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About Occhio Lungo

This site exists to help get more people excited about early machines.  They can be very reliable and loads of fun when used as intended.  And they are not as expensive as you might think.  Working on them is fun, somewhat simple and very rewarding.  Ride an old bike.  More Smiles Per Mile ™

“occhio lungo” was described to me by an Italian friend. Directly translated it means ‘long eye’, but indirectly it means something like: ‘a person who has seen things, and who might use that information to mess with you.’

About me: My name is Pete. I’m just a guy who likes old technology.  Old motorbikes and cars had very inventive ways to move people down the road, and some vehicles did it better than others.  New bikes are interesting too, but for me, the exciting stuff was done 100 years ago.  The list of 100 year old tech is long, but it includes things like disc brakes, telescoping forks and monoshock rear suspensions, electric starters, clutches, gearboxes, water cooled two strokes, steam power, electric vehicles, even hybrids.  They were all in existence 100 years ago.

To view the articles of various subjects, you can use the Table of Contents page just underneath the header photo of my dirty hands.

You can also use the SEARCH box on the bottom right to type in whatever you are looking for.  It will search all the articles on all the pages of this site, but will not search the entire internet.

I write articles sporadically as time permits. If you would like to receive an email each time something new is created, just click the button on the right of this page titled “Sign Me Up!” Or you can follow OL on Facebook by clicking on that other button.  The Facebook page has a lot of random photos, images, notes and comments that are not written into the longer form articles on these pages. The Instagram feed is just photos of old junk without much text.

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All text and images copyrighted Pete Young 2010-2014, except where noted.  Please ask if you would like permission to use this content.  Larger format images are usually available for your use, but are troublesome to post full size on this site.

71 Comments leave one →
  1. Adam permalink
    March 7, 2010 1:47 am

    Hi there, great blog, was wondering where all the images of the vintage posters come from? Reason being I am trying to put together and article about Italian vintage posters, been in touch with the curator of one of the biggest collections in Italy, but having no luck…thanks!

  2. Pete Young permalink*
    March 7, 2010 8:04 pm

    Hi Adam. Lots of posters can be found via ebay. Or google searches for poster dealers. You can also try google image searches for specific marques. Happy hunting.
    pete

  3. March 19, 2010 2:17 am

    Pete…. I love the stuff you are doing… the best out there. Please keep it up! Such fun!!!
    —-
    Stephen Pate
    Restoration Werks

    • Pete Young permalink*
      March 19, 2010 9:29 am

      Thanks Stephen. The big dilemma is how to find time to ride the bikes and work in the shop, plus time to write, photograph and edit articles for this site. I’ll never be able to post something every single day, but I hope to create longer pieces as time permits.

      Ciao,
      Pete

  4. April 9, 2010 11:30 pm

    hello….just found your site via shinya’s site….i love it and will be watching …..thanks matt

  5. May 2, 2010 8:41 pm

    Recently came across your site wich I truly apprechiated.

    Keep on your god work.

    Regards
    Sverre Gerber
    AMcN
    Norway

  6. May 2, 2010 8:43 pm

    Oops. Did put the wrong link for my blogspot site. Feel fre to check this out;
    http://AmericanMotorcyclesNorway.blogspot.com

    Sverre
    AMcN
    Norway

  7. October 1, 2010 8:49 am

    Love your blog. It was great meeting you all in Vacaville & checking out your bikes!! Wow, what a thrill!!

  8. November 10, 2010 11:46 am

    Hi Pete, nice jobs. I love you site ! Keep going. I am angry becouse last august I finished my trip coast to coast along the USA and the historic 66, and I finished in SF. It would be a great opportunity to meet you and the classic motorcycle world in SF.

    Best wishes

    Francisco
    Spain

  9. Charles Boyd permalink
    November 15, 2010 8:42 pm

    Pete, I found your bog through the loopframe Guzzi group, but not in time to make any of the recent rides. Can you post any upcoming rides in the bay area? I’m in Santa Rosa and would enjoy the rides.
    Thanks for the great blog, Charlie

  10. michael eades (aka lowflyer) permalink
    January 24, 2011 1:11 pm

    g’day, thanks for taking the time to share your enthusiasm so we can enjoy as well. the engineering side of your perceptive observations (electric motorbike, rear engined v8-60 hot rod/sports car, & bell-cranked, twin shock, hot rod rear suspension) were particularly enjoyed + the photography!!!. i have a very catholic &/or eclectic taste in cars, bikes, aircraft etc, so your interesting views will be welcomed. michael

