More to come

The other side of the bike

It's in bits at the moment, requires a new rear hub before being fit for the road again.

Bert again, Motosacoche/RE twin                      Jan 2018

Where and when?

Possibly the same bike as in the Getty Images link on last year's site, this is a 1911 2 3/4hp twin. It could be the Isle of Man, but I've no idea. It's a 2 speed, chain drive, pre cush hub, and pre the oil feed with sight glass on the tank. It is the same registration number, but I believe reg numbers conveniently moved around to suit! It does have the magneto mounted forward of the engine like the Getty image bike, unlike the standard 2 3/4hp road bike, so I assume the distance from 2 speed gear to rear wheel spindle is shorter, ie a pukka racing frame (and that steering head angle is raked more than standard). Solid/unsprung front forks also meant the front wheel needed less clearance to the frame front down tube.

Compare the amount of space between the seat tube and rear mudguard with the same area on my road bike.

Rear wheel repairs                                              Jan 2018

Spent most of the day looking at rear hubs, trying to decide what is the best way forward with the rear wheel, both for the model 160 with the broken spokes/crushed bearing housing, and for the prototype.

Discovered in the course of measuring stuff, that the front wheel spoke holes for both bikes are smaller in diameter than the spoke holes in the rear hubs. I am sure the rear spokes should be 1 gauge thicker, possibly 2, but I need a sample spoke of each thickness to try in place before I'm certain.

This could explain the bunch of broken rear spokes. As bought, the bike had spokes of all the same gauge, and the rear set obviously just couldn't cope with all that power!

Toying with the idea of putting the cush hub that came with the project/prototype bike, into the model 160, and either remanufacturing another cush drive or maybe a plain hub for the project. But that could all change when I wake up tomorrow..........

Hub manufacture commenced Feb 2018

Well, the order has gone in for a hub to be manufactured, after much discussion.

I hope it all comes together as I'm expecting! Need to research dull nickel platers now, to see if I can get it plated and then on to a wheel builder in time for early summer events.

There is to be a new Veteran rally organised by the Sunbeam Club based around Leyburn, North Yorkshire this year (1st July). Unfortunately I'm going to miss that one, as booking closes at the end of Feb, and I'm not sure I can knit fog that well to have everything sorted in time.

Hub progress April 2018

The new hub has been back a couple of weeks, and as I have been getting stuff together to send off for nickel plating and parkerising (manganese phostate coating) I thought I'd better take a photo before it disappeared.

Difficult to see on old hub, but the threads at the left hand end (at 2 different diameters, left and right hand threads) are in poor condition - the main cause of my earlier problems. The extra ring visible on the new hub is a copy of the one that had to be cut off the old hub!

Although the knackered hub was nickel plated from a previous restoration, I've studied Enfield factory close up images from "the time", to discover that most if not all hubs, spokes and rims were black painted. I prefer to restore "as was" rather than the modern trend of over plating/over restoration. So, this is going for parkerising first, then powder coating (although the threads will only get parkerised).

The loose lock ring is off the original hub, but strangely had no means of removing it other than with a pipe wrench. I had an interesting exercise on the milling machine, trying to mill 4 slots for a C spanner at 90 degrees to one another. Not easy when you don't have a dividing/indexing unit!

Engage brain time!

Early Enfield 2 1/4, 2 3/4 and 3hp v twins Aug 2018

For my sins, and with nothing better to do, I decided I would like to start a register of surviving bikes of the above types manufactured between 1910 and 1920. A by product of this activity will be co ordination of remanufacture of unobtainable parts (where possible) and mutual aid from other owners to confirm that detail that you weren't sure of.

If you have one of these models, whether it is on the road, or housed in numerous boxes, please get in touch (contact page), I've populated a Dropbox folder with as much information I have been able to find in the last couple of years (and believe me, I've done some searching, as well as accept contributions from others). If you are willing to allow your frame and engine numbers to be entered into the register, I can give you access to the folder. A quick resume of contents: 1911-1914 catalogue extracts, period magazine articles, period photos to help determine correct specification, component information, parts/instruction books, early racing information, etc.

