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14th August 2007

Summer Fun 2007
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In a first for a classic bike publication, we have a report about an event to which we did not go. RC reporters did go to Rotary Day in Lancashire and Swaton Vintage Day. Oh, and it even rained in New Zealand this summer...

Gawthorpe Hall Classic & Rotary Rally, by Allan Stubbs

Gawthorpe Hall in Lancashire played host to a classic get-together in June, which had a particular focus on rotary-engined motorcycles. Among the dozens of 'normal' classic bikes there were 23 or more rotary-powered machines including two F1s, two Interpols, two F1 Sports and a clutch of Commanders.

Norton Intpol Special.

The weather started off poorly but soon improved and the afternoon was so hot that the ice cream van did a roaring trade! The organisers expect to run a similar event next year, so look out for details.

Just.... why? A fine conversion for a crashed Exup, but...

The Holsworthy Vintage Rally, by NVNL

Family obligations prevented me from attending one of my favourite rallies this year - the Holsworthy Rally, held on Sunday 24/6/07 in Devon. So Mike Curtis was kind enough to e mail me these pictures to show me what I'd missed…

Careful; looks like it's going to topple over at any... 1949 Norton 500T

1949 Norton 500T, this year's competition class winner. Swoon.

Is that a shock absorper above the silencer? 1950 Douglas MK 5 350cc

1950 Douglas MK 5 350cc one of 3 machines used in the 1950 International 6 day trial.

A lovely pair. That should set the search engines thinking...

This lovely pair of Matchless Rs has quite a story attached to it. Notice the registration numbers as they were both originally purchased at the same time in 1928.

Picking bits of fluff off your t-shirt; more interesting than looking at BSAs? 1961 BSA A10 Gold Flash

This 1961 BSA A10 Gold Flash was the pre 65 trophy winner. Note legshield brigade in the back row.

Note complicated and distracting mirror. 1969 Triumph Trophy TR 25W

The post 65 winner was this 1969 Triumph Trophy TR 25W.

Note complicated and distracting mirror. Large crowd gathered looking at a fine selection of motorbikes from all over Devon & Cornwall.

Mike Curtis' Bonnie in front didn't win anything! The judges may have been overzealous in their efforts to avoid accusations of favouritism. I surely hope to be at Holsworthy show next year; it's usually on the last Sunday in June which I reckon makes it 29/6/08. See you there?

Swaton Vintage Day by Roy Workman

This was the twelfth Annual Swaton Vintage Day and Country Fayre, which is a one day show held at Thorpe Latimer Park, which is a dozen miles or so from Sleaford, Lincs. The show includes vintage and classic cars, motorcycles, tractors, commercials and stationary engines. There are also parades of vehicles, craft and trade stands and terrier racing, as well as a demonstration of dog handling; there is certainly something for everyone.

I was concerned that the field in which the event was to be held would be waterlogged; the previous day we had driven through a couple of fords which are not usually there! Setting off to the show the weather was overcast but it stayed dry. I was shown to my place at the show by Jonathan Bourne, who organises the motorcycle section. He told me that he hoped for 80 motorcycles this year. However, because the weather wasn't very inviting, there were quite a few gaps where people had looked out of the window, seen the rain and decided to give the show a miss.

Jonathan's OIF Bonneville

Jonathan showed me his OIF Bonneville which he told me is a bit down on compression at the moment. He wanted to strip the head and barrels off after this show; however one of his friends suggested a trip to the Manx Grand Prix so the rebuild has been put on hold. One of the guys going on the trip had a Raleigh moped on display and the comments were made that he should make it to the island on that machine…!

Last year I met an older couple who were planning their first trip to Ireland. The chap said that they must go while they still have time to do it. Talking to his wife this year she told me that they had a great time running around the southern part of Ireland. Their bike, a Francis-Barnett, fouled a couple of plugs during the twelve-day trip, but other than that it ran sweetly. The lady mentioned that it rained for ten days out of the twelve, but that is what makes the grass nice and green over there!

1960 Francis-Barnett

Although I was expecting a quagmire the field held up well. However some of the heavier vehicles like lorries and cars did not get their parade laps. After lunch the rain eased off and more spectators arrived. There were some dog agility classes, followed by terrier dog racing (bring your own dog). A stray black lab also took part - he was taking one stride to the terriers' three! He was having a great time!

