A Newsletter No 19 2009 - VMCC



A Newsletter No 19 2009 - VMCC
The Official Journal of the Isle of Man Section V.M.C.C.
Issue 19
Sep '09
Dear Member,
The end of August approaches as I write and the big event should be well under
way as you read this. Your committee has done an immense amount of work to
bring the rally together and I hope that, if you have entered, you enjoy the event.
Job is doing his level best to extract copy from me, so I will be brief.
Our continuing road run series has not had the good weather of last year, but a
number of hearty souls braved the elements for the full day event, culminating
in a first class spread at Job and Jen's with final numbers tripling as the sun came
The barbeque at Dudley's was also well attended and I extend my thanks to
everybody involved.
The “Manx” always appears to be a turning point in the year for me and thoughts
turn to autumn and our club night season. Again, we are hoping for a couple of
guest speakers, with one already confirmed which might turn into a two night
event, so watch this space!
If anyone is starting an interesting rebuild over the winter and would like to
discuss it via the magazine, or any other relevant subject, please let Job know.
He is always looking for articles. It's your magazine, so please help to make it
topical and interesting.
Keep between the hedges
Richard Birch
Editorial Addition
Just to confirm Richards request for magazine material. I would like to increase
the local content, so it's up to you. When you are out and about, please do to take
a camera with you. You may spot a rare bike or famous face from the bike world,
or one of our members out on a run. The main thing is to bear the magazine in
mind when you see or hear about something, or are doing some work on your
treasured possession (no,no, the bike!)
Job Grimshaw Editor
Front Cover:
Eddie Crooks guns his 350cc Manx Norton through Cronk-ny-Mona
during the 1959 Manx Grand Prix. He went on to victory in the Senior race later in the
week. Eddie is the Manx Motor Cycle Club's Guest of Honour at this year's races.
Editorial Comment
Tony is fully occupied, plus some, with the Manx Rally, so I have stepped
into the breach. The committee are working flat out to make our edition of
the Manx Rally the best ever. The brand new ‘Festival of Jurby’ which will
have come and gone by now has taken a huge organisational and logistical
Apart from hundreds of Classic and Veteran machines including the 1929
Pendine Brough, Freddie Dixon’s banking sidecar and a never seen before
1912 Indian, there was Sammy Miller MBE riding a Gilera, the highly
successful Manx electric racer, and sidecar ace Nick Crowe.The Jurby
Transport Museum with buses, a steam car and steam wagons, a "ride-in"
by the Moddy Dhoo motorcycle club, various car clubs, an autojumble and
car boot sale and childrens amusements. On top of that there were the
parade laps! Phew! All credit then to our organisers who strained every
nerve to try to make the whole thing a huge success.
This year seems to me to be going in a flash. It can’t be old age‘cos I’m
only a lad, but nevertheless our winter programme is looming large on the
horizon. Most of the programme is as advertised. However here are two
changes First off it is a ‘Noggin & Natter’ on September 10th at Knock
Froy. Then on October 8th, again at Knock Froy, we have a talk by Tony
Wall entitled ‘All Things Two Stroke’. Should be interesting!
I am still looking for more advertisers for your magazine. If you know of
anyone, or have any ideas, just contact me and I will do the rest.
Tel 897164 (Answering Machine) [email protected]
Stay on board! Job Grimshaw
Printed by Peel Copy Centre
Tel / Fax: +44 (0)1624 845339
Yellow belly Notes
from our Lincolnshire correspondent
In the last issue of Vintage Mann I hinted at the possibility of a Manx Grand
Prix ride for the Benelli that raises money for the Joey Dunlop Fund. I am
pleased to say that is now confirmed that on Monday 31st August at 10.15 a.m.
Chris Foster will line up for the start of the Post –Classic. This is a great
achievement in such a short time and whatever the outcome of the race, a great
deal of money has already been raised for the J.D.F. and the whole purpose of
the exercise realised.
On June 14th at the Three Sisters circuit in Lancashire, Chris rode my Motobi
version of the 2C to obtain another, off-island track signature, in order to
comply with the entry requirements. Three Sisters is essentially a go-kart track
on the site of a former coal mine and is a tight, short and tricky venue. It must be
said that for some people it is not ideal whilst others see it as a great leveller.
Fozzy had practised the bike there once before, in the wet, and was familiar
with its twists and turns. Knowing that all he needed was a finish was not as
easy as it sounded. In fact, Fozzy was faster and more flowing in practice
in the
Pat at Cadwell Park
morning. During the race it was obvious that he was much more circumspect
and he did a great job of holding back the racer's instinct to compete for every
inch of track. Job done! All that remained was to send in the MGP entry and
hope. However to be on the safe side, the owners, John and Neil, had entered
their bike into a Vintage Club race at Cadwell Park on Sunday 5th July. I was to
become much more involved in this outing than I could have imagined.
Due to family commitments (birth of little George) Fozzy was unable to come to
Cadwell but the lads had decided to come over anyway and had brought the bike
to put on display in the paddock. The whole entry was to be noise tested and
technical inspection
was available on
Three Sisters Circuit Map
Saturday evening. We
put the bike through
these pre- race
checks out of
curiosity and it made
102db, which was
comfortably within
the limit and the
scrutineer declared
the bike safe to race.
The only thing
missing was a rider!
Signing on the
following morning
the only snag was
that I was going to
race with Fozzy's
transponder but
using my own
number, 131.
The bike felt familiar
but with much more
mid- range, and as
we were racing on
the clubman circuit
this was an
advantage. Practice
went well and we
were looking
forward to the first
race. I had drawn a second row grid place and as the Union Jack fell, nothing! I
raised my left hand, winced and waited. Everybody whistled past me and
disappeared round Coppice. A wire had come loose and had broken at the worst
possible moment.
Race 2 meant starting at the back of the grid but this was no bad thing for what
was really a test ride. The sure handling means that Fozzy will be able to keep
the throttle wide open for sustained periods and his skill will keep the bike on
the correct lines.
I was very pleased to have raced it, and was aware of the many sponsors who
support it, so to Burblin' Bobby, Bethan & Hannah and everyone else involved
in this project, thank you.
PS : On their way back to Heysham, John and Neil were spotted having a
celebration curry in Hebden Bridge.
Pat Sproston, Louth, Lincolnshire
Pic 4
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Crosby, Isle of Man
A Hundred Sections and 3 Pints
That's what I call a trial!!
As I've recounted in earlier articles for this fine publication, I was heavily
involved in Vintage Racing from the mid 70s to mid 80s. They were halcyon
days, with the Club having over 250 riders, full grids of solos and sidecars
over 25 years old, and 'Vintage only' meetings at Brands Hatch, Oulton Park,
Donington Park, Snetterton, Mallory Park, 3 Sisters, and Cadwell Park.
Ah! Cadwell Park, my favourite. Every year we would have two or three
VMCC meetings there, often over two days with the Velo Owners or the
Vincent Owners on the Saturday. Remember the half-hour speed trials?
Great value for money.
