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.

 

A tale of two rides

I’ve had the days after Easter off as annual leave days and I’ve really been looking forward to a couple of decent day rides as Mrs T was working unexpectedly.  We’ve had lovely autumn (fall) weather. I took off Thursday morning to head inland to the historic town of Maldon, as the weather along the coast was not looking as good as forecast. I was just near the end of a bush section not that far from home and thinking that I was too late to disturb any kangaroos when a little wallaby bounced out onto the road. I braked safely and was never at any risk of hitting it. The rest of the ride was uneventful, though colder than forecast, but I just wasn’t enjoying it. I was indifferent about riding, which is quite out of character – though I have had it happen before. I just couldn’t get into the groove and headed home early, though I ended up doing 345kms for the run. The highlight of the ride was seeing a Wedge Tailed Eagle up close as it made a meal of a dead sheep, though I was unable to get a photo. All in all, a much anticipated day of riding that I just did not get to grips with and it ended up a being a disappointment really.

Observation tower at Mt Tarrengower, near Maldon.

It’s all a matter of perspective!

The next day (Friday April 5th) Marty and I met at 8.30 and headed towards the 12 Apostles via the inland route. We had a good run inland (straight and boring) and arrived at the Timboon distillery in what seemed like no time. After a drink and a chat, we headed along the Great Ocean Road to Apollo Bay. The bike and I were loving the twisties and the ride was thoroughly enjoyable, even though it was overcast and a bit chilly, again much cooler than forecast. After lunch in Apollo Bay we headed inland again, climbing up through the eucalyptus forests to the township of Forrest where we stopped at the brewery café for a short break. There were some other riders there who we chatted with briefly and then another group of three pulled in as well. We had a great day of riding, a nice pace and reasonably deserted roads. What a great day of riding and a huge contrast to the day prior.

Friendly owners explained their products to us.

Marty’s ZX14R

Despite our stops being booze vendors, we adhered to our zero alcohol when riding policy.

So there’s the story of two contrasting rides, only one day apart.

Honda Broadford Bike Bonanza

Mrs Tarsnakes & I attended the Honda Broadford Bike Bonanza again this Easter and the crowd was the biggest we’ve seen. This is a historic event, with no racing, just demo laps and many disciplines of motorcycle sport represented – road race, motocross, trials and speedway.

It was a huge thrill to bump into Alan Cathcart, have a chat, get his autograph on the T-shirt I’d just bought and,of course, get a pic with him. He is a delightful ‘fella to speak with and very generous with his time.

Sir Al’s Groupie!

Velocette was the featured marque this year and there was a huge turnout, from the 1930’s right through to the last model in 1970. If you want to hear what a bunch of Velo’s sound like, then click HERE

Below is a shot of just a few of the Velos. The other pictures demonstrate the variety that was on display.  I’ve sorted through around 300 photos and posted  the best of them in high resolution HERE. Best viewed in ‘slideshow’ view. There are some beautifully turned out historic British motorcycles and some great classic Japanese bikes that I love.

Next weekend the Victorian historic road race titles are on at Broadford and I suspect that some riders were using this historic event to sort their bikes and get in some practice laps of the circuit. At the risk of repeating myself, I love these events where one can get in among the bikes and talk to the riders to get a real sense of the history of specific bikes. next weekend I will have to buy another T-shirt – I certainly can’t wear the one that Sir Al autographed for me!

 

 

 

 

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

 

ZX14R sets Australian Land Speed Record

Below is a direct quote from Kawasaki Australia;

With only gearing/tyre changes and the speed limiter removed, the Kawasaki Australia supplied Ninja ZX-14R, which happens to be the first unit to roll off the production line in Japan (#0001) set a phenomenal top speed of 208.153 miles per hour (334.99 km/h) at the hands of rider Ralph Nicholls. The achieved speed set a new Australian Production Frame-Production Engine (P-P) 1650cc class record which is also the fastest speed any Production P-P bike has traveled to date.

See the full story HERE.

I hate to sound like the PR Dep.t for Kawasaki Australia, however, I think that it’s incredible that Kawasaki are doing $1K cash back at present on what has been voted the best big bike around by many International magazines.

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.

 

More like summer than Autumn

Although it’s the third day of Autumn (Fall for those of you in the USA) the weather forecast for today was for 27C (80F) and sunny, although we knew it would be cooler in the hills and along the coast. Mrs T and I had been planning a trip to Johanna to check it out for a possible camping trip. Johanna is a surf beach off the ‘inland’ section of the Great Ocean Road. We left Geelong around 10.30 am in sensational conditions – there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.

Our route from was Geelong along the Cape Otway road to Forrest which was our first coffee stop. There were a few other motorcyclist stopped there enjoying the day as well. Actually a bunch of HD’s and choppers rolled in as we were leaving – unusual to see them out in the country.

From here we headed towards Apollo Bay, then turned up Turton’s Track. Mrs T experimented with a shot from the pillion seat on the Apollo Bay road.

Turton’s Track is slow, but extremely picturesque. It comes out in Beech Forest and from here it’s only a short run up to the intersection of the GOR and then down to the Johanna beach turnoff. There were quite a few campers and surfers enjoying the beach-side national park. The pic below will give you a clue why.

We found some shade and ate our lunch. I’m so sick of buying overpriced, mediocre food whilst out riding I’ve started taking a lunch on some rides. Very old fashioned I know – I’ve become my parents!

After lunch we got back onto the GOR, having skillfully dodged a farm dog that rushed out towards the ZX14’s front wheel at warp speed. We overtook a couple of cars bunched up together, then had a completely car free run to Apollo Bay. This was probably the best run through sweepers of the bush section of the GOR that I’ve EVER had – it was that good and Mrs T is an excellent pillion in the twisties. After getting some fuel at Apollo Bay we headed a short distance along the GOR to Skene’s Creek, then headed inland up through the twisties back to Forrest for another drink stop. As we pulled up I spotted a unique looking cafe racer style TRX Yamaha and later chatted with it’s owner.

Painted in Ducati colors, it has a cafe racer kit tank, seat and fairing. I think that it looks excellent. High resolution pictures HERE and HERE. Link to video HERE

  By now it was actually getting hot. We headed for home via the back roads, thoroughly enjoying the riding and weather. All up, we covered 320 kms of great riding in perfect weather conditions. It doesn’t get much better than this and I clocked up around 645 kms for the weekend, having ridden with Marty yesterday. Actually, here’s a pic of Marty’s ZX14 yesterday with the new Delkevic pipes.