Saturday, December 13, 2008
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
It's been several months now since I've updated the blog. This is partly an indication of the progress to date and partly because I've just been busy. So a quick summary is in order.
During June and July I received a steady flow of the parts I had ordered. There were some errors however. I was shipped a cigar form Berlin exhaust instead of the Troll exhaust I'd ordered. I had to do alot of searching to find a Troll exhaust, but found one here: http://www.oldtimer-auspuffanlagen.de/ They were very prompt with the purchase and delivery.
I am still struggling to find brake shoes for the Troll. Many vendors seem to offer them but are unresponsive to my enquiries. I have found this the greatest difficulty ordering from German vendors. Although many do reply to my queries in English, they never seem to follow up on the enquiry. I have an order outstanding with http://www.dietel-fahrzeugteile.de/ for brake shoes, a new carburetter and petrol tap but haven't responded to my queries yet.
My ambition to take care of the rewiring myself didn't really come to fruition. The wiring set certainly appeared to contain everything required to completely rewire the Troll. The problem however was that the wires are not labeled and the schematic is very theoretical, like a subway map. Without electrical experience it simply proved too complicated for me. As one of my motorcycle owning friends commented, "why would you do it yourself when any little mistake will completely stuff it up." So I decided to enlist professional help. That proved easier said than done. I tried several motorcycle electricians but no one was interested.
Then my Vespa broke down. Again.
I'd mentioned earlier that the Vespa's wiring had failed after its last service. Sam the mechanic wasn't really interested in rewiring the electrics so I started work on it myself. All was going well for a while. I was able to trace the fault to a single wire in the headstock and then the engine failed. In desperation I tried to find a new mechanic and came across Ivo from The Vespa Shop. Initially the main attraction of the The Vespa Shop was that it was relatively close to my house. Ivo was very helpful and even arranged to pick up the Vespa from my house (very convenient!). One day later the bike was fixed and I could pick it up. Ivo and Roberto run a small operation and don't really advertise, but I highly recommend their work (phone -08-93315501, email - email@example.com).
After picking up the Vespa, I had some discussions with Ivo and he agreed to assist with the Troll. This was good news to me. He'll be picking it up (along with all the spares) sometime in October when he'd back from Italy.
I haven't really done much with the Heinkel but now that I can see the end of the Troll project, I've got to restart work on the Heinkel. I'll need to audit all the parts I have to determine what I need to buy / replace.
I just happened to be looking on ebay the other day and Klaus Wolfe was selling another Heinkel Tourist. This time an 103A2 from 1961. It was in a very similar condition to mine. Ironically, the price paid after eight bids was A$670 - exactly the same price I paid after two bids. Here is a photo.
Unfortunately the buyers ID is private so I can't contact them. I'd like to follow the progress of their project too.
Speaking of rare and unusual scooters on the market, Joe D'Ercole of Scootersales in Queensland is selling a number of very interesting scooters, including:
1956 Triumph Tessy
1959 Velocette Viceroy
1956 Maico Maicoletta
1958 NZeta (Cezeta built under license in NZ)
1959 Manurhin Hobby (French built DKW)
1953 NSU Prima (German built Lambretta)
1958 Puch Stier
1956 Triumph Tigress
Most are running but some are restoration jobs. I must admit I saw the 61 Cezeta advertised on Ebay a year or so back but it failed to meet reserve. I had even sent a query after the auction but never heard back.
Details about all vehicles can be found here:
Monday, June 30, 2008
I haven't had much opportunity to work on the bikes over the past couple of weeks so I haven't really had much to report.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I don't place much stock in omens, but it was absolutely pouring down with rain when I got the call the from Matthew the Truckie the he would be dropping the bikes off today. It was Monday, 9th of June at about 8am and I was on the bus to work, so I jumped off at the next stop into a veritable thunderstorm, got absolutely drenched and caught the next bus home. Matthew said he would be there at 10am and he damn well was. 10 on the dot. It was big rig and the bikes were in the mid section. It took a lot of shuffling and reshuffling by his packing crew to unload the bikes - well, not exactly bikes, more boxes of bits and things really. One of the guys asked me, "what the hell are you gonna do with all this junk?" (sounds alot like something my wife would say). "I'm planning on restoring them.", I replied. He looked dubious. I guess I looked dubious too.
