2014
10.Jun

Well, I must admit, the move to the Ukraine is nearing with great speed. I have now acquired a suitable vehicle – a Renault Grand Espace 2.2 Turbo-Diesel from 2002 with 150,000 on the clock – (if you really want to see to see photos, here they are: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/cvbgwv3tnbgxm76/AADDX492-yPZ4sEXpunwjnZma ) the prettiest and most functional of the marque, in my opinion and certainly big enough to get most of my needed belongings out there in one trip. A seven-seater that drives like a ‘normal’ car, this is ideal for the long trip ahead! It is the last one with a ‘real’ handbrake and there are other little details that are more endearing than the the later model with the new back-end and and a whole new line of electronic nightmares to boot! I will be preparing it for the long ride ahead, with all the European requirements for First Aid kits etc for European compliance and a proper service before I leave. It has only done 151.000 miles and so has a few to go before needing major surgery. (I hope!)

My Velocette parts originally intended for my own ‘charity ride’ bike are mostly sold to set myself up in modest business out there (I have to start from something) and I still have the very late ’47 frame and a pair of double-sided-damped forks to take with me to use as jigs for mudguards etc. and to give me patterns for lug-sets for the future! Unless anyone is willing to make an offer on them, before I go!!

The start in Stepanky, now only a few weeks ahead (don’t forget, it is the ‘dark side of the moon’) will be slow, but at least I will have no outside interference and plenty of people willing to get the work. Oh yes, I will have to get the workshop set up in a usable environment – probably my living room! ( also through the winter) and with a few other luxury details like running water in the house and a bit of drainage perhaps… but all manageable, I think! Now that I have the vehicle, the only problem is ‘reducing to the max’!

I have to reduce to the amount of space and weight available to take in the Espace. This does not leave much room for error, as all that I take with has to serve a purpose. I must also survive and so some kitchen and other essentials have to go with (that I have to have from day one) in order to live, like pots and pans etc, the traditional ‘bottom drawer’. After that, priority number one has to be tools and equipment necessary to ‘make’ things, so hand-tools, band-saw, pillar drill, various sanders for pattern-making. Welding kit: I’m only taking AC TIG with me (apart from the mini stuff for jewellery-sized work) as I assume that I can get hold of Oxy/Acetylene/Gas gear there. After that, a few books (oh, only about 500 kilos!) and some clothes and the computer!! EASY! – oh, I forgot the planks of wood for patterns and some other bits and pieces that might come in handy… Like a work-bench!

All in all a bit of an adventure, especially as I still don’t actually know if I will ever be allowed to stay there permanently, without actually having to find a ‘babushka’ to marry and give me permanent residence (after two years). I will have to register a proper business (NOT self-employment) to stay more than 90 days out of 180 ( an administrative nightmare, believe me!), as I have to pay taxes, whether I earn or not.. The hope is that the corruption-level will reduce out there and will not interfere so much with the smooth running of things. I still have to master the language enough to inform/ communicate with my suppliers of my requirements and that I know what I actually want… that will at the beginning be somewhat difficult, but I am doing my best.

As a first move forward is the prewar kick-start/gear-change rubber B60/2,

FootrestRubberPhoto2

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which for at least twenty years has been marketed as being with a closed end… which is completely wrong! And yes, I realise that the ‘script’ is slightly different to the original, but that is intended, for my own ‘protection’ of intellectual property. The original rubber was for both applications and was OPEN-ended and as such, I will be selling them in pairs, for around £11,00.  I shall be getting the tooling together to make those soon, hopefully I will be able to sell a few, too, as the tooling is not cheap for injection-mouldings…And so the parts will also not be ‘cheap’, as a result of low-volume, high tooling cost and high quality. Unfortunately, most people only see the ‘price’, which has to be a reflection of the effort required, firstly to make an authentic product and the tooling-cost to achieve an end, without the prospect of selling ten thousand a year…

Nevertheless, I shall continue in this ‘vein’, the next products being probably top and bottom yokes and links for all the Webb forks, rear stands as original-looking as possible, some Miller electrics that might be interesting, mudguard-sets complete with stays that will actually FIT and be right for the year and model of bike etc. etc..

This has become a sort of  ‘Crusade’ in my semi-retirement, to right the ‘wrongs’ of the belief that we simply have to ‘make do’ with the crap that is on offer and people like Mike at Groves serve us up with. If HE doesn’t have the clout to get things made properly, then who else has? The problem is that he is a business man with NO INTEREST AT ALL in the bikes or their users and their problems. Such a shame!  The same goes for the Velocette Owners Club Spares Scheme, that seems to be so far removed from the modern needs and requirements of the Velocette owners as to be worse than pre-historic in their methods and efforts. Sorry guys, this is the 21st Century already! All the dealers and producers of the parts are only interested in the money that they expect to be able to earn from the rich bastards that have old bikes, and THEY have to put up with poor service and parts.

THAT is why I am disappearing to to the arse end of the universe to change things, maybe only one-at a-time, back to what they ought to be – as they ‘were’. Will you be ‘there’ to support me? I doubt it. SO many still live in the seventies and expect to pay only pennies for hard-earned graft for their bikes that are now worth twenty times what they got for them only ten years ago. So I have no intention. wish or hopes of ever getting rich from the tight-asses that I see, begrudging the postage on headlamp-clips (only a few quid), which protect their now over £200-worth of headlamp.

You know what? I don’t care, I will STILL make the stuff that I do, because it has to be done, and I don’t give a damn that 90% of the owners of Velocettes are too to tight to want to pay a realistic price for stuff that is of BETTER quality, than the worn-out SHIT that they still use (and continue to buy cheap and useless replacements for) and endanger their won (and possibly their loved ones’) lives with.  (Oh, she unfortunately died in the accident, but the brakes were ORIGINAL!)

Oh yes, there are a few brake-shoes and other parts that I am interested in making, too, but will they ever be bought by  bunch of people that I still see coming to my workshop asking for used chains and absolutely original exhausts from the fifties, but only willing to part with pennies?

I’ll be honest with you now… If I think that the parts that I make, will be used on a bike that will never see the road, I am inclined to refuse to sell them. I am not really interested in the  parts merely being moved form ‘my box’ into ‘your box’ of bits, unless it is going to be USED. Does that make sense?? You might just as well buy the CRAP that comes from other sources, if all it is going to do is it in your bloody living-room for the rest of its days.

I make BIKE-PARTS and not some decorative embellishment to Heaps of  Scrap-Metal on private display, without function or appreciation beyond their intrinsic ‘value’

Sorry, it had to be said.

© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac

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2014
25.May

Nation on the brink of war?

Ukraine(Click on the picture for a better view!)

On the day of the first round of official National Elections in the Ukraine (the second round will be in about two weeks, if the person in the lead does not get more than 50% of the votes), the tension is building. Some of the polling stations have been ‘captured’ and there is considerable intimidation in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions (“Oblasts”). Some polling stations have remained closed, or had to be closed. In Donetsk, 15 are not working at the last count at 08:30. In Mariupol, of 91, 8 have had to be closed or are not operation, in Krasnoarmeisk, 6 out of 55 remained closed… I wonder what happened to the ‘international observers everyone was talking about a month or so ago??

The Ukrainians are a People with a big heart and great courage; I am convinced that they will together overcome all of these problems today and in the future, wherever they may arise, as an undivided Nation, despite all ‘appearances’ to the contrary. No Nation stands alone, but it is at times of crisis that it becomes obvious who is ‘there’ when you need them…

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There has been a  disinformation war being waged on this country’s sovereign soil since the Kremlin’s arrogantly self-styled ‘velvet invasion’ of the Crimea at the beginning of this year…

If you read a broader cross-section of the news, it is easy to understand that there was nothing ‘velvet’ about the invasion at all and that the present situation in the whole of the previously autonomous region is nothing less than dangerously catastrophic (for ALL residents), with grand theft, intimidation, robbery at gunpoint, kidnappings, murder, torture, rape and pillaging order of the day, (orchestrated openly to repress any resistance) by their ‘brothers’ from Russia (who of course at the time STRONGLY denied having ANYTHING to do with it!) and who ostensibly only came there to ‘free’ the ethnic Russian locals from the oppressive shackles of fascism and the ‘illegitimate’ dictatorship in Kiev…  After their ‘legitimate’ leader and defender-of-the-faith (Viktor Yanukovich) was so wrongly forced to flee for his life after the ‘Maidan’ incident.

If you open your eyes and actually look for current information from the Crimea, you will actually find precious little in the English language about what is going in there… The ‘leaders’ (hahaha) of the countries of the “West” seems to have conveniently forgotten about them shitting themselves at the poison dwarf Putin’s obvious middle-finger waving at them and the press has conveniently been distracted in other directions with far more important matters than trivia, like the invasion of sovereign territories close to European borders by diminutive megalomaniacs on steroids…

From the ‘other side’ within the former (?) Ukrainian territory, all reporting of a current nature has quite simply been turned off. For good reason. … Only the propaganda of Russian media, which shows in typical (what we have become accustomed to) time-frame-loop-bombardment, that everything is normal and wonderful, that the population is in a constant state of euphoria with their new-found freedom and the protection by their ‘brothers’, is allowed to be distributed outside the newly-entrenched borders of the Crimea.

