LET’S GET THE YEAR OFF TO A GOOD START with a liberal dose of Ixion. Our hero’s remarks on motor cyclists ring as true today as they did in 1927: “For many a long year anglers have ranked as the champion liars of the sporting world; but though the literary blokes have not yet discovered the fact we motor cyclists knocked the angler out at least ten years ago. The universe holds no such tarradiddler as the average youthful owner of a sports ohv. Indeed, I am wondering how far the popular prejudice against us and our mounts is founded on the reckless lies which some of us tell about our speed in public places, under which heading I include bars and the columns of such newspapers which are silly enough to print these fantastic claims. In view of the public antagonism to motor cycling…the wise motor cyclist never drives in an ungentlemanly fashion and never talks about his occasional speed bursts except when the lodge is close-tiled. In view of false impressions and false boasts I will try to set down what are—in my experience—the real facts about the speed habits of motor cyclists. In the first place, there are hardly any of us who regularly and habitually maintain high averages over long distances. I have ridden in company with a mighty assortment of good and bad riders of all ages at all periods of the motor cycling era, and I only recall one m,an who invariably turned the wick up. The late Ivan Hart-Davies, the famous End-to-End record holder, never is my experience travelled slowly, though he never intentionally took risks, except on a record run. Hard as nails, he could, and would, travel hard wherever he went. He never went as fast as some of the short-distance speedsters with whom I have ridden, or as some of my talkative friends profess to do; but it took a jolly good man to keep up with him over a log day. For, make no mistake, it is punishing work to drive a motor cycle fast for eight hours or more over varied going or on crowded roads. All the other fast men I have ridden with were fast in bursts only, and dawdled for a good part of the day. There are doubtless a sprinkling of Hart-Davieses whom I have not met; but the type is rare, except in the columns of a sporting paper. Many of the liars are drawn from the ranks of sprinters. There are plenty of lads who own fast buses and drive them too fast for comparatively short trips, on weekday evenings and at weekends. These are the lads who create trouble for us, as they usually make too much noise, ride with insufficient consideration for other road users, and talk unwisely in all sorts of places. They are often really good riders, but take liberties because they know they are pretty good. A percentage of them get killed every summer; and most of them get fired. Not one in a hundred of this type can keep going through a long day as Hart-Davies used to do, or ride with his combination of dash, restraint and common sense. The bulk of us would be described by the sporty boys as potterers, ie, we seldom go really fast, and on our longer runs reduce our speed average to very modest figures by occasional stops to admire views, enjoy a smoke without getting our eyes full of ash, and so on. But the potterer, who composes perhaps 95% of our total number, includes a leaven of drivers who occasionally turn what I believe the Scots cal ‘fey’. I do myself. As a rule, my averaqge on a sunrise-to-sunset run would strike the Norton brigade as contemptible; during the actual spells in the saddle I probably keep up round 30—a little more or less, according to the character of the road and the traffic; but this shrinks to a far lower figure when my stops are ranked in riding time, as I do not really enjoy a non-stop of more than an hour or so, after which I enjoy a leg stretch, a pipe, and so forth. But my particular type of rider resembles Stevenson’s Jekyll and Hyde, for he suffers from evil moods, which attack him without warning. Twice last year, for example, I started to tackle business journeys of more than 400 miles. When I started I intended to take two days over each trip—there was no hurry about them. But shortly after I put my wheels on the road I turned gay for some obscure psychological reason and on both occasions I covered the entire distance not mainly in one day, but in a most culpably small percentage of the 24 hours which make up a day. I rode far, far faster than I ever dream of riding in the normal way. I took no risks of a kind to incommode or imperil the general public; but after an hour of pukka speed, instead of wearying of the strained attention and constant effort required to maintain such an average, I seemed to enjoy the tension and stress, and kept up the speed. Oddly enough, when this mood attacks me all idea of physical fatique and bodily ache seems to evaporate, and the mood brings with it an unusual swiftness of decision, certainty of judgement, and general riding deftness. I have no doubt that a good many other readers are occasional victims of a similar mood. It may be the product of unusual physical fitness; for I note that the mood seldom attacks me during a long spell of office work, but occurs most frequently after a few consecutive days on the road.”
“THE OTHER DAY,” IXION reported, “three dozen motor cyclists were fined two dollars [ten bob*] apiece at Banff for not having two independent brakes of adequate efficiency. One of them, a far labourer, risked contempt of court by exclaiming indignantly, ‘It’s nae fair.’ ‘What’s nae fair?’ asked the surprised Sheriff. ‘Twa big deevils of policemen shoving yer motor cycle for a’ they’re worth.’ I doubt very much whether any of my machines would remain stationary if I applied one brake only with twa big deevils shoving. Of course, if one of the big deevils stood on the foot brake, and the ither gruppit the hand brake, the bus might stay put. I am inclined to think that the Banff Sheriff has discovered a gold mine, and I only hope that my local bench will not be struck with a similar brain-wave. But what is a fair brake test for a motor cycle suspected by the police?”
* Note for younger enthusiasts and those in the colonies: time was, hard to believe though it is in these strange times, when a quid would fetch you four US dollars, thus a buck was worth a crown, so 2/6d, half a crown, was invariably “half a dollar”. “Ten bob” of course, is ten shillings = half a quid = 50p. Why is a “bob” a “shilling”? The Royal Mint, which should know, suggests: “‘Bob’ was used to refer to a set of changes rung on church bells, and this may have been the nickname’s origin as the word ‘shilling’ has its origins in the proto-Germanic word ‘skell’ which means ‘ring’.” Seems a tad tenuous to me, and they don’t pretend to know the etymology of ‘quid’.
THE TT GOT OFF TO A GRIM start when Archie Birkin was killed during practice on his 500cc McEvoy when he hit a wall trying to avoid a fish van. From then on the roads were closed for TT practice. Health and safety gone mad if you ask me. For the first time the TT was covered by the TT Special, edited by Geoff Davison who was also making his last outing on the Mountain circuit (riding a RexAcme in the Lightweight). Davison certainly knew his stuff—he won the 1922 Lightweight—and his newspaper quickly became an institution. Mr Davison, you have the floor: “The 1927 races produced more successes for the acknowledge experts—Freddy Dixon won his second TT in the Junior, Wal Handley his third in the Lightweight [Geoff Davison finished a respectable 9th] and Alec Bennett his fourth in the Senior. People began to say that newcomers had no chance and that men who were capable of winning a TT race could be numbered on the fingers of the hands. Nevertheless there were some ‘new boys’ in 1927 who were later to make TT history. Amongst them was a shy Scotsman, one Jim Guthrie, who rode a New Hudson into second place in the Senior, and a young Irishman, Tyrell Smith, who finished 13th on a Senior Triumph by showed he knew how to handle a machine. The Lightweight race was a runaway victory for Wal Handley (Rex-Acme), though for once he did not make record lap. The credit for this went to Alec Bennett (OK), who in his fourth lap beat Walter’s best by two seconds and was then only 53 seconds behind. Shortly afterwards, however, he retired and Walter won from Arcangeli (Guzzi) by over eight minutes, in a time of nearly 13 minutes less than that of the previous year. Arcangeli earned his footnote in motor cycling history as the first Italian on the TT podium—he also rode a Guzzi in the Senior, finishing 14th. In both the other 1927 races the ultimate winner did not take the lead until more than half distance. In the Junior, in fact, Wal Handley made record lap and led for the first six laps, retiring half-way round the last lap to allow Freddy Dixon (HRD), who had been second to him throughout, to win by a comfortable margin from Harold Willis (Velocette). In the Senior, hot favourite Stanley Woods (Norton) made his first record lap and at the end of the fourth lap was over four minutes ahead of Alec Bennett on a similar machine. Then Stanley retired, allowing Alec into the lead, and on the last lap Jim Guthrie gave a preview of his TT skill by running through the field into second place. Whereas, however, the time of the Lightweight race had improved by so big a margin in the 12 months, the Junior and Senior were less than two and three minutes respectively faster than the 1926 events. Once again people said that machines were getting too fast for the course.” Norton’s senior team, Bennett, Woods and Joe Craig, were riding the new CS1 cammy singles designed by Walter Moore, who had joined Norton following spells with Douglas and ABC. This was their first of so many Manxland outings by cammy Nortons. PS, you’ll find two short Pathé newsreels of the 1927 TT on YouTube.
Lightweight, 29 starters, 17 finishers: 1, Wal Handley (Rex-Acme) 63.3mph; 2, L Arcangeli (Moto Guzzi); 3, CT Ashby (OK Supreme); 4, Syd Crabtree (Crabtree); 5, Achille Varzi (Moto Guzzi ); 6, FL Hall (New Imperial). Junior, 46 starters, 20 finishers: 1, Freddie Dixon (HRD) 67.19mph; 2, Harold Willis (Velocette); 3, Jimmy Simpson (AJS); 4, GL Reynard (Royal Enfield); 5, Paddy Johnson (Cotton); 6, Edwin Twemlow (Excelsior). Senior, 50 starters, 18 finishers: 1, Alec Bennett (Norton) 68.41mph; 2, Jimmy Guthrie (New Hudson); 3, Tom Simister (Triumph); 4, JW Shaw (Norton); 5, Graham Walker (Sunbeam); 6, Freddie Dixon (HRD).
NORTON WAS NOT THE ONLY also British marque to succeed on Continental circuits. Cammy Ajays led the 350s in the Belgian, Swiss and German GPs; a cammy Velo did likewise at the French. And an ohv Sunbeam headed the 500s in Germany, beating the BMWs on their home ground.
EDWARD TURNER, WHOSE NAME was to be inextricably linked with Triumph, built a motor cycle with Webb forks and a Sturmey-Archer box. It was powered by a home-brewed 350cc cammy single; he registered it as the Turner Special.
BRITISH MOTORCYCLE AND accessory exports were worth £3,059,917, up nearly £450,000 on 1926. Now then, a 500cc ohv P&M Panther sports/tourer cost £60; today a sports/tourer will set you back, say, £8k. Which means that £3m equates to something like £400m. That was much better than most industry sectors that were struggling out of recession (and about to hit the Wall Street Crash). “Yet,” The Blue ‘Un noted, “it is probably not exaggerating to say that no other industry has met with more determined opposition in the course of its development. This emanates principally from that sector of the community which has from time immemorial appeared to derive immense satisfaction from vilifying any form of recreative amusement, sport or diversion, in which it does not itself happen to indulge.”
BIKES WERE SPROUTING oil tanks as dry-sump lubrication became more common.
STREETLIGHTS HAD BEEN AROUND for centuries; now the government set a national standard based, logically enough, on “uniform illumination of road surfaces”. The first automatic traffic lights were installed, in Wolverhampton and Leeds; the first white lines appeared as road dividers.