In July this year I was across and managed to get to the now re-titled VMCC
'Historic Racing' meeting at Cadwell. Three things struck me. Cadwell has
much better toilets and other facilities now! Sadly the races currently have to
be bolstered with scooters and classic classes. But the atmosphere at the Club
circuit hairpin as the outfits and Morgans lock up the wheels is still there!!
Roger Allen shows that arena trials are nothing new!
Anyway, I digress. What I was going to talk about was what we Vintage racers
of those days, got up to to fill the gaps between road racing…no sniggering
Many of the sidecar racers also entered sprints and hill-climbs. Events such as
Barbon, Baitings Dam, Houghton Tower, Curborough offered a somewhat less
hectic sporting event, but we still got our 'speed fix'. When I was passengering
for Roger Allen he made the sidecar on the Triumph 'quickly detachable' and he
rode in both sidecar and solo classes at straight sprints, with a proper sprinting
slick in the back. Roger could also modify the 650 Triumph with wheels fitted
with knobblies, and changed hand-holds for us to go vintage grass track racing.
These were great events, VMCC only or as an invite in a modern meeting. As a
dispensation to the vintage outfits, we were allowed to race anti-clockwise as it
placed less stress on rigid frames and back wheels. It also looked much more
spectacular to see the passengers right out of the chair on the corners. As a
long-time sufferer with hay fever, this was not my ideal pastime, but I could
just about do four laps before a fit of sneezing.
In the winter we turned to Vintage trials. The Taverners Section of the VMCC
is based in the Leicester area and they ran a monthly trials series, much like our
own Section does now. Again, the vintage sidecar crews were to the fore when
it came to competing. Pre-war girder forked bikes were most popular. Roger
Allen had a Triumph Tiger 70, Pete Wilkinson on a GTP Velo, Tony Regan a
350 Ariel, Pete Robson a Levis and I had a 350 Enfield. Although the sections
were relatively simple, a few mods were carried out on the bikes, usually
seeking better ground clearance. Sorry you concours restoration guys…..but we
used to cut and weld the frames, weld on footrest hangers, and cut and lengthen
the fork top links.
Sponsored by:
Design & installation of
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The Taverners trials used to be all day affairs with
five laps of ten sections in the morning and then
another five laps after lunch. And then one
particularly cold day someone suggested we go to
the pub just down the road to warm up a little at
the lunch break. This then became a regular habit
and eventually the Clerk of the Course used to
come and have to get us out of the pub to restart
the trial. Eventually we saw the error of our ways
after a number of damaged machine and high
scores that we thought might be attributable to
'one too many'. The Taverners Committee
eventually clipped our wings by modifying the
trials to eight laps with no 'pub-stop'!!
The Norton 500T after the Talmag
Each January some of us would also enter the Talmag Trial. This was
particularly popular because it was a classic only trial, had a girder fork class
and a sidecar class.
In one of Titch Allen's many sheds in Ibstock there lingered a Norton 500T
with a genuine Canterbury trials sidecar. Myself and Roger had used it quite
often to carry the two of us and a chain saw into local woodland where we had
permission (I think!!) to saw up dead trees for firewood. We used to then stack
the chair with logs and take them home. I know, I know!! Sacrilege, but
vintage bikes weren't coveted then in the way they are now.
Anyway, we decided to tart it up and enter the Talmag. A bit of practice locally
at a Taverners trial after we had finished on the solos and we were ready for
our first trials sidecar win…...well we won most road races, didn't we?
We were in for a bit of a shock. Too high geared, not enough ground clearance,
and sidecar way too heavy. Not a problem. The Roger Allen theory of sidecar
competition came to the fore……just go faster. I spent more time under the
sidecar than on it. To avoid grounding out on humps we just took off over
them. The spectators loved it, and Roger never could resist playing to a crowd.
We had a great time, bruised and battered we must have finished well back, and
it was our first and last trial on the 500T.
Steve Woodward
an innovator?
These days in many motorcyclists' minds George Brough is regarded as
someone who merely fitted other manufacturers' components into his own
designed frame and petrol tank. While, to a point, there is some justification in
this view, in some ways he can also be regarded as an innovator. In the first
place he virtually invented the concept of the luxury high performance vee- twin
motorcycle for solo riding rather than for sidecar duty.
Even before the 1914-1918 Great War when working for his father William E.
Brough, he had built several competition models equipped with large capacity
vee-twin motors rather than the 500cc, 680cc and 810cc flat twin engines
produced by his father. With his own machines, first produced for sale in 1921,
he made a positive cult following of the big vee-twin design. There are many
tales in folklore as to why the 'Superior' suffix was added. Certainly father and
son's machines were concurrent, with Willian E. Brough ceasing manufacturing
in 1926, a full five years after George produced his first model. It was strongly
stated that there was no technical or commercial connections between the two
makes so perhaps family tensions were the cause.
In 1919 George left employment at his father's business and claimed his
patrimony amounting to the not inconsiderable sum of £1000. This secured a
plot of land in Haydn Road, Nottingham and the erection of a single-storey prefabricated concrete workshop. He embarked on building motorcycles before the
new premises were completed and assembled a small number of machines in the
factory of his long suffering father. The first produced was JAP (J.A. Prestwich)
engined but Swiss Motosacoche and sleeve-valved Barr and Stroud units were
also used.
The first Brough Superiors were considered as somewhat ugly, but appearance
was soon improved by the fitting of Druid front forks and later with George's
own patented Castle forks, which drew heavily on the Harley Davidson
component. George was never averse to copying a good design once somebody
else had proved it. This thinking also extended to his frame. Rather than design
his own, he made it under patents held by Bentley and Draper whose frame, at
the time, was considered to be one of the most satisfactory. Later for some
unknown reason he adopted the inferior plunger system for his final, greatest
innovative design the 996cc Golden Dream of 1938.
The Dream never reached production and was the last of a series of Brough
Superior 'Show Stoppers' exhibited each November at the Olympia Motorcycle
Show, all of which were one-offs. Previously there had been a transverse veetwin, a transverse vee-four, an in-line four and best known of all, for it did reach
production, a grand total of 10, a sidecar machine fitted with an enlarged and
tuned watercooled Austin Seven engine and gearbox with shaft-driven, closely
coupled twin rear wheels. When asked why he made these hugely expensive
show models with little or no intentions of producing them for sale, he jokingly
replied he did so to keep JAP up to the mark! Maybe there was some underlying
truth behind the humour. During the 1930s the quality of JAP engines sadly
declined and eventually George Brough, along with H.E.S. Morgan with his
three-wheeler, approached Matchless for replacement power units.
In happier times, Brough and JAP were almost inseparable. From 1923 Brough
repeatedly broke the Brookland's circuit lap records, ultimately held in solo form
by Noel Pope at 124mph and the world's fastest, an average of two runs over a
kilometre. In 1937 Eric Fernihough secured the latter with a speed of 169.7mph.
Tragically he lost his life during another attempt, in Hungary, the following year,
the fatal crash occurring on the second run. The first run had been covered at an
astonishing 180mph.
