The 2013 International Diesel Motorcycle Rally, Hamm.
Right from the start, the 2013 Hamm Diesel 'Treff' at Brauhof Wilhaus was more about the men than the machines. There wasn't much new in the way of motorcycles to drool over but I think, instead, we witnessed a kind of coming together of everyone on a more personal note. There were plenty of firm handshakes, back-slapping and warm words (despite the language barriers) as the scene diehards came together under leaden skys to drink the beer and talk bikes.
The Oldimo diesel combination was a firm favourite at Hamm this year.
To those present, the adverse weather conditions were just a minor obstical to overcome compared to (for instance) building some pretty complex motorcycles! Saying that, the weather was pretty good Friday and Sunday and we only had to put up with the rain midday on Saturday, the worst of which fell while some of the guys were out on the ride out to the local dam.
Ian rides in from the U.K., only the third bike at Hamm from Britain this year.
My brother and I arrived Thursday afternoon having set off from England on Tuesday. We had hit and ridden through bands of rain on both days but had escaped a real drenching. Saying that, my leggings had leaked through the side zip after we hit near torrential rain on the main drag out of Mons. Conditions were treacherous to say the least so we quickly reverted to the smaller roads.
Jeff now owns the Ruggerfield so for the first time we were both able to make the trip out on diesel fueled motorcycles. I'd previously ridden the Enfield to Hamm on three occasions but now ride the more capable Turbo Tiger, probably the best Motorway Mauler in its class. But it's a machine not very well suited to tagging along with the Enfield on the small back roads into Hamm.
Mike's motorcycle looking as beautiful as ever.
On arrival we had the usual debate about where to pitch the tents and despite the smell, chose to set up next to the pigs. We then saw Andreas, he of the Smart BMW, and he told us of his recent electric motorcycle project and how the American supplied motor had exploded on him. He and project partner Heiko are seeking a replacement as I write. He also has a slow puncture to deal at this very moment with and informs me he will have to resort to fitting a tube to get him home as nobody will plug a bike tyre in Germany.
Soon after we'd set up our tents we saw our old friend Helmut and then engaged Mr Wooli on the subject of Enfield clutch cables and levers. Running modified bikes, as we do, means that buying spares for even the simplest part is never easy.
The Centarus makes a welcome appearance.
Before long we saw the most welcome sight of all - Tom. He, Horst and Michaele had arrived. Tom had been absent last year due to a health scare but now appeared fighting fit. He greeted me with an embrace and explained in glutteral German about his operation. I understood enough to know that he was now playing a waiting game and from that guessed he'd probably been told to take it easy.
But I could clearly see that this is a man who had been doing no such thing as he had just been given a Daihatsu 3 cylinder engine recently and had swapped it into his bike.
Followers of these Hamm write ups will be familiar with his blue Hatz NSU outfit and it is this combination that has been the recipient of the new engine. Tom showed me his work and I got the impression he still had things to do but he wasted no time in firing it up and roaring off up the roadway by way of a demonstration.
It was good to see Tom was ignoring Doctors orders to take it easy. The NSU gets a Daihatsu engine!
Others out from the U.K. were Ian on his Sommer Hatz and Dan on his Yamaha. Ian informed us that his ride over this year was that much more comfortable because of his new gel seat. He had ridden over specifically to see the bike's builder Jochen as he had brought along yet another item to attach to the Brit's machine.
Jochen informs us that his business is going from strength to strength and that he is due to move to larger premises in the South of the country in 2015.
The Sommer motorcycles are available in some lovely colours now.
This would also entail migrating stock lists onto computers to bring things on a little and I get the impression from his wry smile that he is a man happier playing with motorcycles rather than his PC. Looking round the rally field we could easily see evidence of Jochen's continuing success as many of the machines hereabouts are from his stable. But look closely and you will see that although they resemble the Enfield of old, they are in fact built around the new frame design used only over the last few years by Jochen.
Many riders tell me that they purchase these machines simply because they would like to continue motorcycling but at a slower, more economical pace.
