Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Winter Activities

Winter Activities.

When the weather is bad you may think there is not much to do but as I think of things the “to do” list just keeps getting longer. Having bought Elspeth Beards book “The Lone Rider” at the Wey Valley Advanced Motorcycle Club meeting in November it took me ages to get around to reading it. Once started it kept me reading until I had finished it. Reason for no other posts in January. If only I could read and write at the same time! The book had tales of daring, persistence, illness and disasters along with camaraderie and affection. One tough and determined lady. It is a shame that her adventure has been left so long to be told. I can’t wait for the film.

 The Greenford Police LE is moving along I used a pair of my heads to get the engine assembled  as the original ones were cracked through frost damage the oil filter was painted along with the timing cover and mated the gearbox back to the engine  and checked for a spark that arrived after cleaning and resetting the points and the exhaust system fitted, I need to get hold of a proper clamp instead of a jubilee clip that it came with. I had cleaned up the rusty and pitted exhaust pipes and gave them a coat of heat resistant paint so they looked a bit better and  after fitting the exhaust system assembly one Saturday morning I fitted my only set of foot boards and borrowed the kick start off my LE and the battery. I had to fit the footboards because they are also the kickstart stop without them the kick start mechanism would disconnect itself.  Hot wired and with a squeezy bottle of petrol all the ingredients were there for it to run. To my surprise after about half a dozen goes It showed signs of life and a few more ungainly kicks it revved away until the fuel ran out. I was only putting a carb full at a time as my set up was s leaking. Success, I can now move on to other things.

 Leg shields were handy and needed a bit of repair where the holes had become too large over the years for bolts and washers to secure. My solution was to araldite aluminium plates to the back of the leg shields then use filler on the front side to get a smooth finish before re-drilling the holes. Doesn’t sound much but that was a couple of days effort. Rubbed down I sprayed some primer on the shields. Not easy when you have to spray outside. Having a can of warm paint helps enormously. The horn received a clean up and a coat of paint too. I may need to wait for a month or two before more progress with the final coat.

Life is not all confined to my garage or study I do get out at times and a visit to the New Forest was planned and being in the New Forest Sammy Millers’ and Beaulie were so close. I went to Sammy Millers’ Museum on a very wet Saturday. Met the man himself and spent all day there. I took over 370 photos and wherever I go I see something of interest. Sammy’s racing machines are well known and as he keeps searching for new things of interest he put together a complete bike for the 50cc four cylinder engine that had been hung up on my last visit. Having spent some time finding out what surface cam engine there was in the Museum, Sammy had one already and a cutaway of the mechanism. Now I know how the surface cams operate the valves. The Sturmey Archer engine was used in the Dunelt model T30. However Dunelt were not the only people to use a surface cam engine and, also in 1930, Chater Lea had a 350cc version.

I do like some of the Italian machinery like the Moto Guzzi vee twin racer and the bacon slicer singles. The V8 is unbelievable. I had a great day and complimented by the ham, egg and chips for lunch washed down with a good mug of tea. I met some very interesting people too with lunch being spent with a member of the BSA owners club and later on a VMCC member who has recently bought a Dart motorcycle from 1922 and looking for some guidance in restoration. As Dart were made in Coventry it may be that a visit to the Coventry Transport would be useful for him. A busy day for us on the Monday with a charming lady who loved the smell of petrol, oil and old motorcycles in the little barn. A gem I would say.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Some Military oddities

Winter Studies

When it’s cold and frosty there is not much incentive to get out on two wheels to brave the elements and slippery roads so looking around there is always something lurking in a magazine to spark the interest. Sometimes the internet when Silodrome posted something about the Indian Papoose aka Corgi or from Facebook and some Italian charm. 

I have a wealth of photos to browse through and books to peruse I look for links between companies about who did what first and this leads me on to an article that I found about a Military Bike Club from Classic Bike magazine from June1994 and pick up on the Norton Big 4 outfit with the side car wheel driving set up. 

