THE TOURIST TROPHY RACES.
A Review of the Races with Notes on Riders and Machines.
ENTRIES for the Tourist Trophy Races have now finally closed with a total of 133 as against 141 last year. The entries in each race with the number for the corresponding event in 1926 are as follows :— Senior : 1927-57; 1926-58. Junior : 1927-47; 1926-62. Lightweight : 1927-29; 1926-21. It will be seen that whilst there is a drop of fifteen in the Junior Race, there is an increase of eight in the Lightweight, the Senior remaining practically as before. In the Senior Race, taking the Races in their order of importance, only two big firms that officially entered last year are not competing this year. Douglas Motors have already announced that the fire which destroyed a part of their works a short time back prevents them from participating, and P. & M’s are probably too busy turning out Panthettes to think very much about racing. Both firms will be represented, however, as Parker, who won the Sidecar Race in 1925, has entered himself on a Douglas together with Whalley on a similar machine, and Braidwood—who is by way of being a private owner—has done the same on a P.M.
The Senior Race.
In last year’s Senior there was one S. African rider, in Moller, whilst the Continent was represented by Ghersi on an Italian built Guzzi and the Spaniard Macaya, who rode a Norton. This year the Colonies will be represented by Stewart, an Australian, on a Norton, and Cohen, who is coming from S. Africa to ride an A. J.S. Three Guzzis are entered, but most unfortunately Ghersi, the ace of the team, will not be riding. He crashed recently riding in Italy, and broke both his legs. Everyone will regret his absence from the T.T., his brilliant riding, and the remarkable training which preceded it last year, won him a place in the hearts of the public which is not often accorded to a newcomer. At the moment it is known that Achille Varzi will ride one of the Guzzis, but the other riders have not yet been nominated. Varzi, who has hitherto ridden Sunbeams in this race, has a remarkable record. He has competed for three successive years. In 1924, his first appearance, he was given the Nisbet award for hurling himself off his machine when coming down the mountain to avoid running over a competitor who had crashed in front of him. In 1925 he won the” Motor Cycle ” Trophy for the best performance by an overseas rider, and last year he took home a replica by finishing seventh, his average speed being 63.90 m.p.h., which beats the winning speed in 1924 by over two miles per hour. In addition to the Guzzis there are two entries from Spain. Paura will ride a 500 c.c. B.S.A., and Vidal a Norton. The foreign challenge is therefore greater in this race than it has ever been before. What is there to meet it ? In the first place, there is a very powerful Norton team, including Woods (last year’s winner), Bennett, Craig, Shaw and Searle ; a combination likely to strike terror into the hearts of the boldest. Next, the A. J.S. people with Simpson—the holder of the lap record for the course,—Hough, who might have been the winner last year but for that unfortunate fly that momentarily blinded him and caused him to crash, Rowley and Parkinson. Another formidable team. Sunbeams, with Walker, Spann, Porter and Dodson ; seven Triumphs, the riders of which are not yet definitely settled, three Scotts, again without any positive news about riders, three new Hudsons fathered by Le Vack with Bullus, Guthrie and Langton ” up ” ; a strong team of three Rudges in the hands of Longman, Ashby and Nott ; three Montgomeries ; Handley playing a lone but dangerous hand on his Rex Acme ; and finally, the problem team of the whole race, H.R.D.’s with Dixon, Wood and Davies himself in the saddles. If J. A. P’s can make an engine that will stand up to Freddie Dixon’s driving, then I shall not be surprised to see the
H.R.D.’s black tank in front from start to finish. Although there is, another black tank with Jimmie Simpson astride it, that will not eat anybody’s dust whilst the machine sticks together. It is too early yet, however, to think of forecasting winners with the practising still a couple of weeks off, fascinating as the pastime is, but this I will venture on, given fine weather, the race will be one of the closest, most thrilling, Seniors in the whole history of the T.T., and last year’s record speed of 67.54 will again be beaten.
