More to come

The other side of the project

Hoping for a major aquisition within next couple of months - watch this space.

Recent find                                                           Jan 2018

TT pattern handlebars for a 3hp twin

Not these - this is an original publicity shot of the handlebar layout of the 1914 on 3hp TT Replica. The image of Bert Colver stood with Brooklands bike on sidecar plank shows a similar pair of handlebars, but with a more "dropped" style - I'll copy in the photo after this. Just won a set of nickel plated bare bars on ebay that look dead right. Whether they are as old as the bike, or a more recent copy, I don't know, but they do have some age about them.

As my steering head angle is less acute than Bert's, the bars I've picked up probably won't look quite as rakish in situ (and hopefully my back will survive a bit longer whilst riding).

I've picked up valve lifter and front brake levers earlier in the same pattern as shown here. The magneto control to the left will be mounted on the magneto, so I can forget about that. The double lever on the right looks like a Senspray pattern, I do have one (and another incomplete), but I might also look out for an Amac or Bowden pattern with the ebonite knobs. Zooming into my high res copy of the image below, I think it is more likely Amac or Bowden on the racer.

Dropped handlebars very much in evidence

Just the job!                                                          Jan 2018

Isn't that just the dog's boll**ks!

Well, they survived the post!

Quick mock up of the new (to me) dropped bars with brake and exhaust valve lifter loosely fitted, along with period type celluloid grips.

They look sufficiently rakish to me!

Just need the twin lever carburettor control to finish it off. The road bike has one built into the bars, but this bike has the universal saddle clamp fitting, Amac or Bowden.

The bars have one or two minor pits, but I think I will fit them without further plating. Evidence of a crash in a former life, but you have to look closely to find it.

A nice period accessory Feb 2017

Period oiler complete in housing

You see period oilers quite often (if you know where to look - it's all relative), but it is rare to see them in their original housings that clamp to a frame tube. When I saw this one, and checked the diameter of the seat tube I decided to try an opening bid, and no one bid against me.

Another period accessory I'm looking out for, is for holding a spare spark plug, again clamped to a frame tube.

Similar, but different Feb 2018

1913 experimental Enfield

My bike has a high mounted magneto in between the petrol tanks, like Bert Colver's. The only other bike I know of, that has survived to this day, with a "high" mounted magneto is the one in the photo.

It is on view at the National Motorcycle Museum near Birmingham. The bike is captioned as a 1913 experimental machine of overhead inlet and exhaust valve configuration. I can't recall if it is credited as 345cc or 425cc. It does look as though it is later than mine/Bert's, as it is likely the ohv engine would follow on from ioe, but many features are of the same age, ie the frame and cycle parts are all 1911-14 2 3/4hp model 160, rather than 1913-20 3hp.

I'm assuming the museum have crafted the magneto chain cover, as it would be unlikely that an experimental bike (like mine) would sport such a thing (I'm toying with the idea of a perspex/acrylic cover, so you can see the chain thrashing away).

Interestingly, the same magneto is fitted to this experimental bike, as is fitted to mine and model 160s, even though the enclosed Bosch mag (ZE) came out around 1912/13. The mag is also mounted upside down, under the petrol tank frame rail. As the inlet manifold is lower on this engine, there is sufficient space, and hence the petrol tank can be one piece.

Although I took loads of detail shots of the bike, I don't have one of the petrol tank top. I think the oil circulation system is of the total loss type, rather than the technically advanced fully recirculating system on mine and Bert's. Certainly there is no separate oil tank, and the plunger of the hand pump (absent on my bike) can be seen just above the front of the tyre inflator.

In need of repair - but salvageable! Mar 2018

Something missing from the far right......

Well, it's taken 18 months or so, but I finally picked up a functioning veteran curly bulb horn. I've been outbid on one, and tracked another only to find it had changed owners before I found it, but unless I find another in better condition, this will be gracing the finished bike.

The biggest problem is quite obvious - the lack of a trumpet! Despite this, the reed is in place, and as long as you get the squashing of the bulb correct (ie don't rush it), a lovely deep sound is generated. Whether the bulb is original or not, I've no idea, it is embossed with the words Placid Pump (which returns nothing from google), but it is nicely aged.

So, how to replicate the missing trumpet? Well, the material of the whole thing is brass, and the best way of manually generating a flaring open tube (which needs the material to become increasingly thinner the closer to the outer edge you get) is by metal spinning. I did visit a local metal spinners the other week, and had an interesting hour watching the black art being performed. So much so, I fancy having a go myself - but it will have to wait until my new lathe arrives (and it's not even ordered yet). I didn't quite want to undertake fabrication of a rear brake rim as a first attempt, but this is definitely a suitable subject. Now need to find a couple of bikes with original bulb horns (lots of cheep Asian copies out there), so I can get approx dimensions of the missing bit. Sounds like something to look out for at the Banbury Run in June.

