Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Royal Enfield J2 1940

After four years tucked away at the back of the garage following its unfortunate attempt at self-immolation the 1940 Royal Enfield J2 is back on the road and riding better than ever.

The conflagration was caused by the timing slipping which was down to too much backlash in the timing gears. This is now fixed and with more accuracy in the timing it is running a treat. I took it on a favourite test run route, a loop of about 12 miles taking in Bulbarrow Hill, the highest point in Dorset. At the top I stopped to admire the view and take a few snaps. It was pretty gusty up there but the views stupendous.

There's still a couple of things to sort out: the front tyre has a flat from where it sat deflated for too long and the bike desperately needs a side stand - it is one heavy lump of iron. 

This Royal Enfield has an interesting history. It left the factory in 1940, as far as I know in civilian trim, and was sent up to a dealers in Liverpool. From there it was shipped out to India. I repatriated it along with a few other machines some 12 years ago. I sold it on to a friend and then nearly five years ago bought it back from him.

Monday, March 30, 2015

VMCC Blandford Run

A VMCC run on home turf. The move to summer time meant an hour less in bed and that with the rotten weather gave a turn out of just 12 bikes. In the end it was windy but not too wet and the ride on local back roads was spectacular.

The small gathering in front of Blandford Forum
Corn Exchange.

Ex WD BSA B40.

Nice scalded cat mascot on the BSA's headlight.

For me this is the finest looking of the pre-unit Triumphs.
A shiny TR6 Trophy.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ultra Low Emissions Zone London - historics get exemption.

Details of the new Ultra Low Emissions Zone in London have been announced today. The ULEZ will come in to effect from 7 September 2020.

Thankfully after lobbying by historic vehicle groups and interested individuals the policy makers have seen sense and allowed an exemption for those vehicles classified by DVLA as 'historic' Currently the historic classification is on a 40 year rolling basis so that currently means vehicles manufactured 1975 or earlier are historic.

There's no denying that we need low emissions vehicles but the historics are in such a minority as to make no difference. It would have been fairly tragic to think that we would never see veteran, vintage and classic vehicles on the streets of London again, they're part of the culture of the city.

Thankfully this will still be a site we can see after 2020.
Picture c/o Wall Street Journal.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Veteran Rex with another unknown veteran

A very fuzzy but very old image. I can recognise the v-twin as a Rex, the unusual forks are a give away but the bike behind it I have no idea about.

Early veteran Rex and unidentied
machine behind.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Nameneko Bosozoku Cats

Nameneko cats were the brainchild of Japanese artist and photographer Satoru Tsuda. The story goes that animal lover Tsuda found four stray kittens at a local laundromat, took them home and looked after them. One day he found one of the kittens (Matakichi) playing with some dolls clothes and it gave him the idea to dress them up for photoshoots.

A lot of the earlier photos were of the cats dressed up young delinquent style. It being the early eighties, bosozoku bike gang style was also at its peak so it naturally followed that the kittens would be biker gang kittens.

Nameneko cats became a huge craze in Japan (and are still cult popular today), they went over to America too and appeared on trading card stickers and in childrens books though were never quite the hype they were in Japan.

Nameneko translates as 'unlickable cat'. The first image released was of Matekichi dressed as a bike gang member with the slogan 'Japan fast feline federation - you won't lick us'. The Nameneko cats are sometimes known as Namennayo, when marketed in the States the name Perlorian was used. Perlorian apparently means transforming something normal into something seemingly abnormal.

Though it looks like the cats are made to stand up they are in fact sitting on their haunches and the costumes are designed to be comfortable for the cats sitting down. The camera angles also help to give the illusion that the cats are standing. Photo shoots for the Nameneko cats were apparently very carefully orchestrated and then swiftly executed as, though trained, the cats had an attention span of just ten minutes or so before they demanded to move. Of course it is always maintained that no discomfort was caused to the cats. None of the cats I have ever had have been partial to dressing up but then again I never encouraged the behaviour or trained them!

