The time has come to bite the bullet and get this wonderful old race/road bike back on the road. I don’t know how long it’s going to take, how difficult it’s going to be or how expensive it’s going to be, but, if I don’t make a start, it will never get finished. For those who don’t normally follow this forum, here is the story of the bike.
After moving down here to Wollongong, the bike was covered in several tarps and stored behind my shed until I could find room in the garage for it. Unfortunately, that never happened, and the bike has suffered at the hands of the coastal humidity, as you can see. Since these photos were taken at fairly high resolution to help me with details and re-assembly, I won’t embed them in the thread, but rather just provide links to them as I go. I hope this is suitable.
The front brakes were jammed on so the first step was to remove the calipers. Surprisingly, most of the bolts I have undone so far have come open really easily. I hope that this continues.
I then walked around the bike, taking lots of pictures for reference as indicated above. Some of the details are immediately interesting. The drilled front disks, for example. Also the custom-made triple clamps and the solid fork brace.
The frame was substantially braced and strengthened around the steering head.
Period Marzocchi shocks
The box-section swingarm hasn’t fared well.
No rear brake at all at the moment. The bike raced with a drum brake on the rear but I have a disk and associated hardware amongst the spares.
Note the “budget” paddock stand the guys fabricated from a centrestand! OEM, circa 1981.
Another shot of the heavily modified steering head and also the period steering damper.
Lockhart oil cooler
Battery box and associated wiring harness look to pretty shot, will probably see if I can install a complete new loom.
So, that’s what it looks like. I have already lined up someone to rebuild the engine, just back to “as was” (It is a Moriwaki 1105) and I need to now start stripping the frame, photographing and labelling.
Now, as regards the rust on the frame. Do I get it sand blasted or chemical dipped? Also, can anyone recommend someone who can redo the forks for me?
That’s all for now. It’s going to be fun. The aim is to rebuild using as much of the original bike as possible and to restore to “as is” condition in 1981. Any suggestions/criticisms/help/etc that you guys can provide will be gratefully received
Tuesday 3rd May
Today I managed to make some great progress.
Frame and forks now separated
Brake assembly taken off as a unit.
Assorted bits; Magura levers, L/H switch block, clutch lever and assembly, steering damper, custom-made triple clamps with steering stem.
Friday 6th May.
OK, I finished the chassis stripdown this morning. Since I’m not always great with putting things back together (I know), I decided to put all the small parts in ziplock bags and label them.
Old Marzocchi shocks and other bits. Are these shocks rebuildable?
Forks are ready to be rebuilt
The swingarm has suffered from being abraded by the chain which has then allowed for the ingress of rust. Does anyone recognise the design, what bike it may have come off?
Tuesday 10th May
Well, since I last posted I have had the motor and 2 boxes of mechanical bits brought out of the shed and I’ve sorted through them to prepare the engine for its rebuild.
I’ve also received a long and detailed email from Kent answering lots of questions that I asked. So, here’s a summary.
The swingarm was a custom job, fabricated in the Nuclear Lab at the ANU by the same bloke who did the triple clamps. I’m going to need to get someone to build me another one to retain authenticity. The rear subframe is lowered about 25mm to allow for more of a racing “crouch”. The engine, and especially the gearbox, has a lot of non-standard bits including gearbox shims that come from the box on a Ducati (yes, I know). The motor has 1105 Moriwaki pistons and the bike’s state of tune was such that, in it day, it was as fast as the “works” Honda superbikes (the Shadowfax was a prototype bike and didn’t have to conform to the more restrictive Unlimited Improved Production regulations)
Kent also cleared up the derivation of the name. “The name “Shadowfax” comes from Lord of The Rings, being the horse that Gandalf the wizard rode. Speed and incredible endurance were his main attributes. From Wikipedia: ” Shadowfax was a grey or silver stallion and could understand the speech of Men. He was seemingly fearless. He could run faster than any other horse in Middle-earth “. Interestingly, he also pointed out that Neil Keith, the other half of the riding duo for the Coca Cola 800 was a dead ringer for Gandalf the wizard, tall, long blonde hair and a beard and awesomely fast. So there you go, the name wasn’t just a made-up one but has a history as well. I’m not a LoR fan, but I rather like that connection.
Thursday 13th May
OK, so here’s the thing..I’ve taken the swingarm to Chris Dowde’s workshop (just around the corner from my place) and he reckons that he can fix it rather than replace it. He feels that the basic structure is sound and that all he will need to do is to replace the two bracing tubes where all of the rust has occurred. He is also going to drill out the bolt that has broken off in the back of the right footpeg (the old steel bolt in the alloy socket problem).
I had a long conversation with Rick at RAM Motorcycle Engineering in Canberra and he filled in lots of details about the engine and what will need to be done to get it running again. He also identified Howard Wallace as the engineer who fabricated the triple clamps and rear-set hangers. It was Howard who, in the early 1990’s built THREE Macintosh Suzuki replicas which were featured in many motorcycle magazines at the time.
Tuesday 17th May.
Yesterday I stripped all the hardware, disks, wheel bearings, spacers etc from both of the wheels so that they can be professionally serviced.
But the front wheel is poor.. The spokes are rusty, but I’ve had a go at one with some light emery and it came up pretty well. Hopefully I won’t need to actually have any spokes replaced.
I’ve sourced a repairer who can do the job, Doug Chivas, famous sidecar rider, who runs a wheel repair business just off Woodville Road in Sydney.
