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.

Monday, April 26, 2010

David Edwards Lost Von Dutch * UPDATE *

I'm very pleased to bring you an up to date report from David Edwards of his Lost Von Dutch custom Triumph. Originally covered on the Cycle World website HERE, David has been kind enough to write up the details of the progress that has been made since the last Cycle World post and provide them to the Show & Go faithful here.

The bike as found. Things looked even worse on the inside.

The plan: Take it back via restoration to this earlier form. The story in David's words:

"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."

The original sheet metal next to the new. Von Dutch said that he preferred to work in solid materials such as metal & wood because they were more permanent and that paint was only temporary. When a bike is as beat up and neglected as this one I'm for the saving of original painted parts for display and new parts for the resto. The cool thing about doing it this way is that the bike can be ridden and used again when done without worry of further damaging of the painters original work, and the original body parts could be remounted for display, show or museum duty any time in the future.

A Bates P-pad in any condition is needed, if you can help please let us know. It's gonna be neat to see that Von Dutch rear fender grab rail redone and back on this bike. I'm sending a Bates front fender to David today to help with the project. David now has a part-time gig with the Bonhams auction house as they expand their U.S. sales. He's helping with strategic planning plus vehicle/collection acquisition for auction. People with cars or bikes they would like to consign can reach him at his business e-mail,

Monday, April 19, 2010

Friday, April 16, 2010

Triumph Desert Sled Skid Plate up for TRADE

Well, after owning this "as used" piece of finely formed American steel for many months, I finally got around to squeezing under the 1961 TR6C to really get a good check of fitment. Thinking everything was fine since it was sold to me as a duplex frame part imagine my surprise when I found that it's not right, and that it is actually the pre-59 version for the earlier pre-unit swing are frames as described in the Bast Bros. ad above.

So I'm back in the market for an original aftermarket skid plate made specifically for the double loop pre-unit frames. Realizing that I may not find one I will settle for the original factory skid plate. I will trade straight across for this plate here or may also part with one of my Q air filters or even a nifty original Bates leather Srambles seat that I have as an extra now that I scored,

this sweet Cross-Country number that fits the TR6C like a glove! These came with a C shaped bracket at the back with some P clamps to the frame that I would like to find if anyone has some.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Steven Phillips 3T / T100 Conversion

Steve sent me one of those emails recently that I love getting. First telling me how fantastic this blog of mine is, but better yet sending me some pictures of the cool bikes he's been collecting. This green T-Bird was especially neat with the early MCM high pipes for rigid frames.

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.

"Hey Paul,

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.

Ian put the exhaust system together from bits he had lying around .... still unsure as to what i want, fancied high level one each side, just missed a set on ebay sadly ..... then again, a Trophy setup siamese high level above the chaincase would look pretty neat .... lol .... undecided ......."

Thanks Steve!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Ryan Martin's 1959 Triumph Bonneville Chopper

Here's one to drive the purists mad. Ryan's 1959 Bonneville with a factory rigid frame rear section stretched 2" and a 2" extended neck on the front. Stock factory "Q" cams and advanced 39 degrees from TDC. Theres a Barnett clutch and a Mothers Choppers springer front end. Looks good to me man. Only thing it's needing is lots 'o' flake.
Regular progamming is still f-d up until I get the pc doing what it used to do. Contributions welcome! Large format pics that will fill the screen when clicked are preferred. All traditional builds considered from dragsters to sleds to choppers to show & go customs...

Friday, April 9, 2010

I'm still here,

just been downloading some really heavy stuff into what's left of my fragile mind. A person could get lost in youtube for years... Need to reschedule my routine and figure out why my scanner isn't working. I've got some people contributing pics and stories of their bikes and TONS of old material so content is not a problem. Time and focus is. Hope to get back to normal next week.

Friday, April 2, 2010

San Jose Clubman's Show Bikes 2010

This years Clubman's show was dedicated to the Triumph / BSA Triples so I will start off my show bike picks with this pristine BSA Rocket Dragbike. The bike is original as raced in the early 1970's. It raced Bonneville and won at the drag strips too. The people that brought it up were from SoCal and had a photo album of period pics of the bike. It was for sale for $15,000. I'm pretty sure I've seen it in the old magazines, remembering the distinctive frame. A true museum piece.

This bike has been at the Clubman's every year for the past five years or so. It's owned by the original owner. He restored it with the help of Raber's Parts Mart and he originally raced it back in the day. He told me stories one year about how used to ride this bike through 1960's era San Jose dodging cops with no lights or license plate to go to field meets and hill climbs. Those were the days...

I blurred out the last two numbers, but you can see here that it is a 1957 T100R. Is it a RS because of the swing arm frame, or was it originally a rigid? I forget if the S was stamped on the engine or not. I should have taken a pic of the frame number too.

Sano weld on Bates footpeg.

Polished Webco front wheel hub and shouldered rim make for a pretty front wheel. The show card alludes to some of the history.

Gotta love a TT Scrambler set up for the street. This may have been a Eddie Mulder bike. He was close by, but I didn't get a chance to introduce myself and talk to the man.

Close up of the early pre-unit hub mated up to the late model axle and forks. I've seen this done on desert sleds to reduce front end weight while retaining a front brake. I'm not sure if anything has to be machined or not to do this as I haven't tried it yet. I want to do this on my next chopper.

Original tank under glass. Excellent reproduction in use. Nice!

Eddie Mulder sticker on tail light.

Ivan's Old Skool Alloy Triumph 500 flat tracker. I didn't get to meet him either.

That's it for my Clubman's coverage. I had more pictures of bikes but they turned out too blurry because of my crappy camera and a hand that isn't as steady as it used to be!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

San Jose Clubman's Bikes for Sale 2010

This gem had a asking price of $1,500. So many old survivor choppers like this have been discovered, sold and destroyed over the years, their remaining numbers must be few. Recently many have been turned into "bobbers". Many are restored to somewhat factory specs only to be chopped again. The vicious circle of a vintage motorcycle's life. Wouldn't it be nice if someone just did a mechanical resto and put her back on the road just like this? Or even better yet a faithfull restoration of the paint, chrome etc, to like it would have been when it was first chopped? Unfortunately for any wanna be chopper heroes it was bought by a well known vintage bike dealer (and all around good guy I might add/ not me!) for I'm guessing about $1,200. I didn't ask what he was going to do with it. At the very least the price is going to double, at worst it gets broken down and sold for parts. If only I could save them all. The poorboy's lament!

Seen any genuine UNRESTORED 1953 T100c's for sale lately? This one was actually already sold to Greg Hult and was just being delivered to him at the swap. He had been chasing it down since the 1980's so I can't be too spitefull about it. He did play a joke on the crowd for awhile with a for sale sticker that said $3,500 being crossed out with sold written next to it. People were flipping out as was I when I saw him roll the bike past my swap spot. The bike was unbelievably original and is in running condition and currently registered! Too cool.

My last pick of neat-o bikes for sale is this early 1970's BSA Rocket Three Digger. Too bad someone took it apart and the price is too high considering the motor had been blown and was in boxes. Triples are not exactly easy to rebuild and most people are not hip enough to appreciate this style. Some years back this would have been a $500 special at most. Good for me it wasn't or I would have another project clogging up the garage!