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#889687 08/31/22 10:56 am
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Just wondering if anyone could answer this. If a Royal Enfield Ensign is being sold as made in 1959, my question is where was it made. I'm having issues trying to find the answer on Dr Google. Were RE still making some Ensigns in England, or had all the production headed to India by 59? Tooling went in 55 but they were still making bikes in the UK. How would you know if its a knocked down model?

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Google has its limitations alright.
Only Bullet 350 production went to India, and the factory there continued to use the 1955 and earlier frame. Both factories evolved their designs separately over time. Madras/Chennai did not make major changes for decades. Redditch carried on with their 350 Bullet for a few years, developed existing models, and tried some new ones. (Their big sales successes were the unit construction Crusader series, and the Interceptor 750 twin.) Ensigns were all built in Redditch.

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Originally Posted by Chris Overton
Google has its limitations alright.
Only Bullet 350 production went to India, and the factory there continued to use the 1955 and earlier frame. Both factories evolved their designs separately over time. Madras/Chennai did not make major changes for decades. Redditch carried on with their 350 Bullet for a few years, developed existing models, and tried some new ones. (Their big sales successes were the unit construction Crusader series, and the Interceptor 750 twin.) Ensigns were all built in Redditch.

Were the Indian-made Enfield two-strokes a different design from the Redditch ones?


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I had to google to see if Enfield in India even made 2 strokes !

https://www.indiatoday.in/auto/bike...he-two-stroke-enfield-1662487-2020-04-02

That one sure did "go under the radar"
1973
Hmmm
Were Villiers still actually making motorcycle engines by then ?
That'd be in the days of NVT ??

I can recall seeing lotsa 2 stroke Yezdi's in India.
Not sure of their origin - but zip to do with Enfield in the UK. ?
(And doing some more googling, Yezdi was an Indian manufactured Jawa).

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My guess would be that it’s an Indian-made Villiers engine.

Enfield India made a two-stroke scooter called the Fantabulus as well. Yes, that’s how they spelled it.


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Thats what i was finding. There isnt a lot out there about RE Ensigns in that period between manufacturing in the UK and then moving everything to India. Theres a reference to Completely Knocked Down bikes that was interesting. Would the quality of the rebuild in India be less than, or greater than the build quality of a bike wholly manufactured in the UK. And did RE use Villiers engines in that period or their own. And my original question was sort of saying is a 59 RE Ensign made in the UK or is it a poorly made Indian imitation?

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Originally Posted by Mackda
And my original question was sort of saying is a 59 RE Ensign made in the UK or is it a poorly made Indian imitation?

They only moved Bullet production to India.
And the design was the 1955 version.
Meanwhile, Bullets continued to evolve, and be made, in the UK.

Along with the twins, Meteors, Connies and Interceptors.
None of which had any Indian connections whatsoever.

So I think we can take it as read that the Ensigns were entirely English made.

Royal Enfield had quite a long history of making 2 stroke tiddlers, from the Flying Flea onwards.
Looks like they were developing an alternative to bought-in Villiers engines
(or JAP or Aza or a few other alternatives also)

And since Bullets were initially made in India using all Royal Enfields jigs and dies and machinery, and expertise,
there was no question they were poorly made either ?

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Every day is a school day, and what an interesting tangent that Enfield India took. Credit to Enfield India for their initiative - that is no imitation. Note the frame, where the front tube loops under the engine. Were any postwar Redditch models built that way? (A hasty search turned up a photo of the Moto-X which had a loop bolted on to the front down tube.)

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No offence meant. I was probably referring to the standards of some of the Indian made repro parts that according to a few britbike members, still need adjusting etc before they go on the bike. Also according to some of the posts, the quality of Indian steel in items like fuel tanks and fenders may be questionable. I havent bought any such parts but there are a few comments around. Again, no offence meant

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You said in a previous post that RE Prince with a swing arm replaced the plunger rear end Ensign. Does that mean that all Ensigns have plunger rear ends? Or did some have swing arms?

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Originally Posted by Mackda
referring to the standards of some of the Indian made repro parts

Ah, repro parts may be a different kettle of fish than Indian made Enfields.

