Split­ting the sin­gle

Old Bike Australasia - - EMC 350 -

Ap­par­ently a man of some means, Dr. Ehrlich could see the writ­ing on the wall for Jewish cit­i­zens as Hitler pre­pared to in­vade Aus­tria and made his es­cape in 1937. He fled to Bri­tain where by 1939 he had built a 240cc split sin­gle en­gine, with each 44mm pis­ton run­ning in a 79mm bore. Dur­ing the war he was en­gaged on sev­eral mil­i­tary projects, no­tably the de­vel­op­ment of a motorcycle en­gine which he fit­ted into an Ariel frame for eval­u­a­tion by the army. That en­gine was a two stroke with twin pis­tons work­ing on an ar­tic­u­lated con­nect­ing rod. Not sur­pris­ingly, the army chose to stay with its sta­ples; the G3 Match­less and 16H Nor­ton, but in 1946 Ehrich moved into a tiny fac­tory in Park Royal, Isle­worth, London, where he planned to put his motorcycle into pro­duc­tion as the 350cc EMC (Ehrlich Mo­tor Company). From the out­set, he faced a not in­con­sid­er­able prob­lem in ed­u­cat­ing the staid and con­ser­va­tive Bri­tish motorcycle buyer (and the as­so­ci­ated me­dia) in the virtues of the twin-pis­ton de­sign, which, after all, had ap­peared in sev­eral forms in Europe. The buy­ing pub­lic were am­biva­lent to­wards two strokes in gen­eral, so a twin-pis­ton two stroke was some­thing to be eyed with con­sid­er­able sus­pi­cion in a mar­ket where sin­gle and twin cylin­der over­head valve four strokes reigned supreme. Added to the en­gine’s quirky spec­i­fi­ca­tion was its ap­pear­ance; the mas­sively finned, square bar­rel and head, with the ex­haust pipe em­a­nat­ing from the left side of the bar­rel, giv­ing the bike an un­gainly and slightly un­bal­anced look. Close in­spec­tion of the bar­rel re­vealed that the fins were ac­tu­ally of two dif­fer­ent sizes – six large fins in­ter­spersed with smaller ones. This, Ehrlich ex­plained, was to pro­vide what he re­ferred to as “dif­fer­en­tial cool­ing”; to al­low the liner to slightly de­form or cor­ru­gate when it reached op­er­at­ing tem­per­a­ture, and thus re­tain oil around the pis­tons. The rest of the EMC fol­lowed nor­mal Bri­tish prac­tice, with a four-speed Burman C Type gear­box, Dowty Oleo­matic (air sus­pended) tele­scopic forks and a rather neat dou­ble cra­dle tubu­lar frame

with a rigid rear end. The frame was rather unique in that it used a mag­ne­sium-bronze steer­ing head and top back­bone to which the steel frame tubes were bolted. Ehrich’s own hubs and 7-inch brakes were used; a con­ven­tional “cot­ton reel” with bolted up drum and sprocket on the rear, and a Vin­centstyle dou­ble-sided job on the front. With a re­tail price of £185, the EMC was only slightly more ex­pen­sive than the popular 350cc BSA B31. Early ver­sions of the EMC, des­ig­nated the Mark One, used the an­ti­quated to­tal loss lu­bri­ca­tion sys­tem with a Pilgrim pump, but this was soon re­placed with his own de­sign of re­cip­ro­cat­ing pump con­trolled by the throt­tle. The oil pump was housed in the outer half of the tim­ing chest with two feeds and a plunger to pres­sure-feed lubri­cant to the big end bear­ing. The end of the pump plunger was lo­cated in a ta­per groove ma­chined along the length of a cylin­dri­cal