'8mph to 80mph in top' was the slogan for Brough's first model of 1921. Whilst
all out top speed was never in the forefront of the company's advertising it was
quietly implied with the model designation such as the famous SS100 which
was guaranteed in writing by George himself to reach that figure. The SS100
model was ridden by factory personnel and if the magic figure was not obtained
the engine was rebuilt until it was. The SS80 underwent the same treatment to
reach its designated top speed. Although top speed was important the true appeal
of the Brough Superior lay in its ability to cover vast distances at high average
speeds with excellent rider comfort. Each Brough really was individual, no two
models being identical, with any details or special features being requested by
the buyer duly incorporated. This naturally made them very expensive. For
example the second model purchased by T.E. Lawrence (he of Arabia fame) in
1923 cost £150 which at that time would have purchased a small family house
outright. One of the special features requested by Lawrence was a smaller
diameter rear wheel to enable his short legs to easily reach the ground!
A form of stage payments was employed. After an initial deposit being paid the
buyer would be invited to attend the factory in Haydn Road, Nottingham to see
his machine being assembled. On that and each subsequent visit further
payments were made, thus avoiding a large payment on taking delivery and
helping with the company's cash flow.
The final 'show stopper' the Golden Dream, designed and built with help from
H.J.Hatch, former Blackburne designer, in 1938 represented the zenith of
Brough's fertile mind. A flat, over-square, transverse four engine, in essence a
pair of flat transverse twins mounted one on top of another with the two
crankshafts geared together, giving as near perfect balance as it was possible to
obtain, with a four speed gearbox and shaft drive. Whether or not it would have
been commercially viable is debateable. A sum of £80,000 to £100,000 to
market it was estimated. Such thoughts turned out to be purely academic for the
outbreak of the Second World War precluded any further progress.
What is not generally known is that in addition to producing the 'Rolls Royce' of
motorcycles, George also found time between 1935 to 1939 to construct
approximately 85 motorcars. The first using Hudson straight- eight 4168cc side
valve engine and when Hudson withdrew this unit in 1936, a Hudson engined
3455cc straight-six model appeared. The final car, of which only one was made,
was equipped with a 4387cc V12 motor in a George Brough designed chassis
with Girling brakes and Ford axles. The vehicle still exists.
The Brough Superior Company survived the war. Although machine spare parts
were made and supplied and machines serviced by George Brough and Albert
Wallis for many years afterwards, George could see the luxury market had gone.
He never again involved himself in motorcycle production. During the
company's existence of 19 years of production, a total of approximately 3048
motorcycles were built. George Brough died in 1969.
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e-mail: [email protected]
The History of Motor Cycle Racing
Chapter Four: Scott and Verdel
Just as the Curtiss vee-eight pre-empted Carcano's Moto Guzzi racer, it should
be remembered that the Kaaden inspired ML of the late 1950s was very far from
the first successful two-stroke racer; arguably the machine to beat at the TT in
the pre-Great War years was the Scott, Bradford's finest. "2 cylinder, 2 stroke, 2
speed" was its famous slogan.
When the TT was moved to the Mountain course in 1911, for the most part it
followed the route which is still used today - save for turning right at Cronk-nyMona and rejoining the present course at the top of Bray Hill. In 1911, the start
was at Woodlands, just after the bottom of Bray Hill; it was re-sited to near St
Ninian's Church in 1914 and moved to the Glencrutchery Road after the war.
Scott entered three special twin cylinder bikes for the 1911 Senior TT, each
fitted with a chain driven rotary valve attached to the rear of the cylinder block.
(The design had been granted a patent in March of that year.) The riders, Frank
Philipp, Eric Myers and Frank Applebee, were also kitted out with a novelty:
purple coloured leathers. (For his part, De Rosier sported black tights, running
shoes and a woollen hat).
Tim Wood poses with his rotary-inlet-valved Scott after winning the 1913 Senior TT.
The exhaust note of the Scotts left an indelible impression on the audience particularly as they climbed Snaefell - but the results left something to be
desired; two retirements, caused by slipped timing, and Applebee finished last.
But a hint of the future came with Philipp's record lap at 50.11 mph on his sole
trouble free-lap.
The 1911 TT series witnessed the event's first fatality, when the Rudge teamster
Victor Sturridge crashed in practice. The accident occurred outside the Glen
Helen Hotel, the team's HQ, beneath the horrified gaze of the Rudge squad's
team manager.
In 1912 Alfred Angas Scott hit the jackpot at the TT. He entered two new 486 cc
models which boasted substantial refinements from the previous year's models,
with gear driven rotary valves, newly designed cylinders and reduced watercooling. In the Senior TT, Applebee and Philipp both suffered practice shunts
but were lying first and second after the first lap, which positions they
maintained despite Haswell's challenge. But on lap four, Philipp's rear tyre blew
off the rim at Ballaugh Bridge, forcing him to stop and make repairs, prior to restarting and finishing in eleventh place. But Applebee continued to record the
first TT win by a two-stroke; it was the first occasion on which the winner led
from start to finish.
In 1913, the Scott factory moved from Bradford to the famous Shipley site but
its racing exploits continued unabated. For that year's TT series, the organisers
decided that the races would be held over two days; three laps would be run on
day one and the machines would then be held under ACU observation until the
race was re-stared two days later, with no refuelling or repairs allowed.
The 1913 Senior must go down in history as being the only TT to be won by a
rider appearing in his first race. The rider was Scott's tester, H O Wood. He and
brother Clarrie, another stalwart of the Scott tale, had been educated at Bradford
Technical College where Clarrie was known as "Splinters" and HO was
"Timber", abbreviated to "Tim".
The 1913 TT machines were very similar to the victorious 1912 models and
externally akin to standard production models. With a record lap on the third
tour, Wood moved in to the lead at the end of the first day, albeit only 4 seconds
ahead of Rudge's young star Bateman. But at the re-start Wood encountered
problems; a flying stone cut a water pipe so he had to stop at the Ramsey pits to
take on water and mend a broken petrol pipe, and he had to stop again to
bandage the water pipe with tape. But, having fallen back to fourth place, he
recovered the lead which he held, to win the race by the slender margin of five
seconds ahead of Abbott (Rudge). Abbott had managed to overshoot at
Parkfield, the last corner of the race and the delay certainly cost him victory.
But Scott was not a man to rest on his laurels and for the 1914 Senior TT he
built four revolutionary machines. Whereas most machines raced so far were
merely developments of road-going bikes available to the public, these were
genuine purpose built races. The open frame, so distinctive a feature of Scott
motorcycles, had been filled with a triangular petrol tank, with a leather tool box
mounted atop. The engine was still of 486 cc but had been substantially redesigned, with detachable air-cooled heads, two plugs per cylinder; a special
Bosch magneto and a Scott designed carburettor was fitted. The gearbox (using
two speeds for the TT but with provision for three) was built in unit with the
Several features of the design obtained patents in April 1914 including the leaf
spring saddle. Armed with this missile, Wood, starting first by dint of being last
year's winner, established a record lap of 53.3 mph from his standing start but,
well on the way to victory, eventually came to a halt at Union Mills with,
supposedly, an oil-drenched magneto. So the Rudge team had its revenge, as
Cyril Pullin took the honours.
