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Motohistory Quiz #65:

We have a winner!

(3/31/2009)

 

In terms of response, this was one of the most interesting quizzes we've done. I knew I would not fool the Vincent experts, but I did not expect to be overwhelmed by dozens of quick answers, most of which were correct. The first was from Lindsay Brooke, who identified our quiz picture as the Vincent Amanda just three minutes, 59 seconds after I sent out my Motohistory Update Notification. Brooke, from Plymouth, Michigan, is the co-author of “Triumph in America” and also has published an article about the Vincent Amanda. Brooke not only correctly identified the Amanda, but sent us a fine account based on his research for his previously published article. Here follows Lindsay's contribution:

 

The rather neglected looking hull in the photo is a Vincent Amanda water scooter. The first and only Amanda I've ever seen was hanging from the rafters at Ken Grzesiak's British Only parts emporium in Michigan in 1990. The craft was complete but needing a full restoration. When I asked Ken about it, he told me that a few weeks before a British gentleman named Roy Smith had visited British Only and said he'd helped design the Amanda.

 

Ken gave me a copy of Smith's business card—he was manager of diesel engineering at General Motors in Detroit. I contacted him immediately and we arranged a lunch. He arrived with a stack of original photos showing various Amanda components and technical drawings, as well as illustrations of the three-wheeled car conceived by Vincent. There were also photos of Smith and his colleagues in the Vincent drafting department at Stevenage.

 

As Smith told me the story, the Amanda was produced by Vincent in 1957 and ‘58 after the company had ended production of its famous V-twin motorcycles. Amanda was the world's first “personal watercraft”—the predecessor to today's JetSkis and Wave Blasters. It was named for the daughter of British businessman E. Werner, who brought the concept to Philip Vincent. The forward-thinking Vincent sensed the opportunity and assembled a team to develop the craft. Smith at the time was a young design draftsman who had joined Vincent in late 1951 after his first job at aircraft enginemaker Napier.

 

No doubt when Vincent considered Werner's idea, he envisioned another potential outlet for his company's new two-stroke industrial engines, the T10 (100cc single) and T20 (200cc twin). These piston-port powerplants were gaining favor with go-kart builders as well as makers of lawn mowers (Qualcast) and garden tillers and implements (Farm Fitters). To adopt the engines for marine use, Vincent developed a “log” prop drive unit for the engines, which were started by a pull cord. T10 models got a two-bladed prop while the T20s were three-bladed.

 

Amanda featured a unique throttle/steering linkage, via twist-grip and control rods from the “handlebars” to the rudder. As on today's personal watercraft, Amanda was designed to circle slowly without its rider, allowing him to climb back on board from the water. The steering would go to full lock naturally while the throttle immediately snapped back to idle.

 

The two-piece molded fiberglass hull was built at a specialist factory set up by Vincent in Llandwrog, North Wales. Its construction employed the hand-layup process common in fiberglass boatbuilding. The colors were molded into the plastic—bright red on the upper section and white underneath. Inside the hull styrene blocks were mounted on the port and starboard sides to ensure buoyancy should the vessel be swamped. A skeg was bolted to the bottom of the hull.

 

The vessel's one-gallon fuel tank was mounted ahead of the engine and rider. Some of the molds incorporated port holes in the upper hull for engine air intake and exhaust, while others reportedly plumbed the exhaust out the transom.

 

The Amanda development program was rushed, according to Smith—roughly six months from drawings to prototype in late 1956. The initial prototype, nicknamed “The Whale,” appeared ready for testing and early demonstrations on a lake near London failed to show any major problems. Philip Vincent was said to be very encouraged with the Amanda's performance; the T20 model would get up on plane quickly and was capable of 28 mph.

 

But lurking in this pioneering craft was an Achilles' heel—the polyester resin used in the hull material. Sourced from the Bakelite Resins Co., the resin used in the first batch of production hulls was thermally unstable. The troubles didn't surface until the Amanda landed in the U.S. Vincent had struck a deal with an American distributor based in Wausau, Indiana, who ordered 200 Amandas (worth £500,000, noted newspaper reports) in June 1958. The distributor was ahead of his time, realizing the vast U.S. could be a huge market for a zippy “water scooter.” According to a report in Britain's Evening Standard, the American sales agent planned to order 6,000 more Amandas pending acceptance of the first batch.

 

But disaster struck the first time the Amanda was demonstrated on a U.S. lake. It was a hot, sunny day, and as the engine heat rose, the combined ambient and engine thermal loads caused the plastic surrounding the engine house to sag, then collapse. Everyone watching on shore, including the press, saw the rider sink slowly beneath the waves to become a swimmer, right before their eyes. Sunk with him was the public image of Vincent's latest sporting machine.

 

Tragedy in the Amanda saga doesn't end there. Veteran Vincent employee and factory tester Johnny Penn drowned while testing an Amanda near Mersea Island, off the Colchester coast. The craft Penn was riding was found adrift three months later, according to contemporary press reports. Penn was the second Vincent tester to die in the line of work, Henry Pennington having perished on a Black Shadow near the Watford by-pass.

 

When the U.S. demo debacle occurred, Vincent's trusted “right hand man” Ted Davies was already in the States on company business. He went straight to Wausau to investigate the problem.

 

“Based on Ted's appraisal, we determined the hull needed internal reinforcing—perhaps a tubular frame,” recalled Roy Smith. But that was the Amanda's legacy: The original idea was fantastic, but the product was not thoroughly tested and developed before it was ready for market.

 

Today, Amandas in “water-worthy” condition are scarce. When I wrote a feature on Smith and the Amanda for Classic Bike magazine in 1995, editor Philip Tooth then knew of only a few examples in Britain. It is unclear how many were shipped to the U.S., which would've likely been the craft's largest market.

--Lindsay Brooke

 

We also learned from Vincent expert Somer Hooker that the Amanda pictured in our quiz—taken at the Barber Vintage Festival last October—belonged to him at the time, but has since changed hands. Somer sent us a link to an image of a nicely restored example. Click here.

 

American motogiro organizer Bob Coy also sent us a personal account. He writes:

 

As a kid, I remember that Nissongers in New Rochelle, New York had a warehouse full of them. I couldn't convince my dad to get me one though. They may have been imported for one of the amusement parks in the area, such as Playland in Rye, or Fronteerland on the Meadows, or maybe for the Worlds Fair. I distinctly remember standing there looking at them and hearing about the overheating problems that were associated with them, and that the engine would get so hot it would fall through the bottom.

 

Antique Motorcycle Club of America Foundation Chairman Peter Gagan reported:

 

At the Vincent Rally last year in Colorado, some of us had an opportunity to set sail in the only currently running Amanda. It was a lot slower than the motorcycles, and was not what I would call a seaworthy vessel. Certainly not recommended for non-swimmers.

Robert Watson, former editor of MPH, the Vincent HRD Owners Club magazine, sent us a photograph of himself aboard the restored Amanda at the 2008 North American Vincent Rally. Similar to Gagan, Watson states, “It was running a little ragged due to the altitude, but still not something that would set any speed records.”

 

Thanks, Robert, for the photo. To my eye you look a little tense aboard that

thing.

For more images of the Vincent Amanda, click here. And, believe it or not, while researching this topic, we discovered that there is now a Vincent Amanda shoe. Click here. Hope it walks better than its namesake floated.

 

Thanks to one and all who participated in Motohistory Quiz #65, and for the many interesting comments and accounts. Congratulations to Lindsay Brooke for winning the quiz to become our newest Motohistory Know-It-All. Lindsay, you diploma is on its way.

 

Motohistory Quiz #65

(3/31/2009)

 

Okay, Motohistorians, it is time for another Motohistory Quiz. What is this and what in the world does it have to do with motorcycle history?

