Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fitting a steering damper to an Indian Royal Enfield

1997 Royal Enfield Bullet
A few months ago I bought a nicely aged sixties Watsonian Monza sidecar to fit to my '97 Indian Bullet. I've always wanted to have a go at sidecar piloting and a budget chair tacked on to a hack bike I already own seemed the cheapest way of doing it. In the first flush of enthusiasm the chair was duly attached without too many difficulties. However despite being reasonably well set up the handling was dangerously evil. The front end broke out into violent shakes from walking speed onwards. Old hand sidecarists have told me that you should ride through it and it will smooth out. In this case though the shakes were such that the chances of riding through them and getting out alive at the other end were negligable.

So, off came the chair and it was back to the drawing board. A friend lent me a set of original Redditch sidecar fork sliders with extended trail. These would have been great except I've got a disc front end on my Bullet and getting the sliders to fit would have involved making a mounting plate for the disc caliper, lining it up and sorting out a new mudguard. And when the job was done I wasn't sure that the extra braking of the disc combined with the greater trail wouldn't have resulted in excessive fork twisting under braking.

Royal Enfield Bullet with steering damper fitted.
I moved my thoughts on to getting a hydraulic damper. This would have worked well enough but look a bit incongruous and in the time I was looking no decent quality damper came my way at a reasonable price. What I did chance upon though was an original Redditch fork bottom yoke with integral friction steering damper. In the meantime I sourced a pair of sliders for very cheap from a bike that had been in a front end smash - the stanchions were bent but the sliders seemed good. New stanchions came from Hitchcocks and head bearings I had in my spares box.

The front end was duly stripped down. It looked like everything would go together simply. The Indian Bullet already has a lug on the front downtube for the friction damper anchor point. Not sure why they still leave that lug there as it serves no purpose and they don't go as far as to drill and tap it. Out came the drill and I carefully drilled a 6mm hole into the damper lug. If anyone tells you that Indian Bullets ae made with poor quality metal don't believe them, this lug was hard as rock. Next step was to run an 8mm tap down the hole.
Royal Enfield Bullet stereing damper bottom yoke view. Note lug on the frame.

With the Indian bottom yoke out and the casqette flapping around I could knock out the old steering bearing cups. To cut a long story (bearings in, swear, hammer, bearings out, repeat) short I discovered that steering bearing cups from a Redditch Bullet will fit into an Indian frame however the inner races / cones will not. You may then suspect that the cone that fits on the Redditch bottom yoke would work fine with the Indian cup. Nope, the British ones are ever so slightly different and though they seem to fit the ball bearings are not quite running on the bearing surfaces correctly. So, in the end, the correct configuration is: Indian bearings at the top in the casquette and in the top cup. British bearings in the bottom cup and on the bottom yoke. The balls are the same size for both.

This figured out I put it all back together discovering that the British steerer tube on the bottom yoke is slightly longer than the Indian one. This is probably because it was designed for the later pattern casquette and the steerer nut would have sat proud and the damper knob would sit straight down on to it. To get over the problem I raided my box of bicycle spares and fitted a mountain bike 1 1/8" head set spacer over the Enfield recessed steerer nut. To space out the damper adjuster rod correctly I used an axle spacer from a cycle rear hub. The Indian steerer tube top lock nut had to be drilled out to allow the friction adjuster rod through. It was a little fiddly bolting the fixed plate of the friction damper mechanism to the newly tapped out frame lug but once that was done it all went back together a treat.
Royal Enfield Bullet steering damper fitted with help from a couple of mountain bike parts.

Whilst it was all apart I decided to spoil the bike with a few other goodies. A new Indian speedo with a Smiths Chronometric type face and a retro style ammeter. A sixties handlebar fairing in preparation for February's planned ride up to the Dragon Rally and a fork brace from Hitchcocks. The fork brace was pricey but since fitting the disc brake the forks have suffered from twisting under braking and I thought with all the new parts on and the imminent sidecar fitting I might as well try and get it all as good as possible. The fork brace is beautifully made (as well it might be for the price), was a doddle to fit, looks good and does exactly what it is made to do.

Road testing the damper it all works well and is adjustable over a wide range from off to solid. The Bullet is a sweet enough handling and low powered bike that solo it has no need of the damper at all, in truth it felt a bit strange with it screwed down. Truth will tell when it has the chair on the side, hopefully in time for the Dragon.....

Mr Hitchcock's very nice Royal Enfield fork brace.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Wall Autowheel carburettor

Post World War One Wall advert.

I'm well aware that my blog is at the best of times one of very narrow interest. In this post however I seek to narrow it down yet further to a level of obscurantism beneath which it would be hard to sink...

