Monday 29 October 2012

Friday 26 October 2012

Something else

I'm not a great fan of football, but I came across something worth posting. There's a Swedish football team called Djurgården who play in the stadium built for the 1912 Olympic Games.

Now that's what I call a football stadium!

Friday bike

Another rarity, and another bike I've never seen.

 Jawa 500cc OHC twin

Know very little about them, but the model above is the 'typ 15-02' built between 1954 and 1958. There was an earlier version 'typ 15-01' built from 1952 - 1954, (below). Compare this to British bikes of the era, and see how advanced it was especially for something built in a Communist country. Now very rare, there are none on Czech Ebay, so chances of ever seeing one are slim.

Rather than retype details, I'll just cut and paste from another website.

Here's a video file of one being started:

Tuesday 23 October 2012 started with a dream....

This is probably the weirdest post I've even done....

Last night I had a dream that I was in the café in the Burrell Collection in Glasgow. This is an art gallery filled with works donated to the people of Glasgow by shipping magnate Sir William Burrell. It's situated in Pollok Park, subject of a recent post by Stuart. This isn't very far from where Stuart and I grew up, and mr combo also spent a lot of his childhood nearby.

Back at the dream – I was sitting in the café drinking coffee when one of the staff came up to me and said, 'excuse me, but August Darnell would like to talk to you, but is too shy to approach you'. August was the lead singer in 80s band, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, and when I looked up he was standing there in his stage clothes! (Told you it was weird!). Can't remember any more of the dream, but when I got up I decided to go to the Burrell.

Details of the collection is here, but Burrell had collected an eclectic mixture of items – paintings, sculpture, furniture, armour, you name it, he collected it. It's housed in bright airy gallery with large windows that make the collection feel part of the park.

It was a very dull day so my photos are quite poor, but there's more pictures of the building here. I checked the café, but August wasn't there!

I good look round and who did I meet but Stuart. We had a good wander round before having a coffee, then heading off to nearby Maxwell Park, another childhood haunt where I met a former work colleague that I hadn't seen for twelve years! Could this day get any weirder? 

Maxwell Park has a pond that since my childhood has been 'naturised' and birds encouraged to settle.

When I was about three years old, my family visited Maxwell Park during the winter where I tested the strength of the ice on the pond by trying to walk on it! Needless to say, it wasn't strong enough and I fell through! (Stuart is convinced that this took place in another park, but I'm sure it was here. I'll check with our father to see if he remembers.)

So, a strange day full of coincidences, and after all, people always say you should 'follow your dreams'!
Here's August and his chums to round off the day:

Monday 22 October 2012


Friday bike update

A small update on a previous Friday bike.
Terry gave me an article from MCN on the new MZ125 with the 'Valvetronic' type inlet valves.

The article mentioned that the chassis and bodywork were bought in from Czech firm Blata, and you can see the similarity between the Blata and the new MZ.

MZ hope to have the 125 on sale in Germany, France and the UK in April next year at a projected price of 4000 (£3260, US$5230). This is only slightly more than Suzuki's rather old and low tech DR 125 (£2965), and substantially cheaper than Yamaha's WR125 (£4199).
MZ claim that the new valve setup improves fuel consumption by 20%, and that they are working on a 450cc engine.

The valve system was designed by Uwe Eisenbois, and if anyone is really interested, they can read the patent here but it's fairly meaningless without drawings.

When I visited the MZ factory in 2002, it was evident that they actually made very few components themselves. From memory, only frames were made in the factory with the remaining components outsourced to other companies, with final assembly done by MZ. This is not uncommon in the bike industry, Aprilia have never had a manufacturing facility and outsource all components.
With them buying in the Blata chassis, they only need to assemble the engines, install then into the chassis, and the bikes are ready for the market. So it's conceivable that a small company like MZ with its 50 employees could have a bike for sale next year. The new engine is based on the earlier RT 125 bottom end, so possibly only the cylinder head and valve train are new. If so, this would avoid the R&D costs of developing a completely new engine.
Good luck to them, and I hope we see the new bike in the shops in the coming year.

As a bit of speculation, here are my thoughts about the 450 engine. MZ had planned competing in the Moto 3 championship using a KTM 250cc engine. KTM also build a 450cc supermoto. What's the chances of the MZ 450 being a KTM with an MZ variable valve top end? We'll have wait an see.....

Friday 19 October 2012

Outdoor backpack

Much more useful than one of those 'indoor backpacks'.......

