Iâ€™m hoping someone can help me with a bike Iâ€™ve owned for a while now. Itâ€™s a future project that was unearthed during a recent archaeological dig in my garage and I thought Iâ€™d try to get some information about it.
Itâ€™s apparently a 1955 Royal Enfield Constellation of some kind but, although Iâ€™ve seen similar fairings and front guards on other bikes, Iâ€™ve not seen the faired in side covers and tailpiece or the rocket 2 into 1 exhaust. I havenâ€™t bought any RE books yet, but a quick look on the net hasnâ€™t come up with any particular information on this specific model.
Itâ€™s certainly a bit unusual. So ugly itâ€™s beautiful, in fact, but the factory has spent a lot of time shaping the fairing around the frame, 2 into 1 and the engine. The speedo may be a bit optimistic at 150mph, but I love the alloy rocket tip on the silencer.
Can anybody help point me in the direction of information on this bike?
Certainly an interesting bike. Wish i could find something like that lurking in the back of my garage...!
Gordon May's book "By Miles the Best" shows photos of each years models by year, and that combination of features certainly isn't unique.
An optional Airflow fairing (with that front guard or its ineffective), the optional 2 into 1 exhaust and other bits seem to point towards mid 50s or later, although there were no Connies that early,
it could be a Meteor or Super Meteor , or into the 1960s if it is a Connie ? I can't see it in that colour though.
Hitckcocks have got a fairly good collection of pics of various models.
Frank on something similar ?
Someone who knows these models better may be able to nail it down
These bikes (fairings) were way ahead of their time ?, only the D type vinnie was comparable.. ?
Could that colour be Wedgewood Blue ?
Have you tried polishing a patch (in a discrete spot maybe, if you wish to keep the unkempt look.)
(A good wax and polish may actually bring out an exceptional original-finish bike ?)
Don't touch the chrome until we have discussed tricks of reviving it either).
Someone will have details of how to contact Graham, in the Enfield Owners Club, he offers a service of dating
bikes in return for all numbers being supplied, so as to update their records too.
A very nice find indeed. Probably a 1961 Constellation, altho they made some in 1962 - '64 too. The fairing is RE's own design Airflow fairing. Reg Thomas gets the credit. (Form follows function....) Semi-enclosure rear mudguard, side covers behind the toolbox are hard to find, toolbox is special shape to blend in the lines. (It tapers in from back to front.) Lifting handle, altho I see one of yours is missing. Chronometric speedo is well made and worth restoring. RE really wanted the 3 piece silencer to work and had a series of issues with the central stud coming loose. Big issues at the time were effective silencing without reducing performance. The government was setting max sound levels and promising to set lower dB levels. Engine will be 700cc altho 24 Constellation 750s were built and sent to the USA.
The story will be told by the serial number on the left side of the engine, just below the cylinders. All the letters and numerals are important. Frame number stamped into the headstock on the left side. (Not the raised numerals on the right side, which are a casting number.) Gearbox number on the top of the case on the right side, near the joint with the covers, small and covered in grease usually. Gearbox number is copied onto the front of the crankcase on the right side. Go to the excellent blog www.royalenfields.com
and you will see a blurb in the right sidebar about contacting Graham Scarth. Or post the numbers here and one of us will contact Graham. Dispatch records will show dispatch date and destination dealer from the serial numbers.
A rare and special bike.
Mark Mumford in England has pointed out the single carb and painted tank indicate a Super Meteor, not Constellation. Numbers please, to unravel the mystery! Still a special model.
What a worthy project.Best of luck,with it.
That old rear tire has quite a 'square' crossection/profile...?
Maybe I'm a bit too young (58),to remember such things...?
Looks like a Flying Flea tank badge on the fork top enclosure.
Correct on both counts Flying Flea badge and correct for bike. Richard
UK Royal Enfield Owners Club chairman here. If you provide me with the frame and engine numbers of this machine ([email protected]
) I can identify it for you from the factory records owned by the Club.
Frame number is on left side of the headstock and reads top to bottom. Note that 4759 on right side in raised digits is the pattern number of the casting.
Engine number on left side just below the cylinder and will most likely have an SB or SC prefix.
Thanks for your post. Iâ€™ve actually sent you an email on Monday, at 5.13pm my time, with images of the engine and frame numbers. There doesnâ€™t seem to be a prefix to the engine number, but an O or Q D above it. Will be interested to see what you make of it.
Thanks to everyone for their input. Yes, although there is photographic evidence of one other and several similar bikes, it seems like mine is a rare bird.
