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"Brit Iron" #34
November 29, 2014

"BRIT IRON" takes you behind the scenes at

Oct 2014 - Issue #34


HOWDY - Happy Thanksgiving!!.
Free Classified Ads
New Facebook Page
Another New Facebook Page

The 2015 Calendars are here!
PROJECT ROYAL CLONE - The ups & the downs
WEIRD STUFF - Guess who?


Hello again. I hope this issue finds you well. All the best for this coming Holiday Season, and above all Happy Thanksgiving. We had our family together for the day, baked an epic turkey (pictured) with all the traditional trimmings, including home-made cranberry jelly which came out great for a change. This 4-day weekend is giving us a chance to catch our breath as we have been busy lately, planning our next move.

ABOVE: This is my actual turkey, just coming out of the oven yesterday.

We’ve decided to sell our home in the Bay Area and move up into the Gold Country, near Sonora. We love it up there, you can get a lot for your money when compared to the Bay Area, and we’d be close to my wife’s folks, who live up there now. We’ve been in our home in Pleasanton for 14 years now and have an enormous amount of crap to consider moving or shedding ourselves of. We’re also remodeling the home in preparation to put it on the market. And on and on. Today, we’re out looking at washers & dryers (the old ones work fine, but look like crap and won’t stage well) and carpet. The list goes on.

To top it all off, I’m scheduled to go in for elbow surgery in a couple of weeks. Nothing too serious, out patient stuff, but I’ll be in a brace for a month, then no lifting for another 3 months. Years of torquing on wrenches tore the connective tissue where my muscles attach in my forearms. I’ve got both ‘golfer’s elbow’ and ‘tennis elbow’ on both arms, but the right side is worse. My co-pay is used up for this year, so it’ll be free if I do it before New Years. Oh goody! Anyway, it’s something that I need to have done, and now’s the time. So, I’m rushing to do all the things that will require two good arms, like moving moving, remodeling the home, and assembling my bike.



We just launched our first-ever Free Classified Ads-page. If you have a Classic British Motorcycle or parts for sale you can advertise it for free. Or if you’re looking, please to check out what our other viewers are selling. I’m offering this as a free service just to further expand the service this website provides to the Classic British Motorcycle-world, and to hopefully draw some more traffic to the site. Please visit our Free Classified Ads-page and come back often. If you have anything for sale, please post it with us. Thank you.

If not, please go to our Calendar Page and pick out your favorite. The selection is awesome this year, each with a dozen or more striking motorcycle photos of every kind, genre and era. I love getting my new calendar each year, in fact I get three. One for the office, one for my home office, and one for my shop. Each is different, so I get to see lots of gorgeous bikes all year long. I make it a habit never to peak at the future months, then its always a big surprise when I flip up the new month and see what’s next. I know, I’m easily amused.

As you may already know, we now have our own Facebook page. The exact URL is:

or just use this handy-dandy link: Facebook Page, then bookmark it so you can find it again. Then, please, visit it often and “LIKE” the thing you see posted. And I invite you to contribute to the page. Please write your own posts, post your own photos of your bike, or a motorcycle show or event you attended, an upcoming event your club is doing, or something else relevant to all us Brit bike nutjobs. It’s your page too. Please feel free to use it.

As you may recall, we have a sister website all about classic cars. It’s called Just like (CBM), it breaks down the cars by Make, then Model, then Year with eye-popping Pictures, Specs, History & more. We also cover classic car shows, auctions, and other events. A very cool site. And just like with CBM, we just launched our new Facebook page for it. The exact URL is:, but you can use this link: Facebook Page. If you’re into American Muscle Cars, please visit our other site, and please visit our Facebook Page often, and “LIKE” everything you see. And again, we invite you to contribute by posting your own stuff.


To be perfectly honest, my enthusiasm has been waning on “Project Royal Clone”. The bike is mostly together, but there’s still tons of stuff to do just to finish the assembly, with the arduous process of getting it running and running right to look forward to. The combination of cold nights in the garage, my aging frame, changing priorities, and the many other demands placed upon my time have all conspired to make me doubt my resolve to finish the bike. I even toyed with the idea of trying to sell it as a non-running project bike. Good luck with that. Even if I could sell it, it would be a pittance compared to what it will be worth when running. But how many hours, how many more parts, how many trips to Rabers will that take?

ABOVE: The model of my ambitions: A UK-spec 1981 Bonneville Royal Wedding. I love the look, so I'm trying to turn my '79 T140D Bonneville Special into a look-alike, or at least close. Hence the name 'Royal Clone'.

But, somehow I continued to bump along and published the past two issues of this e-zine. And the response from some of you was overwhelming. I have several tell me that they were glad to hear I was back at it with my project bike, some said I was inspiring them to get their own bike project back on track, and generally commending and encouraging me for my efforts. I was moved by it all, and flattered that anyone actually cared. This served to reinvigorate my efforts.

