NORTON WENT INTO in voluntary liquidation, but James Norton teamed up with component supplier Bob Shelley to reform the firm as Norton Motors Ltd. Shelley’s brother-in-law was one Dan O’Donovan who had ridden a Singer in the 1912 Junior TT; he switched to Norton and rescued a dismantled bike from the scrap heap—the very Norton Jack Emerson had ridden to such good effect the previous year. O’Donovan tuned the engine, went to Brooklands and broke four world records. His speeds for the 500cc flying five miles (71.54mph) and standing-start 10 miles (68.08mph) were also new 750cc records. Daniel O’Donovan proved to be such an effective tuner that he earned the nickname ‘Wizard’. Within two months of that first record session, Norton had launched the ‘Brooklands Special’ at the London Show. Before delivery every example was guaranteed to have lapped Brooklands at over 65 mph. The chassis used for this job would be involved in a ridiculous number of world records, as we’ll see next year; it became known as Old Miracle.
FOLLOWING THE 1912 BOYCOTT when a number of manufacturers declined to enter trade riders the 1913 TT was well supported with 148 entrants. ACU secretary Tom Loughborough felt that the TT was no longer challenging enough for the ever evolving motor cycle. The Senior TT was therefore extended from six laps to seven and the Junior from five to six. However there was no doubt that the TT was already a strain on the riders—Frank Applebee took nearly four hours to win the 1912 Senior and some slower riders, who were in the saddle for much longer, finished the race on the point of collapse. With this in mind both races were split (this was also designed to test restarting from cold after the first day’s exertions). Junior riders did two laps on the Wednesday morning, after which the bikes went into a parc fermee. The Senior riders did three laps.
The riders had a day’s rest and on the Friday everyone did four more laps to complete the races. Senior were identified by red waistcoats; Juniors wore blue.The 44 starters in the Junior TT were on 16 marques including, for the first time, Levis and Veloce. Douglas was favourite having taken to top two spots the previous year, but it wasn’t to be. Despite spending most of the previous week in hospital following a crash during practice, Hugh Mason was first home of his NUT-JAP (with three-speed Armstrong transmission), setting a race record of 43.7mph with a fastest lap of 45.2mph. Runner up was Billy Newsome, winning a consolation prize for Douglas. HC Newman was third on an Ivey-Precision, followed by Norton tuning maestro Daniel ‘Wizard’ O’Donovan on an NSU. Last man home, more than an hour and a half behind the leader was Cyril Pullin (who went on to build some smashing bikes) aboard a Velocette—a marque which would win more than its share of Junior TT glory. No less than 97 bikes started in the Senior, representing 32 marques. Douglas failed to repeat its 1912 win; not so Scott. This time Tim Wood was the man on the winning two-stroke, and while he was a tad slower than Applebee’s average
the previous year (48.2mph against 48.3sec) he did raise the lap record to 52.1mph. What’s more Applebee was on course to take second spot on another Scott until he picked up a puncture on the last lap. That left AR Abbott (Rudge) as runner up. Rudge, too, could well have taken first and second—Frank Bateman crashed his Rudge following a puncture while leading the second leg. He died of his injuries which inevitably cast a pall over the TT as a whole. Reminding the Brits that the Indian tribe was still on the warpath following their 1911 hat-trick, AH Alexander and CB Franklin rode their Indians into 3rd and 4th position (Franklin had been runner up in 1911). They were followed home by J Cocker (Singer), T Sheard (Rudge), E Moxey (Zenith) S Garrett (Regal-Green), V Busby (Ariel) and N Brown (Indian). The last man to finish, in 30th place) was GG Boyton (Triumph); as in the Junior the gap between first and last was more than 90 minutes. The new manufacturers’ prize went to Rover.
FOLLOWING THE FATAL CRASH IN THE 1913 TT Ixion wrote (under the heading Slowing Down the Senior Tourist Trophy): “There is a vague but widespread impression that the race is becoming too dangerous, and that restrictions are desirable in the interests of safety.” He examined various proposals designed to slow the race (notably reinstituting a fixed fuel allowance) and concluded: “If the danger has increased, the chief factors are surely as follows: closer racing; a larger entry; increased tyre strains. I cannot see that petrol restrictions will affect these points at all materially…The close racing cannot be avoided, nor would any sportsman wish to see it avoided. The large entry might be reduced by making the race an invitation affair [as had also been suggested]; this system would place the responsible officials in a very invidious position. Who is to decide whether any given individual is a qualified TT jockey? The TT is not on all fours with Brooklands, and some of the best track men are outclassed on the Manx course, while others, who have shone in the island, dislike Brooklands. Moreover, on any system of discriminating between entrants, both Bateman and Surridge, the only two men whose deaths were incurred through the TT, would certainly have been admitted because they were crack Brooklands jockeys…The increased tyre strains, to Which the one fatality of 1913 and several of the minor accidents were directly due, will be much easier to deal with. We cannot ensure that the tyres employed shall be burst-proof, but we can make
regulations as to tyre sizes and weights. If we compel entrants to use a really strong and heavy casing in conjunction with security bolts as suggested by The Motor Cycle, it will be to their own interest to fit the best. Alternatively, it would not be difficult to compel all riders who survive the first day’s racing to fit new tubes and covers for the concluding laps…The end and conclusion of the whole matter is that motor cycle racing is a dangerous game, and that, whatever the regulations, and however careful the surveillance, there is bound to be a certain small percentage of serious accidents. The percentage is very little larger than that of hunting or football or push-bicycle racing or any other dangerous sport. Any motor cyclist who exceeds fifty miles an hour under any circumstances is taking his life in his hands, and complete safety is not practicable. The compulsory use of pneumatic helmets is certainly desirable. These notes are intended to show that there is no justification for panic, that the TT Races are about as safe as ever they were, and to indicate one or two directions in which the margin of safety might be fractionally increased.”
CARBURETTOR MANUFACTURER Chas Binks wrote: “We sincerely hope that next year’s TT race will not be confined to speed test only, but that a very small proportion of the race, especially in the most dangerous portions, will be devoted to half a mile dead slow running without misfiring, with, say, half a dozen walking starts within this half mile. This would then show the buying public that a machine was not only exceedingly fast and reliable, but that it was capable of running really slowly without misfiring, and also capable of being started by pushing it along at a walking pace. If conditions such as these were imposed, the race would, in our opinion, be much more valuable from a buyer’s point of view.”
QD WHEELS WERE MAKING puncture repair less of a hassle (but it’s still a hassle).
X-RAYS WERE DISCOVERED. This was clearly A Good Thing for motorcyclists because they can reveal flaws in conrods as well as breaks in bones.
ROYAL ENFIELD INSTALLED a 340cc, ioe Motosacoche V-twin with trendsetting dry sump lubrication and a geared oil pump; the oil tank was a glass cylinder.
JAKE DE ROSIER HAD never fully recovered from the crash during the opening meeting on the LA Motordrome that had broken his femur in three places; soon after a third operation on the leg he died, aged 33. Many hundreds attended the funeral; work at Indian’s Springfield factory ceased as the funeral procession passed by. On the same day Indian chief engineer Oscar Hedstrom retired suddenly dealing a serious blow to Indian’s long-term racing prospects.
MAJOR RACES WERE also launched in India, South Africa and Australia as motorcycling flourished throughout the British Empire. The 400-mile South African even was over a rock-strewn 400-mile dirt track with two overnight stops. There were 63 starters, and only 10 finishers, led home by a Bradbury.
KENNETH HOLDEN, CHIEF tester at BSA, rode a 3½hp model into the record books by giving the newcomer its first win at Brooklands, averaging a creditable 60.75mph.
THE UK’s FIRST roadside petrol pump opened, in Shrewsbury.
THE ACU HOSTED the first event to be staged under the aegis of the FICM: the Inter-national Six Days Reliability Trial, based in Carlisle. Even by the standards of the gruelling trials that had come before it, this one was a doozy; it would evolve into the ISDT. A trophy was donated by the British Cycle and Motorcycle Manufacturers and Traders Union; the Brits won it. [There’s a full report on the trial in the Features section.]
RUDGE FITTED TWO 500cc engines into a bike, which was said to travel at “great speed”.
“AFTER TESTS EXTENDING over some months the Italian Government have just placed an order for a large number of motor cycles for its army, Italian makes being the ones favoured. English carburetters, however, were preferred, the British-made Amac being specified.”
“THE PROPRIETORS OF Horlicks malted milk have just issued a set of most excellent motoring maps, scale twelve miles to the inch, of England and Wales, Scotland and Ireland…Each map will be sent to any motor cyclists who forwards 3d in stamps to Horlicks Malted Milk Co. Slough, Bucks.”
POSSIBLY INSPIRED BY the Militaire [featured in the 1910 listing] a Los Angeles enthusiast built himself a two-wheeled car with a steel frame, sprung fore and aft, hub-centre steering and a steering wheel complete with detachable windscreen. As thye vehicle came to a halt skids lowered on either side of the body to support it, the rider raised them by pressing on the steering wheel. Power from a brace of 347cc two-stroke engines was transmitted via a multiple-disc clutch and two-speed gear.
DETROIT GAVE BIRTH to its first V8. Why is that relevant to motorcycles? Becase the 90º water-cooled 6.3-litre, 45hp monster was a motorcycle…sort of. Built for media mogul James Scripps-Booth, the Scripps-Booth Bi-Autogo weighed 3,200lbs. It rode on 37in wooden wagon wheels with retractable stabiliser wheels and, with a wheelbase of 11ft 3in, was longer than a contemporary Cadillac. The Blue ‘Un’s correspondent ‘Sparks’ was not unimpressed: “On the principle of a car having four wheels, and a motor cycle two, and furthermore as no ridiculous and arbitrary weight limit is fixed to hinder the efforts of designers of motor cycles, we feel we are in order in claiming the ‘Biautogo’ as a motor cycle, and we hail the arrival of this newest infant to our ranks with enthusiasm… Recognising that a running start might prove a little fatiguing to all but the most robust, for the ‘Biautogo’ weighs a trifle of 28cwt, the designer has thoughtfully provided balance wheels which are let down from the driver’s seat, by means of which the machine is kept on an even keel, what time the engine is started. The driver then takes his seat in front of his passengers, for the machine is considered up to the task of taking three persons in all, and lets in his clutch and sails away. On attaining a speed of 20mph the side anchors are hauled up and the craft left to balance itself. The sensation of a skid we leave to the imagination of our readers, but we feel rather unhappy at the thought of the control. On a four-cylinder motor cycle well-known in England it was found advisable to substitute handle-bars for wheel steering, and if this course were pursued on the ‘Biautogo’ we think the maker would produce a very racy and powerful little mount. To the diletante in engineering the study of this machine repays attention. The details are beautifully carried out, and the whole construction reflects credit on the designer and maker. But whether the vehicle can be taken seriously as a roadworthy machine remains to be proved.”
THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL Road Congress was held in London. Professor Adshead of Liverpool University proposed that new main roads should pass outside rather than through towns; gradients should be limited to 5%; bends should offer an unobstructed view of at least 100 yards; main ‘traffic roads’ should be designed so that fast and slow traffic could “proceed without intermixing”; for strategic planning a central stateauthority should supervise local authorities. John Brodie, chief engineer of Liverpool, suggested that away from buildings roads should be built at least 120ft wide.
“THE OTHER DAY AN Uxbridge resident who had bought a cheap motor bicycle redesigned the frame and fitted an engine in a workshop adjoing an hotel yard. When the alterations were complete he tried the machine in the yard at a time when a local taxation licence officer was passing. The latter asked the owner if he had paid the £1 tax, which the latter said, of course, he had not, and there were not even numbers on the motor cycle. Shortly afterwards the owner received summonses for not taking out the local taxation licence and for riding an unlicensed machine. Fortunately, he was defended by the Auto Cycle Union, and the magistrates dismissed the case.
“THE NIGHT WAS cool ind dull, and the crowd excited and bright” as 40 worthies started the Mersey MC’s Liverpool-Edinburgh-Liverpool trial…”The first mishap was past Garstang, about forty miles from the start, when HW Coopland (Indian sidecar) went too fast round a corner, ran into a hedge, twisted his frame, and had to retire. He says he was following the curve of the telegraph wires and poles, as it was too dark to see the curve of the road property. At this spot the wires took a ‘short cut’ in place of following the road…While we were having supper at Kendal it commenced to rain, and this continued all the way to Edinburgh, making it unpleasant and greasy…Dr Montgomery turned his 8hp Morgan upside down at Longton and smashed a wheel…W Davis, on the smallest machine in the trial, a 2½hp Victoria, hit a cow on the nose with his shoulder without coming off. WE Smith (4hp Hobart) had his exhaust lifter wire pull out of the nipple, and to start had to put a washer between the tappet and valve eachtime. So he fastened the washer on a wire and pulled it clear after it had acted as a decompresor…We heard a rumour that LV Barton (6hp Rex) returned without any piston rings and on two borrowed covers… AC Naylor (2¾hp Douglas), near Penrith, in avoiding another competitor, was run into by WH Youd. M Rimmer (3½hp Zenith) had four punctures, and his butted tubes rubbed their butts off…of the 20 singles to start 11 gained gold medals and six silver. Of the 16 sidecais five obtained gold medals and three silver.”
“WE NOTICE WITH REGRET a growing tendency, on the part of some few competitors in motor cycle competitions, to indulge in unsportsmanlike grumbles whenever they fail to win. Now, in our opinion, one of the great advantages of sport, in the best sense, as practised in this country, is that a man learns to lose like a gentleman, and a true sportsman would rather lose a good game than win by any means which can be described as ‘not cricket’; it is, therefore, hard to comprehend the moral outlook of the man who claims to have made a non-stop when such is not the case. We hope that there are not many such, but we are afraid that numerous riders allow themselves to make criticisms and complaints of trivial happenings when they are unsuccessful…Quite recently a writer accused the observers in a certain trial of unfairness—not to say dishonesty. (We think of having a wpb of large size for communications of this sort and a bonfire every other day.) Such an accusation is, of course, preposterous…A man should win if he can, of course by fair means, and leave no stone unturned to secure the best possible result; but if he is beaten—it may be by bad luck—he should take his beating like a Briton and not indulge in petty and unsportsmanlike recriminations.”
“MY ANNUAL TOSS: Like many motor cycling journalists,” Ixion wrote, “I
reckon to It generally comes during one’s work on the big reliability trials. If vou have to watch 100 riders climb a test hill, and then overhaul the field again before the afternoon test hill, you have to keep up a high average speed over roads which are generally dangerous and often unknown. One or two skids or mistakes at blind corners are probable in a season’s work. However, my first good tumble this year was unconnected with my work. I was ‘scrapping’ merrily along at 45mph as a private individual when a bolting horse, frightened by a steam mowing machine, compelled a lightning brake stoppage, and a loose road, producing a dry skid of the lurid order, completed my discomtilure. I picked myself up ruefully, and thanked the providence which watches over us mad motor cyclists for reserving the ‘ard ‘igh road for my machine, and depositing me gently on some softish turf. The peculiar thing about my small injuries was that my Burberry overalls emerged scathless, but my tweeds and underclothing were almost as badly cut as my cuticle. My right boot was minus any heel, and my lamp and footrests were in a parlous condition…When you perceive that a tumble is inevitable, tuck your head into your stomach, let yourself curl up into a ball, and roll. To stiffen yourself and throw out your arms is to ask for concussion and fractures.”
“SPECIAL ROAD NOTICE: THE AA has been asked to lend its assistance towards inducing motorists to moderate their speed when passing Dringhouses on the York to Tadcaster Road). The local authorities are now prosecuting for driving to the danger of the public, and the resulting fines are invariably heavy. To make matters worse, the residents are irritated against motorists, who have killed valuable dogs and driven on without stopping…In many parts of the country the police are not hostile to motor traffic unless compelled to be so by the rashness of the drivers themselves. Riders of a certain class—about 1% of the whole, we imagine—do more to prejudice the interests of motorists than the remaining 99%.”
“THE INFLUENCE OF racing is seen in many ways beyond the question of engine design being affected. One of the most notable departures from long accepted ideas is to be seen in the gradual disappearance of the old-fashioned up-swept and back-swept handle-bars, giving ‘an easy and graceful riding position’, as the catalogues used to put it so nicely. As a matter of fact, they did give neither, and it was very noticeable last year in the Six Days’ Trials to see the large numbers of riders, both private and trade, whose machines were fitted with handle-bars of a wide and almost flat pattern. The hardened tourist and long distance rider will know that this is the most useful and comfortable design, and there is more than mere speed in the TT models listed by so many makers that is attractive. There is also a deal of comfort for long-distance work. The exact width and height of such bars is a matter for the rider, but generally speaking about 24in wide and the grips an inch or two higher than the peak of the saddle is a good average position.”
