Saturday, December 29, 2012

Last week, I somewhat impulsively bought another bike and now I'm going through the various 'Dead Bike Owner' stages.  First, there's the excitement/anticipation stage.
I saw the bike, a 1959 Horex Resident 350, on ebay.  There was about one day to go and it was up by my brother in Cromwell, Ct.  Probably what most attracted me was that it was so obscure.  It was far from original, but didn't look too bad.  I slept on it.  But, the next morning I couldn't shake it.  I called the one person in the world least likely to talk me out of it and asked him to talk me out of it.  He didn't.  In fact, he suggested I call our friend Henry Syphers, who also lives in the area, and ask him to check it out.  I caught Henry on the road and he was able to run over to the seller and found him home.  They  schmoozed for about half and hour while Henry was checking out the bike.  The seller clears out estates and this bike was left behind by someone who died.  It had sat for years.  Henry called me back and said it didn't look bad and was a reasonable candidate for resuscitation and he had an idea of what the seller would let it go for.  He suggested that he go back with cash and see if he could get the seller to end the auction early and take the bike away.  I told Henry to go ahead.  A couple of hours later he called back saying it worked and he had the bike in the back of his van.  I  was elated that I've acquired the ultra rare holy grail of motorcycles.  I told Henry that I'll pick it up in a week or so when I go up to my brother's for Xmas.
Over the next week, some doubts crept in as I told friends about it.  Reactions ranged from 'what the hell were you thinking?' to 'that's the coolest thing in the known universe', but more of the former than the latter.  I did some research on the internet and found that Horex was established in the early '20s, struggled through the depression and hyper-inflation but survived with several models, made weapons during the war, and were among the first to resume making motorcycles after the war and were quite successful in the early/mid '50s, the largest manufacturer of 350s in Germany.  But, by the late '50s, people were affluent enough to VW's and NSU Prinzes and the German motorcycle industry imploded.  In 1960, Damlier bought Horex and shut down bike production.  The Resident came out in 1955 to replace the Regina.  The plunger rear suspension and telescopic forks of the Regina were replaced by a swingarm rear and Earles front suspension.  The motor was changed a good deal, too, becoming fully unit construction and oversquare bore.
Friday, I picked up the bike from Henry and start to feel 'buyer's remorse' when I saw all the details I couldn't see in the photos and hadn't thought to ask Henry.

the '59 Horex Resident 350 as I received it.
 I had known the fenders had been bobbed, that the mufflers were non standard (and, in fact, the left was different than the right), the seat was a Bates aftermarket, the handlebars were hideous 'buckhorn' bars and the tires were too big.

rear tire is a 4.00 X 18 Goodyear Grasshopper
 I didn't know the throttle cable was broken, probably because the slide was seized in the carb and that it didn't have any air filter, and that the sparkplug was finger tight in the head, and the right header pipe had a section of EMT conduit in it, and that the old registration card that came with it, presumably the last time it was registered, was from 23 March, 1977.

a section of EMT conduit in the exhaust pipe
The enormity of the task and financial out lay started to sink in as I took in all the warts.
But, Sat. I dove into it.  I took off the seat and tank to get at the carb and cables.

note that the left muffler is different than the right and neither are original
The Bates seat is in very good shape and looks comfortable, though a bit short for two-up riding.  It could be pretty valuable; I saw one on Ebay with an asking price of over $500.  The tank had liquid gas in it.  Stinky and dark, but liquid.  Could that be from 1978?  The dipstick showed oil at the correct level that looked quite clear.  I was able to free up the slide and get all the jets out of the carb.  After cleaning them in Varsol, I soaked them in Alumiprep.   One fuel tap was totally plugged as was the fuel line from the fuel taps to the float bowl.  I trimmed and re-soldered the throttle cable and made a ferrule for it.  Maybe  it isn't so bad after all.
Sun., I washed out the fuel tank and, while waiting for it to dry, I checked the points.  They seemed tight, but after I filed them and knocked the crud off them, the gap was right on at 0.014".  I had to install lugs and a grommet on the wires in the battery box.  After I hooked up a 6 volt battery, I had spark when I kicked it through and the headlight worked.  So, I installed the fuel tank, fuel taps and lines and put some gas in it.  But, when I held the tickler down nothing came out.  Seems that the fuel line that was plugged and I had cleared out, was plugged again.  And, one of the fuel taps was leaking; that is passing fuel when in the off position AND leaking out of the face of it.  I blew out the fuel line again and got it to tickle.  First kick, I got a bang but, out the carb, not the exhaust.   I kicked it many times and it fired a lot but wouldn't start and backfired consistently.  Was the ignition timing wrong or the centrifugal advance stuck fully advanced?  Was the pilot screw set too lean?  Is there a burnt intake valve.  I ran out of light and these questions will have to wait until tomorrow.
Mon., Doug came up with the idea of hauling the Horex up the hill on the road they live on with his tractor so I could give it a good long bump start.  Nothing, not a pop.  But, I hadn't turned the fuel taps on or tickled it, so we tried it again.  Nothing until it was just about stopped when it backfired through the carb.  The timing has got to be wrong.  I set up a degree wheel and the points were opening at the correct time.  So, I checked the valve timing and it was correct, too.  After much futzing, I notice that sparkplug was firing when the points closed, not when they opened. Strange.  The centrifugal advance is keyed onto the crank and can only go on one way.  There isn't nearly enough adjustment in the points plate to move points closing to just before TDC.  I called a couple of people to see if they had any insight, but everyone was baffled.
Tues. (Xmas day), Douglas came up with the idea that the centrifugal advance could be rotated 180 degrees in relation to the points cam.  I tried doing that and now the plug sparked when the points opened, but this was when the piston was near BDC.  I tried separating the coil/points/condenser from the generator/regulator and jumping directly from the battery to the coil.  It still fired when the points closed.  Then, I tried taking the points cam off the advance unit and fixing it to the crank so the points were closing a bit before top center.  This involved making some spacer shims to lock the cam to the crank.  But, then I had no spark because the battery was dead because I had created a dead short somehow.  I gave up on the ignition and distracted myself by changing the handlebars to some nice low rise Magura bars. and mocked up a Velocette seat I had.