  11. Jim Crain permalink
    December 13, 2011 12:49 pm

    Hey Pete, Prepping a 1927 BSA side valve 500 for the Cannonball. I am making the big jump into older bikes with this effort and frankly know little about early bikes. Any thoughts on prepping a bike for the Cannonball? I am rider number 42 if you want to see me and the bike. Thanks for your great website! Jim

    • December 14, 2011 7:44 am

      Hello Jim. My advice is to get the bike ready as early as possible, then to ride it as much as possible. If you can do several rides of a few hundred miles each, you will learn a bit about what the bike needs. For example, you might find that the screws that hold the fuel tank onto the frame tend to unscrew and fall out (many early bikes had these screws under the tank, and upside down). They might want to be drilled and safety wired. Or maybe the nuts that tighten the transmission tend to work loose and change the tension in the drive chains. Things like that can only be found by riding. You’ll also learn about the fuel and oil consumption per mile, or the best place to set the footrests or handlebar levers for your comfort.

      good luck, and have fun!

  12. Jim Crain permalink
    December 15, 2011 11:11 am

    Pete, Thanks for the advice. I am certain that you are right but easier said than done in my experience. My BSA has brakes but they are not much. Thoughts on mods to improve them? I was planning on careful building with modern materials but not sure this is enough for safety. Thanks for your thoughts. Jim

    • December 15, 2011 11:36 am

      Relining the brakes will help, but try to get some of the old asbestos material if you can. And make sure to mount the shoes on the brake plate, then turn them in the lathe to be round and to the size of the drum. Keep grease off the linings, and make sure that you have good, large diameter cables. When you mount the wheel, be sure that you actuate the brake arm to centralize the brakes in the drum before you tighten up the axle nuts. And don’t let the brake arms travel past 90 degrees of actuation.

  13. Jim Crain permalink
    December 16, 2011 12:57 pm

    Hi Pete, Thanks again for the sage advice. I will do what you suggest for my brakes. Did you have a spare set of shoes along in your Cannonball ride. Suggestions for sources for the heavy duty cables and asbestos linings? Soon I promise to stop asking for hand holding! Jim

    • December 16, 2011 2:39 pm

      I didn’t bother with a spare set of shoes. We didn’t use our brakes enough to wear out a set on our ride. I probably would have been fine without the front brake that I installed, but it is safer to have one. I make my own cables with parts from Flanders or Motion Pro. Brake material from eBay or Safeteck in the UK, but the local 18 wheeler shops also have a good supply of brake material.

  14. David King permalink
    February 11, 2012 6:26 pm

    Hi, i’m the nephew of alistair king whom you have mentioned on for site several times. He raced nortons, ajs 7r’s, and numerous other bikes during the 50’s and 60’s successfully. Thanks for keeping the name alive.
    David King

  15. April 25, 2012 11:45 pm

    Hi there
    Thankyou for the fantastic tribute to Frank Farrington you wrote. I am Franks step-son, and Dorothy, Franks wife and my mum, thought it was a fitting and kind tribute.

    you will be pleased to know that efforts are underway to republish Radco’s book once again. In the interest of fairness, any unauthorised use of pdf files or copies of his book are frowned upon and a breach of copyright laws as i am sure you would appreciate.

    However, i have sugested that both electronic versions as well as the good old hardback old school version be considered if the publishing goes ahead.

    We will keep you posted.
    many thanks again
    Nick Roberts

  16. July 16, 2012 1:07 pm

    Hi Pete,

    Very cool to see Boardtrackers being ridden in Germany! I have Excelsior #004 for sale, if someone wants an OHC Boardtracker for their collection…

    Best regards,

    Paul Brodie

  17. Simon permalink
    October 1, 2012 12:04 pm

    Hi Pete,

    You have made a wonderful site, with fascinating photos and interesting stories and comments. I particularly enjoyed seeing two Velocette legends in in the same picture: Ivan Rhodes and Whiffling Clara.

    I have unsuccessfully been trying to contact the VOCNA and the corresponding Yahoo site in order to join. However, I have not received a response to either application. Any help in contacting the appropriate people would be most appreciated.

    Best regards,

    Simon

    • October 1, 2012 12:53 pm

      Hello Simon. Thank you for your comments. I have sent your email and your address to the VOCNA club membership Secretary Dick Casey and the Yahoo group admin Paul d’Orleans. I’m sure that you’ll hear from them both very quickly.

