Welcome to Vintage & Veteran Motorcycles blog
Hi, I'm Keith.
OK, so I'm heading up to 60 in a month or so, starting to think about just how much work (ie job) I want to keep on doing, and how much stuff I would prefer to do for myself, ie hobbies. I probably also need to factor in how to keep the little lady sweet as well, as life is all too short for unnecessary hassle.
The hobby that I have been neglecting whilst life's rich tapestry has been evolving, is vintage and veteran motorcycles. Don't get me wrong, the hobby has existed for quite some time, but I haven't been able to spend as much time at it as I would like. Hopefully that is about to change, and I thought "why not write about it at the same time"?
In the nature of all blogs, this is an ongoing process (which may be painfully slow at times), with content being added and updated as time passes. My most recent content will always be at the bottom of each page, as with any restoration account, it always makes sense to start at the beginning and follow it through. I will delineate by month, but updates within the month will be grouped together. Click on any of the images to open a larger version.
Please don't make the mistake of thinking there are only 5 pages to the site, hover over "MORE" and you'll find another 10 pages of imbecilic ravings (but I'd really like to have you along for the journey).
Please feel free to revisit as often as you like (if you like). I'm not a full social media convert, so if you like the site, and can be bothered to mention it on Twitter or Facebook (or anything else I don't know of) - please do.
May 2017: As time is passing (6 months and counting), and the content on each page is becoming quite extensive, I'm beginning to see the error of my ways! I'm toying with calling a halt to this site after 12 months, and starting up a 2018 URL (the freebie hosting doesn't include the ability to archive older stuff), however, we'll cross that bridge when we get there.
Also, I must apologise for not enabling the function to allow visitors to make comments direct into the site. There has to be a trade off between the amount of time compiling the site, and working on the bikes! Looking through every page every time I log in to keep up with comments just seemed a step too far, so if something pulls your chain, please use the Contact Me page.
1966 Raleigh Moped - a rare beastie
I bought my first motorised transport in 1973 at the age of 16, a pre owned 1966 Raleigh RM 11 moped that was good for speeds in excess of 40 mph! All with single speed, 2.7bhp sports(!) motor and pedals. My mate was not impressed that his 12 month old Honda moped was blown into the weeds by my 7 year old steed.
A mate at Selby Tech college (Skippy) eventually persuaded me to part with it, and he rode it home to Gilberdyke (I think). 40-odd years can play tricks on the memory.
I don't have any photos of the actual bike, so loaned one from http://www.icenicam.org.uk/
I'm assured that 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder', and I'm still not sure, even 43 years later!
1967 BSA Barracuda
A year or so later, I decided I needed something bigger, so a 1967 BSA C25 Barracuda arrived. At the time all my mates were buying Hondas, Suzukis and Yamahas (and Lambrettas, but we won't go there). My mate with the Lambretta used to work on a filling station forecourt, in the days when someone put fuel in your tank for you. I recall a few of us turning up and practised pulling wheelies round the back. The lightweight multicylinder JAP bikes were much better at it than my heavy old single, but I did get about 2 feet of ground clearance on a few occasions. Those days of abuse are a thing of the past for me, I prefer to get my kicks from coaxing an incomplete pile of disconnected, worn out bits back into life, and being able to ride it down (or up) the road.
The Barracuda had a high compression ratio, at 10:1, and wasn't the most reliable. In my naivety, I took the air filter off, thinking it would help the top speed. Trouble was, the C25 didn't have a choke lever to the carb, so a cold start was achieved by liberal flooding via the tickler. This resulted in me beating out flames frequently after a carburettor spitback (I always wore gauntlets/gloves - even in summer). Luckily it never caught fire properly. At the tender age of 17/18 it was good fun!
We all do daft tricks at that age, another thing I remember, was riding around for a couple of weeks with no front brake shoes in the front wheel. BSA had gone under, I was finding that spares were quite difficult to get locally, so I felt I needed to show dealers the shoes to get the correct replacements. I had to put the brakes on for a pedestrian crossing on a wet road just outside Selby abbey, and ended up broadside across the road (but managed to stay in the saddle). More than a little embarassing!
