Highlander Trophy taking a rest in 2017

With so much more going on Saturday afternoon, and most folks who ride the trials want to check out the Show & Swap just next door at the ballfield, we’ve decided to let the mighty Highlander sword hang on the wall at the Ranch this year. Added benefit is that Judy the Ranch Manager should be able to get some good use out of it if those darned golfers get rambunctious.

highlander-graphic

Bikes in Print

Motorcycles are, and always have been, cool. This cool is used by marketing gurus to lend more excitement to all sorts of products. Slap a pic of a guy whipping it over a jump on your box of sugar-bomb kid’s cereal and you’re going to sell more, because, motorcycle!

Magazine publishers realized this, and motorcycles have shown up on the covers of some odd publications over the years, sometimes with supporting stories inside that made the tie-in work, others that leave you scratching your head at the disconnect between cover shot and content.

The addition of an iconic movie star to the mix increases this cool factor exponentially. I often wonder if Steve McQueen ever got tired of posing for yet another cover shot on some obscure magazine that had absolutely nothing to do with bikes.

Our collection includes quite a few of these “motorcycles on random magazines” titles, although I have yet to find a copy of the truly brilliant German “Housefrau” from 1934 with the extremely stylish lady going flat-out on a Zundapp or BMW single http://1.bp.blogspot.com/…/AAAA…/pTZKDlD2I70/s1600-h/001.jpg.

Modern Fuel Injection for the pre-electronic era! Brilliant!

IMG_0748

Or… a drip tap into a venturi controlled by a butterfly…that had occasional conflagration issues? Not so brilliant.

Which is it? You be the judge.

Walter Hartley ‘Wal’ Phillips was born in Tottenham England in 1908 and became a professional Speedway racer, appearing in the very first Speedway World Final in 1936 (placing an unlucky 13th) the same year his racing career was ended by a broken leg.

Phillips’ uncle was a development engineer for JAP (renowned for their Speedway engines), and Wal learned plenty from him and also from his own experiments in power and speed. He spent some years developing this mechanical fuel injector, and yes it is truly an injector since the fuel flow is delivered by pressure (gravity) rather than vacuum. Of course, being AHRMA racers with mechanical brains, you’re saying to yourself “but without a pump, the pressure would be regulated by the vertical distance between the tank and injector and the amount of fuel in the tank, and the volume decreases constantly.” Which is why the most efficient use of the Wal-Phillips incorporates a float that is mounted below the tank and above the injector. Of course, if there’s not much space between the bottom of the tank and the injector, you’ll lose pressure, which means a lean mixture or big huge fuel droplets that won’t effectively combust. And of course since it’s gravity fed and gravity has a bad habit of continuing operation after you’ve shut off the bike, you needed to either fit a vacuum-type petcock or unfailingly remember to turn the fuel off every time you shut the bike down – or that whole nasty conflagration thing may occur upon restart.

Seems like fitting a fuel pump would have been the first order of business, but hey, I’m just a blonde chick who still grabs a 12mm socket when the bolt is an 8, so what do I know.

Strangely, the Wal Phillips injector unit was quickly adapted for use on scooters and became quite a popular modification back in the day. Here’s a quick excerpt from Scooter World 1966 “Something for nothing – that’s what everybody would like – a couple of magic words and suddenly your bike develops another ten brake horse power! This never happens and so you have to look around and decide just where your money is best spent. The answer is to improve the engine, but this usually means buying very expensive parts and also spending long weekends in stripdowns and testing. But we have found an item that you can buy and bolt on which will give a reasonable increase in performance, and that is a Wal Phillips fuel injector… We had a pair of Lambrettas on test this month and this was an opportunity to try out a new injector designed specially for scooters. ”

Results did show some nice increases, 1.1 seconds faster from 0-30, and 2.5 seconds faster at 0-50 with a maximum speed gain of 9mph (I must say, 70mph has to feel darned fast on a Lambretta).

