Sunday, January 25, 2009
I was to take an old motorcyling friend, wheelchair and nursing home bound for the last 3 years, to a re-union at the last meeting of the Oran Park raceway, south of Sydney.
Progress has caught up with Oran Park..it is to become a housing estate.
Alan Burt, some months short of his 86th birthday died earlier today an hour before I was to pick him up and transport him to the event.... The nursing staff said he was quite excited at the prospect, ate a hearty breakfast then when they checked on him some 10 minutes later was gone with a heart attack...
I guess it was the thought of meeting up with old pals..... I'd like to think that....
I'd like to share some of Allan's life with you... with some words and with some of his photographs....
He was a motorcyclist all his life...never married, some said he was wed to Velocette and AJS.....
A racers racer was an apt description....
I've added another photo since I set up Allan's tribute, a portrait shot, unsure when or where,....but it looks so typical of the road racer of the classic era we know....
My thanks to Jim Scaysbrook for sending it.
The first photo shows Allan dicing with the late Les Diener in 1948 at Mildura, Victoria....
The next with great mate Bobby Brown unloading bikes around 1950 also at the Mildura races of that year.
The next is Allan aboard a MAC in a trial near Parramatta, Sydney.
Another is of the P & R Williams 1954 Castrol 5 day trial team, L to R...B.Lemon, Doug Williams and Allan Burt.
A shot of Bob Brown on a P & Rs ex works KTT Velocette, with Allan on a P & Rs 7R AJS, at Mt. Druitt race track, west of Sydney, 1953. In between is Les Slaughter and Eric McPherson, both dealer supported riders.
Following is Allan at the IOM TT races, June 1955 outside the favourite guest house for Commonwealth riders in Douglas..."Rose Villa"...L to R- Allan Burt, Richie Thomset, Bobby Brown, Maurie Quincey's wife, Maurie Quincey. Both Allan and Bob are mounted on loaned AMC machines from the factory to assist in learning the course...
Bob Brown, a great friend of Allan's was tragically killed in 1960 riding a works Honda.
Allan suffered a horrendous crash in practice for the 1955 TT that resulted in his spending 8 months recouperating in the IOM, cared for by the proprietors of "Rose Villa", Glad and Roy Gilbert, with whom Allan retained a lifelong correspondence.
Bob Brown came back to the IOM in Feb.1956, collected Allan who was on crutches and Allan accompanied him as a mechanic all through the 1956 European season, then returned to Australia and worked in three jobs during 1957 to save to go to Europe again.
1958 saw Allan and Bob return by boat to the UK and embark on a full continental racing season.
Returning to Australia late in 1958, Allan remained a force in Australian title road racing up until his late 60s....
Allan's smashed 7R sits forlornly outside the AMC raceshop in Plumstead outside London, awaiting repair....
Following is Allan aboard his AJS 7R for the 1958 IOM TT races, awaiting practice to start.
Then some motorcycling memorabilia...AB's Western Suburbs MCC Cromwell "pudding basin" crash helmet.
The other is one of the bronze replicas Allan won for his 44th place in the 1958 Junior IOM TT on his 350 AJS 7R, the other for 41st in the 1958 Senior IOM TT, riding Bob Brown's Junior TT AJS 7R (Allans' Senior mount, a G50 Matchless broke a crankpin in practice).
Allan loved working on bikes...here he is using "Big Bertha", my really large old lathe to machine up a sprocket blank in my shed.
Allan's last G50, a 1961 model seen at Amaroo Park circuit, July 1977.
Then for Allan tragedy struck.... in hospital in May 1998 for unsuccesful surgery to his leg, his shed was broken into and a 1960 7R AJS, a 1961 G50 Matchless and a 1954 G45 Matchless were stolen.
Allan was devastated...to him the theft must have been perpetrated by an associate or even a friend.... He found it difficult to look friends in the eye. Were they the thief?