“THE 1927 INTERNATIONAL SIX Days Trial, held for the third year in succession in this country, again proved a triumph for England, for the Trophy Team easily topped the list, Sweden and Germany being second and third respectively. In addition, the International Silver Vase was won by the English Ladies’ Team, who actually lost fewer marks than the three competing for the Trophy, though they beat the runners-up, Denmark, by the small margin of only two marks. On the whole the event, which was held in the Lake District, was a success, for although the route-marking on the first day was distinctly poor, the organisation of the res of the trial, although hardly up to last year’s standard, was good. With the exception of two days the weather was bad even for Lakeland, and many small watersplashes which in ordinary circumstances are merely a few inches deep were raging torrents, and thus ignition trouble was more prevalent than in previous events. It was generally agreed that the foreign competitors were rather out of their element, for the trial was unusually difficult, and in Continental reliability trials such hills as Wrynose and Blea Tarn are seldom included. Nevertheless the Danish solo team for the Silver Vase, mounted on 499cc Rudge-Whitworths, were excellent, for they only lost seven marks between them; and although the Swedish Trophy Team, on Husqvarnas, lost many marks on the time during the last difficult days, their riding capability was high, and until Thursday they had lost not a single mark. In fact, on Tuesday and Wednesday they actually headed the list; the English team having lost a total of five marks. The
English team, composed of GW Walker (493cc Sunbeam), L Crisp (349cc Humber), and FW Giles (498cc AJS sidecar), put up an excellent performance, and the only marks lost were due to hill failures on the part of Crisp and Giles. In spite of the wet weather the trial was most enjoyable, and throughout the week large numbers of spectators were out on the course, closely following the progress of the competitors and of the International Teams in particular. Of the 125 competitors who braved the elements on the opening day of the ISDT, 123 checked in at the finish…at times the rain fell in sheets. Owing to the number of by-lanes and tracks introduced in the 126½-mile course, the riders had to splash through numerous water-splashes—one at Overwater (appropriate name!) became a raging torrent owing to a heavy downpour—and over grass tracks sodden with rain, so with nine hills steeper than 1 in 7, the day was a trying one..To add to the riders’ difficulties the route-marking was woefully inefficient and many went astray…The competitors checked in at the finish travel-stained and weary, their machines covered in mud…an atrocious stretch of grass-grown gradient known as Birkett Bank…stopped nearly everybody and pushing was the general rule, groups of riders tugging away side by side to extricate their machines from the quagmire.Those on sidecars had a particularly exhausting time…The general opinion of competitors was that the Overwater splash and the Birkett Bank stretch were out of place in an International Trial, and the error of judgement on the part of the organisers was made worse by the inclusion of a secret check at the end of the grass hill. When Monday’s result sheets were posted…it was found that 58 of the 125 competitors had lost marks on time. Actually only three riders retired…some, of course, were continuing in the hope that protests would be allowed. What pleased riders and spectators more than anything else was that the English Trophy team had lost no marks…and that the Ladies’ team had followed suit! So two teams, at any rate, had put up marvellous performances.…AJ Wheaton (996cc AJW sc) had unfortunately overturned at an abrupt corner and his sidecar wheel was distinctly the worse for its flight. However he carried on…Apart from the supercharged DKWs, great interest was
evinced in the Belgian Gillets…RB Clark’s and R Sexe’s ohv mounts with primary gear drive, unit construction and dry sump lubrication look as if they have real merit…On Tuesday the first day’s course was taken in the reverse direction…To make quite sure that competitors did not lose their way immense quantities of dye were used to mark the course, and Commander CAG Hutchinson RN offered to mark the Honister section, which was rather too much for the route-marking vehicle. He set off on his solo Ariel and performed wonders, including overturning on the road the case of dye which was securely fixed on the carrier!…Two of the lady competitors had nasty spills on Birkett Bank: Mrs PC Spokes (346cc Royal Enfield) shook herself and her machine badly…and retired. Betty Lermitte skidded, and found that she and her 346cc Royal Enfield were doing catherine wheels down a small precipice. Although she was rather bruised, and in spite of her machine being somewhat bent, she carried on…To everyone’s dismay the English ‘Trophy’ team suffered a hill failure: L Crisp (349cc Humber)…went into a narrow ditch on the right of the track…Crisp’s failure was genuine bad luck and people were more sorry for him than for the marks debited to the team. The other two members, GW Walker (493cc Sunbeam) and FW Giles (498cc AJS sc) were excellent; the hurried remarks in The Motor Cycle notebook of ‘first rate’ and ‘Frankie up to standard’ are perhaps the best comments. The two 175cc DKWs of the German team were cheered loudly, and certainly their little engines seemed to have almost unlimited power. Of the Swedish riders, Y Ericsson and G Gothe on 550cc Husqvarnas were both excellent…spectators were greatly impressed…CD Noel (596cc Scott) ran on to a projecting rock at the roadside and was suspended there while P Cranmore on the leading 349cc BSA and sidecar neatly avoided him in the narrow roadway. Even Pike found the soft stuff too much for his Norton outfit and was enthusiastically pushed by a group of schoolboy campers…Then followed the descent of Honister Pass proper, with the crags towering high overhead. Some little skill was required here, due to processions of four-horse coaches skidding their wheels down the gradient and cutting deep ruts in the surface…The lunch in a bern near Overwater was a great success, but everyone was very worried about the Langlands water-splash. Betty Lermitte (346cc Royal Enfield) got into difficulties and had a very cold bath—much to her disgust…N Hall (247cc Excelsior) came through well, skidded right round and did the crossing again!…The weather on Wednesday was really lovely. The course, too, was very easy; there were no observed sections, and competitors and officials had a joy ride…JW Mortimer’s Panthette was much admired, and indeed, the lowered saddle position, twin exhaust pipes, and footrests have greatly improved the P&M’s appearance….Wednesday’s lunch, which was taken in a field in brilliant sunshine, was a great success and competitors were busily engaged in reading The Motor Cycle of last week in which was published the full report of performances on the Monday…at Great Ashby came a watersplash at which a large crowd of the local inhabitants had collected…The two brothers Rossner (DKWs),members of the German ‘Trophy’ team, very wisely decided to take no risks, and, to the intense delight of the spectators, they walked through, lifting the front wheels of the machines in wheelbarrow fashion. The first clean crossing was made by an ACU marshal, to cried of ‘Good old ACU!’…Thursday’s run was merely Wednesday’s reversed…But low clouds and pouring rain all day made the
grass by-lanes very slippery, and those who had punctures of any sort found that to make up time was none too easy…the 1 in 8 Ashtead Farm Hill had substituted any semblance of green mud for greasy black mud…HB Chantrey (980cc Brough Superior) had to foot slog heavily to assist his pinking engine. In direct contrast ALS Devyer (996cc AJW) did not seem to be going much faster but never removed his smile or his feet…P Cranmore (349cc BSA sc) stopped at the foot and made his passenger climb on to the carrier, and C Weichelt (496cc DKW sc)…quietly told his lady passenger to get out and push. She did but unfortunately slipped and seemed rather shaken when she picked herself up. The open-air lunch was rather a dismal affair but competitors were still cheerful, all things considered…Foolstep was the only observed hill…PHL Lamberts-Hurrelbrinck (493cc BSA), one of the Dutch riders, got sandwiched between two travelling observers and the crowd yelled frantically to clear a gangway for the competitor…WS Braidwood (499cc P&M) missed his hear, stopped, and ran backwards…Edyth Foley (498cc Triumph) dashed along to receive a rousing cheer for the cool handling of her machine…G Gothe (Husqvarna), crouching low, again impressed the spectators with his skill in the saddle…GG Kitson (596cc Scott sc) smoked a pipe unconcernedly as he put paid to the 1 in 5 gradient.,,the two Morgans arrived with chain-shod driving wheels and ascended at speed…The following retired: CJ van Marle (249cc Dunelt) water in magneto; OB Bridcutt (249cc Dunelt), crash making up time, unhurt; Willem Smit (348cc Rex-Acme), bent forks; J Kean (499cc P&M), brakes inoperative; DF Welch (490cc OK), started too late to gain any award; G Patrick (976cc Royal Enfield sc), badly hurt as the result of an accident after the conclusion of Wednesday’s run.,,New ground was to be covered on Friday’s run and the competitors were not looking forward to climbing Hard Knott and Wrynose Passes…the morning was beautifully fine…The previous rain had played havoc with magnetos…quite a number of machines had to be pushed off…Absolutely nothing in the way of difficulty was encountered in the leafy lanes—except wide-cornering touring cars…at one blind corner HM Hicks (Douglas sc) and GG Kitson (Scott sc) plunged over the edge and
considerably damaged their outfits. Hard Knott has figured in many northern trials and it always commands full respect from the riders. The scene from the top is wonderful for the rolling panorama of hills and plains spread around and below, with the sea gleaming in the distance—but not often! And certainly not on Friday with its cold and rain…The pas is about two miles long…with an abrupt climb with severe right and left hairpin bends and a final grade of about 1 in 4 with a greasy approach, and then loose stones and slime to the summit…CJ Highfield’s Scott boiled…G Gothe (550cc Husqvarna) of the Swedish team failed and baulked his team mate, Y Ericsson; this stop still further established the English lead for the Trophy…Purely as riders the Danes are outstanding and if they had a native-built machine to ride, the International would be very likely be held in Denmark…RL Galloway (346cc New Scale sc) and P Cranmore (349cc BSA sc) made good climbs by dint of bouncing. M Gavson (346cc New Imperial sc), going well, stopped with a screech, his gear layshaft having stripped…Kitson’s front fork rear girder was snapped, but by connecting the steering damper and a temporary spanner tommy bar across the fracture he carried on, but had the greatest difficulty in persuading the officials to allow him to start on the final day’s run…Protests, complaints, and requests for investigation worried the stewards on Friday night and it was difficult to follow with any degree of accuracy the continual alterations made to the score sheet…The dry weather of Friday made it possible for the shingle of Blea Tarn to be very much loosened, and it was greatly feared by all. The zig-zag approach is of loose gravel and offers no grip for driving wheels. The lightweights went up well with their drivers trailing their feet, Minnie Grenfell (172cc Francis-Barnett) being especially applauded by onlookers. Heinrich Rossner (175cc DKW) of the German team began fast, negotiated the bends and then stopped…GE Rowley (348cc AJS) once again rode magnificently and was among the very fastest to make an absolutely clean ascent…B Malmberg’s 992cc Husqvarna outfit stopped low down but went well after his agile passenger mounted the carrier…CE Wise (348cc AJS) charged up the face of the rock and stopped, while H Rawsey’s 499cc P&M took a violent dislike to a spectator’s Rudge and rammed it….Wrynose caused very little trouble and the great majority had averaged the requisite speed (20mph, less the 10 to 12 minutes allowance) over the mountain passes—actually about 14mph. After the road work was over machines were submitted to Dr AM Low for examination, but the inspection was only a cursory one for defects and few marks were deducted. In the final examination only D MacQueen (172cc Francis-Barnett), HM Hicks (596cc Douglas sc), GG Kitson (596cc Scott sc) and RT Horton (Morgan) were penalised. Subsequently MacQueen’s broken fork spring was credited to avoiding a car by riding into a rock-filled ditch. Hicks had damaged his chassis in a crash and Kitson had broken his forks in the same circumstances. Horton had his high gear chain missing. Broken footrests, lost generators and the like were frequent but were not penalised, and generally machines finished the strenuous six-day trial in sound mechanical order—but covered with dirt…Professor Low states, however, that there is still room for improvement, particularly among details, as it appears that lubrication and mechanical adjustments were too frequently necessary. Protection not only of the rider but of the brakes and chains, as well as other parts of the machine, from mud could also be increased with advantage; and while the lubrication of the engine has been greatly improved by the majority of manufacturers, similar attention could also be given to transmission systems.”
“How the Mistakes made During the 1927 Trial may be Rectified in the Future. By Ogmius.
