Taking a grinder to Britain's motorcycling heritage.
This "Blog" represents the thoughts and actions of the author. It is created for academic interest and entertainment only. It is neither intended or implied that any person reading any article contained within, imitates or recreates any work described.



Monday, 31 May 2010

The Mighty Cap'n

It's Monday again then, for your eternal enjoyment ladies and gentlemen, the mighty Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band are now appearing over on the Cool Sounds page. Enjoy.

In The Lair Of The Pantherista

Spent yesterday afternoon at Pantherista HQ, which also happens to be the homestead of Sumo, the head honcho at Vintage Chop.com. Panthershaun from Dirty Bobbers and Brit Chopper was also in attendance, they were playing a strange game of Panther Lego, this is a hobby particularly enjoyed by the strange breed of people that hold all things Panther dear. Shaun has got hold of a set of very '70s custom springers which must be 10 or 12 inch overs (over what? is one of those timeless mysteries) and they were hanging bits together in some sort of mock up ritual. I have got a couple of pix of the completed, Chimera/Frankenstein beast that they ended up with, and may I add seemed very pleased with, but I will let them publish first as to beat them to the punch is not really cricket.

However this bike is living in Sumo's hallway and will give you some idea of what they get up to at these wild an' wayward wrenching sessions. This is going to be a lovely little bike, the photo doesn't really show how small it all is. The huge presence of motor really dominates the rest of the bike. The repop stock length springers also go a long way to shortening and reducing the rolling chassis, to make the engine look even bigger.

For those out there who are not familiar with the idiosyncratic Panther,here is the opening paragraph from the Owners Club website.
Panther motorcycles were manufactured in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire, UK from 1900 to 1967. The most famous models are big (~600cc) "slopers" which, myth has it, fire once every lamp-post. Promoted as "The Perfected Motorcycle" they were noted for innovation for most of their history. Panthers were often used for hauling sidecars. The combination of the advent of cheap motorcars and the collapse of the British motorcycle industry brought production to an end. They are simple and fairly robust machines which enspire enormous, some might say obsessive, enthusiasm in their owners. These factors, combined with relatively low cost, have resulted in a fair number of Panthers being still in use and few concours museum pieces. A "practical classic" and a great bike to ride and tinker with.

A standard rigid Model 100 Panther, an object of lust for The Pantherista

Saturday, 29 May 2010

They're Getting About

Marco, Free Kustom Cycles, Spain

Panthershaun, England

Roland, Termaji, France

Rowan, Sprunghubs and Hardtales, Spain

Thanks chaps

Friday, 28 May 2010

Tanks for the memories

This is the tank that I ran on the ol' A7 back in the late '70s. Genuine Harley spare when it was bought. Can't remember the price but it was pretty damn expensive at the time. Seem to remember it was a bit of a wrench attacking it with a hacksaw after paying out for it. Still, it looked the part. The paint was done by John Williams' sister, that's the JW of The Tank Shop fame, so as you can see they are a pretty clever bunch all 'round.

It hasn't lasted that badly after living in various sheds for the last 30 years. I suppose that I am almost duty bound to resurrect it, one way or another. The filler cap is a pukkah FS1E number by the way, probably worth as much as the tank now, the amount of interest those bloody mopeds attract.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Bullet Stuff In The Bank.

A couple of weeks ago I was in discussion with Hitchcock's regarding a half width rear hub for the Bullet. I always think the full width hub looks a bit ungainly, nicely made thing and all that, all those fins cast on it to cool it down when braking from super high velocities and all. Nice, but in a new sort of way, so any way, they gave me a quote to build up a new "old" hub out of parts. It wasn't an outlandish figure, but then again not one to grab with both hands. I took a speculative trawl around using this here majick television and found a place in India who takes payment by PayPal, and asked for a quote. They came back with a price inclusive of shipping for about the same as I would have paid in VAT and postage up the road. So, with future business in mind I paid up and took my chances, and here we are about 10 days later, with a brand spanking new hub, spindle, bearings and spacers. Needless to say, I am awaiting a quote on the drum/sprocket and the brake plate.

