Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mark Spencer, reanimator

I’ve got one of these in my back garden. Not exactly what you’d call a super-duper new cutting-edge, racing thing, but a solid old sports-tourer (with the emphasis on the tourer, not the sport). The bits of the bike that look black in the photo above (such as the tank, fairing and front mudguard) are actually a rather fetching dark metallic navy blue*.

*Which I have since discovered is called “Prussian Blue Metallic” by Suzuki.

For those interested, the GSXF750 (or GSX750F, depending on how your bike was painted) is a detuned GSX-R (R is for racing) 750 engine in a more pedestrian frame, and a much more comfortable riding position for doing anything other than screaming about at a billion miles per hour. I’ve been to Scotland a couple of times on the old girl, and she’s always been a good ride (no sniggering at the back there!).

Sadly, money and the need to transport more gear than I could on a bike (plus the shitty bike weather for most of the year and having had spinal surgery) meant that she got put under a cover and pretty much abandoned. I’d spent some time amateurishly attempting a respray in a brighter metallic blue, but it was always going to be a bit of a botch-job, as it was being conducted out in the open in the back garden, in some of the windiest weather we’d had for a while...

So, sadly, a most enjoyable bike was left to rot. Every once in a while I’d lift the covers to show someone what it was like, and as the years progressed, the wrapping of cobwebs underneath the thick cover had enveloped her even more. She was less in a slumber and more in a coma from which it seemed I’d never have the time or resources to revive her.

Five years ago, eBay was not the thing it is now. Getting hold of parts for an old bike that Suzuki haven’t made in years is now a distinct possibility. That, plus finally finding gaps in the work schedule to do things for myself (like go to Canada, buy the occasional new guitar and so forth) meant that I was gradually clearing a backlog of “things to do”. The red bike, which I’ll take a shot of soon, was hauled out of its two-year stupor and got back on the road. The car, which had been misbehaving more and more, was finally serviced and put back in order. I also finally had a shed of a decent size, which I’d always planned (dreamed) might be put into service as a workshop to “fix up that old blue thing”.

I also have a pressure-washer now so, armed with that, wearing my overalls, goggles and gloves and with a selection of brushes, detergents and de-gunging liquids to hand, I gingerly peeled off the dirty old cover and revealed a very sorry-looking wreck of a bike. A thick layer of grey webbing had pretty much enveloped it and made removing the cover a pretty unpleasant task.

I set about it with the pressure washer in order to make it clean enough so I could find the bolts to undo the plastic panels of the bodywork and remove the seat and fuel tank. As soon as that was off, I then had to clean it all over again as the removal had just revealed more hideous crap and snail droppings from where things had crawled into the frame and taken up residence. Once that was done, the front and rear light assemblies came off to be cleaned and have their rust spots removed.
As you can see, she’s looking deeply sorry for herself (as you probably also would, having a naked picture paraded around the internet by your owner), with the removed pieces scattered about all over the garden and tucked away in the shed (unless they’ve been thrown away). However, even in this state, the rear wheel has cleaned up shockingly well, the carbs seem to be moving freely and all the lines and hoses appear to be intact. eBay has provided me with a couple of parts of the bodywork in a pristine, never-been-fitted state, so I continue to scour the auctions for the odd bit and piece (let’s hope the remaining bits of plastic don’t take me five years to source!) that I discover I need as I go.

It’s going to be a long project (the red bike needed three days of cleaning alone before it was back on the road), but it stops me from being sat in front of a computer all day and gets me out doing something with my hands that I find very therapeutic. Plus, with a little bit of help from eBay, I reckon I can bring her back from the dead. She deserves a few more years of fun before shuffling off to the scrapyard, just like me.


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