All foreign stations have been jammed or their reception made illegal and dangerous to listen to – or more accurately, to have ‘found out': as in Nazi  times, the mere suspicion is enough to have terminal consequences, so even disagreements with friends and neighbours have also become a dangerous matter… The internet is strictly monitored and restricted and ‘bots’ search tirelessly for ‘dissident’ activity on the web… The population has been forced to ‘automatically’ become Russian citizens by default (a flagrant disregard of human rights under the circumstances) and the names and addresses of those who register that they do not wish to give up their Ukrainian nationality,  are given to the roving gangs of ‘friends of the people’… The food prices have sky-rocketed and thousands have been made unemployed by the shutting down of two ports, which were also necessary for the importing of foodstuffs as well as of other goods… Almost nothing is available now without ‘good connections’, bribery or a gun.

One recent traveller to the Crimea reported this week that, having sold his property in Kiev to ‘consolidate’ in the Crimea, had to bribe the border guard $5000 (!) to even let him pass within a ‘reasonable’ timeframe (and without a beating – He was delayed ‘only’ for four hours, of course because he had to explain his way out of having owned a property in the suspiciously fascist city of Kiev and he had to impress upon them that he was not one of the ‘Maidan’ activists…) and was then further ‘alleviated’ of $100,000 (of the $230,000 he originally had) at gunpoint in front of his family by the leader of military, supposedly to ‘help a friend to relocate’. He could only bring in cash, as the banks there are mostly closed for business at the moment – ostensibly while the changeover to Russian currency takes place –  and this was of course ‘discovered’ by the border-guards on entry to the peninsula at the crossing.

A ‘well documented’ border-crossing and kidnapping is here: http://maidantranslations.com/2014/05/19/three-days-in-crimean-captivity-the-story-of-katya-and-shura/ and occurred only barely a fortnight ago.

The current situation for the rest of the Ukraine up to now has been less intense in most regions, but for some over the last few weeks has been just as immediately threatening. The situation in the three administrative regions in the East, bordering on Russia, is particularly dangerous and has been the scene of government-building takeovers, killings and disruption for weeks, now openly perpetrated, orchestrated and financed by the Kremlin and their ‘green men’ wearing the St. George’s ribbon (who are otherwise affectionately known as ‘Colorado Beetles’).

Their tactics, as used in the Crimea, are well-known and well enough documented: shooting with rocket-grenade-launchers and using snipers to pick off Ukrainian law-enforcement officers or military, while hiding behind women and children is how it started. Now they come in bus-loads of people armed to the teeth and led by war-hardened Russian veterans ( like ‘Bez’ – look him up yourself) to small, poorly-defended or centrally situated military installations or outposts, mortar-bomb them, kill them with sniper-fire while they try to escape or get their wounded and then tactically retreat, while firing rockets in the ‘other’ direction’ (which is filmed by the Russian journalists that they ‘carry’ with them), to be used as claims that the Ukrainian military are shooting up residential areas. Another tactic is to set up mortars on the roof of schools and other buildings within built-up areas, so to ‘avoid’ fire being returned.

You don’t need me to tell stories like that, anyone who can read or has any recent military experience knows exactly how it works and what is going on. The ‘interim’ government in Kiev has a hard time walking the fine line between attempting to maintain ‘international’ standards of decorum and defending it’s sovereignty, while fighting with internal corruption of the integrity and loyalty within their own military chain of command and police – made even more difficult by sheer massive bribes for inside information and other forms of treason and treachery: Only a few days ago, there was an ambush of a military patrol which could only have been initiated by informants from the ‘inside’. Massively armed insurgents, with careful and meticulous planning – and using weaponry not available to the Ukrainian forces, the attackers used specialised sniping and explosive devices with delayed action and showed a high degree of training and expertise.

All cries for backup, assistance and help retreating or to counter attack were mysteriously ignored, by land and air support, and so they were left alone for four and a half hours to fight it out, with consequential heavy losses. Just another of many similar situations in the last few days and weeks, where inexplicable betrayals have taken place.

This whole situation is one massively taken advantage of by their ‘brotherly neighbour’, who has amassed over 40,000 heavily armed, well trained and equipped troops close to the border (some of which are attired like UN peacekeeping forces, blue-helmets and all!) to come and ‘assist’ (like they did in the Crimea…) in case of any perceived ‘inadequacy’ on the part of the local forces to ‘protect’ the interests or their ethnic Russian brethren – and the Kremlin has refused to back down regarding the airforce-training in air-to-ground operations within site of the border on Sunday, despite the repeated ‘assurances’ over the past weeks and months of returning troops to their permanent bases, withdrawing them from the border.

But we all know what these assurances mean.

Quite apart from the effects of the recent ‘referendum’ with 120% turnout and a 90% vote for self-government … (my invented ‘figures’, but not far from the ‘truth’ according to the ‘legitimised’ terrorists). This had led to the formation of self-styled ‘government’, “People’s Republic of Donetsk” in the regions, claiming to be legitimate and declaring the Ukrainian forces as ‘invaders’ and promising to rid their territories of them with force! In some areas of some cities, the terrorists have free reign to loot, plunder, kidnap, torture and kill at will, in places dismantling and threatening not only disruption of the coming elections…

This, thankfully (but sadly enough) has led to the slow realisation, that despite the constant bombardment with terror-stories like that the fascist government in Kiev are already building gas-chambers to kill all the Russian-speakers in those areas (yes, REALLY!), that the people ‘on the street’ are simply becoming tired of the constant fear that they live under, with curfews and looting and the insecurity of life and limb, forced upon them by their ‘liberators’… it becomes suspicious even to the most hardened ‘Russophiles’, when those same liberators break into your house and hold you at gunpoint (for your protection, you understand!) to shoot your neighbour or to kill soldiers from your bedroom window… which is precisely what is now happening in Krematorsk and Slaviansk and some other towns, including recent events in Mariupol and, of course, Odessa.

This website, http://sprotyv.info/ru/news/ is the source of a great deal of up to the minute information, maps and financial news (as far as non-disruption of current military operations allows). Information which is actualised frequently in the Russian Language (but also offers a page of infos in the English language, not quite as up-to-date): Dmitry is a highly respected military man with considerable experience in the field, a true Ukrainian patriot who has taken it upon himself  to assemble a team, whose main purpose is to counteract the brazen disinformation blasted out by Russian media in every shape and form and to give accurate accounts of events as they happen as well as solid considerations of their resulting effects. His sources are varied and reliable and he cross-checks everything; nothing is posted that has not been verified by at least two of his sources and he works in close liaison with the military and government organs.

Other useful ‘English Language ‘sources are the “Kiev Post”, for example, or http://en.pravda.com.ua/, the English page of the Ukrainian ‘Pravda’ (usually a few days behind the news). There must be at least 20 sites that I regularly keep up-to-date with, ranging from Russian papers like RT (Russia Today), through to all the US rags like the NYTimes, the European BBC, Guardian etc., as well as German and French journals and countless blogs, Facebook and VK (the Russian/ Ukrainian equivalent) and the dreaded ‘twitter’, which seems to used more by the terrorists to keep in touch with one another… and advertise their campaigns!

I have found the US and some European mogul media reports to be strangely biased (or devoid of information perhaps, because they haven’t even bothered to send reporters of their own) and that their pointed refusal to report (at all) on some events to be sadly lacking. In the US perhaps out of a distance from the local ‘happenings’, but Reuters and other multinationals should be in a different position… Just my opinion.

All over the Ukraine there has been a massive influx of weapons, ammunition, and ‘holiday makers’ from the East that has been noted (only a fraction of which have been intercepted), armed and financed as usual with Russian ‘sympathy'; a large proportion of the weapons being sourced  either directly from (only) Russian military equipment or ‘redistributed’ arms stolen or ‘requisitioned’ from the Crimea and other looted Ukrainian military/police establishments (recycling) and personnel coming into the Ukraine from the Crimea, holding ‘Ukrainian’ passports – which are readily accessible by the ‘powers-that-be’ there. Even ‘Red Cross’ ambulances have been  ‘disappeared’, the suspicion being that they could be used to disguise the ‘insertion’ of dissidents to disrupt the elections…

Only today there have been unauthorised crossings of there Ukrainan border by truckloads of terrorists, ‘aided’ by Russian border-guards, there has been a detention of a ‘holiday-maker’ crossing the border, who turned out to be terrorists trained in Rostov-on-Don, with experience in Chechenien, given money and means to shoot soldiers ( and promises of a ‘reward of $100 per ‘ordinary’ soldier and $1000 for each officer killed) + an extra €2000 on his return…

Even in the regions of the West of the country (so on the ‘left; of the Dnepr, which runs down from Kiev, past Dnipropetrovsk to the Black sea), where the situation (apart from in Odessa – a special case) has been relatively ‘quiet’, the situation is tense and the population is scared of what might happen, with all sorts of rumours circulating, whose sole purpose is to keep voters away from the polls.

The situation in the ‘Donbas’ allows that polling and counting of votes can still be held as ‘valid’ over and above a given participation level in each of the regions as a whole, so the control of (at the moment 11) polling-stations by terrorists will have no influence on the viability of the outcome of the election as such, but that does not mean they EVERYONE has to be ready for considerable disruption and even loss of life. There have been attempts to blow up Border crossings, to bring in weapons, people and money (for bribery), Military convoys in trucks, attempts to blow up bridges and take over airfields, telecommunications towers and TV stations, storming of Police and Military posts all of this and more and increasing in vehemence, regularity and frequency over the past days… What more is to come?