Friday bike

This week's 'Friday bike' is interesting enough on its own, but there's also an unusual story attached to it. Currently on Ebay there are a number of ex-French Army Cagiva T4E 350s. One here.

It's the standard 'over the counter' T4E of the era, just painted green. At one time, a number of European NATO countries got together to decide on a standard military bike, and chose the Cagiva. It was a fairly typical trail bike of the time with a Yamaha influenced air-cooled four stroke single engine. Makes sense you'd think - use a common, established design to makes spares easier, and the various countries would be in a good position to negotiate a good deal from Cagiva. The British Army was due to get the Cagiva to replace their Can-Am 250s and BSA B40s, until then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, vetoed the plan. Apparently, she passed a decree that the British Army wasn't to use any equipment used by the French! (She suffered from that inexplicable Francophobia that many on the political Right seem to have). This meant that the British Army ended up with the inferior Armstrong MT 500, which being a unique bike at the time would have cost a lot more than the Cagiva. I wonder how much this pig headed dogma cost the British taxpayer!
Back at the bikes for sale. It looks like the seller has a number of these, plus some Cagiva 125s (also ex-French Army), and a Moto Guzzi Nuovo Falcone (a previous Friday bike) formerly owned by the Yugoslav Army here
Although the Cagivas have been registered in Britain, the seller includes the really cool French military numberplate (handy for show use).

Nice bikes, but like all ex-miltary and police vehicles, you have to ask why are they getting rid of them? Caveat emptor, as my old Latin teacher would say!

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Talented family

Bet very few of you knew about my singing career:

Or my brother's time in Hollywood:

Sunday 14 October 2012

Breakfast run - return to Brig O'Turk

Following on from our previous breakfast run, Kawa arranged another one for this morning, again at the Brig O'Turk Tearoom.
I'd arranged to go with my friend David on his recently purchased 1982 Honda CX 500, so we headed off into a dull, drizzly morning for the hour or so's ride. The trip up was fairly uneventful and the weather cleared up by the time we arrived. The road over the Duke's Pass was a bit slippery, with fallen leaves on the road (autumn's well upon us now).
We must have had about 12 people turn up on bikes, including two children on the backs of their parents' bikes. We sat round a big table enjoying one the the Tearoom's superb breakfasts, talking the usual rubbish, and planning future trips before heading outside to stand around and talk about the bikes.
David and I headed back by the same route we had come, except the weather was a bit better and it stayed dry all the way.
Hope everyone had a good time, and a safe and uneventful ride back.

 Suzuki Katana with USD forks and Honda VFR 750 swingarm

Another long day

Yesterday, mr. combo, Terry and I set off to collect mr. combo's latest purchase. It had to be collected from near Huddersfield, so it was an about 4 hours drive each way, plus loading and unloading the van and getting home. I left the house about 08:45 and got in about 23:30, and we never really had any time when we weren't doing something.
No doubt mr combo will post about his new purchase, but here he is just after we'd loaded it into the van.
...and now you're all mine - myyyy preciousssssss.....

Near where we collected the bike we saw a street where vagabonds and scoundrels live (Central Scottish joke!)

A good, if long, day out, and it's amazing how much rubbish three men can talk on a journey!

Friday 12 October 2012

Friday bike

In the motorcycling world, it's the start of the 'show season' where manufactures reveal their new models for next year. The first of the big shows is Intermot in Germany.
Surprisingly, MZ showed a new model, a 125 with a innovative inlet system. Very few details are known, but it appears that the bike has a 'fly by wire' throttle where the twistgrip position is detected electronically, and fed to an engine management system. The intake doesn't have a throttle as such, instead the inlet valve lift varies to adjust the engine speed. Claimed advantage is more efficient fuel use leading to better fuel economy and lower emissions.

Interesting styling, but the saddle looks really high! The bike says '125 SM' on the side, but some reports refer to it as the 'SF'. More information when I hear any more.

This type of valve operation isn't unique, as BMW have been using a system called 'Valvetronic' on some of their cars. I assume the MZ system is similar, and here's a video explaining the BMW setup.

An electrically driven 'camshaft' varies the pivot point of the rocker, changing the amount of valve lift. This would be driven by a management system which would calculate the optimum lift for a a particular set of conditions - throttle postion, revs, engine loads, etc.

Whilst I was looking through report of the Intermot show, I came across numerous photos of other bikes on show. It looks like the 'retro' look is in this year, and one of the best was the Honda CB1100.

