Monday, January 29, 2018

Bantam resurrection

I've had this little 1961 BSA D1 Bantam since I was sixteen, that was nearly thirty years ago. I passed my test on it when most lads had RDs, RGs, CBs, KHs and the like. The little bike got a lot of use, often two up with mates on the back and in all honesty never let me down. The only breakdown I can remember was a dodgy condenser, but the Bantam spluttered home all the same.

So, a lot of memories - and I can say all good. However the bike has been off the road since 2005 when I gave it a service for old times sake and then just rode it a couple of times. A good friend expressed an interest in buying it recently and I felt tempted to free up some space and money. After all you can't keep them all and really it is just sitting around.

1961 BSA Bantam D1. If I ever do part with it, it will be on
the condition that she remains unrestored!

Best thing to do I thought would be to get it back on the road and see if I still enjoy riding it and then make my mind up. A simple service got it going quite easily, plenty of smoke granted, but we can forgive and understand that. All it needed was draining the tank, fresh fuel, a carb, plug and points clean and that was it. I took it for a spin around the block and performance was more lively than I had expected (in truth I really hadn't expected much!) Next step is an MOT, for until May it still needs one. I'll post again after we've been on a couple of decent longer runs....

Originally supplied by Hadleys of Chelmsford.

The dent in the tank has been there for at least forty years,
probably longer. This one has all the options, a dual seat and
pillion rests were an extra £3 19s 8d and the battery lighting
D1 cost nearly £5 more than the basic direct lighting machine.
She's fitted with a Todd cylinder head which gives it a little
more zip.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Matchless G3 dispatch bike with the 6th Australian

This great image of a wartime DR with his dog and G3 has the message, "To Edna from Ron. Me and my dog." written on the reverse.

The kangaroo and boomerang insignia on the headlight denotes the 6th Australian Infantry Division. The 6th were raised two weeks after war was declared in 1939 and went immediately to the Middle East where this photo was most likely taken - the G3 is an early war spec bike with its girder forks and 8 inch headlight, it still looks in fairly tidy condition here. The 6th were moved to Greece in 1941 to bolster Greek and allied forces against the planned German invasion of Greece. The Division suffered losses in the Allied withdrawal from mainland Greece and were re-stationed to Crete where they also suffered grave losses when the Germans took the island. The Division was moved back to the Middle East where they were split between Palestine and Egypt. They saw further action against the Vichy French in Syria.

Early 1942 the Australian Government withdrew the 6th from the Middle East to assist with the efforts to stem back the approaching Japanese forces. They were stationed in New Guinea and saw service in several campaigns on the island.

Let's hope Ron made it through. It would be fascinating to know his story.

Ron of the Australian 6th, his dog and Matchless G3.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Alldays Cycles 1926

The 1926 Alldays Cycles brochure. Alldays were at one time a huge industrial concern and were pioneers in the automobile industry. In the veteran and vintage era they offered bicycles, motorcycles, cars and commercial vehicles under several different brand names. Interestingly in 1908 Alldays acquired the Enfield Autocar Company, part of the Royal Enfield group, and produced cars under the Enfield-Allday brand until 1925.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue front cover.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue inner front cover.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue page 1.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue page 2.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue page 3.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue page 4.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue page 5.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue page 6.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue page 7.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue page 8.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue page 9.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue page 10.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue page 11.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue page 12.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue inner rear cover.

Alldays Cycles 1926 catalogue rear cover.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Speedway bikes at the Haynes Museum

A nice little bonus of turning up at the start of this year's Exeter Trial was that it is flagged off from the Haynes Museum, just a 45 minute drive up the road. Museum staff kindly open up the Museum during the night of the Trial and it is a rare privilege and experience to be able to have a mooch around in near solitude in the wee hours.

The cherry on top for me was that I was able to use my British Motorcycle Charitable Trust card to gain free entry. The Haynes Museum has a very impressive collection of four wheelers plus the British Motor Scooter Exhibition, The Forshaw Speedway Collection and a modestly sized but interesting motorcycle hall.

Below a selection of choice machinery from the Forshaw Collection......

Centrepiece display of the Forshaw Collection.

1929 Dirt Track BSA.

Super rare Crocker speedway machine.

Just like the Crocker v-twin road machines the speedway bike
carries a signature cast aluminium petrol tank.

Dirt track Norton.

And Indian's speedway offering.

1929 Dirt Track Velocette

c1929 500cc Wallis Blackburne.

1930 500cc Wallis JAP.

1929 498cc Scott.

1931 500cc Husqvarna.

1939 Moseley JAP 497cc. Alex Moseley was West Ham Speedway's
workshop superintendent and a noted designer of speedway
frames. This particular frame was designed in 1939 and made
from aircraft T45 tubing, it saved roughly 60lbs in weight over
comparable traditional frames.

The frame of the Moseley is copper plated. For style rather
thank practicality one imagines. Unusual but it does make it
look rather like te frame has been fabricated from plumbing
off cuts rather than T45!

