No Snow Yet, But I'm Prepared To Maintain My Motorcycle Jones All Winter

For nearly a year, I’ve been working on a project which has kept me busy and, if all goes to plan, pay for itself with enough left to spare to cover the modest, if annoying, overhead. It’s the kind of idea which has been met with more than a little skepticism from my family and friends and has, at times, left me wondering aloud about my sanity.

My lovely wife and I, confronted with a need to store an enormous amount of tools, furniture we no longer have immediate need for and miscellaneous near-junk items, bought what can only be called a ‘derelict’ old building within a mile of our home. It’s not in a great neighborhood, but it does have the benefit of being in an out of the way location.

The idea was to save the money we’d been spending on spaces in storage buildings and maybe build up a little equity in the bargain over the years. What we actually got was a long list of items the city wanted repaired or upgraded and we were confronted with completing that list on no budget and with only the tools we have on hand. Granted, the tools we have on hand go well beyond what the average family has on the workbench in the garage, but that fact is both part of the solution – and part of the problem.

So there it is…

Getting the building into a usable state has so far required a major overhaul of the electrical system, tearing out and replacing a whole network of frozen pipes, a complete repainting of the flaking paint on the interior, the purchase and installation of a very large (and very heavy) system of racking to store loose items and more than a few heated discussions about how much sense the whole thing made in the first place. There’s still a ton of work to be done, but it’s finally starting to seem manageable if somewhat daunting. The vast majority of the permit and inspection process is over, and what a relief that’s been. At the start, the humble workshop was pored over by a veritable army of city functionaries and other interested parties who all handed my lists that ran to multiple pages of items they wanted addressed – the punchlist from hell.

Among the problems the whole idea was meant to alleviate was the fact that between us, my father in law and I have six motorcycle in various states of repair, a couple that run and ride with Swiss-watch-like precision and a mighty pile of project parts and items collected over the years. Add to that a whole list of very old, very heavy but useful and serviceable shop tools (nearly all of which are duplicates from our separate collections), and what you get is a whole lot of moving of very, very heavy items. Well, the moving is nearly done, and for once in my life, I actually bothered to take photos of the project at various stages.

This will represent the second time I’ve taken on this kind of project and I think the last one, while perhaps not the most beautiful example of the breed, was at least the test bed and prototype for the coming incarnation. Last time around, I had to share my tiny workspace with two cars and a variety of other stuff in an unheated garage which featured poor lighting, low ceilings and a family of persistent aggressive Attack Raccoons.

The first incarnation. A Yamaha XS 850 bobber…

Over the course of the winter, I plan to post those photos here and to also post photos of the activity the building was made to accomplish – operating as a sort of working shrine to all things motorcycles.

Part of the plan is to spend what little credit I have left on a 70’s-era bike (the budget dictates a Yamaha or a Honda and not the Harley WL I covet) and customize it into what my vision of a motorcycle should be.

Any tips or ideas you may have are more than welcome.

So wish me luck, and here goes…


Insuring your collectible or vintage motorcycle

As for insurance for your collectible motorcycle? You should be able to get Agreed Value coverage on a classic 1959 BSA Gold Star Catalina valued at $15,000 for somewhere around $25 a month, and that gives you the whole shooting match of coverage.

You can spend a lot less, but if you plan to ride the bikes in your collection, the above pricing is a reasonable approximation of what you can expect to pay.

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