If you were asked which British factory was first in the field with a production vertical twin, you would probably answer Triumph, with Edward Turner's immortal 500 cc Speed Twin of 1938. But this would only be half right. Certainly the firm was Triumph, but several years before the arrival of Edward Turner, the man in the design office was Val Page, and it was he who brought out a very sturdy six-fifty, the Model 6/1.
It must be said, however, that the old Triumph company did not seem to push the 650 cc twin very hard in contemporary advertising. It was considered principally as a sidecar haulier, and indeed, there was a very cunning arrangement of a plunger and ratchet at the-rear of the primary chaincase, by means of which the rear brake could be locked on to prevent a parked combination from rolling back when on a slope.
Moreover, it was a very heavy-looking machine with a deep tank and many extra heavy-duty features and although footchange gearboxes were very popular in the mid-'thirties, the big twin stuck to a massive tank-side hand-change lever. Only in its final year was footchange offered as an optional extra, in a rather half-hearted manner.
However, it was still considered to be an outstanding design. Page was breaking new ground, and all the model really needed was the touch of a cosmetician. Sales manager Harry Perrey did his best. A showman as well as a trials man of repute, he even drove a specially-prepared 611 outfit through the International Six Days Trial of 1933, soon after the machine was launched, but before that 'The Motor Cycle' was given a chance to try it out. It was not a full-scale road test' but it was enough to impress the reporter concerned, who commented favourably on the coupled front and rear brakes, the silent-running double helical gears of the primary drive - which meant, incidentally, that the engine actually ran 'wrong way round' - and the neat way in which semi unit-construction was obtained by bolting the gearbox directly to a facing on the rear of the crankcase assembly.
One way in which the Val Page twin differed from the later Edward Turner model was that it had just a single camshaft at the rear of the cylinder block, very similar to the Norton Dominator. The pistons rose and fell together, and the one-piece crankshaft had three integral bobweights. Split plain big-end bearings were white-metal lined. The lubrication system was dry-sump, with the oil carried in the base of the crankcase, a large filler neck being provided at the right-hand front.
A satisfactory machine all round, but Turner had his own twin on the stocks, and that is why the 6/1 had to be dropped.
|Engine:||649 cc (70 x 84 mm bore and stroke) overhead-valve parallel twin|
|Tyres:||3.50 x 19 in rear and front|
|Frame:||Brazed-lug duplex cradle. No rear spring|
|Front forks:||Tubular girders|
|Brakes:||Drums, coupled, 8 in diameter front and rear|
|Manufacturer:||Triumph Company Ltd., Priory Street, Coventry|