Sunday, March 28, 2010

More Velocette Publicity photographs from a variety of sources....

Periodically I look through a folder of Velocette publicity photographs....those taken by professional photographers either from an older weekly motorcycling magazine such as "The MotorCycle" or "MotorCycling" or perhaps a photo bureau such as Fox Photos, Keystone Press Agency etc.
 To the copyright holders of all these I acknowledge their ownership.
As well four of the following images were kindly sent to me from Dai Gibberson, who has  worked tirelessly on a Velocette technical site as well as a Yahoo blogsite for Velocette discussion. 

Left click on the images to further enlarge....
1954 MSS 

1954 US specification 500cc Endurance model
1935 Factory 500cc Dog Kennel racer 

1934 model MOV 248cc road Velocette  
1960 model 350cc Viper Scrambler

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

More photos from Harry Beanham's early Australian motorcycling.......

In two  earlier blogs I introduced Harry Beanham to you....key his name in the search facility at the top of this blog....
I spent an afternoon scanning in the small 3" x 2" sepia photographs, the vast majority unlabeled, that I have in former photo albums of Harry's....
Regretably, other than one or two, most have nothing on them to indicate where or when they were taken..
But there content never ceases to interest me...looking at the machines they rode in that period in the later 1920's in Victoria and New South Wales, Australia.
So I'm sharing some more with you....
Left click on the images to enlarge....
I'll share a wry, interesting story on Harry, related to me today as it happened, by Mick Moyle of Moyles a secondhand machinery merchant, a dying breed today, who buys and sells used lathes, mills, taps, dies, you name it....I was around there after an 11BA tap...and he had it.
Harry became a wealthy man over his life by shrewd dealing in the secondhand machinery trade and frequented auctions, often Mick Moyle was there, they were rivals in the trade.
A one auction, run by Hymans, a large auction house in Sydney in the past, Harry had bought stuff and wanting to leave before the auction finished attempted to pay for the purchases with a cheque, refused curtly by the lady running this side of the auction.
At this stage I should mention Harry was rather eccentric and chose to dress in blue bib and brace workers overalls, looking like , well a hobo...
Mick offered to pay with his cheque which had been cleared previously...Harry was calm and refused and got the auctioneer, Mr Hyman's attention, while he was selling, much to Hymans annoyance. "They wont accept my cheque" Harry stated.
Irritated, Hyman re-iterated the terms of the auction..."cash or bank cheque !!" and continued with the sale.
Harry drew his attention again....
"What now" Hyman snapped....
"When you come to my office to pay your rent" Harry called out...."make sure you bring it in cash...!"

Harry of course owned the building the auction house was using.....
Mick Moyle started clapping, then the rest of those in the hall clapped as well, Hyman was scarlet faced...presumably with embarrassment...
Hyman was gob-smacked and quickly accepted Harry's cheque.....



Monday, March 15, 2010

The Worlds Fastest Velocette....Stuart Hooper set a new record fastest speed this Friday for a Velocette..........

 Stuart Hooper hails from Buderim north of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
 For the last three years he has spent time and money attempting to produce a Velocette that is the fastest in the world.
He made the long road trip with friends as backup crew, some 2500km plus to Lake Gairdner in South Australia. 
Lake Gairdner is a salt lake where the Dry Lake Racers Australia hold speed record attempts early March each year.
Stuart's effort in 2008 was aborted due to rain washing out the meet with no racing occuring.
In 2009 he attained a speed of 133.46mph.
This year, 2010, late in the afternoon of Friday 12th March he increased this to 139.001mph, which eclipsed the 132.35mph that Bert Munroe achieved on his prewar MSS Velocette racer in New Zealand in 1971 and which was widely regarded as the fastest speed a Velocette had obtained under accurately timed conditions.
Congratulations Stuart.....
Keith Canning, President of the Velocette Owners Club of Australia and a member of Stuart crew filed this report to me tonight after he and Stuart returned to Queensland.

