Thursday, 2 October 2014

Motorcycle Film Festival, New York 2014

After Tom Rochester made a short film about my piece for The National Motorcycle Museum's 30th Anniversary, much to my surprise it got accepted into the Motorcycle Film Festival in New York. Well of course I had to make the trip to New York to watch motorcycle movies, and see what the motorcycle scene is like in the big apple for myself. 

Before the festival started I spent a four days sketching at a couple of motorcycle workshops. It was a fantastic opportunity to spend time in two of New Yorks finest workshops Sixth Street Specials and Paul Cox Industries. The sketching involved producing 360 degree panoramas of the workshops. I spent half a day sketching out the basic composition and then another one and a half days inking as much as I could, sketching for around 6 hours straight per day. I still have a huge task ahead of me to finish these panoramic sketches which average 4 meters long. I will post the full pieces once they have been competed, but until then here are some details of what was done during my visits...

Sixth Street Specials


Hugh's Office with lift
The Other end of the shop with Matchless
(note: All ink sketches are WIP, details from a 4m roll)

Since the mid 80's Hugh Mackie has run his repair shop from the same premises on 6th Street in the East Village. He only works on British bikes specialising in Triumphs. The spirit of this shop is something to aspire to; Hugh knows he's not going to make a fortune running the business but he's happy with that, as he'd rather concentrate on the bikes he's passionate about and educate others in the art of motorcycle maintenance. He also has a very positive attitude to his neighbours helping them out whenever he can. 
Whilst sitting in the middle of the shop sketching for two days I really got a feel for the place with all it's comings and goings of both bikes and visitors, it felt very welcoming and homely. The walls are filled to capacity with photographs, posters and various junk. Junk is possibly the wrong word for the objects that decorate the walls as everything has a story. For example the boot that can bee seen in an alcove above the workbench (top sketch), was put there as a reminder after a friend pulled a wheelie outside the shop. His foot was already held together with plates and pins foot and his foot shattered when it hit the ground. They managed to pull the boot off just before his foot swelled up.

Paul Cox Industries

Display to Workbench
Knife Making Area
(note: All ink sketches are WIP, details from a 4m roll)

Initially I thought that the two workshops were totally unrelated but on my final day at Hugh's I found out that Paul started in Hugh's workshop with a leather making area in what is now Hugh's office. Since these early days Paul has come a long way as he now runs his own workshop that builds choppers from scratch. The frames, forks, fuel tanks and leatherwork for the seats and detailing is all done in house at Paul Cox Industries. As well as producing choppers of incredible quality with a real eye for detail Paul also makes knives and produces leather goods which are finished with immaculate detail.

The Motorcycle Film Festival

The Motorcycle Film Festival is now in it's second year and it's definitely an event to watch out for. Featuring over 30 films over 3 days the range of subjects was really varied making each screening fresh and entertaining. Most of the screenings were full if not at standing room only so it shows that the festival is pulling a good crowd. 

The opening night showed the Peter Starr's 1980 film Take It To The Limit. This was the first time I'd seen this film and it had some incredible footage of people like Mike Hailwood on the TT course and others such as Kenny Roberts, Steve Baker, Barry Sheene and many others. Watching a film like this with an audience is great as everyone gets into it and it becomes real entertainment.

Other feature films were Dirtbag, documenting the Dirtbag Challenge that takes place every year in San Fransisco, the New On Any Sunday which is an update to the original classic bike documentary. The festival ended with the epic Penton: The John Penton Story. Which documents the incredible story of trials and long distance rider John Penton. As well as a wide range of feature films there was a fantastic schedule of shorts throughout the festival.

On the Saturday I got a little bit of sketchbook action in....

My Trail 90 Honda CT90

(ink sketch)
This CT90 and the one below belong to Kurth and her husband Adam, who had traveled for 3 months from Medford Oregon on their CT90's. The Motorcycle Film Festival was just a stop off as they are aiming to make it all the way to Key West. To see their journey so far and follow it please go to their blog My Trail 90 or Facebook Page.

Schildkraut Thunderbird

(ink sketch)
I always enjoy the challenge of drawing these long american beasts. The challenge lies in the fact that they are so long and the angles on the bodywork are all over the place.

 Works Engineering were certainly busy over the weekend and they also had a great delivery truck!
Co Founder Corrina had two of the best machines of the weekend. This BSA and the fantastic Ford pick up.

Stuff I found in the Streets of New York....

 Mercury Cougar XR7
 Dodge pickup
 Siamese Twin Hydrant
 There were a lot of Schwinn bicycles around
Something about those water towers. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Kop Hill Climb 2014

Every year the Kop Hill Climb always has a great line up of cars and motorcycles, and this year was no exception. I could only attend for one day this year but what a day it was, the range of machines spans a huge period from veteran to modern hybrid and supercars. The event is always a joy to attend as the atmosphere is relaxed and informal. To find out more about the event please go to the 

I travelled to the event with sketching friend extraordinaire Stefan Majoram, for his take on the vent please visit his website.

1947 Moto Guzzi Dondolino

 (ink sketch)

I initially picked this bike because it looked unusual and I'd not drawn any Italian motorcycles until this one. Turns out this is a pretty rare bike. The Dondolino (Rocking Chair) was produced as a gentleman's racer after WW2 as an affordable, reliable and robust machine. This made it ideal for private racers who wanted to take part in the races that emerged after the war. In 1946 Dondolino's were ridden to victory in both the Swiss and Spanish Grand Prix. It was also a winning bike in many 1st and 2nd division races in France and Italy. More importantly the Dondolino proved it reliability in the Milan to Taranto race, a extremely long and testing event.

