Except for the T500 Suzuki, Andy’s garage currently resembles a BSA production line!
Some of the Procrastinators gathered in Spring sunshine to take a run down to Timboon for lunch and a catch up. Not bad going for us, seeing how it’s only the fifth day of Spring! We rendezvoused at Steve’s place near Colac, with me coming from Geelong and Andy from Ballarat. Below is a map of our route.
We usually dine at the Timboon Distillery, however, today we opted for some good old fashioned pub grub and ate at the Timboon Hotel. Three steak sandwiches and plenty of banter later we headed off to Port Campbell for some fuel. After a short run along the Great Ocean Road past the 12 Apostles we turned inland again to Simpson, and then to Carlisle River where we pulled over to chew the fat a bit more. (We are becoming so complacent about the magnificent coastline and Apostles that we didn’t even stop for a photo). There was virtually no traffic at all. The countryside looked magnificent and green, but unfortunately most of the roads were a bloody disgrace. The asphalt was consistently potholed and featured plenty of depressions or ‘slumps’, typically on the entry to, or exits of, nice sweeping corners. In a couple of the worst sections the speed limit was lowered to 80 kph (as it has been for 12 months or so) and there was no sign of any road repair work being commenced. We rode to the poor conditions and still enjoyed the ride immensely, but really, these roads are dangerous and not what you’d expect in a first world country! I wish I’d stopped and taken some pics of just how bad some spots were.
Below: A pit stop at Carlisle River – which consists of an infant welfare center, a public hall and a couple of farm houses – not much else.
We arrived back at Steve’s and cranked up the shed stereo, dragged some chairs outside and then basked in the sunshine as we chatted some more. All too soon I had to head back to Geelong. It was a great day out ‘fellas – I thoroughly enjoyed the riding and your company. All the better of course for being a weekday and choosing the roads less traveled, with the consequent lack of cars. All up I did around 350kms – yet another grand day out, and in the true Procrastinator’s spirit – no decisions were made about anything!
Didn’t procrastinate too much on this deal!
Removed the pinstripes from the sides of the fairing. Will probably remove the ones above the headlights as well.
Back in November 2011, I published an email from my mate Andy outlining his refurbishment of his Norton Commando fastback. That post can be read HERE
After a bit of nagging from me, he has put together this summary of his current projects. It would be great to start a trend of guest writers on this site. Anyway, Andy takes up the story ……..
BSA A7 1949
Purchased as a ”basket case” in about 1987, laid under the bench in boxes until I took on a “love job” doing up a BSA B33 for a mate (Jack) in about 2007.
Thought to myself, “I’ll just throw that old A7 together to get my head around BSA’s”. Should have known better, once one bit gets shined up you gotta do it all!
I wound up making nearly every bolt and fitting myself in stainless steel, around about the time I finished it repro stuff was beginning to come onto the market quite well priced.
Doing a job like this is a bit like pissing yourself in a dark suit, – you get a lovely warm feeling but no-one else notices.
1974 Suzuki GT380
Aint e-bay grouse?, this one was a shed clearout, guy was moving and wanted to unload a shedful.
Paid 380 bucks for the lot, The short version is , there’s a complete bike, plus two or three spare engines.
The silver tank on the frame in the photo, I just got at the Ballarat Swap meet, NOS, $40, didn’t really need it but for that sort of money I couldn’t leave it behind.
The guy with the tank also has exhaust systems he’s willing to part with, so I got his number. (mine has an aftermarket 3 into 1 which I’m told sound great but steal power)
It’s lower on the list than the T500, but since it’s all there I may as well “just throw it together”.
This one used to be a trail bike, I bought it in about 1976 off a workmate who found out its shortcomings in the bush and moved up to a Yamaha XT500.
It really was just a streetbike with trailbike handlebars and a bash plate. It even had a low exhaust pipe???
I ran it around on and off for a few years as a street hack, and it was alright except that if you wanted to do highway speeds, you needed to make a dentist appointment for after, because your fillings will all be rattled loose.
Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of its early days, shit happens.
It lunched the timing pinion one day, too much end float on the crankshaft, whilst idling, I leaned it onto the sidestand, it then stopped with a loud “CLUNK!”
In a fit of despondency I sold it (as was) to another workmate, who later worked out he didn’t have the money/skills/time/marital goodwill etc, to deal with it, and offered it back to me along with another worthy project (Panther), so I re-aquired it.
A complete engine / gearbox re-build followed,(circa 1990) I spent two weeks re-shimming all the gearbox and bevel drive shafts, the end result was the only one of these I’ve ever heard that you can’t hear the valve gear from 200 yards away.
