From time to time the AMCA receives stories that for whatever reason may not work for the magazine. In an attempt to help members we are open to publishing these stories or articles here on the web site. If your a peashooter fan you'll like this article. It's technically heavy and offers alot of insight. ENJOY!
The Peashooters of Brisbane, Australia. By Neale Gentner.
I am an enthusiast of the racing Peashooter and very patient.
Below is a brief outline of the various Brisbane Peashooters, known to still exist.
Local H-D distributor, Morgan & Wacker, probably supplied every one of them.
The “Andy Laurie” Peashooter rolling chassis came from “Drake’s Bike Wreckers”, Brisbane, in 1971. Previous history unknown.
The Peashooter frame was out in yard, upside down, resting on it’s handlebars and saddle!
I was present when Andy Laurie paid for it and took it home.
(I was still at high school)
It is a circa 1927 model S or SA and is an authentic Factory racing chassis.
Andy Laurie later obtained (still pre 1973) most of a ‘29 SA motor from a scrap metal dealer at Kelvin Grove, Brisbane. (very close to the late Jim Walker’s old address, and also close to the old speedway track at Brisbane Exhibition Grounds) This motor was missing the cylinder head, and other small parts, but everything else was intact and in pristine condition. This motor has never had a serial number stamped, piston is original “Dow Metal” (magnesium alloy) marked EX 569 and extremely high domed. A racing only, full oil feed type timing cover was fitted. Because of the lack of serial number, it took more than 30 years to figure out exactly what model it was.
I purchased the “Andy Laurie” Peashooter with above motor, in late 1973 .
In 2001, I discovered the initials J.W. stamped into the sprockets.
Later that year, Barry Forsyth (Brisbane speedway researcher) supplied me with a list of riders who raced in Brisbane in 1926-1927. Jim Walker was the only name on list with initials J.W.
Jim Walker was a speedway rider in Brisbane ‘26-’27, in 1924 he was involved with the formation of the Auto Cycle Union of Queensland. In 1934 he was an A.C.U. official capacity measurer and treasurer. (Aussie equivalent of AMA)
(Brisbane “TELEGRAPH” newspaper, July 30, 1934 ).
In July 2003, Garth Robinson of Brisbane located some Peashooter parts at a clearing sale of the estate of the late Kevin Lane. Kevin Lane’s partner, Jan Bruce, who was conducting the sale, told Garth and myself, that she was present when Kevin bought the Peashooter parts, together with a quantity of radio equipment, in about ‘72 or ‘73, from the clearing sale of the estate of the late Jim Walker, at Kelvin Grove Brisbane. The peashooter parts were found in the crawl space under the house, exactly where they had been placed 30 years before. Among the parts were, three, 2 port heads , one of which is a large chamber, large guide type, complete with valves, springs and rockers. This head matches perfectly with my ‘29 SA motor, which Andy Laurie bought from the scrap metal dealer at Kelvin Grove, which is only a short walk from where Jim Walker lived! Almost exactly 30 years previously! Coincidence? Also there were some early type magnesium pistons, barrels, timing covers and a pair of racing ‘27 SA style flywheels .
Brisbane motor 27 SA 546.
Early history unknown.
In about 1978 I purchased the major parts of a H-D, 2 port Peashooter motor from, the late, Daryl Lee of Durack, Brisbane.
At the time I just wanted the head to complete the motor which came with my bike! I kept barrel and head (small combustion chamber and small, 7/16” valve guide type) and sold the rest to Robert Gough, in around 1981. When I tried to fit the head to the motor, I found the piston hit the head and lifted it clear of the gasket by about 1/4”!
Why this should occur remained a mystery for almost 30 years.
The mystery was solved by learning there are at least 6 variations of the racing dual port head, plus several variations in original pistons!
Robert Gough traded the lower end of 27 SA 546 to Graham Pedley, who traded it to Colin Wright, somewhere along the way, the crankshaft disappeared. Pers. com. Colin Wright. I bought 27SA546 from Colin Wright, in August 2003. It came with correct ‘27 timing cover and oil pump, but flywheel assembly with drilled and milled 6.875” conrod was from a 26S!
Crankcase 27 SA 546 has now been fitted with the ex Lane, ex Walker flywheels and reunited with it’s original head!
The above 26S crankshaft parts are, so far, the only known survivors from the 1926 model Brisbane Peashooters.
Brisbane motor 27 S 512
Ex Bob Dyer , ex Leonard “Len” Dyer. ex Les Itzstein,
Early history unknown.
