Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Working Metal Again.

At last I feel like I've done something useful - even if only half the job done so far...

Removing the lugs for the bar clamps as the bike will utilise clip-ons if it keeps it's front end. I was inspired to do this by a fantastic V50 build thread on the Do The Ton forum.

Took the bulk off with my new angle grinder which was a bit scary on such a small  and critical piece. Then used coarse hand-files, the Black and Decker power file, a finer hand-file and then  a Scotchbrite wheel on electric drill. Finer finish will be sought when the other lug is off. Have to say the power file is such a great piece of kit for this kind of thing.

Very satisfying - I do like working with alloy - I want to do more of it!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013


How could I forget - as a direct result of showing at BSMC The Event show, the Chicken Shack Ducati was on the telly! On ITV4's The Motorbike Show, after I was interviewed by the very kind and friendly Mr Henry Cole. Three years ago if someone had told me the first Chicken Shack bike would be on top blogs, in a one of a kind bike show and then on television I would have advised therapy!

If you'll be my Dixie Chicken then I'll be your shed build Goose.

The strip-down has reached the point at which, by removing six bolts, the main portion of the frame can be removed. This would leave the engine, lower frame rails and shaft drive in position. However I have left the frame in place (and the rear wheel)  in order to think about tank and seat options.

I'd been thinking about a fairly square-edged design to match the cylinders, but have recently discovered a build on an engineering company's site in New Zealand that utilised a tank, or replica tank, from a Ducati 750 bevel. Seeing a fibreglass replica of that available in the UK, with what seems to be the right dimensions, brought on a flurry of measuring. It looks to be a good fit, wide enough to clear the frame at all points. The shape's lovely and trying to get a tank doesn't seem that easy so I don't want to look a gift horse in the mouth. However, I'm hesitating as I'm now starting to wonder whether the tank has actually got to be wider than the frame rails at all points, (which the 750 design is), just like the V50's own tank). This is because I've seen some nice bikes where the edges of their tanks are resting on the frame tubes for at least part of their length. This would bring some squarer tank designs I've seen and liked back into play. Still the 750 rep I'm looking at buying has one of those great see-through fuel strips. That wasn't in the plan but they are so cool.
More thinking to be done - lack of cash is providing the time for thought...

Even if I go for the Ducati design, I won't use a matching "boat tail" seat unit as the New Zealand builder has. I want the bike to be different, more 70's/80's racer, so the tail will be squarer and possibly flipped up, as in the blue sketch. I'm thinking long and hard about whether to construct the tail myself, possibly from sheet alloy, as it seems an achievable step toward more fabrication. However, there are some suitable 'glass units on the web which I could modify. I'm going on a welding course in January which may also have some bearing on the decision.

Speaking of the welding course, that got me in trouble with Mrs Cutter who really wanted to learn welding, particularly so she could pose around being all industrial and "badass". I had an evil impulse while suffering "late life/work crisis" one dayand just booked myself on it. I suggested my fragrant shed-partner she could go on it too, that would be fine, although its quite a few sponduliks so not a great idea to double up. She's nobly decided to go on an introduction to motorcycle mechanics course instead, thereby doubling the relevant knowledge the 'shack will hold in coming months - huzzah!!

More great news - the amazing Dutch and Duchess from The Bike Shed blog, have decided to follow up their successful Cafe, Bobber and Tracker show "The Event" with an early sequel to round off the biking year. The last one was a total blast and I don't say that just because the Chicken Shack Ducati was shown there.

Dutch and co. are at the vanguard of those championing the retro custom scene and bringing it to a wider bike-loving and petrolhead audience. The vibe was amazing at the first show as I've mentioned in an earlier post. Friendly, buzzing, a real community feel, and lovely place to hang around and see gorgeous pro and shed builds, buy cool clothing, get some ace ink, chow down on gourmet burgers, get a cut, buy art, and spot the bike journos with an eye for something different. NOTICE - all of the above phenomena were super-real rather than crapola sometimes witnessed at more conventional shows....you won't see acres of knock-off textiles and corporate "meh!" here.

