Sunday 26 February 2012

Aldi's turn

After Lidl getting some bike stuff in, this week it's Aldi's turn.

Thursday offers

Use your own judgement!

Friday 24 February 2012

Friday bike

This week's Friday bike is a bit different as we start by talking about a car. The Hillman Imp was a small car built in the 60s in a factory at Linwood, about 3 miles from my house. It was a competitor to the Mini, and its most unusual feature was its engine. Whereas the Mini had a conventional for the time push rod iron engine, the Imp's was an all alloy, OHC unit. It was based on a Coventry Climax design for a portable fire pump engine, which had been used in motor racing.

Hillman Imp in the Riverside Museum, Glasgow.

Sectioned engine

When I was young, Imps were fairly popular, and even my local police force, the 'Renfrew and Bute Constabulary' used them as patrol cars. As they were only 874cc, high speed chases were out of the question, and I imagine it was fun getting someone who's been arrested into the back of one against their will!

This is actually a model of an Imp Police car.

As the engine was very 'tunable', Imps did quite well in rallying, and the engine found its way into other race vehicles, being quite popular in sidecar outfits. However, eventually, people started building solo bike with Imp engine, usually using Norton Featherbed frames.
I remember reading an article on 'How to do it' and the job was fairly complex, personally I can't see why people didn't just buy a Honda CB 750, but I suppose 'it's a challenge'.
So much of a challenge that I bet most Norton Imp projects were never completed, and there's probably a few still rusting away at the back of sheds.  I found a couple of pictures of one of the better ones: (love the Brasso bottle as catch tank - looks like the owner used a lot of Brasso metal polish!)

I only ever saw one Norton Imp and it was being raced at Knockhill Racetrack in Fife. Only things I can remember about it was that it wasn't particularly fast and was it seemed to lack ground clearance.
However, the Norton frame wasn't the only one used for Imp powered 'specials', although some just shouldn't have been built!

Unusual Fountain/sculpture of the Week

How about these chaps:

These are located at the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum in Birmingham, Alabama.
From their website:

Home to the world’s best motorcycle collection, the museum now has over 1200 vintage and modern motorcycles and racecars and the largest collection of Lotus cars as well as other significant makes. The collection is the largest of its kind in the world. There are approximately 600 of the 1200 motorcycles on display at any given time. These bikes range from 1902 to current-year production. The common street bikes represented, as well as rare one-off Grand Prix race machinery.
The Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum is located at the 740 acre
Barber Motorsports Park that includes a world class 2.38 mile racetrack.

I found a website about a visit to the museum with a lot of good photos, including this one:

Interesting looking red and white Norton Commando(?), with cast wheels and a one piece body kit. Anyone identify it?
The museum certainly looks well worth visiting if you're in the area.

Wednesday 22 February 2012

Dyno test

I don't want to give too much away in advance, other than to say I was amazed by this video of a couple of guys carrying out a dyno test.

Unbelievable, eh! Can't imagine what it's like sitting on a bike doing a test like this. Incredible amount of work they've done, and what a positive attitude
I'd love to have a workshop like that (and the skill to use all the machines).

Wednesday bike

I can't wait until Friday, and as it's on Ebay, you might want to think about bidding.
The shop I bought my CL 350 from imports a lot of bikes from the US, and has this err, 'unique' bike on sale at the moment.

A Kawasaki 750 MachIV, with what look like Suzuki GS wheels, and some 'unusual' bodywork. Even the listing refers to it as the 'ugliest bike in the world'.
So if you want a distinctive bike that'll stand out in a crowd, all you have to do is bid!