Just one more view of the Moseley. Very special.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Puch 250 Moto-Cross

Here's a two page flyer for a bike I had hitherto not known the existence of, Puch's 250cc Moto-Cross. I am not sure of the exact year but it is circa 1965. Puch were unusual, but not unique, in sticking with the split single 'twingle' two stroke engine format for a number of years. The advantage was greater efficiency and torque but with a trade off against expense, complication and friction. Ultimately disc valves and reed valves gave greater benefit, cheaper. Puch made their twingles from 1953 to 1970, in the States they were marketed as 'Sears Allstates' and this model was marketed as the 'Scrambler'.

Puch 250 Moto-Cross flyer front side.

Puch 250 Moto-Cross flyer rear side.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Velocette Valiant

Sitting in the sunshine a sweet little Velocette Valiant 200cc flat twin. The Valiants were often criticised for being rather delicate, but to be fair this was the same criticism as for all four stroke Brit bikes of the era in the sub 250cc learner category. As the market's demand for performance had gone up driven by the teenage boom and rocker culture cutsomers' demands for a little more zip from their first bikes combined with youthful abandon, a lack of mechanical sympathy and unfamiliarity with maintenance routines resulted in many of the likes of Crusader Sports, G2 CSRs, Valiants and BSA SS80s going pop.

Unburstable machines were available - mostly Italian or German, but the truth is they were significantly more expensive and as always, you got what you paid for...

For me the mystery is why Velocette stuck with the 200cc class for the Valiant and didn't design it up to 250cc or even bigger. Nowadays, like so many less popular machines of the time people can see a different merit in a bike and Valiants are high quality, quirky and charming little machines idea for events and Sunday runs.

Velocette Valiant back in the day.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Amazing Collection of Early French Motorcycles up for Auction

Coming up for auction at Retromobile Paris early next month is a quite extraordinary collection of early and rare French motorcycles (with the odd foreign interloper thrown in).

The calibre of the machines offered is such that many of them are unique examples and from the very dawn of motorcycling. The collection was the work of one man, a Monsieur Guélon, who fortuitously came across a pile of disassembled early motorcycles in a scrapyard in 1972. The pile was swapped for a large weight of scrap cutlery, formed the genesis of the collection, and was slowly assembled over the following 40 years. Another job lot from the same original source materialised in 1986 and enabled many of the machines to be completed.

Arcturial is the auction house handling the collection. The online catalogue can be found here, there are some very stunning motor cars offered before the bikes, but if you want to get straight there head to lot 201.

All of the machines offered have been standing for a long time and are projects. Whilst one hopes that the new owners preserve the patina of the machines and don't ruin them with a shiny restoration it would also be nice to think that many of them will get sympathetically renovated so that other enthusiasts can see them and experience them as more than static exhibits.

Lot 249, c1906 Anzani v3 race machine.

Lot 244, c1906 Werner parallel twin.

Lot 243, c1907 Rochet Type MG inline parallel twin.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Velocette KSS 1937

A quick check on the DVLA website reveals that this tasty Velocette KSS was first registered in March 1937 and is still out there somewhere, though not currently on the road.

1937 Velocette KSS

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Baines International TT 1948

I bought my Baines 'flying gate' just over a year back shortly after having a small clear out in the garage and raising some cash. Obviously aforementioned funds were burning a hole in my pocket and I've got a weakness for cycles with wonky frame designs. The Baines appeared at auction at just the right time, a furtive bid later and rather surprisingly it was mine.

Beauty is of course in the eye of the beholder but to me the Baines is a wonderous thing to look at. However as it came to me there were a few items of componentry that let it down somewhat. The mudguards were poorly fitted, warped and slightly too wide, the 'lauterwasser' pattern handlebars didn't look quite right to my eyes and the wheels were much later Miche hubs with Mavic rims. The 40 hole front rim really didn't look right on a British lightweight and would be more suited to a tandem.

I've finally gotten round to giving the Baines a much deserved spruce up, I found a rather more suited pair of mudguards for a fiver and the regular pattern steel drop bars I had kicking around. I came across an Airlite front hub laced to a Dunlop lightweight rim on eBay for a decent price so that went on too. The bike looks a lot better now but I'm still searching for a matching rear wheel and would like to change the gears from seventies Campag to more period appropriate Cyclo.

The Baines International TT as purchased.

And as it now is post 'makeover'.

The Baines 'flying gate' frame design makes good sense in its
ultra short wheelbase format but really on a regular wheelbase
machine like this it is just a complicated but charming eccentricity.

It's a bit of a 'granny' chainring fitted but it will stay for the
time being. Note the Bayliss Wiley hollow bottom bracket axle.

The 'flying gate' is a wonderfully delicate frame.

The International TT transfers are quite extravagant.

New chrome drops, same stem and the bar tape was

Lugwork is nicely understated.

I added in this cute little Gerry Burgess cable tidy and greaser
whilst I was at it.