PHIL SMITH

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1962 Yamaha MJ2 55cc Moped (step-through).

1966 to 1967

06.jpg (277901 bytes)16.jpg (316671 bytes)My sister Karen's first motorbike

In the photo at far right my sister Karen is seated on the 1963 Yamaha MJ2, registered number DG-495, which we bought in 1966.  The red and white marks on the power pole indicate that this was the tram stop so she appears to be waiting for a tram!  The hedge behind her was in the front of our home at 166 Victoria Street Ballarat.  The second photo, taken in Scott Street Buninyong about a year later, shows Karen riding my YDS3 Yamaha past her MJ2, indicating that the MJ2 had limited days ... it was shortly afterwards traded in on a Honda Dream ... see below.

The day the gearbox broke: one Friday afternoon, while Karen was riding home from work, the gearbox of the little MJ2 jammed tight.  Fortunately it was only 50 metres from the front gate so it was wheeled home and put in the shed. 
Next morning, my brother Mick and I decided we ought to repair the gearbox.  It was a bitterly cold day with a strong wind blowing, raining on and off and a few patches of sleet to make life miserable.  Now out in the back yard at Victoria Street we had a huge "motorbike shed" ... it was actually large enough to hangar a decent sized aeroplane if it had been at an airport instead of in our back yard.  But the motorbike shed was too cold for fixing the little Yamaha, so when Mum  wasn't looking, we spread pages of The Ballarat Courier all over the dining table in our enormous kitchen and Mick lifted the MJ2 up onto the table so that it was easy to work on and so that we would stay nice and warm right beside the huge black slow-combustion kitchen range with its roaring coke fire. 
We had no manual for the MJ2 so we had to "play it by ear".  What our ears heard we were not actually quite prepared for.  When I removed the side case off the gearbox, we heard a loud "sproing" and the tinkling sound of a myriad of gearbox internals bouncing off the walls and landing all around the kitchen floor instead of on the paper-covered kitchen table. 
While Mick and I were on hands and knees scrabbling around looking for gearbox bits all over the kitchen floor, Mum came in and was somewhat horrified to see the Yamaha on the middle of the dining table.   It just wasn't quite her idea of a centrepiece!  As her arguments fell on deaf ears, she retired to the lounge room shaking her head. 
When we had recovered all the parts we could find, we then had to ponder how we were going to get this gearbox back together again - remember, there was no manual.  Just imagine for a moment a three-dimensional jig-saw puzzle for which there was no picture and which we had never seen assembled before. 
Well with a little trial and error we somehow managed to assemble the correct gears and pinions on to the correct shafts and got all the bits back into the case again. Eventually we had also figured out how to reassemble the shifting mechanism and the automatic clutch and were ready to finally pull the cases together again.  Trouble was, we had two small parts left over and we had no idea where they belonged.  Finally we shrugged our shoulders and put the spare parts into the pannier bag in case the bike ever decided it needed them. 
After assembly was completed and new oil added to the gearbox, we started her up, still on the kitchen table, and tested the gears.  It selected all gears perfectly.  We lifted it down off the dining table and since it was far too cold outside for a test run, Mick decided to ride it up the passageway in the middle of the house.  Now just as he was thinking of doing so, the Jehovah's Witnesses, all wrapped up in thick coats and mittens, knocked at the front door.  I went to answer it and discovered who they were and gave Mick a nod.  He understood perfectly and from the opposite end of the house he absolutely gunned that little Yamaha straight towards the front door as I opened it wide.  Magnified by the confines of the passageway, the induction roar and the exhaust note of the accelerating Yamaha combined to howl like a tortured banshee.   Just to add to this cacophony, Mick pressed and held down the horn button as well.   Two startled JW's leapt backwards as Mick was just changing into third gear and the Yamaha came hurtling out through the front door like a bullet exploding from the barrel of a gun.. 
At the front step the Yamaha became airborne and completely cleared the front verandah and the steps down to the path landing neatly somewhere out in the middle of the front lawn which was conveniently covered in a good mixture of hail and sleet.  An experienced scrambles racer as well as a stunt rider, Mick dropped the flying Yamaha over into a power slide that would make any speedway rider green with envy.  After doing a few doughnuts, he circled the front yard, scrambled up the ramp at the end of the verandah and came powering along the verandah sending the JW's stepping backwards again out into the sleet.  Mick jumped the Yamaha off the other end of the verandah and took it around to the back yard and parked it in the motorbike shed. 
Meanwhile, during Mick's superb performance, my Dad, never one to miss a good show, had come to the door to see what was happening. 
With the wildly screaming Yamaha and its huge and lanky six foot plus rider safely out of harm's way around in the back shed, the two Jehovah's Witnesses gingerly stepped back onto the verandah, so Dad turned in towards the passage looking towards the other end of the house and yells out in a loud voice, "Hey boys!  These crazy jokers haven't taken the hint and left yet.  You'd better start up the Harleys!"
A stentorian voice from the back of the house, Mick had just come in the back door and heard Dad's shout, thundered back, "I'll just grab the knuckle dusters first, Dad, and we'll all be right there with you!"
We didn't have any Harleys inside of course, nor were there any knuckle dusters in our house, but our unwelcome visitors were not to know that.  At that point the two guys hurried off out into the driving sleet and we never saw them again.
But this still isn't the end of the story.  You remember those two gearbox parts that were left over?  Well, the next day when Mum was sweeping the kitchen, she found two more parts of the Yamaha gearbox under the kitchen cupboard, so we put them into the left pannier along with the other left-over parts. 
And over the next year or so that gearbox never missed a beat and we still have no idea of why it was jammed or of where those four spare parts should have been.  So when we were trading it in down at Pratt and Osborne Motors we told them about the parts in the pannier and they just looked at them and shrugged their shoulders.  Then we told them all about the day the parts got to be in the pannier instead of in the gearbox and the whole staff was just shrieking with laughter.
Motorbikes really are a lot of fun!
My sister thinks the incident with the Jehovah's witnesses was on a different day to the day we fixed the MJ2 gearbox and that I have mixed two stories rogether.  If so, it's a good read anyway!