Of course the weather had a lot to do with it. Lakeland weather knows no responsibilities, except perhaps that it has to keep pace with Manchester and Fort William in the matter of rainfall; and it does, especially in August!…this was, no doubt, the reason why the ACU organisation was rather below par…The ‘International’ is, or at least should be, to show the motor cycle and lay public what the modern machine can do, and not what it cannot do. It is not, in the trial sense, a ‘sporting’ event, and the organisers should bear this last fact very much in mind…the country in which the event is held is in practice the host and the visiting competitors are the guests; as such they are at a disadvantage in that they are a little nervous and, of course, they are usually totally unacquainted with the conditions and the route. This year great trouble was taken on the pat of individuals to make things easy and pleasant for the visitors; so far so good. But it would have been an improvement if the rules and regulations had been printed in the various languages of the competing countries so foreign riders could fully understand all the technicalities of what they might and might not do…they should be told of the conditions likely to be encountered in an English trial—conditions which are seldom seen on the Continent. The choice of a crowded holiday centre for the trial appears to be rather an error of judgement; Lakeland, more in August than any other month is crowded with motor vehicles of all sizes—usually of large size…the fact that there were so few accidents indicates that there is a department of Providence that especially looks after competition riders who are picking up time after a patch of trouble.. The first day’s run was not very encouraging. The weather was bad and the road-marking followed suit. Blue dye on tarred roads is, at the best of time, difficult to see…Many riders hopelessly lost themselves and quite a number could not find the mild Colonial section—fortunately the authorities turned a blind eye, or perhaps they could not find it themselves! The two German DKW riders went far astray and is JW Moson, the Francis-Barnett rider, had not chased them, and caught them up they would still be wandering among the hills of Lakeland! The wonder is that they, or any of the visitors, managed to find their way at all. Just before the lunch
control came a watersplash. For the early solo men the water was only a foot deep, but for the later solo competitors and sidecar drivers the torrential rain increased the depth so that the water was up to tank level. Has it not been for three real sportsmen who waded in it up to their thighs and lent a hand, the majority of competitors would never have produced themselves and their machines to the farther beach. An obstacle such as this should have no place in an International Trial…It is poor comfort to tell a competitor with a waterlogged magneto that he is allowed an extra ten minutes’ grace at lunch…this concession is not of much interest to a rider who has to retire with a disgruntled magneto. Phil Pike, the Norton sidecar driver in the English International Vase team, naïvely suggested that nearly everyone, always except himself of course, should be disqualified for receiving outside assistance!…next day a notice was posted drawing attention to the rule on which Pike based his point. Had this rule been enforced on the first day barely 25% would have checked in. Motor cycles are supposed to travel along roads. Sometimes if the roads are bumpy they tend to fly, but there seems to be no reason why they should be capable of imitating a submarine…competitors very justly maintained this last point and said so very often and very vehemently…the inclusion of Birkett Bank did not improve matters. The section consisted of a slippery grass hill which would have done credit to a sporting one-day course…in an
International Trial competitors should not be expected to have to push their machines through an unobserved section…Lunches were taken al fresco—a term which is attractive if accompanied by sun, and rather bleak if washed down by rain. Competitors after a hard morning ride do appreciate a wash and a sit-down meal…On the whole the standard of riding was high, and the visitors from overseas made a good impression with competitors and spectators alike. This year’s machines seem to be a great improvement over last years in the mater of reliability and steering. Unfortunately few strides seem to have ben made in silencing designs, and the foreign machines were particularly bad in this respect…In ascertaining the results for the manufacturers’ team prize in the 500cc class the ACU, I suggest, made a ridiculous decision. The BSA, Triumph and James teams finished with absolutely clean sheets, but because the nominal engine capacities are 493cc, 494cc and 495cc respectively the BSA—the ‘smallest’ team—were awarded the prize having won by one cubic centimetre! It seems a pity that the ACU regards so important a matter as a manufacturers’ team prize in so light-hearted a spirit. Each team should have been awarded a prize, just as was done in the 350cc class, where Douglas and Raleigh [both with a 348cc nominal capacity] tied…During the week I rode a model ‘N’ 494cc Triumph, and from a pressman’s point of view it proved to be little short of ideal. It was not fast, not particularly quiet and not exceptional comfortable; but it steered well, it was dead reliable, and the engine seemed to have almost unlimited power at low speeds. There are only a very few six-day trials for which I have had machines which have given me no anxiety—for a pressman must at all costs produce himself at the observed hills up to time; the Triumph is supposed to be a reliable touring machine, and during the week it lived up to its high reputation…After the first day I regarded it as a well-tried friend, and I feel sure that it would never let an owner down…This article may appear to be written in rather a pessimistic vein, and indeed, I have done so with a very definite purpose in view. The lessons to be learnt from any trial come only from the points which need improvement. The event fulfilled its main purpose, for it provided a stiff test from which English motor cycles emerged with flying colours…mention must be made of the squad of voluntary travelling marshals, who did wonderful work. The ACU made a brave attempt to rectify the mistakes of the Monday and the attempt was, on the whole, very successful. If next year the International Trial is held in a neutral country the lessons of this year’s event will no doubt be digested so the 1928 trial may be more successful than any of its predecessors.”
PS The excellent site speedtracktales.com unearthed this intriguing snippet from the Canberra Times: “It Is to be regretted that France, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland will, not be officially represented, as a six days’ trial with seven or eight nations competing would be an unusually interesting and informative event. It is understood that the present unfavourable rate of exchange is accountable for the absence of European competitors.”
Heinrich Rossner rode a supercharged 172cc DKW as part of the German International Trophy team. He lost 20 points, many of them for going off-course due to poor route marking. C Weichelt, who rode a 500cc DKW outfit, lost 26 but Heinrich’s brother Herman, who rode the other 172cc DKW, ‘retired’ on the fifth day—more accurately he was knocked out of the event by a collision with one of the many cars that were roaming the Lakeland roads during the ISDT. The Germans finished third out of three in the Trophy competition behind England and Denmark; in the Vase they lagged behind the English Ladies, Danes, English, Swedes and Dutch. The Motor Cycle remarked: “It was generally agreed that the foreign competitors were rather out of their element, for the trial was unusually difficult.” And then they invited Heinrich to share his thoughts on the trial. He didn’t need asking twice:
“The FICM has only two international events, the Grand Prix of the FICM and the International Six Days Reliability Trial. These events are intended first of all for international competition between teams and riders of the different nations affiliated to the FICM. Following this international character, the rules and regulations for these events should be printed at least in English, French and German; this has been done for all previous Grand Prix and Six Days Trials, except those held in 1926 and 1927 by the ACU…there is no doubt that the German Sporting Body and the Motor Cycle Club of France would be only too pleased to make a good translation, or at least to look through proofs. The regulations printed only in English must be a handicap to the foreign competitor. One of the most difficult matters is to mark the course to make it quite clear to the foreign competitor who cannot afford the time to spend an additional week before
the competition to go round the whole of the course. In Regulation 25 the promoters promise to do the marking of the course by a trail of blue powder, but in Regulation 27 they protect themselves from any responsibility by stating that no excuse whatever can be accepted for taking a wrong course. One could accept this rule in a local or ‘internal’ competition, but there should be no possible chance of such an occurrence in an international competition. Unless marking can be clear and definite it would be better not to have any, and let competitors find their course by the aid of a map. The marking throughout was absolutely inefficient; the ACU did excuse themselves by saying it had been done by a new man this year. I do not think it an excuse but an accusation for the ACU to experiment in an international trial with a new marker. On Monday in particular it was so bad that even experienced English trial riders like Miss Foley and Mr Moxon lost the course and marks. Foreign competitors did likewise, losing marks and their gold medals, but on the result sheet it was stated marks were lost on ‘reliability’…they lost the marks through inefficient marking. One can only say this in case the trial is held in Sweden, Italian Lake District, Germany or the Austrian Alps, for if the marking was just as bad,,,the best English team would lose the maximum number of marks through not being able to find the course…In one of the foreign Steward’s reports from 1926 it was stated that to enable foreign competitors to know their exact places on the route should be clearly marked, and that mile posts…should be placed; this was done only every twenty miles apart…You found, for instance, a place on the card ‘Patterdale’; you saw some houses and on enquiry if it was Patterdale the reply was ‘Yes, you go on for another half mile.’ The same enquiry and again the reply ‘Patterdale.’ To expect competitors to be at places to schedule time but not to make it clear where these places are seems ridiculous and unfair…one secret check was about 1½ miles wrong so all the marks given had to be rectified…confidence was entirely lost when on Monday afternoon even a mile post was 1¾ miles out…the fixing of these notices by placing them on the ground or against a wall seemed very insecure, for not only were they blown down, but in one case a farmer had picked them up and fixed them in the wrong direction…Another handicap to foreigners was the water splashes. From previous experiences, the ACU had an enquiry from Germany about the depth of water and the official reply was: ‘There will be no watersplash so deep as not to negotiable with machines of ordinary design’…only submarine motor cycles were able to get through. The ACU might have been caught napping by the heavy rains, but why not deviate the course? Basing my arguments on the official reply of the ACU I think they are sufficient for attention at the next FICM Congress, who will doubtless have to deal with this trial and may cancel all the results. These remarks are not intended to reflect in any way on the kind and very cordial reception expended to all foreign competitors.”
MOTOR CYCLING SUMMED UP the two sides of the 1927 ISDT story in a well considered editorial: “The International Six Day Trial, just concluded in Lakeland, has provided another victory for British machines. That was by no means unexpected, but, as a study of our report of the trial will show, it was thoroughly complete and convincing and by no means a mere ‘win on points’. It is further to be noted that the foreign team who were the runners-up for the International Vase—beating the English A-team—were mounted on British machines. Throughout the trial the riding of the Continental competitors earned high praise, and it may therefore be inferred that the British triumph is due to the excellence of the motorcycles produced by this country and not merely to the ability of our rider. We find, however, even greater cause for satisfaction in the achievement of the English ladies’ team in winning the International Vase. That its members should have beaten their male opponents in a trial of this nature, over a course that was in portions, quite severe, speaks volumes for their skill and for the modern motorcycle, and the result…will, we believe, do much to further the popularity of motorcycling amongst women. To the visitors from abroad, and to the manufacturers of their machines, we can also offer our congratulations. They put up a spirited showing, and the Swedish team, in particular, was at one period distinctly menacing. We express the feelings of the whole of the British motorcycling world when we say that we look forward to seeIng an even stronger contingent from the Continent in next year’s International trial. In the past, after an important event organised by the Auto Cycle Union, It has almost invariably been our happy duty to felicitate that body on its arrangements. Unfortunately, in the present instance, that is impossible; on the contrary, we consider that the organisation of the International Six Days’ was open to not a little criticism. It very largely failed both as regards planning and administration; the trial was not well conceived, nor was the conception carried out In a satisfactory manner. The selection of the routes can hardly be considered as fortunate; the trial showed an extraordinary lack of balance, the serious work being almost entirely concentrated into Friday afternoon and Saturday morning. That was particularly unsatisfactory from the point of vIew of would-be spectators, and it may also be added that very little was done to acquaint the public of the fact that such an important and interesting event was being held. The trial also partook too much of a test of time-keeping—a most undesirable thing in an event of this kind —whilst the number of protests at the conclusion of the trial indicated a certain slackness in the administration, as did the numerous unofficial complaints that were heard from competitors. It was singularly unfortunate that the ACU should have selected the International Six Days’, of all events in the year, for the perpetration of a series of faux pas.”