Australia has the Worlds Fastest Velocette. 
“What a week”.
I have just flown back to Qld from the salt at Lake Gairdner after a very trying but in the end rewarding Speedweek.
Stuart Hooper achieved 139.001 mph on the last day, Friday, only half an hour before the track closed for 2010.
The record previously set by Burt Munro in 1971 at 132.35 mph in NZ.
For Stuart & the team the week certainly had its ups & downs to say the least.  We arrived on Friday to find a perfect hard dry salt track, only to have rain fall on Saturday & Sunday. This was certainly a set back.  Once this happened no vehicles were allowed to be moved on or to the salt & the only access to the bike & trailer already in the pits was to walk through water stretching 100 metres along the edge of the salt lake.  Water was blown around the pits by high winds as well.
There was no racing on Monday, but with conditions improving, we changed the drive sprocket in anticipation of the track opening. 
On Tuesday afternoon we got a run on the test track where things went well.  It was the first run for the bike since last year as a complete unit.
After the drivers briefing we went straight to the GPS track where we achieved 133 mph as our highest speed.  With everything going well we then lined up for a run on the main track.  This enabled us to get a run on Wednesday where Stuart ran a licensing pass in the 125 mph range which is required because the bike had changed classes. 
Thursday was a big day with 3 runs.  The 1st at 136 mph but with high cross winds forcing him to back off to control the bike.  The bike was literally tacking over like a sail boat & the back wheel moving out to compensate.  After this, Stuart decided to change to the small tail for the remaining runs. 
Our next run was a failure owing to the fact we had the wrong spark plug (warm up) in for the run.
 The 3rd run resulted with Stuart being blown to the side of the track only missing the marker cones & backing off to stay upright.  He also thought the motor was getting tired, so after lining again till the end of racing to get a position for a run the following morning, we retired to our pits to thoroughly check the bike.
We striped the Velo to a bare machine, inspecting everything we could without dismantling the engine.  Things like the plug, bore, oil, timing, valve clearances etc.  Everything proved OK.  We raised the float level, and then went to bed knowing we only had 1 chance at most of getting a result for 2010.
Friday saw us line up early as racing was to finish about midday.  The day turned out to be perfect, no cross winds & very still.  We were confident of the bike now, but still ran the small tail, as cross winds usually started up at mid morning.  These never eventuated but by this time we could not change the tail.  We did however mix some new fuel & added 10% nitro to the methanol for an extra boost.  We changed to a larger main jet to ensure it ran rich & not damage the motor. 
The last run went well.  The bike ran straight as an arrow & was very stable.  It did run too rich however & missed & popped at the top end.  It actually would have revved harder on straight methanol.  Stuart ran & was timed over 2 miles.  He then had the long ride back to the pits, not knowing what we the crew, already knew.  He arrived to a jubilant team made up of wife Marsha, Russell Houghton & myself as well as anyone else who was nearby. 
Stuart would like to thank all for their support especially the crew, friends, well wishes, fellow club members & those who made the big effort to come out to the salt.
What’s next?  Develop the engine more & go faster, for sure.
I can tell you that when the Velo starts up, out on the salt, fellow competitors, crews & spectators all stop & listen to that unmistakable bark of the big single.  It’s music to the ears.

Keith Canning
 A beaming Stuart with his Velocette. 

 A special longer swinging arm fork was fabricated and fitted to the modified Velocette RS frame.

The bike in the guise it ran in the 2009 attempt. A more conventional dolphin fairing was used.
Stuart is shown on the salt during a run...

Some of the engine detail in the 700cc, 93.5mm bore by 102mm stroke, single cylinder Velocette "Venom" engine.
Including special cylinder made for it and the enlarged crankcase to take the larger bore.

Because the lake has a longer potential record strip, more and more US record breakers are coming to there as Lake Bonneville effectively becomes shorter due to salt mining etc.

Where is Lake Gairdner?

Lake Gairdner - South Australia

Home for the yearly speed Week of Dry Lake Racers Australia.

