Beachcomber's Tales from the day

Maritime said:
Keep Logan in the picture. He was excited to get it made when talk first started on a book.

I lost Logan's contact details when my PC crashed last year - can you put us back in touch please ?

Maybe we can keep it among my DTT cousins.
Kentucky so EST? I am AST 10 am here now so he is either 9 am or 8 am. I'd have to Google their time zone
Maritime said:
Well what would be cool would be if we could fly you and Mrs. B to barbor next year. I know that the Dtt community would all throw a few $ in the pot to get you there, I know one of the locals would loan you 2 wheels for the weekend and I think that would be an awesome way to do a book signing, at Ace corner. If it is at all possible I know Tim could help coordinate it.
I will second that Maritime. I can contribute some cash and a couple of bikes for Mr. and Mrs. B to ride while they are here........
dewjantim said:
I will second that Maritime. I can contribute some cash and a couple of bikes for Mr. and Mrs. B to ride while they are here........

You're all far too kind .........................................
So, in between dealing with close family health issues, fixing the leak on my garage roof [ unsuccessfully ], and various other distractions - there WILL be a final Tale before Christmas.

This one again prompted by a conversation I had with Dommie Dave - which went on until the wee small hours ............ 8)

"Tribsas, Tritons, Tricatis, Norbsas and a Conbirdza [ no cheating, figure it out before you read ] and many more - Specials I have built and loved"
Tale now completed ................ just searching for some appropriate pix to go with it.

Early next week.
Well here it is guys - the Christmas 2015 Tale, and probably the last for a while. I hope you've all enjoyed my trips down memory lane with me - time to get working on that Coffee Table book !

BEACHCOMBER’S TALES FROM THE DAY – the last for a while

“Tritons, Tribsas, Tricatis ……Conbirdza [ ??? ] - Specials I have built and loved” December 2015

This one’s a general Tale, brought about after a late night / early morning session with Dommie Dave when he came to visit a couple of months back.

We were discussing the current price of British bikes from the ‘50’s and ‘60’s and inevitably there came the Rose Tinted - “in my day you could buy one of those for the price of a pint” ……………. Well almost. ::)

Dave was one of those riders from the day that stuck loyally to one brand – and in his case, one model [ no prizes for guessing which one ]. That’s not to say that Dave left them as they came off the showroom floor, at one stage we had a good deal going modifying Dommies for road and track for other people. We even ended up with a shed full of unwanted Dommie engines that had been replaced with Triumph’s finest, and to a lesser extent – BSA [ twins and Singles – Goldie specific ].

I had a 500 Dommie twin for a while which was bought for the basis of a Triton, but it was such a sweet engine that I left it in the frame and simply modified the running gear into Café Racer trim. It was never going to challenge for top honours up the Lay-Bye, but it was such a nice bike I rode it around for a few months until someone ordered up a Triton. In reality, the 500 twin was probably a nicer unit that the equivalent Triumph, but then there was the lure of the extra “big” capacity of the 650s which meant that most Dommie 500s were removed and discarded for next to nothing, even the 600’s weren’t considered as competition for the 650 Triumphs and BSAs – no doubt why they [ Norton ] rolled out the 650 Dommie to compete directly [ at least on paper ].

In the day the nomenclature was quite specific [ OK, the pigeon holing ] – Dave’s bikes would be considered Café Racer’s, whilst the various Tribsa / Triton’s etc. were primarilly known as “Specials”. That said - I DON’T RECALL ANY OF THE SPECIALS BEING BUILT AS ANYTHING OTHER THAN A CAFE RACER ! That is, apart from Sidecar outfits ………… we won’t go there in this tale.

I built several Tritons for myself [ maybe 3-4 ], but in reality I preferred the ergonomics of the BSA chassis. I always felt as if I was perched on top of the Norton, whilst you sat “in” the BSA frame. I never kept any of the Tritons for long as they were built primarily to sell on.

