In bulletin number one, published in OTL No.463, Veloce set out the L.E.’s mass market appeal – that it could, “be treated like a bicycle and used like a car.” In this second of the three advance publications designed the generate demand for the little twin, the factory talk about the L.E.’s transmission.
Fully enclosed shaft drive was one feature which marked the L.E. out as far more than a basic commuter machine. The leaflet makes the important point that a reduction gear between engine and clutch – which gears down the transmission by about a third – means that in turn the final drive doesn’t have to be of gigantic dimensions in order to achieve an appropriately geared output to the rear wheel. I’ve always thought that the L.E.’s bevel drive casing is well proportioned and this is the reason why.
The factory’s well known reasons for a hand gear change layout is also covered, including the importance of a central neutral position on a car-type gate change. The paragraph about the gearbox, at the top of the second page, is well worth reading. At a time when the countershaft gearbox was all but universal – with clutch and output sprockets mounted on concentric shafts – the L.E.s parallel gear shafts formed a highly unusual all indirect transmission layout. Of course aligning the two shafts side by side horizontally, allowed the drive to emerge towards the left of the gearbox casing’s centre line, thereby aligning with the adjacent tube of the pivoted rear fork.
The other important point about the gearbox is the statement that only two gears are in mesh at any one time, rather than four on a conventional design, thereby reducing wear. The layout proved its worth by being practically fault free in use. It was only after engine capacity was increased that – eventually – the dimensions of the secondary shaft rear ballrace were increased. In contrast, the 4-speed gearbox was something of a retrograde step. Adding an extra ratio to the same size casing meant that the width of some gears was reduced. The primary low gear in particular became heavily loaded and was prone to wear. Similarly, the foot gear change mechanism, as the leaflet predicted, “involves a multiplicity of parts,” and the external change mechanism is particularly wear prone.
The photograph of the L.E. power unit shows a couple of notable features typical of early production. First, the radiator hose clips have rounded rather than square ends – which explain why the later clip was allocated a ‘second version’ part number LE396/2. Second, on top of the radiator, the overflow pipe is screwed in place with a tubular through bolt. On later radiators, the pipe is soldered directly to the upper header tank.
Incidentally, as the cover of this second leaflet is almost identical to the first, it has been omitted for reasons of space.