Stafford Spring Show

Along with many others, a fascinating day was spent at this year’s Stafford Show. A biting cold wind and hail storms on the Saturday made scouring the auto jumble a hard-core experience. Richard Jones had an interesting Royal Enfield project on sale that caught my eye.

The Bonham’s auction had collection of treasures for the well-heeled but one of the nicest had to be this Indian board racer.

But as my childhood hero, I would dearly have loved to bid on one of Barry Sheene’s helmets.

However, for me the most poignant moment was seeing Mike Farrell’s 1934 Rudge “Syndicate” bike that has been repatriated from a glass case in an Australian museum. I had been trying to “acquire” this very bike myself for many years and am of course hugely envious of this very special motorcycle. Mike’s efforts have been well rewarded as he has since discovered the bike has a fascinating history and was raced by the great Tyrell Smith himself.

No visit to Stafford would be complete without a visit to the Sunbeam club stand and it was another chance to see one of my favourite bikes, the Dodson 1928 TT winning Model 90. A real piece of motorcycling history that goes as well as it looks.

RS250 ready at last

Departing from the vintage theme a little, the 1999 Honda RS250 rebuild is now complete and the bike is ready for careful running-in. It has basically had a much needed “proper” clean and full chassis and engine refresh including new crank and cylinders. Many thanks to Rob at Racing Lines for his patience and much-needed support. A new paint-job will be in place soon but for now we are running the old bodywork.

After a quick visit to Maxton, I’m trying a heavier spring as the one fitted seems more suited to a typical jockey-sized 250 pilot but in truth I’m too slow to really notice. Japanese Battle factory pegs and lever add a touch of bling as do the Samco hoses.

Charlie Dodson’s Model 90

Some time ago I was lucky enough to take a few snaps of the bike I understand was used by Charlie Dodson to win the ’28 Senior TT. Archie Beggs later rode the bike at the club Centenary rally and also at the 2012 festival of Jurby. More pictures are stored in the gallery.

Welcome to the new Sunbeamland web log

This is the first post on the new Sunbeamland “blog” where I hope to share pictures and information of interest to others fascinated by the world of old and vintage motorcycles. There is obviously a keen slant towards vintage Sunbeam motorcycles that were produced at the Sunbeamland works before the war.

12th April 2013: It’s a holiday

Latest recruit is this rather smart 1967 Triumph TT which is having a few months holiday in the dining room. One of Hugh’s restorations from The Bike Shed, it features 11:1 compression, Carillo rods, racing ignition and lowered gearing to make it a real hot “desert sled”. These rare bikes were the most successful desert racers of the era and I can’t wait to fire it up… open pipes… Castrol-R….

4th April 2013: 1928 Model 90 Dry build completed

The engine/gearbox have now been fitted to the frame so we now need to check the primary and rear chain aligments before proceeding.


18th March 2013: 1928 Model 90 Dry build begins

The engine/gearbox have been collected from Chris and the frame/forks returned from Archie and Kenny. These had been used to fabricate jigs in order to repair damage to Archie’s own ’28 bike after Kenny’s little incident. As Archie said, “be careful, we’re running out of stock”

As I get to grips with the project, it is becoming increasinly apparent that the work Peter Woodward has done on the bike is of the highest order. Everything is beautifully done and there is little remaining work other than wheel building, paint and plating. It is a joy to work on.

My vision of the bike is a gentleman’s sports tourer rather than out-and-out racer but the 21″ front wheel looks so right on a 90. The wheels from the ’30 racer fit perfectly so there won’t be any clearance issues when the wheels are laced up.

Of course it’s not all vintage in the dining room here. The ’99 RS250 Honda has had a complete chassis overhaul and the motor a new crankshaft. Low 1st/2nd gears are coming from belle France and lovely new cylinders from Rob at Racing Lines

23rd January 2013: The 1928 Model 90 engine is ready for collection

Chris Odling has just sent me pictures of the completed engine for the 1928 Model 90. The quality of Chris’ work is staggering.

There were quite a few problems with the bottom end of the motor, the worst of which required repairs to broken cylinder head stud positions and for the drive side main bearing location to be sleeved. The crank was in a sorry state too. In the end, Chris made and fitted a new crank pin and drive side main shaft. Although the existing main bearings were OK, after all this work it seemed only right to fit new ones. The top-end fared better requiring new valve guides, hairpin springs and for the valves to be ground in to new cut seats. We had a choice of high and low compression pistons and went for the lower of the two as the idea is for the bike to be a gentleman’s sports-tourer rather than a racer on the road. This also means we can use the high-compression piston in the 1930 ex-racer. There is an unusually large 2″ inlet valve and it will be interesting see how well the bike performs.

There are a 1001 other jobs that Chris has done to bring the engine and gearbox to this state. It has obviously had some major trauma in the past and it is only through Chris’ expertise and knowledge that it has been possible to bring it back to life.

Click here for a set of photos of the work done.

7th November 2012: Fore-and-aft

A friend has recently acquired this rather nice little 1923 350 “fore-and-aft” Douglas. Apologies for the poor picture quality.

21st October 2012: The grand sale begins

Time for a clear out and to experiment with e(vil)Bay. There’s a lot to get rid of and to begin, thanks to the country’s punitive 60% import duty, it was somehow cost-effective for a gentleman in Brazil to pay £130 shipping costs for the Alpinestars leathers (below). Sir, I thank you. Moving swiftly on it seems there may still be an unrestored Triumph Bonneville out there as bits left over from the ’64 restoration are selling like hot-cakes. They should all be gone by the end of November at this rate. However, a word of advice… Spanish language books don’t fetch much. Should have given them to Age Concern where I would most likely have bought them back a few weeks later having forgotten that I’d given up trying even if the language is Latin based which should make it easy but bloody-well doesn’t when you discover that your brain is now barely as agile as a clay wrapped hedgehog

One thing I am learning quickly is that the joy of “doing rather well” at fobbing some clapped out old rubbish off to an overly-excitable optimist can be short lived when the listing costs, final value fee and paypal charges amount to 15% or more of the final sale and postage price

14th October 2012: It’s not all about Sunbeams of course

If you take one of these….

Then add a little bit of TLC on the bench…

Maybe, if you’re lucky enough, you can end up with one of these…

It always helps if you have the right friends…

Many thanks to Mr. Hugh Brown (left) of Bike Shed fame for building this absolutely stunning 1966 Triumph Bonneville T120R

15th September 2012: Oulton Park, CBR600F, fold back the mirrors and hang on

Too tight leathers are now up-for-sale on eBay. Oh the pain, the pain….