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 Old-timers' reunion.

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John Colter



Number of posts : 128
Age : 79
Localisation : West Midlands
Registration date : 2014-10-23

PostSubject: Old-timers' reunion.   Mon Dec 01, 2014 6:23 am

As a former Bantam racer (1963 to 1969) I look in here from time to time, just to see what's happening. I started off riding a Bantam that I built and "tuned" myself, but I was never much good at the tuning side of things. I could hustle a bike around a circuit, though.

A couple of days ago, I got a private message from Rex Caunt to say he had been in touch with Terry Beckett, and my name was mentioned. I rode Terry's Formula Bantam in 1968 and 69. With Terry's tuning abilities, and my derring do, we got some good results with the Bantam Racing Club, and we won many races, and a few championships, with the Midland MCRC, and British Formula RC.

Rex very kindly put me in touch with Terry, after at least 34 years, and yesterday we had a long chat on the phone. Looking back it feels like a previous existence, but it was certainly a very happy and interesting part of my life.

Anyway, Terry (85) and I (76) intend to get together and renew our friendship, probably in the new year, when we've got all this Xmas nonsense out of the way.

It's a great life, if you can stay alive long enough to look back and appreciate it!

John Colter.

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john bass

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Number of posts : 1719
Age : 88
Localisation : Bensberg, Germany
Registration date : 2006-12-06

PostSubject: Old Timer´s Reunion   Wed Dec 03, 2014 5:33 am

Hi John!

Love the idea of an Old Timer´s Reunion -- unfortunately stuck here in Deutschland and not looking as if I can get over to Blighty for some time yet. Bantam racing was a short (too short) part of my hectic life:  bit too hectic at times chasing money and status (among other things) but as the singer said, "No regrets" and it´s no good wishing I could do it all again. I got the chance to Downhill-Ski and that was similar to Bantam Racing oín going quite quick with no brakes except for  "scrubbing away the speed"....

While I´m on: perhaps you know;   I was asked the other day who the BRC club  Champions were in the first 4 years of the club. I had heard something like the brothers Benn, Roy bacon and Fred launchbury shared the Championship position -- whether as planned or by chance is unclear.

Perhaps you can clear that up for us -- thanks!

I hope the reunion happens, unfortunately the scribes on here are -- at times -- thin on the ground.

Take care, go well and stay well,

Cheers!
JayBee.
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John Colter



Number of posts : 128
Age : 79
Localisation : West Midlands
Registration date : 2014-10-23

PostSubject: Blast from the past   Wed Dec 03, 2014 6:09 am

Hi John B.

I can't throw  any light on the championship positions in the early years of the BRC. Roy Bacon's famous article in Motorcycle Sport fired my interest in Bantam racing, and I prepared my own plunger framed D1. I entered the final two BRC meetings of 1963 (Cadwell and Snetterton) and while my Bantam was slow, some were even slower. I remember that Roy and Fred both lapped me, and went past as though I was walking! I was pleased to finish all four of my Bantam races in those two meetings, and I was hooked.

Because I wasn't sure whether my Bantam would be reliable (I'd never ridden it), I also entered my road bike, a 350 Norton Navigator, in the production races. I had three races on the little Norton, and was amazed to win the 350cc class each time.

Fred and Roy were inspirational characters. Their bikes were so well prepared, and their riding skills were admirable.

In late 1967 (I think) Terry Beckett asked if I'd like to ride his Bantam. Terry was more interested in two-stroke development and tuning. I would give Terry a written assessment of the bike after each race meeting. We had a great time, and frequently finished ahead of CR93 Hondas and Bultacos in open races.

Terry and I have agreed to meet early in the new year, though, initially, I doubt if we will recognise each other. I should be fun catching up, and remembering old times.

We hope to get to some Historic Racing Club meetings in 2015. That'll be a laugh!