Scott took three racers to the Island - Roy Lovegrove (18th) and Frank Applebee
(25th) were never in the picture - and a fourth bike as a spare. The four bikes
were eventually sold and the remnants of one came into the possession of Matt
Holder (who had acquired the bankrupt Scott company in the 1950s before
producing the Birmingham Scotts). Eventually, the TT model passed from the
Holder family to Scott enthusiast John Bentley. The bike was restored by David
Frank and duly took its place in Bentley's museum at Batley.
One of the stars of the 2000 edition of Montlhery's Coupes Moto Legende was
entered in the programme as a 1912 Verdel. The mighty 750 cc radial five
cylinder pushrod engine caused a mighty stir with spectators, as rider Patrick
Sproston took the "fox in the hen coop" (as the French press described it):
Then between correspondents as the specialist French magazines reported its
appearance at Montlhery.
The bike had never been seen before in public, and some experts hazarded a
guess that the motor was of Anzani manufacture. Certainly a five cylinder motor
was not unheard of in France before the Great War. It is beyond dispute that as
early as1908 a five cylinder REP (Robert Esnault Pelterie), reputedly producing
35 bhp, was employed as a pacer for cycle record breaking attempts.
The Verdel re-appeared at Spa in 2004 and was then acquircd for display in the
Sammy Miller Museum, prompting further correspondence in the British
specialist press.
The amazing and incredibly swift Verdel
The truth is however as follows: The engine was conceived and built in a back
yard shed in Clitheroe some two decades ago by a talented engineer. The project
was revived in the 1990s; the engine was then placed in a frame and, completed
with brakes and mudguards off a bicycle and items culled from a pre-War lawnmower, it was ready to run by 1999.
The choice of name came about thanks to the author's late father who, on his
visits to the battlefields of the Somme, had met Jean Verdel. Jean's grandfather
Henri had founded a firm called Verdel-Vermel in 1894. The firm was one of
Peugeot's earliest agents, selling bicycles, motorcycles and cars from two shops
in Bapaume. In her book "1914. The Days of Hope", popular historian Lyn
MacDonald wrote of Bapaume that "it was there that (the inhabitants of more
than dozen villages and hamlets) went to market........their tools and implements
to be mended at the garage workshop owned by Monsieur Verdel."
It may not be of 1912 origin but the Verdel is nevertheless a masterpiece. As is
its stablemate, the Packer. Also built in that shed in Clitheroe, the Packer was
designed as an American vee-twin board racer of 1908 vintage and is now also
on display in the Miller museum. Enjoy them both for what they are.
Raymond Ainscoe
& 28
JUNE 2009
9.00 a.m. Thursday 25th at the Sea Terminal on my Norton 350 c.c. waiting
to embark on my trip to Carncastle, five miles north of Larne, on the coast
road, which will be the starting point for each day. I am staying with Ian
McBride my good friend of the Northern Ireland section. The first function is
the Friday evening dinner. This is a great time to meet the other riders and
enjoy a good night's entertainment with music till about 1.00 a.m. Ian and I
still had to drive twenty miles to his home, a very long day.
9.00 a.m. Twenty miles to the start. Sign on and collect our route sheets, now
we are ready.
10. 00 a.m. Seventy bikes all running waiting for the start. Off we go, north
along the coast road to Glenarm through Carnlough. Here we leave the coast
road and start climbing up through the Glen's 22 miles to the top. What a view
you see of The Mull of Kintyre in Scotland. We then start our way down
Harry heels over on the Model 50 Norton
through the villages of Knocknacarry and Cushendun, back on to the coast
road and into the car park for our first comfort stop, 24 miles now completed.
Back on the road through Cushendun and now the real test for man and
machine over Torhead ( change down Harry! Ed. ) the most northerly road in
Northern Ireland. Past the Radar Station and on to Ballycastle and a second 38
miles comfort stop at the Harbour. Time for that ice cream.
On we go again still on the coast road past Kenbane Castle through Bushmills,
no time to stop for that whisky! Through Ballvoy village and past the famous
Dunluce Castle and on to Portrush for our lunch stop at the Royal Court Hotel.
Now we have done 56 miles, where is that dinner ?
The return run takes us inland through Dervock and Stranocuh and now the
Scenic route, over the mountain and through the forest to Broughshane at 96
miles and a very welcome comfort stop. Is that the toilet block? thank
goodness! On we go again down through one of the Glens of Antrim right
down to the coast road to Glenarm along the coast to the Halfway House
Hotel. What a great first day, total miles covered for the day 116 and now
another 20 miles to Ian's home.
Quick wash and change, return to the Halfway House Hotel for dinner,
entertainment and to receive our finishers award. Another late night, left Hotel
about 1.00 a.m., then yet another long drive home. Where is that bed. ?
Sunday morning, early but not bright, twenty miles to the start at the Halfway
House Hotel to receive our route sheet for the day. Off we all go along the
coast road, then uphill through another of the Glens of Antrim, through
Feytown and Carnalbana villages and Slemish Mountain to the visitors centre.
At 16 miles a comfort stop and a chance to see the views. Off we go down the
mountain to Buchna and Orra via the scenic route through the forest roads to
Cushendun. Then another scenic drive to Glendun and down through another
Glen to Waterfoot on the main coast road. Lunch is at the Laragh Lodge Hotel
at 28 miles. After lunch a straight run along the coast road to the Halfway
House Hotel and the finish at 53 miles. After saying our farewells, Ian and I
return to his home. Then I go another 5 miles to the ferry terminal in Belfast to
return to the Island.
My thanks to the Northern Ireland Section, Jack Agnew and his team for
organizing a wonderful weekend of Motorcycling.
Fred Wyeth
1918 – 2009
by Riton
Fred died on the 4th June, 1 day
after his ninety first birthday.
He was born in Uxbridge and
spent his early years in
Buckinghamshire and Sudbury
on Thames.
Fred was known by many people because of his passion for Calthorpes. His
father bought the first one for his eighteenth birthday. It was later replaced by a
Triumph 500cc Speed Twin and many other bikes over the years. In the midseventy's he saw a Calthorpe for sale in boxes which turned out to be the very
same bike which he owned before. This machine he brought to the Island and
restored in his living room at Holly Cottage in Lonan.
Fred rode in many rallies and demonstrations all over the British Isles and here
in the Isle of Man. The photo of Fred was taken at the Golden Jubilee TT Rally
in 2005. He was given an award for being the oldest rider in the event.
He was one of the three founder members of the Motorcycle Action Group, an
organisation which was against the compulsory wearing of crash helmets.
Guess how he paid his fine - by a cheque written on a helmet. I wonder how
they cashed it?
Fred had many jobs, starting work as a butchers boy. He worked at Pinewood
and Shepperton film studios. Before the war he was an apprentice engineer and
worked for the Ministry of Defence on the Chieftain tank and joined the Home
Fred retired and moved to the Island in 1981. Everyone knew where Fred lived
in Laxey, the Calthorpe was parked on the main road, covered over, with bricks
on the saddle to hold the cover down. Fred was quite a character and his last
defiant act was last September at the age of 90. He was caught speeding whilst
driving his car and fined £150.
Fred's family have passed his beloved motorcycles to the ARE Museum at Kirk
Michael here on the Isle of Man. I am proud to have known Fred as are all the
members of the Isle of Man Vintage Section. We all extend our deepest
sympathy to his family.