Monday 20 February 2012


Found this picture on another blog, and it's so good I had to share it with you:

Yes! It's 70s glam rock popsters, The Sweet, posing with their choppers! Bet you're really scared!
The Sweet were a bit of a strange band - they regarded themselves as a 'serious' rock band, but their record company made them record a string of lightweight pop songs. This meant that if you went to see them live, they didn't perform any of their hit singles, instead their more 'rock' material, largely unknown to their teeny-bopper fans.
Looking back, when they appeared on the television the bassplayer used to try and push the boundary of what he could 'get away with', appearing in more and more make-up and acting in an increasingly camp manner. He kind of reached a peak with this rather controversial appearance on 'Top of the Pops'

I'm going to apologise in advance for the next bit, but it's very funny. After a performance of 'Blockbuster' on television (possibly even this one), a school friend's father phoned the BBC to complain. Not about the Nazi uniform, but about them singing a 'racist' song. Turns out he misheard the part where they sing:

'Buster, buster... blockbuster!'


'Bastards, bastards!'


Sunday 19 February 2012

Bike stuff in Lidl


Might be worth a look, but as always caveat emptor.
Also, in their car stuff there's this socket set:  sockets
Might be good, might be rubbish!

Balkans Burn

Found a sequence of three videos about 2 guys riding Soviet era combos around the Balkans. One of the bikes is a 1950s M72.
And the other is a 60s M61.
Interesting films in that they're not slick documentaries, but more like 'handmade' travel videos. Lots of nice scenery from a part of Europe that most people are not familiar with.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

One comment to make is that the narrator is an American, and although he lives in Bulgaria, he still talks about 'peoples' and 'tribes' in a way that makes us Europeans feel slightly uncomfortable.

Saturday 18 February 2012

Road signs

A collection of road signs depicting motorcycles collected from the Web. Don't know where most of them are from, if you know, contact me and I'll update the captions.

No. 1:  UK 'no motor vehicles' sign.

No. 2:  Somewhere British influenced, Hong Kong perhaps?

No. 3:  I think mr. combo posted something similar that he'd seen in New Zealand.

No. 4:  'No riding your girder forked bike with your scarf billowing out behind'

No. 5:

No. 6:

No. 7:

No. 8:

No. 9:

No. 10:  Vietnam (thanks Bodger!)

No. 11:

No. 12:

No. 13:  Straight to the point!

No. 14: 'Albtraum strasse' = 'Nightmare Road'

No. 15: Spain. Warning not to ride too close to the vehicle in front. Love the eyes!

No. 16:  Who wouldn't like that address?


Friday bike

..... is a Saturday bike again! Working away again, so this is the first chance I've had to post.

This week's bike doesn't actually exist yet, but could be in the shops soon. Horex is an old German bike brand that was very successful and popular until the 50s, when it petered out. The name was used on scooters and mopeds until the 60s before disappearing. It reappeared a couple of times on unsuccessful projects, (the hideous 125 chopper built by MZ-B springs to mind), but nothing really came of any of them.
The name has reappear again on this very interesting, and technically innovative bike:

The engine is a 1200cc 6 cylinder unit arranged in what they call a 'VR' configuration. A very narrow angle (15 degrees) V with a common cylinder head carrying three camshafts.

Rather than explain it, it's probably better to watch this video:

A clever design, and one I hope makes it to production. After all, the more choice of different bikes, the better it is for us. Can't imagine it'll be cheap, though. A big exotic bike built in Germany by a small manufacturer, it's going to be expensive. The BMW K1600 starts at around £16,000 in the UK, so that's the kind of area of pricing we're talking about. Found a short piece of video of one of the bikes at a show:

Very nice looking, although I'm not sure about the brown saddle and red electrics covers! Good luck to Horex for trying something different, and who knows - we might even see one on the road one day!

Horex Website.

