Friday, February 15, 2019

Early grass track

A small collection of images from an early post war grass track meet. This was how motorcycle sport got back on its feet following WWII. Cheap racing in fields on converted road bikes. Even so, it drew in the crowds. Sadly I have no idea of date or location, if anyone has an inkling of either then please get in touch.







Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Happy Valley Ariel

Recently I got hold of the photo album of a moto enthusiast who was stationed in Kenya back in the early post war era. I'll post up snippets from it over the next while. First up this page contains images of the protagonist with his '43 ex-WD Ariel in the Gilgil and Naivasha area.

Gilgil is a town in Kenya halfway between Nakuru and Naivasha and became infamous as one of the hubs of the 'Happy Valley set' of high living colonial aristocrats.


Broken down with a puncture on the 'short' Gilgil -
Naivasha road. Aug 1950.

Me and my 350cc 1943 Ariel.

Bill and I about to leave for a ride. Gilgil Aug '50.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Getting ready for the Pioneer Run

1914 Sun. 10 miles is possibly the furthest journey this bike
has undertaken for some fifty years.

A lot of icy and snowy weather of late but it has warmed up the last few days and a few heavy downpours of rain have washed the salt away from the roads. Today it seemed like a good idea to take the 1914 Sun out for a quick shake down ride.

At the moment the device is a bit of a pig to start and won't do much without some easystart (ether spray) and a plug clean. Once warm though it only takes a short paddle off to get it going, which is just as well when there is no clutch.

The good news on the short ten mile run was that the bike was basically sound, no problems at all from the motor just a few things to tighten up - a saddle that moved when you hit a sharp bump, loose head bearings and a carb that blew off its flange when the bike backfired. Easy fixes and nothing to stress about.

Lever for the two speed crash gearbox is on the tank. The bike
runs on pre-mix two stroke oil but there is the option to give a
squirt of oil direct to the bore from the separate oil tank if under
heavy load. With modern two stroke oils this seems to be a
redundant feature.

When warmed up the little Sun purrs along nicely. It takes a while to get used to the clutchless crash gearbox but the ratios are ideal, at a guess cruising speed is somewhere around 25mph, the motor is nice and flexible and takes inclines in its stride. Brakes are predictably feeble but overall it is a very simple bike to ride. Once the air and mag levers are set up pretty much all you need to do is to operate the throttle. The skill comes in timing junctions so that you don't have to come to a stop and then re-start the engine.

So now, some fettling to be done, more test rides and then Epsom Downs here we come...

The Sun is Brighton bound.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Need more power - D1 Bantam gains 25cc

Bantam in oily rag / barn find / cosmetically challenged /
disgraceful / knackered (take your pick) condition.

The nostalgia trip that is my D1 Bantam (passed my test on it when I was 17 and still have it nearly 30 years later..) went out for a test ride today to showcase a few improvements.

I've finally gotten around to properly re-wiring it following the fitment of the Electrexworld alternator and CDI ignition system. All seems good there and the bike holds charge on full beam so no problem. I changed to LED bulbs on the brake light whilst I was in the fettling mood as it regularly blew the old style ones that were there before. I decided to keep it on 6 volts though as I am too mean to fork out for a new battery and bulbs!

Having started to use the bike I again I proved the old adage of 'nostalgia, it's not what it used to be' as I discovered the Bantam to be somewhat tedious to ride with little power and gear ratios way too widely spaced. I'm sure the extra pounds I carry now over 17 year old me are not helping either.

Back when I was using the bike first time around I tried out a 'big bore kit' - ie I fitted the barrel and piston from a 150cc D3 model. Alas inexperienced 17 year old me did not change the jetting at the same time and I soon seized it up. Just recently I dug the barrel out of the spares box, sourced a new piston and a suitable D3 carb. The barrel was treated to a quick hone and on it all went.

The results are very satisfactory, the little bit extra power is enough to overcome the wring the neck out of it in second, try third, get bogged down, back to second, wring it again and repeat nature of the 125cc experience when it hit a slight incline.

So, workshop time well spent though obviously it is still no road burner. And despite the extra thirty years of experience I still managed to nip it up again on a long hill as I got carried away with the mighty power of those extra 25 ceecees. It might just be that the Tod head fitted makes it run a bit hotter so perhaps I should revert to standard for a little while. Must now remember to run it in carefully....

Extra power means I can now haul luggage so I fitted a Craven
rack. The copper pipe fixing is just temporary - I ran out of
suitable tubing.

Extra power means that I now have bragging
rights to display a cock of brass.

Aforementioned cockerel was picked up at a flea market a
 few years back but I never got round to fitting it until now.

Hills like this now hold no fear. At least they won't when
properly run in...

Saturday, February 2, 2019

A NUT or not?

Here a photo of a vintage combo on a very evocative cobbled street of terraced houses.

The definition on the picture is poor but if I was pushed to give an identification I would go for a NUT (Newcastle Upon Tyne) from the early twenties. If anyone out there can give a positive id please do get in touch.

High end twenties combination with a
very sporty zeppelin sidecar. Possibly
a NUT v twin?