A Hermit

Bonnie's Back Pages

Logo: Triumph, Makes a mechanic out of a man

Hi! Meet "Bonnie", my 1969 Triumph T120 650 motorcycle. You don't have to be a motorcyclist to appreciate Bonnie's elegant design and graceful lines. Her grace and beauty are appreciated by everyone who turns their gaze her way. Here on Bonnie's Back Pages you will find links to dozens of how-to articles, hundreds of illustrations, and tons of technical info on the complete care and feeding of your Classic Bonnie or other 650 Triumph.

Wrenching the Bonnie

Exhaust Tappets for 650 Triumph

A Hyperlink Junkie's Illustrated Field Guide to the 1969 Triumph Bonneville T120R , aka The Bonnie Ref, is a quick way to get up to speed on Triumph unit construction 650 motorcycles.

This comprehensive collection of how-to information is profusely illustrated and aimed towards amateur and pro mechanics alike.

Check it out before you have another wrenching experience!

Photo of Triumph 650 points and contact breaker
Hermit's Classic Triumph Technotes
More articles, with tips and lots of illustrations to help you keep your classic Triumph motorcycle happy and in good fettle. Everything from conquering the Triumph centerstand Super-Spring, to ignition timing and carb-tuning - all with tons of photos.
Exploded view drawing of a Triumph 650 cylinder and head
Hermit's '69 Triumph 650 Bonneville Parts Lists
These illustrated and hyper-linked parts lists are a uniquely convenient way to access size, thread, orientation, torque, notes, and more about every part on the 1969 Bonneville. Over two-dozen ways to view the parts.

How many nipples does a Bonnie have? We've got you covered.

Triumph 650 engine
Triumph 650 Complete Engine Overhaul Manual
Here's an expanded hypertext update to Thomas G. Gunn, Jr.'s classic treatise on the complete overhaul of Triumph 650 engines.

It corrects errors in the original, provides further updated technical info, and gives seamless, one-click access to footnotes, table of contents, and corresponding sections in the Workshop Manual to further inform.

Classic Triumph Motorcycle Special Tools

Photo of a Triumph crankshaft pinion extractor tool
Classic Triumph Motorcycle Special Tools Sooner or later you're going to need some of these! A complete catalogue of factory and custom tools to work on your classic Triumph.

One tool you really don't need Breaker - Breaker... Save your money.

Bright Moments

Shaking Motorcycle
Two-Wheeled Humor  Some funny stories to tickle your funny bone, and a sudden and unexpected appearance by Lucas, the Prince of Darkness.

Lucas - Loose Unsoldered Connections and Splices


Web Resources for your Brit-Iron

Logo for Classic British Motocycle Links
Classic British MC Links
All Brit-Iron all the time. Highly-organized collection of links to British motorcycle info, including parts suppliers, services, clubs, specialists, accessories, history, tools, museums, etc.


Lowbrow video cover
Subject Index to the Lowbrow Triumph 650 Rebuild Video Series This outstanding 13-part Lowbrow video series gives comprehensive instructions on disassembling, inspecting, and reassembling the Triumph 650 unit engine. Todd's upbeat, humorous delivery provides the crucial info, practical tips, and encouragement you need to get 'er done!


J.B.Nicholson's ''Modern Motorcycle Mechanics'' book cover, with Roy Bacon's ''The Triumph Bonneville T120''
Classic Triumph Annotated Book List An annotated list of books on classic/vintage Triumph motorcycles specifically, but also including BSA and other British motorcycle as well. includes reviews appearing on the BritIron mailing list.

Repair Services

Photo of Smith's tach and speedometer on a 650 Triumph motorcycle
Smith's Instruments Repair Resources What? Your Smith's tach and speedo are on the fritz again? Whether you want to go the Do-It-Yourself route, or take out the plastic, here are resources to help.

Coming soon - Bardfark will demonstrate how to open up your Smiths speedo can using only a concrete block. Nice, Bardfark, real nice! With your usual finess, I'm sure!