TTFN,

John C.
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john bass

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Age : 88
Localisation : Bensberg, Germany
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PostSubject: Old Fahrts Reunion...   Sat Dec 13, 2014 5:43 am

Note that Fahrt in Deutch means "Drive" and it amuses my ancient sense of humour every time I hear the word.
With "driver" the word becomes `Fahrer´ which spoils things so I pretend to be a Dumb-Dumb*** and say Fahrter which -- of course --only I enjoy. The Germans are well known for their lack of humour. Vee are not amuzzed, they say....

Hi John C,

Quite a QUIET web-site this. Maybe reminiscing is forbidden but I shall post a bit just to see what happens. Probably the lads are working on their bikes and the others X-massing....

In Canada I was going to build a light aircraft and had the plans (still got them) but lost my job so it never happened. A decade before that with the Bantam I had the plans (still get `em...) of a small hovércraft and actually bought a Villiers motor for the job when a Ford supervisor, Derek, at Ford Rainham took me to Snetterton for a Bantam Race meeting. I saw the 250s and was frightened yet still fancied having a go and then when the Bantams were buzzing a second time he broached the idea of us building a racing Bantam -- and we did. Because the 1st Bantam engine was 150cc I was in a 250 race and of course, 2nd from last. Humiliating! but after that it was fun, even with a slow Bantam... During the 4th - 5th season of feeling the Bantam was too slow Andy Boyle lent me his 250 ABS and I had some 250 wonderful races but ambition and the sniff of filthy Luker had me pack off to Canada.
That is the only regret -- that I didn´t get a few more seasons in with the 250....

I´d love to hear more tales from the Old Fahrts....

All the best!

JayBee

*** should bring a comment from someone --- DB perhaps?
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John Colter



Number of posts : 128
Age : 79
Localisation : West Midlands
Registration date : 2014-10-23

PostSubject: Old fahrts   Sat Dec 13, 2014 7:38 am

Hi John B (Was the sloop named after you?)

Good to hear from you. I can fully understand the younger generation not being very moved by tales from old twerps like us - but that won't stop me!

I too was interested in the British 250s class of the BRC meetings. In 1964, I bought an MOV (pushrod OHV 250) Velocette that was reputed to have done well in Scottish racing. Raced it only once. It looked the part, and sounded very loud, but was embarrassingly slow - as in, "Wake me up when it's all over". I set out to find out why, and discovered that there was so much wear in the rocker spindles that they rocked in all directions. The valves were hardly opening at all! I sold it to some unsuspecting bloke for what I paid for it. I felt really bad about that, until the money was safely in my bank account.

In 1965 I bought one of the brand new DMW "Hornet" racers, with the Villiers Starmaker engine. It was very competitive, and I had some good results, but it had a huge appetite for pistons. It turned out to be a bad batch of pistons. The holes, into which the ring pegs were set, had been drilled too deeply, and the pegs were disappearing into the piston, allowing the rings to turn......................I wrote to Villiers, and had a meeting with Peter Inchley who agreed with my diagnosis, and gave me half a dozen pistons. Then there were electrical problems, broken contact breaker drives, and a split gearbox casting, also replaced FOC. Too bad, it was a nice bike, and went well - when it went.

My most enjoyable racing was on Terry's Bantam. It was a development bike, and was different each time I rode it (sometimes better, sometimes not), but it was impressively reliable, and handled and stopped well. At one time there was a suggestion that a longer swinging arm could improve handling, so Terry fitted a longer swinging arm - quite a bit longer. It looked like a drag bike! I rode it at Snetterton, and it scared the living daylights out of me. It didn't want to go round corners.

Happy daze.
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john bass

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Age : 88
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PostSubject: O-Ts-reunion   Mon Dec 15, 2014 6:27 am

No John nothing to do with The Beach Boys but might well have been something to do with beer and my family being kicked out of Scotland for some wrong doings like nicking the royals salmons....

What I have found on this site is that if a topic is not kept alive it vanishes quickly. So I´ll add my bits of nonsense to keep it going and hope some old codgers will wake up and join in.

