"BRIT IRON" takes you behind the scenes at
November 2011 - Issue #14
IN THIS WEEK'S ISSUE:
* I PUT THE RICKMAN TO BED - Next stop: Vegas!
* I TEAR DOWN MY BONNEVILLE SPECIAL - Big plans!
* ODDS & ENDS
* MORE WEIRD STUFF - The other side of that Fueling W3.
ODDS & ENDS
So, I haven't really been doing much lately. Having just wrapped up Project Rickman, at least for now (see story below), I didn't start on my next bike project, my '79 T140D Bonneville Special, until last night. In the meantime, I've been building pages for the site. Here are some new ones I just finished that you may like:
Rickman Motorcycles (the entire brand).
1959 Triumph Thunderbird
1960 Triumph Thunderbird
1962 BSA A65
1963 BSA A65
1964 BSA A65
1965 BSA A65
1966 BSA A65
Rat Bikes (hey...people dig 'em)
So, as you can see, I've been busy. The fun never stops. With the goal of writing a page on every year of every model of every make of Classic British Motorcycles (post WWII & the 8 major brands) will probably take the rest of my life. And I'm trying to cover more than just old motorcycles. I go to Classic Motorcycle Auctions, Shows, I go on Vintage Rides & more. I hope to not only broaden my content (more bikes) but deepen it as well (the people, the history & the stories). A daunting task, to say the least, but one that I am relishing very much. I think I may have nailed this one. I'm loving it as much, even more, than I did when I started.
WORD IS GETTING AROUND
I am getting approached more & more at Shows and Auctions, and on Rides by people who have visited my website, and some who have subscribed to this newsletter. One person in fact, whom I ran into at the recent Brooks Cycles auction, told me that he'd actually heard about the auction through this newsletter, Brit Iron. He said he is a regular attendee of classic motorcycle auctions but somehow missed this one. As a subscriber to Brit Iron he saw the stories I ran on it, he called in & registered & attended the auction. His friend was with him & soon said that he too would subscribe to Brit Iron ASAP. I also have people approach me at shows & auctions when I'm taking pictures of the bikes. Word is getting around & people like to say hello. Especially the proud owners of these wonderful machines. I always take some time to chat & tell them where to find the pictures of their bike on my site. It feels really good to have such a reach in this little niche of our, after just one year.
ON THE MOVE
When I published my very first page on this site, on October 19, 2010, my goal was an arbitrary one: to reach 1,000 unique visitors per day by the end of 2011. I like round numbers, and it seemed like a good one. It seemed like a huge number of unique people who had to find their way to my site for the first time every day. Especially just starting out, with a handful of pages and single-digit traffic. But over these months, the site, the content & the traffic have been steadily building. Today I have over 238 pages, and I have been flirting with the "magic 1,000-number" all month. I check my traffic daily & so far in November, every day has been above 900 with the exception of 3 days that were in the high 800s. My highest count so far has been 980. I'm within spittin' distance of 1,000 & I can't help but think I'm going to hit it by year's end. Turns out my goal was far more accurate than I would have thought. It's good to be here, and great to have all of that behind me now. It's onward & upward from here! Thanks for coming along.
PROJECT RICKMAN UPDATE
As mentioned last issue, I finally got my Rickman 250MX finished up, took some great photos, then sent them on to MidAmerica Auctions, just barely on time for inclusion in their big full color auction catalog. This is a very important step in the marketing process, as this beautiful magazine-quality catalog is snail-mailed to every person who has every attended or registered for a MidAmerica Auction. They will literally come from across the country to buy a particular bike. So having my lovely little Rickman featured prominently in it should help to draw some interested bidders. Having dynamite pictures like the one above, and sizing both the file size & the physical dimensions on the large side, allows them to do more with the images on their end, make them look better, allow them to blow them up larger. I am hoping that this strategy will help to get me premium placement in the catalog.
IT'S WINTER TEAR-DOWN TIME!
I really don't like riding when I'm cold. Of course, those of you living back east, or in the midwest or frozen north would call me a pussy, after all I live in California. But, it still gets cold here & then I just don't have much fun. So, like so many classic motorcycle nuts, I utilize this downtime to do any repair, refurbishing or restoring on my various bikes.