It then got put away with no more than about ten minutes running, various other projects took over, including but not limited to marriage/children/ several other bikes (Yamaha XS650’s, BMWR75) marriage break up etc, before I knew it ten more years had got behind me (good line that, someone should put it in a song)
I had decided at some point in the timeline that it needed to be a pocket rocket, but didn’t want to pass it off as a silver shotgun , which it never was.
Someone gave me some Yamaha XS250 forks and wheels, I thought at the time that would be good to set it apart from the ‘real’ Desmo’s.
I’ve since changed my mind, the mags look crap so they’re going, but I’ve now decided to graft a set of lower frame tubes into the frame and mount the engine/gearbox in it with a set of Norton Isolastic mounts.
If I’m lucky It will be rideable & different enough that no-one will think I’m trying to pass it off as a proper desmo, if it doesn’t work, well that’ll just give me something else to work on.
Yep, you guessed it, e-bay again!, ad said it didn’t run, but had compression.
I took a punt on it, when I picked it up the guy said he thought it was crank seals, because it used to run but didn’t any more. I felt the compression and knew straight off it wasn’t crank seals.
Took about five minutes when I got it home to work out it was the ignition module. $26 for a monkey bike CDI kit at the local electronics store got it running.
The rear tyre was bald but my Norton Commando rear was half down, so Nora got a new tyre, Suzie got a good enough one.
Right hand fork leg had a big graunch in the hard chrome about an inch above the fork seal which had buggered the seal, resultant oil leak had buggered the front brake pads. Rear guard was a bit ratty, swapped one for a tub of wine grapes I had an excess of, and had cost naught.
Fork staunchions aren’t cheap, re-doing the hard chrome is about $600, so a bit of hard thinking was called for.
I had a spare Commando fork tube picked up at the Ballarat swap meet only owed me $10, so I welded up the oil bleed holes in the commando tube, turned down the welds, then re-drilled the bleed holes the same as the Suzuki tube, made a new upper bush (Commando tube is 0.5 mm smaller), made a fork top nut with british thread but same hex as the Suzi, fitted new seals, and bob’s your uncle!
It goes like shit off a shovel, very tourquey, owes me bugger all money and goes well alongside the others. To make it dead original I only need a seat, sooner or later one will show up, I just keep looking.
1972 Suzuki T350J, T250J
My first road bike when I got my learners permit in late 1973 was a T250R, I put quite a few miles on it in only four months before trading up to a GT550 (emulating Jules who had also just bought a GT550).
I always had a soft spot for this little twin, so when one appeared in ‘Just Bikes’, at the right price, I couldn’t resist.
The guy I bought this bike from didn’t know a screwdriver from a spanner, and had paid various people to completely refurbish the bike from stem to stern, then sold it to me for about a third of what his cost was! (and no it isn’t stolen), I have all the receipts for the work he even paid someone to tune the horn!
First thing I did when got it home was fit a set of ‘ace ‘bars, just the same as when I was a youngster. Once around the block, I realised that I’m not as “bendy” as I was way back then, don’t know how the heck I ever managed to ride like that, anyway the bike now has flat bars, much better!. A set of chromed pipes sourced from opposite ends of the country helped make it look much tidier.
The sharp – eyed among you will note that it has the T250 fuel tank and sidecovers, this is about to be changed, I had acquired a set of heads from a T350II, they had straight fore and aft fins like the 250, so no-one would be able to pick up on the bigger engine capacity, however I have recently picked up a T250, so the 350 will become a proper 350 with the correct tinware.
This 250 was a project picked up on e-bay for the right price, no-one else bid on it, the seller wasn’t real happy, but rules are rules.
The frame has been beautifully painted in 2-pak in a very tasteful charcoal colour, not quite standard but such a good job , I’m not going to change it. Rims are in good shape, a quick re-spoke and a spruce up of the hubs, new seat cover (a repro from Thailand – excellent product for $60), tinware will come off the 350
By the time this spiel gets posted I hope to have it back together, It had lunched the right hand rings, so I sourced new 1st oversize pistons and rings, crank bearings were a bit ordinary so I fitted new bearings and seals, took me most of a weekend to make a jig to part the crank halves and about twenty minutes to do the job!
I sent all the bolts to be plated some weeks ago, found out yesterday why the plater stopped answering his phone, the bastard’s had his power cut off. Sending a “mate” round to get my stuff back later this week.