I was at Lydden in 2005 when Mary Styles & Peter made a good showing of the BRC and I met up with Colin Neil whose brother Derek looked after Icarus-One´s motor. At one time Colin worked for Dr Joe Ehrlic at DH Hatfield and consequently Derek was  using formulae from Dr Joe... enough said. I think our tuning at max engine revs of  of 8400 was for reliability -- probably because of my body fat -- yet it was reliable. Chris Newport, Keith Webb and Mick Scutt were there (at Lydden)  but mostly there were young fellows who came into the scene after my racing  time ....

Speaking of MOV Velocettes I made a 250 BITZA for grass using a MOV frame. Grass tracking was my favourite -- not so precise as road -- and in those days 1952-1962 I was scared fitless of road racing**** and in 1952 started scrambling a Royald Enfield Bullet that was a mistake: it was just too awful for words.
At its second scramble both rear suspension units wrecked themselves by having the upper tubes detach themeselves from the upper mounting so that the springs were deformed into V shapes. Gander and Grey of Forest Gate calulated the required spec for Girling units and they were good but increasing the compression-ratio from 8.4:1  to 9.5:1 had the Bullet motor blown to bits. I bought a 4-stud 500 JAP engine from Tom `Ò´ Connor (Rayleigh Speedway Captain)  and had great fun,  REALLY Racing on the grass. In those days there were 4 classes with heats, semi-finals and finals in all classes so I decided on buildíng a 250 to fill in the waiting time... There were some awful Bitzas on the Grass in those days along with the Hartley Ariel , Hagon and other speedway aces specials.

 Derek, above, had constructed a 250 Villiers which was raced in Bantam events but I cannot remember the rider´s name . Although  Peter Williams detested 2-strokers he  used Derek´s Villiers motored Special  in National events for the same reason of filling in time. I never met Peter but saw him racing in the Island and he was impressive taking corners with the front wheel in the air!!. As tourist  I was there, in the island, on an ancient 350 Ajay  and frightened myself just trying to go quick round the TT corners.
 
Back to grass track: a good friend  Ken E... carefully  prepared his 250 MOV which meant he rejected a twisted frame and gave it to me.  I hacked it about and grafted bearing gussets into it to take a Sunbeam S2 swinging arm holding an Ariel rear wheel. It became a real BITZA by virtue of my having so many motorbike  bits in my garage along with gas wellding equipment. Blokes would drop in for a bit of welding, tell me they didn´t have any ready cash but if I´d take instead, a pair of Matchless forks, a Norton gearbox, a Japanese petrol tank, an AMAC carb  etc.. etc ... in lieu ... So the 250 ended up comprising more than  half a dozen different makes. The 250 engine was AJS 1937, a single, of course, but with two exhaust ports. I upped the Comp Ratio to 10:1, drilled out the AMAC main jet to 1/8th"  (3mm)  and raced it on Victor Martin TRACK FUEL (doped methanol)  without any more ado. It gave a lot of good podium places and had me better `tuned-in´ for the big boys. Fantastically reliable considering I never looked at its botton end...

If you look along the boxes at the top of this site you´ll see "Articles" which contains a bit I wrote long ago about how I got started with the Bantam -- I guess I shouldn´t repeat it here or all the young-bloods`ll get up tight about Old Fahts gassing off bullshine ....

****It is wonderful to look at five BRC trophies (one was nicked in Canada) and get that warm feeling of cockiness to know that I overcame fear -- actually raod-raced and actually won races on the hard tarmac....

Whoops! Too much for the young geezers already,

Cheers for now, Go well and stay well,

JayBee.
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John Colter



Number of posts : 128
Age : 79
Localisation : West Midlands
Registration date : 2014-10-23

PostSubject: Advice from an old fart.   Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:57 am

John B's comment about trophies (above) reminds me of something I greatly regret. About twenty years ago, I was moving house, and decided it was time to get rid of some of the junk with which we surround ourselves. I had kept seven "page-a-day" diaries documenting my racing years - meetings, results, test sessions, various adventures, etc. I also had a whole bunch of trophies, race programmes, and associated bits and pieces. I took all of it down to the local tip, and dumped it - along with a ton or two of bike magazines.

