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1943 triumph 3hw identification

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i have just bought the triumph 3hw in the photos,im interested to know how original it is.the frame number is tl36984 & engine number 3hw 55534.the fieldstand lug is not fitted and it looks like it is bolted on,and after reading rons info on the fieldstand lug being bolted on the 3sw and the 3hw being welded,i am a bit concerned its a bitsa, and also do the forks look right for a 3hw?any info would be appreciated

 

thanks

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Triumphs are not really my thing but I have some information from the RAOC records relating to the contracts.

 

If the stampings are original then both frame and engine are from 3HW contracts

 

Frame TL36984 was delivered under contract S1246 (TL36418 - TL38917) - this was scheduled for delivery @ 800 per month commencing April 1943 so yours would date from around this time. These later 'census' numbers were linked to the last two digits of the frame number and I calculate that it would originally have been C5205584. Engines for this contract were in the range 3HW 46418 - 48917.

 

Engine number 3HW 55534 was built under the later contract S2956 - also 800 per month commencing at 51418 in December 1943 which would put this engine around April 1944 and it would probably have been installed in TL45534 with census number C5427534.

 

Many 3HWs seem to have been sent to the Far East and this is somewhat backed up by the reference in Orchard & Madden's "British Forces Motorcycles 1925 - 1945" * which shows deliveries under both these contracts to Liverpool which suggest that they were to be exported rather than for home or NW Europe use.

 

The brown saddle is not as original and often seems to appear on machines which have been 'restored' in the Indian sub-continent. If it were mine, I would certainly be carrying out a thorough safety check before riding.

 

*If you don't have Orchard & Madden's "bible" then it is highly recommended. The nice Mr. Madden posts on here too.

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thanks for the information,theres quite a bit to do before i can ride the bike,magneto & dynamo need repairing,also the speedo drive needs attention as well as quite a few other bits,i have managed to speak to the previous owner in holland and he's quite adament that the bike has been in holland for many years.anyhow im just trying to get my ariel w.ng finished so i can ride that for the next couple of months.

cheers

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Mr Madden does indeed post on here, apparently....:-D

 

As Rick mentions, Triumph's are a bit of a mess for dating purposes........most of the pre-1940 factory records went up when the factory was blitzed in 1940.........there was then a period of ad-hoc manufacture from late-1940 to early 42 from temporary premises at Warwick until the new factory at Meriden opened around April 42 for 3HW production until the end of the war......

 

Many 3HW's have the front frame dated (month/year) just below the saddle facing to the rear.....but it isn't clear whether this refers to the bike build date or the manufacture of the frame.....the situation is further complicated by later rebuilds and mis-matching of parts.....

 

Many 3HW's were civilianised after WW2, both by the factory and dealerships, which in some cases resulted in the 3HW's brazed field stand lug being ground off......indeed, the factory itself began to offer a civvy version of the 3HW built from WD parts as early as mid-45......and some of this production may have also involved the use of mis-matched ex-WD 3SW parts too........so it's possible to have a 3HW front-frame paired with a 3SW rear (no lug), and vice-versa.......

 

3SW's tend to have the "TL" frame number displayed on the front of the headstock and below the saddle facing to the rear on front frames......3HW's have the "TL" number on the left-side of the front frame downtube with the previous-mentioned date stamp below the saddle.........

 

I have also seen some ex-WD 3HW's that were supplied to Greece as war-aid.....the original frame number was ground away and overstamped with a Greek number.......

 

3HW's are a very nice bike to ride, being extremely light and very fast (70mph plus) but you pay the price with few spares available and a gearchange in reverse to all other WD bikes (up for up, and down for down)........

 

3HW's first seem to have appeared in very limited use in Italy during 43, and the NW Europe after D-Day, but were never common......many can however, be seen in the Middle and Far east later in the war, circa 1945 onwards......

 

Note that although many parts are interchangeable between the 3S and 3HW's, several are unique to each model......girder forks, for example, are different between each model, as are fuel tanks, rear frames, etc.......and the first one or two 3HW contracts of 1943 used a number of 3SW parts, including alloy chain cases and oil-pump cover plus small non-pannier rear carrier......

 

The important thing to remember though, is that most ex-WD bikes surviving today have been through several rebuilds when in service and then via dealerships or civilian owners.......a mis-match of 3S and 3HW parts may be entirely authentic, particularly for Triumph's, but "bitsa" or not that's a damned nice project......!