THE INTRODUCTION TO The Motor Cycle’s report on the French Grand Prix, run on the Circuit de Fontainebleu, tells the whole story: “The feature of the day’s racing was the overwhelming victory of the British machines and riders. In the 500cc class the success of our products was extraordinarily complete, the French only getting one machine home among the first eight. In the class for sidecars and cycle cars, a British victory was also achieved, while in the motor cycle class for machines not exceeding 350cc, Britain was fourth but the winning French machine in this class was ridden by an Englishman…Motor cycles, 20 laps=217.2 miles; sidecars and cycle cars, 15 laps=163 miles.“ The report proper does give some insights into motor cycle sport Gallic style: “Racing is done thoroughly well in France. Several fields were specially chartered, in which were erected special lock-up cages for the machines, a telegraph office,
telephones, tents, restaurants, lavatories, and four big stands. In front of the stands a special road of concrete surface had been made, and depots for replenishment arranged immediately in front. The chief trouble in the inspection of the n.otor cycles was the removal of cylinders to check bore and stroke…The competing machines looked a workmanlike lot, and gave promise of a good race…The French have clearly done us the compliment of following as far as possible the Auto Cycle Union system of organising the start of a motor cycle race. Each man wore a coloured waistcoat with his number on the back: England, green; France, blue; Switzerland, red. There was not quite the same perfect order as at Douglas, but the organisation was good…The cornering at each end of the connecting ‘legs’ of the course, which is cemented and banked slightly, was most interesting to watch. The interior is banked with a cinder heap of coal slack so that in case of accident practically no damage can ensue…During the racing several aeroplane pilots soared above the course, and executed some splendid flights. Rowlandson (Rudge) stopped several times owing to plug and valve troubles, while Lavanchy (whose splendidly running Motosacoche appealed to be bringing him to certain victory) suddenly developed valve gear trouble, and though he worked hard and long before the depots he ultimately had to
give up the race…Woodhouse (BSA), who was well up in the 16th lap, had to retire owing to a broken piston ring. Sproston’s withdrawal was caused by a broken valve. The riders had not impressed the spectators by their speed capabilities, about a mile a minute seeming to represent the best top speed of any competitor, which is difficult to explain as the roads generally were excellent and quite straight, and owing to the absence of hills a high gear was used by most riders. Some put it down to the heat. It should be added that the 350cc machines were up to their usual form…The speed of the 350cc Clement was the talk of the day, and more than one quaked lest it should head the 500cc machines. The first five riders in order of speed were British.” In the 500cc class Green’s Rudge was followed home by a Triumph, a Beeza, another Triumph, a Peugeot, another Beeza, two more Rudges, an NSU, a Griffon, another Triumph and a Zenith. So in the top 12 finishers there were nine Brits, two French and one German. Pean’s latest vertical twin Peugeot “was pulling splendidly” when its race was ended by a broken front wheel spindle. “Some of the French riders adopted queer attitudes—one foot on the pedal and one on the footrest was quite usual. They showed signs of excitement on the corners, when they often used their feet to brake instead of the brake pedal.” PS: Freddie Barnes retired in the second lap; when his engine was stripped it was found that “some evilly-disposed person had wilfully wrecked his engine…the crank case was found to contain a quantity of clear sand, which had worked up and scored the cylinders very seriously. This kind of practice is, fortunately, practically extinct in these days, and it is regrettable to have to record such an instance at so important an event as the Grand Prix.”
GRÂCE À MON BON AMI FANFAN, here are some more pics of the French Grand Prix from the French press complete with their original captions as well as my clumsy translations.
FOLLOWING THE FRENCH Grand Prix a number of riders, including the Douglas, Triumph, Rudge and Humber teams, headed south for a race from Bilboa to San Sebastian and back. Once again the Brits did the business: “The hilly and winding course caused great trouble to the competitors, and falls were frequent. Nevertheless, British victories were again recorded, the result being that in the 350cc class Douglas machines scored a decisive victory, being first, second, and third. In the 500cc class the result was: 1, FA Applebee (Scott); 2, Torriegulta (Triumph); 3, TE Greene (Rudge).” The four 350s to complete the course comprised three Douglases and a Forward; the first three riders were a Scot and two Englishmen ahead of a Spaniard. The eight 500 finishers were led by a Scott followed by a Triumph, Rudge, Triumph, Indian, Scott, Rudge and Bat; an English riders were 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th with Spaniards 2nd, 7th and 8th and an Irishman 3rd.
THE IRISH END-TO-END reliability trial, run by the Ulster Centre of the Motor Cycle Union of Ireland, was hit by vandals who dumped logs and rocks on the road near the start. Running at night a Bradbury combo suffered a damaged sidecar wheel; another Bradbury was stopped with a broken fork. Mooney (P&M) stayed to schedule despite 14 punctures; Farrell (Triumph) crashed but completed the run with a broken finger; many others dropped out with punctures, breakdowns or, in two cases, getting lost. Overall winner of the Palmer Tyre trophy was L Newey from Birmingham (3½hp Ariel); runner-up and winner of the Motor Trader’s prize, J Thompson (Belfast, 3½hp BSA); 3rd and winner of the four guinea prize and special prize, H Gibson (Southport, 3½hp Bradbury combo); 4th and winner of the two guinea prize, T De la Hay (Stourbridge, 2¾hp Sunbeam); 5th, and winner of the one guinea prize, WJ Chambers (Belfast, 3½hp BSA). Sunbeam won the team prize.
“QUITE EVIDENTLY SKEGNESS does not want motor cyclists, and it would appear that a set of laws, different from our usual code, prevails in that part of England for if the chairman of the local magistrates is correctly reported, he recently said, in fining two motor cyclists for dangerous driving, that ‘there was no denying the fact that, even when they kept to the letter of the law, motor cyclists were a public nuisance. They frighteed horses and created a stink, and really they had no right to use the public highway at all.’ Well, we must be thankful to breathe at all after this!”
“THERE ARE MANY RIDERS at the present time who possess machines of 3½hp, or less, who would often be glad to take an occasional passenger, and who, wisely, do not care to use their carriers for the purpose or to attach a heavy sidecar to a lightweight or single-geared 3½. To such as these the attachment manufactured by the Tennant Engineering Company of Birmingham will come as a solution to the puzzle. It consists of a strongly built sidecar chassis of somewhat special construction, on which is mounted, in lieu of the usual body, a large Brooks saddle with back rest; a pair of handlebars are clipped to the seat post and project in an inverted position on each side of the passenger. The complete sidecar, with quick detachable fittings, weighs less than 40lbs, and there is no heavy body to sway outwards and cause side pull…in the case of bad weather a waterproof sheet can be supplied at a small extra cost…The footboards are not shown in our photograph, but lie directly behind the front cross stay. Without saddle and handle-bars the machine weighs only 30lbs, and in this stale can be used as an outrigger to prevent skidding on greasy roads. There should be quite a future for the device, especially among the sporting brigade…”
MOTOR CYCLES WERE evolving fast. “Success on an Old Machine: We learn that in our report of the Mersey Motor Club’s twenty-four hours’ trial to Edinburgh and back we should have stated that A Marston, who gained a silver medal, rode a 3½hp Triumph, 1910 pattern, fitted with a single gear.”
THE MAKERS OF Robbialac enamel paint “which, if carefully applied, gives a result almost equal to stoving” invited enthusiasts to submit painted components for judging by the editors of the Blue ‘Un and The Cycle and Motor Cycle Trader. The best examples won one of 10 three-speed 6hp Clyno combos.
“FIGHTING CONSUMPTION WITH Motor Cycles: As result of an experiment made in Wisconsin last summer by the Wisconsin Anti-tuberculosis Association, motor cycles are employed in that State to good advantage in the crusade against the Great White Plague. A rural campaign has been started by the use of a motor cycle which is perhaps the most novel venture of its kind ever attempted. Two health crusaders, a lecturer and an assistant, work together. They would compare with a knight and his squire of olden times, except that they both ride on one steed—a petrol-fed steed—and differ from the knight of old. in that they are independent of the hospitality of castles or monasteries, for they carry a complete camping equipment, and do their own cooking. The work consists of placarding the country with health signs and giving talks at creameries, country cross roads, and small villages.”
“The Petrol Substitutes Joint Committee, which is composed of representatives from the RAC, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), the AA and Motor Union, has lately visited the Frankett works at Acton, and inspected a special plant for the treatment of peat under a process invented and patented by Herr Franke, one of the chief by-products being motor spirit. The members of the committee had a short run in a FIAT car driven on the motor spirit thus produced.”
“THE MOTOR SCOUTS of the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry have just finished their annual training with the regiment at Coddington Camp, Newark. They are a comparatively new feature of a Yeomanry regiment, but experience has already set the question of their utility beyond all doubt. Capt JDF Wodehouse, in writing of their services subsequently, says:’Since we have now become used to motor cyclist scouts we feel them to be absolutely indispensable.’ Behind the screen of horsemen of patrols and covering troops, motor cyclists hummed backwards and forwards between the Commanders, carrying messages and orders…though we have gone a long way towards understanding what is their proper sphere, the lesson that they cannot be used for purely scouting purposes has not yet been quite perfectly learned.”
“WE ARE GLAD TO learn, on the authority of the The Daily Mail, that the practice of trapping motorists on the open road is to be discouraged by the order of the Home Secretary, Mr R. McKenna. Speed traps will be set at places only where speed is really dangerous, and at the same time all reckless drivers will be rigorously dealt with. This is as it should be…We may say that we entirely agree with The Daily Mail, which puts the case very fairly and adequately. Unfortunately the Home Office deny all knowledge of the matter.”
THE NEW ZEALAND hillclimbing championship was decided on a slope named Faskakariki; GB Brown and AB Collins made the two fastest runs; both rode Triumphs.
AT A CONFERENCE of road users which was attended by the ACU the RAC proposed that side roads should be signposted at points just before they join main roads; that that the camber of roads should be restricted; that horns and hooters should be the warning signs used on all mechanically-propelled vehicles, and bells should be confined to pedal cycles; that sheep or cattle driven along the highway after dark should be accompanied by a man carrying a light visible in all directions.
ONE OF THE BRITISH Motor Cycle Racing Club’s monthly meetings at Brooklands took the form of an open six hours’ race…“The start was a most impressive one. The two orderly lines of competitors became a confused tangle out of which it seemed no unravelment was possible. The air thundered with the crackle of 48 exhausts, and in less time than it takes to write they were all away…for several hours until the killing speed had weeded out the weaklings there was an endless procession round tile track, and the welkin rang with a deafening and ceaseless din…Halsall (Veloce) was the first to retire with a burst cylinder…Barnes, still unfortunate, was the next man to drop out, owing to a cracked cylinder. Sumner (Zenith-Green) was then placed on the retired list owing to the flywheels coming loose…The fun was now fast and
furious. Knight (Zenith) came in with a rush, violently applied his brake, skidded, and before one had time to realise what had happened his machine was ablaze. Quick as thought, someone applied a powder fire extinguisher…the fire was speedily put out. The machine was then surrounded by willing helpers, who washed away the powder, and in about ten minutes’ time the luckless Knight was on the road again. Godfrey retired in his tenth lap owing to a broken piston, and then the Calthorpe came in and changed both rear wheels, which were detachable, and could be removed by undoing three bolts, in remarkably quick time. H Martin retired in his sixteenth lap owing to a burst cylinder, while his machine had also been on fire
near the aeroplane sheds, and there again an extinguisher prevented the motor from being destroyed…It was anticipated, with the vast improvement in 350cc engines of late, that Sam Wright’s long standing twin Humber records would go, and that for the first time on record 60 miles would be covered in 60 minutes on one of these tiny engines. Events proved that the forecasts were not short of the mark, for the wizard engine tuner, GE Stanley, covered 62 miles 920 yards in the first hour on a 2¾hp Singer, incidentally annexing the 50 mile record, and Hugh Mason was only a few seconds slower. Robbed by Stanley of the first record, he made amends by collaring the two, three, four, five, and six hours…Wood came in with a flat back tyre, and for some moments could not find the tube, which had become tightly wound round the hub. Mr Scott came to his help. Knight was now going well, but soon his troubles
arrived and a burst cylinder put him out of the running. Guest (Matchless sc) retired owing to a broken inlet valve rocker…Francis (Duo) stopped to have a valve spring replaced, whilst De Peyrecave broke a chain…Brewster (Norton) broke a piston ring. Stanley gave up after covering 58 laps owing to his tyre being worn down and to having ‘had enough’. The next to retire was Applebee (Scott) in his 36th lap owing to his petrol tap union coming out of the tank. Baker (Peerless) stopped and wound string round his engine shaft to prevent oil leaking out of the bearing on to his belt. Howard (Matchless) retired owing to his exhaust valve breaking and falling into the cylinder… A descriptive headline for the report of this race would be, ‘Great Battle: Fearful Slaughter’. The competition was keen enough, but the number of ‘killed and wounded’ tremendous. Hardly for a moment were the depots empty…Holder, when dashing down the railway straight, dropped his low speed chain, which wriggled along the track at express speed like a rattlesnake…At one point Hugh Mason and his wonderful little NUT led the whole field. The sight of him riding alongside an 8hp mount and holding him for speed was most uncanny…The first to complete fifty laps was CG Pullin on a Rudge-multi, who had been closely pressing the leaders all along…Haswell took the lead on his 53rd lap, and thereafter he led the field, though he had to stop to tie his carburetter in position…Riddell’s front tyre blew clean off the rim, yet he actually continued to the depot at 20mph, which appeared to be a risky proceeding…” Results: 350cc, H Mason (NUT-JAP), 325 miles 1,092 yards; H Colver (Enfield), 302m 1,521y; E Keyte (Enfield), 285m 560y. 500cc, JR Haswell (Triumph), 351m 1,315y; CG Pullen (Rudge), 334m 1,660y; EH Victor (Singer), 311m 1,640y. In all 34 records were broken that day, ranging from 350cc one hour to 1,100cc cycle car 300 miles. The Enfield team’s achievement of finishing 2nd 3rd and 4th impressed the BMCRC which awarded gold medals to the three riders. The Blue ‘Un commented: “This is an unprecedented feature of a six hours’ race, and bears testimony to the wonderfully regular running of the Enfield team.”
IXION WROTE OF the difficulty of starting a TT model with a carburettor tuned to supply a perfect mixture at high speeds. “My complaint is to the effect that a simple shutter on the main air supply would render this machine as docile in starting as any touring model; such a shutter could be operated by a small knob on the carburetter itself, and would not increase the manufacturing cost by sixpence.” Which sounds very much like a choke.
SOME LITTLE TIME ago I was consumed with a desire to drive a motor cycle, which, on the arrival of a 5-6hp Clyno and sidecar, developed into a burning passion. After one or two rides in the sidecar, when in the open country, I was persuaded to enter on my first drive. Having been initiated into the mysteries of tickling the carburetter, I succeeded, after one or two attempts, in starting the engine by means of the kick-starter and was agreeably surprised and not a little proud of myself to hear the engine purring gently, and metaphorically champing at the bit, ready for the actual start. I must confess that it was with great trepidation that I pushed down the low gear pedal—my feelings at the moment might well be compared with those of a person compelled to press the button for electrocuting himself—but, contrary to expectation, nothing happened save that the combination glided away like a Young Rolls-Royce, and, after changing into high gear, we soon Picked up speed, and I experienced that thrilling leeling of having managed it…Never before had I realised the real pleasure of having a throbbing fount of energy under one’s control ready
to respond to the smallest touch of a lever, and capable of doing a good forty miles per hour, or slowing down to an ordinary walking pace with such a range of control that makes one feel perfectly safe under all conditions. Gradually I am acquiring the reason why of various things, and have obtained much useful advice by studying The Motor Cycle week by week, which I now look forward to with the pleasure known only to the devotees of a hobby. There was a time when I thought a lady could never tackle a heavy sidecar machine of nearly six horse-power, even if she could ride a lightweight, on account of it being so much more difficult to handle, but I am now quite convinced that a sidecar machine is easier for a lady, as she does not have to balance or do the hobby horse trick when starting and rounding greasv corners, and a heavier machine is steadier on bumpy roads. Again, I can arrange my skirt, then start the engine, and the machine glides off like a car, without performing a lot of gymnastic feats which, while being perhaps graceful in the male sex, are not exactly ideal from the feminine point of view…So far I have found the most satisfactory dress is a tweed costume which I had for push cycling, the skirt of which has a front panel. This panel I split on the left-hand side for about twelve inches, which allows the. .skirt to hang at each side nearly down to the ankle, well covering the cloth gaiters which I wear for warmth. When I leave the machine I fasten the split by means of buttons and button holes, which converts it into an ordinary skirt. A tight fitting bonnet with ends to tie under the chin completes the outfit.
A READER WROTE to The Motor Cycle: “Why is it that suitable headgear has not yet been evolved for the motor cyclist? The ugly makeshift of turning one’s cap the reveise way is handy for accommodating one’s goggles, and offers less wind resistance, but it seems to me that the old type of close-fitting cap, similar to the cricket cap, only slightly fuller, is not only more suitable but even looks much better than the hideous, bulging modern affair. I fear we are hidebound by convention, even in the motor cycling world.” Ixion wrote: “I find myself in hearty accord with the grumbler who can find no cap which is really suited to a motor cyclist. I should suggest that the ideal motor cycling cap should be cut very tight, with something of a streamline run from peak to crown, and no sign of a bulge; that the peak should be excessively long and stiff, perhaps built up on an aluminium base, and that the peak base, no matter what it be made of, should be curved across from ear to ear to prevent its turning over backwards at speed as I have known a leather peak do before now. The pudding basin or modified sombrero hats—I do not know their trade designation—require stiffer brims.”
