Classic Motocross Trip to Koningshooikt, Belgium

Planning to race at Koningshooikt, near Antwerp on Saturday 9th June, which is a classic track, with natural terrain.

There’s some good youtube footage of last years meeting (hopefully the weather will be as good). It’s great racing and to say people are keen is an understatement. If you’ve always fancied racing overseas (and like Tim Manton cannot get selected for the Classic MXdN) then this is your chance !


It’s entry on the day, with a day license and I paid about 35-40 euro last year. You get a 20 minute practice, per class, followed by 2 15 minutes + 1 lap races (morning and afternoon).

Classes (should be) as follows :
– pre72
– pre77
– Twinshock
– pre83 50-175cc
– Evo
– clubman (over 55’s on modern bikes)

The license and insurance let you race 3 races on the day maximum, so you can only really compete in 1 class (which was enough for me last year). I can let the organisers know in advance that people are coming, mainly to ensure that your race number is okay (there is a list on Werner Castelyn’s site )

Getting There

Koningshooikt is about a 2.5 hour drive from Calais and is motorway all the way. Camping at the venue, though there is a new campsite opening in nearby Lier (which showers etc) that week.

View Larger Map

I’m booked to go Eurostar (as I normally do), as whilst slightly more expensive it does give more flexibility. I’m going Fri -> Sun, though coming back Monday will save some cash as it’s then end of school half-term / Queen’s Birthday

My crossing is as follows:

|Short Stay Saver Fare | Folkestone to Calais | Friday 08 June 2012 Departure (local time) Check-in closes 11:50Departure time 12:20Arrival time 13:55 |
|Short Stay Saver Fare | Calais to Folkestone | Sunday 10 June 2012
Returning (local time) Check-in closes 12:50Departure time 13:20 Arrival time 12:55 |

There is a cheaper option, to use the Ramsgate -> Oostend Ferry, but timings are not so good coming back. It’s a 3.5 crossing, but you’ll save an hour’s driving.

Want to come ?

There are three of us already planning to go, so have space for 2 or 3 more in the van and trailer, with max capacity of 6 – 7 bikes. If you want to take your own transport and join us, then let me know.

We’ll be leaving Bwlch / Tredegar on the Friday morning and can pick up people from there or on the way to Folkestone.

Contact me on or +44 7720 079845 if you are interested.

An environmental alternative ?

The Llangorse Sailing Club is located in one of the nicest spots you can think of in which you can put your boat into inland water. With the acquisition of the Mirror dinghy it was clear that the girls (in particular Tamara), where happy with the idea of having a boat. Taking the mirror out with force 4 gusts last week, with Tamara at the helm also confirmed that I liked the idea.

After seeing an old (and one in need of repair) Scorpion at the club, the listing of one on eBay last week also looked tempting. Though old and not too competitive (but that’s not the point)


I bought the boat via ebay, at a very reasonable price, both in terms of the prices for dinghies generally and the guide prices on the Scorpion Association website . It’s a wood built boat, but the previous owner had done some really good modifications and remedial work, so the boat is now in good condition. Wood boats do need maintenance and they do decay, but at least you work on them and fix things. The rigging is good and there are two good sets of sails, one set hardly used.

The boat was made by Westerly in 1975, so not quite pre74 like the bikes but its of the right vintage and it really looks good. It’s also named “Classic Rock”, very apt given my taste in music.

I need to complete the re-rig, in particular the spinnaker rigging isn’t trivial and I did take some pictures of the rig prior to dismantling at Island Barn Reservoir so hopefully this will help.

Another disaster…

The heavy showers, made the track at West Atherton slippery and boggy in places, though it was good elsewhere.

Rob Griffiths...

With the SC500 offline with a transmission failure, I just had the 250 to look after, though practice was all I managed. Near the end of the session the big decided to just stop and not restart. Without Malc and his quad on the scene, there was plenty of pushing out of the mud going on, but luckily I’d broken down on the final corner. Still knackering to get it back to the van.

With another rain shower going over, I checked the bike over; spark, fuel, but not running. Changed the carb, checked the LH crankseal, direct fuel in the pot, etc and still nothing. 60 minutes later decided that was enough and loaded the bike into the van.