Back in the Day

Thumbnail of a 1951 Triumph 6T motorcycle
I incrementally broke my mother into the idea of two-wheeled motorized transportation: first with Joe Bickly's Lambretta moped and then a '65 Honda Sport 50.

After that I was home free with a '53 6T 650 Triumph Thunderbird, and from there on to first a brand new '66 Bonneville off the showroom floor of Free State Cycle, and then another '66 Bonnie while in the service of Uncle Sam on Long Island, New York.
First Triumph, First Bonnies

Bonnie, Found in Barn!

Photo of a mechanic tuning the carbs on a Triumph Bonneville motorcycle
Once, a redheaded girl named Bonnie became attached to me. Another army brat, she'd lived in France. Claimed she spoke French and could teach me how. She'd sing "C'est si bon!" as she pushed me on the playground swings. Summer of '51, Dundalk, Maryland.

When it was time for Bonnie to leave, she kissed me goodbye in the stairwell, probably tenderly. And said we might meet again someday.

Well, I never crossed paths with that Bonnie girl again, but there were a few other Bonnies. Here's the latest. Found her in a barn: Frank's Brit-Barn - Re-kindling the Romance

Travels with Bonnie


Photo of an old motorcycle in the Green Mountains of Vermont
Mountain Biking in the Greens
Vermont's Green Mountains are a Mecca for hikers and bikers. On my second trip down to the Greens this summer (that would be the one where it didn't rain all the time) I ran across this mountain bike.


Last Ride of the Season (Itinerary) Some years the last ride is a retroactive surprise; our hope for "just one more ride" are dashed. Devastating.

And then there are years like this, when - with snow on the way - even as we surf a wave of warm, sunny November afternoon exhilaration, we already know this is the last time out of the barn before winter. Bitter and sweet.

Decal for helicopter service
October 16th, Burke Mountain, Vermont (18 photos) This year marked the Third Annual Burke Mountain Under the Wire Run. Due to scheduling conflicts it wasn't possible to make the trip on Veterans' Day as is customary. Instead, LA and I saddled on down on October the 6th, a glorious Indian Summer day. What a great day up on the mountain!
Photo of church steeple with clouds
Saint Etienne de Bolton, Quebec (23 photos)
While riding along the Quebec/Vermont border in July I veered north up to the small, bucolic village of Saint Etienne de Bolton, and took these photos there.


Photo of asbestos mine in Vermont
July 25th, NEK Vermont (19 photos)
A winding ramble down The Gravel from Troy to Lowell to Eden Vermont. Features views of the foreboding mountains of asbestos mine tailings along Mines Road, and a trio of fire engine finds.
Photo of the toll booth on Burke Mtn, Vermont
Burke Mountain (elevation 3,770 feet, prominence 1,600 feet)
Burke Mountain in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom offers skiing, mountain biking, and hiking, and a toll road that goes nearly to the top. Really great way to reach the peak, but keep your eyes on the road!
No ice on the toll road for this year's Second Annual Burke Mountain Under the Wire Run. Here's the iPod pics.


Photo of Job's Pond, Vermont
Fall 2014 Ride Calendar
Gotta get out there and enjoy these waning days of the riding season here during the most beautiful season of the year.
Photo of motorcycle on Burke Mountain
Burke Mountain (elevation 3,770 feet, prominence 1,600 feet)
The First Annual Burke Mountain Under the Wire Run. November 11th, 2014. The toll road to the peak was closed for the season, but Bonnie and I just slipped under the wire.
Half-way up, the toll road was covered with snow and ice so I had to abandon Bonnie and press forward on foot. Needless to say I had the peak all to myself that day and I grabbed these pics for you.
Photo of Fall colors and Lake Willoughby, Vermont
Three Ponds (25 photos)
A return visit to the ponds east of Lake Willoughby on a stunning fall day during peak colors. One of the last of many special rides shared with Bob, RIP. Includes gorgeous photos taken from the Brownington observation tower.
Photo of barn with roof caving in
A baker's dozen of photos taken during July around the countryside between Orleans, Barton, and Irasburg, Vermont.
Image of a page from a journal
Bonnie Journal 2014
The riding and the wrenching. The agony and the thrill of maintaining the Bonnie.


