“FOR MAXIMUM EFFICIENCY there is nothing to equal the overhead valve. This type of valve would figure much more frequently on touring machines were it not for the ever-present possibility of a valve head snapping and falling on to the poston with disastrous results…latterly, however, with improved methods of design and a closer study of metallurgy, we have valves of practically unbreakable material, and engines of such superlative efficiency ‘that valve breakages are becoming few and far between. This happy change of conditions, therefore, may reasonably cause designers to pause and consider whether the bias against overhead valves, which has been prevalent hitherto—and not without justification—may gradually disappear.”
“EXCESSIVE ZEAL AT STRATFORD COURT: Recently a photographer of our staff was convicted at the Stratford Court House in London for exceeding the speed limit with a motor cycle and sidecar, the Bench imposing a fine of £5. The defendant asked whether he might go to his home and procure the balance, but apparently the magistrate made no reply, and the police in court promptly put the unfortunate motor cyclist into a cell, where he was kept for an hour and five minutes. During that time the police telephoned to our Tudor Street offices, and a member of the staff at once went to Stratford Court with the money. In view of the fact that the original summons had been served on the defendant at his home address, which was, therefore, verified by the police, and further that he offered to leave either his motor cycle and sidecar (which stood outside the court) or his gold watch in charge of the police till he obtained the money, we need hardly ask whether, in the opinion of our readers, the steps taken were rather too drastic.”
WOMEN WERE RECRUITED as combo chauffeuses; many of them wearing khaki including…trousers! The pre-war controversy over split skirts and unladylike garb was soon forgotten.
THE FIRST ZÜNDAPPS appeared in Germany, powered by 211 and 264cc twostroke engines.
IN THE USA HENDERSON was absorbed by Excelsior. Harley, Indian and Excelsior racers were challenged by Flying Merkel and Cyclone until racing was cancelled by Uncle Sam’s belated entry to the war; Harley won a major government order and started slapping on the khaki paint; Cyclone ceased production.
THE BRITISH EXCELSIOR Co introduced a 496cc 4hp JAP twin-powered ‘dual purpose’ (solo/sidecar) model that was expected to replace its well established big single. The twin was designed to handle miltary and overseas conditions with substantial mudguards and 6in of ground clearance. Transmission was via a three-speed Sturmey Archer countershaft gearbox. “Chain-cum-belt transmission is employed, the countershaft pulley being of sensible diameter, and the chain, of course, enclosed. The rear wheel brake is a thoroughly well-designed mechanism, and possesses any amount of retarding effect…The machine generally conveys an im- pression of solidity. The clutch, it will be observed, is controlled from the handle-bars, and the change speed lever is well situated and of sensible size…The adoption of a medium powered twin by the Excelsior firm is a sign of the times, as this company has hitherto paid special attention to single-cylinder mounts.”
“MAJOR TW LOUGHBOROUGH, the secretary of the Auto Cycle Union, while on duty with the Surrey Volunteers the other evening, was driving his 7hp Matchless and sidecar at a very slow speed, when he gently bumped into a pillar box at a point where three roads joined. He dismounted to examine one of the roads and see if it were the one he wanted to take, and then, as he thought, crossed over to where his machine was, only to find that he had lost it completely. After groping about for twenty minutes, he had to call in the aid of a passing cyclist before he was able to discover it. This is one of the weirdest fog experiences of which we have heard.”
AUSSIE TRAFFIC COPS were issued with motor cycles. The Motor Cycle in Australia reported that the mounted constables wore “a uniform of neat-fitting khaki with tan leggings and boots”. And The Motor Cycle remarked: “Let us hope that the British police will follow the example of the more progressive Colonial…The Sydney motor cycle police are mounted chiefly on British-made machines, including Douglas, AJS, BSA, James, Speedwell, and Rover. ‘Some exciting dust-ups are being eagerly awaited’, remarks the motor cycling journal of New Zealand.”
“THIS MACHINE WAS NO manufacturer’s specially tuned demonstration model, but a hard-worked hack belonging to a friend, which had had a season’s wear. It was a fine autumn day, and as our course lay in the teeth of a south-westerly gale the engine was hard put to it for forty miles, but behaved splendidly. It would have done better had not the clutch been overlubricated: this was caused by the relief pipe from the crank case throwing too much oil on to the chains and clutch—a fault which could have been easily remedied by closing the pipe a little. Despite this slight inconvenience the machine travelled extremely well and good time was made. The MAG engine with which this outfit is equipped deserves the highest praise. It was not extraordinarily fast, but was a good puller, capable of a high average speed without making the slightest fuss, and totally devoid of all clatter and valve noises which are far too prevalent in many motor cycle engines. At 20mph it was inaudible, and at higher speeds practically so, while the exhaust was quiet, though in no way throttled unduly. In short, the machine was one which a considerate driver would rejoice to use…the change-speed was excellent and the clutch sweet in action, but the method of the control of the latter would have been better appreciated had the actuation been by a simple pedal similar to that working the brake and placed on the opposite footrest to that on which the brake control is situated. The other criticism is touching the handle-bars, which in the writer’s opinion might be a trifle wider. Notwithstanding this fact the combintion steered remarkably well, and even in unaccustomed hands proved a real pleasure to drive in traffic on account of the controllability of the engine and the excellence of the brakes. The sidecar, the wheel of which is sprung, was luxuriously comfortable, and altogether the machine is one calculated to satisfy the most critical expert.”
“I HAVE NEVER—SHORT of a big racing car—tasted such fiendish acceleration as a well-tuned four-cylinder motor cycle affords,” Ixion wrote. “It must be sampled to be believed. The response to the throttle is simply terrific, and the machine positively leaps away. By comparison the flat twin is certainly sluggish, unless it is geared rather low, or unless full advantage is taken of the gear box in snatching a jump. I do not think the flat twin is inferior to the vertical single in this respect, though some people say it is. At any rate, there are two features of value in acceleration—the first is its rate, the second is its smoothness. The four-cylinder has both. It gathers speed at immense velocity in a given distance, and it does so without rousing any sensation of effort. The flat twin accelerates less rapidly (at any rate, on equivalent gear ratios), but with almost equal smoothness. The vertical single accelerates less rapidly than a four-cylinder, and at about the same rate as the flat twin; but it labours very perceptibly under the process by comparison with the four and the twin alike; there is a sensation of hammering. In such comparisons it must be remembered that the 500cc flat twin is a suckling compared to the four-cylinder or the vertical single; comparatively few designers have tackled this type of engine, and those who have can only claim a short acquaintance with its possibilities. I incline to believe that the flexibility, acceleration, and gear-accepting qualities of the larger flat twins will improve rapidly during the first few years after the war.”
HERE’S IXION AT HIS WHIMISCAL BEST, you lucky people: “A paragraph on an unusual subject for this paper. Who is the bravest living Englishman? No, no, no; spare me these war yarns. They show courage of a type, I admit; courage in comradeship, where thousands face a speedy death side by side; courage when the blood is up, and danger has shrunk to a commonplace. The courage I shall now retail is of a higher, sterner sort—courage in solitude, the manful facing of a lonely death in cold, deliberate blood. It is my often unhappy lot to test various contraptions forwarded to the office by inventors, some of them sane, others—! Last week I opened a bulky parcel addressed to ‘Ixion’, and carefully unfolded a most imposing looking waterproof, built of most admirable cloth. It was obviously large, and as it unfolded, it seemed a trifle shapeless. The staff were called in to collaborate. At last the design was solved. It had a round hole, with rain-turning collar, through which one thrust one’s head, poncho-wise; it covered not only one’s person, but one’s machine, and was attached thereto by numerous little straps and tapes and ribbons. It happened to be raining at the time, and the staff gleefully hauled me into the yard, perched me on my saddle, stuck my head through the hole, and strapped the abomination firmly down. I was as helpless as a trussed fowl. I could not think of anybody who would release me but my faithful wife, resident many miles away; so I manfully operated my kick-starter and rode home.”
“ENRICHING THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE: The use of the term ‘flat twin’ in preference to ‘horizontally-opposed engine’ is merely a case of economy in words. Americans cannot agree whether to accept the term. Some time ago, Mr EB Holton, a leading motor cyclist over the water, seized upon the term with enthusiasm, and said: ‘As it is good, I hope we adopt it into our own lingo. It is the English appellation for a doubly opposed motor. The beauty of it is that it fully describes the type, and at the same time is short.’ Mr John M Taylor, of the Hendee Co, dislikes the term ‘flat twin’ so much that he has gone to the trouble of denying its American origin in a letter issued to all the technical journals. ‘We have undoubtedly played a great many tricks with the English language,’ writes Mr Taylor, ‘but we have not perpetrated ‘flat twin’. No need for this denial, since The Motor Cycle takes full responsibility! But Mr Taylor stoutly shoulders the even greater responsibility of speaking for the American nation by stating that the term would never find favour in the States! Be that as it may, journals throughout the world (including American journals) are following the lead of The Motor Cycle, and even if our American friends do not put their hall mark upon it, they will find that ere long it will become the accepted term among motor cyclists…The Irish Cyclist and Motor Cyclist says: ‘It is expressive, and, though America may not like it, it will stick.’.”
“ONE OF THE MOST LAW-DEFYING riders of my acquaintance lives in the country, and is medically untit for military service,” Ixion wrote. “The local constable has been called up, and as the neighbourhood is tolerably free from serious crime, the authorities have appointed the lurid motor cyclist in question special constable for the district. Naturally, his first official act has been to abolish (silently and informally) the speed limit for that locality.”
“BOTH THE WELL KNOWN exponents of AJS machines, Cpl Cyril Williams and Eric Williams (late Cpl), who are, by the way, unrelated, have received honours for bravery in the field. The latter, it will be recalled, received the DCM many months ago, and the latest news is that Cpl Cyril Williams has been awarded the Military Medal. Congratulations! New readers may be reminded that Eric was first and Cyril second in the Junior TT Race of 1914. We learn also that Neville Hall, the OK rider who performed conspicuously in the 1914 Six Days Trial, is one of the latest recipients of the Military Medal.”
THE NORTHAMPTONSHIRE LICENCES Committee asked the Home Office and Local Government Board to forbid driving licences to “obviously incompetent persons, such as those suffering from blindness, deafness, etc” (there was no such thing as a driving test). The Motor Cycle noted “a glaring inconsistency in this matter, viz, that whereas efforts are, on the one hand, being made to provide motor vehicles for men incapacitated in the war by arranging the controls suitably for men who have lost an arm or a leg, on the other we have an authority (?) actually urging that licences be withheld from people who are deaf… Whilst the committee are undoubtedly right in recommending that some discrimination should be made in granting licences to blind and limbless people, they are surely ovsr-stepping the mark when they specifically include those who suffer from deafness. Many successful motorists of the present day are deaf…A man does not steer by ear or avoid a collision because he hears another vehicle…A deaf man may occasion some delay to those who are overtaking him on a narrow road, but this difficulty can easily be removed by the use of a mirror on the handle-bar, and it cannot be said that deaf people are the only sinners in this respect.”
THE BLUE ‘UN’S CORRESPONDENCE pages regularly hosted long running, and sometimes acrimonious, debates on technical issues. One such concerned ‘bearing pressures’, as related to long-stroke and short-stroke engines. James Lansdowne Norton AMIAE (“than whom no greater exponent of the long stroke engine exists”) himself weighed in at one point, after which he received this following note from Paul A Hippermann, a German in an internment camp in the Isle of Man: “May I be allowed to mention that the value of the 27lb given in the second formula is not quite correct, as it should be 30.261lb? Being a designer of high-speed petrol engines myself, and one who takes a special interest in the long-stroke type, I trust that you will pardon me for trying to uphold the name of your famous engine. Of course, there is no doubt that other people besides yourself have found the error out, but I simply took the matter up for the reason mentioned above. The formula given for the pressure or force required is P=wv2 over gr. The value of v2 in the case of the 96mm stroke engine is equal to 96×3.14159×1500 over 60×24.4×12 squared=611.93. Then P=0.25×611.93 over 32.2x.157=30.261lb. If I had the necessary writing space at my disposal I would write something more on main and gudgeon pin bearing pressures.” World war was world war but…motor cycling was motor cycling.
THE WOLFRUNNA ENGINEERING Co, which made Wolf motor cycles, complained that having called a halt on civilian motor cycle production and banned imports, the Government had allowed Harley-Davidson to ship bikes over the pond. The Blue ‘Un reported: “…a few weeks ago, at short notice, the Harley-Davidson Co agreed to release the whole of its stock of HD machines to the Russian Government for Army purposes on the condition that they were granted a permit by the Board of Trade to import new machines from America to replace the stock. This course, in the exceptional conditions, was allowed.”
AN AMERICAN MAGAZINE reported that after a racing car suffered a smashed sump and total loss of oil it “raced for several miles on the smell of oil remaining in the engine, aided by powdered graphite inserted through the sparking plug holes.” A British pundit noted “American papers print some tall stuff.”
