1912 Royal Enfield 2 3/4hp model 160       January 2017

1912 Royal Enfield 2 speed model 160

Just arrived - 1912 version of the 2 speed model 160 (pre cush drive in rear wheel). The bike is very original, other than the shaping of the valances to the mudguards. Although an expensive exercise, owning this bike will help enormously with the restoration process for the 1912 prototype, as all the cycle parts are the same.

It also means I can get into the saddle much earlier than would otherwise be the case.

More vintage and veteran motorcycles to come.


To make your own bits, first get something to copy                                                                                 March 2017

1912 front forks

Pictured right are the components of the lightweight 1912 front forks. Although the standard bike above has a full working set, the prototype/racer only came with the top item, the fork blades. Everything else will need to be made from scratch! I intend to ride the standard model 160 in a few events this year, and also take it out on to the back roads locally (but need to plan my routes, I expect the max gradient it will cope with will be about 1 in 6). Living in the foothills of the Pennines, that could easily be exceeded! Come the end of the riding season, the front end will have to be stripped to allow measurements/comparison for re-manufacturing. Think I'll get someone else to wind me a spring.

I heard just the other day, that Hitchcock's Motorcycles have bought all Royal Enfield paraphernalia including records going as far back as 1906. This was originally bought from the wind up of Enfield by Matt Holder of Aerco Jig & Tool Co and passed to his son David after Matt's death. Hitchcock's have evidently been in negotiation with David for some time.

This sounds VERY interesting (but not much chance of getting them to bring 1912 parts back into production). Alan has intimated it will take up to a couple of years to catalogue/itemise everything, so it looks like I'll have to be patient.

2 3/4 hp engine/2 speed gear                          March 2017

1914 engine and 2 speed gear detail

Another photo from the Ivor Mutton collection showing the near side (UK) detail of the engine and 2 speed gear arrangement. Note the engine turning finish to the crankcases. This bike/photo is from 1914, and shows the (by then) standard kick start arrangement anchored on to the front downtube, and engaging on to an extra sprocket on the drive side mainshaft. That makes a total of 3 sprockets all on the same shaft! The 2 chains in the chaincase are permanently meshed with the 2 large sprockets, but the coffee grinder handle (out of shot) at the top of the vertical shaft dictates what is happening. With the handle in mid position (across the bike) the "free engine" means that each band clutch in the 2 large sprockets is not engaged, so no drive. Moving the handle back towards the rider pushes a camshaft into the centre of the low speed chain sprocket, where one of the 3 cams engages with a peg. The peg slides outwards and expands the metal band onto it's drum and results in the drive being taken though to the output sprocket at the other side. Moving the handle by 180 degrees to the front disengages low gear and brings in top gear.

On the top of each cylinder in addition to the spark plug, is a rather fancy primimg tap, where oil or petrol can be admitted direct to the cylinder. Oil for long term storage, petrol for a cold start, or to free up gloopy oil/piston rings. Not required as much these days, but when the bikes were first made, quality of oil and petrol was not particularly consistent.

1st tentative steps......                                       March 2017

Well, the day dawned nice and fine, with reasonable temperatures for late winter/early spring so what the hell, let's try to fire the old girl up (not the missus). Thankfully (although it's a mixed blessing) we live halfway up/down a hill, so a walk/push to the top and a gentle paddle off should do the job?

Backtrack a bit..... put the bike back together first (had to look inside the 2 speed gear thing to see how it worked). Consult the original book of words about how to start and run for the first time. Petrol on, flood carburettor. Oil on at tap, pump the hand pump twice, retard the ignition a little, work out which lever does what on the 2 lever throttle/air control. Not as easy as it sounds, the inside of the carb is different to any carb I've looked at - no needle!

Now back to the top of the hill, pull the 2 speed gear lever towards you (low gear), lift the exhaust valve lifter, and paddle off. A little faster than walking pace, dropping the valve lifter and twiddling the air/fuel levers resulted in a couple of huffs, but no chuff, chuff, chuff.

Push to the top again, and try again. Engine fires but doesn't pick up, more twiddling. Quite frightening how speed picks up on the downhill gradient. Rear brake is pitiful, front - what front! Decided our road isn't suitable, can't get a long enough run, so further up the village we go. Better road found, with slower gradient, followed by a level bit, about 300 yards all told. Bouncing all over the place, tyres too hard, but engine runs better, although still not wanting to run on. More work required another day, but immense smile factor! Hopefully a photo next time.