I've had these yokes about 18 months, saw them going on the Bay at a good price and thought I best own 'em. Didn't really have a use for them at the time, but better sitting here than in someone else's shed. A little bit billetty maybe, but a lovely made set of yokes all the same.

They are made specifically for a Bullet and should bolt straight in, they are advertised as suiting a trials conversion. I think that they add about 2" (50mm) in the length of the fork, not really a desirable thing, but as always, we'll wait and see.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

The Tale of a Tail Light

..... and so it continues, the adaptor/spacer has been enlarged to try and accentuate the egg like profile, and to lose the Sporster heritage of the shell (oops, no egg joke intended). It looks like it has worked, but the step down in diameters still does not look right from the side. Straight on from the end it helps as the concentric rings look pukkah. It looks a little big in isolation as well, but again, held up against the bike, the proportions are about right.

As explained elsewhere, the original plan was to place the light unit beneath the number plate. This idea has taken a bit of a nosedive lately though. The first problem, and purely aesthetic, is that it has to sit out in the centre of the plate in line with the number plate illumination lamp. This looks OK with regards to the plate but shit to the rest of the bike, it clutters up the clean look of the rear wheel set-up. The other reason being that, call me a pussy if ya like, brake lights off to the side and only a handful of inches off of the deck are not the best way of grabbing the attention of White Van Man, who is probably on the phone as I'm coming to a stop.

So it looks like it will be sat on top of the rear guard like 98% of other back lights. Boring or what? At least it might be unique.
Any comments gratefully received.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Bob and Little Bob

I received an intriguing e-mail from Roland this morning, with an attachment named Bob and Little Bob. Didn't really know what to expect whilst the files were unzipping and generally sorting their lives out. Below are Bob and Little Bob, nice one Roland.

More Bang For Ya Buck

You really want to check out today's musical offering from Eric Sardinas over on the Cool Sounds for a Monday page. This bloke really does give value for money in the note count stakes

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Stealth Brackets

As mentioned a few posts ago, the seat brackets have been down to the powder coaters for a dose of "The New Chrome". The idea has always been to try and loose them in the overall look of the bike when finished, making the seat appear to float at the front. Here's the oil tank side in position, looks like it might just come off, Waisting the vertical anti-rotation side down has been worth the effort as it takes away the square look to the frame tube. Definitely looks promising

Saturday, 22 May 2010

That's better

Well, it was the question of the moment, would fitting the engraved plate on to the bike justify the anodising. Well you can make your own minds up here. Well justified if you ask me, as Johnny says it finishes the whole number plate bracket off. Remember all this will be going on at around 10 inches off of the ground. Hopefully the shadow caused by the slight back tilt will make it look like a flat black plate when looked down at from normal eye level. It's reckoned that people will be caught touching it, trying to figure what it is.

The DB side has been less deeply engraved, making the effect of nothing there more believable. It really looks like one of those fossils that appear when a piece of Welsh Slate is cleaved.

All in, the whole episode has turned out really well, the results are what was hoped for and with Scarlett's input even better

Final shot of the side view showing the lot sandwiched together, pretty damn cool and groovy I say. It will go thinner when it's all tightened up as well.....nice.

Looks like this should be worth a day out

Looks like a gig worth going to, hell of a line up, including The Silver Brazilians. Only eight and a half quid to get in as well! May well be attending this one

Friday, 21 May 2010

Playing Top Trumps

Rowan over at Sprunghubs... posted this picture earlier today. What a lovely piece of kit. Genuine, period stuff, is beginning to take on a Grail like quality lately. Not only because it looks nice, but the workmanship on these old pieces is sublime. Chris, he of Dreadnought fame below, has described a rear mudguard adornment from a '30s car that is in the parts horde that he is Baying for his father in law. If it lives up to the pre delivery hype, then it has got me all hot under the collar. Should make any self-respecting grown man go weak at the knees.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

A Strange Gift.........

Chris brought this 'round the other day, can't say I've seen one before. I reckon that it's an aftermarket add on pillion footrest. Judging by the bracketry just post WW2, possibly to civilianise an ex WD machine. If anybody has any info, please send it in as there can't be many about.

Oh yeah, there's just the one at the moment as well

Maybe a step too far..........

