Dads Motorbikes

A few years back i went up to Brisbane to help my parents pack for there move to Taurango (N.Z). I was up there for 7 days and every one of those days was 10 hours plus, under the house with Dad going through his workshop. What amazed me was the fact that this was only half of what had been in the shed in Townsville prior to the Brisbane move. Dad is a great hoarder but a terrible procrastinator. The Townsville move was still a sore point for him though if truth be told he was partly to blame. What had happened was that with only half his workshop packed, the freight company arrived and a lifetime of tools, instruments, bric a brac and a goodly amount of rubbish went into the Skip Bins. I didn’t want that to happen again. Having inherited Dad’s hoarding gene i understood how peeved he was at losing so much stuff. Less altruistically, a lot of his stuff I’ve laid claim too, so i had no intention of losing it before I’d got it, so to speak. A bit of subterfuge was required as the packing cases mounted up. One double car length wall was engulfed, floor to ceiling then we started on a 2nd row. With the murmurs of protest growing from Mum i started carting the boxes out to the colourbond shed where they were out of sight and hopefully out of Mums mind. Anyway it all got packed up and made its way over to New Zealand.

The point of this story though was these old rego’ papers that i discovered in a box. Dad only had the two bikes and they are both long gone. There’s no rusty old motorcycle hidden under a chenille blanket in the garage corner. No moth-eaten Army duffel coat covered in Triumph patches (Leather jackets were expensive back then and the preserve of the rich). However i do have these two Motorcycle registration labels. Now Dad didn’t worry about starting off on a tiddler Bantam or the like. No straight to a 1000cc Sidevalve motor, Matchless Vee Twin. It was bought from Markwells in Brisbane, who were also the Harley-Davidson Dealer. He painted it a mid-green colour, probably with a brush. Girder front end, hard-tail rear. It had a side-car attached though according to Dad the welds for the mounting lugs broke one night and it catapulted him into a drainage canal. My father thinks it was probably an early 1930’s model, he thinks ex-services and was purchased in 1946 after deflocking from the military (Navy in Dad’s case). The engine was # X33085.   It’s replacement was another war issue bike, namely an Ariel 650cc sidevalve single. It was a 1938 model which he left in its war trim Khaki green. It was bought in 1948 from a dealer in Fortitude Valley. Again Dad was able to rattle off the engine number by heart, #CD2246. I bet i was the first person to ask and probably the only occasion for him to have remembered those numbers since 1948. What can i say? I wish he’d held on to them but i guess back in the day they were just transport. Cars were expensive and if you were a young bloke on a bike with a sidecar you were at least one step ahead of the competition.

Unfortunately there are no pictures of Dad on his bikes but this is what the Ariel would have looked like, picture it in Khaki Green:

and here is the Matchless:

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