Prepping Erica’s Tank And Swapping A Helmet

Some time ago, I put Erica’s original tank aside. The plan was always to strip and repaint it, so I decided to clean the tank a bit this week in preparation for stripping the paint.

The first step was add the task to Erica’s list!

The tank has had some of the paint wear off already, so there is a bit of surface rust.

I decided to use up the last of the “Rust Buster” that once belonged to my grandfather. I wonder if they still make this stuff?

The top of the tank came up nicely.

I decided to give the bottom of the tank the same treatment.

I took the rubber grommets out first and put them aside.

There were a lot of nooks and crannies to get into.

After a good wipe down, there seemed to be a noticeable difference!

I gave the grommets a coating of rubber grease.

I made sure to be generous with the application!

They came up almost as good as new!

I labelled a ziplock bag appropriately…

…then put the grommets in the bag to keep them relatively clean.

While I was doing this, my cat decided to come supervise. Satisfied that I was doing a good job, she left shortly afterwards.

I decided to get a shot of the tank after cleaning but before repainting for comparison once it’s finally repainted.

Finally, I made a list of things I might do with the shed itself.

Also, I had recently noticed an increasingly annoying rattle in the helmet I got from the Aldi motorcycle gear sale a few weeks ago. This was the third full-face Aldi helmet I’ve owned and I’d never had problems with the previous ones apart from needing to replace them after coming off the bike. Not because they broke, just out of general principle!

This week, I noticed the local Aldi had one left in the same size and pattern, so I asked the manager to put it aside and went back later in the evening to swap it over.

After testing the new helmet for a few days and confirming there was still no rattle, I fitted the Bluetooth headset into it.

I’ve also tested the tail bag and can report that it holds up to light duty loads well, as I was able to transport several 1 litre cartons in it quite safely and securely. I still have to test out the tank bag though!


Ride Report – 2014 Sydney Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride

Back in September 2014, I took part in my first ever Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride. I opted to join the Sydney ride, as it happened to correspond with the weekend of a birthday party for a good friend of mine in Sydney.

I rode down the evening before and thoroughly enjoyed the party – that’s unrelated to bikes though, so won’t be discussed in detail here!

The point of the DGR is to dress dapper while riding classic and vintage motorcycles, in order to raise money for prostate cancer research.

Since I subscribe to the ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) school of thought on motorcycle safety, I opted for an oversized suit that would fit motocross body armour and mid-layers underneath.

Here I am in the safety gear bought from ALDI over the course of the weeks leading up to the ride. The pose is because the mid-layer pants left nothing to the imagination when I stood up.


My outfit for the ride. Cannonball helmet and gloves were also from ALDI, while the suit was from a local op-shop. The welding goggles just happened to be in my collection of props and interesting outfits.

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I discovered while riding to the meeting point at The University of Sydney that the welding goggles severely limited my peripheral vision, so I put them on top of the helmet instead.


I asked another gentleman rider to take a couple of photos of me in front of Scarlet before the ride.

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I then decided to see what I could see in the way of interesting motorcycles that were there for the ride. There were quite a lot!


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The organisers and ride leaders gave a short speech and safety briefing, during which it was announced that we had collectively raised over US$1.5 million worldwide and that the 500+ Sydney riders had raised over AU$150000 – almost a tenth of the worldwide total!

Departure time was upon us, so off we went through the streets of central Sydney.

After about an hour, we stopped for shade and water at the rendezvous point in Barangaroo.

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Here’s Scarlet in amongst all the other vintage bikes, cruisers and cafe racers.

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I’d noticed that Scarlet was having trouble at idle by the halfway point and the speedo still wasn’t working reliably, so I made a mental note to follow these up once I got her home.

After a short break it was back on the bikes, across Sydney harbour bridge and back to the university where cold water, a fundraiser BBQ, merchandise stand and live music awaited us, with a bar upstairs for those who wanted something a little stronger.


Although I’d already bought the 2014 patch and sticker set, I bought a couple more patches from previous rides to put on my outfit for next year!


Although the following Monday was a public holiday in Canberra, I opted to head home from Sydney that evening.

