Well, that’s how this year has felt to me at least. Time drags when you’re bored but the opposite is also true and it’s been a busy summer; mind you that isn’t the only reason you haven’t heard form me for a while…you see, the dog ate my homework.
‘What dog’? Ah well, that would be Peter. Formerly Judy’s mum’s dog, they both moved in with us after we sold her house and started looking for a retirement flat locally and when we found one, he stayed with us.
So Peter was with us for most of Finbar’s last year, giving him a little pal which he seemed to enjoy and there was none of the ‘do we get another dog’ awkwardness after I lost Finbar, we already had one. He’s an English Toy Terrier and the great, great nephew of Judy’s Neville (see my post ‘Goodbye little star’) but having led a fairly sheltered life for his first years he’s not really a shed terrier, preferring to cuddle up next to the radiator than grub about outdoors with me, so he won’t be featuring in Classic Bike as much as his furry predecessor.
Anyway, he didn’t really ‘eat my homework’ but just before the Manx, the doorbell rang and Peter leapt up, catching the lead of my laptop and pulling it off the table. It hit the hardwood floor end on (not good) and immediately became very unwell. What I initially hoped was concussion proved to be more serious and in that instant I lost two years of accumulated photos and work. Yes, yes I know I should have ‘backed it up’ or used a ‘cloud’; I occasionally back stuff up onto a remote hard drive – but hadn’t done it this year, partly because it’s a faff to use owing to the power cable being very short. That was thanks to Neville, who finding himself entangled by it simply bit it through (switched off, of course) and continued on his way; these Toy Terriers are a bad mix with computers. As for ‘clouds’, I don’t like being unable to access without an internet connection, at least in the dial-up days it was possible, for example visiting mum and dad, to get on the internet anywhere there was a phone but now I can only show them photos if they are on my computer – which doesn’t seem much like progress to me.
Anyway, I thought I’d had it but just as I was about to give up, a tutorial on the internet showed me where I was going wrong and using this information I managed not only to get into the damaged hard drive but also the one from my last laptop which still had some stuff I had been unable to access. So, happy day – well except that the damaged hard drive slowed copying down to an extent it took me about four days to get everything off…but that was a small price to pay for getting this summer’s pictures back.
So what’ been happening? Well Founders Day for a start. Luckily I drove up the day before and kipped in the van because had I been at home I’d have assumed it would be cancelled. It tipped down on Saturday but in the event Sunday was dry if overcast and only a very few stallholders didn’t turn up – although one or two people suggested these were the ‘shed clearers’ who provide the unique atmosphere of this particular event.
I was taken with this old Thunderbird; the fairing really suited it and it even had the engine shields – I can imagine getting very frustrated with those but as a mate of mine once concisely put it, ‘fairings are great…on someone else’s bike’.
I think the bike was up for £4250 which on one hand seemed reasonable but on the other a lot of money for a bike needing however much work. Not too bad if you do it my way and just sort what’s worn out and get it on the road but full restoration would make it a pricey thing.
This is a rare bird, bones of a G45 Matchless motor. The G45 had a poor reputation, based on the G9 touring twin it was not a particularly successful racer but they have grown in popularity in recent years; a bit like the way the Rocket Goldie is now worth more than a Gold Star, tastes change. The G45 is certainly rare and handsome so why not?
This is another rarity, a Gradua gear from some long rotted away Zenith. These used to hang out of the front of the engine looking like a supercharger, it was actually the variable drive gear made famous by the company that led to so much success in competition that Zenith were barred from competing. A perfect gift for sales, the trademark showed the ZENITH motif behind a cell door with BARRED written across the front.
I caught up with the Laurel and Hardy of the Indian world, Dave and Calvin. This year’s Founders Day took the theme of American bikes and Calvin has borrowed this superb wall of death Scout which is loud and fast, as he showed by blaring it around the grounds of Stanford Hall; disgraceful.
I spent too much money on Blackburne parts; this is what happened with BSA bits when a seam was struck a few years back. Every Kempton I was coming back with no money and a load more flat tank Small Heath junk; well Redditch was actually where the 1920s 350s were made.Thing is though, when you have been into a type of bike for a long time and know how rare parts are, when a load comes onto the market, you know it’s finally your chance to stock up. What none of us can say at the moment though, is how much of this stuff is actually still out there; there may be more than you think, so it’s all a gamble, but the way I look at it is that if I need the bits to build a bike now, then I can’t afford to hang about hoping more stuff will arrive cheaper later, when it might not be out there at all – if you follow me.
Next up was the West Kent. Lovely weekend as always with a great variety of bikes and riders of all nationalities.
I took the Rudge again and this year it made up for the teething troubles running fast and faultless – I got eighty out of it at one point, although not while riding round the lanes in convoy.
It’s nice to dawdle along in convoy but really you need a slow bike, anything from a moped to an early flat tanker as the average speed is that of the slowest bike. It’s a longish run 70 to 100 miles depending on route but you are never far from anywhere in Kent and there’s a coffee stop in the morning and lunch too so it’s a good run for a reliable but low powered machine.
The show on Sunday was baking as usual, I put the Rudge on the club stand again and noticed something interesting about this enormous photograph, presumably from the Works.
See the row of cams and timing pinions on the left of the bench? Given that this appears to be a new machine, it looks like this is selective assembly. This was the job of a ‘fitter’. Nowadays that’s a pejorative term but it used to mean a skilled man who could select the best match of components in the days when manufactured goods were never identical, all well and good but it is the reason you get good and bad bikes and anything built up from bits is likely to be trouble – well unless a proper fitter puts it together I suppose…
Scooters are an ideal vehicle for the West Kent – and fair play at the other end of the scale to Rob Francis for steering his CBX Honda all the way round. This was a tidy looking thing, I suppose it’s to be expected that Italian bikes look best in the bright sunlight
Well not all, obviously, this is Tim’s Lambretta. When I first knew Tim he was doing sidecar grasstrack on scooters, which seemed an unnecessarily eccentric way to break bones… Scooters fetch a lot of money these days, which makes Tim’s bike very refreshing
I liked this rough’n’ready AJS outfit, disguised with a BSA tank too…
And talking of sidecars, this was a nice detail trademark on a Triumph outfit
I had a go at the gymkhana, bit embarrassed about 1) how fat I am (work in progress there)
and 2) how smoky the Rudge is (work in progress there too). Strangely it only really smokes out of the left pipe, odd since it’s a twin port single. My theory is that because it has an oil supply from the pump to the rear of the barrel, which goes in at an angle from the right, it may be squirting a jet of oil at the left side of the bore, which tends to go out of that side exhaust. Since the project Rudge smoked badly too until I cut off this supply temporarily it could be so. I am going to restrict the delivery and see if it makes a difference.
Right, gotta go and get on with some more jobs.
cheers for now Rick