Monthly Archives: October 2013

Wes Cooley on the Dyno

day at the office 009While I was under the knife on Friday the Wes Cooley Special went on a visit to the dyno where the carbs were set up to suit the Chris Mayhew tuned big bore – four valve per cylinder motor. With 1160ccs to play with the final figures were pretty good for this thirty years old ‘diesel’.

A strong I45bhp at 8250rpm is not to be sniffed at and coupled with a flat torque reading in the high nineties she should be a serious contender for the Classic Series of races in South Africa early in 2014. The motor was still making good power at a self imposed for reliability reasons 8250rpm rev limit

The rider – Buffalo in his early days getting serious aboard his Yamaha TZ 750 —


He claims the twin-shock Wes Cooley special ‘handles real well’ so providing the extra thirty five horses over the original two valve motor doesn’t tie the old bike in knots she should be a potent ride.

With 145bhp showing on the graph coupled with a meaty ft/lbs of torque reading in the high nineties the boys ran out of dyno time before they could play with the ignition settings so there could even be a couple more gg’s to be teased out of the old girl yet.

The four valve per cylinder motor —

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Lookin good at Cadwell recently with only 110bhp —

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But – with the upcoming four races in three weeks at South African circuits varying in altitude from sea level at East London to the 6000ft Kylami, reliability will no doubt be more important than outright power.

One of my all-time heroes – Jim Clark – four times Grand Prix winner at Kylami wins his last ever Grand Prix at the circuit on New Year’s Day 1968 —

Jim Clark at Kylami

The talented Berwickshire farmer was to lose his life three months later at Hockenheim in a Formula Two race.

An indication as to the vagaries of carb settings required for racing in heat at altitude meant 1968 fourth place finisher Chris Amon in his Ferrari had to stop to re-fuel as he needed 54 gallons for the race distance when thirty gallons would have been enough over a similar mileage in a European GP at the time.

Wes Cooley on the Dyno

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Posted by on October 14, 2013 in Uncategorized



Wes Cooley Special at Cadwell Park

puddin basin 001The Wes Cooley special was at Cadwell Park for a gallop just a few days ago and though she wasn’t raced in anger, did by all accounts give father and son ‘Team Simpson’ a pleasant day in the saddle while circulating with some respectable company.

It was a ‘no fuss – no drama’ sort of outing on the big fourstroke – just what was needed towards the end of a busy season racing a pair of Yamaha TZ 350s on the old European GP circuits in the ICGP series.

I understand this was Ian’s first ride on the Wes Cooley but he looks totally at home on the old bike as he hustles her round Cadwell —

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Ian also had something more modern to test on the day. I don’t have this next bike’s history but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen it ridden in anger by the late Stevie Hislop —

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A lot of water has gone under the bridge during the last twenty years but the style hasn’t changed much since the same Ian rode my ex Honda Britain VFR400 NC30 to a British Championship win at Mallory Park in 1993 —

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Dad Bill is no slouch either as he prepares himself for another raid on South Africa this winter —

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In fact it’s hard to tell father and son apart as they crank out the laps on the home built Suzuki GS1000 based Wes Cooley Special —

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alongside some exotic company —

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That could be Josh Brooks on an ‘away day’ riding the Number 11 bike but ever mindful of the cost of getting it wrong both in terms of pain and pocket – Bill was more circumspect in his approach to giving the big Susie air over Cadwell Mountain —

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Looks like a great day out —

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Definitely one for the family album —

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With the Wes Cooley Special crackin on at Cadwell Park —

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Posted by on October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized



Under the Sunflowers

Life after the Sunflowers – oh yes there is.

Legal Loser the Winner! 005The big fellas may have caught the public eye this summer when we have been blessed with so much sunshine but there has always been a nice wee garden going on down below.

Now that the sunflower heads are being dried out under cover to become so much bird feed this winter, some of the plants that are left are coming into there own.

I never expected this little patch of ground to give me so much pleasure and even now as we head into October it’s the first place I look for as I head out on my morning rounds.

The fossilised dinosaur egg is due a makeover for next year and we may yet see Braveheart peeping out of the shrubbery surrounding that cast iron drain cover that he sits on —

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The two tiny lupin plants I got from a friend have really come into their own since the sunflowers were retired and even a colour blind ejit like me can appreciate them —

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I’ve cut the three budlia bushes back a little since the flowers have gone for this year but the many bees and occasional butterfly enjoyed them when they were in bloom.

I’ve been well warned about these fellas though and by all accounts the aggressive plants will need regular attention with the secateurs if I am to restrain them to the confines of this lil plot over the next few years —

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I’m not sure about that hydrangea as it could well be another plant that outgrows it’s welcome but it can stay there for now —

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For the moment there are plenty of bare bits to plant up the snowdrops – crocus and tulip bulbs I have bought for an early spring show.

It will be interesting to see what survives a Scottish winter and I’m hoping it won’t be too extreme down here in the soft climate of the south-west —

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This year’s success with the sunflowers will be a hard act to follow —

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but no doubt something else will come along to this wee patch of soil that will bring the bees and butterflies back in their numbers next summer —

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Life After the Sunflowers

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Posted by on October 6, 2013 in out and about


Wes Cooley Special goes EFE

Wes Cooley Special Goes EFE

puddin basin 001After a summer spent gardening I find myself back in the workshop this week and I couldn’t have picked a better time to be there.

The Wes Cooley Special with it’s two valve per cylinder motor chucking out about 110bhp posted some respectable times during a Track Day at Cadwell Park last week.

