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Nice picture of the manhandling of a Norton Big 4 by the Northumbrian Fuseliers, after they lost all their outfits (96) in France a year before, there is a whole series of pictures of this training excersize.

Cheers,

Lex

email (option): welbike@welb**e.net

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It is still an early SWD Big 4 as it has the engine without the oil tell tale which I think was a feature of the later machines.

Would be very interested to see the other photos in this sequence.

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Lots of useful handles on a Big4 but it looks like the regular crew of three may not be enough.

Rob

email (option): robmiller11(a)yahoo.co.uk

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Reminds me of those "How many ---------?", does it take to change a lightbulb jokes, how many squaddies does it take to lift a Big four outfit?

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I would have shifted the sand bags,or that would be too easy?

Dave j.

email (option): jamfam@dragnet.com.au

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There are quite a few from this sequence on the IWM site.

https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205227719

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Just looking at the rear drum and sprocket - the SWD Big 4 had a 52 tooth rear wheel sprocket and this being of a much greater diameter than the drum allowed for cut outs between the drum and the sprocket which can be clearly seen here. However, when I was restoring my SWD Big 4 the rear drum / sprocket was missing but I was fortunate enough to find a couple of them complete with uncut shafts on an autojumble stall in the mid 1970s. These were clearly spares sold off separately otherwise they would have surely had the shafts cut off. However, both these drums and sprockets whilst they had markings in the castings for the cut outs the cut outs had not been undertaken and hence the sprocket is an integral solid part of the brake drum.

I have never seen a SWD Big 4 52 tooth rear wheel sprocket in the flesh with the cut outs (Ron Pier will now post the photo of his SWD Big 4 with the cut outs to prove that statement wrong as I have seen his bike!!)

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I'm not sure why they bothered to do that...A 1/2 lb weight saving on a 1/3 of a ton sidecar outfit?...:laughing: ...Ian

email (option): ian@wright52.plus.com

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No slots in mine either Keith. Perhaps they decided early on that it could be a shear factor under the tremendous load that could be incurred?

Ron

email (option): ronpier@talk21.com

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Ok, regarding the rear sprocket, all the early contracts certainly had them, and both of mine have the open type, I do not think a weight saving measure, it was just designed that way, but it was not strong enough, as branches and stuff came between the chain and sprocket, it broke fairly easy, I have seen several examples of that, so they just filled in the open spaces, and it was strong enough!

Here's the free floating prototype sprocket:



Hahaha,



Cheers,

Lex

email (option): welbike@welb**e.net

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Here another shot, all these pictures were taken (from the top of my head, would have to check the captions) at Salisbury plains.



Cheers,

Lex

email (option): welbike@welb**e.net

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Thanks Lex - that is appreciated. As a matter of interest I had a SWD Big 4(registration GAD 449) which I sold in the late 1970s which had a 43 tooth rear wheel sprocket complete with stub axle for the dog clutch assembly albeit cut off so clearly it had been sold off by the military like that.

I ran the bike for a while as a solo and having played around with different engine sprockets could obtain 80mph out of it two up on the motorways given a little time but once there it could hold that speed.

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I was Always wondering how the outfit will do with a much higher gearing, I guess I need a 23-24 tooth crankshaft sprocket, will try it with a mates B4, he will never go offroad.

Here's the correct caption for the forum picture btw. I will include that too here, as Henk will change it soon.







Cheers,

Lex

email (option): welbike@welb**e.net

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I've often thought the Big 4 would make a nice machine with the appropriate gearing alterations and if liberated from the 1/2 ton sidecar...Does anyone run a wartime one in that form?...Ian

email (option): ian@wright52.plus.com

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Ian Wright
I've often thought the Big 4 would make a nice machine with the appropriate gearing alterations and if liberated from the 1/2 ton sidecar...Does anyone run a wartime one in that form?...Ian
It does indeed make a nice machine and as noted earlier I ran one of mine as a solo for maybe 5 or 6 years.

