Friday, April 30, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
The bike as found. Things looked even worse on the inside.
"Work on the "Lost Von Dutch" continues, albeit at a slower pace, funded by eBay sales––who knew some cat in Austria would gladly fork over $500 for an oily old BSA A10 cylinder head? Motor is complete thanks to Bill Getty at JRC Engineering, who left as many Dutch'd parts as possible and replaced with new or used only as a last resort. Even kept the corroded timing cover with the owner's name, "Johnny," hand-engraved by Von Dutch. Polished up nicely and the after-effects of the corrosion are part of the bike's story. Motor and gearbox had seen some heavy use, more proof that the '57 T110 had been desert-raced before Von Dutch gussied it up for sale at Bud Ekins' Triumph shop.
As you may know, Bill Getty is in the business of selling Britbike parts to shops; he doesn't build engines for customers. I was honored that he spun wrenches on the "LVD" as a personal favor. JRC Engineering also had most of the chassis parts we needed.
Speaking of which, we have a roller! Denny Berg has been doing restoration work worthy of the Smithsonian. As you'll remember, the bike was originally built as a bob-job by Von Dutch in the late '50s/early '60s. Los Angeles sportscaster Gil Stratton owned it for awhile, traded it back to Ekins, after which young L.A. County lifeguard Johnny Suggs bought it. Suggs was a fan/friend of Von Dutch and would sometimes fetch him "breakfast," a fifth of vodka and a six-pack of beer! In 1968, to celebrate Suggs' safe return from a tour of duty in Vietnam, Dutch treated the bike to a new paint job, a brilliant yellow/orange with gold pinstripes. A couple of years later, at the height of the Easy Rider craze, Dutch chopped the Triumph for Suggs.
Perhaps because now it wasn't very rideable––or maybe it had something to do with Suggs' new career in federal law enforcement––the Triumph was parked sometime in the '70s. It remained outside baking in the Southern California sun, and at one point was half-buried in a mud slide after a particularly rainy spring. During the clean-up it was actually loaded onto a garbage skip. Much to Mrs. Suggs' dismay, John rescued the bike, but sold it a few years later to a car collector who soon thought better of restoring the rusty, muddy relic and put it on eBay, which is where I enter the picture. All mine for $3350 and the gas to get to Oakland to pick it up.
What looked bad in photos was worse in person. Without the Von Dutch provenance, it probably should have been in the city dump! Denny set about a restoration that kept as many "touched by Dutch" parts as was humanly possible, even when replacing with a like component would have been far easier and cheaper. He's welded up corroded parts and filed/sanded them back down. Painted the frame himself because he wanted a just-right finish. Modified the few replacement parts we've needed to exactly replicate the way they were customized. I've restored many a bike over the years but nothing has been as epic as bringing this one back from the dead––well, except for my Ford V8-60 powered Indian 4, but that's another (and ongoing) story...
Paint has been a sticking point. Originally, I wanted to restore the frame, engine and running gear but leave the Dutch paintwork as-found. But I ride my bikes and the original paint was so damaged and so fragile from its 40 years of outside exposure that riding wouldn't have been possible. Paint was flaking off in the wind as I hauled the Triumph home in my pickup! A second set of tinware was found (JRC for the oil tank and battery box, my friend Stan van Amburgh for the NOS Wassell peanut tank) and along with the originals was taken to Buck Wild Designs for a replica paint job. To call Buck a painter isn't quite accurate; the man is an artist who happens to work with motorcycles. He got right down to the molecular level with the original paint, channeled Von Dutch, and laid on an absolutely spectacular scheme, with fogging, pinstripes and a touch of pearl in the orange. This is what Dutch's handiwork looked like when new. And purists save yer hate mail, it's signed "Von Dutch '68 by Buck Wild '10" so we're not trying to fool anybody. At shows, we'll display the original bodywork alongside.
Still lots of work to do. The rusty rear fender, a Von Dutch original, swiss-cheesed and weld-repaired almost beyond redemption, will be a bitch to rehab but Denny will somehow pull it off. And we're still looking for the right mufflers, using your catalog research as our guide, thanks for that."
Friday, April 16, 2010
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
This rigid T100C project with square generator top end isn't too shabby either,
but this sweet little 3T / T100 conversion really caught my interest. There was a totally complete and original rigid frame 3T on ebay a few years back that was beautifully done up with Flanders & MCM goodies with sport fenders and all the factory body parts that are impossible to find that I had thought long and hard about bidding on. It looked like the bike had not been touched since the 1950's. Well I didn't bid or save the pictures of it unfortunately. After seeing Steve's bike I know what could have been done. David Edwards classic 3T / 500 period bob can be found on this blog with a search to see another example. Here is the story of one mans path to a well excecuted special.