slide, with the slide be­ing ac­tu­ated by cable from the twist grip, match­ing oil de­liv­ery to throt­tle open­ing rather than en­gine speed. To pub­li­cise the ven­ture, he also pre­pared sev­eral rac­ing mod­els in 250cc and 350cc sizes which en­joyed rea­son­able suc­cess in Bri­tain, no­tably in the hands of all-round racer and scram­bles star Les Archer who won the very pres­ti­gious Hutchi­son 100 in 1947. By 1948, the rac­ing 350 was pump­ing out 45hp at 5,500 rpm. De­tail re­fine­ments of the road bike were made for 1948. A new frame with plunger rear sus­pen­sion also dif­fered from the rigid (which was still avail­able) in that the man­ganese-bronze frame ‘back­bone’ was now of forged du­ra­lu­min. New con­i­cal hubs, at­trac­tively cast in L33 alu­minium al­loy with cast-in brake lin­ers and straight-pull spokes, re­placed the steel com­po­nents and by all ac­counts worked very well. The al­loy wheels alone gave a weight sav­ing of 12lb, with the al­loy frame sec­tion fur­ther re­duc­ing over­all weight. The new model, pre­sum­ably the Mark Two, was listed with a top speed of 80mph and a re­tail price of £198 for the plunger (plus the puni­tive UK Pur­chase Tax of £57).

Out in the Colonies

Pro­duc­tion of the 350cc EMC never reached more than ten mo­tor­cy­cles per week, with Swe­den and Aus­tralia be­ing the pri­mary ex­port mar­kets. Dean Go­van owns two EMCs and has delved in what records ex­ists to com­pile a lo­cal his­tory.

“I first saw an EMC at the Port Pirie Easter speed­way in 1948. I had read all about them as my fa­ther sub­scribed to both English mag­a­zines, The Mo­tor Cy­cle and Mo­tor Cy­cling. My mem­o­ries of the bike stayed with me, how­ever and I did not see another un­til in 1999 whilst vis­it­ing my friend Peter Allen’s shed I no­ticed he had a very sad and sorry bike in his col­lec­tion. “Look­ing for a project I asked if he was in­ter­ested in me bring­ing it back to life which he read­ily agreed to. The bike had been in his col­lec­tion for many years and he had also col­lected much lit­er­a­ture and in­for­ma­tion about the bikes.

As part of the project I sought to find as much as I could about the bikes his­tory in Aus­tralia. Sven Kallins were the agents in South Aus­tralia and I was told that only seven or eight ma­chines were im­ported how­ever ac­cu­rate records were not avail­able and I ul­ti­mately lo­cated the re­mains of ten ma­chines. This was con­firmed be­cause of the se­quences of the en­gine and frame num­bers of the bits and pieces that were lo­cated. I was able to con­tact sev­eral peo­ple that had owned one at var­i­ous stages in­clud­ing for­mer em­ploy­ees of Kallins. It was the con­firmed opin­ion of those peo­ple that the ma­chine was a bit of a le­mon; most broke the frames, were prone to seize and were gen­er­ally un­re­li­able. Ap­par­ently as a re­sult Kallins did not im­port any more. “Kallins, as part of the pro­mo­tion of the make, spon­sored Bill Thomas to ride a bike in var­i­ous tri­als in 1948, in­clud­ing the Ad­ver­tiser 24 hour, in which he came equal first. The late Bruce Hec­tor rode one in the Mar­ion Road races in 1948 and at the Flin­ders Naval Base races in Vic­to­ria. Bruce told me that it was a rather dis­ap­point­ing ride as the bike was nowhere as quick as the B.S.A. Ban­tam that he was also rac­ing. “I had col­lected enough com­po­nents to com­plete up to four bikes and did com­plete two, with one bike be­ing used quite a lot. I found it a very torquey bike to ride, re­ally only need­ing top gear, it could be started off in top and pull away with­out a care. I will re­fer to the bikes I got in­volved with by their reg­is­tra­tions. I sub­se­quently put to­gether two bikes, SA 12041 and SA 99611 and 75% com­pleted SA 93001. 99611 came home early in 2000, it had

no oil pump, rear wheel, head­light, mag­neto, car­bu­ret­tor or gear­box and had a cracked frame. 12041, which was the bike Peter had, ar­rived soon after mi­nus a carby and with a bro­ken frame, with a rear wheel for 99611 and another mo­tor. Nei­ther bike had a stand. Sub­se­quently I ac­quired four fur­ther mo­tors, two frames and other sundry parts that as­sisted in me com­plet­ing two bikes.

