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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Barn-find Royal Enfield is a rusty relic with tales to tell

Rusty, crusty Royal Enfield "sloper" of the 1930s in an English countryside setting.
This blog lists Royal Enfield motorcycles for sale in the United States, so I rarely bother looking at eBay ads from the United Kingdom.

Still, I couldn't help being fascinated by this 1930s Royal Enfield barn find for sale on eBay in the UK.

Who saved this rusty old Royal Enfield, a 250cc Model S of perhaps 1934?

Could it, or should it be "brought back" — or just preserved in its present state?

Interesting location for the air pump. It hasn't fallen off all these years?
As is, it is a living record of the way motorcycles were made, circa 1934. Here are some of the details that caught my eye:

The exhaust pipe goes down the left side of the bike, under the primary drive. Never noticed that before on a Royal Enfield single.

But the exhaust is as it should be. Royal Enfield Owners Club chairman Graham Scarth emailed me a brochure for the Model S that shows the left-side exhaust system.

Royal Enfield Model S of the 1930s.
The motorcycle appears to have lived a full life — and, yet, the air pump on the front down tube has not fallen off and still looks fresh?

When I mentioned this to Royal Enfield enthusiast Chris Overton he noted that the tire inflator looks too long in this position, and is attached with clamps instead of welded pins — and is therefore likely an after-market accessory.

Unfortunately, while the brochure lists a tire pump as standard equipment, no pump is shown in the illustration, so we don't know where it would have been mounted..

Pillion seat is canted forward.
Chris pointed out that the rear brake is operated by a pedal on the right of the motorcycle — another reversal of what we think of as standard practice of the day.

The gearbox shift was on the tank, operated by hand. According to the brochure, a foot-operated gearbox was optional at additional cost.

Was the canted-forward pillion seat, a typical accessory of the period, meant to provide a place for the rider to slide back and get low over the tank? Or was it meant to ensure that one's girl got a good grip on you? (Snicker.) Hmmm. It does have the passenger foot pegs...

"Looks to have potential to be cozy," Chris commented.

It's surprising to me how many features I do recognize as different, yet obviously related to the 1999 Royal Enfield Bullet in my garage. I suspect I would even know how to adjust the valves on this old bike.

By the looks of this, I would know where to change the oil and adjust the valves.
Instrumentation is just an ammeter, but the Model S does take the trouble to have its headlight switch conveniently mounted on the tank. It could just as easily have been in the headlight shell itself, but you get that little bit of luxury, along with multiple small levers on the handlebars to address all sorts of adjustments.

Just an ammeter for instrumentation but look at all the levers.
And you've got a hand-shift to bother with as well.
"It is a lovely little thing isn't it?," Royal Enfield authority Mark Mumford commented when the eBay ad was pointed out to him.

"Thanks for sharing it. The problem as always with such small machines is where you might reasonably use them."

He went on to note that the motorcycle's pressed steel forks were considered budget items. (The period brochure offered an optional "tubular front fork," again at extra cost.) The Model S was not even a "Bullet," Mark notes: that was the next step up the model line-up.

If there's no where to safely run it, and it doesn't have the cachet of an expensive motorcycle, perhaps this Model S is not a candidate for restoration.

It's rusty, but still racy looking. What tales could it tell?
All told, the little relic of yesteryear might be better off left as is, proudly bearing the scars of time. I have to admit, though, that I am fascinated by the old 250cc Royal Enfield singles. Imagine riding a motorcycle half the displacement of my Bullet!

That would really be a trip back in time.

1 comment:

  1. 2010 Watsonian Squire-made Clubman EFI with a BSA Gold Star exhaust replica.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYH0dJmx_5g

    ReplyDelete

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