If you buy oem Bullet parts, I've been impressed with how good a quality they seem.
Just today I received 2 brake rods, and they were beautifully made, and finished (and packed).
Ditto some oem brake light switches.

I bought some petrol tanks for the pre Bullet models, and they were a bit variable.!
The chromed ones were nicely made (and chromed), but the plain steel ones were quite heavy.
And when I turned those ones over, one of them looked like it had been welded
by the apprentice on his first day on the job ! It didn't leak though.
(these UK models would never have been manufactured in India, or any part thereof)

And some parts you see advertised look like they have been manufactured from a photo,
without ever having seen the item in question. ?? !!

So oem and repro can be a world apart ...

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When contemplating RE models, the bible is Gordon Mays book "by miles the best"

This is a page by page listing of every model of UK Enfield from 1930 to the end (1970).
With a brochure pic, and a brief list of specs for each one.

[Linked Image from classicpartsltd.com]

I shall go and consult. The weather being inclined to be inclement, and the forecast is diabolical.

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A quick google shows that the Ensign still had 'plunger' suspension for 1957.
Although with a swingarm - almost.
Quite late for plunger suspension, in fact.

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/yOOuqrzOBXI/maxresdefault.jpg

1959 is the earliest I could find for the Prince ?
(love the wiring in this example!)
https://images1.bonhams.com/image?src=Images/live/2011-05/20/8301494-2-1.JPG

So there might be something in that plungers for the Ensign, and swingarms for the Prince ...

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There is also the matter of the Enfield India 'mini Bullet'.

Powered by a Villiers engine.
Not an engine I am familiar with in the UK ?

https://img.indianautosblog.com/2018/09/17/royal-enfield-mini-bullet-200-side-photograph-a054.jpg

I wonder if anyone has written a full-ish history of Enfields in India ?
The technology transfer side of things would be most interesting ...
How/when/where did Villiers engines get to India ?

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From 1976 print of The Observer’s Book of Motorcycles:

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]


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Many British companies went to India, and Villiers of Wolverhampton had an associate company in India (as well as subsidiaries in Ballarat, Australia, and in NZ.) Enfield India was an associate too, not a subsidiary of Enfiled Cycle, because of India's requirements for local ownership.
I saw a pair of the diesel powered Bullets in India, and was surprised to see the maker of the diesel engines was Greeves-Cotton, also of India.

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Enfield India received both the Ensign 2 and Ensign 3 in kit (CKD) form. They also got Prince in kit form, albeit called an Ensign 4 for India only.
All Ensign 2's and 3's have an RE3 prefix to the frame number regardless of where they were built. The UK built Prince has no prefix, but the Ensign 4 kit bike has an RE4 prefix. When assembled at Madras, these bikes also get an EI number stamped alongside the Redditch one, just like the 350 Bullets.
I have two photos of RE4 53xxx (EI 8xxx) frame numbers from 1958, both bikes now being in Australia. Can't figure out how to post one here though !!

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Interesting.
Its tough to find this info in print - anywhere.
And TT's 2 page summary (above) doesn't quite cover every model and year !

Originally Posted by Graham Scarth
Can't figure out how to post one here though !!

You need to post it to one of the 3rd party photo Hosting sites.
Imgur or Postimage.org etc.
(Photobucket is a dirty word on forums these days)
And then post the direct link into these pages.
It then needs a [/img] and also a [img] at the front and back, reversed to how I wroteth them.
(they'd do strange thing if I had them in the correct order).
A url instead of an img would make the link clickable - instead of displaying.
Hopethishelps.

I also came across a Royal Enfield Sherpa model.
Also with a Villiers engine.
https://i0.wp.com/www.cuttingthecha...15/08/royal-enfield-sherpa-1965-1000.jpg

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Ensign 1, 2 and 3 rear suspension is NOT a plunger unit, merely spring boxes with no damping.
Prince has conventional swinging arm and, by default so does India only Ensign 4 being the same machine. Like the Bullet, production of this machine gradually moves to Madras with Redditch supplying ever less.
These two-strokes were never exported back to the UK, unlike the Bullet which was first brought back by Slater Bros. in 1977. The quality of these imported machines at the time was abysmal, so I should think the two-strokes were the same.
The Indian company has improved dramatically since then of course, mainly after the injection of funds and eventual take over by Eicher Industries.

