Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Classic Motorcycle Show, Birmingham NEC

"Todd" BSA Bantam

(ink sketch)

As regular reader may know I'm always partial to a BSA Bantam, so I always look at the BSA Bantam Club stand. This year the Bantam Racing section had a great selection of racers on display. I was thrilled to find THE "Todd" Bantam on display a real piece of Bantam racing history. George Todd well known for his tuning especially the famed Todd Head raced and developed this Bantam from 1948  to 1960. After this Fred Launchbury took over as rider in 1960. Fred took the Bantam Championship in 1965, 67and 1968, and won many national races and appeared on the leaderboard in the TT amongst the works teams. In 1970 George moved to Germany where he still lives.  Fred sold the bike to young novice Terry Brown who in late 1977 won 3 championships the Bantam Club, Newmarket Club, and National Formula Championship riding in approx. 80 races that year with something like 60 wins. In the early 1980s the bike was sold to Laurie Starke who used it in Bantam Club and the newly formed Classic Club races. The current owner purchased the bike around 18 months ago.  Since then the Bantam has been been put back to roughly as it was in 1965. It will be used in Bantam and Historic Races and Parades. It's great to see that racing bikes with such history are still to be used as intended.

1956 NSU Prima D

(ink sketch)

I love the styling on the German scooters of the 50's there is something slightly space aged about them whilst being slightly reserved at the same time. This NSU Prima D was first registered in the UK in 1956 in Bristol. Only recently unearthed this example is perfectly untouched and apparently has been out of use from 1964. The scooter has only had a mechanical 'spruce-up' by Ireland's Motorcycles of Barnstaple, and rightly so as that's al a piece of history like this needs. It's thought fewer than 20 are running in the UK at this time. Now on the road again in North Devon the owner wrote a history of NSU scooters for Motorcycle Enthusiast magazine in 1985, and it has taken him until now to own his own. I'm pretty sure he enjoys it just as much, if not more, than I did sketching it.

1929 New Hudson Model 88 Plus Power

(ink sketch)

Another fine example of just getting a bike running and leaving the condition to do the speaking was this New Hudson. I had seen this previously at Kop Hill and took this opportunity to get it into the sketchbook. Herbert Le Vack broke the 100mph record on a New Hudson in 1927, this model was commonly known as the "Le Vack Replica". I was quite taken with the winged knee pads, apparently these were not standard and were put on by the current owner, it would have had smaller pads originally. They certainly look the part, especially with the dropped bars and Brooklands style silencers.

1922 Zenith-Bradshaw 3.5hp ohv

(ink sketch)

Seen on The British Motorcycle Charitable Trust stand this fantastic Zenith caught my eye as I wondered what the multitude of chains did. It turned out that this was an example of the famed Gradua Gear System, similar to the Rudge Multi the Gradua system allows for infinite gears between the set high and low gearing. This is achieved by having a variable engine pulley  which changes its diameter when the handle on top of the tank is turned. At the same time as the pulley diameter is changed the rear wheel is moved in order to maintain the correct tension on the belt that drives the rear wheel. This system was introduced in 1907 and was used successfully on the Brooklands Test hill where a Zenith machine took the record for the hill. Soon after this the Gradua system was banned in competition as people said it was an unfair advantage. Zenith incorporated "Barred" into their badge as a result. The engine used in this Zenith is also quite unusual, as the horizontally opposed barrels are extended into the crank case with only the heads exposed. This results in a reduction in engine noise with near silent running. This machine like many other unusual machines was restored at Sammy Millers Museum workshop.

More Photos....

1936 Clathorpe
 1933 OK Supreme Silver Cloud
 1949 Manx Norton Model 30. Ridden by Dennis Langton in the 1948 Manx GP
1958 MAICO Maicoletta
"The Beast of Turin"  Fiat F76 land speed record car

 Lairds Morgan 3 Wheeler
 1970 Vauxhall SRV (Styling Research Vehicle)

 Audi A5 Streamliner from the TV Ad
Ford Tractor with Perkins V8???