I re­paired the frames, fit­ted springs to the forks, made the stands, mud­guard fit­tings, found head­lights, footrests, levers and other sundry parts. They were not in­tended to be restora­tions as such; the project was to com­plete two run­ning ride­able bikes. “The en­gines, be­ing two strokes rely upon crank­case com­pres­sion, and one of the faults of the de­sign was the man­ner in which the crank­shaft was sealed. On both sides there was a se­ries of plates with felt seals in be­tween. Th­ese had been one of the de­sign faults so I re­placed the bear­ings on both sides with sealed bear­ings and they worked sat­is­fac­to­rily. Another fault was the de­sign of the pis­tons; they were about 90mm long and the gud­geon pin was about 30mm from the bot­tom. Ev­ery pis­ton in all the en­gines that I had showed signs of be­ing se­verely seized at some time. In build­ing the en­gines I picked the best parts from what­ever I had. I had new gud­geon pins and pis­ton rings made. They are fit­ted with Pilgrim dou­ble act­ing oil pumps and they had to be “timed” so that the cor­rect amount of oil was de­liv­ered to the big end and the rear cylin­der, and that proved a com­pli­cated process. The first one - 12041 - was com­pleted and rid­den in Oc­to­ber 2000. It was a pleas­ant torquey bike to ride how­ever it did not live up to all the claims Dr Joe made when first an­nounced. The bike was regis­tered and rid­den by my­self and Peter many times over the fol­low­ing year. 99611 was com­pleted by July 2001. It seemed to be a bet­ter bike than the first one how­ever it has not been used since com­ple­tion. 93001 was about 75% com­pleted and is some­where in the Bird­wood Mill from where some of the parts came from.

“As part of the project I en­deav­oured to find out what I could of the his­tory of the bikes in Aus­tralia how­ever very lit­tle in­for­ma­tion was lo­cated. Ap­par­ently some of the later ver­sion made their way to Aus­tralia as a 1948 ver­sion was lo­cated in Wagga, but lit­tle was known of its his­tory. In ad­di­tion to the two bikes I put to­gether I lo­cated two other com­plete ma­chines in N.S.W. one of which came from the orig­i­nal Ade­laide batch. One in­trigu­ing thing I came across was that some­one for what­ever rea­son had mod­i­fied an en­gine by ma­chin­ing about an inch off the di­am­e­ter of the fly­wheels and added about twelve ‘Blades’ di­ag­o­nally across them. It would be in­ter­est­ing to know who and why it was done. Un­for­tu­nately it was not one of the en­gines that I used. In NSW, Greg Free­man owns a 1948 EMC, one of the very few ‘late mod­els’ to come to Aus­tralia. This motorcycle was pur­chased new by Greg’s

grand­fa­ther, Bob Jones, who will be fa­mil­iar to a gen­er­a­tion of dirt track rid­ers who raced at the stil­lop­er­at­ing Ne­pean Speed­way – the only re­main­ing dirt track in Syd­ney. Bob was ‘the man’ at Ne­pean, liv­ing on site in a very ba­sic shack, op­er­at­ing the equip­ment that kept the track in top con­di­tion, build­ing fences – you name it. In his later years, Bob helped to found the Mac­quarie Towns Motorcycle Restora­tion and Preser­va­tion Club which is based at nearby Pitt Town. Bob’s EMC was used for ev­ery­thing from daily com­mut­ing to var­i­ous forms of com­pe­ti­tion – re­li­a­bil­ity tri­als, ob­served tri­als, scram­bles and Short Cir­cuit rac­ing. In Greg’s hands, it has even ap­peared in His­toric Road Rac­ing. As it is sub­stan­tially com­plete and orig­i­nal, Greg has no plans to re­store the EMC. It has the stan­dard fit­ment 20-inch front wheel with 19-inch rear, a Lu­cas TT mag­neto and Amal 29-Type car­bu­ret­tor.

