Monday, December 29, 2008

Merry Christmas from The Velobanjogent for 2008

Christmas is on us..the end of 2008 just a week away, so I thought I'd share a pot-pouri of photos with particular theme or order...well they are likely Velocette orientated...
Thanks to all of you for viewing my blog, if you like it..."tell a friend..."
Seasons Greetings.....
Left click on images to enlarge....

This first photo was part of a Christmas card sent by Veloman Gert Boll from Germany years back..."all I want for Christmas is a Velo KTT...".Photo credit, Gert Boll.

The second photo is part of a panorama of 135 plus Velocettes lined up at the Australian Velocette Owners Centenary of Velocette in 2005 at Richmond, NSW.Photo credit, Dennis Quinlan.

The third photo shows Aust.VOC patron, Anne Frampton, Bertie Goodman's daughter and of course part of the Velocette family, presenting the Roly Walker trophy to Tim Thearle at the Centenary of Velocette Rally.Photo credit, Dennis Quinlan

The fourth photo is the VOC of the Netherlands special stand for the Centenary of Velocette in Holland.Photo credit, Carl Drees.

The fifth photo is the late Arthur Wheeler with Ivan Rhodes at the NZ Classic races at Pukekohe, south of Auckland, New Zealand...can't remember when.Photo credit, Dennis Quinlan.

The sixth photo shows Bruce Phillips with Leo Andrews and Leo's Australian Army prototype MSS Velocette. The army had two sent out in 1960 for evaluation, however no contract eventuated.Photo credit, Colin Hanger.

The seventh photo shows the disposal label attached to the army MSS in 1964, when Leo purchased it at auction in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Photo credit, Colin Hanger.

The eighth photo features Queenslander Les McKitterick about to cut the Queensland centre of the Aust.VOC centenary of Velocette cake.Photo credit, Colleen Canning.

The ninth photo shows Manxman Neill Kelly aboard the L.J.Stevens Velocette Venom Thruxton Veeline that won the 500cc class in the 1967 IOM Production TT.Photo credit, "Motorcyclist Illustrated", London.

The tenth photo is the Velocette stand in September 1967 at the Earles Court Motorcycle Show.Photo credit, "MotorCycling", London, now Mortons Motorcycle Media.

The eleventh photo is in January 1966 near Broken Hill on the Barrier Highway in Western NSW. Stinking hot...115F in the shade and we had a puncture in Jim Day's 1956 MSS rear wheel. My 1961 Venom is beside, showing evidence of a fall on the rough earth roads of the area. Canvas water bags, favoured for outback travel are in evidence.Photo credit, Dennis Quinlan.

The twelth photo shows me, fettling my Velocette KSS/Scrambler special during the 2005 US Velo Clubs Centenary of Velocette rally.Photo credit, Jim Day.

Finally I had to feature a banjo joke.... the artist, Gary Larson of "Far Side" fame is a banjo nut and I acknowledge use of his cartoon.
Seasons Greetings......

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Problems with my blog

I was having a problem editing and setting up my Christmas blog...
The text was mostly there in the editing phase, but not showing in the published blog phase...
Hours of work with little to show...frustration was upon me...
Thanks for bearing with me...
Well a telephone call to my friend, Paul d'Orleans, "The Vintagent", in San Francisco enabled me to re-visit my Christmas blog and re-arrange it to a semblence of respectability as those who have visited it previously will find.
My thanks Paul......

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Squish head Velocettes.......

