Monday, June 29, 2020

Craven W Rack

Craven W Rack fitted to 1961 Norton Dominator.
In anticipation of hopefully being able to take the Norton across the channel later this season I picked up a second hand Craven W Rack from eBay and then got in touch with the helpful chaps at Draganfly Motorcycles to get a fitting kit for my '61 Dominator. Draganfly have been the owners of the Craven Equipment brand since 2007.

The redux Craven kit is very similar to the original Ken Craven products but with slight changes and improvements to incorporate modern production techniques. The W Rack has an additional flat slotted mounting rail along the underside that initially I was not a fan of on the basis of visual appearance but in terms of practicality and fitting it is a boon.

New Craven racks and mountings come with the bonus that they can be ordered in stainless steel. They are nicely made but as with most modern stainless products some of the edges on the flat plate parts are quite severe and benefit from getting a light file or emery paper out before fitting.

I chose to get the mounting kit that gives the option of panniers: these ones have a bracket going down to the pillion footrest mount for extra stability and to take the weight of loaded panniers. The mounting kit listed for Slimline Featherbeds is aimed at the Atlas model, I had to cut a couple of inches off the long mount down to the pillion rests. I rather expect minor adaptations in fitting parts like these to old bikes and in many ways was happy to have the ability to tailor the mounts to my bike as I wanted the pannier mount and the rear mount to the mudguard stay to be matched in anngle to give a slightly more graceful look.

Now that I'm fully set up all that remains is to find an event that is happening, book a ferry and hit the road...

I tried to get the angle on these two brackets matching.

And the full view.

Carrying a pair of old swagman panniers. I'm going to look
out for a set of original Craven Dolomites in cream.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Seventies snack van

Somewhere in England at the very twilight of British motorcycles.....

A pair of patriotic (or perhaps impecunious) purchasers who shunned Japanese reliability and technology with a Norton single and an old pre-unit Triumph. In the background a '72 plated Suzuki stroker twin

Saturday, June 20, 2020

Cycle touring thirties style

Just to prove there are very few new ideas out there here is a 1930s Midland frame bag fitted to my 1937 Royal Enfield Bullet twin tube. To add to the ensemble is a pair of Chossy panniers from a similar age.

The Enfield is only part way through its restoration but is coming together nicely. I offered up the frame bag and panniers just to see how they looked, I think they compliment the Bullet nicely and will become a feature once restoration is finished. Though the Bullet was marketed as a sports machine it is undoubtedly slightly too sturdy to appeal to the out and out racer and was more of the type of general clubmans machines of the period that were a once size fits all cycle: something you could ride to work on in the week, go out on club rides on at the weekend and even take away for a camping holiday.

Royal Enfield Bullet twin tube bicycle.

Midland bicycle frame bag.

'The Chossy' panniers.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Motor Cycle Reminiscences by Ixion

Canon Basil Henry Davies or to use his pen name 'Ixion' was the forefather of our great hobby and to the best of my knowledge Motor Cycle Reminiscences is the first work on the subject.

Ixion began riding in 1898 and wrote for The Motor Cycle magazine from 1900 to 1961, an amazing feat in itself. Being involved in the sport from so early on and presumably of a nostalgic frame of mind Ixion was perhaps the first to write on the subject of pioneer motor cycles in the pages of The Motor Cycle. For those that are interested to know more there is a biography of the fellow entitled 'The Fiery Wheel (The First Motor Cycle Diarist), The Life and Times of Canon Basil H Davies BA' by Dave Masters.

Motor Cycle Reminiscences was published in 1920 and is well worth seeking out for enthusiasts of pioneer machines. There have been reprints of the work across the years, though unfortunately all editions are somewhat scarce. There was also a second volume, 'Further Motorcycle Reminiscences' which alas I do not have in my library.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Sunbeam Model 80

A great action photo this one, in an unknown race a Sunbeam Model 80 is ahead of a Velocette KTT. Looks like the Sunbeam is a 1929 model. Some nice details, look at the very unusual streamlined nosepiece goggles the Sunbeam pilot is sporting. Several of the spectators are in motorcycling kit and all wear wear hats a la mode of the day.

1929 Sunbeam Model 80.

Monday, June 8, 2020

Packman & Poppe frame

Here's a recent and unusual visitor to my workshop, it's the frame from a 1923 Packman & Poppe. Sadly not my machine, but my father's so hopefully I might be lucky enough to experience riding it when it is completed... 

My job was to weld on the petrol tank and saddle mountings which had been cut off in an earlier incarnation of the bike. The bike was modified sometime just before the war or after for use as a grasstrack bike, the changes made to it over the years were fairly extensive but it carries its original character and is being restored as a road going bike with a nod to its grass track past. Examining the P & P frame up close it's an impressive bit of kit, very advanced for its time and a good choice for a grass tracker. The design is simple and rigid, a fully duplex cradle at a time when most other bikes used single tubes on open frames. It seems the frame needed a little reinforcing for racing even so as the bracing tube on the drive side is a later addition. An unusual feature of P & Ps is that the rear wheel bearings are carried on the frame rather than in the wheel.

Not much is written about Mr Packman but Erling Poppe was a distinguished designer with engineering in his blood. Erling was the son of the Norwegian engineer Peter Poppe of White & Poppe engines fame as seen in early Ariel motorcycles as well as many early cars, notably Morris.

Packman & Poppe produced motorcycles between 1923 and 1930 (in 1926 they were sold out to Wooler). Erling Poppe's greatest claim to fame was designing the postwar Sunbeam S7 and S8 bikes produced by BSA.

Here is the P & P as purchased. The forks and front wheel are
from a later bike and it originally left the factory with a sidevalve
motor, but you wouldn't want to change out that magnificent
Blackburne overhead valve lump would you?

Thursday, June 4, 2020

BSA Sloper sidevalve

This young fella is astride an early thirties BSA Sloper side-valve, official model name S30.

The bike looks to be quite well used and mildly modified over its years of service. The toolbox is non original and the pillion is a substitution for a carrier. The front mudguard seems to have been fairly well bashed about and the bike is missing its valve cover.

BSA Sloper S30 c1931.