Getting the hang of it at last!                            April 2017

Bird's eye view, showing      CORRECT    gear change details - that I wasn't in tune with!

The Tour de Yorkshire was due past the end of our lane on 30th April, with the top road being closed for up to 6 hours - bloody cyclists. The authorities won't close roads for motorbike events! Anyway, it spurred me on to take the bike out on the previous day, after closely scrutinising the riders handbook for a 1915 3hp Enfield twin. The handbook for the 2 3/4hp twin is a bit basic, the 3hp is much more informative, and gave me the correct settings for the carburettor control levers for a cold engine, and how to adjust and run as the engine warmed up.

Success! Pushed up to the top road, paddled off, and chuffer, chuffer, chuffer, we're away! Managed to familiarise myself with the gear selection and "free engine" selection when slowing down for a junction etc. Covered about 18-20 miles in the outing, and came back home with a grin like a Cheshire Cat!

Now I have a confession to make, remember I took the 2 speed gear apart when I first got the bike? What I hadn't noted was that the gear selector in "free engine" should have been across the tank, not sticking out, away from the tank. I had put the gear lever back in the wrong position, 180 degrees out. This meant that when I was trying to put the bike into 1st gear, I was actually putting it in top gear. Again, no pictures in the handbook, but found one in the 3hp book that clarified matters. Much easier to manage using the correct gear!

As you can see from the image to the right, the petrol/oil tank is incredibly slim, when you have been used to riding bikes with saddle tanks your whole life.

I'm hoping to put a short video together on the starting procedure and other items of interest and upload it to Youtube shortly. I'll put the link up on here.

Hot stuff these vee twin Enfields                      May 2017

It only gets too warm when you stop!

Following is the account of Tony Lockwood's eventful (but short) entry in the 2012 Pioneer Run organised by the Sunbeam Motorcycle Club. Thanks go to the club for allowing me to reproduce this article. This bike is a very early example of the type, with the extra steering head bracing tube at a 45 degree angle (later replaced by a curved top tube). Single speed, belt drive, and what looks like rocket propulsion!

The Motosacoche engine

I have a copy of the transcript of an article that Osborne de Lisa (Australian who became sales manager/director for Motosacoche) prepared for the Association of Pioneer Motorcyclists in 1949. In it, there is a comment that Enfield bought some 3000 small vee twin engines from them. These started off at 297cc (2 1/4hp) and grew to 345cc (2 3/4hp) in the 5 years of Enfield production. Motosacoche continued developing the engine after Enfield stopped using it, ultimately increasing the capacity to 500cc. There was also a larger 1000cc vee twin, which was supplied to other manufacturers such as Ariel and Matchless, but Enfield never used it, the larger Enfields of this period used JAP engines.

Period photo of C Maurice Down                    June 2017

1913 Junior TT entrant C Maurice Down with a 1912 model 160 2 3/4hp

Another period photo kindly supplied by John Seymour. As mentioned elsewhere, C Maurice Down entered the 1913 Junior TT on a 3hp Enfield, when he finished in 16th place. In this photo, he is seen with a 2 3/4hp model 160 presumably in some competetive event, complete with entry plate on the back wheel, possibly a road trial as the bike is in full roadgoing trim. Another of those super bulb horns on view (still haven't found one, so if you know of one going spare, let me know!). I need to study the catalogues a bit more closely, before I can pick a year for the bike.

Hmmm, I'm going for 1912, as the bike has footboards and an oil feed sightglass, but no kickstart. It looks fairly new/clean, so maybe an event in the same year? The colour in 1912 was Naval Grey, probably more to do with the colour of ships than the fluff in your belly button!

Just noticed, it bears the same registration number as the 1913 TT entry, even though the bikes are different!

1st Event - The Golden Era Run                         July 2017

Well, for good or bad, I'm entered into the above VMCC event based at the aviation museum near Elvington in North Yorkshire. it is aimed at bikes made before 1930, so the 1912 model 160 is eminently suitable - the rider probably less so. I'll be attempting the short route of about 35 miles, so we'll see how it goes. Weather forecast doesn't look too good, but hoping for no more than the occasional shower. Wish me luck! Hopefully a glowing report in a few days along with a few photos.