I didn't have any photos of this bike either, but managed to find a good shot of a very tidy example.
The C25 eventually suffered a complete lock-up (probably kickstart related, as it was impossible to depress). As I said, my knowledge at that time was zero, and after sitting idle for 6 months, it suffered the ignominy of being removed - laid down in the back of a small van, by 3 lads that wanted a field bike. I occasionally think back with regret for the missed opportunities with that bike......SWX 15F where are you?
The C25 was replaced by a Ford Escort Mk I, but the bike bug wouldn't die, and I kept reading the comics of the time. For some reason, I was particularly drawn to the odd page or two devoted to oddities, particularly vintage and veteran motorcycles.
Bought and Sold Aug 2017
Decided to add this content on here, as I'm running out of pages, and this is about stuff that came and went, before hitting the road.
I'd got the 57 and 37 Enfields, and then saw a new, old stock Ariel Square 4 frame advertised - it was still wrapped in the original crinkley paper they used. I had a vision of building a new bike out of unused parts in the 1980s. Needless to say, it didn't happen, I bought a set of used forks and a front wheel before passing it all on.
Also in the 80s, I bought a 1925 model P Triumph kit, the one with the weird front brake that used a piece of asbestos bootlace running in a groove located on the front hub. I even managed to find a new old stock asbestos bootlace! Despite finding quite a few parts, I lost the urge, and moved it on to a chap in Wales.
The next one was a 1932 350cc BSA Blue Star kit of parts, and I lost the urge with this one also after finding various bits and and bobs. I have to admit to comitting the cardinal sin of breaking it up and selling individual parts - tripled my initial stake but still felt a little guilty. I think I've still got the carburettor and magdyno somewhere.
NBS? Oct 2017
NBS - Non bike specific
I'll include things here that don't really fit anywhere else.
My romantic side Oct 2017
Time for the blokes to turn off and for me to earn some brownie points with the ladies.
Just how many vintage motorcycle enthusiasts can claim credit for going on honeymoon on a vintage motorcycle - probably just 2 - me and my mrs!
Strictly speaking, the bike wasn't vintage at the time (it was 1980 and the bike was 1957), but after duly signing my freedom away, partaking of the laid on grub (which turned out better than expected), it was off with the 3 piece suite and wedding dress (now stop it, this is a family show), and on with the riding gear and helmets.
We only had 3 days away before coming back to lick the newly aquired house into shape. It seemed to rain incessantly, but I don't recall it being too much of a problem, even though we were out on the bike a fair bit. August in the Yorkshire Dales can be a lovely experience (but only when it stops snowing).
The old girl has put up with a lot since then, but I've always said "start as you mean to go on", so she had a pretty good idea of what she was letting herself in for!
2017 Early Motor Bicycle Run Oct 2017
Well, I'm fresh back from a weekend in the Scottish lowlands - Dumfries and Galloway to be precise. I had hoped to take my model 160 1912 Royal Enfield up, but no joy due to rear wheel problems.
It was already booked, so I persuaded my wife it would still be a good idea to go and spectate/help. I'm so glad we did - what a cracking event! 2 days of wonderful terrain/countryside, 30+ bikes ranging from 1902 to 1925 (I think the last was an interloper, the cut off date was supposed to be 1923 I believe - but who's complaining - not me. 5 bikes/owners from Holland, a few of us southerners/sassenachs, and a goodly number of very friendly Scots.
Friday evening was spent improving international relations with Geoff and John from the wrong side of the Pennines, as well as general mixing.
Saturday we followed the run in the car, offering a push start on a couple of occasions to a little 2 stroke Connaught. The VMCC Dreadnought managed to break it's exhaust valve, so it had to be sidelined for the rest of the weekend.
Saturday evening was spent filling our faces and further conversations/conviviality at a hotel in Dumfries.