Fred on one of his beloved Calthorpes
Sidecar Push
Tony East applauds the Push Team as they arrive at his Kirk Michael Museum
The Team before leaving for the next stage of their lap of the TT course
Above: Italian and English military bikes make friends at the Push
Below: Sidecar supporters at Kirk Michael
The Sidecar Push
A complete lap of the 37¾ mile TT course by friends of the
Nick Crowe & Mark Cox appeal, raised £10,000 for the charity.
Velo' Fellows at the Manx
Neil Kelly takes Ballaugh Bridge in the 1967 Manx Grand Prix riding the Orpin Velocette Special
Regular Velocette racer, Tony Ainley, rounds Quarry Bends on his Mark 8 KTT
during this years Manx practice.
Online Store
Thousands of
Special Discounts
for VMCC members
All enquiries
01704 - 500029
Motorcycle Spoke Wheels Rebuilt
Tel: Chris on 880335
Rims (Chrome or Alloy)
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Black Lion Cottage
Leodest Road
Fixture List Sept '09 to Jan '10
Sept 10th
Sept 27th
Club Night. Knock Froy. Santon. 8.00pm Noggin & Natter
Road Run. St. Johns School opposite the Farmers Arms.
1.45 for 2.00pm. Organisers: Mr & Mrs Clive Kneale
October 8th
October 25th
Club Night. Knock Froy. Santon. 8.00pm Speaker: Tony Wall - '2-Strokes'
Road Run. Mitre Pub. Kirk Michael. 1.45 for 2.00 p.m. Finish at Tony's
for refreshments. Organiser: Brian Ward.
November 12th
Annual General Meeting. Knock Froy. Santon. 8.00pm
December 10th
December 27th
Club Night. Knock Froy. Santon. 8.00pm Bring & Buy
Christmas Hangover Run. St. Johns, Tynwald Inn 11.30 for 12.00pm
Organisers: Anne and Rupert Murden.
January 23rd 2010
Annual Dinner & Prize Presentation
A hearty welcome to these five new members :Michael Moody
Ellan Vannin, 6 Lezayre Park, Ramsey IM8 2PU
Ian Wilcock
28 Seafield Crescent, Birchill, Onchan IM3 3BZ
Stephen Meadows
Serendipity, 12 St Mary's Glebe, Port St Mary IM9 5PF
Stephen Cox
9 Mull View, Kirk Michael IM6 1AQ
Philip Diment
29 Ballardcliffe, Andreas IM7 3EW
Riding High
Hi greetings from Leh the capital of Ladakh. Remember the MCC trials? Well
how about a section that's over two hundred miles long !! The DVD we
watched did show the road to be a bit bumpy but it hadn't rained had it !! On my
first day going up the himalaya I was twelve hours in the saddle and only
covered 220 km. The views are breathtaking of course. So far Bullet number
two (long story) has crossed the Lachlung La at 16,850 ft and the Tanglang La at
17,754 ft the limited performance of an Indian Bullet does drop off a bit !!
Raleigh Wisp comes to mind.
Next is the mighty Khurdung La at 18,676 ft supposedly the worlds highest
road. This is in the forbidden zone and I will find out in two hours if my bid for
a permit has paid off. By the way the locals call this route 'the road over the roof
of the world' bit too poetic ??.
Best wishes Phil Newman
We have no pictures of Phil on this epic ride yet. However here he is on another one! Riding a
rigid framed BSA Gold Star aptly named 'BloodySAurus' in the 1984 Manx Grand Prix
Tittle Tattle
This time :- an excuse to tell you about early visits as a
teenager to Ken Swallow's workshop in Golcar, Huddersfield
Well I did promise you this a while back, but I have
been searching my dusty shelves for a superb photo of
the Swallow workshop in Yorkshire in one of the
various Velo hardback books, perhaps one of the Velo
experts out there can remind me where to find it please
for future reference.
So it's 1967 and Doddy and me have both got Velos, my
plain 1960 Viper and his 1962 Clubman (big tank, all
the goodies). All I could do to make my humble cookin'
model look a little racier was to ditch the red fibre glass side panels and all the
tinware which is priceless these days, you know - nacelle, toolbox and red steel
mudguards which could probably have saved the Titanic from the iceberg. The
handle bars even found themselves turned over to a nice dropped position.
Anyway he wanted a new fishtail. I had bought a cheap and nasty 'pattern'
version from Jack Bottomley's on Cheetham Hill Road, but Doddy was built of
sterner stuff so it had to be a Veloce item. We scoured the local rag for a second
hand one, contemplated ringing the factory (but they seemed to want enquiries
in writing), and even looked through the embreyonic Motor Cycle News. Then
in Motorcycle Sport we saw the ads for Velo dealers – Geoff Dodkin in London
(!), Roy Smith motors in Surrey (same difference), BMG in Ilford (thought it
was a film), then K.W. Swallow in Yorkshire.That sounded a bit closer, so one
Saturday morning off we set, fully armed with a spare aerolastic to sling it over
the shoulder (we would take it in turns on the way back).
Following the little direction map from the magazine was not at first as easy as
we had imagined it to be. Firstly there was the route – you had to go miles past
and then turn left and work your way back. Then there were the hills. To us
Lancie lads hills were what we looked for to bump start the bikes on, something
gentle, about 50 yards long. No, this was different (anybody ever been?), A62
out of Oldham, Diggle, over the top to Marsden, straight down to Slaithwaite,
Milnsbridge, find the left for Scar Lane, through a gaggle of mills, up the top,
then along Station Lane, easy peasy. Does not tell you that it drops precipitously
over dodgy gravel and brick dust down to the railway line which was obviously
in the wrong place anyway.
Eventually found we squealed to a
halt and parked up in the yard of
what had been some dark satanic
place of hard labour in a different
era, when men were 'ard and
Luddites roamed the hills. We parked
next to, I might add, the overgrown
chassis of a long expired Rolls Royce
hearse, only the classic radiator shell
showing any signs of the shine it had
once deserved.
The 'shop' can best be described as
cave-like, dug into the hill, and
almost as dark. When your eyes
accustomed themselves it was more
like the home of Aladdin, similar to the back of a works Thames van, Velo and
Manx Norton racers in different states of disrepair/tuning all around. A genial
host in brown denim workshop coat looked after us, and I distinctly remember
the young lads busying around (Swallows junior I imagine?). A fishtail, yeh, and
folding stuff changed hands (about one quarter of what my Viper had cost).
Once home it turned out to be the standard item, not the Clubman one, however
we lacked the bottle in those days to take it back. Beautifully made and chromed
it was too.
But what was that above the counter, where other bike shops would be
displaying brake shoes tyres and cables? It couldn't be a Velo as it was silver-ish
and dark, what's that, blue? Could it be? How much?
And that was my first sight of a Velo Thruxton. Once found, Swallows then
became our Mecca for a blast on an idle Saturday morning, and so we would
occasionally hammer up the Pennines over Standedge (long pre-M 62 of
course). I don't know how many years we went up for, but that VMT never
moved a wheel.