Rohan, Iâ€™ve given it a polish and it is black. I think black is a bit severe as a colour on this bike. I thinks a dark blue would suit it. I donâ€™t know if that was an option at the time. Will look it up.
Keane, the thought of riding it with that rear tyre is truly frightening. Especially in the wet.
They may not be real common, and you probably won't meet one on every corner, but Enfields with Airflow fairings are more common than you may think ?
Googling this subject produces lotsa pics...http://motorbike-search-engine.co.uk/classic_bikes/royal_enfield_meteor.jpghttp://motorbike-search-engine.co.uk/classic_bikes/1960-royal-enfield-meteor.jpghttps://c1.staticflickr.com/4/3752/18711727634_5e7e09ef32_b.jpg
There is mention there someplace too that the fairings were available until recently, they were of course a bolt on option
-including getting them fitted from new on your Enfield. They also were supplied to fit the smaller models.https://scontent-ort2-2.cdninstagra...?_nc_ht=scontent-ort2-2.cdninstagram.com
There was also the Sportsflow fairing, a more sporty version. They may be less common again ?https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/atta...advertisement-brochure-thread-196308.jpg
Yes, there seems to be a few Enfields with the fairing, some with the front guard too. The rare bit seems to be the steel rear bodywork. I read somewhere these may have been to special order?
I also read somewhere that most of the manufacturer's were trying aerodynamic bodywork at this time, but the Enfield was the only one that actually worked. Apparently, even the Black Knight Vincent had more drag than the naked bike!
The steel rear bodywork looks to be a standard part of a number of Enfields in the 1960s,
some Crusaders and Meteors and Connies and Bullets had it, Airflow or not,
Its shown for a number of years in Gordon Mays book of models.
Some otherwise similar models didn't have it, so I don't know what was on their minds..
Even without the Sportsflow, this model Crusader had the seat enclosure.
Remember this is the era when Turnips and Nortons had bathtubs and deluxe enclosures.
(and they weren't entirely popular ?).
I stand corrected. Still, there doesnâ€™t seem to be that many around. The opposition efforts look truly awful to me, and probably not helpful when working on the rear end. The Enfield effort strikes me as much more stylish and practical.
Lance, any response yet on the serial numbers? There are documents in N Am originating from RE engine factory records. An internal RE company record, not the Redditch dispatch ledger. In 1970 someone saw those records and made a hasty summary. Useful, but hindered some by errors, omissions, and generalizations. Later, that summary was simplified, introducing more of the same errors, and printed by DomiRacer in their parts catalogue. I posted that ID chart at:http://www.ozemate.com/interceptor/k_baseIndian1.htm
Going back to the first summary, I see engines QD20305 - QD20328 were built in Oct - Dec 1960, which is in the 1961 model year. Engines QD20329 - QD20411 were built from 14 Mar 1961 to 07 Nov 1961. Usually, at that point in time, bikes dispatched after 01 Sept were 1962 models, but the hasty summary says all were 1961. The engines were built at Upper Westwood and sent to Redditch where they were installed in frames and the completed bikes dispatched, usually within a few weeks.
Graham has the dispatch records, so he has the last word.
Interesting you note the Vincent Black Knight had worse aerodynamic drag than a naked bike. That is truly poor. RE's design engineer, Reg Thomas, reported in Anne Bradford's book on RE, that the Airflow fairing was tested in the wind tunnel at British Aerospace and they found they could not improve on his design. Evidently Reg was not there for the test. The man who did the test thought the aerodynamic performance was poor. That may be points of view. Users of the Airflow report they are effective weather protection, and the wind noise is much lower so you hear the mechanical noises more. An aerodynamics pro would have been as interested in the trailing edge as the leading edge. The Airflow that was sold was only on the front of the bike. Versions with aerodynamic styling the length of the bike were tried, but never made it to market.
I haven't received your email with the photos I'm afraid.
Well there we have it. Graham has very nicely confirmed that my RE is a matching numbers Super Meteor, which left the Redditch factory on the 23rd January, 1961, bound for Perth, Western Australia. Although no spec sheet is available, Graham feels the bike was probably supplied as is, with the Airflow features. In black, Iâ€™m wondering if the dealer was perhaps trying to convince the local police to try an alternative to their BSAs?
Iâ€™ll now look at collecting the missing bits for future restoration.
Do you know any of this bikes local history ?
It looks like with a good wax and polish, it could come up a million bucks already, missing parts or not.