So much more artful and clever than the current trend for lolcats / cat memes the Nameneko images are intricately composed and quirkily funny. Basically who doesn't like a kitten dressed up as a person. In tribute to the genius of the Perlorian kittens I bring you possibly the interwebs largest number of Namenko cats with bikes on one page.....

Genius. The one on the right looks like a 'Kitler'.

These two are a bit doleful.

Yeh, really, you can't lick us.

This one shows the level of effort that went in to the studio
sets and composition of each image.

Perhaps my favourite. These two bad-ass kittens sense a rumble
going down.

A candidate for one of the world's most unselfconsciously odd
childrens sticker trading cards ever.

You can't lick us, I can lick myself though mofos.

To counter all those delinquent kittens
this one is a cop.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Triumph Thunderbird and Velocette KSS.

Best of British, a Triumph 6T rigid framed Thunderbird and a Velocette MkII KSS.

Triumph Thunderbird and Velocette KSS.

The Velo KSS has been updated with a dual seat and a
touring screen is fitted. Nice riding outfits!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mystery veteran v-twin

Here's another veteran that is beyond my powers of machine recognition. A fine looking machine with possibly the most peculiarly mounted front number plate I have ever seen. Can anyone out there enlighten as to the manufacturer? 

The photo is in poor condition but it's a cracking image of
an early veteran v-twin combo. What is it?

Friday, March 20, 2015

Triumph Tiger 100 1949 Clubman's TT

R E Paxton at Gooseneck in the 1949 Clubman's Senior TT.He was riding with the Cheltenham Home Guard MC & LCC and finished 16th at 69.79mph average. The photo is annotated with 1950 but the TT database begs to differ and apparently Paxton was only a TT entrant the one time in 1949.

R E Paxton riding hard with his Triumph Tiger 100 in the
1949 Clubman's Senior TT.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

1919 New Imperial and the mystery of the rotted frame

I recently dug out a box of old photos in a clear out and came by these two. The bike is a 1919 New Imperial that I imported from India something like fourteen or fifteen years ago. I think it came in with the same consignment as the 1940 Royal Enfield J2 that I still have.

The New Imp was a sweet little bike, all complete except for saddle and fitted with a 293cc JAP side-valve motor. The only real damage on the bike was that the saddle tube was half rotted through, it looked strange when the rest of it was in such a well preserved condition. Apparently this was because the bike had spent a number of years leaning up against a tree and the saddle tube was the point of contact.

There were a couple of interesting features on the New Imp; it had the very wide mudguards seen on quite a few bikes of the era on 'empire models' - ie those which were made for export. Also the front forks have an unusual mechanism: at first glance they look like the mechanically awful but practically effective Triumph rocking forks with their horizontal spring, however they have a series of linkages that transform the vertical movement of the forks in to a compression on the horizontal spring. Unnecessarily complex but quite an elegant mechanism.

I sold the bike on to a guy up in the Cotswolds, he moved it on fairly quickly after that. Funnily I overheard the new owner talking to someone at the Beaulieu Autojumble wondering how the frame had rotted in such a localised manner. I didn't manage to get to talk to him before he wandered off. Sir, if you ever get to read this post, the mystery is solved!

Sweet little 1919 New Imperial, fresh home from 80 odd years
in India and needing restoration.

You can just make out the rotted saddle tube if you look
carefully. Check out too the huge 'empire model' mudguards
and unusual mechanism on the forks.

Dispatch rider 1942

Hard to recognise the bike this despatch rider is piloting. Nice animated photo of a military bike being ridden though. All I can say for sure is that the date is 1942 as that is what is written on the back and that it is taken somewhere in Britain.

Despatch rider in motion 1942.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Solo Sahara crossing in 1938.

M. Douard with his Jonghi.
Daniel André Douard, Guard of the French Republic, pictured 1 February 1938 just about to set off on a solo crossing of the Sahara on his 100cc Prester Jonghi.

