Feature Image: Isle of Man Classic T.T. Junior Race. Bill Swallow rounds The Bungalow during practice. Photo Credit: Russell Lee/Sport-pics. Written by Nick Thomson, November 2014.
I DELIVERED ELDEE-2’s new aluminium crate to Lucas Palmer at Auckland Airport with assistance from Ken Macintosh a few weeks before the Manx. At 280 kg, it was packed with all the tools and spares we could think of including the original Eldee 2 motor. It took 36 hours to get to the U.K. where it was received by Andy Farrow who kindly delivered it to a depot in Somerset where Velocette Owners Club member Will Wells picked it up.
Two weeks before the Manx Classic T.T., Phil Price and I followed via Shanghai to Heathrow, where Will and our friend from many years before Pat Clancy were there to meet us. Just 10 minutes before we came through arrivals, Pat was astounded to see a bloke wearing an Eldee 2 T-shirt come through—it turned out to be Phil’s brother-in-law, returning from New Zealand! You can imagine Pat was pretty excited by the time we appeared.
We drove down to Will’s place in Somerset, and loaded the crate into Pat’s Transit van—just half an inch clearance! Then onto Pat’s house in Cornwall, arriving after midnight. We spent a delightful few days there, going over the Eldee and making some last-minute mods, including lengthening the inlet port, and in particular, replacing the followers with new roller-type and cams to match which I had brought with me. This was to alleviate wear which I was concerned about. Pat took the Eldee for a gallop on a few quiet local roads, in order to check the mixture on the air-fuel meter, with inconclusive results. But the bike sounded magnificent. So with the Eldee and Pat’s Venom Clubman in his van, we set off for Liverpool, with Will riding his Venom. Arriving in good time, (though Will’s bike with a puncture) we caught up with Tony Rodick from Nelson, another of Pat’s mates, who joined our party on the Ferry.
Friday 22 August
Arriving in Douglas after midnight, we were met by local V.O.C. members Billy and Jim who had kindly let their beachfront cottage in Peel to us for the duration. And they had even bought a trailer for Will’s stricken bike! We couldn’t been luckier with the cottage and its associated garage which the Eldee shared with, of all things, Jim’s Maserati! Jim was to prove invaluable with workshop facilities, local advice and general assistance. The first priority was to test the Eldee in local conditions with the fuel we picked up from Steve Lindell who kindly organised this. We had our suspicions about the local fuel from stories the previous year, and in view of the importance of getting carburettion right, we had fitted an air-fuel mixture meter.
This seems to indicate stubbornly rich however, and, unable to source G.P. needle jets locally we sent an order to Amal. Nothing that we tried, however, seemed to improve matters, if anything the motor was running worse. The breakthrough came when Carburettor Guru Dave Kenah offered to accompany us on one of our test sessions. He spotted the air-jet was a methanol one, left in after some confusion with dyno testing back in Wellington. It was a good reminder to always check everything, and never rely on memory.
After this, rider Bill Swallow pronounced the bike eminently rideable, which was a huge relief to us all.
At this stage we had been joined by Damion Hadcroft, Les Diener’s grandson, who is resident in the U.K.. He arrived in Peel on a single-geared bicycle with huge backpack, and no record of where we were staying. He was very pleased to hear his name called out as he cycled past our door! The project meant a huge amount to him, as he had assisted his grandad with the Eldee as a schoolboy in the 70s. Our activities in the garage had generated much interest, with both local and international Velo owners calling by. The I.O.M. Velo owners club had organised a rally at Ginger Hall during the Manx, and Phil was able to take the original Eldee 2 motor for display, and sell not a few T-shirts.
Saturday 23 August
And so to our first practice day, the Saturday. Bikes are scrutineered just prior to practice which means a real panic if things are not as they should be. Aside from adjustment to the steering damper, the bike sailed through, which was a great relief, since I had built-up a long list of potential problems in my mind. Having Bill hovering over the bike during scrutineering probably helped!
We had been very generously offered room in the Works Norton Tent by Richard Adams whose 500 Manx Bill was also riding, where the Eldee attracted much attention and I must say it looked superb, with Phil’s beautiful black fairing, seat and tank. I daresay it had been sometime since a 250 Velo fronted up to a Manx. Well, due to a shortage of marshalls, a perennial problem at the start of the Manx, practice for Saturday was cancelled, and we were back again for Monday’s session. With nothing else to do, we were free to watch the 500 Manx classic on the Saturday. It was a real thrill to watch Bruce Anstey come home third on the Macintosh Manx, since we had witnessed its demise the previous year. But a catastrophe for Chris Swallow on Dave’s Manx Norton, with clutch failure on the first lap, especially after setting the fastest time through the Highland speed trap for a 500 single, at 136 mph. He was a real contender for a podium finish.
Monday 25 August
And so, for the first time, Eldee 2 took off around the Isle of Man circuit. Talk about a thrill, hearing it accelerating away down Brayhill. Then nothing to do but wait for around 26 minutes, and then there he was, back in pit lane! The bike had completed its first lap without incident. We gathered from the reaction of several I.O.M. stalwarts that this was a major achievement.Bill himself was very pleased. Apart perhaps from the horsepower, he said that he “wouldn’t want to change a thing”, and this we gather coming from Bill, is high praise indeed. He particularly liked the suspension, handling, brakes, clutch and gearbox and the tucked-in riding position behind the fairing. Very satisfying to have all our hard work vindicated.The next day was spent thoroughly checking over the bike, and in consultation with Bill, dropped the gearing a tooth, and reverted to standard Norton front dampers. An area of concern was the accuracy of that Scitsu rev-counter which was not the correct type for a magneto. We had been unable to obtain the correct one, and the needle was wavering at peak revs.