 

Be the first to send us the correct answer and you will be the next to joint the elite ranks of the Motohistory Know-It-All, verifiable through your own personalized Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma, complete with my signature and a cheesy gold sticker.

 

Send you answer to Ed@Motohistory.net.

 

 

Abraxas Bultaco

A memoir in celebration of

Bultaco's Golden Anniversary

By Jeff Thompson and Sean Ahern

as told to Karen Kentosh

(3/31/2009)

 

In 1971, a trio of young Ohio men set out on the Great Road Trip to the Pacific Ocean. As it turned out—perhaps not so surprising for the heady times of the ‘70s—the trip gave them more than just spectacular scenery. In fact, it was the quiet beauty of Crater Lake that gave them pause to let their minds wander and imagine where their lives could go. What they imagined was a Bultaco franchise.

 

It all probably started with Sean Ahern, a 25-year-old Air Force dude from Newark, Ohio, who bought his first motorcycle in 1965 in the Philippines where there wasn't much by way of transportation. As an afterthought, he also bought his first dirt bike there. Back in Ohio, Sean met Jeff Thompson in college and convinced him he absolutely needed a dirt bike too, an idea for which Thompson did not need much convincing. They went riding in the strip-mined lands of southern Ohio, and through a chance encounter they met another dirt bike enthusiast named Bill Swanson. Swanson and his brother Dave had owned a Bultaco shop in Columbus some years earlier. They all started hanging out and riding together.

 

In 1971, with the summer off, the guys found themselves at loose ends. Jeff was finishing his first year of teaching, Bill had an ulcer from being a banker, and Sean was still going to college. As adventurous, adrenalin junkies—and yes, a little wacko—they decided to hitch-hike across the country. It was, after all, the full-blown Era of the Hippie. Jeff says, “We had no idea what to expect, such as snow in the mountains in the summer!” Their gear wasn't what you'd call adequate. A plastic tarp was their tent, they backpacks were homemade, and they figured hygiene was for squares. They did not care, because the Open Road called!

 

Sean, Jeff, and Bill began their serious hitch in Denver, and one of their rides—an eccentric English professor—took them to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. From there, they hitched through Idaho and Oregon. Of course there was no money for motels or lodges, so they camped wherever they could and washed up in gas station men's rooms. This devil-may-care, can-do attitude was a common trait of the three; they enjoyed every challenge as well as each others company.

 

At Crater Lake, heavy snow buried their plastic tent on the side of the old volcano. It was so cold, their water canteens froze, but the guys saw the fun in all of this. When the blizzard passed, they played in the snow and rode their plastic tent like a sled down the slopes of the crater. Jeff admits, “We might have been stoned!” As they marveled at the beauty of the fog rolling in over the crater's rim, the eternal question that confronts young men echoed across the lake, as if a cosmic parent were booming, “Well?! What are you going to do with the rest of your lives?” After their great experiences on the road, they didn't want to go back to their ordinary, boring loves. Rather, they wanted to do something different. As they compared notes, the solution became obvious. They all loved dirt bikes, and they shared a certain world view, so there it was: they would open a motorcycle shop, even though none except Dave had any idea what that actually meant.

 

After hitching as far as Sacramento and more adventures on the road—including being arrested twice for hitch hiking on a California Interstate—they limped into Reno and bought bus tickets to Salt Lake City, where Bill's wife retrieved them and took them home in a VW bus. Back in Ohio, the fellows hadn't altered their thinking. They were high on the exotic, Spanish Bultaco dirt bikes, convinced that everyone would want one, and they were the guys to sell it to them! So they set out to fulfill their dream. Dave knew the Bultaco franchise procedure and took care of incorporating the company. Sean's mother, Molly, rented them a quaint little building that was an antique shop not far from her home in rural Jacksontown, Ohio, about 30 miles east of Columbus. It was a conservative little town where long-haired hippie freaks were generally frowned upon, but the location provided one distinct advantage: it was about five miles from the Honda Hills motocross track, which was Dirt Bike Central for the area. It was just the right place and the right time, as if Fate and Luck had decided to smile and ride off with them into the sunset on Bultacos.

 

A Bultaco rep was only too happy to bring his wares to them. He demonstrated the bright red Sherpa T by doing wheelies in their parking lot, and the guys' blood ran hot with bike lust for the new machine. They each put up $2,500 and got a local bank to fund their floor plan. The only obligation was to purchase a few dirt bikes and a parts package, so they launched their dealership, which then named “Abraxas.” Sean remembers, “It was one of those words that reflected the zeitgeist of the 1960s and ‘70s.” Abraxas was a mystical, ancient pagan deity, plus there was also the chart-busting album by Santana by the same name. Whatever the source, it was a name they though fit quite well with Bultaco.

 

They hired a mechanic named Doug McKittrick who could fix anything and make parts out of thin air if he didn't have them. He was invaluable to the operation. For example, druing a bargain-hunting trip to a Bultaco dealership going under in Nelsonville, he used his eagle-eye to zero in on and acquire what they needed for pennies on the dollar. Adequately stocked, Abraxas moved into the little antique shop and splashed colors of blue and yellow across the walls. They furbished their showroom with posters, painted their own signs, bought used display cases, got some old desks, designed their logo and stationery, then put an old couch on the front porch, overlooking historic Route 40, the National Road. Locals craned their necks trying to figure out what the heck was going on in there.

 

For some people, money isn't everything. According to Jeff, “Profit was not our middle name; love of the business was enough for us.” They paid themselves “in kind.” For example, Sean managed the day-to-day operations for a fish sandwich and beer everyday for lunch. Bill managed the banking, the set-up of new bikes, and the repair shop. They all got new motorcycles, helmets, and other accessories, which they used for awhile and then sold as used—a process they facetiously referred to as “product testing.” That old hippie philosophy of sharing the joy and providing a quality product was their guiding star. The bikes were fun for them and they wanted their customers to have big fun too. They prepped their bikes with a loving care beyond what most shops provided, and they frequently modified them with better, stronger parts. And they didn't just sell the bikes, they raced them. They all competed in races and trials. Bill rode a Pursang for motocross and an Astro set up for short track racing. Sean rode a Matador in enduro competition, and Jeff rode a Sherpa T in observed trials. Jeff says, “We were hands-on guys, and our service and parts stocking was enhanced by our Personal riding experiences.”

 

Jeff's special calling was in-your-face marketing and promotion through every avenue he could think of. They promoted observed trials events every month, got sponsors, put together a calendar, a newsletter, and advertised through wiper-blade fliers at Honda Hills and other events they attended. In addition, they confidently sold bikes to their friends who saw how much fun the guys were having. By 1974, they were doing so well that they decided to expand. Southern Ohio was a hotbed of enduros and off-road riding, and they selected a site on State Route 33, which was the main drag through Lancaster, leading straight to the rugged hills of the region along the Ohio River. Dave bought a plot at 33 and Coonpath Road, financed the building, and acted as general contractor. But it would be no 2x4s or aluminum siding for this shop. Jeff—always a fan of Buckminster Fuller--designed five geodesic domes, found a company that built the triangles for the dome structures, and cleared them through local zoning. Ever keen to marketing, he figured these unique buildings on the highly-traveled Route 33 would attract attention to the shop and provide additional brand recognition.

 

A friend who was a civil engineer did a free site survey, but discovered that surveying five inter-connected octagons was not easy. Each corner had to be precisely located for the footers and bolts sunk in the concrete floor had to match holes in the dome sections exactly. The guys worked on the domes themselves as time would allow, and Dave hired Chris Haines as the site superintendent. It took a couple of weeks to get all the pieces bolted together for three 39-foot and two 26-foot domes, which housed the showroom, retail counter, storage, service and repair shop, office, and restrooms. To entice buyers, the guys had built a test track, complete with jumps, around the five-acre perimeter of the property, and for the trials riders they created obstacles by piling railroad ties. When it was all ready, the new Abraxas threw a big open-house and blow-out party in the domes to announce their arrival. Demo rides were provided for eager customers.

