Ju­nak 350

Pole apart

Old Bike Australasia - - FRONT PAGE - Story and pho­tos Jim Scays­brook

“When you Google say, ‘Honda CB750’, you get half a mil­lion re­sults. When you do the same for Ju­nak it asks, ‘Did you mean Junk?’ The sit­u­a­tion is im­prov­ing, but there’s still not much in­for­ma­tion on the web.” To dive back into his­tory, the 350cc Ju­nak was the only four-stroke mo­tor­cy­cle pro­duced in Poland be­tween World War II and the 1989 revo­lu­tion which be­gan in Poland and led to the fall of com­mu­nism in Eastern Europe. Ju­nak was the brand name (mean­ing ‘brave man’) of SFM, which it­self stood for Szczecin Fac­tory Mo­tor­cy­cle. Szczecin is the Pol­ish city near the Baltic Sea where the mo­tor­cy­cles were pro­duced, or at least as­sem­bled; the parts com­ing from nu­mer­ous sup­pli­ers in the eastern bloc. The en­gines were made in Lodz. The orig­i­nal fac­tory was es­tab­lished way back in 1858 by Bern­hard Stoewer in what was then part of Ger­many, to man­u­fac­ture sewing ma­chines, ma­chine tools, and later bi­cy­cles and type­writ­ers. Around the turn of the cen­tury, Bern­hard’s sons turned to the

“Peo­ple have crit­i­cized the pin strip­ing and the way the name is painted on the tank, but this was al­ways done by hand and never per­fect – that’s the way they were.

man­u­fac­ture of au­to­mo­biles – only the third car pro­duc­tion plant es­tab­lished in Europe. It later built buses be­fore be­ing turned over to mil­i­tary pro­duc­tion for the Sec­ond World War. Un­der the post-war com­mu­nist regime, the plant made trac­tors, beds, trail­ers, gen­er­a­tors, and even­tu­ally…mo­tor­cy­cles. The Ju­nak M07 was de­signed around 1952 by a team of en­gi­neers bas­ing their think­ing on the pre­war Sokol – a Har­ley-style 995cc V-twin, along with 500 and 600cc sin­gles, that was avail­able in mil­i­tary or civil­ian trim and was de­signed by the engi­neer Tadeusz Ru­dawski. This man was ap­par­ently well re­spected in his field and his teach­ings heav­ily in­flu­enced the think­ing be­hind the post-war Ju­nak. The first Ju­nak – the M07 – went into pro­duc­tion in 1956 and was later re­fined into the M10, the model fea­tured here. The M07 used lighter style mud­guards, con­ven­tional steel spin­dle hubs with bolted-on brake drums and a Lu­cas-style head­lamp. Uti­liz­ing the same frame and unit-con­struc­tion en­gine, the model was re­fined into the M10 for the last six of its nine years of pro­duc­tion, end­ing in 1965.

The prod­uct was ba­si­cally quite OK, but the ma­jor im­ped­i­ment to sales was the price. At a time when the av­er­age wage was 1500 Pol­ish Zloty per month, the Ju­nak cost 23,000 Zloty, or 15 months’ wages. The pric­ing was also a se­ri­ous prob­lem when it came to ex­port sales. Small num­bers of the Ju­nak were sold to Eastern Euro­pean coun­tries such as Hun­gary, Bul­garia and es­pe­cially Rus­sia, and to Fin­land, Nor­way, Turkey, Venezuela, Mon­go­lia and a few to UK. With its com­mu­nist links, Cuba was a ready mar­ket and a hand­ful went to USA and to parts of Africa. The US mod­els, re­port­edly just a sin­gle batch of 21 ma­chines, were op­tioned-up with sad­dle bags, higher han­dle­bars and other frills. Pol­ish po­lice forces used Ju­naks mod­i­fied to take spe­cial equip­ment, and the fac­tory also built two ‘trike’ ver­sions. The first of these used the rear half of the mo­tor­cy­cle with a front-mounted twowheeled box, but this failed to get past the pro­to­type stage. The other, mar­keted as the B20 with the rear sec­tion of the bike re­moved and the trailer sec­tion be­hind, went in to pro­duc­tion and about 25,000 were pro­duced for com­mer­cial and agri­cul­tural use. Many of the so­los were fit­ted with side­cars of var­i­ous styles. The Ju­nak also found its way into com­pe­ti­tion with a model called M07-C for tri­als and mo­tocross, and in 1959 the fac­tory sup­ported an ef­fort by F. Stachewicz for a pro­pa­ganda ef­fort us­ing a stream­lined and slightly tuned ver­sion of the M10. On a sec­tion of closed pub­lic road, Mr Stachewicz achieved a two-way av­er­age of 149.3 km/h – shy of the hoped-for 160 km/h mark but not bad all the same. The record at­tempt was filmed by the news­reel or­ga­ni­za­tion PKF (Poland Film Chron­i­cle) and widely shown in cine­mas. Michael’s 1962 Model M10 was pur­chased about three years ago from a chap who had a pair of them – the other one, a non-run­ner, went to the Na­tional Mo­tor­cy­cle Mu­seum at Nabiac, NSW. Although his ex­am­ple was sub­stan­tially com­plete and run­ning, Michael de­cided upon a full re­build. The M10 was dis­man­tled and the frame pow­der coated, and the tin­ware enam­eled black with gold lines. “Peo­ple