I also cleaned and washed the front and rear mudguards today. The rear guard, which was considerably “cut-down” anyway, is in pretty poor shape and it wouldn’t hard to replace that with one that looks exactly the same only isn’t broken. But here I have the problem again of originality. I’m thinking that I might repair and re-use even if it doesn’t look perfect when complete. The front mudguard is a home-made replica of the Honda 1100R item and is OK, just a couple of tiny cracks and I’ll get it repaired and definitely use it again.
Wednesday 25th May
OK, we’re making progress. Thanks to my good mate, Gary Rooke, at Oak Flats Motorcycles, the front forks are separated into their component bits, cleaned and fork seals removed. Gary also supplied new fork seals which I’ll need soon. We have confirmed that the forks are too badly corroded to be repairable..
But, thankfully, the Kawasaki gurus at ZPower can supply me with a brand new set for under 250 bucks. Not original, I know, but nobody will be able to tell. I can also source lots more bits from them including new fork springs.
I’ve been stunned at how heavy everything is; I guess that was the mode of the day, but Dave got me to check the front disks and, man, they are heavy just by themselves. Thankfully, it looks like they are original H2 items and can be safely and effectively skimmed down from their 6mm thickness to 4.5mm thus saving some weight, so that’s another project to get done soon.
The old Marzocchi shocks are well and truly past their use-by date, but, again thanks to Dave Quinn, it appears that the people at Gazi Suspension Australia can supply a shock that is very similar in appearance but with modern performance (obviously)
Thanks to a good mate on Facebook for the suggestion that next year’s Barry Sheene Festival of Speed would be the ideal time to debut the completed bike. I think that’s a terrific idea and it gives me plenty of time to get the job done and properly.
Monday 30th May
Yesterday we made major progress. A visit from Dave Quinn helped to clarify a lot of issues with the bike and where we proceed from here. It also turned up a few more custom-made parts than I knew about as Dave trolled through the boxes of spares and bits that came with the bike (more of that later). At the end of the morning, Dave loaded up the engine, in bits, and a box full of associated engine bits and headed off home where he is going to make a start on rebuilding the engine back to 1981 specifications.
Things we discovered: There is (I didn’t photograph it before Dave took it away) a custom-made alternator cover that is for use when the alternator itself has been removed and the bike is running “total loss” electrical. The cover is obviously not new and, in fact, shows evidence of having slid down the road at speed. A close examination of the pictures of the bike before its fateful trip to Bathurst in April 1981 reveals that the cover IS fitted to the bike, so that means that the bike DID run total loss at Bathurst that year, an advance from the unfortunate use of the alternator and attendant problems in the Coke the month before. The upshot of this is that, I CAN use the cover AND total loss electricals if I want to and still retain originality.
As Dave is also a “whizz” at sorting wiring looms, it means that I can have the bike as either a registerable road bike, with proper electricals, OR a race bike/track day weapon running total loss. Dave can and will configure the loom so that both possibilities are present and so that the change can be made from one configuration to the other easily. Win-Win situation.
As I had been told, the engine is in a fairly high state of tune, it must have been a bear for Kent to ride on the road (but he was an old road racer so he probably didn’t care anyway!)
Dave was amazed at the strengthening and bracing on the frame (courtesy of Graham Houghston). It looks even more impressive in the metal than it does in the photos.
We have agreed that the bike will retain originality in terms of braking, reverting to a drum rear brake (that is going to require a re-lacing of the rear wheel) and retaining rubber (though brand new) brake hoses at the front. Much as I’d like to go to braided, it wouldn’t look right. Unless someone can tell me of someone who makes braided lines with a rubber outer sheath so that they LOOK like rubber lines, that’s the way we’re going to go.
Dave has advised that I get both wheels respoked with brand new spokes for safety sake. I’ll look at the cost of that and be advised by Chivo as to what way I should proceed there. Given that this is not a “no expense spared” rebuild and the fact that I’m not even earning an income at the moment, considerations like this will always be at the forefront of my judgements (safety vs cost)
Finally, about those custom parts…well, it seems there were a few more than what I thought…
OK, that’s it. As you can see, I’m delighted with how it’s going and I’m buoyed by Dave’s enthusiasm for the project as well. Till next time.
Wednesday 13th July 2011
Some people have been contacting me and asking if there has been any progress. Well, like a lot of projects of this sort, it seems to be progressing in fits and starts so I’d better bring you up to date. Basically the bike is now stripped down completely to its component parts. The delay in the next part of the process has been a financial one. You see, owing to my accident, I haven’t worked since last October, my wife being the sole breadwinner for the household in that time. So, the priority has been the mortgage and the bills, obviously.
However, I have been clearing up a lot of clutter and selling lots of small things on ebay and I’ve now built up a little nest egg that is enabling me to restart the process. Today I heard from Dave with his preliminary report on the motor and he’s pretty happy. It turns over smoothly with just hand pressure and, while a bit of rust appears on some of the exposed bits inside the engine, Dave is confident that all will be well when he splits the cases and checks and replaces the cam chain. The bores are a little rusty but appear to be in good condition and will only require a light hone. 72.5mm bores bring the motor’s capacity to 1105cc which fits in with what I was told about it having 1105 Moriwaki pistons.
There are two spark plugs that don’t want to come out of the cylinder head but Dave is confident that leaving them for a few days to soak in penetrating fluid and they will tun out OK. Valve seats appear to be in good shape and don’t appear to have receded at all, which is also good news. The cylinder head is dirty, but there are no broken fins. Likewise the carbies are dirty but appear to be intact and still functioning in mechanical terms. The cams are a little rusty but should polish up OK also.