About a month after the ride, I received a letter from the organisers thanking me for raising over $100 that included a sticker and another patch, so these will be going on my suit and helmet for the 2015 ride! The original patch and sticker set I ordered before the ride are on the left, the new ones on the right and the patches I bought at the ride are at the bottom.


I’ll definitely be going again this year and getting onboard footage with my GoPro. I might stay in Sydney a bit longer this time too. I’ll be on my full licence by then, so might even take a pillion if I can find one willing to dress dapper for the occasion!

VJMC Ride Report Part 5 – Day 4.5 – A Surplus Of The Letter M, A Stop In Bat Country, Techno-Fails & Arriving Too Late For Dinner

Part 5 of the long-promised ride report for my road trip on Scarlet to and from the Tamworth VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend! Read Part 1 here, Part 2 herePart 3 here and Part 4 here.

Day 4.5 – Sunday Afternoon/Evening

My riding companions had left before 1 pm, hoping to get back to Newcastle before dark.
After waiting to see which bikes had won in the show, I headed off to meet them.

Having forgotten to get fuel before leaving Tamworth, I pressed on to Murrungundi for fuel. This must have been the most expensive fuel stop of the trip – I think 95 octane was about 158 or 160 cents a Litre. Wanting to conserve battery power and arrive at a reasonable time, I didn’t get any photos.

After about 20 kilometres of being stuck behind two cattle trucks that must have been carrying the most diarrhea-stricken cattle in the area before finally taking a turnoff ahead of me, I decided it must be break time. I stopped in Murrurundi to post this observation on Facebook:

Stopped for a break in Murrurundi. Stopped back at Murrungundi for fuel. Musswellbrook isn’t far down the road. Was there a surplus of the letter M when these places were named?


I soon had a couple of replies from friends who knew their Eastern States geography:

Then you come through maitland haha


You didn’t get to Mullumbimby ?

Of course, by the time I read these I was stopped in Singleton for fuel.

The park across the road from the petrol station looked nice, as there were a few large pine trees. I parked Scarlet while I sat at the picnic table under the gazebo and ate my chicken wrap.


After looking up into the tree branches for a while, I realised that while the trees may well have been pine trees, it was not pine cones I was looking at! If you can’t see what they were from the picture below, click it for a better view.


Still not sure? This sign might help…


Yep. I was in bat country.

After posting that little gem to Facebook I was back on the road.

Just before 6 pm it got very dark just as I was approaching Newcastle. My GPS battery was totally flat and getting this far had already drained the solar battery pack, so I stopped to switch over to Google maps on my phone and use the remaining charge to get safely into town.

Just as I had put the address details in for my host’s place, I got a call from him asking how far away I was and if they should wait for me to arrive before heading to the club for dinner. I was about 17 km away at this stage so said I shouldn’t be long but had to go as my phone battery was going flat. Little did I know…

Just as I got into the outskirts of Newcastle, My phone battery went completely dead. Immediately after that, most of Scarlet’s lights stopped working – the speedo and tacho lights went off, the indicators were only lighting dimly and the tail light seemed to have gone as well.

I pulled over under a streetlight on a busy main road and tried desperately to get the solar battery pack to charge enough to recharge either the GPS or the phone so I could make a call or at least get enough directions to finish this leg of the journey.

After this failed, I switched Scarlet off and had a look at the fuses so I could hopefully at least get her lights working again.

Sure enough, I had blown a fuse. Swapped it out with the spare and checked the lights. All looking good, I tried to kick start her again. Nothing. Thinking maybe she had cooled down too much, I tried putting the choke on. Nothing, only now I could smell fuel faintly.

I pushed the choke plunger back in and the housing came off its mount. After several minutes, I managed to get it back into position. I tried kicking her over again and still nothing.

During this time, no cars had seemed to notice my plight and the few bikes that had come past had also ignored me. By this point I was about ready to literally kick the bike over, or possibly set her on fire. I screamed my frustration with Newcastle and its inhabitants in general to the world, swore at Scarlet, begged and pleaded with her to start.

