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News - Feb 2006
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Saturday 25 February 2006

I received another email from Andrew in the UK informing me that VeloSoleX S 3800 Michelin tyres (marked 1.75" x 19") can be obtained from Vintage Tyre Supplies Limited (for £11.50 plus VAT) at the National Motor Museum, Beaulieu, Hampshire, SO42 7ZN, UK (Tel: 00 44 (0)1590 612261, Fax: 00 44 (0)1590 612722, email ). I have added a link on my Links page to them.

Another Andrew, the very well-known Andrew Pattle of the NACC (National Autocycle and Cyclomotor Club) has offered the following information on the French company Wonder Cycles:

"Wonder cyclomoteurs and velomoteurs were made by Etablissements Ravat in Saint-Etienne. As a rule, they used the name Ravat for motorised machines and Wonder for bicycles, but some motorised machines were turned out with the Wonder name on them.  Most Ravat-Wonder machines used their own make of engine, but towards the end of the 1950s they started using Itom, Himo and VAP motors."

Thank you both Andrews! If anyone can email me any more information on the Ravat or Wonder Cycles, I am sure that other enthusiasts would appreciate the information. Incidentally, the NACC website has a new Photo Gallery of possibly every autocycle, moped and cyclemotor ever made!

Stephane from France has asked me if I could add a link to his detailed Competition SoleX website which I have done on my Links page. Various menus in the centre of his home page lead to Solex Race Events scheduled to take place as well as Race Circuits, a Solex Forum, member's Blog pages, a list of original and competition Spares, the latest News and comprehensive Photo Galleries of the races and the machines themselves. The website is setup with the participation of ASME (Association des Sports Mecaniques d'Endurance), PaacSolex et Chicane Mobile.

 

Wednesday 22 February 2006

JUST updated the Paint Chart to add the VeloSoleX 4600 to the Blue Atoll section. Thanks for that Brian!

Andrew from the UK has asked me if I have any information on the auto-cycle made by the French company Wonder Cycles. Apparently the wheel type is 23" x 2" (Tyre size: ETRTO 47-484, ISO 1.85" x 19") which suggests that the tyre from the VeloSoleX S 3800 may be suitable for it.

Like many people, the only thing I've seen about Wonder Cycles (with its factory based in Saint Etienne near Lyons, Loire, France) are the Bicycle Posters of Paul Mohr (circa 1923).

From about 1885 the town of Saint Etienne had become the French centre for the production of cycles with factories springing up everywhere including the large mail-order concern ManuFrance (Manufacture Francaise d'Armes et Cycles in Cours Fauriel street) which manufactured the Hirondelle (Swallow) auto-cycles (circa 1950) and bicycles here.

Well, if anybody has any more information on the Wonder Cycles Auto-Cycle, I would appreciate it if you could drop me an email for me to pass on to Andrew. Thank you very much.

Incidentally, GPS Catalogue (which I've added to my Links page) has a number of VeloSoleX S 3800 parts including Hutchinson Tyres and accept Visa Card or French Bank Cheque in payment.

 

Tuesday 14 February 2006

HELLO again from BALLS EMPORIUM!

Jean-Claude from Compiegne, France has informed me that the two-day INTERNATIONAL MEETING venue of the 60 YEARS OF THE VELOSOLEX.event has been changed and will now begin with a rendezvous of Solexistes at 09:00 hours on Saturday 3 June 2006 at the Hotel du Departement du Conseil General de l'Oise at 1 Rue Cambry, 60000, BEAUVAIS, France. This is due to the sheer number of people now expected to attend from all over Europe as well as from around the world.

As a result of this expected increase in numbers, the camping in Allonne is now too small and also too far away. Another solution is being looked at for FREE camping near the Parc de Conseil General de l' Oise. More information will be posted here as soon as it is received.

The media have been contacted and will also attend the event (remember to program your video-recorder if you have one!).

Please note that the month-long VELOSOLEX EXPOSITION will finish on Monday 5 June 2006. Any other changes that may occur before the event will be put on the Events page.

Finally, the photo of the excellent VeloSoleX 4600 V3 owned by Brian of New York City, US in the Photo Gallery has been improved in quality. I don't know about you but it is certainly one cyclomotor I wouldn't mind owning!

There is a possibility that WERONIKA may be attending the 60 YEARS OF THE VELOSOLEX.event on Saturday 3 June 2006. The only difficulty you may have is in recognising her. It appears that only Dr. M. Legendre ventured far enough in Weronika's Game last November to know who she is! One clue I will give you, is today's date...

Well, that's about it for now, fellow Solexistes! I will no doubt be updating the Events page as soon as more information is received.

