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.

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Kop Hill 2017

Kop Hill Climb 2017

Kop Hill Climb, held over the 16th and 17th September, is now an annual event that was resurrected some years ago and has now become a fixture for the London Motorcycle Museum to attend. This last one had us along with the 1927 Raleigh, 1929 Triumph SOHC racer and Frank’s Mitesse. 

Weather was not so good as last year with it being not very sunny and the days peppered with rain storms and feeling cool. I was there on the Sunday riding the Buell through a rain storm to arrive well before 10am and the start of proceedings of the day. We were near the Velocette Club, the Shuttleworth collection that I have on my list to visit soon and the VMCC. A great collection of enthusiasts and motorcycles. I was impressed by one guy who was riding around on a genuine motorised scooter the Stafford Mobile Pup from around 1919. Nothing is new! 

I was impressed with the Parilla Wild Cat an OHC 250cc single that sounded really sporty when it was ridden around the field. One of technological favourites is the NSU Max also a 250 with novel rod operated overhead cams. 

Frank did his best to draw crowds by firing up the Raleigh, then the Triumph then the Mitesse. The Raleigh was reserve for a climb and was at the start on Saturday and stalled then refused to run. It turns out that old age has affected the petrol tank and flakes of rust were blocking the fuel line. Something to sort out before the next event. All in all a very interesting day with lots of support being pledged for the Museum along with promised attendances. I escaped the rain on the way home. Back at the Museum on Monday and one of the visitors was from Queensland in Australia a member of the Historical Motorcycle Club. As we have rotary engines at the Museum we some interesting discussions about technology and how it was used. This included the rotary engine and every one thinks that it was Wankel however it seems that someone from Australia thought of it first as I have a copy of a share certificate from 1937 for a Rotary Engine Company.

 I know that Granville Bradshaw was designing all sorts of odd engines that were not reciprocating but not quite what Norton managed to make so successfully. Norton rotary engines ran very cool and the liquid cooling system was more to keep the induction pipe warm as the the flow of air was so fast that they frequently iced up. This leads me on to a book that I had borrowed from Peter “Motorcycle engineering” by Phil Irving fifth edition from 1973. A great engineer and designer he worked for Vincent, Velocette and AJS working on the famous Porcupine. After reading the book and thinking of the speed at which air is so fast that it causes ice to form on the induction tract this happens on the Velocette LE too in cold weather. He writes about an inlet velocity of around 300ft per second and can be calculated quite easily from the inlet port diameter, piston diameter, stroke and the RPM. Although not exact it is a good correlation to what is practically seen. 

This then leads me on to what is happening in modern engines to get so much more performance and does this equation still hold true? Any thoughts?

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Dispatch Rider from 1939

A British Tommy

For those who have visited the London Motorcycle Museum and listened to me my most used word is “interesting” what other word would you use when you are trying to work out a way of doing something that has not been done before? Think of those guys when motorcycling was in its infancy and people are trying to work out what to do. What were they thinking of? Many ideas were tried and their success rated by sales. Single speed motorcycles that had no clutch and were pedal assisted lasted until the 1960’s. I remember when the law was introduced about 50cc motorcycles and all the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers produced six and seven speed fifties. The law makers got it wrong with the specifications they only needed to have stipulated a single speed and that would have ensured the machines only did around 30 mph. Like the early engine makers who had to have a powerful and flexible engine. That restricts ultimate performance. Thinking about about what other people do I was in Norfolk last October and while at the Norfolk Motorcycle Museum I met a couple who lived near London and had not yet visited. I gave them a flier and left it at that. I was surprised when the couple, Peter and Rosie, came to pay us a visit last Monday. I had a very enjoyable time and I think they did too. Peter had good reason for paying us a visit. His father was a DR (Dispatch Rider) in World War 2 and rode a Triumph 3SW. 

We have an example in the Museum and he has kindly sent me a picture of his father. He was with the East Lancashire Regiment and was at Dunkirk with the British Expeditionary Force, was left behind, reported as missing in action then managed to get back by rowing home. Being a DR was not the safest job in the world and you would have to be quite smart to navigate unknown terrain to find the person you would need to get the message to. Not to mention avoiding being shot at! This particular team of riders were affectionately known as the Savage Saints.I guess that they must have looked a fearsome lot after being out all day on unpaved roads. We have, at the Museum the 1942 training video for DRs that covers every aspect of riding from learning to ride, maintenance to cross country riding and fording rivers. Although everyone thinks of the BSA M20 as the military bike every other manufacturer was used too. Most of the video has riders on Nortons.

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Cantanhede Motorcycle Museum

Visit to Portugal.

