We can't tell you anything about this bike because Jake Robbins didn't tell us when he sent us the snaps. He's not exactly the world's number one communicator (and he knows it, and he often apologises for that). But he is a great engineer and the man to go to for girder fork expertise. [More...]
At Sump, we're nothing if not an eclectic bunch. Steely Dan. Creedence Clearwater Revival. The Beach Boys. Santana. Arcade Fire. The Stranglers. Pat Metheny. Tom Waits. Kate Bush. Dave Brubeck. ELO. Yes. King Crimson. Pink Floyd. Bob Dylan.
And Dean Martin.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There's always something old, new, odd or highly unlikely blasting out from the Sump office or garage. Lately, we've got it into our heads that Damon Albarn's album Everyday Robots is the greatest thing since petrol was invented. We're playing it almost constantly, and that's why we've put a mention up here on Sump (so we can start to purge it from our heads and dump it into yours).
Everyday Robots is not a new album. It was released in April 2014 and is Albarn's first solo project. Most folk know him better for fronting the indie/Britpop band, Blur, or for his work with Gorillaz, the "virtual band" created by Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett (the co-creator of Tank Girl). But we reckon it's the pinnacle of Albarn's career, which is why we've commissioned a hit man to go and sort him out before he bursts our bubble and writes something bloody awful.
Everyday Robots is a very personal conceptual/experimental album largely reflecting Albarn's upbringing in Leytonstone, East London. But it's also about nature versus technology, and it's about life and love and loss, etc, and it's about 45 minutes long.
Of course, you can analyse and deconstruct these things ad nauseum, but we prefer to just listen and enjoy the riffs, lyrics, instrumentation, rhythms and arrangements as we twiddle our spanners or catch up with the news. Albarn reckons that he never really set out to make a solo album, and he's not sure if he'll make another (and he certainly won't if our hit man's got the right address). The legendary Brian Eno, incidentally, is one of the contributors. The songs were produced by Richard Russell (who also gets some writing credits).
Here's a track listing (our choice of high spots in bold blue text):
Everyday Robots 3:57
Lonely Press Play 3:42
Mr Tembo 3:43
The Selfish Giant 4:47
You and Me 7:05
Hollow Ponds 4:59
Seven High 1:00
Photographs (You Are Taking Now) 4:43
The History of a Cheating Heart 4:00
Heavy Seas of Love
But it's all good. Like Paul McCartney's Band on the Run, or The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds or Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, the whole thing hangs together almost seamlessly.
Everyday Robots was nominated for the 2014 Mercury Music Best Album award and was generally well received, critically speaking. You can call the collected songs mysterious, or evocative, or pensive, or daring, or sensitive, or dreamy, or melancholic or even ethereal. But we just prefer to think of the collection as more excellent stuff from Albarn who's shaping up to be one of the greatest songwriters that this country has in recent history produced. Don't let the crumpled Parka and eighties student hang-dog expression and spiky hairstyle fool you; the man is a songwriting giant. He's headed up there to stand alongside other great British songwriters such as Ray Davies, Pete Townsend, Keith Richard, Mick Jagger, Kate Bush, Elton John and (dare we suggest it?) even John Lennon and David Bowie.
But we confess, we've got an agenda here. We first heard this album by trawling YouTube and have since been listening to it right there, online. And yes, we've been meaning to go out and buy a bloody copy. In fact, we've tried that a few times, on each occasion finding it out of stock. However, we ain't yet given up on crossing Albarn's hand with a little honest silver. But maybe you'll have better luck in your local record shop/Tesco/ASDA or wherever.
"We are everyday robots on our phones
In the process of getting home
Looking like standing stones
Out there on our own
"We're everyday robots in control
Or in the process of being sold
Driving in adjacent cars
'Til you press restart."
And yes, we know that Albarn draws a lot of flak for his political and social views, etc. But we're putting our bigotry aside for 45 minutes and judging this production on its own merits.
This album is a treat and sounds as good now as it did over a year ago when we first pressed "play" and "repeat". So okay, we could download a copy from iTunes or wherever. But we're traditionalists and prefer to have the CD, or (better still) the vinyl in our dirty mitts.
Try Everyday Robots for yourself sometime. Or are you already too old for anything new? Or newish?