The plate came back from the platers today, anodised in black. Now I'm not sure, is it better or not? Certainly more subtle and that was the intention, but it takes away the quality of Scarlett's work somewhat. It may well be a different matter when it's on the bike and in it's correct context. At the moment I am favouring the DB side. Wait until it's on I guess.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

One of them days.

You know the kind of day I'm talking about, sun shining, bikes running in that sweet zone, out and about with good folks and today the flies seem to be avoiding you. Well it was Indianscot's turn on Sunday, he ran down to Kelso in Scotland for a Vintage Day with Two Face, running sweet as nut, he reckons he was grinning like the proverbial two cocked dog all the way. Man, if I gotta explain that feeling, you're reading the wrong blog.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Monday Music Choice

If I can remember to keep it going, I will post a music video, generally the sort of shit we listen to 'round here, on a Monday on the Music on Monday page Starting with The Jooks of Kent, Scarlett also plays drums, on top of everything else. Also from over on Dirty Bobbers Simo blows a mean harp.

A trip to the seaside

Ran down to Largo's bike shop in Dover on Saturday to check out a 350 Enfield. Really amazing time-warp of a place, just like they used to be, and ably guarded by John's dog Marley, here looking particularly fierce and alert.

This lovely Daytona was leant up against the wall outside, looking as pretty as a picture. Didn't hear it run, but it's a safe bet that it wouldn't disappoint in the sounds department.

The real treat was still to come, Scarlett from DB had been working on an alloy plate to cover the back of the number plate on the A7. She kept telling me it was all wobbly and she wasn't sure etcetera etcetera. Unfortunately she had made plans to be in London on the day, and we probably passed on the Motorway, it's a real shame as she only lives ten minutes away from the shop.
John handed me a an envelope and said that Scarlett had left it. Well you know how it is, kids at Christmas and all that, opened it up and was greeted with this;

Absolutely lovely, the picture does not really do it justice, this will go down to the platers and be anodised black. A nice piece of artistic detail that does not shout out it's presence but is there to see, for anyone looking closely enough. The surprise did not stop there, turn the plate over and this little beauty is on the other side.

To say it made my day does not start to cover it! Scarlett, I cannot begin to thank you enough for this, true original art, which is very special indeed.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

More from Roland

As promised Roland sent some more great shots of the B31 build from France. The frame is a Paughco Sportster item, modified to take the Beezer drive train. This shot is only here to whet your appetite, go to the Cool Bikes page to see more of this great guys work

Someone out there is doin' it

Been in a bit of an e-mail to and fro with Hitchcock's regarding the availability of a half width hub that would fit their hardtail conversion. It can be done but surprisingly it's not straight forward due to a difference in spindle size. The bit that caught me out though was their parting shot, don't start yet as we've sold out of the rear ends. So it's starting out there somewhere.

Friday, 14 May 2010

B31 in progress

Roland in France sent me this pic of a cool B31 Bobber build, it certainly looks as though it is going to be a sweet ride. He has promised to send a few more build pix. Can't wait, there is some lovely detail work being done here.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Like this lot, lots

Come across this band by chance reading the local rag. The following is the profile lifted from their Myspace page

About The Silver Brazilians
The Silver Brazilians emerged from the burgeoning underground Iranian Rockabilly scene where they were discovered at Tehran’s premier hotspot The Golden Abattoir. The club had long been known as a jump off point for many important and influential bands including The Basralittes, D.N.W.A and, of course, Glukel Shapiro & the Burka-Popes but none have transcended geographical, religious and underwear constraints quite like Deaf, Slim, Ted and Kirk - known collectively as the Silver Brazilians. Oddly enough, original bass player Nobby Hymen was tragically smashed in a 'string changing misunderstanding' but was quickly replaced by his clone Ted D. Rocker - a vast improvement on his predecessor on account of his having asymmetrical ankles and a better head. Deemed too risqué by the media, a recent T.V appearance saw the Brazilians having to be filmed from the hair up; an incident gaining them the accolade of "the sauciest rock & roll band in the world!" With songs like ‘Iraqdonalds’, ‘Let's Get Killed’, ‘Crack Baby’ and (who could forget?) ‘The Madness of Suzuki Seijun', the Silver Brazilians' genuine love of snoods and balloon bending has changed the way people think about Cuban heels forever.

