Saturday, May 31, 2008

How much does a Mk.8 KTT Velocette cost bought as parts?

On the subject of the Mk.8 KTT Velocette over the counter production racing motorcycle, I often wondered how much one costs if purchased as spare parts…..having the elusive spares numbers list, pre and post-war Veloce price lists and feeling like wasting some time, I set out to find out…..

Introduced at the November 1938 Earles Court ( UK) Motorcycle show, the newly introduced Velocette Mk.8 KTT production racing motorcycle was eagerly awaited by motorcycle racers and enthusiasts.

First available in May 1939 just prior to the IOM TT races, the price of a complete Mk.8 KTT racer was UK£120.
In Dec.1946 the listed price for 1947 was UK£240 (+UK£64.16.0 purchase tax in UK)
For 1950 UK£260 (+UK£70.3.0 PT in UK)
The price of various items was also of considerable interest…
A WM1x21” or WM2x19” Dunlop alloy rim were UK£5.5.0 each ( interestingly a bare steel rim was UK£0.18.0 and an enamelled rim UK£1.10.0 each), bad news if you crashed and buckled the rim.. several weeks wages at the time.
A complete frame with a pair of Dowty Oleomatic suspension units was UK£67
Left click on photos to enlarge.

Bathurst, NSW Australia for the 1950 Easter motorcycle races...Bruce Traynor, astride the P and R Williams Mk.8 with Ken and Merv Waggott and the P and R s ute ( pickup) with another Mk.8 in the background. P and Rs were the NSW Velocette distributors.
The pair of Oleomatics rear suspension
units were UK£19.
A cylinder head, not complete was UK£37
A pair of crankcase castings, machined UK£17.I.00, but I was unable to find a price out for a set of Webb TT girder forks ( or any of their girder forks for that matter), so the final price for the KTT is LESS a set of forks…UK£480…. That’s over four times the price of the new motorcycle.

A brace of Mk.8 KTTs, above, in the Veloce race shop awaiting despatch to their lucky owners around TT time in 1939 and the new 1947 (post war) version.

Monday, May 26, 2008

VISION..... some ideas as it applies to Motorcycling and Driving

During 1979 The Australian “Aviation Safety Digest” ran a series of articles on vision and safety, obviously much of it applies to motorcycling and driving and can explain, but in no way condone, the familiar “I didn’t see him” comment following a road accident…..I’ve edited the articles and collated them to be relevant to us and the several diagrams, whilst aviation oriented can be looked at from our viewpoint…read on….
In motoring today we have many distractions whilst driving…inside the vehicle-radios, CD players, cell phones. Externally a multitude of signs, traffic calming devices, traffic signals and an often confusing series of road rules to obey. However the see and be seen concept is still a most important element in collision avoidance. To make the most of this concept, we should know our sight limitations. This article sets out some of the physiological, psychological and environmental factors that affect visual efficiency.
One little known limitation of the human eyeball is the blind spot where light strikes the optic nerve. In most eyeballs this blind spot is about 30º right of centre, looking straight ahead. With both eyes open and vision unobstructed by objects, the blind spots of each eye are cancelled by the peripheral vision of the opposite eye. The brain combines the image and the blind spot disappears.
But what happens when peripheral vision from the opposite eye is obstructed by an object such as the side windscreen pillar? Now the brain cannot fill in the image.
How large is the void?
It’s about a 1½º cone diverging from the optic nerve. Under some conditions it could block instruments from view and in the case of an aircraft will blank out a 747 three kilometres away.
You can find you blind spot on the picture above. Hold the picture at arms length with both eyes open, focusing on the cross on the left windshield. Then bring the picture in until it is almost touching your face. With both eyes open you should not lose sight of the 747 in the right windshield. Now close your left eye and try again. Keep your right eye focused on the cross as you bring the picture in towards your face. The 747 will disappear, then reappear as you draw the picture closer.
Obviously I published this in the Australian Velocette Owner’s Club magazine some years back, so I’m unsure how it will work looking at the picture on a computer VDU.
When your blind spot limitation is combined with empty field myopia ( the tendency of the eye to focus at about 6 metres when there is nothing to focus on), you can appreciate your visual limitations.
The solution to this problem, a natural phenomenon common to everyone, is to learn how to use your eyes in an efficient scan and overcome vision blockages caused by vehicle structure.
How to scan .........
The best way to start is by getting rid of bad habits. Naturally, not looking at all is the poorest scan technique, but glancing to the side at 5 minute intervals or so is also poor when you consider that it only takes seconds for a disaster to happen.
Glancing around and giving it the old once around without stopping to focus on anything is practically useless; so is staring into one spot for long periods of time.
So much for the bad habits. Learn how to scan properly by knowing where to concentrate your search.
In normal driving conditions you can generally avoid the threat of collision by scanning an area 60º to the left and to the right of your central vision area. This doesn’t mean you should forget the rest of the area you can see from the side areas every few scans.Ever wondered why, as you approach an intersection where a vehicle is also approaching along a side street to say your left ( or right ) you often arrive at the intersection together and if somebody doesn’t take some quick evasive action such as sharp braking, swerving to miss, a collision occurs? Well there is an easy way to avoid this situation….