I HAD LONG PROMISED MYSELF a test of the lady’s model Douglas, and one foggy and miserable morning a few weeks ago, to my pleasure, I received a wire from the London depot notifying its arrival. Some thoughtful person had left just enough petrol in the tank to cover the road distance between the depot and home. The motor cycle was new, spotlessly clean, its plated parts reflecting one’s image in various distortions. In striking contrast, the roads were about as filthy from the trampled snow as I have ever seen them. It went to my heart to ride the mount for the first time under such unfavourable conditions, but after all what are motor cycles manufactured for but to drive, both in good and bad weather? It was the model known as the X model, with the well-known 2¾hp engine and open frame. The three-speed gear box, clutch, and kick starter are similar to those of the 4hp model. The gear handle was already in the neutral notch, so I flooded the carburetter and gave the kick starter a mighty kick. I have been accustomed to handling a big twin, and the mighty thrust not only started the engine, but almost upset the balance of both myself and the machine. It requires no superhuman strength to start the Douglas, as the engine depends more upon revolutions than compression for its efficiency. The frame is low and the large, comfortable footboards , offer many changes of position…the design has been well thought out for the lady rider. One feels so near the ground and the pull of the engine is so regular that, although I rode the mount through inches of mud and slush, and again on a frosty morning, when the surface of the road was almost as slippery as glass, there was never any tendency
to skid: none of that ‘tail-wagging’ that even experienced motor cyclists find nerve wearing. The aluminium covers give the motor cycle a very smart finish; these are held by butterfly nuts that are the work of a minute to remove with nothing but Nature’s tools, the fingers. A small hinged door in the aluminium even saves one this trouble when access to the rear plug is required. The rider is well protected by the flanged mudguard; the front mudguard is so ample that I noticed when riding through puddles that a small stream of water (which would on many machines find a resting place on the rider’s skirt) was thrown along in front of the footboards. This guard might with advantage be copied. I practically lived on the machine for some days, and have nothing but praise for the rapid acceleration and even running of the little engine; the machine is light to handle and easy to drive and manage. No lady rider could wish for a better solo mount. There is just one small point in which improvement can be suggested —that is, when the foot clutch is out the pedal interferes with the steering by catching in the front mudguard flange. This, however, can be easily remedied by a crook being made to allow for clutch pedal, and no doubt such a minor point will soon be remedied. I was sorry when the Douglas had to go back.”
“THAT ERRING COMPOSITOR: A trade contemporary refers to a five-speed Triumph having been seen on the road. Arguments in favour of four speeds we have had in plenty, but we recollect no rider of experience urging the desirability f five speeds. A misprint, no doubt.”
AT A MEETING OF the Institution of Automobile Engineers FL Martineau, MIMechE, read a paper of hydraulic transmission.
IN THE USA MOTOR CYCLING and Bicycling featured 11 new lightweights; five of them bicycles with clip-on engines. The Motor Cycle commented: “With one or two exceptions, the remainder appear somewhat antiquated and quaint.”
“THE SPECIFICATION LAID DOWN by the Russian Government has forced many British manufacturers to alter their designs in a way that will be truly beneficial to Overseas riders. Among other things an overall ground clearance of 6in is stipulated, and many leading British manufacturers are now building their machines on lines which will put an end to most of the ancient Overseas grumbles.”
“MRS HARDEE, SECRETARY OF the Woolwich MCC, has, we are told, accepted
the situation of forewoman at a leading firm of motor cycle manufacturers. She will supervise the woman labour in one of the shops.”
“THE WHOLE OUTPUT of the Lodge sparking plug factory has to be reserved for urgent national requirements. The company therefore regret that in future they will be unable to supply plugs (except for export) to orders unless accompanied by Munitions of War certificates.”
THE KIRKEE MCC OF POONA, India applied for affiliation to the ACU. “The club apparently is quite a live institution, and it is good news to hear of clubs affiliating in these strenuous times.”
“AS MY GARAGE IS UNHEATED,” Ixion wrote, “I have waited two months for a day on which spanners would not give me frostbite, and the other day I caused a great fire to be lighted in the drawing-room, laid brown paper all over the carpet, stalked into the garage, tucked my baby two-stroke under my arm, carried it into the drawing-room, and decarbonised it there very comfortably without exciting Mrs ‘Ixion’ to do more than threaten an offensive.”
“SIR,—IN THE ARCTIC WEATHER we have had here (Dublin), I have found some trouble in starting a 5-6hp twin. Since trying a tip I saw some time ago, I start first kick with ten degrees of frost. The tip is to use a mixture of methylated ether and petrol in equal parts and prime cylinders with this. Very little does, and it is worth the cost (about threepence or fourpence an ounce). This tip does not seem to be well known.
[This tip has frequently been mentioned in our pages by ‘Ixion’ and others.—Ed.]
“YOUTHFUL GENIUS: REGULARLY DRAWINGS of motor cycles are sent us by proud parents as examples of the budding genius of their small sons. We certainly do not wish to dis- courage amateur efforts, but the circum- stances are rather reminiscent of the unfortunate artist who, having lost both arms, continued to paint with his feet. Admittedly his pictures were good, considering he had done them with his feet, but the question arose, Why do them at all?”
“WE HEAR OF THREE MOTOR CYCLISTS who have evolved special types of aeroplane engines so promising in design that they are being considered by the Army and Navy experts. It has often been remarked with real truth that the motor cycle is the finest schooling a motor engineer can receive.”
“THE ACU COMPETITIONS COMMITTEE RESOLVED: “That in all open competitions promoted by the Union other than those of an international character
no motor cycle having any part of Gemian, Austrian, Bulgarian, or Turkish origin or manufacture, and no entrant of such nationality shall be eligible to compete. This shall not apply to a motor cycle manufactured before August 1914.”
“ARE IMPORTS PROHIBITED?—NO! In March last imports of foreign-made motor cars and motor cycles were prohibited by the British Government, but during January (ie, ten months after the Order) no fewer than 201 motor cycles…were allowed into this country. Why?”
“FROM MARCH 1ST THE RAC will be known as the ‘Royal Overseas Officers’ Club’. With the exception of members directly engaged in war work, the civilian element will be entirely eliminated, and several thousand members will have to seek hospitality elsewhere.”
“CLYNOS FOR RUSSIA: One of the largest individual shares in the large Russian Government order was allotted to the Clyno Engineering Co, whose sidecar machines are represented on all the fighting fronts. The Wolverhampton works of the firm have been busily employed on a large order for weeks past, the activity in the motor cycle shops being akin to the rush of 1915, when the Motor Machine Gun Service was being equipped with its machine gun sidecars.”
“A GOOD SUBSTITUTE: During the petrol shortage in the summer time, our attention was called to Petrolior, made by Messrs Archibald Vickers. Two members of our staff used this fuel with excellent esults, one in a Matchless-MAG engine and the other in a 4hp Douglas. In neither case was any additional device emplyed, both carburetters being fitted with a warm air intake, but the Petrolior gave excellent results, only demanding that the spark lever be judiciously adjusted from time to time when any sign of knocking occurred. Petrolior is a hydro-carbon distillate containing neither paraffin nor petrol, of water-white appearance, and giving off a faint petrol-like odour. The flash point is 76-80°, and the specific gravity between .771 and .779. When evaporated there is practically no residue, the amount being less than .005.”
“SUBSTITUTES—OF THE OILY KIND: Last summer there were a score of petrol substitutes before the public. Our present list includes thirty-four names—some of them weird and wonderful.
“ANALYSIS OF A SUBSTITUTE: In view of the number of petrol substitutes now before the public, it will interest motor cyclists to know that a reader advises us that the analytical results of one of the substitutes offered to the motoring public show it to be a light petroleum lamp oil which can be bought at about half the price at an oil shop.”
“PETROL VS SUBSTITUTE: Substitutes are all the talk just now. Some riders would drop them to-morrow for ever if they could get petrol; other motor cyclists can be heard vowing that they will never pay a high price for petrol again, now that satisfactory substitutes at a reasonable figure are obtainable. It is largely a case of carburetter and the system of vaporising adopted.”
“PETROL SUBSTITUTES: We are informed that Messrs AW Gamage now keep a stock of petrol substitute in two-gallon tins. Delivery is uncertain owing to railway and transport difficulties, but motor cyclists can always get supplies by calling at Messrs Gamage’s Holborn depot. Up to the present these substitutes do not come under the Petrol Committee’s control. The firm stocks two kinds of substitute—one closely allied to paraffin and the other similar to benzole.”
WITH THE GOVERNMENT CLAMPING down on the civilian supply of petrol and petrol ‘substututes’, and increasing the tax burden on substututes, many enthusiasts faced taking their bikes off the road. There was widespread anger over the timing of the move, soon after many riders had paid their annual road tax; despite hints that some of that tax would be refunded, the Motor Cycle was not happy: “The unwelcome attentions of the Petrol Control Committee to substitutes is bound to have an adverse effect upon the prices of second-hand motor vehicles…Will the Petrol Control Committee extend its title to embrace substitutes? Why not the Petrol and Substitute Control Committee? You are asked to economise. A motor cyclist effects economy by riding his machine at ¾d a mile in preference to using the train at 1½d a mile, but he is now to be deprived of the opportunity by a Government Department…We have evidence that many motor car drivers have replaced their vehicles with motor cycles in order to travel further on the quantity of petrol alotted to them.”
“ON STOPPING TO HELP a novice struggling at the roadside over a tyre repair, we were informed that he had experienced four punctures—one a huge hole—in the last four miles, and that, to add to his difficulties, he had lost one of his tyre levers. Examination revealed the fact that the missing lever was actually inside the inner tube It had evidently fallen into the cover during the first repair, cutting its way to the interior of the tube when the machine was ridden—hence the large hole. There was nothing for it but to make another tear to get it out. Naturally the novice felt foolish, but our sympathies were with him. Once we ourselves lost a small metal-handled penknife, ultimately finding it snugly tucked between the cover and the tube. There it had ridden for 1,000 miles before chafing through the tube.”
“AN AMUSING SUGGESTION: America’s latest suggestion to check excessive speed of motorists is that the vehicle should have a State-sealed box or receptacle in which should be placed cards bearing the name of the owner of the car, and his photograph and address. It is to be made so that by an ingenious automatic arrangement one of these cards should be liberated and fall on the road if a certain fixed speed were exceeded, the prosecution of the owner thus being an easy matter.”
“DERIDED IN PEACE TIME the motor cyclist and his machine to-day are probably the most popular unit in the British Army. So far from the requirements of British and Allied armies having been satisfied by the different factories in the matter of motor cycles, it is pleasing to be able to record that at this moment a number of new factories have been pressed into the services of the Government, and are now busily engaged in the production of hundreds of new motor cycles.”
“THE DEMAND FOR GENERAL service men in the combatant sections of the Army is such that hundreds of men who enlisted in the Motor Transport service of the Army Service Corps are being transferred to infantry battalions…much dissatisfaction has existed for a long time past that young able-bodied single men should be retained in ‘safe’ jobs, when thousands of married men with family responsibilities are fighting with the bayonet…Such is the feeling of the country that the War Cabinet will have unanimous support in any action they may take to find sufficient reserves to maintain our combatant forces at full strength.”
IN THE USA HARLEY RIDER H Parsons claimed a record after covering 200 miles of open road in 200 minutes, including 7min 21sec over a 10-mile stretch; an average of 81.5mph.
“A GOOD SHIP LOST: It is always sad to hear of a good ship being sent to the bottom, and it is with great regret that we learned last week that HMS Ben-my-chree, the seaplane carrier, was sunk by gunfire in Kastelorizo Harbour, Asia Minor. Commander CR Samson, RN, DSO, the pioneer sea- plane flier of the British Navy, was in command. Before the war Ben-my-chree was the crack ship of the Isle of Man Steam Packet Co’s fleet, and carried many hundreds of motor cyclists and their machines to participate in or view the Tourist Trophy races.” However, one of the Ben-my-chree‘s stablemates managed to even the score. The Mona’s Queen was near the mouth of the River Seine when the pilot spotted a torpedo track headng straight for it. Not only did the unarmed paddle steamer manage to avoid the torpedo; it went on to ram the German submarine and sink it.
“THE CHEERY SIDE: We have received many bitter comments from readers on the stopping of petrol supplies for private motorists, but, disappointing though it may be, we must endeavour to look on the just and cheery side. If the war is to be prosecuted more vigorously and the danger of shortage in the Army avoided by these precautionary measures, we must accept the inevitable with a spirit of patriotism.”
“A GREAT ENGLISHMAN: It is not generally known that we owe the discovery of aluminium, alloy steel, benzole, and the magneto to an English-man—that extraordinary genius Michael Faraday. An interesting fact is that to all intents and purposes the first electro-magnetic machine made on a commercial basis and founded on Faraday’s experiments of 1831 is the same as the magneto on the Ford car. Faraday discovered benzole in 1824, but, just as it has been with the magneto and tungsten steel, foreigners profited by the discovery. We know only too well how we have been exploited by the Germans in respect of other commodities that were the invention of Britishers.”
THIS STORY ILLUSTRATES how hard petrol rationing was biting—but at least it gave a sub editor a chance to use a great headline: “The Spirit of the Deceased: A correspondent writes to know whether he is legally permitted to use his deceased uncle’s petrol permit.” This is a point which we feel the deceased uncle should have made quite clear by his will, but we sincerely hope that the matter will not lead to serious family dissension.”
“THE FLOOD OF MAIMED VETERANS in search of powered transport made the discussions aboiut granting licences to the deaf seem somewhat trivial. The indistry was swift to respond, with everything from electrically and petrol powered ‘bath chairs’ to modified motor cycles and combos. “Brains are already at work evolving ideas to benefit these warriors who are probably at the moment nursing a healing limb and mournfully pondering on the good old days they have had in the saddle, the likes of which they think will never be again. To the lay mind the idea of a man with one leg, or one arm, or a limb slightly paralysed, or even a deaf man having control of a motor vehicle, is the height of folly. But it is not likely that legislation will be brought about, as some people imagine, to prevent driving licences being issued freely to reasonably com- petent men. After all, the percentage of accidents due to men who are lame or otherwise incapacitated is very small indeed. Now that devices are being perfected by which badly maimed men may be independent of help in their endeavours to get about the country, it would be hard indeed to deny them that pleasure.”