The invitation is also open to owners of badge engineered versions of the 2 3/4hp model 160, namely Clement, Gladiator and Motosacoche.

Back on the Road! 11 Sept 2018

A full 12 months since the bike went over to Pickering for the Sunbeam Club September Challenge, and the problems all began. I'm over the moon to report that the bike is again running, and went back on the road this afternoon, covering a 9 mile shakedown. I know it's not far, but the grin factor is immense!

A couple of things left to iron out, such as the front brake outer cable jumping out of it's seating and leaving me without a brake (not that it makes much difference). I've even rigged up a brake light using the wonders of LED lighting and a total loss 12 volt rechargeable battery pack.

And to cap it off, John has just sent a photo of me on the bike at an event last year, asking if I am willing to become a calendar model!!! Wow, at 60+, I thought my glamour days were over. I don't have ANY photos of me on the bike, so if I can get permission, I'll pop it on here in next few days (see the fine looking fellow below).

This year's September Challenge is on Saturday, so all being well, I should be able to go on it this year! Just need to get the cradle sorted for the veteran motorcycle transporter...........

Don't remember a dwarf hitching a lift in the back pack? My anonimity is blown from this point on. But it's about the bikes, not the numpty sat on it/them.

Brake light for a Veteran machine Sept 2018

There will be a few visitors that won't be aware that in the early days (generally before the mid twenties), motorcycles had only one item remotely associated with electricity - the magneto. As this specialist bit of kit is only good at producing enough high voltage to jump a predetermined gap (ie produce a spark) a small number of times per revolution, it is of no use to power lighting, which requires amperage, rather than voltage.


Brake light on wicker basket - ignore reflector at base of mudguard - camera flashback

I actually started writing this article 12 months back, but the rear wheel saga overtook, so it was placed on the back burner until the bike was roadworthy again. The 1st attempt used a Chinese made (where else these days?) LED multi function bicycle rear lamp. Big mistake - there is some inbuilt logic in the electronic wizardry that cancels functionality after about 2 1/2 minutes, so that had to be abandoned.

Jump forward 12 months, and I'm at a local agricultural show looking at cows, sheep and highly talented sheepdogs. The inevitable cheep tool stall is there, complete with a few LED lights. I spot a 12V rear fog light, which I surmised would have no protection circuitry, so I bought one.

The cabling was already routed as inconspicuously as possible from the earlier attempt, and the universal brake light switch was in place, working off the rod actuating the rear rim brake. All that was needed was a 12V source. Fleabay came to my rescue, with a reasonably priced 1800mA rechargeable battery pack not much bigger than a matchbox. On my bike it sits in the wicker basket, but any toolbox will do.

Once charged, brake switch spring changed, and adjusted, the light was very bright (equivalent to a 21W brake or fog light on a modern car, but only 3W consumption). Just the job and no problems with lost functionality a couple of minutes after setting off! Photo montage below of mounting details.


FOOTNOTE: There is a little on/off switch on the battery pack - on the latest outing I discovered the battery pack appears to jump around sufficiently in the wicker basket to switch itself off!!!

A couple of rubber straps now prevent that, and it DOES now actually work as intended.



Top - almost invisible installation Btm left - small battery pack Btm right Universal brake switch mounted to brake rod

September Challenge and Scottish Early Motor Bicycle Run - finally! Oct 2018

Event news. After a failed start last year at the Sunbeam MCC September Challenge (starting at Pickering, North Yorkshire), I made it this year, no punctures, broken spokes or anything else and had a good ride together with a decent meal afterwards. Thanks to Alec the organiser.

After attending the Scottish Early Motor Bicycle Run (organised by the Clyde Valley section of the VMCC) as a spectator for 2 years, I finally made it to the weekend event with a bike! Great crowd of people, excellent socialising (pub on Friday night, and meal on Saturday night). Large contingent of Dutch riders come to this event every year, good to talk with them and examine their really ancient bikes. No pics this year I'm afraid, other things to think about when you are riding.

Both runs went well, although something didn't feel quite right on the Sunday. We all went back to the Drill Hall and parked up as a display of ancients (the bikes, not the riders), where a local autojumble was being held. I noticed the rear chain looked slack, which was at odds with me tensioning it earlier in the week. Upon checking, the chain tensioner had broken with part of it disappearing, so the wheel was loose - another job for over winter! May as well make 2 pairs, as the prototype needs a pair.