 

For the next couple of years, Abraxas continued to fly high. But the world was turning and changes were happening that included a gasoline embargo and a recession. Then, cheaper, better, and more reliable motorcycles from Japan began to penetrate the American dirt-bike market. Honda, Suzuki, Yamaha, and Kawasaki dealerships were opening all over the place. Perhaps the boys' new expansion came a little too late. Pehaps they had overextended themselves. No doubt they suddenly had way more competition than they were used to. But they'd had a good ride. Business cycles come and go, and so do specific brands of motorcycles. After five years of fun and success, the guys took stock of the situation, and, like they had before, decided it was time to move on. The Abraxas adventure had started on a high note, and that's how they ended it. To this day, Jeff, Sean, Bill, and Dave are all still friends with great shared memories. And in a stroke of irony, the famous Abraxas domes on Route 33 have now become an antique shop.

 

Photos, top to bottom:

On the road to adventure in 1971. Left to right: Jeff, Sean, and Bill Swanson.

Jeff Thompson busy on a Saturday at the first Abraxas shop in Jacksontown, Ohio.

Dave Swanson at the Alpina display at the Jacksontown shop.

Doug McCittrick aboard a rare 100cc Tiron.

The new shop with its hand-painted sign, opened in 1975.

Bill, riding a Pursang at the test track at the new dealership; distinctive domes in the background.

The sales and parts desk at the new shop.

Bill, in the new showroom in 1975, with an inventory of nearly 30 new Bultacos.

The Abraxas domes at night, as seen from Ohio Route 33 near Nelsonville.

The old Abraxas shop today, now the U.S. Post Office in Jackstontown , Ohio .

Jeff and Sean today.

 

Red and Helen's

excellent adventure

(3/30/2009)

 

Born in Iowa in 1902, Charles “Red” Wolverton was an all-round motorcycle competitor who excelled at hill climbing, enduro, and both board and dirt track racing, but he is probably best known as the first man to travel more than two miles per minute aboard a motorcycle. That achievement took place on a cold and blustery day in November, 1923, when Wolverton straddled a special-built four-cylinder Ace on the recently-completed Roosevelt Boulevard near Philadelphia and powered the machine to timed speed of 129.61 mph. Wolverton believed that the motorcycle had more, but reported that it began to shake uncontrollably at 129 mph. Not content just with the solo record, Ace mounted a sidecar on the machine and Wolverton rode it to a record of 106.82 mph. Ace grabbed headlines by offering $10,000 to any other manufacturer who could beat their record, and Wolverton became a nationally-known hero overnight.

 

In 1925, Wolverton married Helen Frankowski and borrowed $300 to enter a partnership in a Harley-Davidson dealership in Philadelphia. In 1929, he relocated to Reading, Pennsylvania where he successfully ran a Harley-Davidson dealership until his retirement in 1956. Prior to serving as a test rider and record breaker for Ace from 1923 through 1925, Wolverton worked as a development rider for Excelsior-Henderson, conducting high-altitude tests in the Rocky Mountains and riding year-round in and around Chicago, where the company was based. In addition to his versatile riding skills, Wolverton was valued for his understanding of the mechanics and engineering of a motorcycle, and for this reason was recruited by Harley-Davidson in 1951 to test a new engine still under development. Red and Helen loaded gear necessary for six weeks on the road into their sidecar rig and set out for Milwaukee. There, the factory engineers removed its engine and installed a pre-production 1,200cc motor that would eventually be designated the FLH.

 

The Wolvertons began their journey by heading south to Louisiana where their daughter and son-in-law, Jack and Dottie Vanino, were stationed at Camp Polk. Jack, a Sergeant Major in the 318 Tank Battalion, was responsible for training tank crews for combat in Korea. From there the Wolvertons headed west, through Texas and into Mexico, traveling as far south as Mexico City. The high compression of their experimental engine required high octane gasoline, so when it became difficult to find, they turned around and headed north, returning to the United States in California. Traveling up the coast, they paid visits to long-time friends Ed Kretz, Ben Campanale, and Dudley Perkins. Campanale and Perkins were both fellow Harley dealers. From Northern California the travelers turned eastward and into the mountains, visiting Yellowstone National Park along the way. Summarizing the journey, Wolverton said, “We went 10,500 miles in six weeks and didn't have one day of rain. We were either behind it or in front of it, but we didn't see a single drop.” He added, “Everyone was wonderful everywhere we went, and I never felt better in my life than I did on that trip.” While the couple set their own pace and stopped when and where they pleased, on occasion they would complete more than 500 miles in a day, achieving a trip-long average of more than 250 miles per day.

 

Upon returning to Milwaukee, the factory switched out its test engine with Red's EL, and the Wolvertons returned to Reading. The engine that Red and Helen tested went into production in 1954. To read Red Wolverton's official Motorcycle Hall of Fame bio, click here.

 

Editor's Note: Red and Helen Wolverton took snapshots of their 1951 long-distance ride, and these were passed on to their daughter Dottie Vanino. Dottie and her husband Jack have kept the family motorcycling traditions alive through a lifetime of service to the motorcycle sport and the American Motorcyclist Association. Dottie was the first woman delegate to the AMA Congress, and she published a regional newspaper called “Cycle Chatter” from the 1950s through 1973. Jack served as an AMA District Referee for 20 years. While the story of the Wolverton's long-distance ride has been told before, Motohistory is especially indebted to the Vaninos for providing the Wolverton's photographs that were taken during the trip, which have been used to illustrate this story. It should be noted that Red Wolverton had the curious habit of making notes right on the face of his photos, rather than on the reverse side as most people do.

 

All photos courtesy of Dottie and Jack Vanino.

From top to bottom:

Helen and Red Wolverton with their Harley-Davidson sidecar rig.

On the highway in Mexico. Wolverton's hand-written note says, “On Pan American Highway in Mexico.”

Helen reloading the motorcycle after a night's stay in a roadside tourist court.

In Mexico.

Visiting Ben Campanale's dealership in Pomona, California. Wolverton's hand-written note says, “Benny Campanale, Pomona, Calif, 1951.

At Dudley Perkins' dealership in San Francisco.

On the road in Colorado . Wolverton's hand-written note says, “Entering Colorado High in the Rockeys.”

In front of the Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee at the end of the trip. Wolverton's note says, “Back to H-D Factory.”

 

The two-stroke engine:

A short review of a long evolution

By Ralf Kruger

(3/27/2009)

 

When Alfred Angas Scott (pictured here) opened his new enterprise, the "Scott Engineering Company," in 1909 to build motorcycles, two-stroke engines had their place for use as stationary engines in heavy industry. But Scott stood nearly alone in his conviction that two-strokes were suitable for larger motorcycles as well. His "Squirrel" motorcycle was the first wholehearted effort to apply two-stroke power in the class of big motorcycles where four-stroke engines prevailed. Two-stoke engines then did not compare with four-strokes for power output, so they were thought to be suitable only for the smaller and cheaper class of motorcycles.

 

However, there were good arguments for greater use of the two-stroke. Theoretically, they should have double the power of four-strokes because they have a combustion cycle with every turn of the crank. Furthermore, they require no complex and expensive valve train, which makes them smaller and lighter than four-strokes, and less expensive to manufacture. These theoretical advantages required proof through development, and in the case of Jorgen Skafte Rasmussen (pictured here) in Germany, that development led to DKW becoming the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer by 1928 (for more about Rasmussen see Motohistory News & Views 4/10/2007).

