Wednesday evening, July 23rd, my son Corbin and I arrive at the hotel in Ashland. We had a great drive out. It's the first time we have had this much time alone forever.
Thursday morning, July 24th we arrive at the Mid-Ohio Grounds. The temperature was unseasonably cold and the day was off and on rain-like. Driving into the grounds to get to the tent, passing by, the flea market was already in full roar, hundreds of vendors. Skies get more clear as day goes by.
We arrived at the tent, 40’ x 80’ which we shared with the CBX Club. We hooked up with Tigra Tsjuikawa, AMA VMD Coordinator, almost immediately and in true form, she was gracious and hospitable. Each of our tent halves is 40’ x 40’. By afternoon, Andy Dixon and Allan Landry of New Brunswick, Canada, arrived with their three sandcasts - vins 175, 222 & 1150. Allan’s bikes were fresh new GORGEOUS restorations, 222 Candy Tone Blue-Green and 1150 Candy Tone Ruby Red. Andy’s #175 was the Holy Grail we were all eagerly waiting for years to see………. His #175 has around 3,500 miles on the clock and is very much a complete, correct and unmolested original machine. At five feet distance, #175 looks like a new machine, it has very little patina. All of us thoroughly enjoyed studying it and talking to Andy about its history, one of the few sandcasts imported into Canada when new. Allan had our beautiful club banners and signs with him. We immediately hung them up for display.
Robert Simpson showed up later in the afternoon, he had on display his stunning Dunstall –and- his Read Titan. Ed Merritt came with his very very nicely tricked out metal flake orange/grey Rising Sun café. Ray Bayless arrived with his perfectly restored Sunflake Orange K3, which he rides routinely. Ray was a great help, tending to details under the tent, bringing signage Dennis “the Scrambler” arrived with his Buccus Olive Green K4, he purchased new, a very fine example.
Friday morning, July 26th, Corbin and I overslept, but we were fully recovered from our 1300 mile drive out. We got to the tent around 8:30 am and there were more bikes and more people. Immediately met Chris Rushton from England. It was so absolutely a privilege to meet Chris, over the years, he and I have sent each other hundreds of email, discussing the sandcast, the website and the club. Chris is a veritable walking encyclopedia of all things sandcast, able to share on a second’s notice the tiniest bit of detail within the vin ranges. Stephen Frampton from Ontario, Canada was there with his #325, a very very clean unmolested, complete, correct and original Candy Tone Blue-Green machine. Wes Anderson’s Gold die cast was on display; Wes bought the machine new when he was 17. Kevin Dodge had very GORGEOUS #405 on display, restored by Vic World. It was great to meet Kevin, knowledgeable on the sandcasts, great to hang with and an absolutely delightful sense of humor. He had us all laughing thorough out all the three days of the meet. Marty Kitner arrived with his very original clean unmolested Candy Tone Blue-Green die cast , he purchased in Japan decades before, when he was in the service. Bob Verhelle made it in with his very lovely original and partly restored Candy Tone Blue-Green die cast that he rides regularly – in fact, he had just finished a 300+ mile trip before arriving at VMD.
Around 10:30 am, in walk Bob Hansen and Bob Jameson !!!! WOW – WOW – WOW – WOW !!!! I cannot tell you how thrilling it was to see these guys walk in – under the tent !!!! I cannot tell you how many times I have been in my shop, working on my sandcast, wondering to myself, “Who are these guys……… ?” “What exactly was their role in the history of the CB750…….?” I will tell you both men are first class gentlemen, it was totally fascinating listening to them share memories of their experience with Honda, both in Japan and the USA. They spent about four hours under the tent that day. Bob Hansen is a spry and healthy 89 years old, with a very active mind and a wonderful twinkle in his eye ! Bob Jameson is also a very fit and trim 79 years old, very much the mechanic and technician, precise in his words and recollection of the CB750 history. More later on my conversations with these two men. Mark Zlotkowski is to be eternally thanked for arranging Bob Hansen's flight and arrival. Without Mark Z., Bob H., likely would not have been with us.
All of a sudden, I bumped into Tom Courtney with his soul mate Lara of Australia –and- Bo Goran of Sweden !!!! Tom has been around sandcasts a long time and has a very experienced eye in the minor details of sandcast minutiae. Bo was absolutely like a kid in a candy store, soaking in the details of every sandcast under the tent. Bo has a true eye for perfection, asking many questions and sharing his very well researched observations of the sandcast. A group of us guys run over to the Goodyear Tower to listen to The Two Bob’s seminar.
By 1:00 pm, I spot Vic World talking to 3-4 guys. Vic was slowly taking his time, making the rounds, talking to each and every person he met or who approached him. Finally, he and I met, it was very very nice to finally meet Vic in person. Vic truly has a passion for the sandcast and has a wealth of experience in restoration and the details that make the differences in the various vin ranges. We all learned from Vic, who readily shared his expertise. One of the coolest things us early vin guys learned was of the two different mirror stem types. Early stems are 11 mm and later stems are 10 mm.
The tent had continuous attendee traffic. The Two Bob’s are back under the tent, people surround them asking questions. Vic is there. Sandcast Nirvana. Everyone is talking, talking, talking to each other, all day long. I would guesstimate an average of 35-40 guests at any one given moment throughout the entire afternoon. VMD shut down at 5pm. The security guard arrived. People kept coming and by around 8:00 pm, we were still talk, talk, talking. Not wanting the day to end, we all went to a local steak house. Present were Vic, Kevin, Chris, Allan, Andy, Bo, Corbin and myself. We pretty much closed the house around 11 pm.