But – the two valver was deemed NFE (Not Fast Enough) and a Chris Mayhew tuned – big bore four valve EFE motor which has been sitting in the workshop for several weeks now is going in there instead —

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No problem! They are both based on the stock motors used in the Suzuki GS1000 range so swapping them should be a doddle.

Not so! The four valve per cylinder motor was only used during the last two years of the production run and there are not too many of them about. The sump capacity has been increased to carry additional oil for the more powerful bike —

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Which means the replacement motor fouls the frame bracing which had been added to keep the old tubular steel design from flexing under track conditions. An original fixed bottom frame lug has also to be chopped off and a new one fashioned —

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A new straight front engine plate is sourced from the useful ‘swamp donkey’ —

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to replace the original cranked version and while Buffalo gets down and dirty with his Tig welder I have a mosey round the workshop to see what else is happening —

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This looks interesting —

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It’s the old oil-cooled Suzuki seven fifty that I stripped down prior to refurbishment – in – oh – what seems like years ago —

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It was to be a spare time project but there hasn’t been much of that in a busy year round race workshop.

The XR69 is also undergoing major mods to the front end. The XJR1300 sourced front forks are being shortened in house and fitted with Fireblade cartridges which should be a welcome improvement over the previous setup —

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So there’s plenty for me to do but the Cooley Special has priority —

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With the frame bracing plated and new fixed lug welded into the bottom rail it doesn’t take long to put that heavy lump of a motor back in —

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and bolt her up tight —

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Yes there are spacers of different lengths and diameters to be turned up in the lathe too but we get there by the end of the day —

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The protruding gearchange shaft outrigger plate mountings are different which means a new carrier has to be fabricated —

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That side cover bolthole arrangement is completely different too as is the extended threaded portion of the crankshaft. The two valver has a captive thread in the end of the crank instead of the protruding threaded piece—

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The ignition setup will be completely changed and fitted to the opposite end of the crank and an easier to manage lithium/sumthin battery is on the cards for the space under the race seat hump —

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But at least that lovely – lightweight titanium exhaust fits both motors —

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The carbs have been test-fitted to ensure they clear the underside of the petrol tank. A higher capacity oil cooler and fittings to cope with the increased heat from the extra power are on their way and the revised ignition system has also been sourced. With everything coming together now the bike will soon be off to the dyno to have the carbs set up to match the more powerful four valve per cylinder motor and bhp figures north of 135 will be the target..

A test session is planned for the Wes Cooley Special at Aragon Circuit in Spain towards the end of this month before she is crated and delivered to South Africa where my friend Buffalo will ride her in a Classic Bike four race series over a three week period early in 2014.

The pairing finished fourth overall in the four race 2013 programme and will be hoping for even better things in the new year but with strong local competition such as ex-GP rider Les Zan Breeda on a well sorted – similar engined Katana it will be no easy ride for our former Scottish Champion and TT winner.

Wes Cooley Special Goes EFE

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Posted by on October 4, 2013 in Uncategorized



A Visit to Elrig Loch

After spending the best part of Sunday morning on Galloway’s Ring of Bright Water at Monreith Bay where we looked for clues as to what made Gavin Maxwell tick, we moved inland on our quest to find his ancestral home.

Elrig House —

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Elrig House was built for Gavin’s father and completed only two weeks before he was killed in 1916 at the Battle of the Somme. Gavin was two years old then but it’s the construction of this massive pile that interests me.

The only access across the moss below Elrig Loch is a narrow single track causeway and with no materials available on this remote site below Mochram Fell presumably every single piece of house had to be transported by horse and cart from the nearest railhead. Even without the building work and accommodation needed for the large contingent of workers involved this must have been quite an operation. No doubt the seventeen thousand surrounding acres owned by the Maxwell family helped sweeten the pill.

To the west of the house a path leads across the fell to Luce Bay and is part of the twenty five miles long Pilgrims Way which connects The Southern Upland Way near New Luce with Whithorn Priory. An old church dating from the Dark Ages aptly named Barhobble Church lying just outside the grounds of Elrig House is thought to be a rest station for pilgrims on their way to and from Whithorn Priory.

The relatively recently excavated remains of Barhobble Church under inspection —

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and the Pilgrim’s Way to the Luce Bay coast by St Finians church goes that-a-way —

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Under that beautiful sky I was tempted to hobble there myself – but I didn’t and went off on a visit to Elrig Loch instead —

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Such a lovely place —

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and the weathering on the old boathouse timbers can’t be bought —

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but those trees are on the ‘big’ side for this part of the world —

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There’s a boat by the jetty at the top end of the loch should you wish to visit the crannog that sticks it’s head above the water out there. But – on closer inspection there was just a little too much water in the bilges for comfort —

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so we settled for the view from the wooden jetty instead —

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There was a time when I would have said of the neighbouring cottage, ‘I can rebuild it’ but not today —

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and with time getting on we had a word with the contented looking belties in the field up the road  —

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before heading for Portpatrick to watch the sun go down over the Irish Sea and enjoy the finest seared king scallops on crispy black pudding at a waterfront restaurant.

Oh Yes!

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The drive home in the dark had it’s perils when the first roe deer with a death wish came dithering in front of the car as we left the lights of Portpatrick. We were to encounter another seven or so of it’s kami-kazi relations wandering the roads at different junctures on the way back but I’m pleased to report that they and the car remained unharmed.

A Visit to Elrig Loch

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Posted by on October 1, 2013 in out and about