TALES FROMTHE SHED ............................

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Progress! Suc­cess ev­ery­where! It can­not last! Well, maybe…

Progress! Suc­cess ev­ery­where! It can­not last! Well, maybe…

Let me share a thing with you: we re­ceive some fairly strange cor­re­spon­dence here at the RC rest home for an­cient mo­tor­cy­cles. One of my favourite was from a guy writ­ing to tell me why he was not re­new­ing his RC sub. We re­ceive very few of th­ese, hap­pily, but we al­ways read them – mostly they make per­fect sense, some of them are very sad, but a few are just … strange. This chap wasn’t re­new­ing be­cause even I (even I? what does that mean?), FW, had taken a pile of parts to be pow­der-coated. It ap­pears that I should have re­fin­ished them my­self by hand us­ing skill and an­cient paints, sev­eral of which I’d never even heard of. Cu­ri­ous.

What is more cu­ri­ous is that be­ing as what I am – a pos­si­bly in­ter­minable mo­tor bi­cy­cling jour­naliser-per­son – I ride lots of bikes, most of them thank­fully not my own. I say ‘thank­fully’ with great care, be­cause it usu­ally means that the par­tic­u­lar bike isn’t one which I’d fancy for my­self, which is great and not a crit­i­cism, but some­times… some­times it’s be­cause the bike is pro­foundly hor­rid – maybe even ac­tu­ally dan­ger­ous.

There can be many rea­sons for this, of­ten in­volv­ing the use of poor qual­ity com­po­nents, but some­times bikes are horrors be­cause Proud Owner be­lieves he has skills and abil­i­ties way be­yond re­al­ity. This can be very scary in­deed. I think we would all agree that any­one who rides a mo­tor­cy­cle needs to be aware of his or her per­sonal skill level, and the same logic ap­plies to folk who fling the span­ners at those same bikes. Both of th­ese ap­ply to me.

Of course I can re­fin­ish a painted part, but I sim­ply lack the time, en­ergy and will power to rub a rusty frame back to bare metal, then rust­proof it, then coat it with pre­cious unguents to both make it look good and stay that way for a long time. Easy, you might say, just get the bits blasted and then re­fin­ish them your­self, FW The Idle. I could do that. But life is too short. I apol­o­gise with a com­plete lack of sin­cer­ity for de­clin­ing all re­cent op­por­tu­ni­ties to rub down rusty frames…

I also un­der­stand my own me­chan­i­cal lim­its; my lim­i­ta­tions as a me­chanic. What this means is that when­ever I hit a prob­lem I can­not fix I ask for help. Usu­ally from friends first – which may ex­plain a cer­tain short­age thereof – and when that fails I stomp down to Ace Mosick­les in nearby Bude, cap in hand, hang­dog ex­pres­sion on the chops and a care­fully cul­ti­vated air of mixed poverty and des­per­a­tion. This is dif­fi­cult to do, but al­ways works, I find. It’s a skill well worth hav­ing.

And so it was with that thou­sand-time cursed BSA B25SS, the sub­ject of the long­est re­build in the his­tory of civil­i­sa­tion – if such a word can be ap­plied to a BSA B25SS, which I doubt. De­spite ev­ery­thing – and I mean ev­ery­thing – the curse word ma­chine sim­ply re­fused to run. I have some sym­pa­thy: I try never to run my­self as it is both undig­ni­fied and stren­u­ous, but I feel that a mo­tor­cy­cle should be of stronger met­tle. Even­tu­ally I just gave up. I de­cided to throw the thing

back to a damp, dark re­cess of The Shed, and

con­cen­trate in­stead on ac­tu­ally rid­ing bikes rather than mess­ing about id­i­ot­i­cally and fruit­lessly. My lim­its I had reached – of both abil­ity and pa­tience. I could take no more un­sub­tle jokes.

How­ever, given that the thing had cost a for­tune and de­voured most of a life­time to get to its cur­rent state of im­mo­bil­ity, a plan was hatched. It would go to A Man Who Can.

So, pa­tient Max came un­der cover of dark skies and rain with the big white van and took it away, with in­struc­tions to sim­ply make the thing work. There was – so far as I could see – no rea­son why it wouldn’t, but I handed over a sparkly new Pa­zon ig­ni­tion sys­tem sup­plied by the ever-help­ful Paul Goff in case even Ace me­chan­ics failed to fix the en­tirely new but use­less points sys­tem.

Kenny didn’t even try. He re­marked that there was a short some­where, life was too short to seek out and de­stroy it, so he sim­ply pulled it all apart, threw the new points, bob­weights, so forth into a box and plumbed in the Pa­zon. Just like that. I’d ex­pected that he’d spend a year or two dredg­ing through the elec­tri­cal in­nards, but early one morn­ing just as the sun was ris­ing I pow­ered up the email to dis­cover an Ace mes­sage ask­ing me for a new pri­mary chain­case gas­ket. A what?

It ap­pears that the best way to get ac­cu­rate tim­ing is to use a strobe, and BSA fit­ted marks to their al­ter­na­tor ro­tors to achieve this. But the B25SS – of course – had not one ac­cu­rate tim­ing mark but a pair of op­po­site and en­tirely in­ac­cu­rate tim­ing marks, so Kenny had slipped a tim­ing disc onto the end of the crank and timed the thing up. Just like that. Us­ing ge­om­e­try or some­thing. This is what peo­ple like me pay peo­ple like Kenny money for. Of course the BSA started first kick. Of course it ticked over. Of course it charged, too, which it had never done be­fore. Magic things, tim­ing discs, plainly.

Kenny then de­cided that as well as mak­ing the bike run he would prep it for an MoT.

Left: Ace Kenny dis­plays rare en­thu­si­asm for BSA’s finest.

Right: Ace me­chanic and Proud Owner share a mo­ment laugh­ing at some­one. We are un­sure who. Maybe…

Where there were no sparks there are now en­tirely re­li­able sparks. Paul Goff rec­om­mended – and in­deed sup­plied – the Pa­zon ig­ni­tion, which took an ac­tual me­chanic al­most no time at all to fit and which ac­tu­ally works. This is a good thing. The orig­i­nal points are now be­ing pre­served for no rea­son we can think of

The black box – the Pa­zon elec­tronic gub­bins – is mounted on the bat­tery car­rier, close to the ac­tion and in plenty of fresh air should it need cool­ing

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