I wish I had been a bit more selective. Those diaries would make interesting reading, now, in my twilight years - cue violins.

So if any of the younger crowd read this, think twice about getting rid of stuff that you might regret losing.

I've still got my leathers, though. They were made for Phil Carter of Northwich, and I bought then off Phil in 1963. They were made by some old boy in St Helens who made leathers for all the star riders back the 1950s and 60s.
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john bass

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PostSubject: Old Fahrts Reunion...   Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:24 am

Gawd yes! Leathers at 20 quid in early 1968 -- admitted, second hand and bought from the mum of a bloke in Preston who was not at home when his mum sold them to me. She said she´d stop him from racing somehow.... so the leathers were new and fitted me perfectly.

Yes, re trophies: they don´t seem much at the time but they are reminders of what year and month so-&-so happened. Photographs too: I look at one in particular which is me in front of Dave Coombs on his water-cooled Bantam at South Bank, Brands Hatch. Although I only finished 4th behind Dave it is heart-warming -- in the nicest way -- because I was 14th in practice with no real hope of bettering in the race with Icarus-1 revving at 8,400 when travelling downhill .... During the race Dave passed me every time after Clearways; that was after I had passed him thro´Druids and downhill to Southbank... It was one hell of a tussle for 6 laps and one of those times of getting a good start ...

So to you young battling-sprogs I´ll add my bit to John C´s:- after the above meeting a bloke came and said, "Would you rather have 2 quid prize-money than the 4th place trophy?" and I took the money. I wish now I´d said trophy because I look at the Bantam trophies and each listed race is remembered. Not in its entirety, of course, but certain aspects like getting a really good start and having a nut like `Tex´ kneeing me at Cadwell.
Again that was downhill overtaking. In this case downhill from Park. He´d come alongside later and stick his knee into my thigh. Several spectators saw this and said I should protest but I didn´t think it worth the bother.

in view of how some top pros purposely blunder into rivals I think there ought to be disqualification for such but it seems `Body Contact´ is also part of motorcycling sport, too, these days.

Getting a good start -- with that stupid "Run & Bump..." -- often had me in a lowly place at end of the 1st lap. With an Intermediate performance Bantam it did mean the fun of passing some others but inevitably doomed Icarus-1 & me to 6th or 7th at the finish.

The 250´s Albion cork clutch ruined many of the first season´s races because it would drag as well as slip. With the Alpha motor having one Dykes ring the bump on compression had to be with with full upper (compression) stroke and the drag would defeat the objective by having the piston at TDC when the bump came. Andy got a Greeves -- all-metal -- clutch which enabled me to make good starts and enjoy a dice of 6 laps at Llandow ´with John Senior on his Sílverstone Greeves. With first two places being Japanese, John S beat me by a wheel to 3rd but I was second Brit 250 bike home. So well remembered is the passing, being passed and repassing thro´out every lap of the race and we were constantly changing lines thro´the bends....

Better go -- or I´ll never stop.

Go well and stay well,

Xmas Cheers!




Uh oh! Promised myself I´d not indulge this way.

I´m too wacked to delete,
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John Colter



Number of posts : 128
Age : 79
Localisation : West Midlands
Registration date : 2014-10-23

PostSubject: Types of start   Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:57 am

Talking of starting methods, the three BRC proddie races I entered in 1963, used a "Le Mans" start - run across the track to your waiting machine, kick-start it, and off you go!

