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Issue 22

Autumn 2012

BMC T NEWS N E W S L E T T E R O F T H E B R I T I S H M O T O R C Y C L E C H A R I T A B L E T R U S T

In This Issue: SCOOTER MANIA HITS COVENTRY WHAT NOW FOR SUNBEAMLAND? BROOKLANDS GOLD STAR ANNIVERSARY STAFFORD SHOW REPORT ROLAND PIKE’S BSA MEMORIES BONHAMS STAFFORD SALE MEMBERS’ PAGE THE BMCT COLLECTION


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This Autumn and Winter, be transported to the 1950s and 60s, as Coventry Transport Museum presents a delightful new exhibition of British scooters from these two fascinating decades. Whilst many people are familiar with the Italian scooters favoured by the Mod generation, this new exhibition showcases over 40 scooters made right here in Britain – and there are quite a few weird and wonderful surprises in store. All of the scooters on display were collected by BMCT member Robin

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Spalding (www.britishscooters.com) and they include well-known British names such as Triumph, BSA and Raleigh, as well as more „obscure‟ manufacturers such as DMW, DKR and Dunkley, to offer a unique perspective on this iconic form of personal transport. Of course the scooters themselves are the stars of the show, but they are complemented by eye-catching displays of advertising, fashion and furnishings from the 50s and 60s, to create an experience that is both nostalgic and surprising, and is bound to get you talking! The exhibition was officially opened

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on Thursday 25th October by Robin Spalding himself and Coventry-born pop singer Don Fardon, who had a no.3 hit with his song “Indian Reservation” in 1970.

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This book covers in detail over 40 British scooters made from post World War Two to the time the last scooter was made in Britain in the late 1960s. In addition to the scooters that went into full production it features the manufacturers who made a prototype machine or a small batch of scooters. Instead of the A-Z format the book has been prepared in chronological order based on production years, this allows additional information concerning other similar forms of two -wheeled transport, and comments on the situation in other countries, to be included at the appropriate time.It details all the famous British motorcycle manufactures who made scooters

including BSA/Triumph, AMC James, Phelon & Moore and Velocette who made their large Viceroy with advertisements shouting 'Built for Men!! Two of the smaller motorcycle companies had scooters at the London Earl Court Show at the right time in the mid 1950s, the DMW Bambi (1955) and the Sun Geni (1956), but unfortunately the large companies waited until 1959 and the early 1960s before announcing their scooters leaving it far too late to compete in anyway with the European market leaders such as Zundapp, Heinkel, Vespa and Lambretta. Many people think that the first motor scooter was the Italian Vespa of 1946

– this was in fact the start of the third scooter boom – the book therefore starts with brief information on the scooters made following World War One, those made in America after the Great Depression in the 1930s, and the Military scooters used in the Second World War. It concludes with the scene today for the collectors and restorers of these 1950/60s British motor scooters. In A4 format the book has over 190 pages showing coloured photographs of all 41 scooters in the British scooter collection, the retail price is £22.95 plus £3.95 P&P with a special price for BMCT members of £19.50 plus £3.95 P&P. The first 200 books sold will be numbered and signed. (ISBN 978-09573144-0-5) More information is on the website : www. britishscooters.com or from Robin Spalding himself on 01737 555895.

Our front cover photo shows Robin Spalding at the opening of Scooter Mania with Steve Bagley of Coventry Transport Museum


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itting there boarded up and waiting for someone to bring it back to life, Wolverhampton‟s former Sunbeam motorcycle factory is a sorry sight. And today there are fears that the factory will not attract the funding needed to bring it back into use as Wolverhampton City Council ruled itself out of taking on the building. Scarce government funding is restricted mainly to schemes that would create jobs. While proposals by developers Urban Splash would make the 120,000 sq ft site off the Penn Road into a “workspace”, it would be up to whoever eventually occupies it to provide new employment. Urban Splash has put the site back on the market following three years of disappointment and waiting. Bosses were recently told their bid for funding had failed.

