Sunday 30 June 2013

More time in the garage

I've been doing a bit more work on the CL 350 rebuild lately. As I'm going on holiday on Thursday, I wanted to get the frame painted so the paint would have plenty of time to harden fully while I was away. I'm using good old Hammerite - a couple of coats of brush on 'Direct to Rust Satin Black', followed by some spray-on over the top. I've used this in the past and the spray-on helps smooth the surface and cover the brush marks. I could have got the frame powder coated, but Honda only spray painted frames back in the 70s, and I'm not one of these people who 'over restore' bikes, taking them beyond original spec. This is going to be a usuable 'riding' bike rather than a show piece.
The frame and attached parts came apart very easily due to a lack of rusted or butchered nuts and bolts. The bike's fairly low mileage so very little had been apart, and it has obviously never been ridden through a winter on salted roads, (it's from Ohio and I doubt they salt the roads there.)
I made sure I took lots of photos of how everything came apart, wiring routes, etc, so this should help with reassembly. As I dismantled the bike, I stored all the parts in freezer bags, labelling them when the parts aren't obvious.

Plastic food tubs are handy as well

Once the frame was apart I gave it a good wash with degreaser, then a blast with a power washer. I hadn't originally intended taking the swing arm out, but there was the slightest 'knock' in its movement, so a couple of careful taps with a hammer with a block of wood held against the end on the spindle got it out easily. I'll clean everything up and see what needs replaced. It has phosphor bronze bushes which have long since been unavailable from Honda, but there are a number of suppliers for classic racing CB 350Ks that use the same parts.
I removed any loose rust with an electric drill fitted with a wire brush. This also takes the glaze off the surface of the old paint (hopefully) making the new paint stick better. Just before painting I gave it a wipe with methylated spirits (cheap 'cleaning' alcohol), then brushed on a couple of coats of Hammerite.

Once that's dry I'll turn it over and paint the lower surfaces. Once all the brush painting is dry, I'll give it a couple of coats of spray-on, then hang the frame up to dry for a couple of weeks. I've always found that although Hammerite dries in a couple of hours, it doesn't seem to reach final hardnesss until 2 or 3 weeks later.

Inspired by Larry's recent post, here's my '3 amigos'.

Once I come back from holiday I'll start the process of reassembly and the project will feel as it it has turned a corner - I'll no longer be taking things apart, I'll be puting them back together (hopefully in the right order!) First job will be to get the swing arm bushes and steering head bearings so I can get the frame back together. The original steering head bearings were the 'loose balls' type that scatter all over your garage floor when you dismantle them. I'll be replacing them with a taper roller kit - life's to short to muck about with loose balls!

I found a picture on the Web of a CL 350, not only the same model and colour as mine but also with the same type of rack. Mine doesn't have the backrest, but seeing one explains what the extra holes were for. Hopefully, one day, mine will look as good as this!

Saturday 29 June 2013

Friday bike

Sorry things have been so quiet, I've just been so busy that I haven't had time to post anything.

Some of you might remember the famous 1973 John Player sponsored Norton racer.

Ridden by engineer Peter Williams, it was a very advanced bike for the era with cast wheels, disc brakes, tubeless tyres (all unusual at the time), and it used a twin spar monocoque frame that incorporated the oil and fuel tanks within its structure.

Only 3 racers (plus a prototype) were ever built, but that's about to change. Peter Williams' company plans on making a batch of 25 replicas.

More details on their website, where they make clear that this is a track bike and will not be suitable for riding on the road. There is a link where you can express interest, and the price should be in the region of £65,000 - 76,000 Euros - US$99,000.

Saturday 15 June 2013

Bike video, part 2

Made another bike video using the same setup as the previous video, except this time I set the camera to 'HD' and put some sticky tape over the microphone to try and cut wind noise.

