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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman109 View Post
    You Brits made some fine motorcycles back in the day. The BSA's were my favorites. ....
    My first big bike was a BSA A65T thunderbolt twin - single carb.

    This is one reason I ride BMWs almost exclusively these days.....

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  3. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim rozen View Post
    My first big bike was a BSA A65T thunderbolt twin - single carb.

    This is one reason I ride BMWs almost exclusively these days.....
    I liked BMWs as well. I would probably have owned one at some point except the dealers where I lived were rather picky. You almost had to have a background check and be wearing a suit and tie or you didn't even get to sit on one.

    I recall many years ago seeing a BMW road racer at a track in Wisconsin. The rider slipped and fell down. He wasn't injured but the bike slid some 50 yards on the pavement and ground the cylinder head down to the push rods.

    I never liked the idea of having a cylinder sticking out on either side. No offense.

  4. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Limy Sami View Post
    And the shareholders weren't prepared to put the money in to modernisation etc,...…………...they'd made a mint during the war (on the tax payer) .....and after with the big export drive when they could sell anything.

    But when it came to putting money in, ……..and the value of the premises etc etc - they cashed in, like Lord Docker @ BSA - some of his bent dealings and rip offs here Bernard Docker - Wikipedia

    AMC's was ''acquired by'' Manganese Bronze Holdings - run by an asset stripping bandit called Dennis Poor ……….and so on and so on.
    That doesn't sound at all familiar to the state of things these days...

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  6. #24
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    Are you some old fart.
    These are ancient motorcycles. Just simply brutal to ride now off road.
    Yet that bottom end pull...like a John Deere tractor.
    Bob

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    Matchless was the classic story of carpetbagging,political corruption ,lying politicians and asset stripping......but asset stripping in the day when it took a bit of creative corruption to have an asset at all.....At the same time time Poore was giving the workers assurances that their jobs were safe ,he was doing a deal with corrupt communist mayor of london and the government to issue a "compulsory purchase notice" of the land for urban renewal.

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  9. #26
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    I think you mean leader of the GLC (Greater London Council) - London didn't have a mayor until 2000 ( sort of same meat different gravy only the leader was not elected by the public) Greater London Council - Wikipedia

    In Poors time at AMC it would have been Bill Fiske Bill Fiske, Baron Fiske - Wikipedia

  10. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by Limy Sami View Post
    Interesting site, a bit different and well worth a delve in to Working at AMC - Home

    The Capstan page (turret lathe) is quite good.

    It's also - IMO - a perfect example of why the British Motorcycle industry went tits up.
    Limy,

    I am not sure what you think looks so bad?

    I guess brazing frames and polishing parts is never going to be a great job, nor working any type of production machinery long term for that matter. I was interested to read how the Plumstead workforce was dedicated to doing a good job.

    There is a link explaining how AMC spent nearly a million pounds on expansion in 1958 including several hundred thousand pounds on equipment. (edit, spread over several years and at Plumstead and Birmingham).

    http://www.workingatamc.london/image...t_machines.pdf

    I think by 1958, the Matchless and AJS singles were already on the decline. I have a 1957 Matchless 350 G3LS and talked to a man (Len Perry) who used to sell them here in Auckland back in the day. He said they were getting hard to sell by that date, whereas the early 1950's model are still easy to find here.

    Some posters wonder why investment didn't take place, but I suppose that became difficult once the losses began to mount in the 1960's.

    There are lots of books written about the British motorcycle industry and the various makes, I just finished selling most of mine!

    I came across this thesis about the British Motorcycle Industry, I haven't read it yet:

    http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/2614/1/WRA...erner_1995.pdf
    Last edited by Peter S; 02-03-2020 at 05:16 AM.

  11. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Limy Sami View Post
    I think you mean leader of the GLC (Greater London Council) - London didn't have a mayor until 2000 ( sort of same meat different gravy only the leader was not elected by the public) Greater London Council - Wikipedia

    In Poors time at AMC it would have been Bill Fiske Bill Fiske, Baron Fiske - Wikipedia
    Reading that article he doesn't seem to have been a particularly radical politician, especially for those times.

    Regards Tyrone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tyrone Shoelaces View Post
    Reading that article he doesn't seem to have been a particularly radical politician, especially for those times.

