TALES FROM THE SHED

Real Classic - - Frank Westworth -

0pti­mism is a won­der­ful thing. I've suf­fered from it for as long as I can remember, espe­cially when con­tem­plat­ing ac­quir­ing a mo­tor­cy­cle, a mo­tor­cy­cle voy­age, a mo­tor­cy­cle re­build ... in fact most things in­volved with mo­tor­cy­cles. I've oc­ca­sion­ally won­dered whether the Re­liant was in­vented for mo­tor­cy­clists who've lost their es­sen­tial op­ti­mism.

Years ago, when I was rel­a­tively new to mo­tor­cy­cle scrib­bling and was packed with self-con­fi­dence and op­ti­mism, folk would ask me for ad­vice. Talk about false op­ti­mism ... How­ever, with that easy self-re­gard with which many of my kind are in­flicted, I would hand it out- ad­vice, that is, not self-re­gard. That would be silly. Among the ad­vice I would glibly dis­pense, prob­a­bly while swill­ing cheap cider and stroking my beard- which used to be black, I think- were sev­eral re­cur­rent sug­ges­tions. Like ... never buy a bike in boxes, be­cause lots of it will be miss­ing; never buy a bike as a project un­less you're com­pletely fa­mil­iar with the model and know that it's all there, be­cause if it's not all there find­ing the miss­ing bits will prove to be a right PITA. This is a fam­ily mag­a­zine, so you can look that up.

Later in life, when for no com­pre­hen­si­ble rea­son folk started to ask me ad­vice about mag­a­zine pub­lish­ing, among the id­iot sagac­ity I sup­plied was a gem about never, ever start run­ning a re­build se­ries un­til you al­ready have the fi­nal episode. That way The Reader (that's you!) is never left won­der­ing what hap­pened to the project bike. This ad­vice stemmed from my own dull ex­pe­ri­ence read­ing bike mag­a­zines in the early 1970s - my for­ma­tive years - which would start a New! Project Bike! se­ries and then never fin­ish it.This is an­noy­ing. Or it was ... Now it's mostly em­bar­rass­ing.

I've had lots of fun down the decades by fid­dling with old clunkers. Mostly the fid­dling has been an at­tempt to get some dodgy old nail back onto the road, ini­tially be­cause I needed cheap per­sonal trans­port and lat­terly - af­ter the 1978 in­ven­tion of the clas­sic bike - be­cause it be­came a hobby. And it's fun. I en­joy fid­dling about, and the sim­ple de­light of fir­ing up some old nail and rat­tling around on it is one of life's more gen­tle plea­sures. What I found to be the eas­i­est way of ac­com­plish­ing a res­ur­rec­tion was to buy some­thing with which I was fa­mil­iar and for which I knew the sources of both spares and ex­per­tise - so, a lot of AMC por­ridge- and then strip the bike of ev­ery­thing which did not work and re­place it with stock items. So I de-cafe'd sev­eral street rac­ers, con­verted dodgy fail­ing mag­ne­tos to coil ig­ni­tions- us­ing stock parts here; AMC fit­ted sports bikes with mags but the cook­ing road­sters with more re­li­able and cheaper coil sparklers - and throw­ing away bad twin-carb con­ver­sions.You might be vaguely amazed at how suc­cess­ful this was. Also at how easy

The Man Who Can. Kenny at Ace Mosick­les ap­plies the span­ners

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