Enfields at Beamish Apr 2018

1915 Beamish bike at the top, Paul's 1919 bike at the bottom

Event described on the intro page.

The Museum has a 1915 Enfield 3hp twin, which I first saw back in October 2016, just a chance encounter. I couldn't get access to it at the time so, paraphrasing War of the Worlds, I made my plans.....

I was allowed access to the bike by contacting and booking with the Friends of the Museum, and the bike was expected to be out circulating. However, it didn't make it out to the road due to a petrol tank leak, so I got a personal viewing in the workshop/store shed, away from the public gaze. Heartfelt thanks to both Ians, Paul Foster of the museum staff, and others whose names I didn't get. So, complete with digital vernier, I checked various details, recorded frame and engine numbers and generally had a good time with knowledgable guys who gave their time freely to the benefit of the museum. The museum bike is at the top.

In addition, and purely by chance, Paul had been invited to bring his 1919 3hp Enfield along, so I did manage to see a relevent bike "under steam" on the day! He has only had the bike for 12 months, done very little mileage on it since purchase, but agreed to bring it up from Wiltshire along with his friend who had brought a huge ordinary bicycle. Not running at it's best, but nevertheless gamely weaving through the Edwardian traffic jams caused by immense traction engines rumbling (literally - you could feel the ground beneath your feet shake) along at about 1 mile per hour. (Paul and his wife are ex-Yorkshire folk doing sterling missionary work down south). Incidentally, Paul's wife was sportingly riding side saddle on the authentic Tan Sad pillion seat (with only one footrest).

As the 3hp 425cc model 140 is a direct development of my prototype, I'm happy to include details of these bikes in this section of the site. I've always thought these v twins are such pretty little bikes, and I think the photos confirm that.

Footnote: The museum's bike is 1916 - just had it dated by the Royal Enfield Owners Club - they have nearly all surviving Enfield sales ledgers. Both bikes have original frame/engine combinations. One was despatched to Edinburgh, the other to Falmouth.


A nice little glass dome May 2018

Oil tank with glass dome, NEW old replacement, and damaged original

When the oil tank arrived, it was complete with the original fittings including the sightglass to check oil flow (remember this was the first recirculating oil pump that Enfield had tried). When I had a look inside, it was obvious there was something not right with the glass dome. Removing it from it's mounting, the bottom had a large chunk missing, so was unlikely to give a reasonable seal.

Just happened to notice a new, old stock dome on fleabay the other week, and I turned out to be the only bidder. To my knowledge, these are as rare as rocking horse poo, so I was dead chuffed to pick it up! A couple of millimetres taller than the original, but otherwise identical.

I did hear that somebody is now reproducing the glass domes, but I don't know any details. This one definitely isn't a repro.

Springs galore! June/July 2018

Photos in a while.....but I've been negotiating with a local spring manufacturer with a view to having a small batch of engine springs made for the 1913-20 3hp v twins. As my prototype springs are similar, but different, it was going to be VERY costly to have them manufactured as "one offs", but doing it this way, they become the "add ons" to the main order, and more reasonably priced.


Rocker spring

I will be selling these to the first people to contact me, if all goes to plan these should be ready late July 2018, and there will be 10 sets.


A set will include (from left to right of photo):

2 x Exhaust valve spring

2 x Inlet valve spring

2 x Inlet valve rocker arm torsion spring

2 x Cam follower/tappet return spring


I don't have all the costs worked out yet, but should be able to firm that up in a week or so.

Originals at the top, new springs below

The exhaust valve springs are in a black paint finish (as originals), as these are out in the open. All other springs are internal, and are self colour. All coil springs have been shot peened, which increases the lifespan.

Ignorance breeds calamities Aug 2018

I managed to pick up a few more bits at Stanford Hall in late July. Another DA1V magneto dropped into my hands, so that makes 3. One is 45 degrees, the other 2 are 60 degrees. Two have the peg or spade drive (both 60 deg.), the other is a taper for a sprocket.

Only problem is, the prototype is a 60 deg, but needs a taper for a 10 tooth sprocket. So I was talking with an old chap about having the spade end built up using laser welding, when he suggested stripping 2 mags and swopping the core end plates over.

Previously modified item to left (held in place by a turn of insulating tape on the shaft), genuine Bosch item in centre, superglued Bosch item to right. Thread can be seen in centre of upper portion.

