Right, returning to the 500 Kwacker in '75, now I've got my thinking head on. The achillies heal was the crank and the disturbing habit of pistons seizing for no apparent reason.
I know a lot of two strokes had that habit but this one was a joke. At one time we inherited a large box of pistons from the USA team and we had to go through the lot trying to find a fit which didn't seize. In the end we resorted to measuring a set which had been run in our motor and had not seized and I spent endless hours at the lathe changing the shape of new ones in the hope that it would cure the problem. Needless to say it met with only limited success. The cranks broke with alarming regularity. In Sweden in '75 we spent, Nigel Everett and myself, almost the entire practice time rebuilding the motors and eventually were down to one spare crank which we had to fit to Micks engine the night before the race. This one of course had to be different, it was about 25mm too long on one end. The only thing for it was to saw the end off
We worked well into the night, with regular forays into the paddock to scrounge new saw blades.
I have to say, at this point, that Mick was absolutely brilliant, making regular trips to and from the team hotel with food, drink and encouragement. This was obviously a task well below the status of the team management who of course were never seen during the whole time (bitter, no not me). The race followed it's normal course with first Ditchburn and then Mick retiring.
The I.O.M that year was a joke, apart from Mick winning the 500. It all started when team management decided that they would not take the transporters to the island
Instead we were to use a borrowed Transit which had been arranged, more of that later!!!
Before we went Ken Suzuki and myself decided to try and modify an engine and exhaust system which would provide a bit more top end for the island. We duly completed it, but with no time left in which to test. Team management decided that it was a waste of time and space to take it but relented when we argued that at the very least it was a complete set of spares
and off we went.
Practice went as expected with the 500 destroying itself at all too regular intervals, until it was obvious we would run out of power plants. Two more engine were brought over from Kawasaki and these were interesting beasts.
Mick's first experience of these engines was to discover that the gearbox of the first one had a reversed selector, instead of up for up it was up for down. We replaced it whilst it was sorted and this was where things got really dangerous. The gearbox of the second engine had been assembled in such a way that the gears went thus 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 6th
. As you can well imagine Micks first trip down Bray Hill was somewhat interesting.
Well after all that, they both failed and we were left with the unknown quantity, the motor we hadn't run.
Mick was all for giving it a go, but there was no more practice. We fitted it and took it to Jurby and Nigel and I ran it up and down for what seemed like forever, until Mick turned up. He gave it a run and pronounced himself well pleased as it actually had a power band
Having ridden with the standard engine I knew what he meant, it was like riding a fast road bike.
Well that was that. Of course it seized, at quarter bridge on the first lap, but Mick caught it, rolled for a while, dropped the clutch and it never missed a beat for the rest of the race.
Needless to say the management thought they had done a wonderful job and immediately decamped to the nearest watering hole to soak up the plaudits of the hangers on and journos leaving Nigel and myself to load up that Transit.Again Mick being Mick, came back to find out where we were and invited Nigel and myself to dine with him and Carole at his hotel that night
The aforementioned Transit had all the signs off a hastily swept out chicken coup. It was forever breaking down, and on it's last trip, to pick up the stranded 750 which had thrown it's chain during the race, it broke down once too often. A pickup full of marshals on their way back to Douglas offered us and the bike a lift back and the Transit was duly deposited where it belonged, in the ditch just up the road from the Gooseneck
After we returned, apparently the owned rang team HQ to ask where we had left his beloved hen house.
Not surprisingly no one could remember. He my still be looking for it for all we know, although why he would have wanted it God only knows.
Hope most of that makes sense and hasn't sent you all to sleep