Author Topic: Does anyone know what bike this is?  (Read 1543 times)

Offline Barny

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Does anyone know what bike this is?
« on: April 06, 2018, 03:57:16 PM »
I bought this recently, one of those spur of the moment purchases thinking it would be fun to register and ride but I am not sure if it is the Excelsior it claims to be. The engine is a 197cc villiers supersport TT, 1930 ish. The only markings I can find on the frame appear to read 197SS. It has Druid forks. The most distinctive feature of the frame is the double top tube. Any help at all identifying this bike would be greatly appreciated.

Offline 33d6

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Re: Does anyone know what bike this is?
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2018, 02:51:04 AM »
You're right Barny. 1930-ish Excelsior it ain't. I have the 1930-ish Excelsior yours is meant to be and the only thing in common between the two bikes is they both have two wheels and an Excelsior tank transfer. Sun used that style of double top tube frame frame and also sold frame fittings to other manufacturers so it's not at all that unusual but forget 1930-ish Excelsior.
I think your frame number 197SS is a recent stamping with someone playing games. I'd have a good hunt around for the original number. You'll have fun trying to get it past DVLA as is.
Can you give the engine number? We can then identify it for you. Villiers made a 196cc Super Sport engine which has a different bore and stroke to their later 197cc engines and I can see your engine has an incomplete carb from a later 197cc 6E fitted plus it appears to have electrics from a 6E fitted also.
To my mind you have a complete bitza made by someone who had a fair idea of what they wanted but didn't quite know enough or have skill enough to do it properly. It won't take much to get it well sorted and then you will have a fun riding bike that you can steadily work on to get really schmicko.
Looking forward to more info.
Cheers,

Offline 33d6

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Re: Does anyone know what bike this is?
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2018, 03:44:10 AM »
Whoops! Blew the bottom picture up a lot more to see itís not a carb from a 6E but a later Villiers carb still. Itíll work fairly well but original even better.
Cheers,

Offline Barny

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Re: Does anyone know what bike this is?
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2018, 12:15:45 PM »
Thanks for that - it is all useful. The engine is 1E6528 an autolube of the right era, as you say the carb and electrics are later. On the advice of John Harding I stripped the engine before trying to start it. It has had the pressure and oil feed lines blanked, everything new throughout, crankcases and mains altered for petroil mix. It looks as though it has never been run which I find suspicious.  The frame has to be the starting point and at the moment I haven't a clue what it is. Like you I suspect it is not excelsior. Petrol tank is an original although not necessarily to the bike. All other tinware looks to be repro. The numbers on the frame are hard to distinguish - my interpretation probably wrong but they are original and stamped not cast. Sun seem to have used druid forks in the 20s but I cannot find anything to mach the frame. All very frustrating. Any advice on where to go from here much appreciated.

Offline 33d6

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Re: Does anyone know what bike this is?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2018, 01:24:09 AM »
Hi Barny,
You're not going to get far until you have an accurate frame number so start there. Getting it on the road legally and dating it accurately revolves around the frame number so that comes first. When you have the correct frame number the obvious place to go is the Vintage Motor Cycle Club. They have marque specialists who have a good knowledge of all the minute trivia necessary to tell you what you have. You must be a member of the VMCC to access these marque specialists. They cannot and will not give out the private details of their members to anyone who asks. You must be a fellow member. You can then approach the Sun marque specialist for advice. As I said earlier, my first impression says it is a Sun frame. Remember, in the end it is the date of the frame that dates the whole bike so it is the most important bit to get right.

I'm sure John H told you your engine is also a bitza  with a Super Sport top end on a 1E crankcase. The 1E was the cooking version of the Super Sport with fixed head and cast iron piston. Both the 1E and Super Sport more or less share the same bottom half so popping a Super Sport top end on a 1E is no big deal. It just leaves you with a glaringly wrong engine number when you say it's a Super Sport engine even though it has all the right parts. With that engine number you have an improved 1E, not a Super Sport.

Don't be downhearted, you have the foundations of a happy little fun bike. Accurate dating of the frame may place you just within the vintage period which expands the horizons a bit. Both the 1E and 196 Super Sport were introduced in 1929 and that Sturmey Archer FW gear box dates from 1925-30, so you may have yourself a nice little vintage bitsa and people will be happy to see it on the road.


