BHR Update May 2012
BHR Update: Work has now ended on the Comet racer and it had a tune up session on the rolling road. The Gardener carburettor was set up according to Ron Gardener’s suggestions and only required a little adjustment, However a 1-3/8” with a flat slide as per 1947 is not a forgiving instrument. Once we have it smooth as silk at max revs it becomes a little difficult at low revs and makes a Gold star on a Megaphone seem easy. Its also very sensitive, on the last run altering the adjuster by a sixteenth of a turn gave us 2 more BHP at 6200. But it’s a lot better the only other easily available carburettor of that era available a smaller bore TT. When we finally got to try the bike (after our intended practice day was snowed off) we found that the Comet seems to run even better as a 500 than as a 600. Unfortunately when fitting the close ratio gears I omitted to check the change in the bottom gear ratio and we were well over geared, and we only had a few days between practice and the race day. At Mallory we found that even pulling the largest sprocket I had for the ¼ chain it was still a pig off the line, but Ben finished the first race in mid field and was forth in the second race so not too bad an achievement for a new bike and a seasons layoff.
BHRC newsletter 01 pre-season 2010
This time I was adamant I would not have a last minute rush. I started the day after the last Cadwell and stripped the Comet, and following the Coventry stand at the NEC classic show stripped the Egli too. Then the fun started.
I got some new Carrillo rods for all the bikes; the ones for the twin were 5mm shorter than standard to try and bring the 90X90 motor back to a more compact and efficient configuration. Unfortunately by the time I had the rods my ‘bottom end man’ took a month off so it was after Xmas before he did the twin flywheels.
I could have carried on with the Comet but since the old Methanol piston was part melted and I was going back to petrol I had to source and wait for a piston from the USA.
The Comet has lost a few more pounds with a lighter seat, some shroudless rear spring units from Marcus Industries of Looe, and nuts and padbolts for the girdralics in aluminium.
It also has a new motor, I say ‘new’, but the crankcases had been laying in Uncle Ron Kemps welsh store for a hundred years, (Well, at least, I can remember seeing them at his Bedgrove home in Aylesbury).
I used one of his 90 bore barrel kits (the piston went in the Egli rear pot, the one in there had seen better days)
Both bikes have specially commissioned more efficient silencers (and a lot lighter) I wait with my decibel meter to see if they are below 101 dB (ACU is 105 dB) but if under 101 I can use the local track for practice.
Ben has snatched a practice or two during the winter on our new track bike its not the RC51, that had to go for financial reasons, but it’s a willing little cheap e-bay special based on a Yamaha TRX 850 with lots of special bits.
It’s a parallel twin but set to run with 270 crank so it feels a lot like a V twin. Its power is not much down on the Egli and It cost about the same as the 3 Vincent bottom ends, Since I put in 50% I hope to get a track day or two in on it as well.
So there we are the season is about to start, I shall have a busy Easter doing the Lands End Trial then rushing back to Mallory.
The jury is out on 3 sisters, Ben knows how I feel about that jumped up go cart track, but its two rounds of the championship so I guess we shall have to fit a trials sprocket on the Egli, keep in second gear and let the scooters wizz past.
I shall also miss Cadwell first time because I shall be on the VOC Ouzo grand tour in Greece.
However Ben will be in full contest form the whole season and I hope we can show the VOC and Vincent flags in a winning light.
BHR newsletter 02 Mallory Park 2010
Easter Monday came with rain and cold. I have had some bad experiences with time lately (or rather the lack of it) so I was not supprised when the alarm clock went off at 3.20am instead of 6.am.
Angela reset it again, and true to form it fired off again 20 minutes later .
I don’t think it obtained orbital velocity but it was certainly thrown in a high curve into the dark sky.
Some 2 hours or so later we were at a cold Mallory.
The Comet was still sulking back in the garage as I had to give it best, as the time to test and fettle ran out .At least the Egli was running –And a brief few practice laps had shown that it promised to be even faster than last year.
Those laps, as time again ran out, were all the running in it was to have.
Ben reported that after last 2 years of perfect changes it was hesitant to go into 4th (of 5) gears, again time prevented further work.
Race one Ben streaked off the grid, and by Edwinas was leading by the length of the straight.
Slowly his lead was whittled down, and Stacy Kilworth who won by 8 seconds overtook him.
Ben came in looking tired, I think that he had forgotten what strain that wrestling the beast around Mallory was.
He reported that he was having to go from 3rd to top on the up change, as often he found a neutral if he changed too fast, however the down change was fine.
The extra power was showing up the 1972 cut off date disk brakes, and making Mallory seem even smaller.
His mood lifted however when the results sheet showed Stacy had made a mistake on the grid and had been docked 10 seconds which gave Ben a first, wow! A first in the first race of the season after a complete rebuild. That is a first.
The wind had slowly increased as the day progressed and at the speeds the Egli travels at the buffeting can easily get the plot off the racing line, so before race 2 we removed the fairing and reverted to our number 2 configuration, a simple number plate at the front.
Then the Hinckley church of the Second Coming of BT-H arrived, and commenced their commentary on all things racing with particular emphasis on Vincent’s.
Luckily in the midst of their ministry, Arch Deacon Eddie Grew noted that the new RH silencer had come away from the end of the exhaust pipe and an almost imperceptible gap had opened up between them. Fast and panicked work restored the connection and Ben got into the race assembly area just in time for the second race.
This time he ran second and finally finished in third place, interestingly his best times were equal to those of last year and that was without the benefit of a fully run in engine and an effective gearbox.
All in all a good start to a season, there is at last plenty of time to the next meeting and of course within a few workshop hours after the meeting the Comet was running.
But we shall have to sort that and the twins gearchange at an extra practice day soon, because I shall miss being at the next two meetings. Now where did that alarm clock land?
BHR newsletter 03 Three Sisters 2010
I left Ben to fend for himself at 3 sisters, I was away, since we did say originally that we would not go the the damm place ,many riders moan about its small size the run out areas being very particularly small with the bank just feet from the track-not a place for the big Vincent.(remember Ben dropped it here in 2008) he was also taking the Comet which is a little more suited to the oversized parking lot.
In addition there is a requirement (the logic of which comes from the same sort of mind that designed the new motorcycle test) that the bikes be pushed to the warm up area to keep the noise down.
bear in mind the whole paddock including said warm up area is only the size of a football pitch and the surface traversed is a thoughtfull gravel …I do not have the words to form my comments.
However we are chasing the championship and points is paramount so off Ben went to the meeting with his mate Richard.
coming straight from work on friday evening we arrived at 3 sisters at around 9.30pm to find that the paddock was full.
I was hoping for a nice big space to erect our new "gala tent" marquee which we were planning to sleep in but there was only one space it could go and that was on the main thoroughfare between the main paddock and the porta-cabin toilet facilities, all nicely graveled on top of concrete. Already exhausted, we set about fixing together this huge cathedral of a tent which neither of us had even seen before.
By midnight it was up well enough for us to throw our beds down and get some sleep. Before long it was apparent that this wouldn't be easy, both sides of the tent had large windows which allowed the light from the portable floodlights to shine in like a summers morning and the noise from the generator that powered it didn't help either. We hadn't packed any curtains which meant that the 200 plus people crunching past our window to the toilets could look in to see 2 very tied looking blokes laying in a big tent wide awake. This went on most of the night.
I was happy when dawn came and we could get on with getting the bikes ready for some racing. After a successful practice, reacquainting myself with this terrible circuit and noting where the new pot holes were, i checked the program to see the order that my races would be in.
Unfortunately, as was the case at Mallory, the races were to be run consecutively.
This would be fine if we were allowed to ride the bikes in the paddock but for some reason ( probably health and safety, same as the flood-lights running all night so somebody dosnt trip in the gravel and sue) we had to push them both everywhere. The races are turned around quickly so we decided to leave both bikes in the assembly area, as it turned out, no sooner had i come in from one race the other was on its warm-up lap so it was a quick jump onto the other bike and off.
Three Sisters is the smallest of circuits, used for corporate go-cart days mostly .
On the classic bikes an average lap time is around 1 min but the average speed is only about 50-60mph as there are 12 corners.
The HRD is transformed, there is power now to match the handling. I got a couple of good starts and led for a while but was reeled in by Ian Cramps KTT Velo, which had the legs on the short straight.
