PUB TALK

There has been lots to see at the Clas­sic Me­chan­ics Show, and at the Na­tional Mo­tor­cy­cle Mu­seum’s Open Day

Real Classic - - Jacqueline Bickerstaff -

Is it Christ­mas yet, or pos­si­bly it has passed by the time the mag­a­zine ar­rives. In the first case, PUB wishes read­ers a Merry Christ­mas, or in the lat­ter case a Happy New Year. May your mo­tor­cy­cles all be trou­ble-free, and your restora­tions be straight­for­ward and low cost.

Oc­to­ber did not see very much achieved in the garage – a rather cold spell did not help. A fee­ble at­tempt was made to fit the af­ter­mar­ket clutch to the sin­gle-speed Tri­umph, to make it a lit­tle more ride­able for its age­ing pi­lot. How­ever, this failed dis­mally due to the ta­per fail­ing to fit the en­gine shaft. The lat­ter had been care­fully mea­sured up, in or­der for the ap­pro­pri­ate part to be ma­chined with a match­ing ta­per, but clearly some­thing has gone wrong. In any case, the item proves to be big, heavy, and very much over­hung from the stubby en­gine shaft, and worse still will oc­cupy the same space as PUB’s feet, and the brake pedal. Cur­rently it has been dis­carded for a re­think, or pos­si­bly some re-en­gi­neer­ing.

How­ever whilst tin­ker­ing, the Tri­umph was at least taken out for a test ride, and started eas­ily util­is­ing a nearby slope (af­ter ly­ing idle for most of the year). PUB did have a go at run-and-jump start­ing on the level, but although suc­cess­ful it was a wor­ry­ing wob­bly af­fair and not very en­cour­ag­ing. Nev­er­the­less an en­try has been lodged for the Pioneer Run, but how she will man­age re­mains to be seen – prob­a­bly so­lic­it­ing a lot of pushes from by­standers? So PUB en­cour­ages read­ers to go and watch (March 24), prefer­ably one or two at ev­ery junc­tion, traffic light, or hill!

Last month PUB men­tioned the Bon­hams’ Bar­ber Mu­seum auc­tion. Who would have thought that a Husq­varna Cross 400 would fetch £175,276? The ex­pla­na­tion is that the bike was ex-Steve McQueen and fea­tured in the film ‘On Any Sun­day’ – he re­mains an iconic fig­ure whose in­tan­gi­ble as­so­ci­a­tion with an ob­ject is worth more than the ob­ject it­self. The same own­er­ship raised the price of a used Bell hel­met to £16,634, and a Vin­cent Comet to £48,096! Other Vin­cents ac­tu­ally failed to sell, per­haps be­cause an es­ti­mate of $400-500,000 proved too rich even for a Black Light­ning. Top price, although only equalling that of the McQueen Husq­varna, went to a very rare 1928 Wind­hoff 746cc four cylin­der, fol­lowed by $137,000 (£104,177) for an orig­i­nal 1974 Du­cati 750SS. How­ever silly read­ers think cur­rent ex­otic prices are, the Du­cati was well worth the money says PUB (who dreams about a 750SS).

Whilst on the sub­ject of auc­tions, the Clas­sic Me­chan­ics Show pro­duced yet more high (or read ‘out­ra­geous’) prices, mainly around Brough Su­pe­ri­ors. Vin­cent prices were once again pretty flat – so maybe now is the time to buy one? The most sur­pris­ing Brough, though, which cost its new owner £264,500, was only a kit of parts and not nec­es­sar­ily com­plete, although it is a ‘match­ing num­bers’ job. Whew. Pre­sum­ably its his­tory is the ex­pla­na­tion, as the bike is well recorded, hav­ing been sup­plied to C.F. Ed­wards for sand rac­ing, and is pic­tured in pe­riod pub­li­ca­tions. The cat­a­logue de­scrip­tion also records this SS100 as pre-dat­ing the Alpine Grand Sport which may be sig­nif­i­cant amongst afi­ciona­dos.

Should any­one want a Nor­ton-JAP it is prob­a­bly cheaper to build one than to try and buy, for the ex-Fran­cis Wil­liams sprinter ‘Salt­dean Spe­cial’ re­quired an £80,500 pocket to buy. The much pub­li­cised Böh­mer­land ‘Lang­touren’ 3-seater (in coun­tries where that is/was le­gal) made £63,250 – but be­fore ridiculing the price just try and find another one.

