Restoring a barn-fresh 1966 Sears Allstate

Archive for the 'rants & rambling' Category

Decay in Detroit

I’ll admit that these photos are a stretch on a blog about classic bikes,  but bear with me as I make my case.  Consider that most classic bikes were built in factories that are now housing estates, or have been re-purposed long ago. Consider the populations that worked in factories and used the pre/post-war bikes, where are they now? The class of “worker” has disappeared, mostly in the West, we are now service providers, consumers and those with jobs are most likely in knowledge-based industries where carpel tunnel is the most frequent occupational hazard.

The infrastructure, be it industrial, personal or commercial the supported the machines we love has slowly disappeared – well at least with classic bikes. In the US the auto industry has shrunk from it’s glory (not quite collapsed). VW built a 1 billion dollar production plant in Tennessee as part of it’s plan to compete with Toyota for dominance as the largest auto producer. I think it is fair to say the big three, and specifically Detroit, have seen their day in the sun.  Detroit was the heart of the American love affair with the car, the economic engine that drove post-war prosperity and culture, to see it crumbling is fascinating and a testament to the changing global realities.

These photos provide a fascinating and sad insight to the scale of change that has occurred. The movie Roger & Me gave me insight to the human costs of the decline of the Detroit auto industry, these photos speak to me an a different and powerful way. I’ll have to admit I didn’t realize the extent of Detroit’s ruination – I was there last year to buy my Puch. I can’t say it was a sight seeing trip, I drove into the suburbs at night after driving 984km to cram a second bike on my trailer at 11 pm – we then headed for a motel at the border which was another 100km away, but that’s a story for another day.

Photographs by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre, full story can be seen on the Guardian’s site at this link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/gallery/2011/jan/02/photography-detroit?%2F%3Fpicture=370173054&index=0#/?picture=370173054&index=0

posted by Fastback in rants & rambling and have No Comments

Parts are collecting…

Well,  summer went by and I didn’t get much done on the bikes, didn’t get much riding in either.  Discovered a nice road just out of the city on an evening ride, up and down country lane at dusk – quite beautiful.

PING tinkle tinkle… was the sound I heard when I pulled my clutch lever. It was a lovely Friday afternoon and I thought I’d zip up the highway to a meeting- alas I didn’t make it as I got stuck in stop-and-go traffic when the clutch cable nipple went flying.
Luckily I didn’t rear end the car in front of me as I was only going at a walking pace, uncharacteristically I was positioned in the curb lane and rode up the shoulder to the next exit- whew.
The DVP rightly bears the nickname Don Valley Parking Lot, it was built for 60,000 cars a day and regularly sees 100,000. Needless to say,  the Norton gearbox was not happy about that ride home. On the bright side, I only had to stop twice – once on the off ramp and once for a delivery truck on doing a 6 point turn…  I avoided lights on major arteries by ducking into the residential streets, making my way by rolling stops and shifting fairly smoothly with throttle blips and careful foot work.

Last weekend I attended the CVMG Milton Swap meet, it was a bit chilly and we arrived late, so the pickings were slim and vendors were packing up. I picked up a new clutch cable for my Norton Commando and met “Drago” who is the local Puch expert. I’ve heard his name mentioned and now I know how to find him! He had a few bins of Puch parts. No doubt I will contact him as I dig into the restorations.

250 SGS piston - twingle parts

Puch M125 Transmission cases

There were very few bike for sale, a nicely restored AJS scrambler, just begging to get dirty.

Restored AJS Scrambler

The other extreme was this Sears badged Gilera. It is always nice to find bikes in worse shape then you own…!

more then a little Autosol needed here...

1960's Sears Gilera

Today I received 1.8kg of nuts and bolts. They will come in handy for when I reassemble the Puch 250 SGS.

369 screws, bolts, washers and nuts

369 screws, bolts, washers and nuts

I also recently received the seat springs for the solo seat for the Puch 250sgs. It was far more complicated than it should have been. The springs made it from Austria to Germany, into my father’s suitcase and finally to me. It was faster and easier to just ship 3.8lbs of nuts  directly to my door.

Lesson learned.

Puch 250sgs parts - so far....

Puch 250sgs parts - so far....

My plan is to get the ’66 SGS up and running – sort out the sidecar mounts (weld?) and then when all is fettled and sorted, do the body work, paint & chrome. Here’s my secret weapon- sandblasting pressure pot. I was going to make one – but it seemed like alot of work when this was on sale. Just need to make a blasting booth.

Princess Auto special....

Princess Auto special....

posted by Fastback in events/shows,parts,rants & rambling,restoration,Uncategorized and have Comments (9)

sidecars, Vespas, Nortons, MZs & PUCH

I have come to the conclusion that nobody reads this blog (or forum),  with the exception of Madnorton.

Here are a few possible reasons:

  1. The bulk of PUCH riders are Austrian, and most importantly live in Austria, speak German and not interested in an conversing in English.
  2. The American Sears Allstate crowd actually prefers emailing each other via absurdly awkward and Byzantine Yahoo forums (no offense Bill, it’s Yahoo not you!).
  3. Canadians and Brits view PUCHs as cheap, slow curiosities not work the effort to restore.
  4. In most parts of the world these bikes are, like point #3, just curiosities of little value, not collectible or iconic. BMWs are strong workhorses, British bikes serve double duty embodying the last gasp  of British manufacturing supremacy, and the roaring 60s. American bikes … don’t get me started.  What I am saying is that the humble Puch is like a nerdy reliable friend found in movies – inspiring no passion, PUCH isn’t the leading man. There is no swarm of ex-pat Austrians meeting in pubs on Sundays, waxing on about youthful trips to the races in the summer of ’66. You don’t find people telling you that PUCHS are just like the people that built them: strong, reliable and proud – godmit. No, the PUCH is pretty hard to get worked up about. To explore the movie star metaphor, motorcycles have stared as leading roles in movies, so it really isn’t a metaphor.
  5. My forum and blog are just plain boring.

So dear reader, I can hear you asking what is the point of all this? It is merely a long-winded way of saying that, from now on, I am going to write about motorcycles, scooter, sidecars in general, whatever suites my fancy. That includes sidecars, Vespas, Nortons, MZs & PUCH.

posted by Fastback in rants & rambling and have Comments (10)