These quarter-litre single-cylinder sidevalves were manufactured by Brockhouse Engineering Ltd of Southport, Lancashire. This was the firm that gave the world the 1948 98cc Brockhouse Corgi which was developed from the 98cc WW2 military Excelsior Welbike (as used by British paratroopers at D-Day in 1944).
The above example is on eBay at this moment (1pm, 28th August 2015). The price has ratcheted up to £3,300 with 25 bids driving it. There are two days left until the auction ends. [More...]
Talk to classic bike dealer Bill Little, who's offering the (immediately above) bike for sale, and he'll tell you that he can't confirm that it really is an ex-display team Triumph. But it's hard to imagine why anyone would have created this purely for the hell of it. [More...]
At the moment, it's purely a consultation document. But that often means it's a foregone conclusion that just needs to be formally dressed up and rubber-stamped for legal purposes. Consequently, 91 English and Welsh law courts and tribunal rooms/buildings look set for the chop. Another 31 are expected to merge.
Why? Because the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) say that the courts are being underused, or are now in the wrong place, or need some other form of rationalisation, or are unnecessary due to modern video-linking technology.
Without having the data to hand, and without studying it with an expert eye, it's impossible to say if this really is a sensible and pragmatic move forward, or simply a cynical cost-cutting exercise by a strapped-for-cash government happy to trample over due legal process.
Nothing wrong with saving money, of course. But there are implications, specifically concerning people's access to justice. Presently, the national backlog of court cases is thought to be around 54,000, and that figure is rising.
Here are the closure details:
257 magistrates court rooms (23 per cent of all magistrates court rooms)
21 crown court rooms (4 per cent of all crown court rooms)
139 county court rooms (17 per cent of all county court rooms)
63 tribunal rooms (13 per cent of all tribunal rooms)
The closures, we understand, represent 16 percent of the total number of English and Welsh courts. Naturally, the legal profession is not happy at all about this move. Recent cuts in legal aid has hit the law industry hard and, according to many views, is unravelling hundreds of years of judicial progress.
Many of the threatened closures are in cities and other built-up areas. But many closures are in rural areas. The government's plan is to utilise and commandeer (our word) other civic buildings from town halls to government office space to accommodate the nation's justices, magistrates and sundry arbiters as and when needed.
The consultation document was launched in July 2015 and closes in early October 2015. Members of the legal profession are currently being canvassed for their views.
Can't recall the government asking the general public for feedback. But maybe we were in the wrong place when the town crier did his rounds.
— The Third Man
Let's talk tough first and direct your attention to the 2016 Harley-Davidson limited edition Softail Slim S (image immediately above). What makes it tough is the fact that the bike will be offered with the 1801cc, 110-cubic inch Twin Cam motor to bolster the "dark styling" and "menacing looks that match their muscle".
Why the hell we want our motorcycles to be dark and menacing (and broody and aggressive) is a mystery. It can only be a matter of time before the marketing people get bored with that and switch to stuff like "sly and shifty" or "downright bloody nasty" or even "cute and cuddly". [More...]
She was a ballet dancer before she became Batgirl, and as Batgirl she was the stuff of schoolboy fantasy—and not just schoolboys. But now Yvonne Craig is gone, dead at the age of 78.
Most famously, she appeared as the purple and yellow-clad motorcycle-riding heroine in the US ABC TV series Batman (1966 - 1968), starring Adam West (as Batman) and Burt Ward (as Robin, The Boy Wonder).
The (sexy) Batgirl role saw Craig playing her alter-ego, (prim and innocent) Barbara Gordon, daughter of the long-suffering Commissioner of Gotham Police.
Batgirl's character demanded a feminine response to the show's ne'er-do-wells. Consequently, she wasn't allowed to actually punch anyone. Instead, she was required to high-kick her way through the fight scenes or smash a convenient object over the head of whoever needed suppressing.
For all its obvious campness, the producers of the outrageously sexist show knew exactly what they were doing and were ever keen to instil in the youthful target audience wholesome American moral values. The 120-episode production also boasted the not inconsiderable acting talents of Burgess Meredith (as The Penguin), Cesar Romero (as The Joker) and the inimitable Frank Gorshin (as The Riddler).
Batgirl appeared only in season three to help boost the flagging ratings. But it was a losing hand. The fun had gone from the show and the (Bat) axe was soon to fall.
