THE BIG KNOCK
From the very start, this years gathering was, like last years event, very much in doubt. Luckily, the mass vacination program in the UK and the subsquent easing of Lockdowns meant we could hold the 2021 rally on the same date as we usually do.
Some of the guys turned up really early this year and we had a presence in the field from the Saturday beforehand. My brother and I soon followed and, with the two gazebos up, it started to look like home.
We had no shortage of fuel for the fires this year as several of us had brought along sacks of wood. And with Chris busy chopping and feeding said wood into his Turkish water heater almost continuously at some points, nobody went short of a cuppa!
With nearly all of the diesel powered machines coming along on Friday and Saturday, bikes present for the Thursday runout were pretty thin on the ground. In the end, only 3 of us rode out for the run which took us West of the Riverside Camping site. We avoided the main roads and threaded our way through some of the deep (for us anyway) forest roads to the North near the village of Borden before dropping down over the A272 at Rogate and grabbing a bite to eat at a Stable coffee that has recenlty sprung up between Rogate and South Harting. We reurned along the C roads that wind their way along the foot of the South Downs.
Along with Mouse and Clare, Steve and Sam also arrived on Friday and lost no time exploring the site and surrounding area on their Kubota engined Royal Enfield. Last year they lost no time in riding upto the remains of the Victorian railway that shadows Riverside Farm. This nearby dismantled railway embankment is a pretty interesting magnet for anyone camping here and an attractive place to walk along these days.
Whilst not torrential, Friday saw enough rain during the day for us to not bother with any kind of outing. Luckily it cleared up for the evening and after spending the days drinking tea under the two gazebos we were able to shift outside and start the BBQ.
There is local Co-op not far away in Rudgwick and so those who had not brought their supplies with them were able to ride out locally to get essentials like beer. An more beer!
As is always the case, the BBQ did its job feeding everyone and soon after became the fire. As the sun set, then the beer cans were cracked open and the conversation began to flow. Mouse strung up his flashing LED strip lighting from the yawnings and I got too close to the fire and melted a boot.
This year as every year we were very much indebted to the chaps who brought along motorcycles we hadn’t seen before. With a much reduced rally during these troubled times it’s great to see as many bikes as possible make it along to The Big Knock.
Some months back Matt Flower had been in the East of the county and chanced up Karl Burroughs wonderful creation, the Triumford. I’d shared the pictures at the time but didn’t have any contact information. Imagine our delight when Karl and his machine rolled into our camp just prior to Saturday’s runout!
With its Ford Fiesta Diesel engine throbbing behind him, Karl told me how he’d used some prototype electronics and custom software at the heart of the build. All around me I could see helmets being lifted into the air and knew the run was imminent. Thankfully Karl forwarded on all the details of his motorcycle and what follows are the important bits got straight from the spreadsheet he sent over.
Details of Karl's diesel motorcycle:
Triumford 1600TDCI Diesel Bike
Based on a 1999 Triumph Trophy that had covered 95,393miles (mileage at conversion)Donor Triumph engine purchased, and engine cut away from gearbox. Gearbox made into sealed 'unit' gearbox, new earing housings, new jackshaft, and new drive gear added to take drive to clutch wheel. Custom sump fabricated.
Belt drive pulleys modified from Land Rover V6 Diesel crankshaft and camshaft pulleys. Custom belt manufactured by Dayco. Custom belt drive cover fabicated and lined with noise absorbing material. 2009 stage V Ford Focus 1600tdci 16V valve diesel engine purchased, rebuilt.
Later single piston high pressure diesel pump (Bosch CP4.1) fitted to engine (no space for standard HP pump), custom cam belt supplied (smaller fuel pump pulley than normal, due to single piston), by Dayco. HP Rail mounted horizontally, HP Pipes bent to fit. Dual Mass Flywheel modified to take adapter plate and belt drive pulley. Stage6 fuel filter installed, fuel tank modified. Aluminium sump fabricated to replace tin original sump.EGR system removed. New thermostat housing fabricated, coolant circuit modifed to partial bypass.
Honda 400 radiator modified, cooling pipes fabricated, original Triumph cooling fan installed. Standard Focus starter motor is used, but the solenoid is remote mounted, and pulls inertia pinion by cable. Development ECU and wiring harness installed, security overcome, many inputs calibrated out, and changes made. Original airbox modifed and air mass flow sensor installed. Peugeot turbo intake and outlet pipes modified as required.