AMID MANY TALES FROM despatch riders came a yarn from Cpl MP Bowie, who reported, “We had been training hard for three months…very little was done for a month except parading with full equipment…one of the draft came bounding into the hut and said, ‘Boys, we’re off at four!’ We were given final instructions, ammunition, etc, and last of all a sheet, foolscap size, entitled How to Prevent Frostbite…We arrived in Alexandria after a nine days’ voyage…we worked there for about three months, and up till then I was riding my original Douglas, which never let me down once…I got an order to report for duty at a place about three hundred miles away. This brought me into the warmest part of Egypt, and it was no joke working in a temperature of 120° in the shade. …I was to be stationed right in the middle of Nowhere, about 550 miles from the base…I had a Triumph here, and felt the benefit of the clutch, kick-starter and three gears, as the country over which we were travelling was exceedingly rough and very hilly in places…I was for some time on a railway trolley with a 4hp Triumph engine…we had a two-days’ storm which washed the ‘roads’ away. Never in all my travels had I seen such mud, and I have yet to find the tyre which is non-skid in it. In less than half a mile your front wheel stopped, clogged up with the mud, and it is then you begin to think that there is really something in the plea for greater mudguard clearance…but we RE DRs had to stick it, there being no alternative, and so we kept up the reputation of the ‘Houghton Regis Mud Pluggers’.”
THE MELBOURNE ARGUS reported that soon after the outbreak of war “Americans awoke to the golden opportunity for trade domination which the pre-occupation of Europe presented…Among other schemes for expansion was the creation of the American International Corporation, which has a capital of £10,000,000, and is under the direct observation of the Rockefeller group of banks. The object of this institution is to enable long-credit to be given to foreign customers for American goods, the nature of such business being beyond the scope of the ordinary banking system…Australia is buying American merchandise by the shipload, while the Commonwealth treasury is clamouring for money to carry on the war…of motor cycles, the figures show £105,461 worth as compared with £6,088 for the calendar year 1913.”
MAGNETIC TRANSMISSIONS: A well-known journalist-engineer informs us that he has recently been studying the question of magnetic transmissions for motor cycles, but he concludes that all present systems involve too much weight to offer the least degree of promise. Certainly the present-day gear box and clutch will be hard to rival for cheapness, lightness, efficiency and economy.”
“SOAP, WE ARE INFORMED, is excellent for stopping air leakage between the carburetter and the induction pipe…from the looks of one or two motor cyclists we see about Coventry, we would suggest that the same substance might advantageously be used for a more usual purpose.”
“A YEAR ON THE SPRING FRAME Douglas–What Douglas riders may expect after the war. Those flat twin enthusiasts whose Douglas experience is limited to the pre-war models have a rare treat in store for them as soon as the Hun gives us Best. I have always been a great admirer of the rigid-framed 2¾hp TT Douglas, the best combination of speed and nippiness with light weight which I have yet handled—and when I uncrated the post-war type of spring-framed Douglas, I was a little dismayed to find that the familiar low saddle position had been sacrificed, and that the weight had risen quite appreciably. Any hankering after the lost features rapidly evaporated when I took the road. The Douglas has always been a very fast machine for its power; but no sensible owner dare utilise its full paces on bad roads, because of its lightness. The new model is bound to be the lightest fully sprung machine on the road for some time to come, and it is so beautifully insulated from road shocks that it can be driven really hard even on our modern war-scarred highways. The long flat rear springs rule out all ordinary bumps, and damp down oscillations due to atrocious ruts until the rider feels nothing worse than a gentle rise and fall; they have never transmitted anything approaching a real jar to my spine except over broken stone on farm tracks. The front fork has been re- designed—rear springs always make manufacturers dissatisfied with the standard front forks; and both ends of the machine are now admirably sprung. Later models than mine have a pan seat providing the original low saddle position, plus a marked reduction in weight. The engine, to use an Americanism, has been ‘brisked up considerable’. Unless impressions deceive me, it is now capable of quite a few extra revs, and, in addition, it will throttle down more obediently. Nor has its designer sacrificed the ability to tug hard at low engine speeds on a high gear, a feature which is not too common on flat twins…Thanks to the kick-starter and low bottom ratio, the Douglas can get away from a standstill on really stupendous – gradients…The toolbags are capacious and the supply of special tools covers every conceivable job. Reliability even under rough usage is of a very high order. ”
“AGE 14 TO-DAY! THIS ISSUE celebrates the fourteenth birthday of The Motor Cycle. The first issue of this journal appeared on March 31st, 1903, and for a time the price was 2d—the present figure. Since its advent The Motor Cycle has appeared every week without interruption, and, besides having helped to live down the strong prejudice which existed against motor cycles during the period of 1904-8, fostered and developed an industry which was subsequently to prove of inestimable value to the nation in this hour of need.”
“FROM THE TREND OF AEROPLANE invention we are learning much as regards valves, cylinders, lubrication, and general efficiency. Some day we may have sidecars with frames on aeroplane lines—light, supple, yet strong. It is well to remember that the majority of the men who are to-day risking their lives in aeroplanes over the enemy’s lines acquired their love of mechanics from the motor cycle. Our airmen of to-day are the motor cyclists of yesterday, and thus the motor cycle and the aeroplane move on together.”
“MOUNTS FOR THE RFC: The RFC are now taking other machines in addition to the P&M, which has rendered magnificent service hitherto. It must not be thought, however, that the nmuber of P&Ms supplied to the RFC is to be in any way reduced.”
“AMERICAN MACHINES: The power units of some of the new American two-strokes are admittedly neat. The system of casting the gearbox in unit with the engine base, so popular in the States, is rather taking.”
“A WINDFALL FOR CLARE: Under the above heading The Irish Cyclist and Motor Cyclist reports, ‘A very large quantity of petrol was recently washed ashore on the Co Clare coast, and was sold by the authorities to a local merchant at about 8d per gallon. In view of the present price of petrol, it seems rather an extraordinary thing that it should have been given away at this remarkable figure.’ The local merchant may discover on opening them that they contain quite a high percentage of salt water, which, may necessitate selling the stock as a ‘heavy fuel’.”
“BRITISH-MADE MOTOR CYCLES are supreme the world over. It was Britishers who developed and perfected the motor cycle in 1903-9, and who set the fashion to the world. At the present time, owing to restricted output due to the war, home-produced motor cycles are commanding fabulous prices in countries Overseas, premiums being offered in almost every case. Seldom a motor cycle can be found in a showroom, eager buyers snapping up the machines immediately on arrival. The supremacy of British motor cycles must be maintained after the war, and on account of the excellent name held by English-made motor cycles in the matters of finish, efficiency, and longevity, the markets are full of eager buyers. To satisfy the demand outputs must be increased, desirable features of an Overseas mount introduced, and an improved system of distribution arranged, otherwise cute American manufacturers will extend the strong hold they have already made in countries where British motor cycles have hitherto predominated.”
“THE MINISTRY OF MUNITIONS has written to all known users of carbide in bulk drawing their attention to the urgent necessity of exercising the utmost economy in the use of calcium carbide. It is suggested that every opportunity should be taken to utilise substitutes, whether for use as an illuminant or for oxy-acetylene welding, ‘as it is only by such means that the serious shortage threatened can be averted.’”
“HOME-PRODUCED SUBSTITUTES: Recent observations in these pages have drawn attention to the fact that the new ban on petrol substitutes hits those substitutes produced in the British Isles just as hard as it hits those coming from abroad and occupying valuable tonnage. It has been pointed put that the possibilities of developing the shale oil industry in the North are enormous, and shale oil (Scotch paraffin) is among the best of the substitutes. The ban should be on imported oils only, and thus, while fully accomplishing its object, it would further tend to develop a most valuable home industry.“
“THE USES OF THE AUTO-PED are spreading in America. The golf caddy now employs a motor scooter, and, of course, butcher boys had them long ago. Still another use for the Auto-ped is as a tender to a large car in case of breakdown. The Auto-ped is mounted on suitable brackets arranged on the footboard, and in case of a derangement or tyre trouble the chauffeur mounts the scooter and hurries off to summon help.”
“A DAILY WAIL—’NO MORE JOY RIDING!’ The Daily Mail, May 1st, contains a passage bearing the above heading, and the sub-title, ‘The Motorist’s Farewell to the Road’. ‘This is a sad May Day for motorists,’ says the paragraph. ‘The new petrol restrictions come into operation to-day; petrol will henceforth be unobtainable lor private and pleasure motorists…The rake of the road, the assertive motor cycle with its sidecar, came out on Sunday for its last jaunt until an unknow nday.’ How sad! But we recollect that, about fourteen years ago, our worthy contemporary attempted a prophecy of another nature—the early death of the motor cycle. Yet the assertive motor cycle has had the audacity to live on, affording not only the cheapest means of travel, but proving invaluable as an instrument of war.”
“THE GET-YOU-HOME SCHEME: It has now been decided that the benefits of the Royal Automobile Club ” ‘Get-you-home’ scheme shall be extended to motor cyclists who are town and country members of the Auto Cycle Union, and therefore associate members of the Royal Automobile Club. This scheme affords prompt assistance to the member who is unfortunate enough to be stranded on the roadside by the breakdown or disablement of his machine. It provides for the conveyance of the member and his passenger to his home or destination, if within twenty miles, or to the nearest convenient railway station, or, if possible, to convey or tow the machine and driver lo his home, if within ten miles.”
“OUR LATEST ALLY: America having joined the Allies, no longer will the products of that country be regarded as of ‘foreign’ origin. Special tariffs are expected among tha nations of the Entente, after the war, and America will now be placed on the same footing and her goods subject to preferential treatment.”
THE AMERICANS HAD PLANS to organise volunteer military motor cycle companies throughout the nation. The name chosen for the volunteer riders was ‘The Motor Cycle Minute Men of America’.
HERE’S A PARAGRAPH FROM IXION that needs no comment: “Dry roads again at last. Overhead a sun that is warm without being sultry. Underneath me a perfectly tuned spring frame 3½hp. In my pocket a pink permit for enough fuel to see me through the next six months. Ahead of me one of the finest speed stretches in England, followed by some sporting hills and some gorgeous scenery. Inside me the consciousness that the journey is on national service. Then a whirring above, and one of our hideous little RNAS ‘blimps’ fusses past. Submarines, torpedoes, the blood-soaked fields of Flanders, and a thousand nameless horrors loom up in the mind. Memory recalls good men and true who rode that route with me four brief years ago, and who will not ride again. For the present generation motor cycling can never again be all it used to be, and some of us will hardly have the heart to face another trial or Tourist Trophy. We shall miss more old faces than we shall welcome; and those whom we shall welcome may not fully atone for the absence of those we shall miss.”
“THE MOTOR IN AUSTRALIA seems to be quite favourably impressed on the appearance over there of that weird little American production, the motor ‘scooter’. In this little machine, by the way, the magneto is contained in the flywheel—a system we have advocated for lightweights.”
“A REMARKABLE feat of fast riding and endurance was recently put up on the Los Angeles track by a Harley-Davidson rider, Allen Bedell. Starting at six o’clock in the evening, Bedell set out with the object of breaking the 24 hours’ world’s record, and, though the night was foggy, he managed to maintain a speed of 46mph throughout the darkness. At break of day this speed was quickly increased, and the full 24 hours was run out without incidents—the enormous distance of 1,153½ miles being covered. Bedell is stated to have been astride an ordinary touring machine, which makes his feat all the more remarkable. He has beaten the previous 24 hours’ record—which was established by Baker, in Australia, on an Indian—by 125 miles, and the 1,000 miles record by 21m.”
“ALAN T BEDELL, a well-known American rider, rode across the continent on a 1917 four-cylinder Henderson in 7 days 16 hours and 16 minutes. Bedell started with a military message from Los Angeles, California, and duly delivered it to General Bell at Governor’s Island, incidentally reducing the Transcontinental record by 3 days 18 hours 54 minutes. Rough and trackless country was negotiated, yet Bedell managed to maintain the extraordinary daily mileage of 438. No mechanical troubles were experienced, and the big four-cylinder finished the trip ticking over perfectly sweetly. And yet one reads so often that the additional complication of the ‘four’ renders it impracticable.”
“WHICH TYPE OF CLUTCH? A few of the Sunbeam machines supplied to private riders since the outbreak of war have been fitted with dry-plate inset clutches. This was merely owing to a shortage of phosphor-bronze, and though these clutches have proved excellent in every respect, the Sunbeam manager still leans toward the standard pattern—phosphor-bronze to steel multi- wet-plate.”
“GAS LIGHTING: The coming of the tail lamp dealt a severe blow to gas lighting. When we had only one light to feed, the gas generator was tolerably satisfactory, but the necessity for complicated tubing has all but served the old and well tried system with its death warrant. ‘Convert the flywheel into a dynamo’ is the common cry of the day.”
“IF THE WAR LASTS long enough,” Ixion remarked, “I suppose we shall be seeing some American DRs in France, and it will be interesting to see if their 7hp spring frames with 3in tyres relish knee-deep mud and shell-holes better than our smaller mounts; the riders ought to be good enough for anything. My latest American exchanges contain pictures and stories of what is evidently ‘some’ hill-climb. Tired of racing up gradients which everybody can climb, the riders have unearthed a mighty sandhill, with an alleged grade averaging 50% (1 in 2) and stiffening towards tile top to 70%. All the boys fitted some sort of caterpillar track to their back wheels, and none of them reached the summit. Your performance is recorded by the number of feet above sea level you attain before your front wheel tips over backwards by gravity and hits you on the nose, unless you are deft enough to unsaddle when you see it lifting. Firemen armed with jumping-sheets are stationed at intervals along the course, and salve you as you fall backwards off the hill, etc, etc.”
“THE PETROL COMMITTEE: Some very curious cases of renewed petrol permits are coming to light. Readers who have been refused a permit in reply to agonised letters setting out their claims and the indispensability of their work, have hit the bull at a second discharge. After refusal, they send a purely formal letter, enclosing a cheque for the next six months’ duty on such and such a number of gallons at so many gallons per month, and receive their renewal card within a post or two.”