I was loath to do this, but curiosity got the better of me. I stripped the 1st, the 45 deg unit. Pick ups and carbon brushes out, remove 3 screws holding the body end plate, and lever end plate off, over the bearing. Slip ring now visible, but bearing inner ring needs to come off first. Specialist bearing pullers were made by magneto firms years back, but I don't have any, so compromise was needed. I found my 2 leg bearing puller, found an engineer's clamp to stop it spreading, and tightened both with the puller engaging with the groove in the bearing ring. With some soft packing between the screw and the taper, the ring slowly came off. The slip ring was a slight interferance fit on the shaft, but came away fairly easily.

This exposed 4 screws holding the core end plate to the core, these were carefully removed. With a few light taps from a punch from below, the end plate came off the 2 alignment pegs and it was in my hands. I then moved on to the 2nd magneto. All went well until I got to the slip ring. Unknown to me, this was a genuine Bosch component, the other had been a modification! The slip ring shattered, and left a plug of material in the hole where the wire exits the winding and finds its way to contact with the brass segment in the slip ring. After further persuasion, this plug came off, and I could remove the end plate as before. I then swopped the tapered end plate with the spade end plate, so I at last had a 60 degree magneto with a taper shaft for the sprocket.

Unfortunately, I now didn't have a slip ring for this mag!

So, out comes the 3rd mag, and another strip down, to remove a genuine slip ring so that this could go into the mag with taper shaft - no mistakes/breakages this time!. One complete mag suitable for the prototype!!!!

Searching on the interweb, I found:

just below the centre of the page is a photo of a stripped Bosch slip ring. They were made in 3 pieces, part of it being screwed together! I found some super glue, and set about reconstructing my shattered slip ring, but one large piece is yet to be found. I may attempt to make a new one, or I may get one of the restorers to make me an extra one when I get the mag professionally rebuilt.

Shame the older chap didn't warn me about the screwed on slip ring!


 Please don't make the same mistake if you have a Bosch magneto of a similar age!!!!

Early v twin register and library 2 1/4, 2 3/4, and 3hp Aug 2018

I make no apology for including this twice, as it is pertinent to Enfield engined v twins, as well as Motosacoche engined twins.


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.



Veteran clothing fetish! Oct 2018

Since I discovered the photos of Bert Colver with the prototype racer at Brooklands, I've had a silly notion that the ideal way to present my completed bike at shows and rallies, would be to replicate the photos over a hundred years later.

To that end, I'm slowly collecting period clothing that is as close to the originals as possible. I can't do anything about the difference in age of the human subject though. Bert was born in 1884, so he would be 28 when the photos were taken - unfortunately I can't wind the clock back to 1985 when I was the same age.

Managed to pick up a pair of period boots (with full height leather laces), a leather jacket in a similar style, but not quite as old. Then found a pair of goggles that may be period (could be later, as they were made for 20 odd years).

Just last week, I was visiting a friend over near Selby, who showed me a Dunhill's Motorities catalogue from 1910. It included the exact jacket that Bert was wearing, and a cracking selection of goggles. Forgive me for including a couple of extracts here - some of those goggles look a bit scary, no wonder motor cyclists have a bad image!

Don't know why the guys have to look so miserable! Maybe it's the starched collars with everything!

Work on forks commences Nov 2018

Now that the model 160 has successfully completed the 2 planned events in Sept and October, it is in the garage for winter. A friend wanted to borrow the W shaped inlet manifold, to use as a pattern for a replica to be made, so the carb and the manifold were dismantled.

As I've not been able to find any model 160 front forks in the last 18 months of advertising, I have taken the plunge with having the set of new, old stock fork blades for a model 140 modified to replicate the genuine forks of a model 160. Hence the handlebars, front wheel and forks are no longer on the 160 - the bike being supported on a stand with a tube inserted up the steering head tube - this bike spends more time in bits than it does together! But in fairness, the main reason for buying it was as a pattern 'master' for the prototype - the riding aspect was just a pleasant bonus.

I'm having the fork blades and a model 140 steering stem modified by someone, rather than attempt it myself, mainly as a timesaver, but also as the guy has an adjustable jig to ensure correct alignment - I'd have to start from scratch. After a long initial meeting, I came away confident that the chap has the knowledge and experience necessary to do the job. Hoping to get them back by Christmas.

Fork spindles, links, nuts, steering head bearings, top clip and fork spring bolts are all for me to make on the Harrison, but I'll have to get the fork spring copied by someone like Alberta Springs.