Edited by wdbikemad

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I can't add much to the information supplied by Steve and Rick. But those forks are from a BSA M20. After the bombing in 1940. Triumph continued production of the 3HW with the use of Web forks instead of their own made forks. here are my 3HW forks. Ron

3HW 077.jpg

Edited by Ron

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Triumph were in a bit of a pickle after the bombing of November 1940 that decimated the Coventry city centre Priory Street works.......parts of the factory were able to continue with limited manufacture but much had to be done afterwards in temporary premises at Warwick with limited salvaged machinery, dies, jigs, etc....plus stocks of usable existing parts....

 

During this period from Nov 40 to March 42 Triumph appear to have been able to manufacture more 3SW's, 5SW's and some pre-war 3H's to WD contracts.......meantime the design department got to work developing the 3H into the 3HW for WD production from April 42 onwards....

 

Beats me though, how Triumph managed to secure a green-field site for a new factory to produce a new model from mid-war onwards that only saw very limited service when other manufacturers were, by then, supplying similar and alternative models in quantity that saw arguably far greater production and service usage.........hmmmmmmm....back-room negotiations perhaps.....???!! :-|

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I think the government funded the relocation of Triumph. Perhaps, apart from any need of mechanisation, There might also have been a sympathy or moral boosting exercise............Or maybe it was back handers??? Ron

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Thanks for all the info,im new to the forums and I really appreciate all the help.ron,I spent last night looking through pictures of war bikes and I thought they were m20 forks,thanks for confirming this.you’ve got some collection!!.the front wheel looks like the original 3hw.I was a bit disappointed at first that they weren’t original triumph but I’m sure ill enjoy the bike as she is until I can source some 3hw girders (and I thought getting the parts for my w/ng was tricky)but like wdbikemad has commented after 70 years the bike has been through a lot and its part of the bikes history,and I think back to some of the modifications ive done to bikes over the last 20+ years. you never know there might be someone with an m20 with 3hw girder forks fitted that want to swap!!.

Am I right in thinking that the recess on the rear of the fuel tank is for the vokes air filter ducting?

Cheers

gareth

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The cut-away fuel tank is a feature of late-production 3HW tanks - earlier versions have no cutaway, plus some up to 43 were still fitted with knee-grip rubbers too....and yes, for the Vokes filter hose....

 

The previous 3SW fuel tank looks similar, but a key identifyer is the presence of two small threaded holes on the tank top roughly central, to affix a single metal "Triumph" badge.....if the badge is missing then these holes usually end up filled in with paint !

 

As for the forks, the 3HW items were unique to that model so although rare, not in such great demand as the earlier 3S version that also fit many other pre-war civvy Triumph models thus are generally in greater demand........and, the M20 forks themselves are fairly valuable nowadays in their own right so a trade or sale may be possible......

 

Try Brian Tilling in the UK for forks.......or Yeomans......you never know what may turn up......Netly bike jumble is another good source......

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Funnily enough I have parts of a 5SW here to eventually build into a bike for a friend. The silly sod has supplied me with a lovely set of 3HW forks. I am reluctant to proceed until I have the correct Triumph forks. So if you find some pre war Triumph lightweight forks, we could swap!!

 

With some minor difference, the Web forks fitted to Velos are the nearly the same. Ron

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piron triumph.jpg

Hello, on the picture you can see a triumph 3hw in service with the Belgian brigade Piron . This brigade came on land in Normandy during Augustus 1944.

And on the other picture my 3hw, and at the moment I am rebuilding one other 3hw for a friend.

IMG_0764.jpg

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Some extra pictures of the front forks that i am renovating for one other 3hw project.

The top yoke needed a lot of work as this part was severely bend and al the bronze bushes are newly made and the spindles are also new.

IMG_0302.jpg

 

Guy

IMG_0147.jpg

IMG_0301.jpg

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ill try again everytime i try to send a message the bloody page locks up....guy,thanks for the pictures of your lovely 3hw,ive already got several pictures of your bike and you on the beach and riding in convoy that i fell upon while trawling the net for reference material a few days ago.good luck with the forks!!

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I was at the National Motorcycle museum in Birmingham wed last week and thry got out the triumph 3hw to allow filming so I managed to get a series of close up shots which I will post this evening ...Always interesting to compare the bikes ..

 

Whqat was interesting was that none of ther Military bikes survived the fire ..So the current collection have all been purchased from the market ..

 

 

Jenkinov

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nice one ,look forward to seeing the pictures.went to stafford today,managed to get some reprint parts & drivers manual for the 3hw as well as a tin timing chain cover for my ariel w/ng.really wanted toolboxes for the w/ng and rear rack but as ive found at stafford most parts are expensive and anything wd is like rocking horse,saying that there were a few bits for the m20 and one for sale at £5200 that looked original as well as a 1967 trw .

