FROM THE FRONT

Real Classic - - Contents - Frank West­worth Frank@realclas­sic.net

Mag­a­zine dead­lines are al­ways a source of en­ter­tain­ment in this house­hold. For in­stance: fur­ther on – right at the end, in fact – you will learn that my el­derly and con­sid­er­ably ec­cen­tric Match­less CSR is run­ning again. Huge hur­rahs, of course, and huge plau­dits to Jac­que­line PUB, who ac­tu­ally pro­vided the elec­tric im­pe­tus which al­lowed it to be­come mo­bile.

How­ever, mag­a­zine dead­lines be­ing what they are, in fact it’s been a run­ner for sev­eral weeks – a cou­ple of months, to be hon­est. It’s been off the bench for a time long enough for me to haul more than one other an­cient relic from the far back wall of The Shed. These are bikes from the dwin­dling col­lec­tion of lots of bikes which we some­how ac­quired for no log­i­cal rea­son apart from the happy fact that they were of­fered at a rea­son­able price and in a deal which in­volved de­liv­ery to a point where I could meet the pre­vi­ously proud owner and bring them home. All bar one of them were bought as non-run­ners – a risky busi­ness in­deed, but the only way a chap can get a bar­gain, in my view.

And I’m glad that we did col­lect them when we did, be­cause they’ve been a source of much en­ter­tain­ment down the years. And it is rare that a chap sells a bike for less than it cost if I was not a run­ner but now is, which brings a tiny smile to the cheeks, al­though peo­ple do tend to grum­ble about prof­i­teer­ing. Oddly. Be­cause some bikes have been a fi­nan­cial hor­ror story. This al­ways hap­pens in the same way…

It starts like this: I have an idea. This is al­ways dan­ger­ous. I dis­cuss the idea with Rowena of this par­ish and if she doesn’t start kick­ing the cat, mut­ter­ing darkly about ear­lyon­set lu­nacy and the like, I turn the idea into a plan. Plans are al­ways great, espe­cially if they in­volve find­ing a ma­chine, throw­ing money and span­ners at it to turn it into a hope­fully im­proved ma­chine, then rid­ing around on it for a bit. Things only ever get sticky when money be­gins to leave my ac­count and heads off on a voy­age of ex­plo­ration of its own.

So, while rid­ing around aboard a ma­chine you’ll prob­a­bly read about next month – all be­ing well – I stum­bled across an­other ma­chine en­tirely which looked fa­mil­iar. The rea­son it looked fa­mil­iar is that it ac­tu­ally is – I owned it for sev­eral years, but rarely rode it. I can’t re­mem­ber why now, be­cause the very last of the pushrod Bon­nevilles – the Devo­nian sub­set – are among my pre­ferred Tri­umph twins. Any­way, there it was.

I’ll take a step back here for a second. Just a cou­ple of days be­fore that Bon­nie en­counter, I’d been look­ing for a kick­start lever for my old AJS 20. I know I have one, be­cause I re­mem­ber buy­ing it in the early 1980s, but I can­not find it. This is a mi­nor ir­ri­ta­tion be­cause one of the bikes dragged from the slum­ber of oily ages is that very AJS. How­ever, where it should have been there was in fact a big box con­tain­ing an elec­tric start kit for a late T140 Bon­neville. You can see where this is go­ing, can’t you?

Cor­rect! The rea­son I’d sold the T140 in the first place was that I am in­creas­ingly in­ca­pable of kick­start­ing big twins. These are good rid­ing ma­chines and al­though LF Har­ris never of­fi­cially fit­ted elec­tric starters … it’s ap­par­ently not a dif­fi­cult task. You can see where this is still go­ing, can’t you?

San­ity may yet pre­vail. We will see… Ride safely

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