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Wish I had the cash!

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MarkBranst

Posts: 347

Joined: Thu Jun 24, 2004 12:01 am

Location: Champaign-Urbana, IL

Post Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:17 pm

Wish I had the cash!

Although I know that personal taste is just that ... personal ... one of my favorite bikes of the past few years is up on the Ebay block:

http://tinyurl.com/atb2ge

At least I got to grab a few photos for my personal wish list files!

Mark
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Pa

Site Admin

Posts: 4719

Joined: Sun Mar 12, 2000 1:01 am

Location: Ohio USA

Post Thu Mar 12, 2009 4:36 pm

Re: Wish I had the cash!

Me too Mark ! Me too !!!!! Pa
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46WL

Posts: 45

Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 10:09 am

Location: Midwest

Post Fri Mar 13, 2009 10:59 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

Looks like an Elmer Ehnes restoration?
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45Brit

Posts: 1416

Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:29 am

Post Sat Mar 14, 2009 12:16 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

credit where it's due for a solid old-school style bike .. nice piece of work.

that said, I've long been of the opinion that the 74" and 80" flatheads were dinosaurs, even in their day. Every engine configuration has an optimum size, and these are just too big. The result is the limited performance, very high wear rates, overheating problems and high fuel consumption.

for what it's worth I'm going to suggest that 45" is the optimum size for flatheads, as evidence the enormous success both H-D and Indian had with bikes this size; 61" or 74" is the optimum size for ohv iron V-twins ( I once had a 61" panhead and I was very surprised at the smooth ride. Performance wasn't far off 74" engine either.. Vincent didn't do so badly with this type either ) and 650cc for British-style parallel twins. British-type ohv singles, 500cc and BMW-style flat twins, somewhere between 600cc and 750cc.

anyone?
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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Pa

Site Admin

Posts: 4719

Joined: Sun Mar 12, 2000 1:01 am

Location: Ohio USA

Post Sat Mar 14, 2009 7:40 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

For overall optimum performance and longevity, I agree. Pa
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VFDBill

Posts: 17

Joined: Sun Mar 12, 2006 10:51 am

Location: Bowdoin Maine

Post Sat Mar 14, 2009 4:30 pm

Re: Wish I had the cash!

I'm no expert, I just like 'emImage
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Chris Haynes

Posts: 2631

Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2000 12:01 am

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Post Sat Mar 14, 2009 7:14 pm

Re: Wish I had the cash!

Have you heard about the Gypsy Curse involved with mixing engines with alloy heads in the same shop as engines with iron heads? I will gladly come remove those old iron head engines and dispose of them properly. :D
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Frankenstein

User avatar

Posts: 1552

Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 12:01 am

Location: Interlaken, NY USA

Post Sun Mar 15, 2009 11:00 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

So what's reason and common sense got to do with it?? We'd all be riding hybusas in that case :lol: Everyone on this sight is warped in that sense. You probably have a point in that there probably are some natural limits to these engine types. Believe it or not, it was a M20 and it's drop dead reliability that got me started on Flatheads years ago. But being American, I figured Bigger is better and went for the Big Twin Flattie. Still hooked on the torque, sound, and looks. A 45 will always look puny in these jaded eyes :twisted: (well of course, unless it has a K top end on it)
DD
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45Brit

Posts: 1416

Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:29 am

Post Mon Mar 16, 2009 3:47 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

M20s, ha ha. I had one when I was a student, it would do about 40mph for about 50 miles then the exhaust valve would stick open. You just left it for a while, then there would be a click as it dropped down and you were all set again.

Do that twice and you were set for fuel, 100 miles at 35mpg.... the oil in the tank was like tar at the bottom and yellow froth on top.

then I had a 45 flathead stuck in an Ariel frame, which was a LOT better. Totally reliable, better fuel consumption and fairly fast, at least by the standards of 50s and 60s British bikes.

my faourite Harley ever was a 61" panhead in a rigid frame with BSA forks, which started first kick, ran really smoothly and actually handled quite well. Wish I still had it...
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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Frankenstein

User avatar

Posts: 1552

Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 12:01 am

Location: Interlaken, NY USA

Post Mon Mar 16, 2009 6:03 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

I've heard alot about the exhaust valves on the m20, but I only had the original go after a year's HARD riding. Took it for a tour down the Appalachian mountains here on the East coast, did about 1500 miles, had a blast. Upped the motor sprocket to Goldie spec (21T), and roared down the mountains, so I could get a head up the next one. :lol: That bugger is still on the original piston. Rode it summer and winter my first year, had it start FIRST Kick at -40F. Threw me in the snow a couple of times, but can't blame the bike. My favorite trick was drafting trucks down the interstate. If you tucked in close, it would do an easy 65! After I seized it that way, I decided it wasn't getting enough air in the pocket so I backed off some, lowered my top speed, but it never seized again.
It would do one hell of a wheelie too. Wind that bugger up tight, drop the clutch and it would take off down the road on it's rear wheel, alternating from the wheel to the rear wheel stand, which would act as a wheelie bar to keep it from going over backwards. Didn't keep the girlfriend at the time from falling off though! that turned out to be for the best....
Ah, those were the days :lol: :lol:
DD
PS, it still has it's Brit front number plate, 41YD72, any way to tell some of it's history from that?
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45Brit

Posts: 1416

Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:29 am

Post Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:45 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

41YD72 is a WD number plate. A civilian number plate of the period would be three letters and three numbers - my old B33 was FYE 565. I would guess it was imported via Canada, possibly returned with demobilised servicemen? To the best of my knowledge it was never offered as a civilian model in the US.