Site of the DLRA Speed Trials, Lake Gairdner is located in the State of South Australia. Largest of a group of shallow depressions west of Lake Torrens in central South Australia, 240 mi (550 kilometres) northwest of Adelaide, the State capital. It measures 100 mi (160 km) long by 30 mi wide. Lying at the base of the Eyre Peninsula, the lake is a dry salt pan (playa) intermittently filled with water. Visited in 1857 almost simultaneously by Stephen Hack and Peter E. Warburton, it is named after Gordon Gairdner, former chief clerk in the Australian Department of the Colonial Office, London.

How to get to Lake Gairdner

It is a very remote location, the nearest town of Iron Knob being some 121 kilometers (75 miles) from the turn off to the Mt. Ive Station.
Travelling time from the Victorian capital city of Melbourne is about 21 hours and Sydney, New South Wales about 25 hours.
It is about a 6 hour trip from Adelaide to Port Augusta. Most crews stay at the Big 4 Caravan Park at Pt. Augusta on the Friday night before heading out to the Lake on the Saturday.
Buy beer and remaining supplies at Port Augusta, there is fuel at Iron Knob, but no LPG. From Port Augusta to Iron Knob on Highway 1 is all good grade bitumen, this takes about an hour and is 68 k's. Fuel and supplies are available at Mt. Ive, but no LPG and at slightly dearer prices.
Turn right on the dirt road just after Iron Knob turn off, you then travel 121 km to Mt. Ive Station turn off, or keep going another 8 km, past 1 cattle grid, then you come to a creek sign, turn right just before the second cattle grid. It is then 21 km past the 2 gates (Shut the gate, mate) a water well, then salt.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Another visit to Keith Bryen's photos of his time on the Continental Circus, during 1957 riding now for Moto Guzzi...

Time for some more photos kindly loaned to me by Keith Bryen, who you'll remember was one of the small group of Commonwealth riders who travelled Europe, usually in older English vans converted to motorhomes or supplemented with tents, to participate in the various Continental Motorcycle Grands Prix.
We're still in 1957...Keith has a works ride with Moto Guzzi and the following pics are during July at the Belgium GP at the 8.76 mile Francorchamps and the German GP at the Norisring circuit at Nuremburg.
Keith finished 3rd in the Junior at the Belgium GP and won the Junior GP at the Norisring.
 My friend Gert Boll, who lives in Germany is quite sharp on detail and emailed me with some corrections.
The original text with the photos as given to me by Keith Bryen were right, but I must have had a "Senior moment" and incorrectly labelled them.
I've now corrected them.
The Norisring is at Nernberg, not The Nurberbring and the first photo is at Assen, The Netherlands.
Thanks Gert...

The field gets away at the start of the 350cc Dutch TT at Assen.

At the start of, during and at the finish of the Belgium GP at Spa-Francorchamps.

The start-finish area at the Norisring, Nuremberg.....

On the podium after winning the Junior German GP. Second place Vally Lundberg is to the left and fellow Aussie, Eric Hinton who was 3rd to the right.

Vally Lundberg congratulates Keith.
After the event...L to R. Harry Hinton jnr, Keith Bryen, Eric Hinton and Vally Lundberg.
Moto Guzzi works riders, Aussies, Keith Campbell and Keith Bryen at the Moto Guzzi depot.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Some more cartoons from "MotorCycle" and "Motorcycling".......

As I've mentioned in earlier blogs on cartoons, I'm always partial to the cartoons that featured in the weekly UK motorcycle papers, "MotorCycle" and "MotorCycling"....these are from 1966 and 1967 and I'll feature more in future blogs....
The copyright of these is held by the family of the cartoonists and Mortons Motorcycle Media to whom I acknowledge their use....
Left click on the images to enlarge.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Velocette visit to the "Wings over Illawarra" airshow....Feb.2010

Last Sunday the NSW section of the Aust. Velo OC took a club ride some 60 miles south of Sydney to the Illawarra airport at Albion Park, home to HARS, the Historic Aircraft Preservation group, who had scheduled another "Wings over Illawarra" airshow.
I rode my 1960 Velocette Venom....
Now I've an ongoing interest in early aviation and was gobsmacked by the effort that HARS put in to get the Lockheed Super Constellation to their flying collection in Australia....
Check out their website....