The Junior Race.
It is strange that this event—for 350 c.c. engines— should show the biggest drop in entries this year. Less than two years ago the 350 machine was regarded as the solo mount of the future. Everybody who professed to know anything about the trend of motor cycling publicly declared that the day of the 500 c.c. was rapidly passing, and that it would ultimately be put out of the running for good by the 350 c.c. Those prophecies have proved to be utterly false, for the 500 c.c. Race has gradually increased in strength, whilst the 350 c.c. this year shows the lowest entry for five years. At the same time the entry is fully representative. Douglas’s have no official entry, for the reason given above, although Parker has an entry on one of these machines in his own name. H.R.D.’s also have no official entry, but Dixon has entered one, as has also Crauford. Apart from that, very much the same firms are represented as last year, save that the Italian Garelli and Bianchi machines will not be represented. This is a very definite loss, for Bianchis finished all three machines last June, two of them only just failing to obtain replicas. This year there are no foreign entries, and only two colonials will be riding, viz., Cohen on an A.J.S., and Melrose on a Sunbeam, the first being the same S. African who is riding in the Senior, whilst the latter is an Australian who has already had a taste of British road conditions in the recent Stock Machine Trial. It looks, therefore, as though this race will be fought out between the home factories, and a fine struggle should result. A. J.S.’s, Sunbeams, Cottons, Excelsiors (with works tuned engines and the Twemlow brothers riding), New Hudsons, New Imperials, Rex Acmes, Royal Enfields and Velocettes, each with their crack riders, will provide a race that will be worth going far to see. Again, I think last year’s speed of 66.70 m.p.h. will be beaten. Bennett, who won last year, had nearly ten minutes in hand when he finished, and there is no doubt that had he been pressed he could have knocked minutes off his time, and might even have equalled the Senior speed. To my mind the Velocettes again provide the biggest danger in the race. The riders of the three machines will be Bennett, Longman and Willis, and they will want a lot of catching. A.J.S.’s should press them close, and Handley and Dixon will certainly chase to death anybody who may be in front of them. I feel, too, that New Hudsons will be in the picture. Le Vack has shown us on Brooklands that he has now surmounted his original difficulties and has found some tremendous speeds. If his riders are good enough, then it is not at all unlikely that New Hudsons will figure amongst the T.T. winners for the first time in history.
The Lightweight Race.
Last year the Lightweight Race provided the most thrilling struggle of the week. For five laps Ghersi tore round the course at over 60 m.p.h., with the rest of the field trailing far behind. All save one man. Paddy Johnston, on a Cotton, dogged the Italian’s wheels throughout the race, and when his chance came in the last lap he seized it like a hero and by sheer resolution forced himself home a winner by a bare 20 secs. Such a finish is not uncommon in the Tourist Trophy Races, but it is rare that it lies between a British and a foreign rider, and this international atmosphere undoubtedly added enormously to the interest.
This year the Lightweight shows an increase in the entries of eight over last year,—a most satisfactory state of affairs ; the outstanding entry undoubtedly being the Guzzi team of three machines. Were Ghersi present to ride in the team I should be inclined to nominate him as the winner straight away. Last year he nearly brought it off alone and unaided. With two other riders to back him up, he would have had a much easier task, and I doubt even if another effort such as Johnston’s last year would be good enough to prevent this Trophy going abroad. However, poor Ghersi is out of it, and that leaves the issue very much more open. In addition to the Guzzis, there are three Cottons, 2 Dots, 2 Excelsiors, 5 New Imperials, 4 O.K. Supremes, 3 Rex Acmes, 4 Royal Enfields, a Montgomery, New Gerrard and Crabtree’s home made machine. There is only one other ” foreign ” rider, viz., Boudin, who is coming from the Channel Islands to ride an O.K., but I do not think he will be likely to affect the issue unless he turns out to be another Ghersi. If he does, he will be immensely popular, for the T.T. spectators love an outsider to win,—almost as much as they do the favourite. The speed of the Lightweight last year was 60.20 m.p.h., and if the speed of the 250 c.c. machines at Brooklands this year is any criterion, then it will surprise me if the average is not put up by three or four miles per hour.
