Friday 9 April 2010

Old bikes in ads

Thanks to fellow blogger Jaargang ( for these priceless images.

Who'd have ever guessed that the Estonians would feature 2 well dressed terriers on a Velocette as a theme for a Happy Birthday card.

Or that Montesa would stoop to the use of such sexist advertising! Probably sold a lot of bikes though.

And according to Jaargang: "This bike lives in a world of broken hearts, giant roses, and whisky that never spills." Well said and thank you Ms Jaargang.


Recent discussion on the Yahoo UK Velocette forum centred on the price of a recently restored Velocette Thruxton. You can snap up VMT400 (above) for a mere 24,000 Euros. This discussion prompted me to scan an article I wrote some time ago - June 1988 to be exact.
In my view the following words are as relevant now as they were over 20 years ago.

With the price of Velos rising rapidly there’s a risk that some normally sane Velo riders might succumb to the “collector” mentality. The result — more Velocette museum pieces and less being used for their intended purpose. With a $15,000 Thruxton appearing in The Melbourne Age recently and prices in England often exceeding 8,000 pounds sterling (which converts to 20,000 weak Aussie dollars) you can understand the pressures we’ll face in the future, not to risk our valuable machines by actually riding them.
However, let's see if we can turn the tables on this line of reasoning. If, like me, you consider that Percy, Eugene, Bertie, Charles, Phil & Co. created these things to be used and enjoyed, then you don’t sit around with a calculator in one hand and the classifieds in the other calculating your capital gains — you actually get out and ride the damn things. Surely, the only way a true motorcyclist can reap the benefits of his investment is from memories of rides past and anticipation of rides to come. Some perverse souls even enjoy tinkering with them between rides.
At present values, you probably don’t have to ride your Velo all that often to justify the investment to yourself and/or spouse, but as prices rise, you’ll find that you have to ride your Velo more and more to maintain the status quo. Wouldn’t that be a good thing? ‘Sorry dear, can’t go to Aunt Freda’s tomorrow — the price of Velos has just gone up by $3000. I’m going to have to go for a very long ride with the boys!”
So by all means keep an eye on values, but don’t ever lose sight of a Velo’s prime purpose.

Friday 17 April 2009


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One of the most evocative photos of a man and his machine from my Good Companions Rally photograph collection. Photo credit Willy van der Zyden.

Tony Keene, VMT458, Bundanoon NSW
18th October 1986

This Thruxton was purchased new by Dennis Quinlan in March 1967, the first to arrive in NSW. This is the machine no.34 pictured racing at the Castrol 6 Hour Race on DQ's blog site.
Tony sold the bike to a collector in Western Australia, who then passed it on to a local VMCCWA member, Kevin, who in turn passed it on to VOCA member Syd. This fine machine is still in Western Australia and occasionally my VMT457 and this one, VMT458, are reunited on a club run.

A VETERAN IN THE FAMILY - 1909 Triumph Road Test

In October 2009, Australia's National Veteran Motorcycle Rally will be based in Albany, on the rugged south coast of Western Australia. This presents the opportunity to celebrate a landmark birthday in the Jennings family. The veteran Triumph, which has been in the family since 1972, turns 100 years old in mid June 2009. So we reckon a week long rally will be a fitting way to move the old Trumpy gently into the next century of its life.

When Dad passed away in 1980 most of the restored motorcycles and cars stayed in the family. The Triumph is now owned by my sister in NSW, and I am grateful that she and her husband will be bringing the Triumph across this wide country of ours to attend this rally. Unfortunately neither if them ride old bikes, so it looks like I'd better go along as well. A tough job but somebody's got to do it.

The receipt is dated 29/3/72 and reads:
“Debit to Chris Parkinson
Port Sorrell
Tasmania 7307

1 only 1909 Triumph motorcycle $500.00"

My father, the late Len Jennings, bought the Model H during a Vintage Car Club holiday in Tasmania. It travelled back to NSW on the Empress of Tasmania, carefully wrapped and secured across the fold-down luggage rack of a 1928 Austin sedan. Looking at the wording on the receipt, I think it was a pity there was “1 only”, as this old bike has been a continuing source of fun for numerous members of the Jennings family over the past 35 years.