After a couple of minutes, I calmed down and resigned myself to the fact that I might be waiting a while for help. Not sure exactly how long I waited when finally a car stopped and the driver got out to ask if I needed help. I explained my predicament and asked if he had a phone charger or a stereo with a USB port I could use. He was happy to oblige and even called a friend of his who “knew a bit about motorbikes” to get some advice on how to get Scarlet started. The advice while sound enough was pretty much what I’d tried already but I kept kicking her over until eventually she started.

It then turned out that the young man who had stopped to help was a missionary of sorts who wanted to talk to me about God. Not being the religious sort myself and wishing to politely end the discussion without causing offence, I thanked the Good Samaritan for his assistance and went on my way with enough charge on the phone to get more directions to my destination. This lasted me long enough to discover that I had several missed calls from my host and find a 7-11 petrol station along the way where I politely asked the cashier if he could plug my phone charger in for a few minutes after explaining my misfortune once more. He agreed and I bought myself some sandwiches to eat while I waited.

After about 10 minutes, I was able to check my messages and get Google maps to work for long enough to write down the remaining directions. My host and his other guest had already been out for dinner and returned and the other guest had gone to bed exhausted from the ride. It was only about 8:30 pm but I was finally able to rest after a VERY long day.

I guess that’s what I get for stopping in bat country…


VJMC Ride Report Part 4 – Day 4 – Blue Ribbon Street Show, Then On The Road Again

Part 4 of the long-promised ride report for my road trip on Scarlet to and from the Tamworth VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend! Read Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Day 4  – Sunday

Early Sunday morning, I got up and packed Scarlet so I could leave for Newcastle after the street show, then rode to the main street.

On arrival, I unpacked her again and sorted out my registration.

The club members very kindly let me leave my bags and riding gear under the marquee tent.

I then set about taking photos of all the bikes on show. As there were about 50, I won’t post them all!







A couple of Hodaka Wombat 125s – the only entries in the “Other” catergory.




My host’s Yamaha FZR250




A couple of Honda Mini Trails






A very nicely restored 1979 Honda CB1000Z 6


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A CB350




Some nice classic Suzukis as well.




A nice selection of Kawasakis.The two in the foreground of these pics were my favourites, although the orange and chrome one is not a colour scheme I’d normally go for!


A few very nice classic Yamahas (one may look familiar)



During the show I went and bought some tie-down straps and cheap backpacks as my trusty old backpack I’d used as a saddlebag was literally bursting at the seams.

My riding companions had left earlier hoping to get to Newcastle before dark. After waiting to see which bikes the winners were, I headed off to meet them.


VJMC Ride Report Part 3 – Day 3 – Blue Ribbon Ride And Murdo’s Museum

Part 3 of the long-promised ride report for my road trip on Scarlet to and from the Tamworth VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend! Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Day 3  – Saturday

Early Saturday morning, we headed to the meeting place for ride registration – the carpark next to the local Yamaha dealer!

At first it seemed like not many people had turned up for registration. It was just after 9 am on a Saturday morning, so not too bad a turnout…


Over the next hour it got a lot busier.


By the time we were underway, there were about 50 riders officially registered. Not bad for a charity ride in a town better known for its country music festival!

After about 60-90 minutes, we stopped in Quirindi for those that needed fuel to get it. Scarlet was thirsty by then so I was one of them.

We managed to fill a fair bit of the car park! 20140920_11514220140920_115152

I parked Scarlet next to a bigger Honda from roughly the same era (I think it was a ’78 model?). You can see the Aussie Trike on the left as well.


After everyone had refueled and was ready to go again, we were off again for another hour before stopping at the Nundle Pub for lunch.

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Unfortunately the management had somehow forgotten the let the weekend staff know that about 50 hungry motorcyclists would be arriving that afternoon despite several calls from the ride organisers during the week before the ride. While the food was good, it took quite a while to arrive as there was also wedding reception happening at the same time.

Finally after everyone had eaten plans were made by some to ride further and others to head back to Tamworth. My fellow forum members and I all planned to meet up at “Murdo’s Museum”, also known as the garage of a man with a passion for vintage motorcycle restorations whose garage has been converted to showcase his amazing restoration work.