mocked up with low handlebars and Velocette seat

Wed., I put the Horex down in the basement. took the front  shocks off to remove the most egregious overspray and see if I could dolly out the dent in the fork.

dent in fork
I found I couldn't get at the dent from below and would have to remove the complete fork to gain access from the top.  I took the bobbed, non standard front mudguard off and offered up a more appropriate one I had in my pile.

 Now I've ordered the MZ-B ignition, which is pointless, and charging system, which is 12 volt and 150 watts.  And, I've ordered a set of Heidenau tires (3.23 X 18 front, 3.50 X 18 rear).  I guess I'm married to it now.
So, the reality has sunk in.  I think it will be a fun bike, largely because of it's obscurity, but it's going to take more money and time/work than I initially imagined.  Like they all do.

Friday, December 14, 2012

When writing the review of the biography 'Stanley Woods, The First Motorcycle Superstar', I did some research on the sequence of riders with the most Isle of Man TT wins.  From 1907 thru 1909, Charlie Collier, Rem Fowler, Jack Marshall, Harry Reed, and Harry Collier (Charlie's brother) each won one TT.  In 1910, Charlie Collier won a second TT and held the distinction of most TT wins until 1921 when Eric Williams won his second TT.  In 1923, Tom Sheard won his second TT.  In 1924, Jack Porter and Alec Bennett won their second TTs.  In 1925, Edwin Twemlow, Wal Handley and Howard R. Davies won their second TT.  In 1926, Alec Bennett won his third TT, becoming the exclusive holder of the Most TT Wins title.  In 1927, Wal Handley equaled Bennetts three wins, but then Bennett won a fourth, to retain the title.  In 1928, Bennett won his fifth and last TT, and held the title until 1933, when Stanley Woods won his fifth and six TT.  Woods seventh TT win came in 1935, eight and ninth in 1938 and tenth in 1939.  These ten wins were the most of any rider until 1967 when Mike Hailwood passed him with 12 TT wins, which he increased to 13 in 1978 and 14 in 1978.  Joey Dunlop tied this record in 1992, won his 15th in '93, 17th in '94, 19th in '95, 21st in '96, 22nd in '97, 23rd in '98 and 26th and last TT in 2000 at the age of 48, and hold the record until the present.
John McGuinness currently has the second most TT wins with 19.  He potentially could match and eclipse Dunlop's record.  Since his first TT win in 1999, McGuinness has averaged more than one and a third win per year and since 2003 he has averaged 1.7 wins per year.  So, it's very possible, maybe even likely, he would catch or surpass Dunlop's record in 5 years when he would be 45 years old.
I always considered the fact that Dunlop won more than one quarter of the TT races he was in amazing, but if we look at the four most recent riders to hold the Most TT wins title, others are more amazing.  Bennett won 27.8% of the TTs he started; Woods 27%, and Hailwood 40%, to Dunlop's 26.5%.  McGuinness is in this league with 27.5%.  If we're going to try to pick the greatest TT racer of all time, we should consider over what span of years they raced at the TT: Bennett 12, Woods 18, Hailwood 22,  Dunlop 25.  McGuinness could conceivably  catch Dunlop here as he has raced at the TT over a 17 year span and would be 48 like Dunlop if he covered a 25 year span.
I'm going to have to pick Hailwood as the greatest TT racer on the strength of his 40% win record (most riders don't finish 40% of their TTs) and the fact he came back and won a couple of times after a ten year absence.  It has to be remembered that there were many fewer races per year in the good ol' days so riders since the '80 have many more chances to win races than previously.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The best book I've read lately is 'Stanley Woods, The World's First Motorcycle Superstar', by David Crawford.  I spent a long time with this book as it's chocked full of great detail, photos, posters, advertisements, letters, Stanley's handwritten notes and transcribed accounts.
Stanley was born in Dublin in 1903 and lived there until 1974 when he moved to Northern Ireland, where he died in 1993.  Author Crawford is also Irish and became a personal friend to Stanley and therefore had great access to him and his personal papers.
Most people who know anything about the history of road racing know that Stanley was one of the greats, but I had no idea of the breath of his accomplishments.  Besides road racing motorcycles, Stanley was very successful at trials, did hillclimbs, grass track, speedway, ice racing and raced cars.  He was the 'Dick Mann' of his era and clearly loved riding just about anything.  He competed on an amazing variety of marques including AJS, Cotton, DKW, Douglas, Harley Davidson, Husqvarna, New Imperial, Moto Guzzi, Norton, Royal Enfield, Scott, Sun, and Velocette, and probably others.  In addition to being a great racer and loving to ride, Stanley was clearly a good businessman and made a lot of money in his career.  But, he was also a charmer and well loved by his fans and competitors.  So, the tag 'First Motorcycle Superstar' is defensible.
Bitten by the motorcycle bug when he was a teen, he talked his mother into buying him the Sun Vitesse  before he was 16 and this was the first bike he competed on, in a trial.  In 1920, he talked his father into buying a Harley Davidson with sidecar to use in his traveling sales job, with Stanley acting as the chauffeur.  He soon talked his father into letting him compete on this.  He first went to the Isle of Man in 1921 as a spectator with some friends and halfway though the first race he decided he could do that and,  by the time the last race was over, he was determined would race there the next year.  How he accomplished this is a great example of his sharp business sense and self confidence.  He wrote to a number of likely manufacturers telling them he had an entry in another class than they would be competing in and would they supply him a bike for 'their' class.  Cotton fell for the ploy and, while they were aghast when they saw how young and green he was, but by that time they were committed.  He ended up finishing fifth in his first TT after the bike catching fire at his first pit stop, losing a pushrod a while later and crashing at Ramsey hairpin after losing his brakes.  The next year, 1923, he won his first IOM TT race, the Junior, on a Cotton after crashing at Parliament Square.