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

The Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show 2015

My last Tractor Show of 2015 was a trip to Newark Vintage Tractor & Heritage Show at Newark Show ground. The show was recommend to me by someone at the Tractor World show earlier in the year. The show is just as big if not bigger! The sheds were packed with tractors and provided more than enough subjects for the sketchbook.

1949 Newman WD2

(ink sketch)

This beautiful Newman in original condition has just been revived after spending 20 years in a family hedge on the Somerset Devon boarder. Built between 1948 and 49 the WD2 was built in Grantham, Lincolnshire, as a cheap tractor for smallholdings with the aim of increasing food production after the war. Around 50 examples of this mark are known to exist worldwide and so to see this and a handful of other examples on display at Newark was a real rarity.

Single Cylinder Diesel Engine
An extra water pump has been fitted to this example, run by a belt off of the main shaft to increase the water circulation to aid cooling.

1967 Eicher Puma Mk2

(ink sketch)

I love the lengths that the germans went to styling their machines in the 60s. The styling even goes through to their tractors. This Eicher Puma is a great example with it great lines and incorporated headlights.

'PANIC' Mini Puller

(ink sketch)

Whilst sketching the Eicher the weather cleared up and I could hear a rather loud  engine being fired up. This reminded me that there were some Tractor Pullers on display, so I made this my next stop. I wasn't dissaponited as I came across a pair of mini pullers owned by a father and son team. My choice was the smaller of the two 'PANIC', mainly because of the pipe layout.  This particular puller can pull 12 tons over 100m in 25 seconds using a 7.5 litre tuned 850bhp V8 engine. The bigger mini puller 'RELOADED' had a supercharged 9.5 litre V8 producing 2000bhp and could pull 15 tons over 100m in 20 seconds!

To find out more about Power Pulling please go to the Power Pulling Association website:


 PANIC Engine
Supercharged V8

 Massey Ferguson MH 780 Combine

(ink sketch)

Whilst the weather healed out I thought I'd take advantage and sketch one of the great combine harvesters on display. These machines are never made in huge numbers as they are built for a specific purpose unlike a tractor which is used in many ways. There's always great details on these machines and the front is very complicated.

More Photos....

 1960 Trusty 'Steed'
 1959 Rollo 'Croftmaster'
 Ford Pickup
 Caterpillar D2
 1948 O.T.A. Mk1 Rowcrop
 1956 International Harvester BTD 6
 Oliver 70
 Ford 5000 Crawler
 Massey-Harris Pacemaker
1955 Singer Mk4 Monarch

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The 22nd Carole Nash Classic Motorcycle Mechanics Show

On my second trip to Stafford Show Ground this year I was fortunate enough to find 3 very special machines to sketch. The October show is mainly classic Japanese machines, there is a scattering of classic clubs and displays within the show and this is where I found the following machines:

c.1959 Ariel 645cc Grass-Track Racing Outfit

(ink sketch)

This Ariel outfit was in the Bonhams auction, it was previously raced and developed by Don Wright of St. Michael's Motors Stamford. The outfit's first incarnation appeared in 1957 but it soon became outclassed by the parallel twins that stared racing at the same time. At the end of 1959 Don decided it was time to improve upon the machine in order to make it more competitive. Sticking with the Ariel engine Don took advice from well known Ariel tuner of the day Laurence Hartley. Using a 1934 Red Hunter barrel, Hartley tuned and bored the barrel up to 645cc. The head used a 1936 factory bronze item intended for a 499cc engine. The piston crown was machined to suit, and Hartley 2 inch Jessops inlet valves installed. The frame itself was developed by Don using a 1950's Red Hunter frame.