  18. Patches permalink
    October 21, 2012 1:22 pm

    I recently came across a picture of you on google standing next to a vintage Harley Davidson road racing bike with the race number 55. Wondering if this is your bike, one you bought, or where it was taken as it looks like my late uncle Roger reimans race bike

    • October 21, 2012 3:36 pm

      I don’t recall the bike, but I’ll help if I can. Do you have a link to the photo?

  19. Anonymous permalink
    October 29, 2012 1:39 am

    Hi Pete, I’ve written an article for Keep Britain Biking about Mike Wild’s Cannonball Endurance Run and I spotted your pic of his moose horn. Would you mind if I used this image on our blog (giving you credit and preserving your watermark of course)? I can be reached on info@keepbritainbiking.com Thanks! https://occhiolungo.files.wordpress.com/2012/09/horn.jpg

    • October 29, 2012 7:28 am

      Sure, feel free to use any of the C’ball photos. And thank you for giving me the photo credit.

  20. Roger Klopfenstein permalink
    November 6, 2012 7:22 pm

    rodklop

    Hi Pete….What a great article on tires. Would like to share some of the “potentially life saving info” with friends who ride on clincher tires. I would be sure to credit your site as the source….Thanks..Rod

    • November 6, 2012 7:58 pm

      No problem Rod. I hoped that this website would help get more people excited about early machines, and if there is anything you’d like to share from here, then feel free to do it. If you can include a link back to Occhiolungo, that would be great.

  21. November 7, 2012 2:51 pm

    Hello Pete hope you are well? I have put a link to your site on my own blog vintageshed to help spread the word. Here in the UK the winter is slowly making its presence known so it will be back to my proper shed to do some tinkering, also I will be wracking my brains for suitable posts for the vintageshed in the winter months. Great site Pete and keep up the good work, and roll on next years warm nights….fingers crossed we may even get a decent summer in the UK for 2013.

    • November 7, 2012 5:15 pm

      Thanks for the link Kendo. I also put one up Vintageshed a while back on the “100 Links” page. You’ve got some great stuff on there. Try to stay warm this winter! 🙂

  22. December 22, 2012 6:15 pm

    Hi Pete, Merry Xmas. Great site & articles, I’m putting together a Technical encyclopedia/ reference volume devoted to Triumphs 1904 to 1984. The Triumph Oracle. Some of your How to articles are universal, can I use excerts of text & illustrations, with the courtesy of links to your site, Regards CHRIS……….

    • December 28, 2012 11:23 am

      Yes, of course you can use them Chris. I like to spread the word, and get more folks excited by early motorbikes. Just include a credit or a link if you can.
      Take care,
      Pete

  23. Dean Smallacombe permalink
    January 13, 2013 2:17 am

    Pete ,Re the hub try Beaded Edge Tyre Supplies here in South Australia.Your search engine should find it.his email is forthy@picknowl.com.au Regards Dean

    • January 13, 2013 10:17 am

      Thanks Dean. I had found his site last night, and I’m awaiting his reply today! 🙂

  24. David Irvine permalink
    January 17, 2013 8:43 am

    Pete: Great site, thanks for sharing your vintage expertise. Can you suggest a US source for the dummy belt rim type brake rims as used on my 1923 BSA H2? UK’s VMCC has them but won’t sell them to US customers, and I’ve not seen an advertiser for such in the AMCA journal. Thanks! DTI

    • January 17, 2013 10:50 am

      Hello Dave. I haven’t ever seen a US vendor selling V belt pullies / dummy brake rims. It is a big pain that the VMCC won’t sell V pulleys to the USA or Canada (or brake blocks, tires, tubes, rims and maybe some other parts too). I’ve never found out the exact reason that they will not do it, other than they think that they need some type of insurance. What type? Who knows, as plenty of companies sell old motorcycle parts to the USA, and the VMCC sells many things, but not wheel parts. Paranoia exists in many forms…

      But you can have a friend in the UK buy an item, and have them send it to you. I’ve done that in the past. Other sources are available in Australia, NZ and Europe. Try http://www.vintagetin.com.au/ or or http://en.vintage-motorcycle.com/index.php?language=en&site=4&pid=119 or http://www.bertpol-vintagemotorcycles.com/GB%202.htm, but Bert Pol won’t sell to USA either…

      good luck.
      Pete

    • January 17, 2013 10:56 am

      PS, when you get a belt rim, make sure to check it over well. Mine looked round, but when I mounted it on the wheel, and checked how the brake shoe contacted it, I found that there was a flat spot where the rim was welded. It was bad enough that the brakes weren’t going to work well. It took an hour or so with a hammer and dolly to make it round and smooth. If it was a little worse it would have required cutting and welding, then hammer and dolly work.