Stanley didn't finish his next six TTs in '23, '24, and '25.  In 1925, he was racing a Royal Enfield in the Junior TT when he crashed at Ballig Bridge on the last lap while lying 5th, breaking the right handlebar off.  He moved the throttle over to the left side and carried on one handed.  The marshalls at the next post tried to stop him, but failed.  They called ahead to the Bungalow where he was stopped only 10 miles from the finish and he was not happy.
But, he had attracted the attention of Norton and was hired by them for 1926 and promptly won the Senior TT for them.  A fascinating feature of the book is Stanley's handwritten accounting of his winnings from many of the races he was in.  And, the '26 Senior TT is the most money of any of these in the book, 1631 pounds, 16 shillings.  500 of this was bonus from Norton, but 500 also from KLG sparkplugs, 200 from Dunlop tires, 150 from Castrol oil, on down to 5 pounds from Webb fork.  Prize money was 20 pounds.  More than sixteen hundred pounds was a huge amount in 1926 for anyone, let alone a 22 1/2 year old.  He went on with Norton to race at the European Grand Prix, that year at Spa in Belgium, finishing 3rd with the fastest lap after having a flat front tire and losing his brakes.  He quit his day job working for his father and took a position with Norton.
1927 saw the debut of the OHC Norton and while it failed at the TT, Stanley won the Dutch, Swiss, Belgium, 2nd in the German, and 3rd in the Ulster GPs.  '28 and '29 were relatively lean years with reliability problems with the the Norton, though Stanley did win a number of Continental GPs.  He also started his own toffee company, TT Toffee.  In 1930,  Joe Craig redesigned the Walter Moore Norton and things started to turn around by the end of the season with Stanley winning the Ulster GP, the first of four successive wins there on Nortons.  The Norton became dominate and, while he had a good year in 1931, 1932 is arguably the best year of his career.  He was 3rd in the North West 200 after replacing a broken spark plug, 1st in both the Junior and Senior TT ( this made him the rider with the most TT wins, a title he was to hold until 1967 when Mike Hailwood surpassed his 10 wins), 1st in the 350 and 2nd in the 500 Dutch TTs, 1st in the 350 French GP, 1st in the 500 Belgium GP, 1st in the 350 and 500 Swiss GPs, and 1st in the Ulster GP.  However the world wide depression caused him to shut down his toffee business.
The depression was hitting the motorcycle manufacturers hard and in 1933 Norton cut his retainer and eliminated bonuses.  Norton had also instituted 'team orders' where the riders were alternately  predetermined to win and the prize money split between them.  Norton wanted it to seem that it was the bike that was winning, not the riders.  This grated on Stanley and he left the then most successful team at the end of the year.  While this is sort of  reminiscent of Valentino Rossi leaving Honda when it was dominant, Stanley didn't just change loyalties to a rival factory, he became a free agent, riding for many different factory on an ad hoc basis.  He also switched oil sponsors from Castrol to Mobil.  This brought him in contact with Husqvarna, which he had been impressed with at the previous years Swedish GP.  But first he raced Moto Guzzis at the Spanish GP winning the 250 and 500 races.  At the  TT, he rode the Guzzi to 4th in the Lightweight and ran out of fuel on the last lap of the Senior on the Husky while in 2nd.  He crashed the Husky at the Dutch TT and broke his wrist, which put him out of racing for the rest of the season.
In 1935, Stanley won the Lightweight and Senior TTs at the IOM on Moto Guzzis and won the Swedish GP on the Husqvarna and also did some car racing.  He cites this was the year of his highest earnings.
In 1936 he married Mildred Ross, a marriage that lasted 52 years until she died, although she was 11 years his junior.  He started riding for Velocette and won the 500 Spanish GP.  At the IOM TT, Stanley rode a DKW in the Lightweight, running out of fuel on the last lap, and Velocettes in the Junior and Senior.  He DNFed in the former and was 2nd in the Senior, setting the fastest lap, the 4th successive Senior fastest lap on four different marques (Norton, Husky, Guzzi, and Velo).  At the end of the year, He and Mildred sailed to Australia where he raced Velocettes at Adelaide and Phillip Island.  In 1937, he continued to race Guzzis and Velos and rode a Royal Enfield in trials.  In '38, he ran out of fuel while in the lead of the North West 200.  He won the Junior TT and was 2nd in the Senior on Velocettes.  He then crashed at Spa in the Belgium GP and lost a finger on his left hand and this ended his racing for the year.
In 1939, he won the 350 class in the Leinster 200, won the Junior TT for his tenth TT win and was the first 350 at the Ulster GP.  In October, he joined the Irish Defense Forces, Supply and Transport Corps,  motorcycle section, never to roadrace again.  He resigned his commission in the fall of 1945 and became partners in an auto agency.  He continued to be involved in motorcycle racing, managing the Moto Guzzi team at the Isle of Man.  He was tempted to take over the ride of the injured Freddie Firth at the '47 TT, but ultimately decided not to.  In 1956 he tested the Moto Guzzi V-8 and in '57 did several laps in practice at the TT on a 350 Moto Guzzi for an article he wrote for 'The Motor Cycle'.  In '74, he and Mildred moved to Northern Ireland where he sold Guzzi spares.  In '80,'81, and '82 he rode laps of honor at the TT.  Mildred became ill and he looked after her for the last five years of her life.  He had a couple of hip replacements, but stayed quite active until he died in 1993.
This is a special book because of the obvious very close relationship between the author and Stanley and hence the first person accounts of a  truly remarkable individual.  The book is available from and I highly recommend it.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving in Ct. is often a great time to ride.  The roads are generally clean as the leaves have been blown off and the sanding hasn't started.  With the leaves off the trees, one can see farther, whether that be around corners, distant vistas from the tops of hills, or deep into the woods to check out the great rock ledges.
Brother Doug and sista-in-law Amy and I went on a 60 mile ride on Thanksgiving Day.  Doug rode his '65 Benelli 260, Amy rode her '71 Cl 350 Honda, and I rode Doug's '65 CZ 175.