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On Saturday June 30th 1937 Walter Handley won an „AllComers Handicap‟ race on the famous Brooklands Outer Circuit with a fastest lap at 107.57 mph on a 500 cc BSA Empire Star using alcohol fuel. Handley had been persuaded out of retirement especially for the three lap race, eight miles at high speed on the uneven

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and deteriorating banked oval track with an average speed of 102.77mph. For this achievement he was awarded a Brooklands Gold Star, a small enamel badge no more than 1 inch high, with a small square on the bottom of it which said simply “100” to signify the occasion. Any rider who achieved a 100 mph lap

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during a race was awarded a coveted Brooklands Gold Star. The BSA motorcycle Company were so impressed by Handley‟s achievement that they named their top sporting 500cc bike "The Gold Star". Just 200 Gold Stars were awarded by the British Motorcycle Racing Club. To

celebrate this date in History the Gold Star Owners Club and the Brooklands Museum held a special event at the famous Brooklands track. "Gold Star Day” marked the 75th Anniversary of the BSA Gold Star motorcycle and brought the largest ever gathering of Goldies together in one place for the day.


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David Stewart’s 1923 New Hudson Popular 211 cc. David sold his last restoration to none other than Giacomo Agostini!

Not a common sight these days, a 1963 400cc Norton Electra. Restored from a basket case by owner Barry Taylor.

Yet again the mid- October weather was kind for the exhibitors and punters at the 19th Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show,

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This Velocette didn’t win any awards, but was still one of the best presented bikes at the show.

Graham Nock’s restorations are well known on the show circuit. Here’s his 197cc Cotton Vulcan Sports.

held as usual on Stafford Showground. This show is aimed mainly at the Classic, rather than Veteran and Vintage enthusiast, and consequently Japanese

Trevor Bostock’s 1936 Ivory Calthorpe Major took 2nd prize in the Pre-1960 Bike category.

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and Continental marques proliferate. However there were some nice British bikes to delight the eye, as you can see from this selection

This 1958 Royal Enfield 700cc Constellation spent many years as a field bike. Some field bike...we all used Bantams!


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The following is an extract from the unpublished memoirs of Roland Pike, development engineer at BSA between 1952 and 1957, and is reproduced by kind permission of Myles Raymond at www.beezanet.com. It ‟s a fascinating first hand account of what life was like at the BSA factory in the nineteen fifties. Here‟s Part One, more in the next issue.

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he story of how I came to work for BSA really started in 1951 when I rode a 1949 Gold Star in the Senior TT and actually finished on it. Through Hallets, my local dealer in Canterbury and Charlie Salt, who already worked in the drawing office of BSA who put me in touch with Herbert Hopwood. I told Mr Hopwood I would like to build two racers for the coming year, using BSA Gold Star engines but in lighter welded frames of my own design. He agreed to supply the engines through my local dealer. After a while I was sent for and told the policy of the company was not to make a 500 Gold Star, but they were willing to provide a 500 twin. I was doubtful, as I did not know anything about twins. I enquired as to what they would supply me with and they agreed to an all aluminium engine that gave 44 horse power. This sounded terrific to me and I agreed to accepting it. Little did I know how awful the engine was. The power band was so narrow that you could step off it either way in 600 RPM or so. The 44 horsepower was a dynamometer reading that seemed difficult to reproduce on the track. I wasn‟t the first to fall for horsepower figures, and I made the two machines one with the unit construction twin and one with a separate Albion gearbox and 350 Gold Star single cylinder engine. I had in the back of my mind to substitute a 500 Gold Star engine if the twin was no good. I sold my AJS 7R and spent the winter and spring 1951-52 building these two as Pike BSAs. The rear part of the frame looked something like a featherbed Norton, but I used a single front down tube. One bike had an oval & tapered down tube and the other a round one, which subsequently broke and had to be replaced with a tapered oval section tube. Girling rear shock absorbers were fitted and originally Silentbloc swing arm bushes, but these

proved to have too much give and had to be replaced with bronze bushes. Later on when Dennis Lashmar owned the twin, he had many engine blow-ups, so we got permission to put in the 500 Gold Star single. This was two years later when the Gold Star produced 44bhp, and he did very well, engaging in some neck and neck rides with the great John Surtees at Brands Hatch. Surtees told me himself that Dennis used to give him a run for his money. In those days Surtees was running double overhead cam featherbed Nortons, the very best, so Charlie Salt wrote to me and asked "are you going to spend your life building and riding these back yard specials or are you to finally retire and