Image of a calendar
Fall 2013 Ride Calendar
Weather conditions, routes, and notes on rides taken during October and November 2013.
Photo taken from Murray Isle, Clayton New York St Lawrence River
Thousand Islands NY, September (62 photos)
Photos of Fall 2013 trip across Northern Vermont, Grand Isle, and upstate New York to the Thousand Islands where I met up with my brother Greg and his good fishing buddies Guy and Bill. There I made a sentimental journey on Murray Isle.
Scenic view from Kancamagus Scenic Highway, New Hampshire
Kancamagus Scenic Highway (14 photos, map)
The Kancamagus Scenic Highway snakes it's way up and over the Kancamagus gap, through gorgeous park land between Lincoln and Conway NH. This is not the way the crow flies! On a day like this the "Kank" is filled to over-flowing with campers, bikers, and day-trippers.
Photo of Long Pond, Vermont
Ponds East of Lake Willoughby (15 photos)
Here are a few photos of several of the many ponds east of Lake Willoughby, including Long Pond, Newark Pond, and Bald Hill Pond.

Past Travels

Photo of St Malo Quebec observation tower
Rural Eastern Townships QC and Northeast Kingdom VT
This scenic trip takes you through just over a hundred miles of rural Quebec and Vermont, all on asphalt. We started in Ayer's Cliff, but you can begin anywhere around the circle. The observation tower in Saint Malo and Seymour Lake are of special interest. Takes two-and-a-half to four hours, depending on how often you stop and how fast you go. Hopefully often, and not very.

Graveyard Shift

Photo of an angel statue in a cemetery
Graveyard Shift
"I see angels on Ariels in leather and chrome,
swooping down from heaven to carry me home."
Richard Thompson
1952 Vincent Black Lightning When you want to stop and stretch your legs it's hard to find a more peaceful place than a country cemetery.

Country cemeteries are nearly always situated in scenic locations, the stories they tell are universal and limited only by our imaginations, and they provide us an opportunity to reflect upon our own mortality and look beyond ourselves.

Roadside Attractions

Pnoto of the Stanstead Quebec granite quarry
Stanstead Granite Quarries
A few photos of the Stanstead Granite Quarries Company granite quarry, located in Beebe, Quebec. The photos lead off with a nice shot of the Bonnie in her completely original state.
A might fine looking motorcycle, that Bonnie.
Photo of a derelict house in New York state
Abandoned and Vacant Houses
I just can't resist an abandoned house. Who lived there? Why did they leave? Where did they go? What was left behind?
Open your eyes and ears. Listen closely and you might hear faint whispers of the hopes, fears and dreams of lives come and gone.
Photo of the FPS-35 radar tower in Camp Hero 773rd radar squadron Long Island New York

Photo of a No Trespassing sign
Abandoned Montauk Radar Site
What could be better than an abandoned house? How about an abandoned radar site and a little time travel?

Back in the sixties I spent 3 years stationed at the 773rd USAF Radar Squadron, Montauk Point, Long Island, New York. I worked as part of the team of technicians who maintained the site's FPS-35, then the US Air Force's state-of-the-art long-range search radar set.

The site had formally served as Camp Hero during World War 2. The US Army created an extensive system of underground bunkers there, home to heavy artillery for coastal defense.

Just like the WW2 heavy artillery, the FPS-35 had its day and became obsolete. Eventually the site was given over to the New York State Parks Service, which incorporated it into the Montauk State Park. Today the enormous FPS-35 sail no longer turns under 600 horse powers of electric motors, but it still remains atop its concrete, five-story tower: a rusting monument to obsolescence.

And a challenge to trespassers.

During the summer of 2013 I met up with several other former members of the 773rd for a nostalgic return to the old radar site.

Disclaimer: We hereby disavow any knowledge of 'The Montauk Project'. Rumors and conspiracy theories abound, but Our Lips Are Sealed.