It was restored by Chris Parkinson in the mid-50’s, and rallied constantly in Tasmania and occasionally on the mainland through the 60’s. By 1972 Chris decided he was too old to continue riding, hence the sale. When I saw it unwrapped for the first time, I was uncertain whether it was restored, or just remarkably well preserved. The nickel-plated parts had a golden sheen, not bright like chrome, the paintwork was tidy but showed obvious signs of wear, and the leather Brooks saddle and the toolboxes were wrinkled but well kept. All the original fittings, like cellulose handgrips, a downtube-mounted oiler for roadside maintenance, a fuel primer, pedalling gear, period kerosene headlamp, and town and country exhaust baffle on the end of the forward-mounted silencer were all there and working. This was indeed a rare find.
Riding the Model H is simple but demanding. Simple because there is no clutch, no gearbox, no battery, no generator and as a result, very little weight to manhandle. Demanding because there is no mechanical oil pump, no brakes, no suspension, no tyre adhesion and no acceleration to speak of.

Let’s do a bit of a road test so you might come to understand the pleasures of riding these basic, belt-driven, motorised bicycles.

As you approach the old Triumph sitting up on its rear stand, you notice the bicycle origins of its frame, wheel and pedalling gear. The footpegs are mounted well forward so as not to foul the pedals during the on-stand warm-up and when “light pedal assistance” is needed on hills. The gearing is adjustable over a narrow range by undoing a locknut on the crankshaft pulley and screwing the outer flange out to lower the gearing and vice versa to raise the gearing. This allows the belt to run deeper or higher in the crankshaft pulley and also means belt adjustment is required (not easy if you use an endless V-belt as I do). That gets rid of the gearbox. With direct driven machines there still comes a time when you have to stop both forward motion and engine, so a valve lifter lives on the left handlebar. That gets rid of the clutch.

Since coasting to a halt with valve lifter engaged and feet dragging isn’t very efficient in terms of braking distances, there are brakes fitted, front and rear. A stirrup brake operated by an inverted lever on the right handlebar looks after the front wheel and a rubber block which engages on the inner edge of the belt rim looks after the rear wheel. This is operated by a conventional sort of footbrake pivoted off the right footpeg. In practice, braking is marginal in dry weather and non-existent in the wet.

A small supply of fuel and a smaller supply of oil are stored in the long, narrow fuel tank. There’s a nifty sight glass built into the fuel tank and a plunger type oil pump built into the oil tank. The total loss lubrication system needs one shot of oil every ten miles and more frequently in mountainous country. This is fine but for the omission of a speedometer, hence no odometer. How’s your mental arithmetic? If your estimated average speed is 30mph and the terrain is flat, how often do you reach for the oil pump? Answer: every 20 minutes. Adjust the time interval for speed and terrain and if in doubt, over-oil. The worst that can happen then is severe power loss due to the flywheels drowning, and an oily left boot (it breathes straight out the centre of the crankshaft pulley).

The carburettor is a crude twin slide device with only one fixed jet. The air slide is used to richen the mixture for starting, but unlike modern carburettors, it cannot be fully opened once the engine is warm. It always has to be juggled in conjunction with the throttle slide to give even running. On the handlebar-mounted twin lever assembly, it is best if the shorter air lever always lags the longer throttle lever setting by about half an inch. Adjust according to the weather and the old girl’s mood on the day.