THE DOMINANCE OF BRITISH BIKES in the TT and ISDT should not make British readers too jingoistic. Let’s take a look at a few goodies that were stirring enthusiasts’ hearts, and wallets, over the Channel…
A NORTON RIDDEN BY Bert Denley won The Motor Cycle prize for the first 500 to cover 100 miles inside an hour.
THE NURBURGRING opened for business; the first race was wonby Toni Ulmen on a 350 cc Velocette. The 17.5-mile track was opened to the public in the evenings and on weekends as a one-way toll road.
THE BLUE ‘UN LAUNCHED a campaign to develop ‘Everyman’ motorcycles for non-enthusiasts. The idea was to develo motor cycles that were easy to start and ride, economical, clean to ride in everyday clothes (often with enclosed engines) and fitted with weather protection.
SIXTEEN MATCHES WERE HELD IN the first round of the Auto Cycle Union Motor Cycle Football Cup (there were 31 clubs in contention but Coventry drew a bye). Coventry, generally accepted to be the best team in the country, was still in contention in Round 3, beating New Southport 11-0. Wolverhampton beat Reading 3-1, Douglas beat Leeds 4-2 and Ace (also based in Coventry) beat Midlesborough 3-1. Coventry maintained their winning streak against Ace in a local derby semi-final, winning by 7-0. But Douglas matched Coventry’s performance, beating Wolverhampton 10-1. The Cup Final was played at Crystal Palace. The Motor Cycle reported that Coventry captain Jack Montgomery was “designer and manufacturer of the 344cc Montgomery he will ride; he competed in the first sidecar TT and has met with success in trials and sporting events generally…S Jackson (348cc AJS) is a dashing young rider who gained replicas in the 1926 and 1927 TT races.” There were two other Ajays in the Coventry stable, as well as aa Sunbeam and a Grindlay-Peerless, all of them were 350s. “The Douglas team, although not of so many years’ standing as its opponents, has advanced by leaps and bounds of late. This year the Douglas men have carried all before them, having played and won in all 11 matches with a total of 96 goals, while their own line has been crossed on four occasions only. Each member of the team is employed by Douglas Motors and each will be mounted on a 348cc Douglas…W Douglas (captain) plays forward on the left wing; he learnt football under the Rugby coach at Clifton College. W Werrett (vice-captain) put in three years with the Tank Corps in France, so he will probably want some stopping if he moves from his position of full back and starts on the offensive.” Motor cycle substitutions were not allowed—damaged of broken down bikes had to be sorted out on the touchline; in a 1926 league game four bikes were hors de combat at one point, leaving two heroes to protect their goal (which they did successfully) until repairs were made. In the event experience told; Coventry won the 1927 ACU Cup.
FOLLOWING ALEC BENNET’S 1926 Junior TT win on a cammy Velo a lot of riders wanted Velos. So many, in fact, that Velocette needed a bigger factory and duly moved to what would become the world famous Hall Green works in Brummagen. To raise money for this Velocette sold shares and a large number were bought by one Sydney Willis. So far so what. But Sydney had a son named Harold why had resisted attempts to get him into the family firm and was pursuing a career in engineering. As part of the share deal Harold joined the Velocette board as technical director. It was a match made in heaven and, for Harold, a dream come true. He’d ridden a Montgomery into a highly respectable 5th place in the 1924 Junior TT and took 12th place in the 1925 Junior. He soon showed an affinity for Velos by finishing as runner-up in the 1927 Junior behind Freddie Dixon’s HRD. And then Velocette’s new director won a famous victory at the Brooklands Hutchinson Hundred [This was just the start of Harold Willis’s contribution to motor cycling; we’ll meet him again in the years to come]. The Motor Cycle’s man on the spot was in a distinctly whimsical mood: “Freddie Dixon was there with a gorgeous new 996cc Brough Superior, which included a beautifully streamlined silencer, a seat-pillar oil tank, cut away to make room for the rear exhaust pipe…a neat mudshield taped to the front down tube to protect the front exhaust valve, and the carburetter, placed between the cylinders, completely hidden by two aluminium plates…The
limit man, N Anderson, was astride a 249cc Dunelt with a new two-port cylinder-barrel with generous finning round the exhaust ports…The fuel supply on RE Dicker’s Rudge-Whitworth was augmented by an ordinary two-gallon Discol tin, complete with tap union and pipe, strapped on top of his petrol tank…Rex Judd had changed his large, battered old tank for one that simply blazed newness; later, Judd decided not to start…Wright got fed up with waiting and, sitting in the middle of the track, started playing ‘put and take’ with a few of his henchmen. Then a mighty cheer went up as ‘Ebbie’ emerged from Chronograph Villa, and a few seconds later Anderson went away on his Dunelt. No one took any notice, however, and Cobbold, Hicks and Baragwanath, attracted by chink of coin on concrete, sat down with Wright and the four played ‘double or quits’. Stakes were beginning to run high when a smiling police officer suddenly joined the party; Cobbold was still surreptitiously settling his obligations five minutes later. Gradually the crowd on the starting line thinned, while the track became more and more crowded. Anderson was still a long way ahead, lapping consistently at about 68mph Then there were only two stationary machines left—Wright’s and Dixon’s Brough Superiors. At last ‘Ebbie’s’ flag fell for the last time that day, but both machines had to be pushed as far as the pits before either showed a sign of life. By this time Anderson had completed 11 laps. Much to everyone’s disappointment Dixon had tyre trouble and came off after one lap; he hurt his elbow…Denley passed with his motor running poorly, and smoke issuing from the cylinder head joint…Worters came in early to adjust a loose exhaust pipe, and just afterwards last year’s winner—CS Barrow—came in with his float chamber adrift and lost several precious minutes righting matters.
After doing seven laps Bilney (Rex-Acme) passed slapping himself and then was seen no more. Afterwards he said the mice has been at his engine!—they had!! [To date this is the only double screamer I have spotted in the pages on the Blue ‘Un; I hope to find no more—Ed]…Then came the news of some crashes round the other side of the track. Poor Hieatt (Cotton) came off after seizing his engine and was cut about a little, CE Slade-Jones (349cc Alldays-Bradshaw) was touched by another rider and cut his shoulder, and Archer hurt his head. AG Walker (Chater-Lea) was flagged off for a flay front tyre. Then a travelling marshall toured in with half of Dicker’s crack case (jagged edges) to which one flywheel was still attached! On his 26th lap Anderson was passed by Ventura, and HJ Willis had brought his TT Velocette up into 3rd place, a lap behind…On his 31st lap Hicks slipped in front of Willis. With Ventura’s 248cc Cotton only half a lap ahead and five clear laps in which to catch him it was obvious that Hicks must win handsomely. One more lap saw Hicks almost on top of the Cotton and then it happened—Hicks had the wretched luck to break his inlet valve spring…This left Willis in second place and two laps later he took the lead. When Willis finished Ventura was at 36 laps, followed by Anderson (36), Longman (35), Hobbs (35) and TR Wainwright (35). Running like a sewing-machine, however, the Harley beat Anderson into third place…Officials then discovered a large hole in the side of the Harley’s silencer. Results: 1, HJ Willis (348cc Velocette), 86.39mph; 2, E Ventura (248cc Cotton), 73.78mph; 3, FA Longman (989cc Harley Davidson) 90.63mph); 4, N Anderson (249cc Dunelt), 66.30mph; 5, HE Hobbs (348cc AJS), 76.97mph; 6, TE Wainwright (348cc Cotton), 76.94mph.
BEFORE THE MANX GRAND PRIX there were the Manx Amateur Road Races, generally known as the Amateur TT (the name changed in 1930). The man from The Motor Cycle was on the Island in good time to see the chaps arrive and practice: “Saturday last was unlucky for the ‘Amateur’ men for it was the beginning of Oldham Wakes—and Douglas is popular with Oldham mill operatives [Wakes Week had religious roots but during the industrial revolution evolved into a works’ holiday, particularly in the North-West, though paid holiday did not become a legal right until 1938—Ed]. The boats were crowded, and embarkation and unloading again at Douglas were carried out amidst a welter of seething humanity…that charming official Mr Shimmin at once made everybody feel at home, just as the Ashton Ford Services Depot staff on the pier had eased every move in obtaining Isle of Man licences, unloading, transporting luggage and filling up the machines. The completed entry list consists of 75 men and already the enthusiastic officials are taking of a two-day event in 1928—Junior and Senior races….JO Cunliffe’s HRD, it is said, is the actual machine which its designer rode in the TT, and which was sold as it finished, tape, shellac and all.CW Provis (Norton) also bought an actual TT machine—the push-rod model ridden by Jimmy Shaw, and reputed to be faster than the camshaft types…K Dixon (346cc OK-Supreme), having been gently warned [by a policeman] as to noise, proceeded to Woolworths to buy pan scrubbers for stuffing in the fishtails, and [also following a police warning] GBM Hay (346cc New Hudson) and R Farquharson (346cc Royal Enfield) set out for the same emporium (that IS the word in good journalese) to purchase appropriate instruments for giving audible warning of approach…The atmosphere was happy, the weather was brightening, and even the request, as riders entered their particulars, for ‘addresses of next-of-kin’ only provoked such replies as ‘Must you really know who to send the bus to?’…Lomonossoff arrived with a most resplendent McEvoy, and when the rain ceased someone remarked, ‘Is that the sun shining?’ And got the reply, ‘No, it’s Lomonossoff’s machine coming along
the promenade.’…The fastest [practice] laps were made by Matthews (Norton) in 37min 10sec, and 38min 23sec, but the following were all good: Cunliffe (HRD), 46min 15sec and 40min 25sec; Mellord (P&M), 45min 6sec; Archibald (Triumph), 451min 35sec and 41min 20sec; Vaughan (Norton), 45min 38sec and 41min 22sec; and Farquharson (Royal Enfield), 42min 42sec and 42min 48sec.” For a change of tone, here’s a report on race day from Motor Sport: “It was no mere pit-a-pat, but a steady downpour that greeted us when we awoke in Douglas…An absolutely unbroken grey sky foretold a race run under the worst possible conditions, and one could scarcely envy those who were to take part in the mad, tearing, desperate battle on the famous TT circuit between the hours of ten and three. The practising weather had been mainly fine, and the present terrible conditions would undoubtedly upset the chances of many a rider. Visitors began to whisper that chance had come, long overdue, to the Scott riders. How near these enthusiasts came to the truth is now common knowledge. With the exception of those unfortunates who had either crashed in practising or not reached the island at all, every entrant had succeeded in qualifying…For the first time since the inception of the race, the competitors were started at intervals of 20 seconds, this measure being necessary in order to accommodate the enormous entry of 75. The pre-race parade of the riders through the streets of Douglas is a somewhat bizarre event, presenting, as it does, the spectacle of leather-clad riders, in full racing gear, sedately piloting their highly-tuned mounts at a snail’s pace up to the Glencrutchery Road. Arrived at the start, the riders proceed to replace touring plugs with ones more suited to racing. Despite the weather, 9.45 finds the grand-stand tolerably well filled, and long lines of cars and pedestrians can be seen moving out of the town to the local vantage-points. There is not quite such a breathless hush as usually precedes the firing of the first maroon, and it comes as a mild surprise to all, spectators and riders alike, when No 1, Braidwood (P&M) pushes off on his long ride. Idle chatter is immediately drowned by a round of cheering, and the
