Friday, December 17, 2010

Nostalgia Machines

On a weather note, winter appears to be over for the time being and Fall has returned once more. Yesterday we had a delightful day of warm sun, very little breeze and zero humidity. My wife and I took Cheyenne on a walk around Old Town and the weather was about perfect. My apologies to the dog walker who correctly identified me as the blogger with the pink Crocs (even though I was wearing black shoes on my way to work) and who very kindly said hello to Cheyenne. I never quite know what to say in these encounters, but I hope I wasn't as big a dolt as I felt I was. I am looking forward to more of these warmer days to compensate us for more of those cold weather surprises in the New Year.
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I stopped off at the First State Bank on Simonton Street and as I walked back to the car from the automated teller machine I saw this interesting arrangement on a Kymco scooter. I expect the owner needs to use a floor mounted basket but it seems very odd to me. One of the big advantages of scooters is that the floor space is open which makes for easy access and a comfortable space to put your feet. And now there's a basket strapped down there. Whatever works.
Chuck has lined up his three classic motorcycles in front of his house, one looking better than the next. It's obviously a BSA and I think it's an A65 single carb 650cc from the early 60's and Chuck got in exchange for a favor. Right now that looks like a deal but at the time it was running and I think it qualified as a "barn find" as motorcycle enthusiasts call them. I think it's fabulous.This is the kind of bike I think about when I sit astride my own 2007 Bonneville and to see Chuck's looking so original gives me goosebumps. Birmingham Small Arms was a company that grew out of making weapons (as the name implies!) and it went through a number of hands until close to the end when it became part of the Triumph group which subsequently incorporated Norton as well- Norton Villiers Triumph, or NVT. Production at BSA peaked in the 1950s with 75,000 machines built each year.It's all arguable, and people do argue about these bikes even though the last BSA was built in 1973, but BSAs were frequently regarded as better machines than the sportier Triumphs. BSAs were solid and dependable which is funny because by the end Triumphs and BSAs were essetnially using the same engines with different names.
The front of Chuck's house is starting to look like a corner of the Barber Museum with it's line up of old bikes. This Sportster started the parade and Chuck says it is his highway ride for those out of town trips that refresh the soul. The engineer in him never stops making thing s just so but apparently the Sportster is now a reliable daily rider. But this? This Puch 250 twin is a gem.Another of those crazy barn finds, everything is original and perfect and frankly, beyond belief. This speedometer has the original break in recommended limits. The key is made in Italy, of the straight nail type so popular in my youth.
This is another of those strange American anomalies when big US department stores (!) would sell European bikes under their own brand names. Technically this is a Sears. However it has peculiar technology all made by Puch, the Austrian motorcycle innovators. Sears sold the SGS 250 as the "Twingle" and odd name for a unique engine type pioneered in Europe. The two stroke cylinder fed by an offset carburettor is actually a sort of single with two pistons and two spark plugs in this configuration, diagram courtesy of Wikipedia.
The twingle was supposed to be relatively economical on gas and dead reliable. This one has a carburettor feeding the side of the crankcase:
The details on these bikes is amazing, a little wind deflector for the carburettor, tank knee pads... ...a fully enclosed chain... ...and not one logo...
...but two:
The cylinder is a work of art with the fins drawn back in a sort of elegant semi oval shape.
These are the shapes of motorcycles that appeal to me, curves and not angles.
Everything is on display.Two kicks and the twingle putters to life with a perfect idle.And off he goes down the street. The perfect around town ride Chuck says.
The Puch/Sears is good for 70 mph but apparently that's not a happy speed for a motorcycle almost as old as I am. No wonder really. 35 to 40 miles per hour is the comfort zone. Then there is the big bad BSA, no gentle puttering of the two stroke, no slight puff of white smoke here.However this one too starts on the second kick. A well tuned bike as it takes but a pair of......sandals.That big bad twin used to have straight pipes when Chuck got it. The lightly baffled mufflers sounded excellent, far louder than my Bonneville, but Mrs Chuck wasn't as excited as the boys...Look at that exhaust note!
I hope Chuck doesn't let his offspring loose on these wonders the way he did on his bike. Nice paint job.
Not suitable though for a proper Beezer.