A modest brass trophy recently arrived at YMA from YMC Head Office in Japan. While its size may be diminutive, the way it was created reveals the significance of the honour bestowed on the Antipodean Yamaha offices.
The award is an official artisan-commissioned reproduction brass casting of the tuning fork emblem attached to the very first Yamaha motorcycle, the YA-1 Red Dragon Fly (Aka-tombo 赤トンボ ).
The polished brass tuning fork was presented to Yamaha Motor Australia and Yamaha Motor New Zealand in recognition of the seven-film #UnitedByYamaha series produced to commemorate Yamaha Day 2021. It is one of only ten created for the Yamaha Day awards.
The task to faithfully reproduce the front fender ornament that adorned the very first Yamaha motorcycle in 1955 was entrusted to the YMC prototyping department. The veteran craftsmen that work in this division possess a deep well of knowledge and experience, as well as a wholehearted dedication to quality craftsmanship.
Brass metalworking in the 21st century is a culmination of the experience and knowledge of countless craftsmen that has been passed down over the centuries.
The YMC craftsmen carefully examined the original ornament and set themselves a challenge to reproduce it using the same manufacturing methods their counterparts would have used in 1955.
Identifying the composition of the brass used in 1955 so that the colour could be replicated was the first challenge. After guesses about what casting brass had been used, the team discovered a hand-written note on the original drawing that confirmed they were on the right path.
Between 1955 and 1958, approximately 11,000 Yamaha YA-1s were manufactured. From this number, the engineers presumed the ornaments were originally cast in quick succession using sand moulds prepared by hand. With the brass heated to a molten mass of glowing red liquid - around 1000 degrease Celsius –the liquified metal was then poured into a sand mould prepared using the same hand-made methods used 67 years earlier. The skill of the craftsman was truly tested at this point, with the temperature, speed, and volume of the pour needing to be correct to avoid a misrun.
Once cooled, the flashing left over from the casting process was cut away to reveal the tuning fork ornament. It was then painstakingly polished by hand to a mirror-like finish with seven variations of sandpaper.
The final step was to mount each ornament onto a metal plaque painted using the same paint code as the original YA-1 Red Dragonfly.
The tuning fork award is now proudly on display at the YMA Sydney head office.