British Diesel Motorcycle Rally 2014

The 10th Anniversary T shirt design for the 2014 Big Knock!!

On the days leading up to this, our tenth anniversary rally, the weather had been giving me cause for concern. Persistent rain had made the entrances to the various fields at the Bat and Ball rather muddy and, it being camping season, there was no end of camper vans using the various ways in. The gateway into the first field (we were in the second this year) rapidly became something of a quagmire and we were slightly horrified when camper vans started being directed through our field to their destination. We witnessed and helped out several drivers who, in our view, didn't know how to drive their vehicles. Eventually a few lorry loads of shredded wood chippings were delivered and we all piled in to spread this over the mud to soak up the water and make the way a bit easier for the arrival of the motorcycles. The rally was about to begin!


The Sprocket was amongst the early arrivals at this years rally.

Alex brough along his latest creation based on the Yamaha XJ.

This being our tenth anniversary year, we had opened the way for electric motorcycles to attend but come the rally, well, we saw no bikes at all. In the months and weeks leading up to our bash I'd put the word out and had some comms with various manufacturers of these machines but had only received back word that the bikes were still in development or just plain not available. After attending a launch some months ago of Zero bikes I put the feelers out to a local dealer only to be told they'd pulled out from the U.K. market very recently.
Personally, I would have been more interested to see any hybrid motorcycles but this is cutting edge stuff and to be honest I'd have been surprised if one had turned up. Still, we did try and any Alternative motorcycles will always be welcome at future events.

Tim's Honda complete with Kubota Z482 500 twin diesel engine. (Save for a slightly bigger version of this shot.)

If I heard right, the turbo is a Mitsubishi RHB31 rescued from a car that fell foul of the recent UK flooding.

Tim likes this model Honda! Here we see a Kubota D850 triple diesel engine installed.

The CVT side of the bike. (Again save the image for a slightly more expandable and detailed picture.)

I'm always a bit overwhelmed by how many diesel bikers take the time out to ride to the rally. We had guys riding in from all over the U.K. as well as Western Europe. Also nice to see members of the German Honda Innova club over for the rally as well as U.K. Ratbike guys. Also good to see Mick Dixon over again on one of Ernie Dorsett's original Matchless diesel motorcycles. I'd not seen Mick since he came to the very first rally ten years go with Ernie and a truck full of diesel motorcycles. Mick has recently bought another bike from the classified section within our forum.

Mick Dixon's Matchless Diesel conversion made by Ernie Dorsett.

Of course, each year there are always stories of guys who have breakdowns on the way and can't make it. This year I heard from Pete Henshaw (and his friend) that he'd suffered what could be a broken crankshaft halfway to the event. Another chap had attended in plaster having had his recently delivered Track Diesel T800 written off in an accident north of Portsmouth just days after it was delivered from the Netherlands.

We had four Track T800cdi motorcycles attend this years rally.

For me it's rewarding to see so many swapping ideas concerning their bikes and talking about other closely related things. Knowing what was being discussed on the Dieselbike forum helped me put a few guys together that I knew had similar projects on the go or who had similar engines or need of parts.
Given that most of the bikes on site were capable of hyper mileage it's no surprise that many of the conversations were also about saving money on a wide variety of other topics too. Anyone with a keen ear would have picked up some handy advice on how to fix broken items or overcome all manner of problems, all in the name of saving a few 'coppers'.
One second I was being told about heating houses on the cheap with a device that burns used engine oil and the next I was in a discussion about the most efficient propeller shape to use if generating electricity from wind power. All fascinating stuff!

Some of the diesel motorcycles going out on an early run on the Thursday.

I'd been contacted before the rally by several journalists who wanted info and pictures of the bikes. One guy was just on the email giving me the usual chat etc and wanting pictures but some others made the effort to come along to gather more and enjoy the rally.
Friday afternoon saw these guys interviewing several of the chaps (including myself) and asking for the bikes to be manoeuvred about the Bat and Ball parking lot so that the accompanying photographer could do his thing. I think it was this stopping and starting of my bike which caused it to need a jump start prior to the runout but it was a small price to pay for publicity.

It was also good to meet Nick Samson, editor of Back Street Heros who dropped by on the invitation of Mouse. I hooked him up with Whiskers who is in the process of getting the Sprockets construction documented by this most prestigious motorcycle magazine. The bike is currently undergoing a 'shakedown' period prior to stripdown and painting.

Prior to the rally start I was receiving some shots of the bikes travelling to us. Here come the Track T800s from the Netherlands.

During the main day on Saturday there was a good buzz about the place. Normally it's Tuen taking everyone out for a ride in his machine but this time it was Tony doing the honours with his trike. Unlike some recent rallies that had taken place on the site we'd tried and succeeded in arranging the tents to allow for easy access to everyone and Tony was able to make countless trips out carrying his thrill seeking passengers. The soundtrack to the whole afternoon seemed to consist of his trike accelerating away off down the main road behind the hedge with screams and shrieks heard over the revving engine!

Tony giving countless rides to those rally goers looking for a thrill.