He never actively went into his shed again to work on motorcycles and as time passed his old "war wound" the badly smashed leg from the 1955 IOM crash affected his mobility and eventually he had to go into a nursing home.
His three racing motorcycles are still missing.
I assisted in clearing his shed, some bikes and all parts were sold, but four racers were put on display in the National Motor Racing Museum at Bathurst, NSW...pictured are three of them. A Mk.8 KTT replica, another 7R AJS and his 125cc Yahama racer.
The final two photos are of Allan at his nursing home...one with good friend Jim Day, the other, taken shortly before his death is with old friend Jan Grainger... a batchelor he may have been, but he always had an eye for "good lookin' sheilas..." ( a "sheila" is Australian parlance for a gal..).
Late last year, 2008, two brother were charged with receiving stolen goods involved in the theft of Allan's bikes...some 10 years later.
There is hope the bikes may be recovered and justice be done to the perpetrators of this crime...
To steal from a friend is a low act....
Sadly Allan will not see the result of the impending judicial trial or if his bikes will ever be recovered.
Rest assured there are many of us who have worked to bring the thieves to justice and will continue until justice is done.
Allan you were a good friend to me and so many others whose life you touched.
Rest in peace......
Left click on images to enlarge.....
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Getting ahead of ourselves...the joining fee is AUD$20... thats about 10 UK quid, 11 Euros, US$14...at our measly rate of exchange and you get four issues a year, additionally another 6 issues of our one page newsheet ( necessary to keep members informed of coming events and up to date for sale/wanted items), airmail and we accept Visacard....
What are you waiting for.... look up the membership secretaries address on a page below...
The history of FTDU I'll leave to the letter, below, from John Jennings a former editor, suffice to say there are four issues a year, it is A5 format (5.83"/14.8cm wide and 8.27"/21cm high), glossy print, black and white with special photographic paper for the central four page photo section, anything from 32 to 40 pages...depends on DQ...
It is a microcosm of the Australian club and we have some 700 members with around 70 of these overseas...thats 10%...interesting.
The club has a volunteer operated Velocette spare parts scheme that has run for some 20 years and this is only open to club members to purchase...again Visacard assists with currency exchange.
I have a pretty good personal archive that is Velocette oriented and so editing the magazine allows me to share this with people...hence this blog.
I'm a great believer is sharing information, photos etc...
John Jennings has been mentioned and he and I are the only two editors for FTDU, although the club had a larger format newsheet operating for many years prior to FTDU coming into being.
I've loaded some pages from a few of the editions... cover, club officials page, letters to the editor, the central four page "Times Gone By, a parade of pictures from a variety of sources" and of course if you've been through my blog you'll be familiar with Norm Trigg our technical editor- I did a feature on his recent publication "Norm's Technicalities"...so there are three pages from a technical item he and I shared, reports on club events worldwide..club news, the usual for sale/wanted...
Left click on the images to enlarge....
John Jennings penned this letter to FTDU for the Summer 2007 ( Australian Summer...December to February....)..
HAPPY BIRTHDAY FTDU!
In January 1998 the Velo Club newsletter was first published in 32 page, A5 magazine format and was christened Fishtail Downunder. This name fitted in with the original Fishtail
That first issue wouldn't have been possible without the help of Warwick Nicholson, who provided the Fishtail artwork in the style of the Velocette tank logo, and 12 year old daughter Susannah, who used some computer software I was unable to drive to create the complete logo with the inverted "Downunder". Susannah celebrated her 21st birthday earlier this year - how time flies!
I should also mention the vital role that Mick and Colleen Tesser have played as printers of the magazine, and the help of our current editor Dennis Quinlan who was a regular contributor of photographs from that very first edition. Happy tenth birthday FTDU.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Called the Velocette model KTT, it had a series of "marks" to designate the major changes.
They ran from the Mk.1 to the Mk.8, although not all numbers were used.
There was not a Mk.2 for example, nor was there a Mk.6 for sale to the general public.
