A grand day out

I did have a plan, to head down to Gasoline in the middle of Sydney, to act professionally, to ask relevant people relevant questions, and to take pics and have a caption for each. Then I walked in the front gate and got lost in the whole experience. A whole bunch of people, working for a common good, that of the empowerment of all those on two wheels. A community of bikers, looking to build the technical skills of anyone who wants to ride a bike that doesn’t look like it just rolled off the factory floor. Vaughan from MotorRetro working the English Wheel, professional photography for anyone who wanted their bike shot, and so much more.

I’ll be damned if I didn’t walk around the whole time with a big goofy grin on my face at this whole concept, how cool it is, and why ideas like this need to be promoted. However, I did get a whole heap of pics, please enjoy.

It’s the little things that matter


It’s the sorta thing you like to know, by some old hand informing you of it. The spring loaded cover for the oil filter at the front of the block,  which if not held back will shoot oil and a spring and a cover right at your front tyre. Maybe I’m over exaggerating a little, but one does when oil is flung unexpectedly.

And yes that is a cut down milk bottle masquerading as an oil drain tin.

Dumb luck

Anyone who tells you that removing the rocker cover from an early 80s GSX250 engine, is a damn liar. After an hour of ‘valve cover jujitsu’, as it has has been put before, I removed the valve cover and found the hole in behind the spark plug goes to nowhere. Nowhere! Like Suzuki knew some goober, at some point, would poke a hole in his cylinder head and it looks like I have been lucky in this.


So we are good now. After working some metal putty into the hole, following s good clean of the area, the best I could carry out with the access to such a tight area. The main problem with cleaning such an area was that the spark plug was in the way, and if I pulled it out, run the risk of pushing detritus into the cylinder itself.

We are good now though, utilising my Father’s Day putting the fuel tank back on with my little helpers, I have drained the fuel bowls after I have left the bike sitting for so long, and I am ready to fire up this machine that I love and hate in equal amounts.

Stay tuned, video soon to feature me starting the bike.

Or beating it with a big stick.

One of those days…

So I have finally braved the cold evenings to change the plugs on my bike, in the feeble hope that I might be able to get it running again. 19mm deep socket, correct length extension, decent size ratchet. Draining the tank, I think about what a pleasure and a pain this bike has been. It has cost me so many hours, but it helps me de stress, and it’s a much better option to blow off some steam than to drink my stresses away I guess.


I start the socket on the right hand plug, I hear this clicking noise and pull the socket out to see this…


I’m trying to work out where the thread part is, and realise the bloody thing is still in the head. Luckily, I have access to a decent screw extractor set, five minutes later I’m holding this:


Wind in the new plug, go to take the left hand plug out and I work out where the oil leak is coming from the head.


The question is now for you my readers, will metal putty be adequate for this?

And ending on a lighter note, while trawling eBay, I now know that the front profile of a Suzuki GS500 engine looks like an owl.


Just A Saturday…

The image of the mid sized airhead Beemer, sitting on a side road, pointing towards oblivion is everything motorcycling is about. A well prepared bike and no idea of where you will end up…

Backstreet Thunder

So it was just another Saturday, too short as usual, and too much to fit in, but it was sunny, and things needed to be done, starting with a little ride to a lane I have passed many times, but never been up, so out with R60, and a ride into Hampshire…

Norton-Eldo_008 copy The road to Ibston

Norton-Eldo_009 copy I wonder where it goes?

Next I had to go and see how my Norton Clubman was coming along, very well as it happens, and I even ran today, just a few more parts to finish, and it will be time for the road…

Norton-Eldo_014 copy Brooklands Can and bum pad

Norton-Eldo_012 copy Will it start

Finally what do you do if you want a blower Bentley, but don’t have the odd million to buy one? Well easy just buy an old Rolls Royce and build your own version from scratch.

Norton-Eldo_021 copy Bentley Special, Hand Made.

Norton-Eldo_023 copy Supercharged Special

Norton-Eldo_022 copy Do…

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Heaven, must be heaven


Unleashing a vintage motorcycle on the winding road to St Albans, parking in the front driveway and ambling into the 1840s vintage pub for a cold ale. I couldn’t think of a better ride one could take.

can anyone recognise the bike on the right?

With thanks to Google Maps, for letting me roam the world while being stuck at my office desk.

A Wolf in wolf’s clothing


Although a Sportster by name, today’s feature bike is very much a sporting machine far from the chrome laden highway cruiser guise it left the factory in. Built by Jeremy Hudson utilising a 2006 model Harley, the bulk has been stripped back, and a cafe racer aesthetique built around the big American V twin.


Taking the Sportster back to bare bones, a raw aluminium fuel tank and rear guard were fashioned up. To keep the ride looking lightweight and ready to take on the track, it only features a solo seat. Following the concept of raw aluminium features, the front guard is also fashioned up in the same material.


To offset all that shiny aluminium, the factory paint job has been retained on the engine, with the polished fins breaking up the bulk of the black power plant. Featuring moon disc wheels, the whole bike has a futuristic look to it, while still paying homage to the cafe racers of old.


