Lest we Forget

Norman S Pearce,  2/5th Infantry Battalion, 6th Division. 1,558 days of military service on foreign soil. Service in Libya against the Italians, in Greece (and Crete) against the Germans, in Syria against the Vichy French and New Guinea against the Japanese.

“We won no Victoria Crosses; we were not famous; but we proved ourselves in Bardia and for sheer dependability and duty well done, we have no better” (Anon, introduction to ‘All the King’s Enemies, a History of the 2/5th Australian Infantry Battalion’ 1988).

Also, in memory of an uncle I never met.

Gunner TJ Ryan, 4th anti tank regiment

Date of Death: 14/7/1943, age 24 years.

Place of Death: Siam

POW Thai / Burma railway

Victorian historic road racing championships

Mrs T and I attended the historic road racing championships at the Broadford circuit yesterday. This was a much smaller event than last weekend at Broadford. We opted for the comfort of the car as rain was forecast for the afternoon. It was a great day, again characterised by friendly folk and great pit access.

This is a “Forgotten era” (1973 – 1980) Kawasaki whose young rider, Andrew Lind, was just a delight to chat with. He was pretty handy on the track as well, finishing 3rd in both events we saw him in. This is a 1977 Z1000, bored to 1260. These machines still excite me!


Ah, the smell of racing fuel and the sound of unrestricted exhausts! This is really well run by the Historic Racing Motorcycle Association of Victoria.

Lots more high res pics HERE

Mrs T had a theme of photographing helmets, in addition to bikes that she liked, so I may well dedicate a later post to just helmets! I have a 1970’s Bell Star in my office, and I’d love to compare it with a contemporary Bell Star as Bell are being sold in Australia again after a very long hiatus.


TAC lose Supreme Court rider appeal

Sometimes fact is stranger than fiction. The fact that the Victorian Traffic Accident Commission (TAC) appealed the original decision is taken by Maurice Blackburn to be indicative of their negative attitude towards motorcyclists

Read a summary of case on the Maurice Blackburn Lawyers’ site HERE

However, the Supreme Court documents show that it wasn’t quite that clear cut – the decision makes interesting reading for any motorcyclist HERE


Andy’s stable

I’m having some problems linking pictures, so it’s probably best to viewt his post over at  the  WEST COAST PROCRASTINATORS‘ site.

Back in November 2011, I published an email from my mate Andy outlining his refurbishment of his Norton Commando fastback. That post can be read HERE.

Since then I’ve been hassling him to give me a run down on his other projects. This was intended for the Procrastinators’ website, but I thought that I’d post here as well. So what follows is Andy’s account of his current motorcycle collection. It doesn’t include bikes that he’s previously owned.

BSA A7 1949

Purchased as a ”basket case” in about 1987, laid under the bench in boxes until I took on a “love job” doing up a BSA B33 for a mate (Jack) in about 2007.

Thought to myself,  “I’ll just throw that old A7 together to get my head around BSA’s”. Should have known better, once one bit gets shined up you gotta do it all!

I wound up making nearly every bolt and fitting myself in stainless steel, around about the time I finished it repro stuff was beginning to come onto the market quite well priced.

Doing a job like this is a bit like pissing yourself in a dark suit, – you get a lovely warm feeling but no-one else notices.

Ducati 450

This one used to be a trail bike, I bought it in about 1976 off a workmate who found out its shortcomings in the bush and moved up to a Yamaha XT500.

It really was just a streetbike with trailbike handlebars and a bash plate. It even had a low exhaust pipe???

I ran it around on and off for a few years as a street hack, and it was alright except that if you wanted to do highway speeds, you needed to make a dentist appointment for after, because your fillings will all be rattled loose.

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of  its early days, shit happens.

It lunched the timing pinion one day, too much end float on the crankshaft, whilst idling, I leaned it onto the sidestand, it then stopped with a loud “CLUNK!”

In a fit of despondency I sold it (as was) to another workmate, who later worked out he didn’t have the money/skills/time/marital goodwill  etc, to deal with it, and offered it back to me along with another worthy project (Panther), so I re-aquired it.

A complete engine / gearbox re-build followed,(circa 1990) I spent two weeks re-shimming all the gearbox and bevel drive shafts, the end result was the only one of these I’ve ever heard that you can’t  hear the valve gear from 200 yards away.

