Garden Gate Manx – The book about my bike, by Niels Schoen
Review by Patrick Downing, 1-June-2018
Amazing. Incredible. Awesome. Unbelievable. Work-of-art. Incredible journey.
Rarely have I been so impressed with a book on engineering. Niels Schoen has reverse engineered his uncle’s Norton Manx, single-handed, and only armed with normal mechanical measuring tools and SolidWorks CAD package. If that is not impressive enough, he created all the images, artwork, layout and carried out all the other incredibly difficult tasks to create a book.
Did I mention the troubles and diversity he faced? Niels works on this book as a personal passion project, and as a homage to his Uncle Ko (Nicholas Bernardus Konijn). His story is like Dr Zhivago walking across the frozen Siberian landscape on his quest to find Lara; focused and relentless. He did all the work on his personal time from 2010-2015. He quit his job in December 2014 to finish the book. By March 2015 he had his first rough draft printed, but that was just the start to the adventure of getting a truly refined book produced. He declared victory on 16 October 2015 when the book was printed and shipped! Perseverance is so important in life.
Niels tells the story quite well in these videos he made and posted on YouTube. He goes into details about the tools he used to make the book, and all the incredible technical issues he faces such as file formats, resolutions, fonts, along with software choices and computer crashes! It is well worth watching this video on the journey of Niels and to his commendable perseverance. Here is Niels story, in his own words: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWJy05qKOgM
One of the important concepts that drove the making of this book was to preserve family and mechanical history. Of course, Niels dedicates the book to his father Cornelis Schoen and the book is all about his Uncle Ko. But the book is also dedicated to Uncle Ko’s Norton Manx, specifically C11M14566. This book makes this bike special, forever. It keeps the bike and the memories alive. It helps others with the same or similar bike. It inspires a younger generation that grew up in cars and bikes that are less mechanical and more computerised, and hopefully keeps the love of these bikes (and cars/aeroplanes/boats/etc…) of this era alive for future generations enjoyment. At Global Dimension, we also have this same passion for reverse engineering old bikes and cars, as we want this knowledge to be passed on to the next generation and not die with the original designers and owner generation.
Thank you Niels for being that inspiration.
At Global Dimension, we are so impressed with Niels work, we show all of our current and new employees his book, and make sure they understand we need to target this quality for every customer and marketing project. Wow. Thank you Niels.
Niels was kind enough to share some images from the book and other renderings he has made. Please enjoy a sample of Niels inspirational work.
Other reviews of his book can be located here:
- The Vintagent: https://thevintagent.com/2017/07/22/book-review-garden-gate-manx/
- The Norton Owners Club: https://www.nortonownersclub.org/news/ggm
- The book can be purchased here: https://www.facebook.com/GGMbook/
- Just for fun, watch this Haas video on the Norton Manx. https://youtu.be/Xd199_H48fk
Give back a little, and you get a lot more in return. Give away historic engineering information, before it is too late. We will not live forever. We are all worm food. Do not go to your grave with lots of knowledge – document it and share it. Either give it away or charge for it; the key is to publish and share it. There are folks like Sammy Miller (born 1933, now 84 years old) that reverse engineered a Moto Guzzi V8 and made a replica, but the plans are neatly tucked away in a desk drawer. George Beale has made beautiful replicas like the Matchless G50 and astonishing Honda RC174 replicas https://www.georgebeale.co.uk/replicas When these gentlemen pass onto the great racing paddock in the sky, these plans will mostly likely never see the light of day, and the history they love will be the loser. Of course, there is a balance – if this is their only source of income and they need to save money for retirement, then one cannot give things away for free, but in these examples, this is not the case.
Before it is too late, please share your knowledge.