  25. John Cox permalink
    February 18, 2013 7:37 pm

    Hi Pete. Is it OK if I put part of your review of Modern Motorcycle Mechanics 2nd Edition in our Vintage Motorcycle Club’s newsletter (in Australia). It was a fine artcle. Keep up the good work and look after that 1913 Velo!

    • February 18, 2013 9:11 pm

      of course John. I’m glad to get anybody interested in old bikes. Books like that one show us all that we can ride and enjoy them with just a bit of effort.

  26. Anonymous permalink
    April 9, 2013 6:27 am

    Pete

    I really enjoyed this last installation of occhio lungo. The V-twin Norton looks great and should keep the rider’s right leg warm. I don’t think you do modern bikes but I finally got started on my 71? Ducati 450 Scrambler and 350 Sebring engines. Your site/blog helps keep the energy going. Keep going if you can!

    Bob
    Brandon, Manitoba
    Canada

  27. June 20, 2013 1:35 pm

    Hi Pete, Hope you enjoyed the Banbury Run and your machine behaved itself, I have updated vintageshed with some images, the Ajay went a treat and I had a wonderful day.

    all the best Kendo UK

  28. englandkev permalink
    July 27, 2013 11:33 pm

    Hi Pete great blog, I have added a link over on my blog here
    http://backstreetthunder.wordpress.com/

    Cool stuff, keep at it.
    Kevin.

  29. deb permalink
    October 29, 2013 8:30 pm

    Hi Pete! Hope to ride my 1967 in next years SF 49. My man has a 1975…is that technically *legal* for the ride or does it have to be PRE ’75?? Thanks!
    deb

  30. deb permalink
    October 29, 2013 8:45 pm

    Sweet!!🙂 Thanks Pete!! I have and love a 1967 Honda Dream (the color of Tomatoe Soup!). Stacs is a 75 honda CB6750 SuperSport. Looking forward to this in….less than a year!!🙂

  31. January 17, 2014 11:05 am

    Hi Pete, Kim. I’m in the UK and building up a MKI KSS that I bought in 1961 and never touched until this winter. I loved the photo of Pete with the KSS at the Grand Canyon, especially as I have stood on that very rock whilst driving west-east across the States in 2007. Mine is in bits ATM and scheduled for rebuild this coming spring.

    Kim Siddorn.

    • January 17, 2014 11:22 am

      That sounds great Kim! Good luck with the build. Take lots of photos, and send them to us.

  32. Simon Waters permalink
    January 25, 2014 10:14 am

    Hello Pete,

    I continue to enjoy your engrossing site: not only the pictures and stories of interesting bikes but also the fascinating people intertwined with the machines. I anticipate my own Velo (Venom) will be ready to send out from the UK to the Rocky Mountains soon, after a long re-commissioning (and an even longer, 30-year sleep in the back of my brother’s garage). I was wondering if you have any advice on intercontinental shipping of these precious machines after your experiences in sending the 1913 Veloce back and forth across the Atlantic in 2013. Maybe the bike and I can make the 2014 VOC-NA Rally in Idaho/Montana in a few months, after the excruciatingly-long gestation period preceding the rebirth of this particular Velo.

    Cheers,

    Simon

    • January 25, 2014 11:06 am

      Hello Simon. Congratulations on your imminent Velo arrival! You should definitely attend the Velo rally in Idaho. Even if you have to ride another marque bike. It is the best rally in the world (but possibly tied by the Irish). As for bike shipping, I used Fedex. Essentially I mailed the bike to myself at another address. The Fedex team was great, and delivered the crated directly to the front door of my friend’s house in England, unloading it off the truck, clearing customs, etc. It cost just a little more than sea freight and took only 5 days. Good luck, and I hope to see you in Idaho.

  33. January 28, 2014 8:03 am

    Great Blog Pete, the bikes, the info and the people you write about are a heady mix, especially for a motorhead like me. Keep it coming, that’s a fine job that you’re doing!

  34. Bevars Binnie permalink
    March 12, 2014 12:05 pm

    Hi Pete – are you going to be at the Bakersfield Swap Meet, or will you be in England doing the Pioneer run? My wife and I will be in San Francisco for a bout 5 days from 3rd April, then going to Bakersfield and would like to catch up with you in person if that was possible.

