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  • New member from South East PA

    Hello all. At this point in my life it just made sense to become a member... finally. I have a reason but let me set the scene first. Also, my apologies in advance, this story may drive some of the real motorheads crazy.

    My great uncles (born very late in the 1800s) had a carpentry business in the early to mid 1900s. They ran it out of the barn behind the house they built for their mother. When I was a kid (1960s and