That V4 Triumph
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).