And by this time the air-fuel meter had gone on strike, perhaps exacerbated by running too rich during testing. So I removed it, happy now that we were clearly in the zone with carburettion. Practice sessions were for one hour, during which it was possible to take out two bikes, so Bill elected to do the first lap on the 500 Manx, and the second on the Eldee. He appeared a little concerned after the first lap, saying wind up on the mountain was blowing him right across the road. Sot it was with some trepidation that Phil and I waited in the grandstand as Bill set off on the Eldee, especially as the cold wind was now much stronger, and the spots of rain started to fall from darkening clouds. By the time Bill returned we were frozen, but Bill was all smiles and warm as toast behind the all enveloping fairing. And he reported no problems with the wind, which some nay-sayers had warned us of. We learned that a qualifying lap needed to be above 76mph, but Bill had done 82mph. So another milestone had been achieved.
But in reality, we were hoping to get into the 90s so some soul-searching was done. About all we could change was the magneto, a twin-spark Morris Mag, so we substituted for a single spark BTH of known provenance, and adjusted the timing down from 26 to 33°. In fact following suggestions, we did test runs from 26 to 40° with, astoundingly, very little to choose between them. But we settled on 38° (standard MOV!) since Bill felt that the motor seemed smoothest there. So through the ritual of scrutineering for the fourth time, and Bill was away again. But this time a different story—the bike petered out at Ballaugh Bridge about half way round. And it was here we collected in the bike, as darkness fell—fortunately local supporters had looked after Bill in the pub for the duration. Clearly the original Morris Mag was not to blame, so we changed back. But we had a sense that something was not as it should be. Our friend John Anderson had arrived by now, and with an engine simulation package on his laptop. And so we set him to work straight away crunching numbers, something at which Damion proved to excel also. The upshot was that most of what we had done was correct, though peak power was perhaps at higher revs then we suspected we were achieving. Even so, we elected to shorten the exhaust header. And a local garage lent us their MIG welder to enable us to re-mount the exhaust system.
Tuesday 26 August, Junior Manx Classic race day
And so to our race, the junior Manx Classic, combining 350s and 250s. Scheduled for Monday, fog on the mountain meant a postponement to Tuesday, since if the rescue helicopter can’t land the race can’t be run.
So with a carefully calculated fuel load, I push-started Bill on the dummy grid. At number 21, he started 210 seconds behind the first bike. Eldee 2 sounded glorious as it accelerated off through the gears down Brayhill. You would not imagine any Velo could sound like that, roaring away at seemingly impossible revs. However all was not well, as Bill said later the bike seemed to hesitate at times, and slowed a little over the mountain, whereas in practice it had flown up the mountain in 5th gear at 8000 RPM.
But on the way down, with gravity assist and slightly lower gearing on what is probably the fastest part of the course from Creg-ny-ba, Bill said he found himself going “really quite quickly indeed” instead he had to “think about this corner” as he approached Brandish.
Through the start finish, it was obvious the lap was slower than in practice, which was a worry, and then eventually the leaderboard showed him as retired, part way round the second lap at Ballacraine.
The cause was found to be stripped alloy Magneto gear, possibly weakened by seizure of the timer breather on the dyno back home. This was part of a long saga during testing of the bike before we left.
Flashback to Manfield in New Zealand, June
Knowing the revs at which it would need to run, I was very keen on the magneto turning at quarter engine speed by using a toothed belt in the timing case. This appeared to work well during the test session at Manfield, but in fact the belt broke down, possibly due to temperature. The upshot was a serious wet sumping and a badly damaged piston and liner. With these replaced, and time running short, I reverted to gear drive for the now modified Magneto, but with the changed centre distance, the timed breather didn’t match, and hence seized on our next dyno session. Obviously a steel mag gear would have been preferable. However this was not the only problem, because when pushing the bike back through the pits when it was returned, it became obvious that the back wheel was stiff to turn, and this may have been happening for some time once it got hot. Once properly cold it appeared perfectly free. We haven’t yet got the chance to properly investigate, but suspect it will be bearing spacing.
I.O.M Junior Manx Classic race epilogue, November 2014
So although on the face of it a disappointing result, especially for Bill with a D.N.F in the 500 Manx classic also, we were by no means all doom and gloom. The plan had always been to take the DOHC Eldee 2 to the Isle of Man, in as close original condition as Les Diener might have done. In view of the arduous nature of the Isle of Man course, where 250s are on full throttle for most of the time, it was felt that a more bullet-proof replica motor was essential. And this largely lived up to expectation. And when one considers that the fastest 350 Velo in the 1953 Manx averaged 78 mph, we feel our wee Velo didn’t do too badly. But we are certain that there is more to come.
At the event in August we had the privilege of meeting Ron Herring, a retired engine analysis consultant, who very generously ran our motor through his engine analysis simulator. He has supplied us with new cam profiles, which I have already made and am waiting to fit when we get the bike arrives back.
Interestingly, the analysis showed that the original cams had far too much duration and lift, and would only develop maximum power at 10,500rpm, way beyond the safe revs. Everything else on our motor proved to be bang on. Ron was the brains behind the Royal Enfield 500 that last year did the first 100mph on a British pushrod single. Amazingly he sees the only reason he needs to visit a dyno these days is to set the mixture. Everything else will be exactly as the computer predicts. So our plan is to return again in 2015, with the bike further developed and perhaps shedding some weight, and with more experience of running on petrol. It still won’t be as fast as the two strokes, but we have far more to prove than they do.—Nick Thomson
And finally a huge thank you to the very generous team of sponsors builders and generous supporters-in-kind who made this all possible:
Nick Thomson | Pastoral Construction Services (Phone Tim Matt, mobile +61 – 428 931 914) | Merv | Phil Price Kinetics | Murray Aitken | Lincoln Frost | MagentaDotBrands.com | Dangus | Backstage Academy | LS-LIVE | Neville Wooderson | Farrall’s | Classic TT Isle of Man | Avon Tyres | Classic Racer Magazine | Nova Racing Transmissions | EuroBrit Motorbikes Australia | Identity Signs | Les Delacey | Dave Kenah | Velocette Owners Register New Zealand | Chris Swallow | Pat Clancy | Will Wells | Electro Freeze | Damion Hadcroft
Words: Nick Thomson
Editor, documentary photos, desktop publishing: Shaun Waugh, MagentaDot Brands
Automotive engineering and mechanical design and build team: Nick Thomson, Murray Aitken
Composites team—3D design, CAD modelling, molding and immaculate finish: Phil Price, Lincoln J. Frost, Shaun Chamberlain
Dyno testing: Our thanks to Gareth (Service Manager) and Luke (Dyno wiz) of motomart