Unfortunately I lost the rest of our sub-group and ended up lost in Tamworth and I’d forgotten to get the street address of my host’s house. Thankfully with the aid of a mobile phone, bluetooth headset and Google Maps I was able to call and find my way there within only minutes, as Tamworth is not a very large town!

It turned out that Murdo’s place was not far down the road, so I again followed my host’s car on Scarlet.

Murdo had a story behind every bike in the museum, and while I can’t remember any of them in detail, he assured us that every bike in the museum bar one would work if topped up with fuel or oil. That one was apparently next year’s project!


1965 Honda C50 stepthrough. Apparently they made these for quite a long time.


1981 Maico Mega E 250 – not a lot of these in Australia and Murdo described this as “a bit of a League Of Nations” that he has owned since it was new.


1972 Honda SL125 – this one is the “museum piece” restored to original configuration.


Murdo had a few parts left over once he finished the SL125 restoration, so he made them into a few more bikes. This one is a café racer version…


A dirt bike version…


And a chopper!


Yamaha/Suzuki 250 drag bike, with a custom-built frame and exhaust, along with a few other specially-fabricated parts.


1974 Yamaha YB100


1967 Yamaha YDS5 250


Honda (1970s SL100?) trailbike conversion


1981 Kawasaki KE 175


The Virago apparently belongs to his wife – she gets to park it with the others though!


Yamaha DT250 – this one was described as “next year’s project.”


Murdo ushered us out as it was getting on towards evening and he had to prepare “something special” for the VJMC Club Dinner that night.

I went for a beer run to ALDI and picked up an open face helmet that was going cheap in preparation for the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride the following weekend.

After a getting changed and having a couple of cold ones while reviewing some raw GoPro footage of the ride from one of the other riders, it was off to the Bowling Club again.

Before the Club dinner, I caught up with my girlfriend and her family. She’d flown up to come see Scarlet on show and as she happened to have family around that general area, she was staying with them. As they had a long drive home they left before the formal proceedings began.

There was a raffle with tickets donated by the Bowling Club and prizes donated by local businesses and all proceeds going to prostate cancer research. Despite buying a lot of tickets, I didn’t win anything in the raffle. One of my travelling companions bought twice as many tickets and won an open-face helmet. He asked if I be interested in it as it was too big and he prefers full-face helmets. I told him I’d just bought one and it’d be too big for me too, so I think he kept it to sell later.

Word had got around just how far I’d travelled on Scarlet to attend the VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend so a special Long Distance Award was presented to me for “riding so far on a half-finished restoration job” – It was a can of Inox, a can of Cobra Care detailing spray and some stubby coolers. I should have got a photo but completely forgot to do so!

Murdo then unveiled his special presentation – the SL125 Chopper we had seen earlier at his museum. He’d glossed over the details when we saw it earlier, as it was finally being revealed to the local VJMC members for the first time that evening.

I wouldn’t do justice to his entertaining explanation of the way the project came to be here, so I won’t try. Suffice to say he is an inspiration to those new to restoring or customising bikes and has an amazing way with words!

After dinner, I headed back to my host’s house to give Scarlet a polish with my new loot, then went to bed in order to get up early and show her off!


VJMC Ride Report Part 2 – Day 2 – Over The Hills And Far Away

Part 2 of the long-promised ride report for my road trip on Scarlet to and from the Tamworth VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend! Read Part 1 here.

Day 2  – Friday

On the Friday morning, I packed the bike again. All the bikes in the background belonged to my host – I’m not sure how many of them work!


We rode to meet up with our riding companion for this leg. He rode an Aussie-Trike – essentially a VW Beetle engine in a custom frame with a motorcycle front end.

We left sometime after 10 am and stopped in a place called Dungog just before midday. As we only stopped long enough for a toilet break I chose not to share photos of that with the world.

Another hour along the road and we stopped for fuel in Gloucester. I’d only used 7 Litres over 166 km so was pretty happy with Scarlet’s performance on this leg of the ride, although the speedo was still not entirely reliable.