Doug led us on some great roads west and north through Durham  and Middlefield.  When we got back, Doug drained the gas and oil from the Benelli and Honda and we put them down in the basement.  I left the CZ out as I had a ride planned the next day with Rich Hosley.
Friday was another beautiful day, not quite as cloudless as Thanksgiving Day, but slightly warmer--mid-to-upper 50s as opposed to low-to -mid 50's.  My one complaint about Thursday's route was there was no dirt roads.  I made up for that Friday on my way to meet Rich, discovering the most direct route to our meeting place included some great dirt roads with almost no houses on them.  Rich rode his '49 Norton International 500.  He led us west through Madison, Rockland, Wallingford, Hamden, Cheshire, to Prospect where his friend Peter Thiel lives.  We toured his pile.  Rich and Peter probably knew each other through his Norton Commando, but Peter was working on a CB 360 Honda and owned a 4 cyl. Goldwing, which he and his wife had ridden to Nova Scotia and Cape Bretton and now had leaking fork seals.  Peter has an interesting B-50 BSA with clubman bars and a high front mudguard.  When I called him on that, he said he had a second set of wheels and high bars to convert it into a scrambler.
But, Peter pulled out his tiddler, a '75 CB 200 Honda, to join us on the ride.  Pete led us skirting Waterbury, Naugatuck, through Beacon Falls, Bethany and Seymour to the Blue Check Village restaurant in Woodbridge.

But, the Blue Check was closed, so we backtracked in a round about way to  Guerra's Sandwich shop in Seymour, which we had passed on the way to the Blue Check.  They had an overwhelming selection on hand written signs taped fairly randomly around.  Rich and I went for 'The Bomb'.  I managed to pay and get out before Rich and Pete had a somewhat unpleasant exchange with a rather surely cashier.  Great sandwich, but surly and no restroom.
Pete's CB 200 has CL 175 pipes on it to replace the rotted out originals.  Peter Thiel photo
 Conversation revealed that Pete and I had been born in the same hospital in New Rochelle, N.Y. and we both had a brother named Douglas.
Peter Thiel photo
Pete followed us part way, then peeled off to go back to his house and Rich and I carried on through Bethany.