1954 MOV line drawing: Velocette Owners Club U.K.
Footnote  The DOHC innovation was originally crafted in the early 50s by gifted engineer and champion Australian racer, Les Diener, from whose initials the ‘Eldee’ takes it’s name. In 2014 Nick Thomson has, among other things, completely recreated the DOHC drivetrain and housing.
Tuesday 26 August, 2014. The Eldee 2 was competing for the 250cc ‘Phil Read’ Classic TT trophy in a shortened 3 lap race that combined the 250s race with the Okells 350cc Race on the Isle of Man. The team congratulates Tom Jackson, on the T20 Suzuki, who was awarded the ‘Phil Read’ Classic TT Trophy as the first 250cc machine, and also acknowledge his achievement finishing in 20th position out of 45 finishers (and 62 starters) in a mixed 250 & 350cc field. The Eldee Velocette developed two unexpected problems in the race;
- The rear wheel became tight for some as yet unexplained reason and
- the magneto gear stripped a few teeth clean off.
What we have learned
What we knew from the dyno testing session, days before shipping the bike from New Zealand to race in the ultimate test, the Isle of Man Classic, was that we essentially had a brand new but untested and undeveloped engine prototype. We are thrilled to know it is a sound and capable design, but we know from the dyno testing in Wellington and from our Manx experience that we are falling short by around 10 horsepower to be in the hunt for a podium finish in the 250cc class. We now have a very good steer on how to extract the extra urge from the engine and present sentiment is that we will likely commit to coming again to the Classic TT in 2015, for as they say, we have ‘unfinished business’ to attend to on the Mountain Course.
Our rider, multiple Manx Grand Prix race winner Bill Swallow, will be competing for the new 250cc class Phil Read Trophy today
Our rider, multiple Manx Grand Prix race winner Bill Swallow, will be competing for the new 250cc class Phil Read Trophy (the new Phil Read Trophy, will go to the first 250cc machine in the Monday’s Okells 350cc Classic TT Race). Bill Swallow is to ride the Eldee Special in the Junior Classic, today, 25th August.
Good people, good company, long days
Saturday morning, 23 August Isle of Man time: The Eldee had two practice laps around the 37.5 mile (60km) Isle of Man circuit last night, the chief goal of the practices was to try and sort out the carburettion as the Eldee is down on power, she is developing about 10% less power than we think can be reasonably expected. The cause prior to practice was uncertain, and the last avenue for unlocking that potential engine power, it was hoped, was going to be in tuning the carburettion in practice. Specifically finding the right fuel/air mix for the humidity and altitude conditions the bike is working in on the Island on the day. The best lap time is averaging about 82mph, so the Eldee is just not on the pace to be a contender in today’s race against machines with fastest lap times in the order of 94–95 mph. On the positive side of the ledger, the findings from the I.O.M. Mountain Course practice laps is it seems that the source of the problem lies deep in the DNA of the engine design, it appears that the cam timing is probably the root cause of the under-performance of the engine. On reflection the engineering experts agree that running the Eldee on methanol in all race conditions previously in New Zealand, because methanol is a more forgiving fuel than petrol, this has effectively masked the extreme cam-timing problem with the engine design from all the stakeholders, from the rider to the the Automotive Engineers.
To win you first have to finish
The VRNZ team are not at all down in the mouth about the situation. Though the Eldee is well off the pace this year, Nick Thompson’s mechanical engineering is proving robust, and Bill Swallow reports that the Eldee is showing tremendous race characteristics in every other facet; revs freely at the 8–9000 rpm top end, beautifully balanced, handles really well, flies up the mountain at 8,000 rpm in 5th gear and always shows willing when tapped for extra torque throughout the power band. Bill also notes that on the downhill legs, with just a little gravity assist, the bike is teasing him with the encouraging, very strong impression of being a very fast four stroke indeed. So the goal now is to finish the race today and, given all of the givens, they will take that achievement home as a victory, and aim to return next year with the cam timing problem sorted, and the Eldee’s fast four potential fully realized.
So in today’s race, the outcome for the Eldee is going to largely be down to Bill Swallow’s skills as a rider, such as his ability to draft and maintain corner speed.
Like gold! A very pleasant turn-up for the books.
