Today marks the 10-year anniversary of the first post I wrote about Bultakenstein. At the time, I called it “Project X.” The project is still officially ongoing, though I haven’t touched Bultakenstein in six months. It currently sits in between a couple of other project bikes to one side of my shop. It’s currently wearing its older BSA “mockup” tank; the pretty red one is safely in a box, wrapped in foam sheets.
I won’t rehash too much of how this project started; you can just go back and read the first post if you’re interested. But I wanted to look back on this remarkable anniversary, and reflect on how far I’ve come and where I am on this journey now.
- It’s remarkable to me how totally foolish I was to attempt such an involved and audacious project. How ill-equipped I was to attempt something like this. I had very few tools; I think a bench-top Craftsman drill press was the most sophisticated power tool I possessed. I had never even attempted to use a welder, run a lathe, or tap threads.
- My lack of skills caused me functional myopathy. Limiting myself to only those processes I understood and felt I could undertake successfully led me to take many of my initial steps the hard way, and I ended up doing a lot of rework over the years as I ran up against poor earlier choices.
- I was really fortunate that I chose this forum to document this build. People such as Geeto, kenessex, o1marc and a host of others (mostly long gone) gave me great ideas, helped me cut through the fog of my ignorance, and kept me from building something rickety and dangerous. I am sorry this forum has devolved into a shell of what it was, but I am grateful for how instrumental it was to my early progress. That’s why I feel compelled to keep this thread going for those who remain.
- There were a few points where it became apparent that what I was building had strayed from the mental concept that was originally in my head. As hard as it was, I am glad I spent the money and effort to jettison parts and reconstruct assemblies to stay faithful to the bike I wanted to end up with.
- This has been damned expensive. I intended this to be a spare-time/spare-money endeavor. I promised my wife this wouldn’t spend more than $40/month or 8 hours per week on this. I thought I could do it in 2–3 years. My current tally is about $54 per month for ten years. And that doesn’t include the lathe my wife bought me for my birthday during this time.
- The unexpected expenses and difficulties usually don’t hinge on the big components that make up the basic chassis. It’s the stuff that wears out and has to be replaced with new on any old bike: cables, bearings, seals, and sprockets. Also, the paint stripper, the raw metal stock, the fasteners and hardware, the hole saws and cut-off wheels. Those are the expenses you never consider, and never recoup in any restoration’s resulting value.
I am sure some people look at what I have, after so much time, and expect me to feel like a failure, or at least express some sheepishness or regret. Well, I don’t. One of the traits this project taught me is perseverance. Sometimes, staying committed to a project with such slow, halting progress is mentally harder than a big, overwhelming push to see it through all at once. Also, I always knew this project was about what I would learn along the way. Even if it never runs, I have learned SO much! My fabrication skills are a thousand times more advanced than they were ten years ago, and it shows in just about every workshop project I do.
If I have any misgivings, it’s how readily I’ve relegated this bike to the back burner, sometimes for years, to make other bikes my priority. Along the way, I completed my CL125S resto-mod and over the past six months, I’ve made comparatively surprising progress on my current CVT-powered mongrel. I don’t know how long the current hiatus on Bultakenstein will last, but I still fully intend to get ‘er on the road someday. In the meantime, I wouldn’t have had the skills to attempt either of those bikes if not for what Bultakenstein taught me first.