  35. Adi R permalink
    June 17, 2014 1:04 pm

    Hello Pete,
    A while ago I have found a true barn find, a dismantled AJS model D motorcycle which included a V twin motor with half AMAC carb, gear box, Lucas magdyno (I guess), frame (laying in an olive grove) and the chair that was literally buried in the ground. it all cost me a swap of an old air glider.
    The frame and girder fork are in rough condition, also many parts are missing, fuel tank, wheels, small parts and more, I estimate about 50% motorcycle.
    I understood it will be a big and long project (10 years?) so I had many hesitations, but it is a chance for a pre-war machine that will not come back and eventually I have decided to go down that road and restore it. This inspiring site played a role in my decision.
    Thank you,
    AdiR

    • June 18, 2014 10:02 am

      That is great Adi. Any old rusty machine can be rebuilt with enough time and effort. Good luck with your project, and let us all know how things progress.

  36. lovedubs permalink
    July 15, 2014 8:18 am

    Hi Pete, Colin here from the Online Bicycle Museum. Great write-up. I’ve recently bought an unmotorised forecar and would like your permission too use some of your forecar pics to illustrate the motorised versions on its museum website page. Hope that’s OK. All the best, Colin
    http://www.oldbike.eu

    • July 15, 2014 3:24 pm

      Sure Colin. Just mention OcchioLungo as the source for photos. I can also send you copies at higher resolution if you like.

  37. Akiko H. permalink
    August 15, 2014 8:28 pm

    Hi Pete – Although I’ll miss the 49 Mile ride, glad I got to see some great bikes on last weekend’s Rigid Ride. Thought I’d share some of the photos I took before you all took off for the ride. https://www.flickr.com/photos/100975240@N06/sets/72157646345652995/

  38. Anonymous permalink
    November 19, 2014 2:34 am

    Hi Pete – enjoying your site immensely. I would be grateful if you would allow me to use some of the articles from your site in our club magazine. I would be pleased to acknowledge the source. With all the valuable information contained my only problem is finding enough time to search as thoroughly as necessary.
    Phill F

    • November 19, 2014 9:12 am

      Phill, That sounds fine. By the way, which club is it?

      • Anonymous permalink
        December 2, 2014 12:01 am

        Hi Pete. Indian Harley Vintage Club, NSW, Australia. I would also like to put articles in the members section of our website. ihvc.org.au . I have just taken over the management of the site and am looking to tidy it up and find interesting articles for our members section. One of our members threw a beaded edge tyre off his 23 Harley with a fair amount of damage to him and the bike. I know he will be interested in the article on tyre pressures for beaded edge tyres. Regards Phill

      • December 2, 2014 11:16 am

        Sounds great Phill.

  39. Tim Piller Jim Cameron's grandson permalink
    June 2, 2015 11:13 am

    Hi I recently inherited my grandpas BSA, I used to go to trial events all the time with him, so I was stoked when I finally got to rescue that bike out of a distant shed. Long story short, I am looking for any pictures of grandpa Jim and or any info or pics of other bikes he rode. I regret my kids couldn’t have met him, but I am teaching them how to ride like he did with me…..and showing them how much better the experience is on old bsa’s and other vintage bikes than this new “stamped out” crap. If you know anyone that could help, I appreciate it, Tim Piller timothypiller@hot mail.com

    • June 2, 2015 12:47 pm

      Hi Tim. I’ll look around to see if I can find anything. I have pics of John and Dee, but I don’t think that I have any of Jim. The Boozefighters club might have some in their archives?

  40. Andy Seitz permalink
    August 1, 2015 5:10 pm

    Any tips for installing replacement tires on a 1941 Swiss Armee Modell? I have some new Deestone 26 x 1 1/2 tires but have never done these before. My original tires have dry rotted to the point of being unusable. Thanks!

  41. Andy permalink
    August 3, 2015 9:05 am

    Thanks!!!

  42. Gaylene Tompkins permalink
    September 16, 2016 6:53 pm

    Hi, don’t know who does your history but they got the spelling of Shorty Tompkins and Jack Gormley wrong. It may not mean much to anyone else, but does to those of us still carrying on the legacy. Whitie Tompkins (Shorty’s brother) was my father in law, a racer in his own right though not as well known as Shorty. Thanks for listening, hope whoever monitors your sight has the respect to correct the spellings.

    • September 19, 2016 9:25 am

      Hi Gaylene. No disrespect was intended by the accidental misspelling of the names. I’ve searched through the site and updated them. If you have more photos or stories to tell about Shorty, Whitie and the other guys, there are a lot of readers who are interested to learn more.

      Regards,
      Pete

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