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  • I opened a shop in China .. 3 times .....and currently have one that is just for brothers and I will tell you why..

    1st shop was with a guy named Shao Wei and a French guy from Martinique ....and it was a great experience ...most of the time....

    they built bikes CJ750 and my half provided Donghai 750 parts....there is no bike builders (legal in china) so those that do build either don't tag them legally or seek other means.... Wei was no different.. having worked at the Chang factory in Nanchang he had made a lot of friends and was able to provided engine numbers.. and built bikes under the Hong Jiang tittle.... I registered my first bike (built by me) under these was a '75' engine that I found still in the box... never even run so it was stripped down and built back up and matched with a military frame from '69' and a specially built sidecar tht used a thicker gauge metal than even the military sled did....wonderful bike that I still have due to circumstances that I will provide shortly....seems that wei was a womanizer, drinker and gambler and I am sure a few of you have had similar experiences and can see where this is going.... he of course ran a foul of debtors as he started taking deposits to finish customer orders...don't get me wrong .. he was a great guy in many respects and I even spent time with his family in the south of China...we had employees with a (sort of) profit sharing plan were we would match their saved earnings at Spring Festival so they would have a nice bounty to take home for the month off that was given (in Feb) to visit family .... all was going good as the parts biz I had was really taking off with me finding 30 tons of parts to include sidecar tubs which I sold to builders who would then lace them up to their bikes...mostly CJ frames with BMW engines....hard work to be sure,; once on Christmas eve I was in a junk yard negotiating two tractor trailers to lug the parts found (a bounty) back to the PLA compound where we had the shops.... now that is a story in it self.. a compound owned by the Chinese army served as our shop location...where we would work and the workers would live... even eating most of their meals in the shop and sleeping in small quarters that was adjacent to the work area shop was a few meters away....filled with old PLA parts for the Chang and complete bikes and parts for Donghais as well.....the local police chief decided he didn't want foreigners having a business there and forbade us from coming through his jurisdiction ....a problem we solved by entering the compound in a van with blacked out see the Army controlled compound had no problem with us but the local cop shop unfortunately we had to stealth our way in ... and the compound was adequate but no "Taj Mahal" with the closest thing resembling a bathroom being a out house of a kind which hung over an open sewage ditch. Actually there is a funny story about my French partner, a dire need to have a daily constitution and a bag, but I wont go into that now.... all the while Wei kept drinking and dancing with the KTV girls, entertaining sidecar dignitaries such as Mr. Shin's son (Mr Shin was a retired test rider for Changs and had bought up a lot of the stock piles of parts and some of the die and cast for making parts) who was building bikes as well in the southern city of Nanchang (home of the CJ and a trainer airplane still sold today) and most harmful of all... much so that the local grapevine yielded information that his creditors "were a coming to get em" and upon hearing this I moved most of my tools and stuff into the storage warehouse and not a moment to soon cause they soon showed up demanding all of the parts and materials in payment for money all this time I am astonished that they didn't look around the other buildings and grateful for their mistake cause they identified myself and my French partner as cohorts of "Wei' wild ways".... and of course when trying to recover money (justified or otherwise) there is little room for discerning what is who's'... Wei had a secret partner none knew about, I had seen him a few times but didn't concern myself due to the separations of our business interest...his name was "Ran" ...and he swooped down and paid the landlady her back rent claiming all that was in the warehouse and the yard surrounding it; a misunderstanding of ownership that would come back later to haunt me ...... we immediately found a "hutong" in a village outside Beijing and set up shop with new workers as the old ones had been scared off by the money crazed debtors that had come looking for Wei.... and of him.. well turns out his friend at the factory providing engine numbers was appropriating them in an unorthodox manor which earned both of them 9 months in the "re-education facilities".... he is out now and doing fine but we no longer consider ourselves close.....he was and always will be a great horizontally opposed cylinder engine builder.... me, well I escaped with a warning as to our brand of motorcycle and told that I could indeed keep mine as it was legally registered but that I would never be able to sell it or trade the plate for another... and to this day it sets outside my place,like an old soldier guarding the place where I park my Harley...I still love riding it to this day and have made great trips to Mongolia and other places and it runs only like a 6 volt positive ground war horse of a military can......anyway back to the shops... the Hutong shop lasted several years as I was gaining ground selling Donghai bike parts being the only one in the world and having to my knowledge the only website with parts photos and free manuals....when the government improvement program came along they destroyed the hutong and I moved to a Muslim city outside Beijing and in the shadow of a mosque opened a great little storage facility to house my parts and a few bikes to include a 83 shovel head, which I worked on and got it running and traded it for a twin cam, a predecessor to the one I have now...then along came revitalization during a turn down economy and they were gonna raze the town... to this day I really miss the halal meat that was available from the Muslim butcher and the eatable offerings made during religious holidays, it was really a great place to set up with a landlord who had been prior military and loved looking at my old faded US Army photos....the government came in and a big guy from the local party (I ain't talk'n' bout no Hullabaloo but rather one that is political and dictatorship minded) offered me 3000rmb to move... I got to thinking that this was my last move and I called a guy in Poland and told him to come pick up his parts, as he had just a month before tried to buy most of my stock from me.... the rest went to a local BMW builder who bought every sidecar tub I had and some vintage Chang dealers who couldn't believe a foreigner had such old and unusual military items and military motorcycle parts....later I went to a swap meet; out selling the Harley guys 3 to 1 and making a good bit of profit....actually my parts gig had made money every step of the way even though it was fraught with problems with the best example I can think of is a 4000USD sell on the very day I had acquired a truck load of parts for around the same amount in purchase....
    Look; the purpose of this story isn't to convince you or anyone else the falsifiable nature of pursuing one's own dream ambition can be achieved in my way of thinking ...the ability to work with what you love is a wonderful experience but the darker side is the ramifications and the reality of working with what you love and after all I got into this cause I loved bikes and the more I loved them the further it carried me into this idea of selling parts and that led to weekends at the post office sending or exchanging parcels, endless emails and phone-coms assuring the buyer that I had what he wanted and arranging the ever present hassle of payment not to mention dealing with those who would scam and try to first gain your trust as a buyer only to ask for a big favor that would often include delayed payment.. which was most inevitably delayed for infinity ......that day that I handed over the parts inventory and started the Twin cam and rode away from the "shop in the shadow of the mosque" was a day of absolute freedom for me ... no more working weekends to insure those who wanted ancient "Red Iron" parts got them and spending Sunday evenings insuring that I had been paid and that my finances were in order, so I would be on target lining up invoices for next weeks shipments........Now I was really free and I could just spend time doing what had brought me to this gig in the first place.... I could just ride....
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