In Hamden, at Quinnipiac University, Rich and I switched bikes.  Quite a contrast between a little, idiosyncratic two stroke and a big, older four stroke thumper.  I found the International delightful, slogging from low rpms with slightly ponderous handling.  Rich had a lot of problems with the CZ.  The steering head bearings had loosened off creating symptoms similar to a overly tight steering damper causing one to over correct and weave.  The CZ has and automatic clutch release where moving the shift lever (which is also the shift lever and therefore long and with a long throw), disengages the clutch.  So, one doesn't have use the handlebar clutch lever when one shifts.  In fact, it shifts better when you just bang the shift lever and don't touch the clutch lever.  After a while, Rich had had enough and we switched back, incredulous that I had been able to keep up comfortably on such an odd ball bike.  I think that once you get used to it, the CZ is great.  Plus, Douglas has put a modern, electronic ignition and 12 volt charging system on it, so I was able to plug in the electric vest and glove liners.  But then, I think they are almost all great.
Left to right: Peter Thiel, Rich Hosley, and DR.  Pete got a Harley guy who arrived as we were about to leave to take this photo
Rich led me within 10 miles of Haddam, then peeled off.  The bike when on reserve about half way from there, so there was little to drain out before Amy and I lowered it into the basement in the waning light, having ridden about 140 miles that day.  Another day in paradise.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Rob Iannucci reminded me recently of another photo sequence of a crash.
 This was the 6 September 1989 Senior Classic Manx Grand Prix when I was racing the Team Obsolete '59 Matchless G-50.

 On the 2nd lap of the 4 lap race, I noticed my friend, the inimitable Dick Miles, spectating on the hill after the Verandah and before Bungalow Bridge.

The race seemed to be going well and I was feeling good.  So, on the third lap, as I went by Dick, I took my right leg off the peg and waved it at him.

 Foot back on the peg, I pitched it into The Bungalow and the bike slid away and I went sky/ground/sky/ground.

 I ran over to the bike to see if I could restart, but it was a bit bent up and there was a puncture in the aluminum fuel tank.

So, I watched the finish of the race from the marshall's hut thinking I had just done a 'Schwantz', throwing it away when I had about a one minute lead.

 However, I was awarded the Milne Shield for the fastest lap in the race (102.52mph).  Months later, back in the shop in Brooklyn, I started working on the G-50 to get it ready for Daytona.  I took the seat off and found the two frame tubes were broken just in front of the top shock mounts.  One side was all worn smooth and shiny and clearly had been broken a while, where the other side was fresh.  I like to think that second side let go just as I pitched it into the Bungalow and that's why I went down.  It certainly could have happened at a lot worse place on the TT course.
We retired that frame (#1709) then and built all the rest of the bike into frame #1708. which Rob had acquired years before.  1709 frame was put aside until 2007 when we restored the bike to as near as we could to the way it was in 1984, when we won the Senior Historic TT, for the Centenary TT Lap of Honor.
I don't remember who took the photos but I think it may have been a photographer for one of the British newspapers(The Telegraph?????).
September, 1989

Saturday, November 17, 2012

At Barber, I was introduced to Rolf Janssen by Ake Smith.  Rolf is the AHRMA Historic Production Heavyweight class champion on his 750 BMW.  I was looking for somewhere to spend Sun. night in Atlanta after I dropped someone off at the airport and before I picked someone up at the airport the next morning, and Rolf graciously volunteered.  Rolf is German born, but has lived in Atlanta 18 years.  Sun. we talked late into the night, and I got to know his story a bit.  He ask if I could identify a bike and I couldn't.  I thought some readers of this blog might be able to.
Ernst Janssen with the mystery British motorcycle
Apparently, Rolf's dad Ernst, had been fascinated with motorcycles as a young boy and had apprenticed himself to a bike shop, against his family's desire for him join the family carpentry business.
Ernst, in the late 1920s, on the right
Ernst wanted to fly, too, so joined the Luftwaffe before the war.
Ernst off to war, with his sister, one of his brothers and his parents and his beloved motorcycle

Early on in the war, he was shot down over the Irish Sea and, after being a P.O.W. in England, was sent to Barton Fields Camp in Canada.  After the war ended, Ernst was finally repatriated to Germany in November of 1946, having spent about a fifth of his life as a prisoner.  Rolf tells me his whole family loved strawberries, but Ernst never ate them because he had to pick them as a P.O.W. in Canada.  Ernst may have been in the Luftwaffe, but he was no Nazi.  Rolf remembers that as a young boy he went to a party where the kids given Dinky toys as presents.  Rolf was given a tank and, when he showed it to his dad, Ernst said that it was nice that he was given a present, but they didn't have that kind of toy in their household, and the tank disappeared.
Ernst courted Rolf's mom, Antonie, on a motorcycle.  One time, when they were returning from a trip, Ernst stopped and told Antonie that if he was going to marry her, she had to know how to ride a motorcycle.  He showed her how and she rode him back the rest of the way.  Apparently, this was Ernst's way of proposing to Antonie and her way of accepting.
They bought the ruins of a bombed out shop, rebuilt it, and started a motorcycle dealership in Hasselt in far western Germany, some 20 Km from Holland.
Antonie on the left and Ernst in the middle building their shop out of the rubble.
They sold DKW, NSU, and Horex.
Janssen's Hasselt dealership in Feb. 1953
Antonie picked up and delivered parts on her NSU Pony.  This was part of their marketing plan, showing people that anyone could ride a motorcycle, you didn't have be a strapping young man.
Rolf's mom, Antonie, with her NSU pony
 Ernst went from being a factory trained mechanic to to being a master technician/instructor.

