Saturday, October 12, 2019

Mid thirties Norton Model 18

A slightly blurry photo of a Norton Model 18 from, at a best guess, 1936 - though it could easily be a year either side.

1936 Norton Model 18.

errata: Thanks to John de Kruif of the excellent Vintage Norton site for pointing out that the cradle frame (the connecting pieces of frame under the engine) on this bike makes it an ES2 rather than the open loop framed Model 18 that I identified it as.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Royal Enfield Ensign legshields

A willfully obscure post this one, but really aren't they all? I'm in the process of a bit of a clearout and the time has come to pass these new old stock Royal Enfield legshields on. They're going to be up on eBay within a couple of days but I thought it was worth sharing the pictures here for posterity as they are rather nice.

First of all they are rather rare items and more so to find them new old stock in their original packaging but also they are quite lovely in themselves. The design goes way beyond the utility function required of a pair of legshields and a lot of flare and thought has gone in to the styling.

Look carefully and there is a lot of careful detailing in the pressings, the central rib of course gives rigidity as well as style but the indented v shapes top and bottom are really just pure styling. The overall shape is wonderfully curvy too.

I just hope they end up with someone who has an Ensign and will fit them.

The complete set. Note the cutaway for exhaust
at the lower of the right hand blade (on the left
in the picture).

Royal Enfield factory packing tape.

The original label. Sorry that it is orientated
incorrectly, the photo wasn't but for some
reason blogspot seems to want to rotate
it when uploaded.

This is the bag that the nuts and bolts came


More curves.

Monday, October 7, 2019


A tricky identify this one. Certainly late twenties and without doubt rather a glamorous machine. The bike is quite distinctive but I've failed to find a good match. The tank to me looks most like Montgomery, or perhaps a Zenith? Can anyone out there elaborate?

Dressed the part for some serious vintage touring. But
what is the bike?

Monday, September 30, 2019

Bantam goes LED - pre focus LED headlight bulbs

As I've been doing rather a lot of tinkering wiith my D1 Bantam of late and, frankly somewhat against expectations, actually enjoying riding it I decided to see what I could do to improve the lighting.

The bike now has an Electrexworld CDI ignition set but the output isn't massive so there is not a lot you can do above and beyond putting in a low-ish wattage halogen BPF headlight to improve illumination if sticking with conventional bulbs.

I was also very interested in sorting out the tail lighting as early Bantams have a horrible habit of regularly blowing the feeble torch type E10 bulbs used for the brake lights.

On my Bantam, despite the CDI set up, I stuck with positive earth and 6v. It would be very easy to go 12 but at the time I wired it I only had spare 6v bulbs and quite honestly, all things being equal, with a healthily wired system the 6 volts should be more than adequate.
Lighting as Mr Wipac never imagined it could be.
So tail first: as you probably know the Bantam Wipac rear light has a pair of stop bulbs and a separate tail bulb. The stop bulbs are E10 size. These are readily available in LED, just tap 6v E10 LED in to eBay and hundreds of options will pop up. Important for the Bantam is that you get bulbs with a very low profile. Multiple radial LEDs may seem like a good idea but they will not fit in to the space available so go for a single LED with a shallow dome. There are bulbs available in dual polarity, it's easiest to go for these. They are also available in red - this is a lot nicer, the blue-ish tinge to a white LED tends to overpower elderly plastics and makes the tail light unacceptably white coloured.

The tail light bulb is a BA15. Same applies as above, there's not a lot of space so go for a low profiled and not to bulbous bulb, in red preferably and with a radial spread of light. If the bulb is sitting right next to the plastic lense the effect is not nice.

Good news on the brake and tail lights is that they are very widely available and cheap as chips.
Wonders of modern technology. BPF LED.
The British Pre Focus P36D is slightly more pricey at typically around the GBP20 mark. There are a couple of different types available but the one I went for is as above. In operation it is pretty simple - there are two diodes, one faces up and one down. The down one is low beam and the two together constitute high beam. These bulbs cover voltages from 6 to 24v  and with this type you have to choose polarity. Other types are available that will do both positive and negative earth.

In use the headlight is definitely bright, way brighter than a standard bulb, not quite as good as a quartz halogen but it has about a fifth of the draw so therein lies your advantage for an elderly motorcycle. Plus LEDs are more robust and a more efficient use of power so what's really not to like. Standing still trying out the high beam it really does seem to illuminate way too much of the sky but once underway you find the it covers the road ahead too, I personally just find it slightly distracting to be riding along a country road and see that the tree tops ahead are lit up. It's probably a bit annoying for folks in rural residential areas too but the solution there is to go on to dip in built up areas.

To be a completist with the LED set up there's the pilot bulb to consider too. In all honesty you might as well ride with the headlight on all the time if you have LED and want daytime lights but the pilot is easy and cheap to replace too should you feel like it. Same as the brake lights, an E10 (also sometimes known as a minature edison screw - mes) although obviously in white not red. Once again dual polarity bulbs are available and easiest.

Overall a decent improvement. I use my old bikes at night on a fairly regular basis. I've been aware of a few nasty accidents of late involving slow and elderly vehicles being rammed by innatentive drivers of modern cars so anything I can do to avoid this is evidently a big bonus. Oh, and being able to see where I am actually going helps too.
Bright enough for you?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Francis Barnett Falcon

1950s Britain. Posing on a Francis Barnett Falcon. Typical dependable ride to work bike of the era for many folks in the era before cheap cars. The photo is annotated '1957. Garden at 25'. Presumably 25 is the address, pity we don't know the town or street.

Playing to the camera on a Francis Barnett.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Veteran Brooks motorcycle puncture repair and spare tube cases

I was lucky enough to pick up these rather nice veteran Brooks cases recently. Both are motorcycle items and each with a clip on the rear designed to attach to the rear carrier. The circular case is a B535 Motor Cycle Spare Tube Box and the rectangular a B539 Repair Outfit Case.

I cannot pin point the exact years of production but both appear in the 1911 and 1919 Brooks Book catalogues. I think this is roughly the span of their production.

Both cases shall be sympathetically restored and will find a home on my 1919 Quadrant.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

1913 Royal Enfield v-twin

Here's a veteran Royal Enfield. I believe a 1913 Model 140 3hp 425cc v-twin. The little inlet over exhaust motor was supplied by the Swiss firm Motosacoche. The Model 140 was unusual amongst British machines for having a v twin engine of smaller capacity aimed at the solo market rather than the usual v twin sidecar hauler. Also noteworthy was the glass oil tank on the saddle tube, though glass might have seemed a bit delicate it was a neat practical idea that worked in practice and it was always easy to check your oil level.
1913 Royal Enfield Model 140 v-twin