Saturday, January 14, 2012

Panther - Beauty which happens to be a Beast


Panther motorcycles were manufactured by Phelon & Moore (P&M) in Cleckheaton, Yorkshire, UK from 1900 to 1967. The most famous models are large (~600cc) single cylinder machines where the engine is a stressed member of the motorcycle frame (an idea patented in 1900 by Joah Phelon and Harry Rayner). P&M were noted for innovation in the first half of the century; as well as the first use of the engine as a stressed frame member, they were first to standardise on chain drive and introduce a two speed gear with chain drive as standard (1904). Even post-WW2 P&M were not shy of innovation; making early use of air sprung front suspension. They used the slogan "The Perfected Motorcycle", leaving little room for improvement! In the 1950s Panthers were regarded highly but by the mid 1960s they were outdated when compared to Japanese machines and P&M went the way of most of the UK motorcycle industry. P&M were absorbed into the IMI group which retains an engineering facility in Cleckheaton, close to the original works.
The Bikes: Heavyweights

The Models{On 30/04/00 I broke up the unweildy single page on heavyweights into this collection of smaller pages on each stage of the development of the marque. There will doubtless be some teething problems - I anticipate many broken links between models - please aleert me to any you find. The boundaries between the various stages are somewhat arbitrary - especially between the P&M "Panther" models and the subsequent models of the Panther marque. I'll do this a little more rigorously as the site develops. It's a little untidy at this stage - bear with me!}

The first Panthers were the 1.75 h.p. Phelon & Rayner machines produced from 1901 to 1903.

The design was licensed to Humber who produced 2.75 h.p. and 4.5 h.p. machines from 1903 to 1905.

After disputes with Humber over licenses and royalties Phelon & Moore started producing a range of P&M machines from 1904 through to 1925. These included 2.75 h.p., 3.5 h.p. (solo, sidecar and forecar), 4.5 h.p. and the 3.5 h.p. Colonial and RFC/RAF models.

From 1924 through to 1935 P&M produced various models with the name Panther. The models that I am (somewhat arbitrarily) considering to be P&M Panthers are the 1924-29 Panther (including Models 1 to 3), 1930-35 Panther 50 and Panther 55, 1932 Panther 70 Express, 1929-35 Model 60 and 1929-35 Model 80 and 85.

From 1925 through to 1929 P&M produced various racing models.

From about 1929 the marque became known as Panther. The various Panther models post 1930 are treated separately.

From 1931 to 1938 a 490cc Model 90 was made.

From 1938 to 1939 the Model 95 (a vertical engined version of the 1938 Model 100) was made. This is a rare machine.

The definitive Panther is the Model 100, manufactured from 1932 through to 1963.

The final Panther heavyweight model is the Model 120, developed from the Model 100 in 1959 and sold through to the demise of P&M in 1966.
The Engine

The defining feature of the heavyweight Panthers is their engine. The design of motorcycle with a large single cylinder engine as a stressed member spanned the entire history of the company, starting with a 500cc model and ending with a 600cc model (Model 100) and a 650cc model (Model 120). This is a black and white line drawing of the classic large single engine. The cutaway drawing shows clearly details of the valve gear and the timing side. The Burman gearbox and Amal carb are also shown. My guess is that this is a mid fifties Model 100 engine (well I used this picture when I was building the engine in my mid fifties Model 100 - so it had better be!). The Amal Concentric rather than Monobloc carb would provide a latest date (which I will look up sometime real soon!). The engine is a stressed member in the frame and the brackets on the head where this attaches below the frame headstock are clearly visible. The engine has a semi wet sump as can be seen from close inspection of this picture. The prominent finned part of the crankcases at the lower front forms an oil tank as part of the engine. The flywheels do not run in this oil however; there is a weir separating them from this oil reservoir. Oil return is provided by the flywheels flinging oil over this weir. The oil pump is located behind the large pinion in the timing chest. The magneto (Lucas K1F) and dynamo (Lucas E3H ?) are mounted one above the other on top of the crankcases behind the cylinder. The magneto (the lower of the two) has manual advance/retard. There is a chain drive to the dynamo. Behind the lower pinion in the timing chest are the cams and the cam followers, tappets and push rods are visible.
The Bikes: 4-Stroke Lightweights

From the mid 1920s Phelon & Moore also produced a number of lightweights.

The PanthetteThe first of the lightweights was the Panthette, designed by Granville Bradshaw, this was a 250cc transverse V-twin of unit construction. It received very good road test reports and was genuinely liked by test riders. It lacked a heavy flywheel and had poor clutch plate control. It was a very "revvy" engine. Whilst of innovative design, it was a commercial disaster; its failure to sell well, at the time that The Depression was starting to bite, nearly bankrupt the company. Frank Leach effectively killed off the Panthette in favour of his own lightweight 250cc which later sold as the Red Panther. Very few Panthettes survive.

Four Stroke Single Panther Lightweights From the 1930s a range of two and four stroke lightwieghts were produced. The four-strokes were mainly 350cc and 250cc singles, the latter being somewhat underpowered. They were of conventional frame design, although some models (Model 60 and 70) had sloping engines, but not as stressed members.

Pre-war 250s included Model 30 (1932), Model 40, Model 70 Redwing, Red Panther Standard, Red Panther Model 20 Deluxe, Red Panther Model 20. Post-war 250s included Model 60 and Model 65.

