▲ 1949 698cc Velocette V-twin as conceived and built by top British motorcycle creator, Allen Millyard. It took just two to three months to work this up from a vague idea to a test-ready concept. It's built from bits of this and lumps of that, but the engineering alchemy has turned it all into gold.
Allen Millyard Velocette V-twin
698cc | Hand built | 1949 | Flying Millyard | 2,300cc V12 Kawasaki | Millyard Viper V10
Berkshire-based bike builder notches up another one
One of a kind Velocette to display at 2019 Stafford Show
If you've been anywhere in or around the British classic bike scene in recent years, you've probably stumbled across numerous examples of Allen Millyard's amazing handiwork. He's a serial bike builder and engine fabricator, and he's got a string of convictions to his name.
Among his creations is a 2,300cc V12 Kawasaki, built by grafting two KZ1300 water-cooled lumps onto a common crankcase. He built a six cylinder RC374 replica by re-imagining two Yamaha FZ250R engines. He built a 4,804cc V-twin from a nine-cylinder Pratt & Whitney Wasp radial engine (The Flying Millyard). He built the Millyard Viper V10 (8-litre Dodge engine). He built a five cylinder 883 KH Kawasaki two-stroke (actually we think he's built a few of those). He built a 1,600cc V8 Kawasaki. And he's cobbled together all kinds of other stuff. Evidently, he just can't help himself.
Well now the appropriately named Mr Millyard has created a 698cc V-twin Velocette which is something the original company never did. He started the project, we hear, last October 2018, and it was chuffing and banging by Christmas that same year. Banging? Well, ticking like a time bomb.
As with all his work, it's meticulous and immaculate, his bikes always looking like they just rolled out of the experimental departments of the established bike companies—as opposed to looking like they rolled out of, say, a garden shed. And that's pretty much where these bikes get built. In a shed, in a garden, albeit a very well-equipped shed.
Millyard's Velo looks and sounds like a very mellow fellow. Notionally a 1949 model, this motorcycle chugs straight out of the 1930s and into the modern world. Millyard built the crankcases from scratch. That means designing them (and probably redesigning them once or twice), making patterns, having the patterns cast, machining them to tolerance, fettling the finished cases as necessary, and then getting the crank to spin exactly as it should with the right amount of clearance, etc, etc. We're talking about scavenge issues too, plus crankcase pressure problems, crankcase porosity checks, plus any number of things that go way over our lowbrow heads.
We don't have much detail of the innards (and we'd be very interested to hear that detail). But we can tell you that the front cylinder, head and rocker box came from a broken Velocette that had been knocking around the workshop, while the rear was bought at an autojumble. Things became a little more complicated when Millyard spun that cylinder through 180-degrees in order to feed both pots through a single Amal carburettor. As anticipated, that in turn brought the pushrods on the wrong side: i.e. the left side. So Allen "simply" reversed the rocker box, thereby bringing the pushrods round to the right side again. Neat. Practical. Efficient. Alpha Bearings extended the crankpin according to Millyard's specifications.
He also made the fuel tank, the header pipes, the fishtail silencer set up, and no doubt fabricated the timing gear arrangement. The danger now is that because we're all so used to seeing this kind of work, we're starting to take it for granted. And that, naturally, belies the engineering genius behind this kind of fabrication.
If you want to see the bike up close, you'll need to mosey along the Stafford Classic Bike Show, ST18 0BD on 27th & 28th April 2019. And if you miss that, the Velo will be on display at the Prescott Bike Festival, on 16th June 2019.
Overall, this is clearly a fantastic project successfully brought to fruition. To nitpick, we might highlight the front header pipe which, we feel, has an over-sharp bend at the bottom, and we might draw attention to the finish on the timing chest and rocker boxes that looks ... well, just a little too polished given the period reflected by this motorcycle.
But when faced with superlative work such as this, it's probably best to just keep our mouths shut and be satisfied with what we've got here.
It's Allen's project. It's done. It's dusted. Nuff said.
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Copyright Sump Publishing 2019