Here’s some photos that Dave has taken to provide a before and after comparison.
This is the custom alternator blanking-off plate that was used when the bike raced at Bathurst. You can see the grind marks where it has scraped along the road during Kent’s accident.
Cams are a little rusty but salvageable. This is good because they are far from stock and duplicating the radical grind of these could be tricky.
Carbies are likewise dirty but intact and easily restored to good condition.
Thursday 14th July 2011
More great news today. This morning I took the frame and the paddock stand to the shop where they will be sand blasted and powder coated. Should be back early next week. The first step in the rebuilding of the bike.
As well, I received some more photos from Dave late last night showing the progress that he is making with the motor.
Here’s another few interesting pictures.
Monday 18th July 2011
Well, Dave has been very busy over the weekend with some encouraging and not-so-encouraging results. Firstly, it looks like all is good with the valves, they cleaned up nicely and the valve seats show no sign of recession.
Inside the carburettors, however, the story’s not so good. Evidently there has been water in the float chambers and the damage is pretty severe.
It is looking very much like I’ll have to spring for a new bank of carbies. 🙁
Finally, I’ve had a long and very detailed email from Kent with all sorts of important stuff that I need to know. He’s about to crack on with the fibreglassing so that is exciting. Included in the email were two pictures of the Yamaha TZ75 tacho that was fitted to the bike when it raced.
Kent is keeping it as a souvenir. Very fitting, I think.
Sunday 24th July 2011
Today we (my brother and I) travelled to Canberra to Dave’s place. I needed to separate the hub from the rim on the back wheel so that I could retro-fit a drum brake rear hub. Getting the old Bridgestone Mag Mopus tyre off was the first challenge, but a hack saw and a set of tin snips soon saw to that. Then the tedious job of undoing all the spokes until finally the hub came free. While we were there I saw the progress that Dave has made on the engine as well and it’s all looking good.
We’ll put a very light hone through them but it’s only precautionary.
Thanks again, Dave, for your valuable assistance today.
Tuesday 26th July 2011
Today I worked alone in the garage (not QUITE as cold as Dave’s) and achieved some satisfactory results.
Thursday 28th July.
Today I did something that really hurt, I spent some money; actually, quite a lot of money. One area where I have had to buy new parts has been the front suspension as the fork legs were too badly corroded to save. And, as the existing springs are now over 30 years old, I thought they should be replaced as well. I also purchased new steering head bearings.
Also, while trolling through my photos searching for something else, I came across this photo of Kent Miklenda at his first race meeting at Oran Park in 1979.
Wednesday 10th August 2011.
Some time has passed without much progress but it does seem that this job is going in fits and starts. Anyhoo… Yesterday I got the good news that Dave has been able to source a set of Marzocchi AG Strada shock absorbers. I have been told that these are unobtainable and diligent searching of every available forum and auction site seemed to have confirmed this. However, an almost-new set turned up in Canberra and Dave has them in his workshop as we speak.
So, not only do I retain originality, but I ensure good rear suspension for a long time to come as these shocks are rebuildable.
The new (2nd hand) rear hub should arrive this week and then I can take the wheels to Chivo’s and have them re-laced with new HD stainless spokes. I am expecting the swingarm to be ready very soon as well, so, with the addition of the appopriate bearings and seals, I could very shortly have a rolling chassis. Very exciting.
Friday 2nd September 2011
Wow, it’s that long since I updated last?? Well, I now have bearings for the swingarm due any day from OS, as well as front wheel bearings. The rear hub has taken a little longer due to it being pretty manky and requiring a good clean but it should be ready this weekend. The prices for spokes and re-spoking the wheels have been horrifying so I’m still shopping around.
Yesterday I had the rims professionally cleaned and polished and they went from looking like this…
to looking like this..
A big improvement, I think you’ll agree.
Sunday 4th September 2011
More fantastic news this morning. A Facebook friend who races Kawasakis in Southern California messaged me to say that he is sending me in the mail, on Tuesday, free of charge, a set of 29mm smooth bore carburettors. They are surplus to his requirements as he now runs flat slides, so he wants me to have them as his contribution to getting the Shadowfax running. To say that I am staggered is the understatement of the year. Here they are.
Monday 12th September 2011
News in from Dave is that the clutch is cactus. Apparently it’s all rusted together and, when he separated the plates, the springs just all fell apart. Oh, well, it’s been sitting unused for 20 odd years so we’d probably have had to fit a new one anyway.
As well, Dave now has the much-anticipated rear hub which just needs a quick sand blast.
Dave hasn’t split the cases yet but he did remove the sump and what he found wasn’t pretty.
I am guessing that the two nuts are from when the motor was pulled apart after the dropped valve and they have fallen through to the sump from the head somewhere. The circled piece of metal will almost certainly be the remains of the broken valve guide.
At Eastern Creek yesterday I was talking to one of the guys in the trade tents and I was telling him about my project. he gave me a name of a man in Queensland who used to work with Barry Taylor of Phase4 Engineering, saying that he has sheds full of Kawasaki parts. I spoke to him last night and he was fascinated with the project and asked me to send him my shopping list!! How about that? As well, Keith Higgs from Sydney who races two Kawasakis in Post-Classic racing has also been in touch and said that he can certainly supply a new clutch but probably has lots of other parts that we will need as well. The offers just keep pouring in as more and more people get on board the project, making sure that we finish and that this iconic bike actually sees the light of day again and again races as it once did. I am stunned again by the level of interest and the offers of help. Speaking of which, Greg Roberts, one of my old CRRC buddies from Canberra, has offered to lace the wheels if I can supply the spokes so that search begins as well.
