Tracks in Time

Lack­er­steen Park

Old Bike Australasia - - CONTENTS -

Com­pany pres­i­dent W.G. “Billy” Schack was keen on rac­ing and mind­ful of the value of pub­lic­ity. Em­blem sup­ported rac­ing ef­forts by a num­ber of rid­ers, no­tably Lee Tay­lor and Ge­orge Evans, who be­tween them won ev­ery sin­gle and twin-cylin­der event at the pres­ti­gious La­bor Day races at Springfiel­d, Ohio in 1911. Although they did not sup­ply equip­ment Em­blem was paid ex­penses for the long dis­tance rides by An­gola res­i­dent Mau­rice Gale. By 1910, Gale had set a record for a mo­tor­cy­cle jour­ney from Chicago to New York, then be­gan plan­ning for longer rides, with his wife Mat­tie as pas­sen­ger. But in­stead of car­ry­ing the lady be­hind him on a pil­lion seat, Gale pre­ferred a side-by-side seat­ing ar­range­ment, which he made him­self. He used two bucket-style seats, one on each side of the fuel tank. He op­er­ated the con­trols from the left, while Mat­tie sat on the right. In this fash­ion, the pair cov­ered tens of thou­sands of miles over roads that were of­ten lit­tle more than rut­ted bush tracks. In 1914, he went a step fur­ther, ex­pand­ing his seat­ing con­cept to in­clude two smaller seats be­hind for their two sons. He even mounted a large um­brella on the ma­chine for pro­tec­tion against the el­e­ments. Gale’s four-seater Em­blem still ex­ists in a pri­vate col­lec­tion in New York. The com­pany’s sales brochure waxed lyri­cal of the new-for-1917 model. “The Em­blem of 1917 is the most sat­is­fac­tory in­vest­ment for ei­ther dealer or rider, ever put be­fore the mo­tor­cy­cle pub­lic. Medium in weight, pow­ered suf­fi­ciently to meet any need – 5.7 H.P. – sold at the hith­erto un­heard of price of $175 – com­plete in ev­ery minute de­tail, with ev­ery im­prove­ment, re­fine­ment and com­fort – as­sur­ing feature of the heav­ier and more ex­pen­sive mounts, the Em­blem Medium Weight Mo­tor­cy­cle is ab­so­lutely a rev­e­la­tion in what can be ac­com­plished in mod­er­ate mo­tor­cy­cle con­struc­tion.” In fact the new model was the only model – all oth­ers dropped from the range. Em­blem pres­i­dent Billy Schack was re­ported as say­ing to chief en­gi­neer J.C. Glass, “Glass, my boy, you’ve got some­thing there that will make a hit. It’s so good that we’ll just put all our en­er­gies into pro­duc­ing that model. You needn’t put any time on any other.” In other words, Em­blem, in the face of com­pe­ti­tion from nearly 300 other US man­u­fac­tur­ers, was find­ing it tough go­ing, and was slash­ing the range to min­imise in­ven­tory and pro­duc­tion costs. The new (only) model was the Sin­gle Speed Twin, sell­ing for $175. An op­tional three-speed trans­mis­sion was avail­able for an ex­tra $35. The new model also dis­pensed with the tra­di­tional deep blue, with a hue of red called Carmine listed as the stan­dard colour. The tank, guards and rim all fea­tured black strip­ing, edged with gold. Spokes, han­dle­bars, brakes and hubs were nickel plated over cop­per. The vee-twin side valve en­gine used a bore and stroke of 2 5/8 inches by 3 inches for a ca­pac­ity of 32 ½ ci

(532cc), rated a 7 horse­power, although en­gines tested at the fac­tory ac­tu­ally produced be­tween 8 and 9 hp. Top speed was 50 mph. In­ter­nal lu­bri­ca­tion was via a hand pump, with splash feed, although a me­chan­i­cal oil pump was a cat­a­logued ex­tra. The oil was car­ried in a com­part­ment at the rear of the fuel tank. A hand lever con­trolled the sin­gle-speed gear­box, but when the three-speed op­tion was in­stalled, a foot lever could be spec­i­fied. From 1916, the com­pany re­lied pri­mar­ily on ex­ports, sell­ing to Europe as well as Aus­trala­sia. The ex­port model was named the Lit­tle Gi­ant Twin, prob­a­bly to dis­tin­guish it from the ear­lier 76 ci mod­els. The mo­tor­cy­cle fea­tured in this ar­ti­cle was owned un­til its re­cent sale by Carl Mont­gomery of Perth, Western Aus­tralia, who says it was dis­cov­ered in 1967 and re­stored. He be­lieves it was one of 15 to reach Aus­tralia in late 1917. It should have a twist­grip fit­ted in­stead of the thumb lever, and the car­bide head­light is not orig­i­nal, although sim­i­lar to what would have been fit­ted. With tyres of the orig­i­nal beaded edge size un­ob­tain­able, new rims have been laced to the Em­blem hubs and fit­ted with new tyres, which are marginally smaller in OD that the orig­i­nals. Em­blem was never a big con­cern, but it al­ways prided it­self on qual­ity. How­ever that wasn’t enough to keep it go­ing, and af­ter strug­gling for a num­ber of years, the doors fi­nally shut in 1925.

Tank has fuel in the front sec­tion, oil in the rear.

ABOVE A 1917 ad­ver­tise­ment for the Lit­tle Gi­ant. ABOVE CEN­TRE Em­blem’s in­ter­nally tri­an­gu­lated frame tub­ing. BE­LOW En­gine has over­head in­let and side ex­haust valves.

ABOVE RIGHT Car­bide head­light is non orig­i­nal but vis­ually sim­i­lar to Em­blem’s. RIGHT Fold­ing foot­boards were an Em­blem feature. Brass Schebler car­bu­ret­tor. Mag­neto by Ber­ling.

An Em­blem on dis­play in the Board Track feature at the Bar­ber Mu­seum, Alabama USA. ABOVE Mau­rice Gale’s fourseater Em­blem on dis­play at the Rhinebeck Vin­tage Meet in New York.

Kick­start works from clutch cen­tre. ABOVE AND TOP Op­tional three-speed gear­box but with hand-shift. Wrights sad­dle is com­pat­i­ble with orig­i­nal Mesinger.

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