Out of the four races over the weekend i had four 2nd places behind him.
We had left the gearing on the Egli the same as for Mallory, I think this was the right decision because as it was i only used 3rd gear and 2nd and it was hard work to keep the front end down and the back from spinning up.
I got a good start in the first race and led for a while but i could hear Stacey Killworths Triumph twin snapping at my heels and he passed me and went on to the win with me taking 2nd place.
The second race was much the same but afterwards i was advised that i had been penalised 10 seconds for a jump start and put back from 2nd to 4th place.
Ive had problems with this before on the Egli, Im not sure they can believe what they see when it leaps off the 3rd row into the lead.
I made enquiries and after being told some nonsense about it being decided by the timing computer, was told that actually it is decided by the officials watching at the start and the decision was final.
For the third race, on the Sunday, i made sure the flag was down, wrapped up and put away in its bag before dropping the clutch, unfortunately the front wheel was going to high and as i went for 2nd gear i hit a neutral and came down with a bump, loosing momentum and allowing several bikes to fly off ahead. I managed to regain 4th place by the finish. In the last race i was laying 2nd behind Stacey when i was caught and passed by Graham Buller, not on his Vincent like the old days, this time on his 828cc Norton slimline, so i finished 3rd.
All in all, not a bad result for such an unsuitable circuit, and the bikes were going well with no major jobs to do for the next meeting, which is Cadwell Park 20th June.
BHR newsletter 04 Cadwell /Lydden 2010
It’s been a long time since my last missive on the BHR scene. The MPH publication dates and the Greek Rally have interceded in events June 20th was round 4 of the British Historic Racing Championships and while I was away checking if Ouzo was an allowed fuel for racing, Ben was at Cadwell on his own. In race 1 on the Egli he had to wait for around half an hour down on the grid for the start of the race, miles away from the foxley starter unit, causing the bike (and rider!) to overheat.
After a good start and getting into the lead by turn 2, the Egli decided enough was enough and the motor gave up. It wasn’t possible to identify or rectify the fault for race 2 either.
The mood after missing out on both races on the twin was lifted slightly with a 1st and a 2nd places on the HRD Comet. Championship leader Ian Cramp fell on lap one and was out for both races leaving Ben to have a great couple of battles with Emillio Toone on his reverse cylinder Triumph.
On my return from Greece the problem with the Egli motor resolved itself. The selector spring G36/1 on the gearbox cam plate had fractured, wound in on itself, allowing Ben (leading the pack down the back straight), to over select, the over-revving caused the rear cam to turn slightly on its pinion (helped no doubt by the extreme heat ), sheared the weld buttons and the interference fit. Hey ho that’s racing; We can thank our lucky stars that the valves only kissed the piston. I asked Vincent top welder Ian Blumel to tig the cam back together and then I set the damn engine up again –this time things fell just right and I ended up with even better valve timing figures. I also swore a lot at the gearbox.
Thanks to George Spence we had an invite to Silverstone Classic event for a parade, this was a nice track day before Lydden. It was a big event full of cars, their enthusiasts, associated camp followers and stalls. I was amazed at the noise the cars were allowed to make all open pipes and all day .How the ACU knuckled under to 105Db while the trolley racers have been allowed to keep up the racket up without any problem beats me. However it was a relaxed weekend mainly with the CRMC and a few ‘stars’ in attendance, and at least Ben got some laps in on the new GP circuit. The bike was running well but the gearbox was still giving trouble. I kept trying to tell Ben it was no good telling me “its not working “ I needed more information. Finally on Sunday he fitted up a camera pointing at his foot and recorded a few laps of Silverstone (youtube kinghamracing). Russell Kemp had a look on the web, and rang to give me some advice, which tied in nicely with my thoughts. So I had another swear session with the box.
Then it was time for the Lydden 2-day event. Ben had remembered we were over geared last time so we went down 2 teeth. Last year we took 8 hours to get down to the circuit so we were prepared for a bad trip and in-spite of leaving early, the Dartford crossing was still as slow as a Burman gearchange. We finally got there and we were up early for practice and then panic started. An A22 oil union was loose and moved in that worrying way on tightening so we pinched one from the Comet. Since we were race one after the practice Ben went out again in a real rush and blew them all away to get a first place. And that’s how the whole weekend went, four races on the Egli and four wins! It was a bit close in the last race when Stacey Kilworth on the 8 valve Triumph shadowed Ben for most of the race and nearly came along side. But Ben could proudly say at the end of two days racing, that he had not been overtaken once, (with the lower grearing he was of course first into turn one every time irrespective of grid position). Now here is a question for the experts, he lapped within 1 second of the class lap record on that twisty circuit, so how many gears did he use in a flying lap? (* Answer at the bottom). Roy Robertson visited us, and as usual left us with lots of ideas and suggestions to consider. His wrist is still in restraint but at least he is driving himself about now.
The Comet was also going well. Ben was second to Ian Cramp in race one, then in race 2 Cramp blew up so it was all smiles for a lap in the lead, when, Oh dear! Tim Jackson came up on the Italian Manx (Gilera Saturno) and it just had the edge on top speed. again that’s how it went all weekend, so four races gave four second places. Ben said, “find some more top end”. I said, “Stop eating sausage rolls”.
Roland Mettam on the Mogvin gave us a replacement union, and Richard (one of our team) spent an enjoyable 20 minuites repaying the favor by pushing the Mogvin up and down the hill getting the big twin to fire up after it had swallowed a bit too much Methanol. It did run in all races but suffered a broken chain on Sunday race one, but was repaired for race two. I don’t think Roland is too happy with his new ‘silencer’ either. In spite of it being sponsored by the Velocette club, the meeting developed into a real Vincent celebration. Apart from Ben’s achievements, Tommo Thompsons ‘Irvings little beauty’ was there. This is a Vincent single outfit fitted with a four-valve conversion based on PEI’s drawings. These never made production at Vincent’s and with disk brakes it proves difficult to slot the outfit into a period, but it ran naked in the kneeler sidecar class (Think of Pip Harris and Chris Vincent flaying about on dustbin faired kneelers and you get the period flavour). Anyway the 4 valver (a 500 single remember!) Driven by Aunger and Williams beat all the BMWs Triumph and big BSA twins. It was stonkingly fast, with power slides and shattering acceleration and so another Vincent won all its class races in the weekend. Even in the scratch race the big methanol monster Morgans giving themselves almost double capacity found they were only making a second or so a lap on it. And now I am told a twin is under development!
At MPH publication we shall be at Pembrey and the final 2-day Cadwell is at the end of September.
* Just two gears were used. These are third and forth all the way round. The fifth gear (Surtees/Quaife box) grew cobwebs and Ben said the wheelies off the grid in bottom were ‘interesting’, they certainly looked it.
BHR newsletter 05 Pembrey 2010
I have tried to make a rule that apart from maintenance repairs and of course blowups I try to leave the Vincent’s well alone during the racing season. However following Lydden we found Ben in the position of leading the 48 championship and second in the 72. There is not much the wit of man (well this man anyway) would want to do to the Egli at the moment (If it isn’t broke etc etc) But the HRD is up against a Gilera Saturno and a very fast Triumph. While on corners and twists we have no problem keeping ahead on the big pulls and down the straight Ben needs a few more MPH to keep first place. I have long wanted a bigger hole at the back (for the Comet!) but with 48 class we are limited to an Amal TT and we were stuck until Ronald Mettram suggested lending us a 1-3/8 Gardner he had (Ron Gardener started making these in 1947) this he kindly did, and dully it arrived .So I placed all the TT pipes inlet tracts and throttle in a box and I adapted a TT float chamber and attached the big carb. Ron Gardner is over 80 now but his instruments are having resurgence at present and on the phone he was full of enthusiasm over the project having seen Ben at Lydden. At first bump it ran smoothly and sounded great however on the test rolling road at over 4000 it went badly weak and although I tried everything it would not come right. Lots of midnight oil and two visits to the brake did not sort it out, so regretfully with Pembrey looming I could not risk problems and reverted to the TT. I would like a longer period to try it because I am sure we could get it working.
