Friday, 26 August 2016

VMCC Banbury Run 2016

The Banbury Run is an event ruin by the VMCC at which I’m always overwhelmed with the variety of machinery, often happy to see that a machine I missed in previous years has returned and so I get a second chance.

Like the Pioneer Run, ‘Banbury’ involves lots of pencils sketching in order to get the details into the sketchbook before the riders start leaving at 10am.

The ink bits are then done in the less hectic environment of the studio using photographic reference. Due to the ebb and flow of occasions like these, I’m sometimes unable to obtain information from the riders, as they are often preoccupied with making sure their machine is ready for the run or they are socialising away from their vehicle. In cases like this, I have then researched the marque or model afterwards in order to give you an historic insight into the machine.

1921 Cedos

(ink sketch)

I have seen this Cedos at a few Banbury Runs and was happy to see it again, and decided to get it in the sketchbook. I quite enjoyed the plethora of modern attachments to aid navigation on the handlebars – I gather the rider was well prepared for their route.

Cedos motorcycles were produced for a decade between 1919 and 1929. This exotic sounding marque is in fact a combination of the founding brothers’ names, CEdric and OScar Hanwell. Mainly producing two-stroke machines in ladies and gents variations – both of which, incidentally, could be seen at this year’s Banbury Run – they started with a 211cc two-stroke with chain-driven two-speed gearbox and final belt drive. There was no kick start and so the models had to be push started.
After liquidation in 1922-23, the company was restructured and the subsequent machines used various engines from Blackburne to JAP and ended up using Villers units.

Like many businesses, the stock market crash of 1929 bought Cedos down with it and production came to an end. Around 4000 machines were built during their 10 year run and it is reckoned less than a dozen remain.

1927 Norton Model 44 outfit

 (ink sketch)

The Model 44 was one of the many Norton variants listed in 1927. This Norton 44 was the ‘Colonial Model’ with high ground clearance. It features the 588cc ohv engine with a Norton four-speed cross over gearbox with hand change.

Chris and Jill Streather purchased the then solo machine a long while ago from a well respected Norton enthusiast ‘Up North’ when looking for some parts for another restoration he was helping them with. They were so taken with the machine it came back too. The ‘44’ was used as a solo at several Banbury Runs, while a suitable chair to accommodate the couple so they could do the run together, was looked for.

The sidecar they found is mounted on the later genuine Norton G chassis. The chair has been modified to be more in keeping with the era of the 44 and the originality of the sidecar body. The sidecar not only meant Jill could have some comfort, but; “As the 44 is very high, reaching the kick-start on the stand is virtually impossible, and off the stand starting was a bit of a balancing act, so a chair was just the job.” There are a few non-original parts on the 44 but the previous owner built it to be reliable machine, which Chris and Jill continue to enjoy.

1926 Motosacoche

(ink sketch)

The first of two Swiss-owned machines that caught my eye at Banbury was this rather sporty looking Motosacoche V-twin. The marque name has it’s origins in its 1900 auxiliary engine which was sold in its own subframe and was to be installed in a conventional bicycle. The subframe made the engine look as if it was in a bag, hence the name Motosacoche, which translates as ‘engine in a bag.’

From these humble beginnings, the factory went on to provide engines for many British and continental manufacturers including Royal Enfield and Monet Gyon. Motosacoche also had racing success in the 1920s, winning the Bol d’Or 24 hour event outside Paris in 1922, with a 500cc Motosacoche covering 1206kms within the 24 hours.

Englishman Dougal Marchant designed and built ohc Motosacoches on which Wal Handley won the 350cc and 500cc European championships in 1928. The famous Bert Le Vack became a works rider, chief designer and tuner for Motosacoche in the late 1920s. Unfortunately, Le Vack was killed whilst testing one of the A50 machines on public roads close to the factory on September 17, 1931. It was by this time that Norton was dominating racing, and the Motosacoche started to lose business, eventually giving up on motorcycles by 1956.

1925 Husqvana Type 180

(ink sketch)

The second Swiss entry, parked next to the Motosacoche, was this well built Swedish-made Husqvana. Spending the time I had sketching this machine, I really appreciated the finer details of a model so well built it never made the company money, as it sold for less than it cost to build.

This twin model was introduced in the early 1920s, possibly in response to the popularity of American twins in Sweden at the time. This design seems to be very influenced by the Indian Scout 101. With Bosch magdyno powering the lighting and a twp-way rear brake with an outer band and inner shoes, operated by hand and foot levers, this really was a higher end machine of the period. 

1919 Busy Bee

(ink sketch)

On seeing the Busy Bee in the paddock, I was thrilled, but instantly questioned; “Is this vintage or a modern, recent build, using period parts?”

I soon stopped questioning and sat down to capture it in my sketchbook, ignoring my internal snobbery. While sketching it, I soon met the owner who confirmed this was ‘vintage’ – built, in fact, in 1919 by Joseph A. Mills of Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. Mr Mills built the machine in his spare time with the prime objective of travelling with more protection than afforded during standard motorcycling. Originally fitted with an air cooled Stagg 5hp single cylinder engine, the one lunger was replaced in 1928 with a 1924 AJS 6hp 799cc V-twin, mounted as if in a motorcycle. The Busy Bee went through various modifications to the bodywork before arriving at its current configuration.
According to The Light Car and Cyclecar article of October 20, 1922; “The direct steering, connected by self-adjusting ball joints, is so successful that the monocar may be driven ‘hands off’ for considerable distances.”

How much of the 100,000 miles Mr Mills covered by 1956 were done in this manner is anyone’s guess! The story behind this amazing survivor conjured up visions of Mr Mills travelling the length and breadth of Nottinghamshire enjoying a machine of his own creation with a smile of contentment.

After his death, the monocar was sold to a motorcycle dealership Messrs Frank Inger & Sons where it was never used and I assume displayed as a curiosity. Since then the car has gone through several owners and has gone mostly unused. One rumour is that it may have been used in the Madresfield Speed Trials in the late circa 1986 when owned by Chris Gordon. The car was restored by Harry Reginald Holland after he bought it in December 1987. The current owners were running it in the Banbury Run as a test run before (fingers crossed) taking it out to the French incarnation of the Festival of Slowth, a wonderful event involving all things slow, mostly cyclecars. I have since been informed that the Busy Bee performed well at both Banbury and in France, and even made it up the hill at Chateau Impney ‘…though not when anyone was looking.’ I do hope this great machine enjoys more of the open road with its new owner, as was intended by Mr Mills.

No comments:

Post a Comment