    Regards Tyrone.
    He didn't have to be radical Tyrone - just bent, ………… I grew up surrounded by the building and construction game (family businesses) based in SE London and NW Kent, and ''in the trade'' during the 50's 60's & 70's, where land, redevelopment and building etc etc was concerned, the GLC was as bent as a corkscrew.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter S View Post

    I came across this thesis about the British Motorcycle Industry, I haven't read it yet:

    http://wrap.warwick.ac.uk/2614/1/WRA...erner_1995.pdf

    -Interesting read. I can't speak to the economic climate, politics, or trade negotiations in England at the time that drove many of the decisions. The miscalculations, underestimation of consumer demographics, inattention to design/manufacturing innovation, finger pointing, and outright arrogance certainly parallels some of the companies/industries I've worked for (names withheld) on this side of the pond. It was interesting reading, thanks to Peter S for the link.

  14. #31
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    Long time Brit bike owner here. Currently have around 30 old bikes and maybe 15 are British?

    Of Brit bikes, have Triumph, Norton, BSA, AJS, Matchless, Velocette, Ariel and Sunbeam. Most were saved back in the 1970's on the way to the dump. At that time they were not seen as cool old bikes but were considered worthless junk.

    As this is about AMC bikes, I have a 1929 AJS M5, 1951 AJS 18S, 1951 Matchless G9, 1967 Matchless G80CS and a 1973 Norton Commando.

  15. #32
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    Regardless of the problems inherent in British motorcycles, they did have SOMETHING, for want of a better way of describing it. I learned to ride ca 1968, on British iron that was old even then. My first motorcycle when I got out of engineering school and onto my first job was a 1972 Triumph Bonneville. At the time, I bought it in partners with another engineer on his first job. The dealer tried his best to sell us a BSA, but we were set on the Triumph. I had a lot of fun and good riding on the motorcycle. I left that jobsite due to reassignment, so sold my interest in the "Bonney" to my partner in it. After that, I had the opportunity to ride a variety of motorcycles including a Norton Commando. A fellow who was a shop manager for a dealer, as well as having his own business of rehabbing insurance wrecks and salvage of parts, used to let us borrow bikes he had in his inventory to keep them exercised. I can remember a Friday night ride from around New London, CT up to Boston, MA with a girl on the back of the Norton. She was a leggy barmaid whom I was dating at the time, and we made the run when she got off work that night. The stuff dreams and tales are made of, I suppose. British bikes of that era just plain looked good and when they ran right, they were a pleasure to ride. We used to call them "ass kicking machines".

    The fellow who was loaning us the British bikes also worked on BMW airhead bikes (which were the only type made at that time, ca 1974-75). He knew I wanted a British bike, but he also knew I was a mechanical engineer and would be moving around the USA in the line of work. The fellow offered me his own BMW R 75/5 to try, and then sold it to me. Lightened flywheel, blueprinted engine, shorty mufflers, and "wipers" on the front fork sliders rather than the "gaiters". It was a sharp looking R 75/5 and ran well. I got hooked on BMW Airhead bikes and never looked back. I traded the R 75/5 against a new 1978 BMW R 100/7, which I ride to this day.

    I still appreciate the looks and overall effect of the old British bikes, but that is as far as it gets. I did take a test ride of some miles with factory test riders on the "new" Triumph bikes back in 1999. May as well have been on a Japanese bike. Something was no longer there.

    I find the BMW Airhead bikes to be about the most forgiving and versatile motorcycles, but that is my own opinion. I've got a 2005 Harley Dyna Lowrider in the garage as well, and after putting 45K miles on that Harley, went back to the BMW airhead. I likened it to having a fling with a glitzed up whore, and waking up next to her and wondering why you ever took up with her in the first place.

