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It's 2AM and I've just come in from the
garage. I spent most of the evening breaking a
Kawasaki H-2 of early seventies vintage.I picked
it up 'FREE' at a garage sale about six months
ago and the poor creature has been finally laid
to rest, years too late, much the same as Speedy
Atkins was. (Speedy stood, dead and
embalmed, in a Carolina funeral home since his
death in 1929 until early 1995 when he finally
got to lie down -- with six feet of turned earth
gently placed upon his chest.)
Much like Speedy Atkins, this Kawasaki had
once been the pride of its manufacturer and loved
by its first owner. From here on, history
obscures some detail, but the poor beast lived a
hard life up until 1984 (the last inspection
sticker on its fork leg) and then broke. For
good. Some unkind and un-mechanically
inclined person had removed its seized or leaking
engine and had lost it. Never to see its
aluminum and steel heart ever again, the rest of
the corpse was deposited first at the back of a
dusty garage and then, years later, cast out into
the snow to rot.
There she stood, just like Speedy, radiating
decay and the corruptibility of all temporal
existence, with a large piece of tape bearing the
word 'FREE' stuck to her rusted and dented gas
tank. My heart went out to this
relic. I am a sentimental kind of person
who still cries at the end of It's A
Wonderful Life and similar flicks.
I saw the machine, years before --- in my mind's
eye -- with a young person religiously waxing and
cleaning and adjusting and taking great pride in
ownership. I saw a young couple riding it
to a picnic or party on a beautiful Sunday
afternoon. I could feel the pang of regret
when the bike was sold because of either parental
meddling or financial hardship. I heard the
phrase "Don't put any more money into that
crappy old Jap bike" uttered when the old
two-stroke triple began blowing a greater
quantity of smoke than was normal. I saw
the low-side on gravel, the engine being
unbolted, the parts being lost and the rest being
thrown unceremoniously in the corner. Not
to get all gooey-saccarin here, but my heart bled
for the old warrior. With (almost) a tear
in my eye, I dragged it (the rear brake had
frozen) back to the garage.
At first, thoughts danced in my head of trying
to actually resurrect this bike. Then I too
fell victim to the "Don't put any money into
this junk pile" attitude myself. With
three bikes to keep running and on the road, I
just couldn't afford this project.
Well, once again the old Kaw stood in the back
of a garage. At least she had stable-mates
though -- bikes that could tell her that it was a
shame that she didn't always have owners like
they did. She never had an owner that
wouldn't part with her for ANYTHING, like my
bikes do. Maybe they even told her that she
might one day roll again. I'd hate to think
they got her hopes up. It probably fell
upon deaf ears anyway. She, like Speedy,
was too far gone.
A week ago, Eddie Brush called to tell me that
he spotted a 1978 Honda CM400T in a dumpster.
A DUMPSTER!!! He was excited because it was
all there, and just thrown away. After only
10K miles, this Honda was garbage. We drove
to the dumpster and pulled the bike out. Nothing
was broken off, although the gas tank was pretty
much trashed from rust. The engine kicked
through with a little bit of fight -- 'good'
fight -- the fight of a feisty motor.
I'm certain the compression is still OK.
Regardless, it is a shame that an entire
motorcycle of relatively recent vintage and with
really low mileage should be consigned to the
trash. I wonder if anyone ever found a
Ducati or Triumph or Harley or Indian in a
dumpster! Doesn't anyone have limited
resources and a desire to ride? Couldn't
someone have given this bike a good home? Have
we become such a 'throw-away' society that a
relatively expensive machine, as any motorcycle
is, can be chucked when it still has lots of life
left in it?
My garage space has run out. A few
months ago I actually turned down a running
Suzuki because I just didn't have the room.
The Suzuki has a chance of finding a home, but
the dumpster Honda was going down the tubes
pronto. Help went to the neediest, I
borrowed my brother-in-law's truck and collected
I have grand plans of insulating and heating
my garage. A stereo and a 'fridge have
already been obtained. On junk day, I'll
find a serviceable sofa. I'll have a
motorcycle repair facility and haven for those
long winter evenings. Space is at a premium
and tonight I had to make a choice. It was
a tough one. Of all my project bikes, the
Kaw was the least complete and roughest. She'd
just have to go.
With a real sigh, I opened up my tool chest
and retrieved my metric sockets, pry bar and
breaker bar. Soon the old Kaw was reduced to a
frame and a pile of parts. When junk day
comes, I guess that frame will go to its final
reward. The operation was fast, the patient
didn't suffer. Soon the nuts and bolts were
placed in cans and items such as levers,
handlebar controls and petcocks were filed away
in boxes. The front wheel and brake will
wind up on a CD175 midget racer I've built -- and
that's when it hit me!
That old Kaw will never really be dead and
forgotten. My Ninja sports some hardware
gleaned from a deceased Yamaha 650 Special.
I lost some fasteners, and used what I could from
my rolling wreck. Bolts are bolts, after
Hey, those long mirror stems will work on my
Harley's drag bars -- screw Custom Chrome, I defy
anyone to notice that the stems are Japanese at
the Harley Rendezvous! Foot pegs!
My Yamaha dual-sport could benefit from real
rubber pegs. I can machine all sorts of
interesting bits from the rear axle. Who
knows when something from the Kaw might be
And that, my friends, is what I realized.
The old Kaw would continue to give pleasure by
keeping my other bikes healthy and maybe do the
same for my friends as well. She would
continue to ply the roadways and highways in
perhaps dozens of other bikes and give joy to
more riders than if she had remained whole.
You couldn't say the same for old Speedy.
So, to two Speedys, I say Godspeed, brother
and sister. Although you are both gone for
good, at least one of you will be out rocking
(in part) on down the highway.
READ THE PRESS
is Published by Bedside Books, an imprint of
American Book Publishing.
2003 Harry G. Pellegrin
God We Trust
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