Author Topic: 2 3/4 "TT Racing Cams" in Australia, 1915  (Read 568 times)

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Offline cardan

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2 3/4 "TT Racing Cams" in Australia, 1915
« on: 26 Jun 2021 at 10:31 »

I came across this 1915 advert while researching Firth Brothers of Melbourne, who built several hundred - maybe 1000 - motorcycles between 1914 and 1925 or so. Mostly JAP powered, but they built their own ohv v-twin c1915, and an engine called the Monarch in 1920-21, which was a very close copy of the 6 hp v-twin Swiss MAG.

Their real expertise was manufacturing. In 1915 they had automated machinery capable of turning out piles of widgets at speed: one example was valve cover bungs, which could be turned out at 170 per hour.

Why they had Douglas TT Racing Cams for sale is a puzzle. Perhaps they intended to manufacture them?

Equally I wonder where they got the cams. "Just landed" suggests they came from the UK. Did Douglas sell "TT racing cams" in 1915?

Leon

Offline EW-Ron

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Re: 2 3/4 "TT Racing Cams" in Australia, 1915
« Reply #1 on: 27 Jun 2021 at 03:52 »
372 Toorak Rd is now a block of units.
But the place next door - 370 with the black fence, for sale - is a modest little house.
On a main rd...

Wonder what it looked like in its heyday ?
Same as next door ?

https://www.google.com/maps/@-37.840275,145.0023712,3a,37.5y,195.89h,90.8t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s7WXRZXMNaqgpmWlCjtG2jQ!2e0!7i16384!8i8192

Racing cams in WW1 sounds like exotica.
Presumably no market in the UK at that time ?

Offline cardan

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Re: 2 3/4 "TT Racing Cams" in Australia, 1915
« Reply #2 on: 27 Jun 2021 at 06:32 »
That's funny - I looked also and saw the flats on the site today. Firth Bros moved to Richmond in 1918, but when the father died in the 1930s his address was given as 372 Toorak Rd! I bet he didn't live in a factory, and I bet the large turret lathes shown in the Australian Motorist in October 1915 didn't live in the parlour of the family home, so just what was at 372 Toorak Rd during WW1 is a mystery.

We had lots of fast Douglases out here in Australia c1915. Les Bailey brought three rather special racers with him when he and Weatherilt came out in early 1913 - one or more ended up with Mellor and that crowd in NSW. https://www.douglasmotorcycles.net/index.php?topic=7014.0

So I'm sure someone would like some fast Douglas cams, but why Firth Bros brought them out... another mystery.

Leon

Offline Hutch

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Re: 2 3/4 "TT Racing Cams" in Australia, 1915
« Reply #3 on: 28 Jun 2021 at 01:30 »
Leon and EW-Ron,

Very interesting thread. A quick search appears to indicate that 372 Toorak road was a residence not a factory (as pointed out by Leon above) and was the home of George William Firth. It was possibly a large-ish home but is now a block of flats? Not 100% sure tho' but a lot of the other buildings around (on street view) appear to be residential rather than factories.

Newspaper clip from the Death notices in The Argus 26 May 1934.

Les Bailey did visit Victoria on his 1913 trip to Australia - Maybe he met up with the Firth's?

Cheers

Ian
« Last Edit: 28 Jun 2021 at 03:10 by Hutch »

Offline Hutch

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Re: 2 3/4 "TT Racing Cams" in Australia, 1915
« Reply #4 on: 28 Jun 2021 at 01:48 »
Not sure there is any connection but Acme Cycle Co.  used Bailey's short lived record in their advertising. From The Australasian 7th June 1913.

-Ian

Offline cardan

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Re: 2 3/4 "TT Racing Cams" in Australia, 1915
« Reply #5 on: 28 Jun 2021 at 02:15 »
Very interesting thread. A quick search appears to indicate that 372 Toorak road was a residence not a factory (as pointed out by Leon above) and was the home of George William Firth. It was possibly a large-ish home but is now a block of flats?

Yes, exactly as I said, thus the mystery. Here's the some of the equipment that was on the site in 1915 - this baby could spit out hubs, ready for assembly, at the rate of 25 per hour.

Re the building: maybe it was a corrugated iron shed in 1918 when Firth Bros moved out, and the father built a house on the block. Luckily, I don't need to know.

Re the Douglas cams: The Firth Bros (Edward and Bertrand) were both young, and motorcyclists. Maybe one of them had a racy Douglas. Of Douglas interest is where they came from: how did you order "Douglas TT racing cams" in 1915? Maybe SLB did "pop them in the post" when he got back to the UK but there is no evidence for this.

Leon

 

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