1953 Triumph Thunderbird

Sitting in for the 1953 Triumph Thunderbird is this lovely 1951 Triumph Thunderbird 6T. Very similar to the 1953 model, they share in common the rigid frame with sprung rear hub, forks, brakes, bodywork & cycle gear. Paint colors & minor trim features vary. Unfortunately, no photo was available at this time of a proper 1953 T-bird, so we had to make do with this. We need pictures of your bike to help round out our inventory. If you have a 1953 Triumph Thunderbird, please SEND PICTURES!


1953 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - MODERN ELECTRICS
The 1953 Triumph Thunderbird benefited from the switch to alternator electrics, points & coils for ignition. Gone were the old magneto (spark) & dynamo (lights). The new electrics appeared first on the 500cc 5T, then began appearing on other models throughout the model year.

1953 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - PRIMARY SIDE
The new Lucas RM12 alternator lived in the primary chaincase on the outer left end of the crankshaft. Changes to the primary cases were made to accomodate & a large, elegant bulge appeared on the outer primary case that would evolve into the lovely Triumph logo that would appear on later Unit Construction twins. The points were located in a distributor which occupied the space behind the cylinders where the magneto used to live, and was driven by the same method: gear-driven off the inlet cam gear.

1953 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - NEW ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
The 1953 Triumph Thunderbird had no means of voltage regulation, just a simple full-wave, 2-plate rectifier under the seat for converting AC to DC current. In case of a dead battery, an "Emergency" switch brought the alternator's full output into the ignition circuit, making it easier to start. The old magnetos were self-sufficient & would start no matter what. These new-fangled alternators & coils were suspect in the eyes of the public. Engine mounting plates were modified to deal with the absence of the dynamo.
1953 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - ENGINE SHOCK ABSORBER
One nice feature that pre-unit Triumph twins had prior to the alternator was a very neat engine shock absorber that occupied the place at the left end of the crank now taken by the new alternator. This shock absorber was really an ingenious contraption. It was comprised of two pieces cammed to one another with ramps & pushed together with a spring. One was hooked to the crank & the other to the primary engine sprocket. It allowed a certain amount of "give" in the form of some controlled slippage in both directions between the two pieces along their ramps, against the spring tension attempting to clamp them together. This served to quell engine vibrations so effectively that it made everything last longer: engine bearings, primary chain, gearbox, even the final drive chain were reputed to last longer due to the smoothing effect of the shock absorber. Unfortunately, this brilliant innovation had to be dumped to make room for the alternator. Attempts were made to accomplish the same task with a shock absorber inside the clutch hub, but nothing worked as well.

1953 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - TEETHING PROBLEMS
The early alternator systems had problems. The distributor was inaccessible, the wiring much more complex. The only way to get full power out of the alternator was to turn on the headlights. This triggered the alternator to go from 4 stator windings to 6. The critical air gap between alternator rotor & stator was proving vulnerable to play in the bottom end. Many fixes were tried, but not until the resin-encased the stator in 1968 did the problem truly get solved. Loose primary chains would also eat into the alternator wiring.

1953 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - DISTRIBUTOR GREMLINS
The distributor too was fraught with problems. It had one set of points & one coil, with a rotor & distributor cap, car-style. The small dimensions of the bushings also caused excessive wear.

1953 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - NEW ELECTRICS
While there were some early problems with the new electrical system, for the most part, the change was progress. And the good thing about alternators & points was that, when they did fail, the were much less costly than replacing a magneto or dynamo. However, magnetos were retained on some pre-unit sport models, as racers preferred them & Triumph Motorcycles didn't want to lose their business to BSA or Norton, who were still offering the mag.

1953 TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD - CARRYOVER
Otherwise, the 1953 Triumph Thunderbird was pretty much carried over from 1952. The same rigid frame & sprung rear hub that had been with us since the War were on their last year. 1954 would see the introduction, finally, of a proper swing arm rear suspension.


1953 Triumph Thunderbird SPECIFICATIONS


Engine type

Displacement

Bore & Stroke

Compression

Carburetor

Ignition

Engine output

Primary drive

Primary sprockets

Clutch

Gearbox

Ratios, overall:

1st, bottom

2nd

3rd

4th, top

Final drive

Final drive sprockets

Frame Type

Suspension, front

Suspension, rear

Brake, front

Brake, rear

Tire, front

Tire, rear

Wheelbase

Seat Height

Ground Clearance

Fuel capacity

Dry weight

Air-cooled OHV vertical twin, non-unit

649cc / 40.0 ci

71mm X 82mm / 2.79" X 3.23"

8.5:1 (US & export); 7.0:1 (UK)

1- SU Type MC2

Lucas magneto

34 bhp @ 6500 rpm

1/2" X .335" X 5/16" chain, 70 links

24T X 43T

Multi-plate, wet

4-speed constant mesh, right foot shift


11.9:1

8.25:1

5.81:1

4.88

5/8" X .400" X 3/8" chain, 101 links

18T X 46T

Brazed lug, rigid

Telescopic fork, hydraulic damping

Sprung rear hub, rigid frame

7" SLS drum

7" SLS drum

3.25" X 19"

3.50" X 19"

55.25" / 140.3 cm

31" / 77.5 cm

5" / 12.7 cm

3 Imp gal (US); 4 Imp gal (UK & export)

370 lbs / 168 kg


Check out these TRIUMPH BOOKS

COMPLETE BOOK OF CLASSIC & MODERN TRIUMPHS


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES IN AMERICA


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLE RESTORATION


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLE RESTORATION, PRE-UNIT


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE & TR6 RESTORATION GUIDE: 1956-1983