The frame that Roland made, all welded and lighter than the BSA one

look for a job in the industry?" If I wrote to Mr. Hopwood at BSA and tell him a little bird told you, but don't mention his name, that you understood there was an opening that would interest me. I don't know why they were so secretive but that was typical of BSA. I wrote to Mr Hopwood and he asked me to come and see him. Hoppy took me to lunch and we had a long chat, about the development shop he'd set up, and the test shop, also the metal shop. The experimental shop built and tested bikes; the test shop did the routine production testing of Gold Star engines. Mr Hopwood had told the bosses they needed a test shop, remember this was in 1951, BSA was the biggest motor cycle manufacturer in the world, and they agreed telling him he could have the shed down by the foundry where Arthur Lupton had been developing an engine. A competition rider, Jack Amott was taken out of the test shop and put in charge of development. I never met him, but I think like us in many ways. He really started the Gold Star off and Roland Pike’s twin at Braddan Bridge

was brilliant at mathematics, but being outspoken he upset Hoppy every other day. Amott had been an old factory Rudge racer years before and was injured in a crash, at I think Greeba. After that he became a good trials rider to the core. Unfortunately he got himself disliked and Mr Hopwood fired him because of his criticism of the MC1 250 racer then being built at BSA. Unaware of the fact at the time, I was brought in to build the 250 racer. At that time the MC1 wasn‟t even in the test shop but in the research dept under Donald Bastow. Bill Bentley was put in shop to assemble and run it. Every time the engine was run on the dyno, lubrication was poor and rockers became blue with heat. Jack Amott had told them that the lubrication system was inadequate, they thought he was being obstructive, so he was fired, which paved the way for me to come up from the south to Birmingham to do the job. I was quite excited about the bike, and asked if they had had it running yet. Not yet was the answer but it will be run any time now and we want you to be here to watch it. I was asked if I had any criticism of the plans, but not wanting to upset anybody I pointed out I was an amateur racer after all, not a professional designer. They insisted however saying I had enough experience and that they valued my opinions. After examining the drawings, I pointed out that I did not think the oil would return to the crankcase from the rocker box due to the almost horizontal angle of the cylinder. Also that I thought plain bushes for the vertical shaft would not take 10,000 - 12,000 rpm. I didn‟t think the fine tooth gears for the cam drive would stand up and I did not like the idea of the oil pump case being made of aluminium, and suggested cast iron, which eventually had to be done. They listened politely to all this criticism from me, perhaps because I was new and had just started to work there, yet they had just fired Jack Amott for saying the same things. Of course they didn‟t change anything until it eventually gave trouble, and eventually all the things I had criticised did give trouble, not all at once, but piecemeal, each time causing a delay of a week or months whilst the parts were redesigned and made. The compression ratio was too high, after burning a number of pistons we went to a forged piston. Bill Bentley insisted on running the engine on 50-50 petrol benzole, as he could not keep it running on the standard pump fuel that TT regulations called for, so he was pulled off the job because of this. Alan Sandilands took over then and by some ingenious modifications to the lubrication system got the cam and rocker wear under control. To be continued


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B o n h a m s The 1929 Grindlay-Peerless-JAP 500cc 'Hundred Model' sold for £67,580 at the annual Bonhams sale at The Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show on Sunday 21st October. Other notable sales included a oneowner collection of almost 50 modern-day classics, which together realized £215,000, and two Brough Superior SS-80 motorcycles, which achieved a total of more than £130,000. An extremely rare racing motorcycle from the 1920s that lapped the famous Brooklands race circuit at over 100mph was one of the top lots at the sale. One of only two of its kind known to survive, the 1929 Grindlay-Peerl ess -JAP 50 0cc 'Hundred Model' won a coveted Brooklands 'Gold Star' award in 1937 in the hands of prominent VMCC member, the late Edmond 'Boy' Tubb. The bike, which has been part of the motorcycle display at Brooklands Museum for many years, went for £59,000 on the hammer. Shortly afterwards it was announced from the rostrum that the buyer was a private UK collector who intends to loan the machine back to Brooklands, prompting a round of applause from the audience. Meanwhile two important Brough Superior SS-80 motorcycles realized a combined total of more than £130,000. A remarkably original, un-restored 'barn-find' 981cc 1925 model that had been owned by the same family from new and had not been seen publicly for more than eight decades achieved

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£63,100. Meanwhile the 1930 SS-80 De Luxe 'Black Bess' once owned by the founder of the Vintage Motor Cycle Club C E 'Titch' Allen realized £68,700. A 1930 Brough Superior Overhead 680 motorcycle project, meanwhile, doubled its top estimate to achieve £59,740.

