Many of the international readers may not know that today is Memorial Day here in the United States. Memorial Day was originally Decoration Day honoring Union Soldiers of the Civil War but was expanded to honor all U.S. soldiers who died in military service after World War I. Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday in May and is a bittersweet holiday. It honors those soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice while at the same time marking the beginning of the Summer holiday season.
On mission in Karbala 2009
This Memorial Day is particularly bittersweet for me in that two weeks ago I was honorably discharged from the United States Army after 21 years of service. It feels a little strange not being in uniform any longer but I am proud that I stood up to be counted for my conviction to the principles that make this country great. To all the soldiers, sailors, and airmen out there I wish you good luck and to those who have given there life for their country particularly those I was unable help I say God Speed.
So if you see a soldier, a veteran, or a wounded warrior today please make sure you pat them on the back and say thanks. SOLDIER ON!
For readers of this blog, I wrote a post titled "Playful Derision" on the subject of the "tweenie devil" or cock-a-snoot mascot. Since that article, I have been smitten by the figure searching high and low for the exact example featured in Leach's paintaing of "Brooklands George" featured in the post. They are not easy to find but I finally acquired one.
I have plans for this little fellow. The original will naturally find its suitable place on my Norton Model 7. I also plan on making a mold and casting the mascot either myself or finding some help. Every motorcyclist deserves one of these!!!!!
After four years of searching, calling, disappointment I have finally acquired the last missing bit of tinware for Rocinante. I believe these vintage bikes have a soul. I don't mean it in some whacked out, new age, metaphysical, crystal worshipping way but classic bikes have a certain character. There have been times where I could tell my Model 7 was unhappy about something. I definitely know the bike was unhappy about having its tail bobbed. It was not an easy task to acquire the rear fender and the whole process has been filled with anxiety.
I won't hide it. I got the part through Ebay and believe me I can hear the groans. The reality is that for someone like myself that lives outside the british classic lines of drift here in South Texas you can trust me that Ebay is a godsend. I am fortunate that my experience with Ebay has been pretty good. No doubt that I have overpaid and been the subject of sniping resulting in a bidding strategy that probably would get me in trouble with the wife. The bottom line is that there is no Kempton Jumble here and Ebay for all its warts has opened classic motorcycling to those who otherwise couldn't including myself.
The secret to Ebay is developing relationships with sellers. I have fortunately developed a network of sellers that know me. I go out of my way to communicate with them and hold realistic expectations about what I am buying. I research their reputation in depth via their feedback and look around for pricing of like or similar objects. Let's face it's no different with an auction house or even a dealer. Classic motorcycling is always frought with surprises. Personally, I cuss them and enjoy them at the same time. It's part of the hobby. Sometimes treasure,sometimes trash.
Needless to say, the goal has been to slowly make friendships and the blog has provided a avenue to do so. I appreciate the support of all those that visit and comment. In return, if I can help you particularly european hotrodders and motorcyclists let me know. You can see by the last post that I have access to things that may be difficult for you all to find or super expensive. Drop me a line and I will help if I can. Anyway, straight from Jakarta, Indonesia I present my rear fender.
Clearly, there is some work to do including the removal of some additional metal work. Basically the same type of welding that I have to do on the front fender. Fortuitous for me in that I can do both at the same time.
I went to the North Houston Hot Rod Swap Meet today. The advertisement mentioned motorcycles so I was a bit excited at seeing some old bikes. Well, not much in the realm of old bikes and most of the car stuff was dedicated to late 1970's era blown engines but there were a few interesting items.
I was happy to find in my email a near immediate response to my Friday Pin-up posting explaining in more detail (see previous post) plus additonal pictures of the great Geoff Duke. I am very excited because this meets my intent on making this site participative. Thanks to Dave. Don't pass up the opportunity to peruse his two sites that are outstanding: Bits, Scraps, and Allsorts and Tonup Boys.
One of the most important aspects of motorcycling is the friendship between enthusiasts. I can say that since I started my blog I have met personally and electronically some of the coolest people around. Many have provided knowledge, encouragement, as well as inspiration. I was very honored to have been included on the blogroll of Southsiders. A cool bunch of guys frome the homeland that inspired me to write about my experiences. So this post is both a thank you and a shout out. I also just noticed that they have a shop. Check it out here!!!!!
I'll admit that I collect just about anything related to Norton Model 7's and more specifically the plunger framed models. I collect pictures, articles, even references some of which have already appeared in the blog. But one to of the pleasures of classic motorcycling that I' ve recently found myself relishing is the history. It's fun to put one's bike in context and I have to thank without a doubt Paul d'Orleans of The Vintagent as well as Pete and Kim Young of Occhio Lungo. Pete put out a bibliography for the vintage and classic motorcyclist that has literally turned my motorcycling life around. The books he suggested really have helped my development as a mechanic. An interesting side-effect has been my exposure to period motorcycle literature which has turned out to be very enjoyable in addition to being practical.
I recently acquired an autographed, first edition of Racing though the Century by Geoff S. Davison. A great book about the early years of motorcycle racing and part of a series of several editions on the subject. I love the Manx Norton artwork on the dustcover. Classic stuff. The autograph is a bonus too. Unfortunately there is not much information on Mr. Davison.
A thorough internet search didn't yield much except for one small personal connection. It turns out that Geoff Davison won the 250cc class at the 1923 French Motorcycle Grand Prix held in Tours, France. Tours is the town that I grew up in as a child and that my Grandmother aged 101 still resides. She or my Grandfather, a keen motorcyclist in his own right, could quite possibly have seen him roaring throught the streets of one of the most beautiful cities in France. If anyone has information or pictures of Geoff S. Davison please send them so that a biography can be built on Wikipedia.
Kate and I went to the Keels and Wheels Concours yesterday and it was marvelous. It takes place at the Lakewood Yacht Club in Seabrook near Houston, Texas. The Concours is unique in that it features vintage boats and cars with a few motorcycles and a WWI biplane. This show ranks among the finest on the order of Pebble Beach, Amelia Island, and the Broadmoor. Here are some highlights and at the end a slide show of all my pics.
Nice BMW outfit
A Morgan Aero from the 30's
Japanese Cafe Racer
Lincoln Indianapolis by Boani
American LaFrance (fire engine builder) Racer
A nice variety of vehicles to suit all tastes. I focused on the vintage machines but there are sections for specific marques, muscle cars, racers, even a few military rigs. Check out my slideshow below:
My French grandfather was a motorcycle fanatic and like many genetic conditions it skipped a generation to me. I made the plunge into vintage motorcycling by coming across a magazine that rekindled a passion that I always had as a kid. I purchased and started refurbishing a 1951 Norton Model 7, which is the departure point of this blog. While motorcycling is my hobby, I have found that there is a convergence of many different motor cultures. This blog is dedicated to camaraderie, sharing knowledge, and having fun while exploring the world of classic motorsports. I also encourage others who want to contribute to drop me an email.