Before leaving the MJ2, I simply must relate one hilarious incident that occurred in Victoria Street, Ballarat.  I was riding the Yamaha MJ2 homeward in drizzling rain when a little old lady in a black coat carrying an umbrella started crossing the road. I hit the horn and the brakes and instead of getting out of the way she started running along the road right in front of my front wheel the same way as I was going. I came to a full stop about a foot away from her, apologised for frightening her and tried to drive around her.
Well, she furled her umbrella and proceeded to chase me belting me over the top of my helmet over and over again and shouting all sorts of obscenities at me. I was enjoying the laugh so much that I didn't accelerate; just pottered along between the tram lines in first gear as she continued smashing her umbrella over the helmet. An oncoming tram approached. I saw in the rear vision mirror that there would be no traffic to worry about for a minute or two.  I kept riding slowly towards the tram with my assailant trotting along at my right side, puffing a little, but keeping up remarkably well for a lady of her age. At the last instant, the tram driver now clanging his bell incessantly, I did a 90 turn to the left off the tramline and accelerated away over to the side of the road. I then fell off the bike from laughing after a quick look over my shoulder showed me the dear old duck now belting the front of the tram with her brolly while the driver continually rang his bell to try to get her off the tracks.
My experience with that old bird was better than any of the feathered variety!

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This page was last updated on 07/02/08 at 07:16:25 Hong Kong Time.

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Copyright 1996 - 2010 Phil Smith, all rights reserved. All contents in this web site are provided as is without warranty of any kind. Phil Smith expressly disclaims any liability from the use of any information in this web site.

Note: for sections of some of the pages within this site attributed to [HKO]: the links and materials provided therein are supplied by the Hong Kong Observatory and the following Notice is applicable to those sections: Copyright Notice:   All weather information shown here, including but not limited to all text, graphics, drawings, diagrams, photographs and compilation of data or other materials are provided by the Hong Kong Observatory. Any reproduction, adaptation, distribution, dissemination or making available of such copyright works to the public is strictly prohibited unless prior written authorization is obtained from the Hong Kong Observatory.

Note that the e-mail address for Phil Smith (also known as "Doctor Disk") has been changed to phil DOT drdisk AT gmail DOT com with effect from 18th March 2006.  To use this e-mail address, in your e-mail program's "To" field, type out the words in blue replacing " AT " with "@" and replacing " DOT " with "." so that there are no spaces.  Sorry for the inconvenience, but my junk mail had passed 1,000 items per day.

 

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