Success! 50 miles with no problems               Aug 2017

Well, I survived to tell the tale. The weather was foreboding, in fact as I attached the trailer and put the garage door down, it started to rain and it followed me for most of the distance. The bike was snug in the trailer, wrapped in a tarpaulin (a little OTT, but what the hell).

Fine when I got to the event, and sunny/cloudy all the way round (don't enjoy motorcycling in the rain these days)! The bike ran like clockwork, and generated plenty of interest - so much so, that I forgot to take any photos! I even overtook a 1912 3+1/2hp New Hudson, but it did have an occupied sidecar, and it was going uphill. I like to think I flew past, but reality was a bit more sedate. There were a few people out on the route taking photos with some mean cameras, so I'll try to rustle one up from somebody.

A full tank respectively of petrol and oil turned out to be just more than sufficient, so I have a better idea of the range of both (the next organised run in October up in Scotland has 2 routes of 65 miles plus over the weekend, so I will need to get a stock of Castrol R oil at least). Correction: now entered into the Sunbeam Club September Challenge on 16th.

Whilst we were having a meal, there came a heavy shower, and I discovered the little wicker basket wasn't waterproof (not surprisingly), so needed to dry out all my paraphernalia when I got back. Luckily I had put my crash hat back in the car before the shower, unlike some.......

I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to the organisers within the North East section of the VMCC. A great day out!

2nd event, but a non starter                              Sept 2017

Hey ho, win some, lose some.

Saturday 16th, bike onto trailer previous evening, attached to car and on the road by 7.30am. Bit of a mixed forecast, but looking forward to the lanes of North Yorkshire on a 105 year old bike, and not too much traffic. Arrived at the Pickering start, bike off trailer, and a final pump of the tyres brought disaster! As I waggled the rear tyre valve, I could hear the psst, psst of a distinct leak. The tyre had been all but fully inflated with bike's weight on it for the 60 mile journey, but as soon as the leak was discovered, the tyre was flat in the space of a few minutes. After some last minute attempts to change the tube, I admitted defeat (needed to dismantle the rear brake before the wheel would come out). I also noticed that excess petrol had found it's way out of the filler cap and blistered the tank finish - arrgh (and other more fearsome expletives)! Will have to ensure tank is all but empty when trailering in future.

Drove round in the car, following the bikes, and had a jolly good meal back at the start, along with excellent conversation about old bikes and transportation issues (trailers versus people carriers with seats removed). Due to the latter, not a total disaster, but pretty close!

Foot Note: I whipped the back wheel out the following day, and sure enough, there was a tear at the base of the valve just where it joined the tube, so no repair possible. New tube in and inflated, holding pressure nicely, but decided I'll have another look, just to see if there is a raw edge that will cause a repeat failure. Don't want that occurring whilst up in Scotland in October.

More problems                                                    Sept 2017

With the back wheel out again, I cleaned the valve hole up and then noticed the next problem! I found a loose spoke, so put a bit of tape round it, and checked the rest of the spokes for tension - there were 3 broken at the head bend! All on the sprocket side, and the sprocket doesn't want to come off.

The sprocket locknut was left hand thread, so the sprocket itself will be right hand, but how much force to apply? Looks like the back wheel will need totally rebuilding to ensure concentricity - especially as the dummy belt rim brake is present.

Only 2 weeks to the Early Motor Bicycle Event in Scotland - but better to find it now........

Arrrrghhh!!! Unmitigated disaster. The sprocket refused to come off, despite WD40 and serious heat, so much so, that the gripping of the other side of the hub in the vice soft jaws caused the thin wheel bearing cup to crack!

Managed to get the sprocket off by grinding rivet heads off the threaded collar, but that left the collar in place. The only way to remove this was to sacrifice the collar by grinding a slot and cracking it away from the hub. Once removed, it was obvious why it had proved so difficult to remove - the hub thread was deformed by the previous buffing/plating operation. So the October run is off, and a few months to decide on way forward - new hub sir - hope your pockets are deep?

Despite cost, this could be the way to go, as it will allow a change to modern sealed bearings and suitable spindle. Can't reuse cup and cone bearings unless new components made/hardened.

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If you want to continue the story..........