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[ATTACH=CONFIG]60539[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]60540[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]60541[/ATTACH][ATTACH=CONFIG]60542[/ATTACH]

 

i have just bought the triumph 3hw in the photos,im interested to know how original it is.the frame number is tl36984 & engine number 3hw 55534.the fieldstand lug is not fitted and it looks like it is bolted on,and after reading rons info on the fieldstand lug being bolted on the 3sw and the 3hw being welded,i am a bit concerned its a bitsa, and also do the forks look right for a 3hw?any info would be appreciated

 

thanks

 

Hi Everyone,

 

I've just joined the HMVF, so I'm new to all this!

 

However I've also recently bought a 3HW and have similar questions about its originality. Currently the bike hasnt got a number painted on the tank and I would really love to use an authentic, and if possible an accurate number. Anyway the frame is TL 53551, the engine 3HW 58823 and the gearbox TE 62836 with WR stamped in the top of the gearbox casing (Wide Ratio, I believe?)

 

Any info would be much appreciated.

 

Oh by the way my frame does still have the side stand lug!!

 

Many thanks

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Hi.

Your frame number is from the last contract for the 3HW. It's the 134th bike from contract S6680 which was for 8000 bikes produced from Feb45. The contract was reduced to 5200 and completed by Sept45 . I calculate it's original census number to be C6101551. Your engine is from a slightly earlier contract S5340 in 44.

I think I'm correct in saying that war economies dictated that the last 3 contracts of 3HW's where supplied with 7/8" handlebars and no steering damper.

My own 3HW is from one of these late contracts.(1944) Ron

collection 040.jpg

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Hi.

Your frame number is from the last contract for the 3HW. It's the 134th bike from contract S6680 which was for 8000 bikes produced from Feb45. The contract was reduced to 5200 and completed by Sept45 . I calculate it's original census number to be C6101551. Your engine is from a slightly earlier contract S5340 in 44.

I think I'm correct in saying that war economies dictated that the last 3 contracts of 3HW's where supplied with 7/8" handlebars and no steering damper.

My own 3HW is from one of these late contracts.(1944) Ron

 

Hi Ron, very many thanks for this info. Cant wait to get the stencils and paint out!! One confusing thing though, there is a stamping on the frame under the saddle " IEC 3 44" but as you say that might be the date the frame was made rather than when the bike was built. Does your bike have the exhaust lifter? It is fitted on mine but its not connected up and there is no control for it.

 

Regards

Andy

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As Ron has said, your frame is from the last 'cut short' contract. All the major manufacturers had one of those, presumably because the war in the Far East ended sooner than expected.

 

Ordnance records show that delivery was scheduled for 1200 machines per month commencing January 1945.

 

The majority of late 3HWs seem to have found their way to India. The records include the following comments :-

 

"Vehicles still remaining undeliverd to be made suitable for the tropics" 26/3/45

 

"All to be produced less tyres and batteries until further notice".

 

The reference to the tropics probably indicates Vokes filter fitment and the tyres aspect may indicate expected long-term storage or perhaps that rubber and lead were short in the UK but more easily available in theatre.

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Hi Andy. The stamp under your saddle is indeed the build date of the frame and is in fact "TEC" (Triumph Engineering Co). This date will only roughly coincide with the bikes manufacture. Here is the valve lifter lever. Nestled between the two rockers. Ron

3HW 111.jpg

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Hi Andy. The stamp under your saddle is indeed the build date of the frame and is in fact "TEC" (Triumph Engineering Co). This date will only roughly coincide with the bikes manufacture. Here is the valve lifter lever. Nestled between the two rockers. Ron

 

Well mine certainly has the lever but not the cable or the control on the handle bars so thats something I will need to source. I dont know if there is anything on the inside as when I had a close look today it seemed very loose and not actually contacting anything?

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Hi Ron,

 

I notice on your bike there is a pipe coming out of the top of the oil tank. Where does it go to? Mine has the union but its blanked off.

 

Regards

Andy

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It's just a breather Andy. The general consensus is to poke it in the hole in the top tube under the saddle. Any mist will then stop your frame from rotting from the inside out. Ron

3HW 073.jpg

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Clever idea.

 

What are the gear boxes like to work on? I need to take a look at mine as its jumping out of top and sometimes struggles to find 1st.

 

Thanks again for the info

 

Andy

 

It's just a breather Andy. The general consensus is to poke it in the hole in the top tube under the saddle. Any mist will then stop your frame from rotting from the inside out. Ron

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In my opinion the Triumph box's are the sweetest of the lot. More like a modern box than the rest. Check all the gears for chips and wear. But I expect your problem is the gear selection cam plate. I always fit a sealed bearing at the drive end. But remove the inner seal. It helps keep the oil in. Ron

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