Words: Don Thomas | Photos: Jock Davidson
It’s probably lucky I don’t frequently shop on the internet, Virgil is evidence. I can’t remember why but I was on Gumtree looking at bike stuff and saw an ad for a twin shock DT175 – very cheap and from the photo very rough but nearby. I thought that for the price if I could scab a few bits off it for my 250, even just some knobby tyres (I was running trials tyres on the 250), it might be worth a look. I don’t remember much about what the young guy said about it, after all people trying to sell junk will tell you anything so I think I either didn’t listen or promptly forgot. Two things I remember are he rode it on a friend’s farm and recently hadn’t been able to start it.
There was certain charm to the old thing, stuff like a kick start lever with a weld repair utilising a wheel brace, more wheel brace art in the side stand, dents in the tank front (from having no steering lock stops), most bits not absolutely essential were missing and probably also a few essential ones not obvious. With more care than it was probably worth I bundled it into the ute, gave the guy a few notes and headed home with thoughts akin to when you save an old dog from the pound. At home I did the usual pull off the carb and clean it, put in some fuel using a big syringe stuck into the fuel line and kick. I seem to remember that the ease of starting was a shock more than a surprise.
Maybe it was worth a good clean up and see just what was there, and not there. I started to find the evidence of a hard life, there were cracks in the clutch side engine cover near the kick starter, the selector shaft was missing its seal – in fact the casting that holds the seal was broken off, the seat cover was buggered, the top of the air box was missing along with all electrics and wiring other than the ignition (which looked hot wired), the chain was the wrong width for the sprockets etc. While not a problem the whole front end and wheel looked non standard – and the fork seals were surely shot as the dust scrapers had gone hard and broke off as you poked them with finger nails. I tried not to think about the rear shocks but at one stage I noticed rusted shafts.
I figured with a bit of a clean, some strategic use of ‘o’rings and silicone sealer to seal the selector shaft, a bit more silicone on the couple of cracks in the cases and covers it might be OK for the farm. Probably even replace the rag stuck in the oil filler (did I mention that?) with something a little better like a wine cork. I made a rough top for the air box so it wouldn’t be scooping in crap from the rear wheel, found a proper sized chain, drained and refilled the gearbox and put petrol in the tank (after cleaning out vast amounts of ‘stuff’ using the old throw in a length of chain and bang it around thing) and rode around the paddock. At one point I thought I was going to die but managed to get back to the shed and so having survived I started to bond. Yep this could be my long term vinduro bike and the DT2 could get restored to road condition – a good plan!
I’d taken it down to Cookardinia VINDURO for a friend to ride (he’d ridden it a few laps a month earlier at Canowindra) but due to an accident the previous week he was too sore to come. I figured I’d give it a bit of a go to see how it went and in particular how the clutch performed. I think I did three laps on it and really enjoyed it. I guess it will get new rear shocks and fork seals, a front tyre with better tread, the clutch will come out for inspection as there is some slippage and the seat will get an outer cover (it already has an old shower curtain to protect the foam). The main problem I see with further enhancement is the possible loss of character, but I guess I just won’t go that far.