Once practise commences and we see what this year’s machines are like, we can get a comparative idea of the various chances of the different riders, but I think it is absolutely certain that this year’s T.T. will be one of the very finest on record.
MACHINES FOR THE T.T.
TN the past it has been the custom for manufacturers 1 to produce altogether special models for the T.T.
races, and then, perhaps, to incorporate some of their good features in the production models for the following season. This year, however, there appears to be a general tendency for machines of a fairly standard type to be used, and although there are certainly a number of new designs, in the main the motor-cycles which will be used in this month’s T.T. races are very similar to the 1927 models which are available to the public. Examples of this procedure may be found in the entries of H.R.D., Scott, Velocette, New Hudson, Enfield and O.K. Supreme.
The 1927 T.T. machine follows very closely the 1927 Flying Squirrel production model. Alterations that have been made are to detail only, and these have been carried out in order to make the machine more suitable for the T.T. course. Foremost among these is the cutting down and redistribution of weight.
The engine is as standard, except, of course, that it is specially tuned for this purpose, and auxiliary oiling is used for the pistons, worked from a heel-operated pedal. This is to give extra oil direct to the pistons as required.
The three-speed gear box is minus a kick-starter.
Shock absorbers are incorporated in the rear wheel, the same as on the 1927 Flying Squirrel model. These, however, were not used in last year’s T.T. race.
A separate oil tank under the saddle supplies the chain with the necessary lubrication.
1927 T.T. SCOTT.
The Scott racer is very similar to the standard ” Flying Squirrel” Scott. The manufacturers, however, are making an effort to reduce the weight of the machine, and, wherever possible, reductions in this direction have been effected. Weight distribution has been carefully studied, and the engine is farther back and rather lower in the frame than on the standard machine. The new Scotts are reported to be extremely fast, and should give a good account of themselves. Harry Langman and E. Mainwaring will be riding, but as yet it is doubtful if the vacancy, caused by Rex Adams’ death, will be filled.
The three New Hudsons which will be ridden by J. Guthrie, T. Bullus and 0. Langton in both the Senior and Junior races are very similar to the production twin-port models of 496 and 346 capacity respectively. The main alteration so far as the engine is concerned is that dry sump lubrication is used, one double acting pump supplying the engine with lubricant and returning it in due course to the tank. The compression ratio is somewhat higher than that of the standard models, as is only to be expected, and the tuning of the engines has been superintended by that famous designer and speed-man, Herbert Le Vack. The brakes, spring forks, frame, tyres, etc., are all standard, but the tanks are slightly larger, in order that more petrol and oil may be carried, and the gear-box–also standard—is not equipped with a kick-starter. Le Vack himself is superintending all arrangements in the Isle of Man.
There is little difference between the Enfield machines in the Junior Race and those in the Lightweight event, the models being, in fact, identical, except as regards the engines and tyres. On the smaller machine,t26 x 2.375 in., wired on tyres are used, whilst on the larger ones the tyres are 27 x 2.75 in. The 250 c.c. machine is not standardised, but the ” 350’s” are similar to the standard Enfield model No. 352, the main variations being the use of a 61. in. rear brake and hubs fitted with journal bearings.
The petrol tank is also of slightly larger capacity and holds 21 gallons of fuel, whilst on the down tube from the saddle there is an oil tank holding half a gallon. There is also a small tank at the back to lubricate the chains. An Enfield mechanical oil pump is used, together with an auxiliary pump controlled from the handlebar. The specification includes Enfield forks with shock absorbers and steering damper incorporated, an M.L. magneto, new racing type B. & B. carburettor, Terry saddle and Dunlop tyres. The engines on both machines are of J.A.P. manufacture. The four riders in each case—G. L. Reynard, J. G. Burney, T. Stewart and C. S. Barrow—are all Enfield agents.