The outfit made it's first race appearance in August 1961. Ridden by Don's friends Ken Fisher (rider) and Bill Smith (passenger) the outfit soon began to win at multiple events, most notably at Sleaford where the team achieved six wins in six starts. The 'St. Michael's Motors Special' was later retired after a successful carrier and laid dormant until the 1980's when Don entered it in the Vintage Class. Don died over a decade ago and so the machine has not been raced since. Unfortunately the outfit didn't sell at the auction, I for one hope that it does find it's new owner soon and is used as intended.

S.C.I.T.S.U. Replica

(ink sketch)

Whilst passing the Classic 50cc Racing Club this racer with an unusual frame construction caught my eye. Built by Alan Leeson in 2010 with permission from Tony Dawson to see whether it would produce a lighter frame, the result was that the frame weighed about the same as a tubular example. This machine is currently raced in the Classic 50 cc class.  Alan plans to build another bike with this frame to take to Bonneville in 2016, and the idea makes a lot of sense as the majority of the bike can be dismantled and packed into hand luggage, I look forward to hearing how he gets on.

Tony Dawson raced sidecars in the 60s and is most famous for inventing the Astralite wheel, a lightweight pressed aluminium wheel which started production in 1977 and by the end of the 1980s over 1500 wheels were being sold globally per year. As well as designing wheels Tony Dawson also formed a company called S.C.I.T.S.U. (Selfish Conduct Inhibits True Sporting Union) in 1978. The company was founded to produce components for road race bikes. This aluminium frame design was used on a number of Road Racing bikes back in the 1970's mostly using larger engines than this 50cc example. A bike with this frame design appeared on Tomorrow's World in the Mid. 1970s. Tony patented the design and some think that if he hadn't the Japanese may well have taken it on, as it is a design that could be easily automated due to it being a series of aluminium plates bolted together. The ride hight can be adjusted by changing the vertical plates, and the tank is sandwiched between the top two plates. The construction is surprisingly strong, but still enables a certain amount of twist that is needed to maintain grip on a road racing machine.

1928 Zenith Grass-Track

(ink sketch)

Found on the Vintage Motrocycle Club stand this Zenith was once ridden by Adrian Kessell and is now run as a sprint machine by Ron Pates who purchased the machine in 2007.

Adrian Kessell (1926 - 2010) is a Cornish motorcycling legend, son of Tommy Kessel, who was a pre-war motorcycle champion, Adrian started racing in September 1945 when he rode his fathers 1926 Zenith coming third. Adrian is famed as being the most consistent 250cc champion of all time winning over 20 Cornwall Grass-Track Championships, the Southern Centre Championship and also won in Wessex, Midlands and Western Centres. Not only did he ride Grass-Track he also rode in Scrambles, Trials, Hillclimbing and sprinting. One event of not is when Adrian beat English speedway stars Norman Parker and Bill Kitchen at Bodmin Racecourse at a grass-track meeting in 1949. Adrian's career continued into the 1980's when he took 5th place in the International Grass-Track meeting in Holland in front of 7000 spectators.

Adrian continued to race and develop racing machines until he fell ill in 2009, when he was unable to attend a meeting at Wiscombe Park which was the first meeting there that he'd missed in many years. Adrian passed away peacefully at home on 8th February 2010. His funeral was attended by many people from the motorcycle community, to mark the passing of a local motorcycling legend.

More Photos....

 c.1913 Matchless 3.5hp TT Model

 1925 Zenith JAP 6-80

 1903 Avondale 239cc Lightweight
 1968 Derbi Gran Sport
 1973 Suzuki GT750s,
Factory Special 1 of 84 made.
Greeves Challenger
1959 D.M.W. Prototype

On the Jumble

 Rudge racer
 1929 Peugeot  P108 250cc racer
 1930 Koehler-Escoffier 175 Super Sport,
with TT Villiers Engine.
 Jawa Speedway
 1979 Honda TL 250
1965/67 JAWA Banana 350cc Production Racer