The Saga of Speedy Green


After reading about Bill Young’s timing trick I decided to tell this tale which also involved a different
technique in the art of timing motorcycles.

When I was young and had no sense ,I took a girl behind the fence, Bla Bla Bla, I also ,by the
time I was 18, had bought or traded and sold over 50 motorcycles. The disease had started! We
were riding all sorts of old things around the bush and having Club Sports Days etc when into my
stable came a well neglected and well modified 48 Speed twin. It had been lying outside for many
years but the basics were all there. It had originally been built by Lex Kinnear whose father old Ted
Kinnear is said to be the man who started Speedway in Australia. Anyway this particular bike had
been well converted, a Matchless swinging arm unit had been grafted on, complete with a set of
Jam Pots, It had a dual seat, a Jawa Petrol tank, a completely open primary chain and clutch, and
to finish it off were two single pipes running along the left hand side.To a young Scramble rider this
bike had it all, and the next Albany Cavalcade at the Albany Oval was fast approaching. The bike
was immediately stripped, the barrels honed, Some oversize 10 to 1 were sourced, turned down to
fit the bore and cam ground with a file. Next the big ends{ babbited}had the caps filed till they were
nice and snug, the valves were done and as the magneto was dead, the coil spent a night in my
protesting mother’s oven and the whole thing assembled. All I needed was some heat resisting
paint to finish the job, and as money was scarce this would have to come from the Albany PWD
Workshops where I was an apprenticed Diesel Fitter. All that was available at the particular time
was David Brown Green so the head and barrel were dutifully painted, the motor was fitted, a
clutch and chain cover was fashioned out of some mesh, the two single pipes were fitted along the
left hand side and the bike aptly christened Speedy Green by my old mate and confidante #140
The day of the Cavalcade arrived, the football field was a mass of colour, there were Marching
Girls, Horses and their riders Clowns, Side shows, School Kids and anyone who thought they were
important enough to be out there. Around the edge of the football oval the gravel road had been
graded and some drums put in the middle of the back straight to make a sharp chicane. A white
line had been painted across the middle of the Grand Stand straight, and we, the star attraction ‘or
so we all thought’ were in some cow sheds out the back, in the shit as usual.

I was not happy there, no Marching Girls were going to come in here I reckoned, so with a show
of bravado I shoved my bike outside on the grass. A couple of kicks to fire it up for practice but
there was nobody home, a quick check by holding the plug lead assured me that my mothers oven
trick had been a very quick fix indeed. In desperation I decided that the only thing to do was to race
home and take the magneto off of my road bike, a twin Matchless with a Lucas on it and a great
bulbous end cap with a stop button in the middle of it. Back at the pits and the job was going on in
record time when disaster struck, I couldn’t get the maggy cap off because of the primary chain
cover I had fashioned and also I didn’t have a plug spanner of any kind. Preservation of my pride
took over so I rocked the pistons on TDC and brought them back against the suction, that had to
be between ¼ and ½ of an inch I reckoned, if it backfired when I kicked it over I’d just change the
plug leads. Then with the plug lead in hand I gently flicked the maggy and felt the pulse as I
watched the inside of my left forearm, gently, gently, till I could just see the muscle twitching. That’s
it, on went the cog, and then the timing cover. The instant experts who had stood back criticizing
this procedure and saying it couldn’t be done were silenced as on the second kick it snarled into
life as crisp as ever. My old and trusted mate #140 who had stripped mine while I had gone for the
maggy had a smug smile on his face, he had never doubted me, and he knew that we’d talk about
this when the tongues were loosened tonight.

The racing was going well, two wins from two starts and the man I’d come to beat was coming in
second. This crafty old fox was unbeatable on a club sports day, he was as nimble as a cat on the
point to point and the cloverleaf was his speciality, Ted Scott was his name, and Triumph twins
were his game. He had pointed out to me while the maggy change was taking place that two nuts
were missing from the barrel flange studs. This was true, as in my haste during the week I had
tightened it down without feeding these two nuts on. He had warned me that I would blow the
barrels off, I took no notice. Three Marching Girls had started to hang around old Speedy Green,
their short skirts showing off their creamy thighs. The King of the Cavalcade Trophy was well within
my grasp, and I realized there could be two Trophies here today, one for the Cavalcade, and, if I
played my cards right one tonight as well. We were on the second lap of the third and last race,
one lap to go, the crafty old fox was ten yards behind as I came into the Grand Stand straight. The
three Marching Girls were hanging over the fence waving like mad. I thought I’d really excite them,
so I went wide and headed down about a yard from the fence, the tap was wide open and it was
making a beautiful sound.

The girls straightened up, their eyes wide with fear as old Speedy Green let go about a yard before
them. The barrels had lifted off and were hammering on the bottom of the fuel tank, I was instantly
covered with hot black oil, and as I sailed past and looked over at the girls I saw the oil splattering
the front of their smart red and white uniforms. They also had funny spotted faces as they ran back
from the fence. I coasted to a stop, then with a leaden heart I pushed old Speedy Green back to
the Pits. I knew there’d be no trophy today, or tonight. That crafty old fox took the day, two seconds
and a first. I heard afterwards that the three marching girls were severely reprimanded and sent
home in disgrace, and that they were to keep away from motorcycles and the blokes who rode
them as both were highly dangerous.

Speedy Green was taken home and rebuilt, and many a happy day was had on it, especially
since it then had all it’s barrel bolts. It eventually went the way of all the others in favour of
a ZB Goldie, but it may be that those barrels and head are still around, so if anybody has
seen them or the frame let me know, maybe old Speedy Green still has a tale to tell.





 

 

 

 




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