Sunday again we followed round, experiencing some beautiful scenery and devoid of traffic back roads through the Forest of Ae. A particular part of the "hilly" run proved problematic to some of the early bikes that were brave enough to try this route, so we were engaged in some energetic pushing! One poor soul had to use the back up trailer on account of a 3" nail picked up in the rear tyre.
There were a couple of other failures over the weekend, including one spill in wet mud, but thankfully nothing serious. John and Alastair discovered the joys of ever expanding link belts - I think a total of about 9" was removed from one belt over the weekend!
A large Yorkshire thank you (always hard-earned - never given away lightly) goes to John Macmillan and his small band of helpers. All being well, we'll be back next year.
A montage of photos of some of the more unusual bikes to follow.
The interweb - good or bad? Nov 2017
I sometimes think the parlous state of the world has a lot to do with misuse of the internet, but I'm a crusty old fart, so that's hardly surprising!
But, for us old bike nuts, it appears to be worth it's weight in gold.
I joined a motorcycle forum based in Oz probably 10 years back, maybe more. I put some mention of Levis's on there, and last weekend, I met Mick who lives only 5 or 6 miles from me, he has a 350 Levis. Neither of us knew of each other previously, but he saw my post, and got in touch.
In 2003 or thereabouts, I had a site just for New Hudsons - it lasted about 6 years before enforced site migration and working for myself meant I had to lose it. By that time, I had created a register for 1931-33 NH owners worldwide, supplied 18 silencers and about 30 pairs of knee grip rubbers to people on that list. I've found NH mudguards (complete with original transfer) in USA, NH girder forks and wheels in New Zealand, exhanged parts with Australia..........the list goes on.
Going back to the Aussie forum, I saw a post/thread about a decrepid motorcycle hung on a cafe wall in Melborne/Adelaide (can't recall), and discussion followed about what it actually was. Turned out it was a bitsa, part Chater Lea, part others.
About 6 months back, my younger son came home with a bare front hub, labelled "Scott". I talked with a local font of knowledge - "it's not Scott, is it Chater Lea?" I chipped some thick paint off, and sure enough, Chater Lea jumped out at me. I got in touch with one of the participants of the forum thread (with an interest in CL), with the result that the hub and a Moss gearbox hand change lever are on their way to a new home in Ireland.
Pleasing cylinder barrel repair Dec 2017
Another bike that belonged to my wife, was a B175 BSA Bantam, and up until a couple of months back, it also lived in the garage. We finally decided the time had come to part with it (weird feeling - I/we don't normally sell bikes......), and the teenage son of a friend was interested. After the deal was done I trailered it over, but kept a cylinder barrel back for repair. As a learner, he can only ride a 125cc bike, so the 175 is FAR too powerful!!!!
I bought a conversion kit when we originally picked up the Bantam. A pretty large chunk of the top fin was missing, so I offered to repair it (cos I'm a real softee, and we need young lads to show an interest).
I carved a piece of fin out of a scrap Enfield Bullet barrel, and my lad obtained some TIG rods for cast iron, but we suffered from some cracking. So I decided to finish off by brazing it up - after all, it's more cosmetic than functional - but I decided that heat/cooling would still be a problem. A visit to the local builders merchant turned up a bag of vermiculite and I found a stainless container that would fit the barrel plus a good depth of insulation in all directions. Plenty of oxy/acetylene pre heat, blobs of braze and a bit of puddling, and I had a full run of contact, despite the difference in thickness/heat absorbtion. Looks ok, but you can never tell until the flux is chipped off, and you've dressed it up. A load of extra vermiculite over the top, and 5 hours later, the barrel was still too hot to touch, but no cracking. Very satisfying. Quick clean up/removal of excess braze, then off for powder coating. Some low points, and a couple of pock marks due to bubbles in the braze, but it looks better than a missing chunk. Once it is in place with the head on top, so you can only see the edge, it will look perfect.
You see so many rebuilt bikes with broken fins that could have been repaired........
Picking the satin coated barrel up on Saturday, so I'll put a photo up then.