Author Topic: Nostalgia is strong on this one  (Read 1706 times)

Offline Alex61

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 8
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Nostalgia is strong on this one
« on: June 01, 2018, 07:26:32 AM »
Dear forum members, I found you as I'm trying to identify a bike my father and uncle shared in Sydney Australia in the late 40s.
Both of them have recently passed away so I cant get any direct history. I have soft memories of them saying it had a 125 Villers engine, and was an ACME, an Australian Company that assembled British bikes from import parts. There is a 1935 Excelsior available in Adelaide that looks very close to me, but is a 250. I was hoping someone could identify the bike from the 2 old photos I have. Also any idea what a 1935 Excelsior is worth? I don't want to insult the owner with an inappropriate offer.

My aunt on the bike in the first photo is now 74.

Link to the Excelsior
https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/north-adelaide/cars-vans-utes/1935-excelsior/1182392827

Thank you for your great Forum, I'd love to have a similar bike my dad had almost 70 years ago.
Regards Alex

Offline R

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 862
  • Karma: +19/-8
    • View Profile
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2018, 10:56:12 AM »
Those jutting forward exhausts, primary cover and valanced front mudguard are quite distinctive.
Could be a 1930s model of Excelsior, although that front guard is unusual.

Acme's have been here, a few times before.
Doesn't look like one of those, although a few features are similar.
http://classicmotorcycleforum.com/index.php?action=dlattach;topic=3729.0;attach=1957;image
Your engine looks bigger ? And many differences.....

That Excelsior in Adelaide has an external flywheel, whereas your mystery one doesn't.
Price. If you really want it, best ask and see what he is thinking.
That is a bigger bike, looks in excellent condition, so the price may surprise you.



Offline Alex61

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 8
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2018, 02:01:56 AM »
Thanks R,
Yes that picture of an ACME looks nothing like my dad's bike.
The 125 engine looks much smaller too, so looks like dad's was in fact a 250.
I sort of remember my uncle saying it was an Excelsior or was like an Excelsior.

The Adelaide guy has no idea of the value, and wants offers.
The flywheel thing has me worried.
I wonder if Villers engines available with both internal & external flywheels in the 40s.
More Googling!

Thanks you again for your response R

Offline 33d6

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 700
  • Karma: +22/-2
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2018, 02:05:09 AM »
Personally I think it is a James of about 1930. About then was when James started to move away from fitting their own make engines and gearboxes to concentrate on Villiers engines and Albion boxes. It took a few years but that was the beginning. The valanced mudguard and style of front fork are very distinctive. A shot from the other side allowing us to identify the gearbox would seal the deal but we have to make do with what is given us.

The chances of finding an identical James are tiny. Villiers powered bikes mostly occupied the utility/economy end of the market and were quickly discarded if something bigger and flashier came along. The 1935 Excelsior was built to the same pattern and for the same market. Out here Excelsior's seemed to have survived better than other makes. I think they just sold more because Excelsior had a good sporting history in the Lightweight classes. At least you had a sporting name on the tank even if it had a Villiers engine underneath it. As ever, being fashionable counted.

I think that particular Gumtree Excelsior is a recent import. It has an English VMCC badge fitted and few Australians would ever bother with that. Nor does it have any indication it's ever had a local number plate fitted. It has all the makings of a pleasant rally bike.
Cheers,


 

Offline 33d6

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 700
  • Karma: +22/-2
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2018, 02:15:36 AM »
Alex, you posted whilst I was writing mine.

The Adelaide guy has had been trying to sell that bike for some time. Villiers powered bikes of any sort do not bring high prices. Certainly not out here in Oz. Nor does anything 250cc and under. The seller knows that and hopes you don't.

The external flywheel is a standard Villiers item. Some manufacturers fitted them and some didn't. It is absolutely nothing to worry about. If anything it's good for amazing the natives as it goes round and round when the engine starts. You'll get asked lots of silly questions.

Cheers,

Offline cardan

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 655
  • Karma: +16/-2
    • View Profile
    • earlymotor.com
    • Email
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2018, 05:56:57 AM »

Mmm... not often I doubt a 33d6 identification of a two stroke, but in this case the bike doesn't look quite "Jamesey" enough to convince me immediately. Yet it does some have some Baker-ish features, so maybe James but later than 1930?

I wonder if, given the Sydney location, we should be thinking another Australian brand: Waratah. In the early 1930s I'd expect a Waratah to be Sun based (either built from Sun bits, or supplied complete by Sun). I think later Williams may have sourced their bikes from elsewhere - Norman is often mentioned as a source of lightweights for rebadging. Or maybe Excelsior? The angular tank, with gear-change gate up on the side, should help with the identification.

Cheers

Leon

Offline cardan

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 655
  • Karma: +16/-2
    • View Profile
    • earlymotor.com
    • Email
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2018, 06:18:03 AM »
If we go as far as 1939 we get the correct mudguards on a James: http://simplywizard.co.uk/folders/pre1940/prewarl3/39k8250.htm

Or this https://cybermotorcycle.com/gallery/james-1939/James-1939-Range.htm

Not sure about the angular tank though.

Leon
« Last Edit: June 02, 2018, 06:23:35 AM by cardan »

Offline R

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 862
  • Karma: +19/-8
    • View Profile
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2018, 11:26:28 PM »
Thats looking closer, much closer.
Be useful to see t'other side, and the chaincase,  and carb location -
tucked up partly behind the cylinder in the mystery bike.

