Thursday, May 29, 2008

Inge Morath



Inge Morath, the daughter of a scientist, was born in Austria on 27th May 1923. The family moved to Nazi Germany and as a teenager she was sent to the force labour camp at Tempelhof for refusing to join the Hitler Youth.

Morath graduated from Berlin University in 1944. After the Second World War she worked as an interpreter for the United States Information Service before joining the RWR radio network. Morath also contributed articles to the literary magazine Der Optimist.

In 1950 Morath moved to France where she worked with the Austrian photographers Ernst Haas and Erich Lessing. This involved writing text captions for the two photographers. The following year she found work as a photojournalist with Picture Post, a magazine based in London.

Morath's first book, Fiesta In Pamplona 1954. After the publication of an photo essay on French worker priests by Morath in 1955 Robert Capa invited her to join the Magnum photo agency. Other books by Morath included Venice Observed (1956), Bring Forth The Children (1960), Tunisia (1961) and From Persia to Iran (1961).

Morath married Arthur Miller in 1962 and together they published the book In Russia (1969). This was followed by My Sister Life (1973) with poems by Boris Pasternak, In the Country (1977), Chinese Encounters (1979), Salesman in Beijing (1984), Portraits (1987), Shaking the Dust of Ages (1998), an autobiography, Life As A Photographer (1999), Masquerade (2000) and Border Spaces; Last Journey (2002).

Inge Morath died of lymphatic cancer on 30th January 2002.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Royal Enfield Bullet 500cc



Royal Enfield was the brand of the Enfield Cycle Company, an English engineering company. Most famous for producing motorcycles, they also produced bicycles, lawnmowers, stationary engines, and even rifle parts for the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield. This legacy of weapons manufacture is reflected in the logo, a cannon, and their motto "Made like a gun, goes like a bullet". It also enabled the use of the brand name Royal Enfield from 1890.

In 1955 Enfield of India started assembling Bullet motorcycles under licence from UK components, and by 1962 were manufacturing complete bikes. The original Redditch, Worcestershire-based company dissolved in 1970, but Enfield of India, based in Chennai, continued, and bought the rights to the Royal Enfield name in 1995. Royal Enfield production continues, and now Royal Enfield is considered as the oldest motorcycle company in the world still in production.

After the war the Enfield Cycle Company came back with the last G and J pre-war models, and the "Flea". In 1947 the Royal Enfield 500 cc Model J was back in production, but was now fitted with telescopic forks with two-way hydraulic damping instead of the old pre-war girder forks. The front axle mountings were offset forward of the fork legs. The 1939 Bullet 350 kick started the post-war models. They used two rocker boxes for the first time. This enabled better gas flow and consequently higher volumetric efficiency. Royal Enfield's own designed and manufacture telescopic front fork placed the Redditch marque at the very forefront of motorcycle design. The biggest advancement introduced by the new Bullet was its swinging arm rear suspension system and hydraulic damper units themselves. In 1949 Enfield made a J2-the first model with a telescopic front end followed in 1948 by a 500 cc twin (Enfield's 25bhp answer to the Triumph Speed Twin, which stayed in production until 1958.

In 1948 the J2 model, with 'twin exhaust ports' and pipes, was released initially for export only. The J2 exhaust port split into two after the exhaust valve, so the difference was more for appearance.

The post-war J models had a rigid rear frame, and a four-speed Albion gearbox with an extra lever that the rider could press to find neutral. This was a simple, solid 499 cc push-rod single with 84 mm bore x 90 mm stroke and a compression ratio of 5.5 to 1. It also used a fully floating white metal big end, similar to those found in radial aircraft engines, with the usual felt oil seals, Amal carb, and Lucas magneto ignition. The fully floating white metal big end could be replaced with an aftermarket caged roller bearing conversion. By 1950 the compression had been raised to 5.75 to 1, with a claimed power output of 21 bhp (16 kW) at 4,750 rpm. These were essentially torquey sidecar machines. In 1949 the first new models were introduced: the 350 cc full sprung Bullet, and a 500 cc twin. The sportier alloy head, swing arm frame 350 cc Bullet was a sensation. It was the 1954 350 cc Bullet model which was to be made in India until the present (read further down). In 1953 the 500 cc model appeared, using the same bottom end. After 1956 a new frame was introduced in the British-made version of the Bullet, making it different from the 1954 model still being produced in India. The British made version was manufactured until 1964. The Bullet 350 and 500 also used the fully floating big end design.

The new swingarm frame 500 cc twin of 1949 would eventually evolve into the Interceptor. The 500's big end had no bearing inserts, the machined con-rod running directly on the crank pin. In the 1956 700 cc Super Meteor, a development of the 500, conventional babbitt bearings were fitted, and were used on all subsequent vertical twins.

The 500 cc Bullet engine produced 25 bhp (19 kW) at 5,250 rpm while torque peaked at 29 lb·ft (39 N·m) @ 3,600 rpm, From 2,000 rpm onwards torque did not fall below 25 lb·ft (34 N·m) till beyond 5,300 rpm. Later models like the 250 cc Crusader (1957) and 700 cc Meteor (1955), were followed by the 250 cc Continental GT (1965), the 700 Constellation (1959), available with Royal Enfield's "Airflow" full fairing, and the 736 cc Interceptor (1963).

During the onslaught of the Japanese motorcycle manufacturers in the late sixties and early seventies, the English factories made a final attempt with the 1962 - 1968,[5] series I and Series II. Made largely for the US market, it sported lots of chrome and an engine performance with less than 14 seconds to the quarter mile at speeds well above 175 km/h (105 mph). It became very popular in the US, but the classic mistake of not being able to supply this demand, added to the demise of this last English made Royal Enfield.

The Redditch factory ceased production in 1967 and the Bradford-on-Avon factory closed in 1970, which meant the end of the British Royal Enfield.

After the factory closed a little over 200 Series II Interceptor engines were stranded at the dock in 1970. These engines had been on their way to Floyd Clymer in the US, who unfortunately had just died. His export agents, Mitchell's of Birmingham, were left to dispose of them. They approached the Rickman brothers for a frame. The main problem of the Rickman brothers had always been engine supplies, so a limited run of Rickman Interceptors were promptly built.

As far as the motorcycle brand goes though, it would appear that Royal Enfield is the only motorcycle brand to span three centuries, and still going, with continuous production. A few of the original Redditch factory buildings remain (2006) and are part of the Enfield Industrial Estate.