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Stefano

James ML Restoration

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Ho hum,

I might as well post a few more pictures up, just so that you don't think I've given up on the little James.

Crankcases welded up where the cracks were and subsequently ground flush. Whilst I was at it I faced off all the crankcase mating surfaces. It's a shame that all this is going to get hidden under a coat of S.C.C. 2 but that's how they were....

More pics soon,

Stef

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Edited by Stefano

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O.K...

 

Well, over the intervening months I've been painting up the various bits and pieces. After preparation, everything got sprayed with two pack filler primer, followed by a matt black guide coat. After being left alone for it to harden properly the bits got rubbed down with 1000 grit wet and dry (wet) and subsequently decked out in two pack S.C.C.2.

This is the fuel tank going through the motions.

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Hi there,

 

Got a lot further with the technical bits & bobs on my James. Now one of the last things i'd like to know is where to attach the springs from the kickstand to the frame? anyone got some pictures or some explanation?

 

Best wishes

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The tanks sure a beauty , but dont go making the the whole thing too perfect , because you wont dare ride it otherwise ;)

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Hello there you lovely lot,

As I've promised myself that both the ML and the 'flea are going to Pegasus, and Normandy '09 draws inexorably nearer, I've decided to bite the bullet and have started to blitz the James. It's a bit of a mess, but it's refreshing to work on a bike that can dismantled and bagged up in less than a day! Here are some pics. Funny how I'd never noticed the contract plate until I took the rear number plate off, and how this early example was painted originally in S.C.C. 2. The footrest/centre stand area has been pretty badly mucked around with too...

 

Hi Stefano ,

Sorry to throw your thread a little but do you or any others know of a source of the small brass contract plates you can see in the photo's or do you know whether anyone has remade any?? I have a few on my various vehicles but one or two are missing possibly fallen foul of "badge collectors" over the year .

Nice work on the ML by the way ! - I am hoping to get on with my own but need a few bits such as the folding footpegs - Do you know the correct paint code for the early british brown - Is this the s.c.c.2 and can the paint people mix it from this ?? cheers:coffee:

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Glynn,

As 79 x100 says, that's the man to ask for the contract plates. As for the footrests, I think that Heritage motor works Ltd. does them (http://www.heritage-gb.org.uk ).

S.C.C. 2 is indeed the correct colour for early ML's, the same colour that everything else was painted at the time :)

Cheers

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Glynn,

As 79 x100 says, that's the man to ask for the contract plates. As for the footrests, I think that Heritage motor works Ltd. does them (www.heritage-gb.org.uk ).

S.C.C. 2 is indeed the correct colour for early ML's, the same colour that everything else was painted at the time :)

Cheers

 

Many Thanks Guys - much appreciate the help and have put a call out for Rob Miller on the WD Motorcycle forum cheers:coffee:

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Just in case you were starting to think that I'd binned the James, here are a few pics of progress...

First off, if anyone wants to know what the original saddle used by the M.L. looks like, here it is. I'd originally bought one of those horrible repops, but looking through the spares catalogue the saddle pictured seemed familiar, and it turns out that I had one hanging about after all, with a lovely cover complete with original plate (it's a Mansfield, by the way), and the correct springs.

Every now and then things work out quite well.

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Now for the engine build. The photos are pretty self explanatory really. New bushes reamed to size, new gearbox seal and new bearings. Had a bit of a problem with these actually. The bearings are quite a tight interference fit on the crankshaft, and added to that of the cases it meant that the crank wouldn't turn when the cases were all bolted up and had cooled. In the end I got it sorted by using C3 bearings (RHP - only the best). The gearbox pinion and selectors have to go in before the cases are bolted up.

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Edited by Stefano

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Right ho then. These pictures haven't come out in order but you can see that anyway.

Next step was to get the cases bolted together with some slave bolts, then everything got cleaned off with thinners and masked up, and all that lovely clean aluminium got sprayed with S.C.C. 2.

Pathetic.

After that, out with the slave bolts and in with the proper studs and nuts, in goes the gearbox (sorry, forgot to take pics), followed by the primary chaincase and drive, the flywheel magneto backplate and the piston assembly.

A couple of touch ins with the spray gun and the bottom end is basically done.

As for the rest of the bike, I've still got to sort out some bearings and spindles for the hubs, and once I've managed to get the wheels finished it looks like it'll be time to start thinking about screwing the blessed thing together again. It's nearly all painted and all I've really got to do is make a few studs and fasteners. After that there are still quite a few niggly bits and bobs to sort out but the bike really needs to be in one piece to be able to do them.

More pics to follow,

Stef

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Edited by Stefano

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Hi Stefano,

 

I'm very impressed with the restoration of you ML, Mine is currently sat in boxes after being shot blasted and primed just waiting form me to find the time to start the final spraying of the top coat and then the rebuild. I'm interested in the photo of your HT lead, where did you get it from with WD markings?

 

Regards

 

Martyn

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Hi Stefano,

 

I'm interested in the photo of your HT lead, where did you get it from with WD markings?

