BMW R50/2 motorcycle  in a graveyard
1965 BMW R50/2 Motorcycle
Cosmetic semi-restoration 1998-2008
Reupholstered; sheet metal reformed; headlight shell, fenders, rims & brake covers painted with custom graphite enamel to bridge the remaining original faded paint on tank & frame and the patina'd aluminum of the engine & hubs; brakes re-lined; rubber expendables replaced; wheels disassembled, cleaned, painted & relaced with stainless steel spokes; valve covers & replacement mufflers painted with flat black stove paint; new exhaust headers installed; new bar-end turn signals to replace the old, damaged ones; lower handlebars & short brake/clutch/throttle cables fitted; carburetors cleaned & rebuilt; bearings cleaned, repacked & replaced; and on and on.
Is it a mechanical project or is it art? I'm wasn't a mechanic before - though stripping a motorcycle to its frame & rebuilding successfully does have an effect on one's abilities. The approach was as much aesthetic as technical. Is it a matter of intent? When Daien Hirst suspends a shark in a tank of preservative, he is not doing a favor to biology, he is making a statement. The only statemnt here is drawing the particular aesthetic joys of "motorcycle" to a particular conclusion. Yet, within the constraints of budget & availability or parts, almost everything was in some part a descision that felt very much like a design decision: What do low bars & exposed shocks say? How do the mufflers sound at full throttle? Pitted, old paint was left in places not for lack of effort, but because it speaks to the history of this individual machine, yet damaged parts required paint. Is the color or a given part apropriate to the whole? Even the effort of rebuilding takes on a feeling of performance art: all was dissasembled, sorted, inspected, catalogued & eventually re-assembled; people came by to drink beer, kibbitz, participate and observe. The process, to me, is as important as the final result. So: have I built a motorcycle from its own component parts, or have i simply participated in the activity or mechanical preservation for the machine's sake?