Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Matchless in name....

It was bound to happen at some point.  With my years long thirst for classic motorcycles it was inevitable that I would one day get my hands on a Matchless twin.   They are beautiful, different and fewer in numbers than my beloved Triumphs and fairly uncommon to own these days (at least on these shores).

It was also inevitable and a following of tradition that that bike be in as many pieces as humanly possible.   I am however, getting ahead of myself.

Before I delve into the heart of this story, I need to put the spotlight onto my 1973 TR7V.    I haven't really spoken too much about this bike as it is point of shame for me.  What makes it a point of shame exactly?   The fact that it was bought in the summer of 2007 and still hasn't been ridden or finished yet.  There has been work done,  lots and lots of it in fact.  Engine rebuild, powder coating, gathering of parts.  I have so many new or new near parts that I can't remember how much of what I picked up 9 years ago is still there.  

I think for me the biggest problem was I kept changing my my mind about what I wanted.  With the explosion of the custom movement in the last decade,  The desire to create my own machine often took hold of me.   One could easily get lost on Bike Exif or Pipeburn being inspired by the various creations from around the globe.   The Creative side of me was longing for a canvas to express myself with.  Then there is the other side.  The traditional side,  the side that is angered by a good original bike being chopped for the purposes of said creative expression.  Do I express myself or do I make it 'Right'?   In the end, I decided on a path of compromise, involving change but not irreversible change.   This has been the journey of the bike for the last 9 years.   Do I want these pipes?  This headlight?  These forks?  etc.

Back around Christmas I decided to do two things.  One was watch the entire series of Happy Days from beginning to end (more on that in a future post,  Everything ties together.) The second was to finish the Triumph.   I was on track, purchased loads of parts from Walridge and Ebay and was all set to go. I told myself that at least one of my projects deserved completion.  I was all set to wrap it all up with a stock bow, when I found myself wanting this:

Not the actual Fonz bike, but a reasonable Facsimile.

The Fonz's Triumph.  Should I give the TR7V a Fonz flavour?  Then the wheels were turning again.

You may be asking at this point,  how the hell does any of this lead to a pile of Matchless parts?

Hang on, we are nearly there.

Being February, I decided to look around locally for any cool bits and pieces that might look good on the Triumph.  I like to follow the 'Market' and see what people throw up for sale and what they want for it.   A vague ad for 'Matchless Parts' with a couple of poor mobile phone pics caught my attention immediately.    The photos had an ominous feel to them, looking as though these forlorn parts were left in a barn, lost to time.  

I knew I shouldn't call and actually did resist for a couple days, but curiosity got the better of me.  Did I need another project?  Of course not,  however I could use some parts to sell to supplement my income during the lean months.  

I gave in and called the number in the ad and spoke to Dave, the owner.  He didn't seem to know exactly what he had, more or less a couple frames and engines and pile of other parts.  He was 3 hours away which didn't deter me as I had the time on my hands.  

My father came with me for this one, which is nice as we get to spend some time together.  At nearly 80 years of age I am blessed that he is physically still able to be a part of these proceedings.  I sometimes wonder if I keep doing this because I enjoy the journey;  The reflection on the drive there, the excitement of what the quest may hold.  There is also the joy of interesting, like minded people, visiting new places and seeing interesting things.  

We were greeted by the owner's father, a very eclectic fellow and Vintage Indian owner.  He had a very interesting barn/shed/machine shop.  One of his items on display was a steam engine he had built from scrap lying around and a vintage St Laurent boat engine from the 1920's  that he was restoring.  While we waited for Dave, his father took me up to the loft where everything was stored.

After a brief assessment of what I could see, I knew that the asking price was too high but that somewhere under all the rust and dirt there was a diamond waiting to shine.  I threw out a fair number that I could live with and a deal was struck.  We lowered everything down and into the car, which was full to the brim. 

On the way home I thought about the TR7 and felt a little guilty,  I told myself that it would roll this spring more or less as Meriden intended.  I looked in the rear view mirror and took in my new acquisition.

But what exactly had I bought?   

More on that next post.

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