Monday 30 August 2010

Back on the ferry,

A very wet start to the day and windy, we packed up and said our goodby's before heading up to meet Geert for lunch in a nice cafe outside zeebrugge and now we're on the ferry, a brilliant trip and a great rally.. Picture's to follow soon.

Saturday 28 August 2010


Arrived in the rain yesterday and immediately got forced by Guy into having a beer, not a bad way to start the Begonia. Picked Fi up at the station, she had to work on the Thursday so came here by train. Good night last night but the tiredness got to me so it wasn't a late one. Now in Ypres having a late lunch and hoping the rain stays away.

Friday 27 August 2010

Lost in Belgium

As usual we're lost en route to the rally. According to the gps which i've just turned on we're only 5 miles away. P&O were they're usual shit self's yesterday. I think they are now behaving like the airlines by treating the customers badly. The boat was also scabby and could do with a re fit. Stopped for a coffee in this nice pub.

Thursday 26 August 2010


Petrol scarcity

This is us stopped less than a mile from the services with david refueling his bike on the hard shoulder. At least now he knows how far it goes on his new tank. Stopped for a break now and of course some petrol.

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Getting organised

This week has been spent getting organised for the trip to the Begonia Rally in Belgium, leaving from Hull tomorrow so only 300 miles to get there for the ferry. There is always stress involved though especially when a ferry is involved, took MVD along to fill up the petrol tank today and it seemed to be missing a bit on tickover on the right side, is it just me being paranoid?, changed the plug anyway and feel happier. I also noticed the Right fork seal is leaking a bit, now this is a right PITA (pain in the a*se) as I rebuilt the forks with new stanchions bushes seals and dampers in the winter, there is a definite quality control issue with parts now, one leg was actually 0.5mm smaller than the other! now this may not sound like much but its probably the reason I have a weeping fork leg. Anyway hopefully that's the least of the worries, its going anyway, everything is packed, passport looked out so hopefully tomorrow Belgium here we come. Updates as usual when I can.

Sunday 22 August 2010

Another Norton Triangle mystery

Out for a run today on the Fastback which is now a million times better since I've rebuilt the suspension, it was going really well until we entered the Norton triangle ( an area around Lonniddry to Fenton Barns where all of my Nortons have broken down) as I pulled up to the junction with the main A199 the bike wouldn't take any throttle at all. This was exactly the same place where the 750s went onto one cylinder a few weeks ago! Using at first just a Swiss army Knife I stripped the carb, managed to get petrol over myself and even managed to get some all over my face. After the carb I needed to get into the boyer pickup to have a look, luckily Gill had a toolkit on her Suzuki (note to self, must carry some basic tools in future) , cover off and there it was, a broken connector on the pickup, a bit of swiss army knife surgery saw it fixed, Fi meanwhile had been off in search of insulating tape, there was none in the shop so a makeshift insulator was crafted from the old connector. Fixed and running great now, must remember to do a permanent fix BEFORE I take it out again!

Saturday 21 August 2010

Sad News

I just got news that my good friend from Holland Frans Willemsen died in his sleep last night (Friday) A real gentleman and stawlart of the Dutch Norton Owners Club, known by everyone on the International scene he will be sadly missed. I am fortunate to have known Franz and glad that despite being unwell he came to Spain this year to take part in the International rally there, little did we know it would be his last. Franz was a believer in enjoying life and living it to the full, our thoughts are with his wife Gaby at this difficult time.
The picture of Franz was taken at the National Rally in Stirling in 2008, sitting listening and giving Norton advice.

Another addition to the Stable

First thing this morning I had to go and pick up another Guzzi Le Mans Mk3, its a disease this buying bikes game, originally I thought I'd break it for spares but its too good for that so it joins the growing list of restoration projects in hand!
This afternoon I finally got a ride on the 750 roadster I've been working on, I have to say that despite much swearing trying to get it to run well I finally have and it appears to go well. The only other thing I'll change is the gearing, at the moment its on a 19 tooth front which means at 70mph its screaming, not good for longevity of the motor or for getting the best from the Torquey Commando unit.
Photo of the 750 and the Mk3 Commando after todays run.

Friday 20 August 2010

Captain Dangerous!

Yesterday I popped in to see an old friend, Peter Burgess or "Budge" as he's better known, still racing despite having some pretty bad injuries through the years. He was all excited about this classic outfit he bought earlier in the year and which had a successfull debut at the Bob Mac meeting at East Fortune. Budge is the passenger, that is he hangs out on the corners to try to keep the sidecar wheel on the ground, like I say "Captain Dangerous" ! It's guys like this that are the mainstay of the racing scene, they're not famous, they spend an incredible amount of money to compete and all for FUN! Not for glory, not for a fat contract from the big manufacturers but just to have a good time, to me these guys are the real heroes of the racing scene. Budge was telling me that another old friend Wattie Brown is off to the Isle of Man this week to compete in the Classic Manx, second in the Senior last year I hope he gets the well deserved win, good luck Wattie

Would you like to hang out of this at speeds of over 100mph?