Ignition is by Bosch magneto, mounted forward of the engine and above the silencer. The manual advance is rod-operated with a lever mounted on a serrated boss on the left side of the fuel tank.
Pedalling gear and a valve lifter make starting easy. Just turn on fuel, flood the carburettor, half retard the spark, push the throttle about an inch from rest and the air lever about half an inch, climb aboard, engage the valve lifter and start pedalling. Once you’ve built up some momentum, drop the valve lifter and your ears should be greeted by a gentle chuffing. If not, keep pedalling whilst fiddling with throttle, air and spark settings and she’ll eventually start. You might have noticed that we’re not actually going anywhere yet, because the bike is still on the rear stand.

Leave it run for a minute or two like this and adjust the settings for a nice, fast idle. Then engage the valve lifter to stop the engine. Now, DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING until your helmet’s on and you’re ready to wheel the old girl out onto the street. Choose a flat or downhill stretch to start on, throw a leg over, engage the valve lifter and start pedalling. Heavy work, isn’t it? Although the bike itself is light, pedalling ain’t easy, because you’re driving all the heavy engine internals around, as well as the back wheel. Within twenty yards or so, you can drop the valve lifter and you should once again hear that gentle chuffing. Now you can start to accelerate. Sorry, let me rephrase that. Now you can open the throttle and air slides and advance the spark. You’ll soon discover that these old machines don’t accelerate as such. You adjust throttle settings then sit back and wait for the old engine room to respond. Eventually you’ll detect a change in the rate of progress.

For your first ride around the block its best to go anti-clockwise (for counties where you drive on the left side). That way you only have to make left turns and there’s a chance you can come up to the corner, throttle back, brake, look, then turn left without actually having to stop to give way to another road user. The advantages are obvious, and it’s a great way to hone your skills of anticipation and timing. When you become really proficient, you can even forget the throttle back bit and just use the valve lifter to ease off as you approach the turn then feed it back in as you pass the apex and power out of the turn. Exciting stuff at 15mph, with the bicycle frame flexing under the ‘g’ forces and the beaded edge tyres at the meagre limits of their grip. I hope you remembered to check your watch when you left home. Don’t forget, one shot of oil every 20 minutes and more often if it is hilly.

Assuming this is a big block, we’ll negotiate a few more day to day hazards. Potholes for one. The high pressure tyres are unforgiving, the front suspension useless (did you ever wonder why Triumph built girder forks with a horizontal spring that only allows fore and aft movement?) The Brooks saddle provides a little spring movement, but if the road is rough, brace yourself on the pedalling gear and be prepared to get out of the saddle. The footpegs are too far forward to be of any use in this department.

Refuelling is an art. The fuel cap is a 1 inch diameter threaded cap. Your standard bowser nozzle is a good inch and a half diameter. The fuel tank holds about six litres. Your standard bowser delivers that much fuel in about 3 seconds flat. So you need a small plastic funnel and a very steady trigger finger to refuel an old Triumph. But you won’t need much money.

Other road uses are another hazard. People just don’t appreciate the long braking distances and the inability to accelerate or travel comfortably at any speed over about 35mph. So they tailgate you. Then they gawk at you as they overtake. Then they travel slowly right in front of you so all the ankle-biters can gawk some more out of the back window. As if you don’t have enough to think about, you’re expected to smile, wave and honk the horn in between concentrating on throttle and spark settings, time interval between shots of oil, intersections, corners, hills, strange new noises, potholes, stray dogs and the like.

There must be something very soothing about the gentle chuffing of an old side valve single, unencumbered by harsh chains and gears, because once mastered, riding is so much fun you’ll find it impossible not to smile, honk and wave at every little ankle-biter along the way.

Saturday 4 April 2009

How to Start a Thruxton (With an Audience)

While this piece was written last century, the starting technique is ageless. Velocette owners must be patient souls, since getting to know how to interpret the various wheezes, slurps and farts emitting from the intake and exhaust of your Velo during the starting routine takes some time. When to tickle more, when to clear the combustion chamber before trying again. When to give up kicking and resort to the bump start. When to change the plug. The day that you reach that state of union between man and machine is hastened by regular use. And when it arrives, there are few greater satisfying moments in life.