Well, truth be told i never did my homework prior to chasing/buying the 3T.
my incorrect asssumption was that it was the same rigid frame as the 5T/T100 etc, it isnt.
But 'it/she' was such a cute bike when i went to see her, all original .... and running! and my first Triumph was a 1958 basket case Twenty-one .... that i went ahead and bought her.
She ran okay, needed a bit of carb fettling and tappet adjustment but i got her through the Govt. inspection and used her for bimbling around when i was back in England. Luckily for me, by this time i'd been introduced, through a mutual friend, to Ian. Triumph fanatic and all round number one engineer/turner/fitter/welder/restorer ..... when i first met him he had the finest collection of rigid 500cc Triumphs i had and have ever laid eyes on, including a genuine 49' GP 500, a 53' complete with race kit, numerous twin carb versions ........ 22 bikes in all and a garage full of spares. As you may have gathered i spend most of my time in australia and get back to the uk inbetween work contracts, sadly, whilst i away, Ian's partner of 26years walked out on him and in a state of panic over not wanting to lose his house (his grandfather built for him) he panicked and sold everything!! Needless to say he now regrets his decision.
Anyway, whilst talking to him i mentioned the 3T and admitted my initial error, he just laughed and advised that he'd converted one decades before for a friend. The shopping list was pretty short.
TR5 Trophy engine/gearbox plates ... not too bad, he could get his hands on some to use as a template.
A 5T/T100/6T rigid gearbox ... luckily i had one from my other rigid project.
An engine ... mmmmm ... this had me scratching my head, i didnt want to rob too much from my other project.
And inner and outer chaincases from a rigid TR5 Trophy ... Eek!! Now i dont know about the States but these are like hens teeth over here, the far side of rare and are usually snapped up at a premium price.
Anyway, whilst trying to source parts I started messing about with the bike. Changed the handlebars first and ran her like that.
I had to strip the front end to grease the headstock bearings so whilst she was stripped down I took the Superior fork shrouds/headlamp mount off the 6T and fitted it to the 3T (stage 1 photo), at the same time i swapped out the silencers to the MCM? cocktail shakers.
Definite improvement in the looks department, IMHO!! lol
We cant run without fenders over in the UK so i just carried on stripping her, asked around and a friend of a friend who rebuilds/restores Vincents (owns about 9) pitched in with some alu fenders that he wasnt using. Again, they kinda fitted with the look i had in mind. (stage 2 photo).
Meanwhile i was getting in touch with my old brit bike mates and trying to hunt down an engine, Ian was busy on the engine plates and trying to source the elusive chain cases. I came up trumps first with a 5T engine that luckily had been fitted with a T100 alloy top end (photo attached).
Whilst putting word around back in manchester, uk, that i was after an engine or any spares one of my old mates got in touch to say that he'd got wind of a basement find, a late 50's swinging arm Thunderbird and two spare engines!!
It seems an old guy had passed away and whilst the family was clearing the house they found Dad's old Triumph in the cellar where it had languished for decades ... anyway, my friend Colin got back to me to say that funnily enough another friend of ours had beaten us to the Triumphs and had got the lot for just a thousand pounds .... Now I hadnt seen John for .... 10 - 12 years, I'd dropped out of the bike scene after a messy-ish divorce and the selling of my bikes .... anyway, i tracked John down, helped him sort out exactly what he had, 2 650 engiines and a 500 with an alloy top end!!
Yup, i bought the 500 for two hundred quid ... a fair price i thought, but i would have paid that for the alloy top end alone.
It was an early crank, no big end shell, low comp pistons but standard bores and look how clean the head is, thats as i lifted it off the ... jugs/barrels.
I think the engine had been put together with the view of transplanting into the chassis but never actually done, it certainly wasnt run.
Luckily, Ian still had some spares lying around at his place, so he supplied a replacement crank, rods etc The crank, rods and low comp pistons out of the engine went in trade, to Alan, ( he wanted them for a pre-war speed twin project, also has a pre-war T100 with bronze head) for various bits and pieces.
Ian put the engine back together, he has an excellent workshop and sadly my time in the uk is limited these days.
Nothing too fancy in the engine, T110 cams and 8.5/1 comp ratio pistons. Reused the mag from the 3T as it was a good spark.
Ian normally replaces worn engine/frame nuts and bolts in stainless, its easier for him to turn down items on the lathe than shop around for stuff.
Ian also tracked down, eventually, NOS TR5 Trophy chain cases ..... ouch!!! I had to pay 500 pounds for the privilege!!
Inside is a single chain lightweight anodised clutch supplied by LP Williams in the UK.
I took the standard gearbox from another project.