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Scottish Tourism

Now we had a plan to have a small get together this weekend in Dunkeld, Perthshire and camp at the Invermill campsite there. Not long ago I would just have turned up on the day but now that "we" are organised Fi called yesterday to book spaces for our tents. "we don't do groups" "we don't allow bookings for one night" "Its the weekend we'll probably be full anyway" and that was without mentioning we would be turning up on motorcycles heaven forbid.
People who run businesses can of course decide who they want as customers and how to run their business but I certainly will not be darkening their door again (or camping pitches).
Now that's a not untypical story from Scotland and its tourist industry, I sometimes wonder why people come here at all, changeable weather and stroppy staff "what do you mean you want something to eat, its 2.30, the kitchen doesn't open again till 6pm!"
I have travelled extensively, camping and in hotels and have to say my worst experiences have been at home in Scotland, I always feel nervous about asking for a camping space if there are more than 4 of us on bikes in case I get the "we're not having the likes of you here"
Now of course there are many excellent campsites here who welcome all people, they are the real business people who realise that money in through the door is what its all about, repeat business and recommendations.
Maybe its time to write a guide on Tourist friendly hotels and camp sites in Scotland, how ridiculous would that be (but very handy!)
So far this year I and my friends have had a great experience in the following places and they are recommended;
The Applecross Inn (of course)
Applecross Campsite
Resipol Campsite (Ardnamurchan)
The Cromarty Hotel
The Railway Carriages Rogart
The Killin Hotel
The Moorfield house Hotel (Braemar)
The Culag Hotel Lochinver

More will be added as we go along, perhaps I'll publish a list of "good places" at the end of the year and maybe a list of not so good places!

Sunday 15 August 2010

At rest

A pair of norton's at rest at the beach. Its been one of those days when everybody wants to reminise about nortons. Good banter when the bikes attract people who remember the name from years ago.

Saturday 14 August 2010

Why do I meddle?

So after a very nice afternoon in the sun and warmth (when the wind died down) we arrived home and Fi said she thought tomorrow (Sunday) she would use the Mk2 Commando, fine I thought great excuse to give the fastback a good run. Now since I've got the fastback I've only sorted the bits that needed immediate attention going on the theory that I'd just use it and see what developed, well one thing that has bugged me is the suspension, I've put an old pair of Hagons rear shocks on to sort out the back end but today after feeling my spine go through my brain when I hit a pothole I thought I'd stiffen them up and check the front end. Thats why I won't be using the fastback tomorrow, the rear is now OK (I think) but I found some major no no's in the front, not a problem but it'll be a half day in the workshop to sort it all out so that will be a job for next week then!
Those who are wondering about 750 roadster progress, a full day yesterday sorting out the Amals (different main jets in each carb and some serious blockages in some of the galleries) and I still wasn't happy, a check of the ignition revealed a pick up that was past its best so I changed thet (luckily I have several in stock!) eventually abandoned at 4.30!
Another half day or so and hopefully I can give it a decent run, now back to the beginning, why do I meddle?

Trying to catch the sun

Been out on the bikes all day, first an mot for Fiona's kawasaki then a run down the coast and a stop at the excellent cafe in gifford before going home and changing to the norton's . Trying to catch some sun, fed up of the cold and wet thats been a big part of the summer here in scotland. Got yet another photo of the bikes with the forth bridge in the background.

Thursday 12 August 2010

Scottish classic club meeting.

Last night I popped along to the meeting at the Baiglie inn near Glenfarg. Some nice bikes there and a good chance to catch up with the gossip. Tom Willison insisted on showing me his very nice Commando which is pictured above. Good banter and it stayed dry which is unusual. Out for yet another Mot today and it looks like I might get wet on the way home. *UPDATE* It passed! (no surprise although there is always that hint of nervousness always when presenting a bike for an MOT test, especially a Norton as they have a habit of "testing" your brand loyalty from time to time!) and I stayed dry, so a major result!