PS - I will not be jumping through hoops in order to place photos on this forum !!

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Originally Posted by Graham Scarth
PS - I will not be jumping through hoops in order to place photos on this forum !!

Its about one click more than uploading them directly.
Or, you could become a paid up member, and upload them with one click less. !

Sounds like the history of Enfields in India is yet to be written comprehensively then...

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Originally Posted by Graham Scarth
The Bullet which was first brought back by Slater Bros. in 1977. The quality of these imported machines at the time was abysmal

They were still pretty bad in 1988!.

Quote
PS - I will not be jumping through hoops in order to place photos on this forum !!
That’ll learn ‘em!


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What sort of problems did this show up as ?

I was in India in early 1984, and Enfield Bullets were EVERYWHERE.
I even contemplated buying one, and touring with it.
And located a shop that offered this.
But viewing the traffic flow closely, I decided that without some (much !) guidance with local traffic 'rules',
this was not a viable idea.
Yes you could shut your eyes and walk across the road, and still be alive on the other footpath.
But I can see certain problems with this approach while on a Bullet ... !

And I don't recall seeing any broken down Enfields by the side of the road ?
Not once.
Maybe all the problem ones were exported ! ?

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What kinds of problems with Bullets from India? I was not old enough to ride until 1969, just as the Honda 750-4 transformed motorcycling, but English bikes and cars then were gaining a reputation for all round shoddiness and ineffective brakes. North American cars were no hell either. You could expect every parking space to have a black area under the leaking engine, and the center of the road was unsafe to ride on because of the oil. Oil filters were an option sold by dealers. Much of the judgement comes down to expectations which have increased greatly in 50 years. If you own an example of 1959 technology, which is how I describe my 1995 Bullet, you must have 1950's expectations.

Back on topic, here are some examples experienced by a dealer who sold the 1994 and '95 models in western Canada. He saw porous castings that leaked oil. Not unheard of with Brit bikes either. The corker was a bike that arrived with no piston. I am told it was warranty issues that defeated the Canadian importer.

My own experience included valve guides, brake shoes, and wheel bearings that failed prematurely by any measure. The cylinder head had a rough unfinished inlet tract, the toolboxes would pop open on the road,..... I like fixing things and I like my '95 Bullet all the same.

Another comparison: My 1969 Interceptor had porosity in a head casting that was dummied up with epoxy at the factory. I have since met the Westwood employee who repaired heads that way as part of his job. The patches were still intact after 40 years but the epoxy was brown and brittle so it crumbled out easily.

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The wheels of my new 1988 350 were out of line by inches.

Areas of the frame left unpainted.

Almost every threaded fastener came loose.

Alternator stator coils shorted to the core.

Main bearing failure.

Burnt valve.

That lot was in 5,000 miles. The big end failed at 12,000 miles.

All splined fittings (sprockets, clutch, etc.) were a loose fit, with rotational free play.

Very poor 6” single leading shoe front brake. The splines stripped from the rear brake arm.

That’s what I can call to mind.


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Originally Posted by triton thrasher
Areas of the frame left unpainted.

And you took that back to the Dealer ??

Originally Posted by Chris Overton
.
The corker was a bike that arrived with no piston. I am told it was warranty issues that defeated the Canadian importer.

That must have caused some conniptions !!!

One of the early Hinckley Trumpies down here peeled its chrome off the exhaust system.
Not just on one pipe, but all 3.
The Dealer replaced it, no question - to very wide publicity, it must be said.

I worked for a large computer maker, late 1980s.
The FIRST check we did with all new computers was to turn them upside down and give them a good shake !
This was to dislodge any loose screws inside - they were trialling machine assembly, and losing screws was a problem.
Gave us a lifetimes supply of extra assembly screws ...


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