The Heinkel & boxes - rainspatted and fresh from the truck assembled on the porch
The Heinkel came in 8 boxes (including the chassis and panels). Of course I knew what I was getting when I bought it, but it was still a bit of a shock to see it right there in pieces on my front lawn. The Troll was shipped whole of course, and Matthew hopped on it and coasted it down the ramp, carefully riding the front brake. I had visions of the old brake cable snapping and the whole thing plunging into the ground, but it came down okay. I was really excited as I wheeled it down the driveway but it wasn't long before the full realisation of what was ahead caught up with me. A quick once over of the Troll revealed numerous problems - let's call them "challenges" to be resolved before it has any chance of getting on the road. While parts of the body are in very good nick, other parts are very badly worn. It needs a damn good panel beating. The body however is the least of the bike's problems. The throttle was broken, it's missing its indicators, the front brake is partly seized I think and new cables are required. I suddenly felt completely daunted by the prospect of all the work ahead. It was overwhelming.
Fortunately, the thunderstorm had passed just long enough to unload the bikes - otherwise my mood might have been even grayer. The Heinkel boxes were packed under my porch and the Troll was parked in the driveway. I took a couple of photos and then I headed off to work. My wife messaged me on the way to hear how it all went. I sent her a couple of photos (ahh, the wonder of mobile phones). I was expecting Shelly to be extremely dubious, but she said the Troll looked really cool - whether it was running or not. It was a relief.
Once I'd freed myself of the emotion, I began to think clearly again. Like a good project manager I began planning out all the activities that I needed to do. I had originally hoped to have the Heinkel ready by November - six months. Clearly that is unrealistic. I now don't expect to have the Heinkel ready before the middle of 2009. The Troll will be priority for now.
Unfortunately rain and work commitments during the week prevented me from carrying out a proper appraisal of the Troll, nevertheless, I spent the rest of the week searching the internet for IWL parts. There seems to be is a surprising amount of spares available from German scooter/motorcycle retailers. I ordered a complete set of new cables, new wiring, indicators and rubber seals (the seals on the engine covers are perished in several places. It will be two or three weeks before they arrive.
Saturday turned out to be a stunning autumn day - sunshine, blue skies and pleasant warm humidity so I began my first offical survey of the bikes. Firstly the Troll. Apart from the problems with the front end, the vehicle seems to be in fairly good condition. The engine seems clean (not really a gauge of how well it runs I know), it looks like it's had some repair / maintenance fairly recently. Some of the wiring looks a bit old and frayed, but I'm going to get all that replaced. One interesting discovery was a set of dangling wires out the back of the bike. These are an indicator connection for a Campi trailer, so back in Dresden this old girl must have been towing a trailer.
I unpacked all of the Heinkel boxes and - just to get a picture of what is and isn't there - did a bit of a dry reassemble on the lawn. When the Heinkel was delivered I was surprised not to see any wheels. There was only one single wheel packed amongst the boxes and that turned out to be the Troll's spare. I couldn't see how the Heinkel's wheels could have fitted into the boxes. But they did. Two 8inch wheels and four tyres. They look so diminutive and it immediately made me wonder. Was this really a 103A?? Turns out no. It's actually a 102A-1 (observant readers may note that the blog tagline has changed). The ID plate clearly states it's a 102A-1, chassis no 134084 built in Stuttgard in 1955. Only 17,500 102A-1's were built between 1953 and 1955. Mine was obviously built towards the end of the run. The main difference between the 102 and 103 was the move to 10inch wheels to improve road handling on the 103.
As promised, there were two engines in the boxes, both dismantled. Some of the parts looked quite new, others were frighteningly bad condition - the clutch for example. There is a lot of work to do. Things I've identified as missing so far - exhaust, rear shock absorbers, suspension, axle and mudguard, gear change and throttle controls and probably a lot more. After the review I packed all the boxes up again and have stored the Heinkel for now. I've sent my membership off to the Heinkel Club Deutschland and am awaiting the parts and price list. Once I have that I'll begin sourcing the parts.