As you can see this one is a bit better, probably helped by it being sunnier. There was light cloud, so (hopefully) filming in bright sunshine should be even better. Let's hope I get plenty of that in France next month!
Again, this was filmed near my house - the first part was on narrow farm roads, I chose this as I knew that I could set up the alignment of the camera with little chance of passing traffic.
Between about 1:30 to 1:40 you can see a large boulder in the field to the left. This is the Clochoderick Stone, a glacial erratic which may or may not be the site of an ancient battle, the burial place of a king, a druidic meeting place, or a place for the dispensing of justice. Various stories about the Stone have been made up over the years, so feel free to add your own interpretation.
Just after that I join the main road and get the bike up to a reasonable speed. When I turn left at 3:55, I ride on the road that I shot the last video on, but travelling in the other direction. I come up behind some horses and had to slow before it was safe to pass them, so I ended the video there.
I'm a lot happier with this video and it shows the capabilities of the camera. It seems to be very fussy over changes in light levels (going under trees), but other than that its not too bad. Reading up on video cameras, you can reduce the 'shake' by using a higher quality SD card. Cards are marked with a 'class' which corresponds to its speed at reading and writing data: ie a 'Class 4' card can read and write at 4 Mbyte/second, whereas a 'Class 10' reads and writes at 10 Mbytes/second. The card I used was a Class 4 which is regarded as a bit 'slow', so I'll get a 'Class 10' before my holiday.
Also, just putting a bit of Sellotape over the microphone seems to have removed most of the wind noise - that's a good 'low cost' mod!
For a fairly cheap camera I think the results are reasonably good. If I was going to do a lot of filming, a better camera like a Go-Pro would probably be worth buying. I've also bought a very cheap (£10 including postage) MD80 camera (lots of them on Ebay). There are some videos on Youtube where people just Velcro them onto the chinbar of their helmet, I'll have a try with that later and post the results.

Update: If you click on 'Watch on YouTube' on the video, then set the 'Quality' to 'HD 1080' (the 'cogwheel' icon at the bottom), it looks a lot better.

Friday 14 June 2013

Friday bike

1954/55 Vincent Black Prince/Black Knight
(Prince had more powerful engine)

From Wikipedia:

The Vincent Black Prince was a British motorcycle made between 1954 and 1955 by Vincent Motorcycles. A year before the factory closed in 1955, Vincent produced the enclosed range of Vincent Black Knight and Black Prince. Phil Vincent described it as a 'two-wheeled Bentley' and the enclosed Vincents got a lot of attention at the 1955 Earls Court show. Problems with production of the glass fibre mouldings eventually led to financial difficulties and the last Black Prince left the Vincent production line on Friday, 16 December 1955.[1]

Falling sales of the Series C Vincent motorcycles during 1952 and 1953 was partly attributed to dated styling, so Phil Vincent sought to update the range and development began what were to become the Series D machines. The main change was innovative full enclosure and weather protection, with glass fibre panels that included leg shields and a handlebar fairing. This was not about streamlining for speed, as the Vincent was already powerful enough for riders of the day - it was instead about the idea that the rider could travel to work in a suit rather than full motorcycle kit.[2] Care was taken to ensure that the engines were still easily accessible for general maintenance and the rear enclosure was hinged providing access to the rear wheel and drive chain.[1]
Vincent also tried to make it easier for the rider to get the motorcycle on to its stand by adding a huge lever on the left of the machine that could be operated from the saddle. The frame was also modified with a single tubular strut bolted to the steering head and a single damper replaced the twin rear shocks.[2]

 The Black Prince was launched at the 1954 Earls Court motorcycle show, together with the 998 cc Vincent Black Knight and the 500 cc Vincent Victor (which never went into production as only the prototype was ever built). There was a lot of interest but much of it was critical, and the Black Prince was termed the motorcycle you either love or hate. The Motor Cycle road tested a Black Prince and concluded that it handled as well as the Vincent Black Shadow with improved fuel consumption.[2]