Ernst instructing on an NSU Prinz transaxle

Another view of the Hasselt dealership with Antonie in the entrance way.  The shop morphed into an auto dealership which Rolf's older brother now runs. 

I don't really have any info on this photo other than that's Ernst and Antonie to the left of #102, which looks to be an NSU Max.  There must have been a road race in town.

So, if anyone can identify the British single in the first and third photo, please add a comment below.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Williston Cox just sent me a link to some fabulous photos of racing at Laguna Seca from the good ol' days.  Willie is the son of Madison Cox, who I had raced with in the BOTT and who I had miss identified in the crash sequence I previously posted from Laguna.!i=1781907135&k=pWgNcst
These photo have to be from at least two different years as we see Eddie Lawson on both Kawasakis and Yamahas and Freddie Spencer on a Yamaha and Hondas.  My guess is 1981 and 1982.  F-1, Superbikes, 250's, sidecars and BOTT.  There's one of you faithful scribe on the Team Obsolete, Rob North framed, 909 XR Harley  in addition to Jim Adamo on Reno Leoni's Ducati and a couple of Madison Cox on the Darkroom Ducati.  But, also great candid shots of such greats as Roberts, Spencer, Lawson, Baldwin, Cooley, Don Vesco and Dave Aldana, Kel Carruthers working on Roberts Yamaha out of the back of a box van and great overall shots of the track and crowd.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I finally got around to writing a Daytona report after dealing with hurricane Sandy.  I made out better than most with no flooding and no tree through the roof, but I do have some big limbs down and lost power for a couple of days.
I went on from Barber to Daytona, doing a little sight seeing on the way.  Wed. I went to the Hollingsworth family race shop in St. Augustine and changed the gearing on my bikes while Al plugged away at repairing Don's and Dick's 250 Sprints.Their matriarch and team leader, Myrtle, fed us and put me up for the night.  Thurs. morning, I loaded up and drove to Winter Park where there was an excellent exhibit of David Delong moto art.                        
David was someone I raced with at Bridgehampton, Pocono, and Summit Point and probably other places back in the '80s and '90s.  I never knew then that he was an artist; he was just a motorcycle racer to me.  And, he was a real racer, racing into the last year of his life at age 70.  His widow, Harriet, has made a great effort to get David's work shown and has organized a terrific show at a lovely gallery in Winter Park that will run to next April.
From there, I drove up to Daytona, got my credentials and set up my pit.
The AHRMA Daytona event has gone from being a curious side show on amateur day of the March Speedweek, to being a huge curtain raiser for the 200 that attracted tens of thousands of spectators in the mid/late '90's, to being a huge anti-climax to the Barber event during the Fall 'Biketoberfest'.  Entries weren't great last year, when they first went to having the event in the Fall, but this year they were way down from that.  It seems unsustainable.
Fri. practice went well and I didn't do any changes before the races.  It didn't go so well for the Hollingsworths and Al's work was for naught in the case of the '66 short stroke (the last four stroke to win the Daytona Novice race).  When Dick was practicing on it at Daytona, it dropped a valve.
The Hollingsworth's short stroke 250 CRTT Sprint after it dropped a valve at Daytona
First race for me was F500/Vintage Superbike Lightweight/Historic Production Heavy Weight/250GP/Class 'C' Foot & Hand.  We had 22 starters among the six classes.  It was an amusing race for me as I diced the whole way with John Stephens on his 250 Ducati.  I got by him on the Dondolino soon after the start but he drove past me near start/finish completing the first lap.  However, he waited way to long to brake into turn #1 and nearly ran off the track trying to get it slowed enough to make the corner, letting me by.  Again, John drove by me near start/finish completing the second lap, but this time he brake way too early and I passed him going into #1.  Same deal on lap three.  On the fourth and final lap, he came by not long after the chicane and I tucked into his draft and closed right up on him but, when I pulled out of the draft, I couldn't pass him.  He beat me by nine hundredths of a second.  Not that it meant anything as we were in different classes and he won the 250GP and I was 2nd to Alex McLean on Bob McKeever's Norton in Class 'C'.
Next up was the 350GP/F-250/350 Sportsman/Classic 60's/Classic 60's 650.  There was a grand total of seven starters in the five classes and five riders finished the five laps.  I started on the pole on my 350  H-D Sprint ERTT and I didn't see anyone during the whole race.  Alex McLean's fastest lap was almost 2 seconds  faster than my fastest lap, but he started in the second wave on McKeever's Classic 60's Norton Manx and couldn't overcome that deficit.
Originally, I was scheduled to race the Dondolino again on Sat. and the ERTT on Sunday, but they changed the schedule so that both of my races were on Sun. with none for me Sat.  Then I discovered a broken exhaust valve spring on the Dondo and decided to blow off Sunday's race and leave Sat. morning.
I took no photos of my own bikes at Daytona, so I'll include a couple of more from Barber:
Bill Doll photo
my brother Doug and me with the '70 ERTT. Rich Hosley photo

