Friday, April 30, 2010

Long Term Success

Within a year or two of myself getting the Triumph bug about 20 yrs ago, my Dad Duane Gion, found himself a local Triumph parts stash for sale. A lifelong gearhead that had owned multiple 1950's & 60's Corvettes and other cool Chevy powered machines in his younger days, he had originally tried to talk me out of getting one of these backwards motorcycles with their horrible electric components and funny hardware sizes that required special tools. So much for listening to your parents. As soon as I took the plunge and bought my first Triumph basket case sight unseen knowing absolutely nothing about the motorcycles, I talked him into helping me rebuild it. In his garage we worked together, him teaching me how to figure certain things out by wear marks and other tricks any good wrench knows, and I learned some lessons myself by breaking perfectly good parts being too ham fisted when he walked away!
Well, the Triumph did start to grow on him (the disease we've all caught) and one day when I showed up to his garage, on the floor was three to four dismantled Triumph 650's that he had bought for a couple hundred bucks. The early 90's were a good time for buying old Brit bikes! Needless to say I was stoked. He let me pick a few bits out to add to what was the beginning of my parts stash and he started to pick pieces for his own bike project. Some pieces went to swap meets over the years and as the pile grew smaller there was a regret that spare parts were sold off. In the pre-ebay days you pretty much gave Triumph parts away. The parts that were held onto made up the custom Triumph you see here. Looking back on it I'm impressed with what he chose to use. The sexy slimline gas tank with top chrome detail strip and Triumph badges, a 1969 Bonneville engine and the super rare English made Metal Profiles forks.
But the list of as found parts is not long because the majority of this bike was custom designed and made by himself and it did not happen over night. You are looking at a 15+ year project that was just fired up for the first time this year. A partial list of fabricated items is as follows: Alloy front fender bracket / brace for a Harley front fender of unknown year, Alloy headlight brackets that are nylon sleeve mounted, vintage Miller headlight modified to carry a aftermarket speedo and ignition key switch, custom made oil tank made with screw on oil filter mount built in, alloy rear fender mounts to a pattern alloy fender and the tail light that looks aftermarket was actually custom made to fit perfectly to it. The list goes on and on. Not built to any specific style, the concept started by modifying the frame to get rid of the stock seat loop and lower and lengthen the bike. The swingarm was extended by lengthening the axle mount plates, a harder way to do it, but it looks cool with lightening holes drilled in them. He built what he thought would look good and work good and came up with something completely unique. Most all of the work was done himself with the exception of some of the welding.
Personally I'm a believer in the long term project. Long term projects have the potential to turn out the best due to extra time to find better parts and come up with better ideas. But we probably all know a guy with a "long term project" that without a doubt will never actually be finished. The key is to always have some bit of it that you are working on or have in the car to give someone to do work to. If your mind stays with it, you keep some level of progress going no matter how small, and you live long enough, it will get done.

Future plans include a new set of Hagon shocks, a alloy front rim to match the rear, and a high output alternator to make the Boyer ignition work better. But for now it's rolling and making his partial retirement so much sweeter!
Special thanks to our custom Harley riding neighbor Denny for taking my Dad on a Sunday putt last weekend and snapping these awesome pictures.

1 comment:

  1. Nice man, very nice indeed and as always words of wisdom to accompany the pix.