Monday 19th September 2011
More progress, lots more. While staying in Canberra over the weekend I caught up with Dave Quinn and had quick confab about progress on the restoration. We both think so much along the same lines about this thing that it’s spooky sometimes. We agree that, barring any unforeseen hitch, the bike SHOULD be ready for the Island Classic at the end of January, possibly to be raced, but certainly to be displayed. I now have the Marzocchis and they look even better in the metal and the hubs and rims are now together so that lacing can begin. Dave has now split the cases and cleaned up the crankshaft and sump and it’s all looking amazing.
These and the other photos just do serve to illustrate what enormously strong and well-built motors the Zed engines were. So, it’s all looking good and we’re ploughing on.
Monday 26th September 2011
Much more progress this week. Hubs and rims are now, finally, in the one spot and rebuilding of the wheels is happening. As well as that, all sorts of other things have happened. Let’s start at the beginning.
Last Wednesday I had a call from Kent. He had confided in me some time ago that he was closing down his business as he was finding that the inroads of CGI had severely impinged upon his prospects. Needless to say he was positive about this and was looking forward to taking his camera and gear “on the road” to explore Australia for a couple of years (half his luck). Anyway, he said that this would probably lead to a lot more information about the bike as he sorted through 30 years of boxes of stuff in preparation for his trip. A short call turned into a very long one, about an hour and 3/4, actually. Kent filled in a mountain of detail about all sorts of things, some of which I can share and some I can’t obviously. As well as other things about the race, he explained why the bike stayed in the pits for so long. Apparently the repair of the alternator cover was carried out pretty quickly (I was up in the commentary box so I didn’t see any of this stuff). But, Neil was reluctant to ride again for some reason and the team’s reserve rider was actually injured and couldn’t ride (as these things sometimes transpire). So, only Kent could ride, but, if he went straight back out and rode the rest of the race, he would have been disqualified for breaking the rule about maximum times in the saddle for each rider. So he waited until he could ride the rest of the race without breaking the rule and then went out and finished the race.
In time I will fill in a lot more details that arose from that call.
Since Wednesday, I have received a mountain of emails from Kent was he has gradually dug through boxes and found stuff that will be of interest. For example…
I just LOVE this B&W so I’m publishing it in the text rather than just providing the link. It shows much more detail than any other shot I’ve seen so far as well as showing how that the bike was a real “work in progress”, there being many changes between this iteration (Feb 22nd 1981) and the Bathurst one just a couple of months later.
Saturday 1st October 2011
Heaps more to report.
1. Keith Higgs, Kawasaki guru and head poohbah of the PCRA (NSW) has donated some wonderful parts for the project. These are.
As well as meeting with Keith, admiring his beautiful race bikes and collecting the above pieces, I spent a couple of hours with Kent Miklenda at his place in Sydney. The conversation was astonishing as we reminisced and he filled in so many details as well as showing me a heap of memorabilia that he has discovered in various boxes. Much of it is ephemera which will need scanning and preserving so I’ll have to keep you wanting on that lot. One of the many things I took away with me from the visit was this…
Kent has more pictures which he will scan and send me soon, including a huge poster of him cranking the bike through Suttons Corner during the race. It has been fire damaged but Kent is an expert photo restorer so he will bring it back to perfect.
I also saw the molds that Kent is going to use to recreate the glass work on the bike and discussed what we would do about replacing the fairing which was destroyed in the accident and for which Kent did not keep a mold. Thanks to a friend on Facebook, I have found a company in Great Britain who race Moto Martin bikes and who can supply me with a Moto Martin fairing and screen that will be identical to the one the bike had. Again, the power of the internet and the connected community.
We have had a setback of sorts in that we have now discovered that we cannot get slick tyres that we can use on the bike because they are no longer available for 18″ wheels with the rim width of our bike. So it looks like we may have to run supersport tyres and not be a front-runner in P5. I was pretty upset about this to start with, but being one who believes that everything happens for a reason, I’m sure that it will work out for the best.
This whole project has long since taken on a life of its own and, reflecting that reality has led me to register a domain that is specifically dedicated to the project. I’ll let you know when it’s up and running.
And now it’s soon. Tuesday 11th October 2011
So much has happened since the last entry. My good mate, who I hope to meet one day, Edwin Haazer, has kindly also donated a Dyna S ignition system that should be on its way to us as we speak. This electronic system eliminates the antiquated condenser/coil/points ignition system that the bike had but makes no difference to the external appearance of the bike. A great addition.
On the KSRC forum last week a request was made that we publish a list of parts that we need. I mentioned that we were still looking for an exhaust system. Hardly had I posted than a member from Queensland replied that he had a Kerker system that we could have for the price of postage. Immediately afterwards I got a PM from another member in southern NSW who said that he would pay for the postage. Again, astonishing generosity.
My brake disks have finally arrived but not without a great deal of aggravation and annoyance. When I spoke to the proprietor of Planet Disks he quoted me $90 to grind the disks. I told him that I wanted them skimmed down to 4.5mm and he said that that might make it a little more expensive but I was prepared for a small price increase. He also said that the only method of payment he accepted was COD, to which I stupidly agreed. Imagine my anger when he called and said the disks had been dispatched and that the price was $480!! A long and bitter argument concerning business practice and honesty ensued. He had also reamed out the holes in the disks to make them bigger and more efficient despite me specifically telling him that I didn’t want this done. He agreed that he’d been in the wrong here and dropped the final price to $400, still nearly twice what I was expecting to have to pay.
