About T A Baker & TAB 2 Classics
TAB II Classics was formed following the wishes of T.A. Baker (Terry Baker). He had spent over 38 years building his reputation as an alloy tank maker and didn’t want the business to die when he did. He passed his skills on to many a tank maker out there today. We calculated that he must have built over 20,000 (yes twenty thousand) tanks in his lifetime. When he died he left all his tools, patterns, formers and equipment to his son-in-law Richard Phelps and daughter Aline. His hopes were that they would not squander his legacy and instead would find some way of continuing the family business and do justice to all that he had worked to achieve.
When Terry was diagnosed with cancer in the summer of 2009 he was given 3 to 5 years to live as the cancer had been caught early. He knew he was on a deadline to fulfil his wish so by the end of 2009 had started to teach Richard Gas Welding Aluminium, TIG Welding Aluminium and fabrication processes needed to build tanks. He also spent many an hour reciting facts and figures about different bikes for which he had built tanks and seats.
Sadly in early 2010 his illness took a turn for the worst and so Richard’s apprenticeship was cut very short. Aline had spent most of her childhood school holidays and weekends in the company of her Dad and working in Terry’s various workshops over the years. Fortunately she was able to rejoin the business and pick up and reinforce her metal working skills from the past.
Here’s our small team:
Richard Phelps (Rich) – absolute petrol head; loves all forms of motorsport; used to Race (unfortunately 4 wheels! – will we forgive him?) so knows what it’s like trying to track down parts for your “baby” in time for the race or road season. Has polished, gas welded, fabricated and turned car components. In latter years worked in marketing and customer service.
Richard oversees the majority of communication with customers, helps with assembly, grinds, makes fittings, finishes/polishes the tanks, and deals with final packing and distribution.
A change that Richard has made to the business is that he will not take money for an order up front unless the item is a one-off that he would not be able to resell. Instead he sends you a photo of your finished or near-finished item by email, and asks for payment when we progress to the finishing processes and are nearly ready to ship.
Aline Phelps – Spent many a year getting grubby in her Dad’s workshop and prefers the aroma of Castrol R to that of aftershave! Having spent years at the heels of her father, Aline is using the knowledge her father imparted to her and is responsible for shaping the tanks using a selection of hammers and dollies and our English Wheel. (Although she is using these old tranditional skills she really does not appreciate being called OLD - and she is the one usually holding a hammer.) She also does some of the grinding work and palm sands the tanks in preparation for polish. She oversees any patterning work and deals with the accounts side of the paperwork.
Mark Purslow – started with us in late 2013. Mark is learning all aspects of tank manufacture and is fully responsible for seat fabrication. He works on cutting, pre-forming, tank and seat fabrication and also gas welds the tanks and seats. Mark is another petrol head. He races road bikes - currently a Honda CBR 400cc, but is hoping to move on to 600cc Supersport class as soon as funds allow. (Mark came to us via his father, Colin Purslow. Terry built two TAB race bikes with Colin in the min 1990s, so it is great to now have Colin's son working with us.)