TRIUMPH CAME UP WITH a 4½hp parallel twin featuring horizontally split crankcases: “In case of necessity it would be possible to turn the whole machine upside down, and thus expose the crankshaft and its bearings as clearly as If they were on a bench.” The single camshaft (cut from solid) was in line with the frame and driven by skew gearing from the crankshaft. “The pistons rise and fall alternately, so that the firing is not absolutely even…One can, however, rely upon the Triumph engineers satisfying themselves before the new twin is marketed which system is the better.” Ixion commented: “The Triumph vertical twin has been whispered about ever since a Bercley engine was seen fitted in a Triumph frame many years ago, and I take a special interest in it because a similar 4hp engine, built by Werner Freres, was one of the finest little power units I ever owned. It suffered from the disabilities common to its day, for its carburetter was a terror, its ignition was as flimsy as a paper chrysanthemum, and the spares, which were so frequently required, were seldom found to fit. Do I not remember watching a man who is now a leading light, trying to reduce an exhaust valve for one of these engines to its proper bevel angle by the roadside with no other tool than a small hand file. Howbeit, that 4hp Werner was a terrific power producer on the rare occasions when it was in tune, and accomplished feats in the way of speed and hill-climbing which would not disgrace any single-geared machine of to-day. OC Godfrey first came to the front on such a machine. So we shall expect great things of the Triumph twin, the more so as we know it to be the product of years of experiment, and to have received the preference over another type of engine which is greatly fancied by the cognoscenti.”
“IN STUDYING THE results of recent important competitions at home and abroad, one cannot fail to be struck by the undoubted supremacy of. British motor cycle’s. In this country, with but few exceptions, the homes-made machine is universal. This also is the case with respect to most of the colonies, Canada being the exception, and the British machine is rapidly gaining popularity on the Continent. It was only natural that the British machine should predominate in the Manx Tourist Trophy
Races the ‘blue riband’ of the motor cycling world, and, that being the case, it was to be expected that the winners of these races should be found amongst the home products. In the Senior Race, only one make of machine that was not British is found amongst those who got through, that being a machine which has been for years on the British market. In the Junior Race, one continental machine again appears in addition to the British makes. Turning now to the races which have been recently held on the Continent, it is gratifying to find that much the same state of things prevails, and we notice that not British riders only, but the continental cracks pin their faith to the English machine to a very large extent…This, so far as it goes, is eminentlv satisfactory, and great credit is due to our English designers and workmen; but they must not rest on their laurels if they are to retain this position. The rear springing question will have to be gone into very carefully in the near future; lubrication must be made more certain and more effective, and should depend less upon the skill of the rider.”
“AFTER TURNING AN indifferent ear to the value of the motor cycle as an adjunct to troops to be used as a rapid means of communication and for scouting purposes, the War Office have now gone to the other extreme and are actively encouraging motor cyclists to enlist in a special motor cyclsts’ corps under the various Territorial divisions. The decision of the authorities has been arrived at the result of experiments carried out some time back attaching motor cyclists to the Royal Engineers as dispatch bearers and scouts. The experiments were eminently satisfactory, and a definite scheme has now been evolved by the War Office for the enrolment and remuneration of riders. While we are naturally gratified at the recognition by the authorities of the merits and usefulness of the motor cycle, we cannot but think that the terms offered are none too alluring. They will probably attract riders, but, what is even more important than obtaining nen, will they retain them? It is obvious that for the smooth working of the scheme it is essential that the same men—or at least a large proportion of them— should be available year after year. Otherwise, with the very limited period of yearly training allowed for under the scheme, a mere eight days minimum or 15 days’ maximum, it will be most difficult to keep a constant stream of well instructed and properly disciplined men.
A TRAFFIC CENSUS on the London-Worthing road over a bank holiday weekend recorded 505 solo motor cycles, 790 outfits and 57 cars.
“SIR—MAY I THROUGH your hospitable columns issue a timely warning to motor cyclists who may during the holiday season have occasion to pass through the lethargic city of Hereford? Of late there has been experienced a burst of phenomenal activity on the part of the police, and sympathetic magistrates have joined in the general conspiracy of persecution against the motorist. Recent cases at court have been supported by the most entertaining evidence, which would be indeed, humorous were it not so effectual in securing convictions. One witness quite recently uniquely gauged the speed of a motorist by saying that his pony could go at ten miles per hour, and the defendant, he declared, was travelling four times as fast. One marvels not so much at the hypothetical arithmetic as at the magistrates, who seriously regarded such testimony. A first offender was, a week or two ago, mulcted of £3 on such evidence as this.
“‘THE LUBRICANT IN his silencer was beginning to run low, and he feared that shortly the humming of his machine would betray his presence.’ From The Flying Detective. Let us continue! ‘Therefore he hurriedly dismantled the armature and cleaned it with a piece of Brooks soap, jettisoned his carburetter, and put another handful of the finest sand into his crank case. He then proceeded calmly and silently on his nefarious errand’.”
THE AA AND MOTORISTS’ Union began to put up warning signs on hazardous stretches of road, beginning with Beggars’ Roost Hill, North Devon with its gradient of 3 in 10.
THERE WERE 65 starters and 35 finishers in the 525-mile Liege-Paris-Liege Trial. The 500s were set an average of 25mph which was a tough target over bad surfaces, bends and congested villages. During the trial a kilometre speed trial and hill-climb were staged at Spa. The speed trial was over a stretch of pave between trees; rain had made the surface treacherous so the riders wisely refused to go flat out. The hill-climb was not closed to other taffic; one of the Brits met a larghe car on a blind bend and was forced to ride through a hedge. Nine first-class awards were won, by the riders of three Rudges, two Singers, two Saroleas, a Premier and a Matchless.
“SEVERAL MOTOR CYCLISTS were summoned at Chepstow last week for using cut-outs of an illegal form. It was, however, pointed out that the gases first passed into the expansion chamber, and, consequently, the summonses were dismissed.”
“WHEN A MOTOR CYCLIST was fined 10s and costs at Bromyard recently for using a cut-out on a motor cycle, the police constable stated that he could hear the noise of the exhaust for fifteen minutes before the rider reached him. Estimating the speed at 20mph the explosions were heard five miles away! After this we need no longer appeal to ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen’ for a useful loan, it will be more profitable to ‘Ask a Policeman’.”
“SIR—SOME LITTLE TIME ago, a friend and I, both riding Rudge machines, were proceeding to Bristol, when upon reaching Evesham, my friend’s machine gave out with a cracked piston. After many suggestions as to what do for the best, I telephoned to the Rudge-Whitworth Works at Coventry asking if they could suggest anything, Mr Holroyd, the works manager, gave us every sympathy and said he would see what could be done, which he did in a most practical form, viz, sent a smart mechanic, fully equipped, with tools, and a new piston, at express speed on a Tourist Trophy machine, a distance of thirty-three miles to us at Evesham. The rapidity with which the new piston was fitted and the machine overhauled and tested was really a marvellous piece of smart workmanship, inasmuch that only twenty minutes was occupied to complete the whole repair. When asked the cost of repairs we were informed that there was no charge, and that the company were pleased to be of service to us in our troubles.”
”THE MOUNTAIN CIRCUIT Reliability Trial of the Austrian Allgem Motorfahrer Verband drew over 50 entries of motor cycles, sidecars, and cycle cars. The sport is beginning to have its renaissance in Austria. Recently an enterprising motor cyclist has started an agency for Indian and Douglas machines in Vienna. The trial was a distinct success, only six riders failing to get through within the time limit. Conspicuous among the competitors were the Puch representatives, who had gained much valuable information from their participation in the Tourist Trophy, and had adopted numbers of English ‘notions’ on the Puchs, such as three lever Bowden control, Armstrong three-speed gears, XL’All saddles, B and B carburetters. The gears excited great interest and no little comment among the Austrian motor cyclists, who, to a great extent, still know the use of a clutch only from hearsay.
“A QUESTION WAS RECENTLY asked in the House of Commons by Mr C Money with reference to the use of the highways that carried with it the imputation that motor cyclists as a whole were addicted to dangerous driving and to making an unnecessary noise, and that, in consequence, the roads were rendered unsafe for pedestrians. Mr McKenna replied that he did not think that these offences were so common as was suggested, and that he considered the existing powers of the magistrates quite sufficient. In this matter we agree with Mr McKenna, though we must admit that there are many inconsiderate motor cyclists on the road who, by their thoughtless and selfish conduct, do their best to stir up the authorities.”
THE MAKERS OF Puncture-Seal invited The Motor Cycle to witness a demonstration of its efficacy: “A collapsible tube of the mixture is screwed to the valve of the air tube, from which all air has been expelled, the collapsible tube is squeezed, and the mixture forced into the air tube. The air tube, after fitting and inflation, is then used in the ordinary manner, and during the running the ingredients of Puncture-Seal receive their final mixing. When a puncture occurs the pressure in the air tube will force the Puncture-Seal into the hole, where it sets like rubber. The mixture is always ready to fill a hole, because the centrifugal action of the revolving wheel keeps a layer of it in the inside of the tube next the tread. The demonstration we witnessed took the form of extreme ill-treatment of the tyres on a Trump motor cycle and sidecar driven by Mr Cass, of Cass’s Motor Mart. Two planks about 4ft long were each studded with 88 wire nails and laid along the road; meanwhile three wire nails 1¼in long had been driven into each of the three tyres of the combination, which was deliberately driven over the planks…After the combination had been driven over the nail and had also been stopped and started theron, some of the nails previously hammered in were withdrawn from the tyres. Throughout the demonstration, no loss of pressure was experienced. The makers of Puncture-Seal will guarantee air tubes against puncture for three years…they inform us that on one occasion a cut in a tube of 1¼in long was stopped.” Puncture-Seal didn’t have the market to itself. “Filibuster,” The Motor Cycle reported, “is a white liquid, which is injected through the valve into the inner tube. When shaken up by the revolutions of the road wheel it will effectually seal up any puncture of reasonable size that may occur. In a demonstration, which was carried out on the tyres of a carrier tricycle, first of all a pin, then a bradawl, and later a 2in nail, were driven through the cover into the tube. The result was an immediate air leak, but when the tyre was spun round the orifice automatically closed itself. The test was carried out satisfactorily.”
“THE CHIEF CONSTABLE of Derby has pointed out in a very courteous communication sent to the secretary of the Derby &DMCC that motor cyclists in Derby are infringing the regulations [re illuminating front number plates] as the lamps, in many cases, are fitted to high. Motorists and the police in Derby and district are on excellent terms, and motor cyclists should see that the existing conditions are preserved.”
BRADBURY’S WELL-ESTABLISHED 3½hp one-lunger was joined by a 750cc V-twin with three-speed counter-shaft gearbox, kickstarter, fully enclosed chain drive, multi-plate clutch with cork inserts and metal-to-metal rear drum brake. The Blue ‘Un remarked: “The makers have evidently been largely influenced by the admirable AJS design, both in the engine and the general lay out of the machine.”
“AMERICA IS NOTED for never doing things by halves, and it evidently extends its enthusiasm for big things to motor cycle club outings. Recently the Los Angeles Motor Cycle Club held its annual run to Venice, Cal, which is only twenty miles from Los Angeles. Over 1,700 motor cycles turned out for the run, carrying between them over 3,400 people, 90% of the machines having passengers, generally of the fair sex, on the carrier or sidecar, and some- times on both. So great was the number of riders that the first machines had arrived at their destination before the last ones had departed. Four years ago the members of the club numbered four hundred, and it is expected that there will be two thousand next year.”
“DURING THE PAST few weeks the Petrol Substitutes Joint Committee has dis- covered a process by means of which it is hoped that fully 40,000,000 gallons of British motor spirit will be available annually without further depleting the country’s mineral resources. Briefly the process claims to extract a high per- centage of efficient motor spirit from a commodity at present produced in this country in enormous quantities, but hitherto quite unsuitable for motor car fuel. Full and most careful investigations have been carried out by the committee’s experts, and so far as a small demonstration plant is concerned, the results are excellent. It is confidently hoped that the full-sized commercial plant now in course of building will be equally successful.”
“SINCE THE RECENT revival of the oft-suggested Channel Tunnel scheme its possibilities as a road, as distinct from a railway, have claimed some attention. It is felt by leading authorities in the motor world that in view of all that has happened in connection with motor vehicles during the past fev years the mere provision of a railway connection under the sea between France and England would only partly fulfil the actual purpose for which its construction is intended. In this country, road transit, whether of passengers or goods, is now a necessary and increas- ingly important complement of the railway. Therefore no scheme of improving communications with the Continent by means of a tunnel beneath the Straits can be considered complete unless provision be made for road traffic as well as the railway.”
THE SCOTTISH ACU staged the Scottish Speed Championships on the West Sands at St Andrews. “The famous golfing town was en fête, and the varied dresses of a large number of ladies who graced the event with their presence lent a touch of colour which was decidedly pleasing. Several of the local councillors were officials of the meeting, and this, no doubt, helped towards the success of the afternoon.” A mile track had been laid out; classes included 20-lap races for 350s, 500s, 1,000s, and combos up to 560cc and 1,000cc; “experts barred”. “The finest race of the afternoon was that for third place [in the middleweight championship] between JG Beveridge (3½hp Rudge) and EW Cheshire (3½hp Triumph). First one would lead and then the other, only a matter of twenty yards separating them at the most. On the last lap, however, Cheshire got away, and led his opponent over the line by almost thirty yards. The spectators showed their appreciation of the sporting zest of the competitors by giving both riders a great cheer.”
“SOME LITTLE TIME ago Ixion gave particulars of a variable gap sparking plug sold by JH Runbaken, 7, Peter Street, Manchester. Our contributor’s experiences were highly satisfactory, and Messrs Runbaken inform us that so great was the resulting number of applications for this plug that they were at the time unable to deliver. However, they can now supply purchasers from stock by return.”
THE AMERICANS CALLED THEM rumble seats, we called them dickie seats. In either case the idea was to squeeze a passenger into the boot (or trunk, if you must) of a car, the seat being built into the boot,truck. JL Butler of Leeds extended the idea to the sidecar. Not comfortable, from the look of it; not good for weight distribution neither. But a cost effective way of converting a single seater to a double-adult.
IXION HAD STRONG VIEWS on pillioneering: “I hope that most of my readers have read, marked, and inwardly digested the lengthy list of fatalities occasioned this summer by the perilous practice of carrying a passenger on the carrier…The point is that the added heaviness of steering with an extra 9-12 stone on the carrier so often makes it utterly impossible to emerge from the tight place by a hair-raising last minute swerve. Personally, I believe the practice is so dangerous that it might even be rendered illegal…There is very little to be said in its favour, for it is at least as uncomfortable as it is dangerous and it has sprung into use for two main reasons—it is cheap, and, therefore, is resorted to by persons who have no sidecars; and it is convenient, as when the sidecar is left at home and the holiday maker picks up a crimson-jerseyed flapper on the ‘prom’. The strongest argument against it has not yet been cited in print. A man or a girl has certain ill-definded rights to risk his or her own person, if the personality be regarded as worthless or the motive for risking it sufficiently strong. But we have no right to risk the lives of others without their understanding or consent, and we have no right to risk causing great sorrow to total strangers. Carrier riding infringes both these principles. The maidens—Manx or imported—who grace the carriers of so many machines in a TT week have no conception of the danger thev run, and probably some of the more stalwart pillion-passengers who may be seen touring England on carriers are ignorant of the fact that they run ten times the risk they would face in any car or sidecar. Whether or not carrier riding is legally prohibited, it should be clearly understood that it is probably the most dangerous method of road locomotion in existence, not excluding the towing of a push bicycle behind a motor bicycle.” An editorial added: “Already in some States of America the practice is forbidden, and the Americans are not the people to get in a panic over an odd fatality or two…No doubt, in the headstrong rashness of youth, many who indulge in this practice will put us down as alarmists, but we believe that the great bulk of serious riders will support us in our view that the practice is in the main undesirable, and few would shed tears at its abolition in this country.” Not everyone agreed with him. Correspondent Leslie Mann anticipated arguments that would be used against the crash helmet law in the 1970s: “If there be danger in this practice, it is only danger to those who indulge in it, not to the general public—and I submit that anyone has a right to take risks with his (or her) own life if he so chooses. If not, why not pass laws to forbid flying, motor racing, or hunting, or for that matter any sport in which there is an element of risk? The writer of the article implies that the chief objection to the practice is that girls are more often than not the passengers carried. Perhaps he also disapproves of lady motor cyclists and ‘air women’!” And a correspondent signing himself ‘RWG’ reckoned “the law should most certainly prohibit carrying the fair sex in this manner, but the sidecar is not in it with the pleasure of riding on the carrier straddle leg and with your feet comfortably resting on the back footrests. Corners are negotiated and vehicles are passed more easily; wind resistance is lessened, and the passenger has (like the driver) that exhilarating feeling of being part and parcel of the steed.”
