Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Thirties Norton combination

Nice period pic of a mid to late thirties combo. Very definite thirties style with that 'launch' sidecar. No idea what brand the sidecar is but it looks like the front end of a Norton poking its nose out from behind..

Thirties Norton and launch sidecar.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Popham Megameet

Not a lot of spare time but a newly acquired BMW R100RS that needed to be ridden, a spare morning and memories of a great event last year had me heading up to Popham Airfield for the annual 'Megameet'.

The Beemer was going great but there was a distinct whiff of petrol in the 25 miles between home and Salisbury. I stopped to check and saw a veritable waterfall of petrol dripping down on to the left hand silencer. I'd dumped about 8 litres in those 25 miles. It looked like it was coming from where the pipe plugs in to the tap so with two taps and pipes teed off before they go in to the carbs I decided that just tying a knot in the pipe was an ideal bodge.

I rode on and made it close to Popham when more wafts of benzine headed up my way. This time it looked like it was coming from the tap itself but the quantity was far less prodigious. A great place to stop by the side of the road though. Thanks to the guy from Wimborne who stopped with his Beesa Rocket 3, even after I overtook him like a hooligan further up the road. Also to the chap with the Guzzi convert who even offered to help me drain the tank and sort the problem out properly. Also the guy who came out from his house with offers of assistance. With little time to turn around before heading home though I decided to ignore the problem and ride on to the event.

I was glad I did as there were some cracking bikes there and I picked up a nice pair of panniers for the Beemer. The ride home went fine with just minor petrol loss. No great shakes, this is how you sort out a bike that hasn't been used for a long time.

Rare to see a Harley Davidson Aermacchi out and about.

Cotton Conquest. In my mind finest looking of the British
sixties two strokes. Essentially an homologation special. A
production racer on the road.

Unusual combination and beautifully executed. Greeves
Griffon frame with Rotax engine. Seen on the Motor
Cycling Club stand.

Well done sir! Series B Rapide ridden to the event and left
in the spectators car park. And it wasn't the only one there.

Another unusual beast on the MCC stand. Featherbed Norton
single hitched up to a sidecar and prepped for long distance

Very tasty 1927 Norton Model 19 with just about the perfect
amount of patina.

That Norton again alongside a 1926 Model 16H.

And here's the finest British Two Stroke of the seventies.
A Silk. Not to detract from it but I think the only other
contender to the crown is the fairly horrible NVT Easy
Rider moped.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Powers the Pot Royal Enfield Rally Ireland

Yours truly on trials Bullet arriving at Fishguard ferry terminal.

Been a little while since last loading up the bike and riding to a ferry for an overseas adventure. A few months ago a plot was hatched, a date decided, a suitable event located and folks pledged allegiance. Time moves on, we're all older and commitments grow so in the end participants were whittled down to myself and Dan.

This is the sign you want to see welcoming you to a campsite!
We chose the Irish Royal Enfield Rally at the Powers the Pot campsite as it looked like a good event, the date was right and the location was realistic for a slow bike out for a long weekend. I planned to take my Bullet combo but was a bit worried that starting was not quite right after being laid up for a few months so did a last minute substitution with the long distance Bullet 350 trials. Prepping the trials bike consisted of putting a regular Bullet road tank on and crossing fingers.

Thursday eve and I set off up to Dan's in Bristol. Just a couple of miles from home I stopped for a lad on a CG125 who had run out of petrol then later encountered a ludicrous and lengthy diversion around Castle Cary. By this point the bike was showing signs of fuel starvation. Every so often it would stutter and eventually it started cutting. It was getting late though and I decided to press on to Dan's. Arrived late and we drained the tank to clean the fuel tap filter out the next morning.
Gwaun Valley brewery. Well worth a visit and
a stay.

Early rise and we cleaned the filter, filled the bike with petrol and fuel was still struggling to get through. Then we changed the in-line filter. Doh! All was fine. We managed to hit the road relatively early, Dan on his trusty 350 Bullet and both bikes were running a dream.