No one can tell at the moment. All that remains to be said is that the situation in the Ukraine is FAR worse, than anyone in the complacent Western Europe could imagine when I see the almost compete lack of even mention of the upcoming elections (does anybody KNOW, does anyone really CARE?) and the nonchalant disregard for objective appraisals of the consequences (not only within the Ukraine) of any further encroachment of its sovereignty.

I am actually shocked. The Ukriane is the single largest sovereign piece of land bordering Europe with a sizeable population, 46 Million, of which 37 Million are Ukrainian, the ‘rest’ made up of Russian, Romanian, Belorussian, Tartar, Bulgarian,  Hungarian, Polish, Jewish, Armenian, Greek, Georgian and other ‘minorities’, including Germans.

What really shocks me is not what is actually ‘going on’ there (which is bad enough) No, what REALLY ‘gets me’ is the complete lack of concern and interest shown by the ‘Western World’. The events of the next days and weeks are likely to change the whole geopolitical future of us all, if we do not take a watchful eye and perhaps even get up off our backsides and DO something to support them in some tangible way, instead of sitting back in our comfy-chairs, lamely wagging our ‘naughty-naughty-finger at the TV, while taking another sip of brandy from the glass in the other hand

Unthinkable in the cosy West and Europe, where the situation as a whole has been largely ignored and the Ukraine has been oft to ‘manage’ (i.e. ‘keep a lid on it’) on there own and desist from making anyone else feel uncomfortable…

Anything could happen, and mark my word, it probably will.

and Russia is carrying out ‘exercises’ with airborne military ‘coincidentally’ right on the border and at the same time as the elections. This is solely to keep the Ukrainian military overstretched, so that they cannot be utilised INSIDE their own territory to uphold the peace during the polling on Sunday, so that they have an excuse to march in to protect the interests of their brothers and sisters.

Are we ready for this?? Seriously? Does anyone INFORM US that this is a possibility and that the ‘West’ is prepared to DO something about it? Or even offer REAL support? Of course not!

You should be more interested in where you get your next LOAN from (even if you are bankrupt, at an ‘affordable’ 49.9% APR!) or to watch how those nice firemen rescued a cute little pussy cat from up a tree – on the national news. It make me sick, sorry.

Russia does not stop at the border provocations – MFA (Ministry for Foreign Affairs)
24/05/2014 – 14:30

“On May the 24th at about 4:00am, the Military State Border Service of Ukraine near the crossing point “Dubrovka“ in the Donetsk region recorded another unauthorised crossing of the border with the Russian Federation of two vans, each of which contained five armed men . There is every reason to believe that, like previous violations by the Russian border, the provocation occurred with the direct assistance and connivance of the Russian border guards.

In this regard, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry issued a statement condemning Russia’s attempts to destabilize the situation in the East of Ukraine.

“Despite repeated requests by Ukraine to the Russian side to stop provocations on the border, as well as the leaders of Russia’s hypocritical statements about their alleged non-involvement in supporting terrorist groups in the Eastern regions of Ukraine, in practice, the Kremlin continues to purposefully implement the scenario of further destabilisation of the situation in our country. His priority is to disrupt the Presidential Elections in Ukraine on May 25 through intimidation , hostage-taking , murder of the local population , preventing normal operation of election commissions” -
The Ukrainian Minister for Foreign Affairs said in a statement earlier today.

The MFA reasonably believe that organised by the Russian authorities to enter the territory of Ukraine, armed terrorist groups are nothing but another act of aggression against Ukraine, showing Russia’s continued cynical disregard of the rules and principles of international law.

” We appeal to the entire international community to immediately take all possible measures in order to stop the aggressor , not to let him break the process of democratic will of the Ukrainian people ,” – said a statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine.

As previously reported, Russian border guards turn a ” blind eye ” to the facts of illegal crossing of the state border of Ukraine with Russia.

Quote of the day? From Dmitry Tymchuk, on his Facebook page:

” A nation that has become a victim of aggression must be protected – otherwise it is not a nation . Ukrainians disastrously weak state . But we have a huge stock of patriotism and desire for freedom . I can imagine a thief or corrupt Ukrainian . But I can not imagine a Ukrainian as a slave ”

© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac

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2014
23.Mar

2014-03-23 11.53.09

LOTS of Velocettes at Brooklands…

For those of you a little too far away to catch the ‘action’ at Brookands, whether at ‘home’ or abroad, here are a few pictures of the event. The pictures speak for themselves for the most part and will require little extraneous comment! The weather was beautiful spring-time stuff, with a spattering of rain and crisp sunshine, with little wind until the afternoon.

To get the full “value” of these pics taken with a phone (what else!), please click to get them shown full size…

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The display in sheer quantity, diversity and quality was astounding, especially as the event was only made public at such short notice in the last Fishtail! Fabulous turnout!

One could almost believe that there were more ‘cammy’ Velos produced than all the others put together, judging by the amount of MkI and MkII KSSs and KTTs that were there!!

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Enjoy the pictures and just see to it that if at all possible, that you can make it to the next ‘event’ of this kind, wherever it might be!!

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Yours truly below, soon after arrival, photographed by a friendly fellow ‘Velocetter’ who I also had a great chat to! My beard not yet quite as long as some of the lively tales that I heard recounted there, either!!

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Only a few of rigid MSSs (3 actually)

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And the usual expected amount of RS framed bikes. Surprisingly not in the same numbers as the K-series, perhaps due to the historically ‘sporting nature’ of the venue?

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I particularly liked this mod, the oil-cut-off lever being so long, that kickstarting the bike would immediately ‘draw attention to’ the fact that it was in the ‘off’ position!

There was also a spattering of MACs (iron and alloy) and a couple of MOVs (all racing bikes, not a ‘road bike’ among them, unfortunately!). The Two-strokes were also there, but not (as could be expected!) in great numbers… even a Ladies’ bike was there, dated 1925…

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Some of Ivan Rhodes’ bikes were also even there, as photographed below;

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A very early two-stroke was also there, but for some reason the photo seems to have disappeared!!

Well, as you can see, there was a fantastic turnout, few ‘personalities’ were also there, making the day was well worth the visit. Altogether a very pleasant trip, including pleasant words and technical tips exchanged with others with far more experience and knowledge than oneself!!

© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac

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2014
03.Mar

3MS

Somebody please help.

I am trying to get the one or other thing produced for rigid Velocette’s and would prefer, if possible, to be able to initiate or keep (once established) the production process here in the UK, close to the market centre and close to central distribution-channels.

I am not able to manufacture anything myself in my present circumstances, my activities being restricted to pattern-making for the foundry industry, including core-boxes. I can also do a little turning, at present restricted to a throw of about seven inches, which precludes working on brakes, I’m afraid.

Well, motorcycles are not made entirely of castings and once cast properly, those finished castings still have to be machined in some way or other before they can actually be fitted and used. When I design and make patterns, I mount them on boards with separate runners, to ensure through thorough testing, an absolutely consistent result regarding dimensions, density and surface finish, also to determine the ideal material for the requirements of the job.

Here is a CAD drawing of the pattern showing the core but without the split in the pattern nor the added thickness where machining is required.

3MSdisplay2

So, my main problem is finding someone not only capable of, but also willing to cast relatively short runs and together ‘putting the work in’ of initial testing and proving the integrity of the work, which is (hopefully!) only required at the outset. As any foundry-man will tell you, this can be a time-consuming process, depending on the particular expertise of the ‘shop’ doing the work. Close cooperation with the pattern-shop is also required and at the beginning a number of minor modifications to the runner-system may be required, before a casting comes out ‘just right’.

Compound to this that traditional sand-casting foundries tend to specialise in ferrous and non-ferrous castings, further broken down into a separation of iron and steel and maybe aluminium light-alloys or those containing (or NOT!) magnesium… and of course the ‘heavy metals’ like brass and bronze etc. and the story becomes potentially confusing and confusing. Even confusinger is the further splitting and specialisation in lost-wax and ‘die-casting’… which for most of our requirements is irrelevant.

Unfortunately, foundries of any kind are few and far between in the non-motor-vehicle-manufacturing environment and even there they are disappearing due to ‘environmental’ legislation (arguable) and so finding someone to do anything other than large quantities is almost impossible and has also become expensive (a secondary issue, quite frankly – compared to the cost of pattern-making, anyway)

So that is the first problem in a nutshell.

Number two is what I would quaintly call tin-bashing (sorry!). After castings the next largest group of items making up a bike are fabricated in some way from sheet material, in the old days steel and later, of course, incorporating some aluminium sheet, especially for mudguards and fuel-tanks. Specialist tank-builders and -repairers are a rare breed indeed, and those that make, don’t necessarily repair and vice-versa. Smaller parts like oil-tanks, tool-boxes, chain-guards and the like are usually not quite so bothersome to find someone to make, but mudguards present a different problem altogether. Without specialised and dedicated (and expensive, space-devouring-) machinery, the process is just so hit-and-miss and requires a disproportionate amount of time to get right and so becomes prohibitively expensive. Due to the large number of variations in cross-section, length, radius and structural supports, ribs, beading and edges, the number of configurations is sheer confusing!