THREE ENFIELD 350 TWINS won the Senior One Hour Team Race at a BMCRC Brooklands meeting, despite being the smallest bikes on the track. H Greaves covered 55 miles 1,579 yards (despite losing a footrest on lap 17); D Ison, 54m 590y; HV Colver, 45m 275y—an aggregate 155m 684y. CB Franklin did 67m 926y on his 494cc Indian twin and S George (497cc Indian single) did 57m 38y, but their team mate BA Hill (497cc Indian single) dropped out at 5m 766y with transmission problems—an aggregate 129m 1,730y. RN Ewens (499cc Rudge) managed 52m 1,582y; L Hill (499cc Rudge), 51m 162y; CG Pullin (499cc Rudge) could only do 16m 539y—an aggregate 120m 523y. All three Rudge riders stopped repeatedly to change their drive belts. F Fena (499cc Triumph) covered 62m 1,109y, the second highest mileage of the day, but W Edmondson (499cc Triumph) only did 24m 808y and JA Manners-Smith (499cc Triumph) dropped out at 19m 42y—an aggregate 106m 199y. The final event of the day was the Press Handicap which, The Motor Cycle gleefully reported, resulted in a triumph for The Motor Cycle with its riders CE Wallis (499 Triumph) and D Osmond (350 Douglas twin) finishing first and second. OT Slough (Enfield 350) of The Auto Cycle was third, ahead of SEK Richardson (499cc Rudge) of News Illustrated.
“GK PIPPETT, AN enthusiastic rider of a 3½hp Singer, carries a novel mascot on his machine. Recently he ran over a rat in the dark, picked it up and took it home. After having the skin dressed he is using it both as a mascot and a horn bulb cover.”
THE ITALIAN CHAMPIONSHIP was decided at the 196-mile Circuito di Cremona. Competitors, from England, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy, included Messrs Ravelli and Vailati who had ridden in the TT. A Terrot won the 250cc class and a Motot Reve ridden by Carlo Maffeis took 500cc honours but a Douglas won the 350cc event, ridden by Carlo Maffeis’ brother Miro. Signorina Vittorina Sambri entered on a 250cc Terrot but had to drop out in the first lap when her bike caught fire “so it was impossible to judge of her abilities as a chauffeuse”.
MOTOR CYCLE RACES were held at Helsingfors, Finland; the 2hp and 4hp were both won by a Humber which duly took the Special Prize of Honour for “the machine which accomplished the most meritorious performance and made fastest time”.
“WE SUPPOSE IT IS almost too much to ask motor cycle makers to agitate for the handy dynamo fighting sets with which cars are equipped, but we venture to think that more safe night riding would be done if small reliable dynamos were supplied in motor cycle form which would enable the road to be flooded with fight at the mere turn of a switch…in the light of recent developments on cars in the way of electric engine starters and change speed devices, an electric lighting set does not seem a great deal to ask for.”
DOUGLAS HAD EARNED a reputation for flat-twin 350s that could punch above their weight; now it stepped up with a 3½hp 494cc version. The engine could be removed inside two minutes, thanks to the use of clever wedge shapped clamps. The Blue ‘Un noted: “The engine is a masterpiece of accessibility…all four valves can be easily removed while the engine is in position, so also may both cylinders…by slacking two nuts on each cylinder, the top half of the crankshaft chamber can be removed, leaving the cylinders in position.”
THE STREATHAM MCC hosted speed trials at Brighton with a record entry of 214 two, three and four-wheelers. It was the first speed trial on Madiera Drive since the 1905 racing week when Henri Cissac set a world record of 86mph on a 14hp 1,489cc Peugeot V-twin. The Streatham club didn’t record speeds this time, instead it was a first-over-the-line event with 20 classes; ‘experts’ rode against each other as did riders in the ‘general’ class. (The ACU maintained a list of ‘expert’ riders; at this time there were about 80 of them.) The trial cncluded with an inter-club tea race which was won by the hosts; the Richmond & Mid-Surrey and Public School MCCs tied for second place.
“WE HAVE NOTICED when riding on tarred roads after dark that it is often difficult to detect the border line where the road merges into the grass edging or foot-path as the case may be. When these roads are tar treated it should not be a difficult matter to lay a narrow strip of white road material down each side of the road which would prevent any possible chance of colliding with a raised footpath or kerb.”
“The EIC quartz window sparking plug adapter, which is intended to be used as a mixture detector on the basis of the colour of the flame of the explosions, should have a good sale. It is similar in principle to the Calvert quartz sparking plugs, which were sold as far back as 1903.”
“FROM HIS LONG experience of carburation, Mr Charles Binks has evolved a very simple and effective automatic carburetter, which gives a truly wonderful petrol consumption without saerificing either aeceleration or power produced…The principle on which Mr Binks has been working is that a large proportion of the petrol in a daily run is lost by being shaken out of the jet by road vibration…He arrived this conclusion after protracted road trials with a glass-sided carburetter. We undertook a road test, and, on reaching open country, carefully measured exactly one gill into a special test tank, and started on a consumption trial. The machine was driven at an average speed of 20mph over the main London- Coventry Road, and accomplished exactly 9.9 miles on the gill, giving a consumption of 157.4mpg… The machine was fitted with a Fafnir 85x88mm (499cc) single- cylinder engine, and, except for dropped handle-bars, was in full touring condition, with wide mudguards, lamp, horn, speed indicator, carrier, etc. We rode the machine home at varying speeds to prove that the jets were not too small for touring purposes, and found that, though the machine would fire evenly at a fast walking pace, it would accelerate smoothly to approximately 50mph.”
“LAST SATURDAY THE Sutton Coldfield Club held a petrol consumption trial, and the announced results really make one gasp. In the solo class, two twin James head the list, with 334 and 320mpg respectively. We do not know the adopted means of checking the results, but we fear that many readers will require some amount, of convincing that such remarkably economical results are possible.”
THERE WERE 59 competitors in the Birmingham MCC’s 24-hour, 400-mile Birmingham-Carlise-Birmingham trial. It rained throughout the overnight run north, lots of solos went down on wet ‘cobble sets’; one resourceful rider of an Enfield Combo did 250 miles with his hankie holding a snapped throttle cable together. AA scouts “rendered excellent service in showing the way, one in particular—at Tarporley—drawing many expressions of praise”. Clarke, broke the frame of his TT Aldays at Beeston Castle at 2.0am, and “it took some time to rouse the local hotel and get comfortably quartered…It might here be remarked that there are oilskins and oilskins, as some of the competitors discovered. The driving rain went through some as if they were but mackintoshes…Liefeldt (Rudge) was troubled with pre-ignition, and finally took his engine down at Preston to discover the reason…Near home Bollack had the misfortunte to break the engine chain of his twin James and damage the gear—a precisely similar trouble befell him in the Six Days Trials…Young (King Dick) charged a bank. An incident which might have proved more serious occurred to H Berwick, who was riding a Hampton. A mile or two from the finish his lamp went low, so he adopted the quite common expedient of blowing into the generator. Suddenly the whole thing burst and shot out flames, which badly scorched his eyebrows. He just got in to time by the aid of his spare generator. The tired riders checked in at Birchfield with wonderful precision considering the distance they had traversed. The mud-bespattered condition of their machines conveyed to the crowd some idea of what had been encountered…” Of 59 starters only 36 completed the trial within the time limit; 29 won gold medals, three won silver, six won bronze. H Ball (Triumph) won a trophy and gold medal for best solo performance; WH Eggington (Enfield) won a watch a gold medal for best passenger performance; RW Duke, DM Brown and GN Ratcliffe (Roers) won the team prize of three guineas.
THE BLUE ‘UN’S HEADLINE said it all: “Severe trial in North Wales.” The trial in question was an open reliability trial staged by the Liverpool ACC over 180 miles of mud, ruts, hills, narrow lanes and meandering livestock. The first test hill, Cilcain, stopped upwards of 30 riders in their tracks: “Coopland’s Indian sidecar skidded almost completely round, Gregson (Bat) and Greene (Rudge) followed suit…The solo riders had a very anxious time, riding with their legs dangling. Quite a dozen sideslipped and damaged their machines. We passed F Dover (Premier) very late by the roadside, and he called out ‘gear!’. Later we caught up with Miss Baxter cooling down at the foot of a long rise after Henllan…at Llanfair Talhairn, the spectators saw many riders skidding up the hill from one side to the other, passenger machines with their driving wheels buzzing round, and many stopped altogether. Those who found Cilcain too much for them were mostly unable to climb this tongue twister…The corresponding descent to Llangerniew proved highly dangerous. Competitors descended crabwise at walking pace, being jolted into and out of stone gulleys formed across the road; at times the gradient was so steep that one could not check the progress of a machine by locking the back wheel. H Silver’s Quadrant got out of hand (it was the rider’s first competition), and rider and machine charged the bank, fortunately
without doing much damage…AJ Stevens attempted to pass Wright’s Humberette and cannoned a bank, which nearly spoilt his chances, and the Humberette was later held up for over a mile by a pony and trap…sheep and cattle were constantly met…By now the competitors were beginning to wonder what competitions were coming to-acrobatic performances on by-lanes or tests of reliability and hill-climbing…Pennant Hill was a long climb up a single- figure gradient-certainly approaching 1 in 4 and covered with a thick coating of real Welsh grease. Again the bunch who had failed previously konked out, but one of the most wonderful climbs was by Marston on a Triumph sidecar. He is the same rider who did so well in the Six Days Trial, and was again able to show solo men with as much engine power as he possessed that there is a great deal in handling a machine correctly…At Llanrwst a tremendous drove of sheep was encountered. Horsman (Singer) swung round a corner and ran into one of them, both finishing in the hedge. The rider was surprised to find that the sheep was killed. The shepherd demanded 30s, so Horsman wisely left his card…At Dolgellv there was another check, and then over the mountains to Dinas Mawddwy village and up Bwlch-y-Groes, which still remains, in our opinion, the fairest and most gruelling test for an engine we have ever encountered…The little Hobart, ridden by Dudley, made another surprisingly good climb, for tlie engine is only 290cc and Fenn. on a new three-speed counter-shaft geared BSA, which we understand is a forerunner of the 1914 model, got up very well…The Levis, ridden by Newey, again showed what an efficient little engine can do. By the way, this rider rode up from
Birmingham the same morning, starting at 4am. After the trial he went home by train, hitched a sidecar on to his machine, and next day competed in the local club’s twelve-hour event…Altybady was in a frightful state. It was almost shameful to see competitors who had covered so many miles and successfully climbed so many severe hills floundering about in the mud and being bumped over the gulleys. To steer a straight course was impossible, and unfortunately there was only a strip two feet wide fit to ride on. The hill, as well as the surface, much resembled Porlock in the 1912 Six Days Trial, and we consider that the Liverpool club had a great deal of pluck in including it, especially in the light of the complaints regarding freak hills in the ACU Six Days Trials…The stragglers had a very anxious time, for they had to light lamps before Llangollen was reached and climb the worst hill in the dusk. How the checkers went on we do not know. The last section of the run was completed in darkness, two time checks being taken. The riders were thoroughly tired, for the run of 180 odd miles had been brimful of excitement, what with slippery roads and constant single figure gradients.” The Reliance Cup and the club gold medal went to JB Sproston (2¾hp Sunbeam); best single-geared performance, CT Newsome (3½hp Triumph); best amateur solo performance, RP Ravenhill (3½hp Rover); best amateur sidecar performance, W Court (6hp AJS); best amateur lightweight performance, JB Sproston (2¾hp Sunbeam); the club team award was not issued as no team complied with the requirements. Only five gold medals were won, along with 13 silver and 20 bronze. The Motor Cycle was moved to add a postscript: “It is all very well to take riders in ordinary sporting club events over side paths and by-lanes used only by farmers’ carts: it may be all right to include a watersplash or two, and a boulder jumping section. But when it comes to a serious trial under trade support, the primary object of which is to demonstrate to the general public who read the description of the events, and the spectators who line the course, that motor cycles have reached a stage approaching perfection, then the freakish trial is quite out of place…The tendency to include unrideable hilfs has already to our know- ledge disgusted a large section of the trade, and we can give this early hint that trade-supported events will not be so numerous next year.”
“MOTOR CYCLISTS ON manoeuvres are attached to the Directing Staff, the Chief Umpire’s Staff, the Signal Companies, the aeroplanes, and the Divisional Chief Umpires. Those doing duty with the Chief Umpire, Director, and aeroplanes usually live in hotels or standing camps in comfort, riding out and home each day. Those with the Signal Companies and Divisional Umpires bivouac with the units to which they are attached, and ‘doss down’ with a ground sheet and blanket, as tents are not carried on active service. Their motor cycles also ‘sleep’ unprotected in the open fields. Those motor cyclists who were out during the divisional manceuvres will not soon forget the Friday night near Stukeley. It rained heavily all night; a start was made before the dawn, with everything and everyone dank, dirty, and dripping. The Divisional Manoeuvres came to an end on the Saturday morning, and bands played their regiments into the rest camps, where the luxury of sleeping in a tent was enjoyed by some. In 1910 the casualties amongst motor cyclists were enormous,
dozens of machines being wrecked or put out of action. This was due to the difficulty of passing troops and trains on the roads. Things were better in 1911, and this year the manner in which way was made for despatch riders was just wonderful, the only troublesome people to pass being the regimental bands and the yeomanry. I award the palm for giving easy passage to the cavalry and artillery. It was thrilling meeting the heavy artillery once at the trot! As an instance of the reliability of machines, there were nine of us working with the headquarters of the Third Division for ten days. Every one of the machines was in the open night and day, rain or shine, and yet after a night in the rain each machine fired promptly, and at the conclusion of manceuvres not a single machine had crocked, the average mileage being about 650. Naturally, there were bent footrests and damaged lamps, but what would one expect when one has so frequently to ride across fields and take to ditches and roadsides! Many of the officers I came in contact with were motor cyclists, but all of them said they had more respect for their machines than to bring them out on manoeuvres. It is left for enthusiasts like the readers of The Motor Cycle to fill the breach, and here I find myself, tired and sleepy, yet looking forward to next year’s Army work.”
THE DAILY MAIL worked out that nearly 1,500 cars and motor cycles were being registered in the British Isles every month. Up to the end of September 40,767 bikes had been registered, compared with 42,288 cars. The previous year’s figures were 34,878 bikes and 32,953 cars; car sales, it seems, had finally overtaken bikes. But by year’s end more than 100,000 motor cycles were registered for use on British roads. Mind you, the US motor cycle parc increased by 70,000.
THE SHEFFIELD AND HALLAMSHIRE club was clearly at the top of its game—it won the MCC Team Trial against a record entry of 41 teams. “So representative of the whole of Great Britain was the trial that eleven teams travelled no fewer than two hundred miles to reach the start, which amply demonstrates the great interest in the event.”
THE SPANIARDS STAGED a motor cycle race between Mercadillo and Cortederra. The winner rode a Bat; second Douglas; third and fourth, Rudges.
“ONE OF THE LADY speakers at the Church Congress at Southampton, declared last week that ‘these are the days of the sidecar’ and that ‘the days of women riding pillion were over’. We agree with the speaker on the former point, but on the latter she is not on such certain ground. But, doubtless, she was referring to a horse pillion.”
THE BLUE ‘UN REPORTED: “The new type of Lodge plug with weather-proof terminal is most excellent in design.” Party on dudes. “It will be seen that the top of the sparking plug is fitted with a special plug connection so that the high tension wire is instantly attached without having to be screwed on. It is perfectly insulated so that the wire can be detached when the engine is running, if such a course is thought to be desirable. Moreover, the end of the wire is supported by the terminal itself, and in consequence there is no danger of the wire breaking off. The special terminal also absolutely protects the porcelain from being shorted bv means of wet or mud.” The praise, and the detailed description, implies that this was the first plug cap on the market, so well done Lodge.
IXION SUGGESTED THAT speedometers might with advantage be driven off the engine. His apology is reproduced here simply because it’s such a lovely drop o’ prose: “It’s a cruel world, my masters! When I let fall words of profound wisdom, no kindly soul writes to praise and encourage me. But when I am overcome by one of those fits of temporary insanity which periodically overtake all great men from Solomon down to Isaac Newton and Ixion, every motor cyclist in the kingdom (and there are now over 100,000 of them) writes or wires or ‘phones two hours after publication to jeer at my folly. I gave these hard-hearted cynics a glorious opportunity last week, when I had been musing over a TT machine, and considering how much nicer it would be if its speedometer were driven off the magneto chain sprocket. Obviously, this brilliant suggestion would be worse than useless for any machine except a single-geared chain driver. Consider what fearful results would flow, from its adoption. Anybody late at a control in an AU trial would merely run the speedometer on free engine for five minutes, and then inform the judges that the section was eighty miles longer than the card indicated. Any hireling of the tyre companies who desired to compose a veracious and astounding testimonial would merely do about three laps of Brooklands on bottom gear, and then write to the makers and say his cover had done 20,000 miles, and still looked better than new. I must have meant that par for the Christmas number.”
“MR HARRY LORAINE, one of the actors employed by the British and Colonial Kinematograph Co, during the course of the construction of a drama entitled In the Villain’s Grip, had to ride into 40ft of water at a speed of 35mph from a height of 12ft. Splendid practice for taking water-splashes, we should imagine, and even more exciting than climbing mountains, of which we have lately heard so much!”
“WE HAVE RECEIVED serious complaints of the nuisance caused by crowds of motor cyclists riding through villages about church time on Sunday morning with apparently no regard for the silencer regulations or the feelings of the public. It is this kind of thoughtless behaviour which makes motor cyclists so unpopular in many quarters, and we hope that this hint will be duly observed before strong measures are taken to put a stop to such practices.”
