This was the first motorcycle author Calvin Danells ever rode, and he never forgot about it
Story by Calvin Danells
Photos by: Robert Calnen
It all started back in 1967, when my next-door neighbour in Lancaster, N.B., Geoff, purchased a used Triumph 350. I marvelled at that bike every time I saw it, and after about two years of asking – or more like begging – for a ride, Geoff allowed me to ride the bike across his back lawn. At the tender age of just 13, that was my very first ride on a motorcycle. The love of riding was ingrained in me right then and there. Geoff sold the Triumph to his brother Peter in 1969, and over the next several years, I rode that Triumph many times, and purchased a few bikes of my own, including a BSA 250 and a Honda 175, but none could replace the Triumph.
In 1973, the bike was used as a prop in the Saint John High School play Annie Get Your Gun. Peter continued riding the bike until 1976, when, due to some mechanical issues, it was parked in his basement. That same year, I joined the Navy and moved to Halifax; I lost contact with Peter for several years. At this point I had a family and a career, and motorcycling was just not in the cards for me.
In 1992, I decided to get back into motorcycling and purchased a 1976 Honda CB 750F. I rode that bike for a few years, but never forgot about my first ride on the Triumph. A few years later I purchased a 1984 Gold Wing, and I have been riding Gold Wings ever since – my current ride is a 2015 GL 1800. I consider myself an avid motorcyclist and have travelled to all but four of the United States, and every province in Canada on the Wing, many of them several times. I’ve been known to ride 200 km just for lunch.
Over the past several years, I have stayed in touch with Peter, and I often inquired about the Triumph, always asking if he would consider selling it to me; after all, it hadn’t seen the light of day since 1976. Peter always responded with a firm no. But finally, in January 2016, Peter agreed to sell me the bike. I guess persistence does pay off.
The Resurrection Begins
I wanted to bring the Triumph back to its former glory and revive my childhood love affair. So thus began the resurrection; once the bike was in my garage, the long process began. The first item of business was to acquire overhaul manuals and some British Standard and British Standard Whitworth sockets and wrenches. After a few months of searching both online and locally, I finally had the manuals and the needed tools.
The teardown began in July 2016. The first step was to remove and strip down the engine – and I soon found out it was in much worse shape than expected. After remembering all the abuse we as teenagers put that bike through, its condition really shouldn’t have been a big surprise. In fact, it’s a wonder the Triumph survived at all. Not only did the engine require a complete rebuild, but most of the internal components were beyond repair and needed replacing – even the crankshaft and cylinders were toast. After a lot of online searching and many phone calls, I finally located every engine part needed, and believe it or not, all were NOS (new old stock) parts.
Following many hours of sanding and polishing, the original engine covers looked new, and I assembled the engine. The…