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Royal Enfield ......Rare find No. 2 (really No.3)

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Hi all, 

This is not going to be another restoration post of another ex BEF early Royal Enfield WD-C, Ron certainly did his utmost best on that, but just wanted to post here that another one was found recently in France, by Jan, passed up by Richard Payne, and bought by me!

It was quite the trip to go and collect it, but well worth it!!  The bike a model WD-C is a matching numbers (No. 727) so from contract C5107 dated 27-09-1939 delivered (educated guess) 12-02-1940. sadly no C number was found on the engine, and no erasion marks either, strange!

The old chap in France had a go at "restoring" the bike about 10 years ago, and painted it all black, as he thought it was from 1937, he ordered parts and stuff from Hitchcocks, but could not get the engine to run because of magneto failure. Before he acquired it, it was used by a priest in the 1950's, previous history unknown, but may have been left by the BEF in Bologne, Le Havre, or even Bordeaux ? (I bought it from near Vannes, the area number; 44 is on the bike and on the car from the prev. owner, so must have been there a long time) 

Non original parts were a BSA DeLuxe petrol tank, early Norton rear mudguard and Luggage rack, French headlamp, tailllamp, numberplate holder and speedo. And the most difficult parts, the wheels! they are of French origin I think, or maybe the back one Ariel, not sure yet.

After I picked up the bike I went on south to visit friend Arnoud, who supplied me with the right pertol tank and wheels, very nice!! (and free of charge!!) so only sort of missing the aluminium brake plates, that might be prove to be difficult to find….. (anyone here??)

Ron supplied me with an unribbed rear guard (Jan will make a rib in it for me) and a slightly butchered rear carrier.

The Deluxe BSA tank has been sold to recuperate some of the costs, as was the Norton rear carrier.

More parts were made by Jan, and kindly donated to the project, and I picked them up yesterday, THANKS Jan!! (also for lunch!) I will fit these parts at a later stage, before completely dismanteling the bike, and start restoration, some other projects have to be finished first!

Below some pictures, from before the "repaint" and as I have it now, many parts have the Khaki Green No.3 undermneath. original exhaust system is present, and very usable!

Will add some more pictures and info at a later stage, want to have the bike complete before I begin restoration, luckily I have a spare speedo, 6,5" Lucas headlamp, and MT110 taillamp in stock, and some more little stuff.

Cheers,

Lex Schmidt

Holland

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Edited by welbike
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Love the spaceship back light Lex!   Ron

Uh OH just read your post properly deleted the bit about a Norton mudguard

Edited by Ron
I'm a twit!

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Lex,  with a bit of luck, you might find traces of the serial number under the French registration. The lack of a stamping on the cases seems to be unusual for this contract / RASC machines of this period.

I made the mistake of announcing it as a forthcoming project before I had it in my hands and it didn't go down well here. I won't make the same mistake again 😉  The early Norton tailpiece is worth what you paid for the bike !

Most of these WD/Cs would have been destined for second-line RASC, like the 3SWs so probably ended up at Corps level. It may of course still have been in a depot at Nantes or Laval. The on / off aspect of the final evacuation from the western ports meant that many stores were not efficiently destroyed (For which we can now be grateful).

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Rik, the rear number plate is not original unfortunatly, but will sand the front one real carefull! 

Didn't know it was on here before???

You just bought the tailpiece!!!

Yes, have no idea where it came from, but when still in stores, it would have ended up with the Germans, and not in civvy hands, I'd think?

Cheers,

Lex

Edited by welbike

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Lex, it wasn't on here...I mentioned it to my wife....Daft really, I had the cash waiting...I can't afford a divorce though !

A lot of those base depots had French civilian staff. I imagine that once the British left, the locals would've  been in pretty damned quick !

It's a fully ribbed Norton tail, so suitable for the single fixing number plate.  Is that bracket BSA ?

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Ah, OK, that's why I'm single, and have 25 bikes! not sure what is the best option though….

Yes, is possible, had not thought of that!!

The front part of the mudguard has been cut off, and brazed to the Enfield lower part, hope I can save the Enfield part!!

Bracket I do not know, Jan thought it a French thing, but not so sure.

 

 

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Just found out the front wheel on the WD-C is Thriumph Speed Twin!! this bike is getting cheaper by the month!

Cheers,

Lex

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Lucky find Lex!  A prewar Speedtwin wheel/hub with it's correct ally brake plate could be worth hundreds of pounds. As I look at your pictures, it does look like a Triumph hub.with detachable finned brake drum.(fitted the wrong way round of course.) It would also fit the other heavyweights from 38/39/40 .....Tiger 90/100 5H, 6S etc.  Ron

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On 8/13/2018 at 2:37 PM, welbike said:

... Ron supplied me with an unribbed rear guard (Jan will make a rib in it for me) and a slightly butchered rear carrier. ...

 

Did this one a couple of months ago... Made a rib in the  mudguard (the early rear mudguards had a central rib, later ones no longer had this rib) with a pair of special rolls in the English wheel, and welded up almost 20 holes. The carrier had been shortened by 1", and one of the rungs had been smashed to give room to the higher placed mudguard. And two large holes had been drilled through the rear bends of the tubes, to fit a pillion seat. So I added four tube sections to raise the carrier to its original height, welded in a new section for the rung and two new bent sections. The brackets for the horizontal mudguard stays had been cut off, so welded in new brackets, and riveted new horizontal mudguard stays to these. Also made and fitted the rear numberplate...

Jan

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Edited by rewdco
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In awe of your workshop and skill. The English wheel .marvelous

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That is some great work Jan! Did you fabricate the English wheel yourself, and machine the wheels? Incredible ingenuity. Ron 

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Indeed Ron. Made it many years ago in order to be able to make the BSA pillion seat base. Also made a bead roller for the rib... But due to the higher valances of a complete mudguard, making a rib in the WD/C mudguard had to be done in another way. Some research on the internet showed that this could be done with a converted English wheel...