It then got put away with no more than about ten minutes running, various other projects took over, including but not limited to marriage/children/ several other bikes (Yamaha XS650’s, BMWR75) marriage break up etc, before I knew it ten more years had got behind me (good line that, someone should put it in a song).

I had decided at some point in the timeline that it needed to be a pocket rocket, but didn’t want to pass it off as a silver shotgun , which it never was.

Someone gave me some Yamaha XS250 forks and wheels, I thought at the time that would be good to set it apart from the ‘real’ Desmo’s.

I’ve since changed my mind, the mags look crap so they’re going, but I’ve now decided to graft a set of lower frame tubes into the frame and mount the engine/gearbox in it with a set of Norton Isolastic mounts.

If I’m lucky It will be rideable & different enough that no-one will think I’m trying to pass it off as a proper desmo, if it doesn’t work, well that’ll just give me something else to work on.

GT500 Suzuki

Yep, you guessed it, e-bay again!, ad said it didn’t run, but had compression.

I took a punt on it, when I picked it up the guy said he thought it was crank seals, because it used to run but didn’t any more. I felt the compression  and knew straight off it wasn’t crank seals.

Took about five minutes when I got it home to work out it was the ignition module. $26 for a monkey bike CDI kit at the local electronics store got it running.

The rear tyre was  bald but my Norton Commando rear was half down, so Nora got a new tyre, Suzie got a good enough one.

Right hand fork leg had a big graunch in the hard chrome about an inch above the fork seal which had buggered the seal, resultant oil leak had buggered the front brake pads. Rear guard was a bit ratty, swapped one for a tub of wine grapes I had an excess of, and had cost naught.

Fork staunchions aren’t cheap, re-doing the hard chrome is about $600, so a bit of hard thinking was called for.

I had a spare Commando fork tube picked up at the Ballarat swap meet only owed me $10, so I welded up the oil bleed holes in the commando tube, turned down the welds, then re-drilled the bleed holes the same as the Suzuki tube, made a new  upper bush (Commando tube is 0.5 mm smaller), made a fork top nut with british thread but same hex as the Suzi, fitted new seals, and bob’s your uncle!


It goes like shit off a shovel, very  tourquey, owes me bugger all money and goes well alongside the others. To make it dead original I only need a seat, sooner or later one will show up, I just keep looking.

1972 Suzuki T350J, T250J

My first road bike when I got my learners permit in late 1973 was a T250R, I put quite a few miles on it in only four months before trading up to a GT550 (emulating Jules who had also just bought a GT550).

I always had a soft spot for this little twin, so when one appeared in ‘Just Bikes’, at the right price, I couldn’t resist.

The guy I bought this bike from didn’t know a screwdriver from a spanner, and had paid various people to completely refurbish the bike from stem to stern, then sold it to me for about a third of what his cost was! (and no it isn’t stolen), I have all the receipts for the work he even paid someone to tune the horn!

First thing I did when got it home was fit a set of ‘ace ‘bars, just the same as when I was a youngster. Once around the block, I realised that I’m not as “bendy” as I was way back then, don’t know how the heck I ever managed to ride like that, anyway the bike now has flat bars, much  better!. A set of chromed pipes sourced from opposite ends of the country helped make it look much tidier.


The sharp – eyed among you will note that it has the T250 fuel tank and sidecovers, this is about to be changed, I had acquired a set of heads from a T350II, they had straight fore and aft fins like the 250, so no-one would be able to pick up on  the bigger engine capacity, however I have recently picked up a T250, so the 350 will become a proper 350 with the correct tinware.

The 250 was a project picked up on e-bay for the right price, no-one else bid on it, the seller wasn’t real happy, but rules are rules.

The frame has been beautifully painted in 2-pak in a very tasteful charcoal colour, not quite standard but such a good job , I’m not going to change it. Rims are in good shape, a quick re-spoke and a spruce up of the hubs, new seat cover  (a repro from Thailand  – excellent product for $60), tinware will come off the 350

By the time this spiel gets posted I hope to have it back together, It had lunched the right hand rings, so I sourced new 1st oversize pistons and rings, crank bearings were a bit ordinary so I fitted new bearings and seals, took me most of a weekend to make a jig to part the crank halves and about twenty minutes to do the job!

