25/07/2024 3:32 AM


If You Really

Burt Munro: The Indian Speed Legend Of New Zealand

There are probably thousands of self-taught backyard mechanics just like the late Burt Munro, who maybe work for years on inventions and projects that end up being unsuccessful and yield little in the way of financial reward, but does that really matter, some may argue that without financial reward you cannot move forward.

Sometimes the personal reward & self-satisfaction gained through
painstaking project success is a far greater reward than any financial
gain. Financial reward is often not the panacea of success that so many people are conditioned to accept today.

Think about the weeks, perhaps months of work that Burt Munro would
have spent making his own engine barrels, flywheels, pistons, cams and
followers and pressure lubrication systems, he also virtually hand-carved
his own con-rods from a section of Caterpillar tractor axle. He honed,
refined and perfected his old Indian motorcycle to an inch of its life in
preparation for the speed attempts, such was his focus & determination.

His quest and passion was to highly modify and improve his treasured
1920 Indian Scout Motorcycle to set land speed records…and his major
aim, to eventually see how fast it would go at the Utah Bonneville Salt
Flats during the annual speed week event in the USA. This was no mean
feat for a humble bloke who lived way down in South New Zealand in a
small place called Invercargill.

Can you imagine the fun he must have had working night & day in his little Workshop, making all of his special performance parts, building his engine, he certainly did things differently. For instance, it has been said that he used an old spoke for a micrometer to measure things, he sand-cast parts in old tins, one American report tells about how he cast some pistons in the sand at the local beach! He even built his own overhead four-cam cylinder head design to replace the standard two-cam system and converted the engine to overhead valves. What a practical
designer & innovator he was.

But do you want to know what the best part of all of this? It is still possible to do all of this, just like Burt Munro did all those years ago, as long as you have the skills. The technology is more readily available today than ever before, allowing the home hobby/mechanic to manufacture high quality special parts for old cars – motorcycles
and special custom projects.

With very basic workshop equipment Burt Munro was able to cast and produce pistons – conrods – cylinder barrels- alloy cooling fins – flywheels – oil pumps. An amazing talent from an amazing legend of a man. Would you like to learn about the special metal craft skills, and learn to make things similar to what Burt Munro did?
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