“WE ARE ALREADY FEELING OUR WAY towards a new era in motor cycling,” Ixion wrote, “in so far that the lightweight of to-morrow promises all the speed and climbing power which seven riders out of ten demand. The remaining 30% of us will probably continue to expect a higher maximum speed and faster climbing than lightweights can provide for many a year to come; or, to be more precise, the rider who has a lot of use for a 40mph gait prefers it on a fairly high gear and modest throttle opening, and dislikes it on a low gear and liberal throttle…Fast work on a light machine is usually miserable for the rider, and almost always deleterious to the machine. We already possess reliable lightweights, fast lightweights, and hill-climbing lightweights; but we have never had a genuinely comfortable lightweight…If we are not farsighted, our engine design will run ahead of our frame design; this has been the rule ever since motor cycles came along, and the failure has not done much harm, because motor cycles appealed to tough people until recent days. To-day we are on the verge of producing motor cycles which will appeal to weaklings and old men and women, and the most perilous snag in our road is road vibration. A feather-weight spring frame will soon stand out in high relief as the industry’s main requirement.”
“THE WAR WOMEN: Female labour is not always the success it appears. A certain Midland agency and garage engaged a young lady assistant, but the connection was short, as the new acquisition persisted in turning up in breeches.”
“IF WE HAVE SHAFT DRIVE on the rear spring motor cycle of to-morrow, we shall, apparently, be forced to adopt universal ‘joints of the compact, metal-to-metal variety. This would appear, on the face of things, as a serious fly in the ointment, for universal joints are points of wear.”
“LADY MOTOR CYCLISTS who are anxious to do national work should apply to the Women’s Legion, Motor Section, Devonshire House, London, W. Candidates should ask for a form of application, on which jates of pay and particulars of service are stated. They will mostly be employed as despatch carriers.
The first lady motor cyclist we have seen in RFC uniform was driving an RFC model P&M down Pall Mall on Thursday afternoon last.”
“TWO MEN ON A DOUGLAS were arrested in the East End on Thursday and remanded. The machine has been identified as being stolen in South London a few days ago. Another arrest was made at Grove Park, the machine and rider being detained. A correspondent was informed that the police are now on the track of an expert, organised gang, who have been busy for several weeks and are believed to operate from a garage.”
“THE MODERN MACHINE seems a very incomplete affair, to judge by the many little things which an enthusiastic owner finds he can do to improve it. Not many machines exist exactly as they left the factory (plus grime). Practically every rider has altered some little detail, or added some more or less clever idea of his own. Often these additions are merely fads, having no particular advantage except in the eyes of the proud owner, but one continually comes across small improvements worthy of attention, generally spoken of as ‘gadgets’, a peculiar word of obscure origin.” ‘Ideas Useful and Ingenious’ was a regular feature in the Blue ‘Un, here’s a small selection…
“THERE ARE NEARLY 70,000 MOTOR CYCLISTS in the British Army, according to Staff-Captain L Keene; 40,000 of these are despatch riders, the remaining 25,000 or 30,000 motor cyclists are in machine gun batteries, signal corps, and convoy service.”
“THERE WAS A FOOLISH AND VEXATIOUS
prosecution at Bromley last week, a motor cyclist being summoned for riding a motor cycle with the rear number plate obscured, the police evidence being that the numbers were covered by the rider’s coat tails. The Bench dismissed the absurd charge on payment of costs—4s.”
THE GENERAL DEPOT OF QUARTERMASTER Corps in Chicago invited tenders for 5,000 bikes and 5,000 outfits as the Yanks prepared to go ‘over there’. The US magazine Motor Cycle Illustrated desribed this as “the most important ever made by the Federal Government in connection with its recognition of the motor cycle as a military adjunct”.
THE MOTOR CYCLE REPORTED that since it launched its campaign for spring frames in 1915, it had published details of 93 designs.
DESCRIBED BY THE COPS AS “one of the worst and wickedest criminals in London”, William Smith, alias John Craig, was sentenced to three years’ penal servitude for stealing a motor cycle. By way of contrast “a youth who had served in the Naval Brigade at Antwerp” was “bound over and dismissed” for the theft of a Bradbury. He told the court that “he borrowed the machine for a trial run, but had a smash-up at Brighton, and not caring to return the machine damaged as it was, sold it for a few pounds”.
HAVING SEEN THE ‘ARRIVALS’ depot the man from The Motor Cycle was allowed into “another depot, which is probably the largest of its kind in England, if not in the world. To this place are sent all the new machines which are delivered to the Army, as well as those which pass through the repair works…we were taken by the CO to a railway siding at which there were being unloaded crate after crate of Douglas and Triumph motor bicycles, which are the two favourites in the Army, and in addi- tion to these a .few other makes were to be seen in the neighbourhood, such as Rudge, Clyno, Indian, and B.S.A. It will be remembered that when motor cyclists first enlisted under the voluntary scheme in 1914 they were told to present themselves with their machines, and in a good many cases these were taken over at valuation. Many of these are still surviving, as we noticed, carefully protected by tarpaulins, such non-military makes as Scott, James, Premier, Harley-Davidson, NUT, AJS, Humber, Thresher-JAP, Chater-Lea, New Hudson, Ariel, Bat-JAP, Bradbury, and Connaught…Altogether the stock of motor bicycles in this particular depot exceeds 2,000.”
“UNTIL QUITE RECENTLY American manufacturers were somewhat behind the times with regard to the development of two-stroke lightweights, but there now appear on the American market one or two of these machines which are unquestionably worthy of notice. One which embodies several commendable European features, at the same time displaying distinct originality in layout, is the Cleveland. [It] embodies many bold points of design which cannot help but appeal to practical designers. The aim of the makers has been to produce a motor cycle in which the engine, gear box, magneto, etc, compose one unit, which can be removed bodily from the frame and replaced as such—a system which for some years past has received the attention of British manufacturers. The power unit of the Cleveland is distinct from standard practice in that the flywheel is enclosed, while the crank pin takes the form of a boss protruding from the face of the flywheel and supported at one end only. The engine is set at right angles across the frame. The transmission is a compromise between shaft and chain drive, and while some of the advantages of the shaft drive are obtained, the difficulties entailed by the use of a long cardan shaft to the rear wheel, requiring special thrust bearings, etc, are removed by employing a low speed chain for the final drive. Though the neatness of the system is attractive, it would seem to us that the magneto occupies a very exposed position, while an inspection of the contact breaker would apparently necessitate the use of a mirror. The magneto control lever is situated under the saddle, which is not an accessible position. The frame is perhaps worthy of note. It will be observed that the spring forks embody Triumph principles, while the design of the main frame is such that the power unit, complete with its integral units, is merely suspended from two eye-pieces placed respectively at the lower apexes of the triangular frame structures. The makers claim that by this system…the machine is practically vibrationless…for some reason the British rider does not appear to have taken favourably to the integral unit system. Time will, however, probably see its further development.”
“I CANNOT GET INTO THE proper mood for talking petrol to-day,” Ixion admitted. “I am sitting in a garden of roses; I wear white flannels; the air is heavy with perfumes of the first summer flowers. Around us are maidens in cool white dresses. There is cider cup in a large bowl. How can I, and why should I, turn my thoughts to nasty greasy things like motor cycles, which distil burning heat and radiate foul smells?” “[We apologise for our contributor, and propose to make up his column with some paragraphs which we have in stock.—Ed.]
“JUDGING BY THE ILLUSTRATIONS of completed spring frame machines which have been published from time to time, the practice of omitting the saddle springs is on the increase. The seating arrangements usually consist of the moulded leather saddle shape attached direct to the cycle frame. This is a retrograde step, and, whilst no doubt of value during testing to enable the designer to ascertain the degree of efficiency of his springing device, for all practical purposes it is the mechanical equivalent of + x -y. The demand for spring frames has arisen owing to the increasingly bad condition of our main roads and the necessity of further insulating the rider from such shocks as are transmitted by the rear wheel. Rear springing of the frame may result in the absorption of road shocks, but the absence of saddle springs renders the rider liable to the higher frequency engine and transmission vibrations, which are quite as dangerous in their effects on the human anatomy. In addition, he is robbed of his second line of defence against such jolts and jars as are not absorbed by the frame springs.”
“ONCE AGAIN WE SET FORWARD in bold relief the demands of the Overseas rider, but it can no longer be said that the points demanded by riders abroad are entirely non-existent in British machines. The demands of warfare have done more in the direction of evolving the truly unisal motor cycle than could have been accomplished by half a decade of Overseas grumbles, freely aired by the press. Our spring frame campaign has been widely successful, and practically every manufacturer of note has now a spring frame design either undergoing test or on the drawing boards. In the direction of adequate mudguarding and the strengthening and stiffening of wheels, much, however, remains to be done, and there are numerous mmor points, such as revisions in hub design, the provision of sufficient kit-carrying space, and so on, which demand attention.”
“BEWARE THE MOTOR CYCLE THIEF! As nowadays the art of riding motor cycles is no longer the rare quality it was in the early days of the motor cycling movement, it is imperative, should motor cyclists not desire to run the risk of losing their treasured machines, that they should take the necessary precautions for their safety. Just recently there would appear to have broken out an epidemic of motor cycle stealings which is not confined to the London district, but is prevalent throughout the whole of the country. To prevent a machine being stolen from the streets the safest plan of all is, of course, to make it an inviolable rule never to leave it unattended. Where this is unavoidable some means of preventing it being ridden away except by the rightful owner should undoubtedly be adopted; there are various devices on the market having this object in view, amongst them being switch locks, and also strong chains and cables which can be passed through one of the wheels and round some rigid portion of the frame and padlocked. It is also advisable that all motor cyclists should make an entry in their pocket books of any peculiar marks and means of identifying their machines, especially of all the numbers they may find stamped on the engine or other parts of the transmission and frame. Those motor cyclists who neglect to protect their property will, in the words of the song, ‘have only themselves to blame’ if one day they find the machine they have left unattended in the street or not carefully locked up and protected at night conspicuous by its absence.”
“A MACHINE GUN HAS OFTEN been likened to a motor cycle by reason of its complexity. The mechanism is just as interesting and attractive to a man of mechanical bent, and those readers who, with an eye to the future, may feel inclined to become acquainted with the mechanism of a machine gun, will find a new handbook just published by Messrs Iliffe and Sons on the ‘Hotchkiss Portable Machine Gun’ of considerable interest. The book is illustrated by line and half-tone blocks, and is priced at 1s.”
“A CORRESPONDENT WRITES US that his machine runs excellently on the stand, but will not run on the road. Then why not take a house in suburbia, and run it on the stand during Sunday afternoon so as to drown the noise of sundry gramophones and numerous newly-born infants?”
“TO PREVENT EYE-GLASSES or goggles being dimmed by rain spots in wet weather a good tip is to treat them by rubbing on the glasses a solution consisting of a pinch of common table salt dissolved in glycerine, which prevents drops from forming and renders the glasses perfectly transparent. Unfortunately, glycerine is difficult to get at the present time.”
“THE ACU IS NOW ISSUING vouchers in connection with its ‘get you home’ scheme, which should be highly appreciated in these days of petrol shortage and of old crocks. The idea is that a member can, in the event of a breakdown, obtain assistance and secure conveyance to a railway station or to his destination—if it lies within a distance of twenty miles. No provision is made for the impostor who rides deliberately out into the country till his petrol gives out, on the strength of obtaining a gratis ride home at the expense of the Union…All four members of the clerical staff of the ACU, of military age, joined up at the outset of hostilities, and this 100% show of patriotism has had its sad sequel in 50% casualties.”
“THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY of the French Chambers of Commerce has expressed the hope that Great Britain, Japan, and Russia will adopt the metric system.”
“A MEMBER OF OUR STAFF recently under- took a. 300 mile trip on an overhead valve flat twin—the latest production of the Brough factory. For fast touring and maintained high speeds this type of engine is almost a revelation, rivalled only by a good TT Scott.”
THE BOARD OF TRADE ordered: “No person shall use or consume, or cause or permit to be used or consumed, any motor spirit for the purpose of proceeding to or from any race meeting, whether for the whole or a part only of the journey.”
“DOZENS OF MOTOR CYCLISTS are attached to the Motor Section of the Coventry Special Constabulary, and a fine batch of men and machines were ranged up for the annual inspection on Gosford Green.”
“ACCORDING TO A DEFINITE STATEMENT made by the Petrol Controller within the past few days, only 10% of the petrol imported into this country is allocated to private owners, including doctors, veterinary surgeons, Government Inspectors of Munitions, Red Cross workers, and other workers of national importance.”
“A LADY MOTOR CYCLIST at Newport was recently charged at the police court with failing to stop her motor cycle when requested, and riding at a ‘reckless rate’ with a lady on the carrier. The defendant contended that one could not do much that was daring and reckless with a 2½p machine and a passenger on the back. A fine of 8s costs was imposed.”
HERE’S A TREAT: Two examples of Ixion at his finest. Neither will advance your knowledge of the history of motor cycling in a technical sense. But if you enjoy immersing yourself in motor cycling wisdom written by the maestro of motor cycle journalism you’ll sink into these monographs as you would into a warm bath after a hard winter’s ride.
“OLD CAMPAIGNER AS I AM NOW, I sometimes get the wind up about sideslip,” Ixion revealed. “The required conditions are a dark night, a poor lamp, an unknown road, and the brands of grease which limestone and oolite generate when they are about half dry. I peer into the gloom, I wonder whether I have taken a wrong turn, I drive timidly and jerkily finally, I realise that my back wheel is not adhering very tenaciously, that my front wheel will lie down sideways at slight provocation, that the road is extremely hard, that my overalls are new, that Gladys will not embrace me with her usual abandon if I am miry from head to foot, and that my knees, elbows, shoulders, and knuckles bear many old scars. In about five minutes after these cogitations are complete, my wrists lose their vice-like, masterful grip: the little U tubes behind my ears cease to register balance subconsciously as they should, and long-forgotten swearwords snarl unbidden through my clenched teeth as the bicycle takes charge. By this time I am awake to the situation. I change gear downwards: the smooth purr of the accelerating exhaust suggests that the back wheel is biting earnestly into the road: confidence returns, and I drive rather faster than before.”
