have a winner!
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,
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
two-piece molded fiberglass hull was built at a specialist
factory set up by Vincent in Llandwrog, North
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
a huge market for a zippy “water scooter.” According to
a report in
Evening Standard, the
planned to order 6,000 more Amandas pending acceptance
of the first batch.
disaster struck the first time the Amanda was demonstrated
on a U.S.
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.
in the Amanda saga doesn't end there. Veteran Vincent
employee and factory tester Johnny Penn drowned while
testing an Amanda near Mersea
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
Vincent's trusted “right hand man” Ted Davies was already
in the States on company business. He went straight to
to investigate the problem.
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.
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.
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.
motogiro organizer Bob Coy also sent us a personal account.
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:
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.
Watson, former editor of MPH,
the Vincent HRD Owners Club magazine, sent us a photograph
of himself aboard the restored
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
Robert, for the photo. To my eye you look a little tense
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.
Hope it walks better than its namesake floated.
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
Motohistorians, it is time for another Motohistory Quiz.
What is this and what in the world does it have to do
with motorcycle history?
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
you answer to Ed@Motohistory.net.
memoir in celebration of
Jeff Thompson and Sean Ahern
told to Karen Kentosh
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.
all probably started with Sean Ahern, a 25-year-old Air
Force dude from Newark,
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.
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!
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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
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.
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,
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.
top to bottom:
the road to adventure in 1971. Left to right: Jeff, Sean,
and Bill Swanson.
Thompson busy on a Saturday at the first Abraxas shop
Swanson at the Alpina display at the Jacksontown shop.
McCittrick aboard a rare 100cc Tiron.
new shop with its hand-painted sign, opened in 1975.
riding a Pursang at the test track at the new dealership;
distinctive domes in the background.
sales and parts desk at the new shop.
in the new showroom in 1975, with an inventory of nearly
30 new Bultacos.
Abraxas domes at night, as seen from Ohio Route 33 near
old Abraxas shop today, now the U.S. Post Office in Jackstontown
and Sean today.
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
special-built four-cylinder Ace on the recently-completed
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.
1925, Wolverton married Helen Frankowski and borrowed
$300 to enter a partnership in a Harley-Davidson dealership
In 1929, he relocated to Reading,
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,
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.
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
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
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
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.
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,
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.
photos courtesy of Dottie and Jack Vanino.
top to bottom:
and Red Wolverton with their Harley-Davidson sidecar rig.
the highway in Mexico.
Wolverton's hand-written note says, “On Pan American Highway
reloading the motorcycle after a night's stay in a roadside
Ben Campanale's dealership in Pomona,
Wolverton's hand-written note says, “Benny Campanale,
Dudley Perkins' dealership in San
the road in Colorado
. Wolverton's hand-written
note says, “Entering Colorado High in the Rockeys.”
front of the Harley-Davidson factory in Milwaukee
at the end of the
trip. Wolverton's note says, “Back to H-D Factory.”
short review of a long evolution
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.
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)
that development led to DKW becoming the world's largest
motorcycle manufacturer by 1928 (for
more about Rasmussen see Motohistory News & Views
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.
Simple piston-port two-strokes, whose inherent problems
and limitations led to:
Development of "twingles" as done in exemplary
fashion by Garelli and Puch. The limitations of twingles
“Blown” twin-piston engines using forced air induction
as seen in DKW racers, and the
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.
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.
The basic piston-port engine
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.
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
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
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.
The development of the twingle.
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
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.
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
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.
the forked rod could be problematic at high speeds. The
engine worked best under 5,000 rpm, and despite Puch victories
in the 1920s, the design was regarded almost “agricultural”
in its tractor-like economy and ability to pull at low
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.
The “blown” two-stroke.
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.
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
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.
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.
Adoption of reverse scavenging.
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.
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.
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.
The expansion chamber and rotary valves.
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
chambers can be built in very sophisticated shapes for
compact fit within the motorcycle chassis.
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
more information about the Scott Flying Squirrel, click
learn more about Alfred Angas Scott, click here,
For more about two-stroke engines, click here,
For more about how the two-stroke expansion chamber works,
photo courtesy of Audi Tradition, Auto Unionl.
photo courtesy of FIM press office.
first and only Indian
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
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!
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!
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
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
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.
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.
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!
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
had died and gone to heaven. Here was an actual Indian
2-wheeler that I could ride right now.
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.
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
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.
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!
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 email@example.com.
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
and Bator announce
auction; no reserves!
International and J. Wood and Company will offer a huge
collection of over 380 motorcycles in Columbia,
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,
In the mean time, if you are looking for results of the
recent Bator/Wood Daytona auction, click here.
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
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.
see clean bikers behaving badly, click
lots of action and information for U.S. central
gulf coast vintage motocross riders, click here.
Indiana Vintage Off-Road Motorcycle Enthusiasts
organization has posted its 2009 schedule. To
access the IVORME web site, click here.
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.
certainly enjoy the vast store of information on Ludy
Buemer's web site. To check it out, click here.
Nationals, scheduled to take place May 15 through
17, will add a vintage import motorcycle class
this year (1979 or older). For more information,
photos of old military motorcycles, click
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.
will enjoy Bill Silver's web site. Click
a listing of vintage motorcycle meets, check out the British
Bike Connection. Click here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
written before about the Kansas Motorcycle Museum
(see Motohistory News & Views 12/7/2006
). To check out its new web site, click here.
is hosting a swap meet at the York Expo Center,
York, Pennsylvania on April 5. For more information, click
Reading Eagle of Reading,
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.
story about the Blue Ribbon Coalition 2009 Breakfast
of Champions can be found here.
vintage Jack Pine Enduro photos, click
new Classic Motorcycle Company in St.
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.
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
To read our story about Jorgensen, go to Motohistory News
& Views 7/14/2004.
a '47 Knuck
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
paintings from Aziere Art
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.
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.
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
more information about "The Mascot,” "Sister
Speed," and “Adrenalin,” contact the artist at 660-221-7792
or click here.
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,
at the end of February, seems to have a special ability
for attracting the unusual, the seldom seen, and the offbeat.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
those from the north who are sick and tired of a long
and journalist Terry Stevenson writes from New
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.
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 email@example.com.
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
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:
text on the back of the card reads:
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.
in a Series of 50:
text on the back of the card reads:
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.
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:
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
took place in 1932 at the Junior TT.
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.
have a winner!
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.
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,
Bob, your personalized Motohistory Know-It-All Diploma
is on its way.