|Memories from Lawton & Wilson’s Workshop 1959/61|
There was the time when I wound up Frank Barnett who was then working with us, he got that mad he picked up a two or three pound ball-pained hammer and smashed it down on the jaws of his vice (I suppose this was better than hitting me!) if I remember right I laughed at him and to make some sort of statement I picked up the smallest of toffee hammers and gave the vice jaw the lightest of taps and to every ones amazement the front jaw of the vice just fell off, broken just above the screw thread.
The workshop was always degenerating into mayhem from time to time, it was just the happy crazy way every one was together. Ned bought one of the first domestic reel to reel tape recorders that would do multi track recording, he would bring it in to work, and we found you could make what sounded like engine noises by making different tones and pitches of noise whilst holding the microphone against your throat and we would make recordings of what sounded like race sound tracks with commentaries using different peoples names we knew. We would also make crack-pot recordings along the lines of the Goons who were at their peak at the time, these were always connected to bikes and racing, and seemed quite funny at the time as anyone will know who has heard Ned’s tapes.
Then there where the burping contests, before and after drinking Coca Cola. Les was always king belcher.
I can’t remember how the subject came up but someone one day said that a condom would hold a gallon of water and an argument raged on for a while about this till some one unremembered produced one, I was volunteered to try it out. Well a short time later the thing was wobbling around in the sink with slightly more than a gallon in it and it was promptly tied off, I managed with difficulty to pick it up and carry it across my forearms all the time it was trying to get away or though it seemed as I took it into the workshop for every one to see. With the argument proved some one then dared me to take it out through the showrooms and back along the roadway outside returning to the workshop by the backdoor, feeling confident I took on the challenge, some one opened the door into the showrooms and off I went with the thing wobbling about in my arms, I was a third of the way though when I saw the girl who I had just started going out with stood at the stores counter and chickened out, did a quick about turn and retreated back into the workshops. I can’t remember what happened after that, but it was probably dropped back into the sink and burst and disposed of down the toilet.
There was the time Les bought a Puch 125cc pure bred racing machine which was fitted with a full streamline fairing, it had been brought to the workshop. We all wanted to hear what it sounded like so Les took it onto the open ground of Boniface & Cousins at the side of the workshop where he bump started it and after giving it a few handfuls of throttle to get the sound of it he could not resist the temptation of sitting on it, then he flipped it into first gear opened the throttle a little and slowly let out the clutch and pulled away. Suddenly and unexpectedly the power kicked in and the machine shot away the back wheel spinning wildly snaking left and right in the loose earth surface leaving Les hanging on fighting to keep it upright with legs flying all over the place. Luckily he managed to bring it to a halt without dropping it.
Another time the showroom received a load of the latest Italian 50cc Mopeds and we were all put to work preparing them for sale, this finished with a brief road test which eventually finished up as a race back to the workshop. If you can imagine the site as three or four large guys laying flat over the handlebars of these things coming up the rise under the old railway bridge sometime trying to pedal assist them as they slowed down.
It was the custom to take some customers who wanted to road test a bike to Peak Lane where it was quieter, one day I was asked to take this guy out there to try out a large twin cylinder machine. As I let him take it I warned him of the very sharp S bends about a mile down the road, he said he understood and off he went, well I was standing around waiting for his return and began thinking he was taking a good run as he had been away a long time, then I began to wonder had the guy done a runner with the bike! Eventually I saw some one riding up the road, as they got closer I thought that looks funny and when he pulled up alongside me I could see why, the fairing which the bike had fitted was all out of line. It turned out even after my warning plus the bikes excellent brakes, the guy had not taken the first bend and ridden the bike straight into the channel cut in the road side verge to drain the water from the road into the ditch. The bike was fortunately not damaged but all the fairing mounting were! We never did see that customer again, I think he felt a Prat!
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