Project C10 – For the love of Amal

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I’m not a fan of working on carburettors. My biggest problem is with the fiddly little pieces, which I am pretty sure are designed to shoot out on disassembly and disappear into the ether. Amal carbs got it right though, long long ago. A flathead screwdriver and spanner, and the whole things comes apart quite easily. Can see why riders used to be more likely to do any carburettor work themselves. Remove two bolts and a fuel line, then you can take it off and strip it down. Simplicity itself, a ten minute job to pull it down and put it back together, with a minimum of moving parts that could go wrong.

Definitely my type of automotive component design. 

On any given…er…Saturday

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Because we love the smell of two stroke and dust clouds.
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It’s the backwards lean that is so impressive.
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Favourite bike of the meet, a CX500 dirtbruiser. Couldn’t corner, but roostertailed like a mofo coming out of corners.
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Almost rubbin racin, which is even cooler because it’s on dirtbikes.
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Most of these bikes I would be scared to take on the road, let alone on dirt.
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Old school dirt trackers.
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Nothing like a bare metal tank to show how you’re more about go than show.
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Sweet little Bultaco tracker, it’s testament to the build quality that bikes like these still exist and run at events like this.
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Everyone loves an airhead, especially one with a flat tracker seat.
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It’s getting to the point when plastic tank models are becoming resto specialists. This neat Kwaka was up for sale at the meet.
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Big bore thumper? Good. Spanish Bigbore thumper…oh yes.
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The girl from Griffith…the girl who rode this bike, cut up the class in the ‘run what ya brung’ race, she’s got some mad skills.

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Definitely.

And because it is so awesome, just one more shot.

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It begins

Many times I have traversed the internet and stumbled across niche automotive groups that honour vehicles which would have otherwise disappeared into the ether of history. Fanatics of the most passionate kind, worshipping machines which back in their day were known to have faults. Today I have become one of those fanatics. 

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A sidevalve 250cc engine of around 1950 vintage, this beautiful piece of the puzzle is only the beginning of a long and frustrating time. And I have already started.

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Armed with my handy 50s motorcycle guide, I have all the knowledge of the period to help me with getting started. On top of that, within the last week I have made two new contacts who can help with parts supply. Which is important when we are dealing with a sixty year old engine. 

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Easy to lift, agricultural in design and a challenge to source parts for. It’s the perfect project for me. 

Stay tuned. 

 

There’s no need to resort to a Kluger.

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6am: Alarm goes off, hesitatingly climb out of bed.

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8:30am: School run, drop the kids off while dodging manic SUV captains.

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11am: Park in Woolworths carpark, well away from everyone else.

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1pm: Park time for the pre schoolie kid.

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3pm: School pick up, Hemi is running hot sitting around.

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5:30pm: Prepare dinner for fussy little appetites.

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7:30pm: Kids to bed, dinner with the mrs.

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9:30pm: Head out to the garage with car polish and ensure you maintain your position as owning the coolest daily driver in the suburb.

With thanks to Grant, the owner of this amazing every day kid hauler.

Into the spotlight – The Brough Superior Motorcar

It is an unfortunate aspect of history that certain siblings are relegated to the shadows of their much brighter offspring, no matter how brightly they shine. The Brough Superior automobile is one such example of this, having no chance against the solar beacon that was the Brough Superior motorcycles it shared it’s nameplate with. Nonetheless, with relativity put aside, it’s time to take a closer look at the lesser known member of the Brough Superior vehicle range.

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Over a short period between 1935 and 1938, the Brough Superior Motorworks produced approximately 85 motorcars. Rolling chassis were brought to England from the Hudson factory in America, and delivered to the Atcherley bodyworks in Birmingham. Here they were fitted with coachwork of George Brough design, the majority of the bodies being of the Dual-purpose (drophead) design.

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The first series of the Brough motorcar, for model year 1935-36, were fitted with a 4.1 litre ‘straight eight’ cylinder powerplant. Good for 114 brake horsepower, the motor could motivate the Superior car up to 90 miles per hour. The Brough Superior cars featured design cues borrowed from the motorcycle range, including the fitment of a reserve fuel tank. At the end of 1936 the Hudson Motor company dropped the ‘straight eight’ option, so the rolling chassis were instead fitted with a 107BHP 3.5 litre engine. It was at this time a forced induction engine was produced, with a power output of 140BHP thanks to a Centric unit.  The 3.5 litre chassis sat 4 inches short of the 4 litre chassis, so the beautiful lines drawn by George Brough were not lost in the transition.