“I MAY DISARM A CERTAIN AMOUNT of criticism by drawing attention to the value of exaggeration. It is commonly regarded with contempt or amusement. The lying angler and speedster, the enthusiast whose geese are all swans, the elderly relative who habitually adorns every tale, the journalist who works up a commonplace incident into a thrilling events—all alike indulge the same foible, consciously or unconsciously. The literally-minded moralist condemns. The excitable person with no sense of humour works himself up into an indignant passion for meticulous accuracy. The cynic coldly spirts forth his corrosive venom. The genial man of the world grins. Brown, who is accustomed to call a spade a spade, will have none of that paltering word ‘exaggeration’. Good old-fashioned Anglo-Saxon is his forte: and if a mechanic in a hurry describes half an inch as three-eighths, righteous Brown has only one word for it—the word ‘lie’. The value of exaggerations is twofold. First, the great British public is so confoundedly slow at the uptake that you cannot get an idea into their heads unless you isolate it, beat drums round it, turn million candle-power searchlights on it, catch as many people as you can by the scruff of the neck and rub their noses on it. Secondly, because we are constructed in this curious mould, we are provided with tutors, monitors, leaders, and prophets suffering from a huge lop-sided bias, which enables them to appreciate 99% of one aspect of a subject and practically to ignore all but 1% of the other aspect. For all which reasons it is my chiefest boast and glory that I am, under certain limitations, a naked and unashamed liar in the eyes of good old Brown and other folk of his kidney. A meticulously-minded reader in the ASC, MT, has been using my old comments as the Opposition in Parliament employ ancient speeches reported in Hansard against an unshakable Prime Minister. He has dug out, no doubt with commendable pains and accuracy, some weird and astounding claims of mine on behalf of the flat twin: He asserts that I said its birth had sounded the death knell of all rival types of motor cycle engine. I dare say I did. A very proper and useful thing to say. If I said it, I am proud of it. Quite untrue, of course, but most necessary. Where did the flat twin stand when war broke out? Very popular in the 350cc class. Not considered or dreamt of in any other size so far as 80% of the public were concerned. Where does it stand now? Everybody is talking of ‘flat twins’. After the war most riders who can afford to choose, and want the best, will go thoroughly into their merits. What brought the change about? Well, ‘Ixion’s’—thank you, Brown, ‘lies’ have had not a little to do with it. If I was right, and the good flat twins are worthy to be set on a pinnacle alongside the vertical single and the V twin, my ‘lies’ will have hastened its canonisation; if it is not worthy, nobody will be a penny the worse, except poor ‘Ixion’, who will become a by-word, and may get the sack in addition. My ‘BEF’ correspondent sagely opines that I shall one day eat the vow I took in these columns never to ride another vertical single. Bless you, my dear sir, if I ever made that vow, which I really forget, I ate it long ago; I am hunting at this moment for a first-rate single. Am I repentant? Not a bit of it. I feel quite normal, thank you, except that I am rather amused. To show that when my ‘lies’ have done their work I can be perfectly fair, let me quote my correspondent’s catalogue of the deadly sins to which the flat twin is heir. According to him this particular type of engine is invariably prone to the following weaknesses: (1.) Abnormal cylinder and piston wear. (2.) Worn, noisy, and insecure valve mechanism. (3.) Bent crankshafts. (4.) Loosened main bearings. In his opinion these defects may chiefly be traced to excessive rpm. Here’s a fresh bone for the dogs to quarrel over. My own opinion is reserved for the nonce. Perhaps my foregoing confession deserves to be balanced by a statement. ‘BEF’ suffers from a delusion common to many other readers of technical journals. He pictures a journalist as a needy, out-at-elbows individual, who wanders round Coventry or Portland Street begging for the loan of a machine, and who subsequently ‘writes up’ the machine in superlatives, with an eye to the future favours of the same sort So he speaks of my ‘lies’ as being based on personal sampling of one type of machine, most probably a ‘starred demonstration’ mount. I don’t know who invented Grub Street, but it dies uncommon hard. Let me assure him that I am honestly quite an opulent type of individual. I had a glass of port at dinner, and I am now smoking a cigar which isn’t a Flor di Fiasco. I have several machines of my very own, and I spend several hours a week in writing diplomatic letters to eager makers who want to lend me machines which I have no wish even to see. My opinions of the flat twin may be foolish, as ‘BEF’ considers; or downright lies, as Brown would prefer to stigmatise them : or a judicious overstatement, planned to wake a sleepy public to the high merits of a newcomer, as I regard them. But in any case they are honest, and based on an enormous mileage distributed over many types and sizes, makes and years. The flat twin is not so new as many seem to think, The Motor Cycle was talking of it over ten years ago.”
“I GOT UP FROM MY TABLE at eleven o’clock on the evening of the 6th of June, and, throwing on a Burberry and an old gas helmet, I strolled to the cowshed garage and jerked my motor cycle from its stand. A few seconds later the engine was barking healthily, and I was jolting over the wooden track which leads from our headquarters. It was an odd hour for motoring, and nothing but the most urgent business would have dragged me from my billet. But the attack on the lines of the enemy just south of the famous salient, though we knew it to be imminent, had come on all too quickly for my arrangements, and a forward telephone exchange, to be working by ‘zero’ was as yet unprepared. I had despatched a lorry-load of men and appliances, and, timing my own journey, I set out to meet them in the reinforced cellar of an old French farm. A day later I might have taken my lorry there in daylight, or in darkness I could have used the most powerful of head lamps with safety. But at the time the country I traversed was in full view of the enemy on the opposite ridge, and the use of a light of any description, apart from the fact that it was strictly forbidden, would have drawn shell fire on the roads as I left them, harmless perhaps to myself, but very much the opposite to the slow-moving limbers and transport that rattled their way to the infantry in the front line trenches. The actual roads were unknown to me, for previous visits to the farm had been made across country on foot; but a study of the map left me in no doubt of my direction. I was all unprepared, however, for the ghastly state of riding that prevailed when I had mounted the crest that was our boundary for daylight motor cycling. As the crow flies, my destination was scarcely two miles from the ridge I have mentioned, but by road it was double the distance. The night was intensely dark, with clouds that hung heavily in the sky. Added to this there was the clatter and rumble of the vehicles that occupied the best part of the road, and there were the pits and half-filled shell holes that abounded under their layer of dust at the edges of the pave. For a while I struggled forward, my hands feeling clutch and throttle, and my foot upon the brake. For the most part I was in first gear, but at times, as star shells relieved for a moment the blackness of the surroundings,
I would kick into second, and would speed up a few yards till the star shells died out and the darkness appeared to be intensified. Then I would cram on the brakes and crawl slowly forward till my eyes once more picked out the details of the track before me. It was a night of noises that would be hard to compare. Behind me the steady reassuring rumble told of the “Heavies” that were pouring their metal and explosion to the German trenches and back areas. In front, and on all sides, were the sharp cracks of the field guns, and the comfortable ‘thump’ of the ‘4.5’ howitzers. Mingling with them all was the rattle of transport on cobbles, and almost unheard by comparison were the whistle and ‘Phil’ of the gas shells that the enemy was raining on the fields around us. So gradually I made my way, and my trusty Triumph chugged with a steady beat, whilst the exhaust pipe glowed as if in remonstrance to the heavy treatment. And when I was little above a mile from the farm my eyes began smarting and streaming, and my nostrils proclaimed the existence of tear shells and asphyxiating gas. Then, as a star shell broke out upon the darkness, I glanced at the drivers of the transport about me, and saw that each one of them was wearing his gas helmet. This, as you may imagine, was sufficient to frighten me to no little extent. Early in the war I had heard lectures on the agonies of gas poisoning, and later I had seen men fighting for their breath, with a green foam covering their lips. And I realised with terror that the respirator I carried was not of the new and efficient type, but one of the first examples that I had owned for eighteen months and carried in accordance with the routine order. I dragged it from its case, and hurriedly pulled it over my head. I thrust the mouthpiece between my teeth, and buttoned my tunic and Burberry tightly over the flap around my neck. And I found to my immense relief that the sickly odour of the gas had gone, and the momentary ‘tightness’ of my lungs had disappeared. Adjusting the goggles of the helmet, I started the engine, and set off once more over the abominable surface. The guns still cracked and rumbled, and the traffic still clattered as it jerked from stone to stone; but the thick flannel bag about my head had deadened these noises, and the beat of my own engine seemed dim and far away.
Now I scarce heeded the holes through which I rode, and more than once I found myself lying in the roadway. These things seemed trivial and unnatural; I felt that I was in a dream, a figure in some way detached from myself, for ever crawling forward in a world of silent noise. Presently I came to the farm, and drove into the yard more by instinct than intention. My men had already arrived, and were surprised at the sight I presented. I saw that they wore no respirators, and, pulling the bag from my head, I turned to the work that was on hand. The business was nearly completed when the whistle of the gas shells was heard, and the stink of the mixture detected in the cellar. Once more I donned my helmet, cursing myself again as I noticed the comparative comfort of the men in box respirators. Sweating from the heat of the night and the confinement of the cellar, we finished off wiring the exchange, and with considerable relief I jumped on my trusty motor cycle. I had lost all count of time, and, though I did not know it, it was five minutes past three as I headed again for the highway. The lines of traffic had gone, and, save for an occasional belated limber, the roads were deserted. The guns had stopped firing, and the noise of the earlier night was replaced by a great silence. Then, as I looked towards the east and noticed the greyness that was rising beyond the ridge, there was a burst of flame that turned darkness into a yellowish glare, and cast long vivid shadows across the roads and fields. Following upon it was a deep crashing roar and a trembling of the ground that can be likened only to an earthquake. And before I had understood it every gun and howitzer was firing at an intense rate on the German line. It was then that I remembered the rumours of a giant mine, and realised that I had been a spectator of the greatest explosion the world has known.”—GD
• The battle of Messines started at 3.10am on 7 June with the detonation of 19 mines beneath a German-held ridge. ‘GD’ is quite right—454 tonnes of high explosive made the biggest non-nuclear bang ever; it was heard in London and killed 10,000 men.
“WE IN ENGLAND WERE THE FIRST to adapt the unit system to motor cycles, but while, in this country, the system has met with little success, it has, in America, marked the whole trend of motor car design, and is quickly creeping into motor cycle practice. The Cleveland and the Henderson are two good examples, and incidentally mark two extremes…certain British units probably surpass them, yet with the exception of one or two lightweights the system is nowhere popularly established over here as it is in the States. Years ago our makers, produced designs which promised wonderful development, but because they were before their time they were turned down by the purchasing public. What are we aiming at in motor cycle design? Simplicity, neatness, reliability (a minimum of adjustment and of wear), a clean and compact exterior, a well protected and well oiled interior, lightness, and accessibility. A design which calls for an absolute minimum of adjustment is the simplest. In popular present-day design, in which we have the engine amidships, the gear box separately suspended a foot to the rear, having its own adjustment and its chain drive, the magneto thrown in where it fits, and likewise having its driving chain adjustment, we cannot claim simplicity. In the integral unit
system adjustments are reduced to a minimum. Neatness: in this respect the integral unit system is so obviously superior that we need not dwell upon the point. Reliability: By eliminating adjustment, reliability is increased; and by ensuring fresh lubrication fed at a regular speed to all hard-working parts, reliability and reduced wear are ensured. A clean and compact exterior—a well-protected and well-oiled interior: Many of appearances, the more modern designs are a joy to behold as regards compactness and neatness. The lubrication for the transmission is, of course, fed from the engine, so that so long as the engine obtains its oil the remaining important parts are certain of their share. As for cleanliness, the single unit has it every way. It has fewer joints, no oil-clinging chains, and a minimum of exposed bearing ends. Lightness: The system offers the possibility of a reduction of weight, because it does away with countershaft chains and sprockets, the drive being direct from engine to gear box, but this advantage would be very slight. Furthermore By the employment of the single unit system the frame can be considerably lightened and simplified—in fact, it can be reduced to truly scientific lines. An integral unit is braced in itself and self-contained, instead of the stresses being thrown about haphazard. It can be slung under the frame by two points of contact, which are placed at the apices of the frame triangles, and thus it will be obvious to any engineer that both its method of suspension and its self-containedness would not only adapt themselves to an ideal frame design, but also they would tend to minimise vibration. Unit construction has not developed over here because the British motor cyclist is either too much of a conservative or too little of an engineer to realise its possibilities. He does not purchase a machine on the strength of the salesman’s ‘hot air’. Having heard the salesman through he goes home determined to discount every word he has heard and finally he buys a belt-driven single, because his cousin, three years ago, obtained very satisfactory service from such a mount.”
IXION HAD CLEARLY BEEN cleaning his crystal ball, and to good effect: “It is getting pretty evident that the engine of the future is going to be a hotch-potch of parts made of different metals. I am thinking of the upper half of the engine, for, of course, designers have long enjoyed great freedom of choice below the. waist belt. Everything points to aluminium cooling ribs, fitted onto a separate cylinder barrel, possibly of steel, with perhaps an aluminium alloy piston, and certainly over-head valves. Anybody who has handled one of these composite engines will understand that the next crux will relate to the metal of which the cylinder head will be made. Cast iron is the usual medium at present it weighs a good deal, it gets very hot, it consequently leads to the maximum pitting of the valves, and the most rapid weakening of the springs, and it distorts sadly. What will it be made of eventually? Cast aluminium alloy with iron valve seatings? The clumsiness of these loose heads, as contrasted with the delicate machining of a turned steel cylinder or the low weight of an aluminium cast cylinder, is the point which strikes an observer first and hardest in his comparisons.”
“THE AMERICAN MOTOR CYCLE manufacturers have met to consider how far it is possible to meet the demands of the War Department by standardising the parts of motor cycles constructed for war service, and so to reduce the stocks of spares carried at the various army depots, accelerate manufacture, and simplify repair work…The meeting finally agreed to standardise the following parts of the WD cycles: rims, spokes, tyres, sparking plugs, head light, mountings, magneto bases, chains, controls, clutch pedals, brake pedals, gearshifts, kick-starters, oil and grease cups, oil and fuel pipes, and unions and taps, sidecar connections, and other sidecar fittings. There is not the least reason why a similar standardisation programme should not be devised and carried through in our own trade, and it would enormously simplify problems connected with our export trade when the war is over. Only about three of the above items are as yet properly standardised.”
