Frank Sheene 1912 to 2008 Road Racer and Engineer
Frank Sheene lived for the sound of the motorcycle race engine and all the smells and smoke that the two-stroke could produce for as long as he could remember. In another day and age he would possibly have been as famous as his son is now. What he couldn't do with a spanner was not worth twisting. Whilst Frank rode many larger bikes this is targeted towards the 50cc class that he was always so interested in. 

Frank would ride the ITOM at most race circuits in the South and this picture is of him on the developing "Special" shows the new cylinder head and barrel, note the cow-horn exhaust pipe. The lad helping him is son Barry, the year 1958. Frank had a number of riders but perhaps the four best known are Bill Ivy, Howard German, Charlie Mates and Barry Sheene his son.
Born to Ride. An eight year old Barry helps his Dad Frank before a race at the now defunct Crystal Palace race track in 1958
An Extract from the Motorcycle News in the 1960's

"With its record of eight wins in nine starts last season, it's difficult to imagine that much could be done to improve performance of the 50cc Sheene Special. But Frank Sheene it's constructor, has not been idle during the winter and when the machine appears on the line again this year it will be apparent that it has undergone a considerable face-lift.
For added stiffness too , the frame has been shortened slightly by cutting a section from the main frame beam just behind the steering head. A further stiffening of the assembly has been effected by by converting the frame to full duplex cradle pattern by incorporating a pair of high tensile angle section struts from the steering head cradling the power unit and terminating at the rear fork pivot point.

A result of this work is that the overall height of the machine has been lowered a couple of inches. That the engine is basically ITOM is true: but other than the bare crankcase, little remains of the original unit. In the four years Frank has been developing this machine he has fitted his own flywheel assembly (including big-end and con-rod) cylinder and cylinder head, and the main bearings as fitted are bigger than standard.

Coil ignition replaces the original flywheel component and the cam-plate of the German contact-breaker united fitted is modified to make the ignition setting easily variable. A mica condenser is fitted to stand the high rpm.
To make full use of this hopefully added urge, the machine is fitted now, for the first time, with a glass fibre fairing manufactured by road-racer Gerry Turner and Harry Nash, of Nash Fibre Glass Products of Hatfield. This same firm fabricated the new 2 gallon fuel tank.

Mentioning the fuel tank brings to mind a point that indicates the limits that Frank Sheene goes to in preparing his machine. He mixes his fuel to the ratio of 7% oil per 100ml of petrol.

"So far as performance is concerned, Frank tells me that 10.000 rpm represents 68 mph ... and revs can be taken now well over the 11.000 mark. Quite a point especially when Howard German, the very able rider of the Sheene Special, takes the machine on to the line, the all-up weight of the machine will be just a few ounces over 95lb!. " 
                                                                                                                                         Author:  Charlie Rouse.
The Sheene Special, entered for the 1963 Isle of Man 50cc TT was, as reported, ridden by that young lad named Bill Ivy. The bike went well and coped with the taxing undulations of the TT course, even the Mountain. Bill managed to come in a creditable 7th place behind Ian Plumridge who was riding the Val Knapp CR110 Honda. 
#20 is W.D. (Bill) Ivy who finished seventh on his Ducson engined Sheene Special.  Frank can be seen walking over to Bill sitting on the bike.

#23 is Dave Simmonds on one of the two Tohatsu machines that started. He failed to finish.  Brother, Mike J Simmonds finished in eighth place on a similar Tohatsu nearly a half hour behind the winner, at a speed of 54.02 mph.

TT 1963 50cc TT Results:
Placing       Competitor                     Machine              Time           Speed 
     1            Mitsui Itoh                     Suzuki           78.81 
    2            Hugh Anderson              Suzuki          78.4 
    3            Hans-Georg Anscheidt    Kreidler        78.33 
    4            I Mirishita                     Suzuki            77.82 
    5            M Ichino                        Suzuki          76.2 
    6            I E Plumridge                Val Knapp Honda    64.82 
    7            Bill Ivy                          Sheene Special      61.12 
    8            Mike J Simmonds         Tohatsu         54.02
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Frank Sheene and Barry with the ITOM
The Sheene 50cc Special (ITOM Engine)  Brands Hatch Good Friday 1959
Frank has been developing this ITOM based machine since 1955 and has now reached the satisfying stage where the potential from the engine demands handling qualities tantamount to a real-racer. It is in this respect that attention has been concentrated in preparing the machine for this coming season.