The Wall Autowheel has an interesting story involving backing by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and mechanical insporation from the wonderful FN four. However ladies and gentlemen I shall brush over all of this and go straight on to the fascinating subject of the Wall Autowheel's carburettor.

I will start with the let down that I don't even know who made the carb. This posting is just some technical info for a fellow Wall owner. As I was going to write it down anyway I thought I might as well post it online on the narrow offchance that it may help someone else at some distant point in the future.

Wall Autowheel carburettor.
The carb is of extremely simple design. There is no slide needle and air adjustment must be set in advance with a clip set on the top of the carb body just beneath the top bezel. So far I've run mine with the air fully open and not experimented with other settings but as mine does run hot perhaps on the next outing I'll close the air a little and enrichen the mixture (mine runs on a very weak two stroke mix for extra lubrication).

Wall Autowheel float needle.

Firstly, my measurements are relatively accurate (from a limit gauge) but not absolute. Bear in mind too that the parts are nearly 100 years old and have already had a full life so are perhaps not quite to the designer's blueprint, if any components fitted indeed ever were in the first place.

The float needle is 2 11/32" long. A spring clip holds the needle in place. The needle has 13 notches acting as positions for the clip to adjust the height of the float. The notches begin 11/16" from the top of the needle and are spread over 5/16". I run mine with the bottom of the clip on the top notch. This gives roughly 1/4" of movement on the float between fully closed and fully open.

Wall Autowheel float needle clip. 

Wall Autowheel carb dismantled.

Wall Autowheel carb front side view.

The above view of the carb clearly shows the air adjustment clip.

Right, now I can sit back and see my page hits go through the roof!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Out on the Royal Enfield Model G trials again

An afternoon out playing with the Royal Enfield pre / post-war G Bullet trials bitsa. A taster of trialsing a heavyweight rigid clunker for Ian. Cheers for the pictures mate!

Royal Enfield Model G trials.

Yours truly warming her up.
Ian's off to a good start.
Didn't look so steep from down below!
Big grin is mandatory as is silly hat.
Well into the swing of it by the end.
 Postscript: Ian has since bought a Honda XL250 off roader.... Messing around off-road is addictive!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Velocette Venom belt drive

1955 Velocette Venom.
Sometime around a year and a half ago my Velo's clutch started slipping. It was on a vintage run sharing the route with a number of machines more suitable to gently pottering than the mighty Venom so much deliberate slippage of clutch was required. So much so that after twenty miles or so the slippage became involuntary.
Not such a problem you might think, just carefully follow the approved Velo procedure of taking the drive sprocket cover off with machine on stand, insert adjuster peg through hole in aforementioned sprocket and, in gear, roll the rear wheel forward slightly. Problem was that no amount of correct adjustment would cure the issue.

So, next step, dismantle the clutch to check. Friction plates badly worn. Replace and try again. No improvement. Metal plates are noted as worn. Buy new and fit. Same problem. Hmmm... for that matter the basket is also quite worn. Replace but still no improvement. This was all getting rather silly. The time came to stop wasting money on new parts and check it all through carefully. After much head scratching it turned out that the different plates and the basket had come from different suppliers and though all may have been just within tolerances, together they just didn't match up. The main problem being that the tangs on Velocette plates are cut with an angled face. The angle on the friction plates was sharper than that on the basket meaning that the plates would never sit snugly into the basket and would remain always very slightly lifted. Just enough to cause slippage under higher load but also mal-fitting enough to cause drag too.
KTT Service belt drive conversion.
With a significant amount of time already off the road not too mention much gnashing of teeth it seemed like the bike needed a complete new clutch and one that would definitely work. I recalled the Kevin Thurston (KTT Services - Kevin Thurston Transmissions) belt drive conversion that I had seen at a show. The conversion uses Yamaha R1 plates in a new basket but using the Velo face plate and spring holder. It has the nice feature of retaining the original Velo cush drive mechanism on the engine pulley and better still has an outrigger crank oil seal that bonds on to the cases to do away with the constant seepage of oil into the primary cover and the consequent leaks from the tin cases.

So far from this sorry tale of mechanical woes and wasted money the only advantage to me had been that I was now very familiar with the workings (or lack thereof) of Velocette clutches. Velo afficianados seem to go to great pains to defend the wonky engineering of the Hall Green clutch. Though my Venom is probably the favourite in my small stable my mind still boggles at quite how they came up with such a design. Drag is inherant in its design, it is fiendishly complex to manufacture, a b**** to assemble and set up and is housed in a vintage tin case. To speak up for it it does work (but so do conventional push rod designs and often much better) and is very light...