During the early ‘60’s you were pretty well on your own for things like engine plates, whilst all the dress up items were readilly available from track bikes and one or two specialist outlets. I do have a bit of memory fade here, but I’m pretty certain that places like Unity Equipe, Dunstall, and Dresda didn’t come to the fore until ’63 or thereabouts. There were of course the race orientated shops like Tom Kirby’s who could supply you with most parts like clip-ons, race fairings, tanks, seats, etc. I remember buying my first set of Clip-Ons from Vale Onslow in Birmingham in 1960 ……the shop is still there, stuck in a 1950’s time warp! The old man Onslow [ Len ] – RIP - was still riding bikes at age 100 ….. hope for me yet. ;)

Dave and I had a good thing going for a while with the Tritons, with more than a few of the unwanted Dommie engines coming my way for headwork and blueprinting before being sold on as a turnkey packages to various Dommie enthusiasts. There was also a pretty active group busy swapping out various mundane singles [ BSA, Norton ] and replacing the engines with twins from the same manufacturer. For instance – many ES2 and Model 50 singles would end up with Dommie motors – B31s and B33s with Rocket / A7 motors, etc. For a time Dave and I were buying up Norton singles for both Triton and Dommie conversions.

Before Tritons became a “must have fashion item” in the late 60’s – the variety of parts and finishes was limitless. For a start there was gearbox choice – OEM Triumph, Norton [ preferred for it’s clutch ] and BSA’s RRT2 close ratio version. All then required their own particular chaincase / engine plates arrangement and later still there was the choice of dynamo / alternator / and even later - Unit engines. This was still in the days before you could simply order all the stuff you needed from a specialist – or fast forward to today – when you simply put a shopping list together and strike up the computer to our good friends E-Bay / Google ! How deep are your pockets ?

There was even a good supply of alternate seats, tanks [ not a Mojave tank in site ], rear sets and other essential parts. BSA must have supplied most of the headlamp brackets [ tubular ] for the Café Racers of ANY persuasion – available off the shelf [ or breakers ] from the Goldie and later RGS models. This was before the fork mounted flat perforated models became the vogue [ still going ]. They were a mid to late 60’s item – no doubt as a result of fewer and fewer BSA uits being available !

So my particular favourite Triton ? ……….. that was based on a 500 ES2 single, bought for £20 and the engine sold on to a sidecar guy for £10. The engine was from a Ton Ten with a Bonnie head and the obligatory 3134’s, etc.. The box was taken from the ES2 donor, and ran with an open primary cover. Swept back pipes and Goldie silencers, 5 gallon Manx alloy tank and Manx seat completed the picture – and it was at that point I realised I was joining the “let’s all be different together” club !! I pulled into Ted’s one night, and in the car park were 2 other identical Triton’s, even down to the colourways. I sold the bike within a week.

The same could be said for my particular favourite – the Tribsa. One of the sweetest Trbisas [ and the one I kept the longest ] had a Triumph 500 Grand Prix engine [ ex. generator ] with all of the competition departments’s best inside and attached. Running through and RRT2 box with a race style open primary chain guard. Initially this one had a Goldie 9” front brake, but when the bike later was converted for track use – I fitted Manx wheels / hubs / brakes back and front. All my Tribsas featured a slight tilt forward of the engine and a specific balance factor for the engine internals. This bike would stick with all but the fastest up the Lay-Bye [ see various Tales ] and was even then, one of the quickest up to the magic Ton. This was the bike that featured in another Tale when - upon the advice of the Triumph Comps department – I ditched the Goldie silencers and came up with a pair of straight through pipes 37 ¾” long. They had assumed that given the engine specs I sent them, the bike was to be used on the race track ! That measurement of 37 ¾” is from the centre of the exhaust valve head to the tip of the exhaust pipe – and works just as well today as a starter for 10 on ANY 4 stroke engine. Longer, shorter, megaphones, etc.,etc. all give differing power delivery characteristics.

Again as with the Norton – a great variety of tanks and seats were available, although the Goldie 5 gallon tank [ the Mojave of the day ] was probably favourite. I’m pretty sure that BSA were the first roadgoing bike to offer a central oil tank [ Goldie ], although Norton had pipped them with that style on the various Manxes’ . Seats were a bit more open for choice and my particular favourite was the long back AJS 7R / Matchless G50 version. I STILL have one of my 7R seats from the day [ ! ] – albeit recovered a few years back, and that will see future service on the Vindicator TR1 Café Racer. Wow, that’s seat’s 50 years old …………………….. and has a few Tales of it’s own ! 8)

That bike was certainly my favourite Tribsa, although there were a few others that came close, including a mightilly quick Bonnie engined version in a Goldie’ised B33 chassis. In the early 60’s, BSA’s humble B31 [ 350cc ] and B33 [ 500cc ] sloggers were the donor of choice. To give a rough comparison – a 500cc Goldie would be around £300 [ and now - £30,000 ? ] whilst a B33 would be around £10 - £20 !!!!! Incidentally – that same B33 would be around £2000 + today as a ratty runner.

