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James ML - opinion needed

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Hi all,

 

I am currently seeking info on a James ML that I am going to see next weekend. From the current owner I have received some photographs and information. The 9D engine number is 'AAA11258' , note that this is missing last 'A' in the enginenumber. ( AAAxxxxxA)

 

The James ML framenumber is '6416' , from the pictures I have received the is no other marking to be seen (no 'ML' in front of the framenumber as I believe their should be? ).

 

So is wartime (WD?) or a postwar model? And what about the engine? My opinion is that the engine is pre-war or ok for wartime produced, but not specificly made for the James ML and that the bike, altough some post war resemblance, might be a wartime WD bike if the framenumber would be ML6416 instead of 6416. Not to sure about this tough..

 

regards,

Bjorn

 

 

ml3.jpg

ml2.jpg

ml1.jpg

Edited by HQsignals

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Hi all,

 

I am currently seeking info on a James ML that I am going to see next weekend. From the current owner I have received some photographs and information. The 9D engine number is 'AAA11258' , note that this is missing last 'A' in the enginenumber. ( AAAxxxxxA)

 

The James ML framenumber is '6416' , from the pictures I have received the is no other marking to be seen (no 'ML' in front of the framenumber as I believe their should be? ).

 

So is wartime (WD?) or a postwar model? And what about the engine? My opinion is that the engine is pre-war or ok for wartime produced, but not specificly made for the James ML and that the bike, altough some post war resemblance, might be a wartime WD bike if the framenumber would be ML6416 instead of 6416. Not to sure about this tough..

 

regards,

Bjorn

 

 

ml3.jpg

ml2.jpg

ml1.jpg[/quote

 

Hi Bjorn, according to the book British Forces Motorcycles by Chris Orchard & Steve Madden, contract S.6603 was placed in 1943 for 900 James MLs with frame numbers ML 6001- ML 6900 at a cost of £32.6s.4d each (£32.32). It would be very strange for a manufacturer to use the same frame number twice for civilian and military, possibly the ML was not stamped on the frame when it was built?

Hope that this helps. By the way, Chris Orchard is currently working on an updated 3rd edition of British Forces Motorcycles.

John.

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Bjorn As far as I know the frame number was stamped lower down on the right hand side headstock. The stampings are quite light and often barely visible under layers of paint. I had to strip the paint to read mine properly. It might pay you to take a closer look at that one. The frame number you show somehow looks wrong and too modern? Ron

Lightweights 233.jpg

Edited by Ron

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Thanks for the quick response everyone!

 

@ Ron : very nice James!

 

Upcomming sunday I am going to get a closer look at the motorcycle. I was indeed a confused about the missing 'ML' numbers. Perhaps someone has inserted these number to create a 'new' framenumber.

 

Taken all this information in account, I get the idea that this motorcycle might be a post-war model, as it has some of the post-war features.We'll see. I will keep you guys updated.

 

note : I noticed from the pictures that it has a wrong front wheel hub. Would it be difficult to find a goof hub?

 

cheers again on the info!

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I can't see enough of your front hub to determine if it is wrong or not, and the correct hubs are extremely difficult to find. (I think they are unique to the ML). But your handlebar arrangement is definitely post war. Ron

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As young teenagers did in the early 1960's , £5 to £10 spent on a Francis Barnett or James kept us occupied for the 6 weels summer hols (petrol must have been cheap , plenty of free farm diesel available) They must all have been early 1950's civvy , can't recall any early engine features , military - my old man would have soon spotted as he had a WW2 Norton 500 side-valve from his combination days. For some reason a BSA bantam hardly ever turned up & seemed to have a premium asking ££ James were common , very common..

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Ha Ha! For me in the early 60's it was a Tiger Cub..

 

Not much has changed. Except now I have a hydraulic bench instead of sitting in an oil spill.

 

Ron

Scan-120115-0003.jpg

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Went to have a look at the motorcycle today. Searched for the framenumber on the head stem, but aside the previous mentioned number '6416' , I did not find any numbers on the head stem.

 

The only number I could find , ' 1 135', was beneath the seat on the frame;

 

ml10.jpg

 

This number was painted over, so it might have been there before the frame was painted black.

 

here some other pictures:

 

ml16.jpg

ml11.jpg

ml12.jpg

ml13.jpg

ml14.jpg

 

 

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Bjorn As far as I know the frame number was stamped lower down on the right hand side headstock. The stampings are quite light and often barely visible under layers of paint. I had to strip the paint to read mine properly. It might pay you to take a closer look at that one. The frame number you show somehow looks wrong and too modern? Ron

 

 

 

Checked left and right side of the headstock by taking away some of the paint (same positions checked as your picture shows) but no numbers to be found there so far.

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This thread got me thinking that its about time I got my ML registered, do these numbers look original ? & if so can the bike be dated etc ?

DSC03726.JPG

DSC03727.JPG

DSC03725.JPG

DSC03724.JPG

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This thread got me thinking that its about time I got my ML registered, do these numbers look original ? & if so can the bike be dated etc ?