Bill Doll photo

Sunday, October 28, 2012

13-15 Oct. 2012 was the Barber Vintage Festival, clearly the biggest vintage event in the country.  I entered Class 'C' foot shift with my 1946 Moto Guzzi Dondolino and 350GP, for which I brought my '70 ERTT H-D Sprint and Mike Bungay brought his 350 Aermacchi.  We had some problems with Mike's bike stopping in practice, but that turned out to be just a clogged fuel filter.  I geared Mike's bike taller and mine shorter and, in the end, I went a little faster on Mike's bike so that's the one I raced, with mine ready if back up was needed.  When I last ran my Dondolino at St. Eustache, the magneto failed.  So, I installed the magneto from my Airone road bike.  The Airone has a smaller mag gear and to use the Dondolino gear on the Airone mag, required making a plate to raise the mag 5mm.  The other problem was that the original Magneti Marrelli MLA mag has a manual advance while the Airone MRC-4E 15 degree magneto has a centrifugal advance.  I couldn't see any way to fix the mag at full advance to time it, so I assumed the '15 degree' cast on the body indicated that's how much the ignition advances.  When I initially checked the timing statically, it was 20 degrees so, I assumed it would be 35 degrees at fully advance.  I figured this was close enough to the 38-39 degrees I had been using, to test it.  I tried to check it with a timing light, but couldn't see any marks with my toy light.  However, the bike started easily and seemed to run well, as much as I could tell in the tight confines of my secret test site.  On the track in practice at Barber, the bike seemed to run great and the spark plug looked near perfect, so I didn't change anything on it.
This year, all practice was on Thurs. and Fri., with no practice on the race days on Sat. and Sun.  So, on Sat., I was first up on the Dondolino in the Class 'C' foot shift.  The competition was Ryan Ambrose on Big D's pre-unit 500 rigid Triumph twin

Alex McLean on Bob McKeever's 500 rigid cammy Norton
and Jake and Rob Hall sharing this BSA
That BSA was idling next to me at pit out, but when we gridded up after the warmup lap, it wasn't there.  Turns out that there was a problem with the petcock and when he gave it throttle, it died.  Ryan was away like a shot, I stayed ahead of Alex briefly before he came by and I finished third of the 6 Class 'C' foot shift, ahead of the ten Class 'C' hand shift and ahead of half the of the 18 350 Sportsman bikes that started in the wave ahead of us.
Bill Doll photo
There was a fair wait until the 750 Sportsman, 500 Sportsman, 350 GP race, but I occupied some of this with spectating in the Century Race, a race for bikes at least one hundred years old.  Dale Walksler won it (again) on his 1912 1000cc Indian in great style, chomping on his cigar with his open face helmet. Joe Gardella was a close 2nd on his 1912 H-D on which he had recently finished the Cannonball run.  Many of the Cannonball bikes were there and they got to do a parade lap, too.
A 1909 Excelsior single that competed in the Century Race
 I got it the lead of the 350GP class quickly and any threat to that lead ended when Paul Germain's exhaust pipe broke on his DT-1 Yamaha.  I set about seeing how many of the rest of the field I could get through.  I ended up 7th overall of the 39 entries after starting in the 3rd wave.  Only 4 of the 750s and none of the 500s had a faster fastest lap than me.

Vic Moore photo
Sunday went much the same as Sat.  The Hall BSA did start the Class 'C' race, but didn't finish.  It looked like the race was going to be a barnburner between the BSA and the Big D Triumph.  Coming out of the last corner on the first lap, Hall was leading, but Ryan was pushing hard and, when Hall missed a shift, Ryan collided with him, knocking off his exhaust pipe.  So, Hall had to retire and once again I was gifted 3rd after McLean got by me.  My fasted lap was almost one and a half seconds faster than Sat., 10th overall, and Alex and I both finished closer to Ryan, so I was pleased.

