Most of the time, if you’re watching an Allen Millyard video, it’s because he’s taken the time to show anyone interested around one of his builds. Still, the thing about being particularly good at doing something—anything, really—is that no matter how much you love it, that doesn’t mean it’s the only thing you do. Master winemakers probably like to drink someone else’s wine once in a while, you know?
Although Millyard is known worldwide (well, in certain circles) for his one-of-a-kind custom bike builds, the main thing about him is that he loves bikes, in general, as a category of vehicle. Also, sometimes you just want to blend in instead of standing out. That’s why Millyard is fond of his Honda ST1100s as daily commuters. He started out with a green one, and when the opportunity to purchase a newer red one with much lower miles came up, he decided to grab that one for his stable as well.
While it’s true that ST1100s are known for their reliability, and that people don’t often take the engines apart—people also aren’t Allen Millyard. He noticed a strange sound coming from the engine of the red one while out riding, and he didn’t like it. So, of course, he decided it was time to take the engine out and take it apart for a thorough inspection.
So far, we’re two episodes into Millyard’s ST1100 engine rebuild series, and we’ve learned a few things. For one, a gasket on the oil pump was apparently incorrectly installed from the factory, since it’s never been apart before and was visibly deformed when Millyard took it apart. Like all the other gaskets, he of course intended to replace it when putting the engine back together, but there’s a possibility that it’s part of the problem—although it’s definitely not the whole problem.
Delving further into the engine, Millyard takes apart the big end caps and examines the shell bearings. Matching the specifications of the connecting rods to what the Honda manual says should be there reveals that one of the bearings may be of an incorrect specification. The clearance is also incorrect, which could be explained by that incorrect bearing—so he’s ordered correct new-old-stock replacement parts. Then comes the least fun part of working on any bike—waiting.
Still, waiting for parts means it’s a good time for a tea break, and also to see what Tracy’s doing in the house. Throughout the two videos, we learn some unsurprising things about the Millyard household, which are of course charming nonetheless.
Firstly, there’s a titanium valve from one of Millyard’s early race bikes that hangs on the Christmas tree as an ornament, and it makes total sense. Secondly, they have a couple of little hedgehog houses out in the garden, where their local hedgehogs can take shelter as the winter sets in. Each day, they refill the food and water and clean up any mess the hedgehogs have made, so they’re ready again by nightfall.
In the second video, we learn that Millyard decided that, while the engine was apart anyway, he really didn’t care for the whining sound that his gearbox was making. So, he did what anyone would do, and he sourced a secondhand one to try to solve the problem. Luckily, the secondhand one seems to be in quite good shape, and a teardown, inspection, cleaning, and reassembly of the newly-sourced secondhand parts in his original case seems to have worked nicely.
Now that’s ready for when the rest of the parts come in, and he can get on with fully rebuilding the engine. The waiting is, as ever, the hardest part—but new parts days are always the best days of the week.