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A salutary lesson for beginners.


Albervin

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Three years ago I bought a Black Shadow in the UK. It had been owned by the vendor for nearly forty years and had a VOC certificate stating it was all matching numbers. The bike was a rider and came with all the correct, legal paperwork. I rode it and it was FAST. BUT it blew smoke. About what I expected for the price I paid; after all, one has to be awfully lucky to buy a concours machine for the price of a dog. This was no dog though, with 12v conversion, Alton, electric start, Primmer panniers and indicators it was a potential Euro tourer. BUT, the smoke. I determined not to ride it to Europe (as I had originally planned) but shipped it back to Australia for a closer look. That closer look showed a serious problem with lower valve guides so they were fixed.
Once you get to that point it is no big deal to delve deeper. That showed the main bearings on the timing side were loose and there were two loose spindles. Pistons and bore looked perfect but the big-end was a bit slack; not catastrophic but not good. The engine was shipped off to someone who knows a lot more than me and has the abilities to fix the problems. Next step was the wheels. I don't like alloy rims on Australian roads so steel rims were to be fitted. But wait, what is this?? The rear hub had a major crack plus mis-matched bearings. Up until now all repair costs had been covered by selling a set of perfect, original touring mudguards that were on the bike. However the bike was never fitted with them ex-factory so an easy decision. Now I was spending money and I was also making sure this bike was only going to be rebuilt once. Next step the front forks. After all, when you have come this far it is only an afternoon's work. All parts were removed easily (some too easily if you get my drift) until I came to the bottom link. No way was the eccentric spindle going to come loose!! Now there were many, seemingly, brand new parts on the forks. The pad bolts were shiny new. The eccentrics were shiny stainless and the spindles were unmarked. But the eccentric spindle was like the Rock of Gibraltar! Eventually I replaced the nylon/plastic hammer for a brass one and there was movement. A few hard hits and then I prised off the RHS eccentric. All was now clear. The lower link was obviously twisted/bent. On closer inspection the upper link may also have a twist and the front shock absorber is probably destined for the bin. How the hell had I ridden this for over 300 miles? Because a Vincent is so over engineered it can counter all of these issues and still perform is the answer.
So, am I disappointed? Not really. What I paid for the bike led me to the expectation I would need to do some work on it and experience with my Rapide told me to do a proper job and not a half job. Unless the price of 1949 HRD Black Shadows drops by 50% I am still quite happy with what I have.
The lesson?
Make your purchase with as much information as possible. NEVER think you can just buy and ride unless the machine has an impeccable history of a well ridden and maintained bike. Even then be cautious. The most astute rider can always ignore/miss some issues with a bike they have owned for decades.
When complete, I hope this bike gives me the same confidence to ride the thousands of miles my Rapide has done for the last twenty years.
Thank you for reading.
 

greg brillus

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
You could make that bikes suspension far superior to your "B" by installing one of Norman Walkers modified steering stems..........after I installed the first one in the twin racer back in 2014, I've done about 30 plus of them now. Well over half the bikes on the far North Qld rally had this mod done.........No one disappointed so far......
 

Albervin

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
You could make that bikes suspension far superior to your "B" by installing one of Norman Walkers modified steering stems..........after I installed the first one in the twin racer back in 2014, I've done about 30 plus of them now. Well over half the bikes on the far North Qld rally had this mod done.........No one disappointed so far......
It has crossed my mind. I have one of Norman's hydraulic steering dampers ready to fit already. I would like to ride a modified bike first to be sure though. I wouldn't go the needle roller route though as the bike will just be a tourer. I may talk to you about it before I start putting it all back together.
 

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