Hello Dave, my ramblings.
I have very much enjoyed the motoring/motorcycling recollections of Dave A and the Midlands lads and they have made me dig back into my memory of my early “wheeled” days.
I find that I have owned about 22 motor bikes but will not bore you with recollections of them all but will pick put a few of possible interest.
My first bike was an A.J.S. 500 trials bike, tele`s and rigid, for which I paid £50. The engine turned out to be in a poor state, it cost me £50 to get it sorted and I sold it for £50. Lesson learned.
Brough Superior 1000 c.c.1926 with aluminium launch sidecar, what a goer! With my old friend the late Alan Lazenbury in the chair ( very appropriate) we did many happy and rapid miles plotting routes for Midland group runs etc. In those days no helmets, flat caps were the order of the day and we found that, when we reached a certain speed Alan`s hat would blow off and we would have to about turn to retrieve it. It became standard practice when about to overtake a slower vehicle for me to plonk my left hand on Alan`s head whilst my right hand twisted the throttle with impressive results. Great days.
Ariel 1000 Square four, Mk 2. Very nice to ride solo but I did come off it at low speed on a greasy manhole cover near Cotteridge whilst on my way to work. As I slid down the road alongside the bike I had time to notice how mucky the underside of the engine was. When I stopped sliding I looked up to see an ambulance driver in a stationary line of traffic looking down at me. He asked me if I was O.K.and I said thank you but it is my pride that is hurt and I am not in need of your services today.
I was annoyed to find later that I had rubbed a hole in the pocket of my Barbour jacket because of a spanner I carried there.
Excelsior Talisman twin. 250 c.c. Tele`s and swinging arm. Pleasant little machine, very smooth power delivery but had the bad habit of cutting out sometimes when hot. Never did fully cure it but traded it in for a :-
Velocette MAC 350. Green finish. Tele`s and swinging arm. Great machine, lovely tick over and exhaust note. No problem with kick starting it if you knew the knack.
And Tim Cameron
Well Dave, now you’ve started something – sunshine, birds flying in pairs and a dawn chorus for the early risers – it must be spring! The workshop is warm and inviting; we’ve had a re-arrange and wheeled in the 1934 Model 16 Sunbeam, bought in 1968. Whilst at was stripped down, by mistake I took a van load of early motorcycle ‘tat’ to the first Beaulieu Autojumble and was parked next to Peter Ward, who lived at the Purlieu in West Malvern – Peter was the first to bring a Bomerland motorcycle into the country, it was a 500cc single about 1926, literally about 8foot long , made to transport 6 people in a line. I was later sold as the highest price vintage bike ever at the time. Peter also ran an outrageous Austin 12/4 pick-up truck, painted completely in red lead and as well-known and liked in the VSCC circles. He told me many tales about how after the war he was collecting scrap, mostly phosphor-bronze, from the hundreds of wrecked vehicles covering the North African deserts after Rommel and Monty had finished with each other.
We spent a memorable day at Beaulieu on our stalls in the pouring rain – peter ever smiling was paddling around in the deep mud bare-foot, happy as Larry. Now, why by mistake? Well I’d thrown the complete Sunbeam Burman Gearbox and clutch into one of the boxes and it didn’t come home with me!
Undeterred, for several years I ran a Norton ‘lay down’ box in the ‘Beam and fitted a bth racing mag off one of our 500 JAP motors and put it on the road. For 2 or 3 years running , Ewan used it as a hack to get him and his mate round the island during Manx week. Eventually, having found a replacement gearbox I decided to try again and fit all the proper mag/dyno – all I need now is a clutch! It’s a very oily rag machine with ‘Sunbeam’ barely discernable on the tank – all the numbers except the box match; its 1934 and the earliest 250 model 16 on the ‘Beam Register, and – we’ve found the original logbook!! So we should with a bit of luck get the original reg number back.
I’ve got to the stage where I can’t continue with NP65, the well-known 1921 Trial car – my son David is to finish it, the chassis and body are basically done, with a nice 1921 AC JAP motor, fins fore and aft and with Morgan engine plates. I once dropped a red-hot steering arm out of the vice whilst trying to get a little dowel out, onto my slipper where it burnt a hole through slipper, sock and skin before I could knock it off with a stick. Unable to use my legs, I was lucky not to set myself alight in the wheelchair but, as there is very little circulation down there, it took over two years to heal! – so I don’t do a lot of heavy duty brazing, welding, or even soldering now , being like this it’s very easy to have accidents even when trying now to.
I must have a chat with John Chatwin ! 1963’ish – Selly Oak Hospital – I had a tip-off of a parked-up F4 rotting away. I soon found it at the far end of a line of garages, a complete F4 with an Elder tree growing through the hood, in brambles. I decided it must have been there for at least 15 years and trying to find the owner would be impossible, so the next day we cleared to vegetation and began to strip it. Today it would have been a great restoration project but back then it wasn’t worth a fiver and the old man would have had a fit with that in the back garden. Everything that would go on a twin was removed and as I remember, thrown into Dave Shotton’s A35 pick-up. Complete wheel assemblies, steering column, all the rear end including gearbox, dashboard and lights. I often wonder at what a crass thing I did, it could still be on the road now!
- till the next time.. Cheers, Tim.
Tim’s comments about abandoned Morgans prompted me to rummage into my memory store again with the following result:-
Thanks again Tim
Far more interesting transport than I have ever owned.
Your mention of an abandoned F-type reminds me that there was a time when none of our cars were worth anything. When I worked for Lucas in the 1970s, it came out in conversation that I owned an F-type Morgan and one of the blokes said, “I’ve got a windscreen for one of those you can have.” I asked him if he had the rest of the car and he said “It’s under my garage.” He had bought it for his wife to use. She had taken one look at it and refused to drive it and so it had been parked at the bottom of his garden for years, used as a plaything and climbing frame by his children. In the end, he had wanted to build a garage on the spot and had dug a big hole for the foundations and pushed the Morgan into it. He had removed the windscreen because it “Stuck up above the ground” and had then filled the hole with concrete. He had then carefully wrapped up the windscreen in two layers of corrugated cardboard, tied neatly with string, and put it in his loft for fifteen years until getting it down to give to me. I asked him why he had kept the screen rather than just chucking it into the hole with the rest of the car and he said “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” I guess I shouldn’t complain…….
Another of my colleagues told me they had buried a two-speeder at the bottom of his brother’s garden many years before. I asked if I could come along and dig it up but he said he couldn’t remember exactly where it was, there was now an orchard in the garden, his brother had recently died and his widow wouldn’t be impressed by a bunch of blokes with spades digging up her orchard looking for scrap metal.