Pipecraft came to the rescue when a client required parts for his rare motorcycles – built by his father more than half a century ago. Built between 1911 and 1946; Coventry-based manufacturer Rudge Racing Motorcycles were known for high quality and innovative engine and transmission design.
The brand enjoyed many racing successes, such as when British racing driver Cyril Pullin won the Isle of Man TT in 1914 on a Rudge Multigear – one of the manufacturer’s first continuously variable transmission models.
English racer Graham Walker won the 1928 Ulster Grand Prix, averaging speeds of more than 80 mph on his Rudge motorcycle.
The Rudge Ulster subsequently became one of the brand’s most famous models in the booming motorcycle market of the early 20th century. Rudge released its first 250 cc and 350 cc road machines in 1931, featuring its legendary radial-valve layout.
Sadly, production ceased temporarily in 1939, when the factory was commissioned to manufacture radar equipment for the war effort. It never recovered and closed down in 1946, leaving its legacy of motorcycles as much sought-after collectors’ items.
Vintage motorcycle refurbishment
Today, a small number of Rudge motorcycles are still on the road; a 350 cc, fully radial-engine Rudge, dating from 1930, was refurbished with a 500 cc engine by Alan Morgan, for use during the late 1970s, when it was a competitive motorcycle in the 500 Vintage class.
Our client commenced further refurbishment of the motorcycle in 2020, buying a replacement 350 cc engine. However, due to the Covid pandemic, the project was temporarily halted, although he hopes to complete the renovation this year.
Our client’s second Rudge motorcycle, with a small fuel tank, was also built by his father. Based on a 1930 Rudge 500, its best quarter-mile time was 12.94 seconds, with a terminal speed of 115 mph. By today’s standards, that doesn’t sound fast, but in the 1960s, it was exceptionally quick.
It won many awards during the late 1950s and 1960s and regularly achieved the fastest times in the 500 and unlimited Vintage class throughout this period. It has competed almost every year at the Brighton Speed Trials from the 1950s to present day.
The bike was used for racing below the cliffs at Ramsgate by Mr Morgan Snr. The passion for racing has been inherited by his son, our client, who has also won awards on the famous motorcycle, which looks much the same as it did in the 1950s.
New exhaust pipes
Today, the Rudge exhaust pipes are almost impossible to locate, because the brand ceased production such a long time ago. Our client asked whether we could produce replacement exhaust pipes, in keeping with the original Rudge design.
As it is practically impossible to buy any parts, the client approached Pipecraft to replicate the exhaust systems. Taking patterns from the old pipes, these were drawn on CAD. After mandrel bending the replacements, they were mirror polished for the perfect finish.
Our precision engineering services have enabled the motorcycles to return to the tracks for historic motorcycle racing and display events. It was a very great pleasure to work on this project!
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