The Em­blem

Lit­tle gi­ant

Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS - Story and pho­tos Jim Scaysbrook Ad­di­tional pho­tos Carl Mont­gomery

That An­gola, a small vil­lage in up­state New York in Erie County, not far from Buf­falo, should have such a mo­tor­cy­cle mak­ing fa­cil­ity is un­usual in it­self, be­cause at the time of the for­ma­tion of the Em­blem con­cern, the town’s pop­u­la­tion was less than 800. Nev­er­the­less, the Em­blem fac­tory was an awe­some struc­ture, de­signed and built ex­pressly for bi­cy­cle and mo­tor­cy­cle pro­duc­tion, “one of the most com­plete and up-to-date plants in ex­is­tence, en­abling us to pro­duce Mo­tor­cy­cles and Bi­cy­cles of Class, Power, Speed and Sat­is­fac­tion.” The com­pany be­gan in 1907, ini­tially pro­duc­ing bi­cy­cles but soon mo­tor­cy­cles ap­peared, pow­ered by Thor en­gines (with pedal as­sis­tance), and bear­ing a marked re­sem­blance to In­di­ans of the time. A feature of all Em­blem mod­els was a tubu­lar seam­less steel frame (plus steel forg­ings) with what the com­pany re­ferred to as ‘Tri­an­gu­lar Re­in­force­ment” – an in­ter­nal brac­ing that Em­blem claimed to be “as strong as a bar of steel of the same di­am­e­ter”. Fuel and oil tanks were made from heavy duty cold rolled cop­per, which did not rust or cor­rode. The Em­blem front fork, in­tro­duced in 1912, boasted 2.5 inches of travel, with a spring en­closed in a tubu­lar sheath, with a lower bear­ing in tool steel. Four rock­ers, two on each side, pro­vided the sup­port be­tween the spring and the main fork. Em­blem also produced their own han­dle­bars in one-inch spe­cially tem­pered steel, “which will not bend or twist un­der the most se­vere strain.” By 1909 Em­blem was mak­ing its own sin­gle cylin­der en­gines with over­head in­let and side ex­haust valves, in 3.5 hp and 4hp, fit­ted into a loop frame, with a sprung front fork and belt fi­nal drive. From 1910, vee twins were made in sev­eral sizes, the largest be­ing the 76.6 cu­bic inch (1254cc) ver­sion, which was at that time the largest ca­pac­ity mo­tor­cy­cle avail­able, and usu­ally fin­ished in a deep blue. How­ever at $250.00, the big twin was ex­pen­sive, and sales were sluggish. The Em­blem clutch was the sub­ject of more praise in com­pany lit­er­a­ture. “The Free En­gine Clutch – The best de­vice that has been in­vented for Mo­tor­cy­cle use, will be stan­dard equip­ment on all 1912 Em­blem Mo­tor­cy­cles.” Em­blem also made much of the fact that both sin­gle and twin cylin­der en­gines used dou­ble row ball bear­ing to sup­port the bot­tom ends, in an age when plain bronze bear­ings were more com­monly used. When light­ing was fit­ted it was gen­er­ally of the “solid fuel sys­tem”, with drops of wa­ter reach­ing pieces of car­bide, giv­ing off a gas that is con­ducted by a rub­ber tube to the lamp with a twin burner in­side. The light was ac­ti­vated by a match – a process that some­times lit­er­ally back­fired for the rider.

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