BUT, as I had agreed to pay COD, I had the choice of either refusing to pay altogether and losing the disks, or putting up and paying what he asked. In the end I opted for the latter and the end product is excellent, but, at the price I had to pay, it damn well SHOULD be. If you are going to deal with this man, make sure you get a definite quote IN WRITING, and refuse his request to only pay by COD.
Over last weekend, Dave has been busy in “The 4th” and his workmanship is, as always, superb.
So it’s slowly building to that exciting climax. Thanks again to all who have helped so far.
UPDATE: 13th December 2011
It’s been a LONG time since I updated the contents here, a lot has happened. Since I lasted updated, my wonderful wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has been operated on and the cancer (which had not had the chance to spread – thank goodness for regular screening) has been successfully removed. Understandably, this has been THE priority.
As well, progress has been slow as major components of the build have been in the hands of others. The wheels are in Canberra being respoked. The head is at ACT Head services having the recalcitrant spark plug removed and the swingarm is with Chris Dowde being repaired. Once all of those pieces come together, and it looks like being very soon, we will have a rolling chassis.
And, we’re going to need it. The plan has always been to have the bike ready for the Barry Sheene Festival in March 2012 and I have always been confident that we will achieve this. However, something has happened which requires accellerating the process. My good friend, Edwin Haazer, from California, he of the 29mm smooth bore carburettors and the Dyna S electronic ignition, has been invited to compete at the Island Classic at PI at the end of January. And he has accepted the invitation. Suddenly, having the bike ready for at least display purposes, becomes a lot more urgent. This will be Ed’s only chance to see the bike as he will be flying back to Ca on the Monday straight after the race. So, we’re pulling out all the stops to try and achieve this if we can.
So, what has happened since the last posting?
The front forks have come back from RAD Hardchroming in Rocklea and they look wonderful.
The forks have now been re-assembled with the new fork seals and Progressive Springs. They have been offered up to the frame, along with the rear shocks just to get an idea of how they’ll look.
An hour or so with paint stripper and steel wool has brought the fork brace back to original condition.
Removing the paint has revealed Howard Wallace’s tooling marks.
The swingarm was not a pretty sight as you recall, but it looks like being a bit easier to fix than we originally thought. The frame is now down at Chris Dowde’s so that he can line up the swingarm properly and also make sure that the new “wing” won’t foul the chain like the old one did.
Ina truly bizarre twist, it wasn’t until I published this photo in my Facebook album that I realised that the number plate in the background is not only Edwin Haazer’s racing number but is done in the same font and style as his; truly spooky.
This morning I put the forks and fork brace together along with the triple clamps just to get an idea of how they will look. Fittingly I chose to photograph them against a green background.
While preparing to replace the steering head bearings I cleaned the bottom collar and was amazed to see that, beneath the grease, the collar was painted green. This struck me as odd since the triple clamps had not been to the powder coating place. Then it occurred to me that this was, in fact, original colour, green paint from when the bike was prepared for Bathurst in 1981. It remains the only vestige of the original green on the whole bike. Amazing.
So, given that I matched the colour for the frame from old photographs, how well did I do?
Friday 16th December 2011.
Today I got the swingarm back from Chris Dowde. He still has the swingarm bolt and is still making the spacers but the job is substantially done.
Note that Chris has very cleverly offset the “wing” so that it will not be abraded by the chain which was the problem that brought the original one undone. Only that “wing” has been replaced, the rest of the swingarm is as it was taken off the bike.
It has now been delivered to the powder coaters for a sand blast and a paint; should be back early next week. Then it can be mated up with the spacers and fitted to the chassis.
Now, a little aside. When I was down at Chris Dowde’s workshop the other day he asked me why the bike frame still had a set of pillion footpeg carriers. I replied that they were always there and so they stayed, in the name of originality. It did seem odd to me, too, why the guys left them on when the bike was going to be a race bike, but I never questioned it. What Chris said nagged at me so, when I got home, I checked the photos and, what do you know? They WEREN’T on the original race bike but they appear when the bike was converted back to road use in 1982. So, needless to say, in the name of originality, Chris has sawed them off .
So, while I was at the powder coating place I asked where I could get some green paint to paint over where they had been removed and I was directed to an auto paint place down the road where I was able to use the cut off piece to exactly match the paint and put it into a spray can for me for touch-up purposes. And all for the measly sum of $32.
Wednesday 21st December 2011
Swingarm is back from South Coast Powder Coating and looks great.
Wednesday 28th December 2011
As is always the way with projects like this, everything either happens all at once or nothing happens at all. Well, this week, it’s happened. After a spate of emails back and forth, next Monday the bike goes to Sydney to Kent’s workshop to have the fibreglass work fitted. As this is, and always was, a prototype bike, you can’t just go the the store and buy the bits you need, most stuff has to be custom made and that certainly is true of fairing/seat/tank units and the associated brackets that secure them. So Kent will be taking care of that part of the job and it will probably take a few weeks. Not sure how I’m going to manage without being able to go out to that garage and look at what’s been done so far or to “tinker” with something that needs doing, but I’ll try to cope.
As well, today I had an email from Greg saying that the back wheel is finished and the front wheel almost, whoohoo. Greg had been delayed by having to have some elective surgery done, but he’s in “full steam ahead” mode and hopes to have the wheels at his brother’s house in Moss Vale later this week. This means that I don’t have to go to Canberra to collect them and also that I will (fingers crossed) be taking a proper, full, rolling chassis to Sydney next Monday. Suddenly it’s all got very exciting again.