It was safe to have a parade of motorcycles and some twenty machines took part, with Jonathan and his Bonnie leading the way. The overall turn-out of 65 motorcycles was very good considering the weather.

Reliant Robin sidecar not shown, sadly.

Stuart Sixsmith of Unit Sidecars had done a great job in getting a group of sidecars to turn up; there were ten altogether - quite an impressive sight. There was a lot of interest in a sidecar which was a made from a Reliant Robin body; this caught people's eyes. Quite a lot of people came over for a look and a chat..

Beginning of the end for the Brit parallel twin. 1966 Honda CB450 "Black Bomber"

This is a good one-day show, well put together and organised by a team of enthusiasts. The show raised £6500 for local charities and worthy causes - not bad for a wet day with a reduced crowd. Well done. I am certainly looking forward to next year's event!

The NZ TOMCC National Rally, by Ken Spall

What a superb national rally that was - complete with an excellent example of warm New Zealand precipitation! I left with the Legend well loaded up at 3.30pm and headed away through the Dunedin traffic and up onto the Northern motorway. It felt good to be underway - the weather was fine, the bike was howling beautifully, (I have a very noisy 3-into-1 exhaust) and I could settle into the ride.

After an overnight I was away by seven the next morning into a thickening fog. Thankfully it wasn't cold or raining. When I pulled over for a re-fuel and a quick cup of tea I was joined by friends Darryl, Ken, Willy, Steve and his partner - great, it's much more fun riding with good company.


Before too long we rolled into the Domain Camp at Reefton where the check-in tent was set up to welcome us to the 13th NZ TOMCC National Rally. We were able to find ourselves a comfortable possie for our tents, but it was not too long before I realised I had made a serious mistake in the location of my tent. The fine weather was moved aside by some very dark and heavy looking storm clouds. Sure enough, soon we were treated to one of the West Coast's very heavy cloud bursts. There were deep puddles forming in various dips and hollows in the ground - and my tent was in one of them!

It continued raining on and off for most of the afternoon as groups of riders arrived with similar tales of heavy drenchings. One rider said that the rain was so heavy he felt he was riding using braille! But for all the dampness, it did not kill any enthusiasm with about a hundred riders having arrived by late Friday.

Saturday morning, thankfully dry and sunny, kicked off with our AGM. Business was dealt with reasonably quickly and by 10.30 the organised ride was on its way, with about 90 bikes providing an impressive rumbling cavalcade down Reefton's main street and then off to explore some of the Coast's great riding roads. Carefull!

The bike games commenced in the afternoon with a pillion having to grab cups of water off a slalom of road cones, negotiate a shallow see-saw, tip the water onto the rider and then grab a sour worm hung from a goal post. All very easy and a lot of fun.

Then the Wanganui Branch members held an event to break some eggs… Each member leaving Wanganui was given an egg which they had to carry at all times. Six eggs arrived unbroken so each rider and pillion had to ride over the see-saw and a few other bumpy bits with an egg in their mouths.

Amazing, the eggs still did not break! So degenerated into a free-for-all with eggs splattered against various victims and anyone who happened to be close being doused with water.

By late afternoon the bike show was organised with a very good turnout of machines of all types. Some of the most notable bikes were a couple of beautifully restored German two-stroke TWN Triumphs from the early fifties. (In 1902 Triumph Motorcycles opened a subsidiary company in Germany under the name TWN; Triumph Werke Nuremberg). One of these won the Best Two Stroke and the Oldest Triumph prizes.


A rather nice touch was an anonymous donation of $100 to the winner of the Hard Luck prize, the recipient being a young guy on a Meriden Bonnie who had suffered some severe damage to the motor while he had been out on the organised ride. It will certainly help him get it back up and running.

The evening's revelries then kicked off with well played music from a local band. Warm showers continued through the early evening but it didn't dampen the enthusiasm of our rally participants.

Random Bonneville Stuff on

The next day I reluctantly left the rally site with Bob, who had ridden down from Auckland and was doing a tour further south. Our plan was to ride down the West Coast, Bob would stay at Jacksons Bay while I would continue through the Haast and back home via Alexandra. And what a magnificent ride it was. The weather was bright and sunny all the way. It was the first time I had been through the Haast Pass when it had not been raining, so for once I could actually see what it looked like - great riding country.

After about 10 hours riding I arrived home tired but still buzzing from enjoying such wonderful weekend. I've been to many bike rallies, but I would have to honestly say TOMCC do the best ones.


More random Triumphs on


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