Rallies and Shows

Photo of a 1946 Arial Square Four motorcycle
Montreal CVMG Monthly Meeting
2013 July Meeting, Stanbridge Est
A whole lot of Brit - Iron!

Photo of classic British sports cars
British Invasion Car Show
2012 British Invasion Stowe Vermont

Photo of a Triumph motocycle packed with camping gear
Montreal CVMG Ormstown Rally
2007 Ormstown Rally

Photo of a racing motorcycle at the Montreal CVMG Ormstown Rally
Montreal CVMG Ormstown Rally
2006 Ormstown Rally

Fave Photos

Photo of automn foliage in Quebec Canada
Three photos of Bonnie and maxed out autumn foliage. Taken on Chemin McShane, just outside of Stanstead QC.
Photo of a sunset in Quebec Canada
Miscellaneous Faves
Dramatic photos of Bonnie with special lighting provided by sunsets, clouds, mist, and fog.

The Snow Bonnie

Photo of a 650 Triumph motorcycle in the snow
Flashback to December 2006 - with the tantalizing aroma of roasting turkeys filling the air everywhere, Bonnie and I get out for a 68 mile ramble on Christmas Day! We even saw Santa Claus up on Herrick Hill.


Favorite Destinations

Google Map of Southern Quebec and Vermont Northeast Kindom Lakes and Mountains
Southern Quebec and Northern Vermont Landmarks
A Google map showing some of my favorite roads, mountain and lake views, and other destinations of interest located in the Eastern Townships of Quebec and Vermont's Northeast Kingdom.
Photo of Big Falls, North Troy Vermont USA

Another photo of Big Falls, North Troy Vermont USA
Big Falls VT (35 photos)
Going around Lake Memphremagog is one of my favorite rides. I never tire of the counter-clockwise route. It produces unique and wonderful views on both sides of the border from some of the most scenic gravel roads around.

The 78-82 mile circuit includes one of my all-time favorite destinations: Big Falls VT. Big Falls is situated on the Missisquoi River just outside North Troy. North Troy is pretty much exactly half-way around Lake Memphremagog from Magog QC.

North Troy is also the home of Paddie's Snack Bar. Paddie's is the real thing, an experience not to be missed.

Scenic view of Fitch Bay, Quebec Canada
Fitch Bay Views (42 photos)
Some photos on a ride from Georgeville to Fitch Bay to Cedarville to Beebe. Features a stop at one of my favorite destinations - a certain hilltop with truly spectacular views of Fitch Bay and Lake Memphremagog.

Only dedicated back-road riders are likely to stumble upon this spot. The road is marked "Cul de Sac" at one end and appears as a seriously eroded farm road with lots of exposed ledge and mud holes at the other. Not recommended for passenger cars!

Although views from here are great year-round, they are, of course, most spectacular during the Fall, as on this October 2003 ride.

Photo of Lake Willoughby, Vermont USA
Lake Willoughby (27 photos and map)
Lake Willoughby is truly one of the major jewels in the crown of Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. Here are photos of the Lake during summer and fall as well as detailed descriptions of several ways to get to it from Derby VT and return by way of Island Pond.

Bonnie at the Castle


Photo of a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville on a table
January 2018, Winter Maintenance Part I (11 photos)
This winter Bonnie will receive new oil lines, fuel lines, primary chain, throttle cables, etc. as well as all the regular routine maintenance and lubrication.
Photo of the clutch on a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
February 2018, Winter Maintenance Part 2 (16 photos)
Dismantling transmission and gearbox after discovering GOLD in the outer gearbox cover.

