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28th April 2008

Setting Up Shop
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So how did the newly-launched Simson Shop, purveyor of spares for Simson mopeds, leap into life? Phil Speakman explains fate, blame and degrees of separation...

Once more Iím stood at the counter with my documents, £55 changes hands and yet again I sign away my rights to all the sensible objections that any reasonable person would be expected to raise in defence of their innocence. In return for which I am handed the sole custodianship of a nearly-new Ford Transit van for the next 24 hours.

This Friday though, there isnít a classic show for me to attend. Nor am I on a trip to recover the latest Ďit seemed like a good idea at the timeí eBay purchase. No, Iím afraid itís far more serious than that and whilst Iím perfectly prepared to own up to a certain innocent complicity in the course of the events Iím about to relate. I canít help but feel that BSA, the Third Reich and a chap called Colin also have their part to play in this little cameo of blame.

Can you tell what it is yet?

Iíve since confronted Colin about this and he cheerfully, indeed casually admitted, that it was all part of his current master plan for the re-ordering of the civilised world. In contrast, Iím struggling to obtain any form of acknowledgement of corporate responsibility from BSA and the Third Reich arenít responding to any calls either.

So much for the blame culture society that the media would have you believe abounds these days. I was pinning most of my hopes on this, although in my limited recent experience I can tell you now that it simply doesnít work when you need it to. I mean, if a bloke canít point the finger of blame at the Third Reich how can he seriously expect to lay it all at the door of Colin?

The A50 eastbound from Stoke, passing Uttoxeter, was quick and remarkably clear of traffic on that pleasantly warm Friday morning. I soon found myself on the southern outskirts of Derby, where I spent a frustrating half hour attempting to locate the old A6 north that actually routes through the city centre. Not the signposted, ring-road preferred northerly route, I hasten to add. The one that conveniently avoids irritating and unnecessarily trivial things that plague the everyday traveller. Like your actual destination, for example !

With mirrors folded I reversed blindly into a slightly-larger-than-Transit-sized entrance and the real dayís work was ready to begin. I had bags, I took boxes, linbins, plastic tubs and I was even packing indelible markers and Tupperware. What more can a man need for a day of van loading? Bad van loading, that is. As my host was the first to point out.

Simson weather, too The mighty Simson S51

Upstairs in Barrie Rodgerís old workshops lurked the treasure trove I was actually there for. The largest single collection of Simson moped spares still in existence within the UK and it is down to the actions of the aforementioned characters that I found myself in that position.

In 1854 in a little town called Suhl in Thuringia, two brothers LŲb and Moses Simson invested a 30% share in a steam hammer company, enabling them to produce carbon steel and subsequently gun barrels and armaments. But in 1936 due to the actions of one of my associates in complicity, notably the Third Reich, the Jewish Simson family fled the country and the factory was merged in trust to form part of the Berlin Suhler Waffen und Fahrzeugwerke.

Less is more. Apparently.

The direct result of this intervention was the production of the BSW 98cc lightweight motorcycle. Do you see where this is going now? The BSA link is going to take a bit of a leap of faith, but trust me on this; weíll get there together in the end.

Post war, after a round trip to Russia and back, the Simson factory machinery eventually resumed post reparation production in Suhl, starting with manufacturing perambulators, bicycles and rifles for sporting use. They eventually resumed motorcycle production with 300,000 AWO425 model 250cc shaft driven motorcycles, subsequently settling down to serious moped production from the early 1960s onwards before liquidation in February 1992.

And thatís where BSA come inÖ

Actually, thatís a bit of a fib. But Iím hoping that all those thousands of old BSA riders are now so far committed to this tale that they may as well stay with me right until the bitter end.

And thatís where BSA Regal come in.

You see, once the BSA Regal company decided that they no longer wanted to be the main UK distributors for MZ motorcycle parts, my friend and MZ spares supplier extraordinaire, Fred Rogers, decided that he would take on all their existing MZ parts stock. That gave Fred a major logistical headache because the increased stock meant he would be seriously short of storage space.

ĎBut what of Colin?í, I hear you all ask.

Oh, I just knew youíd be asking that, you impatient lot.

You see, Colin sold me my first Simson S51 Comfort sports moped. A fine machine, faster than a speeding arrow and as you can read elsewhere on this very website, a fearless nocturnal conqueror of forbidding Lakeland peaks and passes.

'Check the carb for air and fuel leaks...'

It was because of the interest that Colin had inspired within me for Simson mopeds that I eventually asked the daft question that landed me in the bizarre situation Iím describing to you now.

ĎFred, what are you going to do with your Simson parts and your mopeds?í

Before I knew it, Iíd offered Fredís S51 mopeds a good home out of the rain and two car loads later Iíd filled my newly boarded-out loft to overflowing with Simson moped parts.

But what was I to do with it all?

How many new sets of Simson wheels and front mudguards does a man really need?

MZ stuff on eBay.co.uk
(Not enough Simson stuff, sorry)

I decided that the best course of action was to set up a website and offer it up for sale. But, the problem I soon found was that people expect unreasonable things from spares suppliers. Notably that said supplier is actually able to supply the spares they need at this moment in time and not the spares they donít really need. Good though those parts may be and extremely competitively priced, if I may say so.

And thatís how I ended up in Derby.

If you are going to do something, then Iím of the opinion that you should at least make an effort to do it properly and once Iíd seen the stocks that Barrie Rodgers had for sale I knew it was a case of Ďin for a pennyí.

And dear reader, that just about brings us up to date.

I think Iím pretty safe in claiming that I am the UKís largest single supplier of Simson moped parts, holding stocks of items from complete frames to the smallest crankshaft woodruff key. These parts are gradually becoming available to purchase online via my www.simsonshop.co.uk website.

Somewhere on the Internet, someone is looking for exactly this photo of the inner workings of a Simson S51 clutch and gear selector mechanism... The inner workings of a Simson S51 clutch and gear selector mechanism...

So for all those owners with an S50, S51 or S70, thereís really never been a better time to extract it from the shed, blow off the accumulated dust and debris and take a good look at getting it back where it belongs. On the road again.

I suppose that now Iíve finally vented my spleen via this article, I canít really blame my associates in this strange series of events too much though. You see, collectively what theyíve given me is the perfect excuse to get myself yet another very large shed.

And I find that pretty much all things can be forgiven, when a very large new shed is involved.

Donít you?


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