 

As with any internal combustion engine—including the four-stroke—successful development of the two-stroke depended on an understanding of the charge-changing cycle which, in the case of the two-stroke, is referred to as “scavenging.” Historically, this development can be subdivided into five segments. These include:

 

1) Simple piston-port two-strokes, whose inherent problems and limitations led to:

 

2) Development of "twingles" as done in exemplary fashion by Garelli and Puch. The limitations of twingles led to:

 

3) “Blown” twin-piston engines using forced air induction as seen in DKW racers, and the British Dunelt.

 

4) Next came “reverse scavenging.” Patented by Adolf Schnürle in 1925, it was acquired by Rasmussen for DKW in 1932, then was further developed by Richard Küchen for Zündapp in 1933.

 

5) Finally, the era of the “modern” two-stroke arrived after the Second World War when MZ's Walter Kaaden discovered and developed the “dynamic gas flow” engine.

 

1. The basic piston-port engine

In the simplest three-port two-stroke engine—known as the piston-port two-stroke—the piston's top edge operates the exhaust port and transfer port, while the lower edge of the piston controls the inlet port. Driven by combustion, the downward-sliding piston opens the exhaust port first, allowing pressure caused by combustion to escape. Shortly thereafter the downward-moving piston passes the scavenging port, also called the transfer port, allowing the fuel and air mixture to flow in from the crankcase, the introduction of which further helps push the remaining burned charge out the exhaust port. When the piston reaches bottom dead center and begins to move upward, it closes both the transfer and exhaust ports so the next combustible charge can be compressed within the combustion chamber. With this upward movement, negative pressure is created beneath the piston, and as its skirt passes and opens the induction port, a fresh charge of fuel and air is drawn into the crankcase, ready to be transferred to the combustion chamber with the next downward stroke. Likewise, negative pressure in the crankcase draws in more fuel and air from the carburetor. The process is completed with a single 360 degree turn of the crankshaft, unlike the four-stroke which requires separate strokes for induction and exhaust.

 

There are disadvantages to such a simple design. The relationship between changing pressures above and below the piston, and the distance and size (timing) of the exhaust and transfer ports are critical to performance. The exhaust port must open first in the cycle to allow pressure above the piston to quickly drop below the pressure in the crankcase. Otherwise, spent exhaust gasses will be forced down through the transfer port and into the crankcase, reducing or eliminating proper induction as the transfer port opens. This problem is called “flow-short-cut.” Even if flow-short-cut can be avoided on the downward stroke, the simple three-port two-stroke remains inefficient because there is no physical isolation between incoming and exhaust charges, as is provided by the mechanical valves in a four-stroke. Because the exhaust port must be above the transfer port for the reasons described above, there is a time span when the scavenging port is open that some of the fresh fuel charge will be driven, unburned, out the exhaust. This is especially true when the transfer and exhaust ports are located on opposite sides of the cylinder, as was the case in many early two-stroke engines. Port size and timing are always a compromise because the more efficiently the exhaust port allows spent gas to escape, the less effective it will be in keeping the new combustible charge within the cylinder.

 

Because all access and departure port windows are in the cylinder walls, port timing and dimensions are very limited. For example, in a four-stroke, the exhaust port can remain open for a complete 180 degree upward stroke of the piston, during which no new incoming fuel charge is allowed to affect pressure to reduce efficiency. With the closely-located piston ports, induction and exhaust are only momentary in relation to the rotation of the crankshaft. This results in mediocre performance in an engine that, in theory, should have better performance characteristics.

 

Many methods were tried to improve scavenging in the three-port two-stroke. One was the so-called “deflecting piston.” (pictured here) Its crown was shaped with a “nose” intended to deflect the incoming charge away from the exhaust port. This method seemed to work with low-speed flow, but not so well at higher speeds. Furthermore, the nose tended to overheat (simple air-cooled two-strokes actually achieve some of their cooling through part of the fresh charge unavoidably escaping through the exhaust port), and its presence resulted in a less compact combustion chamber. The deflecting piston proved not to be a solution, although it was used in most engines of the era.

 

2. The development of the twingle.

As a consequence of this situation, which for the time seemed unsolvable, as early as 1919 the Italian firm Garelli designed a twin-piston engine. This design featured two pistons driven by a single rod and crank pin, which moved in two cylinders under a single, shared combustion chamber (pictured below). With its twin pistons and single combustion chamber, the design has earned the nickname “twingle.” The separate cylinders are ported so that one is responsible for inlet and exhaust timing, and the other for scavenging. Under this arrangement, incoming and exhausting gasses are better separated, and deflecting pistons prone to overheating are not required. Scavenging is always “direct flow,” meaning it never reverses on itself. Power output and fuel efficiency were improved somewhat, but there are disadvantages to this design as well. For example, it has a large combustion chamber designed for good flow rather than high compression, the “center-wall” between the two cylinders is difficult to cool, and the twin-cylinder engine is more expensive to manufacture.

 

In 1923, the Austrian firm Puch created a better version of the twingle. The principles of this design can be traced back to a design by Ferdinand Kindermann originating in 1877 that consisted of opposed cylinders with pistons converging into a common, disc-like combustion chamber (pictured below). Imagine this engine bent into a “U,” (pictured below) and voila, the Puch twin-piston engine is born. The novel and crucial feature of the Puch was a shared, forked piston rod that causes the two pistons to move asynchronously (with the exception of tdc and bdc where the leading piston "waits" for the trailing piston), creating unsymmetrical port timing. The "exhaust piston" leads the "scavenging piston," which means that, as usual, the exhaust piston has already opened the exhaust port before the scavenging port opens on the down-stroke. The fundamental and deciding difference to a conventional design is the closure of the exhaust port before the transfer port is closed by the trailing piston on its way up to tdc. This factor means a recharging effect is possible without the danger of losing fresh mixture into the pipe.* Tuned correctly, this design provides for less loss of charge as well as longer scavenging. The design offers greater torque spread, smooth running under partial load, and lower fuel consumption in comparison to the conventional three-port two-stroke. However, the forked rod could be problematic at high speeds. The engine worked best under 5,000 rpm, and despite Puch victories at Monza in the 1920s, the design was regarded almost “agricultural” in its tractor-like economy and ability to pull at low rpm.

 

In the long run, the Puch twingle (pictured here) proved a disappointment because it did little to close the power gap to the best four-stroke engines. With its improved scavenging time, what the Puch design brought out was that crankcase pressure had become the limiting factor to further two-stroke development. Without finding a way to increase crankcase pressure, better scavenging alone could not adequately increase the charge in the combustion chamber.

 

3. The “blown” two-stroke.

This is exactly what DKW did in the 1930s when it built U-rod twin-piston engines with “direct flow” scavenging, then supercharged the induction through a variety of methods. At first, the German brand used a “Ladepumpe,” an additional piston that functioned as an air pump (pictured here) and doubled output from 40hp per liter to 80hp per liter. With a full understanding of the Puch's weak points, DKW replaced the “U” rod with a master rod that included a pivoted, articulating “slave rod,” and water cooled the cylinders and head to reduce operating temperatures. But it was the supercharging of the engine that provided the quantum leap toward more power. The technology was applied to both two-piston “singles” and four-piston “twins.” Various models used both piston-pump supercharging and rotating blade supercharging.

 

With supercharging by "Ladepumpe,” greater attention had to be paid to inlet port timing to prevent resonance forces from pushing the inlet charge back into the manifold. Many different systems for controlling the inlet port were tried, including reed valves to barrel-type axial rotary valves. Both systems had limitations at higher rpm. While a lot of attention was paid to improving induction, until then little attention was paid to exhaust system designs. The exhaust pipes on all of these bikes were simple “straight-through" megaphones tuned for maximum flow to eliminate back-pressure that might have impeded the exhaust. Still, by comparison to previous two-stroke methods, DKW's success was enormous. Its Model ULD achieved 120hp per liter then moved upward to 150hp per liter in its final pre-war version in 1939.