I wrote the following for the current owner of the late Keith Smith's special squish cylinder head racing Velocette.....
Included are letters from the 1960s to Bertie Goodman of Velocette and photos of interest, including the photograph I had professionally taken of the cylinder head and piston to send to Veloce Ltd.
Left click to enlarge the images....
From memory either Sid Lawrence or a chap in Melbourne, whose name escapes me at present both developed a squish head Venom in the early 1960s.
I am unsure if it was as a result of speaking to each other or they came upon the idea independently.
Basically the engine was a pushrod version of a late1950s/early 1960s Manx Norton in combustion chamber shape and piston profile.
The Manx Norton squish idea was developed by the Polish engineer, Leo Kusmicki, who initially worked at Norton as a cleaner I believe immediately following WW2 in which he was a Spitfire pilot in the Polish Airforce, but came to the attention of Joe Craig who utilised him in the race shop and many believe used his ideas as his own. Certainly Kusmicki rarely featured in the press and seems unknown to many people, including Norton enthusiasts.
Eric Hinton knew him from the time the Hintons were involved with Norton racing in UK and Europe and Eric told me Leo was the brains behind Nortons racing success once the squish engines were developed.
The squish head used by Norton and the three Velocettes in Australia, all had machined deep lands in the hemispherical combustion chamber. See the photograph of the Velo head, taken by me at CSIRO, Division of Animal Physiology, Prospect, NSW in 1964.
The piston has opposite lands on it and goes into the cylinder head to almost make contact with the head at these lands.
The most effective gap between piston and cylinder head over these lands is around 0.035”.
The so called squish clearance.
Too little and in operation the piston will hit the head, too little and the squish effect becomes lost.
After we photographed the squish Velocette head, we sent a photograph with a letter to Bertie Goodman, then Sales Director of Veloce Ltd.
Years later he replied that they had used this idea in a batch of 12 special engines built for the Velocette Venom Thruxton.
In fact the L.J. Stevens sponsored Thruxton that won the 500cc class of the Production TT in the IOM in 1967 used one. The head resulted in an additional 4½ bhp from the engine.
My involvement was with the late Keith Smith.
Keith ordered a new Velocette Venom Clubman Veeline( called a Mk.1 version now) in late 1963 from the then Velocette agent in NSW, Hazell & Moore Pty. Ltd.
Few Velocettes were sold in NSW from around 1960 when the then State Government made what to motorcyclists were draconian alterations to the compulsory Third Party Insurance on motor vehicle registrations. Bikes over 250cc were particularly disadvantaged with large premium increases.
I can’t remember the figures now, but 350cc machines and most 500cc machines disappeared overnight. Few were imported. Victoria and other States were different and Frank Mussett Motorcycles in Melbourne, Victoria continued to sell Velocettes ok.
Keith took delivery of his new Clubman in the packing crate as it was sent from Veloce Ltd in early 1964.
I was at his house when they arrived from the docks and we excitedly opened the crate. To reduce the freight volume, the wheels had been removed and bolted to the inside of the crate near the top. Somebody in the packing section at Veloce had nailed the lid on and the nail went offset and into the tyre, so we had a puncture before we even started!
Then..Hazell & Moore were really reluctant to accept the problem and only wanted to patch the tube!! After we just bought a new motorcycle off them…
Keith rode the bike on the road briefly before he decided he would convert it into a road racer.
He was very friendly with Sid Lawrence, who I mentioned earlier had developed a squish cylinder head. Sid was extremely secretive over it and I recall if he had to remove the cylinder head from the bike in the pits at a race meeting he had a large canvas cover that he spread over the bike, crawled under it and worked there in the semi dark and heat in the Australian summer so prying eyes didn’t get a look….
Somehow Sid revealed the details to Keith who machined the head to Sid’s dimensions, we fitted valves into the head and poured bees wax into the combustion chamber to make a mould of it. Then took the mould to Sid Willis, ex successful Velocette racer from the 1950s who was “Mr piston” in NSW and Sid cast a special piston to utilise.
We fitted the head and left the next weekend on a shakedown ride to northern NSW, myself on my 1958 MSS.
The bike was plagued with overheating problems, pinged etc. In desperation at Armidale we found an old chap with a workshop and fabricated a thick copper head gasket and limped back to Sydney.
The problem was the ignition timing we were using.
Never having done this before and not finding out what Norton used, we used the 38° BTDC recommended by Veloce for all Venoms.
However with the better combustion efficiency we were able to come back to 28° BTDC and all was well.
Sid Lawrence was an A grade rider ( Australia used a grading system then for racing in all classes. The top riders were “A”, then “B” and “C” ). Keith was a “B” grader and enjoyed success on his Velocette. Sid Lawrence would regularly finish in the top 4 or 5 positions in the title races he contested.
Handling of the Velocette frame was inferior to the Norton “Fetherbed”.
At Bathurst, west of Sydney, NSW, which then had a slightly downhill straight of 1¼ miles long, the squish head Velo was timed at 134mph, Manx Nortons and G50 were in the 132-136mph range during title races.
Keith’s squish Velo from memory was timed at 128mph.
Tragedy struck shortly after with Keith’s untimely death while riding his brothers 7R AJS special at a private practice session at the Oran Park motor racing circuit south of Sydney.
The motorcycle was used on occasions by his brother Terry in conjunction with the 7R, but he soon retired from racing and the bike was sold to Ken Wall of Torquay in Victoria.
Ken rode it on occasions, but with no major success and just before his eventual death it was sold on to Velo club member John Davies with a broken crankcase.

The first photo is of the cylinder head and piston sent to Veloce Ltd., with the first letter illustrated.

The second letter ( 2 pages ) is a reply from Bertie Goodman as is the third letter ( also 2 pages)

The second photograph is taken at Bathurst NSW, Easter 1964 races, myself to the left and Keith Smith to the right behind his now drastically modified Venom Clubman.

The last photo shows Keith at Oran Park circuit in 1966, shortly before his death.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Racing in Australia. with the emphasis on Velocette…more photos from my archive….

