Thursday, 26 February 2009

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Mechanic (of sorts!)

Another chance to get down the shed for four or five hours and tinker last weekend. Nothing’s simple at Big Wes Racing - what I originally thought was a more than adequate sized shed has proved woefully inadequate so most of the general work on the bikes takes part outside on the patio. Also, in order to get the bikes down the side of the house and into the shed in the first place the handlebars have to be removed and a shortened set fitted to wheel them around with. Not a big problem really but it does mean a ten to fifteen minute job refitting the proper bars before you start.

The Shiny Stormer just needed a change of gearbox and primary chaincase oils and a check over the electrics and was ready for starting. A quick change of footwear (not even I am daft enough to try and start it wearing flipflops) a splash of fuel, set the kill switch and give it a hefty kick. Peace reigned. Keep kicking! On the fifth or sixth kick the engine caught and the familiar crackle from the ‘silencer’ filled the air. Choke off, blipping the throttle to keep it running, the smell of Castrol R started wafting around the garden, and all was well with the world. Suddenly the back door to the house burst open and the Good Lady Wife told me, in no uncertain terms, to stop making all that noise! – something to do with disturbing the birds (she’s a bit of a twitcher on the quiet) or some such. What was really scary was that it sounded just like my late mother-in-law Vera. My wife, not the Stormer, I hasten to add! So, engine stopped, a quick inspection of the spark plug (round, shiny, with a little sticky out bit in the middle and another bent bit – all seemed ok to me) and a last check over before moving on to the BSA.

The BSA B50 is, essentially, a modified road bike compared to the purpose built Stormer so weighs considerably more. After much effort it emerged from the shed and was lifted onto it’s stand. A quick oil topup (more ‘R’. I’m not sure if it’s the best oil for the engines but it certainly smells the best!) before tracing through all the electrics to make sure everything is still ok. Even though it is fitted with electronic ignition it is critical that everything is absolutely perfect to ensure any chance of starting the beast. Checked over the suspension and adjusted the head races and everything seemed ready to try and start it but by now it was getting dark and starting to rain so, convinced that shed fairies wouldn’t undo all my hard work and it would start when required, and not wanting to incur the further wrath of the GLW, I started the process of swapping back handlebars and shoehorning the bikes back into the shed.

Fours weeks to the first race meeting on March 15th and I’m well ahead of schedule with the bikes. Checking with Paul Woodford, one of the farmers that kindly allows me to use their land for practice, it seems my normal field would be more suited to bog-snorkelling than riding scramblers so looks like I’ll start the season once more without any practice. Doesn’t bode well! My fitness regime also doesn’t seem to be having a lot of effect – despite trying to be good with food and alcohol intake, I seem to be gaining weight. I suspect the GLW is trying to sabotage my racing efforts by tempting me with her pies and cakes (she does make the best pies in the country, probably). I must be more strong willed.

Anyone for tiffin?

Monday, 16 February 2009

Bunfight at the Bungalow Cafe

What fun! Sunday saw the AGM of the Pre65 Motocross Club at the Bungalow Café, Marks Tey. The great and the good of the membership attended, including our Hon. President John Giles, and everyone had their chance to have a say on the running of the Club and its regulations. I was going to take some photos but decided it would be just that bit too gruesome for public consumption!

The preceding autojumble had a couple of interesting Greeves for sale and one notable committee member was spotted squirreling away a gearbox, forks, bars and other assorted bits and pieces that he would, no doubt, have to hide from the wife on his return home. The meeting proper started with its normal promptness at precisely 12:14hrs. with the Chairman clambering on a chair to tower above the seated throng. Following his customary introduction and thanking of all the members that had helped make the 2008 season such a success, he went on to announce that the June meeting would be a memorial meeting to Roy Patten and John Waylett at a new track at Lamarsh. Some members visibly blanched when it was announced that the land included hills and that the tracks would take full advantage of the terrain – we’re not known as the Essex Branch of the Flat Earth Society for nothing!

Once the financial review had been completed and the officers of the Club re-elected we came to AOB – always a lively (if lengthy) debate at these meetings. Importantly, after much debate and a four way vote on options put forward from the floor, the smaller capacity class for pre 1965 bikes has been set as “up to 350cc”, overturning last years ruling. Most people seemed happy with the decision although I did overhear one of the faster riders discussing how far he could over-bore his Greeves in a bid to keep up with the trick four-strokes. Other topics discussed covered signing on and the use of pegs for practice sessions to segregate Racers from Clubmen, authority at the start gate, and changes in eligibility for Cheney type frames, all of which were fascinating to the people there but would be of little interest to the wider public so I will gloss over them.

It is strange, however, that the most vanilla of subjects often provoke the most heated debate when you get a group of passionate people together. So it was when the subject of riding kit was raised. Our regulations state that outer clothing should be of ‘period appearance’ but in the last couple of seasons a growing number of riders have been wearing modern shirts and jeans with dayglo graphics. Claim and counter-claim was made over the relative costs of modern and traditional motocross jeans with leather varieties supposedly costing between £70 and £400, depending who you believe. In the end it was left to the riders to exercise discretion and try to minimise the encroaching ‘dayglo menace’. I will be interesting to see the effect at the first meeting in March!

In an effort to toe the corporate line my race shirt for the coming season is a replica of the 1960’s BSA Works Team shirts in black and it looks like I’ll be dusting off the old leathers that I noticed had mysteriously shrunk the last time I attempted to wear them. As I’m organising the meeting in August, I might well enforce a dress code just to stir things up a bit. Cravats and monocles all round! Pip Pip!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Down the Shed

Managed to spend a coouple of hours down the shed tinkering (it's a bloke thing!) and generally sorting things out ready for the start of the season. Always makes me smile when I see the plaque that my sister-in-law gave me for my 50th birthday !
Possibly the poshest shed in Essex?