November 2014

Dennis has been catching up on his correspondence with members and learns about some unusual machines

In my March Historian’s Notes, I wrote about Metropolitan Police L.E.s, supplied with a reversed layout of Miller switch and ammeter. There were two batches of late Mk.II models featuring these familiar electrical components on the right hand legshield top, but with the switch placed inboard of the ammeter. It seems that the Police had found if the L.E.’s Olicana windscreen was not adjusted correctly, its lower edge would strike the switch’s key on hard right lock – cutting off the ignition.

I explained this unusual arrangement required a different legshield top, because the piercings accommodating the switch and ammeter are different diameters. Does anyone own one of these machines, I asked? Well, the answer is yes. David Bromley contacted me to report that he owns TYN 488, supplied to New Scotland Yard in May 1957.

David Bromley’s ex-Metropolitan Police 1957 L.E. Mk.II …

… and a rider’s view, showing the reversed switch and ammeter layout. The extended handlebar securing nuts suggest that this machine was indeed once fitted with a windscreen

Les Child from West Sussex owns another Met Police L.E. Mk.II – dating from February 1958. Although dismantled, his example also appears to have the reversed instrument layout.

In 1958 Veloce marketed both the newly introduced 4-speed, foot-change L.E. Mk.III and the 3-speed Mk.II, commenting that existing owners wanting to trade-in, might like to stay with the familiar hand-change layout. The factory’s sales records show that the bulk of L.E. Mk.II production in 1958 went to the Metropolitan Police, with 27 machines supplied to Bill White –their agent in New Zealand’s North Island – also mainly for Police use.

The last Mk.II model wasn’t despatched from Hall Green until June 1964, although after 1958 any three-speed machines must have been made to special order. Only three hand-change examples were assembled in 1962 and one of these VVH 930 is owned by club member Terry Peace. The supplying agent in May that year was Earnshaw of Huddersfield and the first owner, Frank Gibson, was also a member of the Club.

Terry’s machine is a fascinating mix of Mk.II and Mk.III features: a nacelled headlamp with speedometer, but with hand gears and starter. The switch and ammeter remain in the Mk.II position on the right-hand legshield top – the right way around this time.

Terry Peace’s 1962 L.E. Mk.II. The Factory referred to these late machines as L.E. Mk.IIIs with 3-speed gearboxes

Dennis Frost