Craig also enjoyed supporting roles in numerous US TV shows including the original Star Trek; The Wild, Wild West; The Man from Uncle; Perry Mason; Land of the Giants; The Ghost & Mrs Muir; The Six Million Dollar Man; Kojak; and many other shows, most of which were never screened on the British side of the pond.
She also starred with Elvis Presley in It Happened at the World's Fair (1963) and Kissin' Cousins (1964). Later she took a role in In Like Flint (1967), the classic spoof spy movie starring the late James Coburn.
In later life, Yvonne Craig worked as a real estate broker. She also wrote an autobiography and was heavily involved in gender politics.
But what of the motorcycle she rode? Well, there's some debate about that. But it appears that the most reliable evidence suggests it was a humble Yamaha YDS-5E.
Yvonne Craig, who was born in Taylorville, Illinois, married twice and is survived by her second husband. She had no children.
FOOTNOTE: The Batcycle (two images immediately above) was, in June 2015, offered for sale by Historics at Brooklands. The original Batbike (as distinct from the Batcycle) was, we understand, a 1965 Harley-Davidson (probably an XL Sportster). But the TV show producers switched to a 1967 Yamaha 250 YDS5E with a powered sidecar (55cc electric start Yamaha motor). This Batcycle (engine number: DS5-05097) has been in the UK for the past 30 years and was partially restored here. It was estimated at £15,000 - £20,000, but it didn't sell.
It costs £72,500. It pumps out over 200bhp from its 2,163cc V-twin engine. It generates 170 ft-lbs of torque. And it's Confederate's latest exercise in unabashed engineering excess.
Based in Birmingham, Alabama, USA the firm has three basic models in its range; the Hellcat (see Sump August 2014), the Wraith, and the P51 Combat Fighter (image immediately above).
Confederate reckon it will be building just 61 examples of the P51 (it was 65 examples for the Hellcat), and they want a £19,000 deposit before they switch on the CNC machines and carve this motorcycle from "6061-T6 aerospace billet aluminium".
[More on the Confederate P51 Fighter]
Here's a new service from Sump. You send us your email address, and we'll send you news links once a month to help keep you updated with what the hell's going on in our world—and we ain't even gonna charge you for the privilege.
Anytime you feel like it, you can cancel—and we won't send you junk mail or pass on your details to anyone else. What's that you say? Everyone promises that, do they?
Well we understand your natural scepticism. Here at Sump, we're World Class Sceptics. So make up your own mind. Trust us or don't trust us. And if you do trust us, send us an email with the word "NEWS" in the subject line or elsewhere on your missive.
▲ Sign up for our free email news alerts and you'll receive something like this—unless your computer/email software has other ideas, in which case you'll receive a simpler list. Either way, it won't hurt, and it could be very useful.
You'll see our high tech communications crash helmet graphic (image at the top of this news item) splashed about Sump, so you can click on it anytime and anywhere it pops up and make your play.
Alternately, keep your details to yourself and just come back regularly and check what else is happening out there. It could be serious.
SUBSCRIBE TO SUMP
— Del Monte
There were only six motorcycle lots at the Cheffins Sale in Harrogate on Saturday 15th August 2015, and there was nothing at all to get excited about. The upshot is that of those six machines, only three found buyers.
The above 1955 350cc AJS 16MS (Lot 122) was one such bike. The AJS, we hear, had been mostly restored before the the owner's "untimely death". New and refurbished parts include the wheels, tyres, seat, cables and levers. The engine and gearbox, apparently, were also completely rebuilt. And the price? Just £2,000—and that's not an awful lot for this motorcycle (and it's around £1,000 less than you might have paid a year or so ago). So it's good fortune for someone, but it's a shame that someone had to die to make it possible. Such is life (and death), etc.
Meanwhile, a 1958 250cc BSA C15 (image immediately above) also found a new home. It was described as cosmetically average but in good mechanical order. The bike (Lot 121) was supplied with a quantity of spares. It runs and stops and made £1200, and that's peanuts.
With some thoughtful marketing, there might even be a small profit in this machine. Certainly, we would have paid twelve hundred nicker for it (but those indicators, practical though they are, would have to go).
BSA C15s are nice little plodders and great for local runs. Fuel consumption is in anything from 70 - 90mpg. Insurance is practically a give-away. Road tax is history. Maintenance is a doddle. Spares aren't bad. Starting is usually via one or two kicks (the first in the petrol tank to wake 'em up, and thence on the kick starter to get 'em rolling). If you haven't considered one, consider one. Great experiences also occur at sub-55mph.
