The Tramway Village at Crich have hosted their second Classic bike day, and the VMCC Festival of 1000 Bikes has made a return to Mallory Park. PUB braved the sun and heat to bring RC reports.
The Tramway Village at Crich have hosted their second classic bike day, and the VMCC Festival of 1000 Bikes has made a return to Mallory Park. PUB braved the sun and heat to bring RC reports
It was the local VMCC’s Low Power Run at the weekend, which is aimed at cyclemotors, mopeds, small and vintage models, etc. and is to be encouraged. PUB intended to ride the sidevalve HRD, rather than the Firefly with which the round trip mileage would have been really arduous. Unfortunately, come Sunday morning the HRD’s front tyre was observed to be flat – oh dear. She did pop out to the start on the modern bike to commiserate with the organiser, for it had turned out very wet and entrants were likely to be few anyway – actually just one on a vintage bike, although half a dozen turned up at the café in cars.
So the HRD’s wheel had to come out for investigation, without enthusiasm because of the memory of how difficult that Taiwanese tyre had been to fit. Being a 1926 machine it uses ‘beaded edge’ tyres – a concept that not all readers will be familiar with, so there are diagrams and pictures somewhere nearby. Instead of wires embedded into the ‘bead’ of the tyre to hold it on (the bit you have to lever over the rim) these earlier tyres were moulded with a protruding lip that hooks into the folded-over edge of the rim. Only tyre pressure holds them hooked together, so it is important to keep it fairly high (PUB keeps hers at 3040psi for 26x3 and 26x2.5x2.25 sizes).
Actually the idea that they must be run at much higher pressure than wired edge is barely true any longer, because wired edge recommendations are significantly higher than they used to be to suit modern rubbers. Fortunately this tyre’s fit had eased over time, so it levered off relatively easily. The inner tube hole proved elusive, even in a bowl of water, only showing up with bubbles when the tube was also pulled around to stretch it a little. The problem proved to be a flaw at the inner seam having finally turned into a leak, and not due a sharp object. Nevertheless the whole inside of the tyre was explored by hand just to check, and to ensure that there was no incipient problem brewing – it prevents the indignity of having a second puncture in exactly the same place (PUB once had one right in the middle of the patch she had just laboriously fitted – boo).
Although PUB did patch the hole, for no good reason, because she no longer normally fits patched tubes, a fresh one was sought – but what size? Beaded edge sizings are something that appears to have been developed by an innumerate apprentice, and matching tubes are hard to find. This one is 26x3, a size that should be the same as wired edge 3.00x20 (at one time some wired edge tyres even bore both size markings on them). 26x3 was also often called 700x80, despite a metric calculation showing them not to be very exactly equivalent. That is further complicated because 650x65 was also supposed to be interchangeable. Calculating rim sizes for these various figures (first number, the outer diameter, less twice the second number, the tyre thickness) results in any answer you like between about 20 and 21 inches. The latter is a much easier tube size to find, on account of all the trail and trials bikes with 21-inch front wheels. Clearly PUB came to this conclusion long ago, because that was the size tube she had found in place, no doubt carefully fitted to avoid any creasing – but she did not have a spare.
She did find a tube, long unused because of its strange sizing, but which she knows she bought from a vintage tyre supplier for such purpose, and marked 25x3 or 650x65. A vintage tyre book informed her that this size
is suitable for a 26x3 (700x80), unlikely as it sounds. As a last check the tube was lightly inflated and offered up to the wheel, where it seemed a pretty good match. So that is what went in.
Refitting the tyre did not prove difficult as it was no longer excessively tight, although due to failing strength in the hands (and everywhere else) it did require the use of levers. Unlike wired edge tyres, which require a rim band to shield the spoke ends, motorcycle BE ones often do not need this precaution, as the bead flaps overlap (and they should not be trimmed, says the book). However, that does mean that those selfsame flaps need to be tidily placed, without wrinkles which might fret against the tube, but, of course, as the tyre goes on one cannot see inside. So the putting on process should be done carefully, feeding those flaps in before the bead. And preferably with just a bit of air in the tube to keep its shape and that flap going underneath.
