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Garage Sessions

Dave’s Encompassing Collection

Spare a prayer for our dear friend Dave. A man obsessed and addicted to internal combustion, in every shape and form. His shed is a testament to his history with machines of every flavour, those which slam down roads, rip through waves, and tear up the skies. Get lost in Dave’s shed of infinite machines.

“I guess we can blame my passion on my Mother. When I was a little kid I made her life a misery at the shops if she didn’t buy me a matchbox car. It was a small price to pay for a little peace, and from that day forward my need to collect had begun.” This passion for collecting would eventually turn into much more as he was regaled with tales of his Great Great Grandfather, and the machinery talents this man possessed. “I was in awe of this man whom I had never met.” And through this man’s history, Dave would pick up the pieces and begin to create his own machines, starting with Balsa wood kit planes and eventuating to Merlin Engine Speed Boats that dominate the water today.

Growing up, each new model kit, bicycle, toy – anything that could be built and pulled apart would be. It wasn’t enough to own and use these for Dave, but an understanding of how they worked was essential. Before long, Dave had completed his first custom bicycle in his own room, and was building new ones from parts he gathered and selling them to mates.

“I made it that hard for my parents growing up, that eventuated in my Father turning up with a brand new Yamaha IT 125. He said I had to work for it if I wanted to ride it, so I quit year 10 early and went and worked with him plumbing. Once I got the bike I was really disappointed in it. It was a slug – although it didn’t take me long to work out that my father had asked the shop to leave the restrictor plug in the exhaust.”

A bow must be taken to Dave’s parents, for as he grew his collection of cars that were now turning their home into somewhat of a wrecking yard grew with him. “I remember my father telling me “If you buy a bike, you can fuck off out of here”. But naturally that didn’t stop me, and when I was 20 I bought my Harley-Davidson which I still have today. Dad just shook his head when I brought it home, and went back in the house. You must understand at this stage I was buying a car a week and the fights with my parents over it were constant. So I buy this bike, and two days later terrified of my father I take it down the road to my mates place and tear it apart there to do the restoration. Not long after whilst at the table eating dinner with my family, my father asks “So where is the bike”? When I responded with “I’m rebuilding it” he simply looked down at his plate and said “Fuckin’ $12,000 and he pulls it apart”.

All this fuss and collecting just cars and a bike (although today he boasts a small collection of 2-wheeled machines) and we are yet to touch on Dave’s boats. “To date I have around 25 boats, with the oldest dating back to 1890. My most famous of these being my Roll Royce Merlin powered monster Aggressor.” This V12 water demon was built by a young 19 year old by the name of David Tenny in the ’60’s who had ambition and dreams to win the 1972 Griffiths cup. The 1942 ex-Spitfire engine will excite any WWII buff, let alone those who are nautically and mechanically inclined.

What’s remarkable about exploring everything that Dave has in his machine sanctuary, is that if he didn’t at least make it himself, there’s an amazing bit of history behind it. We’re unsure if there’s a secret to Dave’s success in finding so many gems, or if it’s simply fate. “I use all the same methods in hunting down all these old things, though my wife often claims I send my “beams out and the thing I’m chasing appears. Others just call me “Tinny”.

Dave’s repertoire of skills is as impressive as his collection, behind able to create and fix most anything he requires for the projects he takes on. “I put it out there that I could do the unthinkable and repair rusted out and damaged bike tanks and make panels from scratch. It seemed I had tapped into a small niche with the bike community – nobody wants to weld petrol tanks. A steady stream of people have since walked through the door. It’s been a steep learning curve, and frankly it’s been a physical and mental struggle. That said, I am starting to get into a groove and I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. My Dustbin Fairing’d Royal Enfield special is my first successful attempt at this new folly and I am very proud of it.”

More on Dave and this special Royal Enfield to come soon…

Categories
Culture

Butler’s Customs & Café Racers

Last time we caught up with Liam Butler, he was working out of a mate’s shed with borrowed tools. Today, he’s grown and expanded to his own shop, and is pumping out some great builds while making his own mark in the Australian custom motorcycle world.

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Seeing how far Butler’s Customs & Café Racers has come over the past 18 months is something truly exciting. These beginnings were long in the making however. From working on cars with his Pop as a kid when he was as tall as a dining table, Liam’s love for machines was planted early. “As long as I can remember I’ve been pulling things apart and putting the back together to see how they worked. It was only natural I suppose that I’d end up becoming an automotive electrician by trade. I was drawn to motorcycles when I was little, my Dad, Uncle and Pop all rode as did my friends. I could just never afford one till I was older. Once I met my mate Paul and he showed me the bike he was building, I was hooked.”

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After years of working for companies from building buses, police cars, army vehicles, race cars and mining vehicles, Liam decided to take his skills on a different path. Bikes. “When I got my first bike and built it up, I did my best to make it what I felt was the best and classiest bike I could on my limited budget of $3000. I had just been made redundant from the mines, had no more work and just a motorcycle to play with. After finishing it and getting a good response from people, my wife suggested I put a post up on Facebook letting people know I could wire their bikes for them, I got some work which kept us going till I found a new job but before long I was flat out. I thought that maybe I could take this passion to another level, and make it my full time job.”

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Just as soon as this idea had entered Liam’s head, a logo was drawn up and his business name was now registered. Soon he was building more bikes and selling them, while also doing electrical work for others. A year and a half later Liam ran into his mate Chris Johnson who is part owners with Chris Joannu of the Edwards Bar in Newcastle. “I told Chris that I was eventually going to open my own shop and if he had any advice. He offered me a space in one of the shops they had next door to their bar, and so I jumped at it. The space now allowed me to take on a mechanic and engine rebuilder, along with being able to buy more tools and other things needed. Now we hold monthly rides, events and have a steady flow of custom bikes rolling out the door.”

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Specialising in pre-90’s motorcycles, Butler’s take care of fabrication, engine rebuilds, complete restorations, electrics, custom builds and anything mechanical. The new space also allowed him to start working with apparel, parts and accessories, further expanding the growing repertoire that Butler’s Customs & Café Racers have. “We’ve built a lot of bikes from top to bottom, and currently are building a complete custom Honda XL250, a Yamaha XS400, a Suzuki GS650 and a Honda CB400.”

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From working at home, then to a mates shed with borrowed tools, and to now operating a complete workshop space that bears his name, it’s a success that comes from passion and drive. Adding to the thriving Newcastle motorcycle scene, more and more are looking at getting involved with custom or classic bikes, and giving it a go themselves. Butler’s has proven to provide a hub for those wanting to be a part of the 2-wheel fun.

To check out more, CLICK HERE

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“We’ve got some big things happening this year, with some massive builds for high end clients and companies, along with new events. We have our monthly Parry St Roll Up, where on the last Sunday of every month we ride from 12:30pm from the shop before coming back to The Edwards Bar for beers, bands and food. “

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Garage Sessions

Paul’s Shed of Toys

Paul’s got a machine for just about every ride and every mood – so it wouldn’t be held against you for turning a bit green once you peer inside his shed. Two wheels and four, Paul’s doing a lot of things right to own such a mischievous collection – and it’ll only keep growing from here.

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This is Paul’s multi-purpose sanctuary for his passions and addictions. Serving not only as storage, but also as a workspace where he can tinker and modify his toys to suit his needs. “I’ll do any customising in here, from fabricating parts, painting (badly) basic electrics (real bad) and a lot of servicing. To be honest, I’m good at sourcing parts both here and overseas. I can then work with them and add them on to my projects, as opposed to making everything from scratch.”

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The “toy list” as Paul will cheekily describe runs an impressive assortment of machines. There’s a 2004 Harley Slob Sporty XL1200R Custom, a newly acquired 2000 Yamaha XJR1300, a 1999 Ducati ST2 Shed –X custom, a 2010 Husaberg 450 Dirt Bike, a 2008 CT110 “enduro” posty, 2 Superkarts (Long Track) and a 2013 BRM Stock Honda 125. Out of breathe yet? Oh, and there’s usually a 11ft Thundercat Inflatable Surf Race boat there, but that’s apparently off site for the moment. Most importantly, they all get good use – which leads up to believe Paul has a few body doubles hooning around.

