Ake Jonsson's 1972 Trans AMA Maico Resto
Ake Jonsson's 1972 Trans AMA Championship Maico is without a doubt one of the most significant and celebrated bikes in US motocross history. Ask any one that was alive in 1972. The number 27 Maico was featured in more publications than any other as the sport of motocross reached all time highs as far as participants go in the US during this era. It is synonomous with the late great Trans AMA series. Anyone that sees it knows exactly what it is, who rode it and what it did.
When it was decided to bring the bike back to the condition as it was after the last race of the series, we were getting into something we had never attempted before. Restoring a bike to restored condition is easy. Restoring a bike to NOS condition is very difficult and restoring a bike to as last raced is even harder yet. Of all the bikes in our collection the ones that really stand out are the ones that are in original "off the track" condition. DeCoster's World Championship RN73 comes to mind. When you see that bike in person, it practically takes your breath away. Since there was enough archival photos and information available we thought the bike deserved our best effort. Another advantage we had was that the bike was at least 95% original, a great start. What we didn't realize was how hard it would be and how long it would take. The entire process consummed a little more than a year. Below is a general documentation of the process from begining to end.
Ake Jonsson's 1972 Trans AMA championship bike as it arrived from Sweden.
After a one year restoration, mission complete!
Ake's Maico now sits as it did after winning the Trans-AMA series in December 1972.
A message from Ake Jonsson:
It is a great job you have done. I really know now that the bikes got to the right hands. All the documentations you have done is going to live for a long time.This is Moto Cross history and I am glad to be a part of it and like to thank you for an excellent job.
I am really proud to having raced that MAICO.
The best wishes
Ake Jonsson and his 1972 Trans-AMA Maico featured in this collection, never lost a race against the best riders in the world. Read more here.
Restoration step by step in photos
The bike sat in this spot for nearly two months while we gathered all the information from magazines and archive photos we could find pertaining to it's life on the 1972 Trans AMA circuit. Several calls to Ake were made regarding many details and notes were taken. Ake even contacted his mechanic from 1972 Curt Oberg who originally wrenched on the bike. Curt also provided valuable information. We were very careful not to dive into this project until we had a complete plan and all the information we felt we needed to bring the bike back as close as possible to the condition it was in after the final race at Saddleback. Of course we knew there would be surprises but our plan was basically to take each individual part and bring it to as close to original as possible using the archive photos as our guide. Many photos were scanned and blown up to scale size for reference purposes. This was especially helpful in the sticker location and the patina location to parts such as the frame, engine and gas tank that was added. Time was not an issue at all. If something wasn't right we just waited until we found the correct info to get it right. If the finish was wrong we repainted it until we got it right.
Once we were confident that we had enough information to bring back the bike to it's original condition we carefully started to disassemble the bike taking detailed photos of every part. This is an important step with any historical bike. It is very handy to be able to refer back to the disassembly photos especially after a long time has passed from start to finish on a resoration which is often the case with these bikes. We always have a file on the hard drive containing current and archive photos, scans of magazine articles and whatever else we can find pertaining to each bike.
The ignition coil sits as it did over 40 years ago. Archive photos are very helpful in routing the wires and mounting electrical components. It is easy to get it wrong by just randomly mounting a coil (backwards) or routing the wires were it looks convienient. It is details like this that really brought this bike together.
When disassembling the bike, the original yellow was found in two places, the overspray inside the airbox and in the filler cap of the gas tank. Both places had been out of the sun and we were able to get a perfect color match. In the above photo you can see that the original yellow color from the overspray in the airbox is much different than the shade of the restored yellow. We were also fairly confident that the silver paint on the frame was not correct and that it would probably be very difficult to get a perfect match, especially when we stripped the frame and found no remenant of any other silver. While researching the frame color it was discovered through archive photos that the frame originally was sprayed with a primer then it was painted black and then it was painted silver. This three color scheme could be seen where Ake's boots rubbed through the paint.
Here is the frame brought down to bare metal. We do not sand blast or bead blast frames when we strip the paint. We use paint stripper and brass and nylon brushes as to not disturb the welds and tubing. It takes a very long time but the end result is well worth it. The frame is now exactly as it was before painting back in 1972.
In this photo you can see where the motor mounts were beefed up and also note where the chain rubbed the frame. In some of the archive shots we have, the welds on the frame are very clear and match exactly the welds in the above photo. By not bead blasting or sand blasting the frame preserves details like this more clearly.
With the paint stripped away, you can see Reinhold Weir's work on moving the footpegs back 25mm to Ake's specification's. This modification was also performend on Ake's GP bike.
We really got lucky on the silver paint dilemma. A perfect sample of the original silver was found inside of the steering stem and like the yellow, it had been out of the sunlight avoiding any fading over the last 40+ years. It turns out our original assumption was right, the resprayed silver wasn't even close to the original silver.
Once the frame was stripped and the original silver matched, we sprayed the frame with the correct off-white primer that Maico used, then a coat of gloss black was sprayed and then finally the silver was applied. We let the paint cure for over two weeks and during this time we focused on other parts of the bike.
