Friday, 13 March 2015

Warning - eBay's GSP might not find you

No, not a GPS sat nav that's doesn't work, but eBay's Global Shipping Programme (GSP). A friend has just warned that a rare Dell 'Orto was not only refused shipping (because it might still have fuel in it 30 years after last being used) but was actually destroyed. Apparently they do likewise if they consider a package too big, which has led to vintage guitars being "liquidated" (who thinks up this jargon?).

Message seems to be that GSP generates a customs label from the listing, and that a carburettor is just a prohibited item, no questions or discussion allowed. Could you get round this using a different shipper and a seller who's prepared to fill in the custom’s paper work a little more imaginatively? Maybe, but if you get it wrong that could mean the destruction of a rare spare part. At least people seem to get their money back.

Another friend had to wait several weeks for a  green frame 750SS to be released to the shipper, and you can guess how much money was tied up while he sweated it out. Personally I've never had any problems buying from the US, but their border bods are most heavy handed in the world  - and that includes my experience of Iran and Iraq! I was arrested aged 18 trying to board a flight home from New Orleans because my work permit was three days out. Even they eventually realised it was more hassle than it was worth not to stick this bemused limey on the 'plane, but you have been warned; caveat emptor

Thursday, 5 March 2015

RIP Franco Farne

Franco Farne has passed away in Bologna, aged 81. For me the greatest of the great, perhaps even more important to Ducati than Fabio Taglioni. A quiet, retiring man who shunned the limelight he did it all. His parents worked at Ducati and while he raced a Cucciolo he ran around town on the rare Ducati Cruiser scooter. Associated with Ducati for well over 50 years, by the time Ing. Fabio Taglioni joined the company in 1954, the 20 year old Farne was already working there as a mechanic and part time racer/test rider. He soon became Taglioni's right hand man in the race department where he stayed up until 2000. During the 1970s, when the factory did not have officially go racing, he was a part of the unofficial effort at NCR. He then "returned" to the factory and was in charge of the race department under the Castiglionis. In 2000 he joined Bimota to manage their World Superbike team but when that failed (due to sponsorship problems) he returned to NCR - thus returning to the Ducati fold. Pictured here with one of the six 1970 450 Desmo GP bikes he helped develop.

Rest in peace Franco - and if there's a heaven you, Masimo Tamburini and Dr T will make it a very special place

With thanks to Phil Aynsley