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I just found a photo...

fonusbak

Website User
Non-VOC Member
Hiya

...and hello everyone. I wondered if you might be able to sort out a mystery for me.

The attached photo is of my Great Grandfather and, as far as I can tell, was taken sometime in the 1940's in Sunderland.

I've had a look around on the net and I think his bike could be a Vincent but a few details don't look right - tank badge? lever attached to the tank?

So, if I may prevail on your kindness to have a look I'd appreciate any info you might have.

Cheers
Phil
 

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Alan J

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Photo

Phil-it doesn't look like a n H.R.D. to me- an early 30's overhead valve twin port single-possible an Ariel?? Somebody will recognise it!! I had a'pully' like that in about 1948!! :D:D
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Name that bike

It isn't a Rudge. The tank is the wrong shape. Front brake is a bit small too - Rudge were fitting 8" brakes very early. Looks as though it is twin port, but pre-war Ariel Red Hunters were twin port. A pedant writes: Rudge didn't sell Rudge engines to other makers. They sold Python engines...
It looks like a late twenties or very early thirties Rudge to me. As Rudges had 4 valve cylinder heads twin exhaust ports were not just for fashion. If is a Rudge I think John Crispin will confirm it. The Vincent in my avitar has a Rudge engine.
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Name that bike, part 2

I took another look. If it was a pre-1936 Rudge, it would have "D forks" - the front struts are straight, the rear struts are curved so that sideways on it looks like a D. Nor are the forks post 36 unless they've been cut about a lot. Post 36 Rudge forks are similar to Bramptons, but better, having forged one piece links like Girdraulics do. Any chance of getting grandad to move his knee so I can see the cylinder head?

It isn't a Rudge. The tank is the wrong shape. Front brake is a bit small too - Rudge were fitting 8" brakes very early. Looks as though it is twin port, but pre-war Ariel Red Hunters were twin port. A pedant writes: Rudge didn't sell Rudge engines to other makers. They sold Python engines...
 

fonusbak

Website User
Non-VOC Member
Wow! Thanks guys, this is great stuff...can't thank you enough.

I'll be on the net all day today following up your leads!

Cheers!
 

Graham Smith

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
VOC Forum Administrator
VOC Forum Moderator
From George Spence, our rarity expert...

Certainly not an HRD, a bit too late its '29 - 30 ish, its a pity his knee's in the way of the engine and the gearbox is out of shot.I don't think it is a Rudge but it has a number of similaritys to a Rudge.
 

Graham Smith

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
VOC Forum Administrator
VOC Forum Moderator
From Jacqueline Bickerstaff - another Vincent expert...

It is definitely not an HRD, being too late with its saddle tank, big
brakes, electric lighting. Nor is it a Vincent-HRD, as there is no rear
springing. No doubt at all, not HRD or Vincent-HRD.

Unfortunately the details are too indistinct, and I cannot identify what
it is. I would guess its date as early to mid thirties from the features
mentioned, plus the twin ports, but still with inverted handlebar
levers, and probably 250-350cc ohv engine. The girder fork links are
inside the blades - that might be a clue as it is unusual (they are
usually outside, like Bramptons, not inside like Girdraulics). From
memory I have seen that feature on Rudges (whose fork probably inspired
the Girdraulic, but the bike is not a Rudge), and on Matchless, but
there are probably a few others.
 

fonusbak

Website User
Non-VOC Member
It's a mystery indeed! I love the comment about getting him to move his knee out of the way too Tom!

As you've all said there are slight differences from the stock photo's. Perhaps - the bike being 10/15 years old by the time the photo was taken - it had been modified with whatever parts were available?

I've asked my Mum to dig through the boxes of photo's see if there are any more...hopefully with a swivelling knee eh?

Thanks again for all the help - please pass on my thanks to George and Jacqueline too. You guys know your bikes!
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Grandpa's bike

It has the look of a lightweight utility model. The tank is quite small, which might mean a 350 or 250. The thumbnail doesn't have high enough reolution to say much more. Good hunting, anyway.
 

johncrispin

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I am not so sure about the bike not being Rudge as Tom. I agree about the forks but think maybe this could be round section but retro fit, which for the reason Tom mentions might be a good reason to do it. They were not so squeamish about originality, functionality ruled then.
The mudguards have a Rudge look about them as do the rear guard stays of models from the early thirties. 350 & 250 Rudges of that time I believe had a 7" front brake. My suspicion is that it could well be a Rudge, the cylinder is not tall enough for a 500 but the round cases look right. Can we assume the photo is post war as the curved corrugated iron shed looks like Anderson bomb shelter stuff surplus to requirements ?? Anyone checked out to see if the reg no still exists ?
 

fonusbak

Website User
Non-VOC Member
I think we have an answer!!!!

