Chiang Rai To Kanchanaburi And Back On An Ancient Bike


Dec 9, 2008
It was to be the 60th Birthday ride. Not me, the bike. It was built in October 1958, so we wanted to have a decent ride this year. OK, lets ride down to the 12th Vintage Bike Rally, on Saturday 24th February, at Sri Nakarind dam in Kanchanaburi and visit Hellfire Pass on the same trip.

It was a quick and boring ride down on mostly main roads, first night in Thoen, Lampang and second night in Dan Chang, Suphanburi

I have a replacement set of rocker boxes to fit this year, as the originals are worn out; stud holes have been bushed with brass inserts by a former owner. This does not really work in a location that needs a reasonable torque for a good gasket seal.

Hence, after the first 800 miles...
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The third day was much better riding, I took the 4041 which goes up over the mountains, to the west of Dan Chang, from Suphanburi into Kanchanaburi.
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The National Parks always manage to look green, even in the dry season. Actually there was some rain around.
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An unusual "Boat" stupa at the top of the mountain pass.
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It was about here, I saw a Great Hornbill fly into and then out of a nearby tree. A wonderful whooshing sound as it flew off.
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Down at the reservoir.
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The hazy air conditions were really no better than in the north.
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I pulled off onto a steep dirt road to go and look at some 3,000 year old rock art.
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The old style Dunlop Gold Seal K70 tyres are good for a bit of offroading.
Then it was time for a short walk.
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Some of the best rock art I have seen. Very well preserved.
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A long way from Chiang Rai....
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I had been told me about "elephant shit road"
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The 3199 takes the long route around two sizeable inlets.
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This must be an elephant protection fence.
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Day 4 was spent at the Vintage Bike Rally, near the dam at the southern end of the reservoir.

Lots of photos will be in another post.

Day 5, the tour continued.
On top of the dam.
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A group of Yam SR riders from the rally.
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.... and some more at a 7-11. There were bikes everywhere on the Saturday and Sunday around the dam.
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Another reason for my visit to Kanchanaburi.
The Hellfire Pass Memorial is dedicated to the Allied POWs and Asian labourers who suffered and died at Hellfire Pass and elsewhere in the Asia Pacific region during the Second World War. The Pass had been lost to the jungle until it was cleared in the late eighties.
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A tragic history.........

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At this time, you can walk 2.5 klms along the route of the track and back again.
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I had brought with me, a WW2 vintage British made linen Union Flag, which I placed in the Hintok Pass, near the western end of the walk.
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The holes were made in the rock for dynamite charges. Many of these holes were made by manpower, "hammer & tap" method.
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Looking down on the Konyu Cutting (Hellfire Pass)
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There was a lovely huge tree in the grounds of the Museum.
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On the ride back north, I took the ferry, which cuts across the forked inlet on the 3199.
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Wonderful exposed propulsion and steering machinery.
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I saw another Great Hornbill fly overhead on the ride back over the mountain, on 4041.
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A lovely bit of twisty stuff.
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Tree lined boulevards........ not so many of these around now.....
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So, I took another 3 days to get back to Chiang Rai.
The bike did extremely well. No issues, nothing broken or fallen off and no adjustments needed.
A 60 year old Triumph; 8 days riding, 1,485 miles (2,390 klms).... All Good.


Staff member
Mar 22, 2016
Another epic adventure, and a tribute to the Triumph marque. I wonder if the blokes who were assembling those machines in 1958 ever gave a thought to where they'd go, what they'd do, and how many decades they would last? I suspect not... I've only been to Kanchanaburi once, on a day trip from Bangkok many years ago, but have been contemplating a bike trip for a while. Your efforts are, as always, an inspiration to many readers!


Dec 9, 2008
Thanks Ben, report on the Vintage Bike rally to follow.

The Thunderbird is off the road for a while now. Plan to remove the cylinder head and barrel for a de-coke; last done 20,000 miles ago. Will get the two items powdercoated while off. Replacement rocker boxes to go, during rebuild.
Other items in stock to replace later; fork sliders due to excessive internal wear, oil tank just because the original has a lot of filler under the paint Then rear wheel to convert from Quick Detachable to fixed. The QD is very useful but it wears after a while and you can feel the slackness in the drive. New correct valanced front mudguard to go on. The current guard is a mismatched earlier version and full of patch repairs and filler.


Oct 11, 2009
Great write up to read in snow bound England.I found hell fire pass very moving nice touch with the flag. I live very near old triumph factory and have owned several old Triumphs full respect riding it as you do.
Safe riding

Ian Bungy

Sep 19, 2006
Top Stuff Ian. I have been to the ANZAC Ceremony half a Dozen times over the Years. A very Moving experience attending the Dawn Ceremony in Hell Fire Pass! Amazing Tragic History from that Area. Great You visited it all!


Dec 9, 2008
Yes, the export model T140s had raised bars and rounded tank. The UK model had flat bars and square tank. All else was the same. Great bikes.


Staff member
Jan 16, 2003
Chiang Khong
Stupendous report.
You really know how to enjoy yourself riding bikes & touring - all on old machinery. I reckon that you probably have more fun riding than the guys on the latest big tourers fully kitted out and / or the guys on the fastest most "powerfullest" sport bikes.
Well done. Love it.