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The final hurrah for the Brough Superior motorcar was the XII, a single motorcar produced in 1938 using outsourced componentry fitted to a Brough designed chassis. A Lincoln-Zephyr V12 put the power to Ford sourced axles, the vehicle being pulled up by Girling Brakes. With only one example being produced, the mammoth machine had an overall length of 5.6 metres, and a girth of 1.8 metres. With the quality of the motorcars being as high as that of the motorcycles, it was the stellar reputation of the two wheeled Brough variants that pushed the car out of the limelight. With Brough motorcycle prices reaching astronomical figures, it might be time to consider moving to four wheels in order to be able to own something with a Brough Superior nameplate.

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Today’s feature car comes courtesy of an avid Brough collector, who isn’t scared to take the drophead coupe out for a spirited run.  With reports of an amazing torque range, the big coupe’s top gear is able to be engaged at 20kph and wound all the way out to the car’s top speed of 150kph. This performance comes at a cost, with the Brough machine being described as ‘thirsty’. This has not stopped the car from travelling as far afield as Belgium, as well as rallies in Yorkshire and Devon. A testament to the owner’s devotion to the Brough marque, the car shares garage space with two Brough Superior motorcycles.

Many thanks to you my friend, you know who you are. 

You’re in control – if you remember which is which

You're in control - if you remember which is which

Today we have it so easy as motorcycle riders. Before the advent of the throttle roll hand control, before the ‘point & squirt’ bikes we have today, riding a bike was an incredibly involved task. Just controlling the engine and keeping it running was a job in itself, with oil, fuel and air measures being set as the rider desired. These are the true motorcyclists’ cycles, where total control of the machine was in the hands of the rider. However, by noting that these bikes feature lacklustre brakes and woeful power output, it allow us to appreciate how far we have come, and what the first riders had to endure. I’m sure they’d get bored riding the reliable low maintenance machines we have access to today.

Passion & Practicality – High miler Laverda 3C

In Australia Laverda motorcycles are rare, customised Laverdas are even rarer, and customised Laverdas that are ridden on a regular basis are almost unheard of. Today’s bike falls into the last of these categories, an Italian beauty that’s not afraid to put miles under it’s tyres, and it comes in the form of Marty’s 1974 Laverda 3C. After twenty years ownership (including three as an everyday rider), and showing no fear in riding it on a regular basis, this bike shows that you can have something special as your daily transport. It helps to have bitchin’ mechanical skills as well.

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The heart of this machine is the one litre engine the 3C left the factory with, although much modified by now. The cylinder head has been worked, now sporting steeper angles for the inlet and exhaust ports, while nestled in the head sit a pair of custom cams. A set of Keihin carbs from a Honda have replaced the factory setup, the airbox a custom job to work between the Jap and Italian engineering. An IIS ignition sytem brings the spark, Ross racing pistons bring the noise, and a larger capacity oil pump helps stop the engine from blowing itself to pieces. With the engine now running at 12:1 compression, octane booster is utilised to stop pinging. At the exhaust end of business the silencers are stock units, with personalised touches in the form of slight bruising from having to put the bike down at speed.

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The ability to stop and handle is as important as the ability to go fast, something that hasn’t been neglected on the Laverda. The stoppers on the front end are Ducati full floating discs, with Brembo four pot calipers doing the clamping. Marzocchi is the choice for the front forks, the original Ceriani ones being given the flick, and a Tarozzi forkbrace fitted. Sitting in the forks are cartridge emulators, to boost the performance of the damping rod system, and 5w oil. At the back end sit Koni Dial-A-Rides, also fitted with cartridge emulators. To maintain a façade of a factory looking bike, the original Borrani wire alloys have stayed on the bike.

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In the looks department, the bike stands out too. And not just because the Laverda’s Marmalade paintwork is retinally searing. A Ducati SSD front fairing envelopes the front end, hiding the 38mm Ducati clip-ons in it’s super brightness. The front guard comes courtesy of a Laverda SFC, and the factory rear guard has been retained, although it has lost 8 inches of it’s length. Due to Marty’s tall height, and an injury from an off he had a while ago, the rear sets are an inhouse arrangement. A set of ground down spanners, flanked by Tarozzi pegs, make for a custom heel-toe gearchange, allowing for a better riding position for the big man.

