SPORTING MACHINES ON TEST.
THE 346c.c. MODEL 6 NEW IMPERIAL. By RODNEY L. WALKERLEY.
SUCH a quantity of ink has flowed and such a volume of hot-air been expended on the merits of the loop-frame, and as to its steering qualities, that Motor Sport decided to road-test a machine embodying this layout. With this object in view, we asked New Imperial Motors, Ltd., to lend us a machine and asked, not for a two-port racing machine, but for their ordinary Model 6, which is a sports machine produced at the lowest cost compatible with the best standards of workmanship.
New Imperial, Ltd., kindly supplied us with a machine, and one fine day I discovered a brand new Model 6 awaiting my gentle treatment. The 346 c.c. Model 6 New Imperial costs £48 los.,
which is not a great deal of money, and this price brings the machine within that category at which wiseacres level the finger of scorn. They proclaim that machines of this price with the claims made for them cannot possibly be good at the price. Poor material, scamped work and bad finish, they declare, are alone responsible for the low cost.
A first inspection of the Model 6 revealed points of interest. The loop frame of the New Imperial is well known, but the 3-point suspension of the power unit is not so obvious. Its method is made clear by the accompanying diagram. The generous depth of finning, the large exhaust port and pipe, the enclosed rocker boxes and large valve springs—two per valve—excited approving comment. That the price is the lowest possible is noticeable in one or two points, but, on the other hand, many
items which could obviously have been ” cut ” have been supplied as standard. Two large tool bags are fitted, and the complement of tools would do credit to a much more expensive machine. The brakes are large, and the rear one fitted with finger adjustment. A stand is supplied to the front wheel, and the standard saddle is of the ” Aero ” spring variety. Shockabsorbers and steering damper are included in the specification, while the finish of the whole machine, generous width of mudguards and the very handsome saddle tank, go to show that expense has not been spared in the production of this machine. The new 1928 type silencer is an improvement, handsome in appearance and efficient in operation,
while the fitting of 27 X 2.75 Dunlops is another step ahead of 1927.
Astride the machine, I was most favourably impressed by the excellence of the riding position, a matter which is of some moment to one six feet three inches high. The saddle is very low, and the arms fall naturally to the bars, without undue stooping or strain, the bars themselves being adjustable—and in conjunction with the adjustable foot-rests—render the creating of the correct position for any rider, a matter of minutes.
On the road one found the foot-rests to be set rather higher than is usual, giving one the impression of a road-racing machine, which, personally, is my ideal. Sitting astride the ” New Imp.” I felt that one-ness of machine and rider which inspires confidence and renders one at home on a machine immediately. During my run out of Town, the threading of my way •
in traffic proved the ease of the gear change and the silence of the box. It was possible to change from neutral into bottom, with the engine running, without the slightest sound or suspicion of that horrid crunch inseparable from many gear-boxes. The gear lever, mounted in a gate on the tank, fell naturally to hand and was light and certain in operation. The clutch is not the lightest I have used, but requires no great strength of fingers.
On the open road there was noticeable a certain amount of valve clatter, and the adjustment of inlet tappet clearances wrought a change. The machine was brand new, and this adjustment was called for three times in some two hundred miles ; the last time, however, seemed to be final.
A loose contact-breaker next claimed my attention, the machine producing a state of chronic misfiring combined with astonishing explosions in the silencer, whence shot enormous flames with horrifying persistence. The trouble being traced to the contact-breaker loose on its pivot, I proceeded on my way without further incident. Considering the new state of the engine, I did not consider it fair to attempt any timed runs, but, with a certain brutality, I flattened the throttle right out before the first hundred miles were anything like accomplished, and, from my own estimate, I should say
sixty-five to sixty-eight miles per hour was the maximum as the machine stood. Seventy should, of course, be possible when the engine becomes more run in. The gear-box employs rather wide ratios, but the speeds on gears must be about twenty and forty respectively.
The route of the test run lay over every sort of road, main, secondary, tertiary and cart track, with stretches of colonial quality interspersed. Throughout the test the rock-steadiness of the steering was apparent, whether over main roads at high speeds, or colonial sections at a more decorous gait.
Over mud and grass the New Imp. was perfectly controllable and slid far less than any machine I have ever taken over the same sections ; while at speed on the open road, the striking of quite appreciable bumps and pot-holes did not affect the steering in the least, even neglecting the steering damper.
A little private menacing was indulged in through sandy-surfaced lanes, and the cornering of the Model 6 was beyond reproach. The ordinary tortuous country lane was taken at a quite high speed, the machine heeling over on the corners without the least sign of sliding in the sand and mud of the road. The rather high position of the foot-rests was found to inspire great confidence in fast cornering, there being ample ground clearance and no danger of touching on even the most acute bends. The Model 6 weighs in the region of 240 pounds, and I thought this to be rather on the light side for so powerful an engine. I found that when travelling really fast over bumpy and loose surfaced lanes on one or two occasions when conditions permitted the fifty milean-hour mark to be exceeded, the machine needed
quite a considerable width of road, the back wheel evincing a slight tendency to wander. This was, of course, due to the wheel striking the loose ground again after bumps, and possibly a heavier rider would not have noticed this at all.
During the whole test-run the mechanical pump functioned to perfection, and was plainly visible in action from the saddle. The pump is situated on the timing case, but does not appear to be so obviously vulnerable as is typical of some modern pumps. Owing to the newness of the engine, Castrol R was used in bulk, so no figures could be suggested for oil consumption. Fuel was consumed at the rate of one gallon per ninety miles, which is excellent in view of the sports Amac fitted, and the large doses of middle and low gear work. In conclusion I have one point of criticism to offer, and that is with regard to the brakes. These are of large diameter both on front and rear wheels, of the usual internal expanding type. That on the front, operated from the right handlebar was excellent when it bedded down a little, but the rear brake was very fierce, it skidding the machine on quite dry, hard surfaces unless extreme caution was used, and as in emergencies one is apt to stand on things heavily, the results might conceivably become feverish. This disconcerting behaviour is probably due to the design of the brake pedal, which is placed on. the left of the machine, between the foot-rest and the chain case, on a separate mounting. The result is that one has to remove one’s foot from the rest and place it on the brake directly, as it is impossible to reach it with either the heel or toe. This renders it difficult to regulate the pressure
on the pedal, and consequently the brake is slammed on viciously. A re-designed pedal would undoubtedly be a tremendous improvement. I completed the test with a feeling of great pleasure and satisfaction ; the New Imperial handles in a delightfully easy manner, and after a few hours riding I felt completely at home on a machine I had never seen
before. Altogether the Model 6 presents exceptional value for the sportsman, the machine being ideal alike for trials work and competitions, and for fast averages over main roads. At &8 los. the Model 6 is a remarkably attractive machine.
The makers are New Imperial Motors, Ltd., Birmingham, from whom all particulars are obtainable.