Friday, December 29, 2017

Trans Africa on a 1955 Royal Enfield Bullet

A couple of friends have recently asked what has happened to the blog of my Trans Africa trip undertaken 10 years back. Well, it's still out there but the url has recently changed. There's now a link embedded in the right side bar of this blog for quick reference. For some strange reason in my browser you cannot get all the entries unless you sort them newest to oldest but it is all still there....

Just re-read it all. On second look there are some spelling clangers - it was all written on the fly in internet cafes pre-dating modern travels with laptops and always online gadgetry so apologies for that. An 18 month trip was digested in to 22 short entries but perhaps the brevity is its saviour. If you do take a look I hope you enjoy.

Corrugations on the Nile route south in Sudan. An arduous
journey which I believe is now paved all the way thanks to
Chinese investment.

Sudan Nile route again.

Egypt, The Sinai.

A sand road somewhere between Congo and Gabon.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Be-tassled Indian 741

I think this photo is from the seventies when an Indian 741 was already collectable rather than from the time it would have had to earn its living. I'm fairly sure I recognise the actual bike as it has stirred a few memories: I remember as a child going round local steam fairs and seeing this bike. The chap who owned it was a ruddy faced gent, I think of travelling folk origin and he always wore a traditional Dorset smock and a floppy leather hat. This particular Indian I believe was his as it is a standard ex-WD 741 but for a civilian paint scheme (his was bright red - hard to tell in black and white but could an Indian be any other colour?), big tank transfers, knobbly tyres and leather tassles on the saddle and bar ends. My memories are from 30 or more years back, I dare say the gent himself may have passed but I wonder where the bike is now?

Indian 741 stirs memories....

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Sunbeam S7 and S8 1955

A rare brochure this one. The Erling Poppe designed, BMW inspired Sunbeam S7 and S8 inline ohc parallel twins were never great sellers and for a long time were rather under valued. There seems to have been a revival in interest for them of late. Criticised at the time for underwhelming performance and with some reliability concerns on the early models these issues are now no longer really relevant and they are valued as the quirky and stylish gentleman's tourer they were always intended to be.

Sunbeam S7 & S8 brochure front cover.

Sunbeam S7 & S8 brochure page 1.

Sunbeam S7 & S8 brochure page 2.

Sunbeam S7 & S8 brochure page 3.

Sunbeam S7 & S8 brochure page 4.

Sunbeam S7 & S8 brochure page 5.

Sunbeam S7 & S8 brochure page 6.

Sunbeam S7 & S8 brochure rear cover.

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Royal Enfield called Fifi

Another photo from a lost family album. This one an ex War Department Royal Enfield Model C, a 350cc side valve. The picture is annotated to the reverse, 'Barbara astride Fifi at Harefield. May 1946'.

Fifi the Royal Enfield Model C.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Sidecar shennigans

Back then just as now certain sidecarists can't resist playing to the camera! The chap clearly having fun 'Doing his stuff' is a Mr Thomas Stanley North about whom sadly I know no more than he was an accomplished sidecar pilot. The combination looks like it dates from the early thirties though I cannot identify the make.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Ag200 - no lights in the darkest month

I've perhaps rashly entered the AG bike in to the Motorcycling Club's Exeter Trial which always runs on the first Friday after New Year. The bike has received a few minor upgrades the last few days, more are planned but I thought I had better take it out for a short test ride....

The light is low but the AG bike is hi vis!

Not designed to blend in.

Cheap Chinese brush guards fitted to keep the wind off my
hands, protect them and hopefully help me stay a bit warmer
on the trial. They are awful quality and made of 'monkey metal'
aka mazac. One of the brackets broke as I tightened it up. Also
fitted is a route holder and sat nav bracket.

I wanted to see if the charging was working ok. Sadly it isn't

The new 6v Motobatt battery was drained flat at about 30
minutes of lights on riding. This bike has truly the worst
lights of any motorcycle I have owned (including a D1 BSA
Bantam which is like a floodlight in comparison). Some work
needed here.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Early thirties club meet

A great photo dating from, by the looks of the bikes, the early thirties. The image is a professional one and quite sharp, for a bit of fun enlarge it and see how many of the bikes you can recognise in the line-up. Look closely and there is some quite tasty machinery in there.

It looks like the chaps were about to engage in something competitive from the attire and the number boards on the bikes. I say about to as the white coveralls some of the guys are wearing are still very clean! The bike on the far right seems to have Brooklands style streamlining fitted.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Bultaco Sherpa S c1960

Press photos and spec for the Bultaco Sherpa S, as far as I know from 1960. The spec gives the capacity as a 175 but I cannot find any reference elsewhere to this size, everywhere lists the Sherpa S as a 125. Any Bultaco experts out there who can elaborate?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Twenties zeppelin sidecar

Lovely stylish sidecar matched up to a bike I cannot identify. As ever if anyone out there can put a make to the bike then do get in touch. There are some distinctive features - Druid type forks, rim front brake so likely very early twenties, unusual mudguard profile and handlebar shape.

Friday, December 1, 2017

BSA Bantam clutch compression tool

Compare and contrast, to the left the modern BSA Bantam clutch compressor and to the right the MCE compressor from back in the day. One of these works properly and one barely at all, guess which is which!

I was lucky enough to pick up the MCE one recently for a snip on ebay, they usually go for more than the retail of the new version. There is of course a reason for this, the new one is too flimsy and the arms spread at the least provocation. Added to this the arms are bolted on, it is nigh on impossible to get them tight enough and they are liable to let go just at that crucial moment.

Using the MCE tool is a joy and the new imposter the absolute opposite. I could have offered the now redundant new model up for sale but to save anyone else the experience it went in the scrap metal bin instead. If you have a Bantam do yourself a favour and seek out the MCE version, it is definitely worth the small extra expense.