Return from Narberth

The lawn looking less than perfect

With a lot of work travel coming and Hawkstone on 5th May decided to get back and work out what is wrong and get it running. Back in Bwlch and the washed and cleaned by 5pm and a deadline of 9pm to have a running bike, or I’ll withdraw the Hawkstone entry.

The spare engine, ready to fit

The plan was to go back to the 2011 season bottom end and swap the new top end. Firstly took the top end off the old engine and made a new base gasket using the old one as template. Took the other engine out of the bike (continuing to clean the Narberth mud off the bike) and then stripped the top end. The two-meeting old Wossner piston wasn’t looking too good. I’d checked the crown when I took the head off following Clyro and all was in order. However, the small metal fragments across the piston crown wasn’t good.

Not looking good

Therefore, into the piston selection box and found a 0.25 (1st oversize) that matched another barrel from the collection. The ring was worn, but also had a replacement in stock. The advantages of OEM Yamaha pistons and rings are:
– they are available, they may not be listed as MX250, but the later YZ250 pistons fit
– they are cheap, USD 30-50 for piston and 20-30 for a ring, about the same in GBP and in the UK.
– you can get the oversize pistons, up to 1.00mm (4th oversize)
The Wossner and Wiseco pistons are also relatively reasonable (compared with other pre74 kit).

Honed the barrel and look to find the best head and carb mounting block. Moved the reedblock across to the new barrel and then onto the crankcases (with some hassle getting the ring past the top of the boost port).

Back into the frame and the reconnection (re-timed the PVL ignition, exhaust remount etc). Petrol tank back on and it fired up third kick and it sounded okay. Good news and it was 7.45pm. Time for a Spag Bol and then back to finish up with some cleaning and fastening of cable ties. All done by 9.15pm and to get a Blanche de Brussel from the fridge. I’ll be at Hawkstone, but need to prepare a backup piston and barrel, so now need to locate a company that still does rebores.

Finish, at 9.15pm

Reliability this season hasn’t been brilliant, which after two years of pretty good performance. It does make you wonder about getting something else (CZ ?) however an evening in the workshop makes you realise that the Yam is easy to work on and having a stock of spares is cheap and easy to arrange. That’s for the 250 though, the SC500 is a different story.

RAF Monument in Lier, Belgium

The monument is to the crew of a Lancaster bomber of No 156 Squadron, RAF that was shot down on a bombing mission to Cologne on 17th June 1943. The memorial was designed and made by Roger Schoofs and there is an article on the monument as part of a larger article on Lier monuments. (It’s in Dutch, but some of the information translated below).


i guess like a lot of these small monuments, they are now overlooked and less relevant, but poignant all the same. The Lancaster had it’s bomb-load when it crashed so the explosion destroyed most of the houses in the neighbourhood.

Inscription on the memorial

A translation of the local website.

This artwork was an initiative of the war researcher, Wim Govaerts and was unveiled in the presence of relatives of the crew.

On the night of June 17, 1943 at 1:15 crashed beside the Mechelsesteenweg Lier, an Avro Lancaster bomber (number ED840) of the 156th squadron of the Royal Air Force down. This was on my way to Cologne, but the route was badly effected by the German FLAK. The RAF lost 15 bombers on that night on their way to Cologne. The havoc on the ground was considerable as the bomber had not dropped his load. The Lancaster was loaded with a “cookie”, an exceptionally heavy bomb, without shrapnel, which was intended to maximize shock wave in the target area, so that roofs were blown away. This enabled the cargo incidendary phosphorus bombs to set the buildings on fire more easily.
Of the 7 crew, 4 were killed and 3 were taken prisoner.

Those who died:
Squadron Leader J. C. Mac Intosch
Pilot Officer E. Monk
Flight Sergeant R. Dobson
Flight Sergeant P. Woodcock
They are buried in the Schoonselhof in Antwerp.

Sergeant RC Drinkwater was interned in Camp L6/L4, Prisoner #.122.
Sergeant LG Ledamun was interned in Camp L6/357, Prisoner # 328. He was wounded in the head and legs but was not hospitalized.

Flight Sergeant EEWeare could escape after the crash and after evading capture for a while, he was eventually betrayed by a certain “Captain Jackson” and was arrested Aug. 3, 1943 in Paris. He was detained in Camp 4B, Prisoner No.222540. He escaped on April 6, 1945 and arrived in Britain on 18 May 1945.

