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Ron

Royal Enfield ......Rare find

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A very complete and original Royal Enfield WD/C has been found on the continent by forum members Jan and Rik and has been acquired by Ben Hawkins here in UK. The bike is a very early example and was probably left behind by the retreating army in 1940, but I'll let Jan or Rik chip in with the historical facts. (The previous owner obviously got some facts wrong according to the number plate?)  

Ben is busy with much bigger projects and has asked me to give it the once over. Not sure if he meant 'rub it over with an oily rag' or 'stand it in the lane and chuck a bucket of paint over it'?  But in any event I've decided to strip it right down. The bike is remarkably complete with most of its original parts and was still running until Ben sent me the magdyno to be  professionally  overhauled.  

The saddle which still retains its worse for wear Rexine cover was crudely raised up by over an inch with some 8mm studding and Dexion. Fortunately the threads in the saddle spring mounts cleaned up ok with a correct BSC tap. I've also found some original Khaki Green paint on the inside of the chaincase  and on the hidden side of the regulator lid. I'm saving all the original fasteners to be hopefully cleaned up and refinished as original as possible. I'm chucking the inevitable few metric fasteners over the fence, never to be seen again.......Until of course they get tangled up in the neighbours lawn mower!!   Ron

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Hi Chris. Yes quite right. It's really quite remarkable that it is so unmolested. It's been rewired and some sort of foreign regulator has been fitted inside the original housing and the battery tray has been bodged to accept a large modern 6V battery. A poorly fitted lifting handle for the centre stand and a clamp on side stand......All to be junked.

I wish this bike had come my way.......Maybe Ben will forget who's got it? Ron 

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Hi Ron

Thanks for taking it on. Really looking forward to watching your progress. I’ll dig the rear reg plate out today and see how much of the original census number was under the more modern top layers. 

 

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Chris to answer your questions:- Yes it has the ally rear brake plate, and yes census number and inspection stamp in place.

I've cleaned up the inner primary case which still has its original paint both sides, which I'll leave as is for reference. I've already mixed 3 Lts of paint matched to some KG3 in my own collection and very pleased with the match here, painted on the clutch sliding disc.   Ron

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And Ben has cleaned off the rear number plate to expose the original census number. C68153. Ron

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Edited by Ron
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Hopefully that number can be kept as is or reapplied in the same way. Amazing find and in amazing condition, obviously not ragged to death as most of the barn find WDs we see.

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Yes Chris. My thoughts are to repaint the top and sides of the number plate and leave the face as it is and get a magnetic plate made up for its civy reg number. But it's up to Ben.......No hurry to decide. 

I'm quite sure that the bike has been rallied in its life and been reasonably well maintained. The clutch and primary chain have definitely been replaced and the bike has been re-wired , new tyres fitted, modern petrol tap and battery etc.  Ron

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I spent today stripping the rest of the bike and taking lots of reference pictures. These frames are not as straightforward to assemble as one would think! Especially with the centre stand to contend with. There are different shaped studs and spacers everywhere and the main frame is in three parts. I'm also trying to get everything together that needs plating so that it can all be dealt with in one go, but Sods Law, I'll miss something. Ron

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It's nice to see it again, Ron. I had the pleasure of riding it up and down a French builder's yard in the rain almost two years ago. It was sloppy and out of adjustment and the cables etc. were hanging but it sounded quite good mechanically with no nasties.

It came from a town straddling the Belgian / French border and had spent some time registered in Belgium to an older chap who had taken part in some old vehicle events. We weren't able to follow the trail back any further. Jan and I assumed that it had been abandoned by the BEF in that area but in fact the earlier French painted-on number is from Le Havre as I recall so it probably never made it far away from a Base Ordnance Depot.

It's quite wonderful that no-one had trashed the numbers to hide its British Army identity.  No signs of any contract plate which seems typical of this early, rushed part of 1940.

Although not common with the BEF (there seem to have been more 3SWs), thanks to the Army photographer, Lieutenant Keating having been loaned one, we do at least have photographic evidence of the use of the WD/C by the BEF.

C68144 is of course very close to Ben's C68153. 5a3849156bd60_REWDCC68144C51071940CaptKeatingBresleFront7.6.40IWMF4776.thumb.jpg.cc80a880753bd6d70d8cbcbc772d4554.jpg

 

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Edited by 79x100

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Thanks for that Rik and especially the handsome pictures.  Jan has supplied the correct shape front number plate, just need to sort out the correct fixings for it. Ron

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I know that Jan went over this one with a fine-tooth comb alongside his own (but badly abused) ex-BEF WD/C project so there can't be too many mysteries or impossibilties when it comes to cycle parts.