TALES OF TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES & THE MERIDEN FACTORY


TRIUMPH 650 & 750 TWINS OWNERS WORKSHOP MANUAL, 1963-1983


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE: ESSENTIAL BUYER’S GUIDE


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE: PORTRAIT OF A LEGEND


ILLUSTRATED TRIUMPH BUYER’S GUIDE, by Roy Bacon


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE, 2001-2015


TRIUMPH: PRODUCTION TESTERS TALES FROM MERIDEN


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLE RESTORATION GUIDE


TRIUMPH OWNERS HANDBOOK, UNIT-CONSTRUCTION 350 & 500, Kindle


TRIUMPH ILLUSTRATED WORKSHOP MANUAL 1945-1955, by Clymer


TRIUMPH TWINS & TRIPLES


FACTORY-ORIGINAL TRIUMPH TWINS, 1938-1962


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE & TR6, by Timothy Remus


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES: FROM SPEED TWIN TO BONNEVILLE


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES: THEIR RENAISSANCE & THE HINKLEY FACTORY


TRIUMPH PRE-UNIT TWINS OWNERS WORKSHOP MANUAL


TRIUMPH THRUXTON BONNEVILLE 1959-1969


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES ILLUSTRATED WORKSHOP MANUAL 1937-1951, by Clymer


TURNER’S TRIUMPHS: EDWARD TURNER & HIS TRIUMPHS


TRIUMPH TWIN RESTORATION, by Roy Bacon


TRIUMPH TIGER CUB & TERRIER 1952-1968, Haynes Repair Manual


TRIUMPH 675 DAYTONA & SPEED TRIPLE REPAIR MANUAL 2006-2010, Haynes


CLASSIC MOTORCYCLES: TRIUMPH


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE YEAR BY YEAR


TRIUMPH TRIPLES


TRIUMPH RACING MOTORCYCLES IN AMERICA


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES


TRIUMPH, by Roy Bacon


TRIUMPH 750/900 TRIPLES & 1200 FOURS 1991-1999, Haynes Repair Manual


TRIUMPH TROPHY BIBLE


TRIUMPH DAYTONA, SPEED TRIPLE SPRINT & TIGER: 885/955 1997-2005, Haynes Repair Manual


BSA & TRIUMPH TRIPLES GOLD PORTFOLIO 1968-1976


TRIUMPH TRIDENT OWNERS WORKSHOP MANUAL, by Haynes


TRIUMPH: A CENTURY OF PASSION & POWER


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE, by Osprey


TRIUMPH TIGER 100 & 110, 1939-1961, by Roy Bacon


TRIUMPH TIGER 100 & DAYTONA


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE, by Crowood


TRIUMPH by Don Morley


TRIUMPH TRIPLES & FOURS 1991 & 2004


TRIUMPH 350 & 500 1957-1974 ESSENTIAL BUYERS GUIDE


BONNIE: THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE


TRIUMPH SINGLES: EARLY DAYS TO 1974, by Roy Bacon


TRIUMPH: RETURN OF THE LEGEND


TRIUMPH FUEL INJECTED TRIPLES 1997-2000


BOOK OF TRIUMPH TWINS 1968-1969, by Floyd Clymer


THE TRIUMPH STORY: RACING & PRODUCTION MODELS 1902-PRESENT


TRIUMPH 350 & 500 TWINS 1958-1973, Haynes Repair Manual


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE 2001-=2008 ROAD TEST PORTFOLIO


HINKLEY TRIPLES & FOURS


TRIUMPH PRE-UNIT TWINS


HINKLEY TRIUMPHS: THE FIRST GENERATION


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE BIBLE: ALL MODELS 1959-1983


TRIUMPH TWENTY-ONE TO DAYTONA: C CLASS 350 & 500 TWINS


ORIGINAL TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE


TRIUMPH 650 & 750 TWINS


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES & CUSTOM BIKES


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES


TRIUMPH, THE LEGENDS SERIES


TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD SUPER PROFILE


TRIUMPH SPEED TWIN & THUNDERBIRD BIBLE


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE T120/T140


TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES FROM 1950-1983


TRIUMPH & BSA TRIPLES: THE COMPLETE STORY


TRIUMPH THUNDERBIRD, TROPHY & TIGER ESSENTIAL BUYERS GUIDE


TRIUMPH TIGER CUB BIBLE


ROAD RACING HISTORY OF THE TRIUMPH 500 UNIT TWIN


EDWARD TURNER: THE MAN BEHIND THE MOTORCYCLES


SAVE THE BONNEVILLE: THE INSIDE STORY OF THE MERIDEN WORKERS CO-OP


TRIUMPH DAYTONA 1991-2006 ROAD TEST PORTFOLIO


TRIUMPH DAYTONA 2003-2009 ROAD TEST PORTFOLIO


TRIUMPH TIGER 100 / DAYTONA: DEVELOPMENT HISTORY


TRIUMPH, by Daniel Gilpin


BOOK OF TRIUMPH MOTORCYCLES ILLUSTRATED SHOP MANUAL 1935-1939


TRIUMPH: THE RACING STORY


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE T120 1959-1974, by Roy Bacon


TRIUMPH BONNEVILLE GOLD PORTFOLIO 1959-1983


TRIUMPH TRIDENT SUPER PROFILE


ILLUSTRATED TRIUMPH BUYERS GUIDE, by Roy Bacon






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