Als vervolg op het Letland avontuur, waar ik in beland ben door Juris, leek het me leuk om een stukje te plaatsen wat Juris ooit geschreven heeft over het restaureren en verzamelen van vintage motorfietsen tijdens de russische bezetting.
Confessions of an Iron Curtain collector: How i survived during the soviet regime.
By Juris Ramba 2008
Looking back on the bleak days in Latvia prior to collapse of the soviet regime in 1991, and how i survived them, we can now make yokes and laugh about it, but on would not laugh aloud at the time,
at least not while the authorities or anyone you did not know well was listning.
My first ride on a two-wheeler was a moped that I rode into the sea at the age of seven because I did not know how to stop the engine. My first encounter with a proper vintage motorcycle was at the age of 11 when I rode pillion on a 1938 Royal Enfield Bullet.
The impressions were so strong that I traced, found, and bought this very machine when I was 23. This, I guess, was the moment when I can say I was bitten by the vintage bug. I passed my riding test at the age of 16.
My eldest brother had a V
Ramba in his shop during the Soviet years.
My next move was to swap the Harley for a 1935 CS1 Norton. This machine had a very special appeal because I admired this legendary British company and its products. I read everything I could find about motorcycling, and, as a university graduate, I had access to
Saying a winter prayer over a 1928
much in need of prayer. Henderson
There are lots of interesting stories about the ingenuity that was required to survive and succeed as a motorcycle collector behind the Iron Curtain. One such episode was when I made a Matchless Silver Hawk gear change gate and wanted to send it to a friend who lives in Edenbridge in the United Kin
With his son Robert and 1926 Norton in 2003.
There were some less successful cases prior to the fishing tackle episode. A friend of mine from Weybridge wanted to send me a surprise gift for Christmas. It was an original Brooklands can for one of my Nortons. It turned out a nasty surprise for him when the parcel was returned unopened with a stamp on it stating "CONTENTS PROHIBITED," and to make matters worse, he had to pay 25 pounds return postage. I finally got that Brooklands can when I first visited the
At the Pioneer Run on a 1903
in 2003. Russia
Once I had several gear clusters made for 1920s and early ‘30s Sunbeams that I wanted to trade for much-needed parts for some of my own machines. Barter was about the only way to obtain rare parts, because one Pound
On his 1937 Harley Knucklehead, a nine-year restoration.
Another silly episode took place with four tins of rather expensive Royal Blue cellulose paint that one of my Norwegian friends sent me for my 1928 Henderson De Luxe (It is pictured above prior to restoration). I received the parcel in an opened state. All the tins had been opened and someone had inspected the contents, probably by stirring trough it. One of the lids had not been replaced properly and as the parcel was turned ove
At the docks at Liverpool in 2007, on the way to the
Man with his 1913 Rex-JAP
and his son Robert.
I learned my hardest lesson when someone sent me Ervin Tragatch's motorcycle encyclopaedia and added a Vogue fashion magazine for the wife. I never received that parcel, maybe because the Vogue was forbidden material or it was just pinched as very desirable. I never again mentioned anything in my letters except information about the black art and magic of vintage motorcycles, which was a subject of no interest to the inspectors at the Russian post office. Just imagine that in these days all of the parcels I received from the West went first to
Restoring his "grandfather's lathe."
How, you might ask, were we able to restore vintage motorcycles when we were not allowed to own any machine tools? In fact, it was a criminal act for a private person to buy a modern lathe or milling machine. These were only available to factories under the control of "the proletariat dictatorship." My solution to this problem was to find a genuine 1937 VEF lathe. This was the famous collet lathe on which the VEF Minox spy camera parts were machined in
With the restored stars for the Freedom Monument of Latvia.
The top of the
, over 42 meters
Ramba today on his Rex-JAP.
Receiving the Harry Mack Trophy in April 2008.