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help with info for a book please?

broski

New Forum Website User
Non-VOC Member
Hi guys! A bit of a strange request is this one! I am an author writing a novel and which involves a sequence surrounding a Vincent motorcycle. I am afraid to confess that my love affair with old British bikes existed only as far as my Royal Enfield Continental GT as my first bike back in 1970, then a Norton Dominator. Shortly after that I developed a spinal condition which ended both my motorcycling habits and indeed my working habit. Instead I turn to writing. I have done a little research online but figure I would get better value from you lads direct if you were willing to help me. I need to get it dead right both for my own story - if not to avoid insulting the Vincent brand

As I said, I want to include a Vincent motorcycle in my tale- which, in this section, put VERY loosely is that young man helps widow sort her garden, discover Vincent in shed- he fixes up. But she describes to him nostagically the times they had plodding round the Cotswolds on it before her husband died.

Now, I want to report her memories as accurately as possible and would ask you for your opinion on:
Which model do you think was the most prestigious- (and which had pillion seat of course) Biggest would be best. And- in which colour? Also the year would have to be shown

What sort of noise would the bike have made- can you describe it? Was it like a Velocette and had a very high torque/low revs type ? What would it sound like when opened up? Had it got a special smell ?

Had the model any noted and accepted peculiarities and habits? Like Enfields were known for oil leaks, etc? Did they often overheat or break down for example?
Anything unusual or common to all the of that model would be useful. In fact any information you could give me that you think suitable would be VERY much appreciated I assure you and I will post a credit in my book should it make publication. Cheers so much!:cool:
 

Albervin

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
OK Broski, this will get to the nitty gritty. Just how well off was this fictional husband? This is important because Vincents were not cheap in the '40s and '50s. All road going post war Vincents were more expensive than any of their counterparts from other British manufacturers. They were built for the rider and cost was secondary. Let us assume he was an ex RAF officer, then it would have been a Black Shadow. But if he was an NCO then more than likely it was a Comet. You could buy a house for the price of a Shadow and a nice little car for the price of a Comet. In between is the Rapide which was faster than a Bentley or Aston but still was out of reach of all except the professional and middle classes. Then again, there is always the lad who is prepared to work hard to pay off the HP. 99.9% of all Vincents were BLACK. To get a handle on the sound, think of a muted Harley but with so much power and torque ('50s or '60s) that all other bike riders (and cars) disappear in the rear vision mirror. The smell? Not much really unless you were using Castrol R oil and/or National Super Benzole!! Starting a Vinnie is a thing of legend. There are "knacks" to all bikes and Vincents are no different. All of mine require a different technique if I am not to end up lathered in sweat. Good luck and ask away.
 

Howard

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Apologies to Comet riders, this is not a dig, but if you're talking in terms of "plodding" round the Cotswolds I think the bike would have to be a Comet or Meteor, Twins aren't really "plodders".
 

A-BCD

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
OK Broski, this will get to the nitty gritty. Just how well off was this fictional husband? This is important because Vincents were not cheap in the '40s and '50s. All road going post war Vincents were more expensive than any of their counterparts from other British manufacturers. They were built for the rider and cost was secondary. Let us assume he was an ex RAF officer, then it would have been a Black Shadow. But if he was an NCO then more than likely it was a Comet. You could buy a house for the price of a Shadow and a nice little car for the price of a Comet. In between is the Rapide which was faster than a Bentley or Aston but still was out of reach of all except the professional and middle classes. Then again, there is always the lad who is prepared to work hard to pay off the HP. 99.9% of all Vincents were BLACK. To get a handle on the sound, think of a muted Harley but with so much power and torque ('50s or '60s) that all other bike riders (and cars) disappear in the rear vision mirror. The smell? Not much really unless you were using Castrol R oil and/or National Super Benzole!! Starting a Vinnie is a thing of legend. There are "knacks" to all bikes and Vincents are no different. All of mine require a different technique if I am not to end up lathered in sweat. Good luck and ask away.

My dad was a welder and we lived in a prefab. This didn't stop him buying a second-hand Series B Rapide on HP in 1950 !! A couple of years later he traded up to a Series C which he bought from Jack Surtees !!
CVG317HPform.jpg
 

Howard

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Broski, you could always visit your local VOC section meet. Cross their palms with beer and you'll pick up all sorts of information.