We had a pub lunch in Gloucester at a place called the Broad Axe Bistro, then it was off to Walcha along Thunderbolts Way and through the Great Dividing Range. I’ll have to take more photos next time. Scarlet was struggling up the hills unless the fuel tap was in the reserve position but otherwise still going strong – the indicators were working fine since the switch contacts had been cleaned. We stopped at Carson’s Lookout for me to top up fuel and for all of us to check our oil levels. We recharged with coffee from a thermos and protein drinks, then I took my first ever panorama shot with a smartphone. Click it to see a really big version!


After a few more performance issues with Scarlet and unexpectedly stalling before Walcha, it was decided that I should lead for a while as I had been falling behind. After I hadn’t seen the others behind me for about 30 minutes I stopped as I didn’t have mobile phone numbers for either of them. It turned out they were only a couple of minutes behind me – surprising how far that seems when riding on winding country roads!

We made it to Tamworth by a little after 5 pm, just as the shadows were starting to lengthen.

I finally remembered to take a photo of the bikes when we stopped at the caravan park my riding companions were staying at.


My host for the night met me at the caravan park in his car and I followed him back to his house on Scarlet.

Two other forum members had lowsided their bikes that afternoon – thankfully no injuries other than pride!  After I’d unpacked, changed out of my riding gear and shared tales of motorcycle woes over a refreshing ale (or was it lager?) we walked to the local bowling club for dinner. We walked back again and as far as I can remember I was out like a light.

Just as well, as I had another full day of riding ahead in the morning…


VJMC Ride Report Part 1 – Day 1 – Better Late Than Never!

Part 1 of the long-promised ride report for my road trip on Scarlet to and from the Tamworth VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend!

Back in September, I had organised some time off work so I could ride up to Tamworth via Newcastle for the 2014 VJMC Blue Ribbon Weekend. Being my first major road trip as a rider, I was pretty excited.

First up, I prepped the bike with stickers from my favourite motorcycle forum.


Day 1  – Thursday

On the Thursday morning, I packed the bike. Not having proper saddlebags, this took longer than expected, so I ended up leaving the house by about midday.


After about an hour, I stopped in Goulburn for fuel and a late lunch.

Thinking I’d hit reserve at almost exactly 100 km since the last refill, I opted for an extra fuel supply on board. I bought a 5 Litre fuel can, filled it up and put it on the back.


At this point I hoped Scarlet would get further on a tank when she wasn’t loaded up like a pack horse…

…still, at 7 L/100km I couldn’t complain too much!

At about 3 pm and another hour down the highway, I stopped at Pheasants Nest for energy drinks, more fuel and to rest my numb backside!


The speedo got stuck showing 110 km/h when I stopped and either the tank was getting smaller or something was blocking the fuel line – I needed to switch to reserve before I’d done 70 km this time. Good thing I had a GPS to give me a more accurate reading of my speed and that I was meeting up with knowledgeable motorcyclists with fully kitted-out workshops!

I powered on through Thursday afternoon Sydney traffic and stopped just after the Hawkesbury River Bridge on the Pacific Highway just after 5 pm.20140918_170053

I refueled from the fuel can, then returned a phone call from my friend from the forums I was staying with in Newcastle. He’d called to check on my progressand to find out if I wanted to go for a pub meal for dinner when I arrived.

I looked around after that and saw an amazing sunset, so I took a few photos before hitting the road again for the last stretch to Newcastle.20140918_170548 20140918_170609 20140918_170616

I made it to Newcastle just after dark. My friend and his adult son (who is about my age) helped me unload the bike before we headed to the pub.

Over dinner, I mentioned the speedo, a slight problem with the left indicator switch that I’d noticed and that I wasn’t sure if Scarlet had been burning oil, so after dinner we hit the switch assembly with contact cleaner and topped up the oil. I removed the dodgy glue I’d used on the speedo needle and asked my host if he had any Wite-Out or something similar to repaint the end of the needle before I glued it back on. He didn’t, but made a phone call to a lady friend and a short car trip later I was sitting with biscuits and a cuppa while waiting for some white nail polish to dry on the speedo needle. After the nail polish dried, the speedo needle went back on the bike with superglue to hold it on this time.

With all that going on, I forgot to take photos, then noticed it was after midnight and I had a full day of riding ahead to Tamworth, so it was well and truly time for bed.


Read Part Two here!