Douard's crossing was successful and he wrote a book about his exploits with a Dr T Malachowski which was published in 1939 (La traversée du Sahara, seul en Vélomoteur par le Garde Républicain Douard). The book appears to be not too uncommon and copies are available on the internet from around 30 to 70 euros. Sadly there is no English language translation available. 

The route Douard took was from South to North and is claimed to be the first solo crossing using the Tanezrouft Piste route. He began the journey February 1938 in Gao, Mali, and ended in Algeria 1930 kilometers and 18 days later. Douard's expedition is also claimed to be the first solo moped crossing of the Sahara, though if you can really call a 100cc machine with three gears a moped is debatable magnificent as his feat certainly was.

He must have been roasting hot in those shiny black leathers. Note the auxiliary fuel tank mounted down by the rear wheel. 

Frontispiece of M. Douard's book of his exploits. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Veteran Tomfoolery

No idea what's going on here but it looks like they are having a laugh.

Going lala veteran style. Can't recognise the bike.

Many thanks to Nick Smith who mailed to say that he reckons the machine in the photo is a Corah TT Model and provided scans from The Motor Cycle magazine Olympia Show Number of 23/11/1911 to give the evidence. Looks quite convincing to me and well done sir for wizard-like levels of machine recognition!

Very desirable Corah TT model, 1912 season with JAP
ohv motor.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Velocette GTP with sidecar

To be filed under cruelty to motorcycles. Lightweight 250cc two-stroke Velocette GTP hauling a canoe style sidecar. A stylish combination but performance must have been very compromised.

Stylish chap on a Velocette GTP combo.

Friday, March 13, 2015

1940 Royal Enfield J2 on the workbench.

Currently receiving attention in the workshop at the moment is this 1940 Royal Enfield J2 500cc. The last time I used it was a couple of years ago when it set fire to itself and nearly me too. The bike had come to a sputtering halt at a roundabout, I had suspected that the timing had slipped but I gave it a test prod on the kickstart anyway, it gave an almighty kickback and began self immolation. The bike had a full tank, I knew I didn't have time to get off it and put it on the stand (it only has a rear wheel stand and is very heavy) so I stayed astride and puffed and flapped with my hands. Only by miracle did the blaze cease. After that it was put to the back of the garage in shame for a while - the automotive equivalent of the naughty corner.

The bike was exported to India from new, presumably to a British Officer out there as the War was already on. I brought it back home a few years ago and then sold it to a friend locally. He did a bit of work on it, put it on the road and then a few years on it ended up back in my hands. Seems like it should really be back on the road for the summer.

Royal Enfield J2 timing side. A handsome motor.
Stripping the timing cover off I found that there is way too much backlash in the timing gears, specifically the gap between the idler and magneto pinions. No amount of adjustment of the mag strap would fix it and over the years someone has had a go by packing out the tail of the mag to lower the pinion slightly, not good practice but not a real problem in the real world. All the same this bodge didn't cure the problem. 

I've got a couple of spare Magdynos on the shelf so compared the one fitted to my spares. Strangely the platform on the mag fitted was a mil or so higher than on the spares. I swapped them around and the backlash has largely gone, or at least it is now within tolerable levels where it is possible to time the bike correctly and not risk slippage. I was never aware that the platform height could vary on a Lucas Magdyno.

Next stage is get it all back together and test run on the open road. Of which more, no doubt, to come...

Ill-fitting Magdyno.

Primary side. As can be seen the bike is a scruff or characterful
depending on point of view!

Nice fitting Magdyno. Now cross fingers the spark is strong

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Moto Legendes at Montlhéry 2003

Some pictures from the album. Scanned in blurry vision but worth reproducing as it was such a memorable event. A few years back Moto Legendes changed venue from Montlhéry just outside of Paris to the circuit of Dijon Prenois near (yes) Dijon. The Montlhéry events linger in my memory the best as you just can't beat the atmosphere of the historic autodrome. There were downsides - vile toilets and a general lack of facilities, this somehow added to the atmosphere of jovial anarchy of the event. One year sozzled folks even wheeled bikes on to the circuit and started to circulate at night. 

