I had been hunting around for an MZ outfit for some time, since I now have 3 of us to go to rallies etc. I had hoped one would come up in the riders club Magazine and I had all but given up hope of finding one when by chance I looked on eBay (dangerous place eBay, every time I look at it I find something to by).and there it was. What was to become the bain of my life for some months? You see, as soon I saw it I had visions of getting us all to Storming the Castle, Id wanted to get us all to a rally for 4 plus years so I probably got a bit over enthusiastic to my cost.
It had a contact number, which I rang to check out a few details and was told there was some one else going round that evening. But having taken so long to find one I wasn’t going to let it go that easily.
My first problem was how to get it home. My trailer wouldn’t fit it and I couldn’t source another one. The chap said it was ride-able and if I could get down I could ride it home. I didn’t think this was a good idea as I hadn’t ridden an outfit for some years. Turned out that was a dam good decision. So hoping I could fit it on my trailer some how once I’d secured it, I decided to set of not wanting to lose any more time.
My next problem I wasn’t expecting. I thought that since I had sufficient funds in my account all I would need to do was call at a cash point on way out of town. Unfortunately it would only cough up £250 a day, for security reasons apparently. The nearest branch was 35 mile’s away and it was now half an hour from closing. So of I dashed 20 miles out of my way only to find the Bank had closed for the afternoon.
To say at this point that I was beginning to lose my sense of humor was an understatement, especially as time was evaporating. However some insistent knocking on the door got an answer and thankfully a very nice lady let me in and was able to sort the funds I needed and once I had extracted my self from Barnard Castle the journey to Darby was straight forward, the satnav coming through for me perfectly.
Once there I attempted to take it for a test drive but it immediately shout off to the right and attempted to plant me in a van parked on the opposite side of the road. Having expected it to pull towards the chair on the left I was sure it wasn’t setup right. The owner then jumped on and with me in the chare gave me a terrifying test run round the block. It certainly ran all right, and hoping it just needed setting up right and some TLC decided t hand over me dosh.
Than came the problem of getting it on the trailer. I had thoughts of putting on its side, but once faced with it that was obviously a non starter. In the end I ended up removing one side board from the trailer and sawed off it’s back left stanchion. Then with several strong tie down straps made the outfit secure to the trailer.
All formalities done we set off back and all was well until I got up some speed on a main road then the car and trailer stared swimming. I slowed down gently, as anything but the lightest touch on the breaks would have sent us out of control. It was obvious there wasn’t enough down force on the tow hitch. I transferred as much weight as I could to the front of the trailer. The spare tire, tools, all the spare parts and spare battery I carried at the time as the car occasionally flattened it own. Thankfully this sorted it out and as long as I kept my speed down was ok till we got gingerly home. Once there I was knackered and just left it all on trailer for the night and got myself the right side of a whisky n ginger wine.
I spent most of the next day welding and putting my trailer to rights. Then I had a look at what Id got. I'd spent some time on the phone to Squire’s who made the side car and the fount of all knowledge where MZ's are concerned Fred Rogers. With their information to hand and a copy of the “Sidecar Manual” by Hal Kendall I set to weighing it up. Now I like to be generous and think the chap didn’t know what he was on about, but the thing was in a hell of a state. The first thing I noticed was the front forks twisting every time you applied the breaks. It was not helped by the pinch bolts in the lower yoke being only finger tight add that was only the start. From then on for the next few months every time I spent time on the outfit I found more and more wrong. The list seemed endless; the front tyre had a bulge in it the break hose was fkd. The tyre’s on the bike where under inflated by 20 psi and the one on the chare was up at 60psi instead of the 20 quoted me by Squire’s. The tracking was set slightly out and should have been 3/4" in. The friction steering damper which is so essential on an outfit was oiled, a lot, and therefore useless. The forks had no oil and the seals where almost nonexistent. The only bit of the electrics that seemed ok was the ignition and even that proved a bad and assumption.
There was too many more to mention but after much work with chalk lines on my drive and soaking of damper parts in break cleaner, welding of damper pates, making of fork brace, new front tyre, rewire and move ignition switch etc, etc, etc she seemed ok. It was nearly a new bike by the time I’d finished on it spending nearly as much as I'd spent on the thing in the first place getting it working right........ish. It was certainly that if I had tried to ride it home if I’d still be going round the first roundabout I came to if not dead.
By the time of Storming the Castle came she seemed all ok and we set off 3 up with full camping gear. She went great until we where up top the A66 and the ignition started playing up. I turned her round and being mostly down hill, limped her home. The following day myself and stepson got up to Storming on the Griphin.
Even more work followed with the ignition having a bothersome fault that came and went until I changed the coil and then that seemed ok. The rear shock’s were damaged with the adjusters broken off on both sides. Another set had come with it but the damper units were u.s. To get the left hand shocker off would have required removing the chair and as it was ruing true I didn’t want to disturb it. In the end I managed to compress it on the outfit using ratchet straps and unscrew it from its top mounting eye leaving the eye on the bike. Once rebuilt it was a bit more of a challenge to get on but after the loss of a few knuckles it was done and the difference 3 up was outstanding. I also found a parcel rack in my garage that had the same profile as the back of the chair on part of it so I cut it up and modified it to fit.
Finally it managed to get us to the Farmyard Party, all up inc metal camping beds and tent big enough to stand up in (the Missis insists on some comfort). It even went up Sutton Bank (with a gradient of 1 in 4, or 25%) with out complaining even passing a few newer sole bikes that seemed to have given out. Mind you I had threatened it in no uncertain terms that if it let us down this time I would be cutting my losses on it.
As I write the ignition has started playing up again (the whole thing has been replaced.......much puzzlement) but she’s great fun and very useful to nip through town to get young one from school. The dog also likes going in it, even having his own goggles found on eBay called doggles.
Most good things seem to be born of pain they say (I can remember few moments with all the bikes I’ve restored or chopped) and she is now firmly in my vehicle pool.
O yes, the name Strawberry came from a character in a film (Cheech & Chong’s Up In Smoke) who rode an outfit.
This page added..07/10/10