The slower beat of the big Diesel engines can be just the thing to lower the pulse rate and help riders escape from fast pace of modern life. I had plenty of time to contemplate such things travelling, as I did, over with the Ruggerfield. And, with the more simplistic machines, there is also the added smugness associated with riding a machine quite capable of running on a variety of different fuel oils.
We saw one Track T800 in from the Netherlands this year.
There has never been any WiFi connectivity at Brauhof Wilshaus which makes sharing rally news and photographs somewhat difficult. I'd mentioned (mumbled in jest more like) that coming to Germany was like coming back to the Dark Ages, but this year, I was at least able to get myself a 3G signal to keep our Facebook fans happy!
It's a pleasant surprise to again bump into Angelus who I last saw at the U.K. War & Peace Revival show where he kindly let me have a go on his military styled diesel motorcycle. His motorcycle started life as a 1979 BMW R45 before having a Lombardini 15LD500 motor fitted. Now it will comfortably cruise at 100kmh saving a lot of money along the way. A true individual, as many here are, Angelus (or Diesel as he is more commonly called), immediately shows me some pictures on his camera of a red Matchless diesel bike that he spotted on the U.K.'s Isle of Wight recently. He explained that he chanced upon the bike near a supermarket and enquiried within as to who owned it only to return to find it gone!
I recognise it immediately as belonging to Tony Dymott who attended our rally and Angelus looks frustrated that he missed meeting Tony by seconds.
I can't help but notice the very same camera also contains a few shots of the Military KLR that was also present at that U.K. show. Over the course of this years diesel Treffen or meeting I am asked by a few people about how many of these were actually made and warehoused by the U.S. government. Rumours persist of anything from 200 to 400 bikes in storage and I think there would be plenty of interested if there were ever to be a mass sell off of stock.
Recently in the U.K. and perhaps headed for South America in the future? The diesel motorcycle built by Angelus.
As some may know, rally organiser Rafael has been writing a book describing all the developments and history of the scene. The publisher had come along to this years rally with camera gear and set up a makeshift studio in one of Willy's out houses. Those of us featured in the book were asked to ride our bikes out from the camping field and into the space before the bar where we were lined up ready to wait our turn before the lense.
Many of the motorcycles on site were photographed for Rafael's new book.
I rode the Turbo Tiger over to await its turn in the cobblestoned courtyard which was reverberating to the sound of a multitude of diesel engines, all seemingly impatient to get on with it and be away from such confines.
It was at this point that I suddenly realised my bike was that much dirtier than most of the German machines thereabouts, so I quickly secured a handful of serviettes and set about wiping layers of traffic grime from the bike.
Half an hour later and I was being directed and posed against a muddy brown looking backdrop as the camera flashed away. God only knows what I look like having taken more time over the bikes appearance than my own!
A couple of Sommer diesel motorcycles just stripped of luggage by the looks of it.
Jeff also lined up the Ruggerfield only to be told that it did not feature in the book and that no shots were required. This was because there had been a short series of German bikes called the Ruggefield (minus the R) produced at one time. I wasn't quite sure why this necessitated the non-inclusion of the Brit bike but hey ho. When Jeff later started it up to return to the camping field I swear the old bike sounded a little louder than usual.
The forth time at Hamm for the Ruggerfield. And one mechanic told me it belonged in a museum! Never!
Brauhof Wilshaus hadn't changed much from the previous year. The old horse stable previously decked out with straw for sleeping in had been cleared out and carpeted. Some were making use of this improved facility and I noticed that across the way, the additional shower unit had changed colour to a more friendly green. This unit was better positioned for rally goers in the main field to use and judging by the state of the thing at meeting's end, it certainly saw some footfall!
On first arriving we had attempted to shower using this container but Jeff had not been able to get any hot water. I too had had little success on opening a sink tap only for it to gurgle loudly and seconds later explode an amount of water all over my front.
We also noticed that the seated section of the courtyard, which has always been undercover, now had a new, tiled roof much better for keeping the rain out. Good job too!