Pembrey was a two-day affair, and Saturday was dry. The Egli event was followed by the Comet event this meant that as Ben came into the paddock after the first race, the grid was already forming for the next event. So to get everything to work we had to watch the start of the first race, run back, Angela and I would start the Comet, then I would warm it up and Angela would catch the Egli as Ben came in. Ben would leap aboard the Comet and away he would go for race two. This pantomime occurred twice per day, –quite a rush for all and exhausting for Ben. On Saturday Bens results were two 2nds from Tim Woolly from the CRMC (who run to a later formula).On the Comet he had a second and a first not that the casual watcher would know as there were 3 classes in one race, Ben had a chance to relive his days on the C15 as he battled with Merve Stratford on the 36 Rudge. What a marvel that guy and his bike are. After 40 years development and riding their performance is phenomenal.
On Sunday the laps per race were increased from 6 to 8 which increased the effort of keeping the Egli in front, and everyone said the racing was spectacular. But Pembrey is a flat old ex spitfire airfield and it’s a real treck to see anything from the paddock infield. Also the sidecar race with the 4 valve Vincent Comet outfit of was next after Bens races, so unfortunately I did not get a chance to see it that in action either, but by the afternoon its valves (well one of the four) had spoken to the piston, and fun was stopped for the day – (It gave me a chance to look inside his engine though).
Ben got a 3rd in race one on the Egli when Stacey Kilworth got past at the end while Tim Wooley on the Rob North rocket 3 sailed round in front, then Ben had a 2nd on the Comet, without the benefit of a clutch which had come loose. Ben also reported the comet pinking, which was strange because nothing had been changed or altered. I did the clutch up checked all the settings raised the needle a notch and waited. An idle thought crossed my mind that the effect was perhaps what I would have expected if I had gone ahead with the Gardener.
Rain threatened in the final Egli race and it was another ding dong battle between Tim Wooley,Stacey and Ben. By lap 4 it was starting to rain and so we went back to the Comet to start our change over and I just about to ask Angela to rev up the Foxley starter when I saw the red flag I looked in vain for Ben amongst the riders returning, Then the Ambulance made off, then the fire engine, then the doctors car. Marshal Kim said its Ben at the hairpin. The next ten minutes were very long then Shelly Ben’s Partner got to the ambulance and returned saying his helmet was split but he was conscious and eventually the ambulance took him off to Carmarthen Hospital we all followed in a scattered flock and after 4 hours and a tense wait for X rays he was pronounced OK and sent off with a very bruised back, ego and a wheelbarrow full of pain killers. The consensus is that it seems he high sided at the hairpin in the damp and landed on the fallen bike. The Egli has superficial damage to tank seat and fairing, and Ben is off work for a least 2 weeks. So we shall not be racing at Cadwell, and that means unless a miracle occurs with the other riders, Ben has lost the Championship on the Comet, and all possibility of one on the Egli. And that my friend is the end of the season for us.
BHRC newsletter 01 Mallory Park 2009
Hey Ho the world turns, and in spite of recessions and the proof certain that everyone rises to the height of their own incompetence (especially in the financial world) the race season starts again.
The Egli was virtually the same as last year we plan to remove the Grimeca rear brake and substitute a Vincent one (with a disc) as slowing the rear wheel with 1275cc of piston area seems pretty effective on its own! Also we changed the steering damper (the old one wore out in a season) dropped the forks ¼ of an inch and played maintenance.
As for the 600 Comet I am just not happy with its speed, yes it finished constantly in the top 5 and won some but its just doesn’t seem to have its old grunt. I finally got rid of the chain drive and got a new clutch and belt drive. I added another plug on the other side of the bonfire in an attempt to get faster flame spread round the 13:1 mountain, but every test on the brake seemed to indicate ignition retard and retard back into the 20’s .I always felt (and had good advice from the Prof) around the same as petrol in the high 30’s was the place to start. In track testing Ben reported ‘pinking’ but the test brake revealed nothing, come Mallory race day it got very unhappy in practice, and going to the start it had the good sense to spin off its new belt drive pulley and we called it a day,.If I did not have half a barrel of Methanol left I would revert to petrol.
The twin is a monster, first race from 3rd row of the grid it blasted back round the devils elbow number one in front and over the line to lap two, However as the race wore on Ben dropped back to fifth and in the second race, also followed that position.
Ben is the first to say that 6 months as a new father, with all those sleepless nights and having to sell his track bike has taken off his edge. He awaits my (finally!) ride in the 1000 bikes to give him my assessment of the brute, Personally I think he is too hard on himself. It certainly takes a high degree of skill to circulate at a few seconds over the 1 minute mark on a demanding track like Mallory on that big twin. We are missing the three sisters meeting as we do not have Vincent fox (which is about as big a bike as you want round that silly go cart track) so our next meeting is Mallory on June 7th
BHRC newsletter 02 Mallory Park 2009
With a big gap in the race program (since we refused to go to the 3 sister’s go-cart track) we have been busy in the workshop. The 600 had a complete strip down and Roger Forsyth rethreaded the exhaust port and I then rebuilt the engine and machine (This is the last chance saloon for the methanol engine). On the Egli to save weight, we decided that we had time to remove the Grimeca back brake and substitute a Vincent wheel (and as a by–product get a good rear brake for my Egli Road project). Just as I was about to get a shadow drum and plate, Ben suggested a disc brake so we Ebayed a caliper, actuator,‘Honda’ rear disc and a 3” diameter lump of aluminium, and made it all up for £50 in parts plus pads! What a wonderful accommodating design the Vincent wheel is. That high note was lost, when 48 hours from the meeting, I re-connected the 600 oil feed pipe to find it moving in my hands! Another strip down to re-braze the RFM oil boss was required; I jibbed at an all night session, so we left for Mallory with just the Egli.
In the paddock as we set up the canopy, the heavens opened and Angela, Ben and myself got drenched. It was still pouring all manner of domestic pets in practice, and Ben succeeded in filling his boots and the rear carburettor with water. Gloom descended on the camp as we prodded the canopy to stop it bursting from collected rain, and sprayed WD40 in all directions.
It was still raining when Ben took position on the rear of the grid for race one and we went over to the muddy bank by Cooper’s Esses to peer out from beneath the umbrella. Round came the pack on lap 1 and, what was this? Ben was lying second! He had scooted round the outside of everyone else at Gerrards, and was behind the leader, soon he was in front, I must confess I could hardly watch him treading the fine line Twix slip and slide, however he won and got the fastest lap time to boot, the nearest thing to him was a G50, the Triumph Triples just spun up and were nowhere. After dinner it dried up and by Ben’s second race it was dry. From the front of the grid the Egli powered away from the line like a rocket on steroids. However Ben could not stop Ian Cramp passing on Gerards and for the next two laps they blasted round with Ben getting in front from the Devils elbow to the bridge and the loosing it again to Ian on Gerards. Then I think Ben decided to wait till the last lap and he would get him on the run to the line. Alas it was not to be, on the penultimate lap coming upto the hairpin Ian Cramp managed to get by the first of the back markers, Ben came alongside the backmarker braking, when instead of giving way to Ben and be lapped he cut right across Bens bows! An onlooker told me later the Egli backend went left 45 degrees then right 45 degrees and somehow Ben finished up stationary on the track, feet down with the engine still running!.He selected 1st and was away again, such was the lead Ian and he had built up over the rest of the field Ben managed to hang on to second place. At least we know the new rear brake works.
Next race is at Cadwell (spiritual home of Vincent racing) on Sunday 5th of July and we aim to get both bikes there. I hope the Egli is still going afterwards because I am finally getting a ride on it at the 1000 bikes on Sunday 12th July in the racing bike track sessions. Now Id better get back to stripping that Damn Comet again.
BHRC newsletter 03 Cadwell Park 2009
Last year, my next door neighbour got taken to court because a newcomer to the village had complained that her hens and cockerel were noisy in the mornings! I wrote to the council and threatened to sue if I lost what I considered a life long amenity every morning (after all living next to a garage of noisy Vincent’s my neighbour deserves some support).
What has this to do with historic racing? Well some newcomer who lived near Croft circuit complained successfully that the circuit (which was already there) was too noisy and the court ruled that the number of events should be cut down. Following that ruling all machines at Cadwell had to pass a 105db test at the BHR meeting, before going out onto the track at 9.00am (We all have dB meters now and some wag posted on the web that the Mallory dust cart was 110Db on Sunday morning at 7.30am).
