The Square Four engine was designed by Edward Turner in 1928 and produced by Ariel Motorcycle Co. between 1931 and 1959. It is a very different type of four cylinder engine. These are two parallel twin motorcycle engines in a single crankcase. The two crankshafts are geared together and spin in opposite directions, canceling out all the vibrations you usually get on a motorcycle.
They were originally 600cc but after a few years they all had a capacity of 1000cc.
My dad had one when he was younger and always praised its ride, smoothness and performance. So when I saw an ad for a Square Four for sale in Broken Hill in 1970, I bought it. Over the next two years I collected a large number of pieces to help with the restoration.
Restoration plans were put on the back burner when I married Valerie in 1973. The usual suspects of lack of money, time, family priorities and work meant I didn’t start restoration until around 2002 , when Rodney McCue bought parts from me and his enthusiasm prompted me to start the restoration, despite working seven nights a week at the time. With Rodney’s guidance and help, the restoration slowly progressed until around 2011.
Most of it was done – but I realized I had neglected to install one part in the correct order, and that meant many hours of disassembly and redoing.
Have I got? – no, I spit out the dummy, bought a used road bike, got another job and poor Ariel left. I started camping again and went on numerous camping trips and five times abroad. I had a lot on my plate, as I also restarted my clock and phone restoration efforts. Despite many requests from everyone, but mainly from John Courtney, I did nothing on the Ariel for almost ten years.
When COVID-19 hit in 2020 I did some bathroom renovations, then once that was done I had a brilliant idea – why not finish the Ariel? After two months, in July 2020, the bike was ready to go. On his second try I broke a primary chain (because I had it set too tight) and when it broke it destroyed part of the primary crankshaft sprocket.
No worries, I’ll get one from the spares supplier Ariel in England. England was in chaos due to COVID and the play wouldn’t be ready for 9 months. Thus, the Ariel project still languished.
In December of the same year, the dragonfly wrote to me and said that the part would not be ready for at least a year (and I still have it out of stock to this day). So plan B, could the broken part be salvaged?
Eventually many engineering companies later – I ended up at Murray Bridge and Nance Engineering rebuilt the part. So back all together and it looks good and it goes well.
It took 52 years to restore, certainly a slow project.