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22nd April 2003

The Big Shed is on the move! Well, not the shed itself, but the contents, the inner bits that transform any old shed into The Shed. Frank Westworth writes, to avoid packing...

The things you think are useless I can't understand*

Moving house is globally recognised as being A Truly Terrible Thing. It's like divorce and dying; hard to recover from, and rarely pleasant. All that sorting through long-lost dusty junk, getting glad or gloomy at the memories they provoke, and then falling into a ponder while you consider whether to chuck the dusty rubbish away now, or leave it until you do the unpacking thing and discover that there's nowhere to put your priceless collection of ancient Brittains model motorcycles and an unmade Airfix kit of a Fiesler Storch a mate gave you because your dad shot one down in the war.

Like I say, moving house is a disaster, and we all hate it. Amen.

But moving sheds. Strewth! I was unprepared for this. Not only is there at least as much junk as there is in the house, but it is much more aggressive junk, and is equally packed with memories, many of them going right back … a fair while.

One that got away, Part The First. This particular G15 left The Big Shed years ago

MrsW3 and I did a deal. I would sort out the junk from the jewels, the trash from the treasure, and hire a small van to take the junk to the tip. Sounds fine. Except after a day or two it became clear that we'd need a bigger van. Maybe a small lorry. Perhaps a train?

Or maybe I should in fact keep everything. I've never been good at throwing worthless things away - you should see my record collection.

I uncovered a dump bin full of rear lights and their fittings. They fall into two sorts: broken original Lucas kit and complete modern pattern lights. The original plan (in about 1980 or so) was to repair the original lenses, straighten the original fittings, clean up the original seals and make them as new again. That never happened. Sloth set in. I'd forgotten I had them. Now of course I should fling the broken junk away, because allegedly genuine Lucas lamps are available again, and…

I had an idea. I would build up pattern lenses, seals, so forth onto the original Lucas backplates. That way I could preserve the sturdiness of the original backplates with the unbroken brilliance of the new plastic red lenses. Hurrah! A Plan!

Except that it fell flat almost at once because the modern lenses don't fit the original backplates. Even a new lens with 'Lucas' embossed upon its shiny exterior doesn't fit the ancient backplate which has 'Lucas' stamped into its 1960s flash-chromed tin. I took more lights apart. I appear to have about two dozen. Why is this? How has this happened? And how am I going to explain to MrsW3 that I've been down here for three hours and have packed … ah … nothing? It's a worry.

But there was much, much good news in those rusty, dusty boxes. Like a brand new in the wrapping factory big end for Persian Kitty, our ex-Iranian Matchless G80. Hurrah! Looked at it for a while, fell to remembering how I acquired it, realised it was sat on a copy of the 1986 Jampot magazine (the monthly organ of the most excellent AJS & Matchless OC) open at the page giving directions to the annual rally site. Fell to thinking about that rally, and to wondering how Bill, Bob, Bert, Bernie and all those other hard-riding clubmen from those distant days were doing today. Another evening lost. Nothing accomplished (apart from finding the big end).

The Bulldog has kept the contents of The Big Shed safe for over half a decade, but now it gets left behind. Sniffle. Poor dawgieBikes are easy enough to move, although the logistics make it well nigh impossible to ride them all the 270 miles or so (how d'you get back?). The way to move a couple of dozen bikes is to be impossibly nice; that way your local bike shop owner offers to shift them, seven at a time, on his flatbed. The really impossible ones (and those in bits) go into the Pickfords van. I hope.

But what's this? Why have I got no less then three worn out carbs for a Commando? And a brand-new Villiers carb? What was that for? I have no idea. How can I throw all this away? I have no less than ten of those odd cigar-shaped silencers that AMC fitted right at the end of production and which are now entirely unobtainable (not that anyone would want them, because they're badly made and entirely ugly). I can't skip those! I may need them one day, if I somehow acquire a half dozen late AMC singles, or maybe a couple of singles and a handful of twins, although the singles would need to be unusual because all bar one of the silencers appear to be left-hand…

And I have a tray of tools and gauges, hand made by apprentices at the AJS & Matchless Plumstead factory before the end. They are entirely useless, as I have no idea what they're for, and they are very rusty now and very heavy, but they are a small chunk of history, and if I bin them there will be no more. I bet no-one else has any!

Why are there eight packs of tyre valve caps? More worryingly, why did I buy another pack, which I cannot now find, at the last jumble we went to?

Should I scrap the Ariel Toaster's original, very rusty and considerably bent frame? Why not? But it might come in handy. For what? I have no idea. Another evening has passed and although I have moved lots of stuff about the place, little of it is what you might call 'packed'. She will not be pleased.

I know! I'll pump up all the tyres on the first of the relics to head south. That way they will be easier to load onto Bryan's little lorry, and She will be pleased. I fetch footpump. I start pumping up the front tyre of the Norton Model Model 50. Success. I start to repeat the process at the back. Air hisses. The tyre stays flat. I pump up the tyres on the BSA B25SS. Exactly the same. Then the Velo LE. Exactly the same. What is it with back tyres? Bryan is coming tomorrow and I will be at the office in Birmingham. Herself will be unhappy.

I think I'll seal the sheds with everything inside. I'll put radiation and biohazard warnings on the outside, apologise to the new owners, slip them a tenner and sneak off, later pretending to Herself that the Hereford Triangle swallowed all the bikes apart from the ones which move under their own steam and all of my spares! Will this work?

This is what sensible people do with all their old junk. They sell it. To FW, normally

I never want to move house again. Anyone want about a ton of prime autojumble stock going cheap? Or should that read 'going rusty'. I need a lie-down…

*Spot the quote? Free useless thing from The Shed for the first to recognise it.

Tales of Moving Woe? We need to know.


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