Was there noth­ing cheap, read­ers may ask? Well, £4,600 bought a 1961 BSA Ban­tam/ Bri­tish An­zani spe­cial with plenty of his­tory. It was built by David Blanchard, us­ing a pro­to­type wa­ter-cooled 250cc twin Bri­tish An­zani en­gine that he spied in a cor­ner of the fac­tory when vis­it­ing for another pur­chase. The bike he built around this en­gine went on to win third prize in ‘ The Mo­tor Cy­cle’ com­pe­ti­tion for home­built spe­cials, and ap­peared in the Au­gust 1962 mag­a­zine. The sale price even in­cluded a spare en­gine, prob­a­bly the only other one ever made. Lastly, a 1956 In­dian Brave only needed £3,450 to buy, but it is down to the reader to de­cide whether that was cheap for a ride ‘powered’ by a 250cc Brock­house side­valve en­gine. How­ever, to put those fig­ures in con­text, each of the last two bikes still cost less than the £5,250 that some­one paid for a 1905 poster at the sale pre­ced­ing the Lon­don to Brighton vet­eran car run.

PUB was only able to at­tend the Stafford show on Sun­day, which was a bad day for the out­side stall­hold­ers and jum­ble, due to rain – many just packed up and went home. In­side, how­ever, there was plenty to see as usual, but with PUB on the look­out for the un­usual as ever. Sammy Miller pro­vided ex­otic bikes for the Foot­man James stand, with two stroke V-4 rac­ing bikes by Jawa and Villa. The 1969 80bhp 350cc Jawa had a bad rep­u­ta­tion for seiz­ing in its early days – wa­ter-cool­ing and the 8 in­di­vid­ual oil-feed pipes that PUB noted no doubt helped, but those were the days when rac­ers needed light­ning re­ac­tions on the clutch. The Villa, un­for­tu­nately, ar­rived too late on the GP scene and was out­lawed by new reg­u­la­tions be­fore it could show its po­ten­tial.

In the less ex­otic world of au­to­cy­cles and cy­clemo­tors, as dis­played by the NACC there was a pretty lit­tle ‘Ep­som’, although so closely packed in that PUB could not get a very good pho­to­graph. Tra­gatsch does not list

the make, and both Wikipedia and Google also re­main silent, but the bare de­tails are that it is a French ‘vélo­mo­teur’ dat­ing from 1930 and fea­tur­ing a 70cc 2-speed Sachs en­gine. Else­where Martin Robin­son’s strik­ing 1948 Se­ries 1 B model 125cc Lam­bretta was suf­fi­ciently early to re­tain some of the A model fea­tures. With the en­gine and frame fully ex­posed it proves that en­clo­sure in side­pan­els was not the only fea­ture that made scoot­ers suc­cess­ful – for Lam­bretta did rather well. They did, how­ever, quickly adopt those clean side­pan­els.

The next meet­ing, which was, if any­thing, even bet­ter for meet­ing read­ers, was the Na­tional Mo­tor­cy­cle Mu­seum Open Day. If you are within rid­ing dis­tance and do not at­tend this event, then you are se­ri­ously miss­ing out. As well as the ‘craic’, the day

in­cludes a small au­to­jum­ble,

in­ter­views with stars of the past (and not al­ways even the past), restora­tion demon­stra­tions, and a few ex­otic mu­seum bikes start­ing up. All of that is topped by free en­try into the mu­seum – and if you can­not find some­thing of in­ter­est in there then clearly Bri­tish iron is not for you.

For this event, not too far from home, the PUB Vin­cent was brought out, not­with­stand­ing that it is get­ting harder to man­age. Jim Lugs­den, in Oc­to­ber’s RC174, sug­gests that a side­car might be the answer to fad­ing strength. Thanks for the thought, but cur­rently a fail­ing hip ob­jects to too much start­ing, mak­ing that more of an is­sue than weight.

On the RC stand Rowena en­thused over a BMW310, that com­pany’s new light­weight and sug­gested it as a suit­able elec­tric leg (at least it was a bet­ter sug­ges­tion than the Ban­tam com­ment ap­pended to Jim’s let­ter). A Les Har­ris Match­less could have of­fered a more ac­cept­able Bri­tish (mostly) al­ter­na­tive, but Frank had just sold his – boo. How­ever pro­cras­ti­na­tion rules, so the PUB Vin­cent is just rid­den a bit less, rather than be­ing ex­ten­sively mod­i­fied for the time be­ing.

