Friday, June 29, 2012

Banbury Run 2012

Several weeks of rain preceeded this years' Banbury Run and forecasts had it that on the day the wet stuff was going to continue unabated. This was the first time that I hadn't had to work for the Banbury weekend for three years and my entry was secured. None-the-less it was difficult to get enthused about the prospect of a three hour ride in driving rain.

Come the day it did indeed start out rainy. The Gaydon Motor Heritage Centre offers hard-standing for entries and parking but the autojumble area was waterlogged and pitches were depleted considerably.

This is what it is all about, a sporting sv Sunbeam storms Sunrising.
The ride started out with a few drizzly patches but soon improved and a glorious day of riding was had around the lanes. The route-card was somewhat difficult to follow but then I am not the best at following them and soon settled in to following other competitors. After all, riding the lanes on a vintage bike with other vintage bikes and enthusiasts is what it is all about. The joy of the Banbury Run is in being a rolling spectator,watching the other machinery as you pass it by or it passes you and the refreshment stops in villages parked up with dozens of other vintage bikes.

My mount for the day, a '26 Humber parked up for refreshments.
The ascent of Sunrising is one of the great immovable traditions of the Banbury Run and I had high hopes for the 350 ohv Humber I was riding (thanks Dad for the loan!). We stormed up the lower reaches but halfway up a sudden and severe onset of clutch slip nearly halted us in our tracks. Down to first gear, ignition retarded and we slowly made it up in a slighty ignominious summit with a helpful chap walking alongside letting me know a push was available!

A Calthorpe on Sunrising doing nicely two-up.
Sunrising can get quite heavily trafficed. I felt particularly sorry for a Triumph Model N rider who was baulked at the steepest part, then rolled backwards and was forced to drop it. The Triumph front brake is an internally expanding band and is completely useless in reverse. 

Nicely patinated sv AJS.
The Banbury Run has become one of the great fixtures of the vintage riding season and is the largest gathering of vintage machines in the world. Long may it continue!

Wonderfully aged BSA sv.

Very original American Excelsior X.

Another view of the self-same Excelsior.

Flat-tank Norton combination.

Equisite Montgomery with 8 valve Anzani engine.

Beautiful Quadrant has problems on Sunrising.

Traffic on Sunrising. A Triumph has issues with its internal band brake.

More Sunrising traffic.

A 'Black Ariel' canters up Sunrising.

Chater Lea Blackburne.

Bonhams were punting two Crockers soon to come up for auction.
A fine Royal Enfield model 180 Sports.

Great McEvoy JAP with drop-tank sidecar.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Stanger Two Stroke V-Twin 1919

Here's another oddity from the brochure 'archive'. The 1919 Stanger Two Stoke v-twin. 'At last they have accomplished the hitherto impossible'! Well, good for them but alas no-one else was much interested... Few buyers were consoled by the fact that it was not a 'freak'! It did reach production and was sold between 1919 and 1923 but it seems that very few were sold. There is a survivor - in the Sammy Miller Museum.

More brochures to follow soon...

1919 Stanger brochure page 1.

1919 Stanger brochure page 2.

1919 Stanger brochure page 3.

1919 Stanger brochure page 4.

1919 Stanger brochure page 5.

1919 Stanger brochure page 6.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

VMCC Wroughton Sprint

Wroughton in Wiltshire is the location of the Science Museum big objects store and archive. The location was an RAF airbase from the thirties through to the seventies. Museum items are held in the old hangars and the airstrip is the location for the bi-annual Vintage Motor Cycle Club Sprint Section Wroughton Sprint. The machinery turning up is eclectic from flat tank sprinters through to twist and go scooters and nitrous-assisted modern rockets.

Aiming for slowest time of the day I brought along my Moto Giro veteran BSA Bantam and James' Gilera Sport 175cc featured in a previous posting. Both were entered in class 19 - Road legal 125 to 250cc. I had entered the Bantam in this class before and walked away with fastest time of day (it's not a popular class - I was sole entrant!)

