Practically all British motorcycles manufactured up to the late 1950s were dry sump machines.
That means oil for lubricating moving engine parts was pumped from the oil tank situated on the side of the machine down the bottom of the engine then returned to the oil tank in a circular motion.
This design worked well enough but when the motorcycle was not used so frequently, there was a tendency for the oil to drain from the tank and overfill the sump, which normally only contained about a cup full of oil.
To prevent this annoying procedure, some owners fitted a non-return valve in the main oil line thus cutting off this leakage.
Such is the case on the 1953 Matchless which I bought about 20 years ago and previously I was careful to switch the oil valve on to supply the engine with lubrication before starting the machine.
That is until I was commencing the Singleton rally held just a couple of weeks ago.
In the excitement of the event, I completely forgot this very essential habit and started out on the rally route to be abruptly stopped a few miles from the starting venue.
The reason for the stoppage appeared to be an engine seizure which I dismissed knowing the history of the engine condition.
After a few moments, the bike started again and I set off on my merry way only to experience the same performance plus a few foreign engine noises a little further on.
Fearing something of a much worse scenario, I turned 180 degrees and slowly returned to the starting venue and parked my machine.
Instead of riding my machine, I was invited to a comfortable seat in the recovery vehicle, to talk to the driver and compare notes.
Naturally my mind was centred on possibly causes for this stoppage. Not once did I tumble on the real reason until I returned to my billet on the bike and automatically leaned over to switch both petrol and oil taps off, only to discover the oil tap in the “off” position.
Have I reached the end of my riding days? Who knows!
Taree and District Vintage and Classic Motorcycle Club
Calendar of club events
May 20-21: St Heliers large horse field day at Muswellbrook, leaving 9.30am visitors information centre.
May 24: Mid week riders’ choice, three venues, Forster, Taree and Kew, 9.30am.
May 26-28: Coffs Harbour Rally, 9.30am at the information centre.
May 28: Telegraph Point, meet any riders returning from the Coffs rally, leaving 9.30am at the information centre.
May 31: Hannam Vale, leaving 9.30am at the information centre.
June 4: Gloucester for brunch (BYO), leaving 9.30am at the information centre.
June 7: Riders’ choice, from three venues, 9.30am.
June 11: Bottlebutt Tree, off Bago Road (five kilometres of unsealed road), BYO morning tea, leaving 9.30am at the information centre.
June 14: Mid week ride, riders’ choice, Forster, Taree and Kew, 9.30am.
June 18: Rock pool at Tuncurry, leaving 9.30am at the information centre.
June 19: Monthly meeting at the Airport Tavern, Cundletown, 7.30pm.