The Trifield was my next foray into “let’s try to be original here”. Remember “Dangerous Roy”, and the Tale of how I came to be given his RE Crusader ? Well, the bike wasn’t really me and when another of the Lay-Bye guys blew his Enfield Sports engine all over the road, I instantly did a deal with him. I swapped Roy’s old Crusader for his wrecked bike and a wadge of cash. I had no idea at the time what I might do with the remains [ break ? ], but the deal involved instant cash on the hip. In the event I removed the remains of the blown engine and swapped the gearbox and other remnants for a good Triumph unit 350 lump complete as removed from a running [ wrecked ] bike. Fate is taking a hand here………….

When the engine was delivered I simply threw it in the pile under a tarp in the garden – the engine settling nicely under the Crusader rolling chassis …………………………………….. It was probably a week or two before I thought I’d take stock of the parts and see what could be sold to finance the next bike. I wasn’t really a fan [ aesthetically ] of the Unit Triumphs and had planned to sell / swap it out and get a pre unit engine for the next build. As we [ me and Dave ] lifted the tarp off – it was like a light bulb moment !! There staring at us was the bones of the next build ! Bizzarely the engine had nestled itself in almost the perfect position under the chassis, and it only took a few minutes and a couple of blocks of wood to mock up the makings. It could have been made for the job – so we did. Within a morning we had mocked the bike up and had the engine sat in what we considered – the right place. A quick call to Maurice [ our engine plate manufacturer and sometime Ford apprentice ], brought him round armed with pens, cardboard and scissors ! Again, we couldn’t believe how simply everything slipped into place. A few more calls out to other mates increased the pile of bits to include a virtually new siamese exhaust system. The bike already had alloy rims and one of those silly “bacon slicer” front brake cooling rings [??], as well as clip-ons and a modified Goldie Lyta short circuit [ 3 gall ] tank. This was on a Sunday – the following afternoon, Maurice brought the alloy engine plates round, having made them in the morning [ at Fords ] and been “too ill” in the afternoon to work and had been sent home. That was around 2 o’clock – by 6.30 the bike was on the road and having a shakedown run.

I took the bike up the Lay-Bye on the following Friday – where it was promptly bought – by the same guy I had done the deal with for the blown up Enfield ! ;D

In similar circumstances I came across a Ducati 200 Sports which had a major gearbox problem, prompting the owner to accept my offer of a part / ex on a 350 Goldie I’d just had in. Now I can’t claim any originality for this swap – I’d seen just such a special in one of the weekly motorcycle mags. Again, this one used the Unit Triumph 350 and looked like a perfect match. The Ducati was a real jewel – beautifully crafted and engineered, but it became obvious I wasn’t going to find the gearbox parts I needed secondhand and new ones were …. expensive. I removed the engine and advertised it in our National sales mag – “The Exchange and Mart”. This was the bible of the day for secondhand parts and bikes / cars. In fact it catered for just about anything – a sort of paper E-Bay. It was sold immediately to a guy who had managed to drop a valve and wreck the piston and head into the bargain. That more than paid for a unit 500 triumph – I was going 350 again, but the 500 was available and for silly cheap money and pretty well the same size physically.

The Duke already had clip-ons, alloy rims 4 leading shoe front brake [ !!! ] rear rests and possibly the weirdest styled tank I have ever seen – it even had a stainless steel rack attached to the top – presumably for waterproofs / sandwiches? With Maurice on the engine plates – the bike was mocked up and running with a few days. This time I went with twin high level pipes [ as I already had them ] with pipe mutes available from Triumph for their Trail version. Otherwise I kept the paintwork as it was – in any case it was totally unmarked and looked good in Red / Silver. In reality the bike was physically too small for me - Gorrila on a pit bike jobbie – and soon had to be moved on. By this time we’d come to realise that the best way to sell a bike – was to race it up the Bye-Pass. The bike was really quick and fast – mainly due to it’s low weight. The engine was totally stock, but in the Duke chassis and with the added lightness, it was the equivalent of another 5 bhp or so. Handling and braking were also first class – allowing me to just about outrun a stock 650 Ton Ten that had taken up my challenge. Was he really pissed off as we told him it was a 350 motor !!!!!