The book offered an alternative fitting method, which was to slip the tube inside the tyre, overlap the flaps, and then tie loops of string around to keep the beads together. Then fit the complete tyre/tube assembly to the rim all in one go (valve first), and when in place cut and remove the strings – PUB has never used this method, but it sounds good.
Either way, once on the rim the beads then need to be worked into their ‘hooks’ during inflation, which is generally much easier when replacing a tyre than when fitting for the first time. The fitting line, which should always be checked after fitting a tyre, must be nice and evenly disposed, and is more important than with a wired type (which will just run a bit out of true and wobble) because it is indicative of whether those beads are seated properly. PUB would NOT recommend taking a beaded edge tyre to an ordinary local tyre fitter, who would refuse the job if he (or she) was sensible, or alternatively muck it up – which you might only find out when it comes off the rim during a ride. Learning this
stuff is all part of running the really old bikes.
Another little job that PUB has been doing is making the rotting GS500 silencer last a bit longer. This has been a long term problem, requiring Gun Gum after most longish rides to keep the noise down. Ideally the whole exhaust would be replaced, for which purpose a complete spare was acquired ages ago, but it is not that easy. Those who assert that British bikes are ill thought-out rubbish, and Japanese are perfect, are well off beam. The GS500 is an excellent bike, which has served its rider well, and with very few faults (she would buy another were they available). But one of them is the exhaust, which has a tendency to rot at the exit from the collector box and at the silencer, but it is a one-piece item retained into the head with cap head screws. These pick up all the corrosive rubbish from the front wheel, none of which is intercepted by modern so-called mudguards (and only some by an aftermarket fender extender). So those cap heads are well rusted after many winter miles.
Eventually a serious attempt to undo them simply rounded off the internal hexagons, and alternative access to the heads, especially between the twin pipes, and below the fins of the pipe clamps is impossible. So PUB has been patching up for a long time. Note that many other bikes are little better in this area, so if yours has cap head exhaust screws you would be wise to put them on your service schedule for release and retighten (or better still remove, Copaslip and refit). Why did they not use studs and nuts (which can be split off), or something longer that would be accessible?
Anyway, gripe over. The silencer needed a better bodge, which consisted of cutting a large sheet of tin to fit all round the back from one edge of the stainless front trim to the other (a complete wrap was not practical in situ). With a couple of Jubilee clips and wire for retention, and some use of that silencer sealant it worked fairly well – but that is not the point of this comment. What has surprised PUB is how much nicer the bike is with the silencer actually silencing (hopefully to last for a while). At tickover and trickling in traffic she had already noticed improvement each time it was gooed up. At such low revs and throttle openings it is hard to account for, but there is no doubt – it runs more smoothly with the silencer working properly (ie. silencing).
Possibly even more surprising, now that a slightly better bodge has been achieved, is how much nicer it is at running speeds. Perhaps it is an illusion due to the lack of noise, and the embarrassing rasp of early escaping exhaust, but if so it is a very good illusion, for the ride seems smoother and more pleasant – almost back to when it was a low mileage acquisition. In future PUB will be even less enamoured of the loud exhausts that so many (including almost all of the journalist testers) put on their bikes. At the very least it suggests that such aftermarket exhausts might require a rejet/retune/ reprogamme to give of their best, and that manufacturers know what they are doing ( quelle surprise).
It hasn’t all been time in the workshop however (even though it may have been cooler in there). PUB was out for the Crich
Tramway meeting, held in association with the VOC. Having missed the first meeting last year it would have been unacceptable to miss another, especially as reports of the 2017 event had been good. 2018 certainly beat that with an outstanding turnout of bikes. Around 40 Vincents alone bettered many a VOC meeting, but even so could not match the line of Goldies outside the on-site pub. Those were only two of the various club displays, and as there were many more individual entrants the turnout must have been about 500, although spread about too widely to count. The variety stretched from a belt drive Triumph, through rarities such as a Maico ‘ Taifun’, to an exotic and bright yellow modern integral ‘sidecar’ outfit that was really more of an asymmetric three-wheeler (make unknown).
