Leaving the Sachsenring early the following morning after what we felt for us, was a good meeting, not with standing my early 350 race retirement and non start in the 250 event. We headed for the UK as quickly as possible as Vic and I were both looking forward to getting home and having a good rest before setting off to Dundrod in Northern Ireland, for the next World Championship meeting on our schedule.
I was also keen to meet up with Ron Kenwood to see what solutions, if any, he had come up with or might be proposing in response to my request for help in dealing with our need for more power from the 125 and gearbox issues, all as I had listed and mailed to him from Shleiz.
Having reached the Port of Calais and loaded the Thames onto the ferry for Dover, we felt almost home and were relaxing over a good meal and a glass of wine on the ferry not realising there would be yet one more hurdle to overcome before finishing our journey!
We arrived at Dover on a Spring tide to find the tide was out and thus the ferry off loading ramps so steep that only cars were being permitted to disembark until the tide turned. The Thames was parked in the ships hold at the front of a long line of cars unable to move with us in front of them. Being also anxious to get off the ferry, we agreed with the crew to try to see if we could get our fully loaded Thames up the ramp. Well, after a lot of clutch slipping and smoke we succeeded in getting up the ramp only to discover, as we tried to climb the hill out of Dover 10 minutes later, that the Thames clutch had completely gone! This was within less than a 60 miles of home, having covered nearly 7000 miles traveling across Europe over the past 4 months, with only an oil pump gaiter and seal failing on the Thames, in all this time!
Fortunately we were able to get off the hill by backing down into a garage forecourt, unfortunately however, being late in the evening, the garage was closed. Determined to get home and Vic to see his girl friend, we locked up the Thames with the bikes, spares and tools, put a notice on the windscreen informing the garage owner of what had happened, with a promise to contact him first thing the following morning. We then took a train home to Woking via Waterloo, hitting our beds just after midnight.
Leaving Vic on the following day to pacify the owner of the garage in Dover and to arrange to have the Thames clutch replaced, my long time friend and fellow racer John Bacon gave me a lift over to Ron Kenwood’s in Puttenham on the South side of the Hogs Back. I was very surprised and pleased to find Ron had already done a lot of work, manufacturing new components to the specifications we had originally planned, for the 125 short stroke engine.
Over the winter of 1963, I had many discussions with Ron, when we developed at length the ideas for modifications I was considering making to each of the bikes, on our arrival at the Parilla factory in Milan. These plans included the building of the short stroke 125 engine and the possibility of manufacturing a 6 or 7 speed gear cluster for this engine only, based on a 5 or 6 speed gear cluster I had modified and installed for Peter Lucas’s in his 50 cc racer in 1961/2.
The Lucas racer gear cluster was also constant mesh with internal gear selection but unlike my G50 gear cluster design, the sliding drive gears were locked to the main input shaft, on selection, by the internal main shaft selector piston moving side ways pushing ball bearings up into the inner cups of the selected gear.
We would not have attempted to use this gear cluster design in any engine over 125 cc and there was still a big question mark in our minds, at the time, as to the torque capacity and long term durability of this design, even for a 125 engine with less than 16 horse power !!
On receiving my plea for help from Shleiz, Ron had immediately taken the bull by the horns and set to modifying a standard crankshaft in a 175 high cam Parilla engine I had left with him before leaving for Italy, to give us the square stroke/bore engine configuration we had initially intended to build in Milan but abandoned when we ran out of time to machine all the necessary new components
With the help of E.H.Macey of Chertsey and other local engineering workshops Ron had also completed, with the exception of the indexing mechanism, the manufacture of the constant mesh cluster developed from the Lucas 50 racer design as described above, for the short stroke 125 engine. I was completely bowled over seeing all of the work Ron had done in such a short space of time and by the superb quality of all the components he had made and assembled including the Morini racing piston and pattern con rod which, as required, was longer than the standard 175 Parilla con rod.
All though much work had already been done by Ron in preparation for us to build the short stroke 125 engine, it was clear that the engine and gear cluster could not be finished and tested in time for the Ulster G.P in only 2 weeks. However I had high hopes the work might be completed before the start of the end of season Spanish Series. The first of the 5 race meetings commencing in Bilbao, at the end of August.
Visiting Croydon the following day, I reported to Cyril Ashford the Managing Director of Capriola/Parilla Imports, all of the high lights and problems, encountered over the previous 4 months of our racing program, the outcome of our discussions whilst staying with Parilla in March and subsequent visits to the factory. I also informed him of the progress Ron Kenwood was making on the engine and 6 speed gearbox cluster for the 125 Parilla.
Cyril Ashford was concerned as to Moto Parilla’s future as a motorcycle manufacturer and supplier, but seemed very pleased with our results to date and assured me that I would continue to have his full support.
Ashford also expressed concern that Moto Parilla may think the gearbox cluster now being developed with Ron Kenwood’s help, was of the same design as the cluster we had originally offered to jointly develop with Parilla for fitment into their Wildcat scramblers. His concern was Parilla (or their Bankers) may feel, at some time in the future, that they had some claim to the design. This was clearly not the case but to avoid any future misunderstandings it was agreed that we would keep the development of the 125 engine gearbox cluster under cover for the time being.
This decision was to present us with some future additional problems when trying to install the gear/piston selector indexing mechanism, out of sight, under the 125 outer crankcase cover!!