 Auto Lube system as part of the fuel tank is sectioned off for the oil tank with the sight feed fitted.

I am recommissioning a bike that hasn't run in years and have no prior experience of these systems but have read some information found online. I understand the basic principles of the system and the importance of retaining pressure within it. When starting the bike for a short time today oil was intermittently 'spattering' onto the glass of the sight feed, but there was no real flow of oil to speak of. I opened the regulator screw fully to try to increase flow but it seemed to have no effect. Initially there was plenty of smoke from the exhaust but this quickly stopped with little or no smoke.

I ran out of time today but my intention is to check all of the unions of the oil system manually, today, visually, there were no leaks.

My question is; how much oil should I see in the sight feed cup, should there be a steady flow of oil which increases as the revs of the engine increase?

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Anything that looked like a steady flow would be huge oil consumption, to my mind.

The VMCC or British Two-Stroke Club should be able to point you toward a manual.


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Before answering can I sugggest that you ask all your questions on one thread so there is a steady narrative? We then have an ongoing story about one machine and it's much easier for readers to follow and us to answer.
Now, the Villiers Autolube system. Works well when perfect but is totally unforgiving. One mistake and no oil flow.You don't find this out immediately as the engine runs on what oil is already in the delivery pipe so you're not quite sure what happened.. As you can quite cheerfully ignore the Autolube system and run on the standard Villiers petroil mix instead (they are quite interchangeable) many owners prefer to do this which is probably why you have the petroil cup under the tank cap. You can also run a combination of the two using petroil as a backup while you learn about the Autolube system slowly cutting down on the petroil as you up the Autolube input.
Villiers recommended all prewar engines be run on a 16:1 petrol/oil ratio. You can safely reduce this to 20:1 with a modern premix friendly two-stroke oil. I emphasize premix friendly as some modern two-stroke oils are for pump only systems so don't have whatever additive it is that encourages swift mingling of oil and fuel.
These old engines have plain bearing main bearings and gudgeon pin and long skirt pistons. Unlike modern engines which abound with ball, roller and needle bearings which minimize actual bearing surface and thus oil requirements they instead have large bearing surface areas which need lots of oil to work properly. Do NOT think you can reduce the oil needed "because modern oils are better". Oil companies don't like to admit the reduced oil ratios in modern two strokes arise just as much if not more from improved design as from their fancy oils.
The cheapest premix friendly oil you can find will be inifinitely better than anything the engine was expected to run on back in 1929 so anything marked down as 'greenkeepers oil' or suchlike will be quite okay. No need to waste money on fancy synthetic oils. With your engine they are irrelevant. You still need lots of oil to be sure it is where it is needed no matter how fancy.
To work effectively the Villiers Autolube system needs to be airtight.The oil tank is a pressurised vessel so the oil cap needs to have a perfect gasket and no air hole. Villiers also used compression olive pipe fittings on various elements of the system. These are a trap for young players as they are crush fittings and not meant to be reusable. If they are they eventually they can be done up tightly but not be airtight thus causing the system to fail. Having played with these systems for a long time I believe this to be the major cause of failure in most cases.
How much oil should you see passing through the sight feed? It's erratic according to engine speed and load plus with the vibration you'll be lucky to see anything productive as you ride. Best to operate on how much gets used when you check it each time you fill up with fuel. Broadly speaking Villiers expected about 1600 mpg of oil of their similar engines using petroil so if you are filling the oil tank at at about a consumption rate of 16-1800 mpg of oil, you're about right. Sounds rather casula but it's not as there are too many variables to take into account.
Now I'm going over to answer your question about gear box oil.

Last thing. Best manual is 'The Villier Engine" published by Pearsons in multiple editions from 1949 on. Author B.E.Browning. Multiple copies available on www.abebooks.com It's the most important Villiers book of all.

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Firstly, I'm sorry about the different threads, I'm not an avid Forum user so thought it would be a more organized approach. I'll use this thread exclusively from now on.

Interesting what you say about petroil / autolube interchangability. I saw this on the FBOC Forum which appears to advise against this;

"You have read ( or been told wrong) you will not run the autolube engine on petrol/oil mix for long before your main bearings/ bushes are shot. Use the autolube system or it will end in tears.
The autolube system feeds the oil into spirals in the crankcase bushes, it is oil in these grooves which lubricate the bushes and forms a crank case seal. Without oil in these bushes they will wear rapidly and the engine will be unable to start because of a poor seal and the crank will be moving about in the bushes giving a variable points gap.
Providing the oilways are clear and there is a good vacuum seal on the oil tank cap the autolube system works fine."

Be interested to have your views on this.

