Historian's Notes.

February 2014

L.E. Restorations don't look the part without a decent pair of legshields.

Legshields: they’re a L.E. restoration’s finishing touch. Polished to perfection, or painted, they set off the water cooled twin’s unique style. They aren’t a proprietary fitment, of course, designed for bolting on a whole range of motorcycles; they are part of the Motorcycle for Everyman’s special design. They need to be right.

Over the years I’ve repaired umpteen L.E. legshields. Tricky welds – not easy with such a thin material – beating out dents on hardwood formers, filling scratches and ripples before a coat of etch primer; essential to make a finish paint scheme bond to bare aluminum. Painted legshields – a factory specification from 1956 on – can be repaired and tidied up to look as new. However returning a factory fresh finish to earlier, polished examples is a tough job.

A late 1954 Factory L.E. view. The visible legshield is so highly polished, it is reflecting everything in sight.

Veloce made the L.E.’s legshields in-house. Stacks of aluminum sheet with the marvelous West Midlands brand name of Birmabright was cut to shape on the firm’s large American press, also used to form the L.E.’s frame and mudguards. The subsequent folding, welding – and that rolled outer edge – were all done by hand, which is what makes replicating legshields in quantity so difficult today.

Most moderately skilled restorers can make a pair of legshields, given time. I’ve made a few, but would baulk at knocking out a quantity. That was the Club’s problem: we needed someone to make us hundreds of pairs.

David Bodicoat our Secretary reminds me that his decade in the role has seen legshields discussed at every meeting of our spares committee as false starts, dead ends and unsatisfactory samples have been poured over, causing despair to set in. Not any more.

The L.E. legshields we now have for sale through the Club’s Spares Scheme are the best we’ve ever produced. All the factory details are there – not just those points I have already mentioned, but the subtle compound curves and the choice of material which will polish to perfection given a little effort. Then there are the associated fittings – brackets and the all important tops. We’ve never previously been able to offer new stocks of legshield tops in the myriad versions used on the L.E. over the years. Until now we’ve had to rely on ex-factory examples bought in the early 1990s, suggesting to members they modify them to suit their machine’s particular specification.

Better than a hand of cards: the Club’s freshly manufactured stock of legshield tops in left and right-hand types. Did Veloce offer more than these nine versions?

The simplest tops are the plain unpierced examples, used on the earlier Mk.III models with Miller electrics – but at this point in production there’s also an alternative left-hand version to accommodate the optional extra oil pressure gauge. What about later tops for Lucas equipped machines? We’ve made them too, with and without the facility for an ammeter. Some of the piercings have small locating notches, so the instruments can be fitted in the correct angular position. Even 1964 Police machines with 12 volt Miller electrics can be accommodated. Their separate ignition and lighting switches fit the original right-hand top used on the L.E. Mk.I – but with the small hole originally pierced for the ignition warning light replaced by a circular Miller logo.

Here’s a branch club night question: how many types of legshield tops did Veloce produce over the years? Was it nine? As the photographs show, that’s the number we now have available. The total was actually 10, but we have decided not to offer one version, its use being so obscure. Any ideas what it looks like??

Dennis Frost