It's been available in Japan and Australia for a while, but will be now on the European market. I think this is one of the neatest looking bikes I've seen for a while, and it just seems to have the 'right' proportions.
Plenty of 'retro' scooters as well, and Simson took it all the way with their 'eShwalbe'.

An electric scooter in their old DDR era Schwalbe scooter bodywork.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Mystery bike

Found this picture on the Web of an unusual bike. The white box is where I've removed the details.

OK, what is it? No prizes for getting it right other than fame on my blog.

Muddy fun

I was prompted to write this by a post on the Facebook mz riders group uk about the 1965 International Six Day Trial, held on the Isle of Man. It was won by the East German team, mounted on MZs and Simsons.
International Six Day Trail (ISDT), now known as International Six Day Enduro, is one of the oldest motorcycling events, and consists of country teams competing in a number of off and on road stages for six days. During the event, only the rider can carry out any repairs or servicing on his bike, and points are deducted for any parts used. This means that the event is not only a trial of the rider's skill and endurance, but also the design and build quality of the machines.
Looking on the Web I found some videos of events from the 50s and 60s that illustrate how hard (and muddy!) these events are, and also how the bikes have developed.
Firstly, a report on the 1956 event held in West Germany. This film was made by the Czechoslovak Government, so heavily features their riders.

No, I've no idea why there are some people at the start wearing rather bogus 'Scottish Highland Dress'!
Surprising to see how many of the bikes look like standard road models, and also how small some of the bikes were. This Italian rider is on a 75cc Capriolo.

Whilst some bikes looked a bit big and unwieldy, like this Soviet built 750cc M72.

(Hope this doesn't give mr. combo any ideas for his new project)

Now onto the ISDT featured in the Facebook posting, 1965 in the Isle of Man. The video is split into 3 parts:

See what I mean about 'muddy fun'! Notice how the bikes have been developed for the sport and that the stages have been made harder to suit.
Again there were some small bikes taking part, including this 50cc Hercules.

And some bigger ones like this 600cc BMW. Those crash bars must have got caught on things!

There's a very good website about the ISDT which includes loads of photos (including the ones here), going back to the first event in 1913.

In 1964, the ISDT was held in East Germany and the USA team included actor Steve McQueen.

 Interesting story about the US team's trip on the website of members, and brothers,  Bud and Dave Ekins.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Café Society

Came across an interesting video about café racers on YouTube (split into four parts):

This is part 1, watch on YouTube and follow the links to the next three parts, for some reason it won't let me post them directly here.
Very interesting video as it draws the links between the British café scene of the 50s and 60s, and the emerging café scene in the US. Although the comments on the videos give a website which sells it on DVD, the website seems to have gone, so I'm not sure if it's still available. Pity, as I was going to suggest dropping hints to your loved ones about what you want for Christmas!
The guy behind the film, Mike Seate, is a writer for Cafe Racer magazine, so if the DVD is ever available again, it will no doubt be advertised there.

Monday 8 October 2012

Goodwood Revival on the telly

Further to my post on the Goodwood Revival, there's a programme on ITV Player about it. This is almost certainly going to be 'UK only' for copyright reasons, and it will probably only be available for a couple of weeks.

Friday 5 October 2012

A long day

I had a very long day yesterday travelling to Nelson, Lancashire for a job interview. As I don't have a car at the moment, I ended up taking three trains in each direction. The day wasn't without incident...

Up early, suit on, and out to catch the first of my trains, the 07:03 from Milliken Park (my local station) to Glasgow Central. I very rarely wear a suit, or a tie, so this was a bit unusual for me. Now some people look like they were born wearing a suit (Prince Charles, David Bowie), and some people look like they buy one of random size and sleep in it for a week (Boris Johnston), but I just look like 'The Accused'!
I hadn't been on a train for many years, but when I got to the station I noticed the first change.

Someone in their infinite wisdom has decided that railway stations in Scotland need to have bilingual signs. The question is, who is this for? I seriously doubt that any Gaelic speaker has visited this station and it's hundreds of years since anyone in the area spoke Gaelic as their first language. It reminds me of when Highland Council started erecting bilingual roadsigns, and even the Gaelic speakers complained. 'It confuses the tourists, and we know where we're going anyway' they said and complained about the unnecessary cost. Needless to say, this was done without any form of consultation, because our Government 'knows what's good for us', so we just have to pay up. They should really look across the water to Ireland - their various governments have tried to bully the population into speaking Irish for the last ninety years, and what do the people choose to speak - yes, English.

