Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Zublee Foundation

Zublee Foundation

At the Museum on Monday and another international experience with visitors from California and Philadelphia the rest of the week was quite quiet with preparations for a ride on the Buell with the ROG’s (Retired Old Gits) and Saturday at a fund raising event for organ donation in Assam. Sunday was due to be Classic British Bike day at the Ace Cafe but not wanting to get me or the LE wet I have stayed at home to get my adventures for the week written down. We have a new Norton on display a late fifties Dominator looking in show room condition and must be seen. 

 The week was a blurr of DIY and avoiding rain, getting another posting done and some planning for a bike ride that would visit Hive Beach and Sammy Millers in Dorset. Thursday arrived with a fine warm day meeting at Ryka’s then a short trip of only 50 miles to Finchdean and the George pub for lunch. I had an all day breakfast and couldn’t finish it neither did another fella. Mega sized sandwiches were just too deep to get your mouth around but someone tried.


I’ve got that pub on my list to revisit and they have a good selection of real ales too! Ending the day at Billy’s, a biker cafe on the A29 with a nice mug of tea before setting off home completing 176 miles for the day. A good start to my biking season.

You may ask what the Zublee foundation is all about and where does it fit in with biking then read on. The foundation was set up to get an organ donation established in India. There are a lot of people in India and you would have thought there would have been a surfit of spare organs, more than enough to go around. Not the case, it seems even in death, the owners want to hang on to them and the relatives want to keep them too! It is all about education. At the launching of this Charity a bike rally was organised in Guwahati in Assam, North East India. 

A ride around the city promoting the Foundation. This was in 2014 and, as in most cases, bikers will do almost anything to ride their bikes. India is no different and I have included some pictures of that event. As to the fund raising event two of the most famous Assamese pop artists were there to entertain us Zubeen and Zublee. Singing for hours popular songs from many eras. Last year Zubeen had a massive hit from a song that was used in a Bollywood movie. Zublee, also a successful singer, started the foundation for organ donation and gave an address at the end of the show to gather more support. 
The web site is www.zubleefoundation.com

I am already a registered organ donor but as I am planning a ride in India next year I may as well join the other Indian bikers in support of a good cause.
From saving lives to a sadder occasion with the passing away of one of our Great British Motorcycling Legends, John Surtees, who won both 350cc and 500cc World Championships before moving on to motor racing and becoming F1 Champion. He was an ambassador for motorcycling and we remember him in a video that we run everyday “The Power and the Glory” as he presents some of the iconic British motorcycles of the fifties.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Henry Baughan

The Baughan.

Harry Baughan was an interesting man. He first made a light car 1919 in Pinner in Middlesex then, in 1921 moved to Stroud. In 1923 he gave up making cars and went over to making motorcycles and sidecars using Blackburn engines. The company made over 50 motorcycles and 3 with sidecar wheel driving. As there was no differential the set up had a straight on complex when driving. The shaft drive to the sidecar wheel was engaged via a dog clutch. 

To get around this Harry patented a differential but that never went into production. I know of a few manufacturers who did this, in World War 11 it was BMW and Zundapp, Norton also had a design and more recently the Russian Ural.

You can just see the bulge on on the casing  for the shaft drive to the rear wheel on this BMW.

The Ural has a 30/70 split on the differential to even out the drive for better cornering abilities. out the drive for better cornering abilities. design was very successful in sidecar trials winning many competitions going where no outfit has gone before but also excluded from many others. The company moved to larger premises in 1937 and made aircraft parts during World War 11. Harry kept his interest in motorcycles becoming a prominent trials organiser. The sole surviving example of a Baughan is to be found at the Museum in the Park in Stroud in Gloucestershire. Museum web site www.museuminthepark.org.uk It is a Heritage Museum that shows the history of Stroud from the Jurassic to the present day with lots of interesting bits in it including examples of the first lawn mowers! Cutting the grass was changed forever and we now have the legacy of this most Sundays during the summer months.

Doing my bit to support the NHS to stop more cuts in services I attended a march on Saturday. It was so underplayed by the BBC with only seconds of air time. I was very disappointed with this as I had spent most of the day at this rally and some 200,000 people had kept me company. If you know Shaftsbury Avenue the column of people filled the road as far as the eye could see. I could not see the beginning of the march nor the end. It took more than an hour and a half for the crowd to assemble in front of the Houses of Parliament. The BBC only reported tens of thousands taking part not tens of tens of thousands! 