Look at the left diagram…..when you look across at the approaching car it appears at an angle Θº to you, as you advance forward, look across again to the other vehicle…does it appear to be in the same relative position/angle to you as your previous look?
Well the bad news is you will have a collision! You need to speed up or slow down a little so the angle between you changes each time you look…simple.
Ever wonder why in the situation where a vehicle coming directly towards you suddenly turns across your path and the driver exclaims “I didn’t see you”!

Looking at the diagram left, imagine the plane is a vehicle approaching you, as you can see the angle it subtends when in the distance is small.
When it closes to you and is half the original distance, the angle is now twice as great, but it’s still very small and so on until when almost on you the object appears huge, because the angle is doubling quickly and if you are unlucky, it hits you.
The small frontal area of a motorcycle exacerbates this and makes it difficult for the vehicle coming towards you to workout just how fast the vehicle is approaching and can be disastrous if it starts to turn across you. A collision is often inevitable, but not condonable.
There isn’t much you can do in this situation, but you must be aware this can and often does happen.

Left click on pictures to enlarge

Friday, May 23, 2008

Felder’s Body Shop…a “Toy Emporium” for British Motorcycle and Car enthusiasts in California.

Every year I make the trip to the US to stay with my good friend, arch motorcycle and car enthusiast, Mick Felder. This time it was to travel with Mick up to the Napa area of middle California for the US Velo OC “Spring Opener” ride at Sue and John Ray’s “Rancho Veloce”…and while a Velocette aficionado, Mick likes British and early American cars… So come stroll with me through the photographs I recently took inside his business…Felder’s Body Shop, 210 Pacific Coast Hwy., Hermosa Beach, Ca. 90254……
Mick Felder will tell you he is on the wrong side of 70, but a fitter person of this age would be difficult to spot. A bachelor, he has had a life-long love affair with mechanical things.
As a restorer of older cars his body shop… panel beating shop would be the term in Australia or the UK, is a constant source of supply of these gems.
A 1917 Studebaker sits in the centre of the showroom, more often used yearly for local Rotary club fund-raisers ( Mick is a great supporter of such community organisations and regularly does Meals-on-Wheels deliveries to the less mobile members of the local community and has served on the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce for over 40 years).
MG B, Porsche 356, MG Midget, 1952 Moto Guzzi Falcone 500, Triton ( Triumph engine in a Norton “Featherbed” frame), Velocette Venom and numerous engines on display greet you when you walk through the door.
Back in the spacious work area a Triumph TR3, several 1980s BMW motorcycles, a mid 50s Triumph, and many examples of good American “iron” nestle in corners.
All the while Mick in his usual laid back style answers queries on the telephone, rebuffs disappointed callers with more modern cars suffering from the inevitable “fender bender” from LA traffic and discusses restoration work with friends and fellow enthusiasts.
So if you’re in this area of Los Angeles, it’s a shop that beckons to be stopped at….

