After being beautifully restored by the National Motorcycle Museum’s Colin Wall, the amazing four-cylinder Marsh MR4 racing motorcycle built by the legendary Fred Marsh is now on display in the museum’s Hall 2.
Fred, who was a fitter and turner at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Southampton, set about creating his own four-cylinder machine after witnessing the rise to dominance of Gilera and MV Agusta fours in the late 1940s and early 50s, and seeing no real response from the British motorcycle industry.
Although he started the design work in 1953, it wasn’t until 1962 that it reached running condition, and with the exception of Triumph Terrier cylinder heads, chosen partly because of their 75-degree valve angle that permitted the use of MV-type cams, all other parts were designed and made by Fred, including the wooden patterns for all the major castings.
He often machined parts on his lathe at Harland & Wolff during meal breaks, but most of the work was carried out on his own home-constructed lathe that could be adapted for such tasks as line-boring the crankcase main bearing housings and end-facing the castings.
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