 

Regards

 

Martyn

 

Martyn,

I think you're referring to the photos of a bike in France. The in line supressor in the pic is standard WD fare. They're usually marked ERIE and are not too difficult to get hold of, every now and then they pop up on Ebay or possibly on the M20 Website. The HT lead also sported a two piece immobilizer - now I would really like to find some of them....

 

Stefano

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Hi Stefano, I've only just joined HMVF today as I'm interested in a James ML. I've followed all your postings and I have to say that I am completely amazed and gobsmacked by all the work that you have done. Due to modern replacement materials and better machine tollerances it is obvious that your ML is actually better than new! And, without the niggle of combat, should last much longer than the original life expectancy!

 

Obviously, once you have completed it and enjoyed your work, your attention will be drawn to another project. It is then when I'm selflessly willing to drive to Italy and take it off your hands in exchange for some Euros so that you can devote your fullest attention to the new project! No, don't thank me, I provide this dedication with no thought of praise! I'm just willing to provide a loving home for little James back in "Old Blighty".

 

Well done, mate. A superb job. :angel:

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Billy,

Thanks alot for the encouragement and your selfless offer of help - who said chivalry was dead? :) Actually, you're quite right about another bike waiting in the wings (actually there are a fair few - a frightening thought). The next one up is going to be a '55 Triumph T110 that some joker in the US of A set fire to about thirty years ago and then left to die - a rubbish frame (certainly not when compared to Plumstead's best), but such a pretty thing (and fast...)

Thanks again for your kind words - much appreciated.

 

Stef

Edited by Stefano

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Excellent news, makes me want to hang my head in shame when I think of the speed of my restoration.... :(

Photos please!!

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All ML's have the "ML" in front of the frame number, whether WD or civvy........

 

All the previous threads are pretty accurate in info' (well done chaps !)......

 

Some of the very early civvy production ML's have the WD type frame...the difference ? Well, the WD frame has welded-on tyre inflator lugs on the rear-right side...many later civvy ones have these as separate fittings......

 

Some early civvy ML's also continued to use the folding WD-type footrests until stocks were exhausted.....same with toolboxes, continuing to fit the cylindrical variety until the "kidney" shape type took over..........

 

Saddle is "Mansfield" brand (should have a tag on the rear of the cover)....this is the same for WD and civvy, plus identical to that fitted to the WD/RE Flea.......

 

All WD engines have the Villiers number stamped on the rear of the engine....it should be "AAA ***** A"....there appears no logic to the numbering sequence and no record in the parts or contract lists......

 

Note that the Flea and the ML share the same Villiers carburetter and air-cleaner assembly, although the carb needle and block are different and not interchangeable between models......fortunately, the ML uses a more common, "standard" size needle and block whereas the Flea uses "non-standard"....both fittings are available from Villiers Services.....................

 

Also of note is that whilst the ML used a standard WD Lucas DU42 headlight and blackout mask assembly, the switch panel and lightswitch are unique to the ML......the ammeter hold on the panel is blanked-off (not cut-out) and below is fitted a wire-wound ceramic resistor......the lightswitch itself looks the same as the standard 4-position Lucas WD variety but has two positions "reversed".....so reads "Off, T, H, L" rather than "Off, T, L, H"..........needless to say the ML variety is a bugger to find if missing.....

 

There exists an unknown gap in WD ML frame numbers......roughly 1500 bikes between the end of the first contract and the start of the second (roughly from ML 3500 to 5001)....years ago I had an ex-WD ML sold off in 1953 according to the log book, that had frame number "ML 4401" (within the "missing" numbers) but fitted with a contract plate from the first contract ! This may suggest that the first contract was extended, but not documented (or at least not recorded today)........but a couple of years ago now I examined a brand new ex-WD ML frame still in khaki paint that had a frame number also within the "4***" range group.......so this may suggest the the first contract was for, say, 3,500 ML's plus 1,500 or so supplied as "spares" (eg - in components)......this affected other makes during contract demands (eg: Ariel) so why not James...?)...

 

The little ML is a fine bike, well built, capable of a good 40mph on the road and very tough, and arguably far better than the Flying Flea......but it is heavier, and no evidence exists (eg: photos) to prove any use with Airborne forces during WW2.....the well-known photo showing a Canadian para astride an ML was a publicity shot....the actual service use being more as a lightweight "tender" strapped on the back of carriers and artillery vehicles from D-Day onwards......

 

Steve Madden

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Hi Steve,

 

I am sorry I have to correct you on this, but there actually is one photo of a James in use with A/B forces. It's in Arnhem during the attack of South-staffs and 1 and 3 para to arnhem on the 19th of sept. 1944. It's laying on it's side, and there's a civvy Harley standing next to it from the dutch AA.

 

See here, bottom photo.