Monday 9 August 2010

Tay Valley NOC weekend Braemar

The Tay Valley NOC are having a weekend meeting in Braemar from Friday 10th of September to the 12th of September, Nortons and indeed all classic bikes (or even classic people) are invited. The meeting will be centred around the Moorfield house hotel and camping within the grounds of the hotel and an overspill into the adjoining Braemar games field will be available. There will be a run out on the Saturday to local places of interest with a lunch stop. Saturday nights entertainment will be by a local band in a marquee in the grounds of the Hotel.
There will be a small cover charge to help with donations to the various bodies that support us that weekend.
It would be preferable if you could let us know you are coming by pre registering with our Events coordinator George Peddie via E mail on (replace the AT with an @ this is to stop spammers)


We finally arrived on Saturday in the dry I'm glad to say, the mist over the top of the Bealach was heavy so visibility was down to about 50 yards for a couple of miles but then as always the welcome sight of Applecross bay opened out in front of us. The campsite despite major work done over the Spring on the road and the drainage was showing signs of wear, obviously its been wet here for a while and mindless people churn up the grass. I found out later in the pub that Saturday was the first dry day for a month! It was sunny and it was fine to sit outside and relax in the best vista in the world. Even the dreaded midges had taken a holiday so it really was quite pleasant. I developed a cold and was feeling quite miserable on the Sunday but a dry run back down the road helped cheer me up, the traffic wasn't too bad which was also a bonus. An observation, the highlands do not appear to be as busy as they were last year, conversations with several locals seem to confirm this, is it the recession or the weather? Or is it the end of the recession so the stay at home holidaymakers have gone abroad again in search of sun, the strengthening Euro perhaps? It would be interesting to see some figures on the Exchange rate and the number of tourists visiting Scotland.
Great weekend and now looking forward to (a) getting over the cold (although I do think it might be man flu) and (b) warmer sunnier weather!

Saturday 7 August 2010

Wimped out

We had constant rain last night from kelty to here, about 180 miles, it was as black as night most of the way and flooding on the road so we took the hotel option. Warmer today so hopefully we can get to applecross and get the tent up in the dry!

Friday 6 August 2010


This week has been busy enough, glad to say that the 750 passed its MOT but still not happy with the way its running, suspect the carbs need some more work, I'll persevere until its perfect. The good thing is the motor and gearbox (and brakes) seem really good so looking forward to getting it sorted out and having a wee run on it.
Last night I was at the Lothians Classic club, just started along the Edinburgh bypass when a load of modern bikes passed me, that in itself isn't a problem, the issue I had was that for some bizarre reason they passed with only a couple of feet to spare and then immediately cut in front of me. I felt at the time that had I just moved off course a bit there could quite easily have been an accident. I turned off onto the 702 to stop for fuel and guess what they were only 100 yards in front of me! I was so pissed off that I confronted them about their bizarre riding habits, all of them claimed not to have been aware that they had passed me, now that's a bit worrying, then the fat leader (usual mid - late 50's guy with the fancy leathers on a new sportsbike) had a memory moment and said he wasn't too close. Look guys, pay attention or you will become another statistic. I arrived at the club to see that they were there as well, what is it with these guys, no interest in classic bikes but still go and make the place busy anyway. Luckily I settled down as dusk fell as most of these guys obviously can't see in the dark and had screamed away back to the pit they call home. After that a good night was had by all!
I seem to be doing a lot of ranting just now, need to stay calm, need to stay calm!
Off to Applecross this afternoon, looking out the window just now its teeming down with rain, hopefully it'll settle down for us later, if not for the run up hopefully in time to get the tent up!

Monday 2 August 2010

Back together

After spending all of Saturday and this morning I've finally got the 750 Roadster back together, the alloy Barrels make it slightly more awkward than using standard bits as the back stud is longer, it went together well though (apart from the Amal carbs, now I remember why single Mikuni's are the answer, so much easier!)

Pistons cleaned up ready for the gasket and head

Head on

Carbs on! a right PITA!!

Back together and sounding well. Ready for the MOT test now and the initial test run.

Sunday 1 August 2010

National Retardation day

Out for a run today when the rain started coming down like stair rods, before that I noticed a higher than normal proportion of very poor driving and after the rain started it just got worse! I have come up with a theory to explain why these car drivers behave like they suffer from retardation, the reason they follow each other at 20mph in the rain constantly braking for no reason whilst the poor motorcyclist gets wetter and colder by the minute. After work on a Friday the majority of the Public switch off, they relax and so does their brain, they watch mindless TV and /or get hopelessly drunk which further impairs their brain function. When they go out in the car at the weekend its invariably to trudge trance like around the supermarket, Ikea, B&Q or some other place of consumer worship. Therefore their brain possibly only functions at 5 - 10% of its normal capacity, remembering that 100% of brain function for these people isn't that good anyway you can see why its so dangerous and frustrating for us motorcyclists out there, and remember if they are towing a caravan or driving a motorhome the danger is compounded, so be careful out there, especially on retardation day which come to think about it is every time you take to the road!