The re­turn of DH 217

Old Bike Australasia - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

I loved the ar­ti­cle “Ultimate big Brit sin­gle” in OBA 64. Read­ing through the story and look­ing at the pic­tures, imag­ine my de­light when I recog­nised rego num­ber ‘DH 217’. That very Thrux­ton came into my pos­ses­sion on the 17th of April 1972 when I swapped Ken Mor­gan $600.00 for it. We were both mem­bers of the Ve­lo­cette Own­ers Club in Mel­bourne and I proudly parked it in the garage next to my 1950 MAC Velo I had bought as a 17 year old (and which I still own). The Thrux­ton was used for trips to Bathurst and Club runs all around Vic­to­ria as well as ev­ery­day trans­port. A love hate/re­la­tion­ship de­vel­oped be­tween us. Long rides on coun­try roads was a de­light with that mel­low fish­tail sound com­ing up through my hel­met, but it was a dif­fer­ent story when city traf­fic was at­tempted. Rid­ing a Thrux­ton in­volves things the av­er­age rider of to­day would laugh at. Tickle the float (with your arm twisted and bent in a po­si­tion they weren’t de­signed for) un­til petrol poured down your wrist. Ad­just the ad­vance/ re­tard on the maggy and air slide on the GP carby. Kick through a few times with the valve lifter un­til you hear a gur­gling suck of fuel go­ing in, then kick with the very low-geared kick­start. Af­ter 2 or 3 kicks mine would ‘nor­mally’ start. If not you would have to go through it all again. It’s not so bad if there’s a cou­ple of hun­dred Ks be­tween starts, but if you’re do­ing it ev­ery 10 to 20 Ks, the nov­elty wears off quickly. Com­bined with a tall 1st gear, the lack of an idle on the rac­ing carb and a quirky clutch, at times rid­ing in sub­ur­bia can cer­tainly test a bike/rider re­la­tion­ship.

Af­ter a few years I de­cided to go rac­ing, think­ing a Le Mans start Pro­duc­tion race at Sandown would be a great start; how wrong was I. The Un­lim­ited rac­ers ran across to their dead bikes first, fol­lowed 10 sec­onds later by 500s, an­other 10s to 350s and then 250s. With the Velo’s de­cided lack of en­thu­si­asm in the start­ing process, I fi­nally got go­ing with the 250s. I can’t re­mem­ber where I fin­ished, but it did start the bug for rac­ing. My friend Sid Reynolds had been rac­ing his Thrux­ton for some years, but had a big crash at the Is­land and de­cided to call it a day. A few parts from Sid’s bike came my way and to­gether with my friend Tony Heard, (who had bought Frank Mus­sett’s Metisse Tri­umph twin af­ter rac­ing his Du­cati GT 750) we started trav­el­ling to all the Vic­to­rian tracks as well as Mac Park and AIR in SA, liv­ing the life of mid-pack “C” graders. Luck­ily my son Chas didn’t in­herit my not-so- fast “rac­ing genes”. Some years later, the Thrux­ton was re­turned to its road go­ing form and again used for week­end trips. A Mor­ris “10” had found its way into the car­port, so rid­ing to work was off the agenda for the big Velo. It still had its moody days and in a fit of weak­ness, I sold it to a fel­low in New­port around Septem­ber of 1979 for about $1,600.00. It went through a few more hands (go­ing up in price sig­nif­i­cantly each time) and the last time I saw it was at Broadford when Franc Trento from Eurobrit owned it. It’s great to see some his­tory about a bike I have owned and hope­fully to add to that his­tory for the cur­rent owner. Maybe we will cross paths again one day. I still have the odd bolt with “Ru­bery Owen” stamped on the head to re­mind me of days spent in the shed re­plac­ing bits bought from Ge­off Dod­kins, the UK Velo spe­cial­ist, over the years. Pete Hern Via email

ABOVE Peter Hern and the tem­per­a­men­tal Thrux­ton head for the start­ing grid at Sandown. RIGHT The Thrux­ton in rac­ing trim.

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