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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Put a Tiger On The Tank!

Happy New year!

I thought I would post a quick update and product review;   I have spent the last couple months working on the Matchless G9,  mostly gathering parts and getting a tonne of stuff powder coated.

Powder coating has become my preferred method of cleaning up old parts,  especially the black stuff. (I will get some snaps of all the lovely and shining bits in a future post) Now that the shop I use does sandblasting as well, it saves me a lot of time.  It is affordable, durable and looks very sharp.  This works very well when the surface of the item is in good shape,  but what do you when there are dents or damage?

Here are the Matchless tanks, (oil and gas) both with some damage/pitting.  I was certain that I would have use a stud welder to pull the dents and hope for the best.  I really didn't want to get these items painted or bondo and paint them myself.  The side cover and tool box are good and solid but badly pitted from years of neglect.  A decent set would have been around the $400.00 mark so I needed an easy solution!

Fortunately for me,  the powder coat shop had just the thing for me;  Tiger Epo Strong epoxy.  The fellow I deal with had purchased some to do a gas tank, had some left over and sold it to me at a discount.  This is similar to bondo, mixing the epoxy and hardener in a 2:1 ratio.  Unlike Bondo, you have time to work and shape it as it takes 24 hours to cure at room temperature.  Application is done in 5mm layers and then you can sand and shape as you would any other variety of filler.  Once satisfied, the item cures in the oven at 400F and can then be coated.

Here is what the product looks like, mine came complete with instructions in German!

The epoxy goes on quite smoothly and fills in dents easily.

So far so good,  I am slowly working with the stuff and am happy with the results;  The final test will of course be the final coating.   I hope to have that done in the next month or so.  

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Scrambler winter checklist....!

So the time has come. My beautiful Katie has a few miles on the clock and now needs some freshening up.

I have already started the process by ordering another set of superbars (chrome) from NewBonneville.    These are what I have grown accustomed to over the last 5 years, the stock bars not working for me and my makeshift solution too cruiser-like.

Now what?   At 32K it is definitely time for chain and sprocket replacement.  The teeth are starting to wear and I have noticed the decrease in output to the rear wheel.   I am looking at the following kit:

Scrambler chain and sprocket kit

Cost:  $264.00 Canadian

Rear shocks;  Mine aren't exactly worn,  however I have noticed a decline in sharpness.  Also, some patches of rust have formed on the chrome....Not acceptable!

Hagon Shocks

Cost:  $290.00 Canadian

New Seat

Cost:  $400.00 Canadian

My poor old seat cover is fading away and starting to lose a bit of shape.  I intend to keep going  into my golden years and frankly comfort can be an issue on long rides.  I like the look of this one and the reviews are good.

Cost: 160.00 Canadian 

The one I have now has some scratches and is plastic.  It looks the part, however I have longed for a polished item since the day I brought her home! 

Total costs:  $1114.00.   Needless to say that will have to be spread out over several months.

Other jobs?  Bleed the brakes and fill with new fluid, oil change and spark plug check.  I will also do some detailing and finally get that damned dent pulled out of the tank!  I have started and made some progress but it takes a lot of work.  

Until next time....

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

After the Fall....

Well it happened.

Flashback to the Friday before last, wet ground, misapplied brake (I believe) and down I went.

As far as accidents go it was relatively minor and I am merely bruised, so I certainly count my blessings!

I was however reminded of just how vulnerable we as riders truly are.   I only fell and slid a couple feet but caused the following damage:

-My helmet is likely no good anymore (as my head hit the pavement), so I will need to find another Davida Jet ($$$).

-The clutch lever snapped,  luckily I found an OEM one for a good price on Ebay.

-The handlebars were twisted and bent and are now scrap. I was actually surprised how light and thin they turned out to be.  I think they had come from British Customs or New Bonneville.  I didn't want to wait for another pair so I modified an old set of 1966 TR6 bars that were gathering dust.  I cut two inches off of either end to get the right fit.

-The brake reservoir (which seemed to have succumbed to UV damage and was quite brittle) snapped at the base. Once again it was Ebay to the rescue.