The original grind marks and welding of Reinhold Weir on the pegs, peg brackets and frame can still be seen under the painted frame.
Attention is now turned to the motor. The restored engine paint was a gloss black and the original was the exact paint that was found in limited areas under the gloss and the front hub that still retained it's original finish. The paint was carefully stripped and the correct black was mixed and applied. The 250 clutch can be seen in the above photo. Ake said the main advantage was that the bike accelerated harder with the smaller clutch.
To adapt the 250 clutch to the radial 400 a special spacer was hand machined out of aluminum to fit a modified old style clutch cover to the radial center cases. This also resulted in a narrower engine.
There it is, the 250 clutch that made the bike accelerate quicker and allowed for a narrower engine.
Evidence of blueprinting of the engine can be seen here. The motor was hand assembled by Reinhold Weir in the Maico race shop in Germany. The result; Not one DNF!
With archive photos as our guide patina is starting to be added to the cases as the lower end of the engine is placed into the frame. We also experimented with different abrasive pads to make new paint look 40 years old.
With most of the parts complete we begin to assemble the bike using archive photos as our guide.
The cylinder was stripped of the gloss black paint.
During round two at Honda Hills Ohio the carb came loose and almost cost Ake a DNF. To remedy this Curt Oberg drilled the cylinder and installed two hooks made from wire to hold a makeshift rubber band (made from an inner tube) that wrapped around the carb to keep it in place. The original wire hooks are under the red tape in the above photo.
This cylinder was sand cast in May 1972. The cylinder is a special cast cylinder that has no provision for a compression release that is found on the production cylinders.
The cylinder head awaiting paint. In the April 1973 Popular Cycling issue that covered one of 2 tear downs of the bike, you can clearly see the machining marks on the cylinder head that are also clearly seen in the above photo.
Starting to make progress but still a long way to go.
Original hardware was cleaned.
After the suspension components and wheels were cleaned they were installed to the chassis.
Amazingly the original cloth tape was still inplace on the handlebar clamps. Of course we left it there, just cleaned the glue away from the duct tape that was over it.
To put the wear marks from Ake's boots back in the frame we taped off the location using the Popular Cycling magazine as our guide. The three coat paint process can now be clearly seen exactly as it was originally. Details, details.
All stickers in this shot are period correct.
The airbox was stripped and grease was put in where the chain rubbed through. Once the airbox was painted and dry we removed the grease and it was back to the way it was.
My son Terry Jr. did all the paint work. He really did a fantastic job. No over glossed wet look paint job here.
In this photo you can see where the grease is sprayed over. Much easier to do it this way that try and remove the paint from the airbox where the chain rubbed.
We happened to have an old muffler like the one Ake used in 1972. A few archive photos helped us get it in the correct location and the right angle where it tucks in.
Terry used paint and a heat gun at the same time to give it the 40 year old used look.
The original Maico sticker had been peeled off and relocated. We held our breath and repeeled it off again and reinstalled it using 3M glue. You can see the exact location of where it went in this photo. The champion sticker was gone and replaced with a smaller one but the location of the original was very clear. Notice the original paint inside the filler opening.
After the stickers were relocated the tank was ready for the pin stripe to be reapplied. Remnants of the original still remain.
After over a year of searching for the original Pro-AM stickers for the tank and front fender, we had to resort to having them remade. Great care was taken and cost a small fortune but the end result was a perfect match. Archive photos were used to locate the exact location for the black tape on the gas cap. We even got which piece was put on first to make the X. Note the original blue Hallman throttle cable and Impact plastic levers.
A lot of time and money went into these Pro-AM stickers. They are spot on. The wire cable guide is the original part made by Maico technician Reinhold Weir in Germany.
Scrapes on the bottom of the frame rails were put on last, again using archive photos.
The original Bel-Ray stickers were tough to find. They eventually came from Billy Clements. Note we had to cut the top right hand corner to match the original. The archive photo was used for location. Cloth electrical tape was used to secure the brake cable. Once again, archive photos were a huge help.
The forks, front backing plate and hub were cleaned with WD-40 and a very soft toothbrush. The result is a clean finish retaining all of the original patina.
What could be better than spending a beautiful Saturday in the garage finishing up the bike.
The final details to the engine were done with a small paint brush, paint stripper and the correct black paint. Note the archive photo was used as a guide for location.
Nothing more fun than being near a completed project that turned out like you wanted it to.
The end result was about as close as humanly possible to the way the bike was back in 1972 after Saddleback.
The rear shocks got the same treatment as the engine. Note the spring rub marks on the shock bodies.
Ake sent one of the original large capacity tanks he used for the Trans-AMA. Other than the Champion and Pro-Am stickers it was all original.
The bike is now completed and ready for display. The restoration took nearly all of 2014 and was definately the hardest project we've done to date. We are going to start it next summer and take it for a spin. Ake may stop by too. How cool would that be!
Is this 1972 or 2014?
Ake at Saddleback the bikes last race. Ake won the 1972 Trans-AMA series winning 9 out of 11 races.