 

 

 

Ian ; Both numbers seem to be correct for a ww2 ML. The framenumber is near the end of the first military contract in 1943, going from framenumbers ML2 to aprox. ML3500. The AAAxxxxxA engine number is what it should be for a WD ML.

 

 

As for the ML I was talking about in this thread, I left this one with its current owner as it is likely to be post-war.

 

So the hunt for a wartime ML, flea or other light motorcycle used by the british forces, continues. If anyone has something for sale or has a lead, just let me know ;-)

Edited by HQsignals

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Here is my engine number. Ron

 

OK not as clearly stamped as yours, what about the frame number Ron.

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Ian, I never want to piss on anyone's firework, and I can't see your number all that well, but what I "think" I can see is:-

 

ML 34 then a strange looking 8 then 8 and maybe another digit 2or5 ??? Can you confirm or strip the paint for a better picture?

 

The last recorded number for wartime ML's is 8500 with the possibility of a further unrecorded 200 machines to the admiralty.

 

Regards Ron

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Ian, I never want to piss on anyone's firework, and I can't see your number all that well, but what I "think" I can see is:-

 

ML 34 then a strange looking 8 then 8 and maybe another digit 2or5 ??? Can you confirm or strip the paint for a better picture?

 

The last recorded number for wartime ML's is 8500 with the possibility of a further unrecorded 200 machines to the admiralty.

 

Regards Ron

 

Hi Ron I cant take another photo as the bike is now in storage but the number is ML 3488 is that a creditable number & does it look original in your opinion ?

Regards Ian

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ML 3488 is as the previous poster suggests within contract S1972.....frames ML 2 - ML 3541. As for originality, I would prefer to see a picture with the paint stripped. The first '8' looks strange in your pictures. Ron

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There are several things not right with the bike. As has been said the handlebars are postwar, engine not correct but not insurmountable.

 

Ian you frame number almost looks like they have stamped the eights upside down, which at the time they wouldn't worry about that. According to records I have it was a 1943 machine. My own bike is a 1944 machine.

ml.jpg

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Went to have a look at the motorcycle today. Searched for the framenumber on the head stem, but aside the previous mentioned number '6416' , I did not find any numbers on the head stem.

 

The only number I could find , ' 1 135', was beneath the seat on the frame;

 

ml10.jpg

 

This number was painted over, so it might have been there before the frame was painted black.

 

here some other pictures:

 

ml16.jpg

ml11.jpg

ml12.jpg

ml13.jpg

ml14.jpg

 

 

 

I figured out that the number on the head stem is apperently the number of the inspector at the factory. '6416', possibly an 'M' added above this number. ( and even with arrow)

 

The number 1135 seems to be different on all ML motorcycles, so I wonder what it means, as it is not the framenumber but I believe it to be quite unique for each motorcycle.

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Prior to the Second World War, the vast majority of English motorcycle manufacturers do not appear to have made any attempt to match engine and frame numbers. Investigation of the factory ledgers shows that the numbered components were stockpiled and issued as necessary. Most factories kept a consecutive engine build list but it bore little relationship to despatch date.

 

During the late 1930s, it becomes clear that blocks of engine and frame numbers were reserved for WD contracts but round about September 1939 it would seem that the Ministry of Supply began to insist on 'matching' engine and frame numbers (and this is probably where the whole matching numbers nonsense began).

 

With no computerised build systems and only the most rudimentary of production 'lines', it is clear that the factories could not have hoped to marry matching engines and frames somewhere near the end of the production process. It seems evident that the matching engine and frame numbers were stamped on completed machines.

 

The factories of course still needed to have an internal numbering system for quality and batch control and they appear to have applied these where they would not normally be easily visible. Norton stamped 'WO' prefixed engine numbers on the front of the timing chest and frame build numbers on the headstock lug where it would be covered by the fuel tank. Enfield stamped their engine build numbers below the magneto and applied the 'duplicate frame number' where the pre-war engine build number was stamped.

 

If there is a roughly sequential numbering system on the ML seat lugs then it is almost certainly a frame build number. It's unlikely that they worked a 'first in - first out' system but if enough were noted, the database could indicate if headstock frame numbers were in roughly the right range for the frame build number. it is however a lot of work and requires a fair cross-section of machines and most owners are simply not interested.

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Out of interest, I just lent over mine and took a picture of the saddle tube/engine lug. I'm sure I can see a number under the paint. I will need to get the bike out of it's corner and rub down the lug for a better look see! Ron

MAF 197.jpg

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I have checked some pictures of ML's on the internet and have indeed a suspicion that the seat lug numbers seem to match the framenumber within a reasonable difference.

 

for example ; Stefano's ML of which the restoration thread can be found on this forum, seat lug number : 558 (?) , framenumber: ML515.

 

looking forward to know your's Ron!

 

regards,

Bjorn

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OK will have to move some stuff and do it over the next couple of days. Ron

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