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Velocette Spring Opener, 2010

May 16, 2010


This year’s Spring Opener for the Velocette Club of N. America was held Saturday at John and Sue’s place in Napa, CA.  There was a great turnout for the ride, around 20-25 Velos and another dozen or more on lesser marques.  ;)  A few guys and gals snuck in with modern machines…

There were several folks that travelled far to attend, with riders coming up from LA, down from Washington and Oregon and the Sierras.  Mirek came all the way from Toronto, and the KTT guru Dennis Quinlan travelling all the way from Australia!



IMG_3496John conducting the riders meeting.  We went out some of the scenic backroads to Winters, CA for breakfast at Steady Eddy’s.

That little rugrat in the white coat follows me everywhere…



IMG_3501Stopped in WintersDon Danmeier’s BSA is parked behind Kim’s KSS.  The route this year went around Napa Valley, along Putah Creek, near Lake Berryessa, along Silverado Trail, then up the Oakville Grade and down Dry Creek Road.  Very scenic and some good twisties.  Here is a good link that describes some of the roads and the territory.

John’s Mark7 KTT.  I think this is the 2nd best Velo that the factory ever sold.  It is beautiful in its simplicity.  Every part is there for only one purpose; GOING FAST.  This model has the gigantic finned head and barrel of the later Mark 8 KTT, but without the added weight of a swingarm and rear springs.  (yes, I’ve been told that rear suspension is a good thing, but I’ll stick with rigids).  This one goes well, with a sound to match.  John let me take it for a spin last year, and the powerband caught me a bit off guard.  With that cam and the megaphone exhaust, the bike really comes alive in the higher rpm range.  The racers call it “coming on the pipe” or “coming on the cam” and I think this one has both effects taking place.  John is sorting out the bike and plans to register it for road use soon.  yeah!

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Magnesium front brake.


Finned muff of aluminum on the rear drum, to dissipate heat.  Note how Veloce used the steady to support the brake arm.  It is the steel plate in the bottom of the photo that connects the rear axle to the brake pivot arm (this one also has two small 1/4”holes in it for some reason).  As the brake pedal is depressed by the pilot’s foot, the chrome brake arm is pulled forward, pivoting at the bottom on the brake pivot.  This pivot is somewhat long, and would tend to bend and decrease the brake efficiency.  The support plate holds that brake pivot in place, which gives better brake response.  It is a simple part to make, you should do it on your bike.  Just get a 3/16” thick steel plate, and drill two holes at the correct distance, make the holes a snug fit on the axle and brake pivot.  Any play in these holes will ruin the effect of the support plate…  (I should talk to John about that slotted hole near the axle on his plate).


Rider’s view.  I just love to photograph bikes from this angle.  It seems to give a decent, if lacking, 2 dimensional approximation of what the rider experiences.

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John Stanley brought his newly restored blue Venom, with some Thruxton bits fitted.  That cutaway in the petrol tank is big clue when IDing a Thruxton from photos, but it is often fitted to other models by recent owners.

Behind John’s bike is a Mark 2 KSS.  This bike shares the same frame, forks, gearbox, etc with the rigid 500cc MSS, but has the 350cc OHC motor.  It can almost match the speed of an MSS.


The lineup back at Casa Ray.


Velos come in colors other than black with gold stripes!  Gil Loe’s 53 swingarm MAC.


Paul Adams brought the ex-John Munos iron MSS.  It is a fine bike.  I should note that I’m not impartial, my Velo is the same model, but mine isn’t nearly this clean.  Note the cooking sheets used as diapers under the bikes.  John & Sue use them in an attempt to preserve the new macadam in front of their home.


Thruxton #1 of Frank and Elizabeth Recorder.  #2 has recently been restored in black and gold.



John Sims (in the striped shirt) received his new c1927 Scott the day before the Spring Opener and brought it along in his pickup.  Paul d’O and I both loved the pink color, and bugged John to unload the bike and fire it up.  It has been modified to run at Silverstone, with a later gearbox, Veloce-pattern foot shift, two sided front brake and a new repop rear brake.  It also sported a new BTH spark ignitor.  These BTH units are a bit of black magic, and replace the old BTH style magneto with some modern solid state electronic bits and coils.  The previous owner of the bike fitted one with a toothed belt drive on the primary side.


Alfred Scott was a very talented engineer.  His bikes sported many innovations such as triangulated frame tubes, two stroke motors, water cooling, telescopic forks, novel two speed drives, easy access to engine bearings, etc.  This was in 1908-1910!!! 

In the photo above, you can see the small round access plate at the center of the crankshaft.  By opening it, the pilot can swap out the rollers to the big end bearings.  Titch Allen told a funny story about riding his worn out Scott.  It seems that one side of his motor had worn out rollers, making quite a racket.  He stopped on the side of the road, took out all the rollers on both sides, and placed them back in the motor, alternating one good, one bad roller all the way around on each side!  He was proud of his bodges, and wrote about them often. 

I love the look of this exhaust manifold, and the requisite red paint on the barrel.  tisk tisk onthe modern allen head screws, but I’m sure they were put there for easy use on the racetrack.  A nice touch was the clear oil lines that show the color coordinated fluid.  😉

I’m sure that Paul will write up some good info on Scotts on the Vintagent soon.  stay tuned.



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One of Paul Zell’s creations.  This one has been bored and stroked to about 710cc’s.  Paul knows his way around a workshop and has been fettling these bikes for years.  It’s terribly fast and exciting.


The Geoff Scott Venom.  He does custom paint; by appointment only.

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Marking its territory: 


This one didn’t win the Exxon Valdez award after lunch.  Too little oil lost.  Better luck next year!


3 Comments leave one →
  1. John Jennings permalink
    May 17, 2010 12:12 am

    Almost as good as being there – thanks Pete!

  2. May 27, 2010 5:13 pm

    Love this site. I have a 1958 Velocette 500 CC Scrambler, I also have a few spare parts. The bike is not running at this time, and I’ve had it since 1962. I’m interested in selling it, but would like to know the approx worth of the bike

  3. Pete Young permalink*
    May 28, 2010 8:32 am

    Hi David. I’m not sure what the value of your bike is [I try to ignore the money side of our hobby 🙂 ]. It’s probably worth a few thousand $ at least. The last complete Velo that sold that I heard about was a 350 Viper, running well and licensed for around $6000.

    If you put an advert in the club’s newsletter, I’m sure that somebody will make you an offer. Here’s a link to the club’s website:


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