Sunday 12 February 2012

CL350 update

As I've been working away this week, there's not much to update you about.
Since the last update, the keys have arrived. I gave all the locks a good spray with WD-40, and all work well! I connected a battery and all of the electrics work except for 3 out of 4 indicators and the starter. However, if I short across the terminals of the solenoid, the starter spins the engine easily. I removed the tank, (very rusty inside) and found that the rubber pipe that links the two bottom edges of the tank had decomposed and fell off. I had expected to replace all the rubber hoses anyway, so this wasn't a surprise. I squirted some petrol down the petrol pipes and tried starting the engine - nothing! I took out the plugs and there was no spark. A quick clean of the points (takes you back, eh?) and I had a spark, but the bike still wouldn't start. This wasn't really a surprise as the bike has obviously been sitting for a while and I assumed that the carbs would need cleaned out.
I removed the RHS side panel to get at the airfilter. This would have to be removed to get at the carb. The panel was very hard to remove as the rubber mounts had become brittle with age (it was also about 0 degrees C at the time, which wouldn't have helped!) I got the carb off OK, and gave it a good clean out. However, the rubber drain pipe on the flat bowl snapped off! Now for the LHS one and a problem arose.
I couldn't get the side panel off as it was also very tight on its rubber mounts, and it is also cracked almost in two. I didn't want to pull too hard at it in case I broke it completely, and I'm not sure whether you can remove this panel without removing the exhaust first. I was running out of time at this point, so sprayed the exhaust nuts and bolts with WD-40 and left them until I've got more time.
I've also received a pair of kickstart ratchet gears that I found on Ebay at a fraction of the cost others were offering them at. I'm not entirely sure if they are the correct parts, but I'll find that out when I get the casing off. I also bought a genuine unused 1980s Cibié headlight unit. This was a favourite upgrade at the time as it focusses the light a lot better than the original. It also uses a normal bulb (rather than being a sealed beam like the original), and also has a clever lever on the back that converts it between left and right hand dipping. Handy for my future European trips! Incidentally, the correct pronunciation of Cibié is 'C-B-A' and not any of the dozen or so incorrect pronunciations I've heard.
So that's where I am at the moment. I'm working away again this coming week, so won't have a chance to do any more work before next weekend. As the weather's getting a bit better, I'll have to do some work on the Traveller, (service and general tidying up), so might not do much work on the Honda for a while. I'd always intended it to be a 'long term' project, so don't don't be too surprised if it's not on the road for a while. I want to use the Traveller a lot more this year, so once the good weather comes along I'll be out on that.
Once I get the Honda running properly, it'll be time to start the process of getting it registered. I looked up the DVLA website (the department that deals with vehicle registrations), clicked on the relevant button, and they sent me a large envelope full of all the forms I need to fill in. The process is fairly straightforward, if a bit time consuming, and they detail the order to do each thing in. 
'Watch this space' as someone once said!

Saturday 11 February 2012

Silver Dream Racer

Just the title will have some of you cringing!
Silver Dream Racer was a 1980 film starring pop singer David Essex set in the world of motorcycle racing. The racing sections of the film were filmed at real race meetings, with real riders having their race bikes repainted to match the characters' in the film. I was at a race meeting at Donington Park, and between races, bikes were filmed from a camera car, as were sections of the crowd, cheering when directed. As I was there, it's possible that I appear in at least one of the crowd scenes. (But you'd have to look very carefully!)
I went to see the film when it came out, and to be honest, it was dreadful! The story line - a young man (Essex) inherits an unsuccessful racebike but inexplicably wins the World Championship on it the following year, despite the machinations of his unsporting rivals. Also, he gets the girl. Yes, it's as bad as that! In fact the best bit is the theme tune sung by Essex himself (and that's not saying much!)
At the time, the bike looked quite stunning:
It was based on a real race bike which used a Barton square four 2 stroke engine. The 'real' bike was unsuccessful, and the engine ended up in a racing sidecar.
On another blog I found (almost) the whole film in sections, should you be interested (or bored enough) to want to see it: here
I say 'almost', as this is the US edit of the film, which has the 'happy' ending. The UK release of the film had an extra few seconds at the end: (excuse the Russian(?) soundtrack!)

There's an article on the bike here, and a listing in IMDb
The theme song 'Silver Dream Machine', had the hook line:
'I've a dream, a Silver Dream Machine' which a friend's sister thought was
'Ivor Dream, a Silver Dream Machine', where Ivor Dream was the name of Essex's character!

