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Can I rely on the information in this site for 100% accuracy ?

Don't be silly !  We all make mistakes and no one knows everything.  All I can say is that I have not knowingly included inaccurate information.  I have tried to indicate where I am not absolutely sure of details and I welcome corrections and additions.

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Where can I find information about my bike ?

This site contains basic identification information about every post-war model.

You can find :

  • which model you have
  • what year it was made
  • what it looked like
  • the specification, colour scheme, transfers and plating
  • where to find further information.

Find out about the James CD-ROM

  • It expands the content of this website.

  • Fuller details and many more pictures are available instantly

  • No lengthy load times.

Little has been published about James motorcycles. 

Order photocopies of :

  • factory published annual sales brochures

  • rider's instruction books

  • parts lists.  

from www.brucemain-smith.com . 

From time to time they may have original copies.

The magazines "Motor Cycle" and "Motorcycling" published :

  • model announcements

  • road tests

  • adverts

throughout the period that James was making bikes. 

Details of issue dates and page numbers are included on this site.  The archive of this material is held by Morton's Motorcycle Media. 

Contact Morton's Archive enquiries: Jane Skayman: 
for details of their photocopy service

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Where is the frame number on my bike ?

On rigid frames the frame number is usually to be found on the lug beneath the saddle and shows to the nearside (left hand side as you sit on the bike.)  The numbers are stamped into the metal - do not be fooled by any raised cast numbers you may find on the bike 

On plunger frames the number may be found on the saddle lug, as above, or on the headstock.  Again the number will be to the nearside and stamped into the metal.

On swing arm frames the number was on the headstock and was usually stamped into a steel plate that was rivetted to the headstock.

 

Where can I get parts for my bike ?

The factory gates closed nearly 40 years ago.  There are no regular dealers in James parts.  

  • A few parts are being re-manufactured .
  • Auto-jumbles and adverts in the classic motorcycle press are the most effective way to begin the search. 
  • Membership of the British Two Stroke Club is strongly recommended.
  • Villiers engine parts are still available for all post-war engines and gearboxes as well as some A.M.C. spares

www.villiersservices.com  claim to have every part for post-war Villiers engines and gearboxes.  They have limited stocks of A.M.C. parts too

www.vale-onslow.co.uk have a stock of James cycle parts and can search for items by part number.

See other parts and services

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What colour should my bike be ?

This site gives details of :

  • the paint colours used for each model. 
  • the correct transfers (decals)  (with reference numbers to make them easy to order.) 
  • which parts were electro-plated.

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What are the modern equivalents for the James paint colours ?

The following are the colours used by James from 1946 - 1966.

It is hoped that modern matches can be added to the list.  If you have recommendations please e-mail them to me.

WARNING !  Please satisfy yourself that the colour matches are suitable.  They are offered in good faith but cannot be guaranteed to satisfy everybody's idea of the perfect match !  Colour is VERY subjective.

James maroon - (British Leyland) Rover Damask Red
Martial Grey - late '50s - Du Pont: Slate Grey.  RAL 7015
Royal Blue - late '50s
Pastel Grey - late '50s
Seagull Grey - Colonel only
Stromboli Red  - early '60s - Ford Burgundy Red E7 FOR.2097 (D)
M15 Cadet Tank panel  - 1962 - 65 - BMW Chamonixweiss O85  BMW.O85(Y)
Riviera Blue -  Superswifts
Caribbean Blue - AMC Captains - Opel Monza Blue
Old English White - Scooter
Astral Blue - Scooter
Devon Red - Scooter
Peacock Blue - Scooter
Metallic Green - M16
Arden Green - Final L1 Comets - I.C.I. Ref.No. - PO30-NH77.  Formulation
Tank panel blue - 1948 - 1951 - Volkswagen Beat Blue

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Where can I get colour pictures of my bike ?

There were no colour magazines at the time the machines were built.  The factory produced colour sales brochures from about 1952 and these help to give an impression of the colour schemes.  The colours cannot be relied on, however, for accuracy or for matching paint colours.
Brochures may be available from  www.brucemain-smith.com , but, because of their rarity, they are expensive.
Please be aware that the pictures in brochures often differed in detail to the way the bikes actually appeared in the showroom.  This is especially true from 1946 to 1953.
From time to time James models feature in "Classic Motor Cycle" and "Classic Bike" but do not rely on the complete authenticity of the restoration details. 

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Is there a James Owners Club ?

I don't know ! 

There have been attempts, over the years, to start a Club but I am not aware of the existence of a James Club at present. 

Membership of the British Two Stroke Club is strongly recommended as many members own James motorcycles. 
 

The Vintage Motor Cycle Club also welcomes James owners and there is a James Section.

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Can I get the early plastic tank badges ?

No !  The original (1954 on) silver and maroon badges are not available.

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Who supplies silencers and exhaust pipes ?
  • www.villiersservices.com have a growing range of pipes and silencers.
  • Armours offer a limited range. Tel. 01202-519409
     
  • Terry Roberts (Metal Magic) offers systems for the M.L. Tel 01189 731631
     
  • James Gainer (USA) offers systems for the M.L.

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Are AMC engines any good ?

Like any engine they are as good as the maintenance they receive.  That said, they do not have a good name generally. 

The 150cc engine (15T) is conventional in design and though a little crude it is a good unit.  Watch out for the left hand thread securing the flywheel to the engine shaft.  The threaded end of the shaft is not very substantial and is easily damaged - especially if you try to undo the nut the conventional way.  Remember - left hand thread - it undoes "clockwise".

The 175, 200 and 250cc engines suffered mostly from piston problems.  There seems to have been problems with the conrod destroying the bottom of the piston skirt and also with piston rings breaking up.  The unconventional porting arrangement in the cylinder wall may have given piston rings a hard time - especially when wear became apparent.

You will find lots of people who have used these engines and got good service.  Equally you will find lots of people who do not rate them - but maybe never rode one ?

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Why did AMC make their own engines ?

After years of good service from Villiers units it is hard to understand why AMC decided to go it alone.  The development costs must have been significant. 

They had two ranges of motorcycles (James and Francis-Barnett) in which to use the motors and they had the casting, forging and machining facilities to do the job at Plumstead. 

Nevertheless it was a considerable undertaking, which they staggered over the 1956 - 1959 period, and it probably did not bring the rewards they had hoped for. 

In "Motor Cycling for 18 October 1956, in a write up of the new 250cc 25T engine the reporter writes that the decision to make their own engines was

 "...not just an expeditious alternative to the proprietary units hitherto employed in the AMC-Group lightweights, but a serious attempt to equal, if not surpass, Continental two-cycle design."  

I think time will suggest that they did not succeed.  In the end they contracted Villiers to assemble (and probably develop) the engines.

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Where can I get AMC spares ?

AMC parts are not as easy to find as Villiers parts. 

Try      www.villiersservices.com

"Bantam John" now has probably the biggest stock.  Reports suggest that he is not very helpful, however.

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Why are the pictures on this site so basic ! ?

There is a compromise to be struck between the usefulness of a picture and the time it takes to load.  I have used pictures of a type and size that will aid identification.  Detailed illustrations are available in the quoted sources.

Contemporary press pictures were of low quality.  Most images that I have used are from sales brochures or instruction booklets.  Many illustrations were retouched or were of "development" machines that differed in detail from the production bikes. 

There is not a lot of point showing pictures that are inaccurate.  Unfortunately many recently published pictures are of restored bikes that also include inaccuracies.

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