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Chapter 8

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the Zen of eBay


While a lot of the rusty Triumph from Kentucky is surprisingly in good shape, there are some parts that have been damaged by time and exposure and some that have been damaged by me (during the violent dismantling described in Chapter 4 ).

Since there’s not a convenient Triumph Parts-Mart just around the corner, I’ve had to search out more distant parts replacement options. Early in my Triumph excitement (less than 5 months ago) I found a parts dealer in England and promptly wrote to them with a list of my needs and desires. It took them 7 weeks to respond! Some are more modern-ready than others…

++++ SCREECH !  - 2009/10/25

Sorry. It’s been almost 30 days since I added to the blog – Avid readers… Please forgive me!

Here’s what happened… I began to freak out about my finances. I visited the ‘Mechanic Up The Road’ and he made some new promises to release my 650 from his lair at sometime in the near future – maybe have all the parts ready for me to take to the paint shop by the end of the week (…three weeks ago) So, I began to worry that any money spent entertaining myself with the Rusty Triumph from Kentucky would A: Not be recouped if the 650 turned out well, and I decided to try to sell the rusty one, and B: shouldn’t I try to hang on to some of the cash needed to actually get the 650 all the way to the finish line?

Could I realistically expect to finance two vintage rebuilds at the same time?

And then there was the disappointment of  blowing it on a minor eBay purchase (This chapter began with me telling you what a ‘master bidder’ I am).

The Rusty Triumph from Kentucky arrived with a useless cylinder head – I’ve been watching eBay for a couple of months for ‘just the right deal’ and finally it arrived.

The adrenaline of waiting until there are only 9 seconds left to bid on an item being auctioned on eBay has become quite addictive to me. If I bid too soon, and show my hand to the other bidders (of what my maximum bid might be) they could up the ante and force me to spend more than I am willing. So – I do it like this… I look for what I need (want) and follow it. I make a mental note of the dollar amount that is my maximum. As the clock runs down to the last 10 minutes or so, I start getting pretty amped up. If no one has bid higher than my max, I spring my trap (bid, and then confirm my bid) with about 8 or 9 seconds left. Many times I win. If someone wanted it more than me, well – too bad – time has ended.

Sometimes I win, and sometimes I lose.

I though I had made a heck of a deal on a cylinder head and when it arrived, it was in great shape – but I had accidentally bought one for a twin-carb Triumph, not one that would work for me. By not doing my homework, and getting swept up with the ‘thrill of the bid’ my poor execution has cost me.

The Rusty Triumph from Kentucky needs many things. On most of these I’ve done really well. Some I have already gotten.

Fuel tank (I got an historical fiberglass tank from a racing bike from the ’60′s that is now in a museum).
Front Wheel (Got a Twin Leading Shoe wheel for the 650, which is now for the 500).
Front Forks (Found a set of vintage Ceriani track forks and have rebuilt them).
Cylinder block and pistons (these were ruined taking the motor apart, as mentioned in earlier chapters).
Clutch (I yanked those old plates out with a slide hammer – these are nice).
Engine Cases (didn’t really need these as the numbers won’t match, but too cheap and shiny to pass).
Special tools (there are several needed to get the Rusty Triumph from Kentucky apart).

There are things I still need:
Cylinder head (one that I can use).
Piston rings.
Rod bearings.
Main bearings.
Transmission bearings.
Seals & gaskets.
Valves & guides.
Oil tank.
Primary chain.
Electronic ignition.
Head & tail light.
(finish the) Seat.
Rear chain.
Rear shocks.
Professional paint (frame, tank, oil tank, side cover & seat)
(and whatever else I may not be thinking of…)

Even though I am not going full guns on the Rusty Triumph from Kentucky in the past few weeks, I am still tinkering here and there.

My boss lent me his compressor and sand blasting gun so I could prepare the frame for painting. I build a wooden box with a glass top and arm-holes to blast in, but the compressor did not have enough umph to blow sand (or glass beads, actually). I bought a bigger compressor from Harbor Freight and it too – did not have enough umph to blow sand. Luckily they let me return it for a full refund. My plans for blasting the frame changed into wire brushing and hand-sanding, but emotionally I have scaled back my enthusiasm.

Failing to get the sand blasting to work, looking at all the money that is going to get spent and still not 100% confident I have the skills to bring the job to completion have me a bit anxious.

There will be a confrontation with the ‘Mechanic up the road’ soon and the outcome of it will steer my efforts on the Rusty One.

<side note> Last Saturday I met a fabulous group of local motorcycle enthusiasts who meet for coffee and go on rides together. Their very presence has renewed my resolve to get one of these bikes under me ASAP.

More soon.

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