SC500, bit of a gearbox problem

After the SC500 locked up at the beginning of 2nd race at Clyro, I’d initially assumed that it might be the clutch problem I’d had at the end of last season, however it clearly wasn’t as the absence of neutral confirmed. Somehow I persuaded some of the guys to heave the bike back to the trailer whilst I was out on the 250 race.

Oh, what are these bits ?

Back in Bwlch and time for a quick look on Sunday night (along with looking at the MX250 problem that had appeared), as I knew I was on the road for 10 days. Removing the clutch cover revealed that a loose shim from somewhere, along with what looked liked the remains of a needle roller bearning. More pins/needles were found as I removed the clutch, but limited time meant that splitting the cases wasn’t going to be an option.

That evening got me thinking about spares and parts; unlike the 250, I’ve not really got any parts for the SC500, though the cycle parts are interchangeable with the 250. I’d missed some parts on ebay earlier in the year (part of the off-loaded Barry Townend collection). Engine spares I have none.

Whilst out and about this week, I found the time on the train journey between Utrecht and Frankfurt to have a quick look on the online spares catalogues that North West Vintage Cycle Parts and the only needle bearings are mounted into the crankcase and it maybe that these have failed, causing the problem. The good news, that the bearing is a common part with the MX250/360 (good old Yamaha) so may have a relatively quick fix. I’ve also scanned the parts book in attempt to preserve it. The North West pages has the advantages of direct ordering and a list of the superceeded part numbers.

It’s a week or so befire I’m back to the workshop, but it gives me time to mentally prepare for the worst scenario and a knackered shaft.

Start of season 3

On the good side, the weather was great, as was the track, organisation and the entry, a total of 116. On the bad side, I did 4 out of 6 races and came back with two non-functional bikes. A nice spectacular crash in the 3rd 250 race also added to the mix,

Also, the tuning work on the MX250 seems to have had a positive impact, starting in 2nd and plenty of power, so a blueprint for further engine building. After a pretty sedate practice was followed by the usual red mist blast from the line in the opening 250 race (see video), where I managed a good start and though lost a couple of places, still managed 13th (ish) out of 25 on the line.

Prior to racing, decided to have a wander round the track on the hunt for pre74 Japanese bikes, with the aim of writing an article for the VJMC . Manage to find Yamahas (obviously), Honda’s, Kawasaki’s and one Suzuki pre74. Funny how things change for the twinshock class. 50% of the pre74 line are CZ’s, maybe more (?).

The 500 race had fewer riders, but the bike went well and it is easier to ride, but as per last season, I don’t seem to push it so much as the 250, maybe because it is easier.

The Tredegar Twinshock contingent saw regulars Alan and Mark, Honda 4-stroke and Cappra mounted respectively, along with new member Lee, on a Husqvarna. Alan won race 1, after holding off Mark for most of the race and following all the normal excuses (worn rear tyre etc), he managed to get the better of him for races 2 and 3 to claim the meeting honours. No Steve on his Metisse and whilst Kevin came to watch, his trick Honda XL remains a work in progress, hopefully appearing at Hawkstone Park at the beginning of May.

As is becoming usual for Llanthony fixtures, the first block of racing was interrupted by the arrival of the air ambulance , after Jo Chell decided to jump out the back of the sidecar, He went to Hereford hospital but came back at the end of the meeting, bruised and battered, but nothing too serious it seems.

After a bit of poor cornering in the first over 250 race, my own ‘proper’ crash in race 3 happened in about the same place near the finish line, and happened after I ran out of space battling with Sam Gittoes (after another pretty good start for me). Luckily the bike and I decided to do separate cartwheels and it didn’t stall and I managed a quick remount to overtake 4 of the guys in front of me. The peak on my Bell lid got trashed, and I recovered the side panel later on.

The SC500 decided to give up after a false start in race 2 and with no clutch and no neutral, it was a bit terminal. The 250 also played up when going out for another race and revved hard after starting; seems like an carb inlet airleak, but again more research needs to be done back in the workshop.

So returning to Bwlch with no functioning bikes and two weeks of travel for work doesn’t give me a lot of time before Pontrilas and I’m thinking the 500 is not going to be an easy fix. Hopefully the 250 is something I can sort in plenty of time.

All in all, a good days racing at what was a quick track in excellent weather. A good start to the season.