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The time to enjoy these machines alone is a full time task no doubt, but there’s still plenty of work to be done in the workshop and shed. “My time spent working on my bikes depends on whether I’m building or modifying something. This can be anywhere from 40-60 hours, or sometimes not at all as I can go months without working on a bike. As this is my day job workspace as well, I am here on average 50-60 hours a week regardless of what’s going on.”

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Two highly tempting machines are Paul’s Superkarts (erroneously called Go Karts by us), which are purpose made for long tracks, such as Philip Island or Sydney Motorsport Park. “I got into driving them 20 years ago, but only bought my first Superkart 8 years ago. It was an Australia build Stockman chassis with an Honda RS 250 V twin two stroke engine straight out of the world Moto GP 250 class. These angry little beasts are still faster around Phillip Island than Moto GP/Superbikes and V8 supercars with lap times of 1:27min, and are awesome fun to drive.

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My current two are a step down called “Stock Honda”. They have a Honda 1999 CR125 engine + 6 speed box. Although they are only 36HP they are still quick with times of 1:47min at the Island, 1:43 at SMP and 1:03 at Wakefield.  All karts are identical so no check book racing.”

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You’ll no doubt recognise Paul’s Harley-Davidson dubbed ‘The Slob’, which is on the cusp of being complete (however we’re there’ll always be something Paul will want to change). The next project that is under way is the recently acquired Yamaha XJR1300 build by Harley at RB Racing. No heavy modification is on the cards, but some personal touches to the tail end with a new seat being worked on by Paul in his workshop.

“My collection still has a few more pieces to go. I need a vintage MX bike, something like a Yamaha 465 or 490 would be great. Or maybe a newer Honda CR500 to go sliding on… although I’m also into power and sail boats so that plan may change.”

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Garage Sessions

Rob’s Shed

Most commonly known as “The Shed”, this is a hallowed and holy place of worship to the machine Gods; a shelter for the lost and misguided. Here, motorcycle and machine nuts can find refuge from judging eyes and nagging significant others to perfect their builds, and probably hangovers.

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Full time workspace for Rob, and part time mischief-space for Sam, it’s a place that will make any bloke jealous. Owned by Rob, he’s a very charitable dude who kindly shares this bastion with whichever wayward souls and their machines that may find their way here ”It’s sort of a support group for motorcycle nuts who have a taste for the old and different.” Says Sam, spokesperson and designated port drinker for the shed. “Apart from the finger painting and crayon classes, also popular is the beer drinking, golf cart and lawn mower repair, pizza and beer consumption, loud music, jelly wrestling, and sleeping.  There is also the occasional bike build, car restoration, and modification…” Jelly Wrestling aside, we’ve elected to concentrate more on the mechanical endeavours, for now…

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If you like Harleys (and you should) you’ll immediately start sweating as you perv and gander at the immaculate Panhead and Knucklehead builds that sit seductively at the entrance of this machine Mecca. You’ll definitely recognise Sam’s Panhead at the very least. There’s a veritable campaign of projects and builds going on. “At the moment, Rob has a ’62 Ford Econoline up on the hoist.  He bought it from a cool dude down Bondi way who bought it back from the States.  Rob’s in the process of installing a complete new front end, with a modern air bag rack and pinion set up he bought from the states.  This is to prepare for the new donk. He pulled out the original 6cyl 200cu Mustang engine to make way for a 5.7 Gen3 V8 with auto trans.  He’s hoping to get it finished in time to get to next years Boogaloo, or shouldn’t we mention that?…”

Whoops, now it’s mentioned.

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You’ll find not only is there customisation and modification going on here, but also a healthy dose of restoration, courtesy of the local vintage bike clubs that funnel in a hearty supply of work to be done. “This is along the lines of blasting and painting frames, tins going into BSA, Norton, triumph builds put together by the local old dude community (that’s even older than us!)  Not long ago, we finished all the paintwork for a BSA A10 Road Rocket, and the dude took it away and bought it back complete and it was a stunner. We’ve just finished a Norton and we’re halfway through another BSA. Definitely looking forward to seeing these together on the road.”

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“We dig the stuff we ride, and appreciate the stuff that other people dig.  Our attitude is; “Life’s too short to hate any brand of bike”.  There’s too much of that shit in the bike scene, and we just like to avoid that in the shed.

We’ve got 4 bike lifts on the floor, but there’s always a line of bikes waiting for a look berth.  There’s a core group of about 7 or 8 ne’er-do-wells who inhabit the shed after hours.  Most have old bikes, so there’s never a shortage of repair/maintenance work for when the serious stuffs stops and the bar opens…  There’s a full spray booth in there. Got a hoist, frame-straightening machine, blasting cabinet, bar area, dance floor, outdoor kitchen, and a small stage area for the occasional visiting circus troupe.

There’s limited in-door bike parking for when someone spends more time sitting around the oak port barrel than is legally recommended.”

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“Rob’s got a Genny Shovel bobber build that gets worked on when there’s a chance. It’s pretty cool, although a lot of Harley nuts had a bit to say when we posted photos of the original frame being sawn in half and a replica rigid rear end being attached. There’s a shitload of fab work done with the oil tank and guard being made part of the frame.  Rob doesn’t give a shit what people think, he goes with what he feels like at the time, and that’s what your attitude has to be to get on in this place.  And it works…”

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“We spend at least 3 days a week at the shed, sometimes more. More often than not we’re accompanied by the 3rd amigo, Spike. The rules are that Rob returns to his family by 6pm during weekdays – more a guideline than a rule… Spike and myself do our best to send him home, but he can be a stubborn bugger.  It’s the Maltese in him.  It’s only a 2-minute walk from his house to the shed at the back of his property; although it can take up to 2 and a half hours from the shed back to the house…  Go figure?

Rob, Spike and myself get out on our skoots every day that we can, even if it’s just a quick jaunt down to our favourite local Thai place for a not-so-quick lunch.”

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“Friday arvo sees a regular stream of friends and bike lovers passing through for a quick beer on the way home.  Every second Friday that develops into something bigger, usually accompanied by a meal prepared by our in-house Chef-de-brilliance Binnsie, plenty of bevs, loud music, occasional burnout, a bit of indoor circle work on the in-house scooter, and stuff we don’t even remember… Our Chrissy Party is a celebrated annual event, and fast approaching.  This is where we host our wives and friends to a large party of food wine and song.  The band is usually harder to get rid of than an oil stain under a panhead…

And not to mention the occasional appearance of our good friend and hero to all, “Naked Man”, his disguise being an old leather flying helmet and goggles.  No one knows his true identity to this day, but we are forever grateful knowing that he’s out there if we need him…”

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It would seem to be a pretty comprehensive space to get work done, and get working on not getting work done. But is it missing anything? “We were going to add a brass pole, but none were rated strong enough to hold any of us on a Friday night.  However, we are in the throws of finishing a mezzanine level to house a pool table, lounge and fold out bed.  Maybe a fireman’s pole for ease of dismounting the mezzanine?”

To check out more of Rob’s work, or have him get something done for yourself CLICK HERE

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Categories
Garage Sessions

Inside Ian’s Shed

Ian’s Shed is a space that you’ll find him tinkering away on a veritable treasure trove of different projects. From repairing children’s toys, shaping sandstone and welding up new motorbike frames and engine parts. A lot goes on in this place, and a lot of creative machines come out of it.

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Admittedly, the shed at the moment is being used more as a storeroom for Ian’s machines and parts. Any work that goes on for the time being will first require Tetris-like arranging of objectives to make space for his current project – but there’s certainly no slowing down. “I’ve made structural beams and supports for my house in this space, a small chopper for my daughter, and plenty of bizarre creations made from unwanted objects. I made my first petrol tank, frame, and suspension in the shed – every time I tried to make something from a sketch I’d learn something new.”

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Being an industrial designer lends Ian plenty of know-how in pulling apart machines and creating new ones. You’ll be scarce to find anything that he can’t fix or find a solution to. It should also be noted that on our visit he was on the phone to LG about a broken washing machine he owned, whose key parts were not up to design standard. Thus he would receive a new machine – and he would be forever our designated washing machine repairman. “I can always make something work – it may not be the orthodox method, but in the end I can make it, fix it and have fun. In business there are frustrations, and I can exorcise these demons in my workshop. I would like most things to be reusable and built to last, it really doesn’t take must more effort or money to make something reusable and NOT disposable! So my shed sees me sketch out ideas that come to life in an almost organic way – never exactly as planned!”