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Well I don't have a Villiers with Autolube, but I'd firstly comment that Villiers didn't persist with it after the war, so that says something in itself. And, secondly, if the Autolube relies on the complete exclusion of air anywhere in the system, and some air does get in, then what happens then ?
Disaster, I'd think ??
And, postwar Villiers relied on petroil lubrication, and were considered tough little engines which did sterling service.
My little Villiers 125cc did duty about every day from 1945 to about 1970 on petroil, and was still in quite serviceable condition.
(the big end was getting a little rattly though)(and the clutch material was getting a bit thin)

Also, Villiers here has more villiers miles under his belt than any other ten of us, so ignore good advice at your own peril ? !!
Cheers !

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Thanks Rohan, appreciate the input. My knowledge of these systems is next to zero and so I'm on a very steep learning curve. I'm trying to gain as much info as possible from different sources and am certainly not going to ignore good advice. I'm certainly not setting out to cause offense but in this case there appears to be conflicting views....it's all very confusing for a novice like me.

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Can anyone confirm, I need to put straight monograde SAE 30 into the autolube system. I was thinking of Castrol Classic XL30??

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Originally Posted by Villiers
Last thing. Best manual is 'The Villier Engine" published by Pearsons in multiple editions from 1949 on. Author B.E.Browning. Multiple copies available on www.abebooks.com It's the most important Villiers book of all.
Does that just cover the pre-War engines, or early pre-War as well?
I could do with some decent material covering my late 1940s Waratah (6E engine from memory)

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Are you absolutely certain first there are no air leaks into your autolube system. ?
If the system is not perfectly airtight, it will be not good ....

Running it on petroil is what many resorted to if the autolube stopped autolubing ... ?
And wasn't the autolube an extra feature on some models, otherwise it was petroil ??

Whatever oil you put in it is going to be superior to what it had when new.
Not laying down a smokescreen is probably the order of the day.

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Yes, Burgs, thats a very curious answer about petroil/Autolube on the FBOC Forum but I don't give it much weight.The author talks of oil feeding into spirals in the bearing bushes. There are no spirals but there is the common machine cut figure of 8 oil way as was usual in many plain bearings of the day. Nothing unique because of the Autolube just standard trade practice. He also writes of a good vacuum seal on the oil tank cap. There's no vacuum, it's the opposite, it's pressurised. Finally he writes about wear in the bearing bushes causing a variable point gap. Every Villiers single with the points cam on the end of the crankshaft suffers the same problem whether plain bush or ball race mains and whether petroil or Autolube system. It's the same issue with all of them so why pick out petroil/Autolube as being unusual?
Nahh, I read it and tucked it away as one person's viewpoint but of not much value.
Next- using a monograde oil SAE 30 oil. I wrote to Castrol years ago about their two stroke oils. Basically they are a monograde SAE30 with additives to keep the ports clean, prevent the rings sticking and reduce spark plug fouling. No such thing as multigrade two-stroke oil. I'm an ancient dinosaur who started riding in a small Australian country town where two-stroke oil was something you read about in foreign motorcycle magazines. Believe me. I know how messy running a two stroke on regular motor oil can be. Two-stroke oil is marvellous. I haven't needed to decoke a two-stroke since I started using it and I don't miss decoking one bit.
Finally, for Shane in Oz, 'The Villiers Engine' by Browning gives general coverage of all Villiers motorcycle engines. It appeared in multiple editions from 1949 on and gives most coverage to the then current range. It is infinitely better than the equivalent Piitmans series although the early Pitmans (first edition 1929) are okay.

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Originally Posted by Villiers
Finally, for Shane in Oz, 'The Villiers Engine' by Browning gives general coverage of all Villiers motorcycle engines. It appeared in multiple editions from 1949 on and gives most coverage to the then current range. It is infinitely better than the equivalent Piitmans series although the early Pitmans (first edition 1929) are okay.
Thanks. I'll look for a copy.

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No need to look far. There's about a dozen copies for sale on the site I mentioned above, www.abebooks.com Be aware there is also "The Villiers Industrial Engine" by the same author and publisher.Not very exciting unless you've got a thing for concrete mixers and pumps.

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I bought a little Pearsons book for Francis Barnett, from 1946.
It covers about half a dozen Villiers engines - but not the 6E.

Note that prices for used booklets like these can vary all over the shop.
It sure pays to shop around - and anything from the US will likely be 'rare' and expensive.

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Thanks Villiers, I appreciate your views. Sorry for being dim here, but for the avoidance of doubt, you're recommending I don't put a 'normal' SAE 30 engine oil in the autolube system? I should use a dedicated 2-stroke oil intead? So castrol R40 from Castrol Classic Oils would be a good choice, yes?

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Castrol R sounds like a crazy choice to me.


