That V4 Tri­umph

Old Bike Australasia - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

I read with in­ter­est the ar­ti­cle in “Out And About”, OBA44, en­ti­tled “Plum­mer’s night­mare” by Tim Gibbes which I would like to make a com­ment or two.

Firstly, the person smok­ing the pipe in the photo is Bill Plum­mer, not the UK owner. Bill de­signed and built the com­plete ma­chine in his mo­tor­cy­cle shop here in Napier New Zealand, around 1960, from mem­ory. Bill’s shop sold new and used mo­tor­cy­cles as well as do­ing re­pairs in the work­shop. He was a very clever and in­no­va­tive engi­neer and a keen com­peti­tor in side­car rac­ing. He later built a steel yacht and sailed it to Aus­tralia. In­ci­den­tally he had a lathe in his lounge in Ged­dis Av­enue af­ter his wife went back to Greece! I pro­vided the Manx frame as a com­plete 1952 350 Long Stroke Manx Nor­ton, orig­i­nally Dean Hol­lier’s IOM bike for that year. Dean was a mem­ber of the 3-man NZ ACU team that year and had the mis­for­tune to re­tire in the Ju­nior TT with a bro­ken con­rod. I pur­chased the bike off Dean in 1957. By 1960, hav­ing de­cided to re­tire from rac­ing, I was look­ing at sell­ing the Nor­ton, some­what re­gret­fully I have to say. One day in 1960, I wan­dered into Bill’s work­shop and found him draw­ing the out­line of a bike frame on the work­shop floor, in chalk. When he told me what he in­tended to build I sug­gested that a Manx frame would suit his project. The re­sult was that I later de­liv­ered the Nor­ton and rode away on a 1955 500 Ariel sin­gle. (Later sold for NZ 175 Pounds, about what the Nor­ton cost me). On another visit to his work­shop, I was some­what dis­mayed to see what he had done to the Manx frame to fit the V4 Tri­umph mo­tor! I think the gear­box was an AJS 7R. Un­for­tu­nately the bike was not a suc­cess as it had a habit of break­ing the cou­pling chain be­tween the two crankshaft­s. I am fairly sure this was be­cause the mo­tors were timed as a twin not a four. En­ter Len Plum­mer, Bill’s Brother who had taken over the shop. Len fit­ted a gear drive which seemed to cure the prob­lem but as far as I re­mem­ber the bike was never fit­ted with a side­car and sat around un­til sold to Arthur Har­ris, as men­tioned in Tim’s ar­ti­cle. I asked Len Plum­mer sev­eral times what hap­pened to the Manx en­gine and gear­box but he just grinned, so I never found the an­swer.

Bruce Car­rad Napier, NZ

Mount Panorama mem­o­ries: Another su­perb By­ron Gun­ther photo from 1950 fea­tur­ing Jack Ahearn (500 Ve­lo­cette) lead­ing Ron Gar­rick (Vin­cent HRD) and Keith Bryen (AJS).

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