In a stirring turn of events just prior to arriving on the Island, we received the following email to the VRNZ blog, and it fills me utmost pride that this pleasant surprise has emerged from the Eldee TT project—so it is in the spirit of utmost respect and with heart-felt gratitude that I share the following on behalf of the VRNZ crew: “Subject: Enquiry from MagentaDot Brands Contact Page Date: 9 August 2014 6:45:29 AM To: firstname.lastname@example.org Reply-To: Damion Hadcroft
Hi, My name is Damion Hadcroft. I am the grandson of the late Les Diener, the man behind the Eldee Velocette. I would like to get in touch with Bill Swallow regarding this years’ TT. It just so happens that I am working/living in the UK presently, and this year is my Grandmother’s 90th birthday. I was hoping to arrange to see the old bike—I am dearly hoping that Bill would be kind enough to allow me to take a few photos with it, perhaps with me sitting on it (?) for her Birthday. In any case it would be good to have a chat with Bill about the bike, what’s been done to it, etc. I followed in my late Grandfathers footsteps as far as Engineering goes—presently I work in (X) for (Y) as a lead stress engineer. In the days of my Grandfather’s historic racing, and while the Eldee was built, we worked on it together. These were some of the most important years for me as a kid growing up in South Australia. Anyway I hope you can get this message to Bill – it’d be great to see the bike at the Classic TT. Best regards, Damion Hadcroft
So this contact has lead to Damion travelled to the island last week to connect with the VRNZ crew and to Les Diener’s grandson pitching in with the race preparation and equipping of Eldee 2 on the island. With the race itself looming close on the event horizon today, and in the spirit of goodwill that has dominated the Eldee TT project front of mind, it seems appropriate to share some the insights that Damion has generously shared with the VRNZ project last week into his Grandfather, Les Diener, the man upon whose shoulders the VRNZ effort collectively stands today; “To give an insight into the man, I remember the weekend after Les retired as an Engineer. He was given a fishing rod as a retirement gift. We both went fishing together a week or so after his retirement and the utter boredom and frustration was so palpable, I can remember it just as it was yesterday. We came home empty handed and there was sombre silence in the family car on the trip home. So, it was no surprise that ‘the projects’ started soon after that time, and Les Diener the historic racer came into being. I was in my early to mid teens when Eldee mark 2 was being built. Indeed things were very simple in those days. Les was a real innovator and I can remember bringing a scrap of stainless steel back from a sheet metal course I did at school, which Les promptly put into good use as the tank strap for Eldee Mark 2. We both shared the passion for Mechanical Engineering and I still look upon his fabrication skills as masterful. Even though I was quite young, I did get to know some of the Eldee’s secrets—Les’ use of spur gears to drive the cams was very innovative and made life easy when it came to removing the head after engines let go. Cam timing with pin verniers was equally clever. He was very clever to machine the conrod using corillo x-section. Sometimes his machining was too clever for its own good though—I can remember how valves were bent (at least) on one occasion through his machining tolerances being too tight for their own good, such that the engine temp. caused his slippery clearance fits to go just a tad too tight in the heat of racing (haha).. Perhaps one of the funnier stories was when Les took a trip to NZ to collect one of the famed ‘Carey’ cylinder heads, and Les being Les, when he got back to Adelaide airport, he waltzed through security with it tucked under his arm thinking nothing of it. Of course, he set off every security alarm, and being none the wiser he just kept on walking. So, there’s this elderly man with whispy grey-hair and a funny walk, waddling about security, abruptly confronted by guards, and then confused, left to explain what he’s doing with this odd looking lump of cast aluminium in his hand luggage! It’s pretty funny looking back at that. It’s a good thing that incident didn’t happen post 9-11!! As I grew up, I came to learn a lot about Engineering through work on the Eldee 2. He and I would go to the casting shops with the original Eldee patterns and some new ones; I can remember that the valve train covers were cast (seems they might be NC machined now? [A: Manually milled from a billet of aluminium by NT—Ed]; As I recall when the engine was built, we sourced valves from Yamaha parts; we trialled o-ring chains for the primary drive (that was a disaster) and as time progressed, we went back to roller chains, but with continued over-heating issues (on the chains themselves), belt-drive proved to be the best solution to the problem. Back then the gearbox was a traditional classic box; 4-speed as I recall. I see that it’s now 6 gears! hat’s interesting! Also, for a time Les had trouble with the old magneto ignition and so we trialled electronic ignition from a Mitsubishi Magna distributor! Les machined the necessary adaption plate and the cam to make that happen however he moved back to magnetos as I recall. His aim was to get the Eldee running full-charge on 100-octane petrol however, as I recall that never came to be for the Mark 2 (in his time), instead it ran on Methanol. I’m sure a great deal of progress has been made since then.
So in looking back and considering where things are today—Les’ approach was not without a great deal of innovation and consideration for technology. I think to the electronic ignition experiment, the belt drive primary and even the tyres—it was continual development, with a passion for Engineering in the pursuit of speed. When looking at the changes that have taken place since his passing, this direction looks to have been maintained and it seems many other things remain true to his spirit also. Innovation and new ideas, precision engineering, commitment, patience, a love for the sport and great respect for his competitors—these were Les’ virtues and I am deeply grateful to all concerned for maintaining this direction since his passing. I hope very much that all concerned feel very proud. Les would be deeply honoured.
My life has taken a different path; I raced off-road (road trials) for a short time, but this was not my strength. I moved over to racing mountain bikes while going through university and after that, I turned over to road racing (bicycles). It’s a tough sport, but I took that as far as I could without making it a full-time job. 6th in the SA Open Road champs was the best I could do but with drugs tainting the sport, I decided to put my energy into Engineering, which is ultimately what’s taken me to work for *X* on the *Y* in *Z*, England. [That information may have privacy issues, so I have erred on the side of caution—ed] So while I try to stay true to the Les Diener virtues in how I live my life, my journey in life has not been quite as spectacular as Les’ and this story is not about me anyway! 😉 So, mindful of your objective being to put together a chronicle of the history of Les, the Eldee and the events of the TT, I hope some of the above is useful to you.”— Damion Hadcroft
Turning another page
Yes it is most useful and enlightening, thanks in spades from the VRNZ team for your generous sharing of these stories Damion. Thank you too for allowing us to publish them, because just as with Bill Swallow’s ride in today’s race, in so doing we turn another page in the proud history of; the Eldee 2, and the Velocette marque, Classic racing downunder, and the Eldee Velocette’s place in the pantheon of Classic Motorcycle racing worldwide. All that and your stories bring heart into the racing of your Grandfather, Les Diener’s Eldee 2 in the ultimate test.— Shaun Waugh MagentaDot Brands
JULY 31, 2014, CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND. The V.R.N.Z team is proud to announce the launch of the new Nick Thomson DOHC , Dual Ignition Eldee 2, the 250cc lightweight special is equipped and ready for the Isle of Man Classic T.T., August 2014. Our rider, multiple Manx Grand Prix race winner Bill Swallow, will be competing for the new 250cc class Phil Read Trophy (the new Phil Read Trophy, will go to the first 250cc machine in the Monday’s Okells 350cc Classic TT Race). Bill Swallow is to ride the Eldee Special in the Junior Classic, 25th August. Bill still holds the record for fastest ever average laps around the Isle of Man circuit on single cylinder machines: 1998, 250cc Aermacchi, 98mph (157.72 km/hr). 1996 350cc Aermacchi, 102.23 mph (164.5 km/hr). 1999, 500cc Manx Norton, 108.03mph (173.86 km/hr). At this proud milestone in the campaign we’d also like to express our gratitude to our sponsors and supporters, listed at the foot of the page.
