Monthly Archives: October 2018

Two Thirds, Two Years Feat. W.W. Moore

Ending last month´s post with the name of Walter William Moore, I had expected to begin this month´s with him, but I think we will have to go back a bit before his advent at NSU, really.

What with the firm having been one of the largest German two wheeler producers since the days of the high bicycle, there were always special motorbikes around at NSU, since the very beginning of motorcycling, which oddly was later than the beginning of motoring in cars. Even in the days around 1906-1910 there were NSU racing motorbikes of renown, as Dieter Herz and Karl Reese report in their book on the NSU racing history, a tome I have had since my youth.

It says that in the immediate years before WWI one of the most coveted and fastest motorbikes was the NSU 3 1/2 PS Sporttyp, developed by the famous designer O. Donovan. TT races even were run successfully, and the name of NSU was being quoted everywhere if talk was about fast motorbikes. Legend has it that English speakers all over the world had a hard time pronouncing the brand Neckarsulm, the name of the town in Germany where the bikes were made, so it was abbreviated to NSU. Can we believe this? No idea.

Then after WWI, things started to slow down. Ok, there were racers like Islinger who rode a 1.000cc, 40 bhp NSU on a remarkably wobbly frame, but it was felt by the powers that be at NSU that a fresh input was needed, and whence could it come but from Britain, so headhunting started, and Norton´s Walter William More was scored in 1928. He had had a huge positive influence on Norton, and was considered a legendary designer even then. His CS 1 racer was about the fastest thing on two wheels.

Yesterdays Antique Motorcycles – http://www.yesterdays.nl/norton-1928-p-2357.html

He made his mark right away with his NSU SS 500, a bike which resembled his Norton CS 1 that closely that people began to explain that NSU stood for Norton Spares, Used.

By courtesy of “Deutsches Zweirad- und NSU-Museum” (e-Mail 17.08.2006 13:14) – With many thanks to Ms. Dumas & Ms. Grams

 

Rider Tom Bullus had also arrived from the UK, and as he was the man who rode the bike in races, it became known under the monniker of Bullus NSU, and when I started on bikes in the 70s, he still was known among bikers.

One will note that both the Norton and the NSU had a shaft driven bevel gear ohc (while the lowly Konsul and its predecessors in the 30s had push rods,) and that the engines looked remarkably alike even from a distance or in small size photos. Anyway, NSU began to be very successful again, and engines like a 350 and a 500cc supercharged one were developed. In 1939, with the outbreak of hostilities, Moore returned to England and left NSU to Albert Roder, who went on to design such famous bikes as the Max and Fox, with really unusual engines in each, but this is not the subject of my post.

The supercharged engines were carried on to post WWII races, but very soon supercharged motorcycle engines were forbidden, and NSU was left out in the cold. They decided to focus on the small engines for racing, 250, 125, and were supremely successful with these, but Walter William Moore´s legacy was kept alive by using the supercharged engines in land speed record attempts, and of course in the unmistakably designed engine of the Konsul.

Wilhelm Herz was the name that every schoolchild knew in Germany in the early fifties, as he was the rider who pushed the extremely powerful and aerodynamic NSU bikes to a land speed world record. But even before he had raced Germany´s most powerful motorbikes to the limit of many a track, achieving averages of more than 180kph on a supercharged 350 for instance.

NSU issued a small booklet with many interesting illustrations after the achievement of the world record, and you see a number of now legendary Herz pictures in it, like these that show him on the 350. You can see that the print quality was not meant to produce a lasting work of art, newspapers having a comparable quality, and those booklets are quite rare now. They were suprisingly text oriented, it seems that people read more than they do now, perhaps, so the booklet is full of fascinating facts, but also drawings of the famous engines are included.

 

For the land speed record, the 500 supercharged engine had been tuned to pump out 110 hp, unbelievable for the day. Much was made of the machine in NSU publicity.And Herz made it. On April 12, 1951, he rode his bike at an average of 290 kph on a stretch of motorway near Munich. It had been planned that 300 Police trainees from a nearby academy were to secure the course, but there was some sort of uproar in the barracks as all 800 present volunteered and insisted on coming.

Five years later, Herz actually established another world record on a machine which based on the 1951 one, this time in Salt Lake City, reaching an unbelievable 339 kph. The so called Delphin III was painted in red, white and blue, so can´t be confused with the 1951 bike.

In the next races, NSU distributed tons of publicity gadgets, like these sunshades with erectable NSU tadpoles or world record cigars in the middle. I´m really lucky to have found these, I got them out of a Belgian NSU workshop that had been locked one day in the early sixties and then was left untouched. I helped to clear it in 1981. And when assuming I had lost the shades, I got others off the net for a cheap price, but you know that Murphy says you will find the old ones as soon as you have bought new ones, and that obviously holds true even for strange and long misplaced objects like these. I now must be the owner of the world´s largest collection of NSU World Record sunshades, and I´m proud of it too.

In the photo below you can now see why I have been fascinated with NSU for so long. OK, I was born 10 years and a bit more than three months after the land speed record, but still. OK, the push rods were routed through a round chromed tube to resemble that of a shaft driven bevel gear. OK, the frame is definitively early fifties.

But compare the Konsul non-drive side with the photos of the Norton and the Bullus above, and you will see a distinct lineage in engine design. That´s what I love about my bike.

Next month, the steps toward getting it, and maybe the very first steps of restoration.

 

 

 

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