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At the moment, the roll call of fantastical machines in Ian’s shed includes a red 1956 MGA, a 1979 RM 125cc 2-stroke (that’s been ridden at every Aftershock), a 2005 Triumph Thruxton that Ian made parts for to give it that manx look from the 60’s, a 1930’s crank handle start Villiers Lawn Racer – made from a council throw out lawnmower & dirt bike frame (more on that another time…) and finally the Roberts Rapide, a homage to the early 1900’s board trackers, made from parts of the Villiers lawn mower and a ‘50’s one – with an old 28cc engine in an old cruiser bicycle. A truly eclectic mix of machines that are a sincere representation of Ian’s personality and ethos.

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“Welding and grinding steel is always interesting in the shed. I once set light to steel wool while grinding back the petrol tank, and the welder has singed a few body parts! The shed is a sanctuary where I forget about my day job as a commercial designer and immerse myself in hands on problem solving, and making armed always with a cuppa and my flat cap! That shed keeps me grounded and I always feel like my forbears can see into my world there. Engineers, wheel rights, carpenters and makers have always been in the family through generations both male & female – that makes me want to keep on using discarded materials to make new machines. I always re-use materials as an ethical and sustainable process for my tinkering – plus its cheap, with the few $’s I spend being on paint and welding rods!”

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“I will always try and have the mechanics and overall look worked out at the sketch stage of a project, with plenty of wiggle room for detail and no strict deadline.

When I see older machines that anyone can figure out how they work by looking at them, it inspires me to fix and make.
If I can make something that I think is cool and interesting from “junk” and other people think is interesting and worth using, it turns the junk into treasure that can amuse, inspire and illustrate the possibilities of “up cycling”.”

 

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Garage Sessions

Luke’s Lockup

If it’s one thing Luke’s got plenty of, it’s shed space. A blessing from the gods, he’s got enough room to fit an army of bikes – and whilst he’s currently got a somewhat modest squad of machines, we’re sure some other fanciful machines will find there way into his domain.

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You’ll no doubt recognise Luke’s Ural with Sidecar that was featured recently, well alongside it lives two 1991 Kawasaki Zephyr 1100’s – one modified and one stock (and in parts, somewhat). “The modified Zephyr is my daily transport so it gets regular maintenance. The stock Zephyr came to me in pretty sad condition so it’s been getting a fair bit of attention. The engine went back into it about a month ago and I’m finishing off carbs and electrics. It’s been an on and off project for the last year.”

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To keep his Ural running smooth as velvet – or close to it – regular maintenance is diligently applied. “After DGR I’ll be modifying the sidecar suspension to lower the sidecar body a few inches. I also have to machine and bush the suspension pivot, which is sacked out after 60 years of bumps. This week’s project has been plumbing up a coolant pump to my lathe for some axle machining that is coming up – for a 1925 douglas of all things. The week before I attacked my home weather station, which wasn’t broadcasting, rain or wind. The PCB was completely corroded so I made up jumper wires for missing tracks and replaced 2 diodes and a resistor. I’m pleased to report 37mm of rain-recorded month to date.
Work gets in the way of productive shed life!”

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Having a lathe and a mill in his shed means that Luke is afforded the luxury of being able to do basic machining alongside his projects. Everything that can be done in this space by Luke is given a crack instead of outsourcing to other locations. “I managed to negotiate a 2 post vehicle hoist in the deal when we bought this house which will get plenty of use when I get a project car. I’m a home DIY tragic, as well as a bike-head and after a few decades of collecting, my tools are decent enough to cover most jobs. Basically I tackle any job if I can improve something, spend as little as possible and not break myself. Tyre changes aren’t my thing and working on plumbing is shit so I avoid that like the plague. I rarely outsource tools but occasionally need to outsource talent.”

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You’ll find Luke in this bike bastion as often as he can – or as often as his family will tolerate. A self-confessed part time hermit, you’ll find him pulling apart and working on his Kwakas or Ural more often than being perched in front of the TV. “Working in the shed is never a chore – it’s like when Happy Gilmour goes to his happy place for me.”

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Categories
Garage Sessions

Mark’s Honda Holdout

At the age of 15, Mark would buy his first bike which he still owns and works on today. What is unique however in Mark’s case is that despite still having such a passion for motorcycles and working them, he hasn’t ridden in almost 15 years! You don’t need to be on the road to still be immersed in the bike world, but hopefully that will all change with the completion of Mark’s current project.    Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1975Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1971Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1985Like most kids of his generation, Mark grew up with dreams of motorcycles swirling about his melon as he would don his mothers old motorcycle helmet as a child and mimic the sounds of a 2-stroke whilst pretending to ride about. This in turn would evolve into pegging a playing card to his pushbike to simulate the sound of a motor, as was tradition at the time. And finally of course, every Christmas he would beg and plead for a mini bike of his own. It would not be until the age of 15 that Mark would get his first proper wheels however. “When I was 15 the school I was at only went as far as year 10, so I had to find a new school to continue with year 11 and 12. I was lucky that school I had found had Automotive Technology as a subject. One of the prerequisites before the school term started was that I had to find a relevant project. This was my chance to finally own a motorcycle! So over the Christmas break between years 10 and 11, Dad and I drove out to Liverpool motorcycle wreckers and I finally had my first bike.”Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1866Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1986Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1991Now at the age of 15, Mark was the proud owner of a 1978 Honda CB400T – something that would no doubt be the envy of any boy his age. “I would wheel this thing out of the garage, stare at it and sit on it while I imaged it all fixed up and running. The only thing was that I didn’t know how to ride! So when I turned 16 and 9 months I got my learners permit. My Grandfather then drove me to a local motorcycle shop with his trailer in tow and I picked up my first running and registered bike – a 1985 Suzuki TS185. I was finally riding and living the dream!”
Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1996The Honda CB400 that Mark initially purchased would be not forgotten however, as his wrenching side to motorcycles would still receive plenty of attention. Over the next 2 years, the CB400 would be given a ground up restoration in his school workshop. Once graduated, Mark sold his TS185 to his woodwork teacher and finally got the CB400 registered and on the road. From here the bike would be his main form of transportation.Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_2015Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1901Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_2038Fast-forward to a slightly older Mark, a lively 24 year old who no doubt only owned ‘90’s rock band t-shirts and had owned many other bikes by now, but still held onto his first machine, the 1985 Honda CB400. “When I was 24 I met a girl named Kelly, this girl would end up being the love of my life, my wife and the mother of my beautiful twin girls. When we first met I was riding my CB400, but she would never get on the back of it. She had gone through a horrible time with an ex-boyfriend who had a very nasty accident on his motorcycle that had left him a paraplegic. So, when the rego had expired on my bike I made a decision and parked my trusty steed in my folk’s garage and covered it up with a tarp. There the bike would sit for the next 5 or 6 years.”Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_2011Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1925Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1936The Honda would not sit undercover forever, and soon Mark would be heading back home to see how his first mechanical love was doing. “I started stripping the bike down, and I’ve gotta say that the years had not been very kind to my beloved bike! So I started searching for a donor bike, which is where I found a 1978 Honda CB400T for 400 bucks, which brings us to my current build. I finally also had a place to work on the bikes with our awesome shed out back, plus I had finished my apprenticeship and was now a qualified heavy vehicle mechanic. I started with stripping and rebuilding the carbs, and then I set about teaching myself to weld and made an engine stand so I could easily work on the engine. I’ve been working on this bike for about 2 and a half years now and it’s the second time I have built a bike – the first being at school with lots of help from the teacher, so this time around I really wanted to do everything myself.”Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1926Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1944Mark_Garage_Session_CB400_1959
So now you’ll find Mark in his shed each week, working on getting his Honda CB400 on the road so that he may one day ride again – and we’re hoping bloody soon! “It depends what shifts I’m working and what’s going on with the family, so my time in the shed can be pretty sporadic. Some weeks I might manage 5-6 hours, other weeks might be an hour whilst other weeks none at all. I tend to work in short furious bursts, but you’ll be seeing me and my bike on the road soon enough!”