“OU SONT LES NEIGES D’ANTAN?” “Where are the snows of yester-year?” How can we ever recapture that feeling of “the first time”, the first hearing of Tristan und Isolde, the anticipation in cutting the leaves of a great book, the first soar into the third dimension on a modern aeroplane, and—our first run on a motor cycle! 1904 seems a long while ago now; peace had just come, and the writer was one small unit in a big public school. Every week we eagerly devoured The Motor Cycle, and about the time of the National Show our pockets would bulge with catalogues. These were the days of Edge and Jarrott, George Barnes and Hooydonk, and many others. Save perhaps Harry Martin and Tessier, where are they all now? A few years before I had seen my first self-propelled vehicle—a De Dion tricycle, with the 2¾hp engine (high power for those times) mounted over the back axle. It chugged solemnly round Battersea Park and disappeared, leaving a small boy whose only wish in life was to possess one like it! The early Bat motor cycles, with 2¾hp De Dion and MMC engines, came in later. At one time this capable machine, with its quaint handle-bars and round brass tank, held every record between one and fifty miles. Who that heard it will forget the queer hollow note of its automatic inlet? The makers dispensed with pedals, and there was a great discussion at the time as to the advisability of this, for how was one to get home? (That was a paramount question in the days of accumulator ignition. I shall never forget seeing the unfortunate owner of a hefty twin Rex pedalling his several hundredweight of iron with the belt off, his feet spinning round to a fifty gear with tiny cranks. It was a labour of Hercules.) But the Bat came and conquered, and we never went back to pedals. One of the great events of the year at that time was the Westerham hill-climb. This is a acclivity that even nowadays compels respect; the long rise from the village before the actual hill is reached calls for an engine with stamina. The Chase-JAP match, which Chase won by a narrow margin, is still remembered in the village. By this time the sport was in full swing, and Harry Martin on the old high-built Excelsior (inclined MMC engine, I think it was) hotly contested the
honours with Hooydonk, on the Minerva-engined Phoenix. I can see them now, theold crowd, roaring round the easy bends of the Crystal Palace track, craning feverishly over their tanks, squatted on luggage carriers (the racing man at least realised the danger and uselessness of the old high position). What a far cry from those days to my imperturbable little Douglas, and how I could have swept the board with it if I had only had it then! About this time the makers turned to passenger-carrying vehicles. Forecars were bolted on to 3hp machines. Speed gears were not, and often we walked, pushing several hundred pounds of sullen and over-heated machine. Heavy three-wheelers with labyrinthine machinery came into vogue, and died a natural death. Racing motor cycles had to come within a weight limit, 110lb I think it was, and we were at fearsome shifts to crowd 12hp into these limitations. Some- how we did it, with light gauge frames, cycle tyres, saddles cut into patterns, and pulleys drilled till they were mere cobwebs. It was a risky game, and many a frame lug was found cracked after a speed burst. I well remember the famous Brighton meeting, when Cissac came over with his 14hp Peugeot wonders, geared about 1½ to 1, which according to popular rumour destroyed one back wheel, tyre and all, each time they were used! Barnes put up a very plucky fight against the Continental crack on a little 5hp Deckert single-cylinder, with ports drilled below the piston stroke as was our practice then (and the oil they used!). At that meeting Rolls and Moore-Brabazon drove, and there appeared the 200hp Dufaux car, all engine, with a cane seat lashed on somehow—a fearsome beast, which was badly beaten by several more practicable monsters of considerably lesser power. But Rolls is dead, and of all that merry company of sportsmen, how many shall we meet when the war is over? Never mind, it was there they learned to ‘play the game’, and our Teuton friends can bear witness that they play it well.
“MANY RIDERS, WHO COMPLAIN of the stiffness of their handle-bar clutches have only themselves to thank for this state of affairs, in that the clutch springs are often tightened up a good deal harder than they need be. The tension need be no greater than just to avoid slip, which, if chronic, would spell short life for the clutch plates.”
“HORSE RACING AND MOTORING: The Jockey Club, by their persistence, have been successful in securing the Government’s permission to continue racing. Their plea has been that by racing only could horse breeding be kept at its former high level of excellence. Comparisons are odious, but one wonders whether the motor industry has not been too unselfish in refraining from fighting the restriction that has been placed upon it. There is no questioning the fact that the innumerable Government orders have tended to create an unreasonable public feeling against motoring by private individuals, no matter how justifiable may be the reason for using either a motor cycle or car.”
“A COMMITTEE HAS BEEN APPOINTED by the Fuel Research Board in order to ascertain the utilisation of Irish peat deposits. There is no questioning the fact that millions of gallons of fuel could be obtained by utilising these great peat deposits; but whether it would be a commercial success is another question.”
EXACTLY 122,582 MOTOR CYCLES were licensed for use on British roads (down from 158,047 the previous year) compared with 148,818 cars (down from 115,180). There were 108,203 motor cyclists in England and Wales, 10,643 in Scotland and 3,736 in Ireland.
“THERE IS A BAND OF enthusiastic European and American motor cyclists in Tokyo, of whom the writer, who graduated from his novitiate in England in the good old days of the front wheel driven Werner and Minerva-engined mounts, is one. It is hoped that a club will soon be formed. There exists already in Kobe a motor cycle club, which, under the presidency of a keen American, held recently a hill-climbing competition, the first event of its kind in Japan. The event was won by a 3½hp Bradbury…owing to the extremely simple and crude system of road mending, which consists in dumping a generous layer of pebbles (locally known as ‘petrified kidneys’) brought from the river beds and leaving it to the. traffic to ‘work’ them in, woe to the unwary cyclist who strikes such patches of a newly repaired road!”
“IT IS WITH VERY GREAT REGRET that we have to record the death of Lt Ivan B Hart-Davies RFC, of Rugby, who was killed while flying in England last week. He was best known to motor cyclists as the holder of the John-o’-Groat’s to Land’s End record, the figures for which were reduced by him on more than one occasion. ~ He also competed in the Senior Tourist Trophy Race of 1912…In all his motor cycle rides he remaineds faithful to the Triumph, and as an evidence of his popularity it was astonishing to see the number of friends who used to turn out and assist him in his record rides. Hart-Davies was a fine tall specimen of a motor cyclist, weighing, at the time of his rides, over thirteen stone, so that his records are all the more meritorious, being accomplished by aid of a wonderful vitality combined with a determination to wrest the coveted record from all comers…He was in his thirty-ninth year, and obtained his ‘wings’ in August last, year, being doubtless one of the oldest pilots to obtain their ‘wings’ during the war.”
THE US GOVERNMENT PLACED orders for 2,500 militarised Indian twins and 1,500 Harleys. The two factories were ordered to cancel civilian work until the military contract had been completed.
“FOR SOME TIME PAST we have noticed one who is obviously a beginner riding in the residential districts of Coventry apparently in fear and trembling during his evening leisure. He rides a very neat little Douglas machine; and should he chance upon these lines, we wish to inform him that during the last fortnight or more his engine has been firing in one cylinder only.”
“THE JOY OF THE OPEN ROAD: We witnessed a pretty sight the other day in the neighbourhood of Leamington—a baby two-stroke gamely struggling along with a great disabled twin in tow. Whether the two riders were enjoying the procession as much as the onlookers is open to question. Certainly those who recognised the two riders thoroughly enjoyed the sight, especially on the inclines, when both men lustily paddled the machines until they appeared to be on the verge of apoplexy. It was a sight worthy of the gods!”
“BUILT AT THE FRONT: Sir,—Thinking you may be interested to know what can
be done with ‘bully beef’ and biscuit tins, I enclose a photograph of our ‘Pug’, which we built while on active service. It is composed of the following parts: A Levis engine, which we found. Frame which waa bought as a bargain from a Frenchman for 25 francs. Handle-bars which we took off a push-bicycle and rebent with a pair of wood grip extensions. Tank made out of sheet steel. Mudguards built up from biscuit tins. The fittings, such as foot brake, footrests, engine plates, and magneto control, etc. (with the exception of nuts and bolts and wire control, which we begged off the Signals) we made from raw material. The bicycle has done 3,000 miles, is still going strong, and will climb any average hill, I may say we have since fitted spring forks and two-speed gear, which we took off a captured Hun NSU.
Sec-Cpl JR Cox
L-Cpl WG Morgan.”
“IS IF BEYOND THE WIT OF MAN,” Ixion asked, “to devise better stands for heavyweights? Many a modern heavyweight scales nearly 4cwt, and in many cases the weight of a sidecar is super-added. Men of over 45 are liable to serious injury in the attempt to raise such a load. If it is impossible to devise such a stand the need would be partly met by the fitting of an auxiliary prop-stand, intended for use when the machine merely needs propping, and not lifting, leaving the existing fitments in reserve for puncture repairing and so forth. But it should not be difficult to invent a pedal lever stand which would fill the bill.”
ONE OF MY GREAT DISAPPOINTMENTS as a motor cyclist,” Ixion revealed, “was the refusal of the trade to follow the lead set it by Messrs Wartnaby and Draper, when they brought out a motor cycle with a rational lubricating system. Readers may remember that a sump beneath the engine carried sufficient oil for several hundred miles: this was circulated by a pump, and the engine was accurately oiled: its plugs never sooted: the oil consumption was low: the crank case kept spotlessly clean: and the rider had no demands made on his memory or skill. I sighed for a WD machine this week, when I had to ride in succession three typical British machines, none of them too familiar, all throwing the onus of accurate oiling on the driver, and all oscillating between the twin nuisances of a hot bearing or a sooted plug. Readers know that I am not on principle an indiscriminating admirer of American motor cycles, and consider they enjoy a far greater popularity in this country than they deserve. But on this, point at least they have us whacked. You can get on most Yankee bicycles and leave them to oil themselves. On the average Britisher, unless you stick to one machine and one brand of oil, you are perpetually wondering how long ago you put in that last charge of oil, or how many drops are really percolating per minute behind the miserable little greenery-yallery window of the so-called sight gauge.”
‘TEDDY’ CARROLL LAPPED the Cincinnati Speedway for 24 hours on a standard Indian Powerplus combo, covering 1,276 miles at an average 53.6mph.
IN THE USA MOTOR CYCLING and Bicycling magazine followed the lead set by The Motor Cycle by publishing recruitment pages under the heading ‘Uncle Sam’s Fighting Men’.
“WE HAVE A UNIQUE CHANCE to develop the lightweight utility mount, first for our own sakes, as we shall be ready for it—years before other nations are, and secondly for export, as by lapse of time the complex heavyweight will go out of fashion in other countries also. We are still very far short of the ideal in almost every respect. That is natural and pardonable, but it will be unpardonable if our trade wastes too many years following the heavyweight will o’ the wisp; its knell is already sounding, so far as the general public are concerned, though our dashing youngsters will buttress up an illusive demand for it for some years to come.”
“THERE ARE TOO MANY PEOPLE in the motor cycle world, both makers and users, who consider that motor cycles have reached the stage in which there can be no improvement. This is very dangerous position to arrive at in any industry, and the subject therefore requires careful study. People are rather too apt to compare the motor bicycle with the pedal cycle. Now, the pedal cycle has reached, so far as we can see, finality, but the motor cycle is a very different proposition, for it is not a simple machine propelled by brute force. No one will contend that the internal combustion engine is perfect, and yet before the war we had motor cycle manufacturers slavishly copying one another, with the result that individuality in design was lacking in most makes. The war has taught people a great deal, and not least of all those engaged in the manufacture of motor cycles. Firms who confidently supplied the Government with machines at the beginning of hostilities—thinking that they were perfect and that nothing better could be devised—had a series of terrible shocks when the campaign was not many weeks old. Their products, which they thought good enough for an ACU Six Days trial—over roads so bad that the competitors almost struck because of them—failed hopelessly at the Front, and it was discovered that the roads in the war area, which had to be traversed by men whose duty it is to obey and not to ask why, played such havoc with the machines that they were almost immediately thrown out of commission. The chief lessons which the war has taught us are that for really rough work the ultra-lightweight is unsuitable, as it does not possess either sufficient strength or power, and that the medium-weight machine, which was thought to be ideal, needed a good deal of strengthening and detail improvements in the way of protection both for the rider and for the external working parts. There are points, however, which the war has not cleared up. It has done nothing to make motor cycles more silent, nor has it improved their flexibility—two items which need serious attention. There is yet another point which we have continually advocated, and that is the general adoption of the spring frame. It behoves the ACU, therefore, to bear in mind that when the time comes for the discussion of another six days trial special marks should be awarded for silence, flexibility, and springing—items that up to the present have been sadly neglected.”
“AT VARIOUS TIMES,” IXION WROTE, “two nations have challenged—temporarily at any rate—beaten us in the motor cycle markets of our own Colonies, viz, America and Germany. The German-built NSU was at one time the most popular Colonial machine; various American machines, notably the Indian, had us whopped to the world in many Overseas markets. In neither case were the machines superior in quality, price, or accessibility to those we exported. The NSU perhaps owed its temporary supremacy to the fact that it was equipped with a goodish variable gear long before British makers took such things seriously. The Americans owed their suprerpacy—still unbroken by the way—solely to their superior interpretation of ‘service’. When the war ends, we must aim at supplying the man who lives in a colony, dominion, or dependency with a machine designed for Overseas conditions; it must be of first-rate material and workmanship; it must be of first-rate material and workmanship; it must be as cheap as any potential rivals (cheapness embodies quality as well as price; no bad machine is ever genuinely ‘cheap’); it must be designed for amateur management; it must be introduced, pushed, supported, and maintained by first-class local ‘service’…It is evident that in the near future the British trade can, if it likes, produce a machine which could give five years’ hard service in Central Africa without once travelling down to a repairer on the coast.”