Left click on photos to enlarge them.

Friday, May 9, 2008

DQs absence from Sydney, Sat.10th May until Sat.24th May 2008

I’m out of Australia for two weeks and so no new blogs until I return.
I’m visiting North American Velo OC friends and attending with them the 2008 NA VOC “Spring Opener” weekend at John and Sue Ray’s “Rancho Veloce” in the Napa area, north of San Francisco.

My 1948 KSS engined/1960 scrambler special.
Mick Felder with his Venom.
Mick Felder and I are travelling up to Paul Adams place, some 500 miles from LA area with our Velos…my KSS/scrambler special ( more of it in a future blog) and Mick’s Venom…a little riding in the area around Lake Tahoe, some “tyre kicking” and then off to the “Spring Opener”.
Attached are a variety of pics from past US trips, my KSS/Scrambler special ( more of this in a blog on my specials) and pics of Mick Felder and Paul Adams with whom I’m spending time.
Perhaps a report in a future blog.

The US/Canadian relationship in the NA Velo OC.
Paul Adams with his 1956 Venom Left click on photos to enlarge.

Mountain scene on a previous US Velo OC Rally.
My KSS/scrambler special in Mick Felder's shop in Los Angeles.
Check out my blog around 26th May.....

Monday, May 5, 2008

The Velocette LE Industrial Engine.

During the 1962 Earles Court Motorcycle Show, Veloce Ltd. were approached by J Lyons Ltd., to supply them with a free standing engine to power their refrigerated vehicles.
This was not the first time Veloce Ltd. had had inquiries about supplying a stationary engine. The previous year they were approached by S.P.D Ltd. who made refrigerated vehicles for Birds Eye foods and by Ice Cream Equipment Ltd about the supply of LE based stationary engines for the refrigeration units of their vehicles.
The concept of a stationary engine based on the LE appeared to show some promise, the smooth, quiet running water cooled twin appeared to fulfil a corner of the market and there seemed a demand there.
Veloce Ltd also had considerable expertise by this time, in the small flat twin engine and many common parts and production tooling could be utilised.
At this time motorcycle sales were low and the future of the motorcycle production appeared bleak. The seasonal demand of the motorcycle market caused production and cash flow difficulties and Veloce Ltd were in need of some other product they could make or provide work that could relieve this situation.
So it was decided to go ahead with the Industrial engine project, and by the end of May 1966 the first prototype had been delivered and had undergone a 1000 hour test and proved satisfactory.
Veloce Ltd, however, were unable to supply the engines by the required deadline and their customer was forced to seek out an alternative engine to supply their immediate needs.
Approximately 50 engine units were supplied to A.C. Morrison Ltd., which were fitted into ice cream vans and delivered to a customer in Australia, a creamy type ice cream supplier trading as "Mr. Whippy". They used modified Bedford vans with the refrigeration unit mounted up on the cab in a metal box and the company franchised them to individuals who drove around suburban streets, usually on a weekend playing the tune "Greensleeves" from a loud speaker to attract customers. They also parked outside sporting venues etc.
The engines proved to be troublesome and were replaced. The Australian customer refused to pay Morrisons and they in turn sued Veloce Ltd. for the cost of their replacement, some £12,000. Veloce Ltd. counter sued for £3,648 for non payment of the debt for the supply of the engines. The legal proceedings dragged on for some years until they were finally withdrawn in 1970 and Morrisons later went into liquidation.
It seems that in accepting the order for the engines, Veloce Ltd were bound by conditions, one of which was a 12 month guarantee. For the continuous use to which these engines were put, in the ice cream business in sub-tropical climates, this could easily amount to the equivalent of 100,000 road miles for an LE; a ridiculous guarantee life for a 192cc engine.
A successful claim by Morrisons could possibly have caused the earlier demise of Veloce Ltd and the industrial engine saga proved to be very unfortunate after appearing to hold such promise.
Peter Wolfenden, current Aust. Velo OC membership secretary and "Mr LE" in Australia compiled this article and initially published it in the UK LE Owners club magazine, then again in revised format in FTDU (Peter sourced information for this article from “A History of Veloce Ltd.”, by Joseph W.E .Kelly)
I owned the engine pictured, which had an engine number "SE151"..."stationary engine 151??".
I acquired it from the chap who came out with the ice-cream vans referred to above and who saved one engine after they were scrapped, using a single cylinder Kirby engines as a replacement. He told me the Velo engines failed in the Australian summer, 40+ degrees C and the engine running at 3500rpm continuously by the governor under load, driving the refrigeration unit and in a metal case housing, with little air movement & the engine using no water pump, just the thermo-syphon principle to circulate water around the engine castings to the small radiator ( identical to the LE motorcycles)...a disaster. Many only lasted several hours.
Veloce contested this claim during the legal stoush, and claimed to have run the engine on their dynomometer for 1000+ hours... probably true, but likely in an air temperature of 20 degrees C.
Quite unrealistic for their impending use.
I never ran the engine as such, but it has a 12v dynastarter( a combined generator and starter motor) behind the distributor at the front and so I ran it on the starter.
The dynastart and distributor stuck out so far at the front , that it would not have been possible to fit it into the LE frame and the sump was a large cast-iron casting.
The engine had caged roller big end bearings, visible in the exploded diagrams.
Veloce were obviously serious, as they produced a spare parts booklet, illustrated above ( which I still have). The engine is now owned by Peter Wolfenden.
Left click on the photos to enlarge.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