Alex McLean (122) and I (7) check each other out on the grid.  Jerrett Martin photo.
Sunday's 750 Sportsman/500 Sportsman/350GP race went much the same as Saturday's except that Germain had the exhaust fixed on his Yamaha.  He finished 2nd in the class, but was almost 24 sec. behind.  I find this very interesting as at Miller I beat him by less the 3/4 of a sec.  I don't see a reason why Mike's bike should be faster of Paul's slower than then.  Is one bike or rider better suited to this track than that?   Or, does one rider happen to be 'on' or the other 'off' that particular day?  It's fascinating and the unpredictability of it keeps me coming back.  My fastest lap was only about 0.1 sec faster Sun. than Sat., but it seems most of the field was slower and only Jerrett Martin on the Big D Triumph 750 had a faster fastest lap and I finished 5th overall starting from the 3rd wave.
Roger Cox photo.  He has more Barber photos on his website in addition to some of industrial decay
But, it could have been very different.  On the cool off lap as I went through the chicane on the back straight, I thought I missed a shift and tried it again.  And again. But, I had no drive and I look down to see that the chain had come off.  Inspection after I coasted and pushed in showed that the axle adjuster was broken, but which was the chicken and which the egg?  Luckily, it didn't jam in anything and lock the rear wheel and luckily it didn't happen a lap earlier.
The broken axle adjuster after we had put the chain back on.
Right to left: Mike Bungay, his son and pit crew Brennen Bungay, and me with Mike's beautiful 350 Aermacchi.  Rich Hosley photo

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Last Sunday was the USCRA's Pewter Run.  This is a road ride for pre-1950 (and some 'like design' post '50) motorcycles.  I had done this a few times in the past on my '53 Moto Guzzi Airone Sport, which is substantially the same as when this model was revised in 1949, but it's apart at the moment awaiting my attention at the end of the racing season.  But, Mark Gibson, founder of the Pewter Run, came to the rescue.  He arranged a ride for me on Tony Lockwood's 1936 Excelsior Manxman 500.

Tony Lockwood and me with his '36 Excelsior Manxman 500
 Tony is an ex-pat Brit who has lived in this country many years.  He brought four beautiful bikes to the Run this year.  He rode the oldest, a 1913 Motosocoche 2C7, which edged out Mark Turkington's 1914 BSA as the oldest bike in the event.
Mark Turkington's 1914 BSA
Tony let his friend ride his 1925 Norton 16H.
1925 Norton 16H in the forground and 1913 Motosocoche behind 2C7
Tony's daughter Melanie Herman, rode his 1955 Norton Dominator 500, and won the long distance award, coming from Virginia for the event.  I sort of feel that I got the pick of a very fine litter.  Tony says the Manxman's 2nd owner bought it in 1938 and, while he was in north Africa during the war, dreamed of how he was going to modify it.  So, in the late forties, he replaced the girder forks with Matchless telescopic and made his own plunger rear suspension.
The Matchless forks required a special brake anchor.
Home made plunger rear suspension which eliminated lugs for the prop stand, so this period accessory stand was added And he installed a Vincent seat.
Tony had rebuilt the motor using a VW Beatle piston (1mm oversize) and had replaced the points in the magneto with an electronic trigger.
There were three length courses depending on how old the bike was and how far you wanted to ride.  I rode the longest, which was nearly 50 miles.  We started in light rain, but it stopped raining toward the end of the route.
ready for to start.  Bill Burke photo with Bill's NSU Max Spezial in backround
The motor was superb: very flexible but quite quick when given some throttle.  The Albion gearbox worked well and had good ratios.  The riding position was very comfortable.  The suspension, while not plush, was undoubtedly better than original (though I'm curious to try an original now).  The brakes were O.K.
The route was great fun and very well arrowed, and I didn't look at the route sheet once.  The colors hadn't peaked yet, but were getting there.  I passed a cop going the other way early on and he waved to me.  Once I got familiar with the bike, I gave it some stick and rode it the way it was intended.  Therefore, I was the first to finish the long route, despite my number being 26, and was promptly DQed  for being too early.  No bother; it just gave me more time to smooze with the riders who had already finished the shorter routes.  One of these was Carlton Palmer who rode a terrific 1928 Norton CS-1 that had come out of Portugal years ago.
Carlton Palmer's 1928 Norton CS-1.  Bill Burke photo

After everyone got back, we had some lunch in the Penacook Historical Society bldg., then prize giving.  Tony won his class and the oldest combined age of bike and rider.  Carlos won his class on his 1928 Indian 101 Scout.
Carlos Escudero's 1928 Indian 101 Scout
This is a bike he found in Pawcatuck, Ct. that had been sitting in a basement for 40 old years.  It has some period mods and Carlos had to repair the fuel tank, but is largely as he found it and as it was last ridden in the '50s.
Rich Snyder won the '39-'49 class with his 1949 Matchless G-80S.

Rich Snyder's '49 Matchless G-80S
Pierce Reed was 2nd in this class and won the Good Sport award for best period attire.
Pierce Reed on his 1946 H-D EL. Bill Burke photo
Mark Gibson, who was riding the Pewter Run for the first time since Shane Rivet had taken over running the event from Mark, won the Hard Luck award, and the magneto failed on his Brough Superior, and he came back on the sweep truck.
Mark Gibson with his 1934 Brough Superior 680SV

Thanks to all who made this event happen.  It's a joy to see these old bikes used.
Carlos Escudero photo