“THE GERMAN MILITARY AUTHORITIES, according to a German technical journal, possessed at the outbreak of war no fewer than 20,335 motor cycles. This is, of course, somewhat astounding to us, as before the war the motor cycle was but poorly developed in the land of the Hun. There was practically only one well-known make, and the Hun did not take kindly to this means of locomotion.”
“THE SEATTLE-NORTH YAKIMA-Goldendale-White-Salmon-Portland course again proved to be the hardest reliability course in the United States, as only two of the 21 starters in the Seattle MC trial reached the conclusion of the 600 miles run with full marks. The winning machines were a Thor and an Excelsior. One Harley-Davidson sidecar outfit accomplished the course in a remarkably consistent manner.”
“AMERICAN ABBREVIATIONS: Our Yankee cousins call petrol gasolene for short. Why? They are always out to save time, but we know which word we can say the more quickly.”
“THE NEW PETROL LICENCES: It does not appear to be generally known that if a licence for petrol is issued to an applicant, it is only issued on condition that he holds his machine, whether it be a car or a motor cycle, at the disposal of the Government in case of national emergency. Of course, this does not really mean anything, as in case of national emergency the Government has always had the right to commandeer anything it thought fit.” Paraffin and the other substitute fuels were also strictly rationed. An engine was developed to run on acetylene gas—but the carbide needed to produce acetylene was also seen as a national resource and was thus unobtainable on the open market. However, the Blue ‘Un was able to report: “We are informed that the Ministry of Munitions does not regard coal gas as coming within the category of a petrol substitute…it is considered that there will be little or no difficulty in supplying motor car and motor cycle owners with all the gas they need.”
“STARTING ON COAL GAS: A Blackheath motorist who is running a new Matchless outfit on paraffin has solved the starting difficulty at home by simply connecting up a household gas tap to the induction pipe.”
“THE FUEL QUESTION HAS BECOME one of extreme seriousness to motor cyclists…The regulations may appear to be somewhat drastic, but, as the Petrol Controller points out in some observations which accompany the Motor Spirit Restriction Order, the continuance of the use of motor vehicles, both cars and cycles, has been far too prevalent. No sensible motorist denies that the country has just call upon all stocks of fuel, nor grudges that used upon essential services, but no waste should be permitted, and much more discrimination might be used in allotting the surplus. If this surplus is not sufficient, then those whose motor cycles are of vital importance to them, and whose claims have been passed over by the Petrol Control Department, must cast about for another fuel-and, in the absence of benzole, alcohol, and acetylene, coal gas seems to be the only alternative…in the case of two-wheeled solo mounts we fear it must be ruled out of court, at least for the present, but we hope the difficulty of excessive bulk may shortly be overcome…About fifty cubic feet can conveniently be carried on a sidecar outfit, and this is roughly equal to one-fifth of a gallon of petrol, or fuel for about fifteen miles…If gas could be safely compressed into steel cylinders which could be attached to a motor cycle a much more convenient method would be to hand, for full cylinders might be supphed at charging stations all over the country in exchange for empty ones.”
COMMERCIAL MOTOR AND MOTOR magazines staged an exhibition of more than 30 coal gas-driven vehicles including three motor cycles. A 2¾hp Douglas solo was fitted with telescopic supports for a gasbag measuring 8ft long and 2ft in diameter. An 8hp Zenith outfit carried a 50cu ft container on a canopy over the sidecar. And a Scott outfit haled a gas bag “stowed on one of the Cox gas trailers manufactured by Mr Douglas S Cox of West Norwood, SE”.
“MOTOR CYCLE POLICE: It seems strange that the police of this country do not make more use of the motor bicycle. Over the water our American Allies employ policemen motor cyclists to a great extent. They use them to catch those who exceed the speed limit, and it is certainly more gratifying to be caught by a fellow motor cyclist who rides up to you at a speed exceeding your own, and who also breaks the law himself in catching you, than to be stopped by an English policeman whose colleagues hide when and how they can, and time you over the all too short 220 yards.”
IXION, ONCE AGAIN IN WHIMSICAL MOOD: “Our tame inventor is now busy on a gorgeous idea, namely, a flexible shaft drive. You will buy it in lengths like speedometer cable, and couple it tip to the crankshaft and rear bevels by screwed unions and cotter pins. There is no particular reason why it should not run inside the frame tubes when a couple of rotund excrescences on the crank case and the hub win be the sole visible symptoms of the fact tkat the machine has any transmission at all; and the bottom bracket cavities will be strictly reserved for dynamos, Thermos flasks, and other luxuries. I must fall asleep and dream about it. It sounds good, and ought to have the FN whacked to the world about AD 1945.”
THE JOURNAL OF EDUCATION reported: “Science and mathematical masters could advantageously make greater use of problems presented by internal combustion engines and of the kinematical illustrations afforded by bicycles and aeroplanes. In a single number of The Motor Cycle, the issue of October 11th, we noted discussions on the cooling of cylinders, on the energy equivalence of petrol and coal gas, on the capacity of gas cylinders, on the chemistry of petrol, and a particularly instructive essay on relative motion. Every paragraph provided suitable illustrations for classroom use.”
The following stories also reflect a serious level of education, while reflecting un understandable obssesion with fuel at a time when the government was determined not to divert any fuel from the war effort…
“GAS FITTERS: It may convenience motor cyclists in the vicinity of Newcastle-on-Tyne to hear that Travers Ltd, of that city, are making a speciality in equipping vehicles for the use of coal gas.”
“COMPOSITION O£ PETROL: We have previously referred to the chemical composition and formulae of the main constituents of ‘petrol’. The formula of octane was given as C8H20, whereas it should have been C5H18; the general formula of the paraffin series is CnH2n+2, that of ‘paraffin’” itself being C10H22 (decane) or C11H21, (un decane).
“NOMENCLATURE OF MEMBERS OF THE PARAFFIN SERIES: Ambiguity or uncertainty attaches to the names of most of the commoner members of this extremely important series. Thus the first member, CH4, is variously known as marsh gas and natural gas; that group of members which concerns us most is often described by a registered trade name of the product of one particular firm: ‘petrol’ is a name registered by Messrs Carless, Capel, and Leonard, but no one thuilcs of the particular products of this firm when they speak of petrol. Nevertheless, readers may have noticed that the advertisements say Shell or Pratt’s ‘motor spirit’, not petrol. Similarly we speak of ‘paraffin’ as though it were a definite substance, but it is the generic name of a whole group of substances, the only one of which that is referred to as ‘paraffin’ in technical circles being ‘paraffin wax’ (C20H12), a substance solid at normal temperatures. The Americans refer to liquid paraffin as ‘kerosene’, and the use of this term avoids much ambiguity.”
“COAL GAS AS MOTOR FUEL: An interesting discussion on the use of coal gas as a fuel for motor vehicles followed the sixth annual meeting of the British Commercial Gas Association. Mr ES Shrapnell-Smith (Petroleum Economy Officer) suggested the use of liquid gas in vacuum jacketed bottles as being a means of storing the gas in quantity in a light container. He also announced another interesting fact—that the Local Government Board would shortly issue an Order permitting the use of trailers for carrying gas containers without reducing their speed. It is not generally known that previous to this Order the use of trailers behind heavy four-wheeled vehicles is allowed only on condition that a reduced speed of 5mph is maintained. So far, Mr Shrapnell-Smith stated, there was no Order to the effect that gas vehicles may not be used for private motor vehicles, but there was a distinct feeling that private motoring should not be encouraged.”
“OWING TO THE RECENT Motor Spirit Restriction Order the only fuel available for motor cycles used for private purposes is coal gas. The difficulty of storing the gas, great enough in the case of cars, is even greater in the case of motor cycles. A gasbag carried on or in the place of the sidecar body contains only sufficient gas for a very few miles, while the wind resistance offered by the bulk of the container is an important item. The trailer is a slight improvement so far as capacity is concerned, but it can hardly be considered an ideal solution of the problem. Then there is the question of pressure storage, which at present constitutes a still greater difficulty, as this system is not by any means looked upon with favour by the authorities. Finally, there is the question of the best means of introducing the gas into the cylinders, the question of gas carburetters, and of control. The whole matter of the use of coal gas as applied to self-propelled internal combustion-engined vehicles is in its infancy, but if it be studied carefully now, and the Government does not want to hinder development merely for the sake of stopping private motoring, coal gas as a fuel may continue after the war to the great advantage of the nation, as it will be a home-produced fuel, and, as such, deserves all the encouragement that can be afforded to it.”
“WE ARE INFORMED that the Embro Cycle and Motor Co, 21, Charlotte Street, Hull, are prepared to fit gasbags to motor cycles.”
“THOSE MOTOR CYCLISTS who are living in Hampshire within fifty miles of Bournemouth, and who are running their machines on coal gas, will be interested to hear that the Grosvenor Garage, Ltd, Bournemouth, have just published a most useful map showing the coal gas charging stations in the surrounding neighbourhood.”
“THE USA PRESS AND MOTOR CYCLISTS: The press in the United States have taken up a very antagonistic attitude towards the motor cycle, apparently for no better reason than the objection to certain performances of harum-scarum riders. This is somewhat reminiscent of the newspaper journalism in this country some years ago. Though comment in our press was bad enough, they never went to the length that the USA journalists have done recently in damning the popularisation of the motor cycle. The New York World recently had, says The Motor Cycle and Bicycle Illustrated, a bold headline running across two columns announcing that the motor cycle has been the cause of another fatal accident, despite the fact that the paragraphs which follow describe three automobile fatalities, two waggon accidents, and a street car case, in addition to the single mention of the motor cycle. It is worth noting also that the police, according to the article, hold the motor cyclist blameless for the accident. This trend of editorial policy is not confined to a few newspapers. It is general, and all the educational work so far done by trade bodies has not changed it. This is to serious a situation to ignore.”
“BROOKLANDS MODELS: NORTON MOTORS draw our attention to the fact that very often machines are sold, possibly inadvertently, as Brooklands Specials, which do not hold the official Brooklands certificates. The owners of Norton machines which were sold to them as Brooklands models, can obtain confirmation or otherwise of this fact by submitting the engine number and lettering to the makers.”
A week later there was a follow-up from the horse’s mouth…
“Sir, With regard to your note re Norton Brooklands Specials…as I dismantled, re-assembled, and tuned all these engines, without exception, at Brooklands, I have rather full records regarding them, and shall be very pleased to supply any member of the public, who will send a stamped addressed envelope and quote the number of the particular engine he is interested in, with any details required, including the actual speed done on the official test.
“A JAPANESE READER of The Motor Cycle: Mr U Imai, of Osaka, is a Japanese who has been an enthusiastic reader of The Motor Cycle since 1913. He is the owner of three machines, an Invicta, owner of three machines, an Invicta, a Triumph, and a Douglas, the favourite, he says, being the Baby Triumph, which is very suitable for the country in which he resides. He finishes his letter to us by wishing that the peace of the world will soon be restored by England’s great efforts, and that he will see many new types of machines made by Great Britain.”
“A JAPANESE MOTOR CYCLE CLUB: A motor cycle club has been formed in Tokio by the local agents for the Indian motor cycle. It celebrated its first run the other day, from Tokio to Hakone, a distance of sixty miles. The destination is a pretty place famous for its scenery and hot baths.”
“MOTOR CYCLE POLICE: While, up to the present, the British police do not use motor cycles officially…three Powerplus Indians have been purchased by the Central Police Office in Tokyo, Japan, and also that their numbers will be increased shortly. Indian motor cycles are also used by the Imperial Japanese Post Office. Once upon a time the West led the East. Is a change under way?”
“WIT ON THE BENCH: Recently before the Kingston county magistrates a motor cyclist named Cedric George Hyde Anderson Horace Maynard was summoned for using a cut-out on his motor bicycle. ‘Is this one person?’ asked the Chairman. ‘Yes, sir,’ replied PO Beck. ‘It is an unusually long name.’ The Clerk: ‘We ought to charge extra for making out the summons.’ (Laughter.) The defendant was fined £1.”
“CHEAPER MOTOR CYCLES? English makers have usually admitted that we should never see really cheap motor cycles until we got enormous factories supplying an enormous market. In America we see both, and, as consequence, you can buy (or, I should say, could buy in pre-war days) a first-class machine at a price which would be sensational in this country…A £60 British 3½hp represented from twenty to thirty weeks’ wages for a British working man. A £55 Indian ought not represent more than eight or nine weeks’ wages to some American mechanics.”
The following two-parter has little to do with the history of motor cycling; it is included here because it is a wonderful example of Ixion at his passionate, lucid best.
