English Builders and Their Amazing Little Sheds

Work area after the cleanup and transformation

Work area after the cleanup and transformation

Remember those English sheds referenced in this recent article? For many of us in the USA, even that single car garage we say is too confining for serious work would be pretty spacious compared to what our friends in the UK often have to work with. A couple days ago I was going through the thread on the Performance Bikes forum detailing the Kwikasfaki build up. Cabbie, as the builder is known, mentioned early in the process that he was looking for newer quarters for working on the bike. Then up comes a couple of photos showing the space he located and transformed. Wow.

Work area after the cleanup and transformation

Work area after the cleanup and transformation

The space is small and, if it was ever used as a garage for an auto, would barely fit a Mini Cooper and though his "before" photos show us what it looked like after he had already got rid the junk inside and removed what he said were about 1000 nails in the walls, it still looked like any complex build would be a tight squeeze in a space with limited function. The "after" photos he took just two weeks later are amazing and deserve some attention.

He had entirely changed the look and utility of his new workspace and made it into a shop where he could perform serious work with a very efficient layout. Given the quality of work done on the bike itself, it shouldn't be surprising that he would do this well in converting a small shed into a spot most any of us would find to be a pleasant, bright working environment, but it impresses nonetheless.

Sometimes this sort of "oh, by the way" addition to the description of an already excellent build, makes for a great story all on its own. Very neat!

Link: Performance Bikes forum (registration required)

New work area cleaned up but before any set up

New work area cleaned up but before any set up


  1. Ian says

    That’s actually a reasonable size as British garages go – quite a lot of them you haven’t got a hope of getting any modern car in there at all.

    • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

      The view from this side of the pond is based on what you see here which, even as a single garage, is bigger. I have to admire everyone over in the UK doing so much in those snug surroundings.

      I might add that this one stands out because of the very nicely done transformation, though, there are probably many equally well done conversions all over the UK. If that’s the average space so many have, it stands to reason the workshops within have adapted to the space available.

  2. akaaccount says

    Not sure why, but neat little garages strike a chord with me.

    Maybe because I have to take my bar end mirrors off every night to roll my bike in through the man door in my unfinished basement with 6 1/2 feet from partial concrete floor to insulation covered ceiling.

    Gotta start somewhere.

  3. Thoughtless says

    Wow, I am flat embarrassed at the mess and clutter in my shop, which is a converted 2 car garage. Seems I collect far to many tools and left over parts, and they are constantly intruding into the work area which has become not much more, if any at all, than what I see in this sano “shed”. Well, it’s been ten years since I really pushed every last item out the front door and made some hard decisions on what has been kept past any reasonable length of time, and what tools and small machines need new owners. And the two basket case projects that have sat for over 3 years, completely without even the smallest effort of a beginning, probably need to be listed or parted out on eBay.

    I obviously don’t have the same appreciation for what space I have as does Cabbie for his.

  4. B50 Jim says

    Lessee…. a couple hammers, some clamps, two screwdrivers, a few wrenches and wire wheels. It must be those wore wheels that allow them to do such fabulous work. I’ll have to get myself a few.

    My garage is an older 2-car that’s “only” 21 feet wide. If an English builder go hold of a garage that size, he’d turn out an entire line of production bikes. My Bell’s off to them. Good work, mates!

  5. B50 Jim says

    Hey — my bench vise is WAY bigger than Cabbie’s!
    I should be able to build better bikes than he does!
    I wonder why not?

  6. Walt says

    My 24×24 is like a palace compared to this. And it’s a chaotic mess. But I have three bikes and a frame in there, an 80 gallon two-stage compressor, and still room for a car. Don’t want to count the bicycles. Maybe I should return that TV producer’s call from . . . what was it? Oh yeah, Hoarders.

  7. Hawk says

    I remember visiting Ian Walker (Google him) in North London about 1968 or so. He was running an engine remanufacturing business out of what we would consider a “small” gas station …. with a couple of pumps out front. This business (one of several that Ian owned) brought English Ford engines in, broke them down, cleaned and remachined the parts, reassembled and painted them, stuffed them into plastic bags and shipped them out. On the second floor, he had balancing machines, flow metering devices, milling machines, etc. where they prepared Lotus Ford engines from Stage 1 to Stage 5 for the racing community. His office was also on the second floor and I remember seeing a model of the ill-fated Lotus turbine Indianapolis car ….. sitting on a hose clamp whose failure ended the project.

    I would estimate that the ground floor may have been 1800 sq. ft? And that included the office staff.

  8. says

    There is a law in the universe and I can’t remember the exact wording, but it goes something like this: “If you’ve got a bunch of available space, for sure you’ll fill it up with crap till it’s packed and you’ll find you once again have no available space. Less is more sometimes and I’ve known many a motorcycle enthusiast who has stored bikes and/or projects within’ the living structure.

    Now if I could just convince my wife we should knock out the wall between the garage and the kitchen!

  9. JerseyMayhem says

    going to stop bitching about having a standard 2 car garage……sheesh i need to go clean mine right now..see ya

  10. B50 Jim says

    The beauty of motorcycles is you can work on them almost anywhere — how many rebuilds have been done in kitchens, bedrooms and college dorm rooms? But leave it to the English to do such good work in a tiny, Morris-Minor-sized garage. That’s what we can expect from a people who ran a world-wide Empire from a tiny, Morris-Minor-sized island nation. They have only fragments of the Empire now, but they haven’t forgotten how to build great motorcycle.

  11. Nortley says

    I worked on wheels on my bare garage floor slab before the walls were built – and it has not been so neat since.

  12. B50 Jim says

    My B50 has a space beside the east wall in my garage, and when the engine is out the various bits lay neatly behind it; so far, so good, but when the engine comes apart in my basement it spreads everywhere. There’s a rule that any job will fill the available space. If I had an English-sized garage/workspace, I’d have to work neater. As it is, my garage is full of my truck and the wife’s car with some small space for the bike and some shelving. so it’s quite neat. My basement, on the other hand, is a Chicago-bungalow-sized hole in the ground with headroom, so it’s nearly unnavigable.

  13. steve w says

    I don’t have much space but a lot of projects. How in the world would you get any work done in something so neat????????? LOL