Once the 250 is done I have a T500 basket case I acquired (e-bay can get a bit addictive can’t it?), there was no crankcases or crankshaft or wheel hubs, the seller said he couldn’t remember where they went, anyway, I knew a guy who had a complete engine that someone had thrown away the entire gearbox (ain’t people weird?), I’ve found hubs, have all new seals, pistons & rings ($92 a set delivered) once the 250 is done I’ll “just throw this one together”.
1952 Panther Model 75 350cc
This is a bit long winded, but bear with me…
I had a Ducati 450 road/trail that lunched the timing pinion one day, in a rush of blood, I sold it to a workmate.
In 1990, I had the job of house minding for Mr & Mrs Tarsnakes whilst they did a round Aussie trip in their Campervan.
Whilst living in Tarsnake Towers, said workmate offered me back the Ducati, I was actually happy to have it back (I know – it’s a sickness), he also offered me his 1952 350 Panther which he said he would never do anything with, so it may as well go to me.
Deal gets done, suddenly I notice there’s no more room in Tarsnake’s garage, boxes of Ducati and Panther everywhere, and homeowner is on the return leg of his trip!
A great effort was put in, the Panther, upon examination turned out to have flogged out the drive side crank case bush (yes, bush – not really a high performance engine this!).
A visit to a mate who’s a tool maker ensued, Frank found the centre of the now oval crankcase bearing hole, bored it back round, and made a new bush.
The panther was then re-assembled from the boxes, which yielded sufficient garage space to pass muster. It fired up and ran straight off, only time it gave trouble was when I gave it a bit of a squirt it kept “nipping up” the piston. Eventually I realised that I was actually retarding the ignition at high speed (that’s a relative term) as the advance lever worked the opposite way to my old AJS!
There’s always something to learn in this game.
The long and short of it is , this bike hasn’t been touched since then, is still a fist kick starter and whilst it’s not fast is a delight to ride. Now if only I could get those air forks to hold air for more than ten minutes, I’d ride it far more than I do. I could spend more than its value making it pretty, so she is what she is. (She’s a sweet thing. Tarsnake edit)
Thanks for the words and pics Andy. Now we will work on Steve for some history on his bikes!
OK, so that’s part of the story of Andy’s stable. Here’s a few pics of his previously owned motorcycles that I’m adding – just because it gives some more context.
Can’t find it now to scan, so you will have to wait for a pic of the Bridgestone 90 on its back wheel.
The AGM of the West Coast Procrastinators was held on 1st January 2013 at the Timboon Distillery, Vic. The minutes of last year’s meeting were not available, no office bearers were elected, nor were any resolutions proposed or passed – however, there was talk of a censure motion for the hasty and rash purchase of the westcoastprocrastinators domain name!
The NYD ride has become a regular event in recent times. We do some other rides together throughout the year, but this one is a bit special as it marks the beginning of a year of riding ahead. When we four ‘fellas get together, there is a lot of shared history and with that goes a certain amount of banter, story telling and laughter.
Marty and I left Geelong and met at Steve’s property near Colac. Andy had traveled from Ballarat on NYE and spent the evening drinking fine wine with Steve.
Here is our route. (Click on map to enlarge). The Geelong to Colac highway section is omitted. The circuit shown is around 210 kms, virtually all on back roads and through some beautiful farmland and bush. It also takes in the famed 12 Apostles.
Gathering at Steve’s place near Colac, Vic. The banter had started already!
Steve’s Commando ready to go.
Andy’s Commando ready to go.
The weather forecast had been for a sunny 25C day with a late changes, however, it was obvious at the start of the day that this was not to be the case, and so waterproof gear was packed – by some! The run down to the Distillery only took around an hour and we were actually a tad early. There was a little drizzle as we neared Timboon, but nothing to warrant donning wet weather gear.
As you can see – all were in good humor.
I received this sticker with a T-shirt that I bought and it accurately encapsulates my mechanical abilities and knowledge.
We had booked and were allocated a seat out on the deck. Unfortunately just as we started eating two families were allocated a table near us and the sound of poorly behaved squealing children was fairly intrusive.
Some had garlic prawn pizza
Some had grilled fish
I had the ‘cholesterol special’.
