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Another good weekend of cleaning and the workshop is starting to look reasonable.

So reasonable that it will soon be possible to start fiddling around with bikes in there. With this in
Mind I yanked the bench out of the way to take some better photos of the Stinger and the TS 185 ER. These pictures have been taken on my new Iphone which has arrived just in time as some berk ran a tractor into a phone poll near us and took out our Internet connection.

Because I am posting from my Iphone all the pictures are going to me posted at the end with out captions – blame tractor man for that. We will rejoin the modern world on Tuesday until then it will be Iphone posts only and hunting with flint tools, probably.


I’m actually already the owner of a couple of ‘classic’ bikes. I say ‘classic’ because they are both modern motorcycles that were made to act and look like classic bikes. My dad made them so they are a bit special to me, and I inherited them when he passed away last year. Rather sadly they are currently in Wales which is the wrong country.

I don’t have anything specifically against Wales but it’s where my dad’s evil second wife, who we shall refer to as the ‘Goat Witch’ lives and so the bikes need to be rescued from her. This is going to involve a van (something which sadly I’ve been unable to discover while cleaning out the sheds) and a very long drive which is why they haven’t been retrieved yet.

Anyway, here is a picture of one of the bikes taken when I last visited my dad in Wales and we spent a whole muddy weekend riding bikes around. He also taught me how to start this bike which is an art in itself – it’s a 500cc single cylinder bike so it takes a bit of a boot to get it going.

The 'Fake', although I like to call it 'The Beast'

The 'Fake', although I like to call it 'the Beast'

The frame is based on a loop of tube from Mole Valley Farmers sheep rack range of products, plus other bits – the geometry is based loosely on Sammy Miller’s works Ariel bike from the museum. He threw my dad out of his museum when he caught him doing a bit of espionage with a tape measure.

Things get more interesting when you look at the engine. It is a 498cc four stroke based on 1955 Ariel Red Hunter crankcases with steel flywheels which don’t explode at high revs unlike the cast iron road bike versions. It’s got a 85mm stroke and Triumph high capacity oil pump instead of pathetic Ariel version which wouldn’t fill the cistern in a doll’s house loo. That last part is a direct quote from my dad.

A home ground trials type camshaft (with gentle valve opening) to give good low speed torque is combined with a Piston is from a Toyota car engine, much machined, which cost about £20 instead of the £90 odd for a proper bike one. The Barrel is from a Lister stationary diesel engine – my dad smashed the fins off, cleaned it up in the lathe, got a foundry to pour aluminium around it and machined the fins on, plus the recess for the cylinder head.

Click here to read more about my classic trials bike.

Since looking at the Stinger the 185 ER is looking far more restorable and closer to being road-worthy. Intelligence reports that the bike runs and is only suffering from a flat tire. It’s been off road for a while and was used for riding around farms doing farm things but it’s supposed to be a bit of a corker.

Many Bothans died to bring us this information*

Anyway here is a photo of it in the boat shed, yes I know there seems to be an unlimited source of sheds at my mum’s place. We have a garage, a workshop, a boat shed and stables as well as a few barns and other slightly wobbly buildings best described as ‘misc’ including a mysterious shed tucked away in the corner that is supposed to contain motorcycle auto jumble but more on that later.

Here is the other Suzuki in the boat shed.

An 185 ER allegidly in working order.

An 185 ER allegidly in working order.

Again please excuse the awful photos, I’ll drag the bike out into the light in a few days once I’ve finished cleaning out the workshop.

Yet more dark photos of classic bikes

Yet more dark photos of classic bikes

I took a photo facing in the other direction so you can see that this is a boat shed with actual boats in, well a boat and then a lot of scrap bits and bobs.

Look real boats, well one at least.

Look real boats, well one at least.

When I took this photo I noticed something else, a couple of bike tanks so I took a close-up photo of them too.

Some tanks and some art.

Some tanks and some art.

