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Shedders Rebuild a 1959 BMW R26

Category: Health and Wellness Issues

January 8, 2023 — We got some great followup on our October article about the Shedders Movement. Shedders refers to guys (and gals) getting together in retirement to hang out and work on all kinds of projects (often in a shed). This particular input comes from my wife’s cousin, Steve, from Batavia, IL. Hopefully it will give other retirees some ideas on how they can create their own projects and groups to have fun, stay busy, and socialize – so hard for many men once they retire. Thanks Steve!

Steve: The group came together to work on my 1959 BMW “Earls Fork” motorcycle. This particular bike is a 1959 BMW R26, a 4-stroke, 250cc utilitarian motorcycle. Many were built for civilian use in Germany. A year or two later, they added some rubber engine mounts and a few other niceties and called it the R27. There has not been a 250cc bike built by BMW since 1968, I believe. Earls Fork name refers to the front suspension of BMW motorcycles from 1955 to about 1968. Rather than having a telescopic front fork, it has a swing arm that anchors a shock absorber on each side. My first one was purchased in about 1978.

1959 BMW R26 restoration

My brother Jim found this bike for sale in St Johns, Michigan while he was living there in 1989. After he acquired a Moto Guzzi El Dorado he lost some interest in the BMW and gave it to me for good. It was running but seemed dicey. I finally asked my friend, Trig, if we could go through it as a project for the Friday Night Beer Crew and he agreed.

The Crew is an interesting group and consists of about 10 guys who get together in Trig’s basement. We range in age from mid-20s (1 or 2) to about 85. Most are mid-60s and we have a private jet pilot, retired carpenter, a couple of engineers, a machinist, and a guy who grew up at Mooseheart, very close to my house. Almost all of us are multiple motorcycle owners and many still get to the national rally every year. I am probably the only one who is not riding, except the 85 year old does not. My excuse is poor vision, and lightheadedness is a concern for me too.

You asked about completion dates. The answer: there are none. Good thing that most of us are not in a hurry! I hope to ride this 250 around town nice and slow. Slow enough that I can see roadway problems before I get to them. My experience in the group has been good. Sometimes I feel like a marginal member because I don’t have any real skill to offer, such as mechanical, lathe operation, painting, electrical systems. My commitment is to bring a 12 pack of beer to each meeting. I get one and sometimes a shot of J√§germeister booze before I leave.

During our session last night, the rear fender, engine and transmission were removed from my motorcycle. I was not going to repaint this one but everyone of my friends tried to sell me on taking the step further to paint it. That will require a wait ’til warmer weather and more in-depth disassembly. Even so, these guys are pretty convincing. I have to convince Linda that we can afford to use some retirement money in this fashion!

My nephew Jacob is a real good mechanic and has a similar network of enthusiasts to mine.

Comments? Are you involved in something like this that could qualify as an example of the Shedders Movement? While these informal groups are not often formalized in the U.S. like they are in Australia and the UK, there are a lot of them. Please comment in the space below.

Posted by Admin on January 7th, 2023

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