FOOTNOTE The home brewed cradle worked very well in the vintage motorcycle transporter. May need to improve the method of catching oil drips so the carpet doesn't become a sponge.

Nothing new under the sun Dec 2018

Whilst researching articles from 1911 about Enfields, in an early August edition of the Motor Cycle I came across a mention of a new model 160 being STOLEN - shock horror - it would appear the good old days maybe weren't so idyllic after all. It seems even in the days of early transport there were those scrotes around who coveted other people's property, hard earned or otherwise.


We are all aware of rocketing old bike values, no matter what part of the globe we inhabit, although I wonder if the UK isn't suffering this phenomenon to a greater degree than most other countries. Brexit has a lot to answer for - with the pound sterling taking such a battering, old bikes are looked upon as safe havens for spare capital. Hopefully it will be a while before a model 160 will realise 360,000 pounds like the odd Brough Superior, so maybe it is still a good idea to use on the roads whilst we can!


Anyway, distraction/politics aside, the subject of the 1911 appeal for information/return of missing bike was an almost new model 160, and the information given was very useful in drawing a line in the sand in relation to engine and frame numbers for these models (there are no known records of Enfield/Motosacoche/Gladiator/Clement machine numbers from the original manufacturers). With the bike being only a matter of weeks old, it can be safely assumed that the engine and frame numbers were original to the bike leaving the factory, and were current for the time (June/July 1911). Engine no. 16424 (M'coche prefix not mentioned, but would be 2CIII), frame no. 1192. Other information mentioned: colour Naval Grey, nickel plated carburettor with extra air inlet pipe, 2 speed free engine, Dunlop tyres, registration no. LA 2751.


I have yet to find a further mention of the bike being recovered, so it appears there was no happy outcome to the appeal. That must have been devastating when the cost of a new motorcycle was equivalent to a year's wages (often far more), or a small house.

Diary date for Bamburgh Run Feb 2019

Well, the model 160 is still in bits (forks stripped for replicating), and still needs new rear wheel tensioners making and nickel plating before I can use it again, but I've booked it in for the VMCC Bamburgh Run on 9th June. Hopefully all will come together by then!


I had hoped to take the bike up to the Beamish Museum Steam Fair event in April (especially as I received an invite to attend this year), but some of the fork bits will still be in Stoke on Trent then, so unfortunately no chance. With good health and a following trade wind, there's always next year.

Curious case of a missing spark May 2019

Getting the little Enfield ready for the Bamburgh Run today, only to discover that I only had one cylinder sparking. Swapped the plugs round, and the same cylinder was sparking. So, plugs ok, work backwards. Plug lead tested out ok, so back to pick up. 

Unscrewed pick up on non sparking side, covered in oil. Cleaned up, cleaned carbon brush, then cleaned slip ring by using cotton bud down the pick up hole. Still no spark when all reassembled, damn! Pick up removed again, discovered carbon brush was sticking. Replaced with one out of a spare mag, all sparks now present and correct.

Thought about buying some brushes for small electrical appliances, but remembered that hard brushes can cause heavy wear to slip ring, whereas soft brushes create dust/soot. Thought I'd rather suffer the latter, so ordered some 5mm diameter carbon rods from a school chemical supplier and some brushes with correct sized springs. Will turn carbon rods down to correct 4mm size on lathe, then fit to springs for a new set.


Running repairs June 2019

Almost forgot about this bit of work! Last time out, back in Oct '18 at the Early Motor Bicycle Run in Scotland, one of the rear chain tensioners gave up the ghost. All I had left of one side assembly is what you see in the photo (it was held captive by the wheel spindle nut).


An interesting little exercise in lathe turning, milling, screw threads by tap and die (but on lathe for concentricity), Dremelwork and good old hand filing later (no welded joints) and I had a pair of these. One original and one replacement are already back on the bike ready for next weekend.


