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Given that the Stinger is far beyond my abilities to repair I’ve decided to start fiddling around with the 185 ER motorcycle to see if I can bring it back to life. I don’t know an awful lot about motorbike repair let alone restoration so this is going to be a learning experience but that’s just all part of the enjoyment, right?

When the bike was discovered we tried kick starting it but it was having none of it. Mostly because something is very wrong with the throttle, it’s jammed and no amount of twisting will get it to move so freeing it up was my first task.

Look at the state of that, just look

Look at the state of that, just look

To add an extra layer of fun to the project I had to find the tools before I could use them. I suspected that everything I would ever need was probably in the workshop it was just a matter of locating it. I was right, and hopefully while I do this I can slowly sort out where things go.

After a bit I’d managed to track down the jam to the bit of wire that leads onto the small bit that looks like a miniature dustbin, or the carburettor as it’s known. The lovely chaps on the Classic Bike forums suggested I just spray that with WD40 and see if that can un-gum it. I’ve given it a good coating so we will find out if that has worked in a day or so.

The top is half off the carburettor in this picture so it looks a bit weird.

I’m going to try and keep to doing the absolute minimum to the motorbike until I’ve got the engine ticking over otherwise I may end up spending a fortune on something that doesn’t even run. While this may be an important part of classic motorcycle ownership I’m not quite ready for that. 

I had a dig around in the shed because I’d been told that the entire Stinger motorbike was there I just had to find it. Well after a bit of falling over and some light swearing when I dropped a plank on my foot I found the parts.
The front part of the bike, well most of it.

The front part of the bike, well most of it.

The front wheel and shocks weren’t looking at their best but they are there, and you can even see the tax disk holder if you look carefully. Spurred on by this I continued searching through the boat shed and found the iconic exhausts and petrol tank from the Stinger.

The distinctive tank and exhausts
The distinctive tank and exhausts

Even the soft lighting from the window can’t completely hide that this motorcycle needs a lot of work. Has anyone else restored a wreck like this? How much time are we talking?

We (my little brother and I) moved the Suzuki TS 185 ER into the workshop today battling fierce weather and curious ducks.

The first bike in the workshop for years

The first bike in the workshop for years

It seemed like the right thing to do as we had cleaned the workshop so that you could reasonably expect to be able to work on something in there. Yesterday I even found the bolt cutters after only a moments searching (instead of several days )and then used them to rescue a friend who had locked something up with a padlock and then rather cunningly lost the key. For future reference using bolt cutters is excellent fun and makes you feel like MacGyver.

Once the bike was in the workshop we had a better look at it.

A lovely dusty bike

A lovely dusty bike

It’s in surprisingly good condition really, I mean almost every bit of plastic or rubber is shot through the but serious metal parts seem to be fine once you get past the rust, but that’s all part of the fun of restoring bikes.

I'm sorry officer I have no idea how fast I was going

'I'm sorry officer I have no idea how fast I was going'

It really is mostly dirt, although there are a few more parts that will need replacing than I originally thought.

The starter switch is going to, erm need some work.

The starter switch is going to, erm need some work. Or to be exact, finding.

I’m not sure where to begin, I suppose a good clean to start things off. Of course, you can’t rush something like this so perhaps the first step should be have a cup of tea and then think about any future steps. Actually with that amount of forward planning it should probably be a cup of tea and a biscuit.

Yes, that’s what this project needs, a tea break.

The 185 was moved for the first time in years today, it was dragged back into the daylight so I could get a better look at it.

I didn’t realise that this was the rare ‘agricultural editon’ of the 185 ER. It features special equipment not present on the normal 185. To stop the engine you touch a completely bare wire into the frame (my favourite feature I think) and the choke is operated by pulling a wire that is wrapped around the tank which is like tugging on the reigns of a horse. It also features the bailer twine accessory pack for that Wurzel Chic. The seat was covered in dead shrews but I think that’s an after-market thing added by the cats.

Fresh from the showroom, well fresh from a shed at least.

Fresh from the showroom, well fresh from a shed at least.

It’s got a flat front tire, and the throttle is stuck but that’s just due to years of not being used so it’s in pretty good condition for something found in a shed. I’ll have a go at removing the gunk from the throttle and put some fresh oil in it in the next couple of days.

I had a go at kick starting it (well, you would wouldn’t you) and the engine seems to be fine but it just didn’t want to fire up. I don’t blame it though as the petrol in the tank must be older than I am and the jammed throttle didn’t exactly help matters.

In other bike news I’ve arranged for the trials bikes to be picked up from the house of the Goat Witch, thanks to the lovely people at Classic Bike Magazine Forums. They are going to hitch a lift next time the excellent bike moving chap is heading in vaguely the right direction. I think I’ll take out a subscription to Classic Bike now as a way of saying thanks.

Thanks to a load of coffee I have managed to move the heavy bench out of the way and get a look at the stinger. It’s amazing what you can do when you are putting off starting some hard writing. The bike is not looking very healthy but the bits are all there.

For some reason it has been spread over the boat shed so the distinctive exhaust pipes and tank are on a nearby bench and the front forks have been stored in a boat. From the tank I can now exclusively reveal that the stinger was yellow, once.

Digging out these classic bikes is excellent fun but I have to do some more work now to pay for the dream Triumph. As lovely and rare as the Stinger is I doubt my local dealship will let me use it to trade in for a 675.

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

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.

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June 2019
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