Tuesday, 17 May 2022

Hector Dobbs


-SG- Back in the late forties I was at school with Noel and Jamie Dobbs from the Isle of Wight  (just across the water from Southampton) and as a matter of idle curiousity, I got in touch with Noel a while back to ask if he was connected atall with Hector G E Dobbs - winner of the 1925 Amateur TT.  The answer was - unfortunately - 'no' but what he did remind me was that he was a great-grandson of Bram Stoker, author of the original Dracula novel!  In fact my not very diligent search for HGED's family proved fruitless.  None the less, I did unearth some information  of general interest about him.

Hector was born in May 1905 and attended the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth from September 1920 to July 1922 - when - unusual for Dartmouth graduates -  he joined the Engineering Branch of the Royal Navy.  By the time of the 1925 Amateur TT, he had risen to the dizzy heights of Sub-Lieutenant and doubtless by then he was earning enough to purchase the Model 18, which he rode in the event.  This machine was supplied to him in July 1925 by well known Norton dealers Pikes of Plymouth and appears to have been a fairly standard Model 18. Without wishing to belittle his win at just under 60 mph, it has been pointed out to me that some of the faster and more experienced riders retired for various reasons... He entered again in 1926 on a different OHV Norton also supplied by Pikes, and this machine seems to have been rather more special - it is shown in the records as having large tanks, a chain oiler, Terry saddle and steering damper.  The few photos I have seen  (not accessible)  also show it to have had an 8 inch Enfield front brake.  Unfortunately he retired as a result of a crash in very bad and foggy weather.  I have not found that he competed elsewhere on two wheels or if so, with what results but what does seem certain is that in the early thirties he was invalided out of the Navy and concentrated on trials driving and racing Rileys at Brooklands (with some success) and on a garage business near Southampton.   He died at the relatively young age of 63 in 1968.

The first of the two photos attached (kindly provided by Bill Snelling) shows Dobbs wearing smart plus-fours, seated on his 1925  machine in the IOM, while the second shows him re-fuelling during the event  - note the John Bull rubbers on his controls - see scan below.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Another Vintage Norton appears ...


-SG- I heard from Artie earlier in the month with a report on his Pukekohe race outing.  He took the Model 22 recently featured (23rd April) and it achieved a lap speed of just over 85 mph - which means it must achieve a speed at least 20mph faster than when new!  He also reported the first appearance of a 1930 Model 20 - apparently restored in 1974 or thereabouts,  and virtually unused since.  Although the gearbox has been changed to an LS type (original was CS), it looks a pretty tidy example. Thanks for the photos, Artie.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

1926 Model 18 Norton


-SG- It seems to be all go in the North Island of NZ at present! Here's a 1926 Model 18 of which Jeff has just finished the restoration. To quote - "I think this is a fantastic looking bike - low and lean and looks like a greyhound! All in all, the best looking flat tank Norton!"  I have to agree and it looks a pretty good effort to me!

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

Another 1921 TT machine ...


-SG- I am grateful to Franz and Christian who have sent photos of OH7082 - another of the 1921 works machines, this one ridden in the TT by Victor Horsman who was a works rider at the time.  He retired in the event with problems caused by the magneto coming loose and in fact only one of the works riders finished.  Not Norton's best year!

The machine currently belongs to Franz and he has some fairly recent documentation originating with its last UK owner Mr. Harold Briggs from Bridlington in Yorkshire.  He is seeking to obtain confirmation that its present engine and frame numbers are those shown in the relevant records and I have suggested he gets in touch with the DVLA and also the Archives Dept. of Birningham Library who may have details of vehicles with OH registration numbers.

Although it is currently fitted with an LS Sturmey box Franz has a correct CS box as originally fitted as well as a couple of 'in need of restoration' tanks which appear to be of the original type.    

Sunday, 24 April 2022

Wanted for my own projects!

-JdK- I have been push-starting my 1927 Model 18 (above) for years but now that the worn-out LS box has been replaced by a better CS box I intend to upgrade to kickstarting. To do that I now need a kickstart lever and a spring. Please let me know if you can get me a lever (and spring) similar to the one below; it is the type with a 3/4" (19mm) hole and a cotter pin.

Further I need the brackets/clamps to mount a headlight to a Webb fork; one clamp fits to the girders, one to the headlight and there is a bracket in between; please let me know if you have a set for sale or know someone who sells these parts.

Saturday, 23 April 2022

Artie's Model 22 Norton

- My good friend Artie has been involved in Classic Racing in NZ for the last forty years or thereabouts. For several years he was using a 1951 Manx powered by an Inter engine of the same age which he had acquired in 1969.  He used this machine as a road burner for a while in the seventies but returned it to track trim when Classic Racing started in 1979.  A few years back he obtained and fitted the original DOHC engine to the Manx - which had been modified to the short stroke spec. in 1954.

More recently he has been riding a Model 22 built up in 2005 from random parts collected over the years - in his own words 'a real bitza!'  The engine is 1931, the cradle frame probably mid-  to late-thirties, thirties doll's head gearbox and forks, and - a recent improvement - an 8 inch front brake from a fifties Norton tweaked to fit the girders.  While it is not in the same league as the - now very few - pre-war OHC Nortons being raced in NZ it has given Artie many enjoyable rides over the years and another outing to the Covid-delayed Pukekohe meeting is planned for the end of April. Good luck!

Sunday, 17 April 2022

1926 model 18 Norton


-JdK- Roger is restoring his flat tank Model 18 and needs the Y shaped junction for the oil lines - let us know via email when you can help.

"My bike is made up from parts from around the world - the frame came back from Australia in the 80s, and I replaced the very rusty rear tubes. The engine, gearbox and forks are all correct for 1926. I've sourced a petrol tank, saddle, carrier and oil tank, but have had to make many new parts - handlebars, handlebar clamps, fork yokes and spindles, rear engine plate set, rear brake assembly, rear stand, valve lifter parts - the list goes on! I'm currently making a magneto platform and hoping I can source a Y shaped oil manifold, or borrow one to make a pattern. The carb is the correct B&B, restored by Martyn Bratby. Levers came from Mark Baker, grips from Jeff Hunter. I haven't been anywhere near DVLA yet, I'm leaving this until the bike is complete!"

Saturday, 16 April 2022

1931 Model 20 Norton - For sale


-SG- 1931 Model 20s are few and far between and this one was probably produced late in 1930.  Ian is selling it for £12000 or near offer and his sales blurb is below!!

"Rare Model 20 Norton (twinport) 500cc owned for 12 years, brand new exhausts.  Petrol + oil tanks professionally painted, gate change on tank, chrome in overall good condition. New parts not fitted as undecided to make concours or just leave as a nice usable bike. Engine number 51766 frame 43436 + large history file. UK phone  01884 860600 or ianloram@gmail.com"

Friday, 15 April 2022

Model CJ barrel - For sale


-SG- Ian has in his collection a 1929 CJ and this spare barrel is surplus to his needs.  It is plus 0.020" and seems from the photo to have been sleeved.  Offers to Ian direct if you are interested - ianloram@gmail.com.

Sunday, 3 April 2022

Montlhery, July 1925


-SG- Back in December 2016 we had a posting of Bennett and Craig at Montlhery for the Grand Prix.  Thanks to BNF Gallica, here are a couple more shots of them at the event, taken of the drive sides of their drysump Works bikes.