The third bike of the six was Lot 124, an incomplete BSA B31 (tanks, seat and exhaust missing) which made £2,000.
Beyond that, Cheffins shifted a fair amount of agricultural stuff, which is what they're best at. But on the motorcycle front, it looks like the economy (on this occasion at least) has finally eroded what little market profit there's been of late. Yes, there are still some great deals out there to be had. But you've got to work very hard to make a bob or two in the classic bike game.
— Big End
It's laughing gas, and it's perfectly legal for adults. But as far as Labour-run Lambeth Council in London is concerned, it's not funny. To that end, the local authority is now handing out £100 spot fines if you're caught breathing it in public (and up to a £1,000 fine if you go up before the beak).
We're talking about N20, aka nitrous oxide. In recent years, use of this gas has increased enormously. So much so that it's become the fourth most enjoyed recreational drug in the country. That's the official line, anyway.
Occasional also referred to as "hippy crack", N20 is generally considered a safe substance and is routinely used as an anaesthetic. But take too much, and/or too often and you can expect everything from fainting (due to a drop in a blood pressure), to a giggling fit, to a heart attack possibly leading to death.
So how do you take it? Well, you inhale it via a balloon (or direct from the canister if you're really tough/stupid). You get a pretty rapid hit (like in a handful of seconds), and then you stagger around like an idiot and smile and maybe dribble. Sometimes you fall down, so using it on a bouncy castle or lying on the grass is ideal. Using it in a canoe isn't wise. It wears off after a few minutes.
Alternately, you can use it to make cake icing. Or you can use it to sabotage the ozone layer and thereby slowly murder everyone on the planet. Legally.
▲ Uh huh. That ain't our personal stash of N20 canisters. At Sump, we still ain't finished sniffing the Bostik and Evostik in the garage. But you can buy the nitrous wholesale if that's your thing. It works out at around 30 pence per charge. Or less.
According to the Home Office (don't you just love that cosy name?), 470,000 Brits used N20 between 2013 and 2014. But between 2006 and 2012, only 17 died. That works out at less than three per annum.
Count 'em again. Three.
Now, we don't have any stats to prove our next assumption, but we reckon it's a fair guess that during that period, a significantly larger number of people died choking on a sandwich, and we're certain that a whole lot more died falling off a bicycle.
Yes, you might argue that eating a sandwich or riding a bicycle is a necessary activity for many folk. But then, having a good laugh is fairly necessary too, and in these dark days of economic depression, it's harder and harder to find anything to have a decent naturally-aspirated chortle about. Hence a quick gulp of N20.
The point being? Simply that it could be that Lambeth is (not untypically) overreacting. But the recently introduced Psychoactive Substances Bill (House of Lords, May 28th 2015) will:
make it an offence to produce, supply, offer to supply, possess with intent to supply, import or export psychoactive substances; that is, any substance intended for human consumption that is capable of producing a psychoactive effect. The maximum sentence will be 7 years’ imprisonment
exclude legitimate substances, such as food, alcohol, tobacco, nicotine, caffeine and medical products, from the scope of the offence, as well as controlled drugs, which will continue to be regulated by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971
exempt specific persons from certain offences under the bill, such as healthcare professionals, who may have a legitimate need to use NPS [New Psychoactive Substances] in their work
include provision for civil sanctions – prohibition notices, premises notices, prohibition orders and premises orders (breach of the two orders will be a criminal offence) – to enable the police and local authorities to adopt a graded response to the supply of NPS in appropriate cases
provide powers to stop and search persons, vehicles and vessels, enter and search premises in accordance with a warrant, and to seize and destroy psychoactive substances
Note that coffee and alcohol, the staple tipples of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, are considered "legitimate". And note too that there are "powers to stop and search vehicles" (such as N20 equipped bikes).
But where you buy this stuff? Well (and purely for educational purposes) you can get it just about anywhere from corner shops to newsagents to your local drug den. Just don't confuse it with N02, which is nitrogen dioxide and which will kill you very quickly, albeit painlessly.
And hey, if you are running an N20 kit on your bike, you might want to steer a wide course around Lambeth. UK local authorities have a nasty habit of abusing their powers and pushing them to the nth degree. And anything that involves having a little reckless fun simply isn't British, is it?
