Friday, January 20, 2017


Flathead Rob recently bought a pre-Monobloc Amal for me at an auction. To get it he had to buy a whole box of miscellaneous crap, mostly garbage. It did include a muffler of unknown origin that washer type baffle. It had an integrated knob that allowed you spin the washer 90 degrees to "engage" and "disengage" the baffle. I initially thought it was homemade, I've seen washers welded in as baffles before. I thought it was kinda neat and pulled it out to clean it up a little.

Once I knocked some of the carbon off I saw the Pacifico, Portland Oregon lettering. Naturally the Portland connection got me interested. A little research took me to a Cycle World write-up on them.

Allan N. Lader of Gresham, Oregon, applied for the patent on Snuff-or-Nots on November 5, 1964, and got the patent on October 10, 1967. A computer programmer back when computers understood Fortran and took up entire climate-controlled rooms, Lader was also a keen on-and-off-road rider who disliked having to put in and take out exhaust baffles—or what he calls “snuffers”—on his four-stroke dual-purpose bikes for different riding environments. 

What amounted to a flat washer that could be pivoted inside the exhaust pipe to silence the exhaust or turned edge-on to allow it to flow freely, depending on whether the bike was on- or off-road. Doing most of the test riding on his Ducati 250 Single, he invested two years and some $8000 of his own money (more than $57,000 today) to create, develop and test it before even trying to manufacture what became the Snuff-or-Not.
Lader sold more than 100,000 Snuff-or-Nots in the first year of manufacturing at $1.95 each (retail—and Twins, of course, needed two), through Pacifico, the company he co-owned with his brother, Randy.

There were shops back in the day that wouldn’t even work on a bike with Snuff-or-Nots. Joe Bolger, legendary AMA Hall-of-Fame scrambles and MX racer, inventor and former Honda shop owner, reminded me of this when I asked him if he’d ever installed any. On the other hand, Carl Cranke, another AMA Hall-of-Fame member told me that when he worked at and raced for a Honda shop, he installed what seemed like thousands of them. 

I love the way a pile of crap that laid around in a storage shed for 40 years can result in a little snapshot of motorcycle history.


Bastard said...

I installed those on my brand new 1966 Honda 305 Scrambler...They vibrated to pieces in less than 500 miles...And the Scramber??? The coolest but junkiest
bike I ever purchased.. My brothers 305 Super Hawk was a great bike..

Anonymous said...

I installed a pair on my late 60s honda 160 scrambler... never had any issues with them. I loved the sound of the straight pipes on those engines but if you throttled back after engaging the snuff-or-nots, there was a significant reduction in the sound level, so they worked as designed for me.

I installed them with the knob pointing up (as opposed to pointing in towards the wheel) so they were easier to engage while riding. While that made them "more visible", any law enforcement following you could see them regardless of position, so I opted for the ease of use rather than trying to hide them from the side view.

Anonymous said...

What a blast from the past. My Dad had one on his Ducati Sebring 350, and it must have been newly on the market at the time. Of course as a kid I thought the bike sounded righteous.

Thanks for the write-up.