"BRIT IRON" takes you behind the scenes at

December 2011 - Issue #17

* FRIENDS IN FARAWAY PLACES - Old friends check in.
* PROJECT RICKMAN - We're going to Auction Week in Vegas!
* GOLD STAR RAFFLE BIKE - Win this baby for just $1.00!
* PROJECT T140D - I split the cases & change my plans.
* WIERD STUFF - And it just keeps getting weirder!

As is my habit, I call all my old friends all the way back to High School, each year around this time to wish them a Merry Christmas. I tell them that I'm not sending them a card, so this is it! It's always great to talk to my old buddies, many of whom I shared my very early motorcycle riding days with. For a glimpse at these times, check out my "About Us" page. Some have been following this website for a while now & some have just arrived.

My buddy Steve, who now lives in Boise ID, had a Honda 100 when we met. He taught me a lot about bikes, cars & even trains. His brother Tim, who now lives near Chico CA, was a little older than me & he had a nice Honda 450 & then a 750. I rode on the back of that 750 all the way from Hanford CA to Berkeley one time, freezing my ass off. Another of their brothers was Dick, who had a Honda Trail 90 that we called "The Flying Toilet" because of that funny-looking seat you flipped up to fill it with gas. He now restores classic Hondas in California's Central Valley. Rob was another close friend, he had a Honda 90 when we met, broke his left arm but never stopped riding, even with a cast bent at a right angle. He later got a nice 450. Then there is one of my oldest friends, all the way back to 7th grade. Paul, who still lives in Hanford (my home town), taught me about life, girls, motorcycles, being cool, and just about everything else that mattered to a 13-year-old. He got a sweet canary yellow '65 Bonneville TT Special when I still had my Honda 160. This inspired my to upgrade to my first Brit bike, a '64 TR6. He just retired as a firefighter & now rides a Harley.

It's great to have you guys on board. You've all been a big part of my life. Looking back, I can hardly believe I'm still doing the same thing: working on & riding old Brit bikes. How cool it that? (Or perhaps I'm in a rut.)

Auction Week is just around the corner. For those of you who don't know, Las Vegas goes wild for Classic Motorcycles every January as MidAmerica Auctions, the world's leading classic motorcycle auction company, set up shop at the South Point Resort & Casino for a 3-day sale that saw 500 bikes go across the block. This is their 21st year there. Last year, Bonhams & Butterfield, one of the oldest auction houses in the world, followed them to Vegas with their own 1-day sale with around 100 bikes, at the Imperial Palace, on Thursday. They're coming back again, but so is RM Auctions, who is holding its own 3-day sale on the same 3 days as MidAmerica (Thursday 1/12 through Saturday 1/14) with another 400 bikes, at the Rio.

I actually came up with the name "Auction Week", as I have never heard anyone else use it...yet. Maybe I'll start a trend. But all in all, there will be over 1,000 gorgeous classic motorcycles on display between these 3 venues. Even if you're not buying or selling, it's like the world's greatest classic motorcycle show. I take tons of photos of classic British motorcycles, do some interviews, take some video, do a little gambling & overall have a wonderful time.

Last year I came up with a plan: I would buy a bike each year that I felt I could sell at MidAmerica's Auction (they're my personal favorites, I know them, I've sold bikes through them before, and they have generously allowed me access to their enormous library of bike pictures for use on this site) & make enough money on to pay for the entire trip. It's a challenge & something cool to write about in the process.

So, I bought this sweet little A '73 Rickman 250MX vintage dirt bike, which needed nothing, mechanically. I stripped it down to its nickel-plated frame, then cleaned & polished it until it looked like a piece of jewelry. It's now done & it came out great!

MidAmerica's early (small) auction catalog just arrived & my Rickman is listed in it, but alas without photo. This small catalog doesn't have the room for it. However, when their 'big' auction catalog comes out in another week or so, virtually every bike in the sale will be featured with photos & text. It's a gorgeous publication worthy of reading just for its content. Below is just a small excerpt of the roster for this year, with my Rickman highlighted with the red arrow (added by me for your benefit). It promises to be one heckuva week & you should really try to attend, if you can. Go to www.MidAmericaAuctions.com for more details on their sale. And look for me when you get there. I'll be the guy taking all the pictures of Brit bikes.