— Sam 7
Not all roads are black. That's one of the slogans of the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF) which has been "helping responsible & respectful trail riders access green roads for over 40 years".
The organisation has been recently collecting funds with the aim of taking Durham County Council to court. It seems that in 2013, the north of England authority closed a local road, Hexham Lane, to everyone except pedestrians. This was supposed to be a six month Temporary Order, ostensibly to effect repairs. However, after the expiration of the order, the road remained off limits to everyone else.
Hexham Lane is, or was, officially a Byway Open to All Traffic. That includes green laners; i.e. guys who like to explore the British countryside on motorcycles and four-by-fours rather than on foot, on horseback, or by bicycles. Etc.
The Trail Riders Fellowship, naturally enough, isn't too pleased with the move by Durham County Council, and has so far raised £6,995. The target, however, is £10K—which, when it comes to matters of litigation, is peanuts.
The £6,995 currently in the coffers has been raised by a crowd-funding campaign with ends on 21st August 2015 (about six days hence). Crowd-funding (in case you didn't know) is simply a modern name for rattling a collection tin, or you can think of it as alternative financing schemes as commonly used by entrepreneurs (and the like) looking to launch a new product, scheme or sundry initiative.
The TRF has done well to get almost seven grand. But it needs, or wants, three grand more. So if you feel like being one of the crowd, pull over, shut down your motor for a moment, put your hand in your pocket and do what needs to be done.
One more point; the £10,000 legal action is also intended to show other local authorities that they had better not mess with the TRF (our words, not theirs). The idea is to win this particular court case and set a few new precedents for further action as and when needed.
It's worth mentioning that membership of the TRF currently costs £45.
— Big End
£5,795. That's the UK price for the new Harley-Davidson Street 750 which will go on sale in September 2015. No longer will we be referring to the enduring Sportster as the "entry level Harley". The Street 750 has supplanted that and has been designed to not only provide (relatively) low cost access to the HD brand, but to help see-off rival middleweight cruisers whilst boosting Harley-Davidson's ailing fortunes. It's the first completely new Harley engine since the introduction of the V-Rod platform 14 years ago.
[more on the Harley-Davidson Street 750 launch]
That's the name of the bike. Trouble. And it looks like someone went to an awful lot of trouble to hammer this one together. It's won a few awards, we understand. And we can see why.
Like most bobbers, it doesn't look too practical. But practicality ain't everything, and currently (as of 10th August 2015, 11.20pm) there are 19 bids for this bike, with the price having reached £4,300. [More...]
As we write, these are in production (and not in a Far Eastern sweatshop, but in a good old British sweatshop where all Sump tees are fashioned). They'll be ready in a week or ten days. They're original designs from your favourite webzine and will be priced at £19.99 plus P&P.
The Triumph 865 design (above) features the new slogan: LOOK BACK, MOVE AHEAD—and we think that's just about a perfect tag-line for a company such as Triumph that draws endlessly on its rich heritage, yet keeps pushing forward with fantastic bikes at compelling prices (and no, we ain't been paid a penny to say that—but as ever, we're always receptive to bribery and corruption if the price is right).
Meanwhile, the Triumph 1050 design (below) features the slogan: SET YOURSELF THREE—and that's something that won't need explaining to anyone with a 1050 trumpet triple between their legs.
Both T-shirts will be available in white on black only. Both will be quality silk-screened. The sizes will be S, M, L, XL AND XXL. And if you want to reserve one of these flashy little numbers, drop us an email and we'll stick one (or more) aside and will notify you as soon as the shirts are in. And that means we don't want to see your money yet (and you won't get a free Michael Parkinson pen for "merely enquiring").
The pre-production samples look very good, incidentally. We're wearing them now and are rolling around in the dirt and fighting with each other, and so far the tees are up to our usual high quality.
There was a time, not so very long ago, when the numbers 650 and 750 were the most evocative and most desirable for the average British biker. But to anyone riding "new" Triumph Bonnevilles, or Triumph Speed Triples, or any of the other Hinckley bikes powered by the now well-established twin and triple cylinder engines, there are new numbers to stick on the board.
And those numbers are 865 and 1050.
Meanwhile, if you want to see what else we've got on offer, you can check our main Sump T-shirt page and make a selection. And if you want to combine that purchase with one of our new 865 and 1050 shirts, let us know and we'll do what we can to mitigate postage costs and save you a few bob.