The scene is a Friday evening in October 1993, Tumut NSW (our Snowy Mountains base for the 1993 VOCA Good Companions Rally). Spring is in the air and the Velocettes are rolling into town.

Install numerous boxes, suitcases, children, spouse and riding gear in the motel room. Return to the faithful Thruxton sulking out front, having once again missed out on a good, long ride. Frustrated by the straightjacket treatment in the trailer while sweeping bends passed under stationary wheels.

Turn fuel on. Lift rear of fuel tank, slide left hand into the void and reach for the tickler on the remote float bowl (barely possible with an outstretched finger, but preferable to the alternative of a hand full of petrol if attacked from the right). Flood generously. Flick the right footrest up to clear the kickstarter. Retard the spark and give a half-hearted prod over compression. Remove bathplug from the gaping bellmouth. Now with a belly full of rich fuel it is time for the ritual. Find compression, kickstarter back to the top, engage valve lifter, push kickstarter gently, right to the bottom and then return to the top of the stroke. A quick glance reveals 16 eyes watching, waiting - an audience of eight and growing by the minute. Not a good omen. Tell myself to have faith as we’ve done this thousands of times in the last 18 years with a strike rate that has me disbelieving the legend of cantankerous behaviour. Crack the throttle open a whisker and steady the right hand with a two-fingered grip on the front brake. The moment of truth.

A deliberate and well practiced kick is followed by the familiar boomp……boomp….boomp …boomp..boomp as heavy flywheels drag through thick oil. A deft throttle hand catches those first faltering cycles and eventually wins the war of inertia, without snuffing out the fire. Sixteen eyes smile at the sound, as I do my best to appear nonchalant about the whole episode. This was a good start to what would prove to be a great weekend.

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VMT457 at an earlier rally, Bundanoon NSW, 1987. This was 3 year old Phillip's first ride on a motorcycle, as you can tell by the tentative smile on his face.

Thursday 29 January 2009

Darn Pilgrims....

Darn Pilgrims and Other Stories from the High Country

A Snapshot from Day 5 of the VOCNA 2001 Summer Ride: Gunnison, Colorado.

On SBS TV there is a show called “Front Up”. The recipe is simple – take one non-confronting journo (Andrew Urban), one sound man, one camera man. Walk up to people in the street at random and start talking. The premise of the show is very sound – real life is stranger than fiction. In general, Andrew takes less than a minute to have his interviewee relax and begin to open up on national TV. Very little editing is used.

Classic subjects include the guy who owned a 60 ft yacht, but couldn’t cruise the world as planned because he was going through a bitter divorce and the yacht was part of the disputed settlement. But he’d led an interesting life and during he course of a ten minute chat revealed:
· that he’d once fallen 50 feet down a cliff while abseiling, broken his back, nearly died from head wounds and loss of blood, but during the night whilst a search and rescue party was being assembled, a heavenly vision visited upon him. After this, he arose and walked out through dense bush unaided.
· that his love partners have been known to levitate during the act.
· that he has mystical powers enabling him to locate opals in the ground. As a result, as a teenager he made a small fortune working the mining leases of White Cliffs.

Another classic subject was assisting her partner selling tropical fruit and coconuts at an open air market in Darwin. But during the first minute of discussion when Andrew asked what she did when the markets were closed, she revealed that she was a bondage mistress. She found this paid a far better hourly rate than teaching. She also revealed that her best clients were from the local military base, and they always demanded tougher treatment and tighter strapping of the various tools of her leathery trade than any other occupational group. Must be something related to events during their training, she mused. Most enlightening for we, the vast ‘vanilla’ viewing population Down Under.

Which brings me to a particular event on day 5 of the VOCNA Colorado bash, Friday 3rd August 2001. It was like Front Up, but in reverse.