I recognise the white one as a spare tank from a trials bike built around a Villiers Engine that my dad made but the bike one is a new one on me. Perhaps another motorcycle is hidden under all this mess? Can anyone identify the tank?

The painting of a sheep was also made by my dad, it’s a strange shaped sheep because it’s a been painted in this funny style which I can’t remember the name of where people would paint animals to emphasize the positive qualities of the beast from an agricultural perspective. There are loads of these sorts of paintings which show giant square cows, meaty pigs and things.

Anyway, I’ve heard that a load of auto jumble is in another of the sheds, one that has been locked so I should go and look in there. Apparently it’s already been picked over by someone else but perhaps I’ll be lucky. There was a time when this farm was full to the brim with classic bikes so perhaps I’ll find a old Bantam that the other people overlooked.

*A Star Wars quote if you don’t recognise it.

Well I went and had a proper look at the Suzuki Stinger that was in one of the stables. It’s a bit of a basket case to say the least. I didn’t even realise it was a motorcycle at first. You will have to excuse the slightly rubbish photos but my camera phone doesn’t like low light levels. The sort of low light levels you get in dusty sheds and stables where old motorbikes go to die.

The rear part of the 'bike'

The rear part of the 'bike'

There is a huge bench right next to the bike so it’s hard to get photos of, and the bench is very heavy so I’m going to have to rig some sort of pully system together to move the bench so I can get at the bike.

Things are even worse at the front

My mum’s boyfriend assures me that all the bits of the bike are there, and it did run once but not for a while so I think that it might be a job for someone else rather than me.

To get an idea of what this bike should look like here is a picture of one of them in working order.

A rather lovely Stinger

A rather lovely Stinger

I thought I’d share a picture of the Daytona I took out for a test ride. I had it for an hour and a half and spent most of the time going no faster than 30mph in central London but even so it was delightful. Of course the turning circle made filtering require a bit more forward thinking than I was used to.  Once I allowed for that, and the titanically powerful brakes (nearly at the cost of my manhood, I’d never been on a bike that could stop so well before) I was away.

The test bike

The test bike, lurking outside my old work

It was a real shame to hand it back, and the whole time I riding back to the shop I was trying to work out if I could shuffle enough funds around on credit cards so I didn’t have to hand it back. Sadly logic prevailed, well that and credit card limits – I know that if I could have put down a deposit that moment I would have. So I had to walk away very, very sadly.

I’m still not sure I made the right choice.

The clearing is going well, we had a very productive weekend of throwing stuff out, we even had time to take some pictures.

As you can see from the photographs we have quite a task ahead of us. This was taken at the start of the day, the contrast between the areas we have cleaned and the ones we haven’t is quite clear. If you still can’t spot it, we have cleaned the bits where you can actually see the floor.

The view from the main doors

The view from the main doors

One of the cats, Sausage decided to help out and found a nice oily bit of foam to sit on.

Workshop cleaning supervisor

Workshop cleaning supervisor

In one corner of the shed we spotted some damage, which turned out to caused by owls. Yup we are contending with owl damage while we clean.

Owl Damage

Owl Damage

While sorting through some rubbish we found a flyer from a classic bike scramble from ages ago, yet another thing left over from my dad.

Rule book

I flicked through it, hoping to find some mention of him but alas it was just full of the rules on the sort of bikes you were allowed to enter into the race.

I started on the workshop today, I didn’t mean to but it just sort of happened. I think because I was trying to write something tricky and shovelling bolts around seemed like an easier way of passing the time. It took a bit of work to even get into the workshop, we (my little brother and I) had to cut down a vast forest of stinging nettles and then dig out some tree stumps before we could even get to the door.

We decided to attack through the double doors which opened on to one of the fields, if we could get that open then we would be able to chuck things out and have a clear run to the bonfire. It was slow going as there was very little that could be definitely be chucked out but we did manage to clear a tiny section and brush the floor.

