Oh, I remember only too well ! Doug Wright was my brother-in-law, and he had bought the bike in somewhat dubious circumstances out of the museum in the stable block at Stanford Hall. After the builder of the bike John Hartshorne sold it to John Griffith, there was a terrible car crash on the M1 which killed John G, and his bikes passed to his two sons. They raced it, and following the dubious advice of Titch Allen they removed the Best and Lloyd Mk2 oil pump and ran it on petroil, with an oil feed to the glands and cups that consisted of oil pipes containing smoker’s pipe cleaners pushed up the pipes to limit the flow !! I kid you not. The bike then had to sulk in the museum for a few years before Doug bought it.
Doug decided to take the bike to John Hartshorne to ask for his advice, and I went with him. This was the occasion when I first spoke to John, and the start of our long and close friendship. John explained to Doug that the oil pipes stuffed with pipe cleaners were nothing to do with him, and suggested refitting a Best and Lloyd Mk2 oil pump. I got a pump for Doug from local man Ted Fry, who at the time was Membership Secretary of the Brough Superior Club. Doug fitted the pump and asked me to try the bike out at Langar Airfield as he was unable to start the bike himself due to its very high compression, TT carb., etc.. It started quite easily for me, and I rode it fairly gently for several minutes with no apparent problems.
I was then requested to ride it at Cadwell Park, and again it started easily for me, but on this occasion I was giving it some stick ! Coming out of Charlie’s Bend it nipped up on me as I was well laid over….. Before I could whip the clutch in the back wheel locked solid, and I drifted onto the wet and slippery grass, parting company with the bike in fine style. An aged and rock-hard 3-00 X 21″ rear tyre taken from an Allen Motor Scythe by Doug did not help in this event.
The ‘incident’ hurt one of my fingers quite badly, (broken), and the R/H footrest hanger had bent inwards and cracked the gearbox end cover, so that put an end to the day’s sport. The subsequent post-mortem revealed bright blue and mangled big-ends and the discovery that Doug had failed to set the oil pump properly. Doug took the bike to Ian Pearce to get the engine rebuilt, and it stayed in Doug’s hands until bought by its present owner Martin Heckscher.
Incidentally, the bike had no connection whatsoever with Billy Moore, and John had claimed the U6 number without ANY connection to the bike. Why Doug claimed that it did in his magazine article I have no idea. The tall tale didn’t come from John Hartshorne either. John had built the bike up starting with a single downtube frame, Velocette/Webb front forks and front wheel, and a hybrid (longstroke bottom end/shortstroke barrel and pistons) engine. The back wheel came from a 1929 Flying Squirrel Tourer, with its non-cushdrive hub, and lightened (and useless !) brake. I think that the mudguards were also ex-cammy Velocette.
I could go on…