Mission Accomplished Revved Up To Restore

April 05, 1992|By MICHAEL DAVIS

If the phrase "some assembly required" gives you the heebie-jeebies, you will not grow up to be another Roger Annable.

And what is a Roger Annable? A 41-year-old guy who would choose to spend his nights and weekends restoring a rusted, disassembled British motorcycle, whose parts lay in boxes on the floor of a combination greenhouse-workshop in the Howard County town of Glenwood.

OK, he restored a classic 1967 BSA Lightning motorcycle -- one very much worth saving. But the project didn't come with instructions, a telephone help line or a map detailing where he might find every obscure little widgit that would one day revive the howl and growl of a magnificent machine.

But Mr. Annable, a landscaper by trade, is a restoration junkie, a man who thrives on making old things new again, whether it be a caved-in, glass-shattered greenhouse or a time-worn golf course Frederick County.

VTC Q: So what inspired the renovation?

A: In October I decided I needed a winter project, so I went over to my father's, got the bike pieces out of his camper and brought it over to the greenhouse.

Q: How did you acquire the bike in the first place?

A: I had just opened a plant shop in Hanover, Pa., when I saw an ad for it in the local paper. It was rusty because it hadn't been garage-kept. In 1979, I had the engine rebuilt, and it sat in pieces, as a basket case basically. Just pieces everywhere. In the process of moving from place to place, between '79 and last year, I lost at least one box of pieces. And then some were so rusty it was ridiculous. So it sat in a camper for years -- in pieces -- with the engine rebuilt.

Q: What was the first thing you did?

A: Found out that parts and a service manual were available.

Q: And where does one go for used motorcycle bike parts? Hogs R Us?

A: A place called English Motors in Hanover that specializes in British bikes. Almost every Saturday I'd take a trip up to English Motors and go rooting for parts. They had a lot of things categorized and a lot of things junked together, but I was able to find everything I wanted. I'd come back home Sunday and start (( piecing things together again.

Q: What was the most obscure part you had to search for?

A: Whitworth bolts. They're a British standard bolt, not like American and not like metric. So if you don't have a British bike or car, they're almost impossible to find.

Q: So does this mean you had to get Whitworth tools, too?

A: Yep. I spent $260 on a wrench set and a socket set, and they helped so much.

Q: So how long did the whole project take?

A: I started in October and got it tagged just before Christmas. I was like a man possessed for a while. Every night I was down here cleaning something or grinding or painting.

Q: Is it perfectly restored now?

A: It's been restored to my personal satisfaction. Everything is stock but the handlebars, mufflers and the seat. I tried to keep it as simple as possible and bring out the beauty of the lines. It's not far from original, but it can't be classified as restored to original. It's custom.

Q: How much did you intend to spend?

A: I had planned to put in about $1,000 and ended up putting in about $2,000.

Q: Can you calculate how much the labor was worth?

A: I know that English Motors had done a similar project, and the value in parts and labor was about $5,000. I've probably put in 300 hours or better. Obviously, I can't get out of it what I put into it.

Q: Was it a good investment?

A: I was talking to a gentleman recently who told me the best investments these days were classic motorcycles and cars. That's why I tried to put as many stock parts as possible into it. It was $2,000 in parts and a whole lot of fun.

Q: What's the bike worth now?

A: Somewhere between $3,000 and $4,000.

Q: It must have been a tremendous feeling when you fired it up for the first time.

A: Oh, it was great. It didn't have any mufflers on it, but I knew it was ready. I had the carburetor put together and the gas tank on. I fired it up and called my father. His answering machine picked up and I said, "Listen to this!"

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