 

http://www.google.nl/imgres?imgurl=http://www.vriendenairbornemuseum.nl/IMG_0002.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.vriendenairbornemuseum.nl/battlefield_walk_2010.htm&usg=___z6cqkQitslkGyL8H7DPTPi-IB8=&h=457&w=640&sz=62&hl=nl&start=47&sig2=WyqmoeO5nIGjn9pyEjXtJg&zoom=0&itbs=1&tbnid=dP4pzkEZvJahvM:&tbnh=98&tbnw=137&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dfoto%2Bbrencarrier%2Barnhem%26start%3D40%26hl%3Dnl%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1R2GPEA_nl%26ndsp%3D20%26biw%3D1259%26bih%3D624%26tbm%3Disch&ei=5lPBTYyJB8nsOcHX8ewE

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Hi Steve,

 

I am sorry I have to correct you on this, but there actually is one photo of a James in use with A/B forces. It's in Arnhem during the attack of South-staffs and 1 and 3 para to arnhem on the 19th of sept. 1944. It's laying on it's side, and there's a civvy Harley standing next to it from the dutch AA.

 

See here, bottom photo.

 

http://www.google.nl/imgres?imgurl=http://www.vriendenairbornemuseum.nl/IMG_0002.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.vriendenairbornemuseum.nl/battlefield_walk_2010.htm&usg=___z6cqkQitslkGyL8H7DPTPi-IB8=&h=457&w=640&sz=62&hl=nl&start=47&sig2=WyqmoeO5nIGjn9pyEjXtJg&zoom=0&itbs=1&tbnid=dP4pzkEZvJahvM:&tbnh=98&tbnw=137&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dfoto%2Bbrencarrier%2Barnhem%26start%3D40%26hl%3Dnl%26sa%3DN%26rlz%3D1R2GPEA_nl%26ndsp%3D20%26biw%3D1259%26bih%3D624%26tbm%3Disch&ei=5lPBTYyJB8nsOcHX8ewE

 

I have that photo !!! It has been discussed in the past (not on this forum) and although the bike is undoubtably an ML, the actual time period is not confirmed......one train of thought suggests that it may well be post-Arnhem, the presence of the Harley and the ML possibly indicative of Allied units reaching the area post-battle, the ML possibly coming from one of these relief/advance units......

 

There is indeed the possibility that the ML WAS used by glider-borne troops, the same units also employing Matchless G3L's ("Motorcycle, Heavyweight").......the Airborne equipment lists (Air Landing Brigades) actually specify the other two machines as "Motorcycle, Lightweight" (the Flea) and "Motorcycle, Folding" (the Welbike)...plus scales of issue per-unit.........

 

However, I am a stickler for photographic evidence, and the Flea can be found in numerous wartime shots in airborne usage......but not the ML (in my knowledge to date at least)......so until a photo turns up showing use with airborne troops or units, I remain unconvinced !!! :angel:

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Steve,

Very very pleased to see you on this thread - British Forces must rank as the most thumbed over book of my entire life :)

The (few) Italian ML's all seem to hail from the center south west of Italy, and the accepted wisdom (out here at least) is that they were used by the Commandos at Anzio, and were later disposed of through the nearest ARAR camp. Also bear in mind that the all the ML's that I've seen (all four of them....) have had very low frame numbers, mine at 515 being the highest. What do you think? After all, it has to be said that everybody was convinced that the Sheman DD made it's first appearance on the D-Day landings until one was dug up from the sea off Anzio....

Another question: I've never been able to find out with any degree of certainty if the silencer and tailpipe were painted black or in S.C.C. 2 like the rest of the bike. If you could put this one to rest for me I'd be very grateful.

A big welcome to the Forum,

Stef

Edited by Stefano

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Stefano - you are too kind !

 

The silencer system on my old ML acquired years ago had SCC No.2 (brown) paint on the silencer can and pipe......although the exhaust pipes from the cylinder were cadmium/dull-chrome plated........

 

I have a number of NOS ML fork links......they are finished in both khaki-green No.3 and SCC No.2 (brown)..............I would assume that the first ML contract were in SCC.No.2, the contract commencing during 1943 when this colour was standard.......I think that later production changed back to green (1944-45), this being the British version of olive drab......the NOS frame, number ML 4*** (from the "missing" numbers after the first contract) plus my own ML (4401) were both finished originally in SCC No.2.....

 

I would agree that ML's were probably first used in Italy and Sicily during 1943......

 

The bulk of wartime photos showing both Fleas and ML's from 1943 through to post-D-Day in 1944 all show early (1st contract) bikes.........many of the later production bikes were never actually issued, and spent their life in store prior to disposal.....there are a few photos around actually showing ML's in store in a depot somewhere in the UK, and these are later production (the photo itself being incorrectly captioned and labelling the bikes as Royal Enfields !)............

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Like Stefano, I 'd like to hail Mr Madden. It's kinda erie to have real live text on my PC from someone who I rate as a WD motorcycle "God". Sorry if this seems a little OTT Steve but I have a very new, very cherished copy of your book and to see you providing information dynamically here, on the James ML, is quite humbling, not least because I really want one! And a Matchless G3WO as well!

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