A new workshop, a new chapter..


The approach to the island workshop, a 1920s boatyard built for repairing Thames lighter vessels. The boat moorings here are tidal.

I decided to set myself up in a workshop nearer to my brazing job at the Brompton bicycle factory.  The building is an old boatyard on a small island on the tidal Thames in west London.


Original heavy machinery still features on the island.


My unit – compact, but everything I need in an inspiring setting.


Still some organising to do, but it’s taking shape.


The cockpit – I really like the atmosphere here – skilled yet modest craftsmen come and go in the building and the light and changing tides alter the feeling of the place daily.


Finding a place for everything took time but it’ll pay off.

I thought it was about time that I bought myself a decent torch.


I bought this old Harris 19-2 torch set on ebay the moment I saw it.


Decades old, but never been lit. Even has a cutting head. I am based at a working boatyard, so you never know, I may find a use for it.


I found some reverse flow check valves for it too. Obviously I’m already using flashback arrestors.


Harris is a US company, but my torch is made in Italy under licence as “Harris Europa”.  It’s really nice to use and very quiet.

In my day job as a production brazer at Brompton, we use injector-type torches which are great for use with gas fluxers as they really help to push the braze forward and shape the beads with their added thrust.  I believe that my Harris torch here is what is known as an “equal pressure” torch, which gives a slightly gentler flame that’s easy to control and should be good for making smooth concave fillets.

I’ve also decided to restore an old Honda CD200 motorbike as a project so that my commute to the bike factory and errands to and from the workshop might be more practical.  Sorry if this appears off-topic, but I was without a workshop and a torch for a good few months..

The countershaft was worn where the front sprocket mounts, so I thought I’d rebuild the engine and replace any other worn parts, seals, piston rings, etc.


Worn shaft (top) and replacement.


Now to transfer the gears..


Laying all the bits out – checking against a diagram is important.


Rebuilt gearbox put back together in the crankcase half.


Top view with gasket in place.

The swingarm on the bike was pretty rusty – after shotblasting it looked pretty sketchy so I cut away some steel to reveal the extent of it all.  I found a big hole in the tubing inside:

Didn't fancy riding this too far..

Didn’t fancy riding this too far..

I found it impossible to find a replacement swingarm that was in good condition, and so I bought a used but rust-free US CM200 Twinstar swingarm which is very similar, but I’d have to swap over the driveside fork end (my bike has a bigger spindle to mount a cush drive) and a few other small mounts for the chainguard, etc.


I also decided to remake one of the welded-on plates as the rustworm had made it pretty flimsy:

Marking out the template in new steel.

Marking out the template in new steel.

Then I drilled inside the lines on the drill press.

Then I drilled inside the lines on the drill press.

And cut and filed it to shape.

platecut copy

Nearly there.

Brazedplate copy

I brazed it all together with my ace new torch.

fluxoff copy

I soaked the flux off in a bucket of water.

brazedetail copy

seemed to go pretty well.

Alignment copy

Alignment was good enough.

it'll be powdercoated with the frame and then I'll push new pivot bushes in.

The finished swingarm. It’ll be powdercoated with the frame and then I’ll push new pivot bushes in.

I promise my next post will be purely pushbike related!

Bye for now,


7 Comments on “A new workshop, a new chapter..”

  1. Ped says:

    Hey Matt, Way to go with the workshop! It looks amazing. Very jealous.

    Good luck with cd project, if you need any help with it let me know. David Silver is the place to go for Honda spares, are you going standard or cafe racer?


    • Thanks Ped, yeah it’s a cool place. I’ve added a few more pics to this post now. Still think your show bike was awesome, a real standout bike. Hope you got some good pics of it. Hopefully see you at some kind of gathering soon.


  2. davidnottingham says:

    Is the island Eel Pie Island? It looks a lovely workshop.

  3. Sweet set-up Matt! I usually have to take a mid-day ride when I get stumped in the shop, you can just float off in a dinghy.

    My friends at the Brompton Mafia love the showing off the brazes on their clear-coat-only machines. Do you use propane at the works to make those or are you sticking with the acetylene regime (which I hear is much stricter in the UK than the US)?

    • Thanks Joey. We use oxy-acetylene with a gasfluxer at Brompton. I also use oxy-acetylene in my workshop.
      It can be hard to find a workshop in London where you can use acetylene safely, and railway arches are out in case there’s a fire and they have to stop the trains. It’s fairly straightforward to open an account and get acetylene delivered though.

  4. Ped says:

    Hi again mat, i saw you styling it up on the telly tonight. Looking pro!

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