Competition and Race Shop
The AMC Race Shop was a single-storey building located separately from the main factory, on the opposite side of Burrage Grove.
The road-end of the building was allocated to the Competition Department, comprising two fixed-height bike preparation benches where scrambles machines were built to the specific requirements of works riders such as Vic Eastwood, and separately managed by Wally Wyatt.
The remainder of the building was under the control of development engineer Jack Williams who had his office at the rear (under a mezzanine floor where the race shop spares were stored), and looked out onto an engine assembly area, comprising assembly benches on one side with a lathe, cam profiling machine and various small machine tools along the other wall.
In the centre of the building, arranged at an angle, were several fixed-height bike building benches where the highly-skilled, specialist personnel took meticulous care in their preparation of 7R and G50 racing machines, often under pressure before major events, such as the Isle of Man TT races.
Outside, beyond the rear wall of the race shop, two water dynamometers were housed in separate underground caverns, accessed by steep steel ladders, where engines were tested for power output behind steel mesh guards.
Large diameter 2-speed fans, drawing in air from the roof, were positioned in front and behind the open-exhaust engine to provide air cooling at speeds up to 95 mph.
Readings were taken by the (well-earmuffed) testers of the brake output, speed, fuel consumption, barometric pressure, etc.
(Winter was not always the best time for testing as, if it was snowing outside, the fans would blow snow onto the test bed).
Fortunately, the exhaust noise from the test pits exited onto a railway line and not near to any housing, or the race shop would have received quite a few complaints from otherwise fairly tolerant neighbours.
The water dynamometer works by forcing water, under pressure, through
the central vane (detail 1). By closing the brass cups over the central
vane, the complete outer casing is caused to tip.
To counteract this, balance weights are hung on the rear and the inch
scale adjusted to align the pointers (details 2 & 3)
Readings of weight, distance and RPM allow calculation of the output of
the engine on test.
Keith Jackson recalls that, during his apprenticeship placement in the race shop, in mid-1963, he was chosen to help out with a special engine test on the dynamometer.
It appears that the company had allowed Paul Dunstall (who had close contacts with AMC) a day's grace on the main test bed to try to improve the power output of one of his Domiracer engines.
Keith says that 'I had to install his engine onto the test bed, couple it up and then work with Jack Williams and Paul Dunstall
to run the power curves on the dyno.
The work that day was mostly assisting when running the dyno, then having to extend the engine inlet tract with spacers, shorten the exhaust pipes and then run another power curve.
This was done many times over that day and the engine power output was improved'.
Sadly, Keith can't remember just what the power output was after all the changes, but refers to his contribution in obtaining it as 'such a privilege to have been involved in that day'.
It took a toss of a coin to decide whether this picture should be placed on the Race Shop or Packing page, as it had certain merits for either.
It's a rare picture of a porcupine racing bike being manhandled up the passenger steps of a plane by airport loading staff in September 1954.
Research has identified that it was outbound for a late-season meeting in South Africa, for riders Phil Read, Mike Hailwood and Roger Hunter.
Accompanying the bike on the flight were AMC race shop technician Jim Boughen and Rod Coleman (who were not allowed to perform the loading due to airport security reasons.)
(see also names highlighted in the personnel list for their Cover Page stories)
|Stan Bassett||later tool room extension|
|Jim Boughen||1932 - 1969|
|Arthur Childs||engine builder|
|Freddie Clarke||1946 - 48||Manager ex Triumph/Ariel|
|Joe Craig||1941 - 46||Manager ex Norton|
|Jack (JH) Colver||experimental/engine repair|
|Eric Goodfellow||formerly tool room|
|Wilf Graham||later tool room extension|
|Ike Hatch||c. 1951||7R3 develoment engineer (d. 1954)|
|Des Henry||1953 - ?||ex. HWM|
|Phil Irving||Development engineer|
|Arthur Keeler||engine builder|
|Bill Lovett||1919 - 48||Porcupine engines|
|Reg Mason||engine builder|
|Charlie (Ginger) Matthews||1928 - ?||later drawing office clerk|
|John McClaren||1950-69||competition shop|
|Tommy Mortimer||machinist/engine builder (formerly tool room)|
|Jack (C J) Williams||1954 - ?||Manager/Dev. Eng. ex. Vincent|
|Matt Wright||Manager/Development Engineer|