ON TUESDAY 8TH JULY, PHIL PRICE and I flew to Nick Thomson’s Wellington workshop for an intensive 26hr stint to assist him fully equip and dress the Eldee Velocette for the Isle of Man—in order that I might photograph the publicity shots of the Velocette lightweight special in completed, race-ready state for the first time (and the one and only opportunity to do so before the bike was crated up and air-freighted to the Isle of Man about 5 days later).
Once photographed the Eldee 2 was then reverted to Eldee-2 form, (for visuals, refer to the Eldee-2 transformation slideshow down the page) bundled into Nick’s van and transported 20km for an afternoon of mission-critical dynamometer testing with Velo fellow Dave Angus, and Luke at Motomart in Lower Hutt. I learned from Nick that the dyno objectively measures the output of the engine and thereby establishes the set of key performance baseline parameters that he requires for adapting the tune of the bike to the specific conditions on the I.O.M. (more on the dyno test in another post soon). This big push in the workshop and at the dyno was also an opportunity to chronicle this interesting flow of events with the camera. The launch feature ‘Transformation slideshow’ page is here, and a new page has been added to the Merchandise section featuring a set of Eldee 2 commemorative launch posters and info-graphics, more information about this in upcoming blog posts.
Fitting and dressing the new configuration
On the agenda for the 8–9th July was fitting the new, one-off, handcrafted carbon fibre racing components, comprising;
- the streamlined seat and tail section,
- the new petrol tank and
- the incredible new fairing and wraparound bubble visor
Cleverly designed and made by Phil Price, the new ram-air fairing forces air to enter the moving aperture discretely tucked behind the front wheel, this intake delivers a concentrated airstream directly to the new, amply-finned head of the dual ignition air-cooled, DOHC, 1954 Velocette MOV engine. There were mounting brackets to be fashioned for the new seat and petrol tank, the sub-assembly of the bubble visor to the fairing and fitting the fairing to the rigid sub-frame. Worthy of note, the fairing seat and tank (in fact the entire bike layout) are all custom fit to the rider, Bill Swallow, like a Saville Row suit. Noteworthy also is the high standard of finish of all the new carbon components—all are classic Velocette, high-gloss Piano black buffed and polished to a mirror finish by the composites team in Christchurch. The fairing finish is so glassy that masking tape just won’t adhere to it, but fortunately the decals do! That brings me to the icing on the cake, in which Identity Signs and I had considerable involvement, the application of the sponsors’ logos, bike numbering, the respective Yorkshire / New Zealand insignia, and the “NEW ZEALAND” legend proudly emblazoned on the keel.
The NEW ZEALAND on the keel is in part a homage to the renowned ‘plastic fantastic’, world beating Kiwi Americas Cup yacht KZ-7, and we hope, a visual treat for “high-side” motorcycle photographers at the I.O.M Classic T.T. event this year.
I was particularly thrilled also with Phil’s discipline which has seen him finish the new petrol tank with immaculate airbrushed pin-striping and the new ‘Eldee Velocette‘ badge in metallic gold 2-pot lacquer. The finished effect is, I think you’ll agreee immaculate!
Moving on, from long-anticipated ‘newborn’ photoshoot to the dyno
Once assembly of the configuration was complete there was a two hour window of time in which to shoot the publicity/launch portraits & abstracts of the brand new Eldee. With the photos on the cards the bike was stripped and transformed back to original guise for transport to Lower Hutt for the scheduled afternoon of ‘pre-flight’ dyno testing.
On track and in pursuit of success
The bike is winging its way to the I.O.M presently and the New Zealand crew board their flights for the U.K. in a few short days. Velocette Racing New Zealand is a collaboration, we are all private individuals, as the project has progressed we are ever more mindful that this effort is a huge gamble. We were all reminded of this harsh reality recently when the race preparation project was tripped up at the 11th hour by a significant unforeseen mechanical setback—this in turn saw Nick Thomson working incredibly hard to rectify in order regain lost time. It was a tough lesson that was learnt, requiring patience and diligence from all stakeholders, and not a little thick skin. Witnessing first-hand the scale, and sustained intensity of the race prep of this Classic prototype, or ‘exotic’ as the Classic TT classes it, has been a privilege. The cheerful, collaborative investment of so much time, intellectual horsepower, enthusiasm (and not a little cash) by so many good people has been a heartening lesson in humility, and the extraordinary, creative, constructive things that ordinary people are capable of achieving when they choose to cooperate. I am hopeful, as we all are, that the team will be rewarded for their collective and individual persistence on the Island. However, in the field of open competition at the Isle of Man, more than anywhere else in the world, it is the combination of speed and stamina that count and the Classic T.T. tests the mettle of all-comers equally in no uncertain manner. Obviously it is that element of risk that makes this Velocette campaign so exciting.