On a trivial note, it's clear the old Heinkel has had quite a varied life. It was originally black but was handpainted it's current gaudy red and blue. Its original seat has gone and been replaced by a sheet foam glued to marine ply. That'll need to go too.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Well, it has been an interesting week.
We finally came to an arrangement over the transport and the Heinkel and Troll have finally been shipped as of Friday 22 May. It will take approximately two weeks for them to arrive. I'm very excited.
So that was the good news. But on all other fronts it's been a terrible week. Firstly - and of course this has nothing to do with scooters - but work has been a real mess. There is a pall of gloom hanging over my work at the moment as the main project I am on continues to descend in disaster. Political forces are preventing me and my co-project manager taking the steps we need to resolve the problems and get back on track. It's all very disheartening.
To add to my woes I dropped my bike during a lesson for my motorcycle license. How embarrasing! As soon as we hit the road it started to belt down with rain - the first time I'd even ridden in the wet and as we came to a roundabout I locked the front wheel and stacked it big time. Fortunately the most damage was done to my pride. I walked away with a scrape on the knee. The bike was okay too. But it shook my confidence a little driving on the wet roads. Oh well, could have been much worse.
And to add to my sense of gloom - the Vespa is f-cked again. The indicators haven't worked since I got the bike back from Sam. Following his advice I replaced the dodgy old battery and replaced all the globes - three were broken. But as soon as the bulbs were fitted, suddenly the wiring went. Only the right hand turn signals would work and they did not pulsate at all. Occasionally when I turned the handlebars hard left the left lights would come on which indicates to me the wiring was compromised when the front end was replaced. Sam and I had had a conversation about that after I picked up the bike and he'd indicated quite clearly this was not a job he was keen to take on so I'd already been planning to do it myself. Today (Sunday) I began taking apart the indicator switch and looking at the wiring. To be frank, it's pretty f-cking rubbish. As soon as the wires disappear inside the tubing the nice new wiring is superceded by what is clearly worn out old sh-t wiring, amateurishly twisted together. It'll undoubtedly all have to be replaced.
But that's the least of my worries.... no sooner had I started work today than the bloody engine failed. I don't know what's wrong with it now. It seems to be the same problem as before. It simply won't turnover. Given that the bike has done only one very short trip to the petrol station and back since I got it and has been turned over every three or four days while I tried to track down the wiring fault, you can understand I'm not very happy.
The German bikes were always intended to replace the Vespa eventually. The question is, what the hell am I going to do with the bike? The electrics are just an inconvenience. I can fix that myself, but if the engine is going to break down every couple of months I'm never going to be able to sell it. You live and learn maybe.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
There was movement at the station for the word had passed around that the Heinkel and the Troll were on their way.
At last, the transport is arranged. Or is it? It's been back and forth this week. Klaus dropped of bikes with Pack and Send in Preston, just around the corner from his office. But then there was a problem with the fuel. The Troll was still fueled up and couldn't be transported until it got drained. Now both bikes are boxed up, but there's a problem with the quote. There's a debate whether to price the transport according to weigh, size or volume and each method results in a wildly varying price. I'm a little surprised as Klaus has used Pack and Send fairly regularly so it isn't like this is new to anyone. I've left the debate in their hands for the moment. If things get ridiculous it'll be back to the drawing board. I certainly hope it doesn't come to that. Trusting that all goes well (crossed fingers!) the bikes will arrive in approx two weeks.
Today I also received the original owners manual for the Heinkel. In the end that info was no more than you can download from the US & UK Heinkel owners website, except for several high level diagrams of the engine, which is slightly different between the A-0 and A-1 models. I'll scan a copy and publish it here along with the other owner and technical guides.
It also included an interesting flyer from the German Heinkel club, which shows the evolution of the models. The prototype Heinkel looks exactly like an old Vespa (there you go - plagarism again) from the front, but the back is distinctively Heinkel. It's only a poor quality photocopy but I'll scan a picture to this site as I think it's worth sharing.
