Friday, July 16, 2010

Royal Enfield Big Head motor in a crate
made his father fast and Furious

The Royal Enfield Fury and its Royal Enfield Big Head motor are rare and sought-after. Yet no fewer than three owners of motorcycles with Big Head motors contacted me recently.

There was CF, in France, who has what must be a Fury, fully restored for sale. There was Jennifer, in Washington state, who inherited what may be a Fury and hauled it home not even knowing it was a rare find.

I'll wrap up "Big Head Week" here on this blog with Denis, who grew up with a motorcycle that has a Big Head motor. Denis is new to email, and has not been able to send pictures. But he did share his story. Here it is:

"I have a 1959 Enfield Indian 500cc single, high compression Big Head with 2-inch intake valve.

"This motor is bored out 100 thousands, has a homemade piston and it has about 300 pounds of compression. It broke a few guys' feet trying to start it back in the day.

"It has the aluminum cylinder/steel sleeve Big Head. The engine number is 3271. My dad bought it new in 1959 as just the motor in a crate. He said he bought the motor from our local Indian dealer at the time, and the dealer had three of the motors there. We don't know where the other two went.

"My dad and his cousin put the motor in an Enfield frame and made a hillclimber. He hillclimbed it from 1959 to 1972 in New England, New York and Pennsylvania, and was No. 1 for all those years. Then it sat in my cousin's barn for about 20 years.

"Now I live in northern Maine, but I am from Springfield, Mass. Born and raised there. Hillclimbing has been my whole life. In the late '80s I got my kids into hillclimbing. They loved it. After awhile I decided to get the old girl running. I took it all apart and got parts from a guy near Boston. His name was Sam Avellino.

"Sam was so knowledgeable, but he passed away. He is the one that told me this bike is very rare. He said he and a guy on the West Coast were the only two that imported the bikes and that in 1959 there were only 12 Big Head motors imported; six for the East and six for the West Coast. I am not sure how accurate those numbers are, but I know they're rare.

"Anyway I finally got it together and was hillclimbing it myself. It was a lot of fun. The compression release leaked and I bought a new one from Boston and it still leaked, so I took a valve spring from a Briggs & Stratton 5-horsepower motor and my problems were over. I also put a 38mm Mikuni flat-side carb on it. That bike was always hard to start with the 1.5 Amal. Now it starts beautifully — one or two kicks.

"I can't ride much anymore because I was injured in a big truck accident. But I do love to start it once in awhile and drag it out now and again."

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