However I did encounter a very nasty animal in Tavistock square where the march assembled. Spotted here, camouflaged, and tripping everyone up were a complete family of trained orcas ready to catch unsuspecting pedestrians sending them sprawling. Beware of Tavistock square and its’ cycle lane marking!

Back at the Museum more fun on the Monday bringing my Velocette LE out for its’ first spin of 2017 it was a delight to have 27 children from the local Primary School visiting us. They were challenged by looking for the motorcycle that has a dog on the tank. Their final request was to hear a motorcycle running. Nothing noisey was available only the LE. 

My LE didn't look like this originally!

As people may know it was used by the Police and many a person has been caught by the quiet approach. It is one of the quietest motorcycles around. Nothing to scare the kids who kept requesting more as I blipped the throttle. How can you say no to that?

Thursday, 23 February 2017

London Motorcycle Show 2017

London Motorcycle Show 2017

Over the last week I’ve been to a Motorcycle Action Group meeting at the ACE cafe on Thursday evening instead of being at the Wey Valley Bike Club night. I had a choice of talking politics or listening to a presentation about blue tooth ear plugs. I decided politics and to meet up with the new London Rep Tim Fawthrop and as MAG had a stand at the show went along on the Sunday. In between I had been to the Science Museum to pass on my knowledge of the steam revolution in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to some friends and their children. I’m not sure what was most tiring, PR at the Museum or the Show. As usual I was loaded with fliers to hand out , cheekily, at the MAG stand. Tim had taken some on Thursday and the rest of the gang on the stand handed out more over the weekend. They supported me very well in my efforts for the London Motorcycle Museum. Talking MAG, Advanced Motorcycling and Museum filled the day and I did take the opportunity to talk to the people on the Enfield stand about the Enfield shrine and Greg Staves Arctic-Antarctic trip on his Enfield that we have at the LMM. Also to the guys on the BMW stand about our prototype R80 that was used to test out the gear required for the Police and Ambulance Services after Norton stopped production. I left fliers with all the insurance company stands for details that may help them in their promotions and lastly, at the end of the day I was at the National Motorcycle Museum stand passing over the last of the LMM fliers and receiving some very good complements on how good the LMM is. I also got some half price vouchers to visit the National Motorcycle Museum. Another visit in the offing.

I thought the show needed a few more dealer stands, however what was there was very interesting. Triumph had come up with a snow special, studded rear tyre for grip and a ski on the front to steer. I have driven snow mobiles with ski steering and they do have a mind of their own. Best not to go too close to trees and rocks I guess. 

The Indian stand looked a bit Lora Ashley with pastel shades and tassels from a full dresser. I was looking at a Honda MSX as something to chuck in the back of a car for fun but the new model has those silly ridges on the side of the tank that is supposed to assist comfort however they get me just behind my knee and is quite uncomfortable. I had the same issue with the Deauville. On the other hand a new idea from Honda with an Adventure Scooter!! 750cc and an open frame. 

Automatic transmission with manual control. I had not been impressed with automatic transmission as it selects the gear it thinks and not what you need. With this one you are able to select whatever gear you want to run in and change when you want to change. You are able to select the right gear for the job in hand. Much, much better when you can go around a bend in the right gear or tough terrain off road. Mark Upham was on the Brough stand helping sell his wares. The record breaking machine that Eric Patterson rode at Bonneville was looking as magnificent as usual. 

What caught my eye was a very lean and mean CCM. A limited edition of 150 and only 4 left by the end of play. I thought the the manufacturers were starting to become a little more adventurous and a bit more Bike Shed in their approach.

And last but not least a name from the past has re-emerged there was a Hesketh stand with new models on display. Those who had bought them in the past found they were very good. So good that most still have them and still running!

Friday, 10 February 2017

Coventry Transport Museum 2017

Coventry Transport Museum

I was up in Barnsley the other week and passing by Coventry I made a little detour to visit the Transport Museum there. The journey was hampered by fog and traffic jams and it seemed to take forever to get anywhere. It was worth the effort as the museum has done an excellent job with their new displays. Just walking in was different from before with a Triumph Trident in a display case and on the wall next to it were all the names of the manufacturers that had been in and around the city.