Click here to check out all the Throttle Roll Merch
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Garage Sessions

Klub Berlin

There’s plenty to look at in Klub Berlin; which is Simon’s designated bike workshop/art space/beer swigging station. It’s a space that mixes his passion for motorcycles with his passion and career through artwork. There’s also a bunch of cold beer, which is really bloody good.
Simon_Lovelace_Klub_Berlin_3096Simon_Lovelace_Klub_Berlin_3116Simon_Lovelace_Klub_Berlin_3119After returning home from a trip to Europe, Simon’s garage space was dubbed Klub Berlin in honour of the thriving creative scene he’d experienced, and this garage would form the perfect nod to Simons travels as it has become both a shrine to his passions and the perfect hangout spot for him and his mates. “I try not to do too much motorcycle work in the space truth be told. It’s more to relax and potter about in – but it’s equipped for small jobs on the bikes, and has enough seats and beer for a few mates.”Simon_Lovelace_Klub_Berlin_3125Simon_Lovelace_Klub_Berlin_3137Emphasis should be placed on the beer drinking side to this spot when you ask Simon what kind of stuff goes on in here “Drinking beer, drinking beer, and occasionally we drink some beer. It’s great in the Summer time as an evening hang out – it keeps all the stinky smokers out of my fuckin’ apartment and studio. Plus, I can just kick everyone out and go upstairs when I’m done. Winter has not so much action. We pull the garage door down and turn on the gas BBQ for warmth. It’s a little ‘gamey’ but beats freezing ones nuts off.”Simon_Lovelace_Klub_Berlin_3129Simon_Lovelace_Klub_Berlin_3145Simon_Lovelace_Klub_Berlin_3157Currently Simon’s got a mean looking 1971 OIF Triumph Bonneville Bobber tucked away at the back of his space, awaiting some repairs so that it can roar through the streets once more as it’s guarded by a peculiar looking mannequin sporting an old school helmet. A 1993 Suzuki RGV VJ22 is Simon’s current no.1 toy to play, which happily puffs 2-stroke smoke throughout the street, while a 1993 Yamaha TZ350 Hybrid that was featured at Throttle Roll 2016 is off getting some work completed.Simon_Lovelace_Klub_Berlin_3155Simon_Lovelace_Klub_Berlin_3159Simon_Lovelace_Klub_Berlin_3161

The artworks festooning the walls of the garage are a mix of Simon’s own work, and that of his mates. “The LED installation is from a portrait show at China Heights my friend Paul had organised. The work behind glass of the girl in the alley is from a bijou show I put on in the space for my friend Maximillion called ‘Si tu pisses partout, t’es pas Chanel du tout.’ [Pissing everywhere Is Not Very Chanel ] there’s a pen on paper piece by Raymond Lalotoa and a couple of paintings on board I’ve recently completed.”

Simon runs Blank_Space Gallery, Click Here for more

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Garage Sessions

Dangerous Dave’s Ducati Den

Nobody knows how Dave got the nickname ‘Dangerous’, not even Dave himself. But with us being big fans of alliteration, and Dave having a driven desire for Ducati’s, this moniker works just fine. Something is for certain however, and that’s if Dave is in town, then there are beers to be had in the shed. And if there are beers to be had in the shed, then there’s shit talking about bikes to be had in the street.

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Transport yourself (with or without the aid of mind altering substances) to the outer suburbs of Melbourne in the early ‘70’s. There you’ll find a much younger, although equally as dangerous Dave making good use of the wide-open spaces on his mini bike. That’s where it all started for him – and it sure as hell didn’t stop. “My metal flake, lime green Malvern Star Dragster with 3 speed centre shift gears, sissy bar and giant reflector just didn’t cut it any more; I needed an engine!” Ducati_Dave_Garage_Session20160712-(32)Ducati_Dave_Garage_Session20160712-(34)Ducati_Dave_Garage_Session20160712-(70)

It took some time for Dave to finally acquire this much-desired engine, and fortunately for him it came attached to a bike. “I got to hone my skills during my teenage years on my mates dirt bikes – I begged, borrowed, though didn’t steal, and got to ride my mates road bikes as well during this period. By this stage there was no going back. A 1976 Honda 400F became the first road bike that I actually owned, it was all I could afford.”Ducati_Dave_Garage_Session20160712-(41)Ducati_Dave_Garage_Session20160712-(43)Ducati_Dave_Garage_Session20160712-(47)

This Honda would end up having the living daylight flogged out of it, as Dave would ride it up and down the east coast making good use out of his first road bike. “It was then that I got to ride all sorts of late ‘70’s and early ‘80’ sports bikes, mainly when the friends that owned them needed a break. One of those bikes was a bevel drive Ducati 900SS. From that day on I knew I had to have one.” And so the ongoing love affair with Ducati’s would be born.

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The Ducati 900SS was still out of Dave’s financial reach, however along came a 1976 Ducati 860 GTS that was just the right price, and so it was his. “That bike still lives in my shed. It’s morphed into a quasi-street tracker and has been a part of the family for close to thirty years. The next bevel bike I got was the ’81 Ducati Darmah that came to me from a mate who was moving overseas. I’ve modified that thing many times, not for any other reason than it was one of the best bikes I’ve ever owned, I just love riding it and want to get the best from it. It just took a while to not be bothered by the purists who think you have to keep it all-original.

Fuck them.”

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Despite owning a myriad of other motorcycles over the years and riding shitloads of other bikes in between, it would be the bevel drive Ducati’s that would forever be Dave’s soft spot. “I love them because they are the coolest bikes on the planet, despite the attention they need. If you want the best, you have to work for it. Having said that, I have an Ducati ST2 as my daily rider, a 1972 Honda CB750 and about 5 Yamahas.”

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Dave’s shed is no hideaway man-cave for him to be a reclusive weirdo in, and instead is very much part of the neighbourhood as case upon case of beer is ingested with friends passing by. Those needing a helping hand with their own motorcycle project are welcome to get a page of wisdom from Dave in bike repair and modification. Henry, the son of Richard Goodwin who we visited not too long ago has his 1968 T120 Hardtail Bobber up on the bench currently being worked on, “But after that, it’s back to bevel drives!”

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Garage Sessions

Curly’s Corner

Meet Curly, named so for his once curly locks – however this moniker now serves as a memorial of more hirsute times. But that’s neither here nor there, because he’s got a kickarse collection of pre-80’s dirt bikes that’ll really get your motor goin’.
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Curly started out early on bikes tearing about on his mate’s Honda XR75 after school. He continued to squirt about on two wheels until a 15 year hiatus was implemented after being hit by a truck; a fair enough excuse we say. Despite owning just about every style of bike under the sun over his riding years, it was the off-road breed that really interested Curly.

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“After my hiatus and I started getting back into riding I was going to fix up the Yamaha RD400 I had from the crash. The handbrake (Read: Mrs) said “no” – I was to buy a bike that was running, and registered. Who was I to argue!?” It was from here that Curly started to notice all the new Motard motorcycles that were crashing through the scene at the time, although he was hard pressed to find one that really caught his fancy. One fateful day however things would make sense for our pal Curly, when a saucy Yamaha XT500 would saunter into his life…

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“I’d seen an advert for a Yamaha XT500, and the memories of my teenage years watching this one guy pull the longest mono’s down the back beach of Coffs Harbour came flooding back – I had to have it!” And so it was. Originally purchased with the intention of doing trailing riding, Curly soon found that the bike was a bit too nice and original to deserve the abuse of bush bash. So he did what the only thing that any sane man could do; buy another. And another. “You know the saying, “When have you got enough bikes? Count your current collection and then add one. My main interest is the XT/TT 500. I love its motor, handling and reliability. Oh, and don’t forget the sound and backfire on the overruns.”

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These fine steeds are all kept together in Curly’s garage, but what kind of work is going on in this space? “Argh! The “W” word! I wouldn’t call what I do in the garage work. More like therapy. I’ll be doing anything from carpentry work as I slowly build our house, to building the collection of XT/TT’s. With my health issues I don’t get to spend as much time as I’d like in here – the progress is slow. The yellow dirt bike took 4 years to build, and the new toy is just on 7 years! But they’re good years spent, that’s for certain.”

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Garage Sessions

Kim & Kiera’s Courtyard

Warning: The following post contains images of a cute dog that will have you making very emasculate sounds.

Welcome to Kim & Kiera’s home, a place that they moved in to for the magnificent shed and courtyard space – despite keeping their bikes often parked out the front.