To say it was hectic getting all machines noise tested was an understatement. The noise of all the competitors in a queue started and waiting to be tested must have been heard in Louth! Mr Mettram on the Mogvin passed the noise test by the expedient of adding inner tubes over the exhaust outlets ‘It works for Birth control’ he said smiling.
Finally we practised the Egli but the Comet disgraced itself again by stopping in its session. ‘That’s it’ we all decided over a hurried breakfast ‘a new petrol motor is called for’. The Egli (apart from soft forks causing some handling problems) was OK and out for its first race. Unfortunately racing was on the club circuit, which is not a track for the super fast big bikes, but its still much as remembered by the VOC. However ‘ health and safety ‘ now decrees that wonderful scramble from the start line for the hairpin no longer occurs, and the start line was after the hairpin and just before the bend up the hill. Not such a spectacle but just right for the Egli initial and now legendary take off. Anyway Ben clung on to his lead for nearly a lap before the more nimble machines relegated him to a 3rd place.
Since there was a big gap before the next Egli outing I gave the Comet a good talking to, telling it that this was the worst season I have had with it since 1968 and it had better pull its socks up or else. This must have had the desired effect, because a few spanners later Ben took it up the paddock drive and pronounced it ‘worth a try’
Its been almost a year since Ben has been out on the 600 and without a decent practice all season I had little hope, and when I saw him fiddling at the front on the start line I feared the worst. The race started and Ben went well, Angela watching said ‘He on rides the Egli, but when he sits on the Comet he is part of it’. He finished 4th which considering the opposition included the New Zealand wild man Dobbo on the Moss Scott, was I think very good for a first outing.
When he came in I saw what was wrong at the front, the steering damper had come apart internally and he had run without damping (I must admit I would have turned back).‘I thought it was shaking its head out of the hairpin as you hit second gear’ I said. ‘Not a problem really handles better than the Egli ‘ said Ben and he means it (Note for tank slapper investigators: Avon AM22 18” 110/80 racing tyres hard pressure 18” wheels identical front and back with long eye bolts.).
The second two races results were a 6th on the Egli and a 4th again on the Comet .Ben gave himself a couple of frights with the silver beast and had one point where the engine cut out at full bore –very strange. He recovered and said he did enjoy his second Comet ride as he raced round on his own between two sets of competitors it certainly allowed me to hear that it was well over geared on his’ Cadwell sprocket’ (Memo: change gearing after changing to a belt drive)
Poor old Mogvin was towed in when the weight of the injectors and swill pots finally got the better of the rear cylinders inlet manifold and it snapped off, finally wonder of wonders a spectator arrived on a Vincent twin.
And so to the 1000 bikes, It must be two years since I rode a Vincent on a circuit certainly I have not had a chance to ride the Egli since its creation. It made a nice change to have Ben as my pit crew; he did not miss the opportunity to get me to try out some more progressive springs for the front forks. The rear tyre was past its best, but I thought I had better wring full value out of it. All in all by the time it was scrutinered and things were sorted I was feeling quite chipper at the prospect of two sessions round Mallory (albeit that some wit had put me in the ‘super fast class’ with all the rocket ships and ex-works what-nots). Then Peter Vockers arrived nasty graze on his chin, battered leathers and badly scored helmet,’Gearbox seized on bend before hairpin’ said he ‘my 5 speed box just locked –no warning’ he was lucky that the bike stayed on its side and did not tumble. That sobered me up a bit and increased my toilet visits as the session drew near.
Finally it came to session one I gingerly felt my five speed into bottom and away we went, Nobody would try too hard first time out, but boy that bike was fast, the brakes were superb and handling impeccable, and because I was with a lot of fast guys who knew what they were doing; I felt fine. The Egli stayed with the pack even though the cycle design was giving away 30 years to many machines and 60 years to the engine. ( to say nothing of the rider!)
Second time out,we had a delay while the ambulance plied its trade.So when the session started I had to bump the big lump and while I did have a pusher It gave me no end of pleasure to find I had forgotten none of the actions since bump starts were banned (twenty years ago?) and I side saddled and legged it over. This I must admit gave my spirits a big lift, which in turn boyed me up in the session that followed.
I got the hang of the plot, and the gear change points dropped into the correct slots on the circuit together with the brake points. I lost count of the laps and thoroughly enjoyed my ride, but riding the beast was exhausting, and I had enough just as the session ended.
Here is my take on the beast. Two years ago I took my ‘C’ rap (which is no slouch) through devils elbow in top, on the Egli at the end I was coming through faster one gear down still accelerating and slipping into top on the straight (same gearbox). Certainly my respect for Ben's skill has been strengthened and my only regret is that I wish I had had the recourses and knowledge to make my first Egli go that speed all those years ago. Next Meetings Lydden 1st & 2nd August Anglsea 20 & 31st August
BHRC newsletter 04 Lydden 2009
We knew that Lydden would be a trial. Apart from the 7 hours travelling from just the other side of London. (caused by some penny pinching 1960 politico who ignored a straight line graph, and only put 3 lanes instead of 4 on the M25). There was the dreaded ‘camping’ saga. Now I know many of my long-standing VOC friends love the under canvas bit, but I do not. In addition it means ‘boys only’ since my wife who happily sits on a Vincent trials outfit through the night and once did Lands End to John o Groats (and back!) on the rear of a DR350 Trail bike, draws a line in the sand at ‘camping’. Unfortunately for a 2 day meeting it’s the only option (If I forget the cost, packing the van up twice for a hotel sucks,and however wonderful the Ex Marcus Bowden heavy lifter van is, it don’t do tow bars). But in the morning after surviving the journey, putting the unfamiliar tents up in the dark, and passing a bad night with snoring Frenchmen (don’t ask) we got to the enjoyable bit.
The 600 comet was finally on song and going like a train, (actually Ben swears its on rails) the only down side was there was not a lot of opposition (Sorry Mr Moss) and Ben was reduced to mixing it with the top 5 of the 350 racers that went off ahead of the pre 49 grid. Overall the weekend got us 4 firsts in the 4 races on the 600 so that must move Ben up the pre 49 championship and make up for the disappointing first few meetings of the season.
In race 1 for the upto 72’s the Egli also started brilliantly and Ben streaked into a significant lead, however it was a long race (For Lydden) over 10 laps and the usual suspects started to catch up, and in the end, on the last lap it got very busy. Ben came 3rd in the championship riders. One second covering the first 4 (Whew!). Ben recorded his best lap time ever for Lydden.
The next race was in partial drizzle, but unfortunately for Ben there was not enough rain to switch to full wet riding, and it was very slippery. Ben came 2nd in the championship riders and third in the race. This distinction needs to be made because often at Lydden we have an influx of Classic Club riders that are not strictly within the BHRC 72 specification, and have more ‘liberal’ parts fitted, however this does mean some interesting machines appear, and I was pleased to see an old metal acquaintance of mine, a copy of the Capon Vincent.
It amazes me that the other VOC can field (at Lydden) 12 velocettes. There were also 16 BSA Gold Stars, and I get excited that there is another Vincent present apart from our two. I am at a loss to know why more Vincent’s don’t compete, I don’t think its the lack of spares or damaging it, after all if you break something on a Rudge or a Scott (and together there were at least 10 of those there), you could be in for a long wait, and high parts costs, not so with a Vincent.
I don’t think its riders age, in the over 50’s race, the average age would push the VOC clubs average, and most members must have good riders they know. I don’t think its the value, even allowing for the silly prices the old Stevenage nails now command you only need to look at the price a Morgan or a Manx and they are well represented. And its not a lack of knowledge of how to make them go, everywhere you look is bulging with tuning advice and modifications, that cant be all for riding on soon to be 50mph roads, is it? But for whatever reason Vincent’s just don’t get raced anymore (at least in the UK).
Anyway it was nice to speak to Ann Capon (as was) and have a good moan about the lack of the marque I well remember racing with Lance in the 60’s at Brands and the bike looked very good.