No instant sale or fairy tale ending – but the following week there was a message for me left at the Hot Dog van to contact a guy who was interested in the Tricati. Actually, apart from feeling somehat cramped – I was really enjoying the bike as it was a bit of a sleeper. I had contemplated tuning a Unit 500 for the bike – but it really WAS too small. The following week a deal was done with the guy that had left the message for me for a serious amount of cash [ relative ] which funded my first ex race Sidecar outfit – and left enough change to get a newer Race Transporter [ Ford Thames ].

No mention of my Manx / Goldie ???? To be honest, an exercise in futility. The only reason it [ race Manx ] ended up with a Goldie engine was – I had both sitting around ! The Manx as a rolling chassis [ ex Joe Dunphy / John Tickle ] bought less engine [ blown ] and the Goldie [ DBD34 ] engine was removed from a chassis that made up one of my Tribsas. The result was not as it was envisaged !! The engine sat higher in the Manx frame, courtesy of BSA’s oil pump housing – and even with the frame notched to accept this, it was still taller in the frame than the Manx. This one was during one of my “born again biker” phases and a true tribute to the Rose Tinted Googles syndrome. The bike was quickly sold for an obscene amount of money to an Aussie visiting London [ see “Into the Seventies – the Japanese are coming” Tale ]

So that’s pretty well all the “normal” Specials / Café Racers – then there were the real one- offs [ well, no more than a few ] - NSU / Nortons, VW Beetle / Douglas Dragonfly, and others that came about as a matter of what was lying around in the shed.

Then there was the unique “Conbirdza” – anyone guessed yet without cheating ? OK – for a start this one had 3 wheels and was exactly one of those “let’s use up what’s lying around” mash ups.

I should also point out [ clue # 2 ] that I was by this stage seriously into Constellations, having had two of the ex. Bob Mac Constellations courtesy of my pal Ted Bloomfield [ RIP ]. I had also become intrigued with mastering three wheels – far more to it than “load up the double adult / child with all the holiday gear and take 2 days to get to Cornwall” [ see “ Five for sunny Cornwall” Tale ].

The stock Constellation engine was in my view one of the most powerful / torquey engines available in the day. Much underated and because of that – cheap ! Probably 40% or so cheaper than an equivalent Triumph / Norton / BSA. A pal of mine [ Dave Barker ] had a really quick outfit, and a combination of his bike and riding skills meant I nearly always came second best whenever we had a dual.
……………………………………..Enter the Conbirdza. ;D

I had a spare Connie tuned engine [ 2 actually ], but didn’t want to use the ex Bob Mac bike – choosing to keep that as was [ where are they now and worth how much ????? ]. The engine had been ported to my own specs and blueprinted with a US made “Ravesi [ ?? ] cam. This cam had the logo using a Roman Chariot and the name Ravesi. Anyone care to refresh my memory and fill in the blanks ? Pistons were 10.5:1 Hepolites. The only chassis I had to hand was a rolling Triumph T’Bird that had given up it’s engine for yet another Tribsa. Getting there …………………………

Then a pal turned up at Ted’s one night and asked if anyone wanted a Watsonian MonZA [ nearly there ] chair ………no money required, he had bought the outfit for the bike as a solo and needed the chair gone from his front garden. I did agree to port a head for him free of charge as a thank you.

So there it is peeps – the bones of the ConBirdZa.

He rode the outfit round to my place and an hour later his bike was a solo again – and I had a Monza for free ! AND that came complete with all the various sidecar attachments I needed.

Why not just use a Constellation chassis I hear you holler …. Well in stock form the various bracing required for an Enfield / chair outfit was somewhat akin to the Forth bridge structure – and although there were thousands of Enfield based tugs around – none were going to be used as I intended. In my view, the OEM Connie frame [ ALL big Enfields ] was badly designed around the rear swingarm pivot area – just asking to be twisted. So even my Connie solo’s had extra bracing welded in that area, and totally solved any issues of weakness. On an outfit with the additional loads – essential. The other erason ? I didn’t have a spare rolling chassis !

Totally useless as a solo [ hinged in the middle ] Triumphs were in fact a good base for a chair – witness Micky Carps’ Triumph outfit. By this time Maurice had moved on to pastures new, and seeing he was getting nowhere at Ford’s – took his training and became a professional diver, travelling all over the World on salvage operations – no more alloy engine plates courtesy of Ford then !