TEARING DOWN MY T140D
As you will recall from prior issues of Brit Iron, I bought a 1979 Triumph T140D Bonneville Special last year, as sort of a mild fixer-upper for what I thought was the 'bargain price' of just $3,000. It looked OK & it ran, just barely. But by the time I rebuilt the carbs with new Euro jetting, put on new tires, a new chain & new brakes, I would have been far better off just buying a nice finished bike for $6,000. The market is flooded with them. And most not only run well, but look great. Mine runs well enough for a 39,000 mile bike with worn-out bores (the pistons clang so loud at an idle I think they're about to swap holes). But, cosmetically, it needs everything. It's one of those bikes that really too nice to restore, but not nice enough to leave alone. Last night I stripped off the tank, seat, side covers, air box, carbs & chainguard, a humble start, but a start nonetheless. So what now?
A ROYAL WEDDING CLONE?
I thought of restoring it as it is, a T140D Bonneville Special. But these too are a dime a dozen. Even Triumph couldn't sell them, having to pay to ship some of them back from America to refit them as other models. I never cared for the 2-int-1 exhaust (oh, it looks exotic, but sounds like crap!), and the tiny 2.5 gallon peanut tank is absurd, barely netting 100 miles of range, if you're lucky. So, I decided that as long as I'm going through the whole bike anyway, I may as well do something interesting to the looks. But what? I've already build the coolest cafe racer on the planet. I wanted something distinctive, but not outlandish. I've always liked the 1982 Triumph Bonneville Royal Wedding Commemorative, a limited-edition special done to honor the royal wedding of Prince Charles to Lady Diana Spencer.
I was already planning to strip the bike down to bare bones. I wanted to repaint or powdercoat the frame & other bits. I planned to rebuild the engine, top & bottom, installing new hotter cams (these late-model smog dogs had very mild camming). With the brakes, tires, chain & carbs all done, hopefully this would be a manageable task. So, if I'm doing all this anyway, why not paint the frame silver instead of black, and the engine black instead of silver. Add blacked out fork sliders & other bits & I'm almost there. Of course, rebuilding a Triumph twin these days could run some bucks (I'll itemize it for you as I go), but I plan to do most of it myself, with a little help from the nice folks at Rabers. But, to complete the Royal Wedding look, I need a 1982-1983 tank (made in Italy in the final days of Meriden Triumph production) & dual exhaust. I may be able to parlay my 2-into-1 exhaust & stock tank into the parts I need, but it still won't be cheap. I can't find a used tank anywhere & a new one runs $600. Then I'll have to have it chromed, then painted with the correct pattern. Ouch, I can already feel it. But, it will be one sweet bike when I'm done. It will look pretty authentic too, with the exception of the electric starter, which my '79 does not have (I think they're ugly anyway). And my Morris Mag wheels don't quite match the Lester Mags on the Royal Wedding. But few will know (I've never actually seen a Royal Wedding in the flesh) and even fewer will care. Especially if it looks as good as I think it will when done. The above picture was part of Triumphs 1982 product brochure.
THE BITTER END
This lovely bike was part of the final death throes of one of the greatest brands in history. If you have ever wondered what actually happened to the old Triumph, why they couldn't build bike that people would buy, then I strongly urge you to read the book "Save the Bonneville! The Inside Story of the Meriden Workers' Co-op". It's an amazing read & loaded with info that you won't find anywhere else. You can buy the book by clicking on the book cover below. Thank you.
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...
ANDY'S WEIRD STUFF
Not that I don't have plenty more weird stuff where this came from, after last issues photo of the left side of the wild Fueling W3 (a Harley big twin with one more cylinder sticking out the front), I couldn't very well leave you wanting. So, for a return engagement, here is the right side of the engine of the Fueling W3. Again, Fueling was an engineer working for Harley who had this great idea to deliver more displacement & power to the Harley line without coming up with all new tooling. Harley said now, so Fueling went off on his own & did it anyway. Interesting story. Google it...
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,
PS: I'd love to hear from you, get your comments, ideas, suggestions, criticisms, whatever. Please contact me.
And above all, enjoy the ride...