crowd settles down, in defiance of the Clerk of the Weather, to enjoy itself. Incidents during the starting period are few and far between, nearly all the riders getting under way immediately…the chief favourites seem to be Birch and Hancocks, (Sunbeams), Matthews and Provis (Nortons), Stables (Scott) and the departed Braidwood…Having seen the last man on his way, we seize our machine, and thread our way through the throng to Governor’s Bridge. Here the crowd is amazing: late arrivals are borrowing ginger-beer crates and the like, so that they may see over the head of the more advantageously-placed early arrivals. After a few minutes, the warning whistle is sounded, and Braidwood arrives, some 37 minutes after 10. Six minutes more elapse before the next man is seen; he turns out to be No 11, Hunt (Norton), and is closely followed by No 9, Dawson (X-JAP). What has become of Nos 2 and 3, Cullis and Oldroyd (Sunbeams), both fast men? They are soon through, however…Out of the mist which is coming down from Brandish corner, there appears a Scott rider and it is immediately seen that he is in difficulties. His mount is completely out of control, and just as he reaches the corner, he is thrown, fortunately clear. Another rider is already in sight, so a danger flag is waved, while willing hands— police, marshals, and press—dash to the assistance of the hapless rider, and drag his machine from the course. The forks have broken beneath the crown, and thus ends the race as far as Lomas, absolutely unscratched, is concerned. The race has now been in progress for nearly an hour and a half, so we return to the scoring board to see how the riders are faring. As we reach the start, Braidwood is just leaving his pit on the commencement of his fourth lap…So far, a great race, with nothing between the leaders. Meanwhile Braidwood is signalled at Ballacraine, his rival, Matthews, being somewhere on the Mountain. The latter’s indicator moves on to Creg-ny-baa, but the P&M riders seems to remain at Ballacraine a long time. The Norton is now at Governor’s Bridge, but Braidwood is not yet signalled at Kirkmichael. Has the marshal there missed him, or ? We wait in suspense, and presently the third lap places are put up, showing Braidwood once more in the lead, albeit by a very small margin. Limmer is reported to be cornering magnificently, and is very close on the heels of the leading pair. Meanwhile, a fine struggle is taking place for pride of place among the 350s, who are led by Thomas (RexAcme), closely followed by Gates (Velocette). And now, at long last, comes news of Braidwood. He pushes in to Kirkmichael, having retired with serious engine trouble, and so ends a fine ride. Our eyes go immediately to Matthews’ pointer. Surely he, too, has stuck; and such proves to be the case, news coming through that he has been unlucky enough to become involved with a bunch who have come to grief on a treacherous bend at Greeba. This bend, although previously almost unknown as a danger spot, has been giving much trouble to the riders. Seven are reported to have crashed here in the space of a few minutes. Thus Limner jumps into the lead…The first lap claimed nine victims—Nash (Scott), JD Potts, Brookes and Cunliffe (HRDs), Hogg (OK), Archibald (Triumph), Hancocks and White (Sunbeams), and Lomonosoff (McEvoy). A further 10 entrants had failed to survive the second lap, these being-Fletcher and Weston (Cottons), Harrington, Jackson, Kehoe and Moorhouse (Nortons), Robinson (Chater-Lea), Hanson (Velocette), Lomas (Scott) and Leonard (Enfield). Meanwhile Thomas, the 350 leader at half-distance, has retired, his place being taken by Gates, who, by three very consistent laps, retains it to the end. Soon after, Hunt comes through and commences his final lap, and all eyes are keenly watching Limner’s dial. The Norton is going
beautifully, whereas the Scott appears to be slowing, a contention which is borne out when the Lap 5 leaders are announced…Only 22 seconds between the first two men after nearly 190 miles! But do the riders know the position? Hunt’s pointer moves steadily on, but surely Limmer’s is sluggish! And so goes on the ding-dong struggle, until the Norton is signalled at Governor’s Bridge, and almost immediately roars over the line, to the accompaniment of enthusiastic cheering. First or second? Nobody can definitely say. Limmer is climbing the Mountain, and might just arrive in time to win. The spectators are breathless with excitement until, with Limmer between Creg-ny-baa and Governor’s Bridge, it is announced that ‘No 11, Hunt, cannot now be beaten on time.’ By the time the renewed cheering has subsided, Limmer flashes past, two minutes behind the winner. Truly a great race! Five minutes later, de Ferranti (Scott) arrives, and we settle down to see whether he has displaced Provis from third place. When the latter passes the line, allowing for their starting difference, it appears that they have dead-heated, but it subsequently transpires that the Scott has got home by the narrow margin of two seconds! The winner’s speed works out at 57.66mph, a wonderful achievement under such appalling conditions. His last lap was covered at 60.40mph, being the fastest speed achieved in the race. News now filters through that Limmer had been handicapped by ineffective brakes during Laps 5 and 6, a misfortune which, no doubt, cost him the race. Having conscientiously seen the last finisher arrive, we return to the town to await the evening prize-living. Our final impression is of a small, wet, but triumphant, boy-scout, still perched up behind the indicators, joyously whistling his farewell to that apparently unceasingly departing creature, the blackbird. The Palace, on the occasion of prize-giving, presents a very animated scene, and the riders, successful and unsuccessful alike, come in for a deal of good-natured banter. The Trophy is presented to an obviously embarrassed young man amidst the acclamations of a mighty throng, and so concludes one of the finest sporting events of the year.” Results: 1, P Hunt (499cc Norton), 3hr 55min 55sec=57.66mph; 2, GW Limmer (498cc Scott)*; 3,D de Ferranti, (498cc Scott)*; 4, CW Provis (490cc Norton)*; 5, A Cownlwy (490cc Norton)*; 6, S Gates (348cc Velocette)†. *Gained replicas. †Winner of The Motor Cycle 350cc Cup.
“WHEN I TOOK DELIVERY OF A 249cc Dunelt,” Blue ‘Un scribe ‘Icarus’ wrote, “I vowed, as I saw it in its resplendent newness, to cherish and protect it with vaseline and elbow grease. This vow was broken in the first week’s running. After a wet and sticky run I put it in the garage and left it to its own sweet self. Now, after more than 3,000 miles of hard riding, the little machine still drags about the original mud. Perhaps the machine looks a little woebegone; it does not seem to mind and I am afraid I do not…Ever since [after 500 miles or so] the engine and transmission had got bedded down to their work I have driven it as I would a hot-stuff ‘500’, incidentally putting up averages which would not have disgraced its bigger brothers…”The single-lever Binks carburreter gives one the impression that it was designed for the Dunelt giving good power, good consumption and being completely free from flat spots…The three salient characteristics of a machine capable of good averages are acceleration, faultless brakes, and good road-holding…the last trait is really remarkable for so light a machine; potholes on corners mean nothing, and on straight sections one feels that the frame would take another 10mph without being dangerous. Both the acceleration and braking are excellent…One very wet day in the winter I arrived at the office with highly muddied extremities. The Editor, overcome by a wave of pity, offered to let me use a pair of Middlemore legshields which he had received for test…Not only do they improve the looks of the machine, but they really keep the mud off and have not yet developed a rattle. On one mud-plugging trial they actually kept the frail craft from sinking beneath the waves—of mud! Incidentally, trials are where the little Dunelt scores. It is light enough to be handy, and powerful enough to climb anything but a brick wall on its 14 to 1 low gear. You can engage low gear, open the throttle fairly wide, and give your whole attention to choosing a decent course, holding the snaking rear wheel and keeping your feet up…Two piston rings, one plug, and a spring link for the rear chain have been the sole replacements, and the plug was burnt out through excessive full-throttle work while the rings were still new. Three separate petrol filters, in the tap, the float chamber and beneath the jets, make my mind easy as far as choked jets are concerned. When the gearbox requires more grease it signifies its want by making top gear difficult to engage, but neither the box nor the clutch have the slightest objection to my roughly pulling the lever right back from top to bottom, so how can I grumble? If the little hero falls to pieces I shall have been given only what I deserve. But I do not think it ill. Nowadays it only runs out of petrol when passing garages which, one must admit, is a sensible habit.”
“AS TIME PROGRESSES IT IS possible to forecast the general tendencies of development, and without doubt one of the most marked features of the forthcoming show will be the introduction by many well-known firms of smaller models. Not only will the ranks of the 175cc class be augmented to a considerable degree, but firms that have previously specialised in 500cc engines will produce machines with engines of 350cc capacity, and those whose speciality has been 350cc power units may introduce new engines which will belong to the 250cc category…modern improvements in engine design have brought the small engine to such a pitch of efficiency that it is capable of fulfilling the requirements of the average motor cyclist as regards speed and general performance; and, in addition, it has proved itself to be reliable…Already there are thousands who use a motor cycle as a regular conveyance between home and work, and the
day is not far distant when the low-priced lightweight machines will become the standard means of transport for hundreds of thousands of working people.” As long as the popularity of the motor cycle increases at the present rate there can be no serious attempt at a general standarisation of designs. A critical and enthusiastic public demands a range of models varying from the ultra-lightweight to the heavy passenger outfit or the sports machine capable of 90mph, or of even a higher speed…A British machine with a four-cylinder engine is staged more as a proof that design has not stagnated rather than as a marketable proposition…It is a hopeful sign that prices are becoming more stable, for a continuous ‘price war’ inevitably spells inferior quality and the ultimate disappearance of some of the small firms…it is not without interest that there are no fewer than four firms offering two-cylinder two-stroke machines. There appears to be little increase in the number of multi-cylinder engines of the four-stroke type, although a new proprietary engine of 750cc capacity has been introduced. Cradle frames are steadily supplanting those of the modified diamond type for high and medium-powered machines, and this tendency is even spreading to the lightweight class. A new frame of pressed-steel construction makes its appearance and shows signs of great promise…not only is the construction sound but the frame should be cheap to manufacture in quantities…wire-on tyres are the rule in spite of prognostications to the contrary. Electric lighting has been standardised in many cases, and cellulose finish, as far as tanks are concerned, has made a definite attack on stove-enamelling…there has been an improvement in both mecghanical and exhaust silencing. The latter improvement has ben brought about by the former, for more than one firm has found that a reduction of exhaust noise has emphasised mechanical clatter, and in consequence designers
have encountered the difficult problem of eliminating valve-gear noise…Overhead valves are no longer regarded as tge attributes of only the racing machine. The improved power output and economy provided by engines employing overhead valves have popularised this sort of gear for touring purposes…Even the overhead-camshaft engine has passed beyond the purely racing stage, and is now recognised as an admirable type for touring purposes. Three overhead-camshaft engines bearing the famous names of Norton, AJS and Humber make their debut at Olympia…They come as a welcome addition to an already long list of ohc engines which includes Velocette, Matchless, Atlanta, Calthorpe and Chater-Lea…neither JA Prestwich and Co nor the Blackburne firm has yest standardised ohc engines though each has carried out extensive experiments in this connection. The Rudge-Whitworth is now the sole representative of the four-valve motor cycle engine for the Triumph Ricardo model is no longer shown…It is very pleasant to be able to record that a side-valve New Hudson engine is exhibited with entirely enclosed valve mechanism, and it thus joins the Douglas as the second British machine to adopt this simple and obvious way of reducing noise and wear. It seems probable that enclose valve gear will in the course of time become universal practice for motor cycle engines…Although the majority of new two-stroke machines are fitted with Villiers power units, there are three new engines from the Velocette, BSA and W&G works…Dunelt remains the only firm to standardise a single-cylinder two-stroke unit of 500cc; the Francis-Barnett 350cc two-stroke has reached production in time for this year’s Exhibition.