Apparently the bike actually belonged to my Great Grandads brother - who is still with us and remembers the day the photo was taken!

At the time he had two bikes, this one and a BSA 500 Sloper which he used for work. The bike in the photo had been stored in the hut you can see in the photo for year or two as he couldn't afford to run both. My Great Uncle (?) decided to sell it and this was one of those "before I sell it I'll have a photo of it..." moments at which point my G/G jumped on it and posed!

...carefully hiding the engine from us with that knee!

My G/U also remembers that he never got to sell the bike, someone asked to borrow it and he never saw them, or the bike again.

But what is the bike?

A Rudge 250 Rapid.

My G/U reckons you guys should be on University Challenge as he remembers some of the details you pointed out. He also said that he was always working on the bikes so don't be surprised if some of the misleading details are BSA parts!

So, there you go.

I can't thank you enough for your time on this, it really is much appreciated. Admittedly, if we'd known it was my G/U's bike we could have asked just him but we found the photo only recently and didn't know where to start. Having said that I've actually quite enjoyed this sleuthing about...and I hope you have too.

If I find any more photos I'll post them so you can have a look.

Cheers
Phil
 

johncrispin

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
David you are right, must be pre 36 model not to be a two valver, but not sure if the later 4valvers were called Rapid, I always assumed it was 250 ' Sports'. A damned sound, fast little bike, and what the Pike bros gained their reputations on.
BTW Tom would be good on University challenge, so Paxo watchout!
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Rudge Rapid

Mervyn Stratford raced one at East Fortune last year at the Bob Mac Classic meeting. "Interesting" to see four Suzuki T20's with TZ porting 10 yards apart followed 50 yard behind by a 1930's girder-forked single cylinder four-stroke. In turn followed by another 20-odd Ducatis and Suzukis.

I've just looked at a 1937 parts list. I've never actually seen a 250 Rudge, but they evidently have completely different cycle parts from the 350's and 500's. By 1937 they were two-valve, but still exposed valve gear.

(A new 250 frame cost £5-4-6d, and the forks £1-14-9d for one girder, and £1-6-0d for the other. The 500 frame was £9-1-6d and forks complete £5-7-0d...they've gone up a bit since then i expect.)
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Rudge

I just had another look at the parts list. By 1937 the 250 was two-valve, single port, and was still called the Rapid. I remember being told that the two-valve 250 (cheaper to make) was actually a much better and faster bike than the four-valve, but have never seen an example of either.

REC currently records over 1300 500's and only 134 250's... Vincent content: they record 25 500 (Rudge Python engined) HRD's, and 1 350 HRD

I hadn't seen John C's email until now: congratulations, John, spot on. There is something odd about the HT lead in the pic. Didn't the 250 have a maglita?
A combination of the worst features of a magneto and a dynamo...
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Rudges

I like threads like this, they encourage me to get off my lazy arse and look at the books....in this case Brian Reynold's Don't Trudge It, Rudge It.

In 1929, and 1930 Rudge 250's had 2-valve JAP engines (in 1930, both sv and ohv).
In 1931, 1932, 1933 and 1934 they had fully radial Rudge 4-valve engines. Rudge also made 175cc 4-valve engines, which were sold to continental manufacturers. There were two 1934 models, the "standard" and the "sports model".
In 1935 they had both 2-valve (the "Tourist" with upswept pipes) and 4-valve (the "Sports"), both Rudge engines. The 2-valve might have been developed with an MoD contract in mind. Four open radial valves, operated by six open rockers might have challenged any mechanic, far less an Army one.
In 1936, the 2-valve was the "Rapid", the 4-valve was the "Sports". This was the last 4-valve 250.
In 1937 only the Rapid was offered, but with upswept pipes.
In 1938, and by implication 1939, the Rapid had upswept pipes, and the Sport (a tuned Rapid) didn't.