Disaster Struck on Sunday with a fall. The 600 decided to have a prima donna moment, (give a Vincent two wins and it thinks its Gunga Din) and it stalled in the starting area. Two bumps failed to start it so I dashed back up the hill and returned with the trusty Foxley starter and stand. Up with back wheel on to stand, whump with the starter, blat blat from the Vin into neutral down with the wheel .As if on Que. the paddock marshal flags them off to the warm up lap. No! No! Ben, the stand is still attached! Picture Dad dragged across paddock behind accelerating Vincent, talk about tiger by the tail! Ben was flustered to say the least, so to escape my tongue, and get as far away from me as he could; Ben swanned round to another ragged first. Whatever was up with the 600 cured itself for the rest of the day. I just limped back to the van...
The Sundays two races with the Egli were not the best. I had forgotten to bring any bigger wide sprockets (the 600 runs on 5/8 X ¼ and we needed to gear down). Ben admitted he was off song (Bet it was those bloody tents, and my tongue-lashing) and he ‘only’ managed two 4ths. (Race position 7th and 6th) With new tyres on, the Capon Vincent ridden by Barry Gooding managed to reverse race positions from Saturday and slowly caught and beat Ben in both races ending 5th both times. It was good to see two Big Vins blasting round for a change. Ben only consolation was he had the fastest lap on Saturday.
Next Meetings: (Anglsea was bank holiday weekend) The Big Finals at Cadwell 2 days 26th 27th September
BHRC newsletter 05 Angelsey 2009
BHRC 05/09 I suppose there are places where one would not wish to hold motorcycle competitions. A hill climb up the south Col of Everest or a road race round the service roads of the whaling station on South Georgia in Antarctica perhaps, but after 3 successive years I would suggest that Ty Croes circuit in Angelsea on an August Bank holiday is another candidate for an award. It’s not just the rain it’s also the wind.
Bear with me, here is a thought experiment to illustrate the conditions.
Place a 4” plastic drainpipe horizontally on a level table in the paddock at Ty Croes, and point it into the wind. (Better strap it down with steel hawsers). I vouch that any raindrop entering said windward orifice would exit the downwind end without touching the sides of the tube.
You need full waterproof suit, just to maintain a dry body, and that’s just the pit crew. After our camping experience at Lydden we decided to sleep in Ben’s work van which is bigger than the Bowden heavy lifter, and we did not want to risk a tent. (We did see a couple of nice tents but they were mainly airborne, and passing over like ancient flying reptiles.)
Of course every cloud has a silver lining, (not that we ever saw the sun) and the wet, Ben, and the Big Vin make a formidable trio. He streaked away to lead the first race, until he slowed and was caught up and was just piped at the post by Garry Thwates who is currently the top 1300 Classic contender in the CRMCC and thus thankfully not in Ben’s championship. Like Silver Dream Racer the ‘hairiest’ moment (pun coming) came after the race when a big buck hare (who must have been a Vincent fan) threw itself at Thwates bike which in turn ricocheted the body into Ben’s front wheel, happily both riders stayed on and were unhurt.
Ben reported he had slowed because of a mysterious misfire at full throttle after coming onto the back ‘straight’ on the last two laps. Keen readers of this missive may remember this happened at Cadwell on Park straight after Charlies earlier in the season, after all the normal checks and opening of the air ways in the filler cap, the penny finally dropped. Heavy acceleration followed by wide throttles caused the fuel to backup at the rear end of the Egli tank starving the 2 taps that are at the front.
From then on we did not stint on top ups of the tank and for the rest of the two days the Big Vin was invincible and won every race beating all the CRMCC riders as well. Its performance from the line is a joy to behold front or rear of the grid it was always first into turn one. Ben said that down the straight the back wheel was spinning up if he was just a tad vigorous with the twistgrip.
Vincent man Doug Stafford who was there with his son Rob (who is very successful on his C15 BSA) said to me “Ben is going well!”
”Yes” said I proudly, “He was within 5 tenths of a second of the class lap record and on a wet track!”
“Ah” said Doug “Remember, I don’t think anyone has ever done a dry lap here”.
By nightfall we decided that since vertical rain was as rare as sun light in Anglsea our gazebo tent was a waste of time. So we set about dismantling the weight straps and ties that held it from lifting off. Care was needed in its release because one of us could easily have become a hang glider visitor to the Manx GP 100 miles windward up the Irish Sea. It was at that point that we discovered that the torch we required, Ben’s riding gear and the Van keys had locked themselves in the Van cab. The following morning at first light, we could be found dismantling the bulkhead Twix cab and van area.
On the bright side, I suppose we should be grateful that the interlock did not seal us up in the van during the night. I had nightmares that we would be discovered months later when the rain finally stopped in an empty paddock in a sealed van next to two rusting Vincent’s.
The 600 did almost as well as its big brother, and Ben won the first race on Sunday easily, in the next he came second to Cramp on the KTT Velo. He was moaning about the lack of dicing but on Monday he had some fine ding-dongs with his mate John Mc Mahon. Johns ridged Triumph has the legs on acceleration and perhaps just a bit on top speed. (If John has time to almost lay on it), but we tend to forget that even in 1948 rear suspension was a rare thing and its that feature that gives Ben’s Comet the edge on corners and twisties. John’s mag gave way on Monday’s first race, so Ben came 2nd again in the upto 48 class. John worked hard in the interval and was ready for the final race. This ‘race’ was conducted in conditions I can only relate to an underwater blast cabinet. I watched with John’s wife with both our eyes stinging from the rain through clouds of water, but it was an exciting spectacle as they swapped places and positions. Finally at the line they were neck and neck with John just beating Ben by a whisker. However, apart from Cramp who came first (somehow on Monday he had discovered some secret of Velo tuning unknown to Hall Green), they both were also beaten by a ‘big bore’ Aerial Red Hunter of all things! It came out of nowhere ridden by a wild guy who included grass tracking in his lines on the sharp corners. I think Ben and John let him get on with it, and were happy with a third and forth and the thought of a warm dry bed at the end of a long drive home.
A couple of weeks later I jumped at the chance of a ride at a twisty sprint at Curbourgh, There was no way I was going to ride the big Vin there. Mallory felt too small for me in June, and since its quite a few years since I rode the Comet in any anger, I took the opportunity to ride that on the twisty track. It seems sadly that the track itself may soon disappear under 5000 ‘houses’. I believe the spread of Legoland and the nimbies that inhabit them is unstoppable.
”What’s that track over there? Mr Estate agent?”
“It’s an established sprint course Madam, don’t worry, you can complain and get it stopped once you move in, and the church bells as well if you like.”
The sprint was organised by the Morgan 3 wheeler club and was a little different layout than I remember. There is a classic race in New Zealand on what is called the hacksaw circuit because its round the houses and looks like a junior hacksaw. On that basis we were running on the lollipop circuit up the stick round the top twice and then through the gate. Curborough for those who haven’t ridden there is very twisty and perhaps my 54 tooth rear was too high! Most of the entrants were 3 wheelers (as you would expect), but there were 10 bikes ranging from a 250 Ducati Monza to (hooray!) a Black shadow ridden by Richard Kettle. He however, had a spot of tight tappet itus in the practice sessions but got it going for the 2 timed runs (wide-open pipes)! The bikes ran at the end of each cycle of classes so by the time we came to run one, the course was covered in white dust masking the incontinence of our 3 wheeled brethren and an exploding KTM. In contrast to Anglsea the weather was boiling, and I nearly melted waiting for my turn in the slot (Never happy with the weather it seems). In spite of the unaccustomed heat the Comet ran well and I beat the twin by a second .In the second run however the big twin blasted me away by two and a half seconds. I was very impressed with the Comets handling it does just cling to the tarmac and bears no resemblance to the bucking bronco I remember back in the mid sixties when I first raced it.
Last Race at Cadwell end of August and we may have a guest appearance of the Egli on show at the NEC Classic Bike Show (Coventry Section) in November
BHRC newsletter 06 Cadwell Park 2009
So we came to the last 2 day meeting of the season. At Cadwell Park the weather was warm and sunny, which made the weekend a real treat, Ben moaned that it wasn’t raining so he couldn’t do his trick riding, but even he, I thought, spoke without conviction.
I rode up to the meeting, so by the time I arrived the bikes were all sorted and practice was soon done. I suggested we should start the Comet and perhaps squeeze a lap or two out of her. There had been a fair amount of smoke emitted from the single at the Curborugh sprint and Angela had said at the time ‘I think a ring has gone’. Of course, ‘being just a woman’ her comments were ignored and derided, since the bike had run perfectly to the end of the sprint right to the final rev up before parking. But her remarks had left me with a little niggle so we poured in the Methanol and fired it up. The Comet was reluctant to start on the Foxley but finally burst into life but died after 30 seconds of running and that was the picture all day. We stripped carbs, tested the fuel, changed the plugs, checked the settings and compression, nothing would induce it to run at under 4000 but at 4000 she was as smooth as silk and would rev and close and rev and close and then suddenly splutter and stop. Well its end of season, the winter will show its secrets. I just pray the rings are in good condition, I bet Ange will be on hand at that part of the strip down! Of course I had also to suffer all the moans and jibes of Ben and his mates for having the temerity to ride my own bike in competition.
First race with the Egli came and Ben was first into the hill from mid grid, but soon found that Stacy Killworth was in very good form. Ben also had an unusual experience of a motorcycle overtaking him at speed on a straight! It was one of the CRMCC specification Triples and was going like stink. I did ponder if that event, together with the Eglis lightning acceleration indicated that it was under geared, however Ben assured me it was pulling max revs on the straight. At the line Ben completed the race in 5th place. In the afternoon’s race Ben had front position on the Grid and streaked away in the lead. Stacey caught him harried and finally passed him, Ben said he overtook coming into the gooseneck with wild abandon, and he threw his Triumph around like a 250. I saw him go round Hall bends and he looked like a man on a mission, Ben arrived in 3rd Place.
On day two the Comet had resisted all attempts to run, and was finally abandoned in the van. This left us with just a well-behaved Egli in the slot, leading to a lot of sitting about waiting and chatting to all the old racers and visitors in the sun. It was all very pleasant. I took the opportunity to wheel the Comet down to the weighing machine, and found that in spite of my efforts so far, it was a heavy 326 lbs. I seem to remember some wag in ‘40 years on’ talking about 275 lbs.! My stars, I shall have to do some serious work this winter.
Ben was feeling a lot better and had eaten a good breakfast (weight again!) So in race 1 Ben again was first up the hill and this time pulled out a lead on them all. Stacy slowly gained on him passed him and then Ben regained the lead for another lap. The Ding-Dong continued till Stacy gained ascendancy on the last lap, whereupon Ben seeing the lead they had built up on No3 eased into 2nd place. All then was on the last race. Ian Cramp (who was leading the championship) had had a bad weekend, so Ben (having lost all chances of a 1st in the pre48 class thanks to the naughty Comet) felt that in the upto 72 class he was at least poised for second place.
So even though he was at the back of the grid, Ben went to the last race in high hopes. Came the flag, came the calamity! Ben hit a false neutral, fluffed the start and was last up the hill, manfully he carved his way through the field in fine form, but alas since it was only a four lapper he had to content himself with a seventh. He was to say the least annoyed.. It was a bit of a down at the end of a good an enjoyable season; full results are to be found on Ben’s web site http://www.oldracer.co.uk/results/index.html
So I shall retreat into the workshop for the winter (Apart from one trip out for one bike as the Egli has a place on the Coventry stand at the NEC in November). After that the Egli is getting a check over with new Carillo rods, and the Comet is having a face-lift, and a revised engine (It’s already stripped). We plan to return to the fray next year, if our finances, time and VMCC Historic Racing Club will allow. Although with Governments that actually act on supposed causes of global warming based on half formed climate theories and support banks built on gambling and pyramid selling rather than cash deposits who knows where any of us will be next March.
I took the Methanol Comet to a cold wet ‘Run what you brung’ at Santa pod and she ran like a dream. So the Methanol Comets problems were finally diagnosed as too soft a plug and too wide a gap, the methanol was washing the spark away in top (A big thanks to the Prof and all other knowledgeable advice givers).
The first meeting was Donnington Park on 27th April, not a favourite circuit very fast with poor spectator views from the paddock but Ok to run two new bikes in anger for the first time.
First race on the comet gave a 4th place –gearing was too high but that was a good result.
Roland Mettam the Mogvin Pilot, (who was spectating) passed by, and we decided to up the jet size 200 as plugs looked a bit white
In all races Ben had lousy grids but starting on the Egli’s first race ever from way back 40 something he ran straight to 3rd before the almost inevitable something came loose, and he came in after trying to keep his position without footrest and back brake. All repaired and with another 4th on the Comet under his belt down came the rain so heavy that the race program was abandoned.
Three sisters circuit is named after the three slag heaps ‘the Wigan Alps’ that stood there in the days when a bit of noise and dirt came with the Empire and before ambulance chasing lawyers and health and safety robots did what Hitler couldn’t.
Anyway it’s a run down, council owned, pot holed go-cart track now, with poor facilities, and with no runoff on the corners. Also the children of the once tough northerners in the new housing estate over the banking and across a mile or so of industrial estate don’t like noise, so bikes have to be pushed to the start area, and pushed back with dead engines after the race-nice work the heat of the weekend.
All in all not the best track to race the bikes on, Bad for the big twin a bit better for the methanol single but the same for everybody.
We dithered on the gearing, but in the end bolted a 50 on the comet and left the twin on the Donnington gearing, reasoning if we only used 4th and 5th at Donnington we could use 2nd and 3rd here (Bottom is actually a useable gear on the 5 speed box). This seemed to work and with only one warm up lap (we practised on the Comet) the twin went very well. It finished its first ‘72 race in place but Ben said it was a hard wrestle.
The next race was on the Comet and Ben got it really going at last,. I have raised the footrests another inch and with the exhaust pipe running over the gearbox amazingly he still managed to grind sparks on the corners it turned out to be the gear change lever-the angle has to be seen to be believed! He finished in a very close race and we decided to drop the jet size for the next ‘48 race
However that was not to be. At the start of the next ’72 race on the Egli, as Ben forged through the pack at the start, a rider in front lost his front end on the atrocious surface, and with nowhere to go brought Ben down .
The Egli slid the few feet to the tyre wall and dug itself in Ben hit the wall and somehow finished on the bank above the wall avoiding the other riders and fallers.
Ben has a bruised shoulder we may X ray if it doesn’t improve, the Egli has a dented tank and a snapped footrest and gearchange but it doesn’t look too bad and it’s a long time till the next meeting June 2 Mallory (same day as Banbury and H&B rally)
The Dear old VMCC always manages to run a race meeting the same day as the Banbury run so as I was not there here is the BHRC Bulletin in Ben’s words
Back to Mallory:
I had high hopes for Mallory with the Egli,having done close to 1000 laps there this year alone, as it is one of the most frequented circuits we use for the trackdays as well as practice and racing,its fair to say this is my best track. The previous week I had taken the Egli along as I was instructing there for a trackday on my Honda and after a few initial teething problems as a result of the crash at 3 sisters, I took it out for a 20 min session to make sure all was well. Indeed, it felt very good so after a few warm up laps I opened it up for a few fast ones. The performance was astonishing, lapping and out accelerating machines that were built and designed in a different century certainly brings a smile to your face. The lap times told the same story; it was faster than I was circulating on my 2001 Honda sp1. It also felt faster on every part of the track, a notion that I am still trying to comprehend now. Anyway, after the session I pulled in to the paddock, parked up and checked her over for any problems that I hadn’t felt and all was well. Later in the day I went for another run but on starting it up noticed that the rear cylinder was not running, numerous checks revealed nothing obvious so it was back to the workshop for more tests in the hope of getting it running for the race the following weekend.
Least just wasn’t to be, time was too short, the night before the race we tried everything but it just would not go (Its working now! -dad) So, disappointed, we loaded the HRD 600 into the van on its own and headed back to Mallory for the race the next day.
We had made a few changes to the HRD and they paid off, but it was still down on power (which we now think may be the cam). The class we run in with the HRD "unlimited up to 1948" is a small grid but those that are there are FAST both riders and machines. We have the unstoppable 500 works Norton of Ian Bain, Championship winner last year, the 580 5t Triumph with John Mcmahon, Champion of Champions last year and the Scott Squirrel with New Zealand ex superbike Champion and TT contender Paul Dobbs.
We had a fantastic couple of close races with all of the above, finishing 4th in the first race and 3rd in the second. It was real elbow to elbow stuff with nothing in it for 2nd and 3rd place. The Hrd was just one second behind the fastest lap time of the winner, Bain, in the last race and was visibly slower on the fast parts of the track so if we can just get some more top end power, a win or a 2nd is a distinct possibility while with its consistancy, 2nd or 3rd in the overall championship isn’t out of the question.
We are still yet to see a clean race where the Egli can show what it can do but I am confident that when it does it will be right at the front in the unlimited to 73 class, which is currently owned by a triumph T120 twin.
For a month with no racing, July was an eventful month. We had an invite to meet a journalist for an interview and picture session, together with runs on a test brake for both Vincent’s. The brake showed the twin to be spot on, with the power curve climbing to the presently imposed rev limit, but the Comet with both torque and power declining early. (For a start I increased ignition advance and I have some cam changes in mind but one thing at a time).
I was to have my first run on the Egli at the 1000 bikes but because of a failed attempt to get a Vincent session together (Shame on you). found myself lost in the road bike section. I was so disgusted by that non-event, the lack of space and the mud bath I was asked to decant my AM23 tires into; I went home without unloading the van.
Penbury continued the bad weather, with horizontal rain and wind that made racing impossible on Saturday. Luckily we stayed on huddled in Ben’s van and were rewarded by practice late in afternoon. The Comet was much improved and the twin proved ready for its first real outing on a ‘man sized’ track.
Come the day it was no longer raining but riding my road bike to the circuit the side winds were very strong ‘rather Ben than me’ was my summation.
Things at last have started to come together, the Comet got a second and a third and the Egli a seventh and a fifth, Ben said the Egli forks pattered a bit and the handling was down (At the moment he still prefers the Comets road holding!). It was great however to see it light up off the line and beat Rob Walkers ‘Big Bopper’ Velocette to the first corner and the Rob North and other triples never caught up.
Kent must have been full of visiting Vincent owners in August, whilst most went to Heaver a small band went further down the road to Lydden and they were rewarded with some fine racing and some good publicity for the marque.
I made a few minor changes to the 49 single and the twin Egli over the ‘summer break’ and I guess that the changes all accumulate to improve the performance. Ben (perverse as usual) still finds the standard HRD handling perfect and the Egli leaving a little to be ‘desired.’ he keeps asking me to put a mild twin motor in the Comet frame with HRD on the cases and blow open the 49 class on fast circuits, but as I pointed out engines don’t grow on trees.
Knowing Lydden as a riders circuit, and tight to boot, Ben had stripped off the Egli fairing and raised the bars ready for the wrestling match to come. He was not disappointed, he had a string of seconds over the two days leading for 2 laps over the all season champion, but he came in exhausted after each race, for the Egli is a big beast to hold on the smooth stuff round that twisty track. He would have been even higher but he was awarded a 10 second penalty on Sunday for ‘jumping the flag’ he swears he did not jump anyone, but since the Egli leaves the 2nd or 3rd row of the grid so fast with front wheel pawing the air to grab front spot, its not surprising the assumption was made. Help was forthcoming from Roy Robertson who joined us on Saturday and had us mixing fork oil and changing settings in an attempt to control the beast (he has given us invaluable help before and during the season). Also adding his pennyworth was Roland Mettam (Mogvin) giving advice on stopping the rocker feeds from weeping. Nor was help just one way, for instance John McMahon (49 Triumph) who invariably is neck and neck with Ben and had been piped by Ben in the previous 49 race, ran low on methanol and Ben gave him some from our stock. John then promptly beat him next time out! “You got some good stuff there!” he declared afterwards. It’s this sort of atmosphere that makes the historic racing game so worthwhile.
And so to the last meeting of the season at Cadwell, and what a finale it was. We went to the circuit on Friday so that Ben could get his Honda ‘eye’ in at a track day with focused events where he was a marshal, and to test the gearing on the 600 single and it’s doubled up big brother. In the event I spent most of the day getting the noise level down to an ‘acceptable’ level on both bikes (In the case of the twin it’s like forcing you to wash your feet with your socks on). I was hoping finally for a spin on the beast, but nobody fell off (at least not enough to go home early) so I could not get a slot. Ben did some laps both bikes and confirmed that the poor (relatively) handling of the Egli was down to a slight buckle on the front wheel from his spill at 3 sisters.
Saturday started with fog which delayed the program, but it cleared to a fine day, and we had a 3rd and a second on the Egli.Ben, who lead at the start, had his lead whittled down by Stacy Kilworth (120R 750 Triumph) who final got past him. In the only up to 48 race on the single the clutch nut undid when Ben was in contention, other than that mishap, both bikes did not need a spanner on them, and I could enjoy a day of watching some fine racing. For sheer excitement, spectacle and technical interest I would rather watch a sidecar race at this sort of meeting than any modern bike racing, and a formula 1 trolley race is not even in the running. Cadwell is a wonderful place and I have so many happy memories of racing there. The memories are only tinged with a sadness that Vincent HRD machines are so under represented as compared to Velocetts ,Rudges and even Morgans, when only a short time ago we had so many Vincent riders that we could run our own VOC race days.
There is no shortage of interest however, and there is always a small crowd at our paddock ‘camp’ and questions come hard and fast “Can you still get spares?”” Is that a black shadow?” or ” you came by me! And its how old?” (Track day question) and of course the best one of all “how can you afford to race that valuable bike?” to which my standard retort is “That one there only cost me £15 in 1965”.
Sunday, the rain came in fitful bursts, and Bens first event came after the sidecar race, this gave rise to some attendant oil spreading problems, so that at the end of the race the cleaning crews were out, never the less it was still a slippery track that received the up to 1972 class competitors. As was becoming the norm the Vincent stormed into the lead and disappeared up the mountain leaving a trail of Laverdas, Triumph / BSA triples and some fast triumph twins behind. I was in the full grandstand at the foot of the mountain and as Ben came round in the lead, the Egli gave a big rear twitch, and 100 spectators caught their breath. He stayed on and in the lead, finally I don’t know if I was more pleased that he won or that the race was over.
Ben said that the slip at the foot of the mountain was nothing to the speedway broadside he had in woodlands and that the rear wheel skipped and locked down the hill to Mansfield just on engine braking (Note I shall leave the compression where it is). He said that the motors ability to pull at low revs was the thing that made it ‘easy’ in the wet.
After a couple of more 3rds on the single (I think we have reached a plateau there), came the final race of the season for the Egli. By now all the track was dry and although the Egli was well down the grid, the start was again a reminder of why the best sprinters were Vincent’s, and this time in the dry Ben’s lead was never in doubt, though Stacey did his best. I have said it before but the sight of the big twin cresting the mountain and not setting down the front wheel down till it was setting up for hall bends is truly a sight to behold and on that high note we ended the 2008 season.
And what of next season? Well the bikes are in good fettle and sorted. It would be nice if we had a twin engine to put in the existing Vincent frame for the up to 48 class, then perhaps we could give Ian Bains ex works Norton a fright, but that’s just wishful thinking. I do however have some outstanding tweaks in mind for the single motor and will get some more test brake time to see if they work. The Egli twin just needs checking, maintenance, perhaps a new front rim and we are ready to go again. However time marches on, I am about to retire from full time employment and Ben is about to be a dad, A meeting costs around £200.00 with transport so we may not manage a full season (Certainly we wont do 3 sisters again!) .We would like to thank Vinspares and the VOC Spares Company and the Club for their support, and all the advice and help we have had from friends, VOC members (especially Roy Robertson), and suppliers like BTH, Maughns, and Newby. Finally let’s hope the noise limit stays at 105db for next season.
Ramping up for the new season Following a successful test run, (Successful means it didn’t blow up), at the last Cadwell meeting of the Year, Ben and I decided to go for a full season this year in the BHRC up to1948 class. (Eligibility is due the fact that thankfully the Vincent HRD company got a Single onto the Earls court plinth in November 1948-and took a picture) .The plan was to sideline the present engine (600cc Petrol) and build a second (Methanol 600cc) engine and generally tidy up the bike. This leap frog method was successful when we were racing Ben’s C15 because we could try out ideas knowing we always had a spare behind us, let’s hope that works again. Normal improvements often noted in MPH are incorporated, a larger carburettor –(well large for us e.g. a new 1-3/16 TT) and a high compression piston (Still waiting delivery from America). Also from America comes an alloy Super Trapp exhaust .We hope this will keep the noise down and thus prevent the crocked finger of the scrutineer inviting us to the noise testing bay. We also thought we would try a 105 cam rather than the ‘normal’ MK2.All the other mods like the B-TH mag, internally modified Burman, Nicasil Primary chain etc were carried over from the old power plant Not many Cycle modifications this year, the old gal has been raced for many a year and “if it aint broke don’t fix it “is a good maxim, however it was looking distinctly tatty. We have slapped a thin coat of paint here and there built up a new front damper from AVO added a new steering damper, a rev counter, and a flyscreen. The weight was at 312 pounds before we stripped her down. An advert in MPH got us a RFM from a member in the IOW that had no cotton reels on the front stays and no damper brackets on the rear supports. I have also produced a few buckets of alloy swarf on my lathe making up bits and bobs. We hope that these items plus a few more holes may keep the overall weight down, and we still have thinner rear chain, and some Girdralic and engine components holes and slots in the bag if we need them. Now Ben must start his Diet and I must pray for that piston
BHRC Bulletin 2 With racing bike rebuilds, irrespective of the time to purchase and supply parts; I have always worked on a ratio of 5 to 1. i.e.: one hour to take a bit off and 5 hours to put it back on. This time is made worse in the case of the Vincent because its difficult to start the full bike rebuild before the engine has been completed. So it was not too surprising that even starting in October we arrived at the date of the VMCC Practice day in March with no machine. Decision is then made not to wait for the piston from USA and to use last year’s engine for the first few meetings, but we missed the practice day. Luckily Ben has a partime job with a track day organisation. He takes first timers round the circuits on their crutch rockets, and shows them the ropes, (for this he uses his 1000 V twin, calm down lads- it’s a Honda not a Vincent) so accordingly he arranged to fit a quick few laps at Mallory with the HRD on a late March track day. This is something we have done before and while the old black bike is ignored in the morning by the afternoon after it has passed a few rockets on the infield in the morning sessions, it gets a lot more attention. Unfortunately this time it was at Mallory not Snetterton and the 105db level of a Vintage meeting was too loud for a track day (How can you buy a house next to a race circuit and then complain about noise?) But at least we could start it, change gears and check it out a bit in the paddock. Of course week later, news that the Piston is arriving came, but the decision to stay with the old motor until mid season stood. I must admit to not having high hopes of the first race, going racing from cold from a full rebuild without a good practice session is bound to be interesting. So when a disappointed Ben pulled in with a slipping clutch, faulty gearchange and a plug that had sooted up, and taken a lap to clear, I was not too upset. We managed to sort all the problems apart from the over rich bottom carb and since we were at the end of adjustments and time we simply cleaned a softer plug and elected to start up when we left the paddock for the sighting lap. All looked good, Ben had a flying start and by the time he disappeared into the run up to the hairpin he was running third. Then I saw the recovery van leave its hole and join the track and a forest of red flags came out to bloom. Someone had come off on the new chicane on the back straight (Don’t ask me why historic bikes have to navigate barriers erected to stop modern GP bikes going into orbit, that’s another story). The grid attempted to reform, time passed, bikes wouldn’t start, the instructions were garbled, and in the end that race was abandoned. Our next meeting was at Oulton Park, both the Vincent and I had been there before, but unfortunately neither of us were able to communicate its intricacies to Ben for whom it was a first time. In his first race he came seventh which considering the learning curve was not bad, and he pronounced the bike was running well (But to me it seemed to have lost its old edge). At that point I had to leave for a VOC committee meeting so was not able to see lightning strike twice in the second race, when Ben who was lying forth was promoted to third when the rider in front had a bad crash. This was immediately followed by the red flag again! Ben had loaded the bike back in the van when it was rumored the race might be re-run at the end of the meeting, I doubt that it was. Well, that’s racing for you 5% perspiration, 5% elation, and 90% agitation.
BHRC Bulletin No3 My fears about the speed of the HRD was confirmed at the next race at Croft where in the first race, the best Ben could get was a Fifth. Even (Horror of Horrors!) a Rudge Ulster out dragged him to the line. One would think there is nothing more disheartening than passing them all in the infield to have them go by on the straight, However there was worse, for at the start of the second race the heavens opened, twisters appeared on the horizon,and for the 3rd race day in a row the second upto 1949 race was abandoned. On the Sunday for the second day at Croft Ben was on his own because I was competing in the Banbury run. In both races the heavens opened but Ben said the bike was on rails and while others slipped and slided he pressed on in fine style and as a result is sitting 5th in the championship. Its all fingers out to get the Methanol motor running for Anglesea in August,.Its not an easy Job trying to get a reasonable combustion chamber shape at 13.5:1 but Prof Higgins kindly gave me some pointers on ignition, I have a new TT all set for methanol and I have purchased 25ltrs of the nectar, so by the time you read this I shall hopfully have got it sorted or close to. I console myself that we have the petrol motor in reserve if we go aluminium mining on the new piston, and it could rain.
BHRC Bulletin 4 Remember that one hot weekend at the end of July the only one so far in this wet wet summer ? Well we were not hot at Anglesey on that Saturday, it poured. ( the only place in the UK that did ) Fitting really, a fine way to end a disappointing month ,the much heralded Methanol motor failed at the last post and it was back to the bench to improve that head joint and back in with the ‘slow’ petrol motor. What a circuit Ty Croes is! what a surface! even in the wet it was scraping the footrests and when it dried on Sunday it left the silencer paper-thin , wrote off Bens boots and sculpted his knee sliders This is with a standard Vincent frame geometry and 18inch wheels. Of course he was at a disadvantage on speed but the corners he made up for it and he is holding on to fifth place in the upto 48 championship.The bike only disgraced itself once when the needle decided to wriggle free of the clip and drop into the jet and we really had a full two days racing The I.O.M preparations necessitate me putting my 1000 back into road trim and fitting lights so the Methanol motor will not be ready until the last 2 day meeting at Cadwell –almost a year after starting it
BHRC Bulletin No 5 This is a short version because MPH will be full of IOM stuff: Lydden for those of you who have never been is a spectator’s paradise and it’s a 52T rear sprocket track with plenty of twists and turns it works for Bens Comet very well and he maintained his 3rd position in the championship. There was a nasty coming together with Ian Banes Norton when he closed on Triumph mounted John McMahon who was dicing with Ben at the front. At that point the Triumph seized and In the resulting Melee John & Ian crashed (both OK) and Ben took to the Gravel-Grass-Gravel and regained the track to finish 2nd. It’s all spanners out to finally try out the Methanol Motor for the last 2 days at Cadwell to finish the season -29th-30th September.
BHRC Bulletin No6 At last the methanol motor was running, but with no time to run in before the 2 day Cadwell on Oct 29th, so with my advice of “ take it easy” ringing in Ben’s ears, its only evaluation time was 4 laps of practice. After the run the report came back that “it’s very fast but hangs back in top”. Visions of holed pistons in mind I quickly removed the 1500 jet (according to tuning for speed) and in with the biggest jet I could find: 1900 .Ben was on grid position 11th for the first race and was second into the hairpin, boy, how that Comet flew away! On lap 3 however Ben did not appear round Woodlands when the race was over he chugged back to the paddock–the motor had started to seize and his report was “it still hangs back a bit and I felt it tighten” Now it’s all very well to say change one thing at a time but when the grid is warming in the paddock needs must, so in with another plug and since after 1900 the hole in the jet and the base diameter of the fixing thread of the jet start to coincide so we just left the main jet out. Amazingly, a quick blast around the paddock revealed that it was as responsive as ever, so down to the start line and into race two. It still looked fast and Ben was flying along for a couple of laps, when again he did not appear round Woodlands. I thought it had seized again, but no, after some 10 minutes Ben appeared dishevelled in the paddock he had dropped it on the hairpin into woodlands as the new exhaust had touched down at the front and lifted both wheels off the deck.” It wasn’t holding back this time” came the report “but now the bikes a bit bent”. So ended a season, even missing the races on Saturday and Sunday Ben finished third in the overall championship and all the tricks with the new motor denotes lots of promise for next year and we must get some rolling road time in. If only we had got the methanol motor ready earlier, but then racing is filled with if onlys. We have plans for a big 1100 twin to go with the Comet for next season if the money holds out, so keep an eye out in the wanted columns for twin bits.