When I obtained 27S512 from Bob Dyer in 2002, it was a lower end with cylinder, timing cover and fitted with a 1928 racing Peashooter oil pump, Bob Dyer’s father, Len and his friend, Les Itzstein, had built it into an air compressor in the 1940’s. Pers. comms. Bob Dyer and Max Itzstein, 2004. The compressor was built with a fabricated, plate steel head, drive sprocket from the rear of a Dirt Track Douglas , sliding splined motor sprocket from an early speedway J.A.P., on a home built countershaft and an old cast iron acetylene welding gas generator for the air receiver! I rebuilt the compressor in 2002 with a 1929 B model lower end as part of the deal to get 27S512 . Compressor still works well today.
When dismantled, this motor had lightened flywheels, racing type 6.75” connecting rod and a nickel plated cylinder.
Doug Wacker, retired former mechanic and workshop supervisor of Morgan & Wacker, admits to throwing away a complete, racing Peashooter motor, in the 1960’s, during a clean up at the Morgan & Wacker workshop premises, then in Mc Lachlan street, Fortitude Valley, Brisbane. It is possible this motor was recovered and is in fact 28SA509.
In the 1970’s, Jack Finglas of Hendra, had the ex Ted Price Peashooter #28 SA 524 and another ex Brisbane Peashooter, motor only, (complete with AMX carb) #28SA509.
Brisbane motor 28 SA 509.
Early history unknown.
Earliest known owner, Fred Howie, obtained this motor in Brisbane, during the early 1960’s from an unknown member of the Australian Air Force.
28 SA 509 motor went to Jack Finglas during the 1960’s. It was obtained, from the estate of the late Jack Finglas by Gary Fuller of The “Gold Coast” in the early 1970’s. Onsold to Ray Owen of Nerang, who modified motor by “through” or “tie bolting” and “built up” using a road model frame and wheels etc. This machine was sold in 2002 to Leon Nowland of Inglewood, Queensland. Onsold in 2003 to Peter Arundel of Victoria, and again onsold to David Reidie of Melbourne, Victoria, in July 2003.
Brisbane motor 28 SA 524, ex Ted Price.
Early history unknown.
Complete machine (only thing authentic racing Peashooter was motor and carb., but machine was in “as last raced by Ted, pre WW2” condition) it was featured in 1975, “TWO WHEELS” magazine and several “Courier Mail” articles. Also obtained from the Jack Finglas estate by Gary fuller, sold to Gene Adams of Legume, NSW in 1970’s , Adams sold 28 SA 524, on March 7th 2003, to Mike Smith of Oregon, USA . Mike has promised to send me details of this motor.
The remains of only one “CA” 500cc Peashooter is so far known in the Brisbane or South East Queensland area, most old timers here claimed that all H-D peashooters were 350cc. There is an interesting reason for this. Since 1917 Harley-Davidson have been represented in Queensland by Morgan & Wacker, P/L, In the mid to late 1920’s M&W were heavily involved with racing and in the 1920’s they also distributed Douglas motorcycles. Douglas had very successful 500cc and 350cc, T.T. racing models which were pressed into service on the speedways, later in 1928 and ‘29 Douglas produced their highly successful “D.T.” 500cc dirt track machine. It would appear that on the speedways, the 350 Douglas was less successful than the 350cc Peashooter, rather than have the 500cc “CA” Peashooter and 500cc Douglas in direct competition, the 350cc Harley Peashooters were allowed to rule their class and the 500cc "Dougie’s" ruled theirs. Thereby, Morgan & Wacker gained maximum advertising exposure for their range of models on sale, with no conflict of interest.
I suspect that most of the Brisbane Peashooters were gathered up by Jim Walker and remained largely intact at Ballymore street, until the early 1970's. I suspect that many of the parts which I now have, were once owned by Jim Walker! The rest of the exWalker parts are probably lost forever.
To date, my “work in progress”, highly detailed book has 50,000+ words of cross referenced text and hundreds of photographs , documenting the development history of these great little bikes, has been compiled so far with the help and co-operation of many people world-wide.
With this book I am endeavouring to collect all the known data on the racing Peashooters.
I would especially like to thank the following “friends of the Peashooter” for their help and support .
Jim Haubert, Daniel Pugens, “Connie” Schlemmer, Daniel Statnekov, Herbert
Alan Auburn, Tony Blain, Barry Forsyth, Mark Matthew, Bill Mac Namara,
Les Mc Kitterick, David Reidie, AUSTRALIA.
Bruce Anderson, Malcolm Anderson, Hugh Anderson, Chris Parker, NEW
Steve Slocombe, U.K.
Dietrich Kuhlgatz, Jürgen Weber, GERMANY.
Olle Ridelius, SWEDEN.