Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Velocette and a re-eneactment, come revival of the 17 years of the Castrol 6 Hour production race at the Motorcycling Victoria's Broadford complex, some 70 km north of Melbourne

The Castrol 6 Hour race was an event in Australia that ran for 17 years from 1970 to 1987. It was a production machine race with very strict compliance rules which, to avoid hassles for the pre-race scrutineering, some entrants had a new out of the crate motorcycle sealed by the then ACU of NSW and raced it.....
The first event in 1970 saw a Triumph Bonneville 650 take the line honours with Len Atlee and Bryen Hindle the victors.
For the next event in 1971 I entered my 1967 Velocette Venom Thruxton  with co-rider ex international Dennis Fry and good friends, John Herrick as reserve rider and Jim Day, our pit crew.
I detailed the event in a previous 6 Hour race post....
So lets forward to this years Easter weekend....
Motorcycling Victoria has a 420 acre tract of land some 70km north of Melbourne, Victoria and Motorcycling Australia with sponsor Penrite Oils made "a celebration of The Castrol Six Hour, 1970-1987" the theme for the weekend open practices on all the circuits on the complex....
The complex has multiple circuits as mentioned, but the theme was centered around the road race circuit...
I took a partial panoramic view of part of the circuit....
There was a good representation of the many hundreds of bikes that entered the event over the 17 years as well as some of the riders of that time.... Joe Eastmure, won, well took the chequered flag first in a solo effort in 1972 on a 315cc Suzuki, only to be disqualified for having removed the horn from the bike....tough regulations! 
Len Atlee won the first event in 1970, Dave Hiscock from NZ, Graeme Crosby...Croz to many, from NZ. Bill Horseman from Adelaide South Australia and so on......
Yes DQ was there and while we couldn't get my original VMT458 Velocette which is still in Perth, Western Australia,John Jennings stepped up onto the plate and having engine number VMT457 Velocette Thruxton ( both his and my bike came out in the same crate to Burling and Simmonds the Sydney motorcycle dealer in Feb.1967) with the bike in a similar patina paint wise to mine of the time, a set of racing numbers to the colour and spec. for the 1971 supplementary regulations for the race, and his bike became my old race bike.....!
John Jennings VMT457
DQ aboard VMT458 during the 1971 event...

While there were no races on all the circuits, per se, open practice was on in various classes of motorcycles and in the road race area, from the 6 hour class; pre 1963; pre 1975;pre 1990; road bikes, novice;road bikes,intermediate.
Lots to see and so come with me on a photographic stroll through the areas around the pits and up to the fence on a section of the circuit for a look.....
Fancy a cup of coffee first? An enterprising local with a Yamaha and replica Dusting sidecar equipped as a coffee bar did a roaring trade all weekend...mind you he worked his butt off....

A racing 1954 Adler MB250, with owner, Otto Muller, head cut off by DQ, looking on....

Jeffery Richardson's mk.8 KTT slides off the starting rollers.... 

John Jennings slips out for some practice......

An old friend, Phil Vergison was also there with his camera and sent some pix along for me to utilise....

 
Joe Eastmure, to the right with his ( unsure about this...) 315cc Suzuki, 
 1972 6 hour bike....
 Joe out on the Suzuki with #9 Jim Scaysbrook on the former Hailwood/Scaysbrook Ducati entry from the 1977 event.

The Carbury.... a home made V twin royal Enfield....
JJ brought along his little racing MAC Velocette...
Nic-named "Li'l speedy".....
So how did DQ and crew get to Broadford....?
Well my C4 Citroen trailered down my 1960 Venom and Jim Day's 1965 Venom Clubman....with Peter Underwood riding his 1960 Venom the 750 km from Sydney and back...a sort of "running in"...we had Ben Wolven trailering his Norton Interstate with us...
Pictured is Jim Day, front with Peter Underwood having a well deserved 
"cuppa".
So we'll finish off with some pics of Mitch over from Western Australia for the event having a run on #34 while Tony Keene and John Jennings prepare to load VMT457 for the trip home...

Thanks John....VMT457 was a worthy replica for my old warhorse VMT458....long gone.
 But I've still got the crashed silencer from the 1971 race...


Ouch....!


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.....