A Velocette’s Isle of Man adventure ends in the guards van of the Manx railway
This is my customised 1958 Velocette MSS, complete with clip-ons, standard-position footrests, the rev counter and (on the right) L-plate attached to a fork leg – and myself in the saddle. This was my first of nine Velocette models. Once a Velo man always a Velo man… I took the MSS to the Isle of Man for the first time in 1960 – the first of what was to be 25 consecutive years to the Island for the TT (the year of the seamen’s strike excepted). I was accompanied by a friend riding his Triumph 110 – and unfortunately ended up spending TT week as a pillion passenger on it, after the Velocette’s fibre timing gear was stripped of teeth on a blast from the Gooseneck to Ramsey. At the end of the week the dead Velo was free-wheeled down to the Manx Electric Station in Ramsey and loaded onto the guards van (along with me and my sparse luggage). We were off-loaded at the Douglas terminus and free-wheeled down to the front, where a kindly taxi driver towed me to the Steam Packet docks. Once loaded onto the ferry I contemplated my situation whilst sitting on a huge coil of rope – then realised that was the answer! I found a smaller piece of rope, which a ferry worker let me have and, after disembarking at the docks in Liverpool, used it to as a towrope lashed to my friend’s Triumph to get the Velo to Liverpool Railway station. I only had sufficient cash for my ticket, not the Velo, but the Station Master took my particulars and the bike was loaded into the guards van. Sitting on the Velo, I was the centre of attraction from fellow passengers, a number of whom assumed I was a TT rider. Fame at last! After having arrived at Leicester, my father collected me, paid the necessary outstanding ticket fare and then towed me home. The Velo was later fitted with a new aluminium timing gear. Them were the days. Could it happen like that today? I don’t think so!
The kind of thrash that can easily result in a Velo’s fibre timing gear stripping its teeth
Learner bikes were cooler back then!