And the section on "Connie"....
Talk about a labour of makes restoring motorcycles pale into insignificance.....
Still every man to his job....
Following are some pics I took while at the airshow featuring this Lockheed Super Constellation...
It, to me, looks sensational in shape and form...and it sounds just as good....
Left click on images to enlarge....

Ok I'm also partial to Consolidated Catalina's...HARS has two flying examples....

Following is the information( extracted from HARS website above, of the finding, purchase, restoration and flight of "Connie" to HARS in Australia.
Remember that the aircraft was in the USA, the teams of engineers, many from Qantas who took their annual leave, had to fly across the Pacific, spend the time working on the aircraft and then fly back to Australia. This shuttling of restoration teams continued over the years until the plane was ready to fly back itself. Lockheed contributed to the project by completely painting the aircraft in the original Qantas livery, free of charge, a job estimated to cost $600,000.
Where the Qantas logos were on the fuselage, the words "Connie" replace them.

Lockheed Super Constellation “CONNIE” VH-EAG

VH-EAG ‘Southern Preservation’ is in fact the militarised version of Lockheed’s famous range of Constellation aircraft which revolutionised air transport during the late 1940s and 1950s. It is similar to the Super Constellations used by Qantas during this period as their main long range passenger aircraft and pioneered their around-the-world service.

This service was the first such trans global service in world airline history.

‘Connie’ as it is affectionately known, was originally built as a C-121C for the United States Air Force, serial number 54-0157, c/n 4176, and was delivered on 6 October 1955 when it was allocated to the 1608th Military Air Transport Wing based at Charleston, South Carolina. On 25 July 1962 it was transferred to the Mississippi Air National Guard and on 14 February 1967 it moved on to West Virginia Air National Guard, where it served for the next five years. Connie’s last active duty was with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard from mid 1972 until its relegation to storage at Davis Monthan Air Base at Tucson, Arizona in June 1977.

In 1990 some Society members were in Tucson collecting Neptune spares and saw this derelict Super Constellation. In a moment of madness the thought occurred that it should be recovered to complete Australia’s aviation history and negotiations commenced for its acquisition.

Considered obsolete and of no further use, storage maintenance ceased in 1981 and as a result was designated of scrap value only. In addition most of the engine accessories and instruments had been cannibalised. Failure to re-seal the aircraft after an inspection permitted access to legions of birds to nest and foul the interior over many years. This in turn discouraged the scrap metal merchants from bidding on the aircraft due to the infestation of guano and the subsequent imperfections that it would cause in the smelting of the aluminium.

In November 1991, HARS started what was to become a major project when 54-0157 was placed in our care for restoration and delivery to Australia. Relying solely on volunteer labour and aiming at a high standard of restoration and serviceability, the project was to take five years. The restoration work commenced in May 1992 at Pima Air & Space Museum and in September 1994 the Super Constellation took to the air after nearly eighteen years on the ground. Another solid year of work was required to prepare the aircraft for the Pacific crossing and in late 1995 final flight training was undertaken. On 3 February 1996 the Super Constellation VH-EAG arrived in Sydney after an incident free crossing of 39.5 hours flying time. Stops on the delivery flight to Australia were made at Oakland, Honolulu, Pago Pago and Nadi.

The major difficulty in the restoration process was the need for the volunteers to continually travel to Tucson to carry out the restoration work. This was time consuming and costly. However, the assistance given by both organisations and the countless individuals in the US and Australia eased the volunteers’ burden and made the restoration process a rewarding experience.

Brief statistics on this project were:

• 16,000 man hours were expended on the project (all volunteered)

• Some $800,000 in cash was raised

• Approximately $1.2m was raised in sponsorship services

• 47 team trips were mounted, each averaging 14 days

• 38 hours of crew training was accomplished before the delivery flight