An interesting sidebar to supercharging development was England's Dunelt, which used a “step-piston” design on a 500cc machine in 1921. Later, on its 250cc Model K in 1926 (pictured above), marketed this design as “supercharged.” The step-piston had a larger diameter at the lower portion of the piston, intended to draw more mixture into the crankcase. It is a novel concept, but was fraught with production and reliability problems. Specifically, it was difficult to achieve two different concentric bores in the cylinder, and the piston experienced distinctly different expansion rates between its upper and lower skirts. Furthermore, the pistons were very heavy, which limited reciprocating speed.

 

4. Adoption of reverse scavenging.

In 1932, DKW's Jorgen Skafte Rasmussen bought Professor Adolf Schnürle's patent for "reverse scavenging," directing engineer Dr. Herbert Venediger to apply it to DKW's designs. This "reverse scavenging" method was originally developed for big, slow-running stationary two-stroke Diesel engines used by the Deutz heavy industry company founded in Cologne in 1864. The design was developed in different variations patented by Schnürle in 1924 and 1925. Further development now lay in the hands of DKW because Deutz had no interest in the perfection of small, fast-running Otto-type ignition engines.

 

The fundamental difference with reverse scavenging as compared to the conventional lateral scavenging (with a single transfer port just opposite the exhaust port) is that two transfer ports are aimed directly at the back wall of the cylinder, which serves as a deflector. The charge flow is guided up to the combustion chamber where it loops down toward the exhaust port, thereby achieving a better scavenging, both for exhaust and for filling the cylinder. The piston's dome in this type of engine is even and much lighter, resulting in better mechanical durability and possibly higher reciprocating speeds, and in turn allowing for a more compact, efficient combustion chamber. Accepted fuel consumption for the two-stroke of the era was 500 grams per horsepower per hour. The Schnürle-ported engine reduced this immediately to 400g/hp/h, then eventually to 300 g/hp/h, which put it into the range of a four-stroke in terms of economical operation.

 

It is important to understand that Schnürle's patents referred to a certain symmetry based on the shape and location of the scavenging ports which were always aimed at the back wall of the cylinder. When introduced by DKW, the design proved efficient enough to cause serious consternation among other manufacturers. Either they would have to pay costly fees to DKW to use the design (which DKW didn't seem interested in doing anyway), or new designs would have to be developed to avoid patent infringement. This was the course taken by Ardie in 1935 with its “x-cross scavenging” as well as similar developments by Villiers and Sachs. How much Zündapp, DKW's main competitor in Germany to the time, was bothered by this achievement became clear when Managing Director Hans-Friedrich Neumeyer demanded in 1932 that Chief Engineer Richard Küchen (pictured here) immediately design a new engine incorporating reverse scavenging through an original design. It is reported that Küchen, enraged by the demand, created the new design overnight and slammed in onto Neumeyer's desk the next day! Küchen's definitive improvement over the reverse scavenging method used by DKW was a third transfer port—called an "assisted scavenging control port"—located opposite the exhaust port. This port was directed upwards at a very steep angle to improve the control of the flow from the main transfer ports. The method was highly successful and went into production in 1934 with the Derby 200 (engine pictured above). However, DKW successfully sued Zündapp, which was required to pay a penalty of one million Reichmarks! This was a painful judgment indeed, considering the price of a Derby 200 was between RM560 and RM620. Incidentally, today this decision is seen as incorrect, especially after WWII when all patents on reverse scavenging were voided, giving all manufacturers free use of the design.

 

5. The expansion chamber and rotary valves.

It is believed that the 1954 125cc IFA/MZ two-stroke single built by Walter Kaaden's racing department was the first un-supercharged motorcycle to achieve 100bhp per liter. This high power output with such a small engine was the result of DKW's Erich Wolf's one-off 1951 racing exhaust pipe with expansion chamber and end-cone, and Daniel Zimmermann's rotary disc valve, scientifically analyzed and eventually combined and tuned by Kaaden (pictured here). The rotary disc valve made asymmetrical port timing possible to allow independent control of the intake of fuel. The tuned resonance pipe with its diffuser, expansion chamber, and reflecting cone end allowed engineers to retrieve the lost portion of unburned fuel that flows out of the exhaust port of a more conventional two-stroke. Resonance in the exhaust system could be tuned to result in improved scavenging and useful back-pressure at precisely the right moments, timed to the stroke of the piston. The properly designed expansion chamber works as a pump to bring a new fuel charge into and through the engine. The speed of the exhaust gasses are so much higher than fresh mixture speed that negative pressure is created throughout the system, further increased by the exhaust pipe's diffuser, even to the mouth of the carburetor. Then, when the expansion chamber is filled with unburned gas and transfer ports are closed for the power stroke, the reflecting cone at the end of the exhaust pipe creates back pressure to drive the charge back into the cylinder, thus creating a kind of resonance-driven supercharging.  Expansion chambers can be built in very sophisticated shapes for compact fit within the motorcycle chassis.

 

Engineers at DKW and other companies had recognized prior to the Second World War that different mufflers affected power output. But in most case they were searching for the quietest muffler with acceptable power for street use, not for higher speeds and improved efficiency for racing, noise be damned. However, it was not until Richard Küchen's nearly forgotten third transfer port was "rediscovered" and featured in the 1959 MZ racers that the company's best two-stroke performance was achieved. The third port resulted in improved cooling, better durability, and better scavenging, which resulted in more power. In modern application of this design, the result is 400hp per liter motorcycles as seen in today's Moto GP 125cc and 250cc classes. It is a number that surely would have astonished even Alfred Angas Scott.

For more information about the Scott Flying Squirrel, click here

To learn more about Alfred Angas Scott, click here, here, or here. For more about two-stroke engines, click here, here, and here. For more about how the two-stroke expansion chamber works, click here, here and here.

Rasmussen photo courtesy of Audi Tradition, Auto Unionl.

Kaaden photo courtesy of FIM press office.

 

My first and only Indian

By Bill Karson

(3/25/2009)

 

Even though I was only nine years old back in 1956, I knew I was a motorcycle rider. On those hot summer afternoons, there was nothing better than hanging out in front of the company store in the small coal town where I grew up in western Pennsylvania. The store was next to the post office, right there in the center of town. It was the closest thing we had to a shopping center, and everybody would show up there sooner or later.

 

But, we weren't interested in everybody. We were there to see the ‘cycles! A guy would rumble in on a big Indian, a Harley, or a Vincent. He'd slowly slip down the sidestand, swing a leg over the bike, and do something mysterious with the gas petcock. Then, as the rider sauntered into the store, or the post office, he would always do the same thing. He would give us “the look.” What was “the look?” It's hard to explain. It was kind of a smile, kind of a smirk. Maybe it was the way they cocked their heads. Maybe it was the way they moved. But, it sent a clear, strong message: “I'm different, I'm doing something that makes me happy. I'm riding a ‘cycle. I've got more balls than you. Don't you wish you were me?” Boy, did we ever!

 

Every biker knows “the look.” It's one of those things that binds us together. It sums up thousands of good feelings, bits of secret knowledge, the thrill of tempting the odds, the joy of a warm breeze in your face, and the satisfaction of enduring a cold ride to work in the rain. Most of all, it says that bikers are different from everybody else. And, it says that we know that all those chumps behind the steering wheel wish that they could be us!

