Davin repairs The Fonz’s Triumph TR5 - Hagerty Media
There have been some really sweet rides (and parts of rides) that have rolled through the Redline Rebuild garage. Davin has accomplished some wild transformations, but his latest project is simple when compared to a full rebuild or restoration—at least, it’s simple on paper. He’s just getting a motorcycle running. How hard could that really be?
Well, for starters, this isn’t just any ol’ bike. No, this Triumph is even more famous than Davin. It is the silver 1952 Triumph TR5 that the leather-jacket-clad Arthur Herbert Fonzarelli rode during the Happy Days television show. Its current owner loaned it to Hagerty to display in our Traverse City, Michigan, headquarters, and when Davin heard that the bike wasn’t running, he decided to take action. When the bike’s display term was up, the Triumph went straight to the garage.
“I really wasn’t sure how bad [the bike] was. A once-over look sure looked like everything was there,” said Davin. “I have brought back rougher stuff, so I figure this couldn’t be that bad.”
However, Davin’s initial diagnosis would prove overly optimistic. The twin-cylinder wasn’t stuck like the Buick Nailhead V-8 he tackled last year, but it was missing fuel lines and had no spark from either spark plug. Davin dug a little deeper. Gunk filled the oil tank, and one of the oil feed lines was split. The carburetor was missing pieces and its gaskets were dried out.
“It was a little worse than I expected,” Davin admitted, “but [with] a carb kit and some time with the right tools, it came around.”
Choosing the right tools to resurrect the Triumph involved more than simply grabbing a few wrenches from the garage tool chest. The Triumph was built with Whitworth hardware, meaning that Davin’s set of imperial and metric wrenches were all but worthless. The adjustable wrench did work, but to avoid rounding any hardware, Davin borrowed a set of Whitworth wrenches from a fellow gearhead.
With a rebuilt magneto—which is both a generator and a distributor—installed and timed, the 500cc twin rumbled to life. Of course, it wasn’t long before Davin donned a leather jacket and took the bike for a ride around the parking lot.
Now that the bike is running again, where would you ride this machine? Tell us in the comments below.