The train soon got to Glasgow where I embarked on the next leg of my journey to Preston. This has a very slight motorcycle connection in that it was a Pendolino train that banks into corners. When I had booked the ticket I had specified the 'quiet' carriage, where you're not allowed to used a phone and are asked to keep noise down. This worked fairly well and the only piece of interest was when a couple got on at Carlisle. They were in their 60s, and the wife was like a real-life Hyacinth Bucket. She tutted and complained about everything, and treated her husband as if he was a mentally challenged eight year old. Everything he did was wrong, and Hyacinth collared the conductress to complain about various things including the the 'carriage being so hot she felt ill'.  The conductress adjusted the temperature, then Hyacinth complained about the sunlight dazzling her through the window. The conductress showed her how to lower the blind, but that wouldn't do as Hyacinth 'couldn't see the countryside'. I couldn't quite see what the conductress could do at this point other than to change the position of the train or the Sun, but she suggested that as the train was very quiet (less that a third full) Hyacinth could move to one of the empty seats at the other side of the carriage. This she did reluctantly with a lot of huffing and tutting, and settled down with her copy of the Daily Mail. (It had to be the Daily Mail, didn't it?)
Five minutes later, and she's snoring loudly! When the train got to Preston, I got ready to get off and Hyacinth's husband woke her up. She reacted badly to this, and somehow it was 'his fault' she had fallen asleep! Poor guy.
Next it was the hour or so trip to Nelson on a slow commuter train that made numerous stops. At one stop, three rough looking women got on, all clearly drunk! You've really got to be trying  to get that drunk at 11 in the morning, but somehow they had managed. They were loud and 'cackled' in a thick local accent, and I noticed that between them they barely had a mouthful of teeth!  Luckily they got off before my stop so the last part of my journey was blissfully quiet.
I got a taxi from the station to the company I was visiting for the job interview, and I felt it went well. Whether it went well enough for them to give me a job, I'll have to wait and see.
I realised that the company was quite close to the station, so I walked back. I had 45 minutes until the next train back to Preston, so I went for a walk round the town centre. Nelson is a fairly ordinary town, so there wasn't much to report other than the station still has a wonderful canopy of a type that's fast disappearing.

I had an uneventful trip back to Preston, and as I had three hours until my next train I went for a walk about the city centre, somewhere I'd never visited before. The reason for the three hours wait was that when I had booked the trains, the journey back would have been £59 if I travelled before 18:30, and £29 if I travelled after, and I arrived had at about 15:30.
I found Preston to be a very pleasant city full of busy shops and interesting things to see. I went to their very impressive looking Art Gallery:

It's got a very good collection that I spent an hour or so wandering round, and unusually for a gallery in England - it's free!

Some of my favourites from their collection. The photos of the paintings aren't too good as I had to switch the flash off (damages the paint).

Loved this statue of Mercury. Amazing to think that it's nearly 500 years old.
They also had works by Waterhouse (a favourite of mine)


And I was really taken by this very large piece.

Art should cause various conflicting emotions - happy and sad, light and dark, up and down - so this gave me a wry smile. Not the painting itself, but the description.

I found this picture very moving. My photo didn't come out clearly so I've used a picture from the Web.

After that I went for a wander and came across this very impressive piece of sculpture.

There was another plaque which mentions that two of those shot were only in their teens. Good article here on the incident.

I got something to eat in a café near the station, then it was on to the train for the trip back to Glasgow. As this train didn't make any stops before Glasgow, it took half an hour less that the train down.
As with the journey down I had booked a seat in the 'quiet' carriage. However, a woman brought a small child (about 3 years old) into the carriage which proceeded to shout and sing all the way back. When other passengers tried to point out to the woman that this was the 'quiet' carriage, she became very angry that anyone would complain about her 'little angel' and that she was 'within her rights' to sit anywhere she liked, and if people complained that there was 'something wrong with them'. This is so typical of parents, they think that their children are 'special', and everyone else should put up with them. It was a truly miserable journey, and I resorted to making rudimentary earplugs from toilet paper to try to make it more tolerable. Just wait for the follow up e-mail from Virgin Trains asking what I thought of my trip!
After that it was the short trip back to Milliken Park, and I was in by 22:30. I went to bed before 23:00 and slept for 10 hours! I was that worn out!
It was an interesting day out, and hopefully a fruitful one if I get the job.