“THE MAJORITY OF THE SINGLE-cylinder Matchless models have been redesigned for 1928, and so different are their appearances that Matchless enthusiasts will hardly recognise their favourite mounts in new guise. The new trussed frame, with duplex torque stays from the rear hub to the crank case, and duplex detachable lower tank rails and sidecar lugs integral with the frame, are some of the major alterations…The new type tank is made in two halves, each a steel pressed sheet with specially stiffened inside panels…The finish is black, stoved all over, and pure white side panels are painted on in four coats of cellulose, the resultant effect beinbg startling but quite pleasing…it is claimed to be the only tank on the market made without solder…one entirely new engine is offered—a low-priced ohv mount of 347cc called Model T/s.”
“A GENERAL ALL-ROUND IMPROVEMENT has been achieved in P&M designs for 1928. Much of the development has been in the direction of appearance, and anyone who is inclined to consider the lines of a motor cycle from the artistic point of view should study the new Panther…The tank is the most striking feature: the colour of the front panel is a delicate shade of green, and is decidedly striking; the rear part remains the well known dark green, and is improved by a new Panther transfer. The new tank shape allows the saddle to be set a little more forward and 3in lower. It is now only 26in from the ground when 27×2.75in tyres are fitted…The exhaust system has been redesigned with complete success from an appearance point of view, and no doubt in efficiency. Twin pipes sweep down and back always in the same vertical plane, and continue parallel with the ground without kinks of any kind. The silencer is larger, ending in a large fishtail, and the whole is plated and polished. twistgrip throttle is optional on all models except the basis model…Substantially the Panthette remains unchanged, and one model will be sold as before, with footboards and a single silencer, but the sports model, one of which has just run in the ISDT, is to have two separate exhaust pipes carried to the rear, ending in a pair of conventional silencers and fishtails. A handsome tank, almost a replica of the new Panther tank, in the same colour scheme, holds 2¼ gallons…The new sports Panthette is, in fact, one of the prettiest machines which have been produced for a long time.”
“ALTHOUGH THE TWOSTROKE ENGINE with its minimum of moving parts is undoubtedly in the majority among the power units used in machines of under 200cc, the fact that there is at least one small four-stroke, the Rex-Acme, proving itself as reliable as any of its larger brothers must not be overlooked. Since the last Olympia Show the 175cc Rex-Acme has been considerably improved both in appearance and performance. A loop frame with straight duplex tubes running from the steering head to the rear spindle is the most noticeable alteration. The duplex tubes are bolted to lugs on the head and saddle tube, and to the after ends of the chain stays. New and lighter forks of Rex-Acme manufacture, on the usual girder construction, are now fitted, the wheels are 26in instead of 24in, and the guards are wider and heavily domed….The little ohv engine is supported in the frame by means of adjustable clips and, by the use of thicker packing blocks, can be moved to any position. In the standard model a hand pump is used for lubrication, but provision is made on the half-time gear for the attachment of a Best and Lloyd pump, which can be fitted for 12s 6d extra cost. The exhaust system appears to be ‘straight through’ with a flattened exit, but in reality the last six inches of the pipe are made up of a Vortex silencer with half-a-dozen cups. Internal expanding brakes are now fitted on the less expensive model, but the specification with Sturmey-Archer three-speed model and kick-starter remains otherwise unchanged…the manufacturers give 50mph and 150mpg as its average performance.”
“THE RUDGE-WHITWORTH 1928 PROGRAMME shows that three different types of the 499cc machine will be marketed. These are the Standard at £46, the Special at £55, and the Sports at £60. An electric lighting set costs five guineas extra…the Special and Sports have ben entirely redesigned. Four valves are used as in the past, but the exhaust ports are not set at 90° instead of being parallel, and long pipes run to silencers which are located one on each side of the rear wheel…The wheels now have internal expanding brakes of large [8in] diameter and width, proportional coupled together as in the past, so that one pedal applies both together…the braking surface is very much larger than is found on most motor cycles. The frame has a special double top tube…on which fits a handsome saddle tank finished in black and gold. The oil and petrol tanks are now combined…The specification includes a four-speed gearbox…and twistgrip or lever control to the carburetter…The Standard machine is capable of 60mph, the Special of 70mph and the Sports of 85mph, speeds which should satisfy the most enthusiastic of ‘roadburners’.”
“AT OLYMPIA THIS YEAR motor cycles produced in Belgium, America and Germany are exhibited alongside the British models…Machines representing Italy, France, Sweden, Switzerland, Holland, Denmark, and Spain would be welcomed.” Ixion added: “Hundreds of other British industries survey with a puzzled wonder the unexampled success of this particular industry, which practically alone among the trades of this country need at the moment fear no foreign competitor, and in spite of all our post-war troubles is at once financially prosperous and technically supreme…progress at the moment takes the form of perfecting detail, and extracting from given designs and materials a little higher roadworthiness than was possible a year ago. The natural result of the unparalleled success of this great industry has been to evoke in all classes of Briton an interest and an enthusiasm which are still almost absent in other countries…A similar zest is coming to the birth in Germany, and in Holland, and in Italy. In France and Switzerland and Czecho-Slovakia the enthusiasm is much weaker and far more limited in area. In America it hardly exists. But throughout the British Empire it is alive and vigorous and intense.”
“A NEWCOMER MAKING ITS FIRST appearance at Olympia, the 248cc side-valve AJS is a perfect miniature of the 348cc model…all the latest modifications in AJS practice, such as the bolted-on cylinder head and oiltight tappet guides are incorporated…Three entirely new AJWs are shown. Two of these are identical except for the power unit, and represent the last word in luxury in a sporting big twin. The model…is fitted with a new two-port twin-cylinder Summit (Vulpine) engine; the other houses the 980cc ohv JAP power unit…A left toe pedal applies both brakes. An inverted lever on the right-hand bar also applies both while a lever on the left-hand bar operates the front brake only…a Best & Lloyd hand pump mounted on the tank top is fitted with a two-way tap, having one lead to the chains and the other to the overhead rocker boxes…The third newcomer to this range of resplendent blue and silver-tanked machines…is fitted with a single-port Summit engine (a JAP is offered as an alternative)…Although the new four-cylinder Vee type Brough Superior, with its four-speed gearbox, cast-in induction, speedometer and revolution indicator, is the most imposing exhibit at
Olympia, its present price of £250 (it is an Olympia rule that all machines exhibited must be available) puts it beyond the reach of most motor cyclists…An entirely new Brough Superior model with a 750cc side-by-side valve engine is shown. Though primarily designed for overseas use, it is also an attempt to provide Brough Superior quality at a moderate price…One of the outstanding features of the show is the addition of a small two-stroke machine to the long BSA range. The new model has a unit-construction engine and two-speed gearbox with clutch and kick-starter…Both brakes are contained in a single drum attached to the rear wheel…but for an extra charge of £1 1s a separate brake can be fitted to the front wheel…Perhaps the most outstanding feature of the neatly constructed 498cc Calthorpe is the extraordinary accessibility of the valve gear and cylinder head…the cylinder head can be detached without removing the camshaft gear. An ingenious method of dry sump lubrication is employed by means of which oil is circulated to every part of the engine, including the gam gear, whence it returns to the oil base and is pumped back to the tank through a sight feed on the filler cap…There is no ohc Chater-Lea in the strict sense of the term; instead face cams operated on the vertical shaft operate the valves through rocker gear…An ingeniously fitted magneto cut-out prevents the engine being started until the oil tap is open, so that if the oil is turned off at the conclusion of a trip there is no possibility of a seizure caused by
the forgetfulness of the rider…The new Coventry Eagle lightweight has a pressed-steel frame of remarkably sound construction. Two pressed halves are welded at the head and braced by the engine and gearbox bolts. The construction is light and rigid, and lends itself to economical production methods without the loss of constructional soundness…An example pf the new frame is of stainless steel but there is an extra cost of £30…if this material is specified…An example of duralumin construction is also shown…Complete redesign has taken place throughout the range of Excelsior models, and in every case now the frame is of the double loop type, with straight sloping top tube and saddle tank…An FN introduced to British riders for the first time is the 348cc sidevalve model. Probably the chief point of interest on this machine is the balloon tyres; the makers of the FN were the first to adopt them for motor cycle use. The three-speed gear is constructed in unit form with the engine…although hitherto unknown in England it is by no means a new
model, for it achieved fame by a very successful crossing of the Sahara desert some time ago…After a year of experimental work the twin-cylinder Francis-Barnett has reached the production stage…the jockey pulley adjustment for the rear chain has given place to an engine which is moveable longitudinally in the frame…A new link-type fork and internal-expanding brakes in both wheels form the main changes since last year…As last year, when they were shown for the first time, great interest is being taken in the Gillet machines. The ohv model of 489cc is noteworthy in that it has pushrods on the nearside…the highly successful 350cc twostroke stands out as being one of the only two machines with belt drive in the whole Exhibition…a world tour in remarkably short time has been accomplished on machines of this type…Clubmen who seek a genuine TT design need travel no further than the pedestal on which the HRD Super 90 model rests. It is the ideal of many lovers of speed who confine themselves to nothing bigger than the ‘Senior’ class of
500cc. The sturdy duplex frame, powerful brakes (with cooling flanges on the rear drum) and general layout speak of TT experience…Racing knee grips are fitted to the black saddle tank, and there is no carrier; one pair of mudguard stays are extended to form a lifting handle. Route card holders fitted on the tank tops are another notable HRD feature…A specially attractive sidecar suitable for use on the 490cc or 596cc models is the ‘Launch’ sports model, which has a boat shaped fabric-covered body having a flat boat deck ‘forrard’ with a cowl ventilator in the centre thereof and a small flag mast astern…If for no other reason the Henderson is a novel exhibit in that it is the only motor cycle in the show to which a reverse gear can be fitted. The prominent features of the Henderson are retained: the single-coil enclose fork spring; the long, swept-back bars; the toolbox mounted on the tank top; the extraordinarily comfortable bucket sat; the exhaust-warmed intake system; and the characteristically American method of mounting the rear lamp above the number-
plate…Interesting as are all the Indian models, the visitor to the stand is irresistibly attracted to the distinctive four-cylinder machine styled the ‘Indian Ace’; its basis is the old Ace machine, but since that firm was taken over by the Indian company many improvements have been made. Not the least important of these changes is in the appearance, and, finished in the well-known Indian red, the machine is indeed handsome. Viewed from the British sporting rider’s standpoint the riding position is unusual, but there can be little doubt that it is comfortable…Still something of a novelty in America, the 348cc ‘Prince’ appears a conventional lightweight to British eyes…The appearance of the 495cc twin-cylinder James has been entirely changed as the result of a new frame with a neat saddle tank…only the 172cc ‘Standard Sports’ and the 172cc ‘de luxe Super-Sports’ are entirely new productions. The engines are of Villiers manufacture…Two new and exceedingly attractive models, both two-stroke machines of 247cc, have been introduced by the Levis Company…the ‘Levisette’ costs only £29 15s, the specification throughout is particularly good…Six LGC
machines and three sidecars manufactured by the same firm are on show…The 300cc model has been entirely redesigned, and now has a smaller frame more suited to the engine than formerly…Sports, touring and commercial sidecars are exhibited; the commercial model has been specially designed for the 300cc machine in order to market an expensive and economical tradesmen’s outfit…After their specialising mainly in sports and racing motor cycles the adoption of the miniature machines by the makers of McEvoy motor cycles is an indication of the trend of development now proceeding…The McEvoy employs the popular super-sports 172cc TT Villiers engine, carried in a very compact little frame, which gives a resultant height of only 23½in to the top of the Terry saddle…There is also a stripped racing model with the ohv twin JAP engine. This is a purely racing model without mudguards, front brake or kickstarter. A range of 3540cc and 500cc machines with JAP or Blackburne engines is also shown…In these days it is unusual for a firm to introduce super-sports models with sidevalve engines, and for this reason alone the New Hudson Le Vack-