Latest fleabay aquisitition Nov 2018

Not sure whether I will end up using it on this bike, or the Motosacoche engined bike, but I thought I'd drop the note here.

Just picked up a very early pattern Cowey speedometer head that is bang on for 1912.

Had a look through The Motor Cycle via the online resource created by Boston Public Library (s-o-o-o-o useful), and the first time I can find it being mentioned is July 1908 (a couple or three weeks earlier the Jones speedo featured). It appears in the Dunhill's catalogue referred to earlier in 1910, and also 1912/3 issues of The Motor Cycle.


Early Cowey speedometer.

Neither the flexible shaft nor the drive gearbox/wheel were included in the sale, so more bits to look for*, but finding the article shown gives me a good idea of what to look for. Bonniksens are very, very nice - but this has a much better price tag! (and probably more in keeping with the budget of your average lightweight motorcycle owner of the time).

* see Aug 2019

Next season, I might also try the dodge suggested immediately after the Cowey article, that of putting a pin in the filler cap vent hole.

I've had problems myself with petrol finding it's way out of the tank, to the extent that the paint adjacent to the filler cap had lifted/bubbled (but not sufficient to warrant a repaint yet). A friend kindly supplied me with a couple of brass domes with a small flange around. One of these was soldered to the inside of the cap after 2 x 1mm cross holes were drilled in. these have helped, but I think I'll try this other dodge also, maybe on a different filler cap, to see which is most effective.

Quiet January 2019

A new year but not much new to add to the site.

A couple of further fleabay purchases, a pair of 100 year old goggles that need a bit of resto, and another speedo, Jones this time, which came complete with the cable and gearbox. Drive wheel and mounting brackets to find, but more complete than the Cowey.


The front fork blades are nearing completion, I should be picking them up mid Feb.

New Rear Brake Rim Jan 2019

New brake rim arrived from the Netherlands, more detail in Restoration Topics. Suffice to say, I'm very happy with the result and would happily recommend Hans to anyone in need of a rim.

Fork blades returned Feb 2019

Went down to Stoke on Trent yesterday to pick up the modified model 140 fork blades. These now look as close to model 160 fork blades as it was possible to make them. Jess looks to have made a cracking job of them, but won't be able to really know if all is well until I can fully assemble a complete set, and mount on to the frame. With that in mind, I also dropped off the steering head bearings and the top bearing housing/cross member to be copied. I need to crack on and make the new spindles, nuts and links, and get a new spring made.

"New" forks for a 113 year old bike

Side on view of original (to right) and reconstructed fork blades

Unusual construction feature Feb 2019

In the course of Jess heating up the model 140 forks, to split them apart at the various brazed joints, a surprise constructional detail emerged.

The main 'legs' are 'D' shaped in section, as well as being tapered down the length, and obviously curved to the front as the wheel spindle is approached. I have seen so many similar fork tubes with paint and without, and they have all been tubes manipulated to shape. As can be seen from the montage photo below, there is a brazed joint on the inside face of each leg (facing the wheel), which runs the full length of the leg.

So these legs were not made from tubes, but pressed up from sheet steel! Quite why they were made this way I don't suppose we'll ever know, but I found it sufficiently interesting to think it would be worth mentioning on here.

I'll also include a poor quality photo (I didn't take the image) of the dismantled forks for those interested in the method of construction. The top spindle housing has been cut, but was originally 3 pieces, where one piece would have done/been better/stronger. The front bracing tubes (small diameter) both broke on dismantling. Each wheel spindle lug was sawn in two to allow easier dismantling.

Full length brazed joint - folded up construction!

Pretty much fully dismantled forks - the only way is up!

Girder fork springs May 2019

A bit more progress on the girder forks. On the lathe, I managed to make a couple of pairs of square headed captive bolts that secure the girder fork spring. Popped these in the post along with my original spring and sent the lot down to Wm Smith & Son down in Birmingham, after agreeing a very reasonable price.

The new springs came back yesterday, 4mm longer than the original (as asked for). A very nice job, just need to get them nickel plated and heat soaked to reduce hydrogen embrittlement.


Original at top, new springs below, in bare steel after stress relief

Variable Jet Carburetters                                        July 2019

From the original photos I've found of Bert and his racing/development bike, I knew he originally fitted a C.A.P. variable jet carb, then (presumably to coincide with CAP selling the patents to BSA) moved on to an Amac. When I zoomed into the photo of him stood with the bike at Brooklands, I could see that the basic pattern of the carb was similar to the standard 1911/12 Amac lightweight, but there was something else attached, that was too fuzzy to identify.

