From the Blog

Wheelie good

As is often the case with restoration projects (or so I have experienced anyway) mine has proceeded in fits and starts. It is now nearly 5 years since I bought the bike as a sorry-looking mess and it’s still not finished. The reason for my lack of progress stems entirely from that problem that bedevils most people who start similar projects, money. While I will undoubtedly have the “cheque book restoration project” insult thrown at me again (as it was with the Shadowfax), the lack of money has been the sole reason why the resto has taken so long. Being on a pension means that the money is always tight, even just for essentials and it has taken a lot of creative accountancy (by my long-suffering wife) for us to scrape together the funds to buy parts and pay Greg for the amazing work that he has done.

You will note that I am speaking in the past tense here. The reason for that is that the project is ALMOST done. The sticking point has been trying to get a period correct rear wheel. The present rear wheel is a chromed steel rim and it is an 18″ plainly off another bike though I don’t know what. And finding a DID 17″ alloy rim has been a real pain. My Facebook friends and members of the various Gold Wing groups to which I belong have been very helpful but, in the end, none were able to source the rim I needed. Regular trolls of ebay were also uninspiring. While there have been several turn up, they have all been in the USA, very expensive and with a prohibitive shipping cost over and above the purchase price making it impossible.

So it was a “hooray” moment when a regular check of ebay turned up a complete wheel in Tasmania. The price was doable and even the freight was less than what I thought it would be given the weight of the item. My seller wasn’t the most communicative of chaps and it took a few weeks to confirm the various necessary details and conclude the sale. It arrived, beautifully and carefully packaged, last week and on Thursday we took a trip down to Canberra to deliver it and the new fork seals to Greg’s place. The rim IS the exact one I needed and is in amazingly good condition given its age and the obviously long amount of time it has languished in the seller’s warehouse. No dings, scrapes and scratches, it will polish up beautifully.

Unfortunately we didn’t get a lot of time to shoot the breeze with Greg and Kathy. Friends who had come down to Canberra for a funeral (from Stradbroke Island in Queensland) were at Greg’s getting him to look at their Mazda 6 diesel which was making a very nasty noise and displaying an oil warning light that would not go out. Preliminary diagnosis was that the noise was coming from the turbo and the feeling all-round was that it was going to be an expensive repair. I felt so sorry for them;, why do vehicles always break down when you’re miles and miles away from home?

Anyway, Greg was tickled at getting the wheel and the fork seals and it means that he’ll be able to crack on, so to speak. So, where are we overall? I have now ordered new spokes for the wheels from ebay (existing ones are old and rusty) and I’m expecting them early next week. With their arrival imminent, I have moved to the very last stage of the process, ordering tyres. Now the tyres on the bike have HEAPS of tread left on them but goodness knows how old they are and I am certainly not going to trust my life to them. I was anticipating considerable difficulty as well as expense in sourcing tyres for a bike that is 44 years old, but, as sometimes happens *cheer* it turned out to be ridiculously simple. A quick call to my good mate, Craig White of White Racing Products ( and, not only did he have the tyres in stock but he is also to supply them for an astonishingly low price, WINNER! Craig and I go way back; he is the NSW distributor for Bridgestone tyres and he has supported all of the racing series for as long as I can remember. He also is on-site at every MotoStars meeting, supplying and fitting tyres for the kids (and the big kids). Craig has bailed me out on a multitude of times when I have needed a tyre (or tyres) for my road bikes and he always looks after me. A great guy to have in your corner.

So, to summarise. Wheels will be spoked next week, re-chromed forks fitted and the bike will be a “roller” again. When the spokes arrive I will take them, and the new tyres, to Canberra and Greg can complete the fitting. From there it will be a matter of me going down, picking up the bike, paying Greg the remainder that I owe him (I have been paying him bits as I have been able to do so), bringing the bike home and putting it onto Historic registration. Yes, we are that close. I am a very happy chappy.

So, what else has been happening in the stupidly long period of time since I last published an article? Well, the French Grand Prix was on and, as expected, Marquez toyed with the opposition for some laps to make it look good then buggered off into the middle distance to win as he pleased. Unless the Ducatis can lift their game it is going to be a very boring season if you’re not an M&M fan. Lorenzo is plainly all at sea on the Honda (despite showing patches of promise), the Ducatis now find that the Honda has bridged the performance gap on them and they are no longer the fastest bike on the straights, OR on corner exit, their two previous areas of advantage. Yamaha is in the process of running up the white flag. Vinales alternates between hero and zero, admitting that he has no idea why this is so and Rossi, despite another top 10 finish, was actually further behind Marquez at the end of the race this year than he was last year. The Movistar pit is NOT a happy place to be at the moment.

Last night the folk group of which I am a member “Three Sixty” had a gig at the regular monthly show for Illawarra Folk Club. We did 11 songs, 8 group items and each of us did one solo. It was a great night, filled with the usual mini-dramas and dismay at things we could have and should have done better, but still very enjoyable. I must mention the headline act for the night, a group that I have never seen, called New York Public Library (no, I don’t know) They were brilliant. The did a lot of Kingston Trio stuff as well as Chad Mitchell Trio and other 60’s classics. I’d pay money to go and see them. Last night I used my two Maton guitars (NOT at the same time, sit down that boy in the back). An inexpensive clip-on electric pickup meant that I could jack into the venue’s sound system and I could use them there (both the 6 and the 12 are acoustic guitars) it was great to be able to use my nearly 50 year old instruments.

This is us. Stage lighting never comes out well in photos)

I’ve done another Putty run since we spoke last, Last Sunday we headed off early and did the 600km loop in time to get home before dark. In stark contrast to my last run when the Ten Mile was carved up by roadworks, we had a sparkling run and pulled up at The Tree with both tyres and engines well and truly warmed up 🙂 Amazingly for a Sunday, the roads were just about deserted, hooray.

Well, that will do it for today, thanks for reading and being more than patient with my sporadic publishing schedule of late. Catch you next time.