Saturday, March 22, 2014

A visit to "Fellside Cottage", the home of Ivan Rhodes...Mr Velocette to so many people worldwide...part 3

Well I thought I'd bring to a close the saga of my visit with Ivan Rhodes in September last year with the two previous posts covering much of what occurred.
For this post we'll spend more time pictorially, won't cover all the stuff I did, but perhaps a post-script post in the future to cover anything left....
The Velocette factory used large folio books to record the details of the motorcycles they built, with the invoiced date, model designation, engine, frame and prewar anyhow the gearbox number. The dealer/agent supplied to and sometimes this was Schoefield Goodman...unrelated to the Goodman family who owned Veloce Ltd, but who were a Birmingham forwarding agent that sent the bikes ordered to Australia, New Zealand etc.
If the name of the original owner was known, then it was often listed with their address.
So let's have a peek at a folio book from 1938...
An enlargement of the lower LH page which covers the MOV model in 1938....The dealer supplied to with the town they were in is visible.
The agreement between Veloce Ltd and Stanley Woods for the 1939 season...drawn up by local solicitors who still handled Veloce's work in the 1960's...
Interesting is the retainers, money wise that Stanley Woods commanded as a rider...
Stanley was to ride for Velocette in 1936...
His retainer with Vacuum oil in 1934 was £1500 for the year...

Velocette's original approach to Stanley Woods in June 1935 asking him to ride for them in 1936....
Ivan spent much time in the last years repairing and restoring where possible all the racing Velocettes badly damaged in the fire at the National Motorcycle museum...illustrated is the crankcases of one engine and the cylinder....
A factory 350 SOHC ,likely 1937 or 1938, racer.....Velocette 350 and 500s can easily be identified by counting the cylinder finds....10 for a 350 and 13 for a 500, although with this example the blue background of the racing number confirms it.


In a frame on the wall of Ivan’s workshop is the note from the Veloce Ltd liquidator informing employees that the main gates are locked and no vehicles allowed to move in or out…employees had to enter the works through the office entrance. The final demise of Velocette.
 1938 and 1939 works final drive sprockets were splined internally, rather than the usual Velocette crucifix type. Both 350 and 500 used this, although the 350 used the smaller primary chain type...1/2" x 5/16".
Interestingly the 500 used 1/2" x 3/8" rear chain as Norton did rather than the more usual 5/8" x 3/8" on their MSS roadsters.....
 The mainshafts were a bigger diameter than the previous racing gearboxes...1" diameter.
Another interesting fact is that the works cylinders had wider cylinder stud spacing and this was achieved by using eccentric crankcase studs...



Forged pistons prewar made by Hughes, Johnson of Oldesbury...

Monday, February 17, 2014

A visit to "Fellside Cottage", the home of Ivan Rhodes...Mr Velocette to so many people worldwide...part 2

Well I'm back from a nice "pub lunch" at Ivan Rhodes local and back to "Fellside Cottage" in Bob Higgs wonderful creation, the Vulcan 1000cc V-Twin Velocette with Steib 501 sidecar....
A great experience...
For those who wish to know more, short of speaking with Bob at a Velocette function, search for a copy of "Classic Bike Guide", August 1993, No.28...pages 46-50 give a good account with photos of its creation.
So join me for part 2 of my time in Derby in September 2013 with Ivan Rhodes for a photographic glimpse of what many Velocette enthusiasts today call "Hall Green"....
We had much to discuss and I'd brought across with me for Ivan copies of the note books of the late Frank Panes who was a works Velocette race mechanic...much KTT and works engine test information in them...
Like a peak...?


And so it goes on.....perhaps more for a post on another day.....
Back at Ivan's he decided that as Dennis Frost had come up from London with his ex. BJG mk.1 KTT, that we'd go for a ride in the nearby countryside through the lanes he knew....
Firstly he wheeled out the ex Alec Bennett 1928 IOM 350 TT winning Velocette....
And below, the bike with Alec Bennett aboard after winning the Junior TT with Percy Goodman, managing director of Veloce at the time, congratulating him.
 As I mentioned earlier, Dennis Frost got his mk.1 KTT out of the van...




Then out came the Model O...the 1939 experimental 600cc  pushrod
twin road bike designed by Phil Irving with rear suspension....
So off we went for a 15 mile ride , DQ started on the Alec Bennett KTT and what a responsive and light handling bike it proved to be...but then, as you would expect of a, then, TT winning machine.
Often beside me I could hear the throb of the exhaust from Dennis Frost's nice Mk.1 KTT.....
After some 8 miles we stopped and Ivan swapped onto it with me on the "O"....
Idling, I put my hand on the petrol tank top, the handlebars, but little in the way of vibration could be felt...
Taking off I have to admit I stalled it, but one prod had the engine idling again nicely and snicking into first I was off after Ivan.
Accelerating away after Ivan showed it a nice smooth twin, but the RH sweeper coming up posed a little surprise as after the Bennett KTT the steering was quite heavy and took a little effort on this initial corner... suitably prepared the bike cornered nicely thereafter.
Difficult to comment on the rear suspension as the roads were smooth and the bike braked nicely and I had no need to try the brakes in anger...