THE SCIENCE MUSEUM in South Kensingtom displayed a 2¾hp Douglas engine.
TRIUMPHS WERE RIDDEN to victory in the trade and private classes of a major race over the 230-mile Circuito Umbro-Tuscano in Italy. And in the Roman race for the trophy, presented by La Tribuna, a Triumph trio took the team prize.
AT 8PM ON A TUESDAY evening Rex Mundy left the ACU garage in London an 8hp/964cc water-cooled Williamson combo. At 8.15pm the next evening he arrived at the National Art Gallery in Edinburgh. The outfit was actually on the move for 22hr 50min; an average of 18.4mph over the 394 miles. But here’s the point: the engine ran non-stop for 24hr 50min. The wheels stopped turning for 1hr 19min “for food and convenience, and oil and petrol replenishments”; the radiator was topped up five times and the automatic oil feed was adjusted, which took 38min 30sec—that aside the toolbox remained closed. The ACU duly issued a certificate to mark the run, which was conducted under its open competition rules.
“NO WATERPROOF GARMENTS sold to motor cyclists have been more successful than the Hutchinson waders, sold by the Hutchinson Tyre Co, 70, Basinghall Street, EC. These keep the trousers and boots absolutely dry and clean, and are quite impervious to the most drenching rain; in fact, they may be washed by wading in a stream.” ‘Hutchis’ would be a mainstay of all-weather motor cycling for years to come, often combined with a waterproof poncho.
EXACTLY 179,926 MOTORCYCLES were registered in Britain; about 17,000 were exported.
VILLIERS WAS AT Olympia with a 269cc two-stroke. It was so successful that Villiers, which was then producing four-stroke engines and motor cycles, would concentrate exclusively on two-stroke proprietary engines for the best part of half a century and would power countless British lightweights.
“SATURDAY’S DOWNPOUR AT Brooklands: The weather unfortunately marred what promised to be a very successful day’s racing at Brooklands last Saturday. We found a few riders taking shelter in the Paddock…Many competitors had travelled a long distance to take part, Healy, for instance, having brought his Rudge from Dublin. The event is to be held next Saturday.” Up in the Midlands the morning stayed dry…
…THE COVENTRY AND Warwickshire MC’s eighth annual hillclimb, on Swerford Heath, just off the main Banbury-Chipping Norton Road, was so well run that the whole event was over within two hours. As The Motor Cycle reported: “Just as spectators began to arrive at the Coventry and Warwickshire Motor Club’s hill club it was all over, for, thanks to an early start and excellent organisation, there was no waiting between the classes, and exactly two hours sufficed to finish the competition. And it was fortunate that a start was arranged at mid-day, for, about
one o’clock, the rain which had threatened on and off all the morning developed into a settled downpour, and by two o’clock the road surface was decidedly slippery. Had a later start been fixed upon the event would have suffered the same fate as the Brooklands championships.” Mind you, the Coventry boys wouldn’t have been too sympathetic: “The entry numbered nearly 150, including many well known riders, but the combined BMCRC and ACU event at Brooklands undoubtedly affected the entries considerably, and to say that the Coventry Club Committee are not pleased at the ACU’s action in refusing a permit for the original date the Coventry Club selected at the last Olympia Show…is only putting the matter mildly. It was the ACU who…caused the unfortunate clash…” The competition itself was exciting with one or two
surprising innovations: “…Speeds went up in the TT Class, which was splendidly supported, De la Hay (Sunbeam) leading off the ball at a tremendous pace for a 2¾hp in the absence of Haswell, who was at Brooklands watching the rain come down. Gilbert Hall followed on a 3½hp Scale-Jap, and the rider struck us as among the very fastest, never cutting out and bounding up the hill at express speed. By the way, Hall brought his machine from Derbyshire mounted on a special sidecar framework built to accommodate it attached to a 7hp Indian [an early example of the sidecar ‘floats’ that were commonly used to move bikes about many years later]…Dudley’s 2½hp Hobart dashed between the lines and seemed a certain formula winner, but on receiving the signal to restart he let in his clutch pedal too suddenly, and the front wheel twice rose in the air like a bucking broncho buster, and finally tried to climb a pole supporting a rope to keep the spectators back [in other words, he wheelied in the days before anyone called it a wheelie]…All eyes were now turned to the two racing Scotts, HO Wood (the TT winner) and AA Scott (the designer)…Wood was not so speedy as it was expected he would be, though his riding position seemed ideal. The handle-bars were attached in an unusual position at the bottom of the steering head [an early example of the ‘clip-on’ handlebars that would, half a century later, feature on countless racers and cafe racers]…Lucas had a tiny sidecar on his Triumph pointed front and rear, and his passenger was so tight a fit that it was suggested that a shoe horn would be necessary to extricate him…
YOU MIGHT RECALL THAT the four-pot Henderson was launched in 1912 (come on it was only a year ago) and one of the new bikes had sailed out of New York en route for Europe and all points east (and, eventually west). Here’s how the odyssey was described in a Henderson ad which appeared in The Pacific Motorcyclist: of 6 November: “Carl Stearns Clancy of New York City riding a 1912 Henderson has set a new mark in motorcycle achievements by the completion of his trip around the world. Late in October 1912, Clancy sailed from New York for Liverpool with his Henderson. He travelled to the remotest sections of England, Ireland and Scotland. Then across the channel to the Continent. Through Germany, Belgium, France, Spain, Switzerland and Italy to the shores of the Mediterranean; across to Africa and through Algiers and the Sahara Desert. Through the Suez Canal to Ceylon, where a Henderson service station furnished road data for touring the island; on through India into China; across to Japan, the land of ‘rickshaws’ and narrow, square, cornered roads; then the last big water jump across the Pacific to the USA. From San Francisco through the almost impossible Northwest; on across the prairies to our factory [in Detroit] and four days later arrived at his destination, New York City, having covered 18,000 miles in ten months. Throughout Europe, in Africa,, on the remotest islands of the Indian Ocean, in India and Japan,Clancy for Henderson agencies and service stations. So rapidly has our export trade developed in eighteen months that 1-4 of our 1913 output was shipped to foreign countries. Why did Clancy dare to invade these out-of-the-way corners of the earth , thousands of miles from the base of supplies? Why does our export trade consume such a large proportion of our production? BECAUSE from its conception the Henderson has been built to stand not the ‘grind’ of days but MONTHS of the severest tests to which motorcycles have ever been put. It is not gratifying to ride or handle a motorcycle whose efficiency is KNOWN by such exceptional evidfece as we offer? Then write us at once for the Henderson letter.” Pacific Coast Distributor AM Kupfner Corp, 931 S Main St, Los Angeles, Cal.”
Clancy started his trip with a pal named Walter Storey, who had bought his own Henderson Four (but hadn’t actually learned to ride it). They landed in Dublin and almost immediately Storey collided with a tram. Once his bike was repaired they rode together through Scotland and England then over the channel to France where, according the Irish Times, they “enjoyed the delights of Paris,” from museums to the Moulin Rouge. Storey decided to stay in Paris; in one of his regular telegrams to the Bicycling World and Motorcycle Review of New York. Clancy mentioned that his pal was tempted by “the vigorous, throbbing life of Paris and its citizens”. He rode on alone to Spain from where, he reported: “I had expected poor roads in Spain and was not happily disappointed. To all those who are planning to motorcycle in Spain let me give this one word of advice—don’t! Occasionally I would meet a stretch of smooth surface but for the most part the roads were so full of holes, and water breaks, and fords that there was no fun in it.” In North Africa, “six Arabs on ponies suddenly appeared and gave chase, firing their rifles.” Clancy was able to outrun them. According to Clancy’s reports his favorite country was Japan, “…the most fascinating country in which to motorcycle. Everything is so different, so beautiful, so peculiar in its charms.” In Ceylon (Sri Lankaq) he had several close encounters with water buffalo and leopards; jackals regularly prowled around his tent at night. And after sailing across the Pacific he reached San Francosco where another mate, Robert Allen, joined him aboard a 1913 model Henderson (which, fortunately, he knew how to ride) for the final 4,500 miles to New York. This, Clancy reported, was the toughest part of the whole trip, including days where the two Henderson riders could barely cover 20 miles from dawn till dusk. “I feel safe in saying,” he concluded, “that by no other means could I have obtained [such a] broad insight into conditions in foreign countries.”
And he predicted, “Give China a little time, and she’ll not only have plenty of trunk roads, but one of the richest countries on the globe. Nothing can stop her.” He was also impressed by the Lake District: “Coming suddenly over the brow of a well graded hill, the full glory of a mad jumble of the towering Cumbrian mountains, bald of all trees except those protected in deep crevices but rich with deep brown and purple heather burst upon our sight…Throwing out our clutches we glided silently down the winding road, presenting a new vista at every turn, and then continued slowly on past numberless silvery cascades racing down seemingly from the very cloud tipped summits of the precipitous peaks.”
Clancy wasn’t the only Henderson-mounted adventurer to cross the USA that year…
FROM THE FORT WAYNE Journal Gazette “Seven thousand four hundred miles is the motor cycle record made by Mr and Mrs LeRoy Snodgrass who ride a motorcycle from Los Angeles, Cal to New York city. Mrs Snodgrass rode in the sidecar attached to her husband’s motorcycle [a four-pot Henderson]. They carried their own camping outfit, living independent of hotels and restaurants and arrived in New York in the best physical condition.” Leroy spoke of pushing his combo across streams, resorting to his 60ft rope and block and tackle to pull it up the far bank. He would then walk back through the stream and carry his wife across upon his shoulders, pointing out that she didn’t require the use of the block and tackle.
LOUIS AND TEMPLE Abernathy, aged nine and 12, rode an Indian for 2,000 miles from Frederic, Oklahoma to New York in nineteen days and began to plan a tour of Europe. What follows is not relevant to the story of motorcycling but is too good a yarn not to share: Two years before they had ridden horses from New York to San Francisco for a $10,000 prize, on condition they didn’t eat or sleep indoors during the trip. They took 62 days so missed out on the prize but set a record. In 1909 (when Louis was 5 and Temple was 9) their dad sent them on a 1,300-mile horseback ride from Guthrie, Oklahoma to Roswell, New Mexico and back ‘to toughen them up’. Jack Abernathy was the youngest-ever US Marshall, appointed personally by President Teddy Roosevelt after demonstrating his ability to catch live wolves in his bare hands on a hunting trip. ‘Catch ‘Em Alive Jack’ had played piano in saloons starting at age 6, making 10 times more than the cowboys he played for. By 11 he was a cowboy and, aged 15, he was in charge of breaking the toughest horses at his ranch. Louis and Temple also rode across the country to meet Teddy Roosevelt, joined him in a tickertape parade and became nationally famous as the Abernathy Kids.
LEE I HUMISTON HURTLED round the one-mile Playa Del Rey board track in Los Angeles on his 1,000cc Excelsior to cover 100 miles at an average of just over 88mph. He also covered a flying mile in 36sec dead which, assuming the colonials had accurate timing gear, equates to 100.002mph, making Humiston the first motor cyclist to do a ton (not forgetting Glenn Curtis’s astonishing 136mph in 1907; but that was on a two-wheeled testbed powered by a four-litre V8 aircraft engine).
THE BLUE ‘UN TRIED out a spring-frame Edmunds fited with a 2¾hp Villiers engine Brampton Biflex forks and two-speed gear. It was ridden up a “true hill that really required power…The machine fairly jumped about all over the road, the spring frame doing excellent work. The surface was so bad that a very slow approach had to be made. Accordingly we engaged the low gear and made our ascent without having to touch the ground once with our feet, though at times the back wheel slipped on the loose surface…Though not fast as modern machines go, it was capable of keeping up a very good average. It was excellent on hills. The engine is very free from vibration. The hand-controlled clutch is at once simple and sweet in action. The machine steers well, though, personally, we should prefer rather shorter handle-bars. Also, we should favour a different type of gear quadrant, as the gear lever is rather inclined to jump into the free engine position on bumpy roads. Again some device is needed to lessen the noise of the overhead inlet valve rocker, which spoils an otherwise quiet running engine. We would say a word for the extreme comfort of the Edmund spring frame and Brampton Biflex forks, and after riding a TT machine for a long period, to say the least of it, we found it very luxurious…[it is] one of the most pleasant medium weight machines it has fallen to the writer’s lot to ride.” Edmunds also promised a version with a 3½hp 496cc MAG V-twin and an Enfield two-speed countershaft gearbox.
HUMBER’S 499CC/3½HP SINGLE was joined by two models designed for sidecar work: a water-cooled 4hp version of the single and a 6hp flat twin with a three-speed box and chain drive.
WITH THE COMPETITIVE Harry Reed at the helm Dot upped its game; this example boasted an 8hp JAP twin and a spec that was ahead of its time with options including a four-speed countershaft gear box. “A kick starter of neat design is attached to the end of the gear box on the right-hand side, the mechanism being completely enclosed in an aluminium case. The clutch, which has cork insets, is said to be practically indestructible; a shock absorber is fitted on to the engine shaft.” That sounds more 1953 than 1913 and the two pipes up one side tipping up at the rear look more 1970s custom bike than pre-WW1 roadster.
WITH TWO, THREE and the first four-speed transmissions becoming ubiquitous a group of sporting enthusiasts formed the Single Gear Club and attracted 42 entrants to their first trial which included some stiff hills in Kent. “Unsportsmanlike spectators” blocked the riders’ way on Brasted hill so the committee later decided to hold onto the trophy and gold and silver medals until the club’s next trial, but 18 bronze medals were awarded. Harold ‘Oily’ Karslake of Dreadnought fame served as timekeeper; entrants included Tom Silver (3½hp Quadrant), Rex Mundy (TT Triumph) and George Brough (6hp Brough).
NOT FOR THE FIRST time, The Motor Cycle sent a correspondent to the Paris Salon; not for the first time he came away unimpressed: “On the whole, French motor cycles are steadily improving, though, in some cases, fittings are very poor and there are too many bent frame tubes. A great many machines are fitted with band brakes on the rear hub instead of front wheel brakes. The band brakes are much too small to be of any serious use. English machines are being extensively copied, and English fittings are becoming more and more common. “
“A NEW COMPANY HAS just been floated in Birmingham called the Over-Seas Motor Co for the manufacture of a motor bicycle for the overseas trade…the machine has been designed by Mr WJ Lloyd, the original designer of the Quadrant motor cycle…it is a 3½hp, 499cc single cylinder with ball bearings to main shaft, roller beaerings to connecting rod big end, and is provided with a decompressor. The specification includes Druid spring forks, Bosch magneto, 1914 B&B carburetter, 2½in tyres, Lyso saddle, 1in belt, spring footboards, long tubular silencer, tubular carrier and pannier bags on the carrier sides fitted in metal holders. It is sold at the very moderate price of £39, and fitted with Sturmey Archer three-speed hub the price is £49. When a change speed gear is supplied a handle starting device is fitted on the offside of the rear forks. The engimne has 5in clearance from the ground, and well fitted brakes are provided, the rear brake being operated by the heel and acting on the belt rim, and the front brake is a Bowden. The Over-Seas Co has been formed to save Colonial importers the trouble of assembling mnachines from fittings. Every care has been taken to include standard parts where possible, but it is not intended to make the slightest departure from the standard specification.”
“A GRADIENT OF 1 in 2.44: Continuing his search for steep hills to climb, WH Carson last week made a successful ascent of Vale Street, Bristol, on his Excelsior big single and sidecar. The total load was 6cwt 2qrs 12lb.”
DURING A RACE AT Brooklands a 12-pot Sunbeam car lapped at 118.58mph during one lap, leading The Motor Cycle to remark: “We wonder when a motor bicycle will be made which will equal this speed, and who would be found to ride it.”
INDIAN PLANNED TO expand its Springfield plant to produce 300 bikes a day or something like 90,000 a year.
BY A VOTE OF two to one judges at the High Court decided that motor cycles had to be fitted with rear lights (the test case hung on the issue of whether a motor cycle counted as a velocipede, which did not require a rear light. A number of manufacturers, including Dunhill, were quick to come up with acetylene and battery lights.