So we come to the model called the Mk.6 KTT, which I just said wasn't an actual model...??
At a glance you could think the title indicated a plural and readers of "Always in the Picture", the Velocette historical record written by Burgess and Clew; Dave Masters booklet on Velocette models; the "MotorCycle Sport" series "The Velocette Saga" and "Classic Motorcycles" to name a few could perhaps be heard to mutter that..." there was only one Mk.6 KTT, ridden by Austen Munks to a Junior Manx GP victory in 1936 and was never used in the IOM TT..."
Unfortunately all of the main characters involved with this project are now dead and so one can only surmise, but research on and off over the years has produced evidence that there was not one but three Mk.6 KTTs and that they were all ridden in the 1936 IOM Junior TT.
But let me re-phrase the "three Mk.6 KTTs" sentence...
There were in fact three prototype Mk.6 KTTs, for with the production of the Mk.5 KTT finishing in October 1935 with engine number KTT620 there was a gap of 17 months until the first of the Mk.7 KTTs, engine number KTT700 , was despatched to Australia.
It has been said by others before me what these Mk.6 KTTs looked like, with Harold Willis grafting the cylinder head from the newly released Mk.2 KSS roadster onto the crankcases of the Mk.5 KTT, with Willis reputed to having termed it "The little rough'un".
Another useful snippet of information comes to light in Les Higgins delightful book "Private Owner" which I have had on my bookshelves for years, which I reviewed in an earlier blog and which has just had it's umpteenth re-read.
Writing of the period of 1936, Higgins says on page 41...."another machine was difficult to come by, because Veloce Ltd. had temporarily ceased manufacture of the KTT model. The last machine made in any quantity were the Mk.5 models. A few Mk.6 machines went out to approved customers and the concern was now busy evolving something new to provide an answer to the International Norton".
I've include various photos of these three Mk.6 KTTs, ridden by Newman, Tiffin and the Frenchman Roger Loyer and then a 1937 photo with Ernie Thomas, another unlabelled and one featuring the Archer's, father and son on 10 June 1937 and because of the date likely to be in the IOM at the TT races.
An extract from the Velocette factory KTT records shows....
June 1936 Veloce for H.E. Newman for TT KTT621......frame 6TT3
June 1936 Veloce for W.T.Tiffing Jnr for TT...KTT622.. .frame 6TT4
June 1936 Veloce for Loyer for TT....................KTT623 frame 6TT5
The reference "Veloce for" or "Veloce Ltd for TT" is always used throughout the factory KTT records to indicate a factory prepared racer. Similarly the frame designation 6TT was used on the factories rigid framed TT racers.
From the weekly motorcycle paper "MotorCycling" of June 17 1936 in the "Straight from the Island" article is another interesting snippet, obviously overlooked by historians.
"One or two of the lads who are riding Velocettes, notebly H.E Newman, will be mountedon advance KTT jobs for 1937. These are standard products, but they can motor very rapidly".
After all that, how did they fare in the TT?
Billy Tiffin retired at the end of lap three with a broken front fork spring and Roger Loyer ( the Frenchman, usually entered by Boudene the Velo agent from Paris) stopped soon after his 5th lap pit stop and retired with "lubrication trouble of an irremediabule kind"
That left Newman and he came in 10th, the third Velocette to finish. Those in front of him being Ted Mellors in 3rd place and Ernie Thomas in fourth place, both mounted on 'works' DOHC 350 Velos, again a feature for a later blog on DOHC Velocettes, both prewar and postwar, for there were three entered in the 1936 TT races and not one as is normally surmised.
Newmans lap times are not spectacular, but are consistent around the 30 minute mark with a fastest lap of 28 min.58 secs and he was marginally slower than the 'works' DOHC Velos and faster than the other Mk.5 KTTS ridden by Noel Pope, Gledhill and NZer, Chas.Goldberg.