The Norton. For some time there have been rumours that the
some past rumours Norton in the T.T. would be an altogether new model with an overhead camshaft engine. These rumours have been neither confirmed nor denied owing to the fact that the Norton Company were not in a position to state
whether or no the overhead camshaft job, which they had under test, would be used in the Isle of Man. The position at the time of writing is, indeed, the:same. The overhead camshaft model is being used for the T.T. practices by the official Norton entry—Bennett, Craig, Shaw and Woods. If it proves satisfactory during the practising it will undoubtedly be used in the race. Later, in accordance with Nortons’ usual policy, it will be marketed at the earliest possible moment. The machine is altogether different in appearance from any Norton that has so far been seen. The overhead camshaft engine incorporates all the best that so famous a concern can put into it. The camshaft is driven by means of a tubular vertical shaft through bevel gears fitted on splines, and the overhead rocker box
is easily detached by removing four studs, leaving the driving shaft in position. This shaft, incidentally, is mounted on self-aligning bearings. The cams are fitted on short, stiff, splined shafts, and the rockers have hardened ends inserted. Nortons have always been efficiently cooled, but the new cylinder head and valve have been re-designed
with a view to obtaining even better heat distribution. The results on test have shown no hot spots, the cooling appearing to be uniform. The area of the head joint is larger than on the push rod engine, and four studs go right through the rocker box, cylinder head and barrel to the crank case, so that there is no strain what
ever on the cylinder base. The magneto is driven by a totally enclosed chain off the main shaft with a two to one reduction. The timing side of the crank case is thus absolutely clean and sealed. The standard type of dry sump lubrication which proved so satisfactory last year is used, but there are two branches from the main feed, one leading direct to the big-end through the hollow shaft, and the other to the overhead cam box. Surplus oil from this returns through the tubular vertical shaft to the sump and thence in the ordinary way to the tank. The dimensions of the engine are the same as before, 79 x 100
giving 490 c.c.
Apart from the engine, even, the new Norton bristles with good features. The frame is of the cradle type with a straight top tube, a saddle tank being med. Torque tubes are provided, and the gear-box is pivoted on the torque tubes, moving backwards and forwards
on the chain stays. It is thus rigidly held top and bottom, so that perfect alignment is ensured without the possibility of any distortion occurring. A five-point engine suspension is adopted. As regards brakes, spring forks, etc., the overhead camshaft Norton is similar to the push rod type, but
the rear brake is supplied with a milled nut, which will allow of its adjustment while the machine in in motion. The new frame gives a very much lower riding position, but we understand that the total weight will be only approximately the same as that of last year’s model.
Although the B.S.A. concern is not entering officially, a B.S.A. will be seen in both the Junior and Senior events, the smaller machine being handled by A. Austin and the larger by I. Faura. Both these riders are agents and have entered themselves, Faura being a Spaniard who has been particularly successful in his own country.
The manufacturers are unaware if any alterations have been made, but they inform us that the machines supplied to the riders were standard in every respect.
The 498 c.c. Triumphs for the 1927 T.T.
Few machines, if any, can lay more well-founded claims to being standard productions than the 498 c.c. Triumphs entered for the Senior race.
In essentials, the machines are exactly the same as those sold to the public, and it is noteworthy that the engines have the standard pattern touring pistons fitted and that the lubrication system employs the standard pattern Triumph mechanical pump.
A standard frame is used, but slight alterations have been made, giving a lower saddle position and, incidentally, dropping the engine a little.
Twin saddle type petrol tanks, with a total capacity of three gallons, are secured by steel straps, and a separate oil tank, holding half a gallon and incorporating a foot-operated auxiliary pump, is carried on the saddle pillar tube.
