Welcome to my blog. I thought I would write occasionally about my old motorcycle restoration projects, mainly MZ, Jawa and CZ though there are others. I will also write about the places I go and visit while riding them and occasionally I may post stuff about industrial archeology too.

This blog is for my amusement and to record stuff I may otherwise forget in the future, but if anyone else likes it too, that would be a great bonus.

I frequently make mistakes in the workshop, and I will share them on here warts and all so I can learn from them and maybe you can too.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

I set off from Porlock on the Sunday morning in pouring rain, but thankfully, although it remained dull and a little damp at times, the weather improved within 20 minutes or so. I pulled in at Stogumber station on the preserved West Somerset Railway, I was rather hoping the people there might be able to supply tea and cake. I was not to be disappointed as Stogumber station is the place to visit for Lydia's home made cakes. The cakes were I thought a little average but what I had was tasty enough along with a cuppa, the prices were cheap too and the staff very welcoming. A few minutes after I arrived this train pulled in, the engine is Western class diesel hydraulic. I had never seen one of these working before. It's a fine looking thing but a little quiet in operation and therefore not very exciting.
Stogumber station has a nice garden to sit in and while I ate my cake this little creature wandered about on my crash helmet. I don't recall seeing such an insect before, I have no idea what it is.
Eventually this train pulled in coming from the opposite direction the one previously photographed. This one is really special as the engine is the Tornado, only about 2 years old, and a replica of an old class of locomotive, the A1. All were scrapped in the 1960s so a bunch of enthusiasts decided to build a replica from scratch. Full details if you are interested here


I was also in the station master's good books as I was able to lend him a screwdriver to fix a notice on to a door in the building.

I spent a pleasant evening at a friend's house in Bristol and then rode home the next day, getting a couple of clues on the way. I was chased by a violent storm all the way, nearly getting very wet near Buxton. it was a memorable ride trying to get home without a soaking. However the storm decided to bear left and went to Manchester instead, allowing me to get home dry. Half an hour after I arrived home the heavens opened and a storm raged all night so I was lucky.

The MZ did really well, a fair bit of gearbox oil leaked out but it seems to be from the oil seal behind the final drive sprocket which is easily repaired. Not bad for a 40 year old bike, it covered over 1100 miles in 7 days.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

September Holiday 4

The next day, being Saturday, was the main day of the MZ national rally. This lovely MZ outfit turned up, the sidecar was occupied by a fine old gentleman called Geoff from nearby Minehead, who must have been in his 80s. Geoff owns this bike and many others, but due to his advanced years, and quite bad arthritis, cannot ride any more. Undaunted he gets in the sidecar and gets a younger mate and club member to ferry him about on nice days. It was good to meet him face to face, we had only ever spoken on the phone before.
Robin had to depart on the Saturday due to work commitments, but another mate, Gresh from just up the road from where I live had travelled down to the rally and after the AGM meeting had taken place we went for a ride through to North Devon, Lynton and the Valley of Rocks to be more precise. Here we found a cricket match in progress, which made Gresh very excited as he loves cricket. I would normally not be even slightly interested, but this must surely be the most spectacularly sited cricket pitch in the UK so I was happy to watch the spectacle for a few overs.
These little chaps were running wild in the area too.
Half a mile on we pulled up again to admire the spectacular scenery the Valley of Rocks offers.
A kind passing pedestrian offered to take a photo of both of us.

Further on we got a toll road which hugged the coast amid stunningly beautiful scenery. It was well worth the pound toll charge. This was just one of the views (apologies for not getting the horizon level) and I was highly amused by the sign some wag had put in this field.

We travelled on to a splendid pub I had visited earlier in the summer in the car called the Hunters Inn where we had an excellent meal before heading back to Porlock. I had delicious fish and chips but why is it that southerners leave the skin on the fish, heathens the lot of them!

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

September holiday 3

The next day Robin and I set off for the MZ Riders Club national rally, held this year at Porlock on the north Somerset coast. It was a bit of a dull ride until we started following our noses through the lanes of Somerset. We stopped at a lovely old pub in the village of Crowcombe and I was amused by the provision for smokers in the rear yard of the pub, very inventive!
We stopped at a lovely spot later on, the Clatworthy reservoir on Exmoor. An impressive structure but rather difficult to photograph.
Nearing our destination we stopped at the top of Porlock Hill and admired the fine view.
I decided that as I was on holiday, I would get B and B for the time of my stay in Porlock. How's this for a great view? The photo was taken from my bedroom window, looking down the valley, over Porlock village to the sea.

A pleasant evening was spent with other MZ club members in the various pubs in the area.

Monday, 27 September 2010

September holiday 2

The next day we went off searching for more RBR clues in Mid and West Wales. Robin's youngest daughter came along with us this time. She is called Teifi (pronounced tie vee) after the river of the same name. After getting one clue we diverted off up a narrow road to take Teifi somewhere she had never been before, the source of the river she is named after. I took this picture from this road. Hills as far as you can see, magic!

Here she is looking down on the Teifi reservoir which dams the springs of the river. A lovely and peaceful spot.