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Castrol R40 is vegetable oil based and usually used for highly stressed racing engines. Using it creates unique complications . Not appropriate for your Super Sport. You don't need or want to use anything like that.
I don't know where you live and don't know what you have available locally so can't make specific suggestions but if you were here in Australia I would suggest Penrite Greenkeepers oil. This is an ordinary mineral base two-stroke oil blended for small two-strokes like yours. You can look it up on the net, read the specification and see what is your local equivalent.
There is little point in spending your money on exotic high tech synthetic two-stroke oils you find in motorcycle shops. You gain nothing and waste a lot of beer vouchers better spent on other things. You look elsewhere.
While we're about it the same goes for fuel. The cheapest low octane fuel at the pumps today is of monumentally higher octane and better than anything the Villiers factory could dream of when your engine was new. Nothing to be gained buying a premium fuel which your engine cannot take advantage of. Same remark about beer vouchers applies.

Tell us how you get on.

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villiers, you need to post more.

just sayin.


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I still think you are risking everything, when there is no guarantee this autolube system is still functional. ?
And were problematic when they were new even - any slight air leak anywhere and the autolube function goes away.

It is noted someplace that "not many autolube Villiers engine survive and are in use, any difficulties resulted in a wrecked engine"

Petroil is guaranteed to get oil to where it is needed.

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Fair go Rohan, It's delightful to find someone I can hand the baton over to. I can't be the only silly sod out there exploring the joys of the Villiers Autolube system. I need company. The fact that I could never be comfortable with it is neither here nor there. Burgs may be quite happy to live with the little voice whispering in his ear "Todays the day y'know. Pffft. Engine go bye bye's". In the end I couldn't. I went back to petroil.

Essentially it was sheer vanity. I have a real thing about Villiers reliability. My big fixation is that whatever event I'm in I NEVER come home on the pickup trailer. When I started Villiering there were far too many old boys out there only too eager to pounce with lurid Villiers horror stories. Eventually they all faded away as I learnt how reliable the old beasties could be if you just read the manuals and followed the instructions. There are a few tweaks to improve reliability a little further but that's about it. Going back to basics solved many self inflicted woes.

Hopefully Burgs will come back with more questions and we will move on to Fun with Villiers Carburettors and The Mystery of the Flywheel Magneto.

With luck we may even get on to Delights of the Albion Clutch and Sharing Your Life with an Albion Gearbox.

Something to look forward to isn't it.

Cheers,

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Heh heh.
I just thought I'd mention it.

Its too soon for a new acquisition to come back to us and say
" I followed your advice and now my engine is cactus"....
We like happy punters here. !

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Villiers / Rohan, I really appreciate your input and the benefit of your knowledge.

My gut feeling is that I'd like to persevere with the autolube system - I'm a sucker for originality and using things as they were designed (if at all possible). I'm not going racing or commuting on it, just the odd weekend jaunt for fun. I also think I'll be using a petroil mix side by side, at least at first, while I bulid my knowledge and confidence in the system.

Just thinking on for a second, if I ever did want to decommission the autolube system and rely soley on petroil, is there a proper way to do this - would I drain the system down, blank off pipework etc?

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Oh yes, I've also got a 1940's Snipe K48 which is my next project after the Model 9. It's a pretty straight bike so I don't envisage too much major work and obviously no autolube system, but do you guys know much about these bikes? As with the Model 9, owners manuals etc are on the way. I've also bought the Villiers Engine book as recomended so I'll have plenty of bedtime reading to do!

Thanks again for everything so far!

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The K48 looks like a fairly close relative of my little Villiers beastie, only mine is postwar.
What do you need to know, they are pretty straightforward - designed to be serviced by the village blacksmith !

https://cybermotorcycle.com/gallery/francis-barnett/images/Francis-Barnett-1940-Snipe-advert.jpg

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Hi Burgs,
Firstly, decommissioning the Autolube. That's a tricky one as there is no Villiers advice on the matter, you are on your own. Their attitude was you ran one system or the other. You didn't hop between. Reality is different.
In my own case when changing to petroil I never shut it off. I operated on the theory that air permanently shuffling through the system would keep it clear but blocking anywhere could possibly encourage hole blocking sludge. As I never went back to using the Autolube I never found out if my theory was right or not. Sorry, you're on your own.

As far as your Snipe goes, it holds no mysteries. It all revolves around what version of the 9D engine is sitting in it. Villiers started with the 8D in 1936, developed it into the identical appearance 9D in 1938 which then went on to be further developed for the wartime James ML (Military Lightweight). Finally, back in peacetime it stayed on the books until the next generation Villiers 125cc engine, the 10D, came out in 1949.

All these units are completely interchangeable, identical to the untrained eye and for years had no value. For a long time it was common practice to swap engines rather than rebuild them. It was much cheaper to pop down to your local wrecker and buy another used but not quite as worn engine rather than spend extra money on rebuilding the original. On top of this Villiers supplied the 9D with different carburettors for different markets plus the Army insisted that Villiers alter the carby to suit their way of doing things. All in all there is a maze of weird little traps to avoid and we start off by identifying exactly what you have.

Engine number first please and then we'll get on to carburettor identification.

You thought this was going to be easy didn't you!

Cheers,

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hey folks

are there any images of these things?

im interested but completely ignorant.

thanks


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