Development seemed to continue, for the photo of Ernie Thomas mounted on a Mk.6 KTT in the 1937 Junior IOM TT seems to be the one that Newman used in 1936 except for the seat.
As mentioned, Archers', well known Velocette agents, had a Mk.6 KTT for the 1937 TT.
Above is a photo of Noel Pope in 1937, mounted on what appears to be a Mk.6 KTT.
Ernie Thomas's 1937 Mk.6 KTT, drive side view.
Some interesting items that can be seen in the photos are the seats - the "dual" seat arrangement was introduced on factory racers in 1934; the large petrol tank that was to be introduced on the KTT production racers with the Mk.7 in late March 1938, but featured on factory bikes for the first time in the TT in 1936.
The rear wheel of Archer's Mk.6 KTT has a conical hub fitted and of course this can only have come from a factory racer, as it wasn't introduced on a production KTT until the Mk.8 KTT appeared in April 1939.
So why didn't the Mk.6 continue into full production?
Perhaps with the introduction of the massive square finned SOHC engine ( 10" x 10") to the factory bikes and the subsequent bettering of existing lap times, Willis chose this line of development.
Stanley Woods was lapping over 1min.17secs. a lap faster than Ernie Thomas in the 1937 Junior TT, despite the obvious time that must have been spent on the Mk.6 in the intervening year.
Thomas's best time was only marginally better than that of Newman's of the year before.
In the Manx GP of 1936, the Mk.6's only known victory, Austen Munk's best lap was slower than the best Junior time in the 1935 and his race average was 0.1mph faster than Newman's in the previous June TT.
I further reviewed literature I hold, including some factory blueprint drawings.
Drawing KO2716 of part no. K27/16, a piston and described on the drawing as being for KTT Mk.6 and drawing KO2805, part no. K28/5 a connecting rod, also described as for KTT Mk.6 proved to be the answer.
Inspection of a K27/16 piston from my Mk.8 KTT revealed it to be, as was to be expected, identical with the drawing and of course the instruction sheet put out by Veloce Ltd. for the Mk.7 and Mk.8 KTTs list the K27/16 piston as the Mk.7 alcohol piston and the Mk.8 KTT petrol-benzol piston.
A close look at the photographs showed the cylinder of the Mk.6 to be the same as the Mk.7 and Mk.8.
So I feel the Mk.6 was in fact a Mk.7 engine type but with a KSS Mk.2 cylinder head fitted.
After testing, in the TT and MGP of 1936 and 1937, together with some Continental GPs ( according to the late Bruce McNair's conversations with Roger Loyer) the Mk.2 KSS head must have been found to be unsatisfactory and replaced by the present Mk.7/8 type, very close to the "works" 1937 cylinder heads ( although only 9" x 9" square ) and the machine was offered for sale to the public as the Mk.7 in 1938.
Other detail changes from what appear to have been Mk.6 "specification" appear to be the fitment of the Elektron front brake plate with air scoop, the adoption of the larger "works" oil tank and the selection of the unstrutted, double damped TT Webb forks as fittted to "works" machines from 1936 and to Newman's 1936 and Thomas's 1937 Mk.6s in preference to the strutted KTT type together with the dropping of the "Loch Ness Monster" seat in favour of a conventional seat with rear mudguard air pad and the addition of a tachometer completed the change.
But why was the Mk.2 KSS cylinder head dropped?
For the combustion chamber of the KSS head was virtually identical with that of the larger Mk.7 head. Even valve sizes were the same.
Perhaps there was trouble with the coil valve springs in the Mk.2 head at the sustained higher rpm inevitable in racing and the re-adoption of hairpin valve springs to overcome this would have meant re-designing the head or the fitment of the previous KTTs head.
Similarly the relatively scanty finning on the Mk.2 head under the higher power developed by these late 1930s engines on petrol benzol, which has a tendency to run hot, may have caused problems and so the reversion to the previous years "works" head was an easy solution.
