Today in Motorcycle History

HB Motorcycles by Hill Brothers

HB motorcycles were produced from 1910 to 1923 by Hill Brothers of Walsall Street, Wolverhampton.

  • 1910 The first machine was listed. HB stood for the brothers' initials and appeared on an engine of 1¼ hp, 136cc. It was possibly meant for a bicycle attachment, with belt drive to the rear wheel. Following that, nothing more was heard of the firm for some time.

    1919 After the end of World War I, a conventional 348cc Blackburne single was listed with a two-speed Burman gearbox and chain-cum-belt drive.

    1921 The single was joined by a 499cc, three-speed version.

    1922 A 550cc model and also one fitted with a 248cc ohv Blackburne engine appeared. Roland Hill raced at the 1922 Isle of Man T.T. on a 350c.c. H.B. machine.

    1923 The above models must have over-stretched the company, as for that year there were just the two 348cc models, with all all-chain drive.

London Motors of Holburn Viaduct advertised the H.B. around 1919-1920, along with the Coulson B.

H-B 1919 350cc

The 2 3/4 h.p. H-B motor cycle fitted with a Blackburne engine, the bore and stroke of which are 71 X 88 mm. = 348 c.c.*

A New Blackburne-engined Medium Weight.

The H-B, a Two-speed 2¾ h.p. Solo Mount.

A NEW medium-weight machine has made its appearance in the 2¾ h.p. H-B, which two letters may be I taken to mean either Hill-Blackburne or Bill Bros., the makers of the machine, whose address is Walsall Street, Wolverhampton - a town already famous for motor cycles of the first water. With the idea that there is a large market for a machine of medium weight, and constructed more sturdily than the average lightweight, and yet not so heavy as the 3½ h.p. single, the makers have set out Ito design the H-B.

The power unit is the well-known 2¾ h.p. Blackburne engine, 71x88 mm., giving a capacity of 350 c.c, the chief points of interest of which being, of jcourse, the outside flywheel and the detachable head. We were particularly impressed by the smooth exterior finish of the cylinder casting and crank case, the engine as a whole presenting the imost compact and neat appearance. The design of the silencer, etc., is somewhat unusual, in that it is carried, together with the tail pipe, within a neat sub-frame composed of the foot-boards attached to curved struts, as shown in the accompanying photograph. In future models we understand an under-shield will be incorporated with this frame.

The two-speed gear box is neatly housed below the bottom bracket, and is of well-known make, the change speed lever being mounted on a lug on the frame tube below the tank, and fitted with a patent spring selector device concealed in the end of this lug. The drive is conveyed by ¼ in. Coventry chain from the engine to the gear box, which is fitted with a very substantial kick starter and hand-operated Ferodo-lined clutch. From this point the transmission is effected by ¾ in. Dunlop belt over a 7in. pulley to the rear wheels. Great care has been taken to build the two chain sprockets in line with the rear hub, which gives the whole machine a very symmetrical appearance.

Frame and Fittings.

The frame is of conventional design, considerably reinforced in the front down tube, into which two D tubes have been pressed. The head itself is lined with heavy gauge tube, while the rear stays are straight throughout their length.

The rear wheel is easily detachable by reason of the slots in the fork ends, which slope downwards and thus facilitate the dropping out of the wheel. The rear brake acts on the front side of the belt rim, and is therefore not disturbed when removing the back wheel.

The tank has a capacity of one and a half gallons of petrol and one quart of oil, and is of attractive design, being wedge-shaped and finished black with a broad gold line.

A Brooks saddle is fitted, and tool-bags by the same maker are attached to the carrier in neat metal cases.

The mudguards are wider than those usually found on medium weight machines, and are almost flat in section, the front guard being fitted with a wide mud flap to prevent splash off the road reaching the rider.

During a visit to the works we had a short trial run on the machine, which was found to be very handy in traffic and remarkably quiet, and at the same time speedy on the level.

The Motor Cycle, September 4th 1919. p247

* The original article calculates the B/S as 350cc, but the correct figure is 348. Bore/Stroke Calculator

The 1922 Olympia Show.

H.B. (121.)

Refined 350 c.c. Solo Models.

2¾ H.P. MODEL.

71x88 mm. (348 c.c): single cyl, tour-stroke; side valves; mechanical pump lubrication; Amac carb.; chain-driven magneto; 3-sp. gear; clutch, no kick-starter; chain drive; 650x50 mm, tyres. Price; Solo, £78; with Sidecar, £98.

Hill Bros., Wolverhampton.

The H.B. machine is designed as a de luxe member of the 350 c.c. class, in which no risk is run of spoiling the layout by a cut price or undue weight reduction. The finish and components are of the highest class throughout. Three models are manufactured, all with Blackburne engines. The sports model is obtainable with either the side valve or the o.h.v. unit. The silencer system is worth attention.

At first sight it looks like a plain straight-through pipe, but the gases are actually conducted through an expansion chamber which is very rigidly mounted in front of the crank case. The effect is that the long pipe is far more stable than usual. The primary chain adjustment is exceptionally neat. The latest type of John Bull knee grips are screwed into sockets provided on the tank. A Webb front brake and the new model Best mechanical pump are attractive features. The wheel base is 51½in. which should provide good comfort and stability.

Olympia Show 1922
The Motor Cycle, November 30th, 1922. Page 842

Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle

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