If you’re interested in more reading on the subject or maybe trying a Wal Phillips on your own little mod scooter, here’s a few good sources:
http://victorylibrary.com/brit/WP-c.htm
http://www.guskuhn.net/GKuhn/Contemp/WalPhillips.htm
http://www.racinglambrettas.com/howthetdid…/walphillips.html

Speedway!

One of those awesomely crazy types of racing that really should have been popular in the US, but for some reason never caught on (even though rumor has it the sport may have been invented in the US back in the very early days of motorcycling). It’s such pure motorsport — engine, frame, wheels, rider — going all-out on a rough track inches away from other riders.

Of course, the bikes do look a bit wimpy, so that may be why Americans were more drawn to Dirt Track as the burly he-man version of the “go fast, powerslide, go fast” style of racing.

In the UK though, Speedway is big. Back in the post-war years Speedway was so big there were dozens of weeklies covering the events. Speedway News, Speedway World, The Broadsider, Speedway Gazette, the list is pretty amazing.

So, why am I writing about Speedway? Well, back in the 1940’s some kid must have been crazy about Speedway because he created the massive scrapbook you see here. Measuring nearly two feet tall and full of about 100 pages of stories, photos, and autographs, it’s an amazing compendium of the sport. It is also a school in proper moto journalism. The writing is wonderfully precise, honest, and just a bit lyrical. It makes me ache for the days when print news was king.

We acquired the book from the estate of a racer who competed in the Portland flat-track scene back in the day. This acquisition was a bit of an afterthought, we’d gone there to purchase a couple of bikes from his widow and happened to ask at the last minute if she had anything else moto-related she wished to sell. A rummage through a dangerously full closet elicited a cool old helmet and this book. No one knows how it ended up on this side of the pond, but we’re very glad to act as its caretakers for now.

AmKuni? MikMal?

Today’s moto-history pics show one of my favorite pieces in the collection because it consistently brings such a great “what the heck???” response from visitors.

I know you’re probably thinking these are simply photos of two separate carbs, one Amal and one from Mikuni, but what if I told you this is one carburetor?

Seems like back in the 1950’s and ’60’s Amal was happy to put a little extra cash in their pockets and eagerly hopped in bed with the Japanese manufacturers by licensing some designs to Mikuni. This Franken-carb is one of the results of that union.

And a little trivia test — who knows what the “392” stands for?

Click here for the answer!

Moto-Memorabilia Montage!

I thought it might be fun to do a few Moto-History posts on Facebook using our collection of assorted bike paraphernalia we’ve acquired over the years, along with some associated history to get folks excited about the “living history” you see in action at the Steel Stampede.

If you haven’t done so already, “like” our page https://www.facebook.com/steelstampede/ for the easiest way to get a daily dose of interesting moto bits.

If Facebook isn’t your thing, I’ll be re-posting a few of the stories here.

First up:

I’m starting with a book we should probably all take some time to read before the AHRMA MX season starts in earnest – since we all want to know how to RIDE and WIN!

Authored by Chuck Minert, John McLaughlin, Don Pink and Bud Ekins in 1956, rumor has it that this was mostly ghost-written by Don Brown (Editor of Cycle Magazine) with contributions via interviews and letters from all the riders. This makes sense because I honestly can’t imagine these 4 competitive guys happily sitting around a kitchen table and writing a book together — at least not back in the day when they were still racing.

The first printing was funded by Bob Bates of Bates Leathers with a $5,000 loan, then Floyd Clymer stepped up and ordered another 5,000 copies to sell through the mail (was there anything printed about motorcycles in the US in those early days that Floyd didn’t have a hand in?).

The book has been reprinted and is now available through the most excellent Bud and Dave Ekins website http://www.budanddaveekins.com/product/how-to-ride-and-win/, or you can keep a sharp eye on Ebay where first edition copies like this one will show up occasionally.