Days gone by....

Johnny finally managed to get 'round to digging out a few old snaps of his Pan. He bought the engine off of Freddie Warr back in 73 or 74, sold his two year old Combat Commando to sponsor the build. Back in the day, the only adverts in the Harley section of the Motorcycle News was the one for F H Warr of Kings Road Chelsea and occasionally an ex-military 45 would crop up. Big Twins were certainly few and far between in Blighty back then. The motor itself was shipped in from South Africa and reportedly came from an old police bike. The scarcity of H-D parts explains the strange mixture of other parts used in the bike. The frame is a heavily modified 45, whilst the gearbox, clutch and primary case is all Triumph Thunderbird.

This picture shows the bike as first built and registered in 1975, slightly over stock custom springers, sporting the period twin square spotlights. To modern eye it looks a little crabby, but back then it was a chopper man, and better still it was a Harley chop.

When it was sold in '98 it morphed into this, gaining a set of Yam XS650 wheels and some extra rake in the neck. The other changes are pretty evident and it ended up a nice looking bike that would still cut it today.
As a point of interest, the Trumpet gearbox and clutch handled the power without complaint for all those years.

This here is Geoff, still about but deals more in the resto side of the game now, still a Triumph man though. I think that Geoff built the first real chopper I ever saw, a rigid A7 with extended girders and moulded tank. When we were about 17 he had a god like status around here, as can be seen by the well versed posing displayed above.

Saturday, 8 May 2010


Got this through by phone a while ago, Plan B can't wait to get a better look.

New Tee arrived this morning

One of these arrived from Her Majesty's Thunder in North Carolina this morning. Should cause a few grins around the bike do's this Summer. May piss a few people off, but hey ho, it's not a life threatening problem to 'em

Exponential weight loss

Chatted to the man about having another crack at the rear light yesterday. A bit of measuring revealed that the one he has made has a diameter of 89.5 mm where the light unit fixes, whereas the O.D. of the light unit rubber is 72mm. That's a reduction of 20%, I have told him to reduce all dimensions by the same 20%, this will virtually halve the weight before he starts boring out the inside.

That sounds a bit odd but the way I figure it is this;
A block of material that measures 10cm x 10cm x 10 cm is 1000 cubic centimetres.
Reduce the dimensions by 20% to give 8 x 8 x 8, this results in 512 cubic centimetres.
so that will be a major step forward in ending up with a usable piece

Friday, 7 May 2010

A seat in a non-election stylee

Got the seat back from the powder coaters yesterday, looks alright, although I should have concentrated on the finish on the inside of the rails rather than the outside. The inside of the rails is what people will see if they look up under the seat. The bright nickel plating on the springs and front nose piece has come out well and contrasts really nicely against the black.

It is a little difficult to see the effect on these pictures but it looks pretty darn reasonable to me. Of course all of this will be hidden under the seat cover, unless it is viewed from below. Maybe someone else will see it and appreciate the detail, maybe not, but hey ho I like it. Also got the right angled mounting plates blacked at the same time, again they are looking reasonable, Shan't bother with a picture as they look the same as before, only black.

I've got to be really careful with the powder coating option as it's too easy to put on, but a bugger to get off. It's OK for small ancillary bits that will probably stay black for a while to come, but for the frame, wheel hubs and the like I feel wet paint is the more flexible option as it easier to remove if required.

I ran the base down to the upholsterers this afternoon, and have chosen to go the cream leather pleated route. I may regret this when it's done, time will tell. The guy said two to three weeks, he's really stacked with work. Bike seats, car interiors and even a bit of furniture to do. More waiting to be done then.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

And still it seems to be on the up.......

As promised, here's a couple of shots of the rear light housing, all 2.4 kg of it. In the first picture it is clear that the shape, in my opinion, is absolutely superb, probably better than what I had in mind before I ventured out on this misadventure. Other than it being some 10 mm too large in diameter it is spot on.