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After a good friend set off to get her rider L’s, Kim followed suit to see what all this two-wheeled fuss was about. Fast-forward to today, and that friends licence has long since expired whilst Kim’s bike collection has only grown, and she’s roped in another along for the ride. The first time Kim and Kiera met, the topic of bikes was on the table. Kiera had always wanted to ride, and now was the time. Two years later and the passion for two wheels has thrived between them, whether it’s riding on the roads or wrenching in the shed.
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Kim_Kiera_Garage_Sesh_8751While searching for a new place to call home, Kim & Kiera came across the perfect abode, complete with a shed to work in, courtyard to keep the ever-growing number of bikes and laneway access. “We only moved into this house because of the shed and back courtyard!” Says Kim, though she then admits that despite this, some of their bikes are lazily parked in the street out front collecting fines.

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“We spend a lot of time out in the shed with our friends working away on our bikes – whether it’s painting and giving the machines a makeover for Aftershock or cleaning carbis to make sure the bikes are running” Says Kiera. “I have a few things I want to do to my RD. I’m keen to chuck some rear sets on, but I’m sure it won’t be long until I need to do something with the engine. Bloody two strokes!”

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In the lead up to bike events such as Aftershock, Sunday Slide, The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride and whatever else is on you’ll find Kim & Kiera’s space abuzz with work, as friends will swing by to lend a hand or work on their own rides. “We can spend a LOT of time our there, which is mostly due to us still learning from friends and figuring things out. The night before Aftershock, Beer Can Sam’s carbi was on the bench in many pieces in a last minute stint to get him running. Actually, Beer Can Sam was re-born here recently late one night with our friend David and I tinkering away. It was a very exciting moment when it finally kicked over!” – Kim

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Kim & Kiera seem to always have had troubled bikes, which whilst painful at times it also serves as a learning tool in furthering their knowledge of bikes, and adds fuel to the fire as their desire to learn more rages on. “We learn things every day, and a lot of that is from pulling things apart and just giving it a go”

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“I wish I had more time for all the projects I’m working on out there. To be honest, it’s sometimes left in such disarray that there’s no chance of even getting in the door.  There is always something going on under the layers, like spoon carving or random wood projects. Even just organising things in the shed and tending to the overgrown garden is fun. A perfect weekend is spent out there with Tavin the dog, a few beers and some tunes regardless of what it is we are working on. I have developed a bad habit of never throwing anything out… especially nuts, bolts, any bike parts.” – Kim

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There was still one member of this family to join the ranks of riders – Tavin the dog! This sweetheart of a pooch was picked up from the Animal Welfare League back in 2009, and despite a troubled start to life he’s a happy little fella that loves going for a ride in the sidecar of Kim’s SR400. “He goes everywhere we go. I couldn’t bare to watch his face as we rode off on an adventure, which is why I began the hunt for Tav’s sidecar. I searched for months and months, had many issues but finally found the right one and now Tav gets to come along for rides in his very own sidecar!”

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Garage Sessions

Keith’s Restoration Redoubt

Since Keith’s teens he’s always had projects to work on, and sure enough he turned this passion into becoming an Industrial arts teacher. Now that he’s retired, these projects have only grown, as he breaths new life into old machines.

Growing up around the bush, there was always something for Keith and his mate’s to get up to be in the ‘60’s. “I always had some projects to work on with my mates, there were plenty of cars and bikes to find as well as plenty of bush tracks to explore”. This natural love for working with his hands and creating would lead him down the path to become an Industrial Arts teacher, spending years at various TAFE colleges all the while accumulating more and more skills, which he could then pass on to future generations whilst also applying to his own projects at home.

When you first arrive at Keith’s place, you’ll immediately notice the stripped back 1960 Fiat 500 Model N that is propped up on a workbench, with it’s bright red bonnet sticking out like dog’s bollocks. Tools orbit around this machine as Keith gets to work restoring this small Italian car to a new glory, replacing and fabricating parts where he needs, and order others online that cannot be made.

“The first Fiat I got was an attempt to involve my youngest son and his mate in a restoration project. That didn’t work out, but these little fiats are good to restore, light weight, small and plenty of new parts available.

The first car was a serious rust bucket and a steep learning curve. The second car, although rusty, is potentially a better car. I have tried to do all aspects of the restoration work, mechanical, panel work, rust repair, trim work and painting.”

A similar Fiat 500 is tucked away behind this work in progress, this one much more complete however. This little blue machine is the same year and model as the one sitting outside, however with a transformable convertible top. The terrific blue interior, completed by Keith as well, is a crisp reminder of ‘60’s style and sunshine. “Bikes and scooters are nice to paint, and I did paint the blue Fiat 500 completely; but would never attempt that again, it’s simply too hard. I’m better off paying someone.”

A man of many skills must, in turn, work on many styles of vehicles. His first Harley, this 1925 Harley-Davidson JD 1200cc coil ignition with sidecar is pure 1920’s style. “There’s plenty of specialist suppliers for these early Harley’s, but they can be very challenging with broken frames, forks, crankcases and just generally worn out – but I do really love the style of these early American bikes”. The transition from the early ‘20’s models of Harley’s can be see in the tank as the more traditional look of Motorcycles we know of today is taking shape, in contrast to the 1921 Harley-Davidson that Keith also owns.

“This 1921 Harley-Davidson F 1000cc magneto ignition started life as a basket case. This is a loop frame model that didn’t change much between 1917 and 1924, so I liked the idea of a bike that had hints of WWI in it’s style, with many of those bikes ending up in Europe with the American troops towards the end of the war.”

It’s not just Italian cars that Keith’s keen on restoring, as a couple of Lambretta’s sit nearby the Harley’s. The 1955 F Model 125cc 3 speed with open frame is a fantastic representation of a restoration, and showcases 1950’s scooter style. Remnants of more open and raw style from the previous decades are present, while the more curved and stylized trend of the ‘50’s and ‘60’s can be seen to have its beginnings. Next to it sits a white and red 1957 Lambretta LD 125cc with dual seat. The fairings, curves and shape of the well known retro look has taken form now in this machine’s design, a great example of what 2 years can do in the industry when compared to the previous 1955 model.

        

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Hicks Boys Customs

Jesse bought is first bike when he was 18 off a mate – a 1992 Kawasaki 125cc. It boasted no exhaust, brakes that didn’t work and no mudguards. Somehow, Jesse is still alive to this day, and thankfully so as he’s got some much nicer (and safer) bikes coming out of his garage at home.

This first bike of Jesse’s (read: Deathtrap) would get itself a makeover however, “Me and my mates, Daniel and Pat, tore that bitch down and painted everything black. We used old parts I scabbed off my brother-in-law’s Yamaha. We had it all ready for a camping trip we were going on, so we spent the whole night putting this bike back together, but we made a big mistake. We didn’t have our own utes or trailers back then and the bike wasn’t registered, so my mate Pat rode it down all the back streets and across the ferry in Port Macquarie. We were all set, driving ourselves in a car happy as larry when we get a call from Pat. He was ringing the bikes neck when the black beauty of a bike blew up! We had forgot to put water in the radiator!”

This didn’t matter to Jesse and his mates, they all had their fun in building the bike and creating something themselves. This would be what drew him to bikes and working on them – “Every time I pick up a socket or tear a bike down, it reminds me of the great memories when I first started on bikes with my mates”

Jesse stepped it up a notch after this, and got to work on a 1948 BSA C11 he got off his Dad upon moving to Canberra 5 years ago. “He found it in the back of a shed on a job he was doing, I was gonna make this a badass matte bobber. I started ripping apart this beast but soon I realised I bit off more than I could chew. Before my Dad had found the bike, it spent most of its life on a farm and had never been registered. It was full of leaves, dirt and old wasps nests. It would have been a great bobber, but it was a nightmare getting the parts for it. I ended up selling this bike, and got my first Yamaha XS650.”

Normally Jesse’s garage is, as he admits, an absolute mess. There’ll be tools everywhere, parts thrown around, and mold growing in old discarded bottles of Corona but all that is changing. “I’m starting up my own business with my Dad, so the shed needed a make over. My missus got me some shelves and I cleared out all the useless shit. I try to spend every afternoon in the shed working on getting my new bike mocked up so I can ride, but as most people know it doesn’t always work out like that. I’m an apprentice plumber so I’m tired and broke for a lot of the time.”