So that meant mocking up the engine and drawing up the plates was down to me. No big deal, I was after all a Draughtsman ! Memory fade has set in and I can no longer recall the guy that made the plates, but he made a superb job in his company’s best Dural, and of course – in work’s time. More of a performance was fitting the Enfield sidecar trail forks and twin drum brakes – a job I passed over to another machine shop pal. A quick visit to Phil Bishop and 2 days later my Borrani 16” rim alloy wheels were ready. Calling in at Tom Kirby’s on the way back – I dropped off a couple of sets of wheels Phil had built up for him, and Tom was sufficiently grateful to give me two complete sets of used race tyres from Chris Vincent’s outfit.

The ConBirdZa must have been one of the first vehicles to be painted in the now popular Satin or Suede finish !!. I just happened to have the remains of a 5 gallon can of Satin Black I’d used to repaint a guy’s Lotus Cortina bonnet. Boy did it look evil, low and Black. I had a set of Siamese aftermarket pipes, which had a much higher junction of the pipes – more like the triumphs / BSAs – the Connie Siamese pipes were .. fuggly! That terminated in one of the then new Dunstall Meggas, chosen as it had the look of the racing BMW outfits !

The fork yokes were totally decluttered with the rev counter and speedo mounted on the front sidecar diagonal strut. To achieve this the Enfield iconic [ ie fuggly ] “Casquette ] had to be replaced with the top yoke from an earlier Enfield [ memory fade as to which one ]. Similarly, the driving lights were placed on the same strut and on the chair crash bar. Again – the 7R seat was used as it didn’t require painting [ all leather covered ] and this time a Metisse [ ex. Triumph ] 5 gallon tank completed the picture.

And yes – I did finally beat Dave Barker …………………………….. 8)

Selection of bikes from the day

Trifield / Tricati

Sorry - couldn't resist this one ::) - Max Duebel's sitter [ championship bike ]

Currently wallowing in self pity here after a diagnosis of my kidney problem returning... oh fuckit.

Anyway, cheered up considerably after a visit from Dommie Dave and yet another all night "Rose tinted goggle" session.

And you know what that means !!!

Yes, another potential Tale - as if you haven't had enough already.

Dave has also helped me fill in some "memory fade" gaps in existing Tales which will be a big help when the galley proofs are finally completed and I'm a step closer to publishing "The Book".

Robot - haven't forgotten you - will be making phone contact in the not too distant future to discuss.
Sorry to hear about your health issue B.C. but great to hear the rest of your "miscellaneous ramblings"
I'm sorry, too, to hear of kidney problems. Hope it isn't too serious. I don't know that those days should be classified as "rose tinted". True there were times when we didn't have two pennies to rub together but we had fun. But it was a damn sight better than sitting around staring at an Iphone. Get well and get the book out.
Thanx Hoof and others - I've received quite a few private messages from well wishers and thank you all sincerely. Just shows how Worldwide our motorcycling Brotherhood is - humbled.

I have no intention of being morbid or attention seeking here, but I've decided to make this last statement on the matter - brought over from my "Tangerine Dream" thread.

diagnosis now confirmed - just keep taking the meds eh ?

This has made me focus on what's achievable. Nothing like a finish date with no penalty clause get outs to concentrate the mind.

Just to be clear - I actually feel quite healthy, just odd bad days, so nothing really to hold me back out of the Man Cave.

So - the BMW Streetfighter will have to go, and of the two remaining bike projects the Kawasaki is nearer to a conclusion that the Vindicator '60s Cafe Racer. That will be a real hard decision as the Vindicator needs to be done - and had loads of money thrown at it over the past 7 years. Not rushing on that decision.

The car projects are also being culled - the Scimitar GTE / Lexus has been sold on - just leaving the 1955 Vanguard Estate rod. Another one that SHOULD be finished - but realistically 2-3 years away ...........ah well you never know. I'm also adding the "Book" in that projects to finish list. There's just way too much shite spouted about the era that needs to be put right.

So, for the time being anyway, back to the Flat Tracker.................................

So there we have it - I will have the results of the current programme of medication in 3 months time and the specialist is hopeful.

Now back to the plot - there will be at least one more Tale based on my all night walk down memory lane with Dommie Dave - give me a little time.
Hellofaguy this one... Knock out those projects a day at a time brother no need in stressing on them. I personally look forward to the book even more, sel-fish I guess ;) Speedy recovery!
Just a quick update. Preliminary mid term report back and yes, the kidney function is definitely declining, just as it did on 2 previous occasions in the past 6 years or so.

However this is only mid term - full tests after current meds at end of April.

On that news - I have decided to sell ALL my projects now - I'll still be around here though and still working on the last [?] Tale and the Book. Be sad if THAT didn't get done !!!
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