designed ‘Super-sports’ models are of particular interest. At first sight the 350cc engine appears to be of 600cc, so deep is the finning on the cylinder. A feature of these machines, which are of 346cc and 496cc, is the enclosing of the valve springs and tappet heads in oiltight aluminium covers…Great improvements have been effected to the New Imperial models. Saddle tanks are now standard on all except two models, the new 346cc sidevalve lightweight and the 680cc sidevalve JAP-engined machine…Loop frames have been standardised throughout the range. The 499cc ‘Semi-Sports’ is an entirely new model with a sidevalve engine and the new frame and tank…A choice of JAP, Blackburne, MAG, Villiers, Bradshaw, Atlanta and Vulpine power units is offered to purchasers of OEC motor cycles…The main principle of the duplex steering introduced by the firm at this year’s TT Races is that the weight of the machine is used as a righting or stabilising force. Two models are shown thus equipped: the 680cc twin and the 346cc two-port JAP-engined machine. A 750cc engine can be fitted in place of the 680cc without extra charge…The 300cc OK-Supreme embodies an entirely new
frame of considerable interest. There are only two brazed joints, these being at either end of the tank rail. From the lower part of the steering head duplex tubes extend to a point in front of the crankcase, where they are met by twin tubes running from the rear fork ends. Duplex tubes are also carried from below the saddle to the rear of the engine. Three points of suspension are provided for the latter; and the gearbox is inverted and attached to the chain stays and to a special steel bracket. This design gives an exceptionally rigid construction, and the ends of the tubes, instead of being trapped, are thrust into sockets and secured by bolts in such a manner that there is no possibility of their moving…Upwards of 14 models are shown as the 1928 Royal Enfield range, and the latest of these, the 225cc fourstroke, is a worthy addition to a respected family. It is a distinctly pretty little machine, and the fact that it is made throughout in one factory will have special appeal to those who do not favour assembled machines. The saddle tank and the compact layout of the engine and gear units result in a very workmanlike appearance, and there is no lack of refinement in the detail accessories, such as steering damper, etc. Several examples of the two-stroke model are exhibited, including an entirely new one with two-port detachable aluminium aluminium head engine and three-speed gear, and there is a ladies; open-frame machine which has a two-speed gear. All the 225cc models come within the 200lb weight limit for taxation purposes…For the ordinary tourist and for the rider who competes in reliability trials the 596cc Scott Super Squirrel makes a special appeal. It is lighter than the Super Squirrel, and, although not so fast, its slow pulling capabilities and ease of handling on ‘rough stuff’ make it particularly fitted for such arduous duties. The new gate change gear control mounted on the front downtube of the frame adds the final touch that was required in this direction on this always delightful machine. The same machine can be fitted with a 498cc machine. Although the day of the two-speed gear is continued to be past by most people, yet the remarkably good slow pulling and smooth torque of the Scott engine still hold many adherents to the original type of model with the foot-controlled selective clutch two-speed
transmission. These machines are light and silent on either gear and have a fascinating performance of a kind peculiar to themselves…That a two-stroke Velocette is to be marketed again will be a source of gratification to many. The model shown includes all the outstanding features of earlier types, and sells at a very modest price. The two-port engine has an overhung crank with a roller big-end bearing, and it is lubricated by oil from a sump contained in the crankcase casting, crankcase depression being employed to ensure the supply…When the 490cc twin-cylinder two-stroke W&G was first described in The Motor Cycle some months ago great interest was aroused, as it represented a distinct departure from the usual practice of British motor cycle manufacture. Since that time the machine has been extensively tested, and although the general design is unaltered, the machine has undergone a complete revision…The outstanding feature of the W&G is its extreme simplicity. It was the aim of the designer to concentrate the weight in a block low down in the frame, and to do this he has placed the engine sloping forward…The design of the new 172cc Zenith is perfectly straightforward, but the specification and the excellent appearance make the machine of outstanding interest. The engine is the 172cc super-sports Villiers and is lubricated on the Villiers automated system…The frame is of the low diamond pattern and provides a low, comfortable riding position. A saddle tank costs an extra 25s…Undoubtedly one of the novelties of the Show is the Whitley stabilised trailer. By means of a simple but ingenious turntable, which can be fixed to any make of motor cycle, the trailer can be attached in such a manner that the machine is free to turn or lean in any direction and yet is held vertically so that it cannot fall.
“WHILE AT OLYMPIA, SEE: Fabric-covered Royal Ruby tanks…’all-gold’ fabric sidecar on the Milford stand’…cellulosed fabric sidecars with the appearance of mottled aluminium…zoological exhibits—a horse, panther, flying squirrel, and an eagle…stove-enamelled tanks on the Matchless and Rudge-Whitworth stands…AJW hand-pump lubrication of chains and rockers…illuminated photographs of events of the year on The Motor Cycle stand—the circulation chart and its record of over 200,000 copies for its first show number—and The Motor Cycle Book for Boys…small schoolboys gazing longingly at big Brough Superiors…the ‘launch’ sidecars attached to AJS, HRD and Brough Superior machines…NUT black and white tank inspired by the ‘colours’ of Newcastle United…blue-and-black Triumphs, black and white Matchlesses and bright yellow Bakers…what a peculiar animal the (stuffed) Flying Squirrel really is…Duralumin and stainless-steel frames on the Coventry-Eagle stand…the Belgian ohv Gillet with the pushrods on the left…Watsonian detachable sidecar going through a side entrance typical of a suburban ‘desirable residence’…photographs of the world tour sidecar outfits on the walls of the BSA offices…the stripped racing ohv big-twin McEvoy—a genuine racing model…the ‘arm of the Robot’ demonstrating things in connection with Duckham’s Adcol oil—most uncanny!”
“THE AUSTRALIANS,” IXION REMARKED, “simply cannot understand why sportsmen in Great Britain remain unmoved by dirt-track racing, which enjoys over there a furore far greater than greyhound racing has excited in these islands…At the moment Billy Lamont seems to be acknowledged as the champion at the game. He literally never shuts his throttle after he once gets it open. Fancy this on a 348cc AJS, which is no creeper, and that on an unbanked track of 440 yards a lap. I have seen some amazing photographs of his ‘broadsiding’. In one unfaked print…his back wheel is pointing at right angles to the outside fence, and his front wheel towards the track centre. The rider and machine are leaning away from the skid at an angle of about 60°. The whole outfit is sliding bodily sideways at about 45mph…He is skidding to his right, and his left foot is dug into the loose dirt of the track, his boot being steel-soled for the purpose. He does four laps in one long skid lasting about 1min 20sec, and it beats me to guess how he steers under such conditions.”
INDIAN DECIDED TO stop producing new models every year; instead the Springfield factory annouced: “Changes and improvements will be issued as the occasion demands and circumstances permit.”
“THERE ARE NOW FOUR 4-cylinder motor cycles in America: The Indian-Ace, Henderson, and Clevelands of 750 and 1,000cc.”
“ANOTHER TIRADE AGAINST one-armed motor cyclists was raised last week when one of these riders appeared as a witness in a police court.”
“Sir,—I enclose a photograph which I thought might amuse some of your readers, as I think it must be the lightest machine which has ever got a record at Brooklands. It is the 98cc Omega on which I recently broke 13 records in Class 3. Total weight with petrol and oil has now been cut down to 130lb. A fact which comes under the heading of cruelty is that I am 6ft high and weigh 11 stone.
THE IPSWICH & DMCC staged an open speed trial on a 1,000-metre stretch of the newly finished concrete sea wall at Lowestoft
“AT BROOKLANDS ONE OF THE two AJS motor cycles which went through the Shell-Mex Trial covered 500 miles in 9hr 14min 50sec, which represents a speed of 54.07mph. It was a 348cc ohv model and was riden alternately by LH Davenport and A Simcock. Four laps were covered all out, the speed being 68.69mph.” The Ajay also achieved a top speed of 75mph.
POLICE AUTHORITIES IN Wellington, New Zealand decided to spoil their speed cops witha Brough Superior SS100 Alpine Grand Sports; it joined a fleet of leser American machines.
THERE WERE AN estimated 1,500 motor cycles on the roads of Brazil (up a couple of hunded on the previous year), representing less than 2% of Brazil’s total vehicle parc. ”
“TWO-HUNDRED RIDERS attended the AJS Rally, organised by Ossie Wade, at Moel Faman, where, amoNG her attractions, a hill-climb with two primitive sigle-gear belt driven machines was staged.”
“THE MOTOR CYCLE TAXI CABS introduced into Berlin two years ago have been withdrawn because they did not pay. It is suggested that the inefficiency of the machines used contributed to their early demise.”
“THE FOG SEASON IS HERE. An ordinary headlmap is practically useless in a fog, but if a piece of yellow material capable of being slipped over the glass of the lamp is carried, night driving in foggy weather is made much easier.”
“WONDERS OF THE GPO:
J a Preach
A letter addressed as above safely reached its destination (the JAP factory at Tottenham). The postal sorter was clearly a motor cyclist.” [This one made me smile; about half a century later a letter from Czechoslovake, as it was then, reached me with the address ‘Dave Richmond, Motorcycle, England’. We had readers everywhere—Ed]
“THE FIRST TWO AA roadside telephone boxes have just been erected. One is at Shankhill, Co Dublin, and the other is at Carryduff, Co Down.”
BSA OFFERED THE 493CC OHV ‘SLOPER’ (though unlike the Panther, it retained a downtube). The Blue ‘Un tried one with a sidecar: The introduction of the 493cc ohv BSA was marked by the keenest interest of the whole motor cycling public…the machines represents a complete break away from previous types for which the firm had become famous…From the engineering standpoint it leaves little to be desired; those parts which are subject to severe stresses are generously proportioned, and the whole is assembled with that degree of accuracy which ensures the maximum of efficiency; and the finish is up to the same high standard of excellence…The maker’s catalogue holds out a promise of high speed and given proper tuning, and with the high-compression piston in use, this promise should be fulfilled…Its docility, its inoffensiveness and freedom from aggressiveness. its response to throttle, brake, and helm, all combine to place it in the very forefront of modern two-wheelers…At the moderate speeds rendered necessary for town riding the soft, deep note from the tailpipe is the acme of unobtrusiveness…As regards petrol consumption the figure obtained was 72mpg with a loaded sidecar…with a full tank the machine has a travelling range of 152 miles…Oil consumption is particularly light, equivalent to 1,640mpg…oil leakage was so slight as the be negligible, a point which counts for much with the man who takes a pride in the smartness of his mount…the regulator of the supply may be operated while on the move without burning the fingers on the exhaust pipe or cylinder. No alteration was made to saddle or footrests, as it was felt that a more comfortable riding position would be difficult to find. Steering was perfect and quite effortless to control…the forward position of the saddle renders the reach to the handle-bars an easy one, and relieves the shoulders and wrists of undue strain…Both twist-grip controls [for throttle and ignition advance] turned easily on the bar and required no conscious effort to retain them in place…the clutch lever could be manipulated with just that precision which ensured a smooth start, free from snatch or jerk…the transmission was a revelation of silkiness. On hills the engine showed pulling powers which were good, though not phenomenal…Each wheel is fitted with a 7in brake, and the only criticism that can be levelled at these is in regard to their method of operation. Left and right toe pedals operate front and rear brake respectively, and the need was felt for a hand control when re-starting on a steep hill…otherwise the brake performance was excellent…Maximum speed was not high as speeds go nowadays, being approximately 55mph; the comfortable cruising speed, however…allowed a high average speed to be maintained. There is comfort and roominess in the sidecar, and ample accommodation for personal effects in a large locker at the tail…On taking over the outfit it was found that the tools were in a parcel in the sidecar, and the engine spares—supplied with every machine—including a high-compression piston, spare plug, valve, valve springs, and engine sprocket reposed in the toolbag…It is undoubtedly a motor cycle outfit of outstanding merit.”
