I still love the Stafford show, there’s always something different and it makes you feel like you’re part of a much larger classic world.
This month I had one of those lucky ‘pinch me’ moments, being fortunate enough to spend a little time with some true racing legends – in no order, Charlie Williams, Alex George, John Cooper, Ben and Tom Birchall and Ian Hutchinson.
Being a journo and working around racing a little, I’d spent some time with Ian, knew what troubles, pain and hard work he’s had to endure, as well as how honest and damn talented he is. It was great to see him feeling confident, on the mend and he was saying he’s just bought an old Bultaco trials bike.
It was also really interesting to see Hutchy talking to the racers from previous generations, about their lives, careers and how the world of bike racing differs nowadays. The mutual respect was evident among these guys.
I’d never met Charlie Williams, Alex George or John Cooper before, and what true gentlemen they are. Being able to get a first-hand glimpse into the world they came from was incredible and totally different to today’s racing. They may have got start money in the old days, but boy did they earn it.
If you want to know more, both Charlie and John have books out at the moment. I’ve read John’s, and have just started Charlie’s – both well worth a read.
The Norton has been causing headaches this month. You would have thought with a Norton it would just be a case of ordering anything you need; but oh no. Commando parts, not a problem, and even Dominators are well catered for. But singles? Then good luck. I completely understand it’s supply and demand, but what do I do?
The valve guides, cams, cam followers, cam follower guides and rockers are knackered. Valve guides are no issue and thanks to a bimble around the stalls at Stafford a cam follower guide turned up (coincidentally, why don’t autojumble stalls put a simple list of what era or makes of parts they have?
Other than frames or tanks giving you a clue, you have no choice but to root around the boxes – it’s like doing your weekly shop wearing a blindfold). But the hard-wearing faces of the rockers and cam followers need building up where they’ve worn, then grinding or linishing down. So it has got me investigating engineering practices, which has all got quite fascinating – well to a Luddite like me.
Stelite welding or spraying, hard chrome, nitriding – how is best to refinish these parts? I’m still looking into it; will I revert to old-school methods, or will modern technology have the answer? Old meets new again; I’ll let you know who wins.
In the meantime, my friend, Neville, lent me his ES2 off-roader, so I couldfeel what all the hard work is for – it’llbe worth it, and the Norfolk Norton Owners’ Club had a splendid, one owner from new, N15CS on their stand at a local vintage show; so more motivation.
The bike meet season has started in full swing again, and where I live in Norfolk we are blessed. Old Buckenham Two Wheel Tuesday sees upwards of 500 bikes on a good evening, the Whitwell and Reepham Railway is still busy every Friday and first Wednesday of the month the Mid-Norfolk Railway has one at Dereham station.
First Thursday is Krazy Horse in Bury St Edmunds with bands, hot rods and a great night, while Wells-next-the-Sea usually has a few bikes anytime.
Check out your area – ask at shops or check the likes of Facebook; there’s bound to be several. You can arrive mounted on a classic, a modern, big or small and enjoy what others have turned up on. Who doesn’t like looking at bikes with a burger and a beer?
One of my favourite sights is therace leather-clad riders looking at the older bikes – I wonder if they’ve tried a classic? They’re welcome to have a go on my B31 – I’ll bet you a pint they come back smiling.
Old meets new, new meets old. In a world that seems hell-bent on polarising people against each other, it’s nice to see biking transcend above such behaviour. Get out there!
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