Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Part of riding a motorcycle from a bygone era is having to know how to fix it. From regular maintenance to emergency roadside repairs, if you don't know your motorcycle in and out, it will deteriorate over time if you don't look after it and eventually leave you stranded, sooner or later.
I think this should  be true with all motorcycles, regardless of their manufacturing date but, sadly, ever since the aggressive and pervasive arrival of electronics (beyond simple improvements such as ignition), maintenance has taken on a whole new meaning and, truth be told, there isn't much of it left that can by done by the owner. But I digress. Let's return to simpler times, when all you needed to fix your motorcycle could fit in a small toolbox. The tools you use become as much a part of the experience as actually riding and I think those who categorically refuse to explore this aspect of classic motorcycling inevitably miss out on something important. Knowing how to use these tools gives you a richer experience, it makes you feel closer to your motorcycle and, ultimately, it will make you feel more at ease when you're actually hauling ass, knowing that if something goes wrong you'll most likely be able to fix it and get to where you need to be.
When I decided "I" was going to build this motorcycle, I also wanted to put together a toolkit specific for this bike. I once read one of those "hints & tips" articles (update: found it again)that said something along these lines: any time you're working on your motorcycle, whether it's for a full service, going over all the nuts and bolts, changing the oil, nipping up something that's come loose, whatever, put all the tools you use into a box. The next time you need a tool for your motorcycle you'll know where to look and when you go on a trip you'll know that those are all the tools you need to carry (especially when travelling, the last thing you want is to cart around tools you don't even need or that don't fit your fasteners at all).
Now, while this might be counterintuitive in that you might be taking away tools from a complete set, tools that might be needed to work on other bikes or (god forbid) cars, I think it's at least a very good idea to figure out exactly what you need for one particular vehicle. You can then get duplicate tools to dedicate to that bike.
As I go along putting bits together, I'm making a list of all the tools I use for just that very reason. Once the bike is complete I'll no doubt have a pretty long list but I'm hoping that within that list there will be a lot of duplication, which should translate to an actual set of tools of reasonable size and weight.
As a head start, I'm pleased to show you my latest find, courtesy of whitworth spanners.

The first four are 1940s Triumph spanners, the other ones are BSA. All are Whitworth sizes.
I also got a 1955 canvas tool roll. Brand new.

The BSA spanner pictured below has a little trick up its sleeve in that it is a 4-way tool. By machining a step in the jaws, the result is two different sizes in the same opening, kinda like sticking two spanners on top of each other. This includes the all important 1/4 inch size. Pretty neat huh?

The other BSA tool is a ring spanner as used on the M20 and other older models:


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