“Sir,—As an enthusiast for whom the Isle of Man is impossible, and Brooklands does not fill the bill, I should like through you to express me thanks to Fred Mockford and the LMS for the fine afternoon’s sport staged by them at the Palace. On seeing the entries for the first meeting I jumped to the chance of seeing in action, in something approaching their element, men whom people like myself can only read of. I was highly delighted to see the lesser-known trade men and in some cases amateurs make better time than the ‘Manxmen’. I eagerly await the next meeting to see them endeavour to get their own back with a vengeance. Imagine my surprise when the entries came out—with one exception they had not entered! It is indeed regrettable that tyhey all had important business engagments on the day of the race. I am sure everyone was pleased to see Gus Kuhn do so well after being right out of the poicture at the first meeting. One would have liked to see otgher ‘fallen stars’ show the same spirit.
OHC Emptybox, Icklesham.
“SINCE SPEED TRIALS ARE banned as far as main roads are concerned the Midlands are very lucky in being able to use a private drive. Shackerstone Avenue, however, appears to get narrower and rougher as time goes on, and one feels sympathetic towards the newcomer, such as a competitor who drawlingly remarked that ‘he didn’t pay to take his motor down a six-inch plank’. Planks, luckily, are usually dead straight, and so is Shackerstone; all one has to do is to open the taps, hold on, and try not to go through the time-keeper’s box!…HR Attwood (493cc Sunbeam) skated for 200 yards with his back wheel locked and without a rear tyre, to the detriment of the course and his rim. It was difficult to tell what happened first, but both his tyre and chain came off, effectively locking his wheel and leaving his tube in ribbgons on the road. Only a very fine exhibition of riding averted a rather unpleasant crash. C Waterhouse evidently did not take things very seriously, for he rode in an ordinary lounge suit, but his time was 22.2sec” (which equated to some 75mph).
FOR MANY YEARS MOTOR cycle designers have been constantly altering and improving that most popular type of engine unit, the single cylinder four-stroke, so that the engine of today has reached a very high standard of perfection. And yet satisfaction is as far off as ever! There is a growing feeling among a certain section of riders that the ‘five hundred’ has been developed to the limit of its useful capabilities for, argue these riders, surely no one wants to travel any faster. Certainly there is some sound sense in this argument, but there are also some fallacies which are not immediately obvious. The higher the power output, which naturally spells an increase in speed, the greater are the demands on frames, forks, tyres, brakes…although record speeds are not required by the public, tourists are liable to forget that the present standard of steering, to mention only one point, is directly due to the experience gained from road and track races. There is, however, another aspect of the question which is even less realised. The modern single-cylinder engine has been developed entirely at the expense of silence…Some months ago The Motor Cycle instituted a silencer test for prizes presented by the Triumph Company with the idea of trying to find a system which would render
the exhaust gases of a touring single-cylinder motor cycle engine as silent as those of a four-cylinder car…although it failed to produce a silencer of the required efficiency…the test marked in the beginning of an era when makers seriously considered silencer design. The particular instrument which was the most silent (and even then the machine was not so quiet as a touring car) was not practicable. The power absorbed was far too great, and the machine fitted with it would not have have been unusual from one born in 1913! There is little doubt that any form of silencer decreases power output, and therefore performance. The whole problem rests upon the question: ‘How much speed is the present-day rider prepared to sacrifice in quest of silence?’ Obviously no rider would be prepared to sacrifice the power demanded by the most silent instrument in The Motor Cycle test, but there are other ways out of the difficulty: one is to develop the single-cylinder engine still further so the power absorbed by the silencer can well be afforded, and another is to produce engines which are inherently more silent than those of the present day. The first of these suggestions is apparently
useless, for the more the power which is obtained from an engine of given size, the more is the exhaust noise. And motor cyclists would still refuse to lose any acceleration, whatever power could be produced from the engine…Up to the present, exhaust noise is ahead of silencer design; it is like the old battle of the armour plating versus guns. The alternative is at once complicated and simple—the multi-cylinder engine. This type has many advantages, and like everything else in the mechanical world, many disadvantages…Twin-cylinder engines have, of course, received much attention from designers, and there is no doubt that the power output is, other things being equal, as great as that of a single of the same size. The number of times that the ABC and the Douglas twins have held the classic hour record is sufficient proof. And the same type of engine was the first to exceed a speed of 100mph. In addition it was not many years ago when the James V-twin of 500cc used to make best time of the day in many a Midland hill-climb. In the last high-speed test of the MCC on Brooklands a 250cc Panthette covered sixty miles in the hour under the most exacting weather conditions…if a twin-cylinder ‘two-fifty’ is a success, there is every reason to assume that a 500cc four is well
within the realms of possibility…with a given size of engine, the smaller each individual cylinder the less the exhaust noise…a four-cylinder 500cc or 1,000cc unit could be made quiet; and, with careful silencer design, there is no reason why it should not be as silent as a car…But if the four is designed with a view to being silent, some desirable traits of the present single will be lost. During the past months many letters have been written to The Motor Cycle about this question, and, apart from technical considerations, the common objection has been that the four is reminiscent of a sewing machine…what these correspondents really mean is that the four has not the ‘punch’ of the single…’Punch’, often the coarser the better, is regarded by the sporting rider as a necessary qualification of this machine. On the other hand, the car owner of a six-cylinder engine considers that a four-engine cylinder is rough!…there is something in what each says, but neither can understand the argument of the other…Perhaps the best known four-cylinder motor cycle of the present day is the Henderson, the workmanship of which is in every way excellent. True, the detail work is hardly up toBritish standards, but an examination of the ‘bits that matter’—the cylinders, the wheel bearings, the crankshaft, and all those components which require careful machining—will at once prove this point…anyone who has had experience of the Henderson will agree that it is reliable. The idea that multiplication of parts necessarily spells trouble is a fallacy, as any owner of a six, eight, or twelve-cylinder car will admit. And the same applies to motor cycle engines. The power output is not exceptional considering the large capacity of the engine, 1,301cc, but a speed, which is greater than that of nearly every ‘five hundred’ sold to the public is surely sufficient , and that is the aim of all American manufacturers—to produce power by means of capacity and not by means of super tune or design. It is certainly rather against the British idea but there is no doubt that it is successful. The petrol consumption is, considering all things, not excessive…In the Henderson engine plain bearings are used for the main and big end bearings, forced feed being employed for the lubrication. This system is entirely satisfactory and is the easiest way out of a difficult matter. No especial design of cylinder fins is employed and it seems probable that if a higher compression were utilised cooling difficulties would face the makers. These have been overcome by the Henderson designer, who has followed American practice by basing
his power on cc as opposed to tune. With the exception of a bevel at the rear end of the gear box the machine is conventional in size, length and weight with the average British 1,000cc big twin. Some years ago a famous British car firm carried out some extensive experiments with a 1,000cc four…had the makers continued their experiments they would have produced a delightful machine of real merit. The designer started off with the very laudable idea of enclosing everything and making provision for proper lubrication. The pushrods for the overhead valve gear are completely enclosed and the rockers are lubricated on the wick system…The air-cooled cylinders are in line, and the crankshaft is partially built up, so that walls are used for the three main bearings and white metal for the big ends…this layout teaches many valuable lessons. On the motor cycle market there are many clutches and gearboxes which are entirely satisfactory, and so there seems to be no especial reason why the designer of this ‘experimental four’ should have chosen to incorporate a box of an entirely new layout. Also the clutch, which is of the multi-plate type, is not altogether satisfactory, for it apparently only works if lubricated by graphite as opposed to oil…this is where designers of unusual machines go wrong. Not content with introducing one new idea, they must, perforce, make and design every component in a novel way. This is probably the reason why so many fours have died a natural death, unregreted except by those who pin their faith on the multi-cylinder engine. At this year’s Olympia Show the machines in the RAC Historical Exhibit revived memories of some multi-cylinder motor cycles—the flat twin 250cc ABC of 1916 which produced 4½bhp at 4,500rpm, the 500cc FN, the TAC with its delightful engine, but complete inability to corner and many others. ‘Here,’ say the ‘single’ enthusiasts, ‘is our argument. Had the four been a marketable proposition it would be more than a memory now—had the idea been really good the ‘steam hammer’ single would have died. But it has not, and there you are!’ The argument certainly does seem strong, and statistics can be quoted to show the steady demise of the multi-cylinder motor cycle engine…[But] many old-type fours have gone out of production, not because they were of the multi-cylinder type but because the designers, admittedly clever men with ideas, tried to be too clever…in so many cases have they forgotten that the ordinary motor cycle factory is not equipped for the production of an entirely novel type of unit, and whatever one may say about the enthusiastic public, buyers are still conservative, and are liable to be suspicious of anything new. Thus the makers did not understand their public properly, and consequently made the
most fatal mistake of producing an article for which there was only a small market. Today there are proprietary car engine makers who are capable of turning out four-cylinder engines in small quantities at a smaller price than an ordinary motor cycle engine of approximately the same size…If nothing else, surely it proves that a four is no more expensive to produce than a single, provided—and this is the point—it is made by a factory properly equipped for the work. What possibilities there would be were these proprietary engine makers to supply four-cylinder units to motor cycle manufacturers! The difficulty of housing a straight-four unit in a frame is not really so acute as would appear. For instance, the wheelbase of the Danish-built 750cc Nimbus, which has been in production since 1918, is not excessive, while the weight is only 336lb. A V-four, such as the Brough Superior, certainly demands less overall length then a straight unit, and so, perhaps, this type may offer a solution. Bearing trouble should be easily overcome, and there is every reason to suppose that plain bearings and forced-feed lubrication would be absolutely satisfactory. With modern methods and modern metals these problems could surely be solved…All internal-combustion engines are air-cooled, though sometimes the cooling is by a two-step process. Thus, in a water or oil-cooled engine the air cools the water or oil, which in turn takes the heat away from the cylinder. If, in a straight-four, any of the cylinders tend to overheat, surely a little careful design and alteration can overcome this difficulty…So numerous are the possibilities that designers have an almost unlimited scope…it must not be forgotten that two-strokes have the same number of power strokes per revolution as four-strokes having twice the number of cylinders. Perhaps the supercharged two-cycle engine will be the unit of the future…it is probable that in a comparatively short time the pendulum will begin to swing the other way, and then the single-cylinder motor cycle engine will be relegated to the position now held by the single-cylinder car engine built twenty years ago.”