1st July 2015
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Sunbeam MCC Rose of the Shires Run
Richard Jones goes in search of some vintage motorcycles, and finds a superb selection in the English shires. Oh, and a couple of international interlopers...
It’s that déja vu all over again. I’m in Stoke Bruerne on a glorious Sunday morning in June and it’s the Sunbeam MCC Rose of the Shires ride for pre-1931 machines. Have I travelled back to 2014 because I am certain it was exactly the same then? Indeed, no. It is 2015, I am still another year older and the SMCC is just very fortunate in choosing the weekend for this particular run and although some of the machines may also be the same I’ll try and ring the changes.
Stoke Bruerne is not very large but what with the canal, a canal museum, two pubs and the fact the village is very picturesque, it is extremely popular and parking is at a premium. However there is – at the edge of the village – an overflow car park (or field as the less complimentary may call it) and it was here that I spotted this rare machine. Kynoch first appeared in the early 1860s when George of that name acquired a firm manufacturing percussion caps for whom he was working in Birmingham. Over the next 40 or 50 years the company grew, and by 1914 it was making war munitions, sporting ammunition, candles coins, soap, bicycles and so on and so forth. Back in 1904 they also had a go at motorcycles, producing a machine with a 2¾hp engine with chain drive on their own account, as well as manufacturing a couple of machines for F Hayden of Cheltenham where the fuel was carried in the frame tubes.
Nothing was then heard until 1912 when the Kynoch name reappears with a model using a 3½hp JAP or Precision engine, Druid forks and a choice between a free-engine option or a BSA two-speed gearbox. 1913 saw the use of 4hp single or 6hp twin JAP engines with a three-speed Sturmey-Archer hub gear and belt final drive. Kynochs must have decided that motorcycles were not as profitable as explosives as 1913 was the last year they appear to have been built. It was also the year this example in Stoke Bruerne dates from although the use of a Precision engine suggests that it may have been manufactured in 1912. The owner had been having problems getting it to run recently and new piston rings and valve springs had been fitted – the run was a chance to see how successful the work had been.
Another rare machine nestling in the grassy car park was this 1920 Coulson B, only one of four still believed to be in existence. The others are located in Essex, Scotland and Italy so organising a venue for the marque rally would be challenging to say the least. Formerly with the Wooler marque, F Aslett Coulson set up on his own account in 1919. His Unique Selling Proposition, as today’s marketers would say, was rear-wheel suspension employing short swinging links under the control of laminated leaf springs (visible in the photo).
Apart from this it was relatively standard motorcycle for the period – 349cc side-valve Blackburne engine, two-speed Jardine gearbox, Druid forks and chain/belt drive. This model was joined in short order by a 545cc Blackburne sidevalve, which could be bought in sporting trim, and a 292cc two-stroke which used a Union engine. Despite publicity events – including riding for 25 miles on the rear wheel rim sans tyre and tube – the company failed in 1921. The marque then changed hands in quick succession, first to AA Wall in 1921, who used JAP and Liberty engines, and then in 1923 to HR Backhouse who continued with the Liberty, reintroduced Blackburne 349cc engines in ohv and sv form and then changed the name to New Coulson. Sadly this too disappeared in 1924. The owner of this example, Raymond Hudson, is the VMCC marque specialist and acquired his machine in boxes some 10 years ago from a Mr Coulson – no relative of F Aslett but acquired because it bore his name (there are a couple of Jones marque machines recorded but neither appeal to me).
This 1928 Triumph 490cc – which I believe is a Model P but please correct me if I’m wrong – is perhaps not so rare as the previous two machines but that sidecar is well worth a photo. I know absolutely nothing about sidecars so I cannot tell you anything about this. Is there anyone out there in RealClassicLand who can shed some light?
Another outfit, this time a Scott which had a genuine Scott sidecar attached – sorry it’s not exactly visible here – which had a dicky seat at the rear. The outfit is ridden regularly by its owner and was apparently used for his honeymoon transport. A good reason never to part with it.
I couldn’t resist photographing this 1928 Rudge Whitworth as the paintwork was immaculate – the black was as deep as a well and the contrasting coach lines set it off beautifully. This is an early version of Rudge’s Special model which had a 499cc engine with a four valve cylinder head together with drum brakes and a saddle tank, innovations (sic) which Rudge had recently introduced.
Not all the machines in the car park were pre-1931 and I came across this lovely little Capriolo, a marque that was at operation in Trento, near Verona, between 1948 and 1964. Count Giovanni Caproni switched his aircraft factory to motorcycle production and built a range of lightweights with either their own Aero-Caproni (Aeromere from 1958) ohv and ohc power units or bought-in NSU two-stroke engines. These latter machines were marketed under the name Caproni-Vizzola with models named Cavilux and Cavimax – Italian style and German engineering. You will see from the photograph that the Capriolo frames were manufactured from pressed steel; engine sizes ranged between 48cc to 125cc although a novel horizontally opposed 149cc twin was produced in 1955. Import to the UK only began in 1960 so there may not be too many around and therefore another rare sight in Stoke Bruerne.
I had to include this one as it looks such a beast – apparently it’s from 1974 and 739cc so I am guessing that it’s a GT750 that has been turned into a ferocious looking café racer. It must have taken quite a bit of work and time to thread those exhausts around and through the bike – I just wish I had heard it being fired up.
Let’s finish with a bit of riding action, first with this 1927 Sun with, I think, a 346cc JAP side-valve engine; it was going at quite a pace for a machine that’s nearly 90 years old.
Finally this 1929 Rudge Ulster with its 499cc engine taking it along through the Northamptonshire countryside at a speed in keeping with its heritage. Not sure how I managed to get it in focus, but doesn’t it look good?
You’ll find more photos from this event and many other motorcycle rides and shows at Richard’s archive: www.flickr.com/photos/cerrig_photography/sets/
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