Parts supplier supplied the wrong length spokes for the front wheel, but Greg has a spoke roller that can turn them down to the right length.
In preparation for the trip to Sydney, Kent asked me to fit the bike with as many parts and ancillaries as possible so that he can make brackets and fittings so, thanks to my brother who came around this afternoon for two hours, we have as close to the completed chassis as we can get, this time with everything seriously bolted into place and ready.
Those of you of a squeamish disposition might want to skip over the next picture quickly.
I’m waiting for our contact in France to get back to me and then we’ll make arrangements to have the fairing shipped.
Getting so close now, should be ready for the Sheene.
Like I said, either nothing happens or it all does. These two pictures just arrived from Kent by email.
Saturday 31st December 2011
Today I received a most welcome email from Kent with the pictures of the completed, ready-to-paint seat and tank unit. I think you’ll agree it looks awesome.
Wednesday 4th January 2012.
It was an exciting day yesterday. Firstly I ordered and paid for the Moto Martin fairing from a retailer in France. The money for this purpose was donated to the cause by a KSRC member (he knows who he is) and I am more grateful than I can say for his generosity.
Secondly, I took the completed chassis to Sydney to the workshop where Kent is working at the moment so that he can complete the complex task of fitting seat/tank/fairing bracketry. I’ve driven thousands of miles with valuable stuff in my trailer but I don’t think I have ever been as nervous as I was taking the bike from Wollongong to Sydney.
When we arrived at the factory it became like a media event! People came streaming out, some armed with cameras, to inspect the bike and take photos, seriously. I guess Kent must have told them we were coming. Kent was like a kid with a new toy. He hasn’t seen the bike for 16 years and, when he did see it last, it was as my first set of tear-down pictures depicted.
He pulled out the glasswork and dummied it up on the frame to see what it looked like and it looked wonderful.
As we walked around and looked at it, the gleam in Kent’s eyes became palpable. Here was his creation of 30 years ago, coming to life again before his eyes. Then he started looking more closely. “Mmm, some of those bolts look a bit manky, I think we’ll replace them with polished ones….” etc, etc, etc. It seems that, despite our combined INTENTIONS that the bike be as it was in 1981, neither of us have been able to resist the temptation, and temptation it IS, to make it look prettier and better finished than it was back then. As we left, my brother, who’d come along to help me with the lifting and maneuvering, said, “You know he’s going to go nusto, don’t you?” I think he may be right. This morning an SMS from Kent spoke about “polishing some of those alloy parts…” 🙂
The thing that became even more apparent to me as we walked around the bike, was how futuristic the design is, given that its roots go back to sports bikes that Kent sketched on little scraps of paper while he was in high school in the 70’s. I have seen these signed and dated sketches and I can tell you that this man anticipated the styling of the modern sports bike by about 30 years, AT LEAST. The “hunched forward”, “Fairing hanging over the front tyre” look of the current GSXR-1000 Suzuki, is foreshadowed by his work all those years ago. I hope to be able to scan many of his sketches and publish them. I believe the motorcycling world will be stunned when they see that the modern sports bike styling was born way back then.
So the bike, on the trailer, is now in Sydney and I have an empty garage. Not quite empty as I now have all of Kent’s fibreglass molds in case I want to make any more seat and tank units. Mmmm, anybody want to build a Shadowfax replica? I must admit, it will be funny to go out to the garage and see an empty space where the bike was, but it is an indication of just how close to finishing this project we are.
Oh, and I should have added, in about 10 days I will be receiving a brand new Moto Martin fairing and screen, direct from France. It has been purchased and paid for by a member of the Kawasaki Sportsbike Riders Club and I am exceedingly grateful to the club member who saved me the considerable expense involved, simply because he “just wants to see the bike finished and out on the track”
Wednesday 7th March 2012
Wow, two months without an update, I really have been slack, haven’t I? I do have an excuse, though. Most of what is being done on the bike now are things that I can’t do so the frame and gear are now at Dave’s place in Canberra for final assembly (I’ll get to that in a moment). But, as well as that, I have been very busy with two major race meetings since I last updated. If you’ve been following the blog you would know that I had 4 days at the Island Classic (end of January) and 5 days at the World Supers (also at PI) at the end of February.
As well as this, our family has been dealing with a medical emergency of pretty scary proportions. Just before Christmas, my wonderful wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. Subsequent treatment has shown that the cancer hadn’t spread past a small lump which has been removed, but the radiotherapy and other treatments that have ensued have kept me pretty focussed on home life and less on the bike. The doctors are happy with her progress and feel that they have caught it well and truly in time and for that we are very grateful.
While I have been gallivanting, work has proceeded. The wheels have been finished and fitted, the glasswork, including the Moto Martin fairing, has been painted and the seat/tank/mudguard have been fitted to the bike. The fairing is nearly ready to go on but will require some “cobbling” of the existing fairing brackets to get it to fit. Nothing too scary, though. As well, Dave has sourced a set of 18″ AVON slicks that have been lurking in The Fourth for quite a few years and fitted them to the new wheels. These will do for display/parade lap purposes and probably a quiet “tootle” or two at the track as well. Supersport treaded tyres will be fitted once the bike starts track day/racing duties, however.
Here’s some piccies.
Friday 6th April 2012
Another month and no updates, jeez, you think I’d be better organised, wouldn’t you? Well, of course I have been, too well organised, in fact, to get to the updating of this page. But that’s about to change.