 

Monday 6 February 2006

RECEIVED a jaunty letter this weekend from one of The Chalkwell Ladies who operate a musical establishment not far from the small hamlet of Southend-on-Sea on our English Riviera. The ladies in question are the tweed-suited Ms Susan Blairgowrie and her colleague Ms Edna Regis who work musical marvels in the field of Drum 'n Bass (In addition to these two instruments, I believe the ladies also manipulate the saxophone, clarinet and recorder, as well as certain retro-electronic apparatus). There has been rumour that the ladies may be adding the vibrant beats of the VeloSoleX Cyclomotor Engine in the future. It appears that the ladies are available for bookings in and around the town of London and perhaps for suitable remuneration, overseas as well. More details may be obtained by emailing: . Ms Blairgowrie wrote me that the recent televisual offering from the British Broadcasting Corporation on the VeloSoleX machine (see below) reminded her nostalgically of her childhood holidays many years ago in Normandy, France.

Talking of childhood memories, I am sure that Ms Blairgowrie will join me in remembering those days when toys meant cloth and porcelain dolls, hand puppets, wooden alphabet blocks, animal zoos & forts, running hoops, brown leather footballs, metal jacks, diecast Corgi & Matchbox Lesney cars, coloured glass marbles, pressed-tin toys, Hornby train sets with wooden stations, magic robots with magnetic bases, ludo, etc, etc. It seems sad today that should a fire break out in a modern toy store such as Toys'R'Us only a large plastic blob would remain in place of the building...

Anyway, now on to a post this evening from Brian of New York City, US. Brian has sent in a photo of yet another wonderful machine in his VeloSoleX collection, a 1978 VeloSoleX 4600 V3 in excellent condition. I have posted the photo in the Photo Gallery with his details of it. Thanks Brian!

Brian has also sent in a tip on how to test the operation of the Magneto Coil on a VeloSoleX by using a 6V Battery Charger:

  1. Remove the Spark Plug
  2. With a length of bared electrical wire, bind the Spark Plug body tightly to the aluminium engine fins
  3. Using a suitable Magneto Rotor Extractor, remove the Magneto Rotor
  4. Insert a piece of card between the Contact Breaker contacts
  5. Connect the Negative (- or Black) terminal of the 6V Battery Charger to the metal of the engine housing
  6. Quickly tap the positive (+ or Red) terminal of the 6V Battery Charger on the Condenser centre terminal which also has the wire connected from the Magneto Coil
  7. Check for a FAT BLUE SPARK cracking across the Spark Plug gap

 

Saturday 4 February 2006

JANUARY was another fairly quiet month on the VeloSoleX front but I did receive an email from Ray from New Zealand who enquired about a User's Guide / Repair Manual for a 1963 VeloSoleX S 2200. David from France asked for the same manual as well. I suggested that Jeff Matthews (email: ) may have an English Solex Repair Manual on his website at VeloCruz or be able to get hold of one.

As I have mentioned before there are a number of differences between the VeloSoleX S 2200 and the VeloSoleX S 3800 including the Crankcase, Transmission Roller, Cylinder, Carburettor and Fuel Pump although some parts (eg: Air Filter) remain the same. As I emailed Ray, it is often best to keep the rarer S 2200 in as original condition as possible in order to maintain its value. One can always get the more ubiquitous S 3800 to try out the engine modifications. Darren Mora at 91A Beachville Road, Redcliffs, Christchurch, New Zealand (Tel: 00 64 3 337 3275, email: ) is the Mopex Black'n Roll supplier in New Zealand and may have certain parts that fit the S 3800.

 

Alfred from Strasbourg is in the process of restoring not one but THREE (!) VeloSoleX S 2200 machines and is hoping to use the saddle advertised on the website of the bicycle shop Cycles Of Yesteryear in Surbiton, Surrey, UK. Normally a bicycle seat tube in the UK has an outside diameter of 26.8 mm - 27.2 mm. Consequently, the seat clamp under this saddle may be a bit too large for the seat tube of the VeloSoleX S 2200 (seat tube diameter of 22 mm, see http://www.lesolex.com/sellereydelmarron.htm) and one may need to file a few millimetres off the seat clamp in order for it to grip the seat tube tightly.

 

Sherwood emailed to say that he has a Hungarian version of the VeloSoleX S 3800 bought from Jorgen Pederson in the late 1990's when Hamlet Motors were still selling them in the UK. Sherwood has a built of a problem with the automatic clutch on his S 3800 in that it doesn't disengage at idle. Also, it has suffered misfiring problems.