Double rate fork springs manufactured, and triumph tiger stanctions installed, mainly to gain ground clearance! RPM counter modified and driven from camshaft sensor via American signal converter box.Most of the above done 2 or 3 times!
Project started in 2010, and is still ongoing! But about 8 years in the making. First MOT was Feb 2020. During this time, I worked at Ford Motor Company Dagenham Engine Plant, without the fantastic guys there and at the Ford Technical centre in Dunton, the project would not have been possible, such are the complexities of such a project! Original Power and Torque from the Focus have been maintained, 110HP, and 265Nm of torque. The bike weighs about 350kg, and has achieved 68mpg on its first significant run. In top gear (6th), 60mph is 1500rpm, 70mph is 1750rpm and 80mph is 2000rpm.
Diesel Dave arrived and we also saw Mike from nearby Cranleigh on both Friday and Saturday. He rode over on his Royal Enfield which runs a Ruggerini MD191 which is the same lump as the Ruggerfield uses. Closer inspection revealed a different arrangement as regards the oil filter etc. Mike arrived at the site gate Saturday as we were all setting out for the run and joined us.
Good to see Tim up from the West Country again. I must ask him what route he takes because I’m not sure if he does the A303 on his dieselbike every year? Arriving Saturday morning Tim, like Karl , accompanied us on our runout to the Wings Aviation Museum via the Chalet Café. Mike and his partner also came down from up North and Fergus brought along his superdream conversion.
I hadn’t really planned to do a café stop but this was added last minute by Jeff. We set off later than the planned 10am time and being at a different location, rode a selection of country lanes on a southerly route towards the eatery. As is often the way, our rather disorganised run was split in two by traffic lights and a railway crossing but we soon joined up in a dusty carpark out back of the Chalet.
No sooner had we ordered than I received a call from Nick Paxton, (he of Musos on Bikes) who had just rocked up at our campsite along with Pete from Mithago. I told him where we were and put another order in, this time for two sausage sandwiches which I gauged should be ready by the time these chaps made it over. And so they were!
As everyone tucked into their full English fry ups I was on the blower to the Museum in an effort to get a group booking. Unfortunately nobody picked up and so I spent the remainder of the time taking the customary shots of the motorcycles all lined up. Our mate Chris normally accomplices us on his ZZR but this year it was in bits so we had leant him the little Honda Grom. This was tucked into the lineup but was so small it didn’t really spoil the view!
Before long we mounted up and rode out to our next destination, The Wings Aviation Museum which is situated a mile or two behind the village of Handcross and near the hilltop water tower.
We rode straight there and parked up in the elevated carpark adjacent to the metal building which housed the exhibits and made our way to the entrance. It was here that I found out a group discount wasn’t possible because it only applied to groups of fifteen or more and we were twelve. Nevermind! I should say I had run this entrance fee scenario by everyone before we’d set off and everyone had agreed to cough up to tour the place.
And now the fun started when the card machine (for the first time in its life we were told) started to play up! After trying three or four times to process the first payment from Clare I had to step in and pay for everyone with cash. After what seemed (and was) an age, we all got in out of the hot sun to view the contents on display.
For a relatively small barn like structure, the hall contains a lot of artifacts and it wasn’t long before our party dispursed out to the various sections thereabouts to see everything on show. Roughly speaking, the museum is devided into three sections. One deals with WW2 in Europe whilst the second on the far side details the war in the Far East. The rear section is given over to the workshop area where airframe restoration is underway on sections of planes. Centrally is the body of a Dakota and visitors are encouraged to assend a ramp and enter the fuselage to view the cockpit and radio room on the plane. The interior is quite dark and atmospheric with a TV monitor and speaker system rolling through the sights and sounds of the aircraft in action.
I take my hat off to the curators of the museum because the level of detailed explanation displayed per item is very good. Probably the main attractions were the crashed aircraft and engines displayed in their entirety. Bullet holes, bomb damage and wholesale destruction were all about us!
Steve pointed out that some of the decorated flying jackets displayed within back patches were of course the forerunners of the club biker jackets we know today. As we naturally began to filter back towards the door, one of the curators asked if we would be interested in seeing what was going on in the workshops and we all murmured our agreement to this unexpected invitation. We were then led to the rear of the building and through a door into the hallowed ground that is the aircraft refurbishment workshop.