I sent all the bolts to be plated some weeks ago, found out yesterday why the plater stopped answering his phone, the bastard’s had his power cut off. Sending a “mate” round to get my stuff back later this week.

Once the 250 is done I have a T500 basket case I acquired (e-bay can get a bit addictive can’t it?), there was no crankcases or crankshaft or wheel hubs, the seller said he  couldn’t remember where they went, anyway, I knew a guy who had a   complete engine that someone had thrown away the entire gearbox (ain’t people weird?), I’ve found hubs, have all new seals, pistons & rings ($92 a set  delivered) once the 250 is done I’ll “just throw this one together”.

1952 Panther Model 75 350cc

This is a bit long winded, but bear with me…

I had a Ducati 450 road/trail that lunched the timing pinion one day, in a rush of blood, I sold  it to a workmate.

In 1990, I had the job of house minding for Mr & Mrs Tarsnakes whilst they did a round Aussie trip in their Campervan.

Whilst living in Tarsnake Towers, said workmate offered me back the Ducati, I was actually happy to have it  back (I know – it’s a sickness), he also offered me his 1952 350 Panther which he said he would never do anything with, so it may as well go to me.

Deal gets done, suddenly I notice there’s no more room in Tarsnake’s garage, boxes of Ducati and Panther everywhere, and homeowner is on the return leg of his trip!

A great effort was put in, the Panther, upon examination turned out to have flogged out the drive side crank case bush (yes, bush – not really a high performance engine this!).

A visit to a mate who’s a tool maker ensued, Frank found the centre of the now oval crankcase bearing hole, bored it back round, and made a new bush.

The panther was then re-assembled from the boxes, which yielded sufficient garage space to pass muster. It fired up and ran straight off, only time it gave trouble was when I gave it a bit of a squirt it kept “nipping up” the piston. Eventually I realised that I was actually retarding the ignition at high speed (that’s a relative term) as the advance lever worked the opposite way  to my old AJS!

There’s always something to learn in this game.

The long and short of it is , this bike hasn’t been touched since then, is still a fist kick starter and whilst it’s not fast is a delight to ride. Now if only I could get those air forks to hold air for more than ten minutes, I’d ride it far more than I do. I could spend more than its value making it pretty, so she is what she is.

1974 Suzuki GT380

Aint e-bay grouse?, this one was a shed clear out, guy was moving and wanted to unload a shedful.

Paid 380 bucks for the lot, The short version is , there’s  a complete bike, plus two or three spare engines.

The silver tank on the frame in the photo, I just got at the Ballarat Swap meet, NOS, $40, I didn’t really need it but for that sort of money I couldn’t leave it behind.

The guy with the tank also has exhaust systems he’s willing to part with, so I  got his number. (Mine has an aftermarket 3 into 1 which I’m told sound great but steal power)

It’s lower on the list than the T500, but since it’s all there I may as well “just throw it together”.

OK, so that’s the short form story of Andy’s stable. Thanks for the words and pics Andy. Now we will work on Steve for some history on his bikes!










Morning run along the Great Ocean Road

The incredible run of hot Autumn weather has continued this week with temps around 32-35C and overnight lows around 20C all last week and will continue into next week. Today’s forecast was for 36C (around 97F) and humid. I had some new Michelin Pilot Road 2’s fitted yesterday and I was keen to take the ZX14 for a run to scrub them in. Why fit PR2’s when the PR3’s are better all round? Because I already had them, having purchased two sets of PR2’s from the USA last year when our currency was 10% higher than the US$.

I decided to get up early and do a quick run along the GOR to Lorne and back before it got too hot. Early starts are a bit tricky this time of year as the sunrise is around 6.45am and it’s risky to head off too early as there are quite a few spots where there are kangaroos between home and the start of the GOR at Angelsea. I had the bike fueled up and tyre pressures checked last night so I was away at 7.30am with enough light not to worry about the risk of roadside ‘roos.  I had such a good run along the first part of the GOR and it was only around 8.30 am as I rolled into Lorne that I decided to keep going along the GOR to Apollo Bay. I hardly took any pics as I was enjoying riding the twisties on new tyres so much. I only had to overtake a couple of car along the entire run towards Apollo Bay and really got into the groove of riding the hairpins. The only issue was occasional bunches of MAMILS (middle aged men in lycra) heading towards me whose presence led to cars traveling towards me occupying my isde of the road to get past the MAMILS. I think that bunches of bicycles on that stretch of the GOR is downright insane given the speed differential between bicycles and cars AND that the arrogant buggers insist on occupying the whole lane and will not yield at all. (Rant over!).

Here’s the route map

A quick stop in Lorne in the morning light.

Surfers at Lorne

I didn’t quite go to Apollo Bay and turned off at Skene’s Creek and climbed inland through the Otway Ranges. After a milkshake stop at the Forrest brewery I was on my way as the temp was really climbing. I arrived home mid morning having done 220 kms with 2/3rds of it being on the most twisting roads we have in this part of the state. It was already 30C (86F) and climbing at 11.00am. I had a fabulous morning run, all the more enjoyable for being on new rubber (and dodging the heat). The ZX14 felt substantially better than it did last weekend on old tyres on some of the same roads. FWIW, the old PR2’s did just about 9,000kms and probably had another 1,000 in them at a pinch, but I was happy to swap them over now and enjoy my riding more.


The Great Ocean Road & farmed rabbits

We got home from New Zealand at 2.00am after delayed a flight and extensive roadworks on the western ring road in Melbourne. By 7.00 am in the morning I was wide awake, my body still thinking it was 9.00 am – as NZ is 2 hours ahead of us. I had in mind to go for a ride as it would be my last opportunity before going back to work on Monday. The forecast was for clearing showers and a top of around 30C. As there were a few spots of rain, I farnarcled around for a while, checked all my favorite online sites, then checked the tyres and added fuel to the ZX14, having decided that I would ride anyway. It was actually getting humid, so I donned the textile gear instead of leather and headed off. Here’s the route


I was pretty rusty at first not have ridden for a few weeks, no problem though as I headed down the boring section from Geelong to Colac. From there I turned my attention to the twisty roads, bush lined road that climbs up into the Otways and pulled up in Lavers Hill for lunch. After a hearty ‘breakfast’ I hit the GOR and quickly got into the groove, riding briskly and safely. This inland section of the GOR through the Great Otway National Park is one of my favorite stretches of road. It has some beautiful long sweeping curves under tall eucalyptus trees and a small section of tight twisties. There were some wet spots in a few corners and a lot of bark blown down from trees on the centre of the road. I didn’t stop to take any pics as I was enjoying the ride and lack of traffic going my way. From Apollo Bay to Lorne is a cliff side run composed of hundred of tight twisty corners, and has an 80 kph speed limit now. This section requires considerable vigilance as drivers from overseas often forget that they are driving on what is the ‘wrong’ side of the road for them and cut corners and creep across to centre line into oncoming traffic – not nice to face on a motorcycle when when cranked over and committed into a blind hairpin corner. Here’s a shot of the ZX14 in Lorne when I pulled up to answer a phone message.

By now it was around 30C and very humid, but the grip on the road was great, so I headed inland – a twisty, climbing run up to Dean’s Marsh. Again this section is through eucalyptus forest and the scent from the trees was lovely.I pulled into Martian’s for a Coke (AKA “Black Asprin”).

The drink barely touched the sides, and as I saddled up, a delivery van pulled in to deliver meat. The sign writing had some elements that really gave me a laugh. Wouldn’t you be proud of yourself to be a rabbit farmer? Actually I had some amusing mental images concerning the farming of rabbits, the herding, roping, branding, etc must be hell! The more I pondered the possibilities, the more it made me laugh! The driver returned to his truck as I was laughingly taking a shot of his van, maybe he thought I had sun stroke.



Two up with Mrs Tarsnakes 2013

I go back to work next Monday and I can feel my riding opportunities diminishing. Unfortunately yesterday was 41.6C (106F) so far too hot for riding. Fortunately we had a cool change overnight and today dawned as a perfect riding day.

Click on the map to enlarge, then use the back button.

We left Geelong and traveled along the highway to Colac (H on the map), planning to have breakfast at a restaurant that had been recommended by our son after a recent visit. We arrived only to find them closed, so headed out of town to Otway Estate vineyard as they have a good cafe as well. We drew a blank again, as they are in the midst of a revamp and only have platters etc to have with wine, rather than providing meals as they had done in the past. My hunch is that they are feeling the loss of an excellent chef, who has left and now has his own highly rated restaurant – named Fusion.

By now I was really hungry, so we headed for Lavers Hill, (B on map) my logic being that cafes on the Great Ocean Road would surely be open, not to mention an incredibly twisty road that climbs through the Otway Ranges to get there! We stopped at a great place named Blackwood Gully. We ordered and sat out on the deck.

This place has lovely views over the Otways, which I couldn’t quite capture today.

A simple, but delicious (late) breakfast.

From here we headed along the inland, forested section of the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay to check out the little art show that runs in the church hall there in summer. Sections of the road are limited to 80 kph over the holiday season, however, it’s still exceptional riding with big open sweepers lined with tall eucalyptus trees, and a few tight sections thrown in as well. We had a great run as all the traffic was heading in the other direction towards the 12 Apostles.

Country town church hall art show.

Some samples

I’d had enough of the art so headed out into the sunshine and experimented with a self portrait taken from the back of the bike. Look at all that blue sky, just perfect riding conditions.

It just occurred to me that there are no motorcycle pics yet – easily fixed!

Further down the road is the harbor and right across the road is a golf course, with the sea in the distance. It’s quite a pretty spot. Some of my ancestors lived here in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, but I really don’t know much about them.

We fueled the ZX-14 at the only gas station in town and headed for the Forrest brewery for afternoon tea. (D on map). This road is all twisties and all of it is climbing uphill through the bush, again there were few cars travelling in our direction and we picked off those that were pretty quickly – the ZX-14’s power is really useful in such circumstances, as compared with my old VFR 800 which really had to be revved hard when overtaking in the mountains and two up.

The brewery was reasonably quiet and we took a table outside to catch the cool breeze. I’ve posted pics of the outside of the brewery before, however, Mrs T took this shot of the bar area inside. It probably gives a better idea of the place.

Alas we didn’t sample any brews and stuck with coffee and a milkshake. However, we did buy a bottle of stout to give to our son as he and his girlfriend are a bit keen on craft beers at present.

Mrs T seems to be enjoying a sunny day out on the motorcycle.

From here we took the back roads through farming country back to Winchelsea  (F) and  then along the Princes’s Highway (yes we are a British colony) back to Geelong. All up we covered 315 kms in perfect riding weather, a sunny 24C. It was a grand day out and helps ease the pain of returning to work next Monday.









NYD ride with the Procrastinators

I’m having a problem linking some of the pictures, which I don’t have time to troubleshoot right now. This report is duplicated – with pictures – at the Procrastinator’s web site HERE.

The NYD ride has become a regular event in recent times. We do some other rides together throughout the year, but this one is a bit special as it marks the beginning of a year of riding ahead. When we four ‘fellas get together, there is a lot of shared history and with that goes a certain amount of banter, story telling and laughter.

Marty and I left Geelong and met at Steve’s property near Colac. Andy had traveled from Ballarat on NYE and spent the evening drinking fine wine with Steve.

Omitting the Geelong to Colac section, the circuit ridden was around 210 kms, virtually all of it on back roads and through some beautiful farmland and bush. It also takes in the famed 12 Apostles and a short section of the Great Ocean Road.

Andy’s Commando Fastback 

The weather forecast had been for a sunny 25C day with a late changes, however, it was obvious at the start of the day that this was not to be the case, and so waterproof gear was packed – by some! The run down to the Distillery only took around an hour and we were actually a tad early. There was a little drizzle as we neared Timboon, but nothing to warrant donning wet weather gear.

I received this sticker with a T-shirt that I bought and it accurately encapsulates my mechanical abilities and knowledge. 

We had booked and were allocated a seat out on the deck. Unfortunately just as we started eating two families were allocated a table near us and the sound of poorly behaved squealing children was fairly intrusive.

Gourmet garlic prawn pizza

Marty’s grilled fish

My steak sandwich

In a new feature for 2013, here is my score card for our meals. As they say, your experience may vary! This proforma is not mine and I’d like to acknowledge its author, however, I can’t find the URL where I first saw it – so my apologies to someone in advance!






