Thursday, November 25, 2021

Vintage DOT JAP

It's not often you come across an old picture of a DOT motorcycle, particularly one from the vintage era. This particular 'Devoid of Trouble' DOT is from 1928 / 1929 and is fitted with a 348cc 'dog-eared' ohv JAP engine, it's a high end sporting mount of the period.

1928 / 1929 DOT JAP 350cc ohv.

Monday, November 22, 2021

DMW Motorcycles 1954

Here's the range of DMW (Dawson's Motor Works) machines for 1954. Leslie 'Smokey' Dawson was a well known pre-war grass track rider. When the War started he was ineligible for service in the armed forces due to his grass track riding injuries, instead he became an RAF mechanics instructor and despatch rider. Later on in the War he opened up a small garage in Wolverhampton - Dawson's Motor Works.

Smokey Dawson is in some places credited with patenting several important developments in motorcycle development (swinging arm suspension, telescopic forks and double sided front brakes). This is indeed true but it is perhaps more fair to say that he patented minor modifications to existing technology that allowed him to produce such parts without infringing existing patents. None-the-less he was certainly an innovator and one who embraced moves forward in technology.

DMW machines for the large part used Villiers engines and were of high quality with some unusual features, some models had semi-monocoque frames and many were fitted with earles forks. For a while I owned a DMW Cortina and a fine machine it was too.

The 1954 range is interesting in that this is the year that DMW listed machines fitted with French built AMC engines (a different company from the British concern Associated Motor Cycles). The French AMC motors were fitted with ohc engines (DOHC in the case of the racing model) and looked quite glamorous and exciting. Sadly it appears that these machines only reached prototype stage, they were exhibited at motor shows but seemingly did not roll off the production line.

There's a good history of DMW at the historywebsite.co.uk






Thursday, November 18, 2021

National Cycle Museum pt2

The second instalment of snaps from the National Cycle Museum at Llandrindod Wells. Not much extra to add from the first instalment except apologies once again for the slightly dodgy smartphone quality snaps and to re-iterate the recommendation to visit both the town of Llandrindod and the Museum. 

The Vittoria Margherita derailleur from around 1935.
The spiel beneath claims it as the first Italian derailleur,
that may or may not be correct. It was introduced in 1932,
some 20 years later than the probable first production
derailleur (the French Chemineau of 1912). To change
gear you need to back pedal, adjust chain tension with one
lever and shift the chain with another). Complicated but
sturdy and it gave a competitive advantage. Seemingly
a different company from the extant Vittoria tyre company,
the derailleur company was deep into Italian fascism: the
company was named after a statue put up by Giovanni Agnelli
(founder of the FIAT motorcar company) on the highest hill
in Turin of the winged goddess of victory in honour of
fascist ideals to build Italy as a militaristic superpower.
Models of derailleurs were named after fascist icons.
There's a great write up on the Disraeli Gears site.

Another transmission demo. This time
for EGG chainrings. Oval chainrings have
come in and out of fashion over the years
in cycling. They have their adherents but in
general are accepted to be no better or worse than
round ones. The designer of the EGG ring
has an interesting site with details on the
rings as well as other rabbit holes.
http://www.cornant.uk/index.html

It was a bit cramped in so hard to take good pictures
of but one of the machines I most coveted was this
1930s FH Grubb with highly unusual twin tube
cross frame design.

More detail on the FH Grubb. Note the
unusual stem.

T'other side of the Freddie Grubb twin tube. A Kirk
Precision cast magnesium framed road bike lurks
behind it.

One final snap of the twin tube Freddie Grubb.

Derny cycle pacer from the early fifties. Derny was
a French brand, their pacers became so ubiquitous
that Derny bcame a catch all word for all pacers.
A pacer such as this would have been used for road
racing as well as velodromes. Derny also made a regular
non-pacing version of this machine as well as tandem
versions.

Sun Manxman, probably from the late thirties. The
Manxman was noted for having small strut tubes
for stiffening behind the bottom bracket.

Saxon twin tube stands watch.

1930s RAC patrolman's cycle.

c1938 Baines Whirlwind 'Flying Gate'.

BSA 'Eyres' c 1937. Fully nickel plated and used in
a TV series called 'Champion' apparently.

That's a 1930s Moorson twin tube lurking back there.

A bit of a jumble this image but in the foreground
is a 1930s Triumph 'Moller'. Precursor to modern
recumbants and fitted with a steering wheel.

Lovely FH Grubb (Freddie Grubb) tourer. Note
the 'Resilient' sprung forks made by Grubb which
were available from 1928 to 1930.