It did go into limited production for the army but it was not long before the Jeep came along and with all the other manufacturers doing something similar it soon lost favour. The strange straight on character of the sidecar wheel drive made it a hard machine to master so much so that when these were sold after World War Two the sidecar wheel drive was disabled as it was thought to be too dangerous for road use. Harry Baughan had his sidecar wheel drive trials outfit in the late thirties that Norton used unofficially. There are striking similarities in the designs. I came across another article about single trackers with some imaginative things that had handlebars and a saddle and could be related to a motorcycle like the German Kettenkrad.

There is a two wheel drive Raliegh special and a Douglas single track that would not turn and a twin rear wheel Triumph model P that had a track running over them like the modern snowmobiles. It also had a feature of leaf spring handlebars that I had only seen previously on a bike at the Old Timer Museum near Ostend.The photo is of an OEC and has a set of those interesting forks.

You can be assured that even BMW had their version of a Single Tracker. 

As for military bikes it seems that all the manufacturers did something in World War Two with mostly overhead valve engines being used but what people do think about about is the BSA M20 the main stay of motorcycling at that time when the Triumph factory was burned down taking Coventry Cathedral with it endingTriumph production for quite some time until the Meriden works was built. This leads on to what happened next and the TRW. I did see one at the Off Road Bike Show at the beginning of December but thought it unusual to have gold lining on the tank. Not something I think would be acceptable for the military use but looked well presented though.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Off Road Bike Show 2017

Off Road Bike Show 2017.

The off road bike show has come around again on a cold winters’ morning in early December. So cold this year that the heating had no effect and nearly all of us stayed in out door gear all day except the hardy. James has just returned from his around Britain excursion and was used to the cold braving Scotland in gales and heavy rain. The trusty Cub on the stand for all to see. A great achievement by any standards. 

The weather even put off some of the visitors to the show and it felt like numbers were down a little this year. Still good fun talking bikes all day. I spent some time going around the displays and Motoball is back again this year. It’s origins lay in the First World War when some of the dispatch riders decided it would be a good idea to use motorcycles to chase the ball and not run after it! Smart thinking for those who don’t want to run. Motorcycle Football had its zenith in the twenties and thirties and almost disappeared in the fifties. The main centre for this seemed to be in the West Country and as leading light of off road activities was Harry Baughan in Stroud who organised trials there. His works riders were also involved in this at the time. Harry was not impressed by one of his star riders breaking a leg and messing up the teams’ trials championship efforts that year.

Another interesting display was the MV Augusta stand and those light weights were looking a treat. The guy on the stand had recently visited the Museum and his support is much appreciated.

Wandering around I found a Brooklands Westlake a 580cc 5 valve ohc single. Looked very much like a Goldie but was in a Norton International frame using a Norton gearbox. Outside was the usual stuff. I did see the remains of a Levis at an incredible price and a purpose built moped from the thirties. 

Some unusual stuff always turns up. This year was no exception and on display was an experimental  175cc single over head camshaft Royal Enfield from 1962.

Lastly I have to mention Zoe returning for another show to sell her books. I bought the latest one and need to read it before April when she is due to do a presentation at the Wey Valley Advanced Motorcycle Club night. Another lady adventurer having just returned from her travels around Wales on a 125cc scooter. I’ll report back on the book in the New Year.

Star of the show this year was a long track Goldie and, as always, some well turned out bikes for us to see.
Back at the Museum on Monday it was not quite so cold and I did sort though a few magazines for interesting articles and found two on Military machines. A report from Classic Bike June 1994 about a Second World War Bike Club and even earlier in Classic Motorcycle from February 1983 about tracked and single tracked bikes. Even an early attempt at two wheel drive. All to be discussed later when there is not much going on.

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Elspeth Beard

Around the World Lady

Wey Valley Advanced Motorcycle Club night and the guest speaker for the evening was Elspeth Beard who went around the world in 1982-3. It was a record breaking journey. Not in time but being the first lady to circumnavigate the globe on her motorcycle. It was a BMW R60 and she did it with no sponsorship leaving the UK with just £2500 of her own hard earned money. Elspeth prepared her bike well, dismantling it and putting it back together. She knew every thing about that bike and maintained it herself on the trip. The maintenance was religiously performed. It was her friend and companion. She started her journey in New York and travelled west across North America then to New Zealand, Australia up through Indonesia across India. Then through Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and across Europe to London. There were few maps to be had and those outside of Europe were really insufficient for the journey. Written in English for road signs in Cyrillic. She found her way by painstakingly comparing the symbols.

