Sunday, November 17, 2019

Port Talbot Steel Works Corgi

The first solo ride I had on a motorcycle was on a Corgi so I've got something of a soft spot for them. I'm not alone in that, they are fairly desirable nowadays and the cheeky appeal of them is quite widespread it seems. A number were bought as factory / worksite runabouts (though quite why anyone really thought they would be more fit for purpose than a simple bicycle is beyond me...) and some were even used on ships.

This particular Corgi is at the Port Talbot Steel Works (currently Tata Steel) in Wales. The photo is annotated 'New method of transport. AP 1950' on the reverse.

Port Talbot Steel Works Corgi 1950.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

A visit to Amberley Museum

A recent visit to Amberly Museum in West Sussex. For those not familiar Amberly Museum is a vast indoor / outdoor industrial heritage museum located at an old chalk mine. The exhibits are far and wide ranging, from a telecommunications hall to lead molding to woodland crafts and the majority in working condition and demonstrated. Amongst all of it are numerous transportation exhibits, a small selection of which below. A visit falls well within the cliché of being a great day out for all the family. Thoroughly recommended and if you can make it there on one of the special events days so much the better.

Side valve BSA Sloper in the pre-war workshop re-creation.

And a Douglas combo in the same place.

Very nice. An original BSA factory produced
cutaway of a C12 engine.

The plaque on the plinth of the cutaway Beesa motor.

Outside view of the motor engineers shop.

A Sussex bus station of old.

The bicycle shop.

A peek through the window of the cycle shop.

1933 600cc BSA Sloper Linesmans combination.
A lovely period piece, the sidecar carries a three
piece ladder underneath and a comprehensive
tool kit on top. Part of the Post Office Engineering
Department the combo would have been used for
telelphone line installation duties.
An Enfield 8000 electric car from 1976. Not successful in its
time but undoubtedly pioneering the little Enfield was developed
by Royal Enfield with funding from Greek millionaire Giannis
Goulandris. This particular example was one of 66 that were
owned by the Electricity Board for evaluation between 1974
and 1984.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Flat tank Ajay

This smartly dressed gent is astride a mid twenties AJS side-valve. If I had to guess I would say a 1927 model.

1926-ish AJS.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Streamline Sidecars brochure 1960

Here's the brochure for Streamline Sidecars from 1960. A forgotten brand now and I dare say not well known when current either. Never-the-less the range is attractive, if slightly old fashioned for 1960 with their boat / launch shape and large wheels. 1960 was the very twilight of sidecar sales in the popular market, I cannot find any information but I suspect Streamline went under very soon after 1960.

Streamline Sidecars brochure 1960 front cover.

Streamline Sidecars brochure 1960 page 1.

Streamline Sidecars brochure 1960 page 2.

Streamline Sidecars brochure 1960 page 3.

Streamline Sidecars brochure 1960 page 4.

Streamline Sidecars brochure 1960 page 5.

Streamline Sidecars brochure 1960 page 6.

Streamline Sidecars brochure 1960 rear cover.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Royal Enfield Constellation 1958

A snap from back in the day of Royal Enfield's Constellation model. The picture is marked on the reverse '1958'. This was the first year of the Constellation and at this time it was the biggest and most powerful Brit bike you could buy. The 692cc engine was bigger than rival marque's 650cc offerings and the 52bhp on tap was a significant amount of power for the time - to put in to context this was 7 horses more than the Rapide from now defunct Vincent but 3 less than a Black Shadow.

Note the remote float chamber of the TT carb fitted to the bike, early Constellations were fitted with racing carbs, later replaced by twin monoblocs.
1958 Royal Enfield Constellation.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Stafford Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show 2019

Last weekend was spent up in Stafford standing on an autojumble stall endeavoring to have a bit of a clear out. Overall the exercise was a success, cash was raised and unwanted parts disposed of.

With the concentration on autojumbling I didn't get much of a chance to wander around the show and when I did it was crowded to the detriment of photography but here are a few images taken during quieter moments...

This '21st Century Commando' was on the Metal Malarkey
stand and looked very right.