I’m continuing with some racing photos that are either in Australia or feature Australian and New Zealand riders overseas in the period before 1970.
A small hardy band left Australia, by ship as air travel was out of the question cost wise then, usually around late April to arrive into the UK, at Southampton or Tilbury docks in time to look for a cheap van, meet up with other Aussies who had stayed over the UK winter and worked, they sharing travel and accommodation costs.
Often, having worked in up to three jobs over the Australian summer saving hard, they went to AJS, Norton and earlier Velocette to purchase a new production racer…Manx, 7R,G45, G50, KTT.
The IOM TT was high on their list and three riders were selected to represent Australia and given a small support by the ACCA, the ACU of GB equivalent, such as a free entry into the TT races etc.
Riders such as Stuart Williams, Dave Brewster, Cec Weatherby prewar… Eric McPherson, the Hinton family- father Harry (Senior), sons Harry (Junior), Eric and later younger son Robert , Keith Bryan, Sid Willis, Alan Burt, Bob Brown then later on Jack Ahearn, Dennis Fry, Kel Carruthers and so on made the trip, often over several years.
The ultimate aim…to get a factory riding contract for Norton, AJS etc was only achieved by a few…
Keith Campbell and Keith Bryan-Moto Guzzi.
Harry Hinton- Norton
Tom Phillis and Bob Brown –Honda
To name some, a by no means complete list….
So for those interested in the racing history of Velocette and as I've expanded it a little to cover other riders and machine brands, a perhaps new source of material for your own use or for publication in the future… please acknowledge the source should you capture an image and feel free to do so.
The first photo show Alan Burt on his Junior TT 348cc 7R AJS in the 1958 IOM TT. Alan first went to the IOM with Western Suburbs MCC club mate Bob Brown ( killed in 1960 on a works Honda) in 1955. Regretably Alan crashed on the first lap of practice at Ballacraine and his injuries meant he spent 8 months in the IOM in the care of a family recuperating ( with whom he corresponded with until just recently). The 7R hit a brick fence, breaking Alan's leg badly. The crashed 7R is seen outside the AJS factory race shop in Plumstead, London, awaiting hurry as Alan didn't ride again until 1957.
The third photo is diminutive Sid Willis, the ideal 250cc rider ( 4'10", 8.5 stone wringing wet....) at the start of the Leightweight TT, Little River circuit, Victoria in mid 1950s. Sid is on his Beasley/Smith framed ex works DOHC Velo engined special.
The fourth photo is either Bobby Brown or George Campbell on a Mk.8 KTT.. I think it's George.
The final photo is me..on my road 1958 MSS Velo, ridden to Oran Park race circuit, south of Sydney in 1964, stripped of some gear and a racing we went.
Came nowhere I guess....
Left click on images to enlarge, where possible.

Friday, December 12, 2008

1939 IOM TT...just how heavy were the racing motorcycles?

Ever wondered just how heavy IOM TT racers were? Ironically when you present for scrutineering prewar, they called it the "weigh-in" and they actually weighed the motorcycles.
Unsure if they still do it for todays GP racers, but they were doing it some little time back, as there was a minimum weight for each of the racing classes.
1939 seems to be the last and perhaps only time the motorcycling press ran a page on it..."MotorCycling" did it and published it in their June 28 1939 edition, page 319.
From a Velocette point of view the weights of the Veloce Ltd factory machines, as ridden by Stanley Woods and Ted Mellors were heavier than the standard over the counter production racer KTTs.
I've included below pages from the TT program of that year with notations where I can identify them of whether the Velocettes were Mk.7 or Mk.8 KTT. The Mk.7 has a rigid frame and is lighter than the Mk.8 which has a swinging arm frame the same as the factory racers.
The engines in the works Velocettes had larger cylinder head fins and a bigger cylinder barrel.
The Mk.7 and 8 KTT had a 9" square head with the factory 10" square, so more aluminium.
Interestingly the factory racers often had an aluminium petrol tank but the gearbox final drive sprocket was solid steel and had no holes drilled in it.
Plenty to ponder there....
I've include a photo or two of relevant Velocettes both standard KTT and factory machines and a works BMW which was the lightest bike in the Senior race!
Acknowledgement is made to Morton's Motorcycle Media for the "Motorcycling" page, the authors of "Always in The Picture" ,the Late Bob Burgess and Jeff Clew for a photo and S.R.Keig and Fox Photos for other photos and the ACU of GB for the IOM TT program pages.
First photo is actually a 1937 works 500, but they were the same. Illustrated is Ted Mellors bike.
Second photo shows a mk.8 KTT, well a brace of them in the race shop in May 1939.
The third is a mk.7 KTT in the paddock in June 1938.
Final photo is reputedly Schorsh Meier's machine, but could be Jock Wests...pic taken by me at the German BMW dealers shop in Munchen, April 1974.
Left click on photos to enlarge.....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Velocette data from a variety of sources....

Over the years I've collected lots of Velocette data, some from the usual sources such as Bob Burgess's red book on Velocette ( more on this in a later book review blog ), others from proprietary suppliers catalogues, lots of which I photocopied and pasted onto cardboard pages, making up a folder and from there I further photocopied into files to share with others... so I'm going to run a series from them, not in any particular order and this next lot are from various Miller lighting catalogues.
Left click on images to enlarge.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Racing in Australia...Veloce letters to P & R Williams P/L and Don Bain.

In the 1930s and just after WW2, Don Bain was the rider of note on Velocette's in Australia and as such he received assistance from Veloce Ltd with special ex works engines, parts and the like... from my archive, these are some of the correspondence, which makes interesting reading.
The final photo shows Don Bain doing what he enjoyed when not riding....
Left click on images to enlarge.