I am a member of the BSA Owners Club (even though I don't own a BSA, they're the biggest Brit owners club in the area & are very active) & every year they sponsor the world's greatest classic British motorcycle show, called the Clubman All-British Weekend at the fairgounds in San Jose CA, on the last Saturday in March. This year that falls on March 31. It's an incredible show with 150 gorgeous Brit bikes, all indoors & it's only $5.00 to get in! How can you beat that?

I'll tell you how. By giving away one fully-retored Classic British Motorcycle each year in a raffle, the tickets for which are only $1.00 apiece. This year is no exception. The Raffle Bike is a fully-restored 1957 BSA DBD34 Gold Star 500. And it's a real head-turner.

Look at this baby! It's absolutely perfect! Rabers Parts Mart (my favorite motorcycle shop) & many other contributors donate the parts, labor & services that it takes to get these bikes done & they always do a fine job. This one is especially nice.

I bought a fistful of tickets at Raber's Christmas Party, where the bike was on display. The drawing will be held at the Clubmans Show on March 31. Plan to attend. Go to www.bsaocnc.org for more info and/or to buy raffle tickets. The money helps support BSAOC, which is a very worthy cause in my view. They put on one great motorcycle show that you shouldn't miss, if you can possibly avoid it. You will rarely see so many pristine Classic British Motorcycles in one place. And as an added bonus, other Owners' Clubs have come along, in recent years, taking up separate buildings at the fairgrounds for an all-European motorcycle show & a Classic Japanese Motorcycle Show as well. Loads of fun & cheap to boot! See you there.

I tore my '79 T140D Bonneville Special down for my annual winter project. As mentioned last time, I decided to go rogue & instead of restoring it to its original condition, I'm customizing it to take on the appearance of a 1981 T140LE Royal Wedding Commemorative, a special limited edition (only 250 were built) to celebrate the marriage of Prince Charles & Lady Di. They're very cool-looking bikes (in photos at least, as I have never actually seen one) & I've always liked them with their silver frames, black engines & chromed tank.

My bike has about 37,000 miles on it & the pistons were so sloppy I thought they might actually swap holes (kidding). So I tore the engine down for a complete rebuild. In addition to boring the cylinders (the head was done recently), I split the cases & plan to replace the smog-dog cams with something healthier (low & mid-range) & have the crank not only rebuilt but also dynamically balanced.

Last week I told you that I'd purchased a blast cabinet with plans to strip all the parts & the frame. I was then going to set up a temporary spray booth, and paint it all myself, to save money. However, after more investigation, I found that by the time I buy a spray gun, a good mask & suit, the 2-part epoxy paint & all the rest, it would be just as cheap to have it powder coated. I had gotten an $800 bid to do it all, by a local shop. However, Rabers got my Yellow Bike done a lot cheaper than that a few years ago & they can still get it done for around $400. So, done deal. I've cleaned it all up & will bring it in on Tuesday to have the frame & cycle gear powder coated silver, and the chainguard, headlight shell, upper fork covers & the fork sliders powder coated in black. Now I just need to figure if I will paint the engine black or have it also powder coated. More on this later.

I was driving through Modesto recently when I saw this sign on a van. This guy obviously has something to say...a lot to say. Problem is, no one can figure out what!

I'd say he's upset about something, and I'm sure he knows exactly what he means. Can you figure it out?

And while we're on the subject of buying things & spending money, please consider doing some of your holiday shopping on this website. I'm sure you have plenty of people in your life who love motorcycles as much as you do, right? Well, how about giving them a year's subscription to a Motorcycle Magazine, or get them a cool Classic Motorcycle Calendar. And of course we have tons of awesome Motorcycle Books in our bookstore. Or, if you feel like really turning it on for someone, how about a Motorcycle GPS System or a Helmet Cam. Think about it. Check it out. Thanks...

With Christmas & New Years coming up, I won't be doing another issue of Brit Iron until after the New Year. Have a wonderful Holiday.

Hope you enjoyed this issue of "BRIT IRON" as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please tell your friends about it, and my website, Classic-British-Motorcycles.com. And please urge them to subscribe to this e-zine. It is my hope that the right people will discover this website & tell the right people, who will then pass it along to more of the right people, and...well, you get the ideal.

Thanks for all your interest & support, Andy Tallone, Classic-British-Motorcycles.com

PS: I'd love to hear from you, get your comments, ideas, suggestions, criticisms, whatever. Please contact me. And above all, enjoy the ride...