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HARLEY SPORTSTER ● VAPOUR BLASTING ● HILLCLIMB HEROES

ISSUE 118 • FEBRUARY 2014 £3.20

GREAT SCOTT

★★★★★★★★★★★★

THE BIG FIGHT

BONNEVILLE Vs THRUXTON 10 GRUELLING ROUNDS TO FIND THE ULTIMATE WINNER

★★★★★★★★★★★★ 22 PAGE C I S S A L C L REA

CAR SIEDCE IAL SP

VINCENT RAPIDE MATCHLESS G12

AJS 18S

NORTON 18


NORTHER LIGHT

Photos by Rowena Hoseason, Frank Westworth

6 I FEBRUARY 2014

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1949 SCOTT SQUIRREL

RN

The rear view is as interesting as any view; rigid frame, low saddle, handsome fuel tank and a neat up-kicked silencer. Remarkable (and effective) centrestand, too

The Scott selection of idiosyncratic strokers carved their own unique path into British motorcycle history. Frank Westworth encountered a Squirrel

E

ncountering a legend is never easy. It’s one thing to borrow a Triumph twin, or some other entirely familiar machine, and to zoom about for an hour or two, returning eventually to the wordface to pen a few hopefully interesting, amusing and possibly informative pages of print. It is entirely another thing to take a ride with a stranger, a first decent ride, in fact. I may have ridden Scotts before – it’s highly likely, in fact – but I honestly cannot recall the experience at all. And Scotts are legendary, so I surely should have remembered the experience. They are also remarkably different. Riding a Scott is a truly unusual experience. It’s another British parallel twin, of course, but is absolutely nothing like riding any other Brit twin, not even other twin strokers. If you’re a fan of Ariel or Villiers twins and think that a Scott is like a bigger version – forget it. It’s not. And if you’re a fan of stroker twins from overseas and think the Scott might be like, for example, a T500 Suzuki – forget that too. It’s not. It is a Scott, plain and simple. And like its geographical neighbour from Cleckheaton, the Shipley smoker is rammed full of character and characteristics all its own. It is usual in a magazine story to be able to say of the test victim that‘it’s like this other bike’or‘it shares characteristics with this other bike’so that riders who have knowledge

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FEBRUARY 2014 I 7


KICK-STARTER FOR 10 A Finnish member of the Finnish Veteraanimoottoripyöräklubbi has asked for help obtaining a gearbox for a British motorcycle he owns. The machine is a 1935 AJS Model 10 OHC racing motorcycle, being restored. The gearbox that came with the machine is a Sturmey Archer fourspeed type, but it has no kickstarter and the owner is eager to have a gearbox with a kickstart facility. The Sturmey Archer box fitted has a boss over what might have been a hole from which a kickstart shaft may have appeared on a non-competition box. The current owner and restorer was advised by the previous owner that some of the gears in the Sturmey Archer box are marked‘NSU’and this no doubt came about because Sturmey Archer also supplied NSU with gearboxes pre-war, and when parts were needed, NSU may have made their own copies of individual parts. I would be very pleased to hear from anyone with a suitable four-speed box to spare to get in touch with me.

AN ALLOY EXPERT Here is a carb which I picked up somewhere. At first glance it looks like an Amal and indeed is identical but for one small thing. It has BIRMAL stamped on it. I have never seen one of these before and wonder what machines they were used on. The name suggests they were manufactured in Birmingham. I have attempted to fit it to my Royal Enfield K model (976cc) as it is the same size, takes the same slide and jets. However the longer stub made the V-twin refuse to run on the front cylinder. The rear cylinder runs perfectly but with a lot of condensation on the manifold. The front cylinder has a great spark and fuel actually wetting the plug. My theory is that the longer stub would make carb adjustment easier. Perhaps you know about the BIRMAL? David Brailey, Australia I can shed some light on the background of the Birmingham (good guess!) Aluminium Casting Company Ltd. When the company started life in 1903 it was one of only two aluminium foundries in the UK. BIRMAL’s process developed from the cycle industry of the late 1800s, to make robust frames without brazed joints or weighty lugs. Casting aluminium proved to be the solution. The company diversified into making roller skates (there was something of a roller skate boom a century ago), and then parts for machine guns when war broke out. BIRMAL merged with the Midland Motor Cylinder Company in 1920, then began pressure die-casting. Experiments produced a corrosionresistant aluminium alloy, Birmabright, which proved ideal for building Birmal Boats. By 1936 the business had acquired all sorts of associated companies working in the aircraft and automotive industries, so adopted the name

18 I FEBRUARY 2014

David Bullivant, Kantarelli 4, FIN 0500 Kellokoski, Finland Your pal might be well advised to contact the VMCC. I also found a whole heap of information – not necessarily useful but extremely distracting – here: www.sturmeyarcherheritage.com Rowena

Birmid Industries. During WW2, Birmid devoted all its production to magnesium bombs(!), aircraft components and munitions, and thereafter found new customers in the textile, gas and electricity industries. I found Birmid advertising literature stretching all the way to 1968, when it appears that Birmid merged with Qualcast. None of which will make your Enfield run any better with that carb, of course. And – delightfully – when I asked the all-seeing google algorithm if it knew anything about Birmid carbs, it suggested I might want information about hermit crabs… I bet someone out there knows more. Rowena

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Old IrOn Head DaveGodfreyhasenjoyedalongridinglifewithhisHarleyDavidsonSportster.Verylong,andlotsofriding,too‌ Photos by Simon Condie and Dave Bradley

40 I FEBRUARY 2014

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R

1974 HARLEY-DAVIDSON XLH SPORTSTER

umour has it that old Ironhead Sportsters are trouble, prone to blowing up and smashing their gearboxes. Those made during the period when the H-D Motor Company was owned by AMF are allegedly even worse. In which case this Harley should have gone into the skip many years ago. This is a 1974 XLH 1000 Ironhead made during AMF’s reign, and according to those who like reading engine and frame numbers it is fourth from last of the final production run of right foot change Sportsters. This bike was brought into the UK by Fred Warr (at that time the only ‘official’ UK Harley dealer) but such was the demand for Harleys in those days that it sat unsold in the back of his shop until 1977, when it was bought as an 18th birthday present for some spoilt brat who had just passed his test on a Honda 250 or suchlike (this is all true!). Barely 500 miles later he had had enough and sold it on to a guy who put another 1000 miles on it before deciding that he too preferred cars. And so it was that in May 1978 my brother Bill paid £1500 for the not even run in Sportster that you see here. Bill put several

thousand miles on it, overturned it on a wet manhole cover conveniently located halfway round a fast bend – he walked away with a cut knee – the bike, despite having turned right over in mid-air, had only light damage, the only casualties being the pipes, handlebars and front mudguard (more on that later). A year or so later he fitted a belt drive, which was not a good idea, at least not then. The first belt lasted about 2000 miles, the second not much longer. The problem seemed to be that the rubber the belts were made from was not oil resistant – a bit of a problem for something that runs in an oil bath – and so they shredded and shed their teeth, the fragmented rubber then found its way into the gearbox (old Sporties share the primary drive oil with the box) where it got into the uncaged roller bearing on the

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FEBRUARY 2014 I 41


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