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Monday, June 18, 2018

The expense of being cheap.....

A wise man once uttered the words 'Do it right, do it once.'   I am unsure if he also said 'Measure twice, cut once' but I would like to think he did.

No words are truer when it comes to motorcycle building and to this specific topic: Paint.

Visit any car or bike forum out there and you will inevitably find many, many pages regarding the painting of bodywork. 

The most popular and recurring theme seems to be 'Cheap paint options'.   In other words, using hardware store aerosol to achieve decent results.   A lot of these threads make for fun and interesting reading with a plethora of 'experts' chiming in. 

There is the famous 'Paint your car with rustoleum and a roller for $50.00', painting rims with appliance epoxy, baking enamel etc. 

I am not ashamed to admit that I wanted to take the cheap road less traveled.  I read, re-read and looked at pictures.  I even bought a cheap toaster oven from a charity shop to bake small items in. 

The results? 

Garbage.  I won't even bother posting the pictures.   I carefully cleaned, primed, did thin coats, etc.

I tried 'professional' enamels, cheap enamels, etc.  There were runs (which I could sand out) and improper curing.  One toolbox cover was perfect, until a light tap of the fingernail scratched the paint.

It was infuriating, a complete waste of time, money and energy. 

Going back to the forums, there is always the one fellow (usually someone who did autobody or automotive painting) pointing out that cheap paint is false economy.  He is the one to listen to!

Not wanting to waste any more of my resources and momentum I visited the local (automotive) paint supply store for help.

For $85.00 (CDN) I purchased proper primer, paint and clear coat.   I have only used the primer thus far and I am incredibly pleased with it.  No runs, quick cure and even spraying. 

My first piece was an old licence plate frame with bad chrome that I sanded down.  The results speak for themselves as I was left with a smooth matte finish.  The black primer shows any flaws in the substrate, which avoids issues at the later stages.  So far I have done the brake plate, rear hub, tank, rear frame. 

I will never bugger about with inferior products again;  It just doesn't pay to be cheap. 

Until next time...

Friday, May 25, 2018

Do I own them, or do they own me?

"Happiness resides not in possessions, and not in gold, happiness dwells in the soul."

- Democritus

I confess to feeling somewhat overwhelmed today, bordering on melancholy.   Generally when I walk into my garage, I smile.  I look around at the (controlled) chaos and feel a perverse sense of achievement; Stacks of parts, shelves lined with tote bins, vehicles in various states of array lining the walls, etc.   Today however was a different tale.  I looked around and felt ashamed that I had all of these projects unfinished and collecting dust. 

I thought of the time it would take to finish them all and the expense involved.  Then I proceeded to feel a bit worse.  I realized that what was once a dream has become a bit of a nightmare for me. I have acquired some wonderful items and with them a lifetime of dedication that would take me away from other passions and people in my life.  Not to mention being able to actually enjoy the fruits of my labour by driving/riding said completed vehicle. 

Today, for the first time I felt somewhat claustrophobic, longing for space and singular focus.

Perhaps this happens to anyone who has a collection of any kind, where eventually all things become old, even the feeling.

I can't count how many times I have read or heard 'I used to have one of those, best bike/car I ever owned.  I should have never sold it'.

Regret.  Long lasting.  Decisions made during a low point in one's life.

The feeling stayed with me until I came home and found a parcel waiting for me from Walridge Motors.

I knew what was inside, however a small wave of anticipation passed through me.   There is something so exciting about new parts.....

I then picked up some valve covers and began to work out the scratches with the abrasive wheel.

My sense of satisfaction slowly started to return, as did my sense of happiness.  Any lingering questions or doubts completely dissipated.

I realized that it would only ever be action that keeps the bad feeling away, accomplishment.

The question of ownership becomes irrelevant as one accepts the position of caretaker instead.

Once again I looked around at the (controlled) chaos and felt that perverse sense of achievement; Stacks of parts, shelves lined with tote bins, vehicles in various states of array lining the walls, etc.

I thought of my teenage self, pouring through 'The World of Motorcycles'. It was clear that I had attained a wonderful goal, time and money be damned!