I would suspect that once a valve has seized, it is slightly distorted and more likely to seize a second time. Remember also that they were frequently used as sidecar tugs for various applications, hard work indeed. The 600cc M21 was more usually bought by dedicated sidecar owners, but a lot of ex-WD M20s ended up that way. They weren't held in high regard in the UK and were often treated very badly.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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Frankenstein

User avatar

Posts: 1552

Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 12:01 am

Location: Interlaken, NY USA

Post Mon Mar 16, 2009 9:52 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

I figured it must have been WD, found traces of green on the engine cases, and the inside of the tin primary was green as well. The exhaust valve never seized, just the piston! The valve burned, as I recall.
Are there military historical groups over there that would have a way to trace that number to the type of service it saw? Just curious. It probably did come from Canada, I picked it up in 1970, and the local dealer had never heard of it. Later on in the mid 70's there were bunches of them imported by companies for sale. Thanks for the info
DD
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45Brit

Posts: 1416

Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:29 am

Post Tue Mar 17, 2009 5:30 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

that's a post-war registration plate.

Some of these bikes stayed in service into the 1960s, being progressively replaced with BSA B40s. There was a general clear-out of WW2 equipment stockpiled since Korea, for the Civil Defence scheme, around the late 1960s and early 70s - hence the widespread availability of cheap bandsman's tunics and greatcoats, for example

the VMCC have a very good member's library scheme. I'm a member, so if you PM me a bit more information I might be able to find out a bit more. The fact that it had a number plate suggests that it was issued at some time, rather than simply crated and sold in the crate.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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Frankenstein

User avatar

Posts: 1552

Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 12:01 am

Location: Interlaken, NY USA

Post Tue Mar 17, 2009 7:12 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

Don't have much more info except the serial number: WM20-121398, stamped on frame and engine. It was registered in this country as a 1944. Don't know if that means anything or not.
Thanks,
DD
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45Brit

Posts: 1416

Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:29 am

Post Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:32 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

ok I will pass that on and see what I can learn. Any 1944 M20 would be a WD contract, and WM20 -xxxx sounds like a WD contract production number. A lot of BSA records survive.

M20s were normally shipped complete in running order, not crated as WLs were.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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Chris Haynes

Posts: 2631

Joined: Wed Jul 05, 2000 12:01 am

Location: Los Angeles, CA

Post Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:18 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

I know yer talkin' Beezer's. But here is a nice military Turnip.
Image
Image
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45Brit

Posts: 1416

Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:29 am

Post Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:26 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

TRWs are a nice bike, if not very fast. They are a post-war type, and a lot were exported to the colonies, hence the crated condition in your picture. Most M20s were driven out of the factory for immediate issue, hence the pictures of long rows of them being oiled up in then factory.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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45Brit

Posts: 1416

Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:29 am

Post Wed Mar 18, 2009 3:58 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

WM20 is a military contract for sure. 110000 is a 1945 number sequence.

Early war machines were given Middlesex numbers ( this is where the main procurement offices were located ) but this was subsequently discontinued and later wartime machines were not issued with registration numbers, only 'census' numbers which would have been painted in white lettering on the tank.

Your bike has obviously lost this at some stage. This is quite common, little attempt seems to have been made to keep track of individual machines during the last year or so of the war, not least because so many had lost their original engines, 'census' numbers were simply transferred between unrelated machines by front-line maintenance shops. etc; a lot of them had their census numbers painted out while still in service.

the 'two numbers - two letters - two numbers' registrations were begun in 1947 and suggests your machine was produced in 1945 under a 1944 contract order, probably issued to Home Forces and may well never have served abroad. It seems to have been given a UK registration in the late 1940s, and was probably sold as a batch when displaced by either Triumph TRW or BSA B40 machines in the 1950s and 1960s.

it was presumably given rubber handgrips and footrests by the dealer, it would have originally had webbing grips and bare steel footrests.
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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Frankenstein

User avatar

Posts: 1552

Joined: Thu Jun 27, 2002 12:01 am

Location: Interlaken, NY USA

Post Wed Mar 18, 2009 6:52 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

Thanks very much for all the information. Very interesting. It still has the webbing throttle and steel footpegs, the left grip was aftermarket when I got it. It was a multicolored mess when I got it. I painted it O.D. about 5 years ago. Prior to that I'd painted it black just to make everything uniform.
I presume a census number would be a long 6 or 7 digit number. Would it have been marked with Unit identification numbers a well? Our army marks vehicles with battalion and regiment numbers, (or did in the '60's when I was driving them).
Thanks again,
Dick
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45Brit

Posts: 1416

Joined: Tue Nov 27, 2007 2:29 am

Post Wed Mar 18, 2009 8:53 am

Re: Wish I had the cash!

census number would be one or more letters defining the type of vehicle ( C for motorcycles ) plus a 7-digit number. Early numbers run to a fairly simple sequence but later ones could be almost anything; early numbers were reused, new ones allocated from various sources.

machines which had been completely rebuilt at Divisional workshops would carry a census number C14xxxxx but these aren't much recorded, and a lot of motorcycles seem to be restored to portray specific units ( for re-enactment purposes ) rather than as they were originally marked, if this is known at all. Anecdotal evidence indicates that motorcycles were mostly treated as expendable and very rarely saw Division workshops!

there would be no national marking as such, although Harley-Davidsons supplied to British and Dominion forces sometimes seem to have been painted with white stars regardless - presumably this was done in the US prior to shipment. Motorcycles would carry unit markings - usually a Division sign for Army machines. RAF machines would carry a roundel and naval ones, the letters RN
Shoot, a man could have a good weekend in Dallas with all that stuff...
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