Original or not… a tale of rivet-counters.

Funny, really! You know, most of the veteran/vintage/classic enthusiasts have a reputation for being rivet-counters…I knew someone once who used to count the baked-beans in the tin when he opened it…but that’s another story! Well, this time it’s a bit different, really!

This bike I’m going to be getting from gentleman Bob, is a case in point, as I will explain.

This is, as you might have guessed, is not the only bike that Bob has ever had and it may not even surprise you to know, not the only Velocette, either! One of the other bikes was, as it so happens, a 1937 MSS, which, as most Velocette enthusiasts will recognise, has an identical frame to the 1937 KSS, which I am getting from him. A few months ago, he happened to sell the MSS to another person, in similar condition, so, a jumble of parts that once belonged together, assembled cursorily to check for completeness.

Quite by accident, the frames got mixed up…the one looks identical to the other, remember?? Well, not exactly identical…there are the NUMBERS! So now, Mr. Bloggs is in possession of the frame with the numbers that belong with my engine number and vice-versa. Bob didn’t realise this until he was checking through everything to send me my bike and …on realising it, being the gentleman that he is, immediately got in touch with the purchaser of the ‘wrong’ frame, to ask if he would like to have the actual frame that went with his engine, instead of the one he ended up with by mistake! Truly fair, I would say, and not what you would expect from every vendor, believe me.

The purchaser, on the other hand, had absolutely no interest whatever in exchanging the frames! (it could be suspected because the frame he took with him has already been powder-coated, the other one is still in need of a lick of paint) OK, fair’s fair, I would be prepared to get it done for him at my cost, and it isn’t the paint or powder, in the end, that makes the difference.

I never actually considered myself to be a rivet-counter, but in this case I must concede! This admission has blown me away!! To think that there is someone out there running (or is going to be, presumably his bike is also still going through restoration at this stage and is largely dismantled) an MSS with the frame that ‘belongs’ to the provenance of my engine and that I have the frame that historically equally belongs to his engine (and they have been together, let’s face it, for the last 75 years!!) is preposterous enough, but the fact that this is a known fact and nothing is going to be done about it, is, to my mind, absolutely absurd! Both bikes are at least partially dismantled, why won’t the other person budge?

Looks like I’ll never know…

I can’t say that, under normal circumstances, I could ‘give a damn’ whether the numbers ‘match’ or not, but this just seems to me to be not only in total disregard of any heritage and history that these machines might have (or had had up to now!!), but being easily rectifiable and even then not doing anything about it…well, to me, that’s…that’s… tantamount to sabotage! High treason!


©peter gouws 2012