8XE dry build finished.

The dry build is pretty much finished now but there is still plenty to do. The wheels need taking apart and then will be re-built with the correct spokes. I am having some issues with the sizes. The oil tank needs lifting some and the front fender sits poorly at present. There are plenty of small things that need looking at before paint and plating but she is mostly done. So far so good.

1/4″ x 24 tpi

I picked up a pack of 1/4″ x 24 tpi nuts so managed to mount the primary cover and the front fender stays. I need some more for the rears. The primary cover came from Dewey Rice and it fitted perfectly without any adjustment needed.

8XE progress

I spent some time this afternoon tidying up some of the smaller jobs that I have been putting off. I made the spacers for the front wheel hub and did the threads for the carb and timing cable clamps. On the magneto side the threads were over-size and had been taken up to 5 mm. On the carb side two were standard size and the others were again 5 mm so I upped them all to 5 mm. Interestingly, on the carb side the frame was drilled in two places suggesting that the cable has been secured in different places during the bike’s 100+ year life. Original photos show both versions with the higher clamp position being on the earlier models. In that instance the cable is carried again under the tank on its way to the carb, in a similar way to the 10s and 11s. That is the route I will use.

I also went through all the parts in the handlebars and installed new cables. Again the old ones work well and look great on an original bike but rather than clean and re-nickle the old ones I’d rather save them for later and install new ones for this build.

I installed the seat post and put in a new seat post pinch bolt. I have originals of both but I think these will look and work better (the bike will be ridden). The recovering of original seat was done by Jethro Smith.

The new compensator sprocket came from Competition and the lock ring I had on the shelf.

Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction 2017


Well none of the best bikes sold; what does that tell us? Were the estimates well below the reserve prices? Did no one turn up? Is it the market, or fashion? Maybe the current buyers are only looking at prices with regard to ‘investment value’. But the only way to get real value out of motorcycles is to ride them, regardless of what they cost.

A Vincent sold for $150k but neither the Merkel, the Crocker, the 36 Knuckle, nor the Harley 8XE or 6A sold.


This years Bonhams Las Vegas Motorcycle Auction is this week and as usual there are some great bikes up for grabs. Dale Walkslers 1936 Crocker will be of particular interest with the estimate of more than $500k and there are some rather nice Vincents as well.

On the F-Head side there is a lovely restored 1912 twin, a 1912 single and a 1910 single, all with rather low estimates. Maybe that is an indication of the market or maybe they just post low estimates to get the bidders interested. Either way there are some very nice bikes and it will be interesting to see the prices they reach.

The photos are courtesy of the Bonhams auction site. Have a look on their site and see the photos in better detail. You might even want to bid on one!

1910 6A.

There are only two pictures of this bike on the site; they are not very good and they don’t expand. The estimate is $45-55k which seems bizarrely low. Any 1910, of course depending on the quality of the work, should be worth well more than that and with buyers’ premium included I would expect to pay double that for such a cool bike.

1912 8XA.

This is a nice little bike with a clutch and magneto. I’m not sure about the colour but it is apparently an older restoration.

1912 8XE.

There are loads of great pictures of this bike on the site; great for referencing if you are doing a restoration. I think this is the bike that Bator International had up for sale last year at $169k. It won’t fetch that at auction.

Wheels and the old dilemma returns!

Kevin came over today and we fitted the wheels he has built up. The front has the correct Eclipse hub and the rear has a copy hub but with a mainly original clutch. The cover and most parts are HD but the missing parts came from Competition. The rims are from Al McPherson and we have used ‘mock up’ spokes and nipples to get the lengths and offsets correct. They will be rebuilt again in due course.


The dilemma is the old one though. Just for fun after lunch we put on the old gas tank,  the handlebars and we balanced the old seat on the frame…… So now I’m wondering (again) whether this should be the ‘old parts’ bike or if I should use the restored parts on this build and keep searching for more old parts and put them on the belt drive.  I just don’t want to repaint this old frame as part of the restoration.

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12 twin build starts

I now have enough parts to start the build of the chain drive twin. I also have a 1912 8D project and several more parts which could be used on both the 8E (chain) and 8D (belt). I will probably build one bike as a dirty scruffy original and the other as a restored, painted and plated bike but still to be ridden. It will depend on what parts I can find. There is also a 1914 two speed sitting on the shelf and other assorted projects on the go.

The first issue was with the frame; I couldn’t get the seat post out, it was fixed solid. I had to the cut the back of the seat tube and then weld a rod and slide hammer the post out. Then re-weld the tube and re-fit another (original) seat post. You can’t see the repair when the toolbox is installed.

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Next was the silencer. I built up the re-pop version on the bike as a guide to check the fit. Then I had to make the original one fit (usually it’s the other way around). First I had to machine the baffle so it would fit into the rear outlet and then on assembly discovered it was too long. So 12 mm off the baffle and then re-round the outer cover to fit both end pieces.

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The next job is to tweek the flange on the front header pipe and then fit some olives inside both unions. Then fit the cut out and the exhaust should be done.

Another 8A for sale

This lovely little 8A (on the left) will be for sale at Veterama later this week. It is priced at €52k which is just under $60k US. The one on eBay last week (on the right) reached $45k but not the seller’s reserve!

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Start your own build

There is a nice little 1912 single motor for sale on eBay currently at just $8k. All the other parts you would need to finish the bike are available as reproduction parts and in time you could find several original parts to add to the bikes credibility.



1912a 1912b

There is also a 1912 single cylinder complete bike listed on eBay. It has been for sale for a long time now but I guess the sellers reserve price has never been reached. It’s up to over $40k already, so the single motor, complete with carb and magneto looks like good value.



1912 motor comparisons.

I have two builds to start this summer; both 1912 twins but very different motors. The first is the earlier motor; it is the smaller twin with 6 1/2 H.P. and the follow-on from the first twin put to the market in 1911. It has an open magneto and a 2 inch belt drive with the sheave mounted on a clutch drum (if it’s an X model).

The second is the first real big twin with the 7-8 H.P. motor. It is the first year of the chain drive and is also magneto powered.

These ’12s make good bikes to ride because of their lower seat height, the ful-floteing suspension and the clutch. One will be a restored machine but not overly so and not with an exhibition finish. The other will be built using original un-restored parts where possible and with an original finish. I will post some more motor comparison shots before I start the builds.

If the figures in “The Legend Begins” are correct (!), there were 11 of the smaller twins built without a clutch (8D), 49 with a clutch (X8D) and 63 of the larger chain driven twins (X8E) so these are quite rare machines.


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