We needed this new roof come Saturday when the heavens opened just after midday.
On the other side of the courtyard is another roofed seating area which is more elevated. This was occupied for the most part by locals dressed as Scotsmen. I've mentioned the fact that a version of the Highland games is held on this site before and as with previous years, preparations were afoot. I've never attended the real thing but assume this German event is a close facsimile of the actual games. There was plenty of drinking and shouting going on and on the one occasion that they did venture away from the bar and into the field, large and heavy things were tossed about with carefree abandon.
As always, there was some pretty exotic liqour floating about. This stuff was pretty lethal...!
I always look forward to the breakfasts at Hamm as the coffee is great, served as it is along with warm bread rolls, scrambled egg, ham and cheese slices. I noticed some of the more cost conscious amongst us forego this first meal of the day in the bar in favour of their own food. While I commend their frugality, I can't help but think they are missing out on a part of the meeting that brings all the bikers together just that little bit more.
Interesting paint job! I know captured motorcycle changed sides but I don't think we had a diesel Enfield back then!
This years rally T-shirts were even cheaper than last year at 5 Euro each. They came in multiple colours and were soon mostly sold, the most popular colour, I'm told, was dark blue. I plumbed for a dark green one myself and purchased fellow Brit Russ (who couldn't make it) a nice orange one, to match his beard.
The T-shirts were multi-coloured this year. Blue was popular, red was not so.
Always interesting to see the motorcyclists present who are experimenting with veggie oil and bio-diesel as fuel. More often than not their machines show signs of this with the fuel oil seemingly oozing from every conceivable seal. Angelus tells me that normal diesel contains an additive specially formulated to expand gaskets and stop them leaking whereas food oils, of course, do not. One rider tells me his Hatz bike has a very hard to get at return pipe from its injector and that it is a constant source of irritation to him that it leaks when using this natural oil as fuel, despite the fact that he pre-warms it on his exhaust.
Other motorcycles (such as the Diesel Blitz below) were feeding their veggie or bio-diesel in through fuel filters with the built in heater elements. There were plenty of relays situated on the left side, presumably to handle the switching over of the fuel sorce.
The Diesel Blitz, a motorcycle clearly built to run on a variety of fuels - see the extra tank on the back.
It's always good to catch up on various projects the guys at Hamm are working on. Henk showed me shots of his machine captured on a camera with 3D capability and I was struck the vividness of the images, the motorcycle jumping out at me! It was seemingly there, before my very eyes!
Camping next to us was Alfred who'd ridden in from the far side of Austria covering about 1000km to get here. He'd ended up with two diesel motorcycles after placing an order for a Sommer and then being tempted by another machine he'd seen advertised. He showed us all his innovative furniture arrangement after unfolding some wood and fitting it to his rear number or licence plate. Very natty (quirky good) we might say!
Jeff larks about with Alfred. Checkout his table!
I later spoke with the owner of a blue Triumph Tiger similar to my own, only this machine had been fitted with a Lombardini triple instead of Smart engine like my own. The conversation got onto suspension and he told me that he had inserts fitted from the top of the front forks to compress the springs and firm up his ride. This is something I will have to look into doing in future I think.
We also saw Karl who brought along one of the best turned out motorcycles of the event, the K series BMW fitted with a 1.4L three cyclinder Lupo engine. I'm told this had a cast iron head and is the same as is fitted to the Polo. The 1.2L aluminium version is that much harder to source, there not being too many in existence. Karl has no English but can be contacted via organiser Rafael if questions are forthcoming about his bike build. I am told that so popular is his machine that they are seriously considering casting more of the mating part that joins the engine, clutch and gearbox sections. I did actually measure the length of this centre section and I don't think he'll mind if I say I made it 129mm (approx).
Karl's Lupo engined K series BMW. There has been much interest from others in copying this machine.
