Chapter Two (one is below)
On the off chance anyone will ever read this I extend the story of the 36 VLH endeavor. Much has happened with the project and with this restorer. Someone put the seed in my mind that after all this effort you cant do just one! So I started three more. I have to agree this was a good idea as the benefits of all the study one must do really pay off on the next projects. The 36 is almost completed and I am very happy with the fit and finish to date and the mechanical operation of the wheels, brakes, drive train etc. I truly enjoy getting into the measuring, clearances, end floats etc. The thing I found very helpful is to remind myself that these fine bikes were assembled by hand and by the dozens and dozens per day. So by reverse engineering the assembly and reminding myself that no needed more than a few minutes or seconds to get through a certain assembly, I slow down and consider that until the order of sequence reveals itself.
The first tip I could ever offer is to come to peace with that fact that nothing fits like a greased banana or drops perfectly into place. If it does (and very occasionally it does) its reason to go quickly to the beer fridge and have a mini celebration. In my experience your case of beer consumed this way will last a long long time. Nothing fits! not NOS, not OEM, hell pieces you just took off from the original assembly don’t go back on without a this or that. No point in giving up and buying a new one if you can get it, they don’t fit either! Armed with that info life gets more peaceful as you gather more and more tools and apparatus for the necessary chasing, filing, blending, molding and massaging that damn near every single assembly requires. No beating, no pounding or you will be singing the blues. No working around and over fine finishes without protecting them or you will be singing some more. Be very slow to use the red locktite, to final tighten certain nuts, screws etc and be very slow to put the lock washers on anything painted until its really truly the last time.
I have a ton more to share and will be back soon with lots more pictures.
For any of you that have taken on a full end to end, top to bottom nut and bolt point bike restoration of any motorcycle, you may get some enjoyment out of reading this. I don’t feel I’ve made it into the secret brotherhood of restorers by any means but have I waded into the waters? Oh yeah. Did I know anything about a VLH beforehand? Nothing. Do I know a little now? Shall I recite the parts list backwards or forwards?
My VL experience starts like many others. A friend had it on the bench, dismantled and lost interest. I thought it would be great to take over and finish where he left off. So I proceeded to pay way too much for the project, shipped it across the country, opened it up, spread it out and then bought and read Steve Slocombe’s book. Note to reader: this is not the suggested order.
And so began a multi month dismantle, investigation, discovery and disappointment as I worked through every single piece, screw, nut, washer etc. The majority of my discoveries lead to disappointment in that the part, if present at all, was rarely true VLH. Most moments of true discovery leading to disappointment started with wide eyed and semi silent curses. Then they progressed into wild combative flailing and more recently I just laugh but all were hastily diluted with copious amounts of wine, beer, shine, solvent – anything handy to numb the pain. Yes, I’m kidding. I would never waste good solvent. Suffice to say I have a lot of great parts to sell on EBay one day that are for other VL’s.
I have no one to blame but myself for deciding early on that I was going for a correctly restored (cosmetically and mechanically) points bike. I was warned I’d need plenty of patience and money. I have developed the former and have a great deal less of the latter. The other character trait perhaps not to have is anal perfectionism. I have that in a bad way.
Stay tuned, I will update as I go. No more whining I promise. Wine, yes.
Truth be told I’m having a blast, talking to the best in the VL world, meeting amazingly talented experts who will and have left their mark on this restoration and enjoying the small victories as they come.