As noted I had a 43 tooth rear wheel sprocket with a cut off stub axle ( I think the 16H also ran a 43 tooth rear wheel sprocket as standard). The SWD Big 4 gearbox had trials ratios(much sort after by trials riders - Peter Roydhouse was always on the look out for them). I believe the SWD Big 4 gearbox shells were often stamped TSN I think and the ratios stamped on the gearbox ears for the top fixing. The 16H gearbox was often stamped SN (standard) and once again the ratios often stamped on the ears. I ran the bike with both original and standard gear box internals and also ran it with different engine sprockets although I discovered that some Norton engine sprockets do have different offsets between the taper and the actual sprocket teeth which can affect primary chain alignment badly. I think I ran with engine sprockets up to maybe 22 teeth and as a solo it was great fun to ride and I maybe did something in the region of 15,000 - 20,000 miles as a solo.

When I first completed my SWD Big 4 outfit and ran it on the road I must say I was somewhat disappointed with it BUT on the rough or soft ground with the drive engaged - well that was a revelation and much enjoyed.

I have kept a spare SWD Big 4 engine and often thought I might put it in the spare 16H rolling chassis.

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['I have kept a spare SWD Big 4 engine and often thought I might put it in the spare 16H rolling chassis...']

Or a much lighter chassis to take full advantage of the engine size...

Interesting information...I did look at fitting the Big 4 crank into a BSA to get the 120mm stroke...It's possible but would require a lot of re engineering and I prefer the design of the BSA big end...I think, inevitably, one day I'm gong to have to lengthen the stroke of an M20...

I always find it interesting how the 'long stroke' of the Panther is often commented on...In fact it's stroke isn't the longest by any means, it just looks like it is....Ian

email (option): ian@wright52.plus.com

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I always thought a 16H frame was relatively light weight especially as Norton used it as the basis for the 5OOT albeit with a slightly shortened rear frame section between the lower tie bar and the lugs that carry the lower fixing for the engine / gearbox plates.

I used one of my 16H's for pre-65 trials for many years complete with SWD Big 4 trials gearbox internals, the outer gearbox cover machined down as per 500T, Kickstart shaft which had lost much of the splines machined down to take a folding Triumph kickstart so all nicely tucked in, the glorious 16H footrests which can be upturned to give greater clearance and much more including a pre War Norton 2 gallon ohv fuel tank so I could either fit a pre-war ES2 engine or the spare WD Big 4 engine.

If you strip down a WD 16H as much as possible you can make yourself a relatively decent machine on which you can have a lot of enjoyment. I ran mine both on the road and in pre-65 trials for several years and enjoyed riding it immensely. I even took it to the IOM TT in the 1980s. Many offers for it over the years - even notes attached to it asking if it was for sale when I had parked it up somewhere. Still have it and still enjoy it.

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I see that the new forum photo also shows SWD Big 4s of 4th Royal Northumberland Fusiliers but this time when they were in France during March 1940 as the only fully-equipped Motorcycle Battalion with the BEF. 'Y' Company from 4 RNF went on to capture the village of Dainville and about 70 German troops during the Arras counter-attack. Probably the only occasion that British motorcycle troops were used to capture an objective.

forum

A grainy version of this image from the 1970s French publication 'Les Motos et La Guerre' was a major inspiration when I began the restoration of my 16H...I had no internet in those days. The next step was a trip to the IWM with pencil, paper and cheque book to obtain more detailed copies.

It was this photo that first showed me how different switchgear and levers amongs other things were on the earlier machines.

IMG-20200528-0001

In referring to the English, the caption says "For them, motorcycling remained a sport and war a great game"...That was all to change within a few months of course. I hope that these young chaps with their sheepskin and woollen mittens made it back.

CWGC only shows 22 fatalaties for the 4th Battalion during May / June 1940 so it is likely that they did.

https://www.cwgc.org/find/find-war-dead/results?regiment=Royal%2bNorthumberland%2bFusiliers&war=2&unit=4th%2bBn.&dateFrom=10-05-1940&dateTo=30-06-1940&casualtypagenumber=1

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