And judging by your dry climate (?), the alloy and chrome could easily clean up very nicely too.
How far it is off running ?
Chrome cleaning comment No 1
Oil it or wax it afterwards, or the rust weevils may have another go...
No, unfortunately I donâ€™t have any history for this bike.
Iâ€™ll look at it a bit more seriously and assess the condition, but I suspect a bit more than a good wax and polish is required. Future project, so will start collecting the bits, but unlikley to be running very soon. I must say that the phosphoric acid looks like a wonder solution. Will have to give that a try.
We really think you should attend to this bike soonish, before the rust gains a foothold ?
Removing the brown rusty look does wonders for the cosmetics.
Phos acid works equally well on paintwork with light rust, since it doesn't affect the paint either.
(Always try on a spot out of sight first though, you don't want to find out otherwise !).
As always, oil or wax afterwards, you don't want the rust coming back.
Perhaps with the occasional progress report
Highly likely it was a Police bike as i had one the same with fairing,the previous owner was a police officer and knew all about it's history.Perth bikes were allways black and they went over to Kawasaki w1 afterwards.
Was that in Perth? I was aware that the Queensland police had used Royal Enfields, but that the WA police had used BSAs before the Kawasakis. They have tried other brands out occasionally, such as Harley Davidson, so maybe a similar trial? It was only a hunch on my part, but looks likley. Thanks.
The Qld police used Norton 650SS's from the early 60s, along with some BSA's and Triumphs.
The Royal Enfield outfits were prewar ?
Along with some Harley AJS and BSA v-twin outfits.
If an ex-police rider in Perth had an Airflow Enfield, that suggests it may have been an ex-police bike ?
Is there any history of West Oz police bikes - often they have a history museum ? Maybe even online.
I had a quick look online when I first thought the bike may have had a police connection but, although there was some WA police history, the poor old motorcycle coppers didn't even crack a mention. I was lucky to find the image above.
A mate of my old man's was a motorcycle copper. He had to ride his BSA over the 6 foot high seesaw at the Royal Show. Better him than me.
There is a police museum and website in Perth.
Why don't you contact them and ask about motorcycles used - there is mention of motorcycle patrols.
Offer to supply them with pics of your bike (once restored ?) if the subject arises of 'payment for information supplied' (!!)
They need a serious update to their 'automobiles dept' if it was written in 1918 !!!
(They do have a 1932 picture though...)https://policewahistory.org.au/HTML_Pages/Committee.html
Yes mine was a Perth bike,although it was sent to Bunbury for it's working life.Try the Vintage club over there,i'm sure they will recall that bike,it's likely to be still registered through them.From memory dealers would offer bikes to the force who could sample them,BSA probably could just outdeal anybody else.So the enfield may have been the only one or 1 of 2 or more they purchased.I also remember the deal done to get the Harleys in back then,the offer was they (dealer) would pay back the full initial purchase price after 3 years,knowing that Police bikes were highly regarded when they come to be auctioned off. I know were a Qld police Meteor resides now.
Does this Meteor have any police equipment on it ?
Any chance of a pic ?
It wasn't an Airflow model ?
Gov't Depts buying vehicles sales tax free and then selling them off a year or 3 later
at a profit had long been the bane of 2nd hand dealers in Oz.
Fleet buyers make up about half of new car sales in the common models.
(Dunno about bikes though, be only a tiny fraction.)(Except maybe BMW)
Dealers complained they were being undercut in the used car market.
The 10% only GST has sort of levelled out this playing field
Edit. We diverge, but qld pleece look to have had a few BSA's at some stage.
Tall screens every last one of them.
If only we could find a pic for the perth pleece...
Just a plain black Meteor,owner told me it was ex police bike.Airflow probably hadn't come out by then.
The image I posted is of a WA police bike, as evidenced by the black swan flag. That wouldnâ€™t be for normal duties. Parade for the governor or something, Iâ€™d guess. Photographed outside the old police headquarters in East Perth by the looks of the background. Police bikes didnâ€™t have all the bling in those days (refer both WA and Queensland images) that they do these days. Just basic bikes with fairing protection in black. Ah, the simple old days.
I was thinking more of a pic of the fleet of pleece bikes for Perth.
(To see if there were any Enfields/Airflow Enfields amongst them).
That mention of the ex-policeman with an Airflow Enfield sure is interesting....
Most states have long histories of using motorcycles, there must be more pics someplace.
Other states have whole reams of them. Often for publicity...
A lot of other Gov't depts also used bikes, some of them also have pics in abundance.