Closely related to those parts above, are the plethora of different mudguard-stays and other parts made of steel tubing, which have to correspond to differing profiles and radii, too, so each by no means ‘universal’ in their application.

Wheel-building also comes under manufacture, I suppose, but there doesn’t seem to be such a great problem there, as there are many trials- and cross- bike shops that still offer this as a service. Here it is imperative to go armed with the correct offsets etc so that they can do the job properly, even perhaps having to also supply them with the parts, which are readily available from a few reliable sources.

I don’t wish at this stage to delve deeper into the field of rebuilds, as it is simply vast: the number of (necessary) splits into the various different areas of engineering and electrical items is simply immense and the bandwidth of services offered by each is from extremely narrow to vast, just to confuse matters further. Engine, fuel-system, gearbox, clutch, ignition, lighting, running-gear, tinware and finishing (‘paint’) being common demarcations, this is by no means an exhaustive list of sub-categories and specialisation that are possible…

As mentioned in earlier blogs, I am having immense problems getting ANY work done for me. I have had answers to my queries ranging from disbelief to rudeness, from vague promises to laughter, none of which  found remotely helpful. When I mention the quantities initially required, or the standard of materials or finish, THAT is when it becomes ‘sensitive’. Usually the requirement from the other side is a commitment to production runs over and above the total production figures for Velocette over 20 years, or prices in a similar range or delivery-dates  beyond my life-expectancy!

Is there a solution to this problem? Does anybody out there here my cry for help?

I am already working on some castings/patterns for some parts of the Webb heavyweight forks and other parts and am ready to ‘farm out’ some other parts that I see sadly misrepresented as exact replicas on eBay and also at retail outlets.

The trouble here, as usual, is the ‘well it’s all I can get, so you’ll have to make do’ attitude of the wholesaler and retailers alike.

I would like to start small, perhaps with a tube-bender capable of making up the stays for the front and rear mudguards on rigid models (so for the MOV/MAC, MSS/KTS, KSS MkI and II and any GTPs out there with round stays) in stainless and the headlamp-stays for Webb and Dowty forks for the 8-inch headlamp (yes, I know that the Webb ones weren’t tubular originally, but they do need to be).

Maybe 10 sets of each to ‘test’ and see how they fare in the marketplace? Each of the models DO require different stays and there is definitely NOT a one-size-fits-all solution, any more than there is with the mudguards, another ugly story that has to be retold from the start…

Then we have the famous mudguard story propagated by our fiends on the Indian sub-continent… MOV/MAC guards are DIFFERENT to the MSS/KTS guards, as are the KSS ones. They are NOT the same, and the differences are not only in where the holes are drilled! The two frames are entirely different, as is the proximity of the rear guard to the chaincase, for a start. The KSS ones are completely different, being of different width and section, NOT having a rib down the centre and of course different diameter to the other models, too! (another reason for the stays being incompatible…)

And there is NO EXCUSE for them not fitting, if they are constructed to fit on an original frame. If they fit on one, they will fit ANY of the original frames of the same model, without question, so why are they so inconsistent? (the same goes for the fit of petrol-tanks, just by the way…)

Another question… Why they should already be corroded on arrival (even the primed ones) beats me… the excuse offered on the Velocette technical forum by the manufacturer (who has been very quiet since the following comment was made…), that they “can’t get the material of the same specification and quality of the originals” is a non-starter, of course… in the meantime, there is a much wider and potentially much BETTER range of material specifications available – at a relatively LOWER price…

There are plenty of other parts that need desperately to be made readily available (some brake-shoes come to mind!) and I am open to suggestions. I cannot make them all myself, but I am glad to be the initiator of and to oversee production and distribution of ANY part, no matter how it is manufactured,

SO HERE IS THE CHALLENGE:

Is there anybody out there WILLING AND ABLE

…to co-operate in short-term, short-run manufacture of parts that will need to be produced from now until forever?

Low volume per year, but basically until the end of time?? These bikes will be around forever and even if they are ‘legislated out of existence’ for daily use, there will ALWAYS be a market, even if slow-moving.

Not forgetting that there is a huge number of un-restored or damaged bikes languishing in sheds and workshops, only because certain parts are not available to ‘get them on the road’ again… I suspect that damaged or incomplete front forks would also make up a large proportion of the figure…

Yes, I shall soon be establishing a base in the Ukraine to be closer to possible production in Poland and the Ukraine (where legislation is not quite so restrictive and the good old pattern-shops and foundries still exist en masse), nonetheless, I would still prefer to have a capability here “at home”…

Please help!

© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac

 

2014
25.Feb

saddle1

The ‘right’ saddle.

Let’s face it, if we actually use our machines, one of the things that gets a fair amount of wear and tear, is the saddle. Whichever type we have fitted, at some stage it will need re-covering. There are new covers available which are of a reasonable shape and size, but somehow they look and feel wrong… why? They might even have that ‘grainy’ look (if a trifle exaggerrated…?) of the old ones, but they are too ‘shiny’ for my taste, some of them are really smooth and the actual material used seems thinner and softer, somehow ‘sticky’ to the touch. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but I’m not particularly fond of them as they stand. Then again, perhaps I’m just too used to the look of the worn out ones to remember what they really looked like when they WERE new!

Even more of a problem arises when, if, you don’t have a saddle at all for your ‘project’! The pattern items that I have seen recently (which now all come from one manufacturer, it would seem!) are fine as far as they go, but not quite the type fitted at least to Velocettes, as far as I can ascertain. The size and the shape is not bad, actually and only marginally different to those fitted originally, though the paint finish on both of these ones is not pretty and I have no comments to make on the material quality as yet. I am still not quite sure whether the frame I have actually is original, it is, however, very much closer to original spec than the other one. It doesn’t matter at all, the main thing is that it illustrates the difference between those that are readily available on eBay and the jumbles and what has to be done to make them look ‘right’ and, thankfully, actually fit!

Here what I used to think was an original saddle frame: Having looked at the workmanship and finish, I am now dubious as to its origininality.

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Here the simple rivet fixing for the cross-strap, that makes the difference for Velocette use.

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The saddle-frame itself of made of a similar thickness of material, but there is one major difference which needs to be addressed, after which it is difficult to pick from the original! There is a strip which has to be added to the back of the frame, where the springs on a Velo (and probably other makes, too!) are fitted. The one that I had was supplied with some angle brackets (loose) which were supposed to do the same job and could be fitted, theoretically at least, the right distance apart to the rear of the frame for that purpose. A little makeshift and possible not as strong as the original setup, it also is a dead give-away that the ‘wrong’ saddle is fitted. The bump in the middle is, of course, to clear the mudguard when the springs are compressed over a bump in the road and is mirrored on the saddle-cover of the original.

Here the newish pattern (Might also be a few years old…) showing that the rear strap is missing for this particular application:

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In the end, I suppose, who cares? Well, I do happen to know that there are those out there that DO care, and while I’m not always a stickler for absolute originality, it IS nice to get it at least looking right, even if not an ‘actual’ original part! Here are the two that I have showing the differences. As there have probably been many different suppliers over the years of these saddles, it is difficult to make absolute measurements and comparisons, but a look at the photos will give an idea of the differences that have to be addressed, in a ‘generic’ way. Thus, armed with a piece of paper and a pencil and a little ‘artistic license’, a template for the rear ‘strap’ can be quickly made up and either  cut at home in the workshop or given to someone else to cut… it is quite thick material and most of us will not have the kit to cut something even as simple as this in a reasonable time. Bending, on the other hand, should be done at home to ensure a good fit and shouldn’t present a problem if you have a decent sized vice!

You will notice that the front portion on the pattern saddle is a little different to the original, which section is ‘better’ is purely a matter of taste. The front mountings will have to be manufactured to fit the particular bike that the saddle is intended for, so I have left them out.

Here the nose of the one with the cross-strap:

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And the ‘nose’ of the other one:

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The covers themselves pose a slightly different  problem. Allow me a personal note here, as I have definite preferences in this department! I know that many decry the use of dead cow for the covering, the reason given usually being susceptibility to moisture and rain. Hm. Actually I agree, BUT (no pun intended) when riding, my rear-end is usually planted firmly in the saddle and so it doesn’t get wet from the sky above anyway! After getting off, I always have a plastic bag handy to place over it (like the cycle-riders) if it should be raining, which it only does for 25% of the year anyway. How many owners of machines fitted with these types of saddle go for runs in the rain anyway, I ask? There aren’t that many, so I really don’t understand why the voices are so loud. Any old hair-net will do, actually, but if you have had the dexterity to sew the saddle in the first place, a suitable rain-cover shouldn’t be an insurmountable problem!

(The older US manufacturers use metal seat-pans that are merely ‘faced’ with leather, and so they have completely different set of rules to follow when considering replacement)

Here is a very good copy, if not an original cover. This one fits the base properly and will be anyway only used to copy for my ‘proper’ leather one.

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Here from the underside…

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… And I have made patterns from this one for anyone interested in having a go themselves, which I will post to you if requested. I suppose that I could also scan them or draw it up in a CAD program, but then the problem is printing them out… Perhaps in two halves? If you have a modern pattern saddle to re-cover, you will have, of course, to use the cover that came with it to make the pattern for the replacement, if you are going to go to the trouble of making one yourself, rather than just buying one ‘off the shelf’.