On the VeloSoleX S 3800, the front brake must be applied to throttle back the engine to around 800 RPM while stopping at traffic lights etc., so that the RPM-engaged clutch slips satisfactorily. In fact, quite a few S 3800 riders in France just use the front brake to stop! One can also turn the throttle fully back instead. If the Transmission Roller is slipping for whatever reason (eg: wet tyre, worn roller or incorrect tyre pressure), then the clutch will not disengage properly. The engine RPM will not be low enough and the clutch will remain engaged. Another common fault is a mal-adjusted throttle cable causing a too-high idle speed. Otherwise, the automatic clutch mechanism itself may have become rusted or seized and will require complete dismantling after removing the Magneto Rotor and Stator with the correct tools.

To check that the automatic clutch is working properly:

  1. Put the bike on the centre stand
  2. With one hand, hold the Magneto Rotor tightly
  3. With the other hand, try to turn the front wheel, first in one direction and then the other
  4. If the automatic mechanism is working correctly, the front wheel should be free to turn in one direction but not the other

 

With regard to misfiring problems on the VeloSoleX S 3800, all piston-ported 2-stroke engines have carburettor spit-back to some degree (which, incidentally, will worsen on the VeloSoleX if the air filter housing is removed). Otherwise, a poor mixture (eg: too weak or poorly mixed) is sometimes the cause, often due to a blocked carburettor Main Jet which should be cleared by blowing through with Carburettor Cleaner spray.

Incidentally, the START Lever is usually left at the twelve or one o'clock position for proper running on the Hungarian VeloSoleX S 3800 after warming up.

For misfiring problems, one should also check the following:

  1. Spark-Plug faulty (fit a new NGK BP(R)5HS or B5HS Spark Plug [irrespective of the condition of the old one] to the end of the HT lead. The Spark plug gap should be 0.5 mm for magneto ignition and 0.5 mm - 0.6 mm for electronic ignition. With a 2-foot (Ĺ metre) length of bared electrical wire, bind the Spark Plug body TIGHTLY to the aluminium engine fins. Push the bike [in gear] along the road and check for a FAT BLUE SPARK cracking across the Spark Plug gap)
  2. Condenser intermittent (the condenser is notorious for failure and worth replacing particularly if the bike appears to start normally but then runs rough or misfires after some minutes)
  3. Contact Breaker electrical contacts dirty (the Contact Breaker electrical contacts have a surface of low-resistance Platinum-Iridium and should be cleaned with a folded strip of 1200 Grade Wet & Dry Abrasive Paper between the closed contacts and very lightly pulled in and out two or three times and then a folded strip of clean white paper moistened with Iso-Propyl Alcohol inserted and the same action repeated. Make sure that no paper is left between the contacts)
  4. Ignition Timing incorrectly adjusted (to check ignition timing, connect an Analogue Multimeter set to low-resistance ohms (x1 range) or Digital Multimeter set to 200 ohm range, with one lead to the engine body and the other lead to the electrical termination block where the condenser wire is connected. Turn the Magneto Rotor VERY SLOWLY CLOCKWISE and observe the multimeter. Check that the resistance changes from 0 ohms to about 1.1 ohms at the EXACT point when the Magneto Rotor mark lines up with the RUPTURE mark on the Magneto Stator. A useful Analogue/Digital Multimeter is the MAPLIN N26AJ for £12.97 which can also measure Condenser capacitance. To measure Condenser capacitance, disconnect the condenser wire from the electrical termination block. Connect one lead to the Condenser wire and the other lead to the engine body. The condenser should measure between 0.18uF to 0.25uF [with the meter set to the 2uF range]. Remember that the Condenser may read OK when cold but under hot or vibration conditions may go faulty. The meter also has a Continuity setting which beeps when you are measuring 0 ohms, which is useful for checking Ignition Timing)
  5. HT Connection at the brass terminal of the Magneto Coil (disconnect the HT Lead to the Spark Plug, connect an Analogue Multimeter, set to medium-resistance ohms [x10 or x100 range] or a Digital Multimeter set to 20K (20,000) ohms range, with one lead to the engine body and the other lead to the Spark Plug end of the HT Lead and check that the resistance is 4.5K - 4.75K ohms [4500 - 4750 ohms]. On the VeloSoleX S 3800, the end of the HT lead makes a touching electrical connection to the HT brass terminal of the Magneto Coil. I soldered and epoxyed mine to prevent having to continously maintain it because of the ingress of 2-stroke oil mist)
  6. Oil/fuel mixture stale (blow through all fuel circuits and carburettor with Carburettor Cleaner spray)
  7. Fuel Pump balls gummed-up (ie: the two glass 2.5 mm balls inside the Fuel Pump) or a wrinkly Fuel Pump diaphragm particularly if the bike hasnít been used a lot and the fuel does not shoot back at all RPMs along the clear Fuel Return Pipe but returns back in bubbles (with the Air Filter Housing completely off, wide-open throttle, push the bike [in gear] along the road and with a torch check that a squirt of fuel enters the Carburettor Venturi on each up-stroke. The pre-mix should be mixed in a container not in the fuel tank. Also avoid using too much oil [common mistake]. A 2% ratio or 50:1 is fine; 3% to 6% if running-in is sometimes recommended but I would say only if the engine shows signs of serious overheating. A VeloSoleX S 3800 which has not been run in completely will have significantly less power than one that has)
  8. Crankcase Passageway to fuel pump blocked (empty the fuel tank, remove fuel pump and with engine engaged on the front wheel push the bike for several metres until no more oil blows from crankcase hole)
  9. Manifold Gasket air leaks, sometimes caused by over-tightening the two manifold bolts
  10. Decompressor Valve not sealing properly or gasket leaks around cylinder head (shown by external oil traces)
  11. Air Filter blocked (remove the Foam Air Filter, check that it is completely clean, apply three drops of clean engine oil [SAE 10/30] spaced across the filter, fold a clean tissue over it and squeeze together lightly several times until no engine oil remains on the tissue. You should be able to blow through the Foam Air Filter easily)
  12. Fuel Tank Filter dirty
  13. Carburettor Fuel Filter dirty
  14. Crankshaft Roller Bearing (6203-RS) air leaks (shown by traces of oil on the offside edge of the tyre). Replace bearing with modern dual-sealed bearing (eg: 6203-2RS)
  15. Exhaust Port / Pipe / Silencer coked-up (if after 3000 to 6000 km), sometimes caused by using the wrong percentage of oil in the pre-mix

