H2 for sale H1 for sale S3 For Sale S2 for sale S1 for sale 1969 H1 for sale KH250 For Sale KH400 For Sale H2 for sale H1 for sale S3 For Sale S2 for sale S1 for sale 1969 H1 for sale KH250 For Sale KH400 For Sale
H2 for sale H1 for sale S3 For Sale S2 for sale S1 for sale 1969 H1 for sale KH250 For Sale KH400 For Sale H2 for sale H1 for sale S3 For Sale S2 for sale S1 for sale 1969 H1 for sale KH250 For Sale KH400 For Sale
After the best part of a year I am finally going to ship my “stock” of bikes back from Michigan. Whilst the Internet has been good to me it is also a pain when you are trying to find bikes and parts to sell, it is often the best source for bikes/parts but it hits such a huge audience that prices become quite unrealistic, single bolts selling for $40 a piece on Ebay start tongues wagging and everyone thinks that ANYTHING related to a Kawasaki Triple is worth 50 times it’s original cost, when you do finally track a bike or parts down the vendor always says he has or knows someone that has access to Ebay and “I know these sell for a fortune on there”. The future of this trip doesn’t look too rosy L
But, this particular trip was planned from the outset to be stress free – instead of doing 4 weeks work in two weeks I am going to take my time and do 2 weeks work in four weeks – that’s the plan, lets see how it pans out.
When I left the U.S. last time I left my poor little GMC Sonoma at the garage having the transmission fixed, I am pleased to say that “Joe” repaired the transfer box and had the truck serviced for around Three hundred pounds it’ll live to fight another day but with around 180,000 miles on it I ought to start looking for a new truck.
I arrive at Traverse City late at night, it is “Cherryfest” week and the town has almost trebled in population – Traverse City is Michigans heart of cherry growing, it is also Michigans No1 tourist destination. Downtown is lively but I am not fond of crowds and am pretty tired into the bargain so it’s just a fleeting visit.
Next morning I try to start the truck but it is having none of it, there is a new battery already on there and further investigation points to the starter motor, access to the starter on my back is awkward to say the least! But, after a few checks it appears that it has to be the starter at fault. With little in the way of tools and a lot of swearing later the starter is off, it turns out that it has a sticker on it telling me that it is a reconditioned unit, I bridge the motor out and it works fine – but there is no way that I am going through all that hassle of re-fitting it only to have it fail in the middle of nowhere! It looks like a re-conditioned unit is going to set me back $160 (Hundred quid) until Gary K (my local pal) suggest I try a local small shop – I am pleasantly surprised to hear that have one in stock for $70 (Fourty quid) after a lot more\swearing it is fitted and fires up like a good ‘un!
I realise that that my poor little truck is on borrowed time and with 4,000 miles to do in the next week I again set about looking for a replacement, I love the style of the Dodge rams and even the Dakotas but with lousy fuel consumption and continuing horror stories of low mileage gearbox failures I decide to look for a Chevvy or a GMC.
Saturday lunch and I see I decent priced GMC Sierra some 70 miles North of Traverse – I have booked a “pitch” at the huge autojumble and classic racing at Mid Ohio for the following Thursday so if I am to get a new truck it needs to be in the next couple of days. It was 12 noon and the dealer closed at 2pm. As I headed North to Petrovski I was wondering more about finding a truck than concentrating on my speed, I saw a cop car coming at me and looked at the speedometer – 74 miles and hour in a 55, I didn’t need to look in my mirror to see what the cop was doing, I hit the brakes and signalled to pull off the road – sure enough when I looked in my mirror again it was ablaze with red and blue lights. Yet again I had managed to get caught for speeding, as the officers approached from both sides with hands over guns I couldn’t help but wonder how I had got away with abusing the speed limits in the U.S. for so many miles and so many years.
The arrival of another cop just seconds later shows that unlike the U.K. your chances of getting away from the cops in the U.S. are slim – there are so bloody many of them!
I must have looked sincerely sorry (and I really was!) the officer checked all my paperwork and advised me on better driving techniques and I was relieved to be let go on my way – I have to say that in retrospect it was VERY rarely in the next 3 weeks that I actually broke the speed limits – even on a BIKE! And THAT is totally out of character J
I called the dealership and asked him to wait a while, all in vain as the 7 Month old truck had all the bells and whistles but had obviously suffered the ravishes of a Michigan winter and not come out of it too well, there were small patches of rust on the chassis and under the hood that I wasn’t happy about, I feel a 7 Month old truck should still look like new on top as well as underneath, the salted road had taken it’s toll on this top of the range pick up. As an aside, the trucks in the U.S. are larger than life, the truck I was looking at was a Sierra 1500, rated at half a ton. My own truck back in England (Mitsubishi Warrior) is a 1 ton truck and would have almost fit in the pick up bed of this one!