On the other hand, I do love leather as a covering for one particular reason (apart from the ‘optics’): Have you ever ridden a long distance on a plastic saddle (of any kind – even a modern bike?). The sticky, sweaty bum (and other bits) syndrome is undeniably present in any climate and if riding is continued over a few days, can lead to the famous jungle crotch-rot, which is most unpleasant, including to those in the immediate vicinity…

We should all wear leather or some sort of protective clothing (Modern hi-tech textiles are fantastic! Light and offering better ‘breathing’, despite being far more waterproof…). And so there we have it: BREATHING! Why bother with a seat on your pants that breathes, if the saddle provides an impervious barrier to the expulsion of (in the summer at least) rapidly accumulating body-fluids originally designed to cool the skin by evaporation, in the resultant hot-spots. Very counter-productive and actually counter-intuitive. Plastics were only chosen by virtue of cheapness and availability (= convenience). The plastics chosen being impervious to fluids, also collect bacteria very nicely and, of course, hinder any evaporation while seated in contact with them, all very much in the best possible taste, I know, but these things are sent to try us (and sometimes out partnerships…). These (bacteria and fluids, not the partnerships!) then have nowhere else to reside or go and therefore collect in whatever material is between the plastic saddle surface and your skin. How savoury!

SO LEATHER, on the other hand, allows the soaking and ‘wicking off’, and therefore evaporation from the ‘under-surface’ of the saddle where there is some considerable airflow, of any perspiration and so provides a very comfortable seat base over extended distances. This situation is ONLY present if there is not an impervious sponge rubber underneath, which then causes the fluid to accumulate in the leather covering (and fester there, instead of ‘in yer trousers’,) which is not really much better, as it soon returns from whence it came as the moisture accumulates over a certain level.

Leather, then, is only good if there is sufficient flow of air around it (usually on the underside, as we are sitting on the top!), which brings us to the next point: The padding! If the seat cover is plastic, it matters not if there is sponge rubber under it, BUT, if the cover is leather, it needs a breathable padding that gives sufficient hindrance to the springs digging into one’s posterior, whilst not hindering the airflow and wicking action. Unfortunately, the wonderful horsehair matting that was used on the underside of original (although plastic covered!) saddles is unfortunately no longer available (as far as I can see, and I have tried, believe me) and so an alternative has to be found, even if you are going to re-cover with plastic.

The nearest I could find (and PLEASE, if you have a better alternative, let me know!) is the coconut-matting found at garden-centres for lining hanging-baskets! It is the right thickness and firmness and is of the right ‘consistency': The only trouble with this is that it produces so much ‘dust’ if the underside is left open. I also assume that due to this, that it probably eventually thins out, too. There are even plastic-coated versions (I can’t remember what for) which wouldn’t do that, which I would not use for obvious reasons. So with the coconut-matting, it has to be covered with something on the ‘outside’ with some other material open enough to aerate, but woven closely enough to stop the coconut ‘hairs’ dropping everywhere…

Here just roughly sewn together, as the stitching to the cover keep it all in one piece once done!

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That coconut fibre is really a little too messy for my taste (see below, after a good shake over the leather… just imagine what a nice shiny black mudguard would look like!

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The BEST and the most efficient (and ‘authentic’) padding comes from old VW Beetles and Vans at the breakers-yards… which used to have the very same padding over the springs as Lycette or Terry did! BINGO! One of the only remaining sources, but not always readily available in a suitable condition, quantity or price!

And so to the topside:

If  it is to be made of some kind of leather, chrome-tanned leather is imperative for this kind of sprung seat, as veg-tanned leather will sag dramatically after the first ride and will look dreadful, no matter how thick or thin. For sewing the type of saddle that we generally use, Wallaby or Kangaroo is the best for maximum resilience and weather-resistance. It is thin and extremely tough, elastic (so it keeps its shape well) and easy to sew. The surface is suitably ‘grained’ or is at least matte and so non-reflective. It is not available everywhere, but is well worth the search, if leather is what you decide on. All the ‘Conolly’ type hides tend to be too thick and a bugger to sew and deteriorate rapidly in the sunlight if not meticulously kept. So yes, I agree, leather can be a pain in general, but if you get the right sort… If necessary, I can possibly get access to Wallaby hides in limited quantity from Australia, but I have no idea of the price, to which postage would have to be added. The last ones that I bought in AUS were about a tenner each, but I have no idea if my then source has ANY more left, let alone at that price.

Here some nice little Wallaby skins:

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And here a leather saddle-top marked on the inside in white pencil for final cut of the triangular ‘inserts’ and sewing.

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Topside, showing minimal, but pleasant, natural grain. (not ‘printed’)

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And something I ‘scored’ from an upholsterer, which I was going to use to ‘seal’ the ‘precipitation’ from the coconut fibre with…

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For simulated leather or ‘leatherette’ tops, there are plenty available in all sorts of ‘grain’ finishes from most retailers dealing in fabrics, the choice is broad and they are very reasonably priced. The difference in quality and price will depend on thickness, UV resistance and the cloth backing. Buy the best quality that you can afford and choose the surface finish that you desire! They are all cloth backed and half a meter is enough for a couple of saddles. More important than with the leather, keep an eye on which way it stretches: If across the frame, it will ‘sag’ in between the springs quicker than if the stretch is longitudinal, but this will have no effect on the actual function of the saddle, only the way it looks. Here the important thing to watch as with any saddle, is the firmness of the ‘stuffing’ between the top and the springs, that is what makes the difference in the comfort, especially if you have a bony backside.

As ever, I would be appreciative of any helpful comments or additions to the opinions stated here, which are only based on personal experiences!

At this point I must shamefully admit that the saddle-covers that I have previously made have wandered into private hands in Australia and therefore that I have nothing that I have made to show you here! As you can see, there is one in the making, which shall be followed up on once finished, but I have a few weeks of concentration on other things in the meantime… Perhaps I will fit it in, though. I would still rather  source a VW seat, before I commit myself to going to the trouble of sewing another one for myself…

© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac

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2014
22.Feb

In view of the recent developments

in the Ukraine, I felt it only right to show some restraint in using the blog as a platform for discussion of the terrible turn of events there, with respect for what was happening and not wishing to be dragged in to the position of a sensationalist reportage, and so I do not include any pictures of the events here, either, despite being personally very concerned and somewhat involved.

Yes, I have contacts and friends at the ‘Maidan’ in Kiev ‘on the ground and was receiving ‘live updates’ on a regular basis, thankfully all of whom are still alive and well, if exhausted. In fact, I have only just said goodnight on Skype after a lengthy talk with one of my contacts who has just returned from there today.

The reportage shewn in Europe and the USA was pitiful (almost as pitiful as their for a long time feeble responses to the events), the coverage from Russia not at all biased, of course; in the East of the Ukraine it was only possible to receive and be kept informed of what was actually going on by the Russian-influenced media, as all other stations had ‘technical problems’ with the delivery of their portion of the reportage and the main television and newspapers in Kiev were closed down.

I shall refrain from posting pictures or other material of the events, suffice to say that the last days were horrific and punctuated by sheer madness, the police and ‘other entities’ using armour-piercing and large calibre, long-range weapons (NOT police issue… which comprises short-range, lighter-calibre sniper rifles for use in urban environments).

At the moment, the situation has de-escalated somewhat, at least until the actual date of the re-election is announced, which if proposed for December, as threatened by Yanokivich’s Party of Regions, will cause the next wave of ‘unrest’… Interesting to see what happens in view of the fact that the USA and European leaders are pretty much united in the view that he (and a select band of followers) are criminally responsible under international law of crimes against humanity. How can it be tolerated that he remains in the ‘chair’ until December, if the suspicions are true? Obviously an untenable situation.That was the ‘position’ until earlier today.

Just heard while on the blower with Alya, that Yanukovich has disappeared and is nowhere to be found! He has left his mansion and simply disappeared. He was supposed to have been on the way to a meeting in Kharkiv with the remains of his party to discuss a possible annexing of the Eastern and Southern states… and just never turned up! In his absence, of course, there is now no-one in ‘power’, so elections cannot be left later than a date in May (actually now proposed for the 22nd). Apparently all his ministers have resigned or laid down their posts (mostly due to ‘sudden ill-health!) and have also ‘hopped the fence’, it would seem. Notably the interior minister has been caught trying to cross the border and has been stooped by Ukrainian border authorities. Now that the blanket censorship has been lifted, even those in the East are beginning to open their eyes to the situation in Kiev over the last weeks… The parliament is now in session with the opposition parties who are returning to the earlier constitution of 2004 (pre-Yanukovich, who ‘broadened’ his own powers without the niusance of having to go through parliament to pass laws… a bit like Henry VIII, who he obviously modeled his lifestyle on…) and to return the country to some kind of normality. I just pray that someone comes to the fore that is capable of leading the country into unity…

What I actually wanted to announce here, despite it being not specifically Velocette or MotorCycle-related, was that I intend soon to relocate. To the (Western) Ukraine, to a village called Stepanky (Степанки) about half-way between Vinnytsia and Moldova!

Although the density of prewar Velocettes in Australia was very favourable, even compared with the UK, the willingness to even consider, let alone the subsequent pricing for small-batch work was what I would call prohibitive. Most approaches to manufacturers or even small workshops were greeted with nothing less than sheer ridicule if not rather abrupt rudeness.

