Tracks in Time
Company president W.G. “Billy” Schack was keen on racing and mindful of the value of publicity. Emblem supported racing efforts by a number of riders, notably Lee Taylor and George Evans, who between them won every single and twin-cylinder event at the prestigious Labor Day races at Springfield, Ohio in 1911. Although they did not supply equipment Emblem was paid expenses for the long distance rides by Angola resident Maurice Gale. By 1910, Gale had set a record for a motorcycle journey from Chicago to New York, then began planning for longer rides, with his wife Mattie as passenger. But instead of carrying the lady behind him on a pillion seat, Gale preferred a side-by-side seating arrangement, which he made himself. He used two bucket-style seats, one on each side of the fuel tank. He operated the controls from the left, while Mattie sat on the right. In this fashion, the pair covered tens of thousands of miles over roads that were often little more than rutted bush tracks. In 1914, he went a step further, expanding his seating concept to include two smaller seats behind for their two sons. He even mounted a large umbrella on the machine for protection against the elements. Gale’s four-seater Emblem still exists in a private collection in New York. The company’s sales brochure waxed lyrical of the new-for-1917 model. “The Emblem of 1917 is the most satisfactory investment for either dealer or rider, ever put before the motorcycle public. Medium in weight, powered sufficiently to meet any need – 5.7 H.P. – sold at the hitherto unheard of price of $175 – complete in every minute detail, with every improvement, refinement and comfort – assuring feature of the heavier and more expensive mounts, the Emblem Medium Weight Motorcycle is absolutely a revelation in what can be accomplished in moderate motorcycle construction.” In fact the new model was the only model – all others dropped from the range. Emblem president Billy Schack was reported as saying to chief engineer J.C. Glass, “Glass, my boy, you’ve got something there that will make a hit. It’s so good that we’ll just put all our energies into producing that model. You needn’t put any time on any other.” In other words, Emblem, in the face of competition from nearly 300 other US manufacturers, was finding it tough going, and was slashing the range to minimise inventory and production costs. The new (only) model was the Single Speed Twin, selling for $175. An optional three-speed transmission was available for an extra $35. The new model also dispensed with the traditional deep blue, with a hue of red called Carmine listed as the standard colour. The tank, guards and rim all featured black striping, edged with gold. Spokes, handlebars, brakes and hubs were nickel plated over copper. The vee-twin side valve engine used a bore and stroke of 2 5/8 inches by 3 inches for a capacity of 32 ½ ci
(532cc), rated a 7 horsepower, although engines tested at the factory actually produced between 8 and 9 hp. Top speed was 50 mph. Internal lubrication was via a hand pump, with splash feed, although a mechanical oil pump was a catalogued extra. The oil was carried in a compartment at the rear of the fuel tank. A hand lever controlled the single-speed gearbox, but when the three-speed option was installed, a foot lever could be specified. From 1916, the company relied primarily on exports, selling to Europe as well as Australasia. The export model was named the Little Giant Twin, probably to distinguish it from the earlier 76 ci models. The motorcycle featured in this article was owned until its recent sale by Carl Montgomery of Perth, Western Australia, who says it was discovered in 1967 and restored. He believes it was one of 15 to reach Australia in late 1917. It should have a twistgrip fitted instead of the thumb lever, and the carbide headlight is not original, although similar to what would have been fitted. With tyres of the original beaded edge size unobtainable, new rims have been laced to the Emblem hubs and fitted with new tyres, which are marginally smaller in OD that the originals. Emblem was never a big concern, but it always prided itself on quality. However that wasn’t enough to keep it going, and after struggling for a number of years, the doors finally shut in 1925.
Tank has fuel in the front section, oil in the rear.
ABOVE A 1917 advertisement for the Little Giant. ABOVE CENTRE Emblem’s internally triangulated frame tubing. BELOW Engine has overhead inlet and side exhaust valves.
ABOVE RIGHT Carbide headlight is non original but visually similar to Emblem’s. RIGHT Folding footboards were an Emblem feature. Brass Schebler carburettor. Magneto by Berling.
An Emblem on display in the Board Track feature at the Barber Museum, Alabama USA. ABOVE Maurice Gale’s fourseater Emblem on display at the Rhinebeck Vintage Meet in New York.
Kickstart works from clutch centre. ABOVE AND TOP Optional three-speed gearbox but with hand-shift. Wrights saddle is compatible with original Mesinger.