A TASTE FOR RUDGE

Dave Redgate and his old school mate Terry Cook have amassed a sweet se­lec­tion of Rudges – and it doesn’t stop there. They’re happy to turn their hands to pre­serv­ing other Bri­tish bikes for pos­ter­ity, too

Classic Bike (UK) - - CONTENTS -

How an ex-bri­tish cham­pi­onship racer has be­come ut­terly ob­sessed by Coven­try’s finest

I’ve ended up with this group of re­ally nice Rudges be­cause of my dad’s in­volve­ment with the mar­que,” says Dave Redgate. “He had a bike shop, Rod­s­ley Mo­tor­cy­cle Com­pany on Queen’s Road in Peck­ham and prepped rac­ing Rudges. He built them him­self – and a guy called Steve Cooper raced them, but he never talked about rac­ing at home. I only dis­cov­ered dad’s rac­ing li­cences once he had died.”

Like fa­ther, like son, as they say – and it’s even more apt in this case, be­cause this son fol­lowed in his fa­ther’s tyre tracks as a mo­tor­cy­cle racer. Dave was a top Bri­tish Su­per­bike pri­va­teer be­tween 1989-94. He worked on his own bikes, thrashed the day­lights out of them – and then fixed them when they got smashed up or blown apart. On a good day, he could stick his bike on the front of the grid and em­bar­rass the ‘fac­tory’ riders.

Dave’s ap­ti­tude for span­ner­ing clas­sics de­vel­oped in the pits at races, as he ex­plains. “Guys who used to come along to help as race me­chan­ics all grew up on Bri­tish bikes and still rode them, so we used to pitch in and help fix them – I gained a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing on Bri­tish stuff. And if I wasn’t sure of some­thing, I could al­ways ask dad for ad­vice.”

As for why he pre­ferred to race-prep all his own bikes, Dave says: “I was much happier do­ing my own stuff be­cause I knew ex­actly what had been done to the mo­tors. I’ve al­ways worked on them my­self. I’d strip my Yamaha OW01 su­per­bike en­gine af­ter ev­ery race.

“When I fin­ished rac­ing I messed around with Kawasaki ZXRS – I had about six in bits ly­ing around from rac­ing, so I started break­ing and sell­ing. Then I got a 1938 Rudge Sport in 2009 to re­store – I was go­ing to give it to dad as a present. But he was in his 90s by then and I knew I’d never quite fin­ish it quickly enough, so I bought a com­pleted one and gave him that in­stead.”

That emo­tional ex­pe­ri­ence of re­unit­ing his dad with a Rudge was the cat­a­lyst for a life in clas­sic bikes for Dave, who now he spends a lot of his time restor­ing old Bri­tish iron in part­ner­ship with old mate Terry Cook.

“Terry and I have known each other since school, play­ing footie to­gether. He used to help at race meetings. Now we’ve built a col­lec­tion of bikes to­gether. Terry’s the one who has found most of the bikes, though. He spends hours on the in­ter­net late at night and can’t re­sist buy­ing – es­pe­cially af­ter a cou­ple of drinks! We’ve got them purely for fun... with the added bonus of them be­ing a bit of an in­vest­ment.”

Terry owns a busi­ness called Hunter Se­cu­rity and reck­ons he’s gear­ing up to hand over the day-to-day run­ning to his son, which means he’ll have more time on his hands to play with mo­tor­cy­cles.

“I’m plan­ning to move to France,” says Terry. “I can take the bikes over there with me and do what work on them that I can do, then bring them back to let Dave fin­ish them. Hav­ing these old bikes is a good ex­cuse to get out of the of­fice and work on them. I love to take them to shows and just en­joy the whole ex­pe­ri­ence. I’ve had two back op­er­a­tions and need a third, so I can’t ride – but I can en­joy the bikes I other ways.

“It’s not a busi­ness, we’re hav­ing fun. We did the Kemp­ton jumble for a laugh – we took the cam­per and aimed to have a re­lax­ing day chat­ting with friends, hope­fully sell­ing a cou­ple of the bikes we took there. But we were un­der pres­sure from the minute we got there. Peo­ple de­scended on us like it was a car boot sale – and we got so much has­sle from traders. We sold one bike; the bloke wheeled it around the cor­ner and hiked the price tag up. Didn’t mat­ter to us, but it was the pres­sure he put on us to sell. It was a good les­son. We will take more time in fu­ture if we go to a jumble like that.”

Dave nods in agree­ment: “Yeah, it’s a life­style for us, just be­ing around old bikes. We love it, es­pe­cially the older ma­chines.”

Terry adds: “I’ve got a friend in France who does the clas­sic track days out there and they are so much

more re­lax­ing than the events here. We’ll go and en­joy those.” That would suit Dave, mix­ing clas­sics with a bit of rac­ing, al­beit a bit more low-key than the cut and thrust of Bri­tish Su­per­bikes!

For years, to help pay the bills and fund his rac­ing, Dave worked as a me­chanic at a fruit pack­ing com­pany in Wool­wich, where his fa­ther also worked. When a change of man­age­ment hap­pened, Dave was given the op­tion of re­dun­dancy – and jumped at it.

“Talk about one door clos­ing, an­other open­ing,” he says, “I got talk­ing to John Camp­bell, who had an ex­haust pipe busi­ness just up the road. He’d started the com­pany in 1978 and was talk­ing about sell­ing up, but he knew he’d only end up mess­ing with bikes if he quit the busi­ness. So I ended up buy­ing into the busi­ness and join­ing up with him. We agreed we’d only do bikes and we’d only work half days – so I do morn­ings there and after­noons on bikes here at Terry’s.

