Another Burt Munro motto was ‘fix it and try again’. In 50 years, he had some 250 motor blow-ups, usually because the con-rods or cylinder sleeves couldn’t take the pace.
With basic equipment and astonishing ingenuity, he’d rebuild the engine ready for the next try. He made cylinder linings out of cast-iron drain pipes and fabricated con-rods from steel Ford-motorcar axles. To make a flywheel he cut a coin-sized slice from a hydraulic ram, and used a steam-driven hammer to flatten it out to about 180mm diameter.
He cast motorbike pistons using melted-down car pistons plus his own additives, and made high-speed tyres by carving the treads off factory-made racing tyres.
His determination paid off. He won many speed trials and race events in New Zealand - then he took on the world.