Life after the 350

The 350cc EMC lasted barely two years in pro­duc­tion. “Dr. Joe” was renowned for his peaks and troughs of en­thu­si­asm for mo­tor­cy­cles, and ob­vi­ously felt there were bet­ter ways of mak­ing a liv­ing. He also tired of the process whereby sup­plies of com­po­nents such as mag­ne­tos, dy­namo, gear­boxes and car­bu­ret­tors were chan­nelled into the ma­jor man­u­fac­tur­ers at the ex­pense of the small shows, such as his. In­stead, he be­gan im­port­ing Puch en­gines and gear­boxes from Aus­tria and build­ing them into var­i­ous pro­pri­etary chas­sis. He also built a se­ries of 125cc Puch-based rac­ers, no fewer than six of th­ese be­ing en­tered in the 1952 Isle of Man TT. One of th­ese came to Aus­tralia where it was raced by fu­ture Fraser Gov­ern­ment Min­is­ter Tony Street and later by Eric Lauder. In 1953, the good doc­tor drifted into the car scene, work­ing for Austin un­til 1958. Dur­ing this time, he also de­vel­oped a sin­gle pis­ton two stroke with loop scav­eng­ing. In 1958 he joined De Hav­il­land, in charge of small en­gine de­vel­op­ment and fur­ther de­vel­op­ing his own en­gine. This even­tu­ally evolved into a wa­ter-cooled 125cc disc valve racer with a six-speed gear­box, de­vel­op­ing 27bhp at 10,000 rpm. By 1961, the racer was a for­mi­da­ble de­vice and was raced by De Hav­il­land em­ployee Rex Avery, Derek Min­ter, Phil Read, Paddy Driver and Mike Hail­wood. Mike made head­lines when he de­feated Luigi Taveri’s works Honda to win the non-cham­pi­onship Saar Grand Prix, and in 1962, EMC fin­ished sec­ond in the 125cc Grand Prix stand­ings. Ehrlich had a twin cylin­der ver­sion on the draw­ing board, but De Hav­il­land showed no in­ter­est (nor fi­nance) so the project never went ahead. In­stead, Ehrich left and set up his own company at Bletch­ley where he pro­duced a se­ries of open wheel rac­ing cars for the Bri­tish one-litre For­mula Three. One of th­ese was driven suc­cess­fully by Mark Thatcher, son of the Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter. By the early 1980s, Joe was back with bikes, form­ing an ar­range­ment with Wad­don to de­velop their Ro­tax-en­gined 250cc Grand Prix ma­chine. By 1984 Ehrich was ex­tract­ing 70hp from the Ro­tax en­gine, even though the fac­tory Ro­tax rac­ers pro­duced only 62. Run­ning his own EMC team again, the 250s won four Isle of Man Light­weight TTs, in­clud­ing the 1984 race where Aus­tralian ex-pat Graeme McGregor de­feated Joey Dun­lop, Charlie Wil­liams and Phil Mel­lor to win by over one minute. The EMC was the first 250 to lap the TT course at more than 110mph. In the same year Andy Watts fin­ished sec­ond in the Bri­tish Grand Prix at Sil­ver­stone.

April 2000, and the col­lec­tion of bits and pieces that Dean Go­van his restora­tion project be­gan with. Au­gust 2001, and Dean Go­van now has two com­pleted bikes. TOP LEFT The two com­pleted EMCs on show in July 2001. CEN­TRE LEFT Peter Allen and Dean Go­van...

LEFT Sven Kallin’s show­room in Han­son Street, Ade­laide in July 1948. Four EMCs, all 1947 mod­els, are vis­i­ble. ABOVE Col Brown on Tony Street’s EMC-Puch at Mil­dura in 1955. BE­LOW Bob Jones on his EMC when it was just 10 months old. BOT­TOM Bob and the...

ABOVE A rather out­spo­ken EMC ad­ver­tise­ment. The bike shown is a 1948 model with rigid frame. BE­LOW LEFT Dr. Joseph Ehrich.

Dowty “go flat” air forks with the 1948 con­i­cal al­loy front hub. Finned con­i­cal rear hub. Nice de­tail; cast al­loy heat shield on the ex­haust pipe. Mas­sive bar­rel show­ing the asym­met­ric fin­ning. Hor­i­zon­tal Amal 1 1/8” carb sup­plies the mix­ture.

One of Dean Go­van’s 1947 mod­els, as found.

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