August 23, 2014
Over the years I have become more fascinated with the very earliest motorcycles, or motorbikes really. This is the lastest one I am fortunate enough to acquire at a very reasonable price – a running, but unfinished 1902 Steffey motorbike.
I purchased this 112 yea old motorbike from an enthusiast who specializes in them. He did a partial disassembly, crated it up and shipped it to me at the American Iron Magazine office, where I am the Editor-in-Chief.
I took off the top of the shipping carton and carefully lifed out most of the machine in one piece. The seat, front wheel and rear sand were separate and the handlebar was loose on the mounting stem.
Once I got it all out of the shipping carton I stabilized it on the removable rear display stand, set the handlebars, remounted the thumb bell and installed the front wheel with interesting front brake. Note the wheels and tires are much newer than the rest of the machine. This allows it to be ridden safely.
I mounted the saddle, adjusted the headlight mounting and aligned all the parts and pieces for the photo above.
Basically it is a turn of the century bicycle with the Steffey 2-stroke clip on engine mounted. The fuel tank is mounted on the wodden rear fender behind the saddle. To start it the rider pedals the bicycle pedals to gain speed, then ease on the wooden handle lever in the middle to add pressure to the belt that transfers movement from the rear wheel to the engine pulley to spin the engine over.
Ignition is via a battery in the large battery tube behind the engine, fuel is via the tank over the rear fender, and the fuel is delivered by a very primitive mixer (so crude I would not call it a carburetor). And check out the wooden chain guard and flexible exhaust system!
Last year I was fortunate to buy a great little classic motorcycle racer from an old friend. Butch Baer, who I have know for a couple of decades, offered his 1937 Indian Sport Scout racer without reserve at an auction I was at.
This is the same bike Butch raced against me in the fabled “Streets of Laconia” races in – yep, you guessed it – the streets of Laconia, NH. I was on a Doc Batsleer Sport Scout and Butch I diced our way around the track until he went off course and made the dent that is still on the bike. I wrote about it in the More on Race Prepping A 1937 Indian Sport Scout Motorcycle Racer
March 26, 2014
Like most early motorcycle and auto racing tracks, the racetrack at Benning, Maryland started out as a horse track. Opening on April 1, 1890, the track faced stiff competition from neighboring tracks in Anacostia, Brightwood and Ivy City, but within a few years it became popular with “Washington society” and it’s attendance increased tremendously. It was also rumored that there were “shady” betting practices occurring at the track which seems unusual for a venue that was frequented by congressmen and other public servants… Ultimately, horse racing was banned in the District of Columbia in 1908 leaving Benning open for motorsports. More on Racing in the Capitol City