Vintage and Veteran were offering a very early Royal Enfield.
1904 to be precise. I would have loved to have taken it home
but it fell majorly North of my price range.

Allen Millyard's beautifully executed vision of what Velocette
might have produced had they manufactured a v twin in the

Early 75cc face cam Capriolo.

Tiny Italians were out in force. Here a Ducati 50.

Bonvicini and Velocette.

Detail on the Bonvicini.

And finally on the Yeoman's stall this Norton
v twin special. Built around running gear that I
would best guess came from a WD 16H and fitted
with a JAP watercooled engine that probably
started out life as an industrial motor the bike
represents about the cheapest pre-war v twin Brit
you can find at £9750. The bike was tidily executed
but let down by the radiators which were fairly out
of keeping with the rest of the bike. The offside looked
acceptable but the near side stuck out a mile and
really was a bit of an eyesore.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Motorcycles and Motorcycling in the USSR from 1939 book review

Back in my university days I was a student of Russian politics. I can't say that I've gone on to practically apply those studies very much but it has left within me an enduring interest in all things Russian. That interest combined with a fascination for motorcycling obscurities meant that I had to get a copy of Colin Turbett's book just as soon as it came out.

As far as I know this is the only work of any size about Soviet motorcycles in the English language; thankfully Colin has made a decent job of it and done the subject justice. There are 128 pages and the various brands and models are covered along with social history, politics, sport and The Great Patriotic War. What I found particularly delightful is the number of period photos reproduced in the book, these are images seldom seen over here. Equally the reproductions of Soviet advertising material.

What makes the book a success is certainly the background and social aspects more than the machines themselves. The Soviet Union was not noted for the great choice it gave it citizens in either personal freedoms or consumer products and motorcycling was no different. There are only a handful of manufacturers and due to the nature of the planned economy products were of a standard design and many of these were developments of overseas designs such as the DKW R125 and BMW R71.

Colin's interest, expertise and passion for the subject matter is very much in evidence in the book and it comes strongly recommended. Even to those with just a passing interest in Soviet history and motorcycling the book is an enlightening and entertaining read.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Mid thirties Norton Model 18

A slightly blurry photo of a Norton Model 18 from, at a best guess, 1936 - though it could easily be a year either side.

1936 Norton Model 18.

errata: Thanks to John de Kruif of the excellent Vintage Norton site for pointing out that the cradle frame (the connecting pieces of frame under the engine) on this bike makes it an ES2 rather than the open loop framed Model 18 that I identified it as.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Royal Enfield Ensign legshields

A willfully obscure post this one, but really aren't they all? I'm in the process of a bit of a clearout and the time has come to pass these new old stock Royal Enfield legshields on. They're going to be up on eBay within a couple of days but I thought it was worth sharing the pictures here for posterity as they are rather nice.

First of all they are rather rare items and more so to find them new old stock in their original packaging but also they are quite lovely in themselves. The design goes way beyond the utility function required of a pair of legshields and a lot of flare and thought has gone in to the styling.

Look carefully and there is a lot of careful detailing in the pressings, the central rib of course gives rigidity as well as style but the indented v shapes top and bottom are really just pure styling. The overall shape is wonderfully curvy too.

I just hope they end up with someone who has an Ensign and will fit them.

The complete set. Note the cutaway for exhaust
at the lower of the right hand blade (on the left
in the picture).

Royal Enfield factory packing tape.

The original label. Sorry that it is orientated
incorrectly, the photo wasn't but for some
reason blogspot seems to want to rotate
it when uploaded.

This is the bag that the nuts and bolts came


More curves.

Monday, October 7, 2019


A tricky identify this one. Certainly late twenties and without doubt rather a glamorous machine. The bike is quite distinctive but I've failed to find a good match. The tank to me looks most like Montgomery, or perhaps a Zenith? Can anyone out there elaborate?

Dressed the part for some serious vintage touring. But
what is the bike?

Monday, September 30, 2019

Bantam goes LED - pre focus LED headlight bulbs

As I've been doing rather a lot of tinkering wiith my D1 Bantam of late and, frankly somewhat against expectations, actually enjoying riding it I decided to see what I could do to improve the lighting.