 

Before a rider was into the store, we kids were around the ‘cycle like a swarm of gnats. Back then, almost all of them were American, either Indians or Harleys. Occasionally, a guy with a lot of money would show up with a British Vincent, and, very rarely, something as exotic as one of those puny lightweight Triumphs. The bikes were big, heavy, and loaded with chrome. They smelled of gasoline, and the hot engines ticked as they shed their heat. They were magnificent. Of course, the arguing would begin right away. My nine-year-old buddies and I were firmly divided into two camps, the “Harley-Killed-Indian-‘cause-it's better” guys, and the “Indian-will-be-back-‘cause-it's-better” boys. I was in the Indian camp. After all, just look at it! The styling and paintwork made an Indian look like it was doing 80 when it was parked. Sure, the Harley was new, but it's just plain compared to an Indian. A Harley was interesting, but an Indian made my heart skip a beat. But, like all Indian lovers, I had to live with the facts. Indian hadn't built a bike since 1953, and all I had was the hope that they would come back.

 

Because I was only nine, of course I couldn't ride a motorcycle. The closest thing we had was my cousin Joey's old bicycle, with a cracked frame, bad brakes, and bald tires (pictured here). Close enough. Joey's bike became the vehicle that would transport us to Daytona, the Isle of Man, or anywhere we imagined. Whenever I rode it, it was, in my mind, an Indian Chief.

 

One of our regular rides was an ongoing dare. We would dare each other to ride down Conemaugh Avenue as fast as possible, and then make it around a blind corner known as—you guessed it— Dead Man's Curve. The street was gravel, the hill was long, and the corner was a 90-degree left-hander with just enough of a slant on the inside that you could make it at top speed. Problem was, a big lilac bush hid any oncoming cars from the rider's view. The dare was to see if you had the ya-yas to take the corner anyway.

 

Traffic was scarce on that street, and I had made the corner many times until a fateful day in June, 1956. I confidently pedaled down the hill, crouching down to cut wind resistance. I lined up outside, and hit the apex of the inside berm with just the right amount of rear tire slide. My pleasure turned to horror as I cleared the lilac bush to find that I was ten feet in front of a '56 Chevy, coming at me. With no brakes, I hit the front bumper full blast, and the world went into slow motion. It seemed like half an hour passed as I was launched from the bike, over the hood, and into the windshield of the Chevy. The next day, I woke up in the hospital with a hood ornament gash in my belly, a concussion, a broken wrist, and severely bruised hips. I recovered before my tenth birthday in July, but the incident caused a discussion in our house that went on for months.

 

My Mother was locked into the position that “He'll never ride a bike again.” But, my Dad thought what I really needed was a decent bike (Thank God for my Dad!). As Christmas approached, Dad and I went looking at bicycles. We went to the Schwinn store, and I saw some neat bikes. They were all in the range of $39 to $79. Then, my Dad took me over to see his buddy, Eddie Kaszycki, who owned the Johnstown Cycle Center. Eddie was an Indian Dealer who sold, fixed, and raced motorcycles. When my parents first got married, they lived in an apartment in a house that Eddie owned in the west end of Johnstown. Eddie and his shop were both classics. Eddie was a real character, a brash, round guy who would break out a couple of beers whenever my Dad showed up at the shop for a visit. My Mother didn't like Eddie because she hated motorcycles. I can remember my Dad getting into big trouble when I was about three because he took me to a TT race somewhere to see one of Eddie's bikes racing. But, I loved Eddie, and I loved visiting his shop. I mean, a whole showroom filled with Indians, Harleys, racing bikes, leather. . .I was in paradise!

 

So, my Dad asked Eddie if he had any bicycles. Eddie directed us to a corner of the showroom where I laid my ten-year-old eyes on the holy grail, an INDIAN BICYCLE! It had chrome fenders, Wald motorcycle grips, Sturmey-Archer 3-speed gears, and hand brakes (pictured above). It was fantastic. Best of all, the frame had had a big Indian logo, and the chain guard said “Indian Motorcycles – Springfield Mass. I had died and gone to heaven. Here was an actual Indian 2-wheeler that I could ride right now.

 

My joy was cut short. Dangling from the right hand brake was a price tag that said $115.00. Even for a ten-year-old, it didn't take much savvy to know that $115 was a lot more than the Schwinns we had seen. I had three brothers, Dad worked in the steel mill, and I knew we weren't rich. But, I wanted that Indian bike, so I asked Dad if his buddy Eddie could give us a deal. Dad took Eddie over to the farthest corner of the showroom, where they talked quietly for a couple of minutes. Then, Eddie burst out in a loud voice: “No, Bill, that's a special Indian bike. I've got to sell it for that price.” Then Dad, in an equally loud voice, said, “Well, Eddie, If that's the best you can do, I guess we'll look at the Schwinns again.” I was crushed. No, worse. My life was now worthless. On the ride home, Dad tried to console me, “Geez, Billy, I wish we could have afforded that Indian, that's a real nice bike. But, the Schwinn will be okay.” I understood. I hated it, but I understood.

 

Two weeks later, my brothers and I were up early to see what kind of loot Santa had put under the tree. It was one of the best moments of my life when I saw that gleaming new Indian bicycle leaning on its kick stand, just waiting to take me everywhere. I immediately realized the con game that Dad and Eddie had played on me. Even more important, I realized that my Dad really did understand me, and that he knew what was going on inside my head. It's one of the reasons that I really miss my Dad these days.

 

My Indian bicycle did take me everywhere. There were 50-mile Sunday rides that went so far away that I didn't tell my folks where I went until I got back. My Indian took me to my first job on a farm, then to caddy at a country club, and to deliver newspapers every morning for four years. I raced it, wrenched it, waxed it, and loved that bike. Then in 1963 I did something really stupid: I painted it! Later that year, I realized that it was wearing out, and I needed a good bicycle for the paper routes, now both now morning and afternoon. I traded the Indian in on a new Schwinn. Who knew that someday it would be worth a fortune? Now, I'm many bikes older, including five Hondas, two Husqvarnas, an Italjet, and now an “old fart's” '83 Yamaha Virago twin. I liked most of those motorcycles, but I've never loved any of them as much as the one without a motor, my first and only Indian!

 

Author's postscript: With this story is a picture of me and my Indian bicycle, taken in the summer of 1957. I have searched the web, but have not found any information on this type of Indian bicycle. From an eBay listing for a 1956 Schwinn ad (pictured above), it appears that it may have been a special edition built by Schwinn and based on the high-end Schwinn Corvette. The Schwinn has the same S-A 3-speed gears, chrome fenders, cantilevered frame, hand brakes, and 1-3/4” middleweight tires that were on the Indian. It does not show the saddlebag, and the Wald motorcycle grips that were on the Indian. I have never seen another Indian bicycle like mine, and I will appreciate any information—especially pictures—of this model. Contact me at karson@atlanticbb.net.

 

 

(3/23/2009)

 

Last month we presented a brief history of the practice of long distance riding in America (see Motohistory News & Views 2/28/2009). That story referred to the Iron Butt Rally, although it was certainly not a history of the Rally or the Iron Butt Association. A documentary of the 2007 Iron Butt Rally and a history of the organization can be had in the video “Hard Miles” by Abracadabra Presentation Graphics, Inc. This one hour presentation explains the Iron Butt Rally and covers the most recent event primarily through the stories of its participants. It is a good human interest tale about those who find challenge and satisfaction in riding a motorcycle over 11,000 miles in 11 days. However, I found even more interesting one of the bonus features, which consisted of Michael Kneebone explaining the history of the quarter-century-old rally and formation of the Iron Butt Association. Kneebone remains the guiding light and indefatigable promoter of the event and practice of long distance riding. For a copy of “Hard Miles,” click here.

 

Wood and Bator announce

huge auction; no reserves!

