little decisions


Little steps.
Small decisions.
A powder-coated frame and one shock absorber!
It isn’t much of a beginning is it?
But it is a start.
This baby motorbike is at the top of my ‘to do list’ and I’ve run out of reasons to put it off.
You’re welcome to tag along.

And why is this post called ‘little decision’? Well twenty odd years ago i was lucky enough to see Paul Kelly perform in Chicago. It was an acoustic show and there was maybe 30 of us in the room. Towards the end of the evening  he asked us what we would like to hear for the closing number and I put my hand up and asked for ‘little decisions’.
He played it and I’ve been a fan ever since.


Jeremy’s spoken

Wednesday, Jeez it comes round quickly! And 20 years, just as fast.
I’ve been following Motogp, the premier class of Motorbike racing for 2 decades so my memory only stretches back as far as 1987 and Wayne Gardner’s title.

But in all those years since, Jeremy Burgess has been at the center of the wheel that wins World titles.
His first title as Chief Mechanic was with Wayne. Then there were 5 in a row with Michael Doohan (and probably more to come if injury hadn’t forced Mick into retirement in 1999).
Seven more followed with Valentino Rossi on both Honda and then Yamaha motorbikes.
But what really makes the achievements so special is that his success neatly straddled the 2T and 4T eras and we all Know Two stroke racing was the purer form of competition.
Sometimes I think I’m more a Jeremy Burgess fan then the riders he is campaigning for.

The one glaring blemish on his record was the two lost years at Ducati. In particular the infamous 80 second comment that Casey Stoner took umbrage with. But you know Casey’s a young guy, a little prickly at the best of times and he and Valentino loathed each other. Just because you’re fast and famous doesn’t necessarily mean what you say is right or even smart. Burgess’s full quote was:

“I can watch some of these lesser riders on the Ducatis and you can see that the bikes are, in my opinion, unsuitably set for what they want to try and do with them. I’m not saying anybody’s doing a bad job. I see these things wobbling around. When I think, clearly, if we had that issue with Valentino it’d be fixed in 80 seconds, but some riders don’t like the hardness of the bike, because they don’t get the feel. But then when they’re riding around and it’s too soft they’re not going forward either.”

I’ve read that quote a dozen times front, back and upside down and I can’t see a personal slight to Stoner, his team or Ducati in there. In fact i think he is going out of his way to distinguish Casey from the other Ducati riders with his “lesser riders” qualifier. He doesn’t say we can fix the Ducati in 80 seconds he says that he could fix a setup issue in 80 seconds. He also doesn’t say that Ducati’s crew is incapable of  fixing it either. If you read it properly he says that in many cases it isn’t fixed because of the riders preference.
I reckon Casey went off half cocked.

Anyway, I’m not sure where this photo came from? I’ve lugged it round from Hard Drive to Hard Drive as computers have died. It’s  probably a scan from an old book but I love Jeremy’s pose (Stiffly upright, a little    ungainly, even a smidgen embarrassed – school-boyish like he’s trying to tuck his shirt in at a school formal)
And of course he is standing next to a RG500. I have probably a bike and a half of the road going version of the big Suzuki in boxes in the garage. It’s very likely the only thing of value in my shed and even then it would need a major injection of money and talent to get it running (both in short supply). Part of the point of Wednesday posts is to dig up an image that as far as I know isn’t already on the internet or is tucked away in some obscure by-water of the web, which come to think of it describes M.O.W.
So Keeping to that theme and matching it. Here is a link to a lovely little bio piece hosted on Mr Burgess’s old amateur Racing Club site The Phoenix Motorcycle Club. A couple of interesting things in the article. The “don’t hand him a spanner” quote was unexpected and check out the Club’s Hall of Fame (there are some impressive names on it).


young jeremy burgess

Monkey see, Monkey Do(uglas).


One of the things I learned from the last Blog was to create ‘default settings’ for myself. By that I mean set up a few tricks and routines to drag me across to the keyboard and actually post something.
So it being Wednesday evening and a quiet night at work I thought I’d use the company’s time (I like to think of it as a form of recycling) to start a weekly tradition. To wit, posting up an old motorbike photograph that’s caught my attention.

There’s a huge resource of motorcycling imagery hidden away in the on-line archives of Libraries.
Here in the Antipodes the Australian National Library has a site called Trove. It acts as a repository for a lot of the images from the smaller State, Council and Municipal libraries.
Really cool old stuff that by and large rarely sees the light of day.
Theres no rules to my schedule. I post whatever holds my eye. Heck the photo don’t even have to be old but if It’s Wednesday, make sure to post that picture!