Auctioneer Malcolm Barber with the Grindlay Peerless in front of the rostrum.

The entire sale realized £1,328,335, with a sale rate of 87 per cent of the lots offered. Top-selling lot was a c.1958 Benelli 248cc Grand Prix Racing Motorcycle that was one of only four constructed and was sent for sale at Stafford by an American enthusiast. It sold for £74,300. Ben Walker, Head of the Bonhams Motorcycle Department, said: "Our annual Autumn Stafford Sale was once again a huge success.

"As one of our most important sales during the year, Stafford has traditionally been the barometer for values and prices for the collectors' motorcycle market. "We witnessed many Europeans bidding for high-quality machines where rarity came foremost, even though the economic situation in most of continental Europe still holds cause for concern.” In the spares sale beforehand the W E Brough engine below, once given to a member of the vendor‟s family by none other than George Brough himself, sold for a staggering £21,250 including premium!

LATE NEWS As this newsletter was being finalised news came in from H&H Classic Auctions sale at The Imperial War Museum, Duxford, where the ex George Brough and „Titch‟ Allen Brough Superior „Old Bill‟ went for a colossal £291,000, a world record for a British machine, and also a record for any motorcycle sold at auction in the UK. Sad to report, however, that the bike, which was on display at Nottingham Museum, has been sold to a collector in the United States of America.

M O T O R C Y C L E L I V E T H E N E C Coventry Transport Museum have been entrusted with staging the classic motorcycle exhibition within the “Motorcycle Live 2012” motorcycle show at Birmingham‟s NEC this autumn. With around 20 iconic Coventry bikes on their stand, there‟s sure to be plenty of interest, and we are proud to be able to supply a good proportion of the

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machines from our own collection. The show runs from November 24th to December 2nd and buying your ticket before 23rd November will qualify you for a 15% discount off the normal admission price. For more details contact the Ticket Factory on 0844 338 0338 or go to www.theticketfactory.com


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Here‟s BMCT member Bill Snelling with the wonderful exhibition of Manx Grand Prix and TT photographs he stages at Laxey Woollen Mills during each TT and MGP fortnight. Admission is free, with voluntary donations going to the TT and MGP Helicopter Fund. Bill helps run FoTTofinders, and has a catalogue of 250,000 images covering the TT races from 1907 and Manx GP events from 1923. If you‟re looking for a shot of a particular racer then Bill‟s the man to find it for you. He can be contacted on 01624 862238 or at FoTTofinders, Lossan y Twoaie, Glen Road, Laxey, Isle of Man IM4 7AN.

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The BMCT were delighted to receive an invitation from the organizers to enter this year‟s Salon Privé Concours d‟Elegance competition in the splendid setting of London‟s Syon Park. Dozens of the finest cars and motorcycles took part in the event, and the motorcycle theme this year was “V Twins Through the Ages”. We took along the AJS S3 that normally resides in the Black Country Museum. Chairman Peter Wellings and Trustee John Handley are seen here with the bike.

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26 Oct 2012 - 31 March 2013 Scooter Mania Exhibition at Coventry Transport Museum 16-18 November Footman James Classic Car and Bike Show, NEC Birmingham 23 November - 2 December Motorcycle Live, NEC Birmingham 5-6 January 2013 Carole Nash Classic Bike Guide Winter Classic Show, Newark County Showground, Notts. 16-17 February 2013 Carole Nash Bristol Classic Motorcycle Show, Shepton Mallet, Somerset

