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British Industrial History

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1897 Leeds Motor and Cycle Show

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Held in Leeds Town Hall from 27th March to March 06th.


A Motor and Cycle Exhibition was held in the Leeds Town Hall, from February 27th to March 6th, under the auspices of the Northern Counties Exhibition Company. Many of the large cycle firms exhibited; and the show, which was very well attended, proved a great success.

Messrs. Walker Brothers, of Leeds, had a stand in the crypt, and also showed an assortment of cycles in the Masonic Hall. Amongst them was a New Beeston motorcycle. This appears to be a well-designed machine, and during a short trial which our representative was able to give it, it seemed to be very easily controlled.

It is fitted with an oil-motor of the De Dion type. Petrol is used, and the smell is not noticeable in the open air. Electricity is used for ignition, an accumulator being suspended from the top stay, in front of the rider. A coil fixed on the frame near the motor gives the spark which fires the explosive mixture. A muffler is provided which efficiently deadens the noise of the exhaust. No cooling water is carried, the heat being dissipated by means of a series of flanges cast on the cylinder.

The speed control has been well thought out, and is effected by means of a small regulator handle, attached to the top bar of the frame. The starting is accomplished by giving one of the ordinary steering handles — the left-hand one, which is mounted to turn on the handle-bar — half a turn to the right. This completes the battery circuit. The rider pedals the machine for a few feet until the motor catches an explosion, after which lie has nothing further to do. The pedals, which are provided to assist in starting, work out the chain-wheel through a ratchet arrangement, and the rider is thus enabled to keep his feet on the pedals after the motor has got to work.

The machine is rather heavy — it weighs 150 lbs. — but the makers claim that weight is necessary to overcome the vibration which is inevitable with the oil-motor which develops three-quarter horse-power. The crank-shaft drives on to the wheels through a 7 to 1 reduction tooth-gear. Sufficient oil is carried for a run of 50 or 60 miles, whilst the accumulators are said to hold out for 200 miles. Speed, we are pleased to note, is not made the great feature, although the machine will easily attain the maximum allowed by law.

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