 Veloce and Phil Irving patented their rear suspension efforts as was used on the Model O and an experimental MSS with rear suspension.

All too soon we turned into "Fellside Cottage" and my special ride on two historic machines was over...
 Tony Ainley and a friend, another racer, whose name regrettably I can't recall, called around with the friends racer on a trailer and the hope that we could shed some light on what they felt was a special front brake, perhaps even a works one. However neither Ivan nor I could recognise it and after a chat on Tony's efforts in the Classis 500 TT in the IOM this year during the MGP time...and Tony overcame his bogey and cracked the 90mph lap average...well it was in the 92 region all good stuff.... they left us to our devices..



Bidding goodbye to Bob Higgs a little earlier and Dennis Frost, off on his 3 hour trip down to London, I spent another hour or two in Ivan's workshop between my scanner and digital camera....
Ivan insisted I sign his visitors book...duly done...

Glancing around the wall I spied a pic with Les Archer on "Wiffling Clara..." at Brooklands in 1933.
The real Wiffling Clara lurked nearby.....


In need of a pee I was surprised to see the wooden cistern chamber with lead lining in it....

One of the projects now taking Ivan's time following his almost 9 year effort to restore the burnt racing Velocettes from the National Motorcycle Museum at Coventry was, after failing all efforts to acquire one of the three 1936 IOM TT DOHC Velocette cylinder heads and camboxs...all three have been in Australia since WW2.... he had the tooling made to reproduce a replica of one of these engines.....
We spent time examining the machined camboxes and cylinder heads and the cam train, which incidentally the gears in the cambox are on the same centres as the post war DOHC setups, of which Ivan has several. Well rather the postwar set are the same as the 1936 set!
Lets have a look at the original setup from 1936 from a factory photograph of the time...
Now to Ivan's efforts and Bob Higg's was heavily involved with this project and continues to be so....
So following a rather full day, Velocette wise, I retired to my hotel to review the day, run over my notes and added to a list of some items we felt we needed to discuss.
Ivan arranged to collect me the next morning for a Sunday session at "Fellside Cottage"....
Care to join us...?
See you on the next post.....

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A visit to "Fellside Cottage", the home of Ivan Rhodes...Mr Velocette to so many people worldwide...part 1

As I mentioned in a previous post, Mrs DQ and myself were in Europe in September 2013 and I took in Velocette friends in The Netherlands and Germany.
Traveling home to Sydney I made a "dog leg" via Manchester, UK with a train trip to Derby, set up in a hotel prior to a per-arranged three day visit with Ivan Rhodes for archival and historic exchange on Velocette...

Ivan arrived on the Saturday morning in his 1925 model 20 Rolls Royce which was a surprise and we took a detour to the Rolls Royce Heritage Centre where there was an open day....
Nothing like a Rolls Royce Merlin V-12 aero engine mounted on a trailer and started for the visitors...
Then off to "Fellside Cottage".....
Visitors were expected so Ivan had a quick tour of his garage where the Roller lives...nice early Velocette, possibly 1913ish, then a KTT with a works head in a road frame setup...and a Geoff Duke special....before we moved into his workshop proper...


Note the MAC oil tank used as a test petrol tank to allow access to "the works"...
Works racing "lowboy" frame used for the 1951 IOM TT racers....
Below....The Geoff Duke Velocette with KTT engine and showing the in-frame primary chain oiler.



The extensions at the bottom of the forks, soft soldered on, were done by Eric & Harry (jnr) Hinton when they owned it in 1958 and campaigned it in Europe. Harry came 5th in the West German GP on it and according to Eric thought the older ex works engine it had in it at the time, different to the one in it now, was quicker than their Manx Nortons.
A pic from the Hinton archive of the time...


A glance at the rear garden of "Fellside Cottage", the photo "stitched" together hence the strange light effect...
Then into the workshop, almost clinically clean...





A welcome visitor was Dennis Frost, The UK LE Club Archivist and Historian. He'd driven the 3 hours up from London with the ex Bertie Goodman Mk.1 KTT in his van, then Bob Higgs rode over on his Velocette Vulcan 1000cc V-Twin special with Steib S501 sidecar attached...we were off to a pub nearby, one of Ivan's locals for lunch where John Goodall joined us on his Mk.1 KTT....DQ was ushered into the sidecar and we were off....


The outfit built by Bob who has been involved with Ivan's projects...The Roarer and Wiffling Clara....had completed over 95,000 miles with a replacement big-end at 60,000 and Bob was off to ride to Spain on it the following week.
The engine is so quiet and powerful, I asked Bob the top gear ratio... 4.4:1... a Venom is 4.9:1.!!
The folding gearlinkage to facilitate easy kick starting is very clever Higgs design...



Well that's it for this post......Ivan and the lads are joining me for lunch...!
Why not join me in a later post for more on my time in what has become to many "Hall Green".....