“THE INNOVATIONS INTRODUCED by the Hendee Co for next year are, to say the least, startling in their novelty…The standard models, both 7 and 3½hp, will be fitted up with a complete electrical installation consisting of head light, said to be capable of throwing a powerful beam five hundred feet, rear light, showing a red light to the rear and a white light on the number plate, as in car practice and an electric horn. Two storage batteries are supplied, so that one may be charged while the other is in use. The carrier is now arranged to get the benefit of the rear springing; the kick starter has been improved, and all models will carry front wheel stands. For the greatest novelty, however, we must turn to the Hendee Special, which is not only equipped with the lighting plant already described, but also boasts an electric starter, which works as follows: The motor dynamo, of the multi-polar type, having four poles and four sets of brushes, is fitted in a weather-proof casting just in front of the engine—the place usually occupied by the magneto. As a motor it develops approximately 1½hp As a generator it begins to charge the accumulators, which are fixed directly over the gear box, at 12mph on high gear and 8mph on low. The charging of the accumulators is regulated by a magnetic regulator attached to the dynamo. The entire system is fully protected by means of a magnetic cut-out. The starter has a high overload capacity, and immediately the engine begins firing the starter automatically becomes a generator, and charges the batteries. The generator is always running while the engine is firing, but automatically cuts and charges the batteries [until they] become fully charged [The batteries weighed 23lb and the motor dynamo 24lb]. For starting, the motor, which is geared approximately two to one on the main shaft, takes the current from the accumulators, and when the engine is cold will start it firing in a few seconds. When the engine is warm it will commence firing almost the instant it is started. Should the motor cycle be laid aside for a period, there will, it is said, always be enough current in the accumulators to furnish regular ignition, and the machine can be started by pushing off. As soon as the engine starts running the accumulators are quickly recharged by the dynamo. The whole system is exceedingly simple, and is one which has been used successfully on motor cars for some years past. We have been aware for some time, as our readers know, that electric lighting by means of a dynamo must como into use, and we congratulate the Hendee Co on being the first to fit this desirable feature as standard, and also on going further and providing an electrical starter.” GB Jacobson of Hendee’s technical team was the number eight hat behind the ground-breaking electrics, which had been under development for upwards of two years. Speaking at the official opening of Indian’s new London depot he reported that the batteries would keep two lamps alight for 25 hours. What’s more, “if desired, the ‘starter can be used as an auxiliary to the power given off by the engine if it should be labouring when ascending hills. The power provided in this way is equal to one horse-power if the starter be switched on when the engine is running.”
Ixion opined: “The Indian? I suppose we shall all come to the electric lighting in time, and it will eternally possess the credit of being the pioneer. I should have liked the machine better if the magneto ignition had been retained. I am an imaginative sort of idiot, and I could not help picturing myself on the top of Dartmoor at midnight late in January with some subtle fault in my dynamoter—no light, no spark, no hooter! I shouldn’t mind a bit being minus any one of these three, but if the entire trinity deserted me simultaneously, strong man as I am, I should most certainly weep. Still, the many occasions on which I had started up by twitching a lever, and flooded roads with artificial sunshine what time others delved in carbide sludge, would doubtless compensate for the most heartrending contretemps.” [A few weeks after he wrote that Billy Wells announced all 1914 Indians, including the Hendee Special, would have magneto ignition.] Ixion also wrote, rather charmingly, “It is only once in a century that one of my comments is relegated to the wpb, but only lavish sub-editing saved me the other week. I had not been employed on the advance Show work, and so remained in complete ignorance of the 1914 Hendee programme. Simultaneously I was attacked by one of my prophetic moods, and in my innocence and pride I handed the editor what I regarded as a positively inspired paragraph, outlining the vast possibilities of electric lighting and starting dynamos as applied to motor bicycles. He mutely handed me galleys of the new Indian de luxe, and peered anxiously at his overflowing waste paper basket. Great minds obviously think alike.” Some weeks later, Ixion got his hands on the new Indian: “I have just had my first longish night ride on a Hendee Special with the full electric equipment; and as I had not ridden a very recent sample of the 7hp, the excellence of the engine absorbed the whole of my admiration for a considerable time; I do not know whether all the 7hp engines are as good as the one I tested, but it was positively delicious—it cooed along like a suckihg dove on the pilot jet, and, when the throttle was opened, it instantly transformed itself into a torpedo boat destroyer on its time trials. “Pro-deegious!” as Dominie Sampson used to say. When I grew accustomed to the potency and flexibility of the power unit, I began to turn
my attention to the electrical equipment, and came to the conclusion it is a most desirable addition to a heavy mount de luxe, especially when loaned one for a short period. We may remain obstinately faithful to acetylene, because we understand it, and can rely on overcoming its most fantastic whimsies, but it is undoubtedly very pleasant to switch on an electric lamp, and that without any anxiety about the batteries, because you know a dynamo is busy replacing the current you are using. I have long had a weakness for the electric hooter, and was very reluctant to decide, as I did, that it is not good enough on a motor cycle unless you have a dynamo. I have a Ivlaxon on my cycle car, and experience with small 4-volt hooters and batteries on my cycles has led me to put a huge 30lb accumulator to run the Klaxon; the Indian, with its engine contantly recuperating the batteries, stands in a very different category. Whether I should have a peaceful time with the Hendee Special if I bought one for keeps is another question. The makers issue a ten-page booklet, the pages of which are mostly filled with the phrase “Let it Alone” in. capitals, and as my bump of inquisitiveness is about 100cc bigger than my bump of prudence, I should probably dissect the whole affair in the first week, and borrow an acetylene lamp and a pneumatic hooter to serve my turn till I got the electric gear together again, The weights are interesting and total 62¾ lb, viz, electric motor, 25¼lb; batteries, 14½lb each; head light, 2¼lb; tail light, ½lb; hooter, 2lb; regulator, 1½lb; switchblock, 1lb; connecting block, ¼lb; wiring, 1¼lb. These are rather depressing, so far as they reflect on the possibihries of using electricity for similar purposes on light touring machines of 3½-4h. The total can be reduced by more than half by omitting the spare battery and the dynamo; but a battery minus a dynamo would never stand the racket of starting an engine and blowing a hooter; and 62¾lb is too formidable an addition with which to burden a medium powered machine. However, the 7hp Indian would not complain if its luxurious kit were twice as heavy. “
HUMBER CAME UP WITH what The Motor Cycle described as “one of the most original designs seen for a very long time in motor cycle engines…The outstanding feature is the adoption by the Humber firm of three cylinders in this motor. The engine is of the horizontal type, with the cylinders at 180°. The front cylinder has a bore and stroke of 78x78mm, while the two rear cylinders, which have a common combustion head, have a bore of 55mm and a stroke of 78mm. This double rear cylinder has, of course, two pistons and connecting rods which work on concentric cranks set one on each side of the main crank and at 180° to it. The whole raison d’etre of this novel design is to obtain perfect thrust balance along the axis of the crankshaft, and obtain thereby as perfect a torque as possible, with consequent smoothness of propulsive effort and the natural sequence of light tyre wear and long life to the mechanism. The machine to which this three-cylinder engine is fitted has a car type gear box affording three speeds, and the transmission throughout is by chains, any harshness in the drive being softened by the fitting of a shock absorbing device in the rear wheel.”
HAVING EXAMINED THE 6hp Clyno, The Motor Cycle reported: “The main alterations in the engine, which is a 50° twin-cylinder, 76mm by 82mm bore and stroke, giving a capacity of 744cc, is the casting of the cylinders pear-shaped for next year’s machines, for the purpose of more perfect radiation.” The mag was mounted over the three-speed countershaft gearbox. “Comfort, combined with a handsome appearance, is the keynote of the very fine sidecar for 1914…A complete measure of protection is provided for the passenger by a really well fitted hood with side curtains and an adjustable screen. When all is ‘storm rigged’ the occupant is almost as well protected as if in a car…Altogether, these passenger outfits are among the finest to be met with on the road, and their wonderfully successful appearances in the big trials prove them to be as reliable as they are handsome.”
SCOTT, VELOCE AND VILLIERS were by no means the only kids on the two-stroke block. Day Manufacturing, in London’s East End, launched a the Dayton powered by a clip-on 1½hp/162cc clip-on engine for which “a special frame is being made to enable the engine to be fixed as low as possible…the brake system also claims attention; the usual front brake is fitted, but the rear brake operates upon the rim of the wheel and tho belt rim siiriultaneously and with equil force.” Also launched at Olympia was the 2¾hp/349cc Peco two-stroke engine “which derives its name from Mr DA Pearson and Mr Cole, its sponsors…Lubrication is somewhat unusual, for oil is led from a drip feed to a ring around the outside of the cylinder. This ring is composed of two fins cast close together and closed by a piece of wire which is drawn into the intervening space. Oil holes from the ring allow the lubricant to pass straight to the piston, the surplus passing into a ring in the crank case castings and thence through leads to the main bearings.” Comet and Trump were evaluating the new engine.
“THERE IS NO END to the ingenuity displayed by sidecar designers, and the limousine Compeer, made by the Compeer Sidecar Co, Coventry, is one of the latest types to provide complete protection to the occupant against bad weather. The top is coachbuilt, with celluloid windows, the two front ones being detachable. The front is V-shaped, so as to offer as little wind resistance as possible, and is quite light. When removed, the sidecar presents the ordinary appearance of an open one. There is plenty of room when once inside. A member of our staff has had one of these sidecars in use during the last year, with considerable satisfaction to hiniself.”
A BRITISH ENTHUSIAST returned from a holiday in the USA to repoprt: “the American motor cycling public comes from a younger generation than ours, and consists of men relatively less prosperous, although actually, it is probable, more so. They seem to be for the most part men who ride only on Saturday afternoon or Sunday, and who desire speed and nothing else. To ‘trim’ another man, or all other men, is the one object in motor cycling there. Reliability, durability, and comfort are not asked for—none of them is a point a selling agent pays much heed to; speed is all he wants, is the only quality that will sell machines. I do ot wish to imply that American machines arc unreliable, indurable, and uncomfortable, but they could be, and no particular comment would be raised, so long as they were fast.”
INDIAN AND HENDERSON had UK agencies but they would no longer have the British market to themselves— Pope and Harley Davidson were both after a share of the action. Pope’s 998cc 7hp ohv twin had a claimed top speed of 70mph making it the fastest production bike on the market. What’s more it had rear suspenion—not leaf springs but coil springs; a predecessor of the plunger frame that BSA would adopt half a century later. Front suspension was by leaf spring, a la Indian; there was a automatic oil pump with an additional hand-pump “for high speed work” and “control is effected by twisting the grips of the handle-bar”. The three-speed transmission was all (Hans Renold) chain with a multi-plate clutch. Two band brakes were operated from the footboards or by back pedalling; Indian had pioneered an electric start, Pope had not yet progressed to a kickstart. And then… “The firm of Harley Davidson, whose factory is at Milwaukee, USA, is very well-known in America, but up to the present we have only seen an occasional specimen over here. All this is to be altered, however, for the firm has secured premises in Great Portland Street, W, whence it will handle the sale of the two Harley Davidson models; the 8hp (815cc) chain-driven twin, with or without two-speed gear, and the 5hp single inclined cylinder, on which transmission is also by chain…The four members of the firm—three Davidsons and one Harley—commenced operations in a very small way some years ago, and now have one of the largest purely motor cycle factories in the world, employing 1,500 hands, and in 1913 they manufactured 20.000 machines and expect to turn out 25,000 in 1914.”
AVIATION PIONEER AV ROE was also an all-weather motor cyclist.He put his engineering skills to good use on his bike, as he explained in The Motor Cycle: “Having occasion to use a motor cycle fairly extensively in the winter, the writer has recently been experimenting with the weather-protecting device, shown in the photographs, fitted to a 3½hp Zenith. It consists of a 3/8in steel tube framework with fabric drawn over it the fabric is drawn tight like an aeroplane wing…Since the photographs were taken, a detachable top piece with a round glass window has been fitted to protect the face, as the wind just caught the forehead, but this could be avoided by sitting further back and bend- ing down slightly. Alto gether, the writer has done about 1,000 miles with this protective device…By bending down, one can completely hide behind the screen and see through the Cellon window…One has naturally to be ready for side winds at windy corners, but the disturbing effect on the steering is not so bad as one would imagine. Being new, it is naturally looked upon by many as some foolish freak…One perhaps appreciates the screen most when pouring with rain or when it is bitterly cold.”
THE MOTOR CYCLE reviewed that state of the motor cycling nation: “First and foremost is the general gravitation towards three speeds, and for this we have largely to thank the great popularity of the sidecar, and also, in a great measure, the ACU and the Edinburgh &DMCC for selecting such severe courses for their respective Six Days Trials…Chains are now almost universally guarded, while advance in ball bearing and beve] cutting manufacture has improved the efficiency of the shaft drive enormously…A year or so ago
we should have lent our ears with some degree of sympathy to rumours that chains were ousting belts, but now we feel very safe in asserting that the belt is so firmly established, owing to its general excellence, that it will hold its sway for some considerable time to come…Perhaps the feature of the Show is the introduction of electric lighting and electric starting in the motor cycle world…While welcoming any novelty that may benefit riders, we prefer to withhold criticism of this fitment till we have seen its performances in open competitions…A significant advance has been made in two-stroke engines, especially of the small single cylinder type, and we believe this pattern wili continue to enjoy a growing popularity, unless, indeed, the rotary valve comes with a rush, in which case we believe the two-stroke will be hard put to it to maintain its position…Perhaps the most striking feature of the pastime at the present time is the wonderful popularity of the sidecar. Nearly every motor cyclist, whose means and machine permit of it, sooner or later takes to the sidecar. The attachments themselves may now be purchased equal, if not superior to, small cars in comfort and excellence of finish Far from being a pastime of the young and athletic, as is often stated in the lay press, change-speed gears, comfortable sidecars, spring forks, frames, and large saddles have made motor cycles pleasant means of getting about even to those long past their first flush of youth…For 1914 many makers are seriously tackling the question of cleanliness, and when the day arrives when motor cycles are as efficiently mudguarded as are cars, about the last objection to our favourite mounts as all weather vehicles will have vanished.”
“WE ARE INFORMED THAT it is intended to form a ladies’ motor cycle and cycle car club with London as the headquarters, whence trials and competitions will be run. It is hoped that gymkhanas will be organised, and that the intended club will have a team to represent them in open competitions. There will be open events in which men will be allowed to compete, and, if permission can be obtained, members will race at Brooklands. The club will be affiliated to the Auto Cycle Union.”
AT THE AA AND MU dinner it was mentioned that there werere 45,000 villages in the United Kingdom, and 230,000 miles of roads; 20,000 miles of these werere being watched over by AA scouts.
“ONE OF THE DAILIES last week published a paragraph headed ‘Kissed by a Cow in a Sidecar’. The paragraph referred to a lemarkable accident which occurred to a Mr C Sims of Holbeach, Lincolnshire, while sidecaring in Soutli Lincs with Mrs Sims in a sidecar The paragraph states that a cow moved across the road in front of the motor cycle and was taken up in the sidecar, where it reposed on Mrs Sims’s lap. The cow is alleged to have given Mrs Sims a somewhat violent kiss on the cheek, which, it is said, ‘Left a headache’. The above may be humour, but if the paragraph had said that the motor cycle and sidecar ran into the cow, which then collapsed on to the sidecar seat, and hit Mrs. Sims on the cheek, it would have been more to the point.”
SIX MOTOR CYCLISTS WERE summoned at Auckland (Durham) last week for a technical breach of the Motor Car Act, to wit, having the identitication mark on their motor cycles in the wrong position. It transpired that all six riders obtained their machines from the same dealer, who attached the numbers. The size of plate, letters, and numbers were in strict accordance with the law, but they were too close to the base of the plate. Ye gods! Motorists beware! Your coat buttons will soon be the subject of legislation. Will the police soon be provided with micrometers to measure the sizes of registration marks?”
“THE WEST AUSTRALIAN Tourist Trophy Race has licen won by J Norton mounted on a 3½hp Triumph at an average speed of 40mph, which, considering the somewhat rough roads in that part of the world, is a lemarkably fine performance.”
“THE PROPRIETORS OF The Ladies’ Field are offering three valuable prizes for the best amateur ideas and suggestions for a lady’s motor cycle costume. The particulars should be preferably accompanied by rough sketches. The outstanding points should be practicality, simplicity and attractive appearance. The first prize is a 2¾hp lady’s Douglas, value £53. The second prize is a Wall Auto-wheel for attachment to a lady’s pedal bicycle, value £16 16s. The third prize is a lady’s leather coat, value £10 10s.”
THE STREATHAM &DMCC HOSTED a trial that included a 50-yard acceleration test, a 100-mile reliability trial, a speed test at Brooklands and a stop/re-start hillclimb test. Gold medals went to riders who passed all four tests with silver for three and bronze for two. There were 82 entrants in eight classes, from solos under 300cc to outfits 750-1,000cc. The target in the acceleration test was simple: an average speed withing 5mph of the fastest average. Only a few riders failed, except in Class 3 for solos 350-500cc where S Crawley (3½hp Triumph) won bragging rights after he “set such a
hot speed that 11 failed to get within the specified 5mph margin”. Rain made some of the hills on the reliability trial slippery but more problems were caused by “mischevious persons who had removed some of the arrows and reversed others…The country was beautiful in its autumn garb, but the fallen leaves and recent rains had made some of the narrow lanes so greasy that solo riders had to exercise the greatest caution over long stretches of road…On reaching the [Brooklands] track a complete lap had to be made finishing in the straight and a minimum speed was set for each class.” The speeds ranged from 33mph for the tiddlers to 52mph for the 750-1,000cc solos and while there were a few mechanical failures (and one outfit that ran out of fuel) all the finishers exceeded the required average—fastest bike on the day was A Wade’s 6hp Zenith that did 56.37mph. “It would appear at first sight that the speeds allotted to the various classes were not too high, but it must be remembered that the machines had gone through nearly seventy miles hard work, and were in full touring trim…The re-starting test took place on a gradient of, we should judge, about 1 in 7, the surface, though fairly dry, being slippery on account of its chalky nature. There was much rear wheel slipping, and it was curious to notice fallen leaves actually smouldering after machines had passed over them with buzzing back wheels…Crawley caused a sensation by his wonderful recovery after a bad skid…At the first attempt, Colin Taylor (2½hp Connaught) had a wonderful skid, his machine describing a complete circle; he was, however given a second chance and got away well…20 riders won gold medals, 23 silver and 14 bronze.