have crit­i­cized the pin strip­ing and the way the name is painted on the tank, but this was al­ways done by hand and never per­fect – that’s the way they were. The only non-orig­i­nal parts are the petrol taps, which are Honda. I re­built the horn my­self, I was rather proud of that!” There were a few parts to source, such as the tail­light and muf­fler, and these came from Poland, along with a sup­pos­edly re­con­di­tioned head. “When I re­ceived the head it was still cov­ered in grime and was worn out, so I had the orig­i­nal head re­con­di­tioned lo­cally at Liver­pool. They fit­ted valve guides from a car and I got a new bar­rel and pis­ton from Poland. I have not split the crankcases – ev­ery­thing seemed fine so I just left it the way it was.” The wiring har­ness was sourced from Ger­many and a new muf­fler came from Poland. “There were three types of muf­flers listed, and they just fit­ted what­ever was avail­able at the time. Mine is the fluted type, but there were also longer ta­pered types, which could be ei­ther chrome plated or painted black.” “The gen­er­a­tor is 6 volt, and neg­a­tive to earth, which took me a while to work out. I have seen some bikes in Poland that have been con­verted to 12 volts, but they use ex­ter­nal belts and brack­ets and look hor­ri­ble. The gen­er­a­tor sits un­der a cover in the top of the crankcases. If the seals leak it can get full of oil and stops work­ing.” Michael has man­aged to sim­plify the start­ing pro­ce­dure so that the en­gine com­mences within a cou­ple of kicks and once it has belched out the resid­ual crank­case oil, set­tles down to a slow, reg­u­lar tick over. But it wasn’t al­ways so. “This is a very un­for­giv­ing mo­tor­cy­cle. If it kicks back, it hurts! On the free­way you can reach 120 km/h, but the ride is un­bear­able, it vi­brates like crazy. Ju­nak means ‘brave man’ and you need to be brave to ride it!”

There are other foibles, as he ex­plains. “The rear chain is lu­bri­cated by a pres­sur­ized oiler in the rear of the crankcases. How­ever this can get blocked so then pres­sure builds up in­side and re­sults in oil leaks. I have fit­ted an ex­tra hose to stop that hap­pen­ing. The mag­neto sticks out the front and cops wa­ter thrown up from the front wheel. For this rea­son rid­ers used to wrap the mag­neto in a plas­tic bag.” The M10 re­ceived a styling makeover from the orig­i­nal M07, with more deeply valanced mud­guards, and very BSA-like full width al­loy hubs. The stan­dard head­light was re­placed with an ob­vi­ously Tri­umph-in­flu­enced na­celle, and the rear chain guard was ex­tended to cover both top and bot­tom runs. De­spite its copy­cat na­ture, the en­gine has some very in­ter­est­ing fea­tures. Valve clear­ance is by ec­cen­tric spin­dle, the same as a 7R AJS, while the gear­box in­ter­nals can be re­moved – cas­sette style – with­out split­ting the crankcases. The car­bu­re­tor breaths through an oil trough lo­cated in the left side cover – air sim­ply bub­bles through the liq­uid, re­mov­ing many of the im­pu­ri­ties be­fore it reaches the en­gine. The en­gine it­self is ‘mir­ror image’ of the usual Bri­tish style, with the pushrod tun­nels run­ning up the left side through the al­loy bar­rel and into the head. The con­cen­tric-type car­bu­re­tor is a Pol­ish Pegaz (Pe­ga­sus, as in fly­ing horse), although on ear­lier mod­els, Span­ish-made 29 Type Amals with sep­a­rate bowls were fit­ted. By the time the plug was pulled on the 350 Ju­nak, 91,400 had been built. The fac­tory ex­per­i­mented with a new de­sign – the very fu­tur­is­tic look­ing M14 “Iskera” – but it never went into pro­duc­tion and the plant re­verted to mak­ing car sub as­sem­blies. To­day, Ju­nak ex­ists as an im­porter of re-badged Korean Hyosung mod­els. “There are very strict laws now, mean­ing you can’t take the old Pol­ish-built bikes out of Poland” says Michael, “so the bikes that ex­ist in other coun­tries have be­come quite valu­able. But, I guess they were al­ways ex­pen­sive.”

Fully road reg­is­tered and now a re­li­able starter and run­ner, Michael’s Ju­nak is to be seen at var­i­ous shows and ral­lies in Sydney, where it al­ways stops on­look­ers in their tracks. An Ariel, a Nor­ton, a BSA? No it’s a Ju­nak – a brave man’s mo­tor­cy­cle.

TOP LEFT Shades of many en­gine de­signs are ob­vi­ous. ABOVE LEFT Mag­neto sits out front and gets wa­ter­logged. ABOVE CEN­TRE Chain oiler is built into the crank­case. ABOVE RIGHT Gen­er­a­tor hides un­der here. TOP RIGHT Pol­ish-made Pegaz car­bu­re­tor. CEN­TRE RIGHT Rocker spin­dles are ec­cen­tri­cally ad­justed. ABOVE CEN­TRE RIGHT A seat built for long dis­tance com­fort. RIGHT Per­fect for car­ry­ing a 20kg bag of pota­toes. LEFT “Dosta si z drogi!” (“Get out of the way” in Pol­ish).

Wobby? Yes. Orig­i­nal? Yes.

TOP Here’s look­ing at you, kid. ABOVE Now where have we seen that na­celle be­fore? RIGHT Full width hubs are very BSA-like. FAR RIGHT Muf­fler pre-dates the Honda CB500 con­cept.

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