“ONE OF THE FIELD CENSORS added a sneering foot-note to a BEF correspondent’s letter to us, suggesting that any man who had the time, money, and health to motor ought to be in France. I should like to stand up for the average munition worker…As a trench poet put it, ‘the maximum of danger means the minimum of pay’, and some of us wish that at the outbreak of war the entire nation had been mobihsed, and put on rations, and that ‘pay’ or ‘wages’ had ceased for the duration…The question of pay or wages apart, I feel a certain sympathy for the munition men, in the teeth of the sneers that are showered upon them so freely by people who should know better; and here goes to state that sympathy…what the munitioner makes in money he loses in health. We have all seen pale, pigeon-chested youths with a recurrent winter cough and a morning huskiness go into the Army, and reappear as chesty athletes with the torso of an Apollo and the voice of an auctioneer. The munition hands of all the belligerent countries are making their sacrifice. It is not as picturesque as death on the field of battle, but it is written in its own grim casualty lists, and the civilian doctor is beginning to know something about it. He will know much more about it after another ten years. Money is not everything; the mere prolongation of life is not everything. The infantrymen who come through the hell of Flanders may sometimes envy the shellmaker now; they will not envy him in five years’ time…For these reasons I cannot endorse the common sneer about the munition man’s piano or sidecar or week-end. If I were Prime Minister, and the resources were available, I would see that every man and girl in the munition factories had a sidecar and plenty of petrol; nothing would do more to cancel the disastrous physical effects of long hours of indoor work at high pressure, amidst fumes or racket, or dust or heat. People denounce the strikes and labour troubles which occasionally complicate the munition problems, few and unimportant as they really are when you look at the thing in the large. Why have sporadic labour troubles occurred? German pay? Natural disloyalty? Temperamental inability, due to want of imagination and education, to visualise great historic developments, as compared with petty personal troubles and frictions? None of those things go for much. Just as you, dear reader, are irritable and touchy and unreasonable to the missis when you are fagged, so have our overstrained munitioners suffered from ragged nerves and jaundiced judgment from time to time under the intolerable strain of years of overtime at an exhausting job. If we could only endow the white-faced strained munitioner with the deep chest and bronzed health of the fit infantry private, there would not have been a labour stoppage in England since war began. And if I had to choose between two deaths, I’d rather pass with the mere lightning impression of a world-shattering concussion from a ‘Jack Johnson’ in Flanders than cough my soul out slowly in a garret in Birmingham, with the wife and kiddies growing thinner every day. No There isn’t really a lot to choose between the trenches and benches. The trenches offer, physically speaking, a man’s life, and, if need be, a man’s death. The benches offer a dog’s life and a dog’s death, if you do your best at them, as you should; and do not lose time, and booze, and sneak out to snatch a furtive smoke. But if there were no benches, there would be no trenches, and vice versa. So it is useless to argue and compare. The one fact which needs stating, as Tommy following up the barrage knows, is that the factory hands are doing their bit in this war, and it warms my heart as much to see Jack out in a sidecar with a flapper on Sunday as it does to see Tommy sweating down Victoria Street on leave with his pack and tin hat and rifle; though I wish they could fix up for his clobber to be left on the other side, for Jack does not cart his toolkit round with him on Sundays.”
“THE BENCHES AND TRENCHES: A week or two ago, being very profoundly touched by some sneers aimed at munition workers in my presence, when I was fresh from learning some tragic facts about certain munition hands who were worked to death in 1914-15, I penned some rather violent and exaggerated words comparing the benches with the trenches. I quite expected to be adequately ‘ticked off’ from the trenches for this offence: for in cold blood I fully realise that no such comparison is fair, and that no munitioner has ever suffered, or could ever suffer, what the infantry in Flanders have borne during the last month, for example. But the soldiers let me down very lightly, realising perhaps that many munition workers, and notably some of those who are physically unfit for soldiering, have played the hero in this war, and are now paying for their self-sacrifice. The only criticism addressed to me personally was a quiet request that I should read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest ‘Under Fire’, which I have done. I think it was high time somebody spoke up for the munitioners, and I am glad I did it; but I do not seriously wish to pretend that the average munitioner’s part in this war compares with the average fighting man’s…We all know there are munitioners who have earned colossal wages ever since 1914 without any detriment to their health, who have spent their royal earnings in orgies of self-indulgence, and have hampered output callously. It is this small percentage of black sheep who have inspired sneers which are a gross insult to most of those who work at the benches. My words were provoked by two death beds [Ixion, let it be remembered, was a parish priest so he is doubtless talking from direct, painful experience]—one of a girl, who had worked till she dropped, without complaining, and who died at the end as quietly and simply as a good soldier dies; the other of an elderly man, who, after giving his only son, laboured at the factory for excessive hours until he could work no longer, and passed to his rest in sublime unconsciousness of the fact that his death compares in self-sacrifice and gallantry with a soldier’s death. We keep a more wary eye on the benches nowadays—such things are probably impossible in 1917. But in 1914 they were possible, and they occurred. When we think of the fallen we must remember such stay-at-homes as these.”
“SPECIALISING IN MOTOR CYCLE ENGINEERING—A Co-operative Scheme between the Trade and the University of Birmingham for the Technical Training of Incipient Motor Cycle Designers and Manufacturers: An item which is of general interest to motor cyclists, particularly those of youthful age, who intend to adopt motor cycle engineering as a profession is the decision arrived at by the Cycle and Motor Cycle Manufacturers and Traders’ Union to donate, from the funds of the Union, a yearly sum to the Birmingham University to encourage students to specialise in subjects connected with this industry.”
“MOTOR SPIRIT FOR TRIAL RUNS: The question has frequently been asked
as to whether it is permissible to give a trial run on a motor cycle which may be offered for sale; and although nothing definite has been decided on this point…we think that, if it can be proved that the seller is either going to or coming from a trial run for the purpose of a sale, it is unlikely that proceedings will be taken against him.”
“A WARNING: To those motor cyclists who have not taken the latest Motor Restriction Order seriously we would give a word of warning. Even though motor cycles are being used for business purposes, there is a likelihood of proceedings being taken if other means of locomotion are reasonably available. It is the fixed determination of the authorities that the provisions of the Order shall be observed with the utmost strictness.”
MOTOR CYCLING MUNITION WORKERS formed the National Motor Cyclist Fuel Union “whereby representations could be made to the authorities with a view to securing the allocation of a sufficient quantity of petrol to permit of munition makers journeying to and from home and work”. The ACU backed the union and undertook to “act as its mouth- piece in any dealings which were made with the Government”.
“SALE OF DOUGLAS SERVICE MOUNTS: The sale of overhauled Douglas Service mounts and sundry stores and spares recently announced took place at a depot at Lee, SE. A WD fetched top price. An overhauled 1915 realised £42, and an earlier model £22. A ‘sporting’ model had a three-gallon petrol tank! War Service Triumphs and P&Ms figure in the next sale.”
“THE KING OF SPAIN’S CUP: the annual race for the King of Spain’s Cup, which is equivalent in Span to our TT race, recently resulted in a sweeping victory for amateur riders. Harley-Davidson machines seem to have figured prominently, coming in first, second, fourth, fifth, and sixth, while in the sidecar class machines of the same make finished first, third, and sixth.”
“THERE IS NO CLOTHING which can ever make a pretence of keepng a motor cyclist warm in winter. If you don a trench ponyskin jacket under a high-flying aviator’s kit, they will suffice to slow down the inevitable radiation of such heat as you possessed when you were fool enough to leave home. Start- ing at a high temperature and keeping the ride short are the two cardinal points. The first is secured by a half hour doss in the nearest bakehouse oven before the temporary insanity of starting out overtakes you. The second is automatic; within half an hour you will certainly be so cold that you will get off and cry. Crying will not warm you; it is wiser to push the machine fast up the nearest steep hill; if overtaken by frost-bite in the Fen district, try pushing the machine with low gear engaged and the valve lifter down, which is tolerably efficacious…whilst on this subject, I may add that it is the height of folly to use your flapper bracket in winter time for any other purpose than carrying Thermos flasks and Primus stoves. I know that the proper occupant looks ‘extra’ in a little fur cap with a red top to it, and a suggestion of ermine at her throat; and if she steadies herself properly against you, an illusion of warmth may be created. The warmth is illusive, I say, because the head draught on your forward aspect will soon cool your front half, and she will conduct off any heat from your hindmost longitudes; so the only difference her presence makes is that you will be stone cold fore and aft instead of only fore. Above all, don’t think of her as she looks when she trips down the steps of her parental domicile to take her seat. Think of her rather as she will be five miles along the road. Her nose blue, her toes frostbitten. Her temper——! I would save you from becoming a life-long misogynist, if possible for I admit, with reservations, that the little things are not bad in their proper place and at proper times. In winter their proper place is a cosy corner, not a flapper bracket.”
“A CORRESPONDENT IN AN American contemporary explains how, having fallen off and utterly smashed his carburetter float chamber, he managed to get home on a scooped-out lemon functioning in place of the float chamber! Has anyone tried a banana as a sparking plug?”
“THOUGH THE BEST AMERICAN productions are good in many important respects, the detail design is generally of a nature which simply would not be tolerated by any British factory of repute. One is overwhelmed by the confusion of rods and bell- crank levers, cantilevers and hinges operating the clutch and gear box, and the sensations of the tyro gazing upon this chaos of disorder can well be imagined. But though the methods of application are generally crude and ugly, the ideas carried into effect are good. The duplicate clutch control is an excellent system, as also is that of so connecting up the clutch lever that a continuation of the declutching movement brings the foot brake into operation, the brake normally being independent.”
“FROM A SUMMONS AT A SE COURT last week it appears that the police are using motor cycles to enforce the new Order. A police inspector, in evidence, stated that he mounted his motor cycle and overhauled and stopped the driver of a car. The latter was fined £14 for not having a petrol permit and using an improperly registered car.”
THE ENGINEERING STANDARDS COMMITTEE published reports on ‘British Standard Dimensions’ for wheel rims and tyre bands; magnetos; and spark plugs.
“IN THE FUTURE TWO WELL-KNOWN American motor bicycles which have been sold in this country will be made in the same factory. These are the popular four-cylinder Henderson and the Excelsior. All the Henderson staff and the machinery of the factory were moved to the Excelsior works at Chicago…Mr TW Henderson, president of the Henderson Co, will in future act as general sales manager of the joint company.”
“RECENTLY WE STUMBLED ACROSS two cheery Australian officers but for an airing—we did not say joy riding—on a Triumph and sidecar. One of these debonair giants was obsessed with a grievance to the effect that the sidecar wheel would lift clear of the road on every left-hand bend—and this despite the fact that his passenger must have scaled something in the vicinity of sixteen stone! ‘How could he stop the beastly thing?’ was his much-vexed question. After a long discussion, these two sporting warriors reluctantly managed to convince each other that ‘it must be because we take corners too fast’. We timorously endorsed the theory.”
“A LITTLE BIRD—POSSIBLY A PEACE DOVE—tells me that the first aluminium motor cycle cylinders are already on the road,” Ixion revealed. “I hope they are coming commercially, but with the prettiest of all metals at £225 a ton, or thereabouts, it’s a long, long way to Tipperary. The experiment is a huge success. The engine keeps unbelievably cool. I do not fancy that appearance counts for much, or some American machines would have been turned back at Liverpool by outraged Customs officers; but for those who like appearance, let me say that neither rusty cast iron nor neatly radiolened cast iron can compare with machined aluminium in perfect beauty.”
“IN DEFENCE OF THE MOTOR CYCLE TRADE: Sir,—It is now more than ever evident that the Government are treating motorists and the motor trade, under the guise of national necessity, in an absurd and ignorant manner, and in a way which is likely to kill the motor cycle trade for years after the war is over. Their method is not helping the progress of the war, nor conserving the petrol supplies of the country, as might be done by more intelligent treatment, and, as one of the motor cycle traders, I think it now behoves us to get together before it is too late and protest most strongly. The aim of the country is to conserve petrol, and the Government method of conserving anything is to treat it drastically without the least consideration of expert know- ledge. They simply say, ‘Close up this business’, and that’s an end to it. They can only do this in those cases where they have no strong opposition, and that has been the reason why the motor trade has had such drastic treatment, as we have accepted all those restrictions without any opposition and in a patriotic spirit. Had we been a labour or trade union strongly represented things might have been different…The war is not going to be won by putting traders out of business, and the motor cycle trade has a very strong right to put forth its claims for existence in the national interest…High-powered cars should be barred where unnecessary, and replaced with lighter cars or motor cycles and lighter cars where unnecessary should be replaced by motor cycles, the whole idea being to bring down the petrol consumption while still endeavouring to let the respective trades carry on. If we are to get on with the war we must have some business left in the country to meet expenses. I address this letter to brother agents and traders. We have the right to carry on business; we have accepted too many restrictions without proper protest. Let us now organise and protest effectively. We have a strong case for proper treatment and attention, and with the satisfaction of knowing that we can serve the interests of the State in the economy of petrol by more extensive use of the motor cycle, we should not now delay a moment but get to action….If we do not do something now and at once, we may as well shut up our premises, which is evidently what the Government are trying to do for us.
A MOTOR CYCLE AGENT, Edinburgh.”
“INEFFICIENT SILENCERS—NOVEL POINT FOR WD: CS-Maj W Ward, of the MT works depot, ASC, was summoned at Bromley for using a motor cycle with an inefficient silencer at Chislehurst Hill. PS Farley said the machine was making a loud noise. On examination he found two slits, no baffle-plates, and no means of closing the slits. Defendant told him the machine was standard. Lt Noble, MT, said he inspected the machine shortly after. The slits were 1/16in in diameter and identical to thousands turned out since 1915 and accepted by the War Office. Lt Sugden, of the MT works depot, ASC, gave texhnical evidence in support, If the police contetion were upheld, he said, it would mean the overhauling, and perhaps scrapping, of thousands of Triumph motor cycles now in use by the WD. The Bench were of the opinion that the silencer did not comply with the regulations, and a fine of 10s was imposed. Defendant said he was doing his duty and could not pay. Fined for a similar offence, Cpl A Green, ASC, MT, said he declined to pay the fine. Another defendant was allowed a week for payment.”
DURING THE YEAR the number of motor cycles in use by the Army rose by 91%.
“OUR CHRISTMAS GREETINGS: The old and hackneyed phrases fall short of the time and condition of things, for many of our old friends, we realise, will be living, when this issue reaches them, amidst conditions that hardly coincide with the cap and bells of the jester’s heyday. Therefore, we cannot do more than wish them all a speedy and glorious return to the old country, in whose cause they are sacrificing so much…Next Christmas, let us hope, we shall be able to celebrate the season as never before—a frosty spin by highway and byway, a cosy fireside with plenty of good cheer, both mental and physical. It is a thousand pities that the old customs, with their atmosphere of unity and good fellow- ship, should die, and, though to-day we are scattered about the globe, let us hope that the season will not be passed without some sense of goodwill—even though peace on earth be impossible.”
…And that’s about it for another year. The Motor Cycle ran a couple of lighthearted Xmas stories but they weren’t up to much and, with pleasure motor cycling virtually eradicated and the pioneer generation of enthusiasts living and dying in the global conflict silly stories seem somehow irrelevant. So let’s pass on to 1918 with a selection of contemporary adverts.