Production of the Black Prince began in the spring of 1955. Lucas components replaced the less reliable Miller electrical system and ignition was upgraded to coil and distributor. The rear enclosure, which incorporated the oil tank, was hinged allowing access to the rear wheel and final drive chain.Amal Monobloc carburettors improved starting. The centre stand was operated by a lever accessible from the saddle and the lower front mudguard stay served as an emergency front stand to facilitate the removal of the front wheel. Delay in delivery of the fibre glass components from subcontractors held back the availability of the first production bikes until spring 1955. Approximately 200 of the enclosed models were built.[1]
Increasingly affluent customers may have encouraged Vincent to go for a 'high end' luxury touring model, but at the same time high volume and very affordable small cars were flooding the market. Vincent's accountants suddenly realised that they were losing money on every Black Prince sold, so the last example of both the model and the marque left the production line on Friday, 16 December 1955.[2]


I was reminded of the Black Price and Black Knight by the renewed interest in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.  In 1956, the BBC broadcast a dramatisation of Nineteen Eighty-Four starring Peter Cushing, and featured Black Princes and Knights as the transport of the Thought Police.

Thanks to the wonder of the Internet, you can watch the original 1956 production:

You can read the book here: link 

Free Kindle download: link 


Thursday 13 June 2013



Copied from  mr. combo's  blog. The Skorpion is fairly distinctive being modified to 'Trail' spec. Please keep your eyes open for the bikes or any parts. If you hear of anything, contact mr. combo or Musselburgh Police:  (0131) 665 9696



I woke up this morning to find that someone had cut through the locks on my shed, jimmied the door open, and stolen both my working bikes, as well as some tools and a spare helmet and waterproofs which were lying around.
The police officer who came round to take the details didn't hold out much hope of getting them back as apparently there's a spate of this going on at the moment and nothing has been recovered to date. 
So, goodbye then to my MZ Skorpion Trail (1994) and Triumph Sprint ST 955i (2002). It was nice knowing you!
What is particularly galling is that I came home tonight after work to find some parcels waiting for me inside of which were a new sidestand for the Skorpion and a service kit for the Triumph which I'd ordered last week.

The good old days

Ever had that situation where you're looking at something on YouTube and the list of other videos at the side contains something that catches your eye because you don't quite believe it? This happened to me recently when a video clip from the early 80s television programme Pop Quiz appeared. Pop Quiz, as the name suggests, was a pop themed quiz show hosted by the unsufferingly smug Mike Read, where two teams of pop people answered questions. Most of the people apprearing on the show were pop stars of the time, but occasionally people like David Gilmour, Robert Plant,  and even John Martyn were on. Did the audience, which seemed to consist of screaming 14 years old girls, even know who they were? Strange to think that 'serious' musicians ever appeared on something as lightweight as this, but here's the evidence.

*** Warning - these videos contain scenes of 80s hairstyles and fashions that some viewers may find disturbing ***

Morrissey on Pop Quiz before he became 'a serious musician' (ie too stuck up and self important to appear on a show like this)

Lots more clips on YouTube, funny seeing so many pop people looking so young!!

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Bike video

I'd bought a cheap 'sports camera' a few years ago, a Medion Life S4 7000, I think it was about £40 from Lidl. I'd shot some reasonable quality video at a couple of bike events, but I'd been meaning to try 'on bike' filming. I quickly worked out that mounting the camera on the bike wouldn't work (Skorpions vibrate too much) and helmet mounted cameras tend to have too much movement. Stuart had experimented with mounting the camera on his body, so this seemed to be the best way to go.
He had mounted the camera in the middle of his chest, but that wouldn't work on the Skorpion as the screen would get in the way. I bought a harness designed for Police and security officers to hold their radios next to their shoulder.

Misty is trying to 'help'!

It has adjustable straps that go over your shoulder and fasten around your chest, and an elasticated pocket for a radio.

I cut the pocket off then stiffened the harness by glueing and screwing an alloy plate to the back. I then screwed a bracket I'd made from Ram Mounts to hold the camera and adjust its angle.

I fastened the harness around my chest and adjusted the straps to as tight as possible to mimimise movement of the camera in use.

You won't believe how hard it is to photograph your own chest!

I sat on the bike and adjusted the angle of the camera to what looked about right then went for a run.