From chrome laden highway hauler, this Sportster has had a full overhaul, and come out the other side as a bike with touches of Kimura styling, without the price tag to suit. Currently on the floor for sale at Gasoline Motor Co at Alexandria in Sydney, this amazing one off build could be yours, and there is no chance you will pull up next to another one like it on your next ride. Check out the listing here:



With many thanks to Jason from Gasoline Motor Co, who have the coolest range of big toys for big kids.

A fortunate life

Sitting in a lounge room on the outskirts of Sydney, with a pile of primary case gaskets and a Joe Hunt magneto sitting on his coffee table, you can tell Peter Courtney is a bit of a bike fan. With over five decades experience on two wheels, Peter has been there and done it, and he has had some cool rides along the way.

So Peter, how did it all start?

I remember when I was six my mother gave me a jacket that had a picture of a motorcyclist on it, riding along a straight road to the horizon. I reckon I spent more time paying attention to that picture than I did to the schoolmaster. After that I remember my scoutmaster having a Triumph bike and sidecar, I had a ride in that and knew first chance I got I would have a bike.

What was the first bike that you owned?

On my seventeenth birthday I bought a two year old Triumph 6T. I bought that bike not even knowing how to change a spark plug, but I found I had a feel for the mechanical aspect of owning a bike. That thing was quite a bike, but I liked the Triumph bikes, still do now. I owned a 49 Speed Twin once, don’t know what was done to it but I could keep up with later model Bonnevilles up to about 60 mile an hour.

So you had the need for speed?

You could say that. A few months after I purchased my first road bike, I bought my first race setup. It was a Vincent Black Shadow sidecar outfit, bought in pieces for 65 pounds. There were boxes and boxes of bits with it, but luckily the owner supplied a parts catalogue and workshop manual with it. So much detail in the manuals in those days, if I had two bolts of similar length but didn’t know what went were, I could consult the parts drawing and match the number of threads on the drawing to see where the bolt went. I spent that winter sat next to my kerosene heater, polishing until the wee hours of the morning. I ended up having to sell that bike to pay for my speeding fines.

So you were a bit of a Vincent fan?

Definitely, I have owned 6 Vincent motorcycles all told, with two being Black Shadow model bikes. I used to race Vincent sidecar outfits whenever I could, I just came across a pair of Vincent intake manifolds in my shed the other day. When I owned a Vincent Comet, the 500cc engine bike, I would drape my army greatcoat over the back end of the engine so people would think they were drag racing a Black Shadow.

How many bikes would you say you have owned all up?

I’d definitely say over forty, easily.

Got any bikes you have owned that stand out in your memory, either good or bad?

I owned a 1946 Indian Chief, 1012cc ex cop bike. Most fun clunker I ever had. It was fitted up with a sidecar, and because of the left hand throttle, if you took a corner too quickly you could jump over into the sidecar, yet still have easy access to the throttle so you could stay on it coming out the corner. Useful thing that bike was, when I had to transport my AJS competition bike I would take off the sidecar body and mount up some flat boards. Then I would just have to strap the ‘compy’ to the boards and I could ride up to Moorebank to race.

One bike that the memory haunts me was a mid 70s Husqvarna 360 automatic. Rare as anything, but I could understand why they were, as I could never get the thing to run right. Even when I could get it up to speed it had no engine braking capability so it was no good for anything exciting.

How much had changed since you started riding?

Well back when I started riding, I always saw the motorcycle cops as nothing more than ‘bikies with badges’. I remember getting yelled at by a police cyclist while I was riding my AJS ‘compy’, getting told it was too loud. He had completely disregarded the fact I was 10 miles over the speed limit. That AJS was a hoot to ride though, one night I blew through two bikes sitting at a set of lights thinking they were my mates, turns out they were bike cops.

What about later on down the track?

I was the proud owner of a Kawasaki Z1R, I remember watching them in the Castrol 6 Hour and thinking ‘my bike can’t do that’. I pulled into a dealership not long after that and while talking to the service advisor had another fellow interrupt us, to tell me to ‘get rid of those Japanese Julius Marlowes and to get a decent set of shocks’. I took his advice, and I took some rubber off the footpegs getting the compound going in the rubber. Worth it though, it was like riding a different bike. It could lean into corners and handle, it was something else alright.

So you got a hang of the technical side of things?

Racing the Vincent bikes and the AJS helped a lot, but owning so many bikes helped out as well. I’m a truck driver as well, so being mechanically adept is handy as well. Sometimes I used what I had learnt in one area and utilised it in another. When I learnt I was going to be taking my truck to an area that is notoriously dusty, I got UniFilter up at Gladesville to build me a foam filter I could oil up, a much better option than the paper filter offered by the truck manufacturers.

So what is your current ride?

My bike at the moment is a 1956 Triumph T100. I picked it up last year at Shannon’s auctions, it’s just what I was looking for. Pre unit with TR pipes, the bike looks like it is going 100 miles an hour just sitting still. It came by way of Singapore, it was first sold in 56 through one of Triumph’s dealers over there. I’m a big fan of the Triumph bikes, and this one is definitely a beautiful example of a Trumpy.

What are you working on right now?

I have a lawn mower fitted up with a Villiers engine, just trying to put the last touches on it to get it to run right. I’m also working on my Kenworth truck, just picking away at what needs to be done to the old girl. The Triumph is just getting some electrical parts rebuilt. She will be as good as new, probably better.


This interview originally appeared in Retro & Classic Bike magazine.