I've been spending every spare moment of my time on the internet searching for parts. Even though I haven't seen either bike in the flesh (or metal), I do have a preliminary lists of missing parts I need to source.
For the Troll:
Battery - done
Indicators - I have some on order
Mirrors -there is a single mirror, but it's set on the wrong side for Australian roads. I'll need to find something more useful. The Vespa's mirrors, while original, are virtually useless when driving. They shake too much and have a tiny field of vision.
For the Heinkel:
2 x batteries - on order
Indicators (front and back) - I have sourced some
I know these are all rather trivial items in the scheme of things, but if I can source them now, I will.
PS. I finally told my wife about the scooters. I'd been dreading this moment for while and the longer it went on the more and more difficult it seemed. But with the bikes almost on their way there was no putting it off. I was expecting a much more negative response but Shelly took the news well. I think she's probably reserving judgment until they arrive.
The range of IWL scooters - Pitty, Wiesel, Berlin & Troll (and in the rear, a Campi trailer)
VEB Industriewerke of Ludwigsfeld (IWL) was first established on the southern outskirts of Berlin in 1936 by the Daimler-Benz company to build aircraft engines. Being a military industry, the factory was severely bombed during the Second World War and, as part of German reparations to the USSR, the Soviets dismantled and removed everything that could be salvaged from the damaged factory during the late 40's. By 1950 IWL was left with 11 damaged and empty assembly halls, a small administrative office and no future.
However, as the east vs west division of Germany became permanent, the East German government decided to commandeer the site and revive the moribund factory. As in the west, the government desperately needed to re-industrialize and provide jobs for a destitute workforce. After six months reconstruction the IWL factory began to function again, first producing machine tools, then agricultural machinery and finally building Soviet aircraft engines under license. East Germany had the same desperate need for transport as West Germany and Italy, and in 1954 decided to begin building scooters as cheap mass transport.
The Pitty was IWL's first scooter and began rolling off the production line at the beginning of 1955. There was nothing original in its design. IWL had developed three different prototypes, all based on contemporary western designs, but eventually settled on a design directly modeled on the Goggo-mobile. Construction was typically socialist, with parts provided by a number of different state owned companies. IWL was responsible for the body and assembly. Engines were supplied by the famous German motorcycle company, MZ. Simson provided many other components. This arrangement would later prove very useful to a new generation of IWL owners/restorers, as interchangeable MZ and Simson parts are still widely available.
Despite its scooter styling, the Pitty - and indeed all the IWL scooters - had more in common with motorcycles. Gear change was exactly as per a motorcycle -with a hand operated clutch and footpedal gear change. The 2 stroke, 123cc MZ engine delivered a maximum of 5hp and was capable of 70kph. With solid suspension and a twelve inch wheel base, the Pitty was a relatively good cruising bike. But the extra metal around the nose gave the Pitty a heavy, sluggish appearance and production ceased in April 1956. The Pitty came in only three colours - green, red/brown and black.
The Wiesel SR56
After 11,293 Pitty's had rolled off the production line, IWL released the Wiesel. Gone was the fixed nose faring that had made the Pitty look so slow and sluggish, replaced by the more traditional moving fender. Apart from a small change to the rear suspension however, the Wiesel was mechanically identical to the Pitty. The Wiesel came in three colours - red, grey and black. 56,000 were built before production ceased in 1959. Introduced at the same time as the Wiesel was the Campi single wheeled trailer. Fixing to a connection on the rear spare wheel, the Campi made the cruising scooter a much more versatile and useful vehicle.
The Berlin SR59
With the Berlin Statroller (city scooter) IWL really hit its stride. In appearance and styling, the Berlin was almost identical to the Wiesel but it had a larger, more powerful 145cc MZ engine that could push it along at 82kph. The Berlin also had a 4 speed gearbox and rider comfort was improved by the addition of a rear shock absorber, longer front arm and sprung seats. It also had a number of advanced features, such as electric ignition and seven starting settings, such as cold and hot starting in summer and winter. Styling was also enhanced by a new two-toned paint scheme, with the combinations of green/white, orange/white, light blue/white and black/white. The Berlin was IWL's best selling and best loved scooter. 113,943 Berlins were built between 1959 and 1962. Many thousands are still on the roads today in Germany and elsewhere around the world.