As I recall it, Kitey and I had just stormed another mountain range, dispensed with a few cars on the climb, but had more trouble dispensing with a mad bugger in a Hyundai Sonata (must have been a rental) on the descent. He wasn’t quick enough through the corners but he was flooring it along the short downhill straights – how do you safely pass a guy doing 80 when there’s another switchback approaching rapidly? I don’t exactly remember how, but we both slipped by and ran to the bottom with the road to ourselves, another memorable part of our motorcycling that week.

Then we got into some high plains country, heading toward Gunnison. Kitey stopped (possibly a nature call), but I continued, taking a couple of “rider’s view” photos to pass the time – relatively easy with camera stowed in a zippered pocket on the tankbag and with these long, straight, deserted roads. By the way, don’t ever look down the view finder as you would for static photography, as this can lead to the machine taking an unintended course (I discovered this over 20 years ago, and fortunately corrected the course just in time). Just hold the camera one handed, point in the general direction and be prepared to throw away the dud pics.

I reached the outskirts of Gunnison just on lunch time. There was a neat and tidy park on the right with shade trees and a couple of bikes parked. I pulled in to chat with the riders (Debbie McDonald and Sue Ray) and wait for Kitey, and Richard who was tailing us both (unless he’d found a shortcut). Debbie and Sue left to see if Sue’s husband John was in town having a feed. I waited, stripping off my jacket and placing it on a patch of shaded grass. Before I could lie down, it happened.

A raucous Triumph twin roared up from the direction of Gunnison down town. It wheeled in towards the kerb, coming to a halt behind the borrowed Courgette (the aging, strong-hearted D’Orleans Thruxton). Its Roadrunner-capped rider dismounted and walked over. Within a minute of the discussion starting, I realised what was going on. I had been accosted in the town park by a 59 year old, bearded, Triumph-riding native of Gunnison Colorado, the irascible, irrepressible, and at times irritable, DC Trip (“Dee Cee, as in current” he said.) This definitely felt like Front Up in reverse.

Unfortunately, DC had an unnerving habit of moving forward, puffing out his chest and invading the listener’s personal space whenever the subject matter aroused his emotions. But I’m a good listener so the conversation continued. Aside from sharing an appreciation of old bikes, this manic character told me many stories about his life in this remote town – reputed to have the highest gun ownership per capita of any town in the USA and home of the highest tertiary institution in the USA, Western College.

I noticed a Vincent badge on his cap and asked if he had owned one. “I used to ride a Vincent to West’n College in 1958. It had open pipes, Lightning cams and man, it used to go-o-o! I sure showed those darn pilgrims in their ‘57 Chevy’s who was boss!” He then explained how he had a Featherbed frame at home which was still waiting for a Vincent engine. About 3 years ago he’d read about the new Vincent, the RGV, which some Sydney based Aussies were going to produce. DC had been in touch by e-mail and all but placed an order for one of the first production engines when the whole project failed. He was not happy about this. The memory of the disappointment aroused his emotions. I wonder if he’s sussed out where I’m from, I thought, as he moved into my personal space with chest puffed out. “Damn east coast Aussies” I said, quickly dissociating myself from anyone east of Kalgoorlie (easily done for a recently converted West Australian, especially when feeling threatened).

His granpappy taught him the art of fly fishing in the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River (a spectacular place with sheer cliffs rising 1800 feet from the river bed). One day DC took the bamboo rod his granpappy had made in 1927, and rigged it with one of his own special flies. “They all wanna know what I put in maa lures but I won’t tell those damn pilgrims. But aa’ll tell you. I use those h-u-u-ge bugs that you saw when you were ridin’ into town – you know the ones that ya hit and they stop ya dead in yer tracks!” On this particular trout fishing sortie, DC spotted a 9lb trout and skilfully flicked the fly within striking distance. But just before the trout struck, a passing bird swooped on the fly. “Then that big ol’ trout leaped out of that river, grabbed the bird and the fly, and as he dis’peared under the water I could see the wings stickin’ out o’ the sides o’ his mouth!” Could this be a Rocky Mountains legend, akin to the many urban legends of our cities? Don’t know, but until I hear the same story from another source, I’ll give DC the benefit of the doubt.