Footnote :
As I now have Doddy's Clubman (in bits) I must still have that fishtail, 42 years
Footnote (2) from an earlier article:
I was approached on one of our VMCC IOM rides recently and asked if I
remembered the name of the guy with the Thruxton who lived in Mottram, met
him at the garage in Dukinfield, swopped him a Velo frame for some panniers?
'No I never knew his name' I said, “Well it's me” he proudly declared.
Turns out it was a very nice, black big-tank Venom Clubman, but no, he never
Clive demonstrates the Royal Oilfield to his disciples
Robin's Vapour
Blasting Services
Now stocking
Glass Bead Blasting
of Car & Bike Engines,
Bike Frames
plus many other items..
For further information please call
Anti-Corrosion Formula
07624 - 453344
brought it to the Isle of Man. His name is, er………….. ask around, he's not too
shy, I'm sure he won't mind completing my tale for me.
Oh yes, and on to the Enfields, or Royals… as they now proclaim themselves.
Bumped into a branny one on Peel breakwater the other week (delivered only
the previous day), complete with shiny new black sidecar. You will probably
have seen it around by now, ridden mainly on 2 wheels by Clive Kneale. Prize
of virtually no value for first person to tell me what colour they think the bike is
really finished in -? And black is the wrong answer…….
And if I'm not on the cutting room floor yet, here's a little snippet from the same
Motorcycle Sport I got the Swallow ad from :Sacrilege (©MCS, October 1968 page 367)
What next? Velocettes with coil ignition?
'The last defender of the faith of magnetos has been forced to toe the line and
make obeisance (stet!) to the twin gods of progress and expediency. No more
magnetos with armature windings like a toffee apple rotating between magnets
of alloy steel, but sparks dispensed from a mute immobile canister like a pack
for shaving soap.'
- Will Stevens and Dodkin jump into the breach with magneto
- No matter that the Thruxton, oft truculent to start, may with coil ignition
be as amenable as an L.E……
- I can think of one more blow that can befall the dedicated Velo men.
Velocettes might fit a diaphragm clutch'.
FREE PLUG – 'mute immobile canisters' in 6 and 12 volts are readily available
from our erstwhile Secretary, many sizes, will outlast the rest of yer bike (same
make as fitted to my AUDI as OE)
Michael Whitaker
Carpenter & Joiner
Mobile: 07624 464099
Tel / Fax: 01624 618681
• Timber Buildings
• Garage / Workshop
• Summer House
• Stables
• Decking
• Fencing
• Tree Felling
Floggers Corner
Island based inactive member deciding to become active again wishes to buy
a bike....will consider any make, and any year provided it is older than the
vintage threshold. Must be in excellent condition and must have been through
Tromode. Please contact Ian Stone 880454 or better [email protected]
G. H. Corlett Ltd.
The Veteran Family Business (Established 1835)
High Class Jeweller and Watchmaker
The Island's leading Trophy Specialist and Engravers
Trophies, Shields and Medals available for all sports.
Call in and view our extensive range of Trophies,
Watches, Clocks and Beautiful Jewellery
4 & 6 Castle Street, Douglas.
Tel: 676762 Fax: 661779
e-mail:[email protected]
CBG CGeneral
Underground Electricity & Water Ducting - Sewage Pipeworks
Tel: 842479 • 493605 Fax: 844808
The mz influence
During the life of motorcycle two-stroke performance development a handful of
factories have truly advanced the cause. Scott, Levis, Yamaha, Kawasaki and
Suzuki instantly spring to mind, after a little more thought we'll remember
others ....... Greeves, Velocette, Puch, perhaps DKW but one firm often
overlooked is MZ. Yet the Zschopau factory progressed the development of the
racing two-stroke engine by light years during productive decade after the
wounds of WW11 had calmed. However the story started long before MZ
(Motorrad-werk Zchopau) came into being.
East German Heinz Rosner raced MZ's 1965-9, during his best year
with the Zschopau factory he finished 3rd in the 250cc title chase.
Born in 1878 Danish engineer Jorgen Skafte Rasmussen established his
motorcycle factory, JS Rasmussen in Saxony, Germany after WW1. Assisted by
design engineer Hugo Ruppe Jorgen launched a 122cc single cylinder twostroke auxiliary clip-on, which within two years was selling at the rate of over
15,000 units per year and 25,000 had been sold since its 1921 launch. The
company adopted the initials DKW for their motorcycle products, which many
claim represent Das Kleine Wunder (little miracle). While in later life
Rasmussen was amused by this concept he wouldn't commit to it offering
additionally two other reasons for the initials DKW. Dampf Kraft Wagon (his
first engine was a steam unit for a car like vehicle) and Der Knabische Wunsche
(the schoolboy's dream).
Earning a superb reputation for reliability DKW soon added to their range with
the 122cc Golem and later 142cc Lamos scooters then in 1923 their first
motorcycle, the 173cc single cylinder SM (Steel Model) with advanced pressed
steel frame. All were two-strokes.
Not only was Rasmussen an able engineer but he was also a clever businessman.
By 1927 his company had taken over 16 rival firms and was employing 15,000
workers. Soon by volume DKW would be the world's leading motorcycle
maker. Rapid expansion can lead to massive borrowing and with the approach of
the worst depression the world had seen DKW like many could have gone
under. Instead Jorgen's policy of the grouping of companies through mergers
and takeovers not only ensured they survived but also ensured sufficient funds
for continual development.
Keen for more power for racing DKW worked on the double piston concept
whereby one piston acted as a charging pump and the other the combustion
piston. Although this improved DKW performance for racing purposes in the
middle to late 1920s their engines still suffered breathing problems associated
with selected deflector piston designs. In 1929 Ing Schneurle solved the problem
with his loop scavenge system which employed flat top pistons. Despite DKW's
wish to protect this landmark design rivals soon circumnavigated their
protective patents, however the Zchopau plant had overnight become a world
leader in two-stroke performance development.
Of interest DKW gained its famed badge comprising four silver interlocking
circles, still found on Audi cars today, when they merged in 1932 with Audi,
Horch and Wanderer to become Auto Union AG. Against this business
background DKW advanced in leaps and bounds with motorcycle development.
On the racing front came as succession of ever more powerful split single
(compressor) 250/350cc racers, which developed ever more power. For much of
the 1930s the factory had 150 engineers working continually on the racing
program leading to the 250 delivering 40bhp @ 7000rpm (49bhp on alcohol)
and the 350 giving 48bhp @ 7000rpm (60 bhp on alcohol). Success often came
their way at Continental meetings and famously Eward Kluge gave them an IoM
victory in the 1938 Lightweight TT. On the downside these racers were thirsty,
15mpg on a good day, and incredibly noisy with wags claiming they could be
heard in Liverpool when powering up the mountain in the IoM.
Despite their racing successes as far was the world would be concerned after
WW2 their most significant model was a humble economy lightweight roadster.
