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Jampot Rallye 2018


I worked a half-day on Friday, went home, ate lunch, then rode the Norton to Ronnie's for the inspection. Bike started one kick, passed inspection, but I noticed a really wobble in the front at 35-40MPH. Slower is fine, faster is fine, but right there is the wobble.

I loaded the bike in my enclosed red trailer, then spent over an hour checking things off my list before taking off. Even with the list I still forgot to pack several things I wanted.

So now I'm towing on Siver road, about to turn south on Willow St., when I hear/feel a big clunk. I pulled over almost onto someone's lawn and discovered that the trailer had come off the ball. Yes you read that right. Only the chains were connecting it to my truck. Plus, the raise/lower handle on the trailer was now UNDER the bed of the pickup.

I honestly don't know what happened. The trailer went on the ball as usual, I put down the latch and padlocked it like always. The only thing I can figure is somehow that connector thing in the ball wound up in front of the ball instead of behind it. But if that happened how could it have allowed me to lock it down? In any case, with cars whizzing by, I was able to pull the truck off the raise/lower arm and reconnect. Then I'm there wrenching my back out trying to lift 2,000lbs of trailer off the ball again. What an #$#$ way to start out.

At the Blackthorne I set up my overhead canopy and just like that the whisky was flowing, and I do mean flowing. We had bottles of everything, including a 16 year old Speyside single malt that knocked my socks off.

I hit the inflatable mattress about 10PM, but I had no CPAP because there was no electric anywhere, and it actually went down to 32F and me with a light weight Chinese sleeping bag. I froze my nuts off in there. Really. I went to bed as a tenor and woke up as a soprano, that's how ##$# cold it was.

This morning (Sat.) I was a little hung-over, and not sleeping well wasn't good either. I went by truck to breakfast with Kahuna for life John Les. Then I rode the Norton down to Cairo to fill-up just in case I wanted to do the group ride. That Interstate tank took a whopping 6.35 gallons. I used to routinely go up to 300 miles on this bike which was always great. Still, that annoying 35-40MPH head shaking was still there.

This bike has kind of always done this. When I would ride to the Sportbike Rally in Ontario with my full tent/sleeping bag and kit on the luggage rack/back seat, if I as little as moved my feet from the main pegs to the rear pegs the bike would just about go into a tank slapper. So something is up. My immediate plan is to remove both wheels and balance them ( I think some of those cheap stick-on weights fell off along the way), change the fork oil, remove the fairing, and then loosen everything in the front end and re-tightening everything after allowing it all to settle (got this tip from a fellow Jampotter).

Anyway, I was feeling like crap so instead on going with Ben and the gang of their group ride to the Gas Up I just bailed and headed home. I was going to return tonight for the dinner but we have another event to attend tonight. Whatever. It was just good to see all my old Jampot buddies and be out on the Norton again.

Frank L. "Cranky Frankie" Palmeri, Risible Riding Raconteur & Writer


This past weekend was the Northeast USA Jampot Rally. “Jampot” rallies (there are several around the world) are AJS-Matchless events. I have been going to this one since 1983 when I learned about it from the Norton News. Matchlesses are sometimes thin on the ground, so Norton riders have always been welcome. P11s and other hybrids with Matchless frames are especially welcome. Also all other British bikes. Really, any bikes at all.

The big Antique MC Club meet at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck NY was also scheduled for Friday and Saturday. I figured to hit both events, on my Commando of course. Friday I got out of the house (in Albany NY) about 2:30, several hours later than planned. I had a really great ride down to Rhinebeck, featuring some sweet county roads in Green and Columbia Counties, connected by the Rip Van Winkle Bridge. The view of the Hudson River Valley from that bridge was just stupendous. That is to be expected, but the day was so perfect it set a new record of magnificence.

It was 4:30 by the time I got to the AMCA meet, so late they weren’t even charging admission (now $15) anymore. I didn’t have time to linger and skipped a lot, but it was pretty much the same-old, and the few odd bits hoped to find are just too odd. Everybody says traffic is down and business down even more. But I always find friends to touch base with, and sometimes an old Ironhead Sportster for sale that intrigues me.

Back over Rip’s Bridge and up NY 23 and 145 to East Durham and the Jampot. Nice cosy motel room (with a dinky little TV, so I caught a few minutes of World Cup), good food, nice beer, a wide range of whiskeys, and best of all a great bunch of folks with motorcycling in their blood. Six Matchlesses and one AJS were on hand, a better turnout than some recent years. My favorite: A 1965 Matchless G15CSR, a rare bike, and this one was just exquisite, with the factory swept back pipes and rearsets. It had a two-leading shoe Commando front brake, and someone put Concentrics on it before the current owner acquired it in 1975 (for $75 at age 19, and without knowing much at all about it).

Interestingly, when he got the bike it had Norton badges and the title documents say it is a Norton, although the model name is "Matchless-Atlas" or something like that. As the owner (Dave, from the eastern Connecticut shore) realized what he had, he decided that with the motor number “G” it had to be a Matchless and put the big M badges on the tank. I know of some owners who solve that dilemma by having “Norton” on one side of the tank, and “Matchless”on the other. Good idea.

Saturday I led an improved version of the ride to the Gas Up that I did last year. The Gas Up is a two-weekend event put on in Gallupville NY by the Hudson-Mohawk Chapter of the Pioneer Gas Engine Association. Displaying and operating old agricultural machinery is the focus, but certainly not the limit. Real steam shovels, oxen, all kinds of obsolete stuff is on hand to savor. The day was again beautiful, never too hot, even trolling around the Gas Up inspecting all the machinery. Had quite a chat with a guy who builds 7 1/4 inch gauge live steam trains, and the owner of a Susquehanna tunnel boat gave me a tour of the vessel and appurtenances. There were six of us riding, bikes ranging from a 2003 Triumph 1200cc full dress sport tourer, to a 350cc Matchless G3. The last governed the pace, so we had a very mellow ride, never topping 60 mph. The route was up and down and up again through the Catskill and Helderberg Mountains, so the little Matchless had to work hard but kept the pace pretty well. On the way back we stopped at the Green Wolf Tap Room in Middleburgh for some short beers in the cool.

Then we had a look at what I call the “ghost dragster”. This is a giant motorcycle sculpture by Stanton Segner welded out of old machinery and chrome car bumpers sitting off South Mountain Rd near Conesville. It is on private property, which showed all signs of being abandoned when I first came across it a year ago, but folks were home at the house across the street, so we parked down the way at an old cemetery, and walked down quietly.

Back at the rally there was more good food, more good beer, more good whiskey, more bench racing. By a straight shot, is is about 30 miles back home for me, but Sunday morning I did over a 100 miles, exploring the same country up to Middleburgh but using mostly alternate roads. Another beautiful day with my Commando running just about perfectly. I think I am on track to set a record for consecutive one-kick starts, the new Amal Premiere carbs having apparently finally settled in and adjusted to their new home.

Ben English

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