I got in touch with Kevin and shortly after placed an order. Kevin was very helpful, took a deposit and quoted delivery in a couple of months. In the end it took a little longer, not a big problem as it wasn't as if I had too much spare time and my only bike off the road.

When the kit arrived it was all very nicely made and initial fitting seemed easy. It came without the clutch basket bearing race so although the kit is reasonably priced, the race (not supplied by Kevin) is not, so it pushed the overall cost up a fair bit. I guess normally you would use the original chain basket race but in my case it was shot.

1955 Velocette Venom drive side view.
I'd like to say that fitting was a doddle but sadly it didn't work out so for me. The clutch itself was very easy but getting it all to fit inside the case and not rub and scrape was a different matter. The first point to rub was the inner primary case. I gave Kevin a call and he suggested removing the o ring that sits between the crankcase and primary case, if this didn't work he would make a spacer for me to sit inside the engine pulley. Taking the o ring out worked. Then kicking the bike over for a test run the kick start spring went. Another insight into the oddity of Hall Green engineering as I stuck two nails in the vice to pre-load the spring in the sping holder....

Putting the outer case on it was evident that the Velo wouldn't play ball and give up without a fight. First obvious point of contact was the felt seal holder that faces against the clutch. I made up a new double thickness cork gasket and drilled the rivets out that held the felt seal holder in and removed it, as it was going to run dry it didn't seem like the lack of a felt seal would cause any problems. Re-assembling I cursed the Velo tin case with its multitudinous screws holding it all together. The part of the outer case that I would describe as a small shelf under the insection cap was now obviously rubbing on the engine pulley. As I have no idea what its logical function is I took the step of cutting it off. Reassemble and still some rubbage on the pulley. To counter this I made a new central spacer approximately 1/8" over standard to push out the centre of the primary outer cover. It all now seemed good. However cracking the engine in to life caused something to move and it came to a sudden stop. The pulley had rubbed against the new outrigger oil seal. Nothing for it now except to make a spacer to sit inside the pulley. For good measure I also chamfered off the internal right angle edge of the pulley. The spacer made up was 1/16". Back together again and finally bingo, all good.

The clutch was extremely easy to adjust. I even got it right first time - after all that I felt that I was due some luck. Giving the bike a test ride it worked magnificently. The clutch action is extremely light and it will hold stationery in gear for a good while longer that the normal 3 or 4 seconds the standard clutch gives before drag and stall. So finally after all the effort it was well worth it. If it seems like I encoutered a lot of problems fitting it, well I did! But really it's perhaps not too much of a surprise given the very narrow proportions of the Velo clutch and the individual nature of each Velo. So, certainly the KTT belt conversion isn't a buy one day and fit that evening upgrade but it is worth it and I feel has made my Velo a good bit more pleasurable to ride.

Grove Classics roll on centre stand for Velocette.
As a footnote I picked up a second hand Grove Classics roll on centre stand halfway through the fitting of the clutch saga so decided to fit it at the same time. Along with the belt drive I can certainly recommend it too as a boon to the useability of the Velo. The standard centre stand is a bit of a beast to use with nothing roll-on about it at all, it requires a massive heft and taking it off the stand usually involves skidding it along forwards several feet in a hernia-inducing lunge on all but the roughest of surfaces. The new roll-on stand is just that and requires a lot less effort to get on and off the stand. The only criticism is why didn't they fit a tag on it to catch with your boot to lower the stand as it can be a bit tricky to get a purchase on. This way body weight could be used to far better advantage to get the bike on to the stand too. I sense a home modification coming on..

Velocette Venom 171.
And finally, just a little about the bike. It's a '55 model. Though the Venom was officially from the '56 model year onwards a few were produced in '55. Starting with engine number 101 mine is 171. Certainly not the oldest survivor as both 101 and 102 survive. It was originally finished in the rather horrible 'dove-grey' option which a previous owner perhaps sensibly overpainted in black. As far as I can work out the only difference in spec between a '55 model and '56 is in the saddle which is the same type as fitted to MSS models, a little more padded and rounded that the later Venom ones.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Jack Hearne cycles

Jack pictured on the right.
Being a two-wheeler fanatic and growing up in a small market town the local cycle shop was an obvious mecca. Sometime around the age of twelve I plucked up the courage to walk in and ask for a job. Catching Jack in the right mood and at the right time there began a friendship that lasted many years. When I asked for that Saturday job I hadn't known what a priviledge it was to be taken under the wing of a man who was once a mechanic for his country's team and in the premier league of frame builders.

