I've known about it for years, but heard it was kind of drab, so had never made a point to visit the London Motorcycle Museum. While being tourguided by Dai Gibbison through the environs of the capital, he snuck in a stop at the LMM, housed in an old stable and farm buildings in Greenford, just past Heathrow airport.
|Mills-Furford sidecar; a Zeppelin on the side.|
|The och Triumph prototype in Egli frame|
Triumph did design a dohc twin, the 'Bandit', made in small numbers in 1970 (badged also as the BSA 'Fury' - as seen here in the LMM, one of only 5 to survive), was their attempt to answer the Japanese challenge of high-tech, relatively inexpensive bikes with great performance. The Bandit/Fury was a very attractive design with excellent performance for the day - 34hp/110mph from 350cc - but cash flow problems and stupid mistakes from their drawing office killed the project. The rumor of their failure includes a batch of electric starters which had been designed, and contracted/built by an outside supplier, too short for the engine. It is also claimed by one ex-Triumph employee that the tooling to machine the complicated cylinder heads was rented, and on failure to pay the fee, the owner of the tools confiscated and destroyed them. No government bailouts for cash-strapped manufacturers then...although Triumph got one later, which kept the Meriden Co-op alive for a few years. Had the British motorcycle industry got the sort of massive loans afforded to Honda in the 1950s, the story might have turned out differently...but then given the complacency and lack of vision of the English Boards of Directors, perhaps it was best to let the industry die, for we might have seen fast dohc Triumphs which leaked oil and had poor spares backup! Instead, in an ironic twist, the reborn Triumph took lessons from the Japanese.
|Spot the middle cylinder...|
Another prototype machine which I'd never seen before is an Overhead Camshaft single-cylinder Triumph racer from 1929 - Triumph's first attempt at a cam up top (although Edward Turner had designed his own ohc single in 1925, and built a prototype in 1927, long before he came to Triumph; he didn't design this machine). The cam drive looks very much like an early Norton 'CS1' arrangement, with rockers enclosed within a cambox on the cylinder head, the actual rocker arms emerging from the side of the cambox, meaning fewer oil leaks than the later Norton 'International' and 'Manx' designs, in which the ends of the rocker arms emerge from a slot above the valves - difficult to seal, and even in 1962 Manxes were merrily squirting cambox oil onto their back tires.
|Triumph OHC racer prototype squeezed 'twixt two Triples|
Bill Crosby's son gave us a private tour of the new barn, and was very enthusiastic about their plans to expand and properly light the exhibit of 50 or so Triumphs. Let's hope they do, as the collection is worth a look.
|The Triumph barn|
|A very rare 1920s Blackburne-engined sprinter...|
|...and the '60s Triumph version.|
|To build a better Mousetrap...or a Rat-Trap! Two Binks racing carbs of the '20s.|
|The original Triumph Thruxton.|
|Seeley Commando and BSA Victor racers.|
|A 'sectioned' Velocette LE engine.|
|Triumphs for days.|