Velocette Sprint Bike

 (ink sketch)
I saw this Velocette last year but did not get a chance to sketch it. So I made sure I got it this time. The tank had been changed but it had the charm that only a rough and ready sprint bike has with modifications and fixes which are practical rather than aesthetic. In other words I love this bike. 


 (ink sketch)

BSA 3 Wheeler

 (ink sketch)


 Indian Scout
 Brough Superior
 1929 Rex Acme TT racer (previously owned by Ewan McGregor)

New Imperial


 Austin Healy Frog Eye Sprite
 Salmson Cyclecar
 Ford Delux
 Early Streamlined Lotus

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Light Aircraft Association Annual Rally at Sywell Aerodrome

Stummelflitzer Z1R

(watercolour and ink)
This is a stunning wood framed single seater. It was recently completed after a 7 year build by Dudley Pattison who runs the Swindon Aircraft Timber Company. It runs a Rotec R2800 seven cylinder radial engine. The roots of this aeroplane are in 1920s biplanes and the shortened training planes used by the Germans to train their pilots in WWII. To find out more about these planes visit Dudleys website and

1933 DH83 Fox Moth

(watercolour and ink)
I only just caught this one before it left again. This is a small biplane passenger aircraft, it was great to see this there at Sywell as these did fly out of there in the 30s. Only 98 of these were built in the UK, and 154 of this type of plane were built so this was a rare opportunity indeed. The plane was built by de Havilland from 1932 specifically for short hop flights with the pilot on top with up to 3 passengers below in the fuselage of the plane. A beautiful machine indeed!

Percival Mew Gull E2H (Replica)

(watercolour and ink)
This is another very recently completed self build by a very talented and meticulous engineer called David Beale. Unfortunately when I actually saw him he was donning his parachute and climbing into the Mew Gull to leave. At the event I had a chat to a man on The Vintage Aircraft Club who said apparently this replica is more accurate than the real Percival Mew Gull that resides in The Shuttleworth Collection, I need to find out more.

The Mew Gull was designed by Edgar Percival 6 were made between 1934 - 38 during the Golden age of British Air racing. They typically ran de Havilland Gypsy 6 engines ultimately reaching a top speed of 265mph. They were used within handicapped air races of which the Kins Cup was one of the premier races, the Mew Gull design won this race 4 times.

Verhees Delta Prototype

(watercolour and ink)
Well this was the most unusual and striking aeroplane of the weekend. It is a delta wing shape and apparently very stable and comfortable. Well I guess it is as it was flown to Sywell by it's owner, designer and builder Bart Verhees, all the way from Belgium. I hoped to see it leave but I must have been too busy sketching to realise as it left as stealthily as it looked. 

For more information on this incredible machine please CLICK HERE to visit it's webpage.

Taylor Monoplane

(ink sketch)
John Taylor of Ilford is my new hero and inspiration for the ultimate home build. I will let these Pathe News Reels tell the story.... Now how do I get the bedroom window out??


 Pietenpol Air Camper

(watercolour and ink)
A beautiful monoplane based on a 20s design. It was built back in 1992 by Alan James and has done over 1100 hours flying since completion.

1977 Jodel D9

(ink sketch)
This was another great small build utilising a VW Beetle engine. Apparently the only tweak is to add twin ignition as a safety measure. This particular D9 has been flown by it's present owner for the past 18 years.

Miles M3A Falcon

(ink sketch)
It was mainly the challenge of the sloping front screen that attracted me to this plane. I later found out that this is part of the Shuttleworth Collection.

1977 Volksplane

(ink sketch)
This is a true home build design I love the all out simplicity of this aeroplane. Designed by an American called William Evans, the design was first flown in 1968. The plane is of such an easy construction and design that it was meant for anyone to be able to build it at home and the wings are detachable so that the folded size is easily transported by road. It uses a VW Beetle engine like the Taylor Monoplane but it's aerodynamics mean that it does need more power than it should in order to fly. Apparently 6000 plans have been sold, I wonder how many made it to completion?

1980 V-Star SA900

(ink sketch)
This is a homebuilt aerobatic plane. The kits for these apparently take 1800 hours to build.

1941 Waco UPF 7

(ink sketch)
A lovely 40's American trainer. I had to sketch this from the front to exaggerate it's size, and to get an idea of the gentle curve that runs down the entire length of the fuselage.

1989 Yak-52

(ink sketch)
First flown in 1978 the Yakovlev Yak-52 was a trainer for civil and military pilots in the soviet union. 1800 have been produced to date and they are still being produced in Romania by Aerostar. Since the early 90's and the fall of the Soviet Union many Yak-52's were exported and now fly in many wester countries

Well you can see I've got a taste for drawing planes now too. After drawing some planes at Sywell last year, I got chatting to someone at the Bike Shed Event II about light aeroplanes (I was showing him my sketchbook). He recommended that I go to the L.A.A. Rally at Sywell. Ever since then I've had the date in my diary and I'm so glad I went. After going to so many car and bike rallies I never thought you would have the equivalent for aeroplanes, and of course this was it. Over 3 days people flew in and out of the airstrip parking their planes up and with an airside pass you could wander right up to the visiting machines. This was perfect for sketching and as you can see over 2 days I sketched 12 aeroplanes. The range of machines was vast from modern light aircraft, through to vintage aeroplanes, even home built machines with VW beetle engines!

More Photos...

Unknown Italian I think?
1999 Avid Flyer
(got away before I could sketch it!)

Here are a few examples of my one of my favourite aeroplanes the Pitts Special. Developed in the 40s this small biplane is still a favourite for aerobatics. 
In fact it was at Sywell in 2013 when I saw the Trig Aerobatic team in a pair of Pitts Specials that I fell in love with this little beauty.

These things are light!
1948 Percival Proctor
Morane Saulnier

Another Taylor Monoplane

Great Lakes Sports Trainer
Unknown German
1986 Plumb Biplane