The older I get…

I have been contemplating tradition.  More specifically I have been wondering where tradition stops and superstition starts.  When I’m working on Little Project in the shed I have been wearing the same cargo trousers and tee-shirt for almost every oily session.   This makes sense because both items get covered in oil and grease and dead things that have at some stage tried to live in Little Project but the tee-shirt in particular had a hold on me, (“had” being the operative word).  It was a grey No Fear shirt with the legend “The older I get the better I was” writ large across the shoulders.

It wasn’t a purchased shirt, I think it came to me via my father who had in turn received it from my sister-in-law so there was some sentiment attached to it.   Barry Sheene had a lucky pair of blue pants (you can probably find a picture of them if you search the internet long enough) that he used to wear.   He made a point of wearing them for every race.  He won a lot of races but also had more metal bits in him than Metal Mickey.  Tradition or superstition?

Back to the No Fear tee.   It is fair to say that other adults I share a house with have not been keen on my tee-shirt.  I’m not exactly sure why but when I finally decided last week that it was due for the rags pile instead of the ironing pile there was a small celebration and the dusty champagne bottle in the wine rack nearly lost its cork.

The shirt took the path that all old things must take.   In this case it was down to the shed to be used as a duster.  I vowed only to use it for the final polishing of bits.   A suitable end for a long-standing companion I thought.

That sort of brings us down to the shed and what has been happening there this weekend, but not quite…

I was cleaning up the yokes (sometimes known as the triple clamp) and wanted to just buff them up (I do a lot of buffing).   “No Fear Shirt!” I thought.   I pulled the shirt from the rags drawer (the shed is still organised) and started cutting it into rag size pieces but I was struck by tradition/superstition/sentimentality and couldn’t quite bring myself to totally desecrate it so shed now has a pseudo flag hanging from one of the rafters.

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I feel better about it now.  I used some small bits of the shirt to buff whilst the important bit watched over me and approved.

Onwards towards Little Project shortly but I read a quote from Mark Twain that is just wonderful.   Take it with you and benefit from it in ways that I cannot contemplate.

“A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something that he can learn in no other way”. 

You will remember the Little Project had a brief hiatus whilst some important bits were being powder coated.  They’re back! (If you are old enough, you may catch “poltergeist” connotations there).  Oh how good they look.   If you are in the Middlesex/Surrey area of the UK and you want something powder coated, I thoroughly recommend Nationwide Powder Coatings.  The people there are just lovely, they fit the “little” jobs between the corporate stuff but my goodness they do a good job.  They also do wet paint so the tank, side panels and mudguard will be visiting them at some time to come back in glorious (RAS 3020) technicolour.   The only slight issue that I have found is that the fork legs (admittedly I wasn’t expecting them to be powder coated) are now internally lined with the grit used to blast them clean.   I welcome any suggestions on how to get grit out of a 33mm wide and 320cm long tube.  I am contemplating squirting them internally with a power washer but I’m not sure it is a good idea.

The frame looks delicious.  Truly.   You could not imagine the effect that sending a rusty thing away and having it come back spotless has on the psyche.   I am now officially in rebuild mode rather than strip down mode and to be frank, I am surprised.  When I embarked on Little Project it was more of a giggle than anything else.  I really didn’t expect to be taken over by it quite so much.

I do know that a couple of the readers of this blog are restoring bikes like mine.   I also know that they are missing some little bits that – whilst not crucial to getting the bike on the road – are quite important to them.    You may not want to look at the photograph below.   Seat makes a showing, as does the delightfully restored rack (even regular readers will not know that the rack is an integral part of a CT125 and the availability of them is akin to Rocking Horse poo).

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Next weekend is going to be just a little bit frantic.  It is the Aviva Premiership final so the folk of the East Midlands are descending en masse (if you’re reading this and I’ve promised you parking tickets, let me know when you will be here).  It is also the next auto-jumble and my nuts and bolts shopping list is prepared and ready.  If you should happen to be one of my work customers who has also chosen to make this weekend  major upgrade weekend, give me a break! Please!