We went on to Devil's Bridge where we had lunch at the steam railway station, got a Round Britain Rally clue on the outskirts of Aberwystwyth and then travelled down the west coast road to Cardigan. Here can be seen where the river Teifi flows into the sea.
Later on we stopped at some waterfalls on the Teifi in a village where the national coracle museum is (another clue) but it was closed by this time late in the afternoon.
We then headed back to Robin's house. Once on the main roads, the Trophy Sport had to be worked hard which caused problems with the carburation again. However, on the Heads of the Valleys road, it started to go a bit better. This is making me think that the exhaust silencer may be blocked and the heavy mileage being covered in a short time may be gradually decoking it. I hope so as a new silencer is a lot of money and the old and presumably original one is still in passable condition.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

September Holiday 1

A few weeks ago I had a grand holiday, staying with my good friend Robin and his family in South Wales, touring around for a couple of days and then moving on to the MZ Riders Club national rally and AGM at Porlock in Somerset. I chose to go on my MZ ETS 250 Trophy Sport, which was good as gold I am pleased to say. I had to adjust the back brake which arguably I should have done before I set off and it did leak a little bit of oil, not bad for a 40 year old bike. I managed to get 2 Round Britain Rally clues on the way down and then stopped off at a pub for a meal somewhere south of Builth Wells. It was one of the worst meals I have ever had, sadly, so I won't bother mentioning the establishment. Pictured above is the bike in the car park of the pub, well loaded as can be seen.

The next day Robin and I set off exploring, searching for more RBR clues and looking at anything else we found to be of interest. First stop was the very excellent transporter bridge at Newport, recently restored to working order. It's a fine old thing, now over 100 years old and used to get traffic from one side of the river to the other. There is a good website all about it at


Our visit did not quite go to plan though and we were not able to take a trip across the river. I knew something odd was going on when I drew up to a pelican crossing right by the entrance to the bridge and had to wait for Batman to cross!
It turned out that members of the Father for Justice organisation had taken over the transporter bridge earlier that morning. Here are some of them, a mate of theirs, the Incredible Hulk was on top of the structure and so it had been closed off by police. While I can understand the frustration of a parent who is unable to see their child, I am not sure what this was actually achieving to help matters along. Virtually nobody was taking any notice of them, and I can't help thinking that any self respecting child who found out that their dad was dressing up as a superhero and making himself look an idiot and a nuisance would surely choose to keep away from them anyway! Still, it takes all sorts to make a world and I am sure the transporter bridge will still be there next time I am down that way.
Here's a view of the travelling part of the bridge upon which light vehicles and passengers cross the river.
And here is a view across to the east side of the river.
Afterwards we went to the charming town of Usk to get a clue and have some lunch, then went to look round the castle, which is in private ownership but for a bargain fee of a pound can be wandered around. Here is the fine view scross the town from the grounds.
Here is part of the castle structure, a more peaceful spot it would be hard to imagine, but I guess being a castle it was anything but at other times in its history.

From Usk we headed westwards across the valleys to get some clues the other side of Cardiff. We stopped off on the way at the Llandegfedd reservoir where it can be seen that Robin's 800 BMW dwarfs my little MZ! The view across the reservoir is rather pleasant as can be seen below.

We got the clues we were looking for and headed back to Robin's house, pausing on the hills somewhere near Caerphilly to watch the glorious sunset. A good end to a great day with perfect weather.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

A minor disaster with the "Shed"

I chucked my MZ TS 150 roadster, affectionately known as the Shed, up the road on black ice last February. I was fortunately unhurt, just a bit shaken up and damage to the bike was minimal, just a bent footrest and a broken mirror. I had not fallen off for almost 14 years at that time, so no complaints other than why can't the council grit the road?

I straightened the footrest by jumping up and down on it and all was well. Until last Friday evening that is... I parked the bike in the dark on an uneven surface on the side stand near my favourite chippy. When I came out I went to put the wrapped up chips (to accompany a home made curry in case you think I am a total junk food eater!) in my tank bag. The bike was almost vertical due to the uneven ground and therefore decided to throw itself on the floor as soon as I touched the zip on the tank bag. This resulted in another broken mirror and a badly bent footrest again. I straightened it and rode the bike home, but the footrest moved far too easily for my liking. After curry and chips, I examined the bike and sure enough the footrest bar on the right hand was cracked through and about to shear off. The above photo shows what it was like. I had quite a job getting the remains of the footrest bar out of the bike frame as it was very tight and there was not much left to get hold of. By removing the exhaust silencer I was able to gain access with a large pair of stilsons which enabled me get the remains of the bar moving and then it was fairly easy to remove. I have used the footrest bar off the recently purchased 150 Trophy to get me back on the road and I have ordered a new one to put back on the Trophy.

I can think of more pleasurable ways to spend a Friday evening, but it was all done by 12.30 AM and I could then sleep easy. I can't leave jobs like this alone as they prey on my mind if I do not get on with them.

All character building stuff I guess.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Another day out in the Peak District

A few weekends ago I was invited out for a spin by my friends Diesel Dave and Sandra. Very kind of them and a good day for a ride out. The day did not start too well though as I could not get the disc lock off the Guzzi and had to saw it off which took the best part of an hour. While doing this I managed to catch the front left hand indicator with my shoulder and promptly managed to break it off. It's made of cheap, brittle plastic and therefore is very easy to damage. I was unimpressed, but as can be seen the day was saved with some very stylish bright orange duct tape! (As an aside the whole thing was a farce as I must have had a brainstorm, I was using the wrong key all the time and therefore wrecked a perfectly good disc lock unnecessarily. How stupid was that? I think I am losing my marbles....) I managed to catch the others up, by which time they had met up with another friend of theirs, Cath.
Here we all are having a stretch-a-leg in Hartington village, from the left, Sandra, Dave, Cath.
Soon after there was a mix up and Dave and I got separated from the girls. While he went off to rescue them I sat in the sun. The Guzzi is such a pretty bike in my opinion, it gives me great pleasure to look at it.
Here is a the view from where I stopped, very nice and relaxing. We were soon all back together again and we went to a place called Wetton Mill for tea, sandwiches and cake. It was a nice spot but very crowded and we were plagued with wasps unfortunately. We took a twisty route home and were back in time for a curry locally. A grand day out, thank you Dave and Sandra!