You could call this a "crash gauge"...

When I ran my Instrument repair and supply business in Sydney, Australia until several years ago, we occasionally serviced and supplied the Smiths special "maximum hand" chronometric tachometers.... called this as they had an additional pointer, painted red and when at rest, sitting under the white working hand.
They were developed in the competition shop of Smiths Motor Accessories in Oxgate Lane, London for use with Formula 1 GP cars in the 1950s and 1960s.
Of course other racing applications also utilised them.
I acquired the remains of this competition shop from the last manager, the late Jack Owens in the 1980s.
When the engine speed increased, both hands moved upwards together until the engine ran steadily even it only for a fraction of a second say while a gear change was made...if the engine revs dropped, then the white, upper , working pointer fell down with the decreasing revs, but the red "maximum" hand remained at this highest engine speed, held by a spring loaded bellcrank against a small upper ratchet gear wheel.
If the engine revved higher than the red hand indicated, then the white working hand as it passed the red hand collected it and together they advanced up to the new highest revs position on the dial scale.
The only way to bring the red "maximum" hand back to the rest position, was by operating a reset button at the back of the tachometer case, always when the vehicle had stopped and the engine switched off.
The use of this was to let the pit crew/driver/rider know the maximum revs obtained, possibly for optimum gearing purposes. Racing boats used them to determine the propellor configuration. As well you could see if the engine was over-revved.
Rumour had it that Joe Craig had special "maximum hand" tachometers made for the works Nortons, without the reset button, so riders couldn't interfere and that the tachometers were taken to the Smiths garage in the IOM pits for resetting.... I can't confirm this...
But what has this to do with the special speedometer you can see pictured....?
All that I said above can be looked at in the mechanism of this speedometer by enlarging the photograph....
Some time in the past, Felix Tydeman, who worked for me, made this special chronometric speedometer for me as a birthday present.
There is no dial as such, the speedo scale is printed under the glass and of course you can observe the operation of the speedometer mechanism as you ride along... hence the title of this blog ..."crash gauge".... closely watching the facinating mechanism and not looking where you are riding sure makes for disaster....
I have it fitted on my 1954 MSS Velocette, hence the 140kph scale...adequate for the bike and of course Australia has been metric on the road since 1974.
On a final note, called as I said by Smiths a "maximum hand" chronometric tachometer, they were also known as "Tell Tale" tachometers... yep they told tales on the driver/rider to the mechanic in the pits...
Left click on the photo to enlarge it.