 The displays were in order of eras with the early bicycles, cars and motorcycles put together by manufacturer. Rover, Singer, and Humber being the earliest. Each decade was represented as you moved through the displays. I did like the one of bicycles that seemed to curve around you and go on for ages.

As usual I took lots of photos to record what was there and how the displays looked. Although the Triumph factory was located by the Cathedral and was bomb damaged during World War causing, not only the factory to go up in flames but the Cathedral next door I felt that such an important marque would have more representation it did appear to be a little light weight with a feature display on the Hinkley Triumphs. Towards the end of the tour there was, as before Ted Simon’s Triumph noted in his book Jupiters Travels and also the  BMW that he used on his second trip noted from his book Dreaming of Jupiter. 

Both I have read and doing long trips is not impossible only yourself is the limiting factor. Doing them on your own is your best adventure. The more you have around you the less you interact with the locals. What was also on display, next to Ted’s bikes  was the outfit of Stanley Glanfield on a Rudge Witworth  all British World Tour 1927/8. Something to look up I think. It was a1927 Rudge Combination On the 2nd of July 1928, Stanley Glanfield embarked on a world tour, on his Coventry-built 499cc Rudge motorcycle combination. The journey was to take him just 8 months - covering 18,000 miles, passing through some 16 countries and crossing 4 continents to peak your interest. 

Remember the epic journey of Richard and Mopsa English that took their Triumph 650cc Thunderbird around the world in just over 4 years covering over 90,000 miles in this amazing adventure that they started in 1983. Since my last visit the number of motorcycles on display has been reduced but what they have on display is easier to see and understand what the manufacturers were achieving at the time. Something to bear in mind that in this  case “less is more”
Back at the Museum more interesting visitors the other Monday with a prospective around the world tripper coming along to see what we had and later in the day a couple of Scott enthusiasts commenting on whether our 1925 Flying Squirrel was really a Super Squirrel. A question to be asked of the BMCT as it is their bike and restoration. We had some interesting discussions about the Science Museum and the Scott aeroengine they have on display there. My biggest complaint about the aircraft and engine displays are that they are poorly lit and it is difficult to see much in any detail. I know there are austerity measures going on but reducing the lighting level helps no-one.

Last Sunday I was at the Wey Valley Advanced Motorcycle Club monthly meeting and out on the Buell for the first in many weeks. I had a good run out and back but it was a little too cold to spend much time on the bike. Crisp enough to freeze the cobwebs. 

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Triumph TRW

TRW and Telephone calls.

Last Monday at the Museum was a bit strange. We were due to have a school visit that didn't arrive, it rained all day and a couple of guys who had visited us before, stayed almost all day talking bikes mostly with Pete but they had a keen interest in the Austel. Number one off the production, if you can call hand building a bike a production line, and they had both had versions later than I was lead to believe. 

Number eleven may not be the number of the unfinished one. They believe they had number twelve and that two more were completed after that using Citroen 2CV engines and gearboxes with novel foot operated rocker mechanism that got the gears in the right order. There could be at least another two Austels out there making fourteen. Other bits to note and this comes from Pete who used to work for Wilkinson so I found a picture of a 1913 model for him to look at.

Our conversation of the day was about a Norton Command Fire appliance! One was built. It was a Commando powered outfit with fire extinguishing facilities on the sidecar and room enough for an assistant clad in fireproof overalls.
Pete sent me these photos and some information as follows:

Mentioned yesterday the Fire Engine was all a part of trying to make car racing safer. Graviner already did some fire protection for vehicles as an extension of the aircraft work the company had been doing since the 1930s. So we were chosen as part of a consortium together with Rubery Owen and Shell. At that time Owen owned Norton and BRM.
I went to Bourn in Lincolnshire to fit extinguishers to a BRM racing car and the people at Norton at Wolverhampton set about building a Commando Fire Engine that would be kitted out with Graviner equipment. They welded a unique self designed sidecar to the Commando frame.
Graviner Fire engine 2 was taken at a Brands Hatch parade celebrating Lotus winning the F1 World Championship.
TrackFireOutfit I discovered by accident and looks to have been taken where it was built but I couldn’t trace who had taken the picture. Third picture taken at the parade shows man in asbestos suit on the back of the bike. That’s me standing in the truck behind the driver. The two girls at the back were wearing mini skirts and were shivering with the cold.
I’ve contacted Norton but they know nothing of the outfit and gave the impression that they didn’t want to know. I’ve asked the Norton Owners Club but no one has come forward as knowing anything about it. So it seems to have vanished.

