Vespa 125 Scooter, Triumph 500cc Twin, BSA C15
I’ve grouped these three motorcycles together because, as you will see, they are my “nearly-bikes”.
Vespa 125 Scooter
Looking back, I can’t believe I sold my NSU Quickly when I bought this old Vespa. My “friend” Simon sold it to me. I was heavily into my engineering toolmakers apprenticeship at this time and, because part of the body-shell was cracked, I stripped it right back to bare metal. I recall actually carrying this shell down to Valley Road, from Amados Drive, to a place my lovely mum worked as a cleaner, to get it welded up. She must have had a word because it didn’t cost a penny and the fellow did a grand job.
Originally it was black, which I didn’t like, so I painted it my favourite colour, which was a rich, French Blue. I always used Humbrol gloss, like I’d always done for doing up my pedal bikes.
I had to strip the engine down to fix something too. This was a traditional crankcase, which split in two, with a main bearing in each side and the gear box shafts in either side. Well, this was the start of my nightmare. On reflection, I must have missed out a thrust bearing someplace, when I put it back together. I know this because it would last about a week and then stop working because a crankshaft oil seal would wear out! I would then spend my weekend stripping down the engine and fitting a new oil seal. I did this probably about four times and then sold the scooter on.
Gosh I must have had more energy than sense. I still have this desire to fix things up. About a year ago, April 2016, my in-laws asked me to do some painting for them, while they were away. Their house was built in 1850, and as part of the decorating, I had to just patch up the plaster here and there, where it was coming away. Broke my heart to do this as it “goes against the grain” of my “Mr Fix-it” nature. I really wanted to strip all of the plaster away and get it re-plastered properly, with proper modern plaster material! But, this was outside of my remit. And anyway, where do you stop with this? I was asked to paint a bedroom, a bathroom and the kitchen. The bathroom had been completely replastered, and fitted out, a few years ago so that was fine, but the bedroom and the kitchen really could use re-plastering. Add to this the fact that the kitchen had had new units and a hob and oven, fitted recently, at a cost of thousands of pounds, then you can understand that ma and dad in-law wouldn’t have been particularly impressed if I had stripped it 🙂 . Anyway, I think I have less energy and more sense nowadays, major house refurbishments aren’t really on my radar nowadays!
Triumph Tiger 100, 500cc Speed Twin
This is definately on my “nearly-bike” list. I bought this off a fellow in Dudley Road. He had used it the last few years for scrambling somewhere near Lee Moor, where the china clay is quarried. He had a mate with a lorry and they would take it out there someplace, at weekends. Well, it was filthy and covered with clay. It didn’t run anymore, which is why I guess the fellow was selling it. It was 1956 vintage and I bought it at around 1973. I think I paid £5 for it! My poor dad had to push it up the hill from Dudley road to Amados drive. Push, stop, breath, push, stop, breath . . It was too heavy for me to push on my own.
Pete had a 350cc version. I said to him once “Well, I have a 500cc version.” He said “Yes, OK, but mine is on the road and I ride it around and yours is in bits in your garage.” Er, fair point Pete.