How time flies!!
I am still stuck up here at my parent’s place, camping on an air-mattress that decided to deflate twice last night (No, not the subject of another blog, sorry!) and am sitting right now at what has, for the last eight months, been my ‘workshop’. So much for excuses/explanations why things are going so slow!
HOWEVER, I have acquired a few small bits and pieces along the way, some good and some disappointing.
Another question I have to which I can find no logical answer: Why on earth is it, that the Miller Rectifier casing that fits on top of the dynamo is so rare (and ∴ expensive)?? I do realise that most running rigid bikes will still have one fitted (now with an electronic regulator in it??), but that goes for all the other spare parts offered on eBay on a daily basis. Unlike the ‘other’ parts, these covers only ever come up once in a blue moon and fetch sometimes staggering prices, even when ’empty’ (since most people will throw the probably trashed regulator away anyway!).
Well, believe it or not, this was one of the parts that I was missing and when I first got the bike way back when in early 2012, I was tempted by a local offering for a replacement. Blow me down if it looked nothing like the original! The size was fine and it was at least twice the weight of the Miller item, but optically?? The angle of the shots in the ad didn’t make the ‘sharpness’ obvious at first glance and I was in a rush so just bought it. Having received it, I was of two minds to send it back, but on second thoughts, I adopted the ‘Parts Retailer’ mentality and concluded that well, if that was all I could get, I’d better make do with it… AND, I could always write few lines in a blog in the future, when material is a bit thin! Like today!!
Here are a couple of photos to start you off: My newly acquired original has been polished and clear-laquered over, but that can be changed… and will be!
No prizes for guessing that this is the original cover.
This is the ‘pattern’ replacement. Look, to be fair, it will do the job all right, but it’s not what I would call a reproduction, would you?? It’s very solidly made (the sides welded or brazed on to the centre strip) and with the correct cut-outs and stuff. Technically well-made, I must say. Optically? Falls short of the mark, I’m afraid.
Although only a year old and never been used, rust is unfortunately also showing under the paint (at the top on the picture), so it has not been properly prepared. After making all that effort and such a skilled job, what a shame!
Here are the bases together. A great effort has been made to make this part almost identical to the original. Both tops are interchangeable, though the pattern one is a real tight squeeze on the original base (the cover is a bit narrower, but for that, a little longer)
Nice detail on the original item: No-one would bother these days, that job would be done with a sticker, if at all!
And here we have my next gripe.
Marketed the world over as ‘original’ ‘Doherty’ and ‘made in England’ (which I’m afraid that I can only doubt), the general standard of finish on these is acceptable, if not good. Look at the finish around the screw-holes and you will see what I mean. For the price not bad. What IS in a name, though? Marketed as the originals? Does the fact that someone bought the name, make the new parts the originals? Is everything made by Matt, and now David Holder, original Velocette parts? (David, I know, has made and makes loads of good stuff, this is not pointed at him, he was just a convenient example of the owner of a ‘name’ or trademark). I seem to remember that there have been quite a few ‘entrepreneurs’ over the years, who have bought up famous names and make trash, cashing in on the good name of the original manufacturers. Many ‘new owners of old businesses’ never did and still don’t necessarily have all their parts made in the UK, either… They didn’t 20 years ago, so why should that suddenly change? Just because the script on the original Miller dipswitch or ammeter states ‘made in England’, do we actually have to take that for the truth? No, of course not! No self-respecting Veloist or Vincent owner would put a replacement/replica Miller ammeter on his machine if ‘MADE IN INDIA’ or ‘MADE IN CHINA” substituted the original script, would they? I don’t have all my stuff actually made here in Australia, but I don’t advertise that, unless it is the case, either. To put ‘MADE IN ENGLAND’ on the newly printed packaging that the let’s-cal-it-pattern part comes in (just because it was on the original packaging), however, I find a serious misrepresentation of the facts. Maybe I’m wrong and would gladly hear and be corrected to the contrary.
I do not ignore the fact that there have been many shining examples of take-overs and the buying up of old businesses that have not been successful, and turned them into the backbone of our presently sadly dwindling parts and service suppliers in the country… Chris Williams, for example (maybe not the most popular of choices, but he does what he does, and without him, a lot would have simply not been available for years!) originally of Moxley, now in Dudley, with Alpha and the various other companies he has under his wing, or Jake Robbins who made such a massive personal effort to learn what he does now so well after suddenly ‘inheriting’ the business from Colin at Elk Engineering. The list is long, and I by no means would like to offend by exclusion, so I will merely state that and stop right here.
I Digress. These look OK, as I said, but on closer inspection are not up to the job of the originals, apart from merely opening and closing the throttle…
BUT, I hear you cry, is that not what a twist-grip does? Of course it does! But it should also do MORE! There is an extra screw under the hole where the throttle-cable goes in, and this serves another purpose apart from mere decoration! Imagine! On my old ‘genuine’ Doherty or AMAL twist-grips, this screw altered the friction on the grip, to make the return to idle from any position not quite so ‘snappy’. Why?? For example very useful when giving hand-signals. ‘Everybody’ has indicators today, so we don’t need them anymore.. is that true?? On a prewar bike with girders?? Very funny!
Just take look at the inside of this dangerous apology for a friction screw!! I suppose you could use it to jam the throttle wide open on an unsuspecting ‘mate’s’ bike after he had parked up somewhere, but that’s about it. That rather nasty strip of mild with a screw butchered through it used to be thin spring steel, doubled back over itself to meet in the middle, so that the screw never came to bear on the rotating throttle ring with the cable spooled up in it. The folded over pair (effectively) of flat springs exerted a measurable and constant pressure on the ‘spool’ (being carefully both folded back with a trailing edge to the middle meant that neither end ‘grabbed’ as the throttle was turned in either direction), depending on the amount that screw was ‘done up’ (AND LOCKED, please!) reducing it’s tendency to return due to the pressure from the spring in the carburettor, which is successively compressed above the slide as the throttle is opened. Simple and effective, and mine was generally ‘set’ for use at ‘town and about’ speeds, since I didn’t usually take either hand off the handlebars at cruising speed or above… unless absolutely unavoidable… (amazing what lessons you can learn from a humble pot-hole!). If well greased, this only needed attention at most about once every six months… or never!!
So rant ended, but I hope that my point was made. This part is absolutely dangerous to attempt to use. ‘Period’, as they say in the good old US of A!
But I’ll sure as hell find a use for it…on one of my projects!!??
© peter gouws 2013