Jesse’s had his fare share of learning curves and new skills since first pulling bikes apart, but perhaps one of the biggest he’s learnt is patience… well, that and grinding. “I’m really good with a grinder these days, and my metal working and designing skills are so much better than when I first got started. I can’t stop thinking of different things to do with my bikes!”

The crowning glory in Jesse’s shed is his purple XS650 Bobber which he got off a mate. “He had it sitting in his garage forever, I finally got it off him about a year ago. I’d seen some pretty awesome bikes built from XS650’s, so I was keen to rip into it! After I tore that baby down, I took at it with the angle grinder to trim the fat and clean up whatever I could. I went for the drop seat hardtail, added a 5-inch stretch and lowered it 3 inches. The bike is now over 2 metres long, and sits 130mm off the ground.”

The next project on Jesse’s list is, of course, another XS650. “This one is going to be a crazy brat with air bag suspension. I have already stretched the swing arm 3 inches and welded on a brat kit. Everyone keeps saying “Why air bags?” And the answer is basically I don’t want to have a kickstand on this bike. I’m going to put some rubber stops on the bottom of the frame and when I’m ready to stop and park, it’ll drop the bike on it’s belly. It’s going to look sick with the 18” cast rims I’m modding to fit this long schlong of a bike!”

       

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Garage Sessions

Johnny’s Pump Paradise

Johnny is a self diagnosed motorhead from birth. After walking into his shed (and picking your jaw up from the floor) you’ll soon see this is an accurate diagnosis with no cure in sight, which we’re sure is fine with Johnny.

When Johnny was 14, he was riding bikes and working at a service station. “I was obsessed with being a mechanic and anything mechanical, I was interested in hot rods and bikes from watching all these old movies as a kid. I then started my apprenticeship at age 16 in 1981.

I’ve had every type of bike and car you could think of. I started with trail bikes, built up to road bikes of every brand; I got into Ducatis and then Harleys to slow me down a bit. With cars, I’ve had numerous early Holdens, Valiants, Fords and hot rods. I’m not loyal to any one brand, as long as it has nice aesthetics to me. I’m more interested in traditional style machines in both cars and bikes; I’m not into high tech style at all.”

Johnny’s got a proper looking original bobber sitting contently in his shed, a 1942 Harley WLA. “As a collector, I’ve always been a bit of a horse trader – wheeling and dealing to get something better or more interesting. As part of my searching, I found this WLA in a shipping container at the side of a house, it was a deceased estate but the price was too high. I kept in touch with the wife of the owner for over a year, and finally after buying the bike I found out that I had known her husband who owned it!

It’s had a total nut, bolt and beating rebuild of every component. The will be a period correct bobber, very close to a restoration other than just colour with a bobber rear fender and Sparto tail light. It will look like some guy came along after the war, bought an army surplus Harley and bobbed. I have left as much genuine HD stuff on it as I could. When I had the speedo rebuilt I asked them to leave the original worn out face on as a contrast to the finish of the bike.”

And now for his other machine, a 1932 3 Ford (deuce) Coupe 350 Chev with a 671 GM Supercharger, 4 speed top loader and a ford 9 inch diff. It’s been dyno tested at 537hp and 500ft pounds of torque. “Over the years I have had hundreds of cars, always trading up and value adding where I could. A mate told me of the a mutual friend who was selling his hot rod after a 14 year build, the car was fully engineered and legally registered including the super charger, a very well finished car but only a basic interior.

I saw potential to add value, so I bought it! I have since had it retimed which has made it more comfortable, but this is still a very raw true to form hot rod. It’s massively over powered for a car that is 1200kgs with a manual transmission and cross ply tires, the torque twists you into the next lane if you accelerate hard then swings back the other way when you back off, it’s serious business when you put your foot down.”

This is barely the surface of Johnny’s shed, and you’ll find yourself pouring over old petrol pumps as soon as your eyes drift away from the hot rod. Growing up in country NSW, Johnny would find himself at a family friend’s service station and had fallen in love with the look of the place, the equipment, tools, pumps and even the black floor. It was then later as a teenager he decided that since all this stuff looked great, he best get some of it for himself.  “I got my first pump from a ditch on the side of the road in the late 80’s, that’s when my collecting really started. I have sold off a few times, for various new cars and bikes, and also lack of space. I have found things anywhere from old sheds, under houses, swap meets – you name it.”

“It’s nothing for me to head off on a 300km drive after work at the drop of a hat, when a lead comes on I’m gone – you have to be. The internet and TV has seen the interest in automobillia, signs, petrol pumps, oil bottles just explode – as have the prices. Some of my favourite items are my king Neptune sign and my Art deco Erie clock face petrol pumps, the first type of electric pumps we had in Australia. Also my bullseye pumps, they were only used by Ampol, I have 6 of those I love that tombstone shape!”

Johnny’s shed is a castle, a tribute, and a museum all in one to everything vintage, classic and auto. The fact that he doesn’t actually live in it (he’s got a home too, apparently) is baffling, however I’m sure the wife would have something to say about him living in a shed. This was a purpose built space however, and was no accident.

“A few years ago the chance came to excavate my back yard so I could construct a purpose built shed for my collection. Once I had completed it I realised I had built my childhood dream house! The building of the shed was a massive job; I had to take 30 truckloads of dirt out of my yard to build it.

Fitting out the shed was also massive job, my brother is a carpenter and a lot of credit goes to him for all the work he did, it took months to finish off inside working nights and weekends scrounging the right kind of material etc. I was lucky finding materials from all over the place. I had a lot of help from my mate ‘Slick’ with the corrugated iron, which was a gigantic job on its own. The best advice I could give anyone building a shed is make it as tall as you can and insulate the shit out of it. The shed is super insulated and as 2 A/C units in it. When I walk out into the shed I feel like I have just walked into a 40s or 50s garage and the mechanics have just walked out and left it, it’s just like that country garage I walked into at 4 years old and it’s all mine.”

   

Categories
Garage Sessions

Whittaker Specials

Once again we find ourselves in our nations capital. Tucked away in a typical suburban street, in a typical suburban house, lives Simon and a shed full of awesome. Simon heads up Canberra Café Racers and builds his many bikes under the name Whittaker Specials. In Simon’s shed-come-workshop we found so many bikes we lost count.

Over the years Simon has built about 16 bikes. Even whilst selling some bikes to fund other bikes, his shed became the unofficial home of CCR currently holds 10 bikes plus another 2 waiting to be built. Simon advised us “I stick with the ’70s Hondas as they’re pretty easy to work on and easy to make into different styles. I try to make each one different from the last and I’ve built a few different styles already”. These themes have included a CB900 done as a Police bike, his army style CB450, and a TT Racer style CB350.

The latest build, done in time for the last Throttle Roll is “Diablo”, a ’76 CJ360 Brat with a skateboard rack and a matching custom made skateboard.

However, its not all old Hondas. There is also two modern Thruxtons each with their own subtle modifications.

Simon is the kind of bike builder that will try his hand at most things, but like any good builder he has network of mates to help make his ideas a reality. His mate Craig out at Queanbeyan runs a fabrication shop to help with the finer welding and other stuff that needs full-on engineering equipment. During a build Simon admits that Craig’s workshop becomes his second home when getting all the parts sorted.

Simon prefers the Café style, and excels at that style of creation/modification, however as he’s built a few now, it’s the finer personal touches he likes to see and create. He tells us what he appreciates the most is a well thought out, well detailed bike. A bike that shows that the owner is willing to have a go.

“In the Canberra Café Racers we have all sorts of skill levels but the most pleasing thing is the enthusiasm and people out riding on what they’ve built or modified themselves. We have plenty here at CCR that can help each other out with fabrication, paint, tuning, parts etc so ours is a small community, but after 2 years on we’re all making friends and getting into it!”

But Simon isn’t sitting still. Once he can sell of one of the Thruxtons, the Bobber CB450, and the GB400, he’ll be able to raise the cash to fund the next build. The next bike on the list is a little ’76 CB250. It will be a black-out Café Racer. There is also a rusted out CB350 he’s been slowly collecting parts for. This sounds like it will be pretty epic. “it’ll look almost standard except for the 19″ white walls, chopped guards, wild metalflake purple (but standard looking) paint and lots of chrome….

“Then I think I’ll have a rest”

We don’t believe him for a second.