 I just needed to put it into perspective.

Until Next time....

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Product Review: Eastwood company abrasive buffing wheel

After watching Craig Jones (of On Yer Bike fame) use a giant scotchbrite wheel to clean up fork tubes, I knew it was essential kit for my garage.

I looked high and low and found very few options outside of Britain and those I did find were pricey.

While not the exact same item, Eastwood fortunately offers a tool that does the same job.

Eastwood Abrasive Wheel

At only $19.99 (USD) I took a chance and had it shipped to my US Address.  Initially I was disappointed to find the center hole was too big for my 6" Ryobi bench grinder.  I was also a bit surprised that it didn't come with any mounting hardware.   Not to be defeated, I bought some cut off pipe from a local supplier (Metal Supermarket) and made a sleeve/adapter with the help of some old washers (Never throw them away!).

Some shots of the wheel, with makeshift adapter

The wheel itself is quite wide, probably about 14" across, comprised of four separate pads held together at the center.  The individual pads have waves in them, presumably to keep them working together whilst spinning.  You will notice (as I did) that they act as a propeller to send your grinder into flight!   Bolting your device or at least securing it down is probably a very good idea.

I haven't used this wheel for long or for very much.  However from what I have seen, it is incredibly impressive!

I pulled a crusty old Triumph center pipe from the shelf and had at it.  Within a single stroke, it was better than new.

Some of these shots aren't the best but the results speak for themselves.

Do I recommend this product?  Absolutely.  This will eliminate hours of elbow grease for a very low price.  As a matter of fact, I am excited to use it again to banish the ravages of time!

Until next time...

Friday, May 11, 2018

My YouTube Channels of choice....

I am a huge fan of YouTube.  The idea that anyone, anywhere at anytime can create, edit and produce media for a worldwide audience is fascinating to me.  Growing up in a different era, the very idea of it would have been the stuff of science fiction.

That being said, there is a tremendous amount of dross that one must sift through to find gold.

Here are some of my top choices, which are in no specific order.

On Yer Bike

Presenter Paul Brodie travels to various bike shows around Britain, focusing on the custom scene primarily.  Many of the segments feature builder Craig Jones, a talented blacksmith who does some exceptional work.  The above video details the making of a hand-made licence plate frame for an Enfield.  While chopped bikes are not my favourite thing in the world, the presentation is great as are the production values.  

Britannia Motors 

Micheal Waller is an ex-pat who runs a small restoration business in Upstate NY.   Luckily for us, he has taken the time to document some of his work step by step.  If you are new to restoring British bikes, this is a great place to start.

Ed Willson's 1968 VW restoration

This video is a classic and a must see if you are contemplating the restoration of a Beetle.  With over million and half views, you may have already seen it!  Filmed and edited by son Max, Edd walks us through the process from beginning to end.  The car itself was up for sale (and presumably sold) for an eye-watering $15,500 USD.  The Willson clan have recently 'adopted' a worse for wear Austin Healey Sprite.  These videos in my opinion are the real stars, showcasing Edd's amazing fabrication skills. 

Hackaweek's Honda CB750 Restoration

Host Dean Segovis brings high energy and comprehensive detail to these restoration videos.  A CB360 is currently on the bench taking form as a scrambler which will no doubt prove as entertaining.

Mustie 1 

Apart from the over-use of the term 'Barn Find' (a term that needs to die for a while, much like 'patina') Mustie 1's videos are excellent viewing.   With a tremendous passion for anything mechanical, he will take on any project in an attempt to make it run.  This includes motorcycles, drills, cars and defunct generators most of which are found at yard sales.  Apparently he was offered a reality series, however the terms were less than desirable.  Good on him, as the last thing the world needs is more 'reality' shows.

Shedbuilt Dave

Shedbuilt Dave provides exactly what his name would imply; (To be clear it is unlikely Dave himself was created in a shed, but one never knows!) A man named Dave in his shed, building bikes.  For the home restorer Dave makes for an excellent mentor.  He utilizes rudimentary tools and old fashioned methods to create alchemy.  While I greatly enjoy Dave's work, I hope that one day he will invest in a better camera.