THE AA, RAC, MOTORISTS’ Union, Road Board and luminaries including Lord Montagu of Beaulieu got together at The Savoy to launch a campaign to upgrade the nation’s signposts. AA chairman Joynson Hicks MP called for a fund to be started with a target of £45,000 (worth £4.9 million today); he called on AA members to chip in 10 bob apiece (about £50). Signposts, it was suggested, should “indicate the names and mileage distances of neighbouring places, but also the names of the localities in which they are erected”.
DELEGATES FROM SOME OF the leading clubs in the North-West got together in Liverpool to form the North-Western Automobile Association, “in order that the clubs in this area might co-operate to their mutual advantage“. Founder-members were the Bury, Chesterm Stockport, Manchester, Oldham, Liverpool, Mersey and Preston clubs, with 720 members between them. Nearly half the clubs involved were not ACU affiliated but the resolution ‘That this Association has no intention of working in antagonism with the ACU’ was passed unanimously.
THE ACU TESTED P&M’s kickstarter and issued a certificate of its construction and performance. The certificate makes interesting reading. As well as a formal description of this still relatively new technology it gives an insight into ACU practices, while the test itself covers contemporary starting techniques in detail. And anyone who’s sweated over a recalcitrant big single will sympathise with the ACU’s tester…
ACU CERTIFICATE OF PERFORMANCE.
A Trial of a kick-starting device fitted to a 3½hp Phelon & Moore motor bicycle.
DESCRIPTION OF KICK-STARTING DEVICE—On the right-hand or outer face of the valve gear pinion on the crankshaft teeth are cut. Corresponding teeth are cut on the inner face of the sleeve mounted on a prolongation of the crankshaft, which are normally kept out of mesh with the pinion by a spring. These teeth are undercut, so that when the sleeve is in engagement and rotating the crankshaft it tends to remain in engagement. Mounted on the frame of the machine to the rear of the engine is a semi-circular segment rotatable through about 45° by means of a crank with a hinged pedal pin. The periphery of the segment is smooth, and to each end of it is attached a chain which passes over a twelve-tooth chain wheel attached to the sleeve on the crankshaft. A movement of the crank therefore causes the sleeve to rotate, and at the same time a spring pawl on the outer end of the crank strikes against the outer end of the sleeve, forcing the sleeve into engagement with the crankshaft pinion. When pressure on the crank pin is removed the crank is returned by a spring to its normal position. Stops are provided to limit the travel of the crank in either direction, the backward stop taking the form of an adjustable spring buffer. Means of adjusting the tightness of the chain or the lateral position of the segment are also provided.
TRIAL—On Wednesday, November 5th, a standard 3½hp P&M, cylinder dimendsions 84.5mm bore, 88.9mm stroke [498cc], was selected at random by a representative of the Union from amongst five machines then in stock at the London showroom. This machine was immediately wheeled to the official garage and locked up. At 10.30am on Thursday, November 6th, the garage was unlocked. The driver opened the oil drain tap and drained off the oil in the crank case. The lubricating oil and petrol tanks were also emptied. The petrol tank was then filled with petrol (Shell No 1 brand, specific gravity .725 at 10.8°C temp). The oil tank was filled with one quart of Price’s Motorine A oil, purchased from stock. Two pumpfuls of oil were injected. About a teaspoonful of petrol was injected into the combustion head. The carburetter was flooded and the engine freed with three strokes of the kick-starting device, the exhaust valve lifter being raised. With the carburetter controls set with the gas full open and the air shut, the half-compression device in action and ignition fully advanced, an attempt was made to start the engine at 11.6am, the atmospheric temperature being 11.3°C. After eight attempts the carburetter was again flooded. On the twenty-fifth attempt the engine fired continuously, two minutes having elapsed since the first attempt. Within the following two minutes and with the same carburetter, ignition, and half-compression settings. the engine was started by the kick-starting device twenty times in twenty-three attempts. The engine was then allowed to cool, until the exhaust valve cap temperature fell to 18°C. at 11.29 a.m. About a teaspoonful of petrol was injected. The carburetter was flooded, and the carburetter ignition, and half-compression device controls set as before. Within 45sec from the first attempt, and on the sixteenth attempt, the engine fired continuously. Between 11.30am and 11.32am the engine was started twenty-one times in twenty-two attempts, controls being set as previously, except that after the tenth attempt the air lever to the carburetter was slightly opened. The engine was again allowed to cool, until the exhaust valve cap temperature fell to 18°C at 11.55am. About a teaspoonful of petrol was injected. The carburetter was flooded, and all controls set as for the first test. Within 40sec from the first attempt and on the thirteenth attempt the engine fired continuously. Between 11.56am and 11.58am the engine was started twenty-five times in twenty-five attempts, the last fifteen attempts being with slightly open air lever. At mid-day the machine left the official garage with a sidecar attached, which was occupied by the official observer. It proceeded by a circuitous route to the top of Netherhall Gardens, NW, and back to the official garage. During the above run eight traffic stops were encountered, and the machine was also stopped by direction of the observer on the steep part of Fitzjohns Avenue. In each of the above nine cases the engine was restarted by the kick-starting device on the first attempt. The machine was locked up from 12.45pm until 2.36pm, by which time the temperature of the exhaust valve cap had fallen to 16°C. About a teaspoonful of petrol was injected. The carburetter was flooded and the engine freed with three strokes of the kick-starting device, the exhaust valve lifter being raised. With controls set as for the morning’s tests, an attempt was made to start the engine at 2.37pm. Within 26sec, and at the sixth attempt, tile engine fired continuously. Between 2.38pm and 2.40pm the engine was started twenty-five times in twenty-five attempts, no alteration being made. No adjustment or lubricatiun was made to the kick- starting device either before or after the trial. At the conclusion of the trial the sparking plug was examined, and the minimum spark-gap found to measure about .07in.
The weather throughout the trial was fine, the sun was shining, the atmosphere was humid, and the temperature was steady at about 11.3°C.
(Signed) E PERCY GREENHILL,
Chairman, Competitions Committee.
(Signed) TW LOUGHBOROUGH,
CB FRY’S MAGAZINE OF SPORTS AND OUTDOOR LIFE was a well respected monthly that covered everything from soccer, tennis and golf to huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’. It took an interest in motor cycling too—and indeed on the chaps who rode them: “Motor cycles owe their parentage to the humble pedal driven machine, and they have shown themselves worthy offsprings. Ten years ago a motor cycle was a weird concern which, when it did happen to run for a few yards under its own power, proclaimed its presence with so much rattling and explosions that it was regarded as an ungainly contrivance which had to be checked. Producing firms stopped constructing them and concentrated on the pedal cycle save one; that firm, the Triumph Co, saw the possibilities of the mechanically propelled single-tracker , saw and realised that a greatly improved model would stem the receding tide of enthusiasm. For a long and thankless period the stalwarts ploughed a lonely furrow, deafening their ears to the discouraging remarks which were made, until at last a type had been evolved which was a motor bicycle in effect as well as name. The production of this model brought back the ebbing tide. The waning interest was revived and gradually the motor cycle came into its own. From that time, and that was but a few years back, the industry has grown enormously…Truly, the 1913 model motor cycle is a wonderful little machine and those motor cyclists who have just come into the movement may congratulate themselves on being very well cared for. Anybody can ride a motor cycle nowadays, for the control is as easy as that of a pedal cycle. Those who have given their orders must possess their souls in patience until their machines are delivered, but when they do come–well, there should not be any more public antipathy. What little noise the new models do create will be wanted; a little noise is much safer than absolute quietude. How we have progressed! There is more difference between a 1913 motor cycle and one of ten years ago than there is between the old velocipede and the high-grade pedal cycle of today. What the motor cycle of the future will be, as compared with that of today, nobody can tell, but until Edison or some other genius has learned how to chain up and store potential energy, I cannot see much room for improvement…When I was a mere novice at motor cycling I took a friend, who was a bigger duffer than myself,
on a tour in the West Country on a single cylinder Triumph and side-car, and although I pitched my pasenger over the Undercliffe Drive at Bournemouth on to the sands beneath, I brought him back without a single involuntary road stop. I maintain that a single cylinder is good enough for the exigiences of ordinary touring; if you don’t think it is, well buy yourself a twin – but I promise you, you won’t get any more fun out of it than I do from the less powerful mount…That little episode which landed my friend and me on the sylvan shores of sunny Bournemouth with a motor cycle and sidecar lying alongside calls to my mind a new class of motor cyclist which has arisen. His name is Parade Hog, and his chief peculiarities are a lavish regard for highly coloured socks, a decided inclination to wear his trousers tucked up nearly to his knees and a fondness for riding with an open exhaust along a seaside parade. Now my home is at Southend, a town which boasts of its social status. We reserve the east side of the town for the East-enders, upon whom the town thrives, and the thrivers have the west side, including the cliffs. A goodly percentage of us are parvenus and we like to smoke our cigars on the cliffs while the band plays on Sunday afternoons and evenings. Some of us appreciate good music, and those who don’t pretend they do. You will see all the tradesmen and the City men sitting it out on the cliffs during the week-end, and you will also see some happy examples of the parade hog who spoils our tranquil ease and hurts our sensitive ears. We might be listening to Mendleson’s Spring Song or some other Master’s happy inspiration when one of the Parade Hogs rides up with his engine roaring out its presence and his socks startling the music-lulled somnelence from us. Fancy red socks and open exhausts with Chaminade’s ‘Ritournelle’. Ugh! But seriously, these Parade Hogs are a nuisance. They bring disrepute on all motor cyclists and the Auto Cycle Union would do well to try and stamp them out. A motor cycle is a machine which is meant to convey you from one point to another, either on a matter of business or pleasure. It is not a possession for exhibiting purposes, and if the Parade Hogs only knew how ridiculous they made themselves they would be away with their mounts to more secluded pastures. I do not pose as a selfless rider, I have no claim to such an adjective. But my prime reason for motor cycling is that I enjoy it. I love riding on a saddle with a palpitating engine subservient to my every wish beneath me. The Parade Hog appears to set the greatest store on his machine as a possession which will bring him in local fame and adulation.”
THE DAILY EXPRESS gave a 30-guinea cup to the winner of the three-lap Benzole Handicap at Brooklands. Semspray carbs were used on the first three finishers. In an advert promoting this feat, Senspray added a testimonial from J Stewart-White’s report, Over twenty frontiers in ten days: “The Senspray carburetter handled all the vile mixtures sold as petrol without complaint, though they varied from paraffin to I believe alcohol”.
“THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS MCC has brought out a flag. It is red with the crest of the club painted in oils, mounted on a brass flagstaff…The club is run on the most thoroughly sporting lines, and there is great bon camaraderie among all the members.” The club’s annual dinner, let it be noted, was to be held at the Waldorf. However, the Blue ‘Un noted: “Owing to the similarity of names there was some confusion in two announcements in our Club News pages last week. The Public Schools MCC (London) will hold speed trials at Brooklands…while the Public Schools MC (Birmingham) have a meeting at Olympia on the same day.” An early bike club turf war, perchance? Perish the thought!
“TO SHOW HOW SUCCESSFULLY the Rudge Co have tackled the problem of silence on their 1914 models, which are now the type being delivered to the public, the firm inform us that they have received a notice from the Coventry police anthorities requesting that employees use efficient horns when out testing; so efficient are the new Rudge silencers.
AN ANGRY CAR OWNER wrote: “Sir, I hope your old-established paper will do all it can to discourage the present reckless way in which so many youths drive motor cycles with and without sidecars. To this fraternity speed and noise seem the chief desiderata. [f they only endangered themselves it would not matter so much, but the total lack of judgment
displayed in passing cars which are theinsslves passing other vehicles, makes one doubt if such people ought to be allowed to drive at all. 1 am frequently on the Poitsmouth Road between Pain’s Hill and Godalming on Sundays when there is an immense amount of motor trafic about, in fact this road resembles a London street rather than a country road, and this is the occasion when the objectionable type I refer to abounds in consideiable numbers. It used to be an established custom that in certain circumstances one must slow up behind a slower vehicle which is being passed or about to be passed by another, before attempting to overtake it. Not so, however, with the reckless motor cycle gentleman; he appears ready to go through anything, even when he has a girl with dangling legs across the carrier, a practice which I, having seen a bad accident through this, consider the last form of madness. It is impossible, I am afraid, to prevent by law people abusing the pleasures of the road and endangeiing others. The only method is to create a sound public opinion on the matter and to educate these ‘nincompoops’ to drive like gentlemen.”
DOUGLAS PROUDLY ADVERTISED its sales figures: 1908, 50; 1909, 350; 1910, 1,000; 1911, 2,000; 1912, 3,000; 1913, 5,400.
CYRIL PULLIN LAPPED Brooklands on a 3½hp Rudge for six hours to set class records at 250, 300, 350 and 400 miles, as well as five and six hours. The average speed on all these records was mighty consistent at 59.71-59.77mph. TE Greene rode his Rudge a little farther and faster, to push the seven-hour record up to 419 miles 823 yards—an average of 59.92mph. Nearly 60mph; but not quite—they were hampered by strong wind. On the same day Lieutenant RN Stewart won a bet with fellow officers in his regiment (despite the initials he wasn’t in the senior service). He set out to prove that he could ride round Brooklands for a solid nine hours on his 349cc NSU twin. And, supported only by his servant and orderly,he did just that, setting a 350-mile class record of 41.01mph as well as eight and nine-hour records of 41.00 and 41.09mph respectively. Within a week Max Hainzel on a 190cc 2hp NSU beat the three-hour record in Class A (for machines up to 275cc by covering 135 miles 1,101 yards; an average speed of 45.21mph.
“AT ONE TIME CARS threatened almost a monopoly of nomenclature by initials, the fashion being started by the Italians with the FIAT. Nowadays motor cycles and cycle cars have equalled, if not passed, cars in this respect, and the Italians are still to the fore with the SIAMT. Among others identified by the first letters of their full names are the BSA, NSU, AJS, FN, LMC, MR, PV, NUT, OK, P&M, AC, GWK and GN, while among engines we have of course the JAP, ABC and MAG. Again there are the B&B, SU, UH, U&I and FRS among well-known accessories. We wonder how many motor cyclists can give the full name correctly of all these makes?”
AT THE REQUEST of the secretary of the Board of Education the Science Museum in South Kensington put a Wall Auto-wheel in a standard BSA bicycle on permanent display.
IXION HAD BEEN trying out an electric horn: “The penetration of the squawk is exceedingly sensitive to the condition of the battery; when the voltmeter registers 4.2, you can get a sound like the dying yell of a dodo, but when the battery is down to 4 volts, the hooter whispers like a punctured doll trying to ejaculate ‘mamma!’.”
OLYMPIA SHOW ATTENDANCE was a record breaking 147,749; up from 130,876 in 1912. “In 1912 there were 409 singles to 219 twins, this year the twins increased to 250 and the singles (despite the number of very low power) fell away to 343. Direct belt dropped by almost exactly 100 from 411 in 1912, and chain drive gained 25% from last year’s 162. The three-speed gear has increased by about 30%. Curious hp rating was another point, there being little attempt to explain the exact difference between a 7-8, a 7-9, and a 7-10, or between a 5-6 and 5½. The 3½s was equal to one-third of the whole number. There were no less than 19 of 1hp, the other limit was reached by a single ‘nine’.”
“IT IS INTERESTING to note, in view of the congested state of the roads in many cities, that about AD67 the Roman road authorities did not allow slow moving heavy vehicles to occupy the main arteries of the city. These carts had to be driven at night.”
“A £40 CASH PRIZE has been offered by the Italian agent of NSU to the motor cyclist who covers a flying kilometre on the road in 28 seconds—nearly 80mph.”
FROM THE EDITORIAL of The Motor Cycle’s Christmas issue: “May Good Luck go with them: An eminent Roman lawyer, when analysing a legal case, invariably put the question Cui bono? And in modern English that is equivalent to “Who is getting anything out of this?” Now we fancy that among, the thousands of persons who on Boxing Night witness the departure of the hardy voyagers from Staines on their way to Exeter and back a good number will put this same question: Cui bono? The answer is simple and terse : Nobody. The masses in this country have grown so accustomed to have their sports and games played vicariously that they have largely become lookers-on instead of performers, and thus the prospect of over a couple of hundred stalwarts prepared to suffer a very considerable amount of personal discom- fort, and even pay out good money to do so, is one that is difficult of assimilation by the ordinary crowd. For, intrinsically, the rewards are paltry. A gold medal can be picked up almost anywhere at far less trouble and expense—so oviously it s not these awards they go for. Why, then, do these men go ‘into the dark’? Well we rather think that all said and done, the real reason is that love of adventure which has gone so far to make our country what it is, and we think it is an excellent thing to find such a spirit so awake and enthusiastic in a time which croakers describe as a ‘flabby age’. As a test of machines this trial pales before its severity as a test of men, but we feel quite confident that, unless actually snowed under, the great majority will come through smiling for their gold medals, and right well will they deserve them.”
