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.

Monday, July 25, 2011

VMCC Weymouth Week 2011

Pub at Cerne Abbas chocka with old bikes

Always the big local run of the summer the Weymouth Run was expanded several years back to an entire week of runs. Sunday's Weymouth run is still the key event and the one with the most riders - not everyone is retired and can attend for the whole week! Several made the trek from overseas though and there were small Dutch and German contingents.

The weather for the whole week was pretty much ideal and turnout for each of the runs was good with seemingly few breakdowns. Myself I managed one run and two coffee stops. Most of the machines entered were more recent, perhaps reflecting that a run or day for a week is a lot to expect from a vintage bike.

Highlights of the week were seeing Cerne Abbas full of bikes for the lunch stop on Sunday, excellent fish and chips in Swanage and getting in the miles on Dorset country roads in proper English summer weather.

Here's a selection of pics of bikes that caught my eye over the week...

Vintage JAP engined Ardie.

This Ardie came over from Germany. German built but heavily British influenced with its big JAP side-valve engine it is a really high quality machine. The attention to detail on the build really puts many British bikes of the era to shame with the fine quality even going down to levers, switches and even a very neat map and instrument light!

Sunbeam combination fitted with a JAP 750cc sv motor.

A really nicely made Sunbeam special. Fitted by the builder with a JAP 750cc side valve twin motor it passed the 'specials test' of looking like something that could have been factory produced. In fact it seems strange that Sunbeam dropped twins from their catalogue in the early vintage era. It would have been easy enough to offer one as their 600cc side valve single cycle parts were ideal to accept a twin.

James 500cc ohv v twin.

Late vintage ohv 500cc James v twin. Fitted with James' own engine it is a beautifully high quality machine; light, nimble and designed for solo riding as against the majority of the Brit v twin buses of the era. I followed it as it was ridden two-up on Sunday's run, it kept a good pace and sounded superb. A bit of smoke from one pot but we can forgive it that!

AWO Simson 250cc model 425 single.
East German Simson over from united Germany. Not to everyone's tast styling wise it none-the-less appealed to me. With obvious design cues from BMW singles it is however quite apart from them. In fact I would go as far as to say the lines are far better than an R25 of the same period...

This is the 425 Sport model. The sport denotes swinging arm rather than plunger suspension as on the touring model.

Moto Rumi Tipo Sport.

A beautifully turned out Moto Rumi Tipo Sport. A wonderfully eccentric yet functional design - I've always wanted one. Seems hard though to justify the high prices they fetch. Perhaps at six foot three I'm a bit too large a pilot as well as holding different spending priorities.

Excellent Matchless G80 single with bathtub sidecar!

This is what it is all about! A proper old bike in the condition they were back in day! Matchless G80, cowhorn handlebars, sidecar with plywood board to which is bolted an old tin bath. All that is missing is a pair of greasers wearing stormtrooper helmets and studded brando jackets....

BSA M21 with launch type sidecar.

Tidy late thirties BSA M21 fitted as it should be with a sidecar. In this case a launch type of the deisgn favoured through the late twenties and thirties.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Vintage Revival Montlhery part II

Cycle race 'stayer' in action.
One of the several cycle pacers in the 'stayer' parade. I'd hoped that they might be actually pacing period track bicycles. If I'd have had a suitable treader there I might have volunteered though it could well have exposed a fitness deficit. Plus I suspect that there is quite a degree of skill required from both the stayer pilot in keeping a nice steady pace and the cyclist keeping close enough to benefit with making catastrophic contact. Look at the huge wooden belt pulley.

Sima Violet flat twin two stroke racer - loud!
Quite possibly the loudest vehicle I have ever come across. Sima Violet monoposto racer. A flat twin 500cc two stroke engine running through short megaphones. More noise than speed perhaps but it kept a fair pace with later sports Morgans with an engine only half the size.

Super Kim Agentinian land speed record contender.
'Super Kim' Argentinian record racer. Built by a producer of motorcycling accessories from the starting point of a Zenith, it sadly never quite broke any land speed records but was beautifully made. 1700cc and supercharged. As a nice touch relatives of the builder were at the event but alas the bike was not fired up.

Bugattis hit the accursed chicane.
 A pair of Bugattis on the dreaded Montlhery chicane; seemingly put in the track to stop folks getting high up on the banking. It was one disappointment of the event, given that there were so many authentic speed bowl racing machines present, that entrants weren't able to give full gas and lap on the full banked outer circuit. The section of banking used nowadays is relatively small and getting up near the top is a challenge.

'Piglet' GN / Ford special.
Frazer Nash / GN / Ford special 'piglet' replete with taxidermy weasel gave a good showing of itself around the circuit.

Maserati monoposto dash.
Dashboard view of a Maserati monoposto.

Sandford three wheeler on the grid.
French built Sandford three-wheeler on the starting grid. With a 1100cc Ruby engine it is quite a potent machine. In its day, more rapid and refined than a Morgan but doesn't hold up against the power to weight of a developed racing Morgan.

Strange 'Ganardiz' rotary engined beast.
I know nothing about this wonky French one off rotary aero engined machine other than it says 'Ganardiz' on the tank, has a Sturmery gearbox, looks a bit ungainly and runs. It was started up by the owners but not ridden, the exhaust note was suprisingly subdued given the stub exhausts. That carb has its work cut out though supplying five cylinders!

Lovely Darmont three wheeler.
Look like a Morgan but isn't. French built, Blackburn engined, Darmont.

Koehler Escoffier race monster.
Awesome French built Kohler Escoffier race bike. 1000cc ohc v-twin,

Nougier Magnat Debon 125cc record breaker.
Nougier Magnet Debon record breaker. A genuine Montlhery bike, back in 1938 this machine took four speed records. 125cc, double overhead cam and four speed box. It took the 100 kilometers record at 114.450 km/h as well as the one hour, fifty kilometers and fifty miles records.

'61 Norton Dominator 99ss homeward bound.
My '61 Norton 99ss loaded up and on its way home. A 700 odd mile round trip. Excellent event, thoroughly recommended and assuming it is held next year I hope to be back and perhaps on the track....