These seem so small compared with my other bikes, so you get an idea how small, the screw thread is 3/16 Cycle thread (32 tpi). I think that is about 4.8mm! Carved from solid, the spade part is now EN8, with a beefed up junction where the blade meets the shaft, so should be good for another 100 years!

Just need one more to complete the identical pair needed for the prototype (having this bike to copy things from is a Godsend).


Successful run out June 2019

Just back from taking a few days up in the ancient kingdom of Northumbria. After 13/14 miles of roadtest last week, I noticed one of the chain tensioner nuts was working loose again, so a split lockwasher under each, along with a dab of thread locking fluid, and the bike completed the Bamburgh Run intact. All in all, a good run out in good company, all girder fork era, mine being the 3rd oldest.

Never thought I would want to take it on the A1, but ended up doing just that - thankfully for only 100 yards - but pretty tricky trying to cross 2 lanes of traffic travelling at 70 mph or more, on a bike travelling at about 20-25mph, with a pair of clutches that take about 60 seconds to fully engage! Once in the middle, then having to do it all again! Something I don't wish to repeat.

Only 2 of us went that way, myself only because I chose to be lazy and follow a local rather than read the route card. Won't be doing that again - learnt my lesson the hard way.

The bike ran very well, starting well, running smoothly - even the brakes seemed better than previous outings, after a bit of judicious trimming last week. I will have to spend a bit more time on the rear brake over winter though, as the pivot point has some play, allowing the shoe to operate at a slight angle rather than properly aligned with the brake rim.

Now that the confidence level has been topped up again, I'm busy getting entries in for a few more runs, hoping that summer will have plenty of warm, bright sunshine. Next weekend is the Banbury Run and autojumble, but I'm only going as a spectator and jumble scrounger.


Pre start preparations and enjoying the ride!

Sunshine - note the shadows and watersplash - essential elements

A busy old summer.......                                              July 2019

Since the Bamburgh Run I've taken the bike to a couple of local club meetings (and got Best British award from club members at one), and also completed the 2nd Northern Pioneer Road Test successfully.

The latter is a superb run through the North Yorkshire countryside, in an area I am surprised it is possible to find suitable terrain for old bikes (pre 1915) to negotiate. My little 345cc v twin coped admirably, except on one occasion, where I was baulked on a hill by a cyclist/large van combination, which meant I had to slow to such an extent the bike wouldn't pick up when the road ahead became clear.

A quick about turn, descend and turn, and a clear run up the hill got us back on track.

Out to a local pub on Sunday to join a few other old vehicles, and I'll be surprised if my bike isn't the oldest entrant!

I've never been a 'pot hunter' with my bikes (the Bullet after 43 years of neglect now carries a certain 'patina' like most antiques), but it is a pleasant feeling to find that others appreciate the older/ancient bikes of yesteryear. I usually wake up the following day with a dry throat - I can talk for England about the old stuff!!!!😀


Another lesson learnt                                              July 2019


The other evening I set off to a local bike meet/show, that raises money for charity, it's only about 6/7 miles away, but starts around 5pm. Couldn't have been worse for me and the old Enfield especially as my route included some road repairs/traffic lights and rush hour traffic. If there is one thing the bike doesn't like, it is slow speed queuing and in/out of gear!

But, I also realised the bike wasn't running as sweetly as usual, with very little power. Before I'd done a couple of miles the engine noise had me suspecting I was on one cylinder, so pulled up at the roadside. Sure enough, one cylinder was hot, one was cold, so out with a plug. The plug was covered in oil, and a chance glance at the glass oil level tube showed no oil in the tank! I spun the engine over whilst in gear, using the back wheel, with one plug out, in an attempt to clear any remaining oil. Lo and behold, it fired and proceeded to run happily on one cylinder. Interesting, so I cleaned the plug, put it back in,and fired it up again (using the back wheel). Still only on one cylinder and with little oil, so I decided to take it back home and cut my losses.

Next day, I drained the crankcase, thoroughly cleaned the plug (the gap had been bridged by oil), refilled the oil tank and fired up the engine. It ran fine after some initial smoking, so I timed the oil drip setting to 35 drips per minute and discovered it was quite a bit less open than my previous "rack of eye" setting.