Jack was a great teacher of cycle mechanics and, though it didn't always seem so at the time (short cuts were never encouraged - tyres were to be inflated by hand despite the compressor under the bench and power tools were a strict no no!), he took a great deal of effort in passing on the intricacies of the trade. With hindsight I think he also took pride in the fact that working for him could be seen to be character building. Furthermore a rich education in the full expressiveness of the Anglo Saxon language was part of the package and it seemed Jack's sincere wish that I should exit the shop slightly less of a soft **** than when I entered it.

As a teenager I worked in the shop Saturdays and school holidays, slightly older I came back and helped out in the college holidays and later on I mucked in when I could at the Christmas rush. 
Hearne frame headstock detail.
It's a regret in my life that I pretty much fell out of touch with Jack when the shop closed just over ten years ago. And it was a sadness that despite intentions to get in touch I failed to do so before hearing about his funeral on the 8th September. There was no doubt though that paying last respects was the right thing to do and it seemed a fitting tribute to ride along on my Hearne framed bike that he gave me when he finally retired from the bike trade.

So here's to you Jack. Thank you for mentoring me through the cycle trade and my teenage years. Thank you for your friendship and generosity.

Geoff 'Jaffa' Orange has written up about his time as Jack's assistant during the Stoke Poges and Slough years:

I'd like to add some memories of his time at Blandford Forum.

Jack came down to Blandford Forum with his wife Peggy in the early eighties. They took over a guest house in the nearby village of Cashmoor. Though it was supposed to be a retirement it wasn't long before Blandford's cycle shop, then known as 'Lucas Cycles' came up for sale and, with cycles in his blood, Jack couldn't stop himself.

I started working for Jack just shortly after he had bought Lucas Cycles; immediately changed to Jack Hearne cycles and the shopfront signwritten in Jack's trademark black writing on yellow background. The story Jack gave me behind the trademark colours was that he had been told by a knowledgable biologist customer that black on yellow was the most instantly recognisable and stand-out colour combination to the human eye due to the danger association with stinging insects.
My Jack Hearne fixed wheeler.
The shop consisted of an original early victorian shopfront and showroom that had been slowly extended rearwards. Originally the property had consisted of a shop with a passageway connecting the street to the rear of the plot that contained a cottage and garden. Over the years the rear of the shop had been knocked through and a long wooden structure had been tacked on the back. Beyond this a corrugated plastic roof connected it to the cottage at the rear. The workshop area was in the corrugated roof lean to and I can remember checking inner tubes for punctures in a large old tin bucket. In the middle of winter the bucket would ice over and the ice had to be broken before checking where the tubes were holed. Like Jaffa I can recall Jack's complete prohibition on using levers to refit tyres - good practice but hard work for young hands!

Before too long Jack had decided that the shop's configuration wasn't up to scratch and with his brother he set about levelling the floor space (previously several sets of steps connected the shop front to the cottage) from front to rear and doing a proper job on creating a selling space for cycles. Being a listed building the shop front couldn't be altered at all and some 200 tones of rubble had to be wheelbarrowed out through the side entrance to the shop.

As the shop became established trade picked up and, if Jack warmed to you, his willingness for a chat in his semi-retirement job the shop became a magnet for local characters.
Jack became a well known and liked figure in Blandford and the village he and Peggy moved to after Cashmoor, Pimperne. And it was in Pimperne that the well attended and fitting memorial service was held.

The cycle I rode along is one of Jack's track frames that I have refurbed with as many period Campagnolo parts as possible in homage to his preference for the brand.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

EML BMW sidecar outfit

1975 BMW R90/6 EML combination.
Adding up the amount of time I spend browsing bikes and bits and pieces on ebay is a concept that scares me. I'm not sure why it is so compelling, seems like most old bike friends have similar addictions though. Something to do with the hunter gatherer instinct perhaps, though usually the partner is less impressed with the purchase of some old nail of a bike than cavewoman might have been with a fresh bison carcas. But of course it is, in so many ways, far more productive a waste of time than watching tv. The crunch comes in those weak moments when bidding on something unseen actually seems like a good idea, and worst still you win - Moto Guzzi Spada from Stoke on Trent I curse you, you have brought me nothing but woe and have haemoraged my hard earned cash!

Well, in the course of browsing a couple of days back I came across this BMW EML frame. Something I had never heard of before and decidedly specialist territory. So, fully anoraked up and with a serious desire for some solid bike nerding I decided to check out further....

EML BMW frame on ebay. Just add bike....
Turns out EML (Eigen MakeLij - meaning 'Home Made') is a Dutch sidecar company. The company is still going and turns out trike conversions and modern style sidecars and has been around since 1972 when it was founded by Hennie Winkelhuis.