A Bandit framed BSA was spotted, reminding of the briefly popular idea when surplus Bandit frames came onto the market. Some brave (or misguided) soul had gone to the trouble of hotting up a Bown autocycle with a special cylinder head and a racing seat literally as hard as the plank it was made from. A sole Ducati parallel twin that was spotted represented an option that reputedly left Taglioni unimpressed and uncooperative. The customer base was equally unimpressed, so they are not common.
The trams were very busy, but queuing persuaded PUB to take just one short ride, as most attractions are within walking distance. The tram sheds house a whole variety of different sorts of tram, including the Sheffield ‘last tram’ exhibit (from 1960), and there is also a comprehensive museum of tram history to explore. With hot, sunny weather it was also somewhere to benefit from the shade.
Inside, a Leamington & Warwick horsedrawn tram in ‘as found’ condition surprised PUB, who was born in Warwick but did not know there had ever been trams there. Branded as run by the Tramway village in conjunction with the VOC, this is nevertheless a Classic bike event with the potential to be of the stature of the Stafford shows – give it a try next year.
The VMCC Festival of a Thousand Bikes has returned to the calendar, although PUB was only able to attend on the Sunday (racebikes on track). So she stumped up the price of entry (and too much it was, but that is dedication to reporting to The Reader). An initial wander through the ‘avenue of clubs’ revealed very little in the way of footfall,
possibly due to the intense heat, although PUB took advantage of the Cotton and Francis Barnett tents for a bit of shade, and chats with the club personnel as she owns, or has owned, both. The paddock, inside the circuit, contained the race bikes, but again not as crowded as of yore, nor perhaps as exotic either (eg. few ex-works racers), although Ivan Rhodes supported the event with the famous Velocette ‘Roarer’, and Sammy Miller, who can always be relied upon to put on a good show, had brought along his Moto Guzzi V8 and also a 1954 R54 racing ohc BMW. He likely took them on track as well, because he still loves the riding, but if so then PUB missed it. She did not miss George Brown’s Nero (which was not in the programme) being given an airing in the mid-day break which was given over to a sprint demo instead of parade laps (less marshals needed, so giving the track marshals a lunch break).
There were a number of not-really-old ‘tribute’ bikes at the Festival (‘fakes’ would suggest an intention to deceive, which these bikes mostly did not), one of which was a bright yellow ‘JAP’ featuring a sidevalve motor in a rigid frame somewhat reminiscent of an Indian ‘board track’ racer (although they were usually narrow angle V-twins). The board track theme continued with the spoof Dominator engined ‘Thundering Mollie’ which was accompanied by a detailed history. The attendant rushed to warn the ‘gullible lady’ reading the fiction that it was a spoof. Not really necessary, but thanks anyway. Those looked rideable, although probably made mostly for show, but the ‘Flying Merkel’ tribute was certainly for riding, and perhaps riding hard, although whether the original Merkel exponents would approve of a Harley/clonebased ‘replica’ could make a topic for a club night natter. Otherwise the machinery was too modern, and too faired-in for PUB to recognise the special from the more mundane.
So the recipe was as before, but it still seemed a bit ‘thin’ compared with the festivals of old (PUB did not attend any of the Mallory run meetings since then for comparison). It was a first return, and also unfortunately competing with the Silverstone F1 GP, Wimbledon, and footy so perhaps it needs a year or two to return to previous popularity, but the bike parking area was pretty full, as was any shaded area on the spectator bank. With 600 parade entries, track action was pretty full-time too, although a bit too modern for PUB’s taste (and some others). In fact most of the ‘very fast’ group D road bike parade were not even 25 years old – the VMCC eligibility criterion – but no doubt their entry fees help run the event. However, it is a rare opportunity for many ordinary riders to ride on a circuit, or for owners of rare and delicate racing irons to exercise or give them a gentle canter. It is to be hoped that the VMCC were happy with the result, and will persevere with this flagship event, bringing it back to much of its former glory.