My "arm chair" treatise, above, may well be the solution for the Mk.6 KTT conundrum.
Left click on images to enlarge...
Saturday, January 10, 2009
What is the article you've ( hopefully temporarily) missed out on?
It an item I've researched for years about the mystical some would say Velocette Mk.6 KTT...plenty of pics from my archive and documentation to back it up.... keep logging on.....
What is Sox-631?
Veloce Ltd often used this registration on different models on test...guess it was a ploy to avoid taxing new motorcycles all the time...they had one, so they just effectively transferred the plates....they were not new at this idea, having recycled KTT engine numbers since the 1930s to their end of production in the early 1950s....in fact they often screwed a small plate on the magneto cover of these KTT works jobs which had the engine number on it, none on the usual drive side position...then it was easy to swap the cover from engine to engine.....
I can confirm this, I had an ex works, elektron magneto cover with such a plate and KTT5004/7 stamped on it...Stanley Woods 1937 Senior TT machine. It used frame SF4 and I also owned this, but little else of the bike worse luck....
Look closely at the pic below, scanned from a "MotorCycling" item and the plate is visible under the tachometer drive gearbox...I can't, at this stage locate the photo I took of my old cover before I sold it on...
The attached items are a Veloce hand out printed following a test by the staff of the UK motorcycling paper "MotorCycling" on August 7th 1958...
Another factory publicity photo is included of a 1960 Venom Clubman. Good looking pieces of kit as they say....
Acknowledgement is made to Mortons Motorcyle Media, owners of the former "MotorCycle" and "MotorCycling" copyright for use of the images.
Left click on images to enlarge....
Saturday, January 3, 2009
Bob was their service manager for many years hence the book as an avenue to assist Velocette riders.
It is a "must have" book if you are into Velocette and of course is now only available via Ebay auctions or the adverts in "Old Bike Mart" newspaper ( published by Morton's Motorcycle Media) or the closed to the general public/only by subscription "Motor Book Postal Auctions"...and is likely to run into US$25 plus and always seems to have 10 or more bidders after any that come up...good luck!
It has sections on the "M" and "K" Velocette, the "L.E" and technical charts not often seen elsewhere... gear ratios, carburettor settings etc.
A welsome addition to your bookshelf and one of those items that will soon become well thumbed by greasy fingers....
Left click on images to enlarge.......
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Back to another pen and ink drawing session...I'm always in awe at the neatness and accuracy of those MotorCycle/MotorCycling artists and cartoonists, so check out some more below.
The final photo for the year is a banjo jam session north of Sydney...
Left click on the images to enlarge....
First drawing, above, is Freddie Frith's 1948 IOM Junior TT winning 350 KTT Velocette engine.
Second drawing is a bit of technical advice on primary chain adjustment.
Third drawing is the cockpit view of a Velocette Venom Clubman Veeline. Photo credit for the above three to Morton's Motorcycle Media who own the copyright to "MotorCycle" and "Motorcycling".
Fourth is a Grimes cartoon of a scene in a prewar IOM TT race. Photo credit to the Grimes Family estate.
Fifth drawing is a rear brake assembly from a prewar MOV and MAC Velocette.Photo credit to the late R.W.Burgess one time Velocette Service Manager and to C.Arthur Pearson Ltd.,London, publishers.
The final photograph as mentioned above is, right, Ted Gerome from Ligonier, Pennsylvania, USA ( visiting Sydney to escape the US winter) playing tenor banjo lead in a song during a banjo jam in John Wilson's house, Warners Bay north of Sydney in February 2008. John, centre, is playing chord rhythm harmony on his 1928 Vega Artist tenor banjo and I'm also playing backup chord harmony on my 1960 Vegavox plectrum banjo.Photo credit DQ.
A great way to while away the day....
Good banjoists that we are...
Check out two friends of mine on a YouTube video clip....
Cut and past this into your browser....