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!
© peter gouws 2014