The Troll TR1
With the Troll, or 'Touring Scooter', IWL took the lessons from the Berlin to the next level. The engine was still the same but the body was restyled, becoming squarer, longer and larger. The higher seating made for a more comfortable ride, as did the new shock absorbers on the the front wheel and the improved seats. With a top speed of 90kph, IWL had delivered a cruising scooter that was solid, mechanically reliable and capable of comfortable driving over long distances. But the Troll never matched the success of the Berlin. By the mid 1960s imported motorcycles were making headway in the scooter market and even East German customers were looking for cars. Only 56,531 Trolls were built between January 1963 and December 1964. At the end of the production run IWL stopped manufacturing scooters and concentrated on trucks, which they still manufacture today. The Troll came with a two tone paint scheme like the Berlin - red/white, light blue/white and black/white.
The motorcycle manufacturer, MZ, took over IWL production and retired their scooter line at the end of 1964 in favour of their MZ ET motorcycle, with which the Troll shared parts and styling. The MZ range of 2 stroke motorcycles would continue in production almost unchanged right into the 1990s.
East Germany industry isn't renown for the quality of its products - the reputation of the Trabant is understandable - but IWL produced four high quality, well loved scooters. Many thousands are still on the roads today and they remain sought after vehicles for enthusiasts. Although not a bad scooter, the unfortunate Pitty fared the worst of the series. It's stodgy, old fashioned styling made it unattractive and many were later junked for parts by Wiesel and Berlin owners. Although the Berlin remains the pride of the fleet and is highly sought after, perhaps strangely, it's the Campi trailer that is the most collectable item today.
Here's a link to the museum in Ludwigsfeld. It's all in German but it does have some interesting photos, especially those showing the war damaged factories being cleaned up in 1948. There are also some photos of IWL-IFA trucks that were manufactured between 1964 and 1990.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Thursday, May 1, 2008
Scooter evolution from the 1930s to the 1960s.
It was the Second World War, specifically the invasion of Europe, that lifted the fortunes of the scooter industry. Their small size and mechanical simplicity made them appear to be the perfect support for mechanised infantry. The America manufacturer, Cushman, dominated the market during the 1940s, producing 300 scooters a day for both military and civilian use. After the war, Cushman and other manufacturers, such as Salsbury, planned a mass transport revolution with stylish and innovative scooter designs. Salsbury's flagship, the 1947 Super Scooter Model 85, was certainly stylish and space age, but was a commercial failure. The War had made America an industrial giant and its citizens were the wealthiest in the world. American consumers weren't interested in the scooter companies visions of cheap mass transport; they wanted cars and they could now afford them. America's post war prosperity was the death knell of the American scooter industry.
A 1946 model Gadabout in Australia (owned by G Wilkie). Only about 2000 were built and many were exported to Australia and the colonies.
In Europe it was a totally different story. Most European cities had been destroyed or badly damaged during the War and it would be decades before the national economies of Europe fully recovered. There was a desperate need to both kick-start an industrial recovery and provide cheap mass transport. In Italy, Germany and Japan, military aircraft manufacturers such as Piaggio and Heinkel had been banned from building aircraft or anything remotely military and they desperately needed to find a new role if they were to survive. Enrico Piaggio had been impressed by the Cushman scooters the US military had used in Italy and saw an opportunity. Piaggios' 1946 scooter prototype, nicknamed Paperino ("Donald Duck") was stylistically reminiscent of the more bizarre pre-war scooters and quickly shelved, but a new design, featuring a step through body and simple, elegant lines was an instant hit. Piaggio is reputed to have said, "It looks like a wasp (Vespa)", due to it's slim waist and high pitched buzzing engine, and the name stuck.
Vespa's 1946 prototype, the Paperino.