-My foot lever was damaged, I ordered an aftermarket replacement that looked good but was unfortunately flimsy.   I ended up sanding out the damage to the lever, drilling out the broken pin and using an M8 40mm bolt and some copper pipe inside the salvaged rubber.

The tank has a dent from the bars on the top which I hope to rectify with a dent puller.  As you might have guessed, there will be a full product review of said dent puller in an upcoming post.

Lastly, my clutch cover is scratched so it will need replacement.  In the interim I will wet sand to smooth out, then paint.

While I spent several hours adjusting and fettling,  I decided that now would be a good opportunity to install the progressive fork springs purchased in 2010!

In my defense, these were in storage and I only uncovered them recently.

Between the bars and the springs, it almost feels like a different bike.  The riding position is quite comfortable, more akin to a cruiser.  The front forks soak up much more of the road, by comparison to the old it feels like an air mattress.  I have to say that after a day of adjustment I really love the new feel, however I seem to have sacrificed the nimble turning stance I had previously.

As I mentioned earlier, the replacement parts were ordered through Ebay and shipped to the US for pick up.  There are several reasons for this:

The biggest reason being that my local shop doesn't seem to stock any parts anymore.  Not even a nut, bolt or pin.  In the event that you do need a part, you are looking at a 2 week turnaround.

It seems the days of shops having inventory (sundries) is a bygone one. Sad.

The second reason is the postal service here in Canada.  Ours has had looming job action for some time over a pension dispute.  This has left residents unsure of when or if items sent would be delivered at all.   

Speed and cost.  Shipping within the US is cheap, fast and sometimes free!  Packages that would normally take 2 weeks to get to me from say, California arrive in Niagara Falls, NY within 3 days.  

I found an exceptional service near the border called US Address at 3909 Witmer Road in Lewiston.
They charge a flat fee of $5.00 for each package under 50 lbs.

US Address

All told, this post could have been worse or not been at all.  I am renewed with gratitude to be back on the road and in one piece.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Gay Paris ain't what it used to be....(CVMG Rally 2016)

Ah Paris in springtime! The sound of revving engines in your ears, the air perfumed with burning oil and ancient petrol.   I am of course referring to Paris, Ontario host to the annual CVMG rally.

I have to say that while there were some highlights this year, It was a bit of a let down from years gone by.   I should start by saying that I had been looking forward to the show for months on end.  I couldn't get the Friday off from work but made arrangements to go immediately afterwards with my family.  After an hour on the road, we were turned away at the gate.  I was shocked that vendors would choose to shut down at 5:00PM on Friday with the sun in the sky and 4 hours of daylight left.

Needless to say, this tainted the weekend experience for me and carried over to Saturday when my Father and I returned.   That being said,  my report may not be entirely balanced.

With that out of the way, let's start with the good.

Friends.  It was great to see some old faces and meet internet acquaintances face to face.  It was especially great to meet Carl from the Essex-Kent chapter and see his beautiful Matchless restoration.

Bikes.  Always a pleasure to see these old beauties restored or surviving in our modern world.  I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

Now for the bad.

  It seems to me that the grounds were much fuller in years past.  More bikes and people and much more variety.  While there was a British and Italian presence,  most of what I saw for sale was either Harley or vintage Japanese.   The Japanese bikes I did see for sale were overpriced in my opinion, with the exception of a 1975 Yamaha 2 stroke, 100cc in good original shape for $500.00.  I could be mistaken but a 1980's Honda scooter does not constitute a classic.  It certainly shouldn't have a price tag of over $1000.00.   I was crestfallen by the lack of British parts, far down from years past.

Either the stuff was all snatched up on the Friday or it just wasn't there to begin with.

I have to face the facts I guess.  As each year passes the cadre of British bike enthusiasts naturally falls victim to attrition due to old age, death and divorce.  While I do my best to keep things alive, I simply wasn't there in the golden years to see it all first hand.

My complaints aside,  I will return. Next year I will go on the Friday as tradition would dictate, get first in the gate and first to the goods.

Now for some pictures!

This bike was a real stunner!  I would guess that no expense was spared!