    As for British bikes, I had an experience I call "the crankcase from hell" last winter. Bud Provin, whom Jim Rozen knows, works on Airhead BMW bikes and old Triumphs in his shop in Vermont. In a moment of sympathy, Bud agreed to take on the repair/restoration of a Norton. Not sure the year or model, but it has the engine from a Norton "Atlas" in it. The owner, an ex-pat Englishman, got burned bad- first on the purchase of the bike as it was not all it was represented as being, and then on an "engine rebuild". The "rebuild" resulted in the engine locking up solid in a very short time after that "rebuild". The owner of that Norton took it to Bud, who, in a weak moment, agreed to work on it. Bud got the engine pulled apart and gave me an email. Seems the crankshaft was setup improperly in the crankcase so the flywheel was rubbing and milling away aluminum. The crankshaft seal on the clutch side of the engine had evidently spun in the housing, and the "rebuilder" put a new seal in using a hail of center punch marks to expand the walls of the counterbored pad to grip the seal. That was the obvious.

    I got into the crankcase and attempted to find a reference surface which would give me centerline of the crankshaft and something squared to it. I found the main bearing counterbore was no longer round and was tapered. Apparently the "rebuilder" never heard about heating the aluminum crankcase half to expand it so the bearing could be removed or installed. I kept taking measurements and discovered that the machined surfaces on the outside of the crankcase (where the primary case mounted) was not square to the crankshaft centerline. I was getting desperate, so machined a mandrel which wrung into the main bearing counterbore. I stoned the surface of the split joint and set the crankcase half on 1-2-3's on my surface plate and checked the face of the pad where the primary mounts for parallel to the split joint. It was out by a good 0.010". I finally decided the only things I could go by would be the split joint surface and the approximate centerline of the crankshaft (from my mandrel). I milled off the remains of the raised boss where the main seal had spun, and made a new boss out of 6061 T 6 aluminum. This was TIG welded to the crankcase and machined true and square with the crankshaft centerline based on my mandrel. I bored the boss for a new seal of slightly different outer dimensions.

    Having established the seal boss as being centered with the crankshaft, I knew the bored fit for the main bearing was really no good. Nothing to do but bore a little out of it, build it up with TIG. As I went along, I was astounded at how many surfaces that should have been truem square, or parallel with each other were anything but. I managed to re-establish crankshaft centerline and bored the main bearing counterbore to correct size for a shrink fit.

    I kept in communication with Bud Provin all the while. Bud said not to get too worked up over the innaccuracies in the factory's machining of that crankcase. Bud said there was a bit of urban legend about one of the British bike manufacturers. Seems a fellow who ran a machine for boring or doing some other machine operation on the crankcase castings retired. A new man took his place and, try as he would, he could not machine crankcases to pass inspection. The retiree was called back in to the works to show the new hand the trick to getting crankcases machined correctly. Supposedly, the old hand looked around and hollered that his stick was gone. This turned out to be a wooden stick cut to length which the oldtimer wedged between a wall or building column and some part of the machine tool. That stick kept some sliding part of the machine tool where it belonged. Bud told me that whatever machine work I did on that Norton crankcase half, it was probably a good deal better than what the works had done.

    I told Bud that having ridden a Norton ages ago, that was enough for me. Having seen the innards of a Norton crankcase, and the overall design of the engine, I would not own one if it were given to me.

    As for the Airhead motorcycles, there are decided advantages to having the cylinders sticking out port and starboard. As air cooled engines go, it is the ideal design for maintain cooling airflow over the cylinders. As I found out ages ago, and as my son also found out, if you drop an Airhead bike, it generally lands on the rocker cover and saddle bag. It makes a bridge which keeps the bike off the rider. When the bike is righted, the damage to it is usually negligible. My son dropped my R 100/7 on a ride with me years ago. He was off the bike and had it righted before I got the Hog parked. Damage was solely to my son's pride, and his immortal remark was: "Dad, let's get the f--k outta here... people saw me drop the bike." Drop some of the more conventionally designed bikes and damage will be significant.

