1947 Royal Enfield

This month we feature Roger’s 1947 Model J, Royal Enfield.

Roger’s Model J is a 500cc, over head valve, single cylinder engine intended as a basic commuter vehicle. It had a rigid rear end, sprung saddle and telescopic front forks, a four speed Albion gearbox and when new produced about 21 HP at 4750 RPM.

Q: Perhaps a bit of background to begin with?

A: I did contact the Royal Enfield Owners Club in the UK who confirmed that the bike was originally shipped to Nicholson’s in Saskatoon. The Model J 500 is not listed as available to the UK market in 1947.

Q: Why this bike?

A: I have a passion for British 500cc single cylinder machines ( I have 5). They are simple, robust and have a certain unhurried charm when ridden.

Q: What is the bike’s history?

A: I was actually looking for a 500cc BSA but a batch of Enfield’s in pieces came along at a price that made them hard to resist. From all the additional motors and gearboxes, I sorted through and managed to find most of what I needed to build a complete motor and transmission, including the matching numbers crankcase for the frame. I did have to have the a barrel rebored to suit an existing piston.

Q: What have you done so far?

A: I made a deliberate attempt not to over restore, all the cycle parts were powder coated at one of the club’s Saturday morning sessions. Chrome was done by Fairmont Plating. Fenders and tank I painted myself. Coach lining on the tank and wheels was done by a local sign painter.

Q: What about parts availability for a 65 year old machine?

A: Miscellaneous spares and accessories were sourced directly from Hitchcock’s in the UK. Other parts were purchased from around the world over Ebay. This included Australia, England, USA, Austria and India. I have a lathe, so I can make many of my own fasteners as they are Whitworth, BSF etc. threads and not always easy to find.

Q: Other comments?

A: One of the challenges was documentation; the 500cc motor has a lot of distinct parts, which differ from the more common 350 displacement models. Just to make things worse the parts book for the 500 uses the pictures from the 350!

Once the bike was completed, I just cleaned the carb, put gas in and it started first kick and runs with minimum mechanical noise. The front suspension has a lot of room for improvement as the front brake barely slows you down, but if you stand on the pedal the back brake works well. It’s only been ridden on residential roads so I do not know what the performance would be like.