(3/21/2009)

 

Bator International and J. Wood and Company will offer a huge collection of over 380 motorcycles in Columbia, Tennessee, June 25, and there are no reserves! In addition to quantity, the sale offers quality and variety with lots such as a 1924 Brough Superior, a 1948 Scott Flying Squirrel, a 1933 Royal Enfield V-twin, a 1947 Indian Chief, and a rare 1977 Harley-Davidson Confederate Edition. In addition, there are Cushmans, Simplexes, Triumphs, Allstates, and more than 50 Harley-Davidsons and 50 Hondas. Less common marques on the block include Rokon, Lilac, NSU. Ural, and Dniepr. In addition, there are automobiles and oddities such as a 1929 Ford Model A Roadster clown car and a crashed Cessna aircraft. For more information, click here. In the mean time, if you are looking for results of the recent Bator/Wood Daytona auction, click here.

(3/20/2009)

 

The Riding Into History Concours d'Elegance will return to the World Golf Village near St. Augustine, Floriday on Saturday, May 16. Grand Marshals will be Motorcycle Hall of Famer Craig Vetter and Speed Channel star Dennis Gage. Proceeds for the event go to the Buddy Check 12 charity for breast cancer. For more information, click here.

 

Motohistory is where you find it. A guy finds an old Penton; notes that the engine looks better than the rest of the bike. Discovers a sales receipt in a can of nuts and bolts with the bike indicating that the Sachs engine —never ever started—was purchased at the Goodwill store. No kidding. Click here.

To see clean bikers behaving badly, click here.

 

For lots of action and information for U.S. central gulf coast vintage motocross riders, click here.

 

The Indiana Vintage Off-Road Motorcycle Enthusiasts organization has posted its 2009 schedule. To access the IVORME web site, click here.

 

Dirt track great Scott Parker will be inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in a ceremony at the Fillmore Theater in Detroit, Michigan on August 12. For more information, click here.

 

Yamaha fans will certainly enjoy the vast store of information on Ludy Buemer's web site. To check it out, click here.

 

The Carlisle, Pennsylvania Import-Kit/Replicar Nationals, scheduled to take place May 15 through 17, will add a vintage import motorcycle class this year (1979 or older). For more information, click here.

For photos of old military motorcycles, click here.

 

And speaking of American dirt track racing, fans of the sport will be interested in the good work of the White Plate Flattrackers Association. To access their web site, click here.

 

Vintage Honda enthusiasts will enjoy Bill Silver's web site. Click here.

 

For a listing of vintage motorcycle meets, check out the British Bike Connection. Click here.

 

Hemmings will be adding a motorcycle class to its Stratton Mountain Concours this coming July 19. They are looking for bikes 1979 or older. For more information, click here or write Craig Fitzgerald at cfitzgerald@hemmings.com.

 

We've written before about the Kansas Motorcycle Museum (see Motohistory News & Views 12/7/2006 ). To check out its new web site, click here.

 

Will Stoner is hosting a swap meet at the York Expo Center, York, Pennsylvania on April 5. For more information, click here.

 

The Reading Eagle of Reading, Pennsylvania, recently did a great story about the Reading Motorcycle Club, announcing that the club will publish a hardbound book in celebration of its upcoming 100th anniversary. To check it out, click here.

 

A story about the Blue Ribbon Coalition 2009 Breakfast of Champions can be found here.

 

For vintage Jack Pine Enduro photos, click here.

 

The new Classic Motorcycle Company in St. Louis, Missouri, offers an interesting and unusual vintage and classic motorcycle inventory. Its grand opening, featuring BBQ, an open house, and a bike show, will take place April 18. To learn more, click here.

One of the nicest persons Motohistory has had the pleasure to interview was the late Bob Jorgensen, a kind and clever man who loved steam engineering and history, and built a functioning replica of Sylvester Roper's steam motorcycle.  Now, Bob's son Pat is building a web site about his father and his achievements.  To check it out, click here.  To read our story about Jorgensen, go to Motohistory News & Views 7/14/2004.

 

Wheels Through Time

offers a '47 Knuck

(3/17/2009)

 

The Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina has announced that it seventh annual raffle will deliver a 1947 74 cubic inch Model FL Harley-Davidson Knucklehead or an alternative cash prize of $20,000 to some luck winner by November, 2009. Tickets for the raffle are available for $10, or for a donation of $50, participants can receive seven tickets and a free WTTM T-shirt. All proceeds will go to building new exhibits and helping maintain one of America's leading motorcycle museums. Although Wheels Through Time recently suspended regular hours open to the public, the Museum is still available for visitation by appointment. To purchase raffle tickets, send name, address, and phone number with your donation to WTTM Annual Raffle, P.O. Box 790, Maggie Valley, NC 28751. Tickets are also available online. For more information about the raffle and the Wheels Through Time in general, click here.  And while we're on the topic of Wheels Through Time, we should note that some of the best shows from the Museum's on-line Time Machine are now available on DVD.  For more information, click here.

 

(3/15/2009)

 

Veloce Publishing has just announced “The BMW Boxer Twins Bible” by Ian Falloon, covering most air-cooled models from 1970 through 1996 (R45, R65, G/S and GS models are not included). To book contains a description of boxer development for two and a half decades, including a detailed look at the groundbreaking and class-leading R90S and R100RS. With a year-by-year and change-by-change analysis, it contains all engine and frame numbers, and technical specifications by year. There is also a chapter on racing development. In hard cover with dust cover, in 8½ x 11-inch format with 160 pages and more than 200 images, “The BMW Boxer Twins Bible” sells for $59.95US or £29.95UK. To contact the publisher, click here.

 

VMX No. 37 contains stories about the 1982 ultimate CZ400, the 1979 Mugen 390, and the 1982 Yamaha IT250j. In addition, there are features about German vintage enduros, the 1975 Jawa ISDT 350, the Pro-Fab Yamaha, the 1957 Adler MB250 motocross twin, the 1982 Yamaha YZ125J, the 1972 Kawasaki 100 G4TR, the 1969 Maico 360, Bultaco's 50 th anniversary celebration, and the 2008 International Six Days' Trial Reunion Ride. As always, the photography is eye-popping. To contact VMX on the web, click here.

 

A Third Wheel: The Eccentric Alternative; A Guide to Sidecars and Trikes,” by Simon Potter, has just been announced by Panther Publishing Ltd. This book is a guide for those willing to take the plunge into the unknown with their first sidecar fitting or trike conversion. It explains what bikes are suitable for conversion, from old British singles to modern Japanese multis. It contains a guide to trike and sidecar suppliers, sources of accessories, and web sites that contain useful information. In soft cover with 150 pages and approximately 200 photos, “A Third Wheel” is available for £12.95 plus £2.50 postage and handling. To contact Panther Publishing, click here.

 

Bed of Knuckles

(3/13/2009)

 

You've heard of Eastern religion practitioners who rest on a bed of nails. Well, either Matt Olson has adopted some new weird religion, or he was just so tired after returning from Daytona that he could fall asleep anywhere. We stole this photo from Cyril Huze's blog of March 15, 2009. Huze thought it funny enough that he declared it his photo of the week. To check out the post, click here. And check out the comments. One guy is positively pissed because someone has enough engines to sleep on, and he doesn't have any. He even goes so far in his humorless attack that he indicts the whole of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America, for which Matt Olson is Youth Coordinator.

 

For those of you who do not follow Cyril Huze's blog, you should. There's a new posting daily, and it is characteristically novel, informative, and unpredictable, and often learned. To check it out, click here. And while we are on the topic of Huze's blog, fans of the three-wheeled Morgan will find interesting a second post of March 15 that reports on a modern rendition created by Peter Larsen of Seattle, Washington. Huze calls it “theater on the road.” Indeed! Click here.