The new tees are great shirts and will make a serious impact when you strut around at your local bike meet in your pegged jeans and Brando jacket showing the world what it ought to be riding.
— Big End
You can think of him as either Arthur Daley or Flash Harry, because both of these fictional characters were endearingly brought to life by actor George Cole who has died aged 90.
Flash Harry came first. This was the loveable spiv who first appeared in the (now politically incorrect) movie The Belles of St Trinian (1954). He reprised that role in five more "St Trinians" films, the last of which was released in 1961.
Eighteen years later (in 1979), George Cole became Arthur Daley, another kind of spiv, and appeared alongside ex-The Sweeney actor Dennis Waterman in the TV series Minder which ran until 1991.
▲ A very youthful George Cole in the British film Cottage to Let (1941). Leslie Banks, Alistair Sim and John Mills also star. This Gainsborough picture featured Nazi spies, sea planes, an eccentric inventor and a pretty daughter. What more do you want?
But Cole's career actually began in 1941 when he appeared with established actors Leslie Banks and Alistair Sim in the film Cottage to Let, a treacly British melodrama that was also released under the dubious title Bombsight Stolen (presumably titled as such for overseas audiences who may or may not know what a cottage is, but were probably all spies and would therefore know all about stealing British prototype bombsights)
The Leslie Banks connection is incidental. But the Alistair Sim connection is very significant because Alistair Sim and wife, Naomi Plaskitt, unofficially adopted George Cole when he was just a young man. One of many Sim/Plaskitt protégés, George Cole lived with Sim and wife for many years and eventually married and bought a house nearby. They remained lifelong friends (Sim died in 1976, Plaskitt in 1999).
▲ George Cole as Flash Harry (left), with Alistair Sim (as Ms Millicent Fritton & Clarence Fritton) in The Belles of St Trinians (1954). You can think of Flash Harry as a prototype Arthur Daley.
Between 1952 and 1967, George Cole found fame as David Bliss in the radio series Life of Bliss. During the latter part of this period, he turned to theatre and took roles in Banana Ridge, The Philanthropist and Too Good to be True. He also appeared in the musicals Front Page (1981), The Pirates of Penzance (1982) and Peter Pan (1987).
But it was the aforementioned TV series, Minder, that put Cole in the minds of modern audiences. Famously, he played the spivvy used car dealer and fly-by-night-lock-up-garage-merchant Arthur Daley enjoying much the same broad-brush role that made David Jason famous in Only Fools and Horses which first hit British television screens in 1981. Except that David Jason's character (Derek Trotter) was charming, whereas George Cole's Arthur Daley was just a bastard.
▲ If you were around in 1970s Britain, you'll well remember the TV series, Minder. Dennis Waterman (left) played George Cole's bodyguard and general dogsbody. This comedy-drama series was produced by the redoubtable Verity Lambert (1935 - 2007) who gave us Dr Who, Budgie, The Naked Civil Servant, and Jonathan Creek.
But Arthur Daley suited Cole well. He had exactly the correct shifty look, the convincingly cynical tone of voice, and a body language that any latter day Shylock would be proud to be associated with.
In fact, the Arthur Daley stereotype became so well established that George Cole was largely professionally trapped by it, typecast as an incorrigible rogue in his trademark sheepskin coat and pork pie hat.
Post Minder, Cole found steady work appearing mostly in TV dramas and adverts (more than a few of which involved used cars). But he was said to be happy with his lot and was "glad to be in work" in a career that spanned 70 years.
He came a long way from his roots in Tooting, South London and suffered a fairly deprived early life having been adopted as a baby by George and Florence Cole and raised in a poor working class district with limited opportunity to break out.
Nevertheless, when opportunity did come his way (in the shape of a theatre role) George Cole seized it and abandoned hopes of joining the merchant navy in favour of treading the fabled boards. Notable films that Cole appeared in include:
The Happiest Days of Your Life (1950)
An Inspector Calls (1954)
Too Many Crooks (1959)
The Green Man (1956)
The Sweeney (1976)
Blott on the Landscape (TV, 1985)
Road Rage (2015)
He was appointed OBE in 1992, was twice married, fathered four children, and published his autobiography in 2013, (The World is my Lobster).
The event takes place this coming weekend (Friday 7th - Sunday 9th August 2015), and naturally enough it all goes down at Donington Park, Castle Donington, Derbyshire.
