The sunny side of the classic world, with the VJMC’s Steve Cooper
It’s fair to say we cannot do anything to our bikes maintenance wise without tools. Ideally we tend to buy the best we can afford or, alternatively, get by with what we have.
I can still recall the combined amazement of both my old dad and me when we actually saw just how many jobs you could undertake with a Yamaha RD200’s rather basic tool kit. That most of the implements within were made from pressed steel or basic stampings only served to illustrate you didn’t actually always need top-end kit. That said, the Green Shield Stamps (remember them?) I’d saved up were exchanged for some Indian-made Gedore spanners, most of which I still have and use regularly.
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Over the four decades since that little twin, inevitably more tools have been acquired, yet generally only on a needs rather than a desirability basis, and they’ve often come from diverse sources. A very large, cranked, ring spanner required for the rear axle nut of the Suzuki T500 came from an autojumble for £2 – absolute bargain. The acquisition of a £7 spring-puller off eBay utterly transformed the previously vexatious task of fitting main and side-stand springs – my knuckles have remained scab free ever since.
Although you can rarely, if ever, justify the use of Imperial spanners on Japanese bikes, my old dad’s kit still comes in useful. Don’t ask me what sizes they are, but several have proved to be invaluable when trying to access inaccessible bolts over the years.
You can always pay for your workshop weapons but sometimes fate leads a hand. The slide hammer I use when fighting Yamaha dynamo rotors is the combination of a pair of scrap steel off-cuts rescued from under a machinist mate’s bench. Ten minutes on the lathe and a good MIG weld later the pair made for what is now an indispensable tool. As the saying goes, ‘…One man’s rubbish is another man’s treasure,’ and an old, much abused, Imperial box spanner was repurposed to become a three-lugged, castellated device used to remove oil window nuts from ancient Yamahas. Before you throw stuff away it’s always worth thinking if it can be reused or repurposed.
Occasionally it can be the simplest and cheapest devices that serve us so well. When I discovered magnetic parts dishes it was amazing how much time I saved not looking for fixings I’d idly just put down. When you can get three for a fiver, why wouldn’t you?
In reality we’re extremely unlikely to ever stop buying tools – for many it’s almost an addiction. I’d like to think when someone comes to sort out my workshop when I’m gone they’ll look at some of the stuff and think, ‘What the bloody hell did the old twat use that for?’
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