Heading to the ferry terminal at Fishguard from Bristol there isn't much to do apart from grin and bear the long motorway stint. We managed to average 50mph for a couple of hours so it wasn't too bad. Then about 12 miles from the Ferry I thraped the Bullet to overtake a lorry, made it past and the engine cut. Pretty embarassing. I cut in in front of the lorry, it roared past and I cruised to a halt. We had a quick check over the bike, there was an hour and a half till we needed to be at the terminal. I kicked it over and reluctantly it started up again. Something wasn't right though. We decided to try for the ferry. A couple of miles on it cut again. Various fettles and plug swaps were tried. Eventually Dan suggested the ignition coil was at fault. Seemed plausible so we asked at the farm we happened to be next to when the bike cried enough. There was a motor factors just up the road. Dan rode on, bought a coil, it was fitted and normal service resumed. We had now however missed the ferry by an hour.
Loading up the Bullet the next morning.

We went to the ferry terminal all the same and the guy there was really helpful. Despite it being a non-refundable, non-amendable ticket he changed it to the next day's sailing in good cheer. Great service, thanks! I've always believed that some of my best motorcycle travel experiences have been a result of breakdowns. It's those times that you are actually put in a situation and have to seek out local folks for assistance. There was certainly a silver lining to this breakdown cloud as we had a good meal and wander around Fishguard then a scenic ride over to a campsite in the Gwaun Valley. A farmhouse campsite in beautiful countryside and the killer selling point was that the site is part of the excellent Gwaun Valley Brewery. There could be no sign more welcome on riding a bike in through a campsite gate than 'Campers please report to brewery'. So report we did in the knowledge that there was no early start the next day.

Dan goes in for surgery.
The crossing was nice and smooth and got us over to Rosslare early evening. We had to press on as there was a fair way to go and now, having had an extra night in Wales, we only had one night in Ireland. Dan's gearbox had been leaking slightly so we stopped to top it up. After that good progress was made until I missed a turning and on turning around to retrace steps Dan's clutch cable broke. This should have been a quick fix but the new cable, despite being bought as the correct one was a difficult fit. Still, at least we had a spare.

Topping up.
We used a sat nav to help us find Powers the Pot. Good job we had it as it would have been tricky to find in the dark but it took us a strange and circuitous route that had us riding a green lane up the side of a hill in the dark. All good fun though. Finally arrived gone ten o'clock. We were warmly greeted, put up the tents and went to the bar to partake of the home-brewed cider.

The cider was powerful stuff and we awoke the next morning with thick heads in an Irish mountain drizzle. Some folks had already left but we hung around for a chat with the remaining folks. There was a good turnout, probably just over thirty bikes and a friendly crowd.

Powers the Pot.
With tents packed down we took the scenic route back to the ferry. The Irish roads were perfect for gentle riding on an old bike. I resolved to return for a longer stay. The ride home was uneventful. Another night at the Gwaun Valley brewery but arriving late at night the bar was already closed. Both bikes performed faultlessly. The only snag I noticed was that the Hitchcock's trials subframe which is billed as 'not suitable for pillion passengers' is also not built to carry a pair of heavily loaded panniers as it had started to fracture. Not surprising really as it only meant as a mudguard hanger. It made it home all the same. Altogether a 700 mile round trip in four days.

Powers the Pot. Stunning location.
All in a great mini-adventure. A rally well worth attending and fantastic riding in Ireland. So a big thanks to rally organiser John for a top event.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The White Horse Road Trial

The White Horse Road Trial is a good old fashioned navigational trial. It's organised by the West Wilts section of the VMCC. This type of trial used to be a popular Sunday activity for the motorcycling clubmen of the fifties and sixties. I'd never entered one before but it was a good day out and as easy or hard as you made it.