The mu­seum exhibits in­clude one which is very closely re­lated to PUB’s pre-war pro­ject, so she wanted a re­ally close look at that, or at least as close as the rop­ing would al­low. Get­ting a close-up photo in­volved push­ing her luck, and the fear that a se­cu­rity cam­era would prompt burly staff to come and re­mon­strate – but for­tu­nately that did not hap­pen. Early stuff abounds, with a va­ri­ety of only-just twen­ti­eth cen­tury fore­cars – one in the foyer fea­tur­ing an in­verted tooth chain fi­nal drive, and another (a Quad­rant) fea­tur­ing two en­gines.

Side­car gun­ships have seemed to be in the news re­cently, and the mu­seum has its own – a first war Clyno/Vick­ers and a sec­ond war Nor­ton/Bren-gun, both be­ing the pre­ferred choice of the Bri­tish Forces. Ev­ery­one knows that the Tri­umph Grand-Prix used the al­loy bar­rel de­vel­oped for a wartime gen­er­a­tor

In what was then Cze­choslo­vakia, Böh­mer­land made their dis­tinc­tive long wheel­base ma­chines. Long­est of them all was the 3-seater ‘Lang­touren’, with empty space filled by two gear­boxes be­hind their own 603cc en­gine!

Above: Rare French ‘Ep­som’ ap­peared on the NACC (Na­tional Au­to­cy­cle and Cy­clemo­tor Club) stand at Stafford. The make does not ap­pear in Tra­gatsch’s en­cy­clopae­dia, or in­deed on the In­ter­net, but dates from 1930 and fea­tures a 70cc two-speed Sachs en­gine

Jim Lugs­den (RC176, Oc­to­ber) sug­gested that a side­car would make the PUB Vin­cent eas­ier to man­age. In fact there is such a side­car, very oc­ca­sion­ally fit­ted. How­ever, it is only a par­tial solution, whilst in­tro­duc­ing other is­sues such as where to park (many years ago it lived on the street, but it is doubt­ful how long it would sur­vive there nowa­days)

Martin Robin­son’s strik­ing 1948 Se­ries 1 B model 125cc Lam­bretta is claimed to be a ‘cross­over’ ma­chine, re­tain­ing some fea­tures of the A mod­els. The front sus­pen­sion is also note­wor­thy

The two-stroke GP era was plagued by seizures, re­quir­ing light­ning re­ac­tions from top rid­ers’ clutch hands. Wa­ter cool­ing helped, but this com­plex of oil feeds on the V-4 Jawa shows that it was a se­ri­ous is­sue

Only vis­i­ble to those with auc­tion cat­a­logues to ad­mit them to the sale view­ing area was this twowheel drive Rokon with its trac­tor type tyres. An in­ter­est­ing ride per­haps

Jawa works rac­ing V-4 two-stroke 350cc was re­puted to pro­duce 80bhp, and was rid­den by Bill Ivy and Sylvio Gras­setti

The Na­tional Mo­tor­cy­cle Mu­seum’s Open Day is now a pop­u­lar and big event, with lots to see out­side as well as in­side

Not all of the glam­orous and shiny ma­chines were in the mu­seum dis­play halls, this Honda CBX six was parked out­side amongst the vis­i­tor bikes

Although two Match­less-Vick­ers ma­chine gun com­bi­na­tions have made the news re­cently, they were not the main­stay of Bri­tish Forces. In the first war Clyno of Wolver­hamp­ton was the pre­ferred ‘gun­ship’ with its Vick­ers gun, whilst in the sec­ond war Nor­ton’s Big Four was se­lected – here seen with the ubiq­ui­tous Bren Gun

This is what a real wartime ‘Wel­bike’ looks like, in its para­chute con­tainer ‘home’ – the post-war Corgi may be re­lated but is ac­tu­ally dif­fer­ent in al­most all re­spects (and would not fit in the con­tainer)

Next to the two war out­fits is dis­played the Tri­umph wartime gen­er­a­tor set, fa­mous for do­nat­ing its al­loy bar­rels to the GP

An­ces­tor of the flat twin Dou­glas mo­tor­cy­cles from Bris­tol is this Fairy, de­rived in turn from the orig­i­nal Barter (named af­ter its cre­ator)

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