H
 

b'knighted

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Hi Brian,

We can see what your Dad paid at the end of 1950 but can you tell us what he got for it as a trade in on the C a couple of years later. Was the C bought new or second hand?
 

broski

New Forum Website User
Non-VOC Member
Cheers lads for replying! Howard- what a great idea, but you know what? Im scared to do just that. Why? Because the more and more I have read on this subject- bearing in mind I only started off needing it for the book- the more I am salivating and getting excited about the marque. If I went along to a meeting that would be the end of my will power.. lol,. Thanks for the idea though and Im sure i would have met a great bunch at such a meet.

Alb- some great stuff in there emate, just what i was after. So much do I like the idea of it being a Black Shadow (a name which has an aura of its own!) that I think I will adjust the story around it. Rather than pootling round the Cotswolds I will adjust the scenarios. As regards the cost of one- this in fact fits ideal with half an idea as to how he came to get the bike in the first place. His wife - knowing how much he drooled over the bike, inherits an aunts house and rather than sensibly spend it on their own house she spends it all on buying it for him.
God- if a woman did that for me I would keep her forever too. Indeed I am looking rather resentfully at mine now and wondering why..... heheehe only joking.

Found a good article and image which were useful http://images.motorcycle-usa.com/PhotoGallerys/88352Untitled-6.jpg and

http://searcht2.aol.co.uk/aol/imageDetails?s_it=imageDetails&q=vincent+black+shadow&v_t=client-sbox&b=image%3Fs_it%3Dclient-sbox%26query%3Dvincent%2520black%2520shadow%26oreq%3D77a543d37e564b998d4679c173e61d8e&img=http%3A%2F%2Fimages.motorcycle-usa.com%2FPhotoGallerys%2F88352Untitled-6.jpg&host=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.motorcycle-usa.com%2F19%2F872%2FMotorcycle-Article%2F2007-Vincent-Black-Shadow-First-Ride.aspx&width=120&height=90&thumbUrl=http%3A%2F%2Fimages-partners-tbn.google.com%2Fimages%3Fq%3Dtbn%3AANd9GcR5sqwJKi4v77_r0sVdjH4DyA4KbamxBQKS6POEoacXmG12br7v_oHdCQ&imgWidth=1024&imgHeight=768&imgSize=85180&imgTitle=vincent+black+shadow

What a feat that was to build a bike from your own spares company! Brilliant. But the article did give some interesting and useful angles and pointers- for example the starting up of the bike, I am sure I can use that.

Anyway, many many thanks for your help and I am settled and comfortable now that I have chosen the perfect bike for the book and am very happy about that. But as a parting comment I will say this, if I get that Lottery win or even a Big Seller book then I can see me chasing Shadows in the future- Black ones!:D

all the best fellas !
 

mercurycrest

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
But the article did give some interesting and useful angles and pointers- for example the starting up of the bike, I am sure I can use that.
all the best fellas !

Broski,
That method of starting is only for those who want to be left in the parking lot trying to find the right tdc., while everyone else is a mile or, two down the road. Since a Vincent Twin almost always stops on the same stroke, simply pull the compression release lever, give 'er the boot and let go the lever about 2/3 the way down. It comes natural about the third time you do it.
Cheers, John
 

broski

New Forum Website User
Non-VOC Member
ah right, cheers John, will that go then- especially as it would go down good making it look like they are difficult to start! My Enfield had a compression ratio of 10:1 and it rather spectacularly used to backfire if I didnt get the kickstart right- thereby belching a jet of flame and flinging my leg 6 foot in the air! Whilst not a brilliant arrangement for a rider, it would have made a particularly good point to have stuck in a story see? thats really what I was searching for.
Thanks again for that tho mate
 

A-BCD

Well Known and Active Forum Website User
VOC Member
Here's my dad's little story about the Series B :
WHITSUN


Having traded in the AJW for a Vincent HRD fitted with a V.P. Sports
sidecar (torsion bar suspension), we were on our way. That first drive really opened my eyes, I think we got to Blackheath before I got out of second gear ! 'King of the Road' sounds about right, The AJW 'Old Black Bess' had always struggled up the hill, and the difference in power lives with me for ever: - we flew.

By the following spring we had got used to being part of the elite ownership, and on a trip to the factory at Stevenage had picked up a few goodies. A folder containing every available worksheet, making a unique workshop manual, and I also got a tank protection cover, that the test riders used. That was when I picked up my first copy of the V.O.C. magazine.

George Filer and his brother-in-law Tommy Dyer, (Ariel Hunter, Norton ES2), proposed going to Devon for the Whitsun weekend, camping at Lynmouth. Would we and the Bakers like to join them? Of course we would!