It was weird coming across little mementos from my father as we cleaned (he passed away last year) but I suppose that is going to happen a lot as we sort things out. One of the shelf units still has his handwriting on in chalk which made me smile so I took a photo of it.

Luckly there is a pretty good workshop here so that is next on the list. It was the workshop that my Dad used to build bikes in so it’s pretty well equipped. However it’s got rather messy now and has turned into a dumping ground for metal things and tools rather than a place for restoring motorcycles or working on projects.

So it is my next task, although I’m not going to start it right away I have to do a little bit more writing first so I won’t be able to get stuck in for a week or so. As you can see from the pictures it’s in quite a state but it has potential, oh yes, potential indeed.

The far end of the workshop

The far end of the workshop

The double doors open out on to a field which is perfect for testing bikes in but sadly they have been blocked up now with stinging nettles and some sort of broken forklift. It seems that before I can do any sort of restoration on motorcycles (like the Suzuki) I’ll have to restore the workshop.

The near end of the workshop

The near end of the workshop

As you can see there is no shortage of tools, but they are all jumbled up. There is even a lathe although I’m not quite sure what I’d use it for.

The vague plan is to get the workshop fairly sorted out and then use it to get the Suzuki I found in the shed into working order again, possibly on the road. It turns out that the bike was taken off the road pre-SORN and so it might not exist anymore. Hopefully the Dayona won’t spend too much time in the workshop but it’s handy to have one all the same.

Just looking at the photos of the workshop makes me want to have a cup of tea and stand around in a boiler suit examining project. Perhaps I should invest in a boiler suit, it seems only right.

Well the garage is almost clean now, only a little bit remains which I can finish off when it stops raining. This is good and bad, it’s good because it means there is now a clean, secure and safe place to put the motorcycle when I get it and during the course of cleaning I’ve found lots of old things I can sell on Ebay, but bad because now I’ve not got an excuse anymore for not doing some more writing work.

The newly cleaned garage for housing motorcycles

The newly cleaned garage for housing motorcycles

Please note the leather arm chairs, they will be used for sitting in when admiring the motorcycle and possibly planning adventures.

Right, now I need to go and pitch some more ideas to newspapers, as I doubt I’ll be able to fund this project entirely by just selling old tat on Ebay.

It’s a tricky question, if you tell friends you are going to get a supersports bike as your first proper big bike they can get a bit jumpy. This is a terribly fast bike, but it’s also a well behaved bike. It’s even okay in town – once you get used to the turning circle.

It’s not even my first big bike really, I’ve been riding around off road for years, mostly trials riding but a bit of scrambling too. Some of the trials bikes I used to ride on were big thumping monsters so if anything they are more tricky to ride than the Daytona so I think I’ll be fine. Mr Insurance has slightly different ideas but I suppose that will be part of the fun.

So would I recommend this bike to complete beginners? Perhaps not, but if someone had their heart set on getting a sporty 600 it’s a very managable one. I think the thing to remember is that no bike is completely safe, and that it’s more down to the rider more than anything else.

The garage cleaning went well today, one more day and it will be a smart place to put motorcycles. I’ve got two classic bikes that will go in there as well so they needed a smart home. I didn’t find any other motorcycles, well not exactly.

After supper I was told that there was a Suzuki Stinger (a very rare bike) in one of the sheds so I went and found that today. It’s a basket case but since the are so uncommon it’s probably still worth a bit.

Oh and I paid in a cheque today from a national newspaper for something I wrote about six months ago. It was for £400 so that’s the Daytona fund started. The invoice said ‘Loo Phone’ was the name of the piece, which it wasn’t, it had nothing to do with bathrooms or telephones so they must have got confused. Either way I’m keeping the money.

The cheque is from a rather right-wing newspaper who probably disapprove of motorcycles so I don’t feel quite so bad about writing for them anymore. Maybe I could use a bit of the money to buy some lesbians or socialists a pint. That would annoy the paper even more.

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August 2008
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