The problem that I have encountered in the UK is a rather more polite, but nonetheless firm reluctance to make small batches, and/or waiting lists that extend beyond my lifetime, as well as ‘uninteresting’ pricing. While I have no problem with my children inheriting what small gains (hopefully)  can be made long-term out of my interest here, I would still like to be here at least to oversee the products of my labour and to at least have sighted what goes out into the world in ‘my’ name. The cost here is also very daunting, castings and the like almost priced out of existence here at home, due to government and ecological considerations and legislation.

Whilst all very laudable, I see parallels with legislation passed last week n some states in the USA, where 85% of wood-burning stoves are now illegal and have been banned due to ‘emission’ considerations. Well, Wood is a renewable resource and the wood-burning stove has seen a resurgence recently in poorer households, who cannot afford the price of heating delivered by the (we can only presume) ‘cleaner’ and environmentally more viable, predominantly oil- or electrical heating in their homes, since the recent price-hikes of services also there.

Bear in mind, that the number of home now additionally (no, not exclusively!) using slow-burners in their homes to supplement the other heating that they have, has RISEN to OVER 1% of the nation’s households!! My GOD, what a tremendous effect THAT will have on the environment! Because of the ‘new’ norms, all those 85% of old stoves (like the Agas etc) will have to be trashed (or their owners face fines or imprisonment) and be replaced with new (or alternative ‘modern’) systems, based on non-renewable resources…

OK, rant over, remains to be said that finding not only anyone that will actually PROMISE that they will do things for me and also DELIVER within my lifetime at a even an unreasonable cost are few and far between, I have to look elsewhere. The rest of mainland Europe, including Poland, has become so heavily legislated and also overly ‘aware’ of the ‘financial-gain-potential’ in the ‘classic and collector’ market, that any attempts there will be simply unaffordable, if perhaps possible.

And so my ‘defection’ to the ‘East’. For me, it means learning a new language or two + a new culture, lifestyle (very basic) and tempo, but with the possibility of meeting people who are actually glad of the work (sorry), however little. The technology is by no means in ANY way inferior to the rest of Europe (look at the rocket-technology based in Dnipropetrovsk), but it does require a local presence, at least initially, until a ‘relationship’ is built up with my production partners, who will mostly be foundries and machine-shops.

And so, having just arrived here, it is already time for me to leave, only to return at a later date, perhaps after establishing solid partners abroad. I shall be living to a large extent ‘off the grid’, in a small village halfway between Vinnytsia and Moldova, but close enough to keep my finger on the pulse. The house and workshop have electricity, but there is no water except from a well on the property… so there is still some ‘setting up’ to do and preparation for the long, cold winters there.

And so to my first pikkies, of the ‘dacha’ as it stands now from a couple of angles, taken from the internet advert for the place, so not exactly high-resolution. The workshop will have, initially, to be set up in the larger room of the main house, until I can organise a workshop proper next to the house at the back:

Dacha1

Viewed from the ‘street’, which is an unsurfaced track, so nice and muddy in the autumn and spring

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Around the ‘front’ of the house, where the ‘summerhouse’ doubles up as the entrance, sheltering the front door from the immediate cold in the wintertime. The workshop proper will materialise ‘behind’ the end of the house to the left hand side of this picture.

DachaPlan

This is the plan of the place, so quite adequate without a family!

 

Final Empty Dacha

 

This is the colour-scheme as I envisage it after the house is finally finished inside.

Dacha final?

The place has two-foot-thick walls and some lovely period features to the facade as well as some lovely window-framework on both the main house and the entrance, which I shall do my level best to retain, despite taking measures required for thorough insulation! There is also a cellar of unknown size (but probably more likely only big enough to use as a ‘cool-room’ and no drains nor a water-supply to the house itself, as already mentioned. I probably have a ‘wander-loo’, which will simply be uprooted, the old hole dug over and a new one dug for ‘current’ usage. We will have to see about that, once I get there.Water to the house and maybe some heating for a shower and  some drainage of the grey-water will be a priority, as well as rain-water collection and filtering to potable standards. Being so far from ‘town’ (75km), I will have to get some veg and fruit going as well, to keep the trips to the big smoke to a minimum. A 4WD for the interim months is a must as often the area sits under a blanket of snow for up to three months of the year.

Should be an adventure! I hope to be able to make myself useful to the other inhabitants of the village that are there all-year-round (about 20%) and so increase or accelerate my acceptance there and the possibility of barter in exchange for services rendered…

I hope to be traveling there to finalise the purchase in about two weeks and will report back after then! At the moment, I have to concentrate on learning Ukrainian… The Beaurocracy there is also quite as much a hurdle as the language, I am told! I am glad that I now have a couple of friends close-by who have expressed their willingness to help! :)

 

© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac

 

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2014
17.Jan

Well, Now back in the UK after a week in Vinnytsia,

I must say that I was impressed! The city itself (and its buildings) is, of course, scarred by the Russian influence of many decades, but remains one of the actual strongholds of the Ukrainian folklore and language. Yes, the concrete monstrosities of the Soviet Era are still very much in evidence, as is their run-down condition. Blocks put up many decades ago seem completely ignored and any ‘maintenance’ required simply unrecognized… peeling facades, rising damp and other problems are somehow ‘overseen’, much as in the Middle East… Once a building is ‘up’, that was it, and nothing ever gets done again to keep it in a reasonable condition.

It was a bit cooler than the UK (-6˚C) but everything there is prepared for that. If you want to be ‘unobtrusive’, simply wear everything black and a black ‘beanie’! Can’t go wrong! The banks in the UK don’t hold the currency, but you can get it at the airport (Gatwick or Heathrow, but not smaller than 100 Hr notes. The transfer from the airport (Borispol) to Kyiv city (train station) will cost you 40… and the taxi up to 500… so take the bus!

The apartment that I rented in Vinnytsia ( a three and a half hour train journey away, in a sleeper fro £7 including fresh LINEN and a cup of tea) for the week had a two-inch-thick steel door on it, double glazing and electronic key entry, despite the stairway reeking of damp and decay! I must say that I felt very safe and I was very comfortable (Thanks Irina!) Quite amazing! The people of Vinnytsia help one another and are a friendly lot, the city is as welcoming and homely as the inhabitants, the indoor and outdoor markets are huge and the atmosphere altogether very relaxed and easy-going. The drivers are courteous (mostly) and majority of the people-moving is still done on buses, trolley-buses and trams in the city, which are usually crowded, but not like Beirut or in India, where they literally hang on outside or on top!

Even more interesting from my point of view is the distribution of housing, once it becomes individual, rather than ‘communal’ type housing. Thousands of tiny ‘dachas’ appear once outside the immediate city limits, all on about at least half an acre of land, but anything from 30square metres of living area upwards for couples and even families. Not unusual are more than one children up to 18years old still sharing one-bedroom apartments with their mother… in the cities, anyway!

Vinnytsia is fairly central in the country and surrounded by very fertile agricultural land, the Russian influence and most of the industry is more over to the East and South, along the coast of the Black Sea and in the Crimea. Dnipropetrovsk in the East, South of Kyiv, was actually closed off to ‘visitors’ even to Soviet outsiders during the Soviet Era, as the Rocket industry is ‘settled’ there. The technical Universities were concentrated there as were all the technical industries required, right across the board. It still remains the centre of rocket (particularly for propulsion-systems) – science in Europe, supplying units to the European Space Agency.

It is there that I hope to gain a foothold for the use of their casting and metallurgy and machining-skills, to set up a second-to-none production for my my vintage parts. The technology available there is really top-notch and I would suggest, even unparalleled elsewhere in Europe. Crack- and x-ray-testing of castings being routine, this should guarantee the quality of each individual part that I get manufactured there – at a reasonable price (certainly when compared to ‘other’ places in Europe) and with much shorter lead-times.

So the plan is to look for a ‘pad’ somewhere out of town with a bit of land to erect a shed for the workshop inexpensively and to produce my patterns and live on a low budget while setting up after the (expensive) move from AUS (to keep production costs low) and to develop relationships with local industry to get things moving at a reasonable pace and cost.

The languages (Ukrainian and Russian) are still a bit of a ‘challenge’, but given a year, I should also be able to manage that on my own, too (in the meantime I have competent ‘asistance’!).

So much for my immediate plans! Any comments or input would be appreciated! I shall be taking my project MSS with me, and in the meantime keep a lookout for British WD bikes that might have ‘filtered through’ after the war years into the hands of the local population… who knows what might turn up!

Altogether a world apart from the UK, I must admit!

:) :)

© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac

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2014
01.Jan

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The the old year is gone

… and can be done and dusted. A strange mix for me, towards the end more and more challenging. The time of year when I should be doing my own bike and helping others do theirs, ‘God willing’, has left me with a logistically difficult re-location which has taken all my time up, for one reason and another! SO the bike has been delivered to the storage unit in Camberley ( a half-hour from here) and there is still no-where to get my kit set up (yet!). Very frustrating, especially in view of the fact that I had hoped to start getting the bike finished for a run in the spring to the Ukraine! Well, it looks like that will have to be postponed at least until mid-summer. Still a lot to do on the bike, so we’ll just have to see how that goes!