Offline chaterlea25

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Re: Does anyone know what bike this is?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2018, 02:16:27 PM »
Hi All,
There's a "similar" looking frame in this ebay listing
https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Levis-motorcycle-frame-and-other-flat-tanker-parts/263581025742?hash=item3d5ea745ce:g:1oYAAOSwikdawPMh
It has very similar  bolt lug under the steering head an the tapped holes at the rear of the cast gearbox lug /lower rail, and what looks like the same type of tank mounts ????

John

Offline Barny

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Re: Does anyone know what bike this is?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2018, 05:37:50 PM »
Thanks John, well spotted. It is certainly similar, the double top tube and tank supports particularly. The castings are all slightly different but it is the closest I've seen yet. I have been cleaning away at the frame nos. which now appear to read 19758. The seller, a trader, claimed to know little about it. The frame forks, wheels and gearbox appear to be original but the engine plates look very new with none of the pitting the rest of the bike shows. A very intriguing puzzle.

Offline 33d6

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Re: Does anyone know what bike this is?
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2018, 01:35:29 AM »
Yes, could very well be Levis. One of the Levis two-strokes models  in the late 20's did use that double tube frame arrangement, and those Druid forks and that Sturmey Archer FW gearbox plus the frame number is on the money also. It's a lead well worth chasing up.

Once again, the VMCC is your best bet for info. I can't remember offhand exactly what they have but there was a very active Levis Marque Specialist back in the 1970's-80's who gathered up much of the remaining Levis factory records so if it is a Levis it's quite possible they can identify your bike precisely.

Can I ask about the rear wheel? I can't see it very well but I think BSA?

Cheers,
 

Offline Barny

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Re: Does anyone know what bike this is?
« Reply #8 on: April 09, 2018, 07:49:08 PM »
Thanks 33d6, I have joined the VMCC and will post any results I get.  I have been over the bike quite closely and my impression is that the frame, forks, stays, wheels and gearbox date to one era. I am basing that on fit and level of corrosion more than any knowledge of vintage bikes so you may well be right about the back wheel. the mudguard stay obscures the grease nipple and the brake stay would be in the way of the stand. The tinware is a very recent addition as are the engine plates and back brake set up although whether to an original pattern or pure invention I don't know. The rear brake pedal is a barely altered bantam. It gets worse,  the tank hangers appear to have been put on to suit the tank.  I owned a Levis years ago, an unrestored flat tank two stroke belt drive with a retro fitted clutch clamped to the down tube. Quite different to this! I have thoroughly cleaned the area of the frame numbers but they are so hard to decipher that I may be on a hiding to nothing. Still, it makes me smile and takes up little space in the junk room.

Offline gjf7

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Re: Does anyone know what bike this is?
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2018, 04:19:21 PM »
I have looked at VMCC machine register and cannot reconcile either the frame or engine numbers with Levis or Excelsior.

Is the frame bolted together as I am reminded of the AKD model 78 but that may just be the red tank ...

Link here http://www.classicbikersclub.com/gallery/abingdon-king-dick-model-78

It does look great fun whatever it is.

Offline cardan

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Re: Does anyone know what bike this is?
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2018, 01:03:57 AM »

Levis introduced their "new low-built diamond frame" in late 1927 (for the 1928 season) on the K2 model.

According to the VMCC Register of Machines, frame number 19xxx would fit in with Levis from 1928.

A bit of googling and you'll see Levis machines with their frame numbers in the same position as on the mystery bike.

Looks pretty Levis-like to me.

Cheers

Leon

Offline Barny

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Re: Does anyone know what bike this is?
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2018, 07:39:39 PM »
THAT'S IT! I was beginning to wonder if it would remain a mystery. Wrong engine of course but I'm overjoyed. Someone has obviously spent a bit on it fairly recently, why they decided to label it an Excelsior I'd love to know. The frame numbers may be too vague to get a rubbing for a registration but at least it can wear its true colours. It would be fun to find the right engine!
Thanks.