On telling my parents of our plans, they proposed coming to Plumstead for the weekend and looking after the kids, and we could be free of all worries. So now the party was ten strong, Harry had an AJS (350 solo), and all the rest had combos. We had the lightest load, and the most power, so when we took off we were always at the tail end. Until we got to Porlock Hill that is, which starts with a tight hairpin bend on an incline of one in four, and then uphill for two miles. That was a challenge I couldn't resist, and boy! did we go! We heard later that, George's mum, who was in Tommy's sidecar, complained all the way up that she wanted to fly too, but with Pat on pillion in front of the biggest hamper I've ever seen, and only 500 cc to play with, no chance ! Harry was the next up, and we had time to admire the view and a smoke, before the rest caught up. From there we could have freewheeled all the way to Lynmouth, except for Countisbury Hill.

The camping site was just outside Lynton in the bottom of a ravine, beside a little river, (that fed the Barbrook Mill), which came directly from Exmoor, fast flowing and icy cold. We slept well in our little bivouac, and were woken early on the Saturday by the smell of someone cooking breakfast. Looking out of the tent, we were greeted by the sight of Tommy in shorts, stripped to the waist, in mid-stream, shaving in the icy flow. He was one of those blokes who always looked like he needed a shave, heavy jowls and black stubble, and you could hear the scraping at fifteen paces. A sight to remember.

The whole scene was a sight to remember, for less than a year later, in the following winter of 1952, torrential rainfall on the moors turned this little river into a raging torrent. From the higher ground the waters gathered speed, and by the time they reached Lynmouth, the riverbanks and foundations were undercut to the extent that houses and hotels were collapsing into the riverbed. The services, and there were so few of them, were helpless against this torrent, and 36 people drowned. Such was the volume and speed of the flow that rescuers could only aid people who happened to be on the same bankside. From the top of the High Street right down to the seafront, the harbour town was devastated, thousands were made homeless. We have never been back to see the rebuild, I prefer to remember it as it was.

However, to continue:-

On the Whit Sunday the gang decided to go and visit Bude, for a day on the beach, and maybe go the Valley of Rocks and anything else that took their fancy. It so happened that on that day the Exmoor Motorcycle Trials were taking place. We couldn't miss that event, so for the day we went our separate ways. Not having specific information on check points, we followed some riders who were heading for the next section. They were directed into the woods up a very narrow track, there was no way we could follow. So we asked the marshal if there was a decent viewing point nearby.

“Yes”, he said, “there's a road just round the corner that goes to the top of the hill, you can look down from there“. Up the road we went, a bit narrow, but when it turned into a track, I began to worry. Two marshals suddenly appeared behind us, they said

“Yes, it is a road, a bit bumpy, but it does go right to the top“. So we went. What they didn't tell us was that this bit of track was part of the sidecar trial section, in no time at all we were in trouble. No room to turn back, we were in it, right up to here, then suddenly four or five marshals appeared, and between them, practically carried us to the top of the section. The bloke who directed us there was one the team, and they all thought it a huge joke. The only casualty was our Thermos, so bang went our hot drink.

The track from there on was no trouble, and ran directly to a farmhouse, and as we approached the farmer's wife came out to greet us.

“Hello”, she said, “we don't often get visitors up here “. After we had explained the events that got us this far, she laughed, and told us that her husband was a trials rider, so she knew all about that track, he uses it as his back door.

“I've just got some scones out of the oven”, she said, “do come in and have tea with me, I do like company and you must try my clotted cream with fresh strawberries

Devon splits !! Great !! Didn't see much of the trial, but what a great day.

The High Street, from the harbour up to Lynton, is something like one-in-six, so after shopping and a jug or two, it was back to camp for a siesta. Laughing, I said :

“I’ll give you a 100 yard start and still beat you to the top”.

Now, the gearbox on the H.R.D. had a low starting gear, then a big jump to a close-ratio 2nd., 3rd. and top, and it doesn't like to be rushed. But I did rush the change from bottom, and paid the price. I knocked the 2nd. gear out completely. The jump from 1st. to 3rd was in the main, too big a gap, just couldn't drop the revs quick enough. But the reserves of power were more than compensation, and for the rest of the weekend, my 3rd. gear handicap put everybody else in contention.

Early the following week I consulted with Jack Surtees, who informed me that at the time my H.R.D. was constructed, a batch of substandard cogs had slipped through the inspection net. However, he happened to have a spare replacement, and not only that, but it had been modified to enable faster changes for racing purposes, ---my guardian angel was still in business. There was no other damage in the gearbox, and the repair was straightforward and uneventful. I had Jack Surtees do a test run on the bike, because the rattle of valve gear was bothering me. His verdict:

“What else do you expect from high lift cams? You've got a good one there, look after it”.

And so it was, for the rest of the time in my hands.
 
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