Friday bike

... is a day late, but I've been working away from home.

Now for something completely different. I photoed this Honda CBX 1000 powered 'kneeler' at the Scottish Bike Show at Ingliston last year.
Very nice, but the handlebars look a bit higher than you'd expect on a race bike, and it's got a speedo, headlight and indicators?
And at the back it's got a rear light and a numberplate! Yes, it's street legal! What on Earth would this be like to ride on the road?
This year's bike show: link

Saturday 4 February 2012

1972 Isle of Man TT

Found a couple of pieces of video from the 1972 Isle of Man TT on Vimeo. Although they are labelled as '60s', 1972 is mentioned in the second segment. I had suspected they were later due to the disc brakes and full face helmets. They appear to have been made as an advert for Triumph, so tend to concentrate on their bikes. Hope you enjoy them (despite a couple of strange pronunciations of names!)

Part 1

Part 2

Friday 3 February 2012

Alex Harvey

Heard on the radio this morning that there's going to be an event tomorrow honouring Scottish music legend Alex Harvey, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of his death. It's being held at The People's Palace in Glasgow, and a tree and a bench will be dedicated to his memory.
I was lucky enough to see the Sensational Alex Harvey Band twice when I was young, once supporting The Who at Celtic Park, and once at The Glasgow Apollo; and their performances were a bizarre mixture of concert and theatre. Alex explored so many musical styles - rock and roll, blues, soul, jazz, rock and stage musical, sometimes all at the same time and performed in a broad Glasgow accent.
In the 50s he won a competition to be 'Scotland's Answer to Tommy Steele'  Tommy being regarded as 'England's Answer to Elvis Presley' at the time. Runner-up was one Sidney Devine - what ever happened to him? Alex went on to play guitar in the original British performances of the musical Hair, before forming the Sensational Alex Harvey Band. When I was a teenager, he was unusual being an 'old man' in the rock world, but now it's weird to think that that 'old man' was only 46 when he passed away.
Here's one of their more conventional 'rock' performances. I was always taken by guitarist Zal Cleminson's 'scary clown' persona, almost like a member of a psychotic version of KISS!

And here's a clip, also from the Old Grey Whistle Test, of Alex and the band performing a manic version of Jacques Brel's 'Next'.

A true star, and a reminder of the kind of maverick performer we seem to have lost. Could you imagine someone like this on X Factor/ Britain's Got Talent/American Idol etc?

Friday bike

Found this one on the 'Classicyams' website.
It's a prototype 1000cc V4 endurance racer shown at a show in Tokyo in 1997.

The engine is very similar to that which ended up powering the V-Max. Seems strange how an engine designed for one type of bike ends up in something completely different, but that's the motorcycling world for you.

What a week!

