Minerva Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Minerva Motors Great Britain

The Antwerp-based company supplied engines to many early motorcycle manufacturers in the United Kingdom, among them BSA, Chater-Lea, New Hudson and OK Supreme. Longer list here: Minerva of Belgium

1903. D. Citroen of 45. Holborn Viaduct, London. E. C. advertised Minerva Motors, 2 HP Standard Size. Also 1¼ Romania for vertical position and 2¼ Minerva (1902 pattern)

David Citroen was the driving force behind the export of Minerva engines, and as a result a good many Australian motorcycle makers mounted these engines. From 1901 complete engines were exported to Australia, and later they were built there by A.G. Healing Ltd, under license, until 1910.

Also referred to as David Citroën, he was a cousin of André Citroën, the founder of the famous French marque. In 1900, David Citroen employed a salesman in London who raced Minerva cars and introduced many new clients to the fold. He became quite well known as a champion driver and rather moreso for later endevours. His name was Charles S. Rolls. [1]

Sources: Wikipedia, Graces Guide, Motor Cycling, The Motor Cycle, et al.

Stanley Show, 1902

D. Citroen, 45, Holborn Viaduct, E.C.
(Stand 111).

Minerva motors are this year displayed on a well-designed and somewhat ornate stand, and an excellent, effective show results. The motors shown are the new 2 h.p. Minerva, the 2.5 h.p. Minerva, and the 1.75 h.p. Romania.

The new 2 h.p. engine is full of improvements. The notable alteration is in the mechanical operation of the inlet valve, which, although opinions may differ, is unquestionably an effective, reliable and efficient method for the induction of the gas. We notice one point to which attention has not yet been called, and that is that the valve stems are lifted by a plunger working in a straight line and not at right angles, as in the earlier pattern engines. The new engine has a plug in place of the compression tap, has the sparking-plug immediately over the inlet valve, has all angles removed from the exhaust pipe, and is fed through a very neat and simple spray carburetter. A milled-headed nut permits of throttling of the engine, but this is open to improvement, so that it can be worked by a lever. For those who like to drive on the exhaust valve, it is open to fit a Bowden exhaust lifter. The lifting of the valve in order to free the engine is provided for in the present design by the full retardation of the contact breaker. The absence of the lower radiating ribs vastly improves the appearance of the motor.

In the 2.5 horse-power engine no changes have so far been made, but later on in the new year the mechanically-operated inlet valve will be introduced.

The new Romania engine is on old Minerva lines, fed through a spray carburetter, and with a hand lever for lifting the exhaust valve. The motors are all shown in working section, so that even the novice can gain an excellent idea of the motor system. Despite the introduction of their own engines by many motor-bicycle makers, the Minerva engine enjoys even a greater popularity than ever, for it is to be found throughout the show.

Stanley Show 1902

Motor Cycling, 26th November 1902

Stanley Show, 1903

Minerva Motors, Ltd.,

Holborn Viaduct, E.C., are showing a large selection of all types of their motor cycles fitted with engines ranging from 2 h.p. to 32½ h.p., placed in a vertical or inclined position. Light racing motors which will appeal to the speedy are also exhibited. A lady's motor cycle is also shown. This has a specially strong frame and a 2 h.p. engine and spray carburetter in the usual Minerva position. The controlling levers are fitted to a down tube running to the top of the steering head. The coil and battery are arranged behind the seat- pillar, and the belt at the top is enclosed in a guard. All the Minerva novelties which we have previously described are on view, and should be seen by all visiting the Stanley Show. (Stand 155.)

The Motor Cycle, November 25th 1903
Stanley Show 1903

Minerva Motors, Ltd.,

have so standardised their patterns that they now have engines of three different horse-powers, which are suitable for anything that is made in the motor cycle line. They will exhibit 2 h.p., 2 ¾ h.p., and 3½ h.p. motor cycles fitted with Minerva engines for both the inclined and the vertical design. In addition to these, a lady's motor bicycle, with a 2 h.p. engine, will be on view, also a trailer and fore- carriage. The racing motor bicycle has not been forgotten, and a sample will be shown with a 3½ h.p. vertical engine, no pedals, and a tank just large enough to run through a short race. That essential fitment to the pacing motor cycle, viz., a roller at the rear of the driving wheel, will be exhibited, and two racing or pacing machines with 2 ¾ and 2 h.p. motors. The whole of the Minerva designs will be fitted with mechanically-operated inlet valves — an introduction the firm made last year at show time which looks like becoming universal. The carburetter has been redesigned, and will be known as the M.L., or Minerva-Longuemare. It is a combination of all the good points in the latest patterns of these little gas generators, and no doubt will add to the efficiency of what is already one of the best engines on the market.

The silencer has been enlarged and greatly improved. It can now be partially closed by means of a revolving shutter when it is required to run through traffic quietly and slowly. The contact-breaker, which previously was likely to become somewhat loose on the shaft on which it rocked, has been designed with a deep slot cut right through the body. The necessary wear can now be taken up by means of a screw which tightens the body on to the shaft as required. The sparking plug is now made with a compressed mica insulator instead-of porcelain, the end where the spark takes place being perfectly protected by means of a metal cover, which also serves as the negative path for the current. Two accumulators are now supplied in place of one, a two-way switch being used to connect up to one or the other without dismounting. The company's new catalogue is ready for distribution, and can be obtained free from 40, Holborn Viaduct, for the asking.