The official title for this type of trial is a navigational scatter trial. The concept is: you start from one of several possible start points. You try and collect as many checkpoints as possible within an alloted time (up to a maximum twelve in total) and you choose your own route. Green lanes carry extra points and there are extra points for older and smaller machines. I was riding my '61 Dominator 99ss with Matt on a borrowed '51 Matchless G3, Dan on his '62 Dnepr K750 combo and Bill on his '80 Guzzi Spada combo.

We went all out for points by trying to do all of the green lanes. I soon discovered that the high geared and sporty 99ss is not really a suitable green lane tool but it got me through ok all the same. A number of the green lanes in Wiltshire are restricted to motorcycles only, they've got gates to stop four wheelers coming through. An outfit will also fit... just - see the pics!

In the end we rode for nearly the full six alloted hours. The Dnepr developed a significant oil leak half way around so cut off for home (and made it with aid of several oil fills along the way!) The Matchless broke a clutch cable shortly after Dan and the Dnepr disappeared. Dan was the only one carrying spare solderless nipples so the Matchless was dumped in a barn to be collected later with a note through the farmhouse letterbox. Bill won his class, the Norton came second. Neither classes were hotly contested! It's a small but sociable event and definitely worth entering again.

Matt on the 1951 Matchless G3.

Norton Dominator 99ss - not an ideal green laner.

Will it go? Dnepr tackles gate post.

Maybe! Still, there's a lot of Russian steel mass heading for
the gate post so I don't fancy its chances should push come
to shove...

Nicely used 1950 BSA B34.

Discussing tactics.

Lovely DOT 8E Villers engined trialser from 1957.

Not sure if this BSA v-twin was entered or not. Either way
it warrants a picture. Not sure if it is a J12 or J34 model.

This Scott with unusual Monarch forks won its class.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bill Little's Open Day 2013

One Saturday every year in August Bill Little opens his house up to enthusiasts for an open day. The barn full of bikes is opened up for visitors to walk around, browse and maybe buy, there is a decent small autojumble, free for stallholders, tea and cakes and folks ride in on their classic machinery.

The last few years have been blighted by rain but this year most of the day we had sunshine and a fine time was had by all. So, thanks to Bill and Lynne for the day and and for letting us camp in your garden.

A few pictures of machines ridden to the event...

Well used AJS jampot model.

Nice period fairings on a pair of BSA combos.

Impressive and shiny BSA G14 1000cc v-twin.

Close up of that magnificent G14.

Interestingly modded Royal Enfield Bullet 500 trials. The owner
has put a lot of thought into this one. The oil cooler and engine
breather system is neat and there is also a manual advance
and retard fitted to the points. 

That's one way to carry a Bantam frame Dan!

Shiny early Norton Commando in unusual colours.

Very rare early Greeves road single. Fitted with a Villiers 8E
four speed motor. Note the early type front suspension and
lack of alloy beam frame.

Early fifties moto Guzzi Falcone resplendent in red.

A late model Moto Guzzi Falcone in army trim next to a tidily
restored Ariel Square Four.

This James stood out for its originality and authenticity. Nice
period luggage!

Two British design classics. Red telephone box
with BSA M20 languishing in front.

Very tasty New Imperial v-twin from the late twenties.

Fine Velocette hill climber on the road.

This Velo MSS was modified with a disc front brake. I've
never had much complaint with the brakes on my Venom
but the update here was nicely done with no permanent
mods made to the forks. The caliper just attaches on to the
mudguard bracket.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Race of the Century

James over in the States sent me this clip. What a brilliant looking event. The concept is races between various different forms of early transportation. Horse & carriage vs car, car vs biplane, etc.

The clip is of a v8 flathead midget racer vs a biplane. The action is way more up close and personal than any event you would get over here in the UK.

The event is organised by the Collings Foundation, this year's has been and gone but it's an annual event so start planning for next year...

More clips and info on warbirds news site and on the Collings Foundation site.