I’m always incredibly spoilt for choice at the Sunbeam MCC’s Pioneer Run as there are so many amazing veteran machines in attendance. I sketch in pencil at the finish line and ink them when I’m back in the studio, as there are only a few hours to gather as many examples as possible in the sketchbook, before the weary travellers decide to go home. Due to the nature of the event I rarely get to speak to the owners as they are normally refreshing themselves (with tea, chips and ice-cream!) after the ride from Tattenham Corner. Consequently, much of the information contained below has been obtained after the event.
1904/5 White & Poppe 427cc
I had never seen this motorcycle mark before, and I’m unlikely to see another. Made by the White & Poppe motor company, this is an early example of the motorcycles made by this firm between 1902 and 1914. It is single speed, with no clutch, like many of these veteran machines. This particular motorcycle has completed the Pioneer Run for the past 20 years with its current owner. It was one of the first machines to arrive and so it obviously is quite a reliable and quick machine. The current owner has had custody for over 20 years and the previous keeper had it for four decades. I hope the next owner (as it is currently for sale) will ride it with as much enthusiasm and respect as its previous custodians.
1903 Kerry 2¼hp Ladies Model
The Pioneer Run is always a good place to spot ladies models, which are always aesthetically intriguing as they are designed primarily with the impracticalities of ladies’ skirts in mind. Sammy Miller stopped to say hello whilst I sketched the Kerry and mentioned that around 75 manufacturers were producing ladies models during this period. After the war the production of the ladies model declined, perhaps due to the fact it was then more acceptable for women to wear trousers in practical situations. This Kerry was the first of two ladies models I sketched this year, with this one ridden by Vincent Belgraver, from Holland. He had restored this example fairly extensively, trying to retain as much of the original as possible over a period of time, and has completed quite a few Pioneer Run since.
1902 G. Valliere 182cc
I saw this remarkable machine at 2015’s Pioneer Run and was intrigued by the various wooden boxes and wires. I wondered whether it used period electrics as it certainly looked the part. Luckily, this year as I finished sketching the G. Valliere, the owner, Andrew Heaps, introduced himself and I managed to find out more.
The engine is an early clip on two-stoke which the owner, a keen veteran bicycle collector, came upon by chance and immediately snapped it up as his expert eye told him it was intended for a very early motorcycle. With no documentation and little historical information on these engines, it took a while to work out how to get it working reliably. The wiring is actually quite simple, using a period coil (c. 1902) to the rear of the frame and a modern battery in the adjacent box. The spark is timed by the contact breaker on the timing side. A more modern condenser is to be found in one of the foremost boxes, completing the puzzle.
1910 Hobart 292cc Ladies Model
The second ladies model of the day was this Hobart. I was rather taken with the arrangement of the tank and mounted controls. Hobart Bird & Co.,Wolverhampton, started out as many did as a bicycle manufacturer in 1892. The company’s first venture into motorcycles in 1901 was an autocycle with an inclined engine which was widely used and became known as the Handy Hobart. Manufacture of the Handy continued, alongside another model with a vertical engine, which was introduced in 1903, until 1906, when manufacture stopped and Hobart became a supplier.
In 1910 the firm returned to motorcycle manufacture with machines such as this ladies model and made motorcycles into the early 1920s, with a couple of name changes to McKenzie Hobart in 1922 and Hobart-Acme in 1924. After this, Hobart ceased to appear as a motorcycle marque, though did continue to supply its own engine to other firms for several years afterwards.
1914 Matchless 7hp Model 8B motorcycle combination
My final sketch of the weekend was this heavy looking Matchless combination, which appears more than capable of touring the country, and then some. I love the utilitarian look, with its substantial kick start, electric lighting and sprocket driven speedometer. This model 8B was the predecessor to the Model H which was offered as a combination only and was produced until 1927. The restoration of this particular combination was undertaken by apprentices at the Norton Villiers Plumstead factory in the 1960s. Not a bad pedigree seeing that the Plumstead factory has its roots in the Matchless brand.
1904 Rover Forecar
1899 Dechamps Tricycle...
..complete with wheelie bar.
1913 Terrot Zedel
1912 Stewart "Stella"