I also discovered after a test run, that the rear brake was even LESS effective than normal, so out with the brake cleaner and thoroughly cleaned the rim and shoe.

I had heard people comment that it is possible to start these bikes "on the back wheel " but had been reticent to try it. Having done it a few times now, it's a nice little party trick to have up my sleeve, so every cloud can have a silver lining!

For those that have no idea what I'm talking about, it was possible 'back in the day' to start low powered motorcycles by priming the petrol, putting the bike on the rear stand (so the rear wheel is well clear of the floor), putting the bike in low gear, and pulling the tyre round sharply with one hand, whilst holding the bike steady with the other. If the bike is set up correctly, the engine will turn over compression, fire and run, but you have to remember to take it out of gear before dropping off the rear stand! You also had to remember to get your hand away from the tyre before it got dragged up into the rear mudguard - all in all, a method unlikely to gain 'elf and safety approval.

Hopefully all is now well for the trip down to Stanford Hall on Sunday for the VMCC Founders Day event. The theme this year is 70 years of the Enfield Bullet, so my bike could be hidden behind 70 other Enfields, or pride of place in the centre - we'll see.

FOOTNOTE: The bike shared exposure with the 'new' Indian RE KX for a short while, until I noticed that folks were leaning over my bike to ogle the plastic concept bike. I quickly moved it elsewhere, before someone knocked it over! Took the bike round the arena, but nearly disgraced myself, as the arena was a bit small for riding with the bike in low gear, but the field was too bumpy for feathering the 2 speed gear and riding one handed.

Last run of the season Oct 2019

Off up to Scotland this weekend to the Early Motor Bicycle Run, based this time at Castle Douglas in Dumfries and Galloway. Saturday's forecast looks OK, but it doesn't look good for Sunday, still at this time of year, you can't expect too much.

Had the bike out quite a bit this year, a new run for me was down into Lincolnshire to a 'Northern Veteran Run', boy was it FLAT. Oldest bike, and farthest travelled to that one! That was the day after the September Challenge, and the runs couldn't have been more different - Sept Challenge was marred by lack of power (eventually traced to faulty spark plug that had only done about 300 miles), NVR was a dream, with no problems at all.

Hopefully this coming weekend will be similar to the NVR.........which would be a nice way to end the riding season.

Shame no one fitted a kickstart

Wet, wild and quiet (roads) up in Scotland Oct 2019

Well, that's it, early bike riding season over. It went out with a bang, with 2 days of glorious scenery, excellent company, quiet roads and a tender behind! Saturday's run was from the campsite in Castle Douglas out to Kirkcudbright (pronounced Kir-coo-bree) and back via a Ministry of Defence training area (only a slim chance of getting shot), coastal roads, wild moors and loch side views. 50 miles of sheer delight and the bike ran well, although the fuel consumption is high, so something to look into over winter. Sunday's run from the same campsite went out to Moniaive where we all partook of a pre arranged lunch before going back to the campsite. Another 57 miles of excellent riding and route, including mile after mile of twisting and turning along both sides of Loch Ken. On the return leg and back at the campsite I realised how my backside and the cycle type saddle had become far too intimately attached to each other. 

John Macmillan and his trusty band of helpers in the Clyde Valley section of the VMCC put on a first rate event year after year - could it possibly be any better next year? Knowing John, I would expect so! If you have a pre 1924 bike up and running, or can fettle one before 1st weekend of October next year I heartily recommend you ride this event - I've not been on better. The location changes each year, so the routes are fresh. Although run by the VMCC, if you aren't a member, you can buy one day membership (twice) at the event.

Lex's bike on the left, mine on the right

A bit fuzzy, no doubt my hands were still vibrating! An impromptu stop at the side of Loch Ken (when everyone following thought I was going the wrong way when I went back for this photo opportunity). The loch was behind me, but I was impressed with the amount of water around (there had been a LOT of rain, but not on the runs). This would normally have been a trickle draining down the valley side.

A bit more notoriety Oct 2019

Just been made aware that the little Enfield has made it into one of the 'glossies' - Real Classic, but only as an aside. See September issue, page 104 -  one broadside photo, and one background to the 'concept' KX and a little bit more in the midst of the Founder's Day article.