After Luxembourg on the Buell the 2CV World meeting was soon upon me and a trip to Portugal in my little car was completed. It was not without drama with the car leaving an oil slick in Portugal and the need to replace an engine oil seal on the campsite. Having fixed that the rocker box seals started leaking from the new found crankcase pressure. Moving on to a better experiences I finally read my holiday book on the way back. This was another Zoe Cano book “Southern Escapades” and her experiences in Florida and Alabama. A charming book that reminded me of my visit to Orlando and Daytona beach in 2003 also for the Biketoberfest. My plan while in Portugal was to find a bike Museum to visit. There was supposed to be one in Lisbon but I could find no information on that and the other was tracked down on the internet looking through the Bike Museums in Europe website.

There is one in Cantanhede which is about 18 miles to the north west of Coimbra. Coimbra is full of respected Medical and Scientific Universities which makes it historically interesting but as there are so many students there food and beer are relatively cheap. I only had a one night stop there and the reason for the stop was the Ibis hotel that had secure underground parking. My car has a ragtop and was full of camping gear and stuff so overnight away from prying eyes is a good move. My visit to this private collection was after 6pm in the evening after the owner had finished work. Was an interesting place to find in that the town was hosting a County Fair so the place was full of people and traffic. After a few phone calls we met up and I was directed into a pedestrian area top park the car outside of the anonymous looking building. 

Henrique and Pedro

We received a very friendly greeting from Pedro Martins, whose English is extremely good , and Henrique Eqbral, the owner of the collection, who then took us around with Pedro interpreting. Paul Diniz, another member of the team, arrived almost at the end of the visit. It was a delight of Italian motorcycles with all the ones you can think of, Aprilla, Benelli, Cagiva, Ducati, Gilera, Harley Davidson (Aermacci), Laverda, Mondial and MV Augusta. I like the lightweights like the Desmo 250 Ducatis, the style of the 175 Gileras and MVs but the Mondial 250 dohc models take the award.

Have you seen one of these before? Henrique has five of the six in Portugal!!!
Henriques passion is for Italian motorcycles but he also has an appreciation for British motorcycles and has a selection of Panther’s, BSA’s, a Royal Enfield or two and a couple of OK Supremes. One of which is his favourite that he gets to take out regularly. 

The evening passed by very quickly with discussions about why the British Motorcycle industry failed and how to approach restorations. I had a great time and need to return, perhaps next year with one of my Velocettes to be a part of their motorcycling scene. If you get the chance it is a great place to visit, not only Portugal but this museum, a tribute to Italian motorcycles.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Pendine Sands

Pendine Museum of Speed

I’ve been a bit busy over the last few weeks and there was no time to sit down and get events recorded. I was due to be at a few events that included Cassington and Chinnor Byke Dayz but never made it. I think the weather for Chinnor was the best yet and I visited the site with flyers for the Museum on the preceding Tuesday, also MAG club night. I do hope that all went well and perhaps I’ll get there next year. A trip to Tenby was arranged and that was not without drama. Two days before I noticed oil coming from the car 2CV derivative, on the left hand cylinder and discovered the banjo bolt on the oil feed to the head had stripped its threads. I repaired this with a home made helicoil and all was fine on the Saturday. Off on the Monday and a distinct smell of oil pervaded the car. Stopping at a services beyond the Severn Bridge I found the engine bay covered in oil. Checking the oil and only needed a one litre top up. It should get me to Tenby to effect a repair. 


The oil warning light came on as I approached the place where we were staying making a right turn. It went out when I straightened up. Slow progress and arrived with somewhat reduced braking power. Oil was dripping everywhere. I made an environmental sheet from a couple of bin bags so as not to make too much mess and left things to the morning. Next morning it was up early to find a car place that I could get some more oil and drive way cleaner. It started to rain. Later that morning I stripped off all the necessary bits to get access to the banjo bolt I had done the thread repair on. It was still good. I could not see where the oil was coming from until I started the engine and it was the oil feed pipe to the cylinder head was gently pulsing oil from a small hole. By three in the afternoon I had ordered parts needed with next day delivery and then went off to a local pub for some refreshment in the dry. It was still pouring with rain. The parts duly arrived around mid-day and all was back together and I was at another pub by four in the afternoon after replacing the offending pipe. It fell apart as I was removing it. Rusted away! Many of Tenby’s Brewery best ales were consumed that evening! Now it is Thursday and time to visit Pendine Sands and the Speed Museum. 

The beach-7 miles of sand

It is only small and a £2 entry fee does not do it justice. They had over 50 people pass through that morning…. If only??? The museum is due to close at the end of this year and the site redeveloped with a bigger and better museum on its way. The main feature there is Babs that had been restored after being buried in the sand for many years after the fatal accident that killed Parry-Thomas in 1926. Motorcycle speed records were also made there during the twenties but didn’t continue for long as the wet sand was a bit too soft for bikes to go really fast. 

Now we have Pendine Speed Week to relive the past glory days. Weather permitting. The little car made it home with no more drama and I was back at the London Motorcycle Museum on the Monday on the LE with visitors from New Zealand and Canada for a little international flavour. Trusty has returned from the Whitgift School display and the 1911 Rudge has been out for a show. For those who were at the Beezumph event I hope enjoyed our display.