Robert Edison Fulton (Jr) was apparently the first person to circumnavigate the globe on a motorcycle (solo) and Douglas were the company that provided him with the Bike.
Heres that Bike, the Douglas 6T:

fulton-equipment It’s not that far from a modern ADV outfit if you look at without a patronising eye.
Douglas were one of the many English manufacturers that went to the wall in the 50’s but from what I can find out Mr Fulton’s bike was from their heyday in the early 30’s. It was powered by a twin cylinder, 600cc, side valve, 4 stroke  engine. It had a boxer type configuration which means each cylinder was directly opposed to its cousin on the other side of the Crankshaft. Similar to the old airhead BMW motorcycles or Porsche/VW, even Subarus and plenty of piston powered aircraft engines. Designing it this way gives you almost perfect balance as each piston/conrod moves in and out at the same time thus balancing out the reciprocating mass of its opposite. You’ll note I said almost perfect. If you think about it both conrods can’t share the same spot on the Crankshaft so they are offset a little from each other and that induces a ‘rocking’ imbalance. I don’t think it’s that big a deal as there are no counterweights that say an inline engine utilises to balance things out (I really should find out about that). Anyway the end result is you get a very smooth combustion cycle with the added bonus of a lot of riding stability as there are no tall cylinder towers pushing the weight upwards and affecting the bike’s handling. Interestingly Douglas choose to lay their engine down longwise in the frame not cross-wise like BMW. You’d think this would create problems with the rear piston overheating, sheltered as it is behind the front barrel (It’s not a water-cooled engine remember so it relies on movement to create an airflow and dissipate the heat). I guess getting the heat out is the reason for all that beautiful finning cast into the heads, the cylinders, even the dry sump. Just as an aside old air cooled Ducatis faced the same problem and Ing Taglioni tilted his 90 degree Vee Twin engine in an L configuration to address the issue. No doubt the Douglas forums would answer the question of overheating but for the time being it remains an imponderable.

So getting around to the Monkey and The Douglas. The photo is from Mr Fulton’s book  One Man Caravan which I’d not heard of up till now.
However I’ve found a modern reprint on eBay so any day now it should be landing in my letter box. It’s a great read by all accounts.

Chopping Block


A Chopping Block!
You’d think I could come up with something better than that for a first post but no.
I’d love to load up pictures of the smoke belching, fire-breathing RG500 in all it’s Barry Sheene glory but sadly the big 2T Suzuki is sitting at the back of the garage in much the same state as 10 years ago. A rolling chassis that’s covered in dust and spread about half-a-dozen boxes.
This Bread-board is the last thing to come off the workbench so it will have to do.

It was made from nothing which is a good place to start. The eldest’s loft bed had seen better days so I pulled it apart. It was junky treated pine anyway but the railing was made out of West Australian Jarrah.
Jarrah is a nice timber. A bit like Mahogany (it used to be called ‘Swan River mahogany’ according to wiki) but is darker and with a more chocolatey red color. Anyway there’s not a lot to a timber plank is there? The sides were already pretty straight so I didn’t have to do much planing to get them flat. It was done with a hand plane so they are not quite perfect which is something I should have spent more time on. You really want to get them butt up next to each other when gluing as any small gap will let water in and over time the joint will fail.


I used a glue called Titebond. It comes in a waterproof version and is pretty much the best stuff on the market. I built a Classical Guitar using it and it’s the defacto glue for anyone who makes wooden instruments, well unless you are a traditionalist in which case it’s horse glue you’d be using (an aside: they actually use cattle hoof/hide to make ‘horse glue’ now).
A mates brother works in timber joinery so he ran the glued up board through his thicknessing machine which saved a lot of time. You get a perfectly flat surface after a pass or two. Now perfect is over rated in my opinion, I like the little imperfections that hand tools throw up but It’s a chopping block – quick & easy eh! No matter which way I laid out the timber I was going to expose the old screw holes. There was no getting away from that. I had a scrap piece of brass rod so I cut off 4 plugs and drilled out the holes so I could tap them in. A quick sand to level the plug ends and tidy it up then time for the finish. You can buy propriety finishes at any hardware store but recommendations via the web were to rub it down with olive oil. However there is, an admittedly slight chance with a vegetable based oil that the finish could go rancid so I went with a mineral oil instead. Obviously it had to be food safe and looking in the drug cupboard I thought why not Paraffin Oil. It’s 2 or 3 dollars a bottle at any supermarket. It’s clear, odorless and made for human consumption (laxative). So a few coats spaced a day apart to let it soak in and it was done. I could have left it there but I was worried about the tiny gaps in a few of the lamination’s. I had some left over Carnauba wax in the garage. It’s a polish extracted from Palm tree leaves. One of its attributes is it can withstand fairly hot temperatures (think car duco) so hopefully won’t wash out with the hot water when you do the dishes. You need to check the label if you buy this and make sure it is the pure stuff and not cut with any additives. Anyway I rubbed in a good coat, a quick buff and it’s sealed it as best I can.
There you go. I can’t think of anything more to say about chopping Blocks.

Now Voyager

… ” The untold want by life and forth, land ne’er granted
Now, voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find ” …

– Walt Whitman

Welcome friend to this quiet corner of the Internet.
I can see you are tired from your travels. A little weary? Perhaps even lost?
A link clicked here, a turn there. A stumble then a splash and somehow you washed up on this shore. It’s a quiet backwater, madeofwhite.
A vanity really though hopefully it can serve a purpose. We don’t get many visitors. There’s every chance you are the first but welcome nonetheless.
I don’t have a great deal to show you. A few things I’ve cobbled together, a few more that are vague plans. The occasional observation, a good deal too many opinions but really for all it’s plumage at it’s heart the blog is a ‘to do’ list. Time will tell if it can grow into something more than that.