My wanderings about the site on Saturday were continually punctuated by the sound of a machine we have seen before at Wilshaus. The small cycle mounted Lohmann engine with variable compression was again with us (on Willy's invitation) and I give top marks to the guy for bringing it along and riding about continually on it in the pouring rain that day. Only once did I hear the engine note change on seeing this chap ride past. It went from a two stroke kind of empty sounding wallow to something akin to a model aircraft engine. Perhaps not the most efficient mode of transport out there but interesting to see.
The Lohmann worked better if it was pre-heated to a degree.
With so many motorcycles rolling in from all over Germany & beyond its not surprising that one or two should suffer breakages of one kind or another. I'm sure the owners won't thank me for documenting such things but I do it for the greater good in that it may help others along the way. In my defence I will state, that we too, suffered on the German roads, breaking a chain and replacing a worn relay on the ride home.
Many miles and bumpy roads took their toll on some of the machines. But it could all be fixed!
Two, three wheeled 'motorcycles' fell under the welding torch that I saw. A crack in the long central chassis post on one of the Ford based Trikes was mended after the machine was tipped unceromiously up to allow access on the corner of Willy's courtyard.
And I also saw Tom and friend helping re-weld a fixing onto an exhaust pipe which belonged to the multicoloured Kipper engined sidecar outfit. This is a machine that does many miles round Europe and has visited the U.K. Rally on more than one occasion. On the subject of the U.K. Rally I am picking up a vibe that more and more would like a return to our original venue so all I can say on that is watch this space. I also met Bert who had been to the Big Knock this year and he only just made Hamm after having an engine mounting bracket replaced before the trip over from the Netherlands. It had apparently cracked at a right angle and would have benefitted from having a radius on the corner in question.
An exhaust gets welded up in the courtyard at Brauhof Wilshaus.
Before we know it Saturday night is upon us and the beer is flowing. Dunkel, Wiess or Hella, it's all brewed here on the premises and gives a very homely feel to the old place. I see my brother gearing up for the night ahead by counting his loose change which is spread out before him on a table. Willy breezes by and accuses him of 'picking through his money like a chicken pecking at its corn'. The smokers are outside braving the elements while I dine with Teun inside.
Teun's Zeus lines up to have it's picture taken. This Peugeot engine suffered from a very rare 'soft valve' weeks earlier but was fixed in time.
I have the Flamekutchen, a kind of minimalist pizza dish which is a favourite of mine. We have sporadic communications via the phone with regulars who can't make it this year and in particular Ola, who had his bike crushed by the Spanish Police. He tells us he is aiming to build a more powerful bike with two seats soon and we wish him well with this project. Later, while we move seats, (and mess up the barman's billing system), I see my brother and regular Dave coming in from the outside and chatting with some of the French guys who have been to many a rally. Later that night I'm told they were singing songs together but I'd long crashed out in my tent by then. Ian tells me my brother's snoring reached new heights during the wee hours but thankfully I was blissfully unaware of his accomplishments in this department.
The beers, Hella, Wiess and Dunkel are brewed on the premises at Brauhof Wilshaus and the food all fresh.
As mentioned earlier, the weather on Sunday was much improved and we, along with most others, took the opportunity to pack up the tents dry and say our goodbyes. Another rally over and another year gone by.
The last guy to leave the site was Englishman Ian who informs us that he stayed on until Monday. He has a great love of the local schnitzel and nobody can deny him his feed!
What follows are a few more shots from the Hamm event.
The Diesel Wiesel is a popular diesel motorcycle. Here we see a transpartent primary cover.
Nice wood-like paint job on a Diesel wiesel motorcycle.
The Ford Trikes, of which this is one. We've not seen them for a few years. It was good to see them back though.
My Tiger comes in for some attention for the book shoot.
One of Heiko's Tigers arrives.
A big Hatz diesel twin sweeps in carrying a young lady along for the ride. Yes, it's deliberately blury - they were going quite fast!
The rally was really quite busy on Saturday, despite the bursts of rain we had. My Tiger in the foreground.
Many thanks to the organisers for putting on the event again and we hope to see you all again next year!
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