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Marty is a guy who knows what he likes, and two decades of ownership have allowed him to customise the bright orange machine to exactly how he wants it. This bike doesn’t just cover road miles, with it doing a year in post classic historic racing, it’s failure to get podium positions being described by Marty as ‘fast bike, slow rider’. The miles it does on the open road is no small figure either, with the bike doing a yearly trip throughout the Australian Alps, on top of the interesting bike routes dotted around Sydney. A fast bike, albeit with a ‘slow rider’, this Laverda has so much passion and time put into it by the doting owner, that you can see why it is still going strong. It does pretty damn well to go against the idea that a Laverda can’t be an everyday bike.

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Superior by name, Superior by nature

Some things in life don’t stand up to being described in words. A tropical sunset, a new born baby, you will find the sum of the words do not give a fitting description to the experience being felt by whoever is doing the describing. In the motorcycle world, the equivalent of this is attempting to put the Brough Superior SS100 on paper. The sleek lines and beautiful chromework do not lend themselves easily to descriptions of a literary nature, always equaling something less than the whole. I’m willing to give it a try though.

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An almost mythical creature in the cycle world, the Brough Superior is the stuff of legends. It is the granddaddy of today’s breed of superbike, from a time when 100mph was fast, and cork was the substance of choice for helmet padding. That is, if a helmet was worn at all. Long and low, with flowing lines, the SS100 is the perfect paradigm of a motorcycle. From the leading link forks to the swing arm rear suspension, it can be hard not to admire the leading edge technology of it’s time. With every SS100 coming with a written guarantee it has reached over 100mph during the testing stage, the bike was bound to attract those riders with a more sporting bent. Today’s feature bike is one such bike, having cut it’s teeth in competition and moved onto a more sedate lifestyle of touring. With many interesting miles behind it, FGX5 is a beautiful example of the Brough Marque and it’s story does need to be shared.

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First registered on the 13th of December 1938, the SS100 was placed in the showroom of Godfrey’s of London. Sold the same month, the first owner took part in several trials over the course of 1939. Five years later, the bike appeared for sale in a 1944 edition of The Motorcycle magazine. After that it disappeared for some time, reappearing in 1956 in Stroud, then in 1964 having had two separate owners during that year. In 1997 the bike was purchased by Bob Shapiro, an American living in London. On his passing in 2000, the bike was passed onto another owner from across the pond. The SS100 was kept and maintained in the UK, under the watchful eye of another Brough club member. The new owner made annual trips to England to take part in rallies, or to visit the bike during the Club’s August rally. The bike was by no means UK bound during this time, with the new owner taking the gleaming machine to the continent, his wife perched upon the pillion seat. The magnificent machine passed to it’s current owner in September 2010, with the bike being kept in regular use. Rallies in Germany, Scotland and England ensure the Brough does not collect any cobwebs on it’s gleaming chromework.

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FGX5 is definitely a bike with a full and interesting history. Commonly referred to as ‘The Show Bike’, it is a duplicate of a Brough Superior that was featured at the Earls Court Motorcycle show in the autumn of 1938. Unsure as to whether it was one of the two bikes featured at the show, or simply an understudy of sorts, the bike has all the accessories one would expect on a show bike. Chromium plating, crashbars and special paint work add up to an eye catching motorcycle. It was this lavish bodywork, and beauty of the machine that led to George Brough’s own claim that the Brough Superior was the ‘Rolls Royce of motorcycles’. This raised the ire from those at the top of the Rolls Royce organization, and a tour of the Brough factory was scheduled for the top brass from Rolls Royce. Upon seeing the bikes were assembled by workers in white gloves, permission was given to use the Rolls Royce name to advertise the Brough marque. The workers outfitted in white gloves were doing so in preparation for the 1938 Earl’s Court, with the show bikes being specially prepared, but the Rolls Royce ambassadors weren’t to know that. Brough Superior, the Rolls Royce of motorcycles. A term coined over 75 years ago, but an analogy fitting so well it has stuck since.

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