Also explains why they could have been beetling around after ww2
with still a fairly new bike, if it didn't see much (any ?) use during ww2. ?


Offline 33d6

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 700
  • Karma: +22/-2
  • I love YaBB 1G - SP1!
    • View Profile
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2018, 01:03:28 AM »
Hi Leon,
It's fairly obvious James made a 250 in much the same style throughout the 1930's and I maintain my suggestion of it being a 1930 James B8 is just as valid as any other but we'll never be absolutely sure will we.
One thing we can be sure of is that there was never a Norman based Waratah. Excelsior ,yes. The postwar Waratah was pure and simple a re badged Excelsior but Norman never came into it. It's a persistent story but not true. Norman were sold in export markets as both the Roamer and Rambler but Waratah never used them.
There were many obscure makes built up using Villiers components. We'll never get them all straight. The other two Australian assemblers were Utility and Simplex but when did you last see any of them? I've only ever seen one Villiers powered Simplex and that was donkeys years ago.

And R is right. Loke most countries during WWII petrol was tightly rationed and bikes just went off the road for several years. Two strokes survived better because the armed forces didn't like them so they weren't requisitioned.

Ain't it all fun.

Offline Alex61

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 8
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2018, 04:17:39 AM »
Wow!
Thank you so much for all your thorough input/opinions. Very interesting.
I'll ask my cousin in Sydney if he can find any more photos.

I'll delay my interest in the specific Excelsior and research the 1930s James models.

Over 10 years ago at the Royal Exhibition Buildings bike show there was an old bike that looked similar.
This may of been why I thought it was an ACME.

It would of been a cheep old bike at the time for both my father & uncle to afford it so soon after arriving in Australia.
So I'm chasing down and old commuter bike when my last bike was a Cagiva Raptor 1000?  Suppose as I'm getting older a slower bike is more appropriate, but that slow?

 

Offline Alex61

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 8
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2018, 04:55:13 AM »
The fenders look a good match, but the pipes are not.
The tank could be a match, profile is hard to be sure due to the angle.
I need a better shot of the RHS of the bike to be sure, or a LHS advert.


Offline cardan

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 655
  • Karma: +16/-2
    • View Profile
    • earlymotor.com
    • Email
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2018, 07:56:36 AM »
Ain't it all fun.

Yes, it is!

For the record, the last time I saw a Utility was in the early 1980s, in the hands of a chap called Fred Delfine (?), but that was a Utility-JAP. He lived up in the Dandenongs somewhere, and was burnt out in the bushfires. I don't know if that Utility survived, but I'm sure they're around, possibly not identified.

But back to Alex's dad's Villiers. Of course we're not guaranteed that it's in original condition in the photos, but some of the identifying points would be:

1. The heavily valanced front guard, and the heavily valanced front half of the rear guard

2. No rear axle stand visible, so it probably had a centre stand

3. The headlamp with ammeter and switch

4. The gear change gate up high on the tank, with a lever that looks straight-ish beyond the pivot

5. One-piece pressed steel tail-light and number-plate mount

6. Squarish-looking stuff under the saddle (battery/toolbox) where the round autolube tank goes on the vintage models

Anyway, I reckon most of this stuff adds up to late 1930s James, but I'm way short of an expert on such things. That tank has me a bit mystified - maybe they had some old ones to get rid of on the "colonial model"? I don't suppose Waratah bought a batch of bikes from James?

Cheers

Leon

Offline R

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 862
  • Karma: +19/-8
    • View Profile
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2018, 08:34:46 AM »
The fenders look a good match, but the pipes are not.

The gear lever is (well) behind the petrol cap on your mystery bike,
but well in front of it on that 1930 one.
The rear guard is also valanced on your mystery bike.

That 1939 James is looking a goof match, at this point.
T'other side view would be good to find...

Offline cardan

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 655
  • Karma: +16/-2
    • View Profile
    • earlymotor.com
    • Email
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2018, 08:42:24 AM »

Unfortunately the Show Edition of the Motor Cycle in 1938 has a description of the "redesigned" James range for 1939, but no illustrations. The description does, however, mention a few things relevant to our discussion. The new heavily valanced guards we've noticed, but another new feature was the one-piece guard to enclose both the primary chain and the drive chain to the Lucas dynamo, mounted behind the motor. I reckon you can see this in our machine. Also the front wheel stand is mentioned.

Here's a photo of another of the 1939 range, albeit with a smaller engine. https://cybermotorcycle.com/gallery/james-1939/James-1939c-150cc.htm

Most of the bikes in the 1939 range used the new single-tube loop frame, and the rather angular tank on the 150 gives me real confidence that we're looking at a 1939 250 James. I would imagine that there aren't too many survivors, but you never know.

Cheers

Leon

Offline Alex61

  • Advanced Member
  • ***
  • Posts: 8
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: Nostalgia is strong on this one
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2018, 11:12:59 AM »
Leon I think you've done it!
That photo of the 1939 James looks the business, the front forks and fenders are a perfect match.
One piece guard for chain & dynamo also works.
As you said engine looks smaller but my recollection from my uncle was that it was a one something, so 150 or 196 could be correct.

Also who knows how much it was modified in the 10 years it was on the road before my family got to it.

Only problem now is trying to get one, I almost wish it was a 1935 Excelsior.
Anyway Forensic Archiologist Award of the year to you Leon!
« Last Edit: June 03, 2018, 11:14:31 AM by Alex61 »