Sunday, January 27, 2008

Other People's Garages

Here's a bit of voyeuristic pleasure - a peek into the garages of some well-known collectors. These fellows have been playing with and accumulating motorcycles and parts for decades, resulting in dense and layered environments, which reward a few hours of study. Parts, tools, half-finished motorcycles, running bikes, artwork and memorabilia, and riding gear all compete for space... and sometimes there's a LOT of space to fill (and they always fill them up).

Top photo is one third of the amazing barn of the late Ken E. - there is a room to the left of this photo with running machines, and a room past the back wall which was full of parts stock, organized on industrial shelving, just like a functioning motorcycle dealership. Ken specialized in Indians, but worked on and owned all sorts of bikes; in the foreground you can see a Norton/Matchless G15, plus Indians from 1917-'47. Ken was a swell fellow, he's there on the left (to the right is Terry Wolburt).

Next pic is another Ken (B.), who had restored so many bikes over the decades that their leftovers began to encrust his little workshop with ever-thicker layers of spares and stuff. Ken worked on very interesting machines, from Pioneers to 60's bikes, and his '27 Velo KSS/TT is on the bench, along with two Ariels.

John P. has a 16th-Century barn with a thatched roof for his workshop, and you can bet he's very careful when welding in the shop. What you see here is two levels - the ground floor (which is dirt, btw), and the upstairs attic. Out of this unlikely old-world shop come some very valuable Brough-Superiors , along with Morgans, Rolls-Royces, and the occasional Renault-engine faux Indian 4.
Last pic is not so much a workshop as a storage space... I never saw Mike H.'s workshop actually, just two warehouses stuffed to the gills with Italian lightweight motorcycles, jostling for space with Alfas, Jags, and the odd Maserati. I think I was negotiating a trade at the time of this pic - my Brough 11-50 for his '62 Maserati 3500. I got scared out of the trade when I found that a distributor cap for the Mas cost $800 (in '91), and a gasket set cost $3000. Too rich for my blood - but it was a beautiful car.

Next is more of a workshop than a garage; it's the private workspace of a late Velocette dealer/repairer/tuner, and shows a very nice MkVIII KTT coming together on the bench. The bike has some interesting features, including the odd transverse mounting holes for the tank, and the telescopic forks! Those shelves are lined with gold...

Last pic, well, I have to keep my secrets, for purely selfish reasons, as I want what's peeking out from under the covers... a pre-war rigid frame, racing model 30 Norton, ca 1935/6. Horribly tempting under that tarpaulin, wouldn't you say? We did manage to extract some other motorcycles from this Aladdin's cave, but the Norton wouldn't budge. There's still time...

Okay, it wouldn't be fair to show everyone else's garage without a photo of my own. Here it is, in all it's glory - riding gear hanging from the ceiling, stacks of parts boxes, alloy rims leaning on the central heating unit, bikes being built up on the workbenches, the runners are lined up on the floor. Not pretty, but functional - and the most functional item of all is that big gray chest of drawers on the right; it's an old printer's file, which held thousands of lead print type letters. Solid oak, but painted gray (as it was formerly US Navy), it holds my stash of nuts and bolts, spare levers, electrics, magnetos - everything small enough to fit inside, basically. On top is my lathe - the cabinet is that strudily built.

1 comment:

camerabanger said...

great shot of these interesting work spaces. I only have a little spot in my garage (the wife's car takes up the lion's share)but I get things done. I don't have a collection but manage to do most of my own work and enjoy living vicariously looking at the great collections on your blog.