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Great bikes have always had great stories. Recently, I have been credited in THE VINCENT IN THE BARN, just released as being one who finds historic bikes and gets them going. I plead guilty to that and can't imagine owning a bike without having curiosity about its history and seeing it back together and running. Here's another one, not in the book.

Phil Vincent's dad bought the H.R.D. company in 1928 and a trickle of bikes started. The company consisted of the tradename and lots of cast frame lugs from H.R.D.s. Frugal people, the British, they used these in the design and manufacture of the the Vincent H.R.D. so as to not waste anything. This resulted in some top tubes being slightly bent to fit the design and after all, who could notice under the petrol tank.

By 1932, the factory was up to a total production of more than 50 motorcycles a year. Imagine the fever pitch of that! Moreover, the brains behind the entire Vincent matter, Phil Vincent and Phil Irving served as hands-on in those days. So it was with our 1932 PS, the Brooklands Vincent as Irving is shown on the works docs as the final inspector who passed it to the test rider, one Philip Vincent himself who rode it and pronounced it ready to deliver.

Now, I don't know the entire 77 year history of it, but I do know that it is full of twists and turns and now that the project is well on its way, this spectacular story and motorcycle is both interesting and historically important as it is most likely, the oldest Vincent motorcycle in America and one of the oldest in the world. No small distinction in a world in which any Vincent is both old and held in high esteem.

Boxes and boxes of parts comprised this project when received a few years back. Grimey, unmarked and somewhat incomplete, at least there is no parts book to illustrate what the parts look like, the dimension of bolts, screws, etc. and where anything goes. For post-war Vincents, exploded parts books make assembly straightforward. Building this bike is perhaps best compared to having to describe the act of love making without benefit of any pictures or terms. Damned difficult and a challenge which I have never faced before, even in doing the Series "A" motorcycles which were built later and were in some ways, similar to the pre-Series "A" bikes, of which the Brooklands Vincent is one.

To properly context this bike from 1932, it is important to understand that it is not a barely changed Howard R. Davies H.R.D. bike at all. Yes, some lugs are the same, but everything else is new. Remember, however good a rider Mr. Davies was, he was not the visionary motorcycle genius that Phil Vincent was. Our bike was one which used a non-Vincent engine as Vincent had yet to be disgusted enough to fire J.A.P. from supplying engines after the "Flap over the JAP" where JAP engines failed to finish the TT and caused some great humiliation to a family and factory which suffered no such events well. The Donald would have said "you're fired."

Before that however, the prestigious motorcycling firm of RUDGE supplied some very nice 4-valve 500 cc engines in regular (model P) and tuned (model PS) versions. These proved to be very nice indeed and it was only the fact that RUDGE quit this supply that Vincent was forced into designing its own engines and discarding all outside designs.

Our Vincent has 4 valves which should give it quite a boost in performance over a two valver. It also has a sideways carb body, a specially hung float chamber, a beautiful little fuel tank and an assortment of oddball components which make this project nearly impossible to complete.

I'll add some "today" images before posting this to the HVG site, but the story is only just beginning about the Brooklands Vincent. Be patient, I have.

December 08, 2009
The Lord provides...

Recently, I studied closely the images of the bike taken in 1932 and some images of what the VOC now has for more detail. However, what I really needed was the front brake, not on the VOC bike, but the correct BLUMFIELD item. These proprietary brakes, 7" in diameter were also sold to Norton for a few bikes. The following year or two later, even Vincent moved away and made its own 7" brakes. So, the BLUMFIELD was needed, but no one had one, no one knew of where one was and no one even knew what it was. Few, I think, are here in Texas either! Anyway, always an optimist, I ran the Ebay traps for things VINCENT a few weeks back. Lo, the BLUMFIELD was being offered or at least enough of one that we could make do. $45 being the opening bid, I worried that some crusty British type would pounce on it. After putting an embarrassingly high amount of bid on it, if needed, I waited. Amazingly, we got it for ... $45! A 7" Vincent drum seems to be a perfect fit although we don’t have the Blumfield hub, we can proceed with Vincent bits until one does pop up. You never know. Patience is certainly one of the most needed qualities in a restorer.

The BTH headlamp switch is still unassembled, but I paid a visit to my painter who has it for repair. I had a brainstorm about how to make it work and shared that with the paint shop guys where the light bulb came on with them too. For now, we’re waiting for a mudguard from Britain, handlebars being sent by my good friends at British Only Austria and some more looking for Sackville levers for the handlebars. The project is halted for these items and the next move is to break down the wheels for refinishing unless Conways comes up with a pair they say they might have. Any way, our artist/welder is moving the mounting flange on our "sideways" AMAL which can only just clear the magdyno. Getting the transmission, primary drive and establishing the final chain line were huge. Conways sent images of a somewhat similar bike which helped on the primary cover mounting areas. More later.

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