Briefly back to tradition – It is a tradition of mine to take a strong drink during my Sunday afternoon post.   Today’s post has been aided and abetted by a 15-year-old Glendronach revival.  Thoroughly recommended.

Thankyou for coming to visit the Little Project story.   I do appreciate that the internet has far more gripping things than a 30-year-old Honda to grab your time.  If you want to go back to the start of the story, please click here.

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The Napoleon of mechanics

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through  continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our  freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.”

At least, that’s what Martin Luther King said and I think he knew his stuff.   Mind you, he also said that he had a dream.   His speech in 1963 was a powerful statement against the suppression of civil rights in the USA, specifically in the South of the country.  His words still resonate and even 50 years later it is difficult to read the entire speech without feeling a finger on your spine.   My dreams are usually instigated by blue cheese and not remembered the following morning.  Still, who wants U2 to write a song about you anyway.

Let us get back to change.  Little Project is ready to go on a trip.   It is convenient but complete coincidence that HOAP arrives as the last bits of rusty Little Project are consigned to the ever-increasing pile of “things to go to the tip” and the frame (plus a few select other pieces) take a trip to the powder coating shop to come back glistening, clean and (hopefully) the correct colour.   It won’t break my heart if the powder coaters can’t match the exact shade of “Shiny Orange” that can occasionally be glimpsed through the rust but I shall raise a glass if they can get close (and also supply me with a pot of the same colour for the tank and side panels).   Little Project didn’t go down quietly, there was one more bit to remove; Known locally as the “rusty mudguard bit” and in Honda terms as “Fender, B,Rear (P/N 80102382670)” I’ve been putting off tackling it.   Four nuts hold it in position.   Four sheared nuts no longer hold it in position but the bits in the frame may cause an interesting dilemma. I drilled through the first rusty nut (anybody familiar with Dumpy’s Rusty Nuts?) and inserted my trusty extractor only for the extractor to snap.   I drilled through the second rusty nut with a bigger drill and a view to tapping a new thread in the remains of the hole.  The tap snapped in the hole so I’ve now 50% of the holes that hold rusty mudguard in place contaminated with tool kit.  I reckon that a bit of angle grinding and brazing some nuts on to the frame will fix the joby nicely.   Shame I don’t have an angle grinder and don’t know the first thing about brazing.

What of HOAP?   It arrived on Friday in a fanfare of phone calls and some excitement on my part.   After unloading it from the courier and importing into the “not shed but don’t tell anyone” it looked incredibly like this.

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Now that is exciting enough for anybody.  Obviously HOAP is no longer Honda On A Pallet and that surely means that the name should change.  So please give a warming round of applause to Honda Off A Pallet.  Commonly known as, erm, HOAP.

Sadly, the delivery man forgot to leave one of the boxes of HOAP so I’m not sure how accurate Dave’s (vendor, not delivery man) comment of “it looks like it is all there” is.  I know that the missing blue box contains an engine.  I really hope that it also contains all of the nuts and bolts that hold HOAP together, otherwise we are in for a bit of adventure.

Now that HOAP has arrived,  it is a little like having a three dimensional jigsaw puzzle without a close up of the answer.  There are many bits that I think “I know roughly where that goes” but I’ve found five bits so far that have made me go “?!”.   I’m sure that their purpose will come to light as we move on but for the moment I am baffled.   One bit is so baffling I have sent a picture of it to Honda in the hope that they can explain it to me.  I suspect it might be off a Ford Focus and just in the wrong box.  Somebody will be cross.

I haven’t really mentioned the arrival of Seat.   I’m in awe of Seat!  I have been told that Seat can’t stay in the kitchen, can’t stay in the bedroom and in fact has to go to the shed!   Seat has smuggled itself into the boys room and is hiding under the bed for the time being.  Whatever you do, don’t tell G.

Thank you so much for your time.   I welcome your comments on the story of Little Project.  When you get the time, go and find out where the title of this post comes from, he’s a suprisingly inspiting man!