At about the time this chapter of the story began, Kitey and Richard rode up, dismounted, came over to meet my new acquaintance, but were generally ignored. They stood back a respectable distance, assessed the situation then after a few minutes departed with the words “See ya mate – we’re just heading into town to grab some lunch!” Thanks for your moral support mates – you soon find out who you can count on in a time of need, don’t you.

Conversation then moved to my destination that day, Crawford, which was west on 50 then north on Highway 92. “That Highway 92, that’s maa road. Man its got broken edges ‘n potholes ‘n blind corners with a sheer drop off the edge – one mistake and yerr gone. But me ‘n maa ol’ Triumph, we know every inch of that road. An’ ya know those darn pilgrims on their Japanese Soooperbaaks, they come up here on weekends, thinkin’ they can ride fast, and they can’t ride fer nuts. Why last week I was ridin’ up 92 as they was pullin’ one of those green merchines out of the Black Canyon on the end of a wire rope, with the bike bangin’ ‘n bumpin’ all the way to the top. The previous day they pulled the rider out o’ that same Canyon ‘n put ‘im in a bag.” I enquired further as to the particular hazards I might face. “Trouble is, if it’s bin rainin’, the sand washes off o’ the banks ‘n out onto the road on some o’ them blind corners. An’ ya gotta look out fer deer, ‘n stay away from those broken edges or else ya could end up in the Canyon like that green merchine.”

At this point I felt decidedly peckish, having visions of my (former) mates tucking into a hearty lunch at a down town diner. The only way I could distract the conversation was to ask for a photo of DC standing next to his Triumph. “Nice Triumph, that – do you mind if I take a photo?” At this, DC wheeled around, paced over to the bike, making guttural sounds, and then spat on it, vehemently. “Man this bike is NUTHIN’ – you should see maa 62 Bonnie – now that’s a re-e-l nice Triumph.” Despite this outburst, I got my shot of DC standing proud, with his Triumph in front and, at his specific request, included the hillside behind with its monstrous capital W in white. “That stands fer West’n College – that’s maa ol’ college.” At that point I bade him farewell.

Where is Andrew and the SBS Front Up crew when you need them? Real life really is stranger than fiction, especially in Gunnison, CO. QED.

Private Owner Downunder Part 4

A promising start to our return to the track after some major internal work. But would it continue to run sweetly in the lead up to the Nationals?

Li’l Speedy fired up readily in the driveway on Saturday morning 5 October, after some two and a half years being laid up in the shed. This was just in time to be packed on the trailer to tackle the 3 hour drive to get to the track for Saturday afternoon practice for the Collie 2+4 meeting, followed by racing on Sunday.

The last stages of the mechanical refit still held some frustration, with a decision to run the Hoffman bearing on the drive side with an imperial SKF on the timing side, rather than a pair of imperial SKF’s. This would solve the stretched case issue on the timing side and avoid boring a perfectly good drive side case. In addition the use of the Hoffman on the drive side avoided the need to make up a spacer for the mainshaft to allow the primary drive to pull up against it at the correct offset. This decision was also aided by the discovery of a tame hard chroming/precision grinding shop owner only 3 minutes from the office, who was able to grind the single lipped outer to provide the additional clearance needed for ‘C3’ specifications. So I now have a Hoffman / SKF main bearing set installed with another set on the shelf ready for the next time – many years hence one hopes.

We also decided to bore out the Hoffman bearings to take a decent thickness sleeve, as the difference between the 22mm shaft OD and the 7/8” bore of the stock bearing only allows a sleeve thickness of around 0.003” – too thin for a press fit without the sleeve bunching up. So I removed the rollers and the thin steel cage from both bearings to allow the ID of each bearing to be machined to take a 0.010” thick sleeve. The problem then became how to reassemble the damn things without distorting the flimsy cage – give me a solid brass cage like the original bearings any day. I also found an aero industry plating specialist happy to do motorcycle work so delivered the cam spindle and the bare oil pump body and top plate. He built up the outside only of the oil pump parts to restore it to shrink fit condition and similarly plated the embedded end of the cam spindle, which had become loose in the wall of the timing side case. While he was at it I had the taper of an old M17/2 cam plated to restore it to press fit condition and was then able to press it into a spare camwheel. I will try it in Kamahl the Clubman before too long – they are reputed to be a good sporty cam with better mid range than the M17/8.