I carried on to another dealership further north that seemed to have a truck at a price that fitted the bill, I struck a deal and left quite literally 30 mins later with a truck that should not need to see the workshop for a long time!
That afternoon was spent at my Pal Gary K’s daughters graduation party, these parties are a big deal in the U.S. compared to the British attitude of “you’ve finished school , so what?”
Next day I got my KZ1000 registered and insured and headed back on it up North to pay the balance off my truck, a few miles into the ride (in 85 degrees of summer heat) and I yelp as I feel a burning sensation on my shoulder, I am breaking all my own rules and just riding wearing sandals, shorts and a shirt, I am convinced that someone has tossed a cigarette butt from a car that has gone down my shirt, more yelping as I get sharp pains in my armpit and then chest as I figure the cigarette is working it’s way down, I am beating my chest like tarzan as I pull over to the side of the road, I rip my shirt open to see a hornet dropping out – the little bugger has left me with six stings! Luckily I have pulled up by a pharmacy and with the application of some insect bite solution I am relieved of the pain. The rest of the 140 mile trip went without drama, the pleasure of riding a bike in great weather is indescribable. You just don’t have to ride fast to cool down.
Next day was not good, I was informed that my friend and long time club member Joe Akisanya had lost his life back home after taking a fatal tumble off his bike. Being so far away was difficult, none of my U.S. friends knew Jow and realised what a loss this was and no chance of attending the funeral. The only satisfying part of the ordeal was that I was able to initiate and to some extent organise our club members to attend his funeral – Some of whom borrowed some of my triples to attend the funeral as a fitting tribute to a lifelong triples rider.
Life goes on and I prepare to head for the “Vintage Days” at mid Ohio, I had quite a bit of stock at Gary’s that was not worth shipping back to the U.K. (Tyres, aftermarket fenders and exhausts Etc) The trip down South saw Gas prices fluctuate between $2.10 a gallon to $2.30 a gallon – still cheap but up .50c from February prices. As Gary and myself entered Ohio the weather was not looking good, we were experiencing the tail end of hurricane Dennis, constant rain had turned a lot of the autojumble plots into quagmires. Not only that, but our allotted plot was not even big enough for the truck and trailer, let alone the tent and all the parts that we had for sale. Within 20 mins Gary had had enough and I was inclined to agree that we should just turn around and head back the 400 miles up North – not only were the few parts we had unloaded now just brown with mud but my new truck now had a clay interior!
I visit the organisers who were more than pleased to find me a bigger, better and more importantly DRIER location!
The tail end of wind from hurricane “Dennis” put a bit of a dampner on the weekend, there were very few triples for sale and those that were there were pretty expensive, around $2,000 for ones needing full restoration, as opposed to last year when similar bikes were selling for under a grand.
What did surprise me was Three 40ft trucks full of the kids mini bikes, quads and battery power tools, a typical 49cc stand up mini scooter was selling for $50 (£30) the quads were $200 and the packs of multiple power tools were just $5 a box! – All were new but some were water damaged and you had to sort out the best out of the thousands of boxes available, needless to say they were all made in China!
I couldn’t leave without buying a bike and very soon I was riding around on a nice Green KZ900.
Sales went quite well with my sales of original Dunlop and Bridgestone Trials tyres going very well. Obviously I was selling these rare original tyres too cheaply ($20) but I didn’t fancy the hassle of Ebaying them and then shipping them.
One of the highlights of Mid Ohio was getting to meet not only “triples message board” members but also some of my consistent Ebay buyers, D J fisher, Magee, Olive Oil, Kelly Wright, Mike S, and Frank to name but a few.
The weather finally cleared up on Sunday, loading up in the sun was far more pleasant than the unloading, however, leaving at 5pm on the 400 mile drive home was going to make for a long night, we finally arrived back in Traverse at 2am
The morning TV news in Traverse always amuses me, if a car gets stolen it is on the news! This mornings local news was that Two teenagers were arrested for breaking into a Pizza Hut and stealing a safe containing a small amount of cash, they could be looking at 10 years jail for breaking and entering, and LIFE in jail for safe breaking!
After a couple of days sorting out what was to stay and what was to be shipped in the next container I headed up into the U.P. and on down into Green Bay Wisconsin, I’d already placed adverts in local papers asking for old Japanese bikes but there were few calls. Things seemed to be getting dire and rather than come back empty handed I bought a 1967 Honda 305 dream, a nice bike with just 3,200 miles covered in almost 40 years!
From here it was North again in the 90 degree heat to meet up with Cody in Minnesota who had grabbed me a filthy, faded but very original H2c (complete with sissy bar!) a KZ900 and also a “bitsa”. H2 that I can use on my snowjob.
