Bike restoration finished after 60 years

21:26, Jan 11 2014
NEVER TOO LATE: Rangiora octogenarian Mel Reese has finally finished restoring a vintage motorbike he found on a Loburn farm 60 years ago.

It was a long time coming but amateur mechanic Melville ''Mel'' Reese, 84, of Rangiora says restoring a vintage motorbike he found on a Loburn farm 60 years ago was well worth the wait.

Mr Reese began work on the 1914 Rover motorbike four years ago after he retired from work as a school bus driver.

He initially came across the motorbike when he made a delivery to a farm in 1954 while working for North Canterbury Transport. 

The bike had belonged to the farmer's brother, who had left it there when he enlisted to fight in World War II. 

Never claimed, the bike was in a poor state, with parts taken or strewn around the property when Mr Reese found it. 

A month later he returned and his offer of five shillings was accepted. He took it home and told his new wife, Isabella, about the purchase. ''I said, what did you do that for? But when he said it only cost 5 shillings that was OK,'' Mrs Reese said. 


Mr Reese soon ran out of time to spend on the project, when children and work took priority. 

''I started working on the motor and then it was like lots of other things. It was put away in boxes and stored on an old trailer up until four years ago.'

'Every aspect of the restoration had been challenging, but he had been able to complete it with a lot of help. His two daughters had set up contact - through the internet - with two men in Upper Hutt who owned the same model motorbike. They sent him photos and diagrams of the engine.

Friend Ashley Croft had also been a huge help, Mr Reese said. The whole bike, including the gas headlamp and horn, was in working order.

Six months ago he was able to put the finishing touch of a leather doctor's bag on the back and start the motor up for the first time in 75 years.

''It was great.'' In two weeks Mr Reese will ride his pride and joy in the 60th anniversary of the Otago Vintage Car Club rally from Dunedin to Brighton. Though Mrs Reese will not be able to accompany him, she is proud of his accomplishment.

''I'm very very proud of the ability he's got to do that.''

The Press