Sorry for being a bit quiet for a while and not replying to e-mails, but I've had a very busy week.
I'm never really mentioned what I do for a job as it's not that interesting to other people. I work as a Service Engineer for a company that makes electrical equipment for hospitals (and alarm systems for prisons, but that's another story!) The company is based in the Midlands which has the advantage that I'm 300 miles (500 km) away from my bosses, but has the disadvantage that my 'area' is what they refer to as 'Scotland and the North', all of Scotland plus Northern England as far south as Yorkshire.
On Monday I had fairly straightforward jobs in Glasgow (10 miles/16 km away) and Livingston (50miles/80 km). I got home by mid afternoon, and only had a bit of preparation work to do for another job in Livingston the following day. Terry popped by to collect the ramp that we'd used to load the Honda into the van and the weekend, so we had a cup of tea and a chat.
I did the preparation work that evening then went to bed at about 22:00. However, this week I'm 'on call', which means I can be called out to emergency jobs, and true to form, I was awoken at 23:15 by a call to a hospital near Keighley in Yorkshire. So it was get up, get dressed, and drive on icy roads with flakes of snow for over 200 miles (300 km) arriving, extremely tired, at 03:30.
The job was fairly easy and I had it completed by 04:00, but was so tired that I knew it was unsafe to try and drive home. In the past I've slept in the car, but as it was -3 degrees outside that was out of the question. I was going to look round the hospital to see if I could find anywhere to sleep (the cafeteria and the chapel are always a good bet), but the nurses said that as all their patients were asleep, I could sleep in the ward's day room. The gave me a pillow and some blankets, and I managed about 3 hours sleep before the patients got up. I headed off home, cold tired, and with that uncomfortable feeling you get after sleeping in your clothes.
However, I had only got about 1 mile up the road when there was a loud buzzing from the dashboard, flashing lights, and the words 'Engine malfunction' on the display. So it was clutch in and freewheel into the side of the road, bumping up onto the verge to get off the road as much as possible. It was a fairly busy but narrow road, so I had to get out in case someone crashed into the car. I phoned the leasing company who own the car to let them know, and they arranged for me to be recovered. I also phoned my company, but this was made particularly difficult by the sheep in the field next to the road all coming over for a look and baaing loudly! Obviously, broken down cars are a big deal in the sheep world.
After a very cold hour hanging about an AA van arrived (Automobile Association, not Alcoholics Anonymous), and the driver had a look at the car. He plugged in his computer and eventually said that he couldn't download the information that would tell him what was wrong, and that the car would have to go to a Ford dealer. However, he could get the car to run in its 'Get you Home' mode, so I could follow him to a nearby dealer (10 miles/16 km).
Once at the dealer, they arranged to look at the car and the lease company arranged for me to get a hire car. The hire car depot was about 12 miles/20 km away, past where I had broken down, so the AA man gave me a lift. I had to wait at the hire car depot for a car to be delivered from another branch, and eventually I was on my way home. Incidentally, the hire company was the same one I had hired the van from on Saturday, so my details were in their computer.
So, it was back to the car dealer to pick up my kit from my car, then the 4 hour drive home, arriving about 16:00, tired and worn out. I hadn't set up the Bluetooth connection on the hire car, so had ignored phone calls, but when I got home there was a message from the Ford dealer saying my car had been fixed and was ready for collection!
I phoned my work, and it was decided that as I had a 2 day hire on the other car, I should go back for it on Thursday.
I was so tired that I went to my bed before 21:00 and slept right through until my alarm woke me at 07:30!
The following day (Wednesday) I used the hire car for a number of jobs, and on Thursday I set out at 05:45 to return the hire car. It had to be returned by 10:30, so I set out early in case I got held up. When I left it was -6.5 degrees, and for those of you who know the M6 motorway, when I passed the Tebay Services in Westmorland (one of the highest parts of the road), it was – 8.5 degrees! I had stopped at Gretna Services (where it was a relatively balmy – 6 degrees), and saw a guy on a Yamaha Drag Star filling up at the petrol pumps! He was a bit too keen to go out on his bike!
Eventually, I got the car back, had to wait for a lift to the garage, then another 4 hour drive home in my car. Needless to say, I'm really sick of driving and am glad that I haven't been called to a job yet.
So what went wrong with the car? I had thought it would have been something serious like a seizure or a cam belt snapping to put on the 'Engine malfunction' message. Turns out that a diesel engined Ford Focus has a reservoir under the bonnet that adds an additive to the fuel 'to help with the emissions' and this had run empty. It should be checked every service, and usually only needs topped up at the 60,000 km (38,500 miles) service, but had been missed at the last service. It only has a capacity of 1200ml, so must add a microscopic amount of additive to the fuel.
It's annoying that it waits until the reservoir is empty and gives an 'Engine malfunction' message, rather than detect when it's getting low and gives a 'Top up reservoir' message. Also, the lease company will get a bill for the tank being topped up and for the hire car, and my company lost two days work, so I hope someone at the garage that services my car gets their wrists slapped!