Brit bits from Cal­i­for­nia

Old Bike Australasia - - BLOW YOUR OWN -

On a re­cent trip to Amer­ica I vis­ited Raber Parts Mart, 1984 Stone Ave, San Jose. I had a chat to the pro­pri­etor, Bob Raber whilst he took a lunch break from a busy work sched­ule, and I soon formed the opin­ion that this bloke was a gen­tle­man from ‘the old school’. He was only too happy to speak with me and fill me in on his back­ground. He com­menced work­ing in the mo­tor­cy­cle trade at the age of 18 and has con­tin­ued up to the present age of 74 years. It be­came ap­par­ent that he is pas­sion­ate about both the ma­chines and the trade. He served a lengthy pe­riod of time in an­other busi­ness nearby, Brooks’ Mo­tor­cy­cles. He com­menced his own busi­ness in 1984 and has never had a deal­er­ship. He stocks large quan­ti­ties of Nor­ton, Tri­umph, BSA and some Ariel items. He owns and rides a num­ber of ma­chines in­clud­ing a Mk 11 Square Four Ariel. Stock has been ac­quired over the years when oth­ers in the Bri­tish mo­tor­cy­cle trade have closed down as well from the usual whole­salers in the UK. He out­lined one un­usual event which took place in the late 1980s when a for­mer trader from Kuwait ar­rived and asked if he was in­ter­ested in pur­chas­ing Tri­umph and Nor­ton parts. He showed some in­ter­est but made no firm agree­ment. Then about 18 months later he re­ceived a phone call from this fel­low’s son to ad­vise that the parts had ar­rived. He went and had a look and there was a con­sid­er­able amount of early 1950s Tri­umph parts in­clud­ing com­plete na­celle as­sem­blies. How­ever he needed to sort through it to de­ter­mine a price which had not been agreed upon prior to the ar­rival of this con­sign­ment. The crates con­tained other items such as bi­cy­cle parts. He rec­og­nized that he had to act with a de­gree of diplo­macy as price ne­go­ti­a­tions could have eas­ily of­fended the seller. Bob ended up with a good deal that came by way of the most un­usual cir­cum­stances. Bob has a to­tal of nine staff about half of which are em­ployed in the work­shop un­der­tak­ing re­pairs to Bri­tish ma­chines. He ex­plained that there is a con­stant de­mand for those ser­vices and jobs have to be booked in months in ad­vance. One in­ter­est­ing is­sue arose was that be­fore a client leaves af­ter an en­gine rebuild he pro­vides them with a set of writ­ten guide­lines and ob­tains a sig­na­ture ac­knowl­edg­ing that they read and un­der­stood what care and cau­tion is re­quired dur­ing the “run­ning pe­riod”.

His web site is www.rabers.com and when I was there one of the staff mem­bers was en­gaged in up­dat­ing the sys­tem so as to have a “shop­ping cart” and pho­tos which he hopes will in­clude ap­prox­i­mately 20,000 parts. Speak­ing of staff I ob­served his counter sales­man Richard and soon con­cluded that he had a thor­ough knowl­edge of var­i­ous ma­chines when in dis­cus­sion with cus­tomers. He and oth­ers have been with Bob for many years and this again must be a re­flec­tion on the type of per­son that he is.

Whilst I am not sug­gest­ing that read­ers ig­nore our home based traders such B.J.s in Bris­bane, Mo­dak in Mel­bourne, Tro­jan and Eades All Parts in Syd­ney I am merely open­ing an­other door to ob­tain­ing parts should they not be avail­able here in Aus­tralia. Freight from over­seas can be ex­pen­sive, how­ever it you are un­able to lo­cate a part and some­thing worth $50 pre­vents you from be­ing able to com­plete a $10,000 ma­chine then there is no al­ter­na­tive than to look else­where. Email ad­dress is [email protected] See you next is­sue, Pete

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