The Motor Cycle, November 18th 1903, p796.
Stanley Show 1903

Stanley Show, 1905

1905 Minerva Magneto and Lubricator Diagrams

The Minerva Twin-cylinder Engine with mechanically operated valves.
Position of magneto and silencer on Minerva Motor Cycles, showing the case containing the double eccentric shaft driving the magneto.

In addition to having been considerably improved as regards appearance and finish, Minerva Motors, Ltd., have introduced several new and ingenious fittings upon their 1906 motor bicycles. Most conspicuous among these are a new form of lubricator of extremely simple design. This simply consists of a round box fitted with a transparent mica case, the interior of which revolves. In its normal and backward position the lever, which turns the inner case referred to above, opens a hole, which allows the oil to ran from the tank to the case. When moved forward, the hole is carried round opposite to the outlet from the lubricator of the engine, to which it runs by gravity. The Eisemann magneto fitted to the new model twin-cylinder w. as also shown for the first time fitted with a high-tension distribute, so that it can work with a V type two- cylinder motor.

Also on the two-cylinder machine in particular there is a sleeve throttle worked by a lever on the tank, which moves horizontally with a particularly nice movement. A similar lever regulates the air supply on the opposite side of the top tube On the single-cylinder machine the same lever works a butterfly throttle, [then] through a tube, on the top of which there is a small wheel, which provides a particularly nice means of adjustment for the air supply. In the case of the single-cylinder machines the cylinders are fixed on by means: of nuts screwing on to bolts, which run through the baseplate. In addition to these are rods, which extend from the crank chamber to the top of the cylinder. These serve as an additional means of fastening, and are kept in position by nuts screwed down against the cylinder head. These rods are fitted to all Minerva engines this year, whether of the single or double-cylinder type. There is yet another detail worthy of mention, and that is a cork float and wire petrol indicator - a most necessary fitment on all makes of motor cycles. All models shown are fitted with long wide handle-bars, low frames, and wide mudguards, and the different-sized engines all have mechanically-operated inlet valves.

The Stanley Show, Nov 27th 1905

Stanley Show, 1907

Minerva Twin-cylinder model for 1908

The twln-cylinder 4 1/2 h.p. Minerva, which for 1908 has been improved in many respects.
more images...

Minerva Motors, Ltd.
(Stand 118).

As may be expected, the show of Minerva Motors, Ltd., is a distinctly fine one. The chief features this year are the torpedo-shaped tanks, which hold two and a quarter gallons of petrol. In the case of the 3 1/2 h.p., a new type of Eisemann high-tension magneto is fitted, in which the high-tension winding is carried on the armature, there being no separate coil. Thus the exposed wiring has been reduced to a minimum, diminishing the risk of the short circuits and also rendering the ignition apparatus much more compact. The standard carburetter for 1908 is the G. and A., which is entirely automatic, the air being delivered in correct proportion to the gas by different sized balls being drawn up by the suction of the engine.

Another innovation is the fitting of a petrol strainer, which is a small yet important detail. In the case of the twin, to which accumulator ignition is fitted, there is an ingenious arrangement consisting of terminals carried outside the case, on to which semi-circular springs are screwed. The ends of these springs are drilled, and the holes fit on to the terminals of the accumulator, so that when the case is closed these springs serve not only as electrical connections, but also serve to hold the accumulators firmly in position. The handle-bar controlled contact breaker is also a decided improvement, and ...

Stanley Show 1907
The Motor Cycle November 1907.

Stanley Show, 1908

Minerva 1908

Minerva 3½ h.p. model fitted up complete ready for the road.

Minerva Motors, Ltd.

40 Holborn Viaduct, London, E.C. Stand No. 115.

There is but little alteration in Minerva machines for the coming season. Prices have been lowered all round, and are now, 2¾ H.P., £36; 3½ H.P., £37; 4½ H.P., £45; 8 H.P., £48 10s. All machines are now fitted with Bosch magneto as a standard, and accumulator ignition is now only supplied to special order. The back wheel band-brake can be applied either by back-pedalling or by a small pedal placed close, to the foot-rest, so it earn always be applied instantly whichever position the foot may be in. The Minerva, was one of the very first reliable motor-bicycles on the market, and it has always maintained its original high reputation. We consider that the machines on this stand are typical of the best standard type of motor-bicycle, for they have all up-to-date features, are well made and finished, and are quite free from anything which could be described as faddy.

Stanley Show 1908
Cycle and Motor Trades Review, 1908.

N.B. Another of the Rolls, Royce and Bentley trio features strongly in the history of motorcycling. Born to Australian parents, W.O. Bentley was a very successfull motorcycle racer who, in the days of cast iron pistons, introduced Rolls Royce to the wonders of aluminium.

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