This picture shows where most of those unwanted kilos are hiding, what is not hole is solid steel. I was originally going to fit a lamp either side, two of these muthas and I would have had a wheelying monster from Hell. Yer man obviously did not grasp what it was for.
The bloke who made it came in today, his wife dropped it off on Wednesday (strong woman) so it was the first opportunity to speak to him about it. When he asked if it was OK, I had to tell him that it wasn't quite what I had in mind. I did take responsibility for the cock up though, as I had not checked the drawing before handing it over, lesson learnt for the umpteenth time. All credit to him though, he said that he would have another go and will bring the drawing over tomorrow so we can go over it and discuss in some detail what I actually do want. I think that I should go with it as the shape is truly custom and it will look ace if and when it's right. May even get a few more knocked up and post 'em for sale.
Having said that, plan B will still be continued as the time factor may well become an issue again.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

A little light at the end.......

Following yesterday's hole of misery and bitchin' there was a little a brightness starting to creep in today.
For starters, and to give you some idea of my problems with the "custom" made housing, I weighed it today as promised, and, get ready for this, it goes 2.4 kg !!!! I shit you not, that's about 5 lbs for all you non metricated brothers out there. Now I know what you're thinking, how can a light housing weigh that much ? Well when it's virtually a solid block of steel it bloody well can. I'll get a picture of it just to show the sheer bulk and presence of it.

These pictures are the start of what might go on instead. The housing is a Sportster indicator shell, which is only just deep enough to contain the bulb holder. As you can imagine I ain't particularly happy with the step between the housing and the lamp unit. Fitting a turned ring of between 10 and 12mm between the two halves with a radius to marry and merge the two diameters is the thought at the moment. Should look OK in Bitchin' Black and not to obvious, just have to try it I guess.

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

All hopes dashed

What a pisser !!!!!
A couple of posts ago I told you that I was eagerly anticipating the imminent arrival of the rear light shell. Well it turned up this morning, I grabbed it out of the box it was in and my heart sank, even before I saw it, it weighs loads, at least a kilo ! I may weigh it tomorrow just as a matter of interest. The bloke has not scalloped it out as thin as he could like I asked him, instead there's an inch hole down the centre. On top of this it's about 10mm too big in diameter, so all in all it's 'king useless. The actual shape and finish is spot on, which makes it worse.
The problem I suppose is dealing with people who are not into bikes themselves and therefore don't really understand the use and purpose of what they are being asked to make.
The other thing that got my goat, was that I did not have a back up plan in place for this eventuality, so things are now pretty much where they were several months ago.
One chink of light in the darkness, is that I have a set of Harley indicators in the shed which are 3" diameter, one of these may be OK but it'll mean going down that old compromise alley once again.
I may keep it as a paperweight to remind me to be a bit more specific in my requests.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Two Face back out and about

I posted some really moody black and white pics of Indi's Scout, known as Two Face, these two pictures show how and why the name came about. This bike really sums up shed built bike building, a man carving his own path, building it the way he sees it, and not a catalogue part in site.

In time for the new season

Scarlett over at Dirty Bobbers has just released a great range of Tees in Bob's Shop. Great old names like Bates, Flanders .... well you can pop over and take a look. Not only will they make you look cool this summer, at the price of a tenner there will be change left over for a brew. (Edit) Ooops, change of plan gang, Scarlett messed up when she loaded the advert, there should have been a price hike, that's now in place. So you'll only be able to get a half with ya change. To make it up to you all, I've put the banner and link across the top of here to save any grief.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

The future has arrived

These sweet looking Fishtails have just become available from Feked at 22" (550 mm) long with an inch and three quarter inlet, they are a very reasonable £39:95 plus tax. Probably 50 quid by the time it's in your hand. Gettem while they're hot folks and be the envy of all your chums this summer.

The Bullet bug still nagging away

Ever since I posted about Bobbin' the Bullet a couple of weeks ago using the Hitchcock's hard tail conversion, I can't stop thinking about doing it. I can't really use the Madras Marauder as that means I would have to buy a daily rider to use, and that's not what I'm after.
I would like to get another 500 Bullet to convert, and rather than get something in a project status, I'd rather it be up and running. So, if anybody out there has, or knows where I can get, a decent 500 Bullet for a reasonable price please drop me a line.