All has recently become clear, when, purely by coincidence, a friend out in New Zealand has listed a 1910 pattern Amac carb on ebay. As soon as I saw it, I recognised the extra little bit hung off Bert's carb - it turns out also to be a variable jet detail/arrangement. Not rocket science I suppose, but nice to be able to confirm it.

No doubt there will be some internal differences, between the variable jet details of 1910 and 1911/12, as the carbs are substantially different in appearance and construction, but I'm now on the hunt for a 1911/12 pattern Amac with varable jet.

A couple of photos to illustrate:


1910 Amac 'double bubble' carb. Note the extra lever at the base of the mixing chamber to regulate air supply to type of riding.

Extract from The Motor Cycle, October 1909, describing principle of operation of the new (for 1910 season) variable jet carb.

1911/12 Amac also with variable jet on Bert's bike, together with a detail shot of the 1910 design. The same arrangement can be seen on Bert's carb - although it is rather fuzzy!

Almost completing the Cowie speedo Aug 2019

I've been looking for parts to complete (or help towards) the early Cowie speedo head that I won on fleabay back in November. The on line resource of digitised "The Motor Cycle" magazines from 1907 through to 1923 (a few gaps) supplied the article and pictures I included back in Nov, so I had a good idea of what the missing parts looked like. Nothing seen at Classic Bike Show, Banbury or Founders Day, but fleabay came up trumps again!

Unidentified speedo drive turned out to be pre WW1 Cowie components

See the similarities?

Never expected to locate one so quickly, but no mistakes, it is correct down to the "chain" drive cable. The internal gears to the right angle drive have some wear, and the shafts are sloppy in their housings, but all repairable.

Hopefully the cable was a generous length, and will stand a small reduction in length in order to make good the damaged outer sheath. The top ferrule screws straight on to the threaded connector of the speedo head, and the top fitting of the cable is a perfect fit with the drive slot in the head. Just need to find out the correct ratio between the clamp on wheel ring (still to find) and the small gear currently on the RH drive (presently 18T).

Interesting period photos Sept 2019

Although the following photos are all to do with the 3hp twin, rather than my 2 3/4hp prototype, I thought I would include them here as the 3hp is a direct descendant of my bike. All the photos are over 100 years old and show elements of machining, assembly and testing at the Enfield factory. Possibly not of interest to those without an engineering bent, but surely fascinating to me!

Setting up for finish grinding of the cylinder. The large angle plate has a circular hole in it the same size as the base of the cylinder. The rough bored cylinders are on the bed, the finish ground cylinders are on the floor, each with a ticket no doubt giving the final bore size (there would be slight variations). The cylinder is presumably clamped in a similar manner to as it is on the engine. Note the extract duct for removing the swarf/cast iron dust from the blind cylinder.

Grinding the big end 'eye' in the connecting rods. Note the flat belt drives, and the 'knife and fork' rod assemblies on the table

Not sure about this one, as the previous boring shot showed the barrel clamped the other way round. Possibly this is a rough boring stage, due to the amount of swarf visible, whereas the finishing 'clean up' was via the more accurate cylinder base mounting. Yes, that's it, just noticed the other tool which would create the cylinder base spigot hiding at the back!

Engine assembly, pre WW1 style!

A bit over exposed, but this is the engine test facility, with the glass oil tank clamped to the framework, and a rectangular petrol tank on the top (with throttle/air levers just under it on the right). Plenty of adjustment on the electrical switch panel, which may be a way of loading the engine against an electrical resistance?

Slow progress Oct 2019

Little to report on the prototype, other than the barrels are currently away with Eddie for grinding out to a minimum oversize. +0.5 mm oversize Suzuki X7 pistons were a pretty good match for most dimensions, but will be turned down to suit the cylinder bore, and rings gapped to suit.

Need to crack on with insulating the garage/workshop so that it is comfy, warm and dry for least outlay this winter.

New? Footrests that are over 100 years old Oct 2019

A lot of people berate Ebay,  and I often have mixed feelings especially when I've had to pay through the nose or missed something because someone else's pockets were deeper than mine.

Just occasionally it all turns out right. 

I had been watching a pair of Enfield footrest plates complete with rubbers, so good they could be new, old stock. These were fitted before footboards became the norm, but only to the single speeders, both belt and chain drive. The single speeder (with bicycle type pedals) had disappeared from the range by 1912.

The only other bikes to feature footrests around this time were the racing bikes - Bert's bike on the sidecar photo clearly shows the same pattern.

So I made my plans, and the hammer dropped at £18 - my bids were silly money, just so I wouldn't miss out, but totally unnecessary. 

I now have to decide whether to fit the originals or make a few replica pairs for owners of the early models.