Has Ben decided how he's going to mark it up yet ?

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I haven't discussed the markings with Ben, maybe he'll want it as escort to his Scout Carrier, but buggered if I can remember the unit?  

The main activity today was washing down the engine and taking it apart for inspection. Apart from a little bit more play in the small end bush than I'd like, it all seems remarkably good. I think the piston is the original but I will get the bore measured to be sure, but I reckon a new set of rings a light hone , new small end bush and valve grind might be all that's required.

I've removed the numerous nuts that hold the crankcase half's together and on close up inspection would now agree with Jan that the finish for the fasteners (engine at least) was dull chrome.

For those who don't know Royal Enfields, these models are the same dry sump principal as most of the other bikes, except that the oil tank is combined in the crankcase......Hence the multitude of studs and nuts that hold the two crankcase half's together.  

Ron 

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Sounds very positive about the engine, that’s great news!

At the minute the only markings we can be sure of are the painted census numbers. I’ll have to have a think about any markings...... it’s a shame there wasn’t anything left on the tank, they’d given it a good rub down to get the civilian paint a good finish  

The Scout doesn’t have any permanent unit markings just the T number. 

Perhaps if if I can find a unit that had Scouts, WD/C and a CDSW 18 pdr gun tractor I could mark them up all the same. 🤔

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'Most' BEF motorcycles didn't have any tank marking and certainly if they were only rushed out of Base Ordnance Depots as things went wrong, then they were probably never marked.

You won't be able to use the same Arm of Service serial on all three as Scout Carriers were Divisional Cavalry, The CDSW was obviously an arty field regt. and and the WD/C was an RASC vehicle. Second line so probably more likely at Corps level than division. 

2 Div is nice :-)

 

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Did the headlamp have any gas paint? Domed glass CZ27 ammeter with illumination slot? and any black/dulled areas to the bottom 1/2 of the reflector that may have worked in tandem with a Manila mask?

ref the nuts, I have seen a dull nickel type finish on the nuts of the long studs that go through the crank case with black oxide type finish on the outer edge nuts. The nuts also tend to be chamfered on early bikes and flat on later bikes.  The early engine (222 I think) had screws for the timing cover which were only found on these earlier models.

Edited by Chris Hall

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The headlamp unit on this bike was a complete pattern replacement, Chris. I'm sure that the original would have had bright yellow gas paint.

There had been a BEF order in February 1940to paint headlamp glasses blue and not  blacken the reflector half. My Norton seemed to have followed that practice. It was also a late 1939 build so presumably early 1940 arrival in France.

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I must admit that I hadn't taken much notice of the headlamp, just removed it and put it to one side. Although I did think the ammeter must have been replaced as it looks like a genuine CZ27 but with a bright chrome bezel. It has a correct 3 position switch but isn't that style of lettering, post war? The shell just has the markings DU42 (no Lucas). I'll ask Roy VD (NL) if he can perform his magic to the ammeter if he has a spare dome glass.  

Chris there was evidence of chrome to several of  the outer edge 1/4" crankcase nuts as well as the bigger ones. The bigger ones are 5/16"   but with an increased hex  (5/16 Whit spanner size) and these all have that internal sloping chamfer. Yes the timing cover has screws and not the usual studs with nuts.

Studying Jan's research and looking at original pictures reveals that all the gearbox fittings and screws , the cylinder head nuts and the frame and engine studs were chemical or electro  blacked, apart from the main frame studs/nuts which were painted with the frame........Open to additional info or corrections. Ron

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The ammeter is a replacement as it had a much more modern French type fitted when found, same goes for the speedo. 

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Hi Ron ..nice project for you get involved in ! Just wondered if the exhaust pipe and silencer are original or replacements?  Merry Christmas  to you and J by the way!

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The whole exhaust system was original, including the clamps. Very nice indeed.  When Jan got the bike home, we just kept finding more and more original features. With a few very limited exceptions, it is truly a time capsule...and it's not shagged !

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Ah that answers that about the ammeter Ben!

Hi Andy, good to hear from you and Rik has answered your query. We just need to see if the exhaust can be re-plated? My own plate shop here in Poole will not touch any used exhaust system as the carbon buggers up the solution in their tanks. 

I've just ordered a small batch of the unique RE front number plate mounts to be made (copied from an original -3 per bike) .  Ron 

Edited by Ron

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