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91
British Bikes / Re: “Star” motorcycles
« Last post by cardan on August 17, 2021, 06:55:13 AM »
Brilliant. The tech info is new and welcome. I'd love to know who (in the UK) built the Essex and what it looked like. Probably Montgomery again. Luckily, again, for my purposes it doesn't matter too much.

There is another make we haven't mentioned: Villiers.

I've come across quite a few adverts for "Villiers Motor Cycle", seemingly new. I wonder, if you called into the shop to see the advertised machine, just what was written on the tank? There were also very many adverts for secondhand Villiers motorcycles, but that's just because "Villiers" was a better descriptor of a machine than the actual brand.

In the early days (particularly pre-WW1) in Australia it was very common for a locally-built machine just to have just the name of the engine on the tank: JAP, Precision, MAG, DeLuxe, Peugeot, Automoto, Buchet, King Dick, Sarolea, Fafnir, Minerva... so a machine with just "Villiers" on the tank would not be without precedent. Does the Police book list Villiers as a brand of motorcycle?

Leon
92
British Bikes / Re: “Star” motorcycles
« Last post by 33d6 on August 17, 2021, 06:23:25 AM »
Looked up 'Essex' in my Vic Police book and yes, there they are. Two models, a 147 powered by the MkVIII-C and a 196 powered by the 1E. This is near the last gasp of the Mk VIII-C as it was superseded by the Mk XII-C in 1931 while the 1E was the first of the new class of 200cc engines introduced in 1929. It was the cooking version with cast iron piston and fixed head. The hot stuff 196cc Super Sport was still a couple of years off.
Note 196cc, not 197 as were the post war engines.
Yet another make awaiting exploration in the AOMC records when lockdown finally lifts. As well as Utility, I now have Simplex, Star, and Essex to explore. Makes a little Villiers heart beat all a'quiver this does.
I think I shall take up a new nom de plume and sign my scribblings G.P.G. Otherwise known as the Grey Porridge Guru.
You may shudder mini-me but no one ever looks at my Villiers stuff and tells me it's the wrong colour for the year, or it has a cadmium plated thrumblestick when that year it was polished or some other such rubbish. They're just fun bikes for old farts.
93
British Bikes / Re: “Star” motorcycles
« Last post by cardan on August 16, 2021, 04:22:26 AM »
There's little evidence that Villiers engines were built into locally made frames though.
Photos of any such assembly are in very short supply - even from makers who were reputed to be doing this ???
Full imports seems to have become the norm in the 1930s and postwar ?

Yes I agree. Mind you, in the 1930s very few Australian firms claimed to be building their own Villiers lightweights. Perhaps only Acme (Bennett & Wood), and I suppose I believe them. The others - Star, Essex, Simplex, Utility, Waratah, B&W Wasp, B&W Hornet, Utility, Cottman Colt (RE), and probably more - were very likely just rebranded imports, although I have an open mind if more info comes to light. It's not very glamorous, but it is part of the story.

Leon
94
British Bikes / Re: JAP 600cc UCZ rigid frame specials .
« Last post by cardan on August 16, 2021, 04:06:42 AM »
In 1926 - the same year as the Bugatti photo, Harold Woods lapped Maroubra on his RA Douglas at 99 mph - faster than the cars and a lap record at that time.

The Melbourne "concrete saucer" was the Motordrome, which was bigger (at three laps to the mile) than the Saucer Track, but smaller than Maroubra, which was in turn much smaller than mighty Brooklands. On the Motordrome, speed was such an issue that the capacity limit was dropped to 350cc.

Leon
95
British Bikes / Re: JAP 600cc UCZ rigid frame specials .
« Last post by R on August 16, 2021, 02:21:13 AM »
'Saucer tracks' - concrete style - appeared at various places in the 1920s etc.

The Maroubra speedway (Sydney) had a bit of a reputation for bad accidents, didn't last long.
Even though it was said you couldn't walk up it, apparently it was too shallow for higher speeds.
Which didn't encourage the motorcycle brigade.

A Bugatti ...


96
British Bikes / Re: “Star” motorcycles
« Last post by R on August 16, 2021, 02:10:55 AM »
was there much heavy industry in Oz 1920/30s ? did they gear up for the war effort?

I'm not sure that motorcycle manufacture would be 'heavy industry', they'd be light industrial ?

There was a thriving industry in the teens and 20s for taking JAP engines and slotting them into locally made frames and cycleparts.
Probably a dozen brands or more that made quite a number - well more than a mere one or 2.
And lots of engine types/gearboxes/frame lugs/cycleparts were involved in this sort  of manufacture also.
There are pages and pages devoted to this in Rob Sawards A-Z of Ausatralian made motorcycles.


Much Australian industry was involved in the WW2 effort.
Many a car maker and other industries were making guns and tanks and trucks and ammo etc etc.
At the end of the war, Oz had the 4th largest airforce in the world.
Mostly spits and and mustangs and B17s etc as lend/lease imports, but many an engine was made/rebuilt locally.
We diverge ..

There's little evidence that Villiers engines were built into locally made frames though.
Photos of any such assembly are in very short supply - even from makers who were reputed to be doing this ???
Full imports seems to have become the norm in the 1930s and postwar ?



97
British Bikes / Re: “Star” motorcycles
« Last post by 33d6 on August 15, 2021, 03:22:41 PM »
The population of Australia in the 1930’s was 6.5-7million. This spread over an area some 32 times the size of the UK. Finding labour for any sort of job was always difficult. Skilled trade labour even harder. Most of these Australian bikes we talk of were made exactly as you suggest. Imported bundles of tube and lugs plus engine but were assembled by small bicycle shops and small firms with few employees. These firms were more or less confined to local sales within a few hundred miles of their shop as it took as much effort to ship a bike across Australia as it did to ship one from the UK. It takes as much effort to prepare goods for shipment 100 miles as it does for 10,000 miles and the same amount of effort to prepare it for sale at the receiving end. The moving bit in the middle is the easy bit. It just takes time.
It’s only in the last 50 years or so that things have got better.
98
British Bikes / Re: “Star” motorcycles
« Last post by mini-me on August 15, 2021, 02:17:14 PM »
Without taking the pee, was there much heavy industry in Oz 1920/30s ? did they gear up for the war effort?

Seem to me it would be logical to import a shipload of mixed Villiers engines and frame lugs rather than rely on developing home grown stuff.

Oz being such a vast bit of real estate reliability would be top of the list for any transport, and Villiers engines were proven reliable kit.
99
British Bikes / Re: “Star” motorcycles
« Last post by cardan on August 15, 2021, 01:26:10 PM »
And yet another Villiers: "The Essex-Villiers, 2 strokes, The New Man-size Lightweight", sold by The Melbourne Motor Cycle Co., 395-397 Elizabeth St, Melbourne, during 1930. These were "just arrived" in May 1930, so they were probably another of the rebadged British imports.

Leon
100
British Bikes / Re: “Star” motorcycles
« Last post by cardan on August 15, 2021, 11:45:14 AM »
So there was a Star motorcycle, in 1938, 148cc Villiers engine. Finlay Bros? Not sure yet, but I have added it to the "Ss", and will tackle it when/if I get there. Got to finish the Ls first. M, N, O... aghhh.

Many thanks, 33d6.

Leon
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