c1921 Victor Blackburne

Victor Blackburne tank

This machine was originally rescued many years ago by local collector Napier Burns. The black and white photos shown below were taken at that time. When the bike resurfaced in 1997, some years after Napier's death, it was dismantled and sadly more parts had gone missing, such as the front forks, remains of the wheels, footboards, front engine plates and magneto platform, one cylinder head, and some of the cam gear. All in all, you'd have to say that there were only bones left. I had been asked a number of times if I wanted a "Blackburne twin", but I had politely declined. I did some reading on Blackburnes of the period, and the connection with OEC, but self control is a marvellous thing. It was only when I saw the rear section of the frame - looking decidedly Australian in origin - that I went to look at the rest of the bits. Sure enough, the name "Victor Blackburne" was just discernable on the side of the rusted out tank. Resisting the acquisition of a rotted-out British bike is one thing, but I am a sucker for unusual Australiana and so home it came.

1921 Victor Blackburne

The origin of the bike is uncertain, but a fair guess is that is was assembled by J.N. Taylor and Co. in Adelaide around 1921. At this time, Taylors were the local JAP agents, and they advertised JAP-Victor motorcycles wholesale to the trade. "Any garage will sell you one" proclaimed one advertisement. Registration records show a reasonable number of Victors put on the road in 1919 - 1921, but the records are imperfect and I haven't yet found record of a Victor Blackburne registration. Just why Taylor's would have made a bike with a Blackburne engine is anyone's guess - this bike may be unique as the sole surviving Australian-built motorcycles fitted with this power unit.

1921 Victor Blackburne

Copyright Leon Mitchell 1999-2007

 

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