Other news is that I SHALL be going to Vinnitsya (Вінниця) in the Ukraine from the 9th to the fifteenth of January, just after the Orthodox Christmas break and despite the tense internal political situation revolving around the ‘Europe’ issue… I will report on that when I return! Whatever happens, it should be an interesting trip, and I hope to be able to gain some contacts there and might even move there for a few years to set up a  decent relationship with the ‘industry’ there… Dnipropetrovsk is the centre of the Russian space-research, developement and production and their power-units are also used in the European space program. Their technology is second-to none in Europe and so I am hoping to take advantage of that for the making of my humble parts, in order to ensure best-possible quality of production and materials technology, whilst maintaining a healthy cost-effectiveness ratio. This should please everyone, I hope!

Moving on from here, there are a few more minor parts that will be coming off the production line within a few  months, which will be followed by Webb fork castings. I’m looking for a reliable tin-basher/roller that can make proper reproduction guards in the four sizes necessary (KSS, rigid MSS/KTS/, MAC/MOV and possibly GTP) along with the plethora of stays for them (each set different in detail!), to be available in complete sets together with the guards, or guards and sets of stays separately. The stays will be of 304 Stainless, 1.5mm thick and built to last, as are my headlamp stays, which are at the moment sold out (and I am looking for someone to make them in the UK for me). I will get the tubes bent and pressed, the fittings I will turn and TIG to the stays, using Jigs made on original guards and frames for the relevant bikes.

So much for the immediate plans! First I need a workshop-space to setup in, but before that, I have to know where I will be living (I mean in which country or county!). Still a way to go, but this has to be set up properly. The difficulty in the UK is getting a foundry close enough for me to keep an eye on the casting process and to develop personal relations for an understanding of what I need. Short of moving to Birmingham (not an option at present), I see difficulties there! Since I need both ferrous and non-ferrous (brass, bronze, alumimium and elektron), it will take some time to set up, I suspect. Prerequisite to that is to get some decent patterns made!

Cast front hubs, authentic rear stands and a few other goodies are lined up for the lovers of rigid bikes, not just in the interest of correctness for the period, but offering definite safety and performance advantages. Some Miller electrical switchgear and bits and pieces, too, in proper Bakelite, not Nylon. Keep an eye out for detail stuff that has not been available for decades to enhance your experience and all built exactly to original specs if not better, but retaining absolutely original looks and fitting properly, without fettling. Proper assembly diagrams and caveats to check before fitting, too, will be included as well as minimal packaging.

Parts that have been inaccurately made or just plain wrong and then incorrectly sold for years, leading to the belief that they ARE the same as the originals, will at last be able to be replaced with correct items. My pledge is to dispel the myth that we just have to put up with what is there, because it is ‘all that is available’. It may be a long, slow haul and I don’t expect to get rich by doing so, but I am convinced that if we all contribute the small bit that we can, eventually sanity will return to the Classic Bike world, bit by bit.

There are also a few projects afoot apart from my own bike: another ‘import’ from Australia which will be judiciously restored with restraint by it’s owner, which I hope to be able to lend a hand with. Here are the pictures that he sent me by email, and I went to see the bike a week later.  Some parts are missing and broken, some of which I just ‘happen to have’ and I’m sure that it will be a fun experience, especially since he has never had a Velocette before! Unusual are both hubs and brakes, especially that the front hub drives the speedo, but not off the brake-plate, but like a later rear-wheel-drive from a gearbox on the opposite side of the brake-plate (which incidentally looks like a ‘Webb’ item instead of the usual ‘Bluemels’ job). The rear could even be rather special, we’ll have to wait for a closer look! The original owner used to do some racing in cars in AUS, so this has been modified to look a bit like a ‘flat-tracker’ with ‘bobbed’ guards. Bit of a mix, really! Every bike tells a story about its owners, isn’t that true!

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© peter gouws 2014

Made on a mac

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2013
30.Nov

2013-11-16 12.02.302

Space-Poor play-room…

Well, I’ve been here in the UK 5 weeks now and not all has gone smoothly, not least of all the merry-go-round with the banks/licenses/ID etc. Since I have been out of the country since 1981 (!), there have been a few changes to things like Anti-Terrorism- and Anti-Money-Laundering-Legislation and -Requirements which have not made the return logistically a pleasant one. On top of that, my belongings and workshop etc. are still ‘all at sea’, and so I cannot actually ‘DO’ anything constructive… much! Some issues with a decently constant Internet connection and other small problems have also contributed to the general chaos!

I DID have (or made) the opportunity to pop over to see the Overseas Secretary of the VOC (Velocette), Wayne Coulthard, for a GREAT weekend, meet his lovely wife and have a ‘play’ in his garage – my fingers were veritably ‘itching’ to get my hands on a bike! – and enjoy a glass or two of red, fermented grape juice in the best of company! He is a ‘space poor’-sufferer at present and has his challenges when working on bikes in the winter, since he has to wheel things around to get at them, as can be seen in the pictures (kindly permitted to be made public!).

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Wayne and a nice 1958 MAC! There were six built with the chrome tank and when Wayne bought it in 1970, it had been painted over; since he has had it, he has put the twin-leader on the front and the appropriate rear hub, the tacho and a TT carb… WERRY nice!!

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Rigid 1946 MAC imported from Canada, a bitsa: Engine and gearbox from Toronto and frame from Michigan. Spot the (wrong) timing cover, while the real one is being modified!!

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An interesting 1967 ‘bitsa’, built in an originally blue and new venom frame, this one originally built as a fast sidecar rig with rear-sets, ace bars and a tuned MSS engine (though original gearbox ratios). It has been beckwards and forwards to Ralph Seymour’s, who blueprinted the engine for Wayne in 1990. Built as a fast tourer with the original big tank with Velocette script transfer correct for the year… Tasty! Nice clean lower-CR ‘Clubmans-MSS’

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A ‘fully’ original MSS in preparation… This time a 1947, from Ontario! Just about to get the (original, of course!) rear-mudguard fitted, YAY!

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…and a good bitch!

Wayne has a number of ‘projects’ nearing completion above with the unfortunately now common and very niggling issues that we never had 20, 30 years ago… I wonder what happened to going to yer friendly-neighbourhood, even generic, bike shop for a brake or carburettor cable (and if it just happened to be Ted Bloomfield’s place in Leytonstone -God rest his soul!-, for a few lewd insults thrown in for free!), take it home and just fit it!

Ask almost ANYONE now, and none of them can guarantee that it actually fits! NONE of them! Most can’t even begin to give an answer. Why is it that then, whether it was a Velocette, BSA, Enfield, Matchless or Triumph ‘dealer’, the OEM or Wassel or whatever cable fit any bike with that carbie or whatever? Wassel and AMAL and some of the others are still there in NAME, but what happened to the cables? Surely they haven’t had to change in all those years? Wasn’t that one of the attractions of the British bikes of the era? For more than 20 years at a time, each marque or model-range all shared the same bits mostly from top to bottom, which could be obtained anywhere, which would fit first time and were relatively inexpensive.

So what happened? Have AMAL now changed the carburettors (retrospectively as well! – THAT’s clever!) all to have individual measurements for their throttle and choke cables?? It would seem so… I don’t think that I am the only one that has to buy five cables to make one fit, then take it off again and modify all the others to work, so that a proper spare can be carried with confidence in the spares-pocket/wrap or toolbox?? The prospect of replacing a broken cable in the middle of nowhere at night in the rain, with one that needs an hour and special tools to fit is sheer madness!

This process has to be carried out for 90% of ALL spare parts or replacements these days. WHY? Why did they fit THEN, and almost definitely do not NOW? Have the bikes changed? Grown up, for example? An interesting thought!

No, I think that the problem lies elsewhere and to an extent with the ‘users’, or sadly what most have become the ‘collectors’ of bikes that have been ‘restored to death’ with nary an intention to ever run them ever again, and if so, only on a trailer to the next meet, fire it up once and then trailer it back home again into the safety of the heated underground garage or mantlepiece in the lounge!

Yes, I have recently avidly read and taken advice from “How to Make Friends and Influence People”.

Problem number one probably started many years ago when tin-ware, as an example, began being made for general consumption by ‘other than original manufacturers’ for specific models of specific marques. Generic mudguards and such had always been around, and all the dealers and distributors stocked them a s sporty and otherwise less expensive alternatives to original tin, that was often discarded for the lighter ‘pattern’ or generic items. Of course it was understood that these would have to be individually fitted. So, holes had to be drilled IN THE PATTERN PARTS and brackets (if supplied) or had to be made as well. The real problem starts to creep in when years down the track, replacements (or a return to the original are sought and the bike itself or mountings have, unbeknown to the present owner, been modified by the past owner… then ‘diversity sets in and ostensibly ‘original’ parts, then have to be modified to fit the now ‘unoriginal’ bike… Chaos soon reigns as almost every bike then takes on its own character and is modified with each ‘new’ addition.

After a while, of course, everyone has so become used to having to modify everything to fit, that nobody (least of all the manufacturers of new replacements, ahas any idea what is original anymore… or even cares! Then we have BIG problem number three: ‘WE’ order a part from “Earwig’s Vintage Parts Emporium” and it sits on a shelf for two years before even being attempted to fit to the bike (or car or whatever), by which time, when we complain that it doesn’t fit, either Earwig’s has gone broke, changed their name, been bought up by some multinational concern, or has changed suppliers and, you know what? Couldn’t give a damn, either! And why should they anymore??