In a new feature for 2013, here is my score card for our meals. Your experience may vary! This proforma is not mine and I’d like to acknowledge its author, however, I can’t find the URL where I first saw it – so my apologies to someone in advance!
|We had booked and were a bit early at 11:30 but there were plenty of open seats. In the summer on a busy weekend they could easily be full.|
|Nice modern but rustic feel. Lots of produce as well as their whisky for sale. Sitting out on the deck was lovely until a couple of families with poorly behaved children screamed incessantly. There were plenty of sunny and shady spots.|
|Very friendly and pleasant, didn’t seem contrived. Handled the full restaurant well.|
|Garlic pizzas were tasty but rather spartan. Grilled flake OK but on wilted salad. Every aspect of my steak sandwich was tasty, EXCEPT the steak! It was so tough to chew that I left half. French fries were excellent and meals arrived hot.|
|About par for what one would expect to pay at a modern, nice place in the country.|
|I’d go back because of the overall venue and where it’s located, but the food didn’t really wow me.|
I took a few pics around the building and in my absence my helmet mysteriously disappeared from my bike! Hmm, didn’t take the bate and lo and behold, it reappeared from Steve’s bag. The truth be known, I was in a drowsy post postprandial state and didn’t even notice its absence.
From Timboon we took a short run down to the Great Ocean Road at a tiny place called Peterborough. The weather was really deteriorating and in the strong wind it was easy to appreciated why around 200 sailing ships sunk along a short 130 km section of coast- commonly known as “The Shipwreck Coast“.
Peterborough Vic on the “Shipwreck Coast”
Three procrastinators. Within 200 meters of the shore at this point, lie the wrecks of three ships; the Newfield (Aug 1889), the clipper Schomberg (Dec 1855 – skippered by the legendary ‘Bully Forbes’ and the Young Australian (May 1877). Actually the scandal of the Schomerg offers some interesting insights into Forbes’ captaincy.
The reason these guys still have their helmets on is because it started drizzling about this time, as it did until Port Campbell,where we stopped for gas. In the gas station the console operator had a secondary screen with a readout and wave forms tracking across it. I asked her about it and she told me it was real time wave height and interval between swells measured from a beacon 20 kms out to sea. It was typically reading 7 meters while I was talking to her, but she told me that waves of 17 meters can commonly occur during winter!
As we were leaving the gas station it started to rain a little and by the time we reached the 12 Apostles it was raining properly, so Marty & I donned wet weather gear over the leathers. The sightseeing helicopters had stopped flying due to the poor conditions. We hung around for 15 mins and then headed off in light rain and gusty winds – so much for a sunny 25C! We headed inland via some bumpy back roads rather than continuing along the GOR.
As a consequence of the rain there are no more photos, nor did we stop at the Apostle Whey cheesery as we had originally planned. Despite the rain and drizzle, it was actually OK riding through the bush on virtually deserted roads. By the time we approached Colac the rain stopped and as we emerged from the bushland into the farming land the temp actually went up 4C from the 14C it had been.
Despite the weather, we had another great start to 2013. What could be better than riding motorcycles with your best and oldest mates? Well, there was a tinge of sadness in the background actually.
Our thoughts were occupied throughout this ride with the loss of an old mate (and flatmate for Andy) with the sad news that he had died on New Years Eve after a battle with cancer.
RIP Terry Stokes AKA “Mother”.
The West Coast Procrastinators got their act together again to reprise our New Year’s Day 2011 run. The aim for the day was to ride some back roads and then enjoy a leisurely lunch to usher in the New Year at the cafe at a distillery in the tiny Western District township of Timboon (Pop 850). This place is just inland from the famous 12 Apostles and the gas processing plant for the Casino Natural Gas off shore rigs is based nearby.The motorcycles present were two early 1970’s Norton Commandos and two big bore Kawasakis.
Andy had a gift for us – a couple of personalized stubby holders each!
Most of the following pics are distorted because I copied and pasted the report from another site – and I can’t be stuffed reformatting it all!
I had some new gloves to try out. They are Held Steve II’s, featuring kangaroo skin palms. They are a recent birthday gift from Mrs Tarsnakes.
Marty and I met on the edge of town. The blue sky, a forecast top of 35C and the lack of traffic looked very promising for a great day of riding. I guess many folk were still in bed being New Year’s Day.
About 40 minutes later Marty and I arrived at our rendezvous point near Colac (Vic) which is approx 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Melbourne. From here we headed to Timboon via Cobden.
Lunch venue. The Timboon Railway Shed Distillery
The motorcycles in front of the distillery. Steve’s Norton in front.
Me astride the ZX14.
The West Coast Procrastinators doing what they do best!
It was time for some lunch and we secured a table out on the decking. The temp was climbing, I’d say approx 26C by this stage. Some had beef, some had pie & some had fish. The background music included a Derek Truck’s band number so all was good.
No whisky for us, but at least it was local.
I’d heard of an old timber trestle rail bridge in the area so we asked for directions and headed off to check it out. “Watch out for snakes down there” our waitress warned. It was down a dusty, corrugated gravel road, but certainly well worth a look.
Arty shot as suggested by Marty.It was really hot down in this valley, maybe 35C and no breeze to be had at all. The bikes were parked in the shade!
