Friday, February 10, 2012

Royal Enfield Interceptor was his 35-year project

Fine looking Royal Enfield Interceptor took 35 years to get this way.
It's a 1965 Royal Enfield Interceptor, "35 Years in the Making." That's the way Kevin Lemire  of Port Orange, Fla. thinks of his fully restored Interceptor.

Here's his story:

"I was 18 years old when I bought my '65 Interceptor in 1973, ending over a year of pestering the previous owner. The bike was sadly neglected, had not run in about three years, and was left outside and uncovered in northern New Hampshire. I paid $100 for the bike and had to chip it out of about six inches of ice and frozen mud in order to take it home. I was newly married at the time and my wife made no secret about how she felt about this rusty piece of junk I hauled home...

"This was the first Enfield I had ever seen and I was captivated by the lines, massive engine, and the instrument cluster in the large aluminum housing. I admired the red, white and blue MV Augusta’s offered during those years and promptly painted the Enfield to match. I used spray cans and painted the frame red, the tank blue, and the side covers white. Looking back, it was a truly ugly sight, but I felt it was very beautiful.

"I made a couple trips to Revere, Mass., to see Sam Avellino and Son. I bought a number of parts, including a gasket set that I used nearly 30 years later to restore the bike. Although I managed to get a few half-hearted noises from the engine, I never really succeeded in getting it running and parked it out of the way in the garage. I subsequently joined the Navy and left the bike in my uncle’s basement for several years... While home on leave one year, I disassembled the bike and packed it all up in boxes, carrying it with me from move to move for the next 25 years of my military career...

"Somewhere around 2001... I decided to finally start the restoration. I had the good fortune of living about 45 minutes from Avellino and Son, thrilled to find Sam still in business. I made many trips there to buy parts and pick Sam’s brain. He was very helpful and I greatly enjoyed my visits with him. Some of you probably know he had a number of Interceptors and Indian Enfields in his showroom, most with a little bag hanging from the handlebars. I asked about the bags and Sam told me they contained the titles for the bikes. Each bike was to go to a child or grandchild when the time came…I wonder if they ever did?

"I brought my engine and transmission numbers down one day and Sam looked it up in old sales records. He found that the bike was imported by his dad back in 1965 and sold to a dealer in Laconia, N.H. The dealer sold the bike to a man in Littleton N.H. who subsequently sold it to the man I bought it from. So, that makes me the third owner in 44 years...

"I powder coated all the black parts, had some relatively minor welding done to the cases, and bought numerous new parts from Sam, Hitchcock’s, and Burton Bike Bits. New parts included: seat, fenders, bars, rims and stainless spokes, tires, tubes, pistons, rings, lower and big end bearings, wiring harness, stator, batter, levers, all bearings and seals, and cables.

"Nearly every part on the bike had been damaged by heavy-handed non-mechanics who obviously had little more than vise grips and a hammer in their tool box. The valve guides had been hammered into the heads with tin foil wrapped around them and were mushroomed over. They were loose and it is a wonder the bike was ever able to run. I had to have a machine shop manufacture new guides and bore out the holes to fit. I had them fit stellite exhaust seats at the same time, bead blast the heads, and cylinders so I could powder coat them.

"I had the tank, chain guard and battery box covers painted red. I had the wheels professionally rebuilt by Jay Strait and the hubs polished; he did a beautiful job.

"The bike fired up on the third kick and so far has been quite dependable. I still have the 6-volt electrics but will eventually convert to 12. I am still running the original magneto without a rebuild, but I am sure it could use one and a new condenser. However, the bike starts on one or two kicks even after sitting for weeks. The only unsolved problem so far is a good oil leak from the transmission; I suspect I have a crack in the case that will require case replacement. I have a new case with a number near the original and when I get the ambition will pull the engine and transmission and do the repair.

"So, I have owned the bike for over 30 years and have only put about 2,000 miles on it. It has traveled to many different states and duty stations and is finally free once more to hit the pavement... The Interceptor is a pure joy to look at and I never tire of admiring the engine and classic lines.

"I have a Harley Road King for my daily ride, the Interceptor, a 1969 Kawasaki 650 W2SS that I bought in 10th grade and recently completed restoring, and a 1966 BSA 441 Victor that I just finished up. So I have America, Great Britain, and Japan covered. Now maybe a nice Guzzi?"

1966 BSA 441 Victor that Kevin just finished restoring.


  1. Matt Law2/11/2012

    Nice of the prettiest MK1 Interceptors that I've seen...the Victor is beautiful,too...good work!

  2. realy inspiring story

  3. Anonymous2/12/2012

    loved your steadfast ambition and its result...


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