Includes photos showing range of motion of gearshift quadrant in degrees as well as the use of several special purpose clutch tools.
Photo of a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville engine removal
February 2018, Winter Maintenance Part 3 (12 photos)
Removing engine from frame for a trip to the machine shop and repair to shorn thrust washer locator peg. Also presents the rare opportunity to shine up the bottom side as well as the top. (But how will I know which side to keep up?)
Photo of an engine base for a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
Fabricating an Engine Base (7 photos)
To facilitate the installation of two gearbox bearings in the casing I fabricated this engine base for use on a hydraulic press.
Photo of a Podtronics installation for a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
Installing a Podtronics beneath the Battery Carrier (8 photos)
I used a couple of tie-wraps to fasten a Podtronics regulator/rectifier beneath Bonnie's battery carrier.
Photo of gear oils
Gear Oil & Yellow Metals
Some background info on yellow metals and GL5 gear oil products and some sinetific research.
Photo looking inside an empty geabox of a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
Assembling the Triumph Unit 650 Gearbox: Hancox Method
A photo-illustrated, step-by-step description of Hughie Hancox's method of assembling the gearbox components.
Photo of the gearbox inner cover of a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
Camplate & Quadrant Indexing.
A photo-illustrated description of indexing the gearbox camplate and quadrant in first gear, fourth gear, and neutral between 2nd & 3rd.
Gearbox parts for a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
Triumph Unit 650 Gearbox Assembly: Three Methods Side-by-Side
Assembling the Triumph unit construction 650 gearbox according to the Triumph workshop manual, Haynes, and Hughie Hancox.


Photo of the cylinders and pistions of a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
January 2016, Top End Tear-Down (15 photos)
Leaking pushrod tube seals caused Bonnie to get pretty crudded up during the season. Fixing that meant pulling off the head so logically it was the right time to refresh the top end.

Broken mainshaft key of a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
April 2016, Gearbox & Transmission Work (14 photos)
Having finally obtained a brand new, high quality main shaft, it was time to delve once more into the gearbox. In addition to installing the new main shaft, I replaced both needle roller bearings, the only ones not renewed last year. Last year's clutch and transmission re-build was holding up wonderfully.

Photo of a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville with pistons and rods
May 2016, Top End Re-Assembly (21 photos)
Putting it all back together after an .080" overbore, new pistons and rings, and valve work. Soon to be on the road again.



Photo of the drive side of a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville engine
2015 Tear down (15 photos)
As well receiving new electrical wiring, Bonnie's transmission and gearbox are getting a going-over.

Extracting the clutch center was quite a job, and the reason for that was apparent when it finally let go: the half-moon key fixing the clutch center to the main shaft was in two pieces.

Photo of a partially-assembled gearbox of a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
2015 Tear down, Part 2: Gearbox Blues
While the new wiring system and transmission are working great, problems plague the gearbox.
Triumph 650 gears
Classic Triumph Motorcycle Gearbox Animation (front)
Watch 1969 classic Triumph Bonneville 650 gears shift up and down through four speeds and neutral. Shows shifter forks, gear cluster, and camplate. Educational. Entertaining. (Be patient - can take a little time to load - may not display well on slow connection)
Front View Animation
Rear View Animation
Mockup of the camplate and gearshift quadrant of a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
More Gearbox Stuff
The Triumph Gearbox Quadrant & Camplate Indexing Training Simulator. Photos, drawings, and mock-ups illustrate shifting gears.


Photo of the wiring of ignition coils on a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
New Wiring Harness - 2006
Some photos of Bonnie's new reproduction cloth-covered wiring harness in 2006.
Photo of small frame parts for  a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
Powder coating - 2006
Bonnie's frame and tinware return from the powder coating spa. Resplendent!


Photo of original wiring harness on a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
Original Wiring Harness - 2005
A few photos showing wiring connections and routing of Bonnie's original 1969 wiring harness. (Note: while the wiring harness is original, condenser location is not).


Photo of engine removal from  a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville
Engine Removal using Chain Hoist - 2004
Removing and replacing the engine from/in the frame of a 1969 Triumph T120R using a chain hoist to do the heavy lifting.
Photo of a 1969 650 Triumph Bonneville frame and front wheel
Reassembly - Winter 2004
Reassembling Bonnie after painting her cylinder block, frame, and tinware. Very shiny

Drawing of a Hermit