After just stopping for lunch at the local “Harley” bar it was back on the road and to the town of Stillwater for their annual “Luberjack Days” – I was somewhat surprised to see that the guest band was none other than the “Electric Light Orchestra” playing for free to the crowds. The town is on the Mississippi river and sundown showed one of the most amazing fireworks displays that I have ever seen! After a long day and a few more beers, bed was the order of the day.
Next day and the sun was again blazing down, this was the weekend that I was supposed to be attending the German annual triples rally, a text from Steve confirmed where I would rather be, he was in the hills in Germany, it was raining and cold and I was on a power boat on the Mississippi river, a swim in the warm waters just made my day – there is nowhere in England (sea Or lake) that I can comfortably walk into water without standing on tip toes until the “nether regions” get acclimatised – so many lakes and rivers in the U.S. are just as clean and the same temperature as bathwater – it makes swimming, boating and jetskiing an absolute pleasure.
It’s time to start heading back to Traverse and rather than make a run for it a detour is planned to see if I can find any “good stuff” I hug the shores of lake Superior and end the days driving with a stay overnight in the small town of Munising.
The lake is beautiful as the sun drops and the local bar is small and welcoming - there is a local girls hen nite and I am invited to “suck for a buck” - - yep, this is slightly redneck” country and the suck is to chew a sweet attached to the girls top! – The closer you get to the good bits – the more expensive the chew!
Yet again, I am at a bar where, to be honest, the beer sucks – it is Miller light, bud light, coors light – all tasting like warm tapwater – after a couple of beers I threw caution to the winds and start to drink shorts – which is certainly not one of my regular pastimes – but a couple of weeks prior to this trip, my old pal Ralph Schipmann turned up at the U.K. rally with some miniature bottles of Jagermeister, not a terribly popular drink in England – but in the U.S. it sells well – with many people drinking “Jager bombers” – which is a shot of Jager dropped in a glass of “lite beer” – rather than ruin the taste by mixing it with weak beer I went on to drink it straight and cold. . . . and unfortunately MANY of them – the pool table looked like a cricket field and the 1am, 5 minute walk back to the motel turned into a 30 minute crawl – But at least I impressed the barman – he had never seen anyone drink so many in One night!
Next morning I was suffering BIG time! I had no incentive to drive (still had some sense apparently) but I HAD to be back in Traverse early in the morning to complete the shipping paperwork, I wasted a couple of hours looking around the town – It was a really nice place in the back of the beyond and they apparently did boat tours of the old shipwrecks on the lake. As driving was certainly still a no no It was out on the boat to see the wrecks – fascinating stuff – lake Superior had more shipwrecks than any other of the great lakes – this mild looking lake (the size of Sweden /England ) was very deceptive, the crystal clear waters had taken dozens of boats in it’s time with the last fatal sinking with all lives lost being as recent as 1974 it was apparently just as treacherous as some of the worlds worst oceans! After dipping my feet in it in the height of summer I can confirm it is beautiful but . . … . . damn cold!
After touring the wrecks on a glass bottomed boat I was still the worse for wear but logically I was sober enough for the 400 mile drive back to Michigan – an uneventful drive back thru the U.P. (other than the wonderful sunset over lake Michigan - - - Oh and stopping for a break in Seney (where my mate Steve ended up broken down a few trips back). I stopped for gas at one of the more remote petrol stations and was amused to see this label on the pump.
Monday is spent getting my customs paperwork ready and mailed off to Detroit for it’s 3 day waiting period, after all my previous catastrophes with shipping out of Detroit I am ahead of the game and try to make life as easy for the clerks as possible, I cross all the T’s and dot all the I’s and am convinced this container will go without a hitch! The rest of the day is spent at Gary Ks house, working on my bikes and deciding what was and what was not going to be shipped back to England.
Tuesday is the big day, I managed to get the container booked for 4pm, this way I can get help loading as some pals will be finishing work around that time, Pat especially as he is the owner of a small tractor that we use to lift the bikes up to the container. Gary and myself line up all the bikes and check that they don’t spread more than 36 feet, that way we have 4 feet of space for parts at the front of the container.
We are allowed 2 hours “free” to load the container and yet again the five of us manage to complete the task in just 2 and a quarter hours, each bike is held with four straps brought over in my hand luggage from the U.K. you think a single ratchet strap is light? – try carrying 70 of them J
Soon we are sealing the doors and sharing a cold beer to toast our success. Andrew, who has helped me to load 3 containers now looked absolutely horrified when I offered him a beer, Andrew is 18 and he went on to explain – or rather remind me that you can’t drink alcohol until you are 21 in the U.S. going to a party or a bar be que at that age means sticking to soda!
