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workshop buddy travels with guido newbold

Workshop Buddy

(by Guy 'Guido' Allen - from the Travels with Guido series, June 2019)

Guido reckons that it pays to have a minder when things get ugly in the shed

True, I’d caught the poor bastard in a weak moment – he was bored. Paul Newbold, a fellow sufferer in the SR500 Club, was contemplating a long break from work. There he sat, at the Lemmings Motorcycle Club weekly lunch at Sandy’s noodle emporium, fidgeting and looking grumpy. He looked like a cat that had found barbed wire in its basket.

About this point I was relating the latest workshop traumas with Winston, the sodding Sunbeam S7. To recap for those who came in late, this is a particularly handsome and apparently fragile ‘gentleman’s tourer’ from 1947. A little while ago, just after I’d had it rewired and expended a ludicrous amount of effort to get it running just about perfectly, it rewarded muggins by spitting a conrod through the cases and off into some god-forsaken paddock.

This of course has led to all sorts of workshop trials and tribulations as we rebuild the monster. Newbold’s ears pricked up as I related the latest trauma, probably relating to some unobtainable part that came with incomprehensible instructions. “Need a hand?” he offered. In less time than it takes to disassemble a spring roll, I had him signed up for the next episode of Guido versus Sunbeam.

Now Newbold will be the first to admit that he’s not a professional mechanic, but I’ve seen enough of his own two-wheeled projects to know he’s capable, displays an at times alarming attention to detail, and isn’t afraid to improvise.  In truth, it should be him reviving Winston.

Anyway, the agreement was he’d come along to lend a hand. What I wasn’t prepared to admit was I wanted him along less for his mechanical nous and more for his new-found role as shed psychiatrist. You see, I’m not well suited to working on projects like the Sunbeam. Every little stage of any process requires a methodical, thoughtful and patient approach as you nut out a way to overcome each little hurdle. On a machine like this, even the simple task of removing a minor engine cover can become a major challenge.

My idea of patience is spending two minutes working out what needs to be done, another 10 doing it and…well, that’s about it. After 12 minutes I’m looking for hammers and angle grinders to finish off the job. This may explain why I never became a watchmaker.

Newbold turned out to have exactly the effect I was hoping for. He’s big and ugly enough to tell me to sod off when I’m about to cock it up. Plus, it’s invaluable just having someone with a different way of looking at life and its problems when you’re trying to nut out how to loosen that last stubborn left-threaded thermongrommet.

We’ve had a couple of sessions now and, so far, it hasn’t come to blows, we haven’t broken anything and we’ve even made visible progress. Weirdly I’ve even once caught us swapping roles, when he was the one going at something like a bull at a gate while I’m suggesting he ease up.

It’s likely that, if I’d been left to my own devices on this, the bike would by now either had seen it’s clutch hub removed with an angle grinder, or it would have been thrown over the back fence. Probably both. So, here’s this week’s shed tip: get yourself a workshop buddy. I can recommend it.

See more Travels with Guido

Look for more on the Sunbeam in Our Bikes



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