What we are talking about here is the quest for perfection, the doing and redoing of a thing that gets you ever closer to the ideal—remove the extraneous, preserve the essential—ultimately driving the Eldee 2 towards its optimal combination of speed and stamina. So as Chris Swallow so ably documented in BRNZ magazine in April, the preparation has been rigorous in New Zealand, and Nick will ensure it will continue to be so on the island. Which leads back to our rigorous rider from Yorkshire, the champion racer Bill Swallow, Kia ora Bill! I’d like to reinforce the good wishes and appreciation of everyone else involved, and trust that you have a wonderful flight aboard your amazing new ride! To Bill, all the Classic T.T. racers this year and everyone on the VRNZ away team; Haere pai atu, hoki pai mai Travel safely.
— Shaun Waugh MagentaDot Brands
A huge celebratory ‘thank you’ to all our Sponsors, builders and generous supporters-in-kind:
Nick Thomson | Pastoral Construction Services (Phone Tim Matt, mobile +61 – 428 931 914) | Phil Price Kinetics | Dr Murray Aitken | MagentaDot Brands | Merv | Lincoln J. Frost | Identity Signs | Dave Angus | Backstage Academy | LS-LIVE | Neville Wooderson | Classic TT Isle of Man | Classic Racer Magazine | Nova Racing Transmissions | EuroBrit Motorbikes Australia | Farrall’s | Avon Tyres | Velocette Owners Register New Zealand | Chris Swallow |
Documentary photos, poster design: Shaun Waugh MagentaDot Brands
Automotive engineering and mechanical design and build team: Nick Thomson, Dr. Murray Aitken
Composites team—3D design, CAD modelling, molding and immaculate finish: Phil Price, Lincoln J. Frost, Shaun Chamberlain
Race-ready livery design, production and decal manufacture: Nick Thomson/Phil Price/Shaun Waugh co-designed, Shaun of MagentaDot Brands illustrated/produced, Identity Signs printed, laminated and countour cut
Dyno testing: Our thanks to Gareth (Service Manager) and Luke (Dyno wiz) of motomart
1954 MOV line drawing: Velocette Owners Club U.K.
Footnote  The DOHC innovation was originally crafted in the early 50s by gifted engineer and champion Australian racer, Les Diener, from whose initials the ‘Eldee’ takes it’s name. This year, Nick Thomson has, among other things, completely recreated the DOHC drivetrain and housing.
This excellent letter from Eldee Isle of Man 2014 sponsor Tim Matt expresses excitement at the prospect of our rider, multiple Manx Grand Prix race winner Bill Swallow, competing on the 250 Eldee 2 Velocette for the new 250cc class Phil Read Trophy (the new Phil Read Trophy, will go to the first 250cc machine in the Monday’s Okells 350cc Classic TT Race). The letter has been published in Classic Racer Magazine’s current July 2014 issue. (Classic Racer Mag is another of the Eldee Isle of Man 2014 campaign’s sponsors.)
KIWI INVADERS LOOK FOR GOOD RESULTS
My April/May Classic Racer arrived a couple of weeks ago, the mag just gets better and better—can’t wait for my bi-monthly nostalgia kick.
I will be over for the Classic TT and Manx again this year and I follow with interest the Classic TT news column. You mention Bill Swallow riding a Manx in the 500 race but are you aware he is entered on a 250 Velo in the combined 350/250 Classic?
The bike is the Eldee 2 Velocette, built in Australia in the late 1950s by well known racer and skilled engineer Les Diener. It is now owned by Christchurch Velo enthusiast Phil Price and is raced with great success by Bill’s son Chris.
Chris is riding Kiwi Dave Kenah’s 500 Manx and the Aermacchi 350 he so nearly got second on last year so father Bill will ride the Eldee. This beautiful machine will not disgrace itself among the 350s. It is extremely well prepared by Phil and his friend Nick Thomson. Nick is the engine man, fastidious and highly skilled.
I am helping these people out with finance (it gives me an interest) and with Bill Swallow and all his years of success and experience on the island we are all quietly confident of a good result.
Best wishes to you all at Classic Racer.
(The Editor of ClassicRacer responds) As I think you know Tim, Bill and I have been friends for a very, very long time and I look forward to seeing him whistle the little Velo around the Island and to catching up with you again. — Malc
Representing the VRNZ team today… are our brand new Fb page Admin, Ms Olive Price and a certain Editor, Shaun Waugh. It is two days since the launch of our new VRNZ Fb page. Page Admin and Ed just wanted to let you all know that we are really excited by the results of the ‘kick-start’ launch promo.
Thanks sooo much everyone! Frankly we’ve been blown away by the enthusiasm of your response, you guys are awesome!
Waking up this morning, Olive in Dunedin, and me in South Brighton, it was quite hard for us to believe the sheer numbers of your Likes and the speed with which they climbed overnight !! >>> Likes = 825 >>> Page likes = 807.
Like to represent Eldee – 2? You can get your shirts here.
TEN POINT UPDATE ON WORKS PROGRESS
June 9 2014. Nick Thompson reports that:
“Everything is on track.”
- The motor is largely done, Ross racing pistons are fitted, just a little more work to be done with fitting the valves, but all is looking hopeful there. A vote of thanks to Mike Callahan of Ross racing pistons for all his help. Nick Thompson advises the pistons are one-off items, custom CAD milled to order from a forged blank, and Nick adds “they are beautiful” and the price is very friendly. The new cylinder head also is just about done too. • The first rough pass is all looking good, the timing is yet to be refined, and the compression ratio. • Nick’s musings about the compression ratio; the original was 10:1, which could creep up a little, however 10:1 does give you good mid-range, contrasted with lowered compression which gives a higher top speed but less power at the top. He explains that the higher compression means a smaller volume for the cylinder to compress, hence the lowered top speed. His and Chris Swallow’s consensus of opinion is that the Eldee seems strong at the top end, it “keeps on hauling” so is well suited to the Isle of Man.
- Inside the front forks are new Norton dampers.
- The new rear shock absorbers are Works Performance shocks.
- The Amal 10GP Carburettor is unchanged, will be re-jetted back from methanol to petrol (1″ and 5/32).
