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There is a significant gap in the frame numbers for the WD James ML contract details in Orchard and Madden. It occurred to me if there was a batch of ML’s delivered to the Canadian, Australian or other forces and if anyone might have any insight into what happened to these missing bikes and if there are any bikes out there with C numbers that might apply to these bikes. JT
John in Peter Miller's excellent book on the ML, in which he actually shows pictures of the order cards. He quotes a total war-time production number of ML's including the prototypes as 6353, which matches exactly O&M. Some of the first contract ML were used by the Canadian's (There's this well known picture of a Canadian Paratrooper)
I have no idea why there are gaps in the frame and serial numbers, and the few original pictures I have that show a serial number, all fall within the numbers shown in O&M.
Let me know if you want Peter's email to buy a copy.
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Ron, Many thanks for your response. It’s quite strange that there are large gaps in frame numbers between each of the contracts. JT
Did they number spare frames ? Most of the 'heavyweight' motorcycle contracts included 10% spare frames on top (and 10% engines, 5% gearboxes)...Pre-war with Norton at least, these were numbered from the production sequence.
Wartime spare frames were generally un-stamped but if James had numbered theirs, gaps between contracts would be inevitable. Have any 'missing' frames turned up ?
Gents, the "gaps" in ML frame number sequences, in particular the large gap between the first and second contracts, has long been an unanswered question.......
Peter Miller's excellent little book on the ML does indeed show the ML contract cards held by the VMCC......
Another publication written by James themselves that I have somewhere details the exact number of lightweight motorcycles supplied to the Army and the Admiralty during the war. These tally pretty much with the contract cards.......
As for the gaps, especially the largish one between the first and second contract. I have examined one new old stock WD ML frame that was unused and still painted in original SCC No.2 brown.......it bore a frame number in this "gap"....eg: "ML 43**"..............I have also come across an ex-WD ML that, according to the old log book, stated within "ex-WD - Rebuilt" and dated from 1953. This one too had a frame number from the "gap" (ML 4401).....
It can therefore be presumed that James continued to build frames after completion of the first contract and numbering them sequentially. So a lot of new, unused frames doubtless supplied as spares still bore a unique frame number. If these weren't used up as spares during WW2 then some were clearly used as parts in rebuilding ex-WD machines for sale on the civilian market post-WW2........
Various other new ex-WD ML parts have turned up over the years in small quantities. These include complete WD forks (from Vale Onslow), fuel tanks, various girder fork parts, footrests, toolboxes, complete headlights, wheels, mudguards, etc........
Thanks Steve, very interesting. I bought the ML on eBay a couple of weeks ago and it has a frame number in one of the gaps. Hope all is good with you? JT
John, I was bidding on that aswell, but it's not the frame number!! it's the works number that is on the V5, the guy could not locate a framenumber on the headstock, but I the engine number tallied with the works number, so it must be a genuine WD ML.
Here's what I wrote down about it; Frame No.:ML?56?? Works No.:5510 Engine No.:AAA24628A
It has the wrong wheels, mudguards and a lot more missing, so think you paid a bit too much!
email (option): welbike@welbi**.net
There seems to be a correlation of some sorts, not that you can calculate it, but there's a pattern, just like with Welbike frame and engine numbers, will email you my list, don't think everybody wants his numbers published here.
I think Steve Madden called this the Works number, but it's indeed what you pictured, Norton 16H bikes have this too btw, on the top of the headstem lug.
email (option): welbike@welbi**.net
Hi Lex, could you please also email me your record of numbers. Perhaps I did pay too much for it but I do have a lot of the missing parts in stock. Cheers JT
Was just reading this thread.
Might want to add that my James has no serial number,just the 'ML' stamped where they number should be.
It was found with a late post war steering handle assembly but with wartime stand and footrests.
Rear mudguard seems cut off,but possibly it was a shorter version as of found the two holes for a contract plate filled in with copper rivers.
In yeah, the one making a register of the framenummers vs seat lug numbers was me.
Should have two check if i still have it on my computer.
Struggling with spelling correction on my tablet btw... It makes complete my new sentences sometimes..
As to paying to much, every time anything WW2 is advertised they sell for more and more. Look at the recent Welbike a compleat wreck with lots missing and it went for over £7.000.
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With civvy bikes and the very long run of price rises fuelled by 'investment' as much as by enthusiasm I used to say 'You can't pay too much, you can only pay it too soon'...In other words, in time, the rising market would sooner or later catch up with what you paid...
I can't say I have that degree of confidence now as I see the multiple pressures on the market leading to a softening of prices...I was amazed at some of the low prices achieved at last Octobers Stafford show auction...It made me want to buy something!!!...
However, to date I still feel the WD market is doing very well as most owners(and the market) aren't driven by investment as much as they are by an interest in history and a desire to use their bikes...This (healthy) attitude is resulting in strong, increasing demand and rising prices...Long may it continue....Ian
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