The bike now has an Electrexworld CDI ignition set but the output isn't massive so there is not a lot you can do above and beyond putting in a low-ish wattage halogen BPF headlight to improve illumination if sticking with conventional bulbs.

I was also very interested in sorting out the tail lighting as early Bantams have a horrible habit of regularly blowing the feeble torch type E10 bulbs used for the brake lights.

On my Bantam, despite the CDI set up, I stuck with positive earth and 6v. It would be very easy to go 12 but at the time I wired it I only had spare 6v bulbs and quite honestly, all things being equal, with a healthily wired system the 6 volts should be more than adequate.
Lighting as Mr Wipac never imagined it could be.
So tail first: as you probably know the Bantam Wipac rear light has a pair of stop bulbs and a separate tail bulb. The stop bulbs are E10 size. These are readily available in LED, just tap 6v E10 LED in to eBay and hundreds of options will pop up. Important for the Bantam is that you get bulbs with a very low profile. Multiple radial LEDs may seem like a good idea but they will not fit in to the space available so go for a single LED with a shallow dome. There are bulbs available in dual polarity, it's easiest to go for these. They are also available in red - this is a lot nicer, the blue-ish tinge to a white LED tends to overpower elderly plastics and makes the tail light unacceptably white coloured.

The tail light bulb is a BA15. Same applies as above, there's not a lot of space so go for a low profiled and not to bulbous bulb, in red preferably and with a radial spread of light. If the bulb is sitting right next to the plastic lense the effect is not nice.

Good news on the brake and tail lights is that they are very widely available and cheap as chips.
Wonders of modern technology. BPF LED.
The British Pre Focus P36D is slightly more pricey at typically around the GBP20 mark. There are a couple of different types available but the one I went for is as above. In operation it is pretty simple - there are two diodes, one faces up and one down. The down one is low beam and the two together constitute high beam. These bulbs cover voltages from 6 to 24v  and with this type you have to choose polarity. Other types are available that will do both positive and negative earth.

In use the headlight is definitely bright, way brighter than a standard bulb, not quite as good as a quartz halogen but it has about a fifth of the draw so therein lies your advantage for an elderly motorcycle. Plus LEDs are more robust and a more efficient use of power so what's really not to like. Standing still trying out the high beam it really does seem to illuminate way too much of the sky but once underway you find the it covers the road ahead too, I personally just find it slightly distracting to be riding along a country road and see that the tree tops ahead are lit up. It's probably a bit annoying for folks in rural residential areas too but the solution there is to go on to dip in built up areas.

To be a completist with the LED set up there's the pilot bulb to consider too. In all honesty you might as well ride with the headlight on all the time if you have LED and want daytime lights but the pilot is easy and cheap to replace too should you feel like it. Same as the brake lights, an E10 (also sometimes known as a minature edison screw - mes) although obviously in white not red. Once again dual polarity bulbs are available and easiest.

Overall a decent improvement. I use my old bikes at night on a fairly regular basis. I've been aware of a few nasty accidents of late involving slow and elderly vehicles being rammed by innatentive drivers of modern cars so anything I can do to avoid this is evidently a big bonus. Oh, and being able to see where I am actually going helps too.
Bright enough for you?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Francis Barnett Falcon

1950s Britain. Posing on a Francis Barnett Falcon. Typical dependable ride to work bike of the era for many folks in the era before cheap cars. The photo is annotated '1957. Garden at 25'. Presumably 25 is the address, pity we don't know the town or street.

Playing to the camera on a Francis Barnett.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Veteran Brooks motorcycle puncture repair and spare tube cases

I was lucky enough to pick up these rather nice veteran Brooks cases recently. Both are motorcycle items and each with a clip on the rear designed to attach to the rear carrier. The circular case is a B535 Motor Cycle Spare Tube Box and the rectangular a B539 Repair Outfit Case.

I cannot pin point the exact years of production but both appear in the 1911 and 1919 Brooks Book catalogues. I think this is roughly the span of their production.

Both cases shall be sympathetically restored and will find a home on my 1919 Quadrant.