Lunmad is something of a quiet legend in the Triumph motorcycle community.  While his methods occasionally create a stir with the 'purists', the 'impure' have greatly benefited from his efforts.  His  humble and amusing presentation is a breath of fresh air in the sometimes maddening world of restoring old iron.

Until Next time.......

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Weekend Swap Meet pick ups

With other priorities dominating much of 2017,  I didn't visit many shows or swap meets.
At the 11th hour on Friday,  I happened to be cruising the CVMG page and saw the Kitchener branch would be holding court at the Paris Fairgrounds the next morning.  I figured I should start making up for lost time.

I set out early, as one does to find the best items;  Armed with a modest cash budget and list of essentials in mind, I kept my expectations low.  

Despite the intermittent heavy rain, the number of vendors was fairly high and diverse.  What did surprised me was the lack of project bikes for sale.   Not a concern for me, as the Inn is currently beyond capacity! 

There was one exception and it was certainly something not seen very often, this 1929 Harley Davidson JD project.  Considering the age and how much of the bike is present, someone should be able to restore to former glories.

At the end of the day, I made out quite well and far better than expected.  Below, I humbly present my 'haul'. 

It may not look like much, however these are all items that I had hoped to find and more importantly, needed.  

2 x Shorty/cocktail shaker mufflers (purchased for $2.00!)  I have never seen shorties with flared ends before.  The chrome is actually quite decent.

12 x Tools:  Several slimline wrenches, a NOS American made chain tool, Dunlop tyre spoons, Craftsman wrench, home made Triumph clutch tool, very old flint for welding and a mystery tool.  

1 x Bag of random British fasteners with nuts, always handy.

3 x original handlebar switches, all in excellent shape.  1 x Ducon, 1 x Miller and 1 x Lucas.

2 x Ewarts fuel taps with new components.  I was really surprised and delighted to find these as mine are but trash.  

All in all, a very worthwhile Saturday morning and I will be sure to attend next year.

My next post will reflect some project updates, until next time! 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Tank repairs...

Sometime last summer I picked up a couple of bargain Matchless/AJS tanks from a vendor in California to experiment with.  Both had traces of original paint and chrome, the latter of which was the subject of said experimentation.  I had dropped both in wood bleach, which cleared away a considerable amount of rust from the chrome surface however the pitting was too extreme.

I can't seem to find the photos from that specific test, however I will post them when they turn up.

I shelved the one tank for later as it had a poor repair to the bottom.  The second one was a much better prospect, having few dents and a lone screw broken off in the thread for one of the badges.   I decided that removing it wasn't a big problem and I needed the practice to perform the same operation to a 1966 Triumph tank waiting in the wings.

Unfortunately I was mistaken.  While I started off with a small drill bit, I somehow ended up punching a hole right through!

With no welder at the time, it joined the other tank on the shelf.

As the ice storm was hitting hard outside,  I needed to feel some sense of achievement inside the garage.

I fired up the old Becca Mig and began to build up some material around the hole.  This was then ground down flat.  I became ambitious and began to lead fill the tank.  This probably would have worked out better in warmer temperatures as you fight the ambient temperature to keep the metal hot enough.  I will need to add a bit more lead to finish, but overall I am pleased with the results!

With an all metal tank, this opens up to another planned experiment I am saving for the summer.

A true bugger up.

Some build up of material 

After some grinding 

Some lead filled in

After the smoothing out

Until next time! 

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Firth's 1952 Catalogue!

I confess to have been sitting on this one for a while!  Sometime last year, a few more of these wonderful time capsules came my way (expect two more in the coming weeks) and I hadn't gotten around to editing them.

As I sit here in mid-April listening to an ice storm brewing outside my window, I decided to make the time!

If you have visited here before, you know that I have tremendous affection for vintage literature, spending hours pouring through them.  I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do!

Interesting to see the bilingual insert;  Mr. Firth was certainly well ahead of the curve when it came to marketing!

I recently saw one of these HMF (House Brand) Juster seats on Ebay, listed as vintage Bates Double seat!  I wonder what happened to the automatic prop stand?  Looks like a handy device...