Friday, August 9, 2019

1922 Royal Enfield at Owls Head Museum in Maine

1922 Royal Enfield motorcycle on display at museum.
Note that this 1922 Royal Enfield has bar-shaped footrest instead of full floor boards.
The round pedal near footrest must be for rear brake! Coffee-grinder shifter is above tank.
NOTE: The prestigious 2019 New England Auto Auction is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Aug. 16-17, at the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine. Preview days are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday Aug. 14-16. The auction catalog includes more than 200 automobiles and motorcycles and automobilia.

It wasn't necessary to fight the crowds to see the 1922 Royal Enfield Model 200 motorcycle on display at the Owls Head Transportation Museum in Maine last weekend.

There were more expensive and exotic motorcycles to be seen in the museum, along with priceless vintage automobiles and airplanes.

And — oh yeah — there was a car show going on outside the museum.

Also an air show, complete with flybys by a World War II P-51 Mustang.

Period advertisement for Royal Enfield motorcycle.
Period ad touted Royal Enfield's two-speed transmission.
So, yes, there were distractions. But I couldn't get over the little Royal Enfield, with its 2-and-a-quarter horsepower, two-stroke motor and two-speed gearbox.

I also couldn't get over or around the displays on either side of it to get a good photograph of it.

I didn't mind, since one of the neighboring exhibits was one of my favorite airplanes, the F.E.8 of World War I. This dandy little British fighter plane put the pilot and his machine gun in front of the motor, so that it could not shoot off its own propeller.

By the time the F.E.8 reached combat the Germans had worked out how to synchronize their machine guns to safely fire through whirling propellers. The F.E.8 was obsolete.

Replica F.E.8 fighter plane on display in museum.
F.E.8 was shown nose down, displaying the cockpit.
It also had a reputation for going into a spin and crashing — a terrible thing with the heavy motor situated to crush the pilot. Royal Aircraft Factory test pilot Frank W. Goodden demonstrated that correct procedure could pull the F.E.8 out of a spin. He was not the first pilot to recover from a spin, but Goodden began to formalize the procedure, and soon British pilots were being taught it.

The museum's F.E.8 is, of course, a replica, built from factory plans. Disappointed it's not original?

"How would you like to fly in an airplane with 100-year-old wood in it?" noted one pilot we met at the museum.

Replica F.E.8 in flight.
The replica F.E.8 as it appeared in flight.
This F.E.8 replica earned its wooden wings, flying from California to Maine in 1980 with only a compass for navigation. Flying at 80 mph it spent 57 hours in the air — but with "trials and tribulations" the trip still took more than 32 days.

View from cockpit of Sopwith Pup replica fighter plane.
Sopwith Pup was light as a kite, but gun sight shows it meant business.
The F.E.8 didn't fly last weekend, but another World War I look-alike, a 1916 Sopwith Pup replica, did take to the air. Some "replica"! It has a 1918 motor. I'd call that originality.

After the Pup took off a gusting crosswind came up and the crowd wondered if it might flip the kite-like little airplane when it tried to land. (It landed safely, out of sight of the crowd.)

1919 Sopwith ABC motorcycle on display at museum.
1919 Sopwith motorcycle was surprisingly sophisticated.
A 1919 Sopwith motorcycle parked inside the museum had no such problem. After World War I, with demand for fighter planes gone, Sopwith purchased the rights to make the ABC motorcycle. With a  horizontally-opposed twin-cylinder motor, gated H-pattern shifter, four-speed gearbox, leaf-spring suspension front and back and carburetor heat, it was quite sophisticated.

Sophistication made it expensive and production ended in 1921, two years before BMW introduced its remarkably similar and far more successful motorcycle.

1919 Excelsior motorcycle on display at museum.
1913 Excelsior V-twin displays perfect patina.
The 1913 Excelsior Model 7C V-twin at the museum sported truly wonderful patina as it leaked oil into its drip tray. Great to see.

Navy SNJ trainer of World War II makes low-level pass.
Low and loud: World War II vintage Navy SNJ trainer buzzes the airfield.
But the real excitement came when a visiting World War II era Navy SNJ trainer and a P-51 Mustang fighter plane started doing low-altitude passes.

My wife Bonnie got some short videos of the planes. Take a peek:

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