In Bal­ance

The op­por­tu­nity to build a shed from scratch rather than in­herit some­thing built by some­one else is a rare op­por­tu­nity in­deed.

Classic Dirtbike - - Contents -

How of­ten do any of us have the chance to lay out a work­shop from scratch? A chance to build what we want rather than have, some­thing that is shared with all sorts of other things deemed im­por­tant in mod­ern life. I dare bet most of us have to make do with what we in­herit through house moves or what is al­lowed in parental prop­erty for our workspace. Even hav­ing a par­ent with sim­i­lar in­ter­ests doesn’t al­ways make for an easy work­shop co-habi­ta­tion or lay­out – trust me, I speak from ex­pe­ri­ence. No mat­ter how good a co-op­er­a­tion is, a shared work­shop has dif­fi­cul­ties.

So, imag­ine the ex­cite­ment when it be­came clear part of the new gar­den was go­ing to be ded­i­cated to a small work­shop, ca­pa­ble of hous­ing the valu­able clas­sic and off-road mo­tor­cy­cling stuff col­lected dur­ing 40 or more years of in­volve­ment in this scene. I’ve had var­i­ous sizes of work­shop in the past, some of them quite large places but they’ve al­ways had other uses too, one in par­tic­u­lar also housed my work­ing mu­seum of man­u­ally op­er­ated vin­tage wood­work­ing equip­ment (and you thought be­ing into old mo­tor­cy­cles was weird!).

In the main though, most of my work places have been the fam­ily house­hold garage and its as­so­ci­ated con­tents were not al­ways con­ducive to mo­tor­cy­cling life.

The fam­ily garage is a strange place and once this motor­ing lark caught on, houses be­gan to in­cor­po­rate a place to park a ve­hi­cle in. These days though there seems to be a trend to re­model the garage into a ‘much-needed ex­tra liv­ing space’ and Kitty the de­signer is much in ev­i­dence on the telly as she squeals de­light­edly at the size of the garage and plans a spa bath, steam room and hy­dro-mas­sage area; all ap­pear­ing to be es­sen­tial these days.

Ac­tu­ally, many moons ago in one of my pre­vi­ous oc­cu­pa­tions, I got in­volved – pro­fes­sion­ally – with such a de­signer in­tent on de­stroy­ing the garage with car­pets, pa­tio doors and the like. There she was in her fash­ion­able-for-the-time out­fit of baggy denim dun­ga­rees, grandad col­lar­less shirt and red san­dals, spout­ing breath­lessly on how “… clear­ing out this clut­ter, yah?..” would do won­ders for the “…am­bi­ent karma…” or some such phrase, when into the mix came my ques­tions as to where would the lathe, bike bench and work­bench go? From the ex­pres­sion on her face I got the im­pres­sion she wasn’t a mo­tor­cy­cle fan but hey, we’re all dif­fer­ent.

Any­way, the new shed… past ex­pe­ri­ence with work­shops has taught me sev­eral lessons. First it needs to be se­cure, then the in­side needs to be light, ven­ti­la­tion is a re­ally good idea and there can never be enough shelves. A tin box such as a site stor­age con­tainer is okay from a se­cu­rity point of view but the con­den­sa­tion caused in win­ter and the heat in sum­mer are in­con­ve­nient to say the least. Sheds score on the lack of con­den­sa­tion and with metal cages built in can be made se­cure. A pur­pose-built brick or stone work­shop might be ideal but not al­ways pos­si­ble with­out plan­ning per­mis­sion so please be aware of reg­u­la­tions in your area in case you erect some­thing that needs per­mis­sion.

A quick glance around my own book­shelves shows there are lots of publi­ca­tions to pro­vide in­spi­ra­tion over the com­ing weeks, though the ma­jor­ity are Amer­i­can rather than specif­i­cally UK ori­ented, but there’s still some tasty garages in there.

Though these books are full of de­sir­able places it is un­likely I can af­ford any­thing like the cli­mate-con­trolled, tiled, de­signer places – though maybe I should see if Kitty the de­signer is still around “…oh-kay, yah, I vi­su­alise the con­cept… we’ll put the lathe there and I know this ex­clu­sive place that does gor­geous pas­tel paints, as frankly that yel­low is sooo out now…” Al­right, I ad­mit it I’m kid­ding a bit there but just once on those pro­grammes I’d like one of the de­sign­ers to recog­nise our space too. So my new space is likely to be a lit­tle less glam­orous than those in a dream garages book but there will still be some thought go­ing into it.

That it will fit into the sur­round­ings is im­por­tant to me, that I don’t have to haul ev­ery­thing out­side to use my ba­sic equip­ment is equally im­por­tant, a con­sid­er­a­tion also im­por­tant to me is that I also have to be able to take pho­to­graphs in it. There will have to be a clean-down area for things such as the parts washer, an en­gi­neer­ing area for the lathe, drill and bench grinder, stor­age space and a de­cent work­bench with a metal top so the odd slip with a hot air gun won’t singe the sur­face. The big­gest con­sid­er­a­tion, how­ever, is it will all have to fit into a 4.8m x 2.4m space so or­gan­i­sa­tional skills will be to the fore and much scrib­bling on graph pa­per will be done to try to de­ter­mine lay­outs be­fore wood is cut. Though likely once I fin­ish the place I’ll be in some­one else’s work­shop and think “why didn’t I do that?”

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