If you’ve been following the blog you would know that the self-imposed deadline has passed and that we made it. The plan always was to have the bike ready for display and, possibly some demonstration laps at the Barry Sheene Festival of Speed at Sydney’s Eastern Creek Raceway on the last weekend of March (23rd-25th) and we did it, and with a few days to spare. So, let’s back track to those last hectic weeks and see if I can close out the restoration story for you.
On the weekend before the Sheene, I travelled to Canberra for a meeting/work day with Alan Beavan who was going to take care of the stripes and final cosmetic detailing of the bike. We met up at Dave Quinn’s place and admired the almost/finished article (which had been finished the night before – almost a week AHEAD of schedule, you doubters, you!)
Armed with lots of rolls of tape and years of experience (as well as a blow-up picture of the bike from 1981), Alan set to work to try and duplicate the Shadowfax’s complex colour scheme.
Dave is sitting on the front verandah of his place working on some nefarious scheme.
Once all the measurements were taken, we removed to Alan’s house in the southern suburbs of Canberra where he set to work with Corel Draw and an expert’s knowledge of his trade and the next part of the project started to come to life before my eyes. It was so cool to watch a tradesman at work.
First to be done was the tank. Please note the glorious gloss black finish courtesy of the meticulous Paul Campbell of Redback Racepaint in Canberra.
Unseen in these photos, as it was an afterthought, are the wonderful Shadowfax Engineering stickers that Alan made to Kent’s original design and applied to the tank. They really added the finishing touch.
Next was the tailpiece. Three parts to this job. Firstly the number boards (red background for the current P5 regulations and matching what the bike had at Bathurst in 1981 – yes, they were yellow at the Coke, we thought that the red looked better and also fitted with today’s colour scheme. The bike ran red boards and the number 111 at its successful outing at Macarthur Park in March 1981), then the numbers and finally the green stripes.
Same procedure for the fairing
By this stage it was late Saturday night, the rain was sheeting down and I had to get home, so Alan drove me back to Dave’s place with the completed parts and Alan booked a service call for early in the week to fit the final stripes on the fairing which couldn’t be done until the fairing was permanently mounted to the bike. I should add that Dave had already done a quick test run up his street to make sure that the bike started and ran; somewhat fitting, I felt.
On the Tuesday, Dave had to attend an AFP motorcycle familiarisation day at Wakefield Park, near Goulburn, for the new batch of AFP recruits who are attending the Police Academy just out of town. What a wonderful opportunity for him to take the Shadowfax to the track and give it a proper “shake-down” run. All went well and the 10-year-old Avon slicks got a thorough work-out.
We’re not sure what caused the rear tyre to go flat right near the end of Dave’s 20 minute session. At first we thought it might have turned the tyre on the rim and torn out the valve, but it looks like it might have just been a dud tube. We will be refitting self-tapping screws into the beads before the bike gets used in anger. But, apart from that, the bike ran strong and exhibited no vices at all. Dave reported that he was scraping the collector on left hand corners so the rear shocks were dialled up and the front forks were slid back up in the triple clamps to gain a bit more ground clearance for the Sheene.
Tuesday night, after a super-successful hit-out at the track, Alan returned to Dave’s place to finish off the now-mounted fairing and it ended up (after a few hours’ work) looking like this.
It was the week of the Sheene. We’d finished the project on time (BEFORE time, actually) just like we hoped that we would. I went to the track on the Friday of practice and qualifying so that I could check things out, get around and see lots of friends and also score an interview with Graeme Crosby if I could for the Motopod programme. [check: was aired last week along with yours truly co-hosting over international phone hook-up. Check it out. Motopodcast.com] Checked all boxes by Friday afternoon so home and ready to hit the track early Saturday when Dave and Mick were due to arrive with the bike.
Sure enough, when I arrived, the bike was sitting under a stairway, covered with a sheet. Dave had maintained the secrecy pretty well, though unloading the bike from the trailer had not escaped the eagle eye of ace photographer Grant Paterson or PCRA President, Keith Higgs who both arrived at just the “right” time.
The final touch? A genuine Canberra Road Racing Club sticker on the tailpiece.
The bike was then wheeled down to the pit enclosure, covered with a bike cover and we waited for the arrival of the bike’s creator, designer, builder and its first rider, Kent Miklenda. It was agonsising, wanting to show off the bike but not wanting to do so till Kent had had the opportunity of seeing his creation brought back to life. Finally Kent arrived with one of the original build team, Benny Evans, in tow. The cover was whipped off and the tissue box (large size) was broken out. I can tell you that it was a VERY emotional moment for us all, but especially for Kent.
Note the interest being shown in the albums and the Shadowfax Engineering stickers on the table behind the bike. It was like that all weekend. Also note the sign, designed by me, laid out by Kent and printed by Alan. The sign was my idea and it was an inspired one, I feel. Everyone who came past stopped and read the sign and then looked at the bike. It gave the bike a “story” and definitely helped people connect with what we had done.
From here on it was a bit of a blur. Everyone gathered around, hundreds of photos were taken and we spent the rest of the day telling and re-telling the Shadowfax story. Thanks too, to my brother, Paul, who came up for the day and helped us with what turned out to be a very successful “trade show”
And it wasn’t just the punters who came to admire. Kiwi racing legend, Graeme Crosby, paid several visits during the day and was most appreciative of the job that we’d done.
For pretty much all of the day, the bike was surrounded by appreciative onlookers.