 

Brian from the UK wrote in to ask about the Registration Form that must be completed by each person who wishes to enter his / her VeloSoleX and returned to Solex Millenium for the forthcoming 60 YEARS OF THE VELOSOLEX.event in BEAUVAIS. In it, it appears to say that "the Solex must have working signal (indicator) lights" but I think that it's understood that this ONLY APPLIES to those bikes that had them originally fitted.

 

Daniel of Club Solex de Belgique recently sent me the latest edition of Solex Appeal. Thank you very much Daniel!

 

The BBC Antiques Roadshow that was broadcast on BBC One last Sunday 29 January 2006, had an interesting piece on a VeloSoleX S 3800 bought from a "Brocante" (or car-boot market) in Libourne, France for £40 and sold a week later in Notting Hill's Portobello Road Market in West London for £50! Still a bargain for the fortunate English gentleman who bought it if I may say so! Portobello Road Market is always worth a wander around on a Saturday morning before too many people have arrived. One can always go for a relaxing coffee afterwards in one of the many chic cafes in the area. It is good fun to get attention by riding one's VeloSoleX through the market on Saturday! Alice's at 86 Portobello Road, Notting Hill (also seen here) is a wonderful, old emporium where I could easily spend an hour or two looking for interesting bargains! Michael Caine's 1960's "bachelor pad" (ie: apartment) in the film "The Italian Job" at 18 Denbigh Close, Notting Hill is in the road close by. Some 26 other films have been filmed in this area including About A Boy, Alfie, A Hard Day's Night, The L-Shaped Room, Performance, Sliding Doors, 10 Rillington Place and of course Notting Hill. As it happens, I was there for a number of weeks while Notting Hill was being filmed. It's an interesting area one should not miss while visiting London...

 

Paul from the UK has emailed me to say he has successfully done the Magneto Coil Modification detailed on my Magneto page. He has also replaced his Aluminium Fuel Pipes with Copper Fuel PipesPaul, a member of the NACC, also has a VeloSoleX 6000, a VeloSoleX Tenor, a Terrot Lutin (1956) with roller drive on the rear wheel but with a proper carburettor so its a bit quicker than a Solex and also uses a similar frame to the S 2200, a Mobylette AV89, a Simpson Schwalbe (dismantled), a Terrot 101, a couple of other Mobylettes and two or three Peugeots! Paul hastens to remind me that the Sars-Poteries event will take place on Sunday 11 June 2006 (to be confimed) at Sars-Poteries, France near the border with Belgium.

 

Finally, I have updated my Links page with a link to a very comprehensive French website called NitroSolex under the enthusiastic management of Vincent from France which has many detailed VeloSoleX photos, restoration and tuning information. Les meilleurs voeux, Vincent!

 

Well, I think I will break off now to put my coffee on the stove and hope that you are all getting your VeloSoleX machines polished for the 60 YEARS OF THE VELOSOLEX event in BEAUVAIS!

 

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