Piaggio's design was scarcely original - the design was so remarkably similar to that of other contemporary Italian scooter manufacturers, such as the Iso, that someone could fairly be accused of 'plagiarism' - but that wasn't important. Piaggio's marketing turned the Vespa into a phenomenon. The youth appeal of the Vespa is what is most remembered today, but that was actually the sentiment of a later era. Vespa's initial success was with working families, especially housewives, who could easily drive or ride on the scooter without getting their dresses caught or dirty. Mechanically the Vespa was a simple, clean and relatively reliable machine, and it became the all purpose workhorse of post war Italy. It appeared in movies (eg, Roman Holiday), was endorsed by film stars, politicians and even the Catholic Church.
A Vespa 125 from the early 50's in Verona, Italy. 2004
Vespa's success set a standard that all other scooter manufacturers tried to attain. In fact, re-badged Vespas were built under license my a myriad of scooter manufacturers from America, to Russia, to India. In comparison, Vespa's main Italian competitor Innocenti's first Lambretta was a graceless, naked tubular frame with an engine.
In 1951 Innocenti released the LC 125 with body panels. Larger, more powerful and very stylish, these new Lambrettas threw down a serious challenge to Vespa that was to last until Innocenti finally retired from the scooter market and sold Lambretta to India in 1971.
In the US, the craze for European scooters led even veteran motorcycle manufacturer Harley Davidson to come out with their own model, the Topper. It proved to be an embarrasing failure. Cushman however continued to dominate the scooter market with their minaturised motorcycle/scooter hybrids, such as the Eagle. But once again the fad quickly ended and motorcycles continued to outsell scooters by a significant margin. Both Harley Davidson and Cushman abandoned scooters to concentrate on their core market.
A stylish Peugeot scooter.
German industry had been virtually destroyed during the War and so the first German scooters were basically Lambrettas and Vespas built under license with imported parts, which explains the familiar lines of such German scooter classics as NSU, Puch, Zundapp and Durkopp. But the Germans were never particularly satisfied with the Italian machines and it wasn't long before they were completely re-engineering them into something more typically... German. The Italian scooters were built for an Italian environment of small towns, country lanes, twisting, weaving cobbled streets, driven at relatively low speeds. Germany was a country of autobahns and wide roads. The Germans wanted power, mechanical reliability and comfortable handling over long distance. As with Italians, it seems as though industrial espionage was at work in the 1950s as almost all the scooters featured a wide, fixed front wheel faring, large 10 or 12 inch wheels and aerodynamic streamlining. Lined up together the Bastert, Faka, Goggomobile, IWL Pitty and the Heinkel all have a very similar silhouette.
Saturday, April 26, 2008
Perhaps it wasn't the most well thought through idea, but a couple of drinks certainly added to my sense of enthusiasm. I don't remember who mentioned it first as I wasn't involved in the initial discussion, but I did overhear the word "scooter" and my interest was sparked. Apparently we were all going to buy scooters - the retro looking Vmoto Milan in fact, because it looked so cool. "I'll be in that.", I said. There were six of us and someone said they could get us a deal for a bulk purchase. We all drank to the idea, but the plans never really made it past that night. Sober heads prevailed.
I was quite disappointed at the time. I had really wanted the scooter, but almost a year later, at another party with the same crew a new opportunity presented itself. One of our entrepreneurial friends, who seemed to have his fingers in many different pies, announced he would be importing nine restored Vespas from Indonesia. At this time, there were few Indonesian scooter restorations on Australian roads and the underlying problems with the vehicles were largely unknown. Deals were struck, money was exchanged, and a vehicle was purchased.
It took a lot longer than anticipated for the scooters to arrive. Two months became three, then became six. As I'd committed to pay only when the bike had passed pit inspection and been certified roadworthy, my bike had already received an extensive overhaul after it arrived in Perth. Inevitably however, it broke down shortly after I took possession, but our friend fulfilled his obligation and had it repaired at his own expense. Now, almost a year after the bikes first arrived, only three (including mine) are actually on the road. Three are still in the shop but almost ready to go and the remaining three haven't even been looked over yet.