It was a dull, overcast evening and it had been raining for most of the day (hence the wet roads), but I wanted to get out and try the camera. Hopefully it'll look better when it's sunnier. (The original video looked better, I think YouTube compresses it a bit - try setting 'quality' to 480p.) The microphone on the camera gets overwhelmed by wind noise, I might try sticking a bit of foam over it or I'll just remove the sound from the video.
Not bad for a first attempt, and I'll try some more videoing when we get better weather. If anyone's interested, this is just round the corner from my house, one of the advantages of living in a small village - you're never far from countryside.

Sunday 9 June 2013

More time in the garage

Got some more work done on the CL 350. I stripped more parts off of the frame to prepare them for painting. Everything came apart easily with no seized bolts or rounded heads.

Everything was going well (too well?) when I discovered a problem.

One of the clamps had been overtightened, cracking the top yoke (triple tree). Hmmmm. On a 41 year old bike not sold in Europe, this could be a problem....
Luckily, the same part was used on the CB 350 K4 sold here and I found one on Ebay with a 'Buy it now', so I did.
I cleaned up a lot of bits then gave them a coat of  Satin Black Hammerite. The bike is going to be a 'working restoration', i.e. - it might not be perfect, but it's going to be a usable bike rather than a show piece.
The footrest bar, propstand, and the inside of the rear mudguard were given a couple of coats of brush on:

And the rear light mount (in picture above), headlight shell, toolbox and chainguard got a coat of spray on as they will be more visible.

Later this week I'll strip the rest of the frame and give it a coat of Hammerite as well. Once it's dry I can start reassembling and that's when the project really starts to move forward.

Talking of CL 350s, when I was looking for articles about them on the Web when I found reference to one appearing in the 1971 film 'Vanishing Point'. I found a clip from the film which shows that CL 350s are so cool, naked women want to ride them! (View at your own discretion, but you don't really see much!)

mr combo had posted on Facebook that, due to the good weather, he had dug out his groovy 70s blue metalflake open face helmet. Never wanting to do outdone, I dug out my, ahem, 'special helmet'.
I'd bought this with a mind to wearing it at the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride and it's an ivory coloured open face with blue metalflake stars and lightning flashes, and a cerise leopard print lining. Mmmm, nice!

However, that's not the best bit - it's luminous, so if you've been out in the sun then go somewhere dark, it looks like this.

Needless to say, it's made in China, has no safety standard stickers, and probably gives off lots of radiation, but what price style?

Friday 7 June 2013

Friday bike

Barcelona is famous for many things - stunning architecture, a successful football team, and.......

The Ossa Urbe 250! I'm not going to write 'interestingly styled' or 'distinctive', I'll just be honest and say 'pot ugly'! Based on an existing 250cc 2 stroke single design, the Urbe (Google translates this as 'city') seems like an attempt to build a Ariel Leader type town bike with fairing, legshield, fully enclosed bodywork, and what appears to be a storage compartment behind the rear wheel!

It won't surprise you to learn that soon after, Barcelona based Ossa was no more - shame as they had also built the sporty looking Forumla 3 with the same engine.

That's much better!

I'm not even sure if the Urbe was even sold to the public as some article refer to it as a 'prototype'. If I go to Spain later this year on the Honda, I'll keep my eyes peeled for one.

Technical stuff.

Sunday 2 June 2013

Friday bike

A bit of a cheat here. I hadn't actually thought about this week's bike, but I saw a post on the Sometimes Nothing...  blog (over there --->) about this bike.

It's an 1929 Indian 101 Scout owned by Josh Wilson of Norfolk, Virginia, USA. What's unusual about this bike is that Josh bought it on Craigslist (a US based advert website), rebuilt it, then took part in the 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball. All in a period of 6 weeks!
I've mentioned the Cannonball before, it's a 4,000 mile (c. 6,000 km) ride across the US for pre 1930 motorcycles.

It would be a difficult enough trip on a modern bike, but on one built before 1930, that you'd just bought and rebuilt - that takes a certain daring!
We in Europe don't always realise just how big the US is. I plotted the route from my house to Tehran, Iran and that's about 200 miles (320 km) shorter than the Cannonball!
Found a video of Josh on the Run - what a cool guy!

******* UPDATE ***********
Found a forum with details of the rebuild.