So with the paperwork now at customs (I had called and made sure it was there after previous years cock-ups) and the container was gone it meant that Wednesday would be a day for chilling out, and what better than a hours jet ski fun on the bay in Traverse City ?
The temperature was nudging 80 and the water was a little cooler than I hoped but it was still GREAT to be throwing the 90HP ski into all sorts of manoeuvres. The fantastic thing about abusing a jet ski is that when it all goes wrong you generally have a soft landing! I was busy trying the jetski from lock to lock when all of a sudden it high sided me and pitched me into the water as I surfaced I was aware that the kill switch cable was no longer attached to me . . . . as in, it was still on the ski and the motor was running and what was worse was that the riderless jetski was heading for a small boating dock and more importantly a speed boat was directly in it’s path about 200 feet away! I swam like a maniac (the ski was on tickover but still doing around 10 mph) I didn’t stand a chance of catching it - as the ski went on it’s merry way I just trod water and figured I had lost my $1,000 deposit. As the ski got to within 100 feet of the speedboat it veered off to the right and gradually did a full semi circle and started heading back towards me – the relief was incredible but after the relief came the realisation that I now had a riderless 300 pound jetski heading straight at ME. It occurred to me that my one and only option was to stay in it’s path and at the last second swim to the side and try to grab onto it at the rear. It was heading straight at me and just as it was about to contact I swam to the side and made an almighty lunge out of the water to try and grab the dangling kill wire from the dashboard. My luck was in - perfect timing and utter relief as I now had the kill cord in my hand and the ski spluttered to a halt. After a few minutes to catch my breath I decided to call it a day and headed back to the shore. A quick dry off and I jump in the sierra to head back to Garys, as I exit the car park it is rush hour, a car comes up on me a little fast and I floor it . . . . screech . . . . bang . . . .screech! Nope, the car hadn’t hit me – the bloody gearbox blew in my new truck! I was speechless after all those Months avoiding Dodges because the gearboxes go out at 70,000 my GMC has spit it’s gearbox out at under 10,000! I limp it to the main agent who confirms it is terminal – I ain’t going nowhere in that truck. Apparently it turned out that the one way drive/gear bottom left is the offending item.
Thursday is spent at gary’s working on bikes, I decide to try and get the Snowjob H2 that I bought off Cody running, it has no pipes and just downpipes but I figure it won’t do any harm to run it for a minute . . . . WRONG! I give the K&N’s a generous dose of easy start and she fires into life first kick, however, easy start is VERY volatile and with the open pipes the flames ignite the area around the engine and the soaked K&N’s start burning well. I do my best to blow out the flames but the fire has now got a hold and huffing and a puffing ain’t going to put it out, Gary just stares in disbelief as I start to panic, he coolly says “move it away from the garage dude” – I spy the garden hose and rather than push the bike to it I grab the bucket that is under it and luckily full! A quick soak and the fire is out, the damage is light and the bike will run again without too much work, however next time it WILL have exhausts on!
The weekend approaches and as the container is supposed to be loaded on the train Sunday and presented to customs I give customs a call to make sure they still have the paperwork, they have and all is O.K. That evening I again give them a call to check that the container was inspected and cleared. The news isn’t good, the container never made the train – it wasn’t even on the list! Panic sets in and I ring the railyard where it is stored, they have never even seen the container. Obviously by now I am somewhat anxious, but as it is Sunday evening all the shippers and yards are closed. Yet another sleepless night sees me up bright and early and on the phone to the trucking company, eventually they tell me that the container was taken to the railyard last Tuesday but the paperwork was missing a digit on the container number so it was refused, I ask them where it is now and they don’t have a clue! So, it is Two hours to my flight back to England and my container that should be on it’s way on a train to Montreal is now apparently lost somewhere in Detroit. I totally and utterly despair at the inefficiency of everyone involved at Detroit. For this to happen on virtually every occasion defies belief! I am on the brink of cancelling yet another flight when they call to tell me they have found it sitting in the truck yard, I am horrified that :a) no one had ever called me to report any kind of a problem, and b) the container has been unlocked in a dodgy area of Detroit for almost a week. I have to make a decision, do I cancel and head down to Detroit to check it is all intact or do I carry on back to England and trust that there are no problems when it finally gets to the railyard and put on a train the following Sunday? I can’t really afford to stay another week and I can hassle everyone involved and check progress by phone from England. I board the plane still with my truck in the shop and can only shake my head in disbelief at why it always happens to MY containers!
I arrive back in the U.K. to be re-assured that it now all systems GO! Double and treble check the status and am happy that the darn thing is heading for Canada and it’s eventual destination of Nottingham!
The container finally arrives at my door some three weeks later and I am somewhat relieved to see the seal I fitted to the doors was still intact, my relief turns to joy as the doors are opened and every bike is still upright and in the same condition as when I loaded them!