Here’s a framed shot of Steve.
The bridge is now used as part of a bicycle path. One of many “rail trails” in the Australian countryside.
Two brave motorcyclists walk across the bridge towards a large black creature with horns.
Two brave motorcyclists return, the horned creature stands its ground!
By the time we rode the few kilometers back up the corrugated, gravel road Andy was concerned that his clutch wasn’t feeling quite right nor functioning correctly so he and Steve decided to head for home back along the way we had come, rather than taking in the 12 Apostles – Great Ocean road loop.
Marty and I said our farewells and headed off to the coastal township of Port Campbell. We fueled up and the rode the GOR through the twisties to Laver’s Hill. At Laver’s Hill we turned off the GOR and headed inland to Beech Forest and then Forrest via Turton’s Track. From there we headed back to Colac to see that the Norton devotees had arrived home OK, which thankfully they had!
We sat in Steve’s shed and chewed the fat for a while, then Marty and I saddled up and headed back to Geelong via Hwy 1. All up, 385 kms of scenic and really enjoyable riding with mates.
Ride safe in 2012 everybody.
The West Coast Procrastinators finally got their act together to reprise our NYD 2008 run. The route differed slightly, but still involved the same guys, the 12 Apostles, two old Norton Commandos, two Japanese motorcycles and plenty of time spent chatting over a tasty lunch together. Let me tell you a little about my riding buddies.
In addition to his Norton Commando, Andy has numerous other motorcycles. Complete and running are a 500cc BSA twin, a lovel and newly acquired 1972 T250 Suzuki Hustler, and an old 350cc Panther single. Under restoration is a 450 Ducati and another BSA. I’ve probably missed some, as there are numerous other motorcycles in various states of completion.
Other than his Comando, Steve has another complete and rideable Norton 500cc single, a 1970’s RD350 Yamaha (which he rode to some of the most remote parts of Australia on back in 1979) and currently has a 500cc twin cylinder Norton Dominator under restoration. He also kindly houses my wife’s rideable, but incomplete, early 1970’s 175 Yamaha dirt bike and some other miscellaneous motorcycles and parts of Andy’s. Both of these guys were my mates from our teenage years, when we came together with motorcycles and riding as our common bond.
Neither Marty nor I are are into restoring old motorcycles. He’s my main touring buddy (and features in most rides reports on this blog) and we’ve been great friends for the past 25 years.
We headed off from our rendezvous point in Colac (Vic) which is approx 150 kilometers (93 miles) from Melbourne. Our lunch destination turned out to be the cafe at a distillery in the tiny Western District township of Timboon (Victoria). This is quite close to the famous 12 Apostles and the gas processing plant for the Casino Natural Gas off shore rigs.
Here’s a map of our route starting in Colac at Steve’s place, which is approx 80 klm (50 miles) from my home.
|Map of ride from our rendezvous point in Colac (Vic).|
|Andy’s ’69 Commando|
|Steve’s ’71 Commando|
|The VFR and ZX9|
|A distillery-restaurant makes a nice point of difference from all the microbreweries that are popping up everywhere|
|Lunch on the deck was excellent|
|Visitors’ centre at the 12 Apostles|
|Two of these and another large helicopter were sitting idle. NY’s day seems to be a slow day for scenic flights!|
|Stop for drinks at the Gellibrand store|
This was a very laid back ride in near perfect motorcycling weather and a great start to 2011. Here’s hoping for many more great rides in 2011!
Ride safe everyone.
Three of the West Coast Procrastinators got together to begin 2008 with a celebratory ride. That meant they needed to behave on New Year’s Eve, however, a good night’s sleep was not enjoyed by all as we experienced the hottest New Year’s Eve ever recorded in Geelong.
Yesterday it was 43C (yes, that’s 109F) during the day and incredibly was still 38C at midnight.
I rode solo from Geelong to just near Colac where Steve’s property is.
Despite being a total fireban day again, Jan 1st 2008 was, however, a good day to head to the hills as a cool change was on its way.
I headed from Geelong to Colac. When I left at 9.00am it was already 30C, but I felt OK once I got moving. Andy trailered his bike down from Ballarat. After a brief chat we fired up the bikes and headed off towards Laver’s Hill. Here’s the route we took (click on map to enlarge), travelling the loop in a clockwise direction.
Two Norton Commandos
As we hit the Great Ocean Road there was a bank of frontal cloud which dropped the temp about 10C and made for really pleasant riding conditions.
We pulled up at the 12 Apostles helicopters helipad – just a paddock with a portable office really. You can get quite close to the choppers though.