What made 2003 stand out was the theme of record breaking bikes. For the record breakers' parade they opened up the full outer circuit. Watching Ivan Rhodes circulate on the 24 hour record breaking Velocette near the top of the banking at full bore was a glorious site, made all the more poignant as the bike was burnt out in the fire at the National Motorcycle Museum only a few months later.

Dan's faithful Bullet with the circuit as a backdrop.

In Cherbourg on our way to Moto Legendes. My 350 Bullet in
front, Matt's BMW R90s next, then Dan's Bullet and, just poking
its front wheel in ,other Dan's Moto Guzzi Le Mans.
Brough Superior 'Moby Dick' on the banking. Moby Dick wasn't
quite given its full head but the circuit is very bumpy.

Ivan Rhodes circulating on the Velocette Venom that broke
the 24 hour record in 1961. 

A view of the banking from the other side.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Vincent HRD at speed

Series B HRD at speed. Looks like a road race and guessing from the other photos that I acquired at the same time it is the 1950 TT, 1000cc Clubmans class. In that race the number 3 rider was F J Young who finished with an average of 72.08mph. The 1000cc Clubmans entry list consisted solely of HRD machines.

Series B HRD in the 1000cc Clubmans TT.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Norton WD 16H on exercise

These photos of despatch riders in various situations with their Norton 16Hs have the air of being posed publicity shots about them. The second one looks like they are just out for a nice picnic, war be damned! The Norton photos are dated on the reverse 1942. The last photo I have no idea about, it came with the others, thought I'd post it up anyway.

British despatch riders retrieving a Norton 16H from the

There may be a war on but there's always time for a picnic!

One Norton 16H rides over a big mound of earth.

Who are these chaps? Quite possibly despatch riders.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Scramble at Ibberton Hill (Bulbarrow) Dorset 1954

Programme from an early local scramble at  Ibberton Hill near Blandford, Dorset. Ibberton Hill is the same location as the 'Bulbarrow Championship Scramble' which was a national level event and televised. Seems that when it was a local event it was Ibberton Hill and for nationals known as Bulbarrow. Look down the entrants list and you can see Don Rickman of Rickman Motorcycles fame riding with the Ex Home Guard Tigers MCC.

Ibberton Hill and Bulbarrow is a spot dear to me, it's the highest point in Dorset. From home in Blandford there's a wonderful 12 mile circuit ideal to test old bikes out or stretch the legs for cycling and see some fabulous countryside. On a clear day from the top of the hill you can see the Saxon hilltop town Shaftesbury, Iron Age hillforts Hod and Hambledon, and if you are lucky and the weather conditions right Glastonbury Tor is visible. In the far distance are the Mendip Hills and beyond that Wales. 

Ibberton Hill Scramble programme
1954 front cover.

1954 Ibberton Hill Scramble list of

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

1950 TT Manx Norton and AJS Porcupine

A pair of quality professional pics from the 1950 IOM TT. Les Graham on the AJS Porcupine finished fourth in the Senior and Harold Daniell on the Manx Norton third in the Junior..

Les Graham on an AJS Porcupine at the 1950 TT. Velocette
KTT MkVIII in the background.

Harold Daniell on a Manx Norton. 1950 Junior TT.

Monday, March 2, 2015

James Motorcycles brochure 1960

'James - Money Saving Motor Cycles....' - not exactly a sexy strapline, but they've still gone with the guy has bike and attracts woman cliché. She's probably thinking what a great catch he is because he's riding a James and that must mean that he's extremely prudent with his money. Anyway, here's the 1960 James full model range brochure; great artwork as with all the AMC material of the time and fine looking bikes too. Just a shame that James had moved on from decent Villiers motors to their own slightly dubious AMC units.

James brochure 1960 front cover.

James brochure 1960 page 1.

James brochure 1960 page 2.

James brochure 1960 page 3.

James brochure 1960 page 4.

James brochure 1960 page 5.

James brochure 1960 page 6.

James brochure 1960 rear cover.