Ok, so you can’t quite make out the words, but Bob’s engines have seen some good coverage in the motorcycling press. Looks like he’s just the man to assist me!
Well you couldn’t make it up. I was out in the garage when and old boy walked in and asked if he’d heard a bike the other day. We got chatting and it turns out he’s my new next door but one neighbor. (We moved house 2 months ago). After look at the 4 bikes I was invited to go and look at Bob’s bike next door. I’d heard an old brit the other week so I was expecting to see one.
There was a restored Norton Dominator that was nice, but lurking in the back of the garage were three very special bikes. The first was a Norton race bike from 1961, single cylinder modified by Bob to run horizontally in a Scott frame. Total loss oil system and as it turns out this was the successful ’61 race winner! But behind that was a hybrid I’d never seen before. I can recognise most engines but this had me stumped.
What’s that engine Bob? Oh, that’s one of mine.
Bob was an engine designer at Vauxhall and when he retired, he decided to build all of the engines they wouldn’t let him make at Vauxhall. Mostly unconventional, the bike in the garage was running a 500cc 2 stroke sleeve valve of Bob’s own design. Scratch built including engine cases, crank and all. Very clever! Bringing up the rear was a Norton running a 1200cc 2 stroke square 4, made from a pair of Scott 600cc two strokes. Not two 600s nailed together, a single engine with common crankcases. So very clever! On the shelf is a 500cc 2 stroke sleeve valved diesel, patiently waiting to be fitted into a frame and tested.
Bob was very interested in my ‘single cylinder engine from a radial aircraft engine’ idea, and I may have found just the encouragement I need to get started. in the picture is Bob’s own design 4 stroke 500cc sleeve valve single, tested at Cranfield university making 40bhp and revving to 10,000 rpm. Interesting!
I’ve seen three bikes now with V-Twin engines made from radial aircraft engine cylinders and heads. Some very clever people have produced their own crankcases and crankshafts, camshafts and suchlike to create an engine. Two of those were in Australia and I didn’t get any photos. One was a race bike and the other made into a ‘servicar’ (hybrid trike / outfit). The third is the Flying Millyard. A quick google will tell you all about that.
I did wonder about doing that as a project, but the trouble is – it’s been done! For the amount of work, hassle, expense and general effort it’s not worth it (in my mind anyway), to be just ‘another one’.
A while ago I was talking to the guys in the Enfield owners club and they jokingly suggested I made a single cylinder bike engine. That would be something like a 2.5 litre single cylinder bike! Actually I really like that idea. I’ve always had a big single chopper in my mind, or flat track racer. Food for thought anyway…..
So one thing I considered is building an Aeroplane. Not a kit, but from plans – right from scratch. I wanted something old school, open cockpit with bags of character, but stopping short of a biplane as I don’t want to have to build 2 sets of wings. The Peitenpol Air Camper is a proven design from the 1930s and looks just the part. It’s a 2 place machine so taking passengers will be possible, but realistically it’s a lot to take on – and I’m not that fussed about working with wood.
I have the space (just about), but then there’s transport, storage and learning to fly added into the mix. No-one else at home is that bothered about flying so I think, for now at least, that I won’t be building one of these.
Shame – it’s be a lot of fun!