The sidecars were of modern design, not too my taste but of a type definitely popular in mainland Europe. More intruigingly though EML considered that the standard BMW frame was not up to the rigours of high performance charioteering so went into production with a complete strengthened replacement BMW pattern frame. As far as I can work out differences from a standard BMW frame are in the welded on rear subframe, integral sidecar lugs and of course the earles type forks. You've got to assume that the general fabrication of the frame is of heavier duty than a standard BMW.

Here's a copy of a period roadtest from the American 'Road Rider' magazine dating ffrom 1984.

The frame offered would make an excellent and interesting project. Apparently it is all designed so that the standard BMW components would bolt straight on. Simple, find a donor mid-seventies to late-eighties R80, 90 or 100 and off you go... Probably not quite so easy but you get the picture. Hmmm... I'd like a sidecar combination. This would make an excellent one. Wooaah! Steady on the trigger finger!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bill Little's Open Day

Line of classics on the Little drive.

Bill Little's open day has become one of the finer institutions in the classic motorcycling summer season. The Little's open up their driveway, barn and field, offer burgers and hotdogs and folks ride in and stay as long as they like. To add to the excitement there's an autojumble, free for stallholders, with a good quantity of proper garage clear out rather than the usual professional traders. To top it all things kick off in the evening with live music in a barn and the local pub brings along a few kegs and sets up in the garage. It's all informal, no booking for anything and always a good day out.

Triumph Model H 1917.
An early start on the now faithful Norton 99ss setting of with Dan on the 625 Bullet we met Ian in Salisbury on his Kawasaki W650. It's nearly two hours away from Dorset along for the most part ideal twisty country roads through magnificent scenery. Riding part West Kennet Long Barrow, Silbury Hill and along the avenue of stones at Avebury is always a treat and a favourite ride.   

 The last couple of years the weather hasn't been so kind but this year, though ocassionally threatening, the rain gods were kind. With good weather and the murmur that this would be the last open day turn out was huge with an excellent selection of old machinery coming and going.  
BSA A65 with Swallow sidecar.

Well used Birmingham Scott.


Well used Harley WL.


Nimbus, at a guess from the early 50s.

Scott in nice original condition.

Douglas Mk V in front of the Little's living room.

Excellent period Tribsa.

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!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Dorset VMCC Veteran and Vintage Run

1927 Triumph Model N - sadly no prize for scruffiest bike!

A damp morning in early July didn't promise a lot for a gathering of veteran and vintage machines in the middle of the Dorset countryside. Chinks in the clouds however encouraged some thirty hardy pilots of early machines to turn up at Alweston Village Hall car park and the weather gods blessed the virtuous as, despite downpours immediately before and after the run, the ride remained dry.

This was the first public outing for my '27 Triumph Model N. I had worries about the oiling as it had tightened up on a test run but in the end the oil flowed and all was well. It did tighten up towards the end of the ride but a couple of minutes cool down time cured it. A couple of folks had a test ride at the end and it was pronounced to be more lively than another fellow's Model P but flatter than it should be and perhaps the timing is slightly out and causing it to overheat.
V twin Sunbeam in an AJS twin sandwich!

Everyone made it around with only a few belt slip issues and most folks took the longer fifty mile route. The route was nice and flat to suit older machines, a welcome change from a couple of years back when I took the mighty Wall Autowheel along a 50 mile slog of the hills of North Dorset!

Pilots-eye view of a 1929 Norton Model 18.

Seeing this beautifully turned out Model 18 gives inspiration to complete my Model 19 which has to my shame been a work in progress for the last 7 or so years.

Coventry Eagle Flying 8 enjoys some rare sunshine.


This Coventry Eagle flying 8 is a regular on the local scene and represents the ultimate in high-powered yet unfussy sports tourers of the late vintage era.

Kerry Abingdon rear view.

 Great period accessory leather spare belt case on this Kerry Abindon. I've got a rough copy of a veteran Brookes catalogue and a huge variety of leather cases for different applications were available to enhance your machine. Sadly virtually none have survived. The Kerry Abingdon was made by the same company as made, and indeed still makes, King Dick tools. Their motorcycles were branded over the years as Kerry, Kerry Abingdon, King Dick and AKD. The Kerry Abingdon was in fact produced for the East London Rubber Company from 1907 to 1915 and sold through their catalogue and dealer network.

Veteran Harley with wicker sidecar.

Another regular and solid performer on local runs is the veteran Harley. Pushbike style pedal start and ultra lightweight wicker sidecar must make for an exciting ride.