“SINCE THE MOTOR cycle has come into its own the annual increase in number has been startling, and of recent years has become more and more marked. Statistics go to prove that there are now 179,926 motor cycles registered in the United Kingdom, and that the increase during the year ended October 31st 1913 amounts to 38,770, a truly wonderful figure. Dividing up the total into the three countries we find that England and Wales liave an enormous lead, with a total of 158,120 machines. Scotland comes next with 13,280 and Ireland last with 8,526. The reason for these wide gaps are, of course, obvious, for besides the difference in area and population the question of roads is an important factor. There are more motor cycles (26,318 to be exact) registered in London alone than in Scotland and Ireland together, and Birmingham comes next with 7,011. Middlesex (5,395) is the only other county to exceed 5,000. but Kent and Essex have 4,596 and 4,383 respectively. There are only 45 motor cycles registered in Waterford, and this is the smallest number on record.”
“PRIVATE SHOW IN GLASGOW: The Glasgow Club held their annual private show of new models, and a smoking concert last week. The show of 1914 models comprised nearly 40 machines, representing 24 different makes of motor cycle and some half-dozen of sidecars. Prominent exhibits were Tim Wood’s Scott and Hugh Mason’s NUT-JAP, while the chairman’s table was graced by the Tourist Trophy itself. Mr Norman Macmillan, chairman of the Scottish ACU, presided, and a very excellent musical programme was given while a cinematograph display of 1913 events was a feature of the evening.” Now that is a clubnight!
THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT Board cleared up confusion over the need for motor cycles to carry rear lights: “…so much of this condition as requires any lamp attached to the motor car to exhibit a red light visible in the direction contrary to that towards which the motor car is proceeding shall not apply to a motor bicycle, unless there is attached to the motor bicycle a sidecar or other vehicle.” So combos had to carry rear lights; solos didn’t.
MOTOR CYCLE SPORT WAS FLOOURISHING throughout the empire. In South Africa the Rand MCC staged a three-day speed trial from Johanessburg to Durban, and it wasn’t for the faint-hearted. While putting up 200 directional signs two Rand club marshals surveyed the three-day route, which included a 5,000ft climb onto the Transvaal Highveld Plateau, and cheerfully described some sections as “shocking”, cut up by wagons, and in many places mere furrows meandering across the veld. The section across the Biggarberg Mountains was notorious; in many places riders had to follow a track which at times lost itself in grass up to seven feet high. There were steep climbs, crazy descents, sudden dips into drifts and sluits [“deep, dry gulches or channels formed by erosion due to heavy rains”], always badly cut up in good weather, and in the rainy season, quagmires, where the mud was so deep and glutinous that the bikes stood up by themselves when the riders dismounted. Competitors were warned of the many gates which had to be opened and shut on pain of prosecution. The good news was that petrol and oil were supplied free by the Texas and Vacuum Oil Companies. There was a silver trophy for the winner, gold medals for the first 10 finishers, silver for the second 10 finishers and bronze for riders finishing within 12 hours of the winner. An honourable mention to ‘Tick’ Brown of Durban who started each of the three days in a beautifully pressed white duck suit. Bikes were handicapped by capacity. The first four away, on 265cc FNs, had a four-hour start on the last of the 63 starters. There was half a mile of ‘macadamised’ road from the start followed by a tricky corner in a dip where one hero crashed but rode on with a broken collar bone. CH Holder (350cc Douglas) had his cap removed by a piece of wire stretched across the top of a gate hidden in a dip; another Douglas rider names Gould was flung from his machine; the next man through, J Dove, dislocated his jaw and lost several teeth but rose to the occasion by standing guard to warn riders of possible decapitation. Fred Brokensha crashed and recovered consciousness with a broken leg. A friendly farmer pushed his bike while Brokensha returned to the nearest village on a hired horse. W Arnott (292cc Hazlewood) led at the first overnight stop at Standerton with Holder (350cc Douglas) second and Billy Reckenberg (340cc Douglas) third. Holder encountered mist in the low lying regions of the Biggarsberg and his carburettor froze. Thompson crashed but continued with a badly damaged bike, Gay crashed and was seriously injured and George Weddell fell heavily when he rode into a hole hidden in the grass near Elandslaagte. He strapped his broken forks with a pair of reins but retired at Ladysmith, the second overnight stop. Holder led at Ladysmith with Rand MCC sidecar champion McKeag third behind Arnott. McKeag took the lead from Holder who was repairing his bike at the side of the road eight miles from Pietermaritzburg. He fell heavily at Bothas Hill, the bike going over a bank and landing on top of him, filling the petrol tank with sand. He struggled on to the finish amid great excitement. Fenwick finished in second place shortly afterwards and rode straight on past the judges to the City Hall. Reg Witherspoon finished 5th place after problems with a pair of frisky horses which insisted on racing him near Mooi River in spite of several attempts to chase them away. G Usher stopped, unbeknown to him, only a few miles from the finish to repair a broken carrier and was passed by Witherspoon. Result: 1, AW McKeag (Johannesburg, 544cc Bradbury) 14hr 46min; 2, C Fenwick (East Rand, 500cc Rudge); 3 H Thompson (Boksburg, 500cc Rudge).
As had become usual, The Motor Cycle let its hair down for the Christmas issue; this time readers were treated to not one but two seasonal yarns. This one’s a treat:
AOLPHUS ADAMS HAD AN AUNT. In this he was not unique. Most of us have aunts. His aunt was a rich aunt. Here again many of us share his distinction. But the aunt of Adolphus was unique in other ways. Bred and born in the early Victorian days, when Mrs Grundy [a fictional character who epitomised repressed fussiness] was rampant, she was a real sport. Had she entered this vale of tears fifty years later, she would have been a golf and hockey international, and driven a type sportive 38-90hp Métallurgique. She never ceased to regret that she had been brought up on crinolines, poke bonnets, lavender, pot pourri, and other sentimental commodities of a gentle and romantic period; nor did she cease to mock at them. At the age of seventy she bought a small car, and had just learnt to drive it—sitting erect, with her grey hair streaming awesomely from under the tilt of a poke bonnet, a formidable, wiry figure—when she died.
Her will did not disguise the contempt she had always felt for Adolphus, a timid little weed of a man, who carefully insured himself against all the ills flesh is heir to, wore white spats, and never left the house without an umbrella. Her final will and testament had been a sore worry to her solicitor, much as he approved its general tenor. She had too much commonsense to leave her handsome fortune to her other nephew, Percy Tallboys. He once remarked in her presence that he never paid small bills because they were too much of a fag, and never paid large bills because he couldn’t. This offended her sense of justice. On the other hand, she felt certain Adolphus would only leave her money to rot in Consols [originally short for ‘consolidated annuities’; ultra-safe Bank of England savings bonds]. So she bequeathed £100 to Adolphus, and if he proved himself a sportsman within twelve months of her death, the residuary estate was to pass into his hands. But if he remained an incurable weed, smug, slacker, and froust, her fortune was to be divided between eight London hospitals.
Her solicitor, an ex-Rugger international, was to be sole judge of Adolphus’s sportsmanship; and while he disliked so unconventional a duty, he rubbed his hands at the prospect of much litigation.
Adolphus walked home from the funeral bespatted and unmbrella’ed as usual, and listened to the will in the darkened parlour. Percy Tallboys attended the function without any personal expectations, and cordially approved his aunt’s testamentary dispositions. Adolphus, he opined, was “up to the fetlocks in the consommé”, and he vowed he would watch that covetous youth’s efforts to qualify as a sport with huge amusement. Adolphus returned home in great perturbation, even forgetting to notice a crinkle in his carefully furled umbrella, and oblivious of a large splodge of mud on his right spat.
Adolphus in Training.
The next three months were very trying for Adolphus. The solicitor advanced the stipulated £100, and he essayed various branches of sport. The local football team received him with open arms, scenting a glorious rag. They played him at centre forward in their next friendly, and shortly after the kick-off he was escorted to the touchline, after the 14-stone full-back of the visiting team had effected a powerful clearance which stubbed the wet ball against the tip of Adolphus’s very Roman nose. Returning to the field at the interval, he failed to touch the ball until a rueful moment when he found himself between the two visiting backs, and was violently sandwiched. As he explained to his mother afterwards, the sensation was that of having one’s ribs suddenly crushed under a steam hammer. He resigned from the football club, and went in for golf and bowls.
During the next month he was informed by the solicitor that bowls could hardly be considered a genuine sport, and that marbles were probably more in his line than golf. Meantime the damsels of his vicinity evinced keen interest in Adolphus. He was not exactly personable, but the local papers had reported the will, the girls all knew of the potential £80,000 awaiting his development, and felt “a man’s a man for a’ that”. Miss Margaret Gordon, impelled by the inherited traditions of a long Scotch ancestry, tuned herself up, revved fiercely at a few balls and croquet parties, boosted Adolphus up to the proposal point, and roped him safely in before another month was over. Margaret was a shrewd girl of much discernment; there was £80 left of the original hundred, and she meant to qualify Adolphus for the remaining £80,000.
She surveyed his lank, muscleless figure, and saw that ordinary sports were not for him. His upbringing had disqualified him for wine, women and song. She was doubtful whether the solicitor, a sensible and strict individual, would rank wild plunging on the turf as “sport”, and she finally identified motor cycling as the sole hope of obtaining salvation for Adolphus. Flattered and gratified by the novelty of finding a pretty girl really interested in him, Adolphus was as wax in her hands. She rushed him up to town, and ere they took the evening train back to Little Pedlington, Adolphus’s cash balance had dwindled to a bare fiver, but the next week was to bring the happy pair delivery of an 8hp sidecar outfit. What Margaret suffered in the long weeks of tuition, during which Adolphus signally failed to master the handling of a powerful twin, must rank among the secret history of forgotten British heroism. He took her into eight hedges, three trams, a traction engine, and one light lorry full of empty aerated water bottles. Nightly she anxiously examined her rich mop of auburn tresses for strands of grey and eke of white. Her cunningest wiles failed to induce the trepidant youth to open his throttle or drive as if the road belonged to him. No 1½hp Motosacoche could have been driven with more consideration for the traffic which, in the words of the inspired Act of 1903, “might be expected to be” upon an apparently vacant highway.
One day the solicitor of Adolphus’s aunt met Margaret, as she cycled down to her golf club, a prey to the keenest forebodings, eying her engagement ring with serious thoughts of returning it on the morrow by registered post. He rallied her genially. “Madge, my girl,” quoth the cynical lawyer brutally, “you’ve bitten off more than you can chew for once: he’s a decent little fellow, but you’ll never make a sport of him. Those hospital cheques await my signature at the office!” Margaret summoned all her reserve energy, and sprang a confident smile which gave the lie to her inmost dreads. “Have I?” she replied sweetly. “Look here! You know the blind corner on the Stimpson road?” The lawyer nodded. “Adolphus always takes that on one wheel at fifty mile an hour! Don’t you call that sporting?” The lawyer grinned incredulously. Madge proceeded. “You take a walk that way to-morrow afternoon. Sit on the gate just round the hairpin about three o’clock, and smoke one of your infamous cigars. I’ll bring Adolphus along, and if you don’t admit I’ve made a man of him you can send aunt’s money to those loathsome hospitals tomorrow night!” The lawyer agreed, and strolled round to his office smiling.
Tuning up for the Test.
The next day, before breakfast, Margaret paid a nefarious visit to the shed where Adolphus kept the 8hp twin which had undermined the joy of his young life. Her dainty fingers opened the toolbag, and in two twos, or rather less, she had extracted the throttle
piston from the carburetter. A snip of her sharp scissors severed the control wire. Slipping the piston in her skirt pocket, she replaced the cover-plate, and stole silently home. At 2.45pm. she and Adolphus wheeled the outfit into the roadway, and settled themselves in their places for a ride. “We’ll take the Stimpson road,” she said, coaxingly: “It’s a nice broad road, and I want you to practise going a little faster, darling!” Adolphus depressed the kick-starter rather mournfully. “I don’t like that bad corner, sweetheart!” he remarked; “and I’ve lost heart about auntie’s money; I don’t think I shall ever be a sportsman—I am too intellectual.”
The engine burst into song. “The engine seems rather lively today,” murmured Adolphus, nervously, as the outfit swung out into the road on bottom gear; I’ll change up at once to-day—the high gear may steady her a little.” It didn’t. The powerful engine, deprived of its throttle, devoured the broad open road as a big twin should, and the sidecar bounced and rocked and swayed as they tore down the splendid road with Adolphus trembling on the brink of tears and prayers, and Margaret secretly more than a little frightened. She offered no resistance when he lifted the valve every few yards, and tinkered at his levers, only to find that the acceleration up towards Brooklands speeds was instantaneous when he let the engine in again. Thus they rapidly approached the hairpin corner, beyond which Lawyer Adkins was perched on the gate, sceptically sucking his cheroot; and with every yard Adolphus became more determined to stop the engine and push the outfit home.
Margaret clenched her pretty teeth and waited. At last the dread warning triangle hove in sight, about half a mile away. Adolphus lifted the valve, and began to reason with his imperious sweetheart. Margaret argued and coaxed until the outfit was slowing right down with the corner only a hundred yards ahead. Then she carried out her plan. Clenching her tiny fist so that the spikes of the diamonds in her engagement ring faced outwards, she dealt a tremendous thump on the left hand of Adolphus—the hand nearest her, the hand which was holding up the exhaust valve with grim determination. Adolphus dropped the valve with a yell, and the 8hp engine took control with a roar. Adolphus lost his head, and the machine screamed on at a cool fifty, and was on the hairpin before he could even think. In this terrible emergency his manhood temporarily asserted itself. He gripped the handle-bars like a drowning man, and threw his feeble muscles into the task of wrenching the sidecar round the fearful bend. Margaret’s heart sang with joy and palpitated with terror simultaneously, but the tail of her eye revealed the face of Adolphus convulsed with mortal agony. “Grin, oh grin. Adolphus!” she moaned, mindful of the watchful lawyer waiting on the gate just beyond. Adolphus continued to look as any sane man would look under such circumstances. Margaret received the inspiration she deserved. With a lightning, I might say a Paderewski-ish, movement of her deft fingers [Ignacy Paderewski was a virtuoso pianist], she plucked a long hatpin from her hair and plunged it deeply into the thigh of Adolphus.
Adolphus’s mother is fond of boasting to other matrons in the seclusion of her drawing room that no bad word has ever passed her son’s lips; but the word which escaped them in this moment of cruel agony was—truth compels the admission—a very bad word indeed. So Lawyer Adkins, seated on the gate, sucking his long cheroot, opened his eyes in horror at what he saw. With a madly bellowing engine lending thrill and horror to the spectacle, he saw Adolphus negotiate a blind corner at fifty miles an hour, Margaret sitting pale and determined in a sidecar which was actually busy tickling her lover’s ear; and as the sidecar wheel dropped to earth again when a capsize ceased to be imminent, the lawyer’s incredulous ears heard Adolphus distinctly ejaculate “—————!”
The residuary estate was transferred to Adolphus last week, and the Pedlington gossips whisper with bated breath that next month’s wedding will prove unrivalled in the annals of their historic village. There is only one fly in the ointment of Adolphus’s bliss. Margaret is adamant in insisting they shall take the sidecar on their honeymoon; but it is only fair to add that the throttle piston has been replaced.
The other Xmas concerned a motor cyclist picking up a girl who, it transpired, had just set fire to a barn because she was a suffragette. Here are some excerpts (don’t blame me, I didn’t write it). However, the Crosby artwork is wonderful.
RETURNING HOME ABOUT TEN O’CLOCK ONE NIGHT in Christmas’ week, I felt well satisfied with the world. It was a clear moonlit night, the roads were bone dry, and my machine was running delightfully. As I slowed down for some cross roads and swung round the corner, the beam from my lamp tell on the figure of a woman running swiftly some distance in front of me…I saw without displeasure that she was a distinctly pretty girl. So much I could discern, although her hat was awry and her hair dishevelled…a startling idea flashed into my mind. My companion, incredible as it seemed, was a militant suffragette! Now, while my opinions on many subjects, such as singles versus twins and the problem of Ulster, uncertain and lack conviction, there is one point on which I had definitely made up my mind, namely, that these ladies who go about burning and destroying property as a means of consummating ‘votes for women’ are dangerous criminals, and should be treated as such, and left to ‘hunger strike’ if they wish. The thought of helping one to escape from the consequences of her misdeeds was decidedly repugnant to me. My righteous indignation struggled with my sense of chivalry…”Are you a militant suffragette, and did you cause that fire we saw back there ? I should rather like to know.” There was a gasp and a pause. “Certainly I believe in votes for women,” she replied in a small voice. ” I think they’re better fitted to have them than most men. Don’t you?”…Our hero subsequently saves the ‘militant suffragette’ from a drunken reveller…”So perish all poltroons!” I said to the girl. ” Did he annoy you much?” “Oh, he wanted to kiss me, I think,” she cried indignantly. “Aren’t all men brutes?” “Present company excepted, I hope?” I suggested. Oh, I suppose so,” she said, after a not very complimentary pause…she consented to see me again, “but not,” as she said, “to argue about militancy please!”…Really, there is nothing else to write, except that she now takes, as I have good opportunities of knowing, only a lukewarm interest in ‘the cause’, and certainly would not set anything alight in order to further it!
And, to conclude this review of 1913, here’s a selection of adverts from The Motor Cycle…