Elsewhere, I have noted that my '41 W/NG had to deputise for my NH on the Annual rally this year thanks to a last-minute problem with the '57 bike. The W/NG had been laid up in the back of the garage waiting for a re-bore and general freshen up at the time, but rose to the occcasion and carted Louise and me plus luggage up from near Bolton to Heysham for the ferry and onto the Island without grumbling. Once there, it performed really well, the only problem being higher oil consumption than envisaged resulting in a trip to a bike shop in Douglas where I managed to buy an expensive 5 litres of monograde in a plastic container. We were in B&B, and I ended up leaving said container at the rally site. Not having room for it on the bike with our luggage for the ride home, Allan Simpson was volunteered to take it back to England for us in his van, and I would collect it at the next Lancs Branch meet.
Come that meet, I was still with the W/NG and the plastic container was transferred to the near side canvas WD pannier bag for the trip back in the dark to our home on the western end of the Pennines. After a spirited run back, I pulled the bike onto it's stand while I opened the gate of our back yard. Then I looked at the bike, sat there in the moonlight, 30 minutes short of midnight.
The pannier, together with the oil and the tool roll that was in the bottom of it was, quite simply, not there anymore. For few seconds I gazed at the void in a state of shock. Then quickly I put the bike away, locked up, then dumped the bike jacket and helmet, grabbed the car keys, and shot off in the Fiesta to re-trace my route. About five miles out, just over a canal bridge at Red Rock, about a mile outside of Wigan I spotted a small pile laid on the other side of the road. Parking up, I took stock of the disater area. The oil container had literally exploded on impact, and the pannier, a seam of which had split, was well soaked in it. These panniers had been a gift from Lester and had originally been on one of Bob Brassington's Ariels, so I wasn't going to give up on it, so it went into the boot. My tools had obviously been run over a couple of times but were basically alright if a little slippery. I rescued what I could and finished up by hand scooping some sand-like dirt from the verge onto the remains of my £27.00 worth of oil on the tarmac. Back home, my last act was to clean the oil from the controls (including the pedals) of the car before going for a shower. I was covered in muck and oil.
The problem seems to have been caused by some combination of the Y-strap (which goes over the panniers and is fitted to the pannier frames by D-rings) losing one of said D-rings combined with the 75 year old stitching on the pannier failing under the strain of the heavy oil container being bounced around in it on the unsprung back end of the Ariel, though it still took the pannier with it on it's fatal tumble.
The pannier will recover. My spark plug spanner is now twisted like an old-time barley sugar but will still work. Of my oil, all that remains is a hole in my bank balance and a faint mark on the road at Red Rock.
1957 NH, 1941 W/NG and a 1966 LE.