Turns out that pretty well all of my bikes and the Cooper turned to be "Classics". Pity I did not keep them!
Not mine but almost identical although it was rusty and in pieces
My Dad was dead set against motorcycles - "deathtraps". He was probably right but when he saw I was commited he helped me locate a black Honda 125 twin with black leather saddlebags complete with studs. I suspect this was to lead me to something on the small side intially rather than the distinct chance of me buying a large British bike. As it was I did survive quite a few crashes over time, mostly not my fault.
The Honda eventually threw a piston going downhill on Walnut Avenue over-revving in top gear. The bike was completely disassembled in my bedroom and the crankshaft shipped off, via Abe Pike (Honest Abe) the local dealer, to Melbourne for repair. This took some time as the shaft was a press-fit arrangement. Reassembly was also complicated by dropping cam chains into crankcases etc.
The bike served me well and was traded in for my next bike a Suzuki 250.
Proud New Owner - Which one to choose?
The Suzuki was the first entry of Suzuli into larger motorcycles with them eventually going to a 500cc two stroke; essentially a scaled up version of the 250cc. The 250s were much in demand and I had a long wait for the delivery during which time I had a Vespa 125 scooter and BSA 500cc single "loaners" from the dealer Bill Bayliss. I unpacked and assembled the bike myself as by then I was sick of the loaners.
Flying a Vespa across the 7th Street rail crossing to Merbein and the subsequent wheel wobble on landing was an experience not to be repeated. The BSA was not much better and although highly regarded it was an engineering dinosaur.
The Suzuki did plenty of miles some equiped with a full racing fairing which certainly made a lot of difference to the top speed. Trips include tours of Western Victoria and South Australia with mates Peter Wilson and Graham Rogers.
I had a number of high-speed crashes on the Suzuki fortunately none involving cars. Some were around 100MPH in old money.
While Frank Bayliss did his best to tempt me with an upgrade to the Suzuki 500 I next went to the Yamaha DT-1 (Dirt Track) 250.
First Yamaka off road bike and incredibly succesful - first 12000 sold immediately.
I set this up boy-racer style with low-bars and Avon road tyres although occasionally I did some bush work with high-bars.
I only had one significant crash which was into an oncoming old Ford Zephyr at the intersection of Lime Avenue and 8th Street Mildura when a driver turned right in front of me. Zephyrs were made of real steel and my left leg caused a large dent in the rear mudguard - almost missed but not quite - classic slow motion event. The pain a day or so later when the bruising came out was not pleasant. Another notable event was a leaking head gasket which caused a hole to be punched in the piston; apparently a common fault. This was followed with a tow from Derek Pritchard and his Suzuki out of Murrayville to Red Cliffs where the rescue mission (Dad again) intercepted us.
The following bikes overlapped my main machines above and represented me tinkering I guess.
Bought in a large number of pieces and partially assembled. Loaned an Ariel book by Bernie Noonan to assist in the reconstruction - unfortunately I still have the book Bernie if you want it. I sold to Ian Hammerton "not going". Bernie was part of the Honda fraternity in Dareton and while they held the two-stroke world in some disdain we did have a little mutual respect.
Bought from a guy in Cardross in a non-running state. It turned out later that it had been pranged badly as the frame had been rewelded near the upper front fork mount. The engine cylinders and head were cast iron with a completely chromed fuel tank making it, I guess, pre 1955 - old style Dominator 7?
Bought from Robert Kovac who ran it as a dirt bike around his Father's block. Ran on a methanol mix of some form and was a genuine white knuckle experience particularly at speed down a row of grape vines. Robert subsequently bought a Vincent Black Shadow (certainly it was a big black Vincent twin) and reportedly averaged over 100MPH from a bike rally at Burrumbeet to Avoca with a pillion passsenger (Kathy Foreman) heading back up to Mildura.
I built the Triton by combining the Norton Dominator frame and the Triumph's engine. The oil tank which I made from sheet steel was behind the seat - chance to exercise my Technical School tin bash skills. The gearbox was rebuilt at some expense by a small shop behind the Working Man's Club the name of which escapes me. I remember that the pressed steel primary chain case leaked like a sieve. Certainly the ride was very smooth just like a "featherbed" unlike the BSA loaner. About this time I bought the Cooper S and lost interest in bikes for a while.
The Norton engine and the triumph frame were sold to Neil Ratcliffe who put them together into a working bike.
I last saw the Triton several years later in the Melbourne CBD so it continued as a working concern and probably ended up being worth a reasonable amount of money.
Cooper at John Street Prahran
When I moved to Melbourne to resume my studies I took one look at a wet greasy intersection after rain following a long hot period and decided bikes were definitely out. By this time I had a Cooper S, one of those built for Bathhurst homologation. Nitrided crankshaft, stellited valves etc. and clocked at 113MPH at Calder. It cost the princely sum of $1100. It was eventually stolen from Surrey Hills (Melbourne) Railway Station.
Fondly name Rebecca. I have no recollection why but our clocks also have names e.g wall case clock is Penelope. Bought for $6500 and written off twice with a "newish" body in between. It went to a better home in 2007 after its last prang for spare parts; some regrets but cold concrete garage floors are not as attractive as they once were.
The cars I have owned since are, sadly, singularly without character.
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