They started going bust about 1934, and adopted "a policy of continuous improvement". I've always taken this to mean parts-bin specials, so they'd build bikes with four valves (or whatever) until the bits ran out. I've found this true particularly of 1935 and 1936 bikes. Vincents are EASY by comparison.
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
I like threads like this, they encourage me to get off my lazy arse and look at the books....in this case Brian Reynold's Don't Trudge It, Rudge It.

In 1929, and 1930 Rudge 250's had 2-valve JAP engines (in 1930, both sv and ohv).
In 1931, 1932, 1933 and 1934 they had fully radial Rudge 4-valve engines. Rudge also made 175cc 4-valve engines, which were sold to continental manufacturers. There were two 1934 models, the "standard" and the "sports model".
In 1935 they had both 2-valve (the "Tourist" with upswept pipes) and 4-valve (the "Sports"), both Rudge engines. The 2-valve might have been developed with an MoD contract in mind. Four open radial valves, operated by six open rockers might have challenged any mechanic, far less an Army one.
In 1936, the 2-valve was the "Rapid", the 4-valve was the "Sports". This was the last 4-valve 250.
In 1937 only the Rapid was offered, but with upswept pipes.
In 1938, and by implication 1939, the Rapid had upswept pipes, and the Sport (a tuned Rapid) didn't.

They started going bust about 1934, and adopted "a policy of continuous improvement". I've always taken this to mean parts-bin specials, so they'd build bikes with four valves (or whatever) until the bits ran out. I've found this true particularly of 1935 and 1936 bikes. Vincents are EASY by comparison.
"Edit" doesn't work. Clarification: 1934 was the first year the 250 had a model "name", prior to that it was just "250".
 

Mickthevin

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
vincents are easy by comparison

IF YOU THINK RUDGES ARE HARD TO FIND INFO ABOUT YOU WANT TO TRY NEW HUDSONS. I HAVE A 600 SIDE VALVE(APPARENTLY ONLY ONE OF TWO KNOWN TO EXIST ACCORDING TO VMCC MARQUE SPECIALIST) AND I CANT FIND A PICTURE OF IT LET ALONE INFO. THE BIKE IS RUNNING,TAXED AND MOTed AND THE ONLY THING MISSING IS THE TOOL BOX. I ASKED THE SPECIALIST AND HE SAID STICK ANYTHING ON AS NOBODY CAN CONTRADICT YOU

MICK
 

fonusbak

Website User
Non-VOC Member
David,

Of course! I'm really knocked out by the number - and detail - of the resopnses so yes, feel free. I've got the rest of the family burrowing about looking for more photo's and will post if we find any. My cousin is also going to take a print of all your info and talk to my great uncle about it : see if it jogs his mempry.

He's in his 80's now but still sharp...he wanted to know if I wanted to buy the Honda he's had in his shed for years! Talk about not missing a trick eh?
 

Tom Gaynor

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
New Hudson

Sound advice....

It isn't beyond possibility anyway that they bought them in from someone who had tooling because they made them for someone else. So anything that fits...

Saw, and liked, your video. Great feeling when "she speaks" for the first time.

IF YOU THINK RUDGES ARE HARD TO FIND INFO ABOUT YOU WANT TO TRY NEW HUDSONS. I HAVE A 600 SIDE VALVE(APPARENTLY ONLY ONE OF TWO KNOWN TO EXIST ACCORDING TO VMCC MARQUE SPECIALIST) AND I CANT FIND A PICTURE OF IT LET ALONE INFO. THE BIKE IS RUNNING,TAXED AND MOTed AND THE ONLY THING MISSING IS THE TOOL BOX. I ASKED THE SPECIALIST AND HE SAID STICK ANYTHING ON AS NOBODY CAN CONTRADICT YOU

MICK
 

lindie

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
In 1931, 1932, 1933 and 1934 they had fully radial Rudge 4-valve engines. Rudge also made 175cc 4-valve engines, which were sold to continental manufacturers. There were two 1934 models, the "standard" and the "sports model".

Four open radial valves, operated by six open rockers might have challenged any mechanic, far less an Army one.
hi tom. i know this is pushing it but would a few shots of their radial dispositioning be available or perhaps a link to some? i often wondered where honda pilfered their "RFVC" system from and would be interested to see.

does anyone have a good shot of a excelsior mechanical marvel while i'm about it? my magazines from the nineties were storage damaged.
 

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