Sunday, July 31, 2011

VMCC Founders Day 2011

Mellowed Douglas 90 Plus with Stanford Hall as backdrop.

Given fine summer weather Founders Day has always been one of the better events in the old bike calendar. A great informal atmosphere, plenty of folks riding in and one of the best autojumbles of the year. It's been some three years since I was last able to make it but this year I was free and clear with leave of absence from home granted! An early start on the Norton Dommi, perfect weather and a 180 odd mile trip up through Dorset, Wiltshire and along the Fosse Way through the Cotswolds really felt to be in the spirit of the event.

Matt's 'Beam leant nonchalantly against an oak.

Since last attending the format has changed and everything now takes place in front of the Hall instead of to the rear. I worried that this would detract from the atmosphere as an abiding memory is of used vintage machinery leaned up against trees; trees with an established order as every year the Brough crowd would park up at a certain point, Vincents at another etc, etc. The move has lost some of this appeal to the event and it has inevitably become more formalised with clubs turning up to stands rather than meeting at age old gathering points handed down across generations of vintagents! But with greater organisation and consequent greater ticket costs parking on your club stand and getting the free ticket makes good sense. Matt and I arrived and decided to keep the time honoured tradition standing by nonchalantly leaning the Norton and Sunbeam against a sturdy oak. The move to front of house is however no doubt an improvement as the Hall now forms a impressive backdrop, the autojumble is on the flat and free of the clumps of sheep cacka that stood it out from other jumbles and the marsh grass tellingly doesn't grow at the new location.

First stop was, naturally enough, the jumble and many tasty machines were spotted; mostly at particularly tasty prices, for the vendors that is..

Neracar Model B project for those skilled in tinsmithery.

On Andy Tiernan's stand a Neracar Model B restoration project stood out. At £3000 the price was nowadays not unreasonable. It looked complete but the restorer would have to be a skilled welder and tinsmith!

There is a great resource on Neracars on the late Ken Philp's site.

Chater Lea project.
This machine really caught my fancy and with more funds and time it might have found a home with me! On the Yeomans Motorycles stand it apparently had a log book from 1934 giving the AA as the owners. As Chater Lea supplied combinations to the AA it is fair to assume it is one of these with a 550cc side valve engine and sans sidecar. I would say that the bike is earlier than '34, maybe '28 or '29 from the fittings though it is possible the wheels are from another later machine. At £3900 it was neither cheap nor excessively pricey.

Rosengart cyclemotor.

Underside of the Rosengart cyclemotor.

 The Smith's Autocycles stand was displaying possibly the rarest machine on the field. A Rosengart cyclemotor dating from probably 1923 and made in Paris. There's another example in the Rosengart Museum. It is a 90cc two stroke, quite likely deafeningly loud as the exhaust appears to be a short megaphone exiting the rear of the machine. The crank is in the same casting as the fuel tank. It makes for a neat appearance but the soundness of the design must be in question! Even more wonky is the method of transfering drive to the wheel of the bicycle. The crank drives a sprocket which pulls a chain wrapped around sprockets driving pulleys on either side of the rim. The drive is metal on metal against the Westwood rim. The only possible advantage of this design that can be fathomed is that a clutch is incorporated into the design, this operated from the bars by bowden cable which pulls apart the pulleys on either wide of the rim which are spring-loaded. No doubt the rarity of the machine reflects the number sold and its success in operation. I'm not sure if it was for sale as no price was given, all the same it made an interesting exhibit.

Gnom cyclemotor.

 Also on the Smith's Autocycles stand was this Gnom cyclemotor, a peer of the Rosengart. Though of similar vintage the design is significantly more conventional and in fact bears some resemblence to the later Ducati Cucciolo. Again unpriced on the day but it is listed on the Smith's Autocycles website at £4000.

1919 Blackburne engined Verus.

 This immaculate 1919 Blackburne engined Verus was on display. I cannot find anything on the marque other than they were made from 1919 to 1925 in Birmingham and fitted with a variety of proprietry engines.

Regent with Coventry Victor engine.

 Another immaculate obscurity spotted. A Regent with Coventry Victor flat twin engine. Apparently Regent were a manufacturer from 1920-21 and with just this one bike in the range. A nice quality machine with Brampton Biflex forks and Sturmey Archer CS gearbox.


 Seldom seen and one of the finest vintage motorcycles, the AJS R7. It's rare to see one but on one particular display stand at Stanford there were 5!

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