- Nick reports he’s well on track to finish the new, completely rebuilt motor.
- The complete new exhaust system includes a ventilated exhaust port in the head designed by Murray Aitken with Nick Thompson.
- On the motor itself, the Magneto is a Morris Magneto® running at quarter engine speed. It delivers a double spark to the twin spark plugs simultaneously (another Murray Aitken, Nick Thompson performance development), twice per rotation. Nick explains that:
“Because the Morris Magneto gives two sparks per rotation you can halve the magneto speed. This decreases the energy it takes to drive the Magneto significantly.”
- The transmission, the new Nova Velocette 6 Speed close-ratio road racing gear set has arrived, which will be served by a new polyurethane / steel Synchroflex® “ultimate belt drive” clutch. The Nova gear set are going into the existing pre-war box. Nick notes that Nova manufacture the gears for BMW motogp bikes and the materials and manufacturing process for the new Velocette 6 Speed gears is identical. Nick and Phil Price decided it was prudent to include an extra, lower ratio first gear pair to allow for on-the-fly adaptation to the IOM course. Nick explains that there is an interplay between several variables; the transmission, the more powerful engine, the fairing, and the nature of the IOM course which allows the gearing to get taller and taller and the bike to go faster and faster “nowhere do you gear higher than IOM” is Nick’s observation. While the close-ratio road racing gearing is taller, the ratio between first : top is pretty much the same regardless of the gear set. The point being that the power-to-road-speed advantage the fairing grants, graduates in incrementally as road speed increases—so having a lower ratio option for first might prove beneficial to overall performance.
- The new alloy Macintosh Racing developments oil tank has been fitted.
- The new seat, fuel tank and fairing will be redesigned and made in carbon fibre and other composite materials by Phil Price of Phil Price Sculpture, with CAD & engineering assistance from Lincoln Frost, and the composite hand-craft and impeccable finishing of Shaun Chamberlain.
The Velocette Racing New Zealand team would also like to thank the following sponsors for their ongoing support; *Merv*, EuroBrit Motorbikes Australia, Paul Walters of Identity Signs for the high class finish of on-bike graphics, and a certain Shaun Waugh of MagentaDot Brands, for photography, graphic design, illustration, web design and site content writing / populating and maintenance works.
ELDEE LOGO ON THE ENGINE CASING
Nick observes that it would have been possible to machine the Eldee logo on the mill but Chris Swallow and Phil Price wanted to keep faith with the original, hand-made lettering by re-creating it using hand crafted techniques, the photo below illustrates Chris’s old-school methodology in progress.
The original casting pattern was probably wooden, the patternmaker would have formed the letters by hand applied them to the pattern, then the pattern was pressed into sand to form the mold for casting.
However even the lowest grade aluminium you buy today is appreciably stronger than cast aluminium from back then or today. The billet, although it is several times stronger than the original casting machines very, very well. It machines slowly but you get a very good finish, much better than you would from cast aluminium.
The story is that Les Diener’s original patterns still exist, but they’ve “migrated off” among his network of friends in Australia, and an effort is being made to get them back in the fold with the bike.
OUR MAGAZINE AD CAMPAIGN IS UP AND RUNNING
We currently have two ads for the Eldee up and running. The quarter-page advert, this post’s featured image, is running in Issue 167 of Classic Racer Magazine, May/June 2014. The second ad is a half-page in Issue 44 of Old Bike Australasia that went on sale on the 29th of May. These follow on from our full page advert and feature article by Chris Swallow in Bike Rider New Zealand‘s April 2014 Issue. Both ads communicate the VRNZ effort to build and campaign the Velocette Eldee Special at the Isle of Man this year, which will see our rider, multiple Manx Grand Prix race winner Bill Swallow, competing for the new 250cc class Phil Read Trophy (the new Phil Read Trophy, will go to the first 250cc machine in the Monday’s Okells 350cc Classic TT Race).
All the best,
Velocette Racing New Zealand
The project is taking on a life of its own, highlights so far this month include Bike Rider NZ’s Classics man Chris Swallow’s 7 page feature article ‘Eldee 1-2-3; The Legend Continues’ in their May issue (available now at the newstands). Adding to this piece of Australasian motorcycling history Chris delves behind the scenes to look at the effort to build and campaign the Velocette Eldee Special at the Isle of Man this year, which will see the rider, his father, multiple Manx Grand Prix race winner Bill Swallow competing for the new 250cc class Phil Read Trophy (the new Phil Read Trophy, will go to the first 250cc machine in the Monday’s Okells 350cc Classic TT Race). In the article Chris sets out the broad scope of the components getting drawn up, constructed, readied and put together, and details the depth and fine-grain of each development in the race preparation drive—quoth Chris;
The lengths gone to will blow you away
Another historic benchmark was achieved last week with the successful casting of the new head, designed by Murray Aitken, by Mace Engineering in Christchurch. Casting dreams in alloy is not a trivial undertaking, credit is due to all involved for their perseverance and ultimate achievement. (Watch this space, picture to come in a few days.) Machining of the raw casting to the blueprint is now in the capable hands of Nick Thomson.
H O U S E O F T H E F L Y I N G S P A N N E R S
Speaking of… Nick has been plenty busy on the spanners in the workshop, the tasks he’s edging towards completion in the Automotive Engineering category this month include the special casing, overhead camshafts and valve-train, and machining the new head.
I had the pleasure of visiting Nick for a couple of days last week and being somewhat mechanically challenged I appreciated the patient, impromtu tour of the OHC drivetrain, Valvetrain, the rationale where cams push valves, a primer on hollow sodium-filled Valve design, and the fine art of proper valve seating with valve springs.
Nick described and demonstrated the design improvements he’s made to the new special casing which simplify and strengthen its composition, which began with the decision to machine the casing from a billet of higher grade aluminium alloy than the original cast item… (more on that in a later post.)