Back at the motel, trying to fall asleep, as the mind churns, recalling the day’s unforgettable moments, from out of the blue………. The thought crosses my mind to ask The Two Bob’s to sign my 19 liter gas tank on 232…….. ! Fairly quickly, I dismiss the idea of them signing it, not willing to do such a deed to my restoration as a whole and more specifically on a tank I paid $2200 for and another $400 for the paint………. I know…….. I know……. We sandcast boys are obsessed. Non-sandcast guys will call us just plain flat out lunatic crazy. Oh well, live and let live, as they say.
Saturday morning, 6:30 am, I awaken.
The first thought to my conscious self, “Steve – go for it ! It’s just a damn gas tank ! It’s only paint ! Ask The Two Bob’s to sign your tank. You only live once. What the hey, right ?”
We get to the tent around 8:00 am. The tent is already full of people. I guesstimate we average 50+ guests under the tent at any given moment throughout the day. All of us sandcast guys are together again. My oldest son, Ben, arrives. Corbin gets to take a lap on the track aboard his 1966 Yamaha Twin Jet 100. They both ride the electric bikes raced at the Isle of Man, earlier this year.
I ask The Two Bob’s if they will sign my tank. “Of course,” they say. I am thrilled !!! A bunch of us guys run over to the Goodyear Tower to hear The Two Bob’s and Vic’s seminars. We all come back.
Heavy periodic rains do not dampen Sandcast Nirvana for another 11 hours. We mix and mingle, talking, talking, talking, the entire day long. The hours seem like much less than nanoseconds. We leave the tent around 8:30 pm and arrive at the restaurant around 9:00 pm. Nobody wants this to end. We get out of the restaurant by midnight. I scoot over to a Super Walmart, hoping to find ANY ink pen. The store help said they had none. Scouring the rows of merchandise, I find a nice assortment of ink pens and purchase a gold one !!!!
Sunday morning, July 26, sunshiny beautiful morning. The Two Bob’s arrive around 8:30 am. I ask them if they will sign my tank – Of course they will !!!! Practice run, they sign the inside of Kevin’s side cover. Bob Hansen does not miss a beat – he is ready to sign my tank. Bob Jameson is pensive. He asks, “Are you sure you want to do this to your bike? My signature is not as good as it used to be.” I reassure him, “I have wondered so many times who you are and have waited so eagerly for the day to come I would meet you, I cannot imagine you not signing my tank..” They both sign. Bob J. goes first, then Bob H. (Sitting as I type this, 11:20 pm, August 15, 2009, I cannot tell you how many times I have fondly looked at the signatures on my tank. I am so very glad I had this done. I would have regretted very much, had I not asked them to sign my tank. This keeps the memory of the meet very real and less distant.)
By 12:30 pm, The Two Bob’s bid farewell. Handshakes and hugs go around.
All of a sudden, it’s 4:30 pm and the main core of us guys are still together; Ray, Vic, Kevin, Allan, Andy, Tom, Chris. We all remark how quickly the weekend flew by. We all agree how absolutely wonderful it was to meet each other and spend three days together getting to know each other. None of us want this to end. But, as with all things……… We all agree THERE WILL BE A 50th.
WHAT A GREAT GROUP OF GUYS - EACH AND EVERY ONE !!!!
My Top 12 personal highlights, shared by most, if not all.
- After much study and back and forth conversation, we concluded, at some point in #175’s life, she took a minor left side spill. We concluded to Andy his bike wasn’t worth that much, rationale being. "After all Andy, it's been wrecked.”
- I told Vic I had realized something – sandcast crankcases ARE painted silver from the factory ! Vic smiled and said, “Yes, that is correct.”
- Kevin teaches Bo how we Americans really drive in the USA,especially when we are hungry!
- Ray Bayless will have a DVD of The Two Bob’s Sunday Seminar.
- Mark McGrew will have a DVD of Bob Jameson’s pictures from Japan.
- When Sochiro Honda told Bob Hansen, Honda was building the King of Motorcycles, Bob told Sochiro, in front of all Honda’s engineers, “Well I hope it’s not a twin.” (Unbeknownst to Bob, the King of Motorcycles being developed WAS a 650 twin.)
- “Boom Boom Day” was when word got out Sohchiro Honda would make one of his visits to the factory.
- The Green Pre-Production machine went to Belgium and not seen again.
- The Red Pre-Production machine went back to the Honda Training Center, sometime early 1970, where the engine would be removed from the frame every morning, the engine would then be dismantled for training purposes nearly every day for about the next three years. By the end of the day, the engine would be re-assembled and re-installed into its frame. Then, Bob Jameson would ride it home every night and ride it to work every morning. Mark McGrew learned the technical details of CB750 engine repair on the Red Pre-Production machine. The 6 mm threaded holes stripped their threads, the hex head screws having been removed and installed so many times. Sometime, approximately 1971, the Red Pre-Production machine was dismantled and crushed and the remains sent to scrap.
- The Two Bob’s sign my gas tank. saturday, when I tell the guys what I have decided to do - Chris say's, "If that's what you want to do, it's a good idea." Allan says, "I'm not doing that." Kevin says, "That's a great idea! Do you think they will sign my side cover?"
- Lara and I swap caps. I have her "Australia" cap and she has my "Beemer's and more Motorcycle Works" cap.
- It's just as easy to get lost using a GPS as it is not using a GPS.
KP - Wish you were there.