Has anyone more information on this?

The TRW that we have in the Museum with rear suspension has more of a history than you think. The day started with Mick Duckworth of Classic Bike fame enquiring about our TRW that has rear suspension. 

I didn't know it at the time but it was owned by a Submariner no less a Captain. This was the link from Mick who wanted to know if this was that bike. I now know that it is that bike and it was put together by Peter Hayes. Later that day there is another call, this time from David Hayes his son asking if we would like more information about this bike. What a co-incidence that there ere two calls in one day from different people about the same bike. I'm sure there is more to know and at some point will be revealed.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Save the Children

Christmas Jumper Day 2016

Have you heard of this? I've not seen anything advertised on the telly that this was happening. I posed for pictures in 2015 with a Christmas Jumper on and now it gets to part of this years collage on Facebook for Save the Children. I pictured myself riding through London and seeing myself portrayed on the back of a bus in glorious technicolor larger than life. That didn't happen so I must be content with what was published.

Not normally passive with things I had an e-mail from Guildford Harley's that they were doing Christmas Jumpers for two days, 16th and 17th December. I thought I would go on the 17th using 16th to head off to Jack Lilleys to try some Jumper promotion. They were already doing it with everyone in festive pullovers. Very colourful. I did leave a collection box for the odd coin and squeezed a few coppers from the Police Bike Safe Team who were doing training sessions out of Jack Lilleys 16th and 17th. The guys at Jack Lilleys had organised their collection to go to the local pub who had organised everything. Friday was a nice day and I had a pleasant ride out to Ashford. Saturday was a whole lot different with fog in grades of density and getting clearer all the way to Guildford. 

I met a few of these guys at Jack's Fish and Chips in Bagshott a couple of weeks ago.

I had a great time talking to staff and customers about Christmas Jumper day along with a bit of promotion for the Museum. I took a few photos of those in Christmas gear and after a couple of hours headed back to Ashford to pick up the collection box before returning home with the fog getting thicker all the time. The problem with this fog is that the droplets of water are so fine that you go from seeing to not seeing in seconds and I have to continually wipe my visor consciously leaving plenty of distance in traffic for this exercise and allow for the sillies in cars who don't have clear side windows and don't know you are there. I trust we will all survive for Christmas.
With Christmas Jumper Day behind us and everyone wishing they had another opportunity to wear those jumpers again don't wish just do it! When you get to Christmas you'll be as warm as toast and ready for your stocking filler!!! What is your dream? Something curvaceous? Could it be a Ducati?
A Triumph? A Moto Guzzi? A Honda? Yamaha? Suzuki? Kawasaki? Or something exotic? 

Grindley Peerless? Velocette? Francis Barnett? Gilera? Aermacchi? Beardmore Precision? 
The list could go on all the way to Christmas! 

Wishing everyone the best of riding and prayers from the Royal Enfield Shrine to keep you safe.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

After 2016 Off Road Bike Show

After the Off Road Bike Show

As usual there is always some interesting stuff at the show and this one was no exception. There were all manner of scrambles and trials machines including this brace of Ariels that Sammy Miller could well have ridden. There was this EMC with a Puch split single two stroke engine, these Cottons, the scrambler in front of one of the three production racers.Remember the Cotton racer we have at the Museum. It appears to have closer finning than the Villiers Starmaker scrambler engine seen here. There was a DOT with an RCA engine and an array of Italian racing machines. I just love those Guzzi big singles.


It was a bit frost on the Saturday so I went off to Kempton in the car. It was cold at the show so when I got home I needed a good mug of strong Assam tea fortified with a slug of brandy. I have this feeling that I'm getting a bit more like Guy Martin with his need for tea. Now Sunday was just as frosty as I ventured out on the Kawasaki for the Wey Valley Advanced Motorcycle Observed Sessions.

    My turn to be on the shop. We were and still are clearing old stock as freebies with a request for donations to this years charity. The excess muffs, old biros (some work), key fobs, lanyards and side stand plates or mud buddies need to be shifted. I did take some away to be passed on at the Museum.
More fun this Monday with part three being filmed by the Missenden Flyer about the other things in the Museum.

Part one.

Part two.

Part three.

Some cracking vlogs to watch.