A little later, Aussie racing legend, Malcolm Campbell, dropped in along with Croz and “Radar” Cullen, to take a look.
And here are the two guys who made it all happen. It was the first time these guys had met and the air was thick with Kawasaki-talk!
At lunch time I had ensured that we would get some track time! Earnest discussions with Race Secretary, Jan Blizzard, Race Organiser, Peter MacMillan and Clerk of Course, Tim Sanford, saw all the boxes (licence, scrutineering, etc) ticked and permission granted for Dave to do some laps along with Graeme Crosby on his immaculately-restored RG500 MkI Suzuki. Down to the pit garages for some tyre warmers.
More than any other photo, I think this amazing Kent Miklenda photo sums up the weekend.
Proud parents. (From left) Keith Higgs, Dave Quinn, me, Malcolm Campbell and my brother, Paul.
Was the rider excited? My brother, Paul and Keith Higgs’s 2 Peckett and McNab Kawasakis in the background.
No turning back now. Another wonderfully “moody” Kent Miklenda photo. Mick was a tower of strength over the weekend doing all the moving and placement of the bike. Very grateful.
And here’s a shot that Dave will treasure for the rest of his life. Dave and Croz lined up in the dummy grid. “Whickle” from Canberra Riders forum, is the grid marshall, too.
The series of photos from which this next one is taken, is the work of PCRA stalwart, Lech Budniak and has provided hours of fun on my Facebook page as captions aplenty have been bandied about.
We’d like to think that this photo shows Dave about to put a lap on Croz, but, of course it’s not. Croz checked out almost immediately and left Dave to cruise around, making glorious noises and even more glorious memories.
And how’s this for another Kent Miklenda gem? I love the way he’s captured the shadow of the bike frozen on the track.
All too soon it was over, seven laps, I think. I was over in the commentary box, blathering, as usual, and I couldn’t wait to get back over the track to join in the celebrations. In the mean time, the lot of the unsponsored rider is to return the bike to the pit box alone. What a brilliant photograph.
By the time I got back through the tunnel, Dave was nowhere to be found. I went to the Canberra pit box but he wasn’t there. I asked Mick where he was. “Guess.” was the reply. I shrugged. “Down at the display, polishing.” was the answer!!
I hustled back to the PCRA tent and there was Dave, looking like the cat that that been at the cream. “Mate, how did you go?” I asked. “How did I go?” was the reply, “Mate, I finished 2nd to Crosby, AND I WON MY CLASS!” was Dave’s answer. I collapsed in laughter, not for the first time that day.
For the rest of the day the bike attracted even more attention than it had in the morning as people gathered to see the bike close-up. We had become celebrities, and more was to come!
Late on Saturday afternoon, still basking in the afterglow of our success, Dave said to me. “You know what we should do, don’t you? We should enter the bike in the Show and Shine tomorrow.” I demurred, knowing that our bike would never be a concours machine and would be blown away by the over-restored beauties that always turn up for these sort of events. “Oh, come on, mate,” Dave continued, “It’ll be fun.” Reluctantly I agreed. Dave was going to give the bike an extra good detailing and we’d give it a fly.
Sunday morning and my worse fears were realised. Parked in the designated S&S area we were grouped in with an immaculate Vincent Black Shadow with a sidecar, a mint Z1, a couple of MV Agustas and a beautiful Rickman Kawasaki, to name just a few of the 60 or so bikes that had entered. During the day, the crowd, which was HUGE compared to Saturday, came passing by, all stopping to read the sign and ask questions. Rapid Bikes Magazine’s Jeff Ware, had been asked to run the S&S and he was very interested in the bike, promising to look at it as a candidate for an article in one of his magazines. Old Bike Australasia’s Jim Scaysbrook also is keen.
We entered the bike in 4 categories. Best Cafe Racer, Best modified bike, Best Japanese bike pre-1982 and best Road racing bike, pre-1982. Judging was by a public ballot, the punters picking up their voting forms from the Rapid Bikes tent.
The day lumbered on and hoarseness was starting to set in. The results of the S&S were due to be announced at 1400 but, come 1500 and still nothing. Just after 3, Jeff Ware emerged from the Rapid Bikes tent and announced that they had finally counted all the votes, over 700 of them, in fact (thus accounting for the long delay)
“Is Phil Hall here?” he asked. I didn’t even react. He asked the question again. Still I didn’t realise he was calling my name. Quinny nudged me, “Mate, he’s calling you.” Startled, I went forward. “Congratulations, Phil,” Jeff said, “You’ve won the Best Japanese Bike pre-1982” and he handed me a trophy. To say that I was dazed doesn’t even BEGIN to describe it. “But wait,” Jeff went on, “You’ve also won Best Road Racing Bike pre-1982.” And he handed me another trophy. Fortunately I had the presence of mind to invite Quinny to accept the second one and cameras snapped like crazy to record the moment.
It was a surreal end to an amazing weekend. There’s more to come and more pictures, Oh the pictures….Can I suggest that you drop by my two Facebook albums and have a look at them all, plus the wonderful comments that hey have accumulated.
It remains for me to sincerely thank every one of my readers for the encouragement and support that you have given to this project. Without it, it most assuredly would not have happened. For those who have donated parts, skills, time, advice and for those who have just shouted support from the sidelines, I am more grateful than I can ever say.
Finally to “Gos”, Dave Quinn and Kent Miklenda, gentlemen, it has been a rare privilege to have worked with you, seen your passion and commitment and the marvelled at your tireless efforts. This one’s for you guys.