We had booked and were a bit early at 11:30 but there were plenty of open seats. In the summer on a busy weekend they could easily be full.


Nice modern, but rustic feel. Train theme abounds, including a model training circling overhead. Lots of produce as well as their whiskey for sale. Sitting out on the deck was lovely until a couple of families with poorly behaved children screamed incessantly. There were plenty of sunny and shady spots to sit.
Wait Staff


Very friendly and pleasant, friendliness didn’t seem contrived. Handled the full restaurant well.


Garlic pizzas were tasty but rather spartan. Grilled flake OK but on wilted salad. Every aspect of my steak sandwich was tasty, EXCEPT the steak! It was so tough to chew that I left half. French fries were excellent and meals arrived hot.


Par for what one would expect to pay at a modern, nice place in the country.


I’d go back, but the food didn’t really wow me.

I took a few pics around the building and in my absence my helmet mysteriously disappeared from my bike! Hmm, didn’t take the bate and lo and behold, it reappeared from Steve’s bag. The truth be known, I was in a drowsy post postprandial state and didn’t even notice its absence.


From Timboon we took a short run down to  the Great Ocean Road at a tiny place called Peterborough. The weather was really deteriorating and in the strong wind it was easy to appreciated why around 200 sailing ships sunk along a short 130 km section of coast- commonly known as “The Shipwreck Coast“.


Within 200 meters of the shore at Peterborough, lie the wrecks of three ships; the Newfield (Aug 1889), the clipper Schomberg (Dec 1855 – skippered by the legendary James ‘Bully’ Forbes and the Young Australian (May 1877). Actually the scandal of the Schomerg offers some interesting insights into the captaincy of Forbes.

The reason these guys still have their helmets on is because it started drizzling about this time, as it did until Port Campbell,where we stopped for gas. In the gas station the console operator had a secondary screen with a readout and wave forms tracking across it. I asked her about it and she told me it was real time wave height and interval between swells measured from a beacon 20 kms out to sea. It was typically reading 7 meters while I was talking to her, but she told me that waves of 17 meters can commonly occur during winter!

As we were leaving the gas station it started to rain a little and by the time we reached the 12 Apostles it was raining properly, so Marty & I donned wet weather gear over the leathers. The sightseeing  helicopters had stopped flying due to the poor conditions. We hung around for 15 mins and then headed off in light rain and gusty winds – so much for a sunny 25C! We headed inland via some bumpy back roads rather than continuing along the GOR.

As a consequence of the rain there are no more photos, nor did we stop at the Apostle Whey cheesery as we had originally planned. Despite the rain and drizzle, it was actually OK riding through the bush on virtually deserted roads. By the time we approached Colac the rain stopped and as we emerged from the bushland into the farming land the temp actually went up 4C from the 14C it had been.

Despite the weather, we had another great start to 2013. What could be better than riding motorcycles with your best and oldest mates? Well actually along with the enjoyment of our comradeship was a tinge of sadness.

Our thoughts were occupied throughout this ride with the loss of an old mate (and flatmate for Andy) with the sad news that he had died on New Years Eve after a battle with cancer.

RIP Terry Stokes AKA “Mother”.


Last ride for 2012

…. so bring on 2013!

I don’t think that I will be riding tomorrow so today’s run with Marty was my last for 2012. It never rains but pours, metaphorically that is, as I was not long home from today’s run and my neighbor Mitch texted to see if I was interested in a twilight ride to Lorne, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it.

Today’s run was on the inland, forested part of the Great Ocean Road and then inland and home through the bush, rather than via the really twisty ocean side part of the GOR. Apollo Bay was absolutely packed with tourists and the traffic in the other direction, that is, towards the 12 Apostles, was very heavy. However, our direction of travel was ideal for a holiday weekend and we had a great run in low 20C temps.

Here’s a pic of the 2012 ‘Bike of the Year’.

Marty’s ZX-14R at Apollo Bay

A pit stop at the Forrest brewery.

Happy New Year to you all.

Ride safe in 2013, cheers Jules.

Our next ride is in 2 days time with what has become the West Coast Procrastinators’ annual NYD run. And the weather forecast is great!!!