Words by Jason Weber

    

Categories
Garage Sessions

Jason’s Shed

In a quiet, normal suburb of Canberra you wouldn’t expect much going on. Let alone in the custom bike scene. But on a recent trip down to our nations capital we found more than we expected.

In one such garage we met up with Jason (or ‘Lurch’ to most). For generations, most of Jason’s family has rode motorbikes and 10 years ago he decided to pick up the legacy. “It was a typical bloke thing to do, I’d recently found myself single (again) and bored. So one afternoon at work I just picked up the phone and booked myself in to do my L’s. That was twelve years ago”.

On moving to Canberra not long after, Jason found a gap in the online bike communities when it came to Canberra – so he kicked off CanberraRIDERS. Now in its eighth year things have quietened down a bit in the club, since Facebook has come along, however “I’m going for quality over quantity these days. We’ve got a great bunch of people from all walks of life in the club now, and I’m pretty happy with it”.

Jason has been accused (and admits) to changing his bikes more often then he changes his socks. “But there’s a few bikes in the shed now, which I can’t ever get rid of”. Parked in the corner is a nicely restored 1983 GPz750 (nicknamed Goose) Jason tells us that it was his first ‘big bike’ off restrictions. “I’ve had it so long now I could never get rid of it”.

Also wedged in his small single garage is a recently restored 1980 Honda Supercub that he built after seeing James May riding one in the Top Gear Vietnam special.

One of the other bikes in the shed he will not part with has a slightly sadder story. “My best mate Craig, who had been in CanberraRIDERS since nearly beginning, suddenly dropped dead from a heart attack about 18 months ago. Craig’s family was kind enough to give me his bike.” So the CBR600F4i now has a permanent home in Jason’s shed.

The family legacy has recently materialized again however. Up on the workbench we found a tiny little Yamaha step-through. “Turns out my Uncle still had my grandfathers step-though. I even have a photo of me sitting on it when I was two! So earlier this year I took the ute down to his place and picked it up. Its just about ready to be stripped for a restoration”.

Although the vintage bikes and the CBR are good bikes, Jason had an itch to scratch on a custom bike. “I’d known Simon from Canberra Café Racers for a while and had gone out riding with the club a few times. This only made me want a café racer or something similar even more” So about 6 months ago Jason sold his cruiser and picked up a 2011 W800 to start working on.

“It’s nothing too exciting yet. Fenders, clip-ons, lights, seat, fairing. But paint and suspension is next. The bike doesn’t handle that well, so a mate Laurie (who is a suspension GOD btw) is going to take a look. Paint wise, I’m thinking polished tank for starters and see how it goes from there”.

“I’ve found the custom bike scene both here and Sydney to be nothing but friendly and accepting. It’s such a great bunch of people. CanberraRIDERS will always be my number one responsibility, but getting out on the W is just something for me”.
      

Categories
Garage Sessions

Nev’s Shed

You’ll find a lot of interesting bits and pieces in most people’s sheds, but Nev’s has a cumulative history attached, stretching back past all of the major western wars of the 20th century, and having links to generations of family.

Nev grew up spending time with his old man in his shed, working on whatever needed working on. “My dad was in the Navy, and then the Army for a total of 35 years. He grew up in Wagga during the depression and was a horse breaker, transporting sand and rock for the construction of roads around the local area. My old man was the smartest bloke I have ever known for CDF. It was fucking amazing at what he could fix with a piece of No.8 fencing wire and a pair of pliers. He never threw anything away – he did all his own repairs on everything from the car to leather shoes, he did some blacksmithing, electrical repairs, built his own dark room, he could fix or build anything.”

Having a Father that was so resourceful and handy meant that Nev had just about no choice but to have his own shed one day, where he could build and create for himself. “Over the years I have repaired and made countless things in my shed, from fixing IBM golf ball typewriters to making knives, leather work, making stock whips, building motorbikes to tightening eye glass frames.

My grandfather on my mother’s side was a mechanical engineer for a radio station in  Melbourne (3AW) for years, when he passed away I ended up with a few (don’t tell the wife, it was a lot) of his tools and machinery and my father passed away almost two years ago now and I still have to go through more of his stuff, the end result is that I have ended up with a collection of hammers among a lot of other tools.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Nev was also in the Navy. This service would end up providing itself as another outlet for the accumulation of tools, “Back then it was pretty easy to order any tools you wanted whether I needed them or not. So I had a fair collection of tools before I received all the others.”

“The German WW1 helmet was bought back by one of my father’s uncles. I also made the display box for the rifles that were my grandfathers on my mum’s side, and the knives are my fathers and his fathers that have been handed down.

I have owned a few motorcycles over the years. DT250, RD250LC, XS650, (my Yamaha years) CBX650f2, BSA’s, Triumph’s, James and Moto Guzzi to name a few. I once owned and had 8 bikes in my shed at one time.

My shed to me is a heritage, a place of memories , past victories and also failures, a refuge from the crazy ass people in this world as it is just a tin shed.”

  

Categories
Garage Sessions

Wally’s British Bike Bunker

The Japanese concept Wabi-sabi is the acceptance of imperfection and the incomplete, and it’s with this same concept that Wally has his passion for old British bikes. “There is no consistency, each was different. Each has its own character.”

Wally got hooked on bikes at the age of 9, and their presence in his life has been pivotal ever since. My friend’s rode and everything we did revolved around them.” Bikes would have to take a break however after his son was born, “I decided to be safer and sensible. Hung up my leathers, sold off about 10 complete bikes, put what was left into storage.”

This hiatus would not be forever, as is the case with many riders that have done the same in the name of family. After moving back to Sydney from Canberra, Wally found himself a home with a suitable garage to get the fire roaring and feed his passion. “The Norton Fastback was resurrected first. Ii had not been running for more than 25 years – it has a lot of sentimental value.

Now I am putting the others back together, hopefully I will complete a few before buying any more. Either that or get a bigger garage.”

Wally has a passion for old bikes, and a passion for going fast on twisty roads. This ruled out a lot of bike brands and models, and despite owning some BMW’s and Jap bikes over the years it was the machines Made In England that fit into his life perfectly.

“To me, British bikes are the Wabi-sabi of motorbikes. Built on old lathes well worn out through the war years. There is no consistency, each was different. Each has its own character. No computer controlled accuracy here. Just a question of how sober the machinist was on the day. Then you add to that 40 or more years of history and each bike become an individual.

Aesthetically – old bikes are beautiful.  Nothing is hidden. You can see the engine. The engine is part of the look of the bike not something hidden behind pieces of plastic.”

What is your favourite tool in this garage?

“My Estwig hammer. My father was a cabinet maker/builder and he had one that he used his entire life. He was a brilliant craftsman and that hammer became a symbol of that skill to me. I bought my own not long after left home. To me it is a link to him, a symbol of making things by hand.

It is also a symbol of my belief that if I own something I should be able to fix it. My early career was in electronics, which is why you see tools like the oscilloscope in my garage. It’ll tell you 10x more information than any multimeter will. Electronics in bikes are about as simple as you can get. I have been designing a complete controller that will only use small push button handle bar switches to activate all the normal functions for a bike. Simplifying the wiring and make cabling any bike a breeze. Watch this space!”

How often do you find yourself in your garage?

“That varies a lot. I typically wander in there every weekend but the mileage may vary. Life outside the garage usually has priority these days.

I had a bike accident early this year and stuffed my back. After surgery I wasn’t able to do a lot physically. This kept me out of the garage for quite a while. Now that I am allowed back on the Norton I feel better, I feel revitalised. That, and along with my buying two more bikes in as many months leaving me with no space! Means I need to get cracking again.”

        

Categories
Garage Sessions

Stan’s Cave

A licence suspension may have prevented Stan from riding for a bit, but bikes were by no means out of the picture. Instead, this was the perfect use of time to work on his bike The Penny Flipper more – he just needed one thing. Space…

I live in an apartment block and although I do have an undercover parking spot, doing even minor jobs on a bike was problematic if not impossible, you see – the lights in my car park are set on timer and switch off after 5 minutes if nobody walks past the motion sensors, so I had to drop tools, walk about 25 meters to the nearest motion sensor to activate the lights again. Rebuilding an entire bike from the frame up in these conditions was definitely out of the question.”

