Woooohooooo hellllooooooo!!!!!!!! Right now, where were we? Ah yes, well on Sunday I was planning to go to the Stonehaven show to meet a few people and to buy Shorty lunch. But then Shorty was poooorly and I got news that it was dinging doon (er, I mean, raining) down there so I decided to head north instead and follow the sun. I ended up going to Captain Bill's to collect my *NEW* fuel tap for Cubbie and combined the run with trying out my two new helmets that I've had in the cupboard for about 18months. My instantly recognisable blue GBC helmet is about 8 years old, and although that doesn't really bother me, the fact that the seal around the visor leaks so badly that I get rain in my eyes and the pods over the sides leak so badly I get a draft in my ears, does. So I bought what I thought to be a good deal - a matt black Caberg, think it was around £90. Or it might have been just over £100, can't remember, I just know that I can't afford an ultra comfy / light one at closer to £400. Tried it on in the shop, wore bike gear and the salesman checked that it was a good and safe fitting, and he assured me that it is one of the quietest "cheap" ones. The first time I wore it on the bike it was so noisy, painful and drafty that I slung it to the back of the shelf. Then a friend gave me her son's Nolan lid, which he only wore a handful of times as pillion on his Dad's bike, but I didn't much like that either.
So I rode over to Captain Bill's wearing the Caberg to see if it was any better than I remembered, but after the first ten miles or so, it felt like I had 6" nails digging into the side of my head, and it was so drafty that my eyes were watering. I realise new helmets take a while to bed in, so put up with it for the rest of the way.
Anyway, got to Bill's, had some chocolate, got chatting about bike club stuff and then about something else, and then for some reason, he asked if I'd like a go on the Greeves Scottish he has tucked away in the shed. It would be rude to refuse, wouldn't it? So he wiggled it out from it's hiding place between the Connaught and his old racing bike - yers, he used to race regularly when he lived in Oz. The Greeves fired up easily and Bill pottered off on it to make sure all was ok. Then it was my turn, so I gave it an almighty kick, probably harder than was necessary, and we were off. Down for first gear, the little lever tucked neatly into the side, popopopopop up the grassy track and along the rutted road towards the woods. Spent a short while mucking around, practising turning in ever decreasing circles, found I can only go anti-clockwise these days! Must be getting rusty after not having ridden a trials bike for a few years. So that was all good fun, had some lunch, was just about to go, when Bill looked at me, muttered something, and then seemed to change his mind. Not being one to let that kind of behaviour go, I asked what he'd said. "Oh, nothing, I was just going to make an improper suggestion". Hmmm, it's a good job I know him well enough to know he wasn't really going to do anything of the sort! I finally managed to beat it out of him, and what he'd said was....."let's go and get the old racer out!".
Now you have to bear in mind that this is his 1949 AJS Model 16, which has been in storage since 1984. I assumed he must have been tinkering with it lately, but no, he pulled it from the shed, pumped the tyres up, filled it up with oil, and then fetch a drum of alcohol. Oh my dear sweet Lordy Lord of Racing Motorcycles, what am I doing? It's one thing going for a potter on a bike that hasn't run for 25 years, but quite another filling with it alcohol and blasting off down a bumpy track. Oh well, Bill isn't one to inflict unnecessary risks upon anyone, so I went along with it. He removed the bung from the air intake, which had attached to it a sign instructing the rider to "REMOVE BEFORE STARTING", quite good advice I think, and we wheeled the beast out to the lane. With the sun beating down, Bill put the bike into gear, pulled it backwards until it hit compression, explaining each move to me as he went, and then sprinted off down the track. Pinging the clutch out as he jumped upon the saddle, the rear wheel locked and the engine coughed, and then there was silence.
Back he came, did it all again, but with the same result. So I gave him a push, which did at least result in a puff or three of dirty looking smoke from the zorst. Time to clean the points, says Bill, so we push it back to base, clean the points and try again. Each time it sounded a little more promising, yet each time it just failed to keep going. So we returned to base and attached a light bulb thingy to check for a spark, which there was. Humbug. We were both too hot and exhausted to make any more attempts to get the old beasty going. But ya know, that was the most fun I've had in a long time. Some times the simple things of messing about with bikes and friends can be a most rewarding exercise. And had I not scoffed half a bar of chocolate, it may well have resulted in healthy exercise too.
Time had certainly flown, seeing as I'd arrived at about 11am, and it had gone 5pm by the time I left for home, wearing my Nolan helmet this time. Although not the quietest or most comfy lid in the world, it certainly beats the Caberg and I think once the padding wears in, it should be bearable.
So that was Sunday, and yesterday I finally got around to fitting new tappets to Cubbie, which was nearly as exciting, in its own way. What should apparently be a 10min job actually took me somewhere in the region of 4 hours. That includes time spent trying to fix the phone / internet that BT said there was nothing wrong with, but which miraculously cured itself within half an hour of reporting it to BT. Every time I set the gap and tightened the lock nut, the gap closed up, and then I got a socket stuck on the end of one of the tappets, which had to be removed using brute force. Finally gave up and accepted that they must be right, although Mrs BC said she thought the gap was too tight, yet I thought it too slack. Then moved on to re-fitting the light, bodging some more silicon sealer around the ammeter and trying to fit a not-so-new speedo, as the original one seems to be beyond repair. Ended up pulling the cover off the ammeter and having to take it apart and then rebuild it, with added silicon of course. Then when I was fitting the speedo cable, I inadvertently popped the speedo out because the silicon hadn't dried fully. Then the biggest challenge was the horn, which I'd forgotten about. The button had fallen off somewhere in Keith, on the way to Dornoch a few weeks ago. So I tried adapting the kill switch from the Bultaco, but that didn't work, and time was running out and I had to catch and dose a lamb before going to work. Whizzed in to the car spares place on the way to work and bought a two-pronged flick switch that I thought might do the trick - the fancy push button they had was £8. The other one was 75p.
So up early today as the MoT was at 10am, and then realised that I'd fitted the kill switch back to front - wrong wires to wrong terminals! Sorted that out and hey presto, we have a beep-beep button again. Fired Cubbie up, tappets are a bit noisy, and there's a good oil leak coming from one of the rocker boxes, but hopefully it'll get me to the MoT station.....
.....which it did...and I've just got back with a PASS!!!!!! So Cubbie lives again!!! Northumberland here we come...on Friday...if the insurance docs arrive in time for me to get the tax on the way....
Sorry these are as good as it gets, due to having a spare lid stuffed in my rucksack, there was no room for a camera, and I wasn't anticipating anything exciting happening that was worth hanging my camera around my neck for, so these were taken with my phone.
I know I have some other pics somewhere of the Greeves and Connaught, but which file they're in is another matter.
Here ya go, Bill at the National in 2007. Not a bad haul, eh?