An old Russian - A brief restoration story

I had been looking around for a bike to restore for a few months - I wanted something unusual but also that I could take for the occasional ride. I found this old Russian M72 (A copy of the 1939 BMW R71) which had been imported from Russia some years ago but the importer had never got around to getting it running. The bike was basically 90% complete if somewhat rusty and clogged up with 50 odd years of grime - It was missing the rear carrier and pillion seat, few controls horn switch, dip switch etc, and wasn't running. I bought it from Queensland from just a couple of pictures so took a bit of a risk but I fell in love with the style and look of the bike - Love the back to front clutch and brake levers.

Once the bike arrived my first thought was to get it running but with the fuel tank full of rusty dirt and all the cables seized and/or missing I wasn't too optomistic - at least it turned over ok. After a couple of days of pulling the fuel system apart and cleaning out the tank and carbies I did manage to get the bike running (on 1 cylinder) so at least I knew the engine was a goer.
So I then started in earnest and stripped the bike down to its component parts - I stripped everything back to bare metal, removed all the rust  and started on the restoration in earnest. I'd never restored a bike before - In fact haven't riden for about 30 years since I ran around on trail bikes back on the farm (I think its called a mid life crisis). My plan was always to do everything on the bike myself as I think the satisfaction is much higher that way when you look at the completed project.

Frame         Guards

I spent my Christmas holidays in 2013 stripping, bodyworking and painting. I Painted it in 2 pack which was a first for me as I have only ever used acrylic paint before - It came out pretty well but I think acrylic is much easier to use -  2 pack takes forever to dry which is fine if you have a spray booth but a hassle if you don't.

Primer           Primer
frame          Tank
Bike           Engine

I had the engine soda blasted which cleaned it up nicely and everything went back together reasonably painlessly - I found a great resource on the internet (cvkustoms)
which had a service manual and heaps of other documentation which was invaluable in setting up the timing, carbies etc. I finished the bulk of the restoration fairly quickly but then spent the next 12 months or so tidying up and adding a few additional items. I had to modify a carrier from a later model bike to fit then add a new pillion seat. I had to do some work on the mechanical regulator to get the battery charging reliably. I bought new cables over the internet which I was assured would fit the bike perfectly and when they arrived of the 6 cables the number that actually fitted without modification was exactly zero. I had them modified by the local cable guys to suit so not a total loss.

I wanted to add indicators to the bike as a small concession to safety and wanted to use LED style ones as they were smaller and more discreet and so didn't detract from the overall look of the bike - Only issue was the bike is 6V positive ground and LED indicators are 12V negative ground. I managed to get around this eventually by purchasing a 6V to 12 V DC converter ($5 off ebay) which I hid inside the headlight. I then mounted the indicators totally isolated from the bike frame and fed them with the 12V from the converter via some fancy switching.

Some other challenges along the way included having to try and source metric exhaust tubing as apparently Australia only has imperial size pipe which would't fit, finding 6V globes to fit the custom holders for the speedo light, and not to forget trying to get the Transport department to recognize IMZ as the bikes manufacturer to get it registered. - I finally gave up and registered it as a URAL which isn't technically correct but got the job done. Other than that there were just the usual plethora of stripped and broken bolts to drill out, broken parts to reweld and sundry bits to manufacture to make it all work. The engine turned out to be in pretty good condition - I cleaned it up, put new head gaskets, plugs, etc on and just cleaned up everything else. The distributor was seized but after dimantling and a good soak it came up nicely.

My latest addition was to add a couple of (Australian) Ammo bokes as Panniers to the bike as I found there was no room to carry
much in the way of tools etc as the only storage was the small toolbox in the fuel tank (Always a good idea to carry at least a basic tool kit with a bike of this age - amazing what you can fix on the side of the road with a pair of pliers and a roll of wire as the bike is pretty basic and agricultural). While these aren't exactly period correct I made them so that they can be easily removed as I mounted them on a custom made frame which bolts onto the existing mounts for the pillion seat. I also got the local printers to print me a couple of Russian stars and CCCP text to give them a slightly authentic feel. 

Have ridden the bike quite a few times now and am working out its idiosyncracies - such as brakes that rather than stopping tend to impede progress slightly and a clutch that doesn't like sitting in gear not moving for any length of time (as I found out on last years toy run when it kept binding up on me whenever we would stop for any extended period - To complicate matters it's almost impossible to get the bike into neutral when this happens without stopping the motor and restarting).

I also have a small oil leak (not uncommon on Russian bikes so I'm led to believe - You start worrying when they stop dripping oil apparently). I may pull the engine out in the near future for a minor rebuild. I've had the heads off and the pistons, valves etc are all good but it could use a new gasket kit.

All in all though I have defintely fallen in love with the bike - Has a lot more character than the new modern bikes.