I had replaced the piston rings on the Thunderbird (gaps too large on the previous rings), fitted a new Amal Monobloc carb and a TriSpark electronic ignition (an upgrade from the Boyer I had on before). So, the bike is running smoothly and starts fairly easily….. time for a test ride…. I went south down to the LICME meeting (Lanna Independent Classic Motorbike Endeavour). There was a fair showing of some great machines; a pair of BSA A65 650s, a Morgo Triumph TR6R 750, a Velocette Viper 350, a BSA M33 500 and a Triumph T100 500 Tiger. The Velo is an interesting machine, with the clutch unusually positioned in between the gearbox and the gearbox sprocket. Late model Velocettes represent the furthest development of the British single and took over where the Gold Stars left off. Most other Brit manufacturers developed multi cylinder engines but Veloce always stuck to the single cylinder configuration. Beautiful indeed. "In 1961 a production Velocette Venom set the 24-hour world record at a speed of 100.05 mph (161.01 km/h). It was the first motorcycle of any size to achieve an average speed of over 100 mph for 24 hours, and to this date (2008 – Mick Walker) no other motorcycle of the same capacity has been able to equal this world record." Would you like to read that again........"1961" & "Production" bike! When all the bikes started, I couldn’t hear my Thunderbird! The music was deafening….. Fantastic! We took a 5 klm run out to a coffee shop and stopped to check no parts had fallen off and make some minor adjustments. After coffee we went for a 120 klm run at a moderate but noisy pace through country roads and everyone had a great time. The Thunderbird gearbox adjuster required tightening a little and the Velo’s Amal Concentric carb was flooding intermittently and suffering some clutch slip. We met up with a friend currently doing up a B33, who is cleverly using Daihatsu Mira type clutch friction discs, in place of the new, pricier plates. Over lunch we talked about Lucas magdynos, Whitworth threads, Hepolite pistons, right hand gear changes and the satisfaction of kickstarting. Amal (owned by Burlen Fuel Systems) now manufacture the full range of Amal carburettors including Monoblocs and Concentrics MkI & II, with full jetting options and spare parts. Many other useful upgrades are available for Brit classics including Norman Hyde clutch plates, high output alternators and halogen lighting, electronic ignition and regulators and oil cooler & cartridge filter systems. Many of the Thai owned classics get converted to electronic ignition, taken from modern jap bikes. The Velo had a Zebra stainless saucepan over the alternator, in place of the original missing cover…. hope it doesn't rain..... There were some riders who couldn’t make the meeting as they were having fettling issues, but we expect to see some more classics hitting the road again later in the year. There are a couple more interesting old BSAs and Triumphs undergoing restoration together with some more rare marques. After goodbyes, I headed off to the south of Na Noi to see the Earth Pillars. A superb road to the Queen Sirikit reservoir. After crossing the reservoir in company with a Malaysian couple on a Ducati Testosterone, I worked my way along the quiet roads down to Na Haeo in changwat Loei. A lovely old Loei style temple in Na Haeo. I doubled back a bit the next morning to take the 38 klm loop around the Phu Suan Sai National National Park on the 1238. The Tat Hueang waterfall is impressive and there was no-one else there but me. Swim across the huge pool at the bottom of the fall and you are in Laos. I headed along the 2195 and alongside the Hueang river up to the point where it joins the Khong, which becomes the border again. View from Phu Kok Ngiew next to the large standing Buddha. Down by the Khong in Loei. Wattle & daub I believe.... I was now in the tourist town of Chiang Khan for the night. It was busy with Thai tourists riding bicycles up and down the main road. This film projector was taller than me. Next morning I went south down the 2399..... My kind of traffic conditions..... Then up into Phu Luang National Park. This is a lovely park and has about 300 wild elephants there, so no camping allowed, but rooms to stay. Damn, I had just missed seeing a silver pheasant close to the Park HQ..... Wild Kee Chang hazards on this road. Blue skies on the top of the escarpment of Phu Luang with rhododendrons in flower. Next, off to Amphur Phu Luang and then down the 2016 to see Phu Hor. Viewed on Google earth it appears to have an almost perfect circular shape but with a rectangular box on the top which is impossible to walk up. I then looped back north on the 203, 2014 & 2113. Heading back up to Na Haeo, I came across Wat Phu Chai. This is a 17[sup]th[/sup] century temple with some lovely old mural paintings on the outside. Next day, I took the 1268 & 1241 up close to the Lao border to Pang Hai. Then the 1123, of which about 15 klms was dirt with some rocky technical sections The Thunderbird with it's low centre of gravity is fine on the dirt and rocks if it's not wet. The Dunlop K70 blocky tyres seem well suited to small Thai roads and little off-roading, as well. Wonderfully remote, this part of the country, didn’t see anyone for almost an hour, but maybe not a good place for a breakdown. Continued north and finished the day with a blast up the lovely 1081 into Bo Klua. I stayed at Oun I Mang and it was about 38 degrees when I got there, so I lay in the river with a cold Leo for a while..... By early morning though, the temperature had dropped to 10 degrees...... a bit chilly in the tent alright.... Up over Doi Phukha next, because... The tree flowers in late Feb / early March. Wonderful to see. The western end of road 1097 out of Chiang Klang into Song Kaeo is finally being resurfaced, which a great little bit of road too. Then a run for home on the 1148 to complete a wonderful trip. This unusual temple is Wat Nang Din in Chiang Kham. Unusual in that there are no steps up into the temple and the very old Buddha image is sitting on the ground. The bike burned/leaked about 1 litre of engine oil which is pretty good for the distance. The only failure was the locally made MF battery which decided to leak some acid over the left silencer, because I had it placed on it’s side in the battery box. I put a smaller battery in, right side up and all good after that. I fitted a new pair of Hagon shocks on the bike last year and the seat is superb. Not cheap but made by THE classic bike seat maker, RK Leighton in Birmingham. So, it's a very comfy ride. This bike should be capable of 100mph, but I only dared go up to 75mph on one main road stretch. 6 days, 1300 miles. That’s about 217 miles (348 klms) a day. Not bad for a 55 year old bike.