Sammy Miller, MBE, is noted for being a Grand Prix podium finisher during the late 1950s riding 125cc and 250cc racers. He also acquitted himself exceptionally well in trials by winning the British Trials Championship 11 times; he took two European Championships; and he notched up 1,300 wins during his riding career.
In retirement, Miller (pictured immediately above) is famous for creating the Sammy Miller Museum in New Milton, Hampshire which boasts a collection of 300-plus machines including some rare exotica.
If you like Miller and his style, look for him at Donington where he'll be showing off a 250cc four-cylinder Moto Villa two stroke, a 125cc Suzuki RS67, and a 1960s BMW Rennsport.
Beyond that, there's a comprehensive programme worked out for this event. So expect around 500 classic bikes on display, numerous parades, and 40 classic races—with celebrity attendance from Freddie Spencer, Ron Haslam, Niall Mackenzie, Jim Redman, and Steve Parrish.
Naturally, there will be trade stands, food and drink outlets, and all the usual facilities. Want more info? Follow the link below.
— The Third Man
If you're riding around on a Harley-Davidson Bagger, such as the 2015 Street Glide pictured immediately above, you might want to visit your local dealer and have the panniers/bags checked out.
Apparently, there's some kind of problem with the "mounting receptacles" which needs addressing poste haste. There are too many models that are affected, but the fix is free of charge, so it makes sense to have a HD technician do whatever he needs to do.
— Girl Happy
The organisers have switched the venue yet again for this established event, but if you haven't attended this boot sale, and if you're interested in classic ephemera from the 1930s through to the 1960s, it's probably worth an hour or two of your precious time. It happens on the 3rd and 4th of October 2015.
The event started on the Thames South Bank (Central London), migrated to the Olympic Park in East London, returned to the South Bank, and has now shifted to Lewis Cubitt Square which is a few hundred yards north of Kings Cross Railway Station, London.
As with all events, this one attracts the usual suspects, so expect a double decker bus disco, classic & vintage trade stalls, a handful of classic bikes, half a dozen or so Yankee cars, various classic trucks and vans, plenty of classic British cars, trendy food stands, and hundreds of people "dressing the part".
Given its location, the event will spill over into neighbouring streets, so there's likely to be something of a carnival atmosphere. We've attended it a couple of time and it was pretty good. Check our Classic Boot Sale link.
But who the hell was Lewis Cubitt, anyway? Well he was an English civil engineer born in 1799 and died in 1883 (image immediately above, left). During his 80-odd years, he designed bridges, housing estates, Kings Cross Railway Station and the adjacent (and recently refurbished) Great Northern Hotel.
He was also the younger brother of Thomas Cubitt, master builder to the 19th century wealthy masses. The East London district of Cubitt Town was named after William Cubitt, father of Lewis and Thomas and one time Lord Mayor of London.
But you don't need to know all this to enjoy the event. Just go.
— Del Monte
Unless you're asleep or dead, what you're looking at (image immediately above) is a 1967 heavily reworked 199cc T20 Tiger Cub once owned and raced by AMA Grand National Champion, Gary Nixon. During his long career, Nixon took 19 AMA National victories and notched up over 150 National finishes.
He died at age 70 on August 5th 2011. His bikes have since been popping up here and there at various US sales, and unsurprisingly the demand is still high.
Now pumping 250 cubic centimetres, this 4-speed Triumph single (Lot U58) was sold on July 16th 2012 (no price available), and has just been re-sold at Mecum Auction's Harrisburg (Pennsylvania) Sale on 2nd August 2015. It fetched $31, 000—which must make it one of the most expensive Tiger Cubs on the planet, and certainly one of the most desirable.
Note too that another 250cc Triumph (not the Cub above), also sold recently, this one at Las Vegas in 2015. The hammer came down at $38,250. And before you scoff at the notion of a lowly Triumph Tiger Cub providing rapid competition transport for racers, these bikes (in modified form) have seen speeds of close to 150mph.
So how generally successful was the July Harrisburg auction? Well, we counted 160 motorcycles (as distinct from motorcycle lots, which accounted for just another half dozen or so items) and just 56 bikes were sold, and that doesn't strike us as very impressive. Nevertheless, Mecum is a huge and sophisticated firm that generally shifts a lot of steel, aluminium and rubber (most of it on four wheels). So we ain't drawing any conclusions. After all, what counts as good Stateside ain't necessarily the same as what counts as good on this side of the pond.