Stan searched far and wide, determined to find an appropriate space for the motorcycle madness he had planned – and sure enough, he found it. “After checking out countless rental garages around inner west and eastern suburbs I came across my little cave – It was perfect, it was dirty, unpainted and stunk of stale human and cat piss BUT It was close to home, it was at the back of a building where I didn’t bother anyone and it was in a dead end street. The next day Rental contract was signed and the garage key was in my pocket. Next week was spent cleaning and painting, I will forever be grateful to my amazing girlfriend Kate Gabriel for helping me clean, paint and deodorise it, and for listening to me grumble about how filthy the garage was.”

Not one to be selfish, Stan opened up this newfound bike bunker to his mates as well. The camaraderie of living in the city and having shit all space to work on your passion is something many Sydneysiders can relate to. “I share this space with none other than Jordan (Ginger Boy) Kightly, and unofficially my mate Thomas to whom we’re both grateful for letting us use his tools. There is something really comforting about being able to hang out, chat and work on bikes with mates, in fact it’s definitely one of my top 5 things to do in the entire world.”

Spending as much time as he can in his space – especially when a build is in the works – it’s a cathartic zone where he can come to switch off or just relax. “I come to the garage often, especially lately while I’m building Kate’s little GN250 called “Scabby Gabby”. We have most tools we’d need to practically do any kind of mechanical work (except welding equipment for now).

With 4 bikes, there is always something to do. But this is my place of solitude too, I come here when I need time to think or to switch off or just to forget about a rough day. Some people go fishing, some people go surfing, and for me it’s riding and working on my bikes. Also while working in the garage, I meet tons of locals, from artists and musicians to the local less fortunate guys, they all stop for a chat and share their own wistful bike (or not ) stories, – I love it, I wish I was recording these stories because I swear it’d make for an amazing, heartfelt book. The rough characters of Redfern are amazing and most are beautiful people who are just shit out of luck. I never have the heart to walk away from their stories even when it means not finishing what I planned for the day in the garage.”

Alright Stan, what’s your most useful or favourite tool?

“Haha, oh yes the grinder, I  think I just like the fact that practically anything can be undone by a grinder, it’s the feeling of instant result, you turn it on, sparks fly, shit gets undone 🙂

I especially love it when you just installed a brand new cutting wheel, cutting metal like butter just does something to my senses. Besides, it makes for a quintessential hipster photo, you know – gloomy, moody, ran down surroundings, sparks flying, bearded dude cutting something up.”

Lucky we here at Throttle Roll are creative pioneers, and would never take such a hipster angel grinder photo.

Now for a more serious question – Sydney is under attack (or something) and there is rioting in the streets. Your garage space is under threat and needs defending, what one item would you pick from your space and why?

“Of course it’d have to be my little telescopic mirror. First of all I can deflect ALL of the laser beams, because everybody knows that any self-respecting riot doesn’t happen without lasers involved. Since I’m an optimist at heart, of course the riot will take place on a sunny day – then I can blind the rioters by reflecting sun into their eyes. I can also peek around the corners with it and keep an eye on what’s happening behind me in case the rioters are sneaking up on my garage while I’m working.”

Oh good, makes sense.

The Penny Flipper is (for now) done, surely there’s more bike builds on the horizon? “I have plans to rebuild my first love – my little 1969 CB175, sadly she’s been a little neglected lately. And I want to give her the royal treatment and bring her back to her full glory.

I’ve also just picked up a desert sled project in the form of a 2001 Aprillia Pegaso 650. This one is going to be a tough one, as I don’t know much about sleds, I’m thankful to be a part of such an amazing bike community where knowledge is endless and on tap.

Sydney Desert Sled boys, get ready for a ton of questions coming your way!”

     

Categories
Culture

Dockyard Dragsters

Dockyard Dragsters comes from motorcycle pedigree. A long line of riders came before Jimmy, and today he continues his family’s legacy of building, riding, and racing motorcycles.

Hidden away in a warehouse space beside the train tracks in Newcastle sits Dockyard Dragsters. When you walk in, you’re met with a large banner of a skull smoking a cigar; and soon after you’ll then be met by a bearded Scotsman with a cigarette. This is Jimmy, this is his space, and this is the result of decades of history in the motorcycle world.

Jimmy’s first memories of riding were around the age of 3 or 4, with his father and grandfather. “My father used to sit me in front of him on his Vincent Black Shadow. I remember watching that big ole 150mph speedo wind up through the numbers as we would barrel down the highway. I would then get swapped onto my grandfathers Brough Superior for the run home.

They were both very competitive, and the ride would often turn into a race.  I was always made to promise to not tell Mum, as we would regularly get up around 100mph. Fine by me! I was obsessed with watching that Vinnie speedo and never felt more alive. That feeling of freedom is still with me.”

This firmly engrained a passion, and addiction, for motorcycles in Jimmy. Dockyard Dragsters is almost as much a motorcycle museum as it is a workshop. There is a bike from almost every decade it would seem, and just about every style. There were frames that would make you look twice, wondering what kind of bike it was. Every bike, and part, had a story or some history to it.

“I guess I was born with oil in my veins. I would happily sit for hours with the men, watching them twist spanners and feeling important as I passed the tools and did the beer runs to the house for them.

As I got older, I learned more and more about the various motorcycle histories and evolution, and was drawn to the technical aspects of mechanics & design. I remember there was always heated debate going on over the various attributes of the different makes and models.”

Jimmy’s father was an engineer who raced Vincents, Velocette’s and BSA Gold Stars. His grandfather on his mother’s side was also an engineer who rode and raced pre-war motorcycles, Broughs and Rudges mainly. He worked for Donald Campbell on the Bluebird, which broke the land speed record on July 17 1964 at Lake Eyre, Australia, clocking 403.10mph/ 648.727kph

“My father’s uncle was Joe Potts, he had a tuning shop in Glasgow. He also owned a funeral parlour, so he had both sides of the coin covered.  Joe was a ridiculously gifted tuner and worthy of a having a book written about him.”

To check out more, follow @dockyarddragster on Instagram

  

Categories
Garage Sessions

Jon’s Wiring Wonderland

Known amongst his mates as “the wiring guy”, Jon started his life of bikes buying old, broken down rides which he would then fix up and flip for a bit of extra coin. The more he worked on them, the more these machines grew on him.

Jon started out making custom car stereo installations for folks, which inevitably led to wrenching on old cars “Old Cortinas and 80’s Falcons mostly. When I found out how much easier it was to get an engine out of a bike, everything changed. You don’t need big cranes or heaps of room, and you can lift just about every part on your own. Compared to a car, you can put a bike engine on the bench, strip it down to replace or fix the broken stuff, and put it back in the bike, all without needing a crane.”

“I spent more time fixing and rebuilding bikes than actually riding back then. I never completed my licence so it lapsed until I bought a zzr250 from a mate in 2008 (which was one of the bikes that I had actually rebuilt), and that got me right back into it. I put another 60,000km on that little 250, then upgraded to a bigger Honda sports bike.”

“Because of the stereos, I had experience with wiring and electronics, and most of the old bikes just had burned out harnesses or busted charging systems which were all relatively easy to fix, and I had all the stuff at hand to do it.”

Jon’s current bike is a 2014 Triumph Bonneville t100, which is as black as the night is long. “I wanted something more reliable than the Honda, which was at about 100,000km and getting really tired. I also wanted something with spoked wheels, and good looks. I’ve always lusted after a triumph.

After a test ride I bought it straight away. The suspension was all replaced and tuned within about a month, then the exhaust. The lights and bars came after. There is so much potential with this bike, and I think it’s really starting to take shape!”

Spending as much time as he can in the garage space (Jon admits probably more than his wife would like) there’s always someone else’s bike in there next to his own, as his reputation for wiring has led him to fixing mates bikes.

Sitting ominously on a workbench is a giant hammer, with the word “reset” scrawled on it.

“I got it on my last trip to Asgard, they were having a sale on tools.

Sometimes you need a bigger hammer, and sometimes you need a bigger brain. Since I can’t make the second part happen, I made a bigger hammer. It’s good for convincing stuck parts to move, or driving posts, or seeing if people are worthy.”

And the favourite tool for this garage? Jon’s old Japanese pliers. “I’ve had them as long as I can remember, and they’ve outlasted every other tool I’ve ever had. There’s a nice long handle for leverage, and the action is really nice on them. The crimping tool is handy in a pinch too.