 

 

New paintings from Aziere Art

(3/11/2009)

 

Painter Stephanie Azierre-Sattler has released two new paintings of interest to Motohistorians. “Adrenalin” depicts dirt track legend Scott Parker during his first national win in his long career as an AMA Grand National Champions. The original pastel in 15x22-inch format is available for $1,000. Ten numbered artist's proofs in full original size are available for $110 each. Fifty numbered, limited-edition Giclee prints are available in 13x20-inch format for $80.

 

Also new from Aziere-Sattler' studio is “The Mascot,” the artist's interpretation of the famous image of 1920s racer Ray Weishaar and his piglet mascot which some believe gave rise to the term “Harley Hog.” It was a moniker that the Motor Company resisted for many years, then finally in 1983 embraced and adopted as the acronym H.O.G. for its Harley Owners Group. The original oil of this recently completed painting is available and prints are pending.

“Sister Speed” captures the Cobb sisters, Erica and Karlee, on the salt at Bonneville. Erica, age 17, holds a record in a 1,350cc at 130.392 mph. Karlee, age 14, holds records of 107.391 and 110.724 in two of the 500cc classes. The original painting is in oil. A limited edition giclee 18x30-inch print of “Sister Speed” is available for $195.00. Only 50 such prints will be produced. Ten artist's proofs in 24x36-inches are available for $325.00 each. For interest in this Print, please respond to email or Contact us personally. For more information about "The Mascot,” "Sister Speed," and “Adrenalin,” contact the artist at 660-221-7792 or click here.

 

 

Unusual Eustis

(3/10/2009)

 

Long gone are the days when Antique Motorcycle Club of America national meets attracted American brands almost exclusively, with these being dominated by Indians and Harleys. The best of the great American classics can still be found at any AMCA meet, but changing tastes and new generations of collectors are bringing out a greater variety of equipment representing a worldwide panorama of brands. The AMCA Sunshine Chapter meet, held at Eustis, Florida at the end of February, seems to have a special ability for attracting the unusual, the seldom seen, and the offbeat.

 

This year's Eustis meet had one of the best representations of BMWs seen recently anywhere, ranging from pre-war models to /2s and /5s. Preeminent among these were a half-dozen from the collection of Floridian Jack Wells. But BMWs were dead orthodox compared to some of the other motorcycles on display. For example, Blue Moon Cycle brought out not only an eye-popping blue Hungarian Panonia with Duna sidecar—a vessel that would stir the lust of Buck Rogers—but also a Victoria Avante (both pictured above), a lovely little deco German moped not likely to be seen within American gatherings.

 

Then there was the better-than-new Montgomery Ward Mojave recently completed by David Burgess. Many have never heard of this ill-fated attempt to compete with Sears in the American mail order market, and those who know of the bike have likely never seen one in this fine condition (pictured above). The Mojave, built in Italy to styling specs suggested by Bud Ekins, was one of the many faux scramblers that looked better than they performed, proving mainly that looking like a Rickman didn't assure handling like a Rickman. In addition to his rare Mojave, Burgess demonstrated his eclectic tastes by displaying a variety of machines including a fabulous Matchless-powered three-wheel Morgan (above) that sounded even better than it looked.

 

There were many customs as well, some brought out to compete in the AMCA's period modified class, and some just for the fun and hell of it. Wheels Through Time Museum curator Dale Walksler unveiled his beautiful Harley “VEL,” a hybrid composed of an EL engine, a VL frame, and much hand-shaped sheet metal (pictured above). Also among the stunning customs on display was a Square Four to die for (right). Ariel purists might consider this bike an abomination, but to see it was to understand it. With bobbed fender, it made the Square Four's remarkable compactness even smaller, wrapped in a package of chrome and red and gold metal-flake paint. And of course we should not fail to mention every teenager's dream, an XLCH engine with a Cushman Eagle tidily wrapped around it.

 

Eustis is not one of the larger of the AMCA national meets, but it is one of the most interesting, bringing to light the winter projects of builders and restorers from all over the Eastern United States, especially those from the north who are sick and tired of a long winter.

 

 

(3/9/2009)

 

Historian and journalist Terry Stevenson writes from New Zealand:

Hi, Ed, my next project for an article is finding out more about the Yamaha fuel-injected, liquid-cooled GL750 four-cylinder, two-stoke that was displayed at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1972, then in France the following year, but disappeared before making it into production (pictured here). There was a bit of a furore made about it coming to market, then nothing. It was quickly forgotten. It was featured on the cover of Cycle News or Cycle World in late 1972 or early '73, about the same time as announcement of the RZ201 rotary prototype, which also did not go into production.

If you know anything about this bike, or perhaps someone who might know anything about it from the time, please put me in touch with them. I'm also trying to find as many photos as I can. Contact me at tappet@paradise.net.nz.

Okay, Motohistorians, I will confess to being out of my depth here. I know nothing about the Yamaha GL750, but I'll bet some of you do. If you can, please give Terry some help.


Lambert & Butler's

vintage motorcycle cards

(3/7/2009)

 

Here are more motorcycle cards, distributed with Lambert & Butler's cigarettes in the United Kingdom in 1923, from the Ken Weingart collection.


45 in a series of 50:

Scott Squirrel

The text on the back of the card reads:

The Scott has a water-cooled, twin-cylinder, two-stroke engine—a design notable for its simplicity owing to its absence of valve mechanism, and for its smooth and even power delivery. In this latter respect the two-cylinder two-stroke is equal to the four-cylinder four-stroke. The Squirrel model illustrated is the Scott sporting type.

46 in a Series of 50:

T.T. Sumbeam

The text on the back of the card reads:

Engine 3½ h.p. single-cylinder Sumbeam 77 x 105. 492c.c. with light moving parts, highly efficient and very fast side-by-side valves, three-speed countershaft gear, clutch hand operated. This machine won the 1920 and 1922 Senior Tourist Trophy Race in the Isle of Man, the 1922 French Grand Prix, the 1922 Italian Tourist Trophy Race, the Austrian Championship, and many other important events throughout the world.

 


(3/5/2009)

In response to our story by Mick Duckworth about the unique “face cam” Chater Lea, introduced in 1925 (Motohistory News & Views 2/24/2009), Kevin Cameron writes:

Strange, therefore, that when the British motorcycle industry was told “Export or die” by the British Board of Trade immediately after the Second World War, they all reverted to clattering pushrods. The last pushrod win at the Isle of Man took place in 1932 at the Junior TT.

 

An interesting observation, Kevin. People talk about how the British failed as a result of their hidebound adherence to tradition. But it is not as if British motorcycling did not have an OHC tradition as well.  That one they apparently ignored.

 

Motohistory Quiz #64:

We have a winner!

(3/3/2009)

Bob Heywood of Dayton, Ohio writes, “It's a Skat-Kitty, manufactured by Projects Unlimited in Dayton. It featured a cast aluminum frame that included the front fender.” Bob is correct on all counts. The Skat-Kitty, pictured here, was one of the smallest vehicles on the market during the 1960s. It was licensable for the street and available through the Sears catalog for $179.95. Or, you could get one by saving S&H Green Stamps (remember those?). It had a 2.5 horsepower four-stroke engine, and for someone with a family (maybe a small family), a sidecar was available. Though it does not show well in this photo, the chassis of the Skat-Kitty was a one-piece aluminum unit extending from the front fender through the rear.

This example—a 1965 model—was a kitchen table restoration project by Jeanne Smith of Middletown, Pennsylvania. It is currently on display at the Antique Automobile Club of America Museum in Hershey. The manufacturer of the Skat-Kitty is still in business, making some pretty high-tech stuff. To read more about Projects Unlimited, click here. For more information about the Skat-Kitty, click here. To reach the AMCA Museum web site, click here. For those of you too young to remember S&H Green Stamps, click here.

 

Congratulations, Bob, your personalized Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma is on its way.