I had some fun and games doing the T shirts for this years rally, our tenth anniversary gathering. I'd set much heart on having a montage of photographs from down the years showing both notably diesel motorcycles and personalities and spent a considerably amount of this arranging pictures to this end. But after many hours work configuring the shots for both the front and back of the shirts, I was told that our printer could only silk screen primary colours! The cost of going elsewhere and getting photo's put on the shirts turned out to be prohibitively expensive so I had to come up with a plan 'B' pretty quickly. Enter my brother, Jeff.
"Oh, put something snappy on the front like Diesel +," he said. "On the back we'll do an evolutionary picture of the bikes down the years".
From these words I sat down with the basic windows paintbox and produced the images you see on this page. I was pretty pleased with the results and so were the rally goers judging by the sales.
We didn't have space to do a standard left to right evolutionary rear image and so I opted to have a centred silhouette shot of the Flitzbitz (a bike present at our first rally) within a larger image of The Sprocket, a bike we knew would be at our 2014 bash.
There were last minute problems still when it turned out that the printer needed the images to be submitted in the EPS Vector format, something with which I had no experience. Enter David (from the forum) who kindly created the rear image and then converted both pictures to the correct format and submitted them to the printer.
Before I knew it I was collecting a large box of T shirts ready for the fast approaching Big Knock.

This year's rear design showed the Flitbitz and the Sprocket. Our T shirts were supplied by Asylum from Piltdown, East Sussex.

Ian had some bad luck this year when his Royal Enfield Bullet gearbox suffered from a broken gear. To be precise, a dog cog had disintegrated (see picture) and rendered the motorcycle unrideable. Ian stripped the gearbox down in the car park after we had found and cut up an old plastic 5 litre container to act as a drip tray. Having found the problem we ran over various options we had which entailed a runout to the nearest Enfield dealer in nearby (25 miles away) Horley.

It was at this point that it occured to me that I may actually have one of these gears on an old main shaft back at home so I jumped on my diesel Tiger and rode the 10 miles or so back to get it. As luck would have it, it was the right part and so I brought it back to the rally where Ian popped over to the garage to get it pressed from the shaft.
After much work on his part, the diesel chopper went back together on that day Friday and was roadworthy and ready for the runout on Saturday.

Ian fixing his gearbox and a shot of the broken cog.

The Ride out.

It had been a few years since we'd ridden to the local Bury Hill and with various considerations in mind as regards the ability of the motorcycles, we again settled on this destination for our run out. The run there and back went smoothly at a leisurely pace but even this speed didn't stop us getting broken in two. Note to self: Next year get some dayglo jackets for lead riders!

We doubled the amount of bikes at Whiteways, Bury Hill, as soon as we arrived!

Steve's Kubota Enfield is set to do even more miles soon on the continent.

Sonke's Hatz motorcycle along with Matt's machine.

The Sprocket made it up Bury Hill with ease - it's huge torque making light work of the climb to Whiteways cafe.

On the return leg my brother took some of the bikes on a more scenic route while a few of us took the more direct road back. I'm grateful to Phil who joined us at Whiteways, Bury Hill and who shot some video of the second larger group of motorcycles leaving the parking lot.Checkout his video here. You can see members of the German Innova club too who came along for the ride.

The front row of Diesel motorcycles at Bury Hill. Nice weather again too :-)

Those arriving at the rally early on Thursday were treated to a spontaneous runout to Goodwood race circuit by my brother Jeff and enjoyed a meal with drinks in the aero cafe there. As luck would have it they were in for a treat when a Spitfire landed at the airfield.

At the entrance to the famous Goodwood Motor Circuit.

Breakfast at the Aero Club, Goodwood and you know you're in England when one of these planes drops in!

Sunday was spent lounging about in the sun as the field slowly emptied and everyone said their goodbyes. We had a constant stream of friends dropping by and inbetween greeting them I did the usual walkabout retrieving side stand wood blocks that had be distributed about the place and picking up the occasional bit of litter.

We managed to fill the allocated field this year. Usually we get field 1 but this time it was field 2.

Even in the final hours of the rally incidents continued to happen. Hans rode away (on his petrol bike) and promptly ran out of fuel up the road. Chris chanced upon him and took him to get some fuel only for Hans to then lose his keys. More running about and they were eventually found by the roadside somewhere and he was on his way back to Vienna.

We were sitting with Sam, Chris and Ken and this was our view into the field from the blow up sofa!

Heavy rain had made the entrances muddy and so we put much mulch down before the rally. Very grateful to our friends who helped out here and thanks also to Mike for towing stuck vehicles and jump-starting others to keep the whole show rolling. Sometimes the biking rally goers don't realise what our friends do prior and during the show but we appreciate all who lend a hand!

General Rally Shots:

Superman drops in to checkout the motorcycles!

Landlady of the Bat & Ball swings a leg over the Sprocket.

The Laverda diesel motorcycle over from Germany.

Track CEO Erik rides out from Bury Hill.

Magazine photographer captures Ian successfully repairing his gearbox with my spare part.

We saw several 3 wheeled diesel's this year.

Tony's diesel Matchless came along complete with trailor.

Drink anyone? and in the background, Ian's Sommer Hatz diesel motorcycle by Jochen Sommer.

The kids weren't just helping with T Shirt sales this year - they were also selling tea & stuff.

Enfield Bullet!

The Innova club from Germany.

Always nice to see the unusual turn up. Not diesel of course but made for hyper mileage all the same.


Finally got my hands on a copy of Rafael's book!

Mouse's bike.

T Shirts almost sold out I had six over.

A Track T800CDi.

Jeff and Sue after a ride out on the Ruggerfield.

We had Paul Wilson again selling some clothes at the rally this year. He did ok he tells me.

Alex about to ride out on one of Tim's creations.

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