Both the internal expanding brakes are foot operated, and the gear change mechanism has been slightly modified to make it more readily accessible with the large tanks fitted.
In all, seven Rex-Acme machines will be competing during race week, one in the Senior, three in the Junior, and three in the Lightweight. W. L. Handley is, of course, the Rex-Acme star, and he will play a lone hand in the Senior race. So far, he has not decided whether he will be using the new 439 c.c. overhead camshaft Blackburne or whether he will remain faithful to the 500 c.c. twin on which he put up so magnificent a performance in last yetr’s Senior race. He has over in the Island five machines in all. One of these is his last year’s twin machine with the same engine but with a slightly modified frame, in that the top tube and tank rail have been dropped 2i ins., whilst the engine is
The Blackburne overhead camshaft engine is particularly interesting, but there has not been very much time to test it out, and Handley’s choice will depend on the performance of the two machines in practice.
The same applies, indeed, to the Junior mounts. He has with him his last year’s” 350″ with a new push-rod type engine, whilst he also has a 350 c.c. overhead camshaft machine. The two other riders in the Junior race, H. Dyson and D. McCrae, will be using the push-rod job. In the Lightweight event all three Rex-Acmes will be push-rod engines. The design of the frames of these has been altered slightly. The tank rail has been dropped a little, so that the tank is deeper and has ample capacity without being unduly wide. Handley is backed up in this event by G. S. Davison and D. McCrae.
The general items of the specification of the T.T. Rex-Acmes include a Burman gear box, Amac carburettor, M.L. magneto, Webb brakes and forks, Coventry chains and a B. & D. steering damper. The Lightweight and Junior push-rod machines are, indeed, very similar to the standard Rex-Acme productions.
The Excelsior Motor Company has a fine pair of riders in the brothers Twemlow, who will figure in both Junior and Lightweight races. The machines for rhe two events are similar in all general respects, 250 and 350 c.c. J.A.P. engines being employed. The frame has been specially designed, and is of the duplex cradle type, with a pair of cradle bars running beneath the gear-box to accommodate the footrests and brake work. There are a number of holes in these cradle bars, so that the footrests and brakes can be moved to any position desired by the rider, both front and back brakes being foot operated. The frame is also braced from the bridge of the back forks to that of the chain stays by means of a loop tube which follows the radius of the mudguard. No loose nuts and bolts are used in the construction of the frame, every joint being brazed.
A particularly neat feature is the cam adjustment for the gear-box, which provides a very rapid means of taking up slack in the driving chain. This, incidentally, will be incorporated on Excelsiors for next year. The specification includes Brampton spring forks built up with taper tubes, a saddle tank and mechanical lubrication.
350 c.c. I.O.M. SUNBEAM.
As last year, the T.T. Sunbeams follow very closely on the lines of the Standard Sporting models. This year the enormous tank has been abandoned in favour of one of a more handy size, thus necessitating more frequent petrol stops, but rendering the machine more controllable.
A new shape of oil tank on the seat pillar allows easier access to the carburettor (both for air and adjustments).
350 c.c. and 500 c.c. models are almost identical, with the exception of engine capacity and gear ratios.
H. R. D.
Howard Davies is another manufacturer who has realised that not only the distribution of weight, but the actual reduction of it, must be considered; the 1927 T.T. H.R.D.’s will be 30/40 lbs. lighter than last year’s. Attention to detail has achieved this, the principal saving being effected by a small tank, the elimination of chain stays and the use of a built-up gear-box bracket instead of a malleable casting. The H.R.D. team in the Senior consists of Howard Davies and” Freddie” Dixon, both past T.T. winners, and C. P. Wood, who finished fifth on an H.R.D. last year.
The T.T. New Imperials, which will figure in the Junior and Lightweight races, are altogether new productions. The engines of both are similar in general design and are made throughout by the New Imperial concern. Twin exhaust ports are favoured, and the overhead valve gear is totally enclosed and lubricated by special pipes direct from the timing case. A doublebarrelled Pilgrim pump is used.