The Bantam may not be quick, though it's really not bad for a 57 year old road going 175. Last outing I had failed to break 60mph at the end of the quarter, this time I dropped gearing and had high hopes! In the end I cracked it, just, though a sub 20 second quarter eluded me. In defence Wroughton does run slightly uphill. To put into perspective proper sprint prepared Bantams were making in around 80 mph at the end of the quarter.

At Wroughton bikes go up head to head, two down the strip at a time. They're racing the clock and not each other. This means that a Bantam can go up against a nitro burning Hayabusa...

Halec JAP trike.
The Cameron family of Cameron Racing Engines had brought along several tasty v twin JAP engined machines, the Halec JAP as above and the 'Manx Superior' special which aquitted itself very well and another JAP engined sprinter which I'm ashamed to admit I know nothing more about other than it looked fantastic and ran to match.

Manx Superior Norton JAP special.

v-twin JAP sprinter.

It's certainly not all glamour bikes though as my Bantam definitely proves. As a tail piece here's a B31 trailered up to go home that ran, and ran well, despite looking like it had just crawled out from beneath a hedge!

Excellently scruffy BSA B31 sprinter.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

The Whitwood Monocar

Another brochure from the 'archive'. This time for the 1935 Whitwood Monocar. From the early days of motorcycling the concept of a two-wheeled car was one that caught the imagination of the more maverick motorcycle designers. It is remarkable the persistance with which these design concepts appeared given that the buying public was almost without exception unresponsive to the idea.

The Neracar did reasonably well post Great War and then in the thirties the Francis Barnett Cruiser and several models in the Coventry Eagle range provided a watered down version of the concept. Postwar, although not the massive seller the company had gambled on, the mighty LE Velocette shifted reasonable numbers in a long production run.

The concept of a two-wheeled car however remained a lure even up until the eighties with the Qasar, Voyager, et al. It could even be said that they were all proved right in the end with the current vogue for super scooters...

The Whitwood was made in Portsmouth at the OEC factory and had the same mechanicals as the OEC Atlanta Duo. It seems it was offered for only two years and I have not heard of any survivors. Interestingly it was offered with 150, 250, 500 and 1000cc engine sizes, the 1000 presumably being a bit of a beast and the 150 Villiers version no doubt very woeful (particularly if ordered in the three seater option!)

1935 Whitwood Monocar brochure page 1.

1935 Whitwood Monocar brochure page 2.

1935 Whitwood Monocar brochure page 3.

1935 Whitwood Monocar brochure page 4.

1935 Whitwood Monocar brochure page 5.

1935 Whitwood Monocar brochure page 6.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

DOT Motorcycle Truck

Immediately post war folks were desperate for transport, in most cases the cheaper the better. The DOT Motor Cycle Truck demonstrates just how desparate they were. Mind, if you were a delivery boy used to pedalling around a three wheeled delivery bicycle then the DOT would probably seemed to have been delivered from on high should your employer have blessed you enough to have bought one. I have ridden both the pedalled variety and the DOT motorised and I can testify that peculiar and slightly shoddy as the DOT is it really isn't too bad and is a massive upgrade from the bicycle. Considering that back in the day many of the delivery boys would have only just been in their teenage years the the delivery bicycle would nowadays be thought of as child cruelty. I rode one that was carrying no load; difficult on the flat and painful uphills, fully loaded one can only imagine what it would be like...

Originally launched with a 122cc Villiers 9D twin port engine the later model as shown below upgraded to a 197cc 6E model engine. They offered it in several different truck styles, from the basic open layout that was used predominently by market gardens and dairys to the van layout and there was even a rickshaw version.

There are a few survivors around and though it seems strange to modern eyes the concept of a motorcycle truck was once a popular one. After all it did carry some logic, a lot cheaper than a car and back then most working people were familiar with two wheelers but had no experience of four. Over in America both Harley and Indian offered variations on the theme though in reverse with a motorcycle front end and a car type rear. The Harley version was considered good enough that it was still being used by US police departments through 'till the seventies.

DOT motorcycle truck brochure page 1.

DOT motorcycle truck brochure page 2.

DOT motorcycle truck brochure page 3.

DOT motorcycle truck brochure page 4.