Certainly pre WW2 they built many fine machines. all two-strokes, including
500 twins and a range of up to 350cc singles. They even briefly tried a 600cc
twin during the early 1930s. However it was the tiny DKW RT125, which was
the next landmark in our story. Unveiled just before the outbreak of WW2 the
123.2cc two-stroke single was to become one of the world's most significant
During the war around 33,000 DKW RT125s were delivered to the German
military by Auto Union AG of Zschopau. By the end of the conflict the factory
was in ruins and found itself in Germany's eastern zone. DKW relocated to
Ingolstadt in what became West Germany and a new motorcycle maker was
established at the former Auto Union AG (DKW) factory under the title VEB
Motorraderwerke Zschopau (MZ). For bizarre reasons up to the mid 1950s their
products were marketed under the IFA (Industrieverband-Farhzuegebau) brand.
From 1946 onwards the Zschopau factory concentrated on the development and
production of DKW like motorcycles under the IFA brand. Here space
limitations dictate we concentrate on one machine only the DKW RT125, which
Alan Shepherd piloting the 125cc MZ to victory at Oulton Park on Easter Monday 1964
from the Hondas of Bill Ivy and Tommy Robb. Alan completed the double winning the
250 event from Ralph Bryans and Tommy Robb, again both Honda mounted.
became the IFA RT125 then with development the IFA RT125/1 in 1954 and the
MZ RT125/2 in 1956 as the MZ brand progressively replaced the IFA brand.
Additionally as we all know the DKW RT125 led to many machines world wide
including the BSA Bantam (mirror image) and models from Harley Davidson,
Yamaha and many others.
As the world settled to peace again interest in racing built across Europe and
much of the world. Although here in the UK factory interest focussed on the
larger 350 and 500cc classes many Continental riders and factories favoured the
lightweight 125 and 250cc models. The first 'works' IFA (MZ) appeared in 1950,
little more than a stripped roadster complete with 3-speed gearbox it was in the
terms of what was to come, underwhelming.
A year later private tuner Daniel Zimmermann had developed rotary disc valve
induction driven by the crankshaft for the tiny racer. This combined with facing
the exhaust rearwards using modified barrels suddenly released more power
from the 125s. Racing in the non championship German GP at Solitude, near
Stuttgart East German runners Krumpolz and Petruschke finished 4th and 5th
against the might of DKW, Puch and NSU. Suddenly MZ were on the same
playing field as their mighty rivals.
As IFA/MZ were establishing themselves probably the most significant player of
the post WW11 two-stroke development scene was establishing himself in
business at Waldkirchen near Zschopau. Walter Kaaden was apprenticed to the
DKW factory before the war and raced with success a supercharged Deek. For
his final college project Kaaden designed and built a four-cylinder four-stroke
engine before being assigned to duties developing a jet fighter, the
Messerschmitt Me262. None of which gave any sign of what would happen next.
While working is his own workshop after the conflict Walter built and
successfully raced in national East German events a 7bhp 100cc two-stroke
machine. Unfortunately like many budding businessmen and women Kaaden
became a victim of the Communist state of East Germany where individual
enterprise was actively discouraged. Abandoning his own business Kaaden
began working for IFA/MZ during late 1952 and gained a formal contract in
early 1953.
Daniel Zimmermann's two-stroke tuning expertise had been earnt racing and
developing his own two-stroke Formula 3 racing cars. Although some claim this
was new development, it wasn't. The British maker Sun had fitted engines with
crankshaft driven disc valve induction control during and just after WW1, true
the discs were 6mm thick while those of Zimmermann and later Kaaden were of
thin spring steel but the concept certainly was rotary disc valve none the less.
Italian Silvio Grassetti en route to winning the 1971 Belgian GP at Spa-Francorchamps
at a race speed of 119.552mph from the Yamahas of Dodds and Braun.
Likewise selected leading two-stroke designers had considered rearward facing
exhausts from the back of the barrel and the active use of exhaust back pressure
to in effect supercharge their engines. However it took the genius of Kaaden to
refine the concepts and incorporate his own tuning ideas.
Starting the 1953 with a 125cc engine developing 9bhp @ 7800rpm Herr
Kaaden had improved this by 25% to give 12bhp @ 8500rpm by the season's
close, and MZs became regular front runners in the East German ultra
lightweight races. In turn factory sales increased. At the season start Walter was
working in a small lean to building sited at the end of the factory with a handful
of staff but gradually he gained extra help and more workshop space. However
throughout his career with MZ funds were always limited.
Walter Kaaden's development followed a path which today seems the norm, but
in the middle to late 1950s he was a groundbreaker and rightly earned the
nickname of the 'father of the racing two-stroke.' In basic terms his work
followed a number of paths, which complemented each other. The use of rotary
valve induction enabled the carburettor to be moved away from the barrel and
permit much extended port timings. He employed extensive revised alterations
to the exhaust and transfer ports including multiple transfer ports. Squish
combustion chambers were developed.
Not only did he use exhaust pipes facing backwards from the rear of the barrel,
but he developed the expansion chamber (highly resonant exhaust system) with
its volumetric capacity precisely developed to suit the engines capacity,
compression ration and port timing. Initially he did this work by trial and error,
often taking 50 - 60 attempts to achieve the optimum for maximum power but
soon he developed calculations to work out a guide when developing engines,
which then required no more than 5 experimental attempts to achieve the
Over the next years Kaaden extracted more and more power from his MZ racing
engines achieving a significant landmark in 1961 when his 125cc single
developed 25bhp @10.800rpm which equates to 200bhp/litre of engine capacity.
His engine was and still is internationally recognised as the first piston engine to
achieve this landmark. While the 125 was capable of well over 100mph with
acceleration to match a similarly developed 250 MZ could hit 155mph when
fully faired. Walter Kaaden's critics claim his extreme development caused MZs
to be more unreliable however any unreliability had more to do with the poor
quality of parts and materials available to him rather than a slur on his racing
engine expertise.
Tales of intrigue surround how MZ improved their quality without the 'state'
knowing! Walter Kaaden himself walked in 10 sets of Norton forks, a leg at a
time hidden down his trousers through Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin. From
conversation with the late Alan Shepherd (MZ works rider) I learnt he bought
Hepolite pistons direct from the British factory on special order for Mr Kaaden,
often one at a time as Kaaden had little western currency, and smuggled them
wrapped in his clothes across the border into the eastern zone. You can imagine
how MZs gradually gained Girling shock absorbers, Avon or Dunlop tyres,
Lodge sparking plugs, Smiths rev counters, Amal carbs and Lucas ignition.
MZ scored their first world championship points in 1957, in the 125cc class as
Horst Fugner and Ernst Degner finished 4th and 6th respectively, a lap adrift in
the West German GP at Hockenheim. MZ scored their first 250cc GP places a
year later. Although they finished runner up in the constructors title chase they
never won a riders world championship, but should have done so in 1961 had
not Degner defected to the west towards the end of the season while easily
leading the title chase. Ultimately Tom Phillis (Honda) was crowned 125cc
Work Champion with Degner runner up.
Ernst Degner took not only his family and riding skills to Japan but also his twostroke development skills learnt while working alongside Kaaden. Suzuki
suddenly transformed their also ran models into international front runners and
many claim Kaaden's development skills earnt them their first World
Championship in 1963 and many more after. Such observers also state Yamaha
learnt much and developed quickly at the same time.