Grubb made their own centre pull brakes
too. Here is an example.

Close up on the Grubb Resilient forks.

Fifties cycle shop mock up.

Dursley Pedersen.

Wonderful Raleigh 3d advertising art.

c1898 bamboo cycle made by the Bamboo
Cycle Co of the USA.

Full view of the Bamboo Cycle.

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Motosacoche goes camping

A charming picture featuring a Motosacoche from the veteran era.

Motosacoche were a Swiss firm that started off in 1899 making bicycle attachments. The name literally means 'motor in a case' as the engine units were packaged within an enclosed triangular subframe that would bolt into a bicycle's main triangle. 

The machine pictured here is a Model A that was made from 1901 up to 1910. Motosacoche went on to produce a large range of conventional motorcycles and MAG proprietory engines. Interestingly Motosacoche were paired up with Royal Enfield in the early days - they provided an IOE v-twin engine to Royal Enfield when they recommenced motorcycle production in 1910. Royal Enfield produced the cycle parts and sold it in the UK under the RE brand, Motosacoche produced a machine in turn that was near identical to the Royal Enfield and sold under their own brand name through Europe.

It's quite hard to come up with a back story to the photo. It is certainly very posed. The bell tent seems quite incongruous with the backdrop of what appears to be a windowless high sided wooden building with a corrugated iron roof.

Motosacoche - the motor in a case.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Bikes I have owned pt IX. Triumph 3TA

This has got to date from the mid to late eighties. Obviously I believed I was the business on this bike! Reality as we can see perhaps tells a different story. Still, that is what motorcycles are about isn't it? A fantasy. In this case the Triumph had all sorts of whiffs of James Dean, the Fonz, The Wild One, etc, etc.

Of course the 3TA, aka Model 21 was the baby bro of all the big glamour Triumphs but it still had the look. It was bought from a local very biker-ish kind of guy, the price was low and it totally showed in the bike. In truth it was remarkable that it ran and kept on running. The front brake was negligable, the rear locked up at the faintest hint of pedal, the handling was poor and the engine occasionally let out a blood curdling squeal on the overun. It did however sound magnificent and look amazing to a seventeen year old and I loved it.

1964 Triumph Twenty One.

Friday, November 5, 2021

AJS Big Port

The 'Big Port' AJS is one of the classic vintage motorcycles. Named Big Port because of the large diameter of its exhaust the 350cc version was hugely successful in competition and was commoner than the 500 back in the day as now.

The 500cc Big Port (official model name G8) was never so succesful on the track and, though sold as a sporting model, was obviously less focussed that the 350. The G8 wore touring mudguards whilst the 350cc 'H6' carried skimpy little numbers.

c1926 AJS 500cc Big Port G8.

Postscript: Thanks to Geert de Boer from Netherlands for pointing out that really it was only the 350 that was commonly called the 'Big Port' back in the day, the 500 wasn't popularly known as such. It also seems that I have got in a muddle over AJS model numbers - G prefix models were from 1926 and H from 1927, the 6 suffix bikes were the 350ohv and 8 suffix 500ohv. The particular bike in the photo above is a H8 from 1927 - 1927 being the first year in which the model was fitted with wired-on tyres.

Many thanks Geert for putting the record straight, when these things are out in the public domain and used as reference it is always nice to get the details fully correct.

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Unknown veteran with wicker sidecar

Another veteran machine that I'm struggling to identify. It looks to be around 1912 or 1913, at first I thought Premier but it doesn't quite look right. Right click, open in new window and then enlarge to get the full sized image. 

The motor is distinctive for having the magneto behind the engine rather than in front, forks are Druid type, other than that there are few easily identifying features. Do message or mail if you can put an id on the bike.

Some nice details in the picture though from the chap's serious riding gear to the three front headlights. There's some kind of long plunger / pump down at the front of the engine - no idea at all what that is for. On the handlebars are a mirror on the left side and a neat little cylindrical leather case on the right that seems a bit too small for a spare belt or tube.

Can you identify this veteran with wicker sidecar?

Monday, November 1, 2021

Skoda Octavia

Of course normally this blog deals with two and occasionally three wheelers but this Skoda Octavia spotted recently in Beaulieu village is too sweet and unusual to miss out.

Skoda / Volkswagen have trundled out the Octavia model name multiple times such was the success of the original which was produced from 1959 to 71 in huge quantities. This particular example is a two door which ran from '59 to '64. It's a very rare sight in the UK, particularly in this condition.

Whoever owns this lovely piece of Eastern Bloc history bravo to you to keeping it out on the roads and thanks for the pleasure of seeing it out and about.