Elspeth found Australia difficult with heat, flies and dirt roads. Indonesia with the most pleasant people and India the worst with just too many people and no road signs. Her saviour was Robert, a Dutchman, who helped her through illness on this continent. Everywhere else was so much easier.
After completing her journey it took some time to adjust and as no-one was interested in what she had achieved the pictures and notes were put aside until a few years ago when a film company became interested in her adventure and wanted the film rites to the book. Now she had to write the book! 

I have one now and will read it in due course as the winter draws in and weather doesn’t let you out much to play. Not easy to paint much when it is cold. Saying that the Museum has been a bit chilly on my last few sessions. I have gained more layers of clothes to compensate. I have no idea why I can go out all day on the bike and not get chilled to the bone yet being inside an old building freezes me to an ice-lolly. Still worth being at the Museum because the fun of talking bikes all day keeps the brain thawed.

M20 with tired soldier.

I have picked up an old Classic Bike Magazine from June 1994 that has an article about military bikes that doesn’t include an M20, the long stroke 500cc side valve. In one of our movies on British Bikes John Surtees talks about the BSA Gold Star that started life as the M24 500cc ohv. Not successful at the time but in the late 40’s was re-designed in the form of the Gold Star as we know it. Transformed by Roland Pyke into a brilliant club racer and also built a 250cc version and one of our volunteers, Fred, has one! Each time I see those videos I find another snippet of information.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Battlebridge Museum Volunteers

Visit by Battlebridge Motorcycle Museum.

Usually I go of to other museums to see what they have and what they are doing but this Saturday those enthusiastic volunteers came to visit us! 28 volunteers arrived by coach at opening time. It was such fun to be with like-minded people and each adding to the others knowledge. Does it get any better? Stories about Harry, Granville, Irving, Vincent, Page and Turner kept us all talking for hours.

Being the resident LE man I was able to pass on some of my knowledge about those bikes. Would you believe I have been a member of that club for almost 50 years!!! I took my Valiant this day, as it was dry, and there are a few more fans of that little machine. I have now discovered why it is not able to pull full throttle. Have you ever seen black smoke from a small engine? Obviously too rich at the top end so now I need to resolve that issue. Carburration or exhaust or has there been the camshaft replaced with an LE one that has softer timings and lift? I’ll investigate when I do the leaking oil seals that require the engine out and on the bench.

My LE has had some work on it too with a new hollow spindle for the rear wheel. I had a clunk on the transmission that I thought was from worn drive splines. They were worn and after new splines were fitted the clunk was still there. This was because the wear on the splines had caused wear on the hollow spindle allowing movement of the wheel bearings. Now all is nicely firm and quiet too. Another littLE job done.

Doing a bit more on the Greenford Police LE I have attacked the leg shields to get them closer to the original shape. Next will be to araldite thin aluminium plates to the back of the leg shields to support the cracked bits and put some metal into the mounting bolt areas so they can be bolted on. After this a respray should make it look a bit better but still retaining some of the “battle scars” of use. I have now cleaned up and sprayed the oil filter and it is ready for fitting. I need a couple of fibre washers to finish the job.

I have been off to Falmouth and visited the Maritime Museum and discovered there are no Motorcycle Museums around there but lots of boats and ships. Cornwall has some great lanes to whizz around on but too much traffic even out of season!

Friday, 27 October 2017

The Shuttleworth Collection

The Shuttleworth Collection.

Another week gone by and I was at this months Wey Valley Advanced Motorcyclists Club night and this month we had the fire brigade in to give us a talk on fire safety. Friendly bunch and all motorcyclists so I handed out my last remaining flyer for the Museum. Reprints will be coming soon when we knew if we are moving premises. Did you know that when firefighters are in a smoke filled room they hold hands!! Scary stuff!! It was an entertaining evening and only marred by the homeward journey on the Buell in high winds and lashing rain. No running problems this time. Perhaps it was the side stand switch after all.
I've not done much on the Museum LE as I’ve been a bit busy doing car stuff but I did get out to Old Warden Aerodrome for an afternoon at this museum. That was because I got up too late to go on a ROG’s run and I still wanted to have a bike ride on a dry day. 