But wait, there was more really interesting valvetrain engineering detail. Nick was enthused by the arrival of a set of new harmonic resistant Beehive™ Valve Springs for the valve train. Their ovate wire material and reduced spring mass promise to deliver increased valve train stability, yield more usable rpm and more horsepower, as can be seen in this compelling Beehive™ Springs vs, Standard Springs comparison video that we viewed;
Following on from the explanation of the conventional valve train, Nick introduced me to a Desmodromic reciprocating engine valve train prototype that he has constructed, inspired by a magazine article about the Desmodromic valve operating kit for the 86×86 Velocette Venom and Viper engines made in the 60s by BMG motorcycles in the UK who were a motorcycle dealer in Ilford, Essex. (More on Desmo in a later post.)
B U I L D U P
Another development milestone last week was the arrival of Bill Swallow in the antipodes from the UK for a few weeks. Last Thursday marked the first time that all the development stakeholders and the bike were gathered under one roof.
While here Bill is collaborating with Nick in devising and putting together several bespoke elements of the Eldee’s layout, composition and construction that will add to the winning form of the bike and see it fit him like a glove.
The train of gears are now completely remade and hot from the Thomson workshop, all running on needle rollers
P R E P A R A T O R Y M E A S U R E S
Priming in the communications department has continued steadily over the 6 weeks since the first post. Accompanying Chris’ article we have drawn up a full page advertisement in BRNZ this month, and the first quarter page ads for placement in the next issues of Classic Racer and Old Bike Australasia in our effort to engage the Classics world with our campaign to race the Eldee Special at the Isle of Man Classic TT in August.
The initial development of the website has achieved a benchmark also this week with the design of our first three Eldee Velo products, t-shirt designs which are showcased on the new Merchandise page.
It is a privilege to add to the history of this bike and the lineage of the Eldee Marque, and our fine new shirts do a nice job of celebrating that proud racing history.
All the best,
Hi, this is the kick-start of the brand new Velocette Racing New Zealand website and blog. The site has been established as the information and promotion arm of our Eldee Special Isle of Man Classic T.T. campaign—where our rider, multiple Manx Grand Prix race winner Bill Swallow, is to race the Eldee Velocette at the Classic TT races, I.O.M, August 25th 2014 and compete for the new 250cc class Phil Read Trophy.
The full-noise about the project to get the fastest Velocette Lightweight Special from downunder to the Isle of Man is on the Velocette Racing Home and About Eldee IOM Page. I should also clarify that the Eldee Special ‘Eldee 2’ was designed and built in South Australia by Les Diener in the 50s, while it has now being successfully raced by the Velocette Racing New Zealand team in the 20-teens for the past two years.
Onto the topic of the post, another positive outcome from this year’s Hampton Downs NZCMRR Classic Bike racing event (more on that soon) is the opportunity we got to advertise in ‘Megaphone,’ the official magazine of the New Zealand Classic Motorcycle Racing Register. Thanks to Robert Cochrane from Megaphone the ad is appearing in pole position, full page inside front cover in black and white. The feature photo is of Les Diener aboard the Eldee 1 in the 50s.
New, fastidiously handlettered logos / brands have been created for this ‘Velocette Racing New Zealand’ site, re-creations of the ‘Eldee Velocette’ and ‘Velocette’ logos too. The historical Velocette graphic library sets a high standard to step up to. The Velocette and Eldee copperplate lettering took some finessing but the VRNZ brand came together relatively quickly as historical precedent gave a clear direction to base it on the triumphant KTT Velocette lock-ups from the 30’s. As an illustrative designer with an interest in classic era motorcycling promotional graphics, and just another boomer kid who got ‘Boy’s Own’ Annuals every Xmas, the design inspiration for the poster/advert graphic is a mashup of Velocette and TT ads and posters from back in the 50s, and a dash of contemporary Motogp Super Graphic excitement.
The look of the site has been much enhanced in recent days due to some very generous contributions, first Phil Purdue of HighSide Photography (www.highside.co.nz) contributed a brace of tremendous action shots of Chris Swallow racing Eldee-2 at Hampton Downs Classic Races 2013-14 from HighSide’s outstanding archive of NZCMRR Classic Racing events. Their Event CD’s like the one of Hampton Downs 2014 contain high quality images of every race, both a great memento of the NZCMRR‘s historic event and outstanding value for money.
Life-long admirer of the Big Velo Tony Herd has contributed a stirring 7 second ‘soundbite’ video clip of the “the valiant old warrior” from Hampton Downs in February that can be found at the foot of the new Big Velo feature page, or the last slide in the new Big Velo slideshow.
A shout-out also due to BikeRider NZ magazine‘s editor, Kevin Kinghan and designer Gemma Wild who gave VRNZ a high-quality pdf of the Classic Racer feature article that ran in the March issue ‘BIG VELO an ongoing history’ written by their classics man Chris Swallow, who both peels back the years and brings history to life with his run through of recent rides aboard the winning-est bike in New Zealand motorcycling history. There’s more communications Castrol coming from this quarter in upcoming weeks—but that will be the subject of the next post. Completing the Big Velo richness, at the foot of the Big Velo page have posted the two VRNZ information posters produced last year for display in the pits at NZCMRR racing events and the Burt Munro Challenge. The posters cover MT5001‘s stellar U.K. origins on one sign and the conquering of the colony on the other. These VRNZ info-graphics are ++ poster size and suitable for printing up to A3 size. The Velo Rogues section has a bio, on Peter Butterworth (a reproduction of a 1974 New Zealand Motorcycle News feature story), a Bill Swallow bio (A brief history written by Chris Swallow, 2011) and slideshows of these Velo men racing Velocettes and other Classics, and a slideshow of Phil Price racing one of the pair of Joyce brothers’ MOV at Hampton Downs Classic Festivals in 2013 & 14 plus some historical shots. Trust you enjoy the site as it emerges over the months ahead.
All the best,