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  17. #33
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    AJS and Matchless motorcycles were very common in Chicago when I was younger. I worked at an Indian dealer after the period when Indian went bankrupt. The dealer, in order to stay in business, began to import various brands of British machines.
    He would get shipments of AJS, Matchless, Vincent, Velocette, DOT, Royal Enfield and the Indian-branded Royal Enfield bikes such as the Woodsman (500 cc Bullet) and the Meteor (750cc twin Enfield). He had no BSAs' as they were sold only through a sole distributor at that time.
    One of my jobs was to uncrate the bikes when they came in. I used to drool over the Vincents that arrived They were priced at around $1,450 out the door but hat was out of my reach at $1.00 an hour, LOL.
    There were numerous used AJS's and Matchless bikes available in Chicago at that time so I wound up with several 500cc touring bikes, usually '46's, and '47's (G80's) and they could generally be had for $100 to $150, especially if you went looking when it snowed.
    The early AJS and Matchless singles had a very poor lower end design. They suffered from very low quality aluminum in the crankcases. Apparently they were using melted down Spitfires and Hurricanes for material.
    The oiling system on the singles could be considered almost "reptilian" as the oil pump was a rotating sleeve with an eccentric slot cut into it. It gave small pulses of oil to the engine as it rotated. The timing side main bearings were nothing more than a bronze bushing pressed into the crankcase. Part of the bushing was cut away so that the oil pump sleeve could mate with a worm gear machined into the timing side shaft. Often these bikes would develop a main bearing knock when the bushing wore out.
    It was all good fun for a young kid though, and if you had enough of them around, you would have all of the parts that you needed.
    The owner of the bike shop raced a Vincent on Alcohol fuel at the local drag strip. He was turning around 135 mph at 10 seconds, which wasn't too bad for the day. One day, he threw the primary chain and took a 6" chunk out of the left crankcase. He left it that way as he wasn't into cosmetics. LOL

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  19. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman109 View Post
    AJS and Matchless motorcycles were very common in Chicago when I was younger. I worked at an Indian dealer after the period when Indian went bankrupt. The dealer, in order to stay in business, began to import various brands of British machines.
    -Where was the shop located? I lived in Chicago for 20 years.

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    "British bikes of that era just plain looked good and when they ran right, they were a pleasure to ride."

    +1

    I commuted out to my job in waltham, MA on my 650 BSA. When it ran it was great - I was about 22 years old and thought I had made it as an
    adult, driving such a great bike. It really would extend the front forks nearly all the way out when the throttle was whacked open. But it
    was tempermental and the electrical engineering was lacking to say the least.

    My last few rides into work this month were on a bmw 1978 R100RS - the cousin to Joe's bike. And a 1959 bmw R50, which had a newly rebuilt
    gearbox. And 1975 R75 bmw. None of those are tempermental, and none of them behave exactly that BSA did. They're all fun. If I could trade one of
    the existing members of my stable for that old BSA - don't think I would.

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  22. #36
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    AMC owned part of Indian Motocycles....due to a financial deal ,Indian was split in two in the early 50s,and the sales division was the US distributor for Matchless and others.....AMC was forced ,virtually ,to buy Indian sales to maintain their distribution network.....Various Matchless,AJS,James,and also Royal Enfield models were sold as Indians with 'native american" themed names..............and ,i might add,a BMW was twice the price of a BSA or Triumph with the same engine capacity......ie BMW R60..$1200,.....Triumph 650cc ..$600.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by AD Design View Post
    -Where was the shop located? I lived in Chicago for 20 years.

    Hello,

    The Indian dealer was on Stony Island Avenue around the 7400 block South, IIRC. They are long gone as the whole area was bulldozed and rebuilt in the1970's.
    Last edited by Newman109; 02-04-2020 at 08:45 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Newman109 View Post
    hELLO,

    The Indian dealer was on Stony Island Avenue around the 7400 block South, IIRC. They are long gone as the whole area was bulldozed and rebuilt in the1970's.
    -I worked at Verson Allsteel Press near 95th & Stony Island in 1978 when the elder Mr. Verson was still alive. Rough area even in the late 70's.

    Apologies to the OP for getting OT, will go sit down in the back row now.

  25. #39
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    No worries mate - to me the asides are all part of a topic

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    When Charles Collier died suddenly and unexpectedly,Jock West was appointed group sales manager ,and to the board.......slight problem was that Jock didnt like yanks,and in particular one Sammy Cooper who was the Matchless distributor for the west coast and south west.....Cooper claimed he sold more Matchless and AJS bikes on a Saturday morning that were sold in the UK that month....He dumped AMC ,and bought the Maico factory to make bikes to his designs ,and very soon AMC were feeling the pinch with unsold stock.


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