Saturday, 7 May 2011

The beauty of machines long gone,...... and the bikes we first loved.

I was browsing and came across this lot on YouTube..... Marble and Ball Bearing Machines. I love these things.... real clever stuff.

This guy makes them very well........ look at his YouTube 'channel' list of vids (on the right side)

Brilliant!!! balls land right in the exact spot every time. Shows a different return mechanism halfway through. Amazing stuff!!! {:o)

Soooooo neatly made.....

Real neat elastic band gun..... shows how it's mechanism works, about halfway through.

Those of you who like to fix and 'make' things will especially be able to see the craftsmanship, difficulty and cleverness in making these things. Must be sooooo many prototypes made and much experimentation to get it just right. I'd love to know how he bends the wire so beautifully. No scrapes, no burrs, no kinks.

When I've got my shit together, (should I ever do so), I'm gonna make pointless things like this......just to sit there and watch and listen to it all working away.

Machinery of any kind working away is a pleasure to watch, or rather, these days, machinery that you CAN watch working...... everything now is hidden away from sight, and what machines there are available with a few visibly working parts are pretty ugly.

No brass, copper, and polished steel and alloy gleaming away any more. No oil and fuel minutely weeping from compression joints and housings and flanges. No hot metals gently marinating in the machine's juices seeping out here and there, spread with an oily rag as a watching mechanic wipes it away like a mother tending a child in need of her tender care.

No characteristic smells of those old machines. I cut my teeth, like all us Old Greasers, on old British bikes, and they were all pretty much the same. By the time yoofs like me got our deadly-keen hands on them, they had been through many hands before us, grading ever downwards from experienced hands when they were proud and shiny-new bikes, through those less able, to finally find themselves at the mercy of us youngsters. Keen as mustard, but knowing Sweet Bugger-All.

When we had our first bike, we yoofs of sixteen and younger, were not yet learned in the battle-hardened skills of Old Greasers, so essential to keep these bikes reliable and running as they should. Those poor bikes; the likes of the 175cc BSA Bantams, 250cc BSA C15's, 200cc Tiger Cubs and the like, they gave themselves up to us as cheap and worn out shadows of their new selves. Like old whores long since bereft of any traces of pride, they stood before us tired and jaded, having no choice but to turn tricks for us as we eagerly clutched at them and made clumsy love to them all.

Mine..... she was a 250cc Ariel Golden Arrow Sports, but with a shameful past. She had killed her previous lover.

He was riding it around a field, with no helmet as we all did back then, especially in fields and the like. His father heard the bike go quiet and after a while when it didn't restart he walked over to the field to find to find his son dead. He'd come off it and hit a tree and was lying beside the bike. The bike was undamaged and stayed there leaned against the hedge in shame to die itself, until one day my father took it away for me.

I was fifteen when I first had my eager hands on her and I loved that bike the way you love the first girl you adore. Every bit as much. My every waking moment was filled with thoughts and pure lust for her. I'd wanted her for years. I worked on her and made all my mistakes on her, both in working on her and riding her flat-out everywhere I went.

She taught me well, did that bike, like an older woman would nurture a youth in his clumsy loving of her. She kept me alive no matter how I abused both her and my luck. I rode absolutely flat-out on her everywhere until we both suddenly found ourselves with our luck clean run out one sunny morning. In a split second my life was changed forever. Riding back alone from Damar Bay to Wadebridge, in Cornwall where I lived, we suddenly found ourselves at the wrong place at the wrong time ......... and her second young lover was very nearly killed.

I was hit head-on by a green Mini Van which was overtaking on a blind corner. We were both doing around 60 to 70mph, and so it was a closing speed and an impact of around 120 to 140mph. I never even saw the colour of the car. I was smashed to bits, and made it to the hospital, so the surgeon told my poor Mother, with less than fifteen minutes to spare, and that it was a job to keep me alive.

My beloved Ariel Arrow died that day. Twisted and broken, no one ever rode her again. Never.

It wasn't her fault. Neither was it her fault when her other lover died. He made the mistake, not her. I didn't make a mistake, it was just fate choosing us to hang on the scales of chance with Death in the other pan.

Bikes, they never make the mistakes, they just struggle to keep us all alive and get us home again, despite our wildness and mistakes. So many since that old Ariel Arrow have looked after me and kept me safe, and I've loved every single one of them in return. Hoover most of them all.

God, ............that lot was upsetting to write. Always is. Some things never leave you, do they? God, I was so young. But for nothing, not the slimmest measurable thing, was I nearly dead at sixteen.

Then I did it all again at eighteen. Never once did I not want to ride again as soon as I could get a half-healed leg over a bike. Bikes and women...... you can't keep me from climbing back on before even the dust has settled. What else is there in life? Nothing. Good luck to you if you think there is.

Where was I, before I rolled along that old overgrown and rarely visited track?

Yes, ...... the beauty of machines and the way those old first bikes let us practise on them so we could learn to take care of later loves better. Ride them way better too. We learnt real fast. We were all so young and wild back in those days, and there was no choice but to learn the lessons quickly, those of us lucky enough to survive out on the roads to ride again the next day. Yup, that's pretty much no exaggeration, not for the wildest of us anyway. There was a saying, not unique to us I guess, but very apt nonetheless......

"There are only two kinds of Greaser; .......the Quick and the Dead".

I was Quick. (And, yes, a good bit lucky too) {:o)

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