There are, of course, quite other problems that have crept in… How many parts out there that are nothing like their originals, but are now just marketed as replacements, because in the meantime, no-one is around that actually is quite sure that they are NOT? (at least not anyone with a loud enough voice!)

Even worse are the parts that have been made to repair or replace and fit the PATTERN parts that in the meantime have been fitted, and no longer will fit the ORIGINAL parts!! I had this question to face when I made the ‘Star’ insert! I could make it to fit the ‘available’ pattern Miller lights, but they might well have not fitted the originals…. A ‘no-brainer’ in modern English, as I would rather have to have them being modified to fit the pattern parts, than to find that there was no way to fit them to the originals, savvy?

So we put up with buying a cable and having to modify it to fit (which the dealer never finds out about and can’t (even if they DID even want to) pass the information on to their supplier, who will not bother to do anything either, because idiots like us will continue to buy their incorrect crap for eternity anyway! The dealer can’t change supplier anyway, because they know that there is only one manufacturer anyway, where X, Y and Z all buy from!

Well, what has to be done or indeed CAN be done about it? Are YOU prepared to buy whatever is there, just because you are led to believe that it is all that is available, or that there is nothing that YOU can do about it? WHY, for example, can mudguard not be made that fit and have holes in the right place? The FRAMES were all the same for a Rigid MSS (or even a MkII KSS), the same goes for the MAC/MOV bikes, for example… OK, so Tanks can be a bit of a problem on the swingarm bikes where lugs get chopped off and relocated by their owners to fit larger or smaller items, but even then, there were only a few different possibilities (for the frames, anyway – quite a different story is the diversity of tanks, for example! Wayne is the tank-fetishist, He can tell you how many different tanks were produced for each mode…I have lost count! Since I only really know my way about the Rigid MSS/KSS/KTS stuff in that respect, I have restricted myself to a small number to cope with!

So, what goes into a bike actually? It can’t be THAT difficult to make the ‘right’ stuff, can it?

Despite many years of manufacture, 3rd-Party products were limited mostly to carburetion, lighting and associated electrical items like switches, some ignition parts and things like twist-grips, levers and some tools – and tyres and rims, of course!

Veloce produced all their tinware in house, frames, engines and gearboxes. Where engine-plates came from is immaterial as they were easy enough to get right for each model. OK, Bluemels made brakes, Webb & Dowty made earlier forks and Veloce made their own after around 1950. There is a certain confusion that can be had for free regarding various differences in clutch parts, but most of the rest was not difficult, as the parts all came from known sources, distributed exclusively by the factory!

Over the entire time after the war, there were only four types of carburettor ever fitted to 99% of British bikes over 250cc: The 276, monoblock, TT and concentric (I don’t think that GP were ever fitted as an option to road-bikes? OK, so different choke-sizes and sometimes float-chamber setups, but what the heck, the throttle-cables and choke-cables were all the same for each type, or not? One for single carbie and single-pull throttles, one for twin-pull throttle setups and twin carbies and one for single-pull throttle and junction-box for multiple carbs. EASY! ALL throttle and twist-grips had the same dimensions for cable ends (well, 90% did…) and the only exception is probably the Veloce push-me-pull-you setup designed before the war for the use on hand-change bikes…

I don’t understand why they can’t be made to fit! For each required LENGTH of cable overall (and there can’t be TOO many differences there, either) the ‘free ends’ must surely always be the same, whether there is an adjustor in the middle or not, or am I missing something here?

Clutch and brake-cables are another story, of course, and have to be matched to brake hub levers and handlebar levers with and without fitted adjusters etc. individually… but even here, a 1969 Bonnie or a 1955 MSS would have had the same cables fitted for that model, probably for years on end. Given a known front-brake and handlebar combination of a given make and model of bike, a cable should here also be ‘standard’ or at least possible to ascertain easily.

Admittedly, if you want to put a Brembo four-leader on your LE, you will have to make your own cables and most of the rest of the bike, too!

How many Speedometer-cable-end dimensions were there at the drive end? WHY are some too THICK to push into the drive? Come on guys, it’s not THAT hard, is it? And how does this stuff get into the marketplace?

Because WE are too apathetic to DO anything about it and the dealers couldn’t give a toss and can’t be bothered to try anything out (against what?), even if they DO know that they don’t fit: most of them won’t even send them back, either ,and they just get replaced into stock for the next tosser to buy! YAY!!

If we are clever, we mark the parts before we send them back (with flourescent marker, for example…). When was the last time that YOU received the original part that you returned again, after three other returns of the same part that didn’t fit from the same dealer? Would you know if that happened? I would and it has happened, believe me!

I rest my case…

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I wonder where he got that nice-looking star from on the rear light?? :) :)

© peter gouws 2013

Made on a mac

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2013
10.Oct

2013-10-08 16.23.38

Well, I can only say that a ‘helluva lot’ has been going on in the last few weeks, not least of which is the fact that I will be relocating – with the business – to the UK on the 19th October, so in 9 days.

The reasons are many, one of the stronger points being to move back closer to my children, all of whom are in Germany! While there is plenty going on here in South Australia regarding Veteran and Vintage bikes, and Velocettes in particular, there is a larger client-base in Europe and the UK in particular. I am not going to leave Australia completely and will maintain a presence here through various people and institutions, however it is important for me to establish connections with foundries and other services in the UK or Germany to set up production in Europe, thus facilitating postage and getting around long transit times and import duties for the ‘locals’. Australia is a LONG way away and as such is, admittedly, not so convenient. Once established in the UK (or wherever), I can then come back here and carry on where I left off, perhaps also taking the time to look at setting up some kind of operations in the USA or Canada, too in the mid-term future.

I don’t expect to get rich from all this, but I hope that at least my children will be able to have a little pocket-money coming in fairly regularly in the longer term.

The whole workshop has actually been at a standstill since nearly a year ago, due to the necessity to move away to the hills to look after ailing and aging parents (86 and 90) and so nothing much has actually happened at all, in fact. Apart from the ‘Star’, which I (and apparently all of my clients!) have been very pleased with, nothing new has been done for a very long time. I do have drawings and CAD/CAM prepared for a number of projects, one of which being an accurate and ‘proper’ kickstart/gearshift rubber (B60/2) with an open end for nearly all the models built between 1935 and 1948, and some after and before those dates.

One of the first steel castings to come ‘off the line’ will be a rear stand for the rigid models post Mk I KSS (so without the spring holding it up!), but complete with bracing, cross-tube and slotted ‘ears’ for the mudguard-clamping arrangement, closely followed by Heavyweight WEBB top and bottom ‘yokes’… (By special request!)

In the between-time, it may also have come to your attention that I have changed my plans regarding the ENGINE that I will be using on my ‘daily’ and touring bike. The engine, chosen for it’s simplicity (for ‘field repair’) over the undoubted smoothness and comfort over a KSS lump, is, of course, the iron MSS unit.

This is what it looked like when I picked it up, not unusual at all, but for CUSTOMS…

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Had all to be cleaned up, as below…

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The inlet cover below, has the usual crack, which will need to be ‘TIGged’

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The cylinder-head BEFORE cleaning up…

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Whoops, I believe that a new oil-pump is in order…

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A little work needed here, too!

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All nice and clean

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Not a very popular unit it would seem, but very hard-working and reliable if built properly, I was lucky enough to get one of the last units built to fit in my one of the last frames built… so a 1947-’48 bottom-end with the engine number 8010. The last one built was, according to my publications, 8340 and since the frame is KDD 9266, probably late 1947, these are close enough to be compatible to my mind. The nice thing about this engine is that it has the taper-roller main-bearings and a few other things that make it a little more desirable for a long-distance runner.

I am already putting thoughts together regarding all the mods necessary to the oiling of cams and oil-return from the rocker cups and so the whole thing begins to take shape. I have a complete engine apart from a few nuts and bolts and acquired it all for a 1990s price, so am altogether a very happy chappy.

All in a rather sorry-looking state, everything had to be dismantled, the cases split etc. for cleaning,m or the UK customs and quarantine would have played havoc with me, so all has been done and is all packed away, ready for shipping from Melbourne on the 19th, too!

The pictures above are in no particular order, , some already cleaned up, some not (noticeably the cylinder-head!) just showing in general what makes up such an engine. There are stripped threads, ‘gasket’ surfaces that will definitely NOT seal etc, all things that happen over the years, but ALL of which can be addressed with a little judicious welding, lapping, filing etc to make an ‘oil-tight’ (hahaha!) engine that runs reliably over a longer period and longer distances.

The first LONG trip, after being ‘trialed’ at home for a while, is initially a run over to Germany to see the ‘kids’ and rom there to the other end of the Ukraine, possibly from there up to St Petersburg and back. We will see. The trip to Dnepropetrovsk or Artemivs’k is less than from here to Darwin, so not really a problem. Should be manageable in 5-6 days riding. I don’t do more than about 600km a day these days, depending on the condition of the roads, the mount of drunkards on them (particularly after 17:00 in the ex-UDSSR-States) and the weather.

All will be reported here, as I will take the trusted Apple MacBookPro with me, of course, on all trips, not to mention the 1952 Leica for the ‘wet-film’ shots!!

© peter gouws 2013

Made on a mac

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