N E W M E M B E R S Welcome to the following: Stuart Goodwin, East Horsley Chris Firth, Betchworth Steven Deacy, Poole Michael Stansbridge, Southampton Lee Fox, Chineham Andy Collett, Cheriton Kathryn Hall, Nuneaton David Poole, Barwell L F Kemp, Whitchurch Marcus Ford, Leighton Buzzard Bruce Rackham, Hutton James Peatling, Wimborne Brian Harris, Syston Michael Earley, Winchester Chris Bracey, Cheriton Desmond McWilliam, Bangor Keith Adams, Bishopstoke Philip Lyon, Waltham Chase David Moses, Knaphill Stephen Fox, Tadley Tracy Fox, Tadley Peter Boyle, Fareham Erin Barton, Feltham Rhea Barton, Feltham Bev Alderslade, Gosport Beverley Ralph, Totton David Madeley, Fareham Stewart Carter, Christchurch Frank Greenan, Hope Valley R D George, Bitterne Tim Hicks, Wareham Glenn Drinkwater, Thatcham Pamela Mason-Smith, Ringwood Deborah Towers, Holbury Manor Martin Young, Guildford Christopher Brown, Marchwood Roy Parrett, Highcliffe Norman Reynolds, Holbury Sylvia Bennett, Holbury Joanna Tomkins, Colden Common Brian George, Hedge End Kevin Maher, Colden Common Noel Moss, St Louis, Missouri Richard Joyner, Bornemouth P Green, Exmouth Victoria Jones, Colden Common Gary Howe, Brentwood Grace Howe, Brentwood Andy Devers, Chippenham Peter Carson, Burghclere Chris Trainer, Penn Peter Beechey, Worcester Keith Sole, Watford Peter Crook, Dibden Purlieu Kevin Tremlett, Tilehurst Lord Powell of Teeton, Newnham Roger Lee Jackaman, Walton on Thames Graham Flew, Peterborough P Griffiths, Wellington Anne Malone, Bournemouth Gil Matthews, Camberley Barry Price, Coventry John Wright, Warwick Peter Wood, Highcliffe Alan Duke, Selsey Anthony Bucknall, Wolverhampton Anthony Warner, Wellington Terry Fletcher, Andover Elizabeth Davies, Wollaston Penelope Brooke, Godalming Sean McCaffrey, Waterlooville Ken Hodgkinson, Tamworth P G Churchill, Lydney A Markham, West Bromwich Derek Kelly, Southampton John Lamb, Salisbury Robert Priest, Willenhall Kevin Dawson, Bournemouth Roy Lewis, Abingdon Glendon Franklin, Colchester Linda Matthews, Christchurch


WE’RE ON THE WEB! WWW.BMCT.ORG

T H E B R I T I S H M O T O R C Y C L E C H A R I T A B L E

T R U S T

Registered Charity No. 509420 Company registered in England No. 01445196

Registered Office: Holly Cottage Main Street Bishampton Pershore WR10 2NH WR10 2NH

Phone: 01386 462524 Mobile: 07754 880116 E-mail: info@bmct.org

The Trust was originally formed to facilitate the building of the National Motorcycle Museum at Bickenhill, near Solihull in the West Midlands, but since 1995 the BMCT has been an entirely separate organisation, a grant - making Charity dedicated to the promotion of British motorcycle engineering heritage through a network of affiliated transport museums throughout the country. Membership is open to all, and allows free entry to all the museums in the scheme. Our funding comes from membership fees, bequests, donations and income from investments. Please direct any enquiries to the secretary, Andy Bufton, at the address on the left.

Preserving the past...for the future Trustees: P J Wellings (Chairman), S Bagley, T P V Barnes, J F R Handley, M Jackson, J N Jeffery, J Kidson, I N Walden OBE

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As is widely known, the Birmingham Small Arms company was founded in 1861 to mass produce guns using up-todate machinery rather than relying on traditional more costly methods. The company was established on a site in Small Heath in Birmingham that later came to be called Armoury Road. In 1880, in response to a slump in the arms trade, BSA turned to making bicycles as a way of keeping the factory open until the trade recovered. Some seven years later, when BSA received a major arms supply contract from the War Office, complete bicycle production was suspended until 1908, although in the meantime they continued to supply frame parts and gear hubs to other bicycle and motorcycle manufacturers. The new bicycles were so well received that in 1909 the company made plans to introduce their own motorcycle based on one of their bicycles and using their own 3.5hp four stroke single cylinder engines. Selling price was set at ÂŁ50. So popular

was the new machine from its introduction in 1910 that production was completely sold out for the next three years. The example in the BMCT collection is from

the second year of production and is one of the oldest survivors of the BSA marque. It is currently housed in the Motorcycle Gallery at Coventry Transport Museum.

BMCT News Autumn 2012  

Scooter Exhibition opens at Coventry

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