After a wet drive to Collie, I was pleased to find the track drying by the time we were allowed out for practice. The vintage sports cars had not enjoyed the best of weather during their time on the track earlier in the day, however the late afternoon motorcycle practice sessions went well until a sidecar deposited a trail of oil half way around the track. So we finished the afternoon dusting the oily line and making it safe for the Sunday races.

Sunday dawned sunny so the pit area was abuzz as we prepared the bikes for the 9am warm up followed by the first of 3 races for Li’l Speedy in the Clubman class, which encompasses Sportslights (100cc 2 strokes and 150cc 4 strokes), Period 2 machines and rigid framed bikes built later than the 1946 cut-off for Period 2.

In race 1 we tagged along in close quarters with a small group comprising a Honda 150 and a B33 350 BSA, with another big bore 600 BSA within sight. Due to the fresh engine (self imposed 5000-ish rpm limit) and lack of familiarity with the track, I was happy to feel my way, eventually getting close enough to the B33 to finish only 0.05 seconds behind. Fastest lap 1:07.4 with 5:49 race time. A check over in the pits revealed only a minor oil weep from the rocker feed union which was easily fixed so after a fuel top up we were ready for race 2.

This time I focussed more on the lines that gave the smoothest ride through some of the corners, which were much bumpier than Wanneroo and gave the lightweight webs a workout as the pace quickened. Again I tagged along with the Honda and the 350 BSA, showing a wheel up the inside a couple of times. Li’l Speedy was strong out of the bottom turn and up the hill to the chicane, which is the place we grabbed 2 places when the BSA missed a gear as it went alongside the leading Honda, allowing Li’l Speedy to slip up the inside of both of them on the entry to the chicane, three abreast. It was a case of head down and try to make a break for the next lap, but still with an eye on the tacho – on 2 occasions I felt the end of the throttle wire and backed off a little. This produced the fastest lap of the weekend for Li’l Speedy and sealed a 3rd place in the race only 2 seconds behind the 600 BSA and a very fast DX100 Yamaha. Fastest lap 1:04.8 with 5:39 race time. Smiles all round back in the pits, as we all enjoyed the tussle.

For race 3 Li’l Speedy was finally on the front row so made the most of the position until getting caught in a traffic jam coming out of turn 3, which allowed the 350 BSA and the Honda past. In the run up the hill on the next lap we dispensed with the BSA and then got onto the back wheel of the Honda. It was racing at close quarters for the next 4 laps as we opened a gap on the BSA. On several occasions Li’l Speedy was able to pull alongside the Honda at the entry to the chicane but its light weight and disc brake gave it the advantage. Revs were allowed to run to 6-ish in this race but again I can’t recall feeling the end of the throttle wire as I was mindful of the work that had gone into this engine and didn’t want to spoil our chances of a shot at the Nationals. We finished with a strong run to the line, only 0.06 seconds behind the Honda at the chequered flag. Fastest lap 1:05.9 with 5:37 race time, so I was very happy to see continual improvement during the course of the day. And with a fully run in engine and flat out performance available I am sure that we will be up there with the 600 BSA and other bigger machines in future.
I guess you won’t be surprised to hear that the cosmetics still haven’t reached the top of the To Do List so it will be a mechanically sound but tatty Li’l Speedy that fronts up to the start line at Wanneroo on 22nd November. Stand by for a full report next issue and wish us luck – we have to fly back from the Warrnambool rally a day early in order to get Li’l Speedy onto the grid on Saturday morning. JJ