Thursday, September 15, 2016

Mason Motors - Mike McComsey

One of my absolute favorite aspects of the Isle of Vashon event is the type of people you can readily meet and chat with. Mike McComsey was one of those guys this year. Mike worked at Mason Motors in Pasadena from about 1967 to 1969. 
 Almost visible in the article above is a Mason Motors shop truck with a bed similar to trucks operated by Johnson Motors. Mike noted Dave Mason would just move the bed to a new truck every couple of years.
 Mike mentioned that during his tenure at he worked with Rich Richards. the resident Tuner at Mason Motors. Richie didn't do the daily wrenching that the rest of them did, he just did machine work and balance work and tuning for special customers and special jobs. Richie was also a well known Nitro-methane authority and introduced Propylene Oxide to the motorcycle world.
Richie's son Gary held the B/fuel record of 10.32 seconds at 143.76 mph. Richie was sure Mike could break 150 mph on his drag bike as at the time as he weighed about 114 pounds, compared to Gary's 150 or so.  However,  Mike lived at home then and his parents said he'd have to move out if he pursued drag racing. Mike was 18 at the time and needed a roof over his head more than a drag record, so he had to say no to Rich.
Above are some photos of Mike's high school bike, a 1957 TR6B, first in BRG as a school commuter and later as a Cafe Racer (which he later traded, with a VW Bug, for a 1955 Porsche Speedster). 
Again above is a borrowed TT Special. As a mechanic, friends sometimes left bikes with Mike for care and exercise for months at a time. This TT was his only two-wheeler for a time in College. He logged more miles than the owner, who was somewhat intimidated by the 52 hp
This immaculate Burnt Orange 1959 TR6B Trophy is Mike's current Triumph, which I bought and restored about 20 years ago as a reminder of those old days. Mike mentioned that this bike remained un-sold at the San Jose, CA dealer for a long time as customers preferred for the new Bonnevilles.  The dealer eventually painted it in Bonney livery to help sell it. Mike is only the second owner.

Mike has a pretty incredible memory. He even recalls all the shop staff at the time:

Owner: Dave Mason
Parts Manager: Eric Lilly
Shop Foreman: Tom Rhea  (carried on the name Mason Motors on Walnut Street in Pasadena as a boat and snow mobile service shop. I believe now closed.)
Lead mechanic, Yamaha:  Don Caldwell. Raced a 500cc Matchless in desert events.
Lead Mechanic, Triumph: Kenneth Beard.  Drag racer with younger brother Lionel.
Tuner, machinist and Resident Curmudgeon:  Richie Richards
Genius Welder and all-around mechanic: Charlie Keefer. Worked Saturdays until he retired from his day job as a test cell technician for rocket engines at Aerojet General in Azusa.   
His son Randy worked with us during his summer vacation from high school.
Mike McComsey:  Repairs of crashed motorcycles, flat tire repairs (with tire irons, I might mention), New  Bike get ready.

New Triumphs came in crates, partly disassembled, and covered in cosmoline as a preservative.  Getting them ready included washing off the cosmoline with "Triumph Cycle Bath" and included a Test Ride, of course.

1 comment:

Jeff Olander said...

This is great information. I am looking at a '79 Triumph Bonneville (T140D) with 3k miles, completely original, in great condition that came from Mason Motors (still has the license plate frame). Sounds like a great little shop from 'back in the day'. I know an Eric Lilly who is an auto mechanic near where I live- I'm going to have to check and see if he is the guy mentioned in your post.