My bike is a beautiful vehicle. It is a cream 1963 Vespa VBB. I bought it as a local runabout- a means of getting up to the shops or down to the beach - not as a daily commuter vehicle. Unfortunately, due its initial mechanical unreliability I haven't had enough time to become familiar with the peculiar idiosyncrasies it shares with all vintage machines. In March, through rider error, I had a little accident with the bike, forcing a return to the shop for more work. Initially the diagnosis was minor - a sheared bolt on the front shock absorber. It was fixed in matter of hours, but the fix highlighted a number of other problems. It was ironic actually as I would have taken it back to the mechanic to have the steering re-examined anyway, as the front end tended to shudder disturbingly as soon as the bike reached 60 kph - not a very comforting feeling! In the last four weeks the entire front end of the bike has been taken apart and put back together, and then taken apart again. The interior workings of the steering column has revealed some dubious Indonesian makeshift repairs, including inserts of tin can shims. Sam from The Scooter Centre (ph -93710812, 82 Beechboro Road, Bayswater) has been very patient.
A New Opportunity
When I bought the Vespa, I must admit that Piaggio and Lambretta were the only classic scooter manufacturers I knew, but my eyes were soon opened to the variety of interesting machines out there. From the moment I saw my first Heinkel, with its unusual fixed nosewheel faring I thought, that is my dream scooter. But there seemed to be few if any available in Australia, although clearly there were plenty in Germany, where many were still used as daily commuters. They were not especially expensive in Germany, but the cost of shipping one over - unridden, untested - seemed a little extravagant. So I parked the Heinkel dream and concentrated on the Vespa. And then....
In Melbourne, Klaus Wolf of the Retro Scooter Palace, needed to clear some space in his garage and posted some fifteen rare and unusual scooters on Ebay. All were restoration projects in various states of repair. Amongst them was the 1954 Heinkel 103A-0. It was described as being complete, but in pieces. The price was excellent, but also indicative of the amount of work that the new owner would be required to do. My immediate thought was that this would be too difficult for me, a novice scooter enthusiast, so I let it go. But every day I checked into eBay to watch the progress of the auction. There were some truly exceptional scooters on offer, but interest seemed slow. I also continued my research into the Heinkel, the availability of spares, the complexity of its engineering, and the relative costs of transporting the scooter to Perth. On the last day of the auction there were still no bids for the Heinkel. I was in a quandry. Should I do it?? I went for a long kayak on the Swan River, weighing up the pros and cons. I decided if no one else was interested I would bid and later that night, with still no other bidders, I placed my bid. The next day the Heinkel was mine.
It was a daunting prospect! It was now time to put my money where my mouth was. I hadn't mentioned any of this to my wife, and I know exactly what she would say. Hmmm. It was gonna take some special pleading to convince her. Which is why I'm also at a loss to explain what I did next. Klaus and I exchanged a lot of emails and messages to arrange the transport of the Heinkel, but my initial quote fell through when the transport company refused to pick up the bike. This was a spanner in the works! Klaus thought he could find me a better deal if the consignment was bigger. Did I know of anyone else in Perth who would be interested in one of his bikes. We could share transport costs. I asked him to sent me the inventory of the remaining bikes he was selling and before the week was out - against all better judgement - I'd bought a second rare bike - an East German IWL Troll. At least the Troll was intact. It was running a year ago but has been in storage and now needs a new battery and other general maintenance.
So, in the space of four weeks my scooter plans have completely changed. Next week I should have the Vespa after it's extended convalescence. I am hoping that the steering will now be completely fixed and it will be safe to drive on the roads. It will still be my local runabout.
When the German bikes arrive, I'm intending to quickly go over the Troll, install its new battery, clean the fuel system and get it running. This will be my cruising bike.
The Heinkel will be my restoration project. I intend to fully strip the bike back and rebuild it. I'd like to get it finished by November for my 40th birthday, but I'm not entirely certain that's possible. I love vintage vehicles - my great uncle, Percy Markham, had a large collection of vintage cars that he donated to the WA Museum - but I am not such a purist that I'll be trying to restore the Heinkel to factory condition. I'll play it by ear. If it make sense to use replacement parts in the restoration, I'll do so. I want the bike to functional and safe, not a museum piece. When the Heinkel is finished then I'll undertake a proper restoration of the Troll.