October 26, 2004

Sorting the bike

Posted by DaveSmith

Brisbane to Mt. Glorious to Beenleigh
Days 4 - 10
Sunday, Oct. 17 - Saturday, Oct. 23 2004

I wake up at the rest stop after Cunningham's Gap, get the bike started and hit the road.

After about 90 seconds I see an old bike coming towards me and it's a Vincent twin. First time I've seen a Vincent out in the wild except around vintage races and shows. If I ever work 2 jobs 7 days a week again, it'll be for one of those. But I don't know if that'll happen. I did that for 18 months to pay for my Ducati and this trip.

Make my way into Brisbane and ride around aimlessly. Aimless wandering is my plan since the only date I need to be somewhere is August 14, 2006 to meet up with my sister Cary in Dublin. She's going to drink a Guinness for her 35th birthday there. The only other times I want to be somewhere is the Motogiro d'Italia and the vintage Isle of Man races in 2006. Don't know the dates for those yet, but no worries.

I phone Keith, but he's not home. Gavin is in Mexico, so I check my email and send something to Brendan Kelly and wander around on foot. I ask the cops if I can leave stuff in their station, but they say no. It's hard to wander when you're carrying a 50 pound (110k) backpack, a banjo, a helmet and a jacket on a warm day. So there's a lot of sitting and people watching going on. Cute girls in Australia are kind of rare. That might get me in trouble with some Aussies. I don't know if I'm spoiled by living in California, so we'll blame that.

A few hours go by and I check my email. Brendan has sent me his number so I call him. He gives me directions to a meeting point and I follow him home. Brendan is from a Honda GB500 list I'm on. The GB500 is a 500cc single, styled after the Brit bikes that Honda helped put under. Mostly Velocette cafe racer although some think Norton. It was Brit bike management that put the companies under, but the Japanese companies threw the dirt on the grave.

Which is to say, good thing I got ahold of somebody, it started raining and my bike was running like crap. I reattached part of the carb in Brisbane, the horn rattled off, the battery was dead, and it would barely start. Somewhere around the 100th kick would do it and even bump starting would rarely work. One of the pannier locking parts rattled off (even without having locks).

Brendan was a life-saver. The next day it poured down 3 inches and my bike's problems were sorted out over the next few days. He's a very meticulous mechanic. He built a plastic holder for the horn that hopefully won't crack from vibrations, we got a new carb body from Phil at Road and Race(http://www.roadandrace.com.au/catalog.htm ), tightened up some bolts which I think ended the oil leak, and fixed the gap in the points. Brendan also did a bit of cleaning up the wiring with modern Volvo truck parts. It starts first or 2nd kick usually. The gap had closed up on the break-in ride up from Berkley Vale (south of Newport) to Brisbane.

Graham Eyre, local Ducati club potentate and electronic engineer, came over and tested the regulator. He made me a part to fool the regulator into putting out more power, and showed Brendan and I where to move the condensor to keep it cooler and healthier.

The super slow charging had me concerned, but apparently, Ian McPhee (more on him later) said the most the rewound alternator will put out is 12.68 volts. This was after a few calls and consulting a few mechanics. A new bike/car puts out about 13.5 - 14.5 so you have a point of comparison. Batteries are 12.6 volts so hopefully it'll get trickle charged enough power to keep the brake light working. Graham supplied me with a small battery charger so no more battery problems (I hope). He also had a part I needed for my helmet (a plastic bolt rattled off). Brendan and I got new locks and a locking mechanism for the panniers and Ian did a bit of brazing to make them sturdy.

Brendan took me on several rides, fed me, beered me, and showed me and his 2 sons Daniel and Alex a tv bit on Britten motorcycles. John Britten, a kiwi from the Southern Island like Brendan, handbuilt a motorcycle which toyed with factory Ducatis at Daytona. I've always heard handbuilt, but didn't realize what was meant by handbuilt. The ENTIRE bike: engine, pistons, conrods, fuel injectors, tank and body. He made rims but wasn't happy with them and didn't have enough time to sort those out so he bought a set. I'm surprised he didn't mine his own ore and handcraft his own carbon fiber. John Britten died of cancer when he was 41. He was a friggin genius. Life is short like that sometimes, which is why I got off my ass to travel the world instead of waiting 'til I'm older. The only excuse I understand is if you have kids, otherwise realize that you aren't going to live forever. I don't want to be 70 and say, "I wish I would've traveled more".

I also saw another Vincent, a GB400 with a factory fairing and lots of other bikes and cars that aren't sold in the US. There's tons of small cars here. Smart cars by Mercedes, and every car company sells micro cars. I'm really surprised BMW hasn't re-released the Isetta. I know that they bought the plans from Iso in Italy, but BMW made them famous.

After a week at Brendan's house (which is too long for anyone to put up with a house guest), Brendan and I rode to Ian's house where I took up temporary residence.

(this entry has been closed for comments)

Posted by DaveSmith at October 26, 2004 07:48 PM

Hi Dave....Kevin was actually named "Daniel" and if he finds out that you forgot his name he will have to kill you:-) Daniel's nic name is Danny K, after the famous Danny Kaye who died many years ago. Remember to check the gap of the points every now and then if the bike gets hard to start. PS. Newport is known here in Australia as "Newcastle" for future reference.

Posted by: Brendan at October 27, 2004 01:17 AM

I'm going to go out on a limb here, but I believe Dave is fucking motorcycle crazy, or at least an avid fan of the motorized beasts. That or he needs to find some people to hang out with. Or both. I suppose I should have figured that out what with the dissasembled bikes in his old apartment.
Go Dave go.
Hey, does your bike have a cup holder for beers?

Posted by: Dr. Biggles at October 27, 2004 09:27 AM

From the gorn: >>>>>Cute girls in Australia are kind of rare<<<<<

Don't know about that! I just queried Google for "Cute Australian Girls" and got back 471 hits!!!

Now you just gotta find them and hope they don't punch you. Some of them appear to be "free" also, but for others you may need that credit card...

Posted by: deeann at October 27, 2004 01:30 PM

Sarah got a little fluffy orange kitten. I told her she should name him Scott Baio. She said, "No". Then, I told her that she should name him Dave "Smith" & she said, "Fuck no". The bums are living under the stairs again. They finally broke my spirit, so I no longer call the fuzz on them. Charlie Barnes is going on Wheel of Fortune in a week. I miss the days of the shopping bit of that show. Now, you just get boring cash. Man, your apartment is so clean now that you're gone!! It doesn't even smell anymore... The breakfast nook in the kitchen is actually used for dining now - it don't seem natural. Chris is bringing home a piano this weekend. He bought it at the Salvataion Army & asked if he could borrow my bus to bring it home. I informed him that there's no way in hell a piano's fitting in it. He then said, "Uh, you're right".

Posted by: Charlene at October 28, 2004 10:38 AM

Yeah, there was no possible way I'd name the cat after Mr. Smith. I named him after my father instead.

Posted by: Sarah at October 29, 2004 09:25 AM

gee...you're way more intelligent than i ever imagined...i had heard rumors, but i only knew you as the crazy drunk guy who lived next door, and that was too much like my ex-boyfriend to be comfortable...are there a lot of buck-toothed Aussies??? i liked buck-toothed people...good luck to you...

Posted by: doyla at October 29, 2004 11:59 AM