Jan

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Jan I do love this about engineering! The amount of work involved sometimes before even the simplest part can be made. I really wish I had more of those skills, but I get by as I have blokes like you around me. Ron

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Very nice Jan!!  and I've seen him in action with the english wheel, even removed dents out of my Norton B4 sidecar mudguard!! keep up the good work!!

Cheers,

Lex

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For the people who haven't followed Ron's thread on the rebuild of the other ex BEF WD/C (http://hmvf.co.uk/topic/38035-royal-enfield-rare-find/?page=1), here's some information about these early Royal Enfields:

On September 1st 1939, Hitler invades Poland. As a reaction, England declares war against Germany on September 3rd 1939. The following months (September 1939 – May 1940) are known as “the phoney war”. On Sept 11th 1939, the British Expeditionary Force (four divisions, 158.000 men) left for France, to defend the borders with Belgium and Germany against a possible German invasion. But until May 1940, when Hitler invaded Holland, Belgium and France, there was not a lot of fighting activity. Both camps were using this period to expand their armies...

The first “demand” for a WD/C contract dates from September 27th 1939. That day, Sir John Simon (who was regarded as Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s right hand man) gets his first “war budget”, and on that same day, the big motorcycle manufacturers receive orders to build lots of motorcycles. Contracts C/5107 (1.000 Royal Enfield WD/C models), C/5108 (3.300 Triumphs), C/5109 (6.000 Nortons), C/5110 (8.100 BSAs) and C/5111 (100 Ariels) were all demanded on 27/09/39.

Unlike BSA and Norton, who had already sold military M20 and 16H motorcycles to the Army, Enfield still had to develop a military version from its civilian model C. In the REOC Archives, I have found a picture (presumably taken in October 1939) of what must have been a pre-production WD/C motorcycle (for approval...?). Typical features that weren’t taken over on the production bikes are a fixed front mudguard support (a “front stand” type was used on the production motorcycles) and an 8” headlamp (6” on the production motorcycles).

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The production of this first WD/C contract must have started towards the end of November 1939. The picture below (taken on December 8th 1939) shows what may have been the very first batch of WD/Cs, delivered to Feltham. Note that the headlamp is a 6” item now, but the front lower mudguard support is still the same as on the prototype model above. A total of 284 WD/Cs were built in 1939.

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Some of the contract C/5107 WD/Cs were sent to France, as part of the British Expeditionary Forces equipment.

On May 10th 1940, Hitler invades Belgium and Holland. By May 14th 1940, the German tanks had crossed the river Meuse and had opened up a fifty-mile gap in the Allied front. Six days later they reached the Channel. When he heard the news, Winston Churchill, who had just become prime minister, ordered the implementation of Operation Dynamo: a plan to evacuate the British Expeditionary Forces troops and their equipment, along with the remnants of the French army, from the French port of Dunkirk. Between 27th May and 4th June, a total of nearly 700 ships brought 338.226 people back to Britain. All heavy equipment was abandoned and left in France. Ellis' official history “The War in France & Flanders 1939 – 1940” gives the following statistics:

Vehicles shipped to France   68.618
Lost                                               63.879
Brought back                                4.739

Motorcycles                                 21.081
Lost                                                20.548
Brought back                                    533

In these 20.548 motorcycles that were abandoned in Belgium and France there were also some WD/Cs. I have put all my pre-Dunkirk British Army contract WD/C data (period  C/5107 and C/5654 photographs and Register data) in a table, and have come to this conclusion: I currently have 6 entries that are definitely ex BEF bikes (discovered in France), with the following census numbers: C68071, C68074, C68081, C68118, C68144 (Captain Keating's bike) and C68153. It looks as if the first batch (minimum 320 motorcycles) stayed in the UK. Then we have a small batch (minimum 79, based on these census numbers, maximum 337 based on the frame numbers of the bikes before and after the BEF batch in my Register) that were sent to France, but it looks as if the majority of the pre-Dunkirk WD/Cs stayed in the UK...

There was also a WD/C contract for the French Army. After a lot of research, I have come to the conclusion that approximately 600 “French contract” WD/Cs were built before the Fall of France, but 142 of these never made it to France… From the approximately 460 motorcycles that did arrive in France, at least 299 were registered within the French registration system. Those that weren’t registered within the French system probably didn’t make it much further than the French channel port docks…

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My own WD/C was found close to the Maginot line, where it had spent the immediate post war years as a civil bike. It was laid up in the 1950's and sold by a relative of the original owner. When I found the bike, it was badged as an FN, the paperwork that came with the bike was indeed for a 1920's FN. The most visible numbers on the engine had been filed out and replaced by the FN's frame number. I can only imagine that the bike was abandoned by the retreating 51 DIV (who were stationed at the Maginot Line in May 1940), and it must soon have been discovered by one of René Artois' compatriots. These BEF WD/Cs were built around February 1940, so they were still brand new in May 1940! Our Frenchman must have hidden the bike for the Germans during the war, but when the war was over, he was faced with a problem: he had a "brand new" khaki bike without any paperwork... How did he have to explain this to the local Gendarme...? Pas de problème, he did a complete make-over, and the bike was a 1920's FN now!

I decided to rebuild my WD/C in the colors of the 51 DIV, as this is in my opinion the most likely "first owner". The Frenchman who used the bike after the war has done a lot of bodges, to keep the bike running. This made the rebuild that I had to do quite a challenge. But based on some original factory photographs, I have managed to get all the details correct, it now looks exactly as it left the factory in February 1940.

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