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Bike Review - Posted 23rd July 2014
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Viscount 1000 Special

Eric Patterson already holds several world speed records. This year he returns to the Bonneville salt flats with a new (old) bike, a Vincent-powered Manx Norton special. And he's aiming to claim another hat-trick of titles...

You'll normally find Eric Patterson running the EGP autojumbles and classic bike shows at Kempton Park, ensuring that everything goes smoothly with the hundreds of trade and jumble stalls at these regular events. However, there's another side to his exploits with old bikes - and this summer Eric will be campaigning his specially-modified 'Viscount'; a 1951 Vincent engine in a Manx featherbed rolling chassis. It's a truly historic motorcycle, one with plenty of racing provenance which includes an outing in the 1956 IoM TT.

Viscount 1000 Special

Last time out in 2013 aboard a Brough Superior, Eric snagged two records at Bonneville. Early on in the meeting he hit 113.668mph to secure the 'Special Frame / Partial Streamlining / Vintage Engine / Fuel' class. Days later, with the bugs ironed out of the bike, he clocked up 124.344mph on the final run of the meeting to take the 'Special Frame / Vintage Engine / Fuel' record. Almost immediately afterwards the skies opened and record attempts ended as the salt flats were soaked by storms.

Viscount 1000 Special

Eric's aiming for four new records this time around: Modified Pushrod Fuel; Modified Vintage / Partial Streamlined / gasoline: Modified Pre-1979 Fuel and Modified Pre-1979 Partial Streamlined. For the 'vintage' class, Eric and the Viscount will need to exceed 123mph - but the truly big challenge comes with the Modified Pushrod record which currently stands at just over 140mph.

Viscount 1000 Special
Vincent Stuff on Now...

Obviously, this kind of undertaking requires months of preparation, and Eric and his team of supporters and sponsors have been working on the Viscount for some time. Originally built by Peter Darvill, this Viscount is number one of only ten such specials ever made. This bike had been bought by Somerton Engineering, who built a limited number of fully equipped road-going replicas, renaming them the Viscount. It's basically a 1000cc Vincent Black Shadow engine fitted into a Manx Norton frame - or at least, that's what it started out as.

Eric acquired the Viscount around four years ago and has ridden and displayed it at several events. However, it was obvious that the Viscount could do much more than just potter along on public roads at club run speeds. Even so, for a Bonneville record attempt, it would need some substantial modification…

Viscount 1000 Special

The first task was to reduce the motorcycle's mass. A powerful front brake is more of a hazard than a help on the salt flats, so the Manx twin leading shoe stopper was removed. A Vincent front hub, less its brake, and a hand operated rear brake were laced into custom-made alloy Hagon rims. For stability, a longer swinging arm was made by Dave Degens of Dresda Autos. Chief mechanic for the Viscount project, Mick Cook, made various special parts, including the rearset footrest mounts.

Viscount 1000 Special

The Vin twin engine was stripped for a complete rebuild and the crank was dynamically balanced. The team benefitted from the guidance of Vincent racer John Renwick, who procured many special parts including a pair of high-compression 12:1 pistons (up from 9:1), spiky cams and a special clutch, along with brand new Gardiner carbs with matchbox floats and adapted manifolds. The Viscount uses a BT-H four-plug system for its ignition; primary drive is by belt, and the bike features one-off exhausts. Hagon provided the suspension as well as the wheel rims. The fuel oil tanks are aluminium - again, to save weight - and as you can see from the photos, there's now a lot less of the bike than there used to be…

Viscount 1000 Special

If it goes as good as it looks, then Eric should come home with another rack of records to his name. We wish him safe rides and high speeds!

We'll keep you informed about Eric's activities over at Bonneville - you can also check for yourself at www.egp-enterprises.co.uk or follow his progress on Facebook

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Words Rowena Hoseason
Photos Eric Patterson / EGP Enterprises


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