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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mighty Royal Enfield Interceptor impressed 2 continents

Mark Mumford's Royal Enfild Interceptor exudes an impression of power.
Royal Enfield Motorcycles (this blog) benefits from the comments of reader Mark Mumford of rural Northamptonshire, UK. His knowledge of the brand has expanded on topics as varied as the life of factory test rider Brian Crow to the exact shade of Royal Enfield's 1953 Polychromatic Beech color.

He is also familiar to readers of The Royal Enfield magazine as the author of a series of articles on the restoration (from a pile of parts) of a 1955 Royal Enfield Bullet.

Interceptor went to USA.
Mark was kind enough to send me a photo of his 1966 Royal Enfield Interceptor Mark 1 in front of an American themed restaurant in the UK. It's appropriate, since his Interceptor spent a mysterious interval in the U.S. before returning to Britain. Here's the story in his own words (my apologies for changing punctuation and spelling to American):

"The records for these late bikes are missing from the Royal Enfield Owners Club data, but various features (among them the optional cooling discs on the front wheel, the short fork shrouds with gaiters and the lack of detachable covers over the camshafts) along with the engine and frame numbers place the bike at a December '65 build date.

"This bike was one of a number brought back from the U.S. by Allan Hitchcock. I started work on it in 2009. It was superficially complete, the most obvious problem being the missing pistons!

"With just 17,000 miles on the clock much of the bike was in good condition, showing evidence of life in a warm climate. Appearances were deceptive, however. The engine rebuild took much longer than expected due to numerous unusual and hard to diagnose problems, and the gearbox was almost completely worn out, something I've never seen before.

"This evidence of a hard life — probably use as a desert bike — was compounded by later indignities as part of the '70s chopper craze, including a coat of decorative chrome over the entire fork assembly including bushes and springs!

"Far too much work was done to describe here but with a top-class magneto rebuild and paintwork (Hi-Fi Blue according to Royal Enfield, and paint supplied by RS Bike Paint) sprayed by my friend Terry, it runs and rides really well.

"I do all the work myself except for fancy paint (the Candy Apple Blue is really hard to do) chrome and sophisticated engineering. For instance, the original left and right-handed Monobloc carbs were badly worn (they run no filters, just stubby bell mouths) so I got a very skilled engineer to bore the bodies, sleeve them with brass and re-bore to original, a repair that is also far better than new.

"I will ride the bike. Although I've made every effort to return it to a factory finish I've resisted the temptation to over restore. For instance I've used plated fasteners and re-chromed parts rather than use stainless because it's too bright. Enfield originally used a fair amount of components finished in satin chrome (chrome laid on but without the last final polish) and this finish sets off polished alloy really well. I've also reused original components where they would clean up well.

"This is my first Inter. I've always liked the look of them since reading about them in an early issue of Classic Bike Magazine. Initially I wanted a Series 2 (still do actually) but when the chance came to buy one (from Allan Hitchcock) I found the extra chrome and polish of the S2 a bit too bling and I opted for the more understated look of the Mk1. These bikes are very hard to find in the UK and unless you import one yourself you'll only find one through a serious dealer like Allan.

"What interests me is that this look was achieved by Redditch using mostly off-the-shelf parts culled from other models, producing a much lighter, leaner looking bike than the rather staid Constellation models that preceded it.

"I already own a 1953 700 Meteor and a 1959 700cc Constellation and although same capacity twins, they are all quite different to ride; the Meteor is a softy, the Connie more aggressive but the Inter just exudes sheer power with colossal torque from the long stroke (93mm) engine. My next project is the 1955 350cc Bullet basket case with a completely different level of finish as the goal, but I'm looking for an S2 project one day!

Interceptors found somewhere in the U.S. But where?
"I've attached a picture of the bike as discovered in the U.S. so you can see how long the journey was! Sadly we don't know exactly where this location was as Allan Hitchcock was sent the pictures by the guy in the U.S. who arranged the collection and shipping.

"By the way, when I mentioned to Allan recently that I'd be interested in an S2 at some point he sighed and said 'you'll be 30th in the queue...'"
The Interceptor looking more at home in an English garden.

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