Get it in your calendar - many people were wailing and gnashing teeth at missing the last one, especially when they saw the quality of the show in the pics, TV, blog, and magazine coverage that followed.

Find out all about it here:


One last item. The sole surviving shack namesake, "Dixie" continues to be obsessed with shed life. At any opportunity she walks in and follows a ritual:

Dust bath in floor concrete dust, bug hunt round the shack, hop onto bench and inspect tools and parts, hop down and then onto frame of the Guzzi which she seems to think is a tree for evening roosting (like what wild chickens do don'cha know). She will happily roost  on the bike all evening. Downside is the guano deposits, so I have taken to perching her on one of my bike stands.

Here she supervises Mr's Cutter's work and advises on front-end disassembly..

Yeah we know flip-flops aren't good workshop wear, this was on a break....

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

The vision....

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

First Step On The Second Journey....

At last I've made a start, just a gentle one. Taking a few bits off with the manual close by. Taking photos, bagging bits and pieces and just generally getting to know the bike.

The Guzzi engineering style seems very different to the Ducati's. It's a lot older of course, but there's a different philosophy at work. More industrial and certainly less  obviously race influenced. More shed adventure tonight....

Sunday, 2 June 2013


Trying out some sketch apps for design ideas with a stylus on ipad. There's plenty for us to do before we have to make any hard and fast decisions about what direction the build will go. Checking the health of the bike as it stands, and then the strip down, notes and photos of how parts fit together. Renovation of parts where necessary or possible, ordering of equivalent or superior replacements where not. That process in itself will influence ideas. In the meantime scanning the net for ideas, trying to find inspiration and yet stay original. The transition into decisions and actions that will effect the final theme occurs organically. Some ideas you stick hard and fast to, others develop as you go along dictated by resources, money, technical limitations, luck. All part of the game.

Friday, 31 May 2013

More on the BSMC event here, including a great movie by Dutch's brother Ben:


It even got coverage in MCN by independent journalist and Sideburn/Rollerburn/Dirtquake genius Gary Inman. Which means I should apologise for hassling the quintessential gentleman journalist Rupert Paul  while trying to get exposure for the event in the press!! Shucks I could've use that hassle time to get advice from Rupert, a fellow air-cooled Ducatisti I believe, on my dry clutch issues.....
That's enough name-dropping - Ed.

 Motopunks excellent 750ss Cafe and XJR Bratfighter!  See more at http://www.motopunks.de/ and

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

BSMC The Event

And the Gods of Cafe, Brat and Tracker looked down and saw that it was good.
The Bike Shed Motorcycle Club Event  at The Shoreditch Gallery 18th an 19th May...

The Chicken Shack Ducati in the midst of the Shed Build display, flanked by a beautiful Hinckley powered bobber and  a Spirit of the Seventies XS Tracker. And more loveliness inside with the pro-builds including more Spirit, Untitled, Empire. Kingdom of Kicks, Kevils, CRC, Deus, and more. Check BSMC for details at:

Dutch who runs the Bike Shed blog, and Vikki his partner in crime, and their lovely mates and rellies put on an incredible show. Mrs Cutter and I were suprised and honoured to be able to show the Chicken Shack bike and to help out a bit. I had a fantastic time meeting other builders both "pro" and "shed" from all over the world, bike journos I have followed for years like Gary Inman and Rupert Paul, international visitors, fellow UK Monster Owners Club members, suppliers of sexy kit etc etc. I can honestly say everyone one was totally friendly and supportive of each other - the vibe was outstanding. It was a massive confidence boost to get kind words from other builders.

It was a great success with around 2000 bods estimated to have come through on the Saturday alone. Henry Cole from ITV4's The Bike Show was doing interviews and there's even the small possibility of the Chicken Shack bike getting on the telly....  There will be more BSMC events I'm sure, so make sure you get to one in the future if you get the chance. The opposite of the usual depressing mainstream corporate shows.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

The Next Chapter Begins......

The shack awakes, more in due course......