As speed from the engine have increased, so has the tendency for the front wheel to hop; to combat this the front forks have been modified by the introduction of oil-damping on the re-bound. Additionally the font wheel had been rebuilt with heavier spokes for increased stiffness.
Frank, after being tied up in his involvement with the Bultaco bikes, decided that he has neglected the 50cc class and that he needed a new package if he was to compete during 1963. He had commenced work on a new Sheene Special '50cc racer'. This was over the winter of 1962-63. By the end of 1962 he had finished designing and producing the drawings for the construction of a new frame which was based on his experience of working with the other, larger race bikes. It gave the impression that this was to be a full potential race bike, but scaled down for the engine size and the smaller rider.
A New Sheene Special 50cc Racer
The power source for this bike was to be the 50cc DUCSON engine from Spain. This was a Spanish designed, four-speed, single-cylinder, two-stroke power unit. The Ducson Company estimated that it would churn out around 11 bhp at 11,000rpm. For the early part of the 1963 season Frank said that this engine would be used for development but that later it might possibly be replaced by a similar five or six-speed unit.
At the beginning of the development it was thought that Frank still favoured his old friend, Howard German as the rider, but as to the actual rider for the new DUCSON machine, this had still not been finalised by the beginning of 1963.
It was in the last week of March 1963 that the announcement went out stating "Bill Ivy, the up and coming Kentish rider", would be riding for Frank Sheene and would pilot Frank's latest 50cc, which was claimed to be the only machine fitted with a Ducson engine on British circuits.
The motor, said to be an 'ex-works unit' (Motor Cycle News, 3 April 1963), was fitted into the previously described frame - built by Fred Hardy using Reynolds 531 tubing and fitted with Italian Demm front forks. The 19in wheels, typical of the Sports Mopeds of the day, were fitted with Ducson hubs and Dunlop alloy rims, tyres and tubes. The weight of the new Sheene Special was quoted as a very low 851b (38.5kg).
The engine (four-speed version) used the conventional piston-port induction and was equipped with a 17mm Dell'Orto carburettor. Power output was given, by Frank, as being in the region of 9bhp at 11,000rpm (you must compare these figures with those which had been given earlier in this report).
During a conversation with Mick Walker, Frank also revealed that he hoped to replace this four speed motor with a five-speeder, which would incorporate two independent overdrives, thus providing 10 gears.
The 1963 Isle of Man 50cc TT. The 34 entries are composed of eight Suzukis, five Kreidlers, four Derbis and four Hondas, three Itoms and three Tohatsus, and one each Benelli, C.G.S., D.O.T., Fruin-Dartela, Pope-Special and the Ducson engined Sheene Special. Japan leads with 17 entries, and Germany comes next with five.
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I last met Frank in 2005. at Brands Hatch at a car race meeting. I went on to race cars and was in the paddock grandstand, when I saw him sitting there with his No. 7 baseball cap on. He said Brands gave him a lifetime pass and he used to go to Brands on spec, just to see what was on. A great man, who produced a brilliant son, who I knew from the age of sixteen. Hope this is of use.                  Ken Joslin.

An email to the editor, received from a racer who knew Frank Sheene: I raced a 125 water cooled Bultaco in the late sixties and Frank, assisted by son Barry, helped me out a few times, passing on secrets about these Spanish two strokes
I am writing to give you an update on the bit about the Simmonds brothers in the 1963 TT. I can confirm that M.J.Simmonds was Dave’s brother and I used to visit them in their shed near Heathrow, their father being a Flight Engineer with B.O.A.C., who used to fly to Japan with the airline and managed to buy a couple of the 50’s and also a couple of 125 production bikes. He also managed to buy 250cc and 305cc Honda production racers for Dave, these having double overhead camshaft, four valves per head engines. I still have one of the pistons. When I started racing, I bought Mike’s leathers of him.
The engine configuration of the DUCSON was still similar to the above description and other riders can still remember commenting on the "round barrel and head" of the machine.
Bill Ivy on the Sheene Special at Oulton Park 1963
The Frack Sheene Special with DUCSON Engine and New Frame
(more on the Pope Special later)
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