As we listen on our guide detailed aspects of the various rebuilds and explained how aluminium corrosion was dealt with. Everywhere we looked there were shelves piled with all manner of panels and parts all in various states of repair. From metal forming English wheels, to lathes and folding machines, these chaps had managed to cram a multitude of tools into their limited amount of space. To my eye, not a single bit of bench space was left free!
On finishing our tour there we were led back out to the main floor of the museum and told many stories of the planes that surrounded us. One had even taken part in the attack on Pearl Harbour!
Thanking our hosts profusely, we filed out rather later than planned from the rather oppressive atmosphere now pervading the non air conditioned hall. We then said our goodbyes to the chaps that had to go straight home and starting the bikes, rode across the top of Horsham and back to the campsite. We normally aim to arrive back about 1pm but ride through the gate at a time closer to 3pm!
In the field were Alex from Oxfordshire with his Ford Fiesta outfit and Andy Murray who’d brought his before unseen Yanmar/Enfield chopper down in his Chevy C10 pickup. Both these guys were aware we’d be on a run that morning and I can only apologise that it over ran somewhat!
The details of Andy's machine:
1991 Royal Enfield 500 bullet.
1 off full loop hard tail frame using bikes headstock and spine tube.
Original forks ,front wheel, tank ( modified for dresel use with return line ) and gearbox.
Genuine Yanmar l100ae-de ( 406cc ) engine with a vnt turbo from a Vauxhall corsa 1.3 cdti with the vanes locked for optimal performance with the single cylinder engine. plenum chamber from a vintage fire extinguisher and inlet manifold with reed valve block from a 125cc scooter...boost somewhere in the region of 3-5psi .enough to hear the turbo spool up!
Hand shift made from old Britool ratchet and spanner with clutch lever from a BMX - as is front brake , as are the handlebar grips..homage to my BMX riding!
Seat from a skateboard deck.
Rear wheel is original hub laced to a 16" Harley rim.
Gearing raised on engine sprocket 2 teeth and gearbox sprocket 2 teeth.
Kick start only ( with 1950's Royal Enfield bicycle pedal )
Direct lighting from ac stator on engine via Boyer Powerbox. 1950's Lucas MG foglight as headlight , 1970's Honda cb750 exhaust collar as tail light. with 1950's Schwin cruiser tail light lens
All engineering, paint and fabrication by me ( MurrayBuilt Custom Bikes )
The very latest is that Andy has sold his bike on and the new owner has found the hand shift a bit hard to get on with and has decided to remove it somehow.
As the bikes cooled down from the longer than expected runnout everybody settled down for a sunny evening drinking and eating from the BBQs.
As is becoming a bit of an occurrence, Chris again brought along a piece of vintage equipment that needed some attention. Unlike the deblasi Moto Scooter from a few years back, this particular item had no wheels for it was in fact an early Coleman’s petrol driven stove.
Before long, my Honda Grom had been robbed of some petrol by Mouse & Diesel Dave was pumping away on the stoves fuel tank in an effort to achieve a satisfactory ignition. Sadly, all that could be coaxed from the partially rusting suitcase of a cooker was a rather undesirable and sooty, yellow flame. More investigation was required! It wasn’t long before the feeder mechanism was dismantled & cleaned but despite some encouraging improvements we still did not have the required blue flame essential for cooking upon. Next the brass tap & adjustment taps were removed from the tank to show the root cause of the problem. Severe corrosion within the tank and the resulting brown particles had well & truly blocked the pickup pipe & strangled off the fuel supply. Not possessing anything to deal with this in the field we flushed it out of dirt as best we could before re-filling and trying for the umpteenth time to get a useable flame. Miraculously it worked and after a little spluttering it settled down to a lovely, blue colour just right to heat a kettle up on.
Chris was well pleased with everyone’s efforts but was a little less happy at the amount of soot appearing across the bottom of his pots and pans! That’s 5kw of energy for you he says!
Having taken a fair quantity of gas from the Grom I expected it to be low on the fuel gauge but no, Chris had brimmed it on our previous runout & the gauge (on the left of the screen, Chris ;-) still showed full. Nice.
Must say a thank you to those who offered and regularly took away the rubbish bags containing bottles and cans for recycling after each evenings drinking. Understandably, during Covid, we had rather limited services on site and had to take our own waste home with us. This greatly reduced the amount we had to ferry away at the end. Cheers!
And so that was another rally done, all be it under different circumstances yet again. We spent time remembering those dear friends we lost over the last 18 months and their contributions to the scene. They will be greatly missed.
Thank you everybody who came along and made it happen. See you all in 2022!
Additional rally shots: