14th January 2015
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Vintage Stony 2015
Vintage motorcycles can be much more than mere museum pieces. Richard Jones discovers a high-mileage Brough and a Raleigh that’s been ridden right around the world among the classic bikes ridden to Stony Stratford in January...
After the rigours of the Christmas festivities what could be more pleasant than a classic bike and car extravaganza virtually on your doorstep? Fortunately for me and Mrs J such a diversion was available on New Year’s Day at Stony Stratford, just a short drive from Jones Towers. Vintage Stony was described as a ‘Vintage Car and Motorcycle Gathering’ and it lived up to its promise, so much so that the number of classic cars arriving exceeded the available display space and vehicles were being turned away. Fortunately this was not an issue for the bikes that arrived.
A good selection of machines arrived varying in age from the 1920s to the 1970s, from BSA to a Puch moped.
Although having more than two wheels means Jacqueline Bickerstaff’s 1898 Leon Bollée 4hp Voiturette is not technically a motorcycle it is still a very welcome sight at these meetings and was, in fact, probably one of the two oldest machines to make an appearance. I am rather annoyed with myself though – despite an early start I didn’t get to Stony early enough to see PUB’s arrival with Mr Clive preceding the machine his red flag (which you can just about see in the footwell). Next year perhaps.
I don’t know – you wait ages to see a 1923 Raleigh 2¾hp 350cc with Sturmey Archer three-speed gearbox and then two arrive at the same time. This was the more patinated of the two on display at Stony but they were, otherwise, pretty much identical, even down to the wicker basket, albeit the other was described as a ‘Semi-Sport’. I’ve not been able to determine what gave rise to this distinction – it certainly wasn’t TT success as the marque’s first entry at the previous year’s Junior race had led to a DNF for a Mr A. Milner. In fact their best placing was in 1930 when CJ Williams came fifth in the Junior. Raleigh was known for endurance events but it wasn’t until 1924 that Marjorie Cottle rode a 2¾hp solo model around the coast of mainland Britain - a journey of over 3000 miles - while colleague Hugh Gibson rode a 7hp combination in the opposite direction. If anyone out there in RealClassic land knows where ‘semi-sports’ comes from please let me know
Yes – I know there’s always a Brough but as you can see this 1924 SS80 is no trailer queen and has something of a story about it. The machine was bought by Albert Wallis, present owner John’s father, for 10/- (50p) in 1961 after finding it – and digging it out from – under a pile of rotting vegetables in a Kettering allotment where it had apparently lain for eight years. It came without a tank, gearbox and magneto and as well as replacing these and restoring all the cycle parts, Albert replaced the forks and mudguards. The restoration took place during the late 1960s and in 1972 he gave it to John who celebrated the Brough’s 90th birthday – and his 65th – by riding it 4000 miles around the UK coast to raise £6000 for Comic Relief (details of this epic journey here: www.bs90thcoastride.com)
Another Raleigh although this time with a smaller capacity engine – a Power Pak with what is presumably a 49cc cylinder and an Amal carburettor. These cyclemotors were introduced in 1950 by Sinclair Goddard & Co Ltd of Bayswater who extolled virtues of ‘light weight, simplicity, a positive non-slip drive, ease of fitting, and lack of vibration’. They must have had something about them - the Council of Industrial Design selected the Power Pak as part of its exhibition at the 1951 Festival of Britain, and in March 1953 Peter Warner-Lee set out on a bicycle powered with a Power Pak unit to look over Australia before emigrating there. Part-way through his journey he decided to convert this into an around-the-world trip and, in October the same year, with the four-figure milometer on the Power Pak reading 5501 miles on its second time around, he returned back in London. The Power Pak had suffered no mechanical trouble on the journey and had averaged 200 miles to the gallon. Andrew Pattle’s article at the Moped Archive provides more information ( www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~pattle/nacc/arc0006.htm) and I suppose you have to ask why these machines aren’t being revived today. Low fuel consumption and light pedal assistance surely combine the twin goals of minimal environmental impact and a healthy lifestyle.
Two machines caught my eye for no particular reason, the first being this 1935 Royal Enfield Model B 250. There is something delightful about the simplicity of the motorcycle – everything is visible and it looks like a good, honest and workmanlike motorcycle.
The other was this Ariel which I think is a 350 Red Hunter model from the late 1930s. It has all the same attributes of the Royal Enfield but has combined them with a racy look and a tank-mounted instrument cluster which is arguably an art work in its own right.
One of the later arrivals at Stony was this 1982 Ducati 600SL Desmo 600cc machine which satisfied the Jones desire for something red and Italian to be included in the collection of photos. Apparently the L-twin desmodromic motor has valve actuation managed by toothed rubber belts instead of the traditional bevel drive. The Pantah, as it was known, also featured an hydraulic clutch, Bosch ignition, Japanese switchgear and instruments together with Paoli 35mm forks. All very interesting I’m sure but – for me – red and Italian is more than enough.
I’ve included this Honda 400/4 Super Sport as if I was to dip my toes once again into the shark-infested waters of classic motorcycle ownership then this is the machine my heart would tell me to buy. I fell in love with these when I first saw one in 1975 when I was riding a Suzuki B120P; don’t laugh - it was all I could afford at the time on a bank clerk’s wages. However you can just imagine the issues the Honda would present to a mechanical moron like me – four cylinders, so four times the number of things to go wrong. That being said they just look so great 40 years after I was first smitten.
The more likely candidate for any possible Jones’ foray into classic ownership would be something like this BSA Bantam D14/4 which, with one 175cc two-stroke cylinder, may just about be all I could cope with – sad but true. Pembrokeshire Classics have one for sale at the moment – a trip to Tenby, perhaps, with a present from the seaside to bring back to Jones Towers.
To enjoy many more of Richard’s photos from many motorcycle / transport shows and event, see: www.flickr.com/photos/cerrig_photography/sets/
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