Diagram showing the difference between vintage beaded edge tyres, moulded to ‘hook’ into their rims, and more usual wired edge tyres with inextensible steel wires moulded into their beads to hold them on
Diagram showing the approximate shape of rims for beaded edge tyres, in smaller motorcycle sizes and the ‘voiturette’ pattern used with the common 26 x 3 (700 x 80) tyre size
The Vincent enclosure at Crich Tramway Village on Classic Motorcycle Day attracted 40 or so bikes (and one trike), all but a racer being ridden to the event
When the BSA Fury – Triumph Bandit project was abandoned there were a lot of frames already made, which came onto the surplus market. This is the kind of thing that could be done with one. As already seen in RC of course!
A new and unused beaded edge tyre, with the moulded in bead, and its long flap which eventually should lie under the inner tube. Note that although some sections of tyre may be more or less interchangeable, the width of the bead is also important. A mismatch with the rim may result in less secure retention, or the rim cutting into the tyre (especially if corroded and sharp)
A rather rusty 26 x 3 beaded edge rim. Cleaned up, the rim would be very useable, but note that the inner edges would require particular attention. Rough and sharp as they are, they might eventually cut into the tyre, leading to trouble. They would need smoothing and polishing to a better finish before use
Probably the most impressive sight at the Crich on Classic Motorcycle Day was the line of Gold Stars (and Rocket Goldies) gathered outside the Tramway Village pub
Nothing to do with motorcycles, but everything to do with the electrically powered trams of Crich Tramway Village, here is a generating set on display. The generator is by Dick Kerr & Co., with power provided by a steam engine from Belliss & Morcom. This was RealEngineering, although sadly the outside location has led to some deterioration, especially of the electrical bits
Early Trams were horse drawn (as they still are in Douglas, IoM) as presented in this display. Steam power was also used, an example of which is seen behind, before electricity provided the best solution
With typically Teutonic looks and an enclosed rear chain, the Maico ‘Taifun’ was a 400cc two-stroke twin, producing 22.5bhp, and manufactured in the 1950s. Maico were later renowned for some of their off-road motorcycles. Arguably the German motorcycle industry crashed earlier, and quicker, than that of Britain, despite their quality of design and manufacture
Although painted up as a JAP (which is indeed the brand of its engine), this layout is surely patterned on the look of the Indian board racers?
The Francis Barnett ‘Fulmar’ was never very popular, due to both its looks and the AMC twostroke engine counting against it. Innovative design leading to customer rejection; no wonder the British industry struggled. This ‘Sports Fulmar’ at the Festival of 1000 Bikes is apparently even rarer, with only a few hundred made and few of those surviving
The Crich tram sheds house a range of working trams (or those being worked on), mostly doubledecker types but in the foreground is a single decker with open ‘toast-rack’ seating
Another modern ‘tribute’ bike at the Festival was this ‘Flying Merkel’, painted and prepared in the right style, but would the Flying Merkel factory and riders really appreciate a heavy Harley (or possibly a clone) based machine in their colours?
Girder forks are constructed with good triangulation for-and-aft, but not so good sideways. Usually it was the sidecar brigade that felt the need for improvement, but here it is a Norton CS1 that has a Webb braced fork
Sammy Miller is always a good bet for displaying something exotic, in this case his Moto-Guzzi V8, backed up by an R54 racing ohc BMW (from the Earles fork era). Designed by Giulio Carcano the Guzzi is features 44 x 42mm cylinders, claiming 80bhp @ 14,000rpm
George Brown’s Vincent powered (and normally aspirated) ‘Nero’ was not listed in the programme, but it was one of the more famous bikes from the era to be present. The National Motorcycle Museum also allowed it to be run in anger during the sprint display