One rider hadn't thought it through properly, and tried to mount his bike from the wrong side. He tangled with the bloke alongside him, and they both fell off before they'd got on!
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john bass

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PostSubject: OTR nostalgiy -- continued...   Mon Dec 22, 2014 6:15 am

When bump-starting I always ran along on the left (facing forward) of the bike and had a race start where after the bum-bump,  as the motor fired up,  my right leg got yanked backwards and for a moment I was stretched out along the seat with the throttle wide open and my body draped over to the left. At that moment all seemed lost but somehow I slid forward and got my right leg up and over the seat and right foot on the gear pedal and so  prodded it viciously  into second without the clutch and then got further forward to engage top using the clutch in correct manner. By then I was beginning to crank over  and found I was in 3rd spot which was maintained to the end. Afterwards a spectator said it was the weirdest-impossible gyration of a start ever seen -- more like a circus trick using a monkey. And as we were chatting I saw that the strap at the top of the right boot had been torn off. Obviously it had caught in the rear chain which had pulled my leg back and then the strap  had gone between chain & sprocket to tear off the strap. If the strap hadn´t torn  I suppose I´d have been sideways dragged off the bike....

John C... did you ever race at Thruxton?

Xmas Cheers,

John-Boy...
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John Colter



Number of posts : 128
Age : 79
Localisation : West Midlands
Registration date : 2014-10-23

PostSubject: Bantams at Thruxton   Tue Dec 23, 2014 5:07 am

Ah, Thruxton! Yes, I did have a brief moment of glory at a special BRC meeting there, in 1968. The Club had invited a number of prominent National stars to try their hands on Bantams, and in the first invitation race, riding Terry's Bantam, I won. Motor Cycle News headed their report, "Colter Beats The Aces!"

I was leading the second race when - I think it was Pat Mahoney - tried a desperate overtaking manouver and forced me over the cobblestones at the final chicane. The bike actually took off - I don't know how I stayed on board. Amazingly, there was no damage, but I was convinced there MUST be, so I parked it.

They were hard riders, those Stars. Dave Croxford shoved me wide a couple of times before I managed to get clear.

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PostSubject: Thruxton -- ahhh!   Tue Dec 23, 2014 5:58 am

I was there John C,,, My First race (2nd road-race ever)  with Icarus-1 using a 125 cc engine instead of the 150cc we started with at dreadful Snetterton. Wonderful long corner at Thruxton  -- forgotten the name which felt like being on the edge of a gramophone record with twistgrip wringing the neck off of the clip-on:  -- that is real racing when cranked hard over and both wheels drifting and a fiendish devil up your exhaust pipe!

Yeah! even the `Stars´come out with their poking knees -- I remember them being there ....

Xmas Cheers!

John-Boy...
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John Colter



Number of posts : 128
Age : 79
Localisation : West Midlands
Registration date : 2014-10-23

PostSubject: Bantams at Thruxton   Tue Dec 23, 2014 6:33 am

I thought Thruxton was a bit of a bore on the Bantam. The old Snetterton layout was more of a riding challenge. As I recall it, that long, long, righthand bend at Thruxton was just a straight that curved round. The approach to the final chicane was interesting, the bend after the starting straight was fun, and there was a fairly fast esses somewhere after that.

Oulton Park was my favourite circuit. Mallory Park was a bit "Mickey Mouse", but I always enjoyed riding there. Cadwell, in all its forms, was ideal for Bantam racing - I particularly liked the Woodland circuit. The Club circuit became a bit too familiar, I preferred going somewhere I'd never ridden before. I raced at Brands Hatch only about four times (always the short circuit) but it was a lot of fun.

A Merry Crimble to all our readers! santa

JC.
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PostSubject: Brands was beuatiful...   Tue Dec 23, 2014 10:49 pm

Brands was Beautiful and I liked Thruxton -- with Snetterton as Jinx #1.

2 meetings at Brands, 2 at Thruxton with good results and 8 at Snetterton with concussion & broken bones twice and one third place to show for all the aggro -- but hold on, Cadwell was marvellous too -- Woodlands and Club except for that clutch-cooking hill...

Xmas Cheers -- hic!

JayBee.
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