While Kaaden was saddened by Degner's defection he never publicly stated any
ill feelings to his former colleague and many years later often said it would have
only been a brief matter of time before Suzuki and Yamaha were developing
similar power to his MZs even if Degner had remained loyal to the cause. Sadly
Ernst was a troubled soul who took his own life in 1968. Despite Degner's
defection MZ racing development continued successfully until 1972 by when
the racing department had become so strapped for about everything including
cash it folded. Alongside the road racing a string of ultra successful ISDT
mounts were run too. However not everything Kaaden touched went well, the
50cc project fizzled out after a couple of very slow races in 1962 but by contrast
the later 350s went well too.
A long string of great racers enjoyed MZ rides and contracts including Ernst
Degner, Horts Fugner, Derek Minter, Gary Hocking, Luigi Taveri, Tommy
Robb, Deiter Braun, Heinz Rosner, Silvio Grassetti, Gunter Bartusch and many
others including the late Alan Shepherd who not only understood Walter Kaaden
better than most but remained a lifelong friend until the great racing engineer
died. And its a brief extract from the report of Shepherd's win in the 1964 250cc
American GP at Daytona on February 2nd which perhaps illustrates Kaaden's
skill, speed of thought and engineering expertise to perfection. Due to the
restrictions his communist state homeland Walter Kaaden couldn't travel with
the 250cc twin cylinder MZ racer to America. On arrival Alan Shepherd tried
the machine only to find it truly sick and unable to even run properly let alone
perform on the poor quality fuel then available in the US. Permitted just one 3
minute phone conversation with his rider, Kaaden learnt of the problems,
appraised the situation and detailed to Alan how to re-tune the carburettor and
ignition. That Alan Shepherd won the race at over 90mph with a fastest lap of
94.577mph is the mark of Walter Kaaden's genius.
It was popular sport to deride the road going products of MZ, yet the machines
were usually sound while it was selected owners were at times less than sound.
Proof of the pudding was my 1976 example, which covered more than 13,000
miles in a year before I could afford 'something better and quicker.' Only now
do I realise the errors of my ways and I often fondly remember its 'ring ting ting'
exhaust note.
Richard Rosenthal
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Atholl Place - Peel - Isle of Man - IM5 1HE
May Day
Peel Copy Centre
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Tynwald Day
Spring Bank
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Personalised Calendars
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e-mail: [email protected]
Tel / Fax: 01624 - 845339
This cup was awarded for our
field trial. The first winner was
D. Ward in 1992. Due to bad
weather in 2007 there was no
field trial, so the cup was
awarded to Janet Cope for the
best machine on the road run.
The present holder is Trevor
This Trophy was donated by Pete
Mitchell in memory of his friend
Dennis Reed. It is awarded to the
member attending the most runs
during the year, riding a 1931 1940 machine. The first winner
was Ken Teare in 1994. Present
holder is Anne Murden.
Graham Walker - Rider Profile No. 8
Commentator Extrordinaire Graham Walker rounds Ramsey Hairpin, with
Tommy Mahon in the chair, during the 1923 sidecar TT. They took second place.
No man has done more for
motorcycling than GRAHAM
WALKER, the supreme
broadcaster of T.T.
commentaries, tireless
campaigner for safety on the
road and brilliant Editor, for
many years of "Motor Cycling."
In retirement he is gave a lot of
his time to the motorcycle
museum at Beaulieu. Youngest
D. R. Sergeant of the '14 war,
Graham had a brilliant racing
career with Norton, Sunbeam
and Rudge and in winning the
1928 Ulster Grand Prix gave the
Clady circuit the title of "the
world's fastest" and the 500 c.c.
Rudge its type name of "Ulster."
He was also captain of the
British I.S.D.T. team.
Dorothy Greenwood
Desmodromic valve gear
'Desmodromic' is from the Greek and means 'running as in a bond or track'.
When used for valve gear it implies that the valves are positively closed as well
as opened. Such a system has great advantages and the wonder is that it took so
long to achieve. Not that this was for lack of invention or practical work, for
experiments date back to well before the Great War (1914-1918), but none of
these efforts was truly successful. It was during the 1920s with the change, for
racing in particular, from side by side valves to overhead valves that the
deficiencies of valve springs as a closing mechanism became very evident.
Not only were they unreliable and prone to fracture, but as speeds and engine
revs rose, double and even triple springs were used to try to combat 'valve float'
by damping out the spring's natural frequency of oscillation. Interestingly, James
L. Norton was one who, as early as 1924, published a patent on a desmodromic
system (he even used the word) with a chain-driven overhead camshaft, and
rockers that engaged, at one end with an annular 'track' that served both as
opening and closing cam. However, he sadly died soon after, and if the idea was
pursued at all, it is forgotten today.
In fact not until 1954 was interest revived again, with the advent on Grand-Prix
car racing on the legendary W196 Mercedes Benz racing car. This 2.5 litre
unsupercharged straight-eight engine produced around 260hp and for the next
two seasons easily outclassed every other Grand Prix contender. However, no
other maker attempted to imitate the system, for needless to say, it was
comprehensively protected by worldwide patents. Suprisingly, Mercedes
(though they used it in the 300SLR sports racing car) made no move to extend
the system to their more mundane motor cars, if Mercedes' can ever be
In Italy, the Ducati
Company had plans to
begin racing at a time
when Mercedes'
exploits were still front
page news. Designer
Ing. Fabio Taglioni,
newly arrived from
F.B. Mondial, designed
a desmodromic valve
gear train that legally
Ing. Taglioni's brainwave
Mercedes' patents
and which proved
an instant success.
Fitted to the
factory's existing
52.5mm x 52mm
124cc racing
engine, an
astonishing gain of
23% in power was
achieved along with
reliability. That is
the sort of result
that most designers
can only dream of.
Doug Hele's Norton Version
The first racing 'Desmo' Ducati had its debut far from home at the Swedish
Grand Prix of 1956. It was sensational, rider D'egli Antoni winning at record
speed and lapping every other rider! Alas for the ecstatic Ducati race
department, Antoni was almost immediately involved in a fatal accident in
practice at Monza and Ducati temporarily withdrew from racing.
On the factory's return to the Word Championship in 1958 they were unlucky
not to win it, for they soundly trounced the hitherto all conquering MVs in race
after race. But the bid was unsuccessful and at the end of the season the race
shop was closed down on the orders of the board of civil servants who
administered the semi-nationalised factory. Much of the race shop was sold,
including two sadly under-developed twins, a 250cc and a 350cc purchased by
Stan Hailwood for son Mike's use. These machines never lived up to the
promise of the singles, which was hardly the fault of Ing. Taglioni.
Ducati persevered with road-going machinery and in 1968 introduced
desmodromic valve gear, which they gradually extended to the whole range. No
other maker of motor-cycle ever copied them in this respect.
Although experimental desmodromic engines were built and tested by Mondial,
Honda, Benelli and Norton none were ever consistently raced, let alone offered
on road going machines. Ducati had shown that positive valve operation
possessed definite advantages. One can only wonder why other manufacturers
did not, or could not, follow and build on their experience.
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Ulster Grand Prix - 1949 - 1959
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British UK short circuit - 1949 - 1959
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