The top selling bike at Harrisburg was Lot U57, a 1948 Vincent Rapide which fetched a modest $40,000.
The next highest selling bike was Lot U57; a 1953 80-cubic inch (1340cc) Indian Chief that sold for $39,000.
But the motorcycle that caught our fancy was a 1926 74-cubic inch (1200cc), 3-speed Indian Chief (images immediately above). This bike sold for $32,000. As much as we love British iron, we've got a thing about Yankee machines from the mid-1920s through the 1930s, and this big Indian nicely fits our peculiar requirements.
Lastly, check out the story immediately below for details on the upcoming Mecum Sale at Monterey, California.
— Big End
Yes, we know it's a bleedin' obvious choice, but we lurve the above 1913 Indian board track racer. What makes this particular native American so special is the fact that it features an 8-valve top end. No brakes. No mudguards. And no other poofy bits anywhere. All you've got is a 61-cubic inch V-twin lump, a saddle, a tank, a pair of handlebars, a couple of hoops and a tubular steel frame to keep 'em apart.
It's Lot T130.1, and it's been restored (bastards). It comes from the J T Stewart Collection (whoever he was/is) of Phoenix, Arizona. And it doesn't look like an estimate has been set.
The sale kicks off on Thursday August 13th 2015. Check below for some other lots that caught our attention.
▲ 1909 Excelsior F-head single—and no, F-head doesn't mean what some of you Sumpsters probably think it means (it's all to do with the valve configuration). Excelsior was founded in 1908 and folded in 1931. But at one time, both Harley-Davidson and Indian were acutely aware of this firm and watched it closely as a serious contender for domination of the USA motorcycle market. This is Lot T150.1. There are no further details yet.
▲ 1929 BMW R62. This horizontally-opposed twin was the first seven-fifty from the world famous Bavarians. It's Lot 196, and there are no further details yet from Mecum. But we can tell you that the R62 appeared in 1928. It was soon eclipsed (in many eyes) by the OHV R63. But we prefer this shaft-driven flathead for its simple, rugged, softly-chuffing character. It's a 3-speeder, by the way, with leaf spring trailing-link front suspension.
— The Third Man
The Grand Opening happened on 12th July 2015 following a 12,000 motorcycle ride that left London, England on 25th April 2015. The man leading the squadron of two-wheeled voyagers and well-wishers was Kevin Sanders who rode a Triumph Explorer all the way east down the fabled Silk Road. [More...]
It ain't often that we have worthy thoughts about London's Metropolitan Police (MPS). Over the years we've had the odd run-in with them (including a wholly unjustified arrest), and in other respects they haven't always acquitted themselves very well.
Nevertheless, the bastards do a pretty rotten job in a tricky-to-police city, and we doubt there's a better police force anywhere on the planet (although there are no doubt one or two forces which are equally good).
But tonight we're looking at the MPS in a slightly more kindly light having been tipped off about their recent fairly high-profile campaign to deter, detect and arrest motorcycle thieves. To that end, the force is said to have been on a fresh prowl in the London boroughs that suffer most from bike theft. Those boroughs include Tower Hamlets, Camden, Westminster, Islington, Lambeth, Camberwell, Hammersmith and Kensington (not necessarily in that order).
The rozzers have apparently been handing out everything from general theft prevention advice to free disc locks and general locks to discount Datatag systems—and, possibly, a few good beatings behind a police van in a quiet side street as and when they caught a likely suspect.
An ounce of prevention, it's said, is worth a pound of cure, and what with the general cuts in UK policing budgets coupled with the rising demands placed upon the boys in blue (i.e. the usual immigrant gangs on crime waves and Islamic terrorism, etc) the MPS desperately needs to further rationalise its budget and save a lot of pounds.
As ever, it's mostly smaller bikes and scooters that are getting lifted by the local tea-leaves. But pretty much everything is at risk. Chances are that there weren't too many officers directly on the case (probably just a handful, and for just a five day binge between 13th and 18th July 2015). But we'll take whatever we can get.
So for one night only, we won't have a bad word said about our dubious friends in the Met. But tomorrow, of course, all bets are off and we'll probably hate 'em all again as usual.
Meanwhile, here's a timely reminder to check your own motorcycle security. When it's gone, it's usually gone for good. Keep that in mind if you will.
— Big End