The Difazio Project
“Come and have a look at this old BM” my mate said ”Its your sort of project, its been in a damp shed for 20 years and its got a strange front end” I needed no encouragement for if they were Earls forks that meant it was a fifties BMW a real quality machine, so off I went post haste.
The Previous owner (who I had met on a Vincent owners club international rally some years ago) had died the year before, and his wife had already cleared the garages of the first division motorcycles, and was now moving on to the second division in sheds dotted around the garden.
‘Shed’ was a bit too grand a description for the construction that encased the BMW motorcycle, well motorcycles actually, for it shared the dim space with a rotting Aerial leader and a rusting Triton, but my eyes were for the BM. I could see it was not an Earls fork model but a 1970’s R series machine and the front was enveloped in the biggest fairing I had ever seen, and as I looked an exciting prospect became a possibility in my mind. I entered at my own risk for the roof was propped up with timbers, but when I squeezed to the front of the bike my rising hopes were rewarded. It was a Difazio BMW, its front end was rusty and dusty but it was clearly a hub centre front end.
As a little research on the web will attest Jack Difazio of Frome built and fitted about 50 of these front ends to a variety of bikes in the 60’s and 70’s. I have been interested in the concept for all of my motorcycling life. Variations of the hub centre steering principle were fitted to bikes from way back (see neracar in the 1920’s) people seem to get into a lot of bother trying to see how it works, my explanation is to imagine the steering head moved down the forks till it resides inside the front wheel hub in line with the fork spindle add a few linkages to swing it about and a wide swinging arm. and that’s all there is to it (allegedly).
So I bought it, getting it out was a little more difficult, roof props were removed and repositioned, roofs sagged, front brake callipers were seized (but at least could be unbolted) but finally the brute force of three helpers dragged it out into the light of the 21st century. So far all I have done is to empty 2 tins of de rust into its dark recesses and over all nuts and bolts. I discovered a piece of green lined computer printout paper (remember that stuff?) tucked in the fairing and on it was written “engine, cylinders and hub filled to top with oil” what a good old boy the previous owner was I thought.
Don’t hold your breath on this one the project list is full, This job won’t start in the dim winter workshop, I can see the Difazio (its an R75/5 or /6) being dragged out into the yard on a warm sunny day where I can take copious pictures as it comes apart and I can get plenty of room to attack those rusted nuts and spindles (As any ‘preloved’ BMW K owner will attest you cant beat BMW for corrosion of the fasteners)