While this resembles a custom, this Spanish made machine was a factory race bike.

The Nimbus, a truly unusual machine...

Who can resist a Brough Superior?

This little CZ had a unique charm

I would have loved to hear this one run!

Ride or restore?  I would shine and ride it, not many of these left.

No words required here....

It looked to me like this was a barn find, unfortunately the owner was in talks to a potential buyer and I did not want to interrupt.

Humble, lovely and factory fresh.

I had to explain what this was to my father,  He said he never saw one on the road in England during the 40's-50's.

This Parilla looked even better in person.

Until next time!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Black, Red and the one I built earlier...

Black or Red?

That is my question this week in regards to the Matchless project.  I have had the frame cleaned up and powder coated, secured a nice Lycett seat and acquired a new wiring harness.  The cylinder is in the shop and I have secured a replacement fork tube.

I also spent a painstaking amount of time sorting out all the nuts, bolts and washers and studs.  Of course I had to clean the really rough stuff, making my tumbler and invaluable tool!

The workbench has since been cleaned up.....substantially!

So what colour do I make the tanks and tool box?  


I will reveal my choice soon...

The one I built earlier...

While cleaning my garage I found a plethora of old photographs;  I was very pleased to find this one.  To the best of  my knowledge, this is the only surviving photo of my 1969 Triumph Daytona, made entirely from a big pile of parts (sound Familiar?)

This would have been circa 1998,  about three years before I sold it.   I never did get it to run properly and only really rode it a handful of times.  If I had it now, the story would be much different.  

I had been after a British bike for a few years, in earnest since 1994.  I didn't know much about them other than what I read in this excellent series of books at the school library a few years before that. 

These are a fantastic resource that I still see at swap meets...pick them up if you have the opportunity!

For me, nothing else would suffice.  My poor old Yamaha Maxim seemed sad and ugly by comparison,  with it's cast wheels and plastic accouterments.  In all fairness, that $50.00 motorcycle served me well and I was lucky to have it.  I gained a taste for the two wheeled life that was never going to let me go.

There seemed to be a lot of basket cases around back then for a few hundred dollars.  I missed out on a Matchless (what model I don't know now)  for $350.00 by one day.  I missed out on a '59 Tiger Cub (for $600.00 Running!)  by an hour.  Luck seemed to be against me.   Another year passed,  I briefly owned a Vespa 100 which was fun but not for me.  I had heard about a shop on Sorauren Avenue in Toronto called the Rocker Box that repaired old British bikes and may have some for sale.   The first part was true enough  however the latter wasn't.  

The owner (Doug?) was polite enough and answered my questions about the bikes in the shop.  There were Triumph's, BSA's,  AMC products, even an Ariel or two.  I was certainly in heaven, to him however I was probably just some young guy burgling his time. 

He was kind enough to give me the phone number of a friend who had 'a few' projects lying around.  

That is a story for another day....

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Firth Motorcycle 1950 Catalogue

Time seems to be getting away from me this spring!  I have been busy working  (thankfully!) Riding (gratefully!) and spending time with family.

I have quite a bit to post over the next little while, however I will be spacing it out a bit.

 Today I have another neat catalogue, still in the original folder acquired from the owner's son.  It amazes me when a piece like this survives;  when I consider the amount of paper I recycle every week I couldn't imagine something like this lasting 66 years in my house!

I apologize for the scan quality for some of the pages; I didn't want to ruin the book by flattening out the centre.  I hope you enjoy it.

In a couple years Firth would assume distribution of Matchless for Manitoba as well (as per later catalogues)

I am told that many of these bikes were sold to learners (where did they all go?) as Firths were reluctant to sell large bikes to new riders.

No mention of AJS this year at all...

Interesting to note that the engine in the picture is actually an AJS Model 20 distinguished by the timing cover.

I am curious as to what the difference is between a 'Firths British Battery' and 'British Standard Battery' $2.50 was significant pocket change then! 

Firth did actually patent several accessories which I have found online, The Streamliner can be found here: patent

Not a Chinese part in sight.....those truly were the days.

Promised updates are forthcoming! keep an eye on this spot..

Ride Safely!