Saturday, May 6, 2017

Dates of the Royal Enfield order from the Indian Government

Motivated from some information that reader Nigel got us, we had speculated about the dates of the legendary Indian Government order of Bullets that got Royal Enfield started in India.

Fortunately, David Blasco of alerted Graham Scarth, the Chairman of the Royal Enfield Club UK of our misdeed, who quickly proceeded to set the record straight for us (many thanks to both!). Here is what Graham said,

"The “common knowledge” may well be that an order was received in 1954, but the dispatch ledgers clearly show that it was not the first.

3 Bullets were supplied to Madras Motors in October 1950 (first ones to India), no doubt for testing by the Army along with other manufacturers machines. They settled on the Bullet of course, after which Redditch produced three large batches of machines with consecutive frame numbers at yearly intervals:

500 in Dec ’51 / Jan ’52
750 in Jan ‘52 / Dec ’53
1250 in Dec ’53 / Jan ‘54

All of these were sent to Hales Bros. in London for shipping to Madras Motors. Contrary to some reports, these machines were all built up at Redditch.

From mid-1954 on, Bullets are sent to Madras Motors in batches of 25 with non-consecutive frame numbers. Sometime after the creation of Enfield India Ltd during 1955, the Bullet is supplied in kit form (CKD) for assembly at Madras.

The dispatch ledgers record Bullets to Madras Motors up to June 1956 and the Bullet CKD kit bikes to Enfield India Ltd from July 1956 onwards. The CKD bikes have an all welded frame that replaces the part-brazed one in order to facilitate manufacture at Madras.

The photo on page 28 in Gordon May’s book “Made in India” shows this type of frame with a horizontal bracing tube (bikes have no tank/seat fitted).

The photo on page 25 shows Redditch part-brazed frame’s with cast headstock lined up on the floor however, clearly indicating that the bike was supplied in kit form prior to June ’56.

I have a photo of the frame number stampings (G2 + EI numbers) for one these part-brazed frames which is recorded in the ledgers as 1955. I suspect the month recorded may be incorrect though!!"

I took advantage of the exchange to inquire about records of previous deliveries, after all Madras Motors had been selling Royal Enfields in India since 1942. Here's Graham again,

"Production of the 350 Bullet started in late 1948 with deliveries to dealerships starting in January 1949.

The standard 350 machine before this date being the Model G, with Hales Bros in London receiving circa 2500 of them. Only 24 are recorded as being for Madras Motors, with another 21 for other dealerships in India and 5 for dealerships that may not have been in India at all. This leaves 2400+ with no onward destination, although I suspect most did go to India.

Hales also received other models of course, but I have yet to study these records in detail."

So, one less Enfield mystery. So many left!

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