A chance meeting with the owner of a neighbouring shop led to a search for parts and a new build
Welder and fabricator Corrie Brewster was living life in the fast lane. His busy shop, Brewster West Industries in Turner Valley, Alta., was seeing a fair amount of traffic through its doors. But, because his house was on the property, Brewster would end up working long hours and would never really leave the shop behind, even when he did go home.
So he decided to separate work from home, and bought a property in nearby Okotoks.
“It was time to slow down a bit, and simply change gears,” Brewster says, adding, “That meant moving away from the shop.” Although a passionate off-road motorcyclist with a racing background, Brewster has also owned a small number of street bikes. “With my move to Okotoks, though, it crossed my mind that I now have a bit of a commute, and I thought a little Triumph bobber would be fun to ride back and forth.”
But what made Brewster think a classic Triumph would be a good basis for a custom build? It turns out, Brewster West Industries is just across the street from Motorrad Performance, a specialty motorcycle shop owned by Paul Shore. Motorrad had relocated from Calgary to Turner Valley, and because Brewster’s is a metal fabrication shop, Shore began popping in.
“Paul was coming around to get some help with a few pieces for a Triumph bobber he was building, and then he brought the project over,” Brewster says. “When I saw it, I thought the Triumph was really cool, and mentioned to Paul that I thought I needed to build one of my own.”
Bits and Pieces
With that simple comment, Brewster began accumulating parts for his inaugural full-out custom build. The first item he got was a 1967 Triumph frame found on eBay, and when it arrived in Turner Valley, he also bought a David Bird hardtail section from Lowbrow Customs. The project waited for a couple of months, and then Brewster got serious about finding running gear for the bobber.
“I found a guy in Calgary who had abandoned his 1969 Triumph Bonneville build, but the bike had a rebuilt motor with a 750 big-bore kit,” Brewster explains. “He’d given up on the bike, and he wouldn’t sell the motor separately from the rest of the parts he had.” No problem. Brewster simply bought the bike, kept the engine and many other pieces, including the distinctive Triumph “eyebrow” tank badges and Lucas electrical components, and sold the rest.
With the frame and engine in the shop, Brewster got down to business. He sourced an oil-in-frame Triumph front fork, and because he was after a low and chubby look, he managed to squeeze a 4.50-18-inch Dunlop K70 between the legs. Both front and rear wheels are 18 inches in diameter, and Triumph aficionado Bob Klassen of Calgary built them up around vintage Triumph spool hubs. Components for the wheels were sourced from Buchanan’s Spoke & Rim of Azusa, California.
The lower fork legs were modified by removing the stock fender mounting bosses, and the area around the upper oil seal was machined down to accept rubber gaiters. Because of his penchant for off-road motorcycles, Brewster mounted a set of Pro Taper motocross handlebars in a set of Yamaha YZ450 rubber-mounted clamps. To measure both speed and kilometres travelled, an aftermarket Emgo speedometer tops off the front end, together with a reproduction Lucas headlight bucket that incorporates an amp gauge and lighting switch – all on custom-made brackets.
“I don’t like to see exposed springs, and I didn’t want a sissy bar or any rear fender struts,” Brewster says of his Triumph design. To make this happen, he suspended the solo seat on a shock absorber system originally intended to fit a mountain bike. The components sit under the top frame rail, and between the twin-Mikuni carburetors. The ribbed rear fender is thick 14-gauge sheet metal, and Brewster mounted it to the frame on the custom brackets.
The slim gas tank is meant to fit a 1963 Triumph, and it’s been rubber-mounted and modified to sit about three-quarters of an inch lower than stock. Brewster also had to relocate the petcocks, because in the stock location, which had them sitting vertically, the taps wouldn’t clear the carburetors.
And that brings us to the engine. As mentioned, the motor had been sold as “rebuilt,” but Brewster and Klassen pulled the head and side covers to inspect the quality of the work. For the most part, they were happy with what they saw, but there were a couple of issues that needed to be addressed. Most importantly, as the engine went back together, Brewster attempted to kick it over, and the kick-starter jammed. That led them to find a broken kick-starter gear, and upon further inspection, the wrong gear detent pawl – both were fairly straightforward fixes, but heart rates had momentarily been raised.
Lucas points were replaced with an electronic ignition, and Brewster chose to fit a Boyer Bransden system. To keep the Triumph on target with its minimalist theme, all wires are routed inside the frame tubes, and the wiring junctions are inside the headlight bucket.
The Triumph’s parallel-twin engine configuration, with its dual exhaust ports facing more or less forward, gave Brewster the opportunity to do something a little more radical with his header pipes.
“I wanted the exhaust to cross over in front of the motor, and still fit inside the front frame downtube,” Brewster explains. “And I was going to build them myself.” But that’s when he heard about Factory Metal Works in Salisbury, North Carolina. A fabrication shop specializing in parts for custom motorcycles, Factory Metal Works was willing to build Brewster’s one-off crossover exhaust pipes. “It turned out that I could commission them to build what I wanted for less than what I could buy my own material.”
Throughout the build process, Brewster knew he didn’t want a fancy paint job. Instead, he wanted the motorcycle to look rusty, as though it had been left abandoned for more than 40 years behind a barn on a rural property. He researched rust paint, and found an oxidation product from Modern Masters of Valencia, California.
Essentially, reactive metal paint is first applied to the parts, and then a water-based acidic activator is sprayed on to promote almost instantaneous rust. Once the desired level of patina has been reached, the surface is neutralized and finally finished with a layer of clear coat. All of this work was done by BodeWorks (pronounced “body works”) Customs and Collision in the nearby town of Black Diamond.
For all the bike’s rust, Brewster also wanted some clean and shiny pieces for contrast.
“If you were across the street, you’d think, ‘Look at that piece of crap.’ But, as you got closer, you’d realize it’s really not that old, and some care and attention went into its creation,” Brewster says. Although the Triumph has been ridden, for now, Brewster plans to show it a bit before really starting to abuse it.
Brewster concludes, “The goal was always to use it up and wear it out so I could eventually build it all over again.”