“We used to do a Sidewinder ex­haust which was sold to an Amer­i­can com­pany for vol­ume pro­duc­tion, but it’s writ­ten into the deal that we’re al­lowed to pro­duce one­off ex­hausts here. We do a lot of slash-cut Mo­togp-style pipes, but also do clas­sic stuff and have done quite a few for Garry Lau­rence’s var­i­ous café racer projects [the most re­cent one, his Nor­ton Gold Star, was fea­tured in CB’S Novem­ber 2017 is­sue]. We do pipes for any bikes from flat tankers to mod­ern su­per­bikes – gen­er­ally we only do stain­less steel pipes, ex­cept for the flat tankers which we do in mild steel so the own­ers can then get them nickel-plated.”

Work op­tions just kept rolling in. Along­side the ex­pand­ing bike col­lec­tion and the ex­haust-mak­ing

‘TERRY SPENDS HOURS ON THE IN­TER­NET AND CAN’T RE­SIST BUY­ING BIKES – ES­PE­CIALLY AF­TER A FEW DRINKS!’

busi­ness, Dave sud­denly found him­self be­com­ing a pro­fes­sional clas­sic bike re­storer.

“Around the same time I’d bought into Camp­bells, I went to the Fes­ti­val of 1000 Bikes at Mal­lory Park and bumped into side­car racer Roger Body. He had seen some of my Rudge restora­tions on Face­book and asked me to do some stuff for him. Then I talked to Gary We­ston, an old rac­ing ri­val and good friend. He had a mate who had an A-se­ries Vin­cent Rapide restora­tion he wanted do­ing. He’d bought it for £50 in 1950 – but had stored it un­der a leak­ing roof, so it was rusted out. Con­ways are do­ing the en­gine, I’m do­ing the rest.”

Dave and Terry might be into restor­ing old bikes, but they draw the line at vet­eran ma­chines. “I wouldn’t want to go any ear­lier than 1929,” says Terry. “I’m not into flat tankers,” Dave agrees. “I love the 1930s bikes, when the Bri­tish were re­ally get­ting into their stride as de­sign­ers. Look at the stuff com­ing from Ajs/match­less and Rudge back then. But then Hitler came along and screwed the job for ev­ery­one.”

“I’d like to have a G45 Match­less,” says Terry, warm­ing to the thoughts of ex­pand­ing their col­lec­tion. “It’s a nice iconic bike. But, as much as I’d love one, I don’t want to end up stor­ing stuff for ever. We’ve al­ready got stacks of projects.”

Dave re­torts: “Yeah, but if an­other Rudge came up at the right price, of course we’d have it! I’d like Mervyn Strat­ford’s 250 racer. It’s so quick and so much like my dad’s old race bike.”

Terry ex­pands on the big attraction of what they’re do­ing: “To me, its about learn­ing how to work on the bikes my­self. I want to learn how to lace wheels, how to plate parts. We’re just en­thu­si­asts en­joy­ing our­selves. Dave’s an en­gi­neer by trade so he’s con­fi­dent work­ing on the old bikes and I’m learn­ing from him.”

“We use a guy called Mario in Hither Green to do our stove enam­elling,” says Dave. “And we use Jeff and Steve Coker at Cap­i­tal Chroming – but we do the reg­u­lar stuff our­selves. The great thing is we’re well equipped to do vir­tu­ally any­thing here and I’ve got an ul­tra­sound cleaner plus MIG and TIG welders at home.”

“And we’ve a 1930s lathe here that we need to rig up – I want to learn how to use it,” adds Terry.

The pair of them have a great re­la­tion­ship – and a great out­look on clas­sics. They both have their busi­ness in­ter­ests to pay the bills – and Dave has ex­tra income from the restora­tion work he does for friends, but still has time for him and Terry to fo­cus on their own, grow­ing col­lec­tion of clas­sics. And far from be­ing static mu­seum ex­hibits, it looks like if Dave has his way, the bikes will be get­ting reg­u­lar work­outs on track. What goes around, comes around...

‘IF AN­OTHER RUDGE CAME UP AT THE RIGHT PRICE, OF COURSE WE’D HAVE IT!’

Dave and Terry’s Rudges highlight their en­thu­si­asm and skills. See ’em all over the page...

1938 RUDGE SPORTS 250 Dave: “We got this bike from a guy in Bed­ford­shire. He does com­pe­ti­tion work and I bumped into him at the Rams­gate Sprint. I was buy­ing an ice cream of all things and had a Rudge T-shirt on, so we got talk­ing about Rudges. And I ended up buy­ing this off the guy! The one I was build­ing at home for dad was the same model year, so it was good to get this com­plete bike to see where all the com­po­nents went and how they went to­gether.”

1937 RUDGE UL­STER Terry: “This was a lo­cal bike in Croy­don. The bloke had around 200 bikes but was se­ri­ously ill and his daugh­ter was sell­ing them off. He had five Gold Stars, but we just bought this.”

Dave: “It’s a dream bike for me – the ul­ti­mate Rudge. We just had to clean it up. Oth­er­wise it was per­fect apart from the front mud­guard – it’s got an ele­phants ear front mud­guard, that’s not very sporty is it?”

BE­LOW: Dave’s dad was the in­spi­ra­tion be­hind his ac­cu­mu­la­tion of Rudges. Here he is on one of the col­lec­tion

Dave (right) and Terry may have dif­fer­ent skill lev­els but they share the same en­thu­si­asm

This four-valve head was pretty pit­ted be­fore the dy­namic duo got to work on it...

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