And it helped me to make a decision, one that I’ve applied to many other areas of my life with success. Keep it simple. Break it down into bite-size steps. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and don’t stop until it’s done. In this way, you can never fail. So, I’ve been doing just that. Every day I try to get out there and do something, anything. Even if it’s a small thing. If I get bogged down on something, I pass it by, and keep moving. When I get everything else done, I’ll go back and clean up the problems. Suddenly, it seems doable. It is doable.

It all adds up. In the last few days I’ve installed the clutch cable, adjusted it and adjusted the clutch and the primary chain. I assembled the kickstart pedal, which is more of a job than it sounds. There is a tiny spring and BB-sized steel ball that fits into a hole in the end of the kickstart pedal arm. This has to be compressed while forcing the foot pedal into place, lining up the holes so the bolt can go in, all while trying not to lose the spring and ball. Loads of fun, I see it as a future Olympic event. Then there were the two rear engine mounting plates. There are 5 bolts with nuts on the primary side, and 4 on the gearbox side. The proper way to do it is with the bolts extending through from behind, and the nuts exposed, in full view. This is counter-intuitive for most, as the bolt heads are prettier than the nuts. Oh well, that’s the Brits for you. But in an effort to achieve a factory look, I went ‘nuts-out’, which takes no small amount of finger dexterity to maneuver those pesky bolts in through the most crowded part of the bike. Especially with the rear brake master cylinder where they chose to mount it on the T140D (my host bike). It’s just forward and to the right of the rear wheel, hanging below the swingarm, packed in tight with almost no clearance anywhere around it. The tire barely clears (it won’t clear if its out of alignment after a hasty chain adjustment).

ABOVE: Resto tip of the day: When you want to avoid scarring brand new bolts (or like mine, newly plated), wrap the heads in cling wrap before applying a wrench or socket. Make sure you have exactly the right size, then for heaven's sake, be careful. Tighten smoothly, and make sure the wrench/socket is on straight.

I’ve also made a decision that has been nagging at me. “Oilers” (ie: 1971-and-later Triumph Bonnevilles & Tigers) have always had terrible packaging of their components under the seat. Heavy, bulky, and leaving little space under the seat for tools or anything else, one of my favorite mods has always been to improve on that. It’s pretty easy to do, and gains a lot of useful space under the seat. My Yellow Bike had a huge amount of space under the seat, made possible by using a modern (smaller) battery (no electric starter, remember?), placing it much lower in the frame just above the swing arm pivot, then placing all the other components around it in a way that left the greatest amount of open space. Very useful on a bike with no saddle bags. I started this process on the Royal Clone, but have now decided to return this portion of the bike to stock. It’s much easier that way, and it will “look right” from under the seat. So, I pulled all the modified bits out from under the seat to return everything back to stock.

ABOVE: You can see the cavernous space I opened up, under the seat of Yellow Bike. Very handy on trips or day-to-day.

I’ve also separated out the parts that still need to be cleaned and/or painted, polished, etc. I’ve also decided that I’m going to run the stock 2-into-1 T140D exhaust header and paint it matte black along with the new shortie megaphone. I’ll lightly sand the chrome plating to give the surface some tooth, then prime & paint it with high-temp header paint. It should look pretty tough when I’m done. The big question now is how much of it I can get done before my elbow surgery. Everything else will have to wait.

Thank you, all of you who thought enough to write in and help to inspire me. Your enthusiasm lifts me up, keep it coming, I’ve got a long way to go on this one. Happy Holidays.


If you’ve been following this ezine for awhile, you know that every issue I try to amaze and delight with my unique take on weirdness out there in the world. It’s not always funny, but then it’s not called “Funny Stuff”. It’s called Weird Stuff because to me, it’s weird stuff. In this case, only a British Bike Nutjob like myself, and probably you, would find this weird, or even get the significance of it. I’ll bet you thought BSA went out of business long ago, didn’t you? Well, what if I told you they were alive and well? No, they’re not making motorcycles anymore, or anything remotely related to them. No, they’re in the firearms accessories business, making rifle stocks, precision air rifles, and rifle scopes, along with other optical equipment. Pictured here is one of BSA’s rifle stocks, presented to Raber’s to commemorate the 51st International BSAOC Rally in Petaluma CA in May 2014. This division of BSA is referred to as “BSA Guns”. Not so weird when you consider that BSA was originally a gun company, formed in 1856 to make rifles for Britain's was in the Crimea. In fact, BSA stands for Birmingham Small Arms.


Thank you for your continued interest and support for, and for helping to keep the British bike world alive. We’re the front line, the ones who are making it happen. We have been entrusted with this sliver of history, these amazing machines, to be preserved, studied, used and appreciated, then handed down to the next generation. And hopefully that generation will be up to the challenge. Get your bike running, get out and ride it. Join a club, hang out with other Brit Bike Nutjobs and live the life. Thank you for allowing my humble website to be a part of the action. Please keep coming back often, it’s changing and growing all the time, and tell your friends about it. Thank you. Ride safe, out there...

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