Cool bikes and good stories go hand in hand. When you find a cool bike with a great back-story, it’s a hard combo to beat. Here’s the story of my old Triumph, “The 63”.
Sometime back in the early ’70s, my uncle bought this 1963 T100SS as a basket case. After rebuilding the bike and riding it for a number of years - and for some reason lost to fading memories, changing out the original tank for a ’71 or ’72 oil-in-frame Bonneville tank - he was looking to buy a riding lawnmower and needed cash. That’s when my old man stepped up and scooped it up.
My Dad rode it all over for years even getting my Mom on the back with their camping gear strapped to her and riding 5-6 hours north of their home in London, Ontario for a weekend of camping every so often. Eventually, Dad bought a ’72 Honda CB750 Four and the Triumph ended up coming off the road in 1980, never seeing the light of day again for the next 29 years. Over those nearly three decades it spent a long time in a garden shed then another 5 years or so stored in an old tobacco kiln along with a couple dirt bikes and a 3-wheeler - all of which (except the Triumph) were stolen one night. After that, it was back into my parents garden shed for about 15 years. By then I’d been riding for a while and got the idea that I’d like to try my hand at building a cool little bobber out of it. I asked my dad if I could tear it down and rebuild it the way I wanted and he he gave me the green light.
I’d never worked on motorcycles before and was more than a little intimidated at the thought of tearing the engine down and rebuilding it myself. It was a little daunting but talking with some local British bike guys and scouring the internet, I got it done. I left the valves alone but put in new pistons, rings, tappets/guides and push rods. Meanwhile, I sold my first motorcycle to pay for the parts, paint and everything else. A David Bird hardtail with 4” of stretch and 2.5” of drop, 5” ribbed rear fender with duck bill, an oil tank and 12” apes were at the top of my list.
Over the next year or so I started the build in my tiny garage, going as far as I could until I had to start welding. That’s when I took it to my parents’ place where my Dad was gracious enough to let me take up part of his shop for the next few years while I finished the bike. About a year into the build my wife gave birth to our first child. Now I had a son to eventually hand this bike down to! Now spending time with him and our new little family took priority over heading to my dad’s garage to work on the bike. Weeks and sometimes months passed between build sessions.
I made all the brackets and tabs as well as the kickstand but bought what I had no way of making myself and after a couple of setbacks that can only be chalked up to an amateur bike builder not knowing any better, I was able to assemble the bike and wire it - something else I’d never done. Finally, several months after I’d hoped it would be finished, it was actually done and I could take it for its first ride. I have to say, it was quite a cool feeling being able to actually ride the motorcycle that I’d put so much work into. As I was riding I was thinking about how over 30 years ago it was my old man riding this thing around with my Mom on the back and breaking down every now and then. I don’t know how much my Dad believed that this old Trumpet would ever be back on the road again - let alone rebuilt from front to back by his son - but he sure had a big smile on his face when we got it fired up for the first time!
A huge thanks goes to my Dad for the bike, the stories, all the help and the real estate in your garage for all those months. Thanks to my brother, Mike and my buddy, Brayden for the help making parts and advice on building a bike. And a big thank you also to my wife, Lisa for all your support through the good and the frustrating times during the build.
Words: Scott Campbell ~ Photographer: Scott Campbell Imaging ~ www.scottcampbellimaging.com