1927 Triumph Works TT Racing Motorcycle.
Frame no. T.7.1
Engine no. 122032
The machine offered here is believed to one of the six factory racers sent by Triumph to the Isle of Man TT races in 1927. 'T.7.1' was purchased in the 1960s from a deceased's estate by the well-known East London enthusiast, the late Ron Cresswell. The earliest documentary reference to it on file is a letter (dated May 1962) to Ron from a Mr Piper, who was acting for the widow of his friend, the Triumph's late owner. Mr Piper describes the machine as a 'TT Triumph' and a 'genuine works racing model' but unfortunately does not reveal the name of the late owner or furnish any further details of its history, other than stating that it had never been registered. Mr Piper states that to his knowledge the Triumph had been stored in its owner's loft since 1932. Photographs on file taken at the time of its removal in the 1960s reveal that the machine was virtually complete and pretty much as it is today, although at that time the fuel tank was painted a uniform dark colour. Ron Cresswell re-commissioned the Triumph and raced it at VMCC races, sprints and hill climbs for many years. There are photographs on file of him competing on the Triumph at Brands Hatch, Cadwell Park and Crystal Palace.
Known as the 'two-valve', to differentiate it from the existing Riccardo-designed four-valve model, the TT Triumph had been developed at Brooklands by the celebrated tuner, Victor Horsman. Using a cylinder head of his own design mated to a Triumph bottom end, Horsman set a new Hour record of 86mph at Brooklands in November 1923 to register the first major success for the new two-valve engine. In November 1925 he became the first man to cover 90 miles in an hour on a 500. This seems to have convinced Triumph of the design's soundness for they paid Horsman £1,500 for the rights and put the new two-valver, known as the TT Model, into production for 1927.
Given Horsman's performances at Brooklands, Triumph must have had high hopes for its new sports roadster at the 1927 Isle of Man TT. By this time the overhead-valve engine had consigned the sidevalve type to the dustbin of history and established itself as de rigeur for racing success. Unfortunately for Triumph and everyone else, Norton was fielding its Walter Moore-designed overhead-camshaft CS1 racer for the first time. Alec Bennett duly won the Senior race to give the new cammy Norton a perfect debut while the best Triumph could manage was 3rd place courtesy of private entrant Tommy Simister.
The machine offered here incorporates a number of interesting works-type features including a twin-pannier fuel tank complete with quick fillers; 8" diameter front brake (the production roadster's was 5"); Andre steering damper; and Bentley & Draper fork stabilisers. The frame is similar to that of the TT Model roadster and the forks are Triumph's own. Narrower than normal, they have an extension spring as opposed to the more common compression type. Mudguards and stays are narrower than standard versions. The oil tank is a separate cylindrical brass unit fitted under the saddle and has an auxiliary hand pump delivering lubricant to the timing side. Seams of all tanks are heavily scalloped for strength.
The crankcase halves are stamped 'T7 5', which is believed to indicate the 5th 1927 TT racing engine. The latter is fitted with a high-compression piston and large valves. Oil is delivered 'total loss' by an adjustable mechanical pump in the timing chest with no sight feed, unlike the roadster version. The carburettor is an Amac Track type with twin float chambers and no needle. Magneto is a racing Lucas with manual ignition advance/retard, cable operated from the handlebars.
Sturdily mounted to prevent movement under power, the three-speed gearbox is a Victor Horsman designed crossover type with close ratios, while the clutch is of the multi-plate, floating disk type. It would appear that Ron Cresswell fitted the gearbox's positive-stop foot change mechanism, as it is not present in the aforementioned photographs. The original hand-change mechanism is still attached but is inoperative. The un-sprung saddle and long straight-through exhaust pipes complete the picture.
While Ron Cresswell owned the Triumph he was contacted by one of the 1927 Triumph works team, Wilmot Evans, who had learned that Ron owned a TT Model and wrote asking if he would sell it (see letter on file). Ron never did and in due course passed the Triumph on to the current vendor. Disappointingly, there is no record of Wilmot having been able to identify which of the 1927 racers this is. However, the vendor believes that this is indeed Evans' Triumph, because a photograph of Wilmot on his 1927 TT mount shows a distinctive petrol tank with a bulbous front and a gear change lever/gate on the front tank strap, exactly as this machine was in Ron Creswell's time and still is today.
During the 1970s and 80s the present owner accompanied Ron Cresswell to many Vintage events and very much admired the Triumph racer. The bike was acquired in 1985 and subsequently was sprinted at Brooklands, Curborough, Brands Hatch, Monthléry in France and other venues. The Triumph has not been sprinted for several years but is sold in running condition.