The bore and stroke of the Lightweight engine are 621 x 80 m.m., that of the larger engine being 74 x 80 m.m. Ball bearings are used everywhere, except at the little end, which is plain, and at the big end, which is a roller. The larger machine has a duplex cradle frame, whilst the Lightweight has the single tube loop frame which is standardised on several New Imperial models.
In the Junior race L. Horton, F. L. Hall and S. Jones comprise the New Imperial team, whilst in the Lightweight E. C. Fernihough and J. Robinson are competing, in addition to the above-named three.
Although the T.T. Rudge-Whitworths which will be ridden in the Senior race by F. A. Longman, E. Nott and C. T. Ashby would appear to be altogether different models, they differ, in fact,very slightly from the standard machine. The main differences are that a large saddle tank is fitted, whilst internal expanding brakes instead of those of usual Rudge-Whitworth type are employed. The compression of the engine is rather higher than standard, and the cylinder head is of slightly different pattern, the exhaust ports and pipes being splayed instead of parallel. The gear box is the standard pattern, but has close ratios as required for the course, and is not fitted with a kick starter.
The front forks also have been modified slightly in order to accommodate the internal expanding brake. The brakes, incidentally, are inter-connected as in standard Rudge-Whitworth practice, a pedal applying both, and the front brake being in addition operated by hand. The bore and stroke are 85 x 88 m.m., giving cubic capacity of 499 c.c. as in the past.
The new Rudge-Whitworths have a very workmanlike appearance, and, in the hands of so fine a team, should undoubtedly give a good account of themselves in the Island. It is interesting to note that one of the riders, E. Nott, competed recently in the Athy ” SeventyFive ” road race. Nott was riding one of the new T.T. models, and was successful in making fastest time of the day, covering the course at just over 60 m.p.h.
Four O.K. Supreme machines are entered for the Lightweight Race, the famous rider, Alec Bennett, being backed up by C. T. Ashby, G. L. Boudin and T. L. Edmondson. The machines are identical in almost every respect to the standard 250 c.c. model, but the twin-port J.A.P. is used in place of the single port type standardised. Chain guards will not, of course, be fitted, nor will kick-starters be attached to the gearboxes. Several O.K. machines, identical to the T.T. models, have, incidentally, already been delivered to agents in various parts of the country.
Considerable interest is attached to the overhead camshaft Velocettes, on one of which Alec Bennett won the Junior T.T. at record speed last year. The machines for this month’s Junior will, however, be very similar to the present production model. The only outstanding innovation, indeed, is the fitment to the cam-box of a small mechanical oil-pump which returns oil from the cam-box direct to the tank. There are thus three oilpumps on the Velocette engine—one drawing oil from the tank, one returning it from the sump to the tank, and the third from the cam-box to the tank.
There are also slight modifications to the frame, one of which is that the under tank rail is swept upwards to allow more clearance to the cam-box. A lower saddle position has been obtained by mounting the saddle direct on to the frame, a simple means of adjustment being provided. Apart from these points the T.T. Velocettes are similar to the sports models at present listed, and the alterations mentioned will probably be standardised on the 1928 machines.
THE FLORIO CUP.
THE race for the Florio Cup, of which the rules were given in our March issue, is this year quite separate from the Targa Florio, and will be run in Brittany on a road circuit near St. Briene, under the auspices of the newspaper, L’Orient Eclair” and the Peugeot concern. The competitors will be classed according to engine size, and Peugeot, Bentley, Bugatti, Amilcar and Salmson have already expressed their intention of taking part in it. The race should be very interesting, and has the advantage from an English point of view, that the course is not far from St. Malo, which is easily reached by steamer from Southampton. The winner in each class will receive a prize of 100,000 francs, while the victor on formula will win the cup and 50,000 francs.