Pre-war 350s included Model 45 (1932), Model 80 Redwing, Redwing 85, Red Panther Model 30. Post-war 350s included Model 70 and Model 75.

Model 30 & Model 40 & Model 70 RedwingLaunched in 1932 as the Model 30 and soon renamed the Model 40, this was a fairly conventional 248cc machine with clear links to the Heavyweight design. A DeLuxe model was available.

At some stage (1934?) it appears to have become the Model 70 Redwing, which according to The Book was dropped in 1936 and a 250cc Model 40 was again available in 1939 (combining Model 20 and Model 85)!

Budget versions were made for Pride & Clarke as Red Panthers (Standard, DeLuxe and Model 20).

Model 45 & Model 80 RedwingA 348cc version of the Model 40 was also launched in 1932 as the Model 45 and was renamed the Model 80 Redwing in 1933.

Budget versions were made for Pride & Clarke as Red Panther Model 30.

Red Panthers Red Panthers were built exclusively for Pride & Clarke of London at very low cost by using cheap labour (apprentices, mill hands, etc.) and cheaper ancilliary components (gearbox, ignition, lighting, etc.). The frame, mundguards, tank, etc produced by P&M were of the same standard as the Redwing models. There were 250cc and 350cc models. Surviving examples tend to have had a tough life; as budget machines they were often mistreated.

This is a Red Panther from 1932 to 1939, it is either 248cc or 348cc. I suspect it is a 248cc Red Panther DeLuxe from 1934. If a 250 then this model was the budget version of the Model 40 (Model 30 in 1930-32, later the Model 70). If a 350 then this would be a Red Panther Model 30 which was the budget version of the Panther Model 80 (Model 45 in 1932).

{The lightweight models, and especially the Red Panthers, are particularly confusing! Treat this information as indicative only - the revised model and year guide, currently under construction, will force me to get to grips with this properly and treat it with more rigour.}
Red Panther Standard / DeLuxe

248cc machine made in 1933-37 (DeLuxe offered at least 1934-35). This was the Pride & Clarke budget version of the Model 40 (Model 30 in 1932, later the Model 70). I believe these were Model 20s, except in 1933 when they were Model 10s.
This is Tom Norman's 1937 Model 20 Red Panther.
Red Panther Model 20

248cc machine made in 1938 and 1939, incorporating improvements similar to those made in the Model 100 in 1938
Red Panther Model 30

The Red Panther Model 30 was a 348cc 15 bhp machine made from 1933 to 1939. It was the Pride & Clarke budget version of the Panther Model 80. From 1938/9? incorporating improvements similar to those made in the Model 100 in 1938
Model 60

The Model 60 was ready for production in 1940 and some may well have been made then. However it was mainly produced for three years (1946-1948) and was based upon the earlier 1938 Model 40 (Model 70 Redwing, Red Panther Model 20 - I get confused!)

This is a 1946 Model 60 which has a 248cc OHV engine. Whilst the engine is sloping forward it does not take the place of the front frame down-tube as is the case with the heavyweights. The drive is through a separate 3-speed gearbox. The front suspension is provided by girder forks. Webb girder forks were fitted for 1946.

This is a 1947 Model 60. Clearly it is very similar except that the Webb girder forks were replaced with Dowty forks for 1947/48.

Technical Data

I am grateful to Malcolm Duckett for providing the picture of the 1946 machine and technical data (from the Panther Instruction Booklet) and to Robert Shaw for posting the picture of the 1947 machine to the email list.
Model 70

The Model 70 is a 348cc, 4-speed version of the Model 60 and is similar in most other respects. It also was only produced for three years (1946-1948) and was based upon the pre-war Model 30.

I believe that this rather non-standard trials machine is a Model 70 from about 1947/48 - it is clearly a lightweight with Dowty forks and apparently has the slightly sloping engine and a magneto. Dowty forks were fitted in 1947/48, whereas Webb girder forks were fitted in 1946.

I am grateful to Tom Norman for this photograph of Dave Thornber's bike.
Model 65

The Model 65 is essentially identical to the Model 75. The differences being that this was a 250cc version and the ignition was by way of points and coil rather than a Lucas K1F magneto. I believe it features a 3-speed Burman gearbox where the Model 75 has a 4-speed gearbox. They are generally considered somewhat underpowered by comparison to the larger 350cc model.

Technical Data

Model 75
This machine is one of my Model 75s. It has a 1956 engine in an earlier rigid frame, but is essentially to the 1949 specification. The tank should be chrome with cream panels. The front suspension is from lightweight Dowty air-sprung, oil-damped forks. The later engine has a rather taller rocker cover (as well as not looking quite right to the perfectionist, it is impossible to remove with the engine in the frame - the correct later frame has a kink in it under the tank to facilitate rocker cover removal). Ignition comes from a Lucas K1F magneto.

This pretty lightweight is, I think, a Model 75 from the early fifties (1951/53?). It has a rigid rear and apparently Dowty forks. The more rounded cases of the post 1949/50 engine are apparent as is the magneto which indicates a Model 75. The brake light is presumably non-standard and the battery is apparently missing (from behind the carb). The colour scheme is presumably not original.

This 1954 advert for a Model 75 shows the spring frame version introduced the previous year. The telescopic forks are presumably the P&M items.

This machine is a 1955 Model 75 springer.


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