It is mainly aircraft on display with lots of oldies like a Sopwith triplane, Westland Lysander and just for fun a Scot!! It looks like a pram with wings and doesn’t look as if it would fly anywhere. What does amaze me is the number of motorcycle manufacturers that had their engine mounted in aircraft. Names like Douglas, JAP and ABC (Granville even designed bigger radial engines). 

All the displays were well laid out and eay to see other than the motorcycles that were packed in except an ABC. I had a really close look at this one and I was impressed by how complicated the rear suspension springs were. A spring for each direction of travel and more sophisticated than you would expect for 1919. The Stafford Mobile Pup was there and I’d seen that one a few weeks ago at Kop Hill. Another surprise was the pressed aluminium frame come body on this Villiers engined special being worked on to get it running again. 

All the exhibits at this museum run and a tribute to the enthusiasts that work there. It is well worth a visit as they do special event days where the aircraft are wheeled out and flown around. I had a great time talking to staff and visitors. I met two guys from New Zealand and one had known John Britten the New Zealander that had designed his own motorcycle and beat the Ducati’s of the day in 1994 and 95. It was a motorcycle of incredible technical innovations including carbon fibre front forks something now only coming into vogue in Moto GP. I have seen the V1000, first in 2007 in the John Britten Museum in Christchurch and again in 2011 where I saw it in Te Papa museum in Wellington. It has to be one of the world’s great motorcycles.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Paul Fynn Rally

BEN Charity Run 2017

While waiting for a brew I thought that I might give an update on the Greenford Police LE. It takes time to get things together and so does getting around to writing about it. The engine had seized standing so I had to remove the barrels and get the valves and guides replaced along with the water pipe stubs. I have cleaned the carb and repaired the exhaust box that had become holed on the top. It now gleams with a new coat of paint. One of the rear suspension unit bolts had seized in its sleeve and was a real naughty to extract requiring heating up the bolt head with my oxy-acetylene torch to free it off. It all takes time.

I have been preparing the Valiant for this charity run through Windsor Great Park that I have done on previous years. This year it decides that it will not rev much above 4,000rpm and has decided to become incontinent and pee oil from around the back of the engine adding to the weeps and seeps from the rocker oil return pipe that refuses to stay soldered. It looks as though most of the oil is coming from the clutch housing. A two oil seal area at the back of the engine and requires an engine out job. Not too difficult as I had to do one on the car while in Portugal earlier this year. I’ll do the seals when I get a spare day or two sometime. In between I’ll just have to keep an eye on the engine oil level. As for the revving, I’ve changed the condenser which has made it a bit better but not a complete cure. More investigations to take place.

I went on the ride and with deteriorating performance I arrived at the start point. I received the welcome pack with the route on a two sided map that you would have difficult reading going along and a tulip route book. I have used them before and require an accurate speedo that reads down to 0.1 of a mile. Neither of which I have. This compounded by the fact I need to use reading glasses it was great that the group of bikes were lead around by a vintage car that kept us all together, most of the time. Very much appreciated. Only a few bikes but among them was an ex-dispatch riders 1916 Douglas. Two speed gearbox and no clutch! It has an after market exhaust system that is supposed to give more power. No different that today!

Interesting riding but as the bike had such a low compression engine it was easy to start and only needed to be moving slowly to engage gear and be away. I am told, with a little practice, it is easy to do even up hill! Rain forecast during the day black clouds came and went leaving a few spits of rain to dodge. Dry this year but my minicams’ battery only recorded about ten minutes of the run so nothing for Youtube. I did take some pictures though and as the LMM is the home of Triumph there was an interesting Triumph Dolomite that was one of the last produced before car production stopped. 

Even with the poor running I completed the run and even got home again 84 miles later and about three and a half hours of riding. As you might expect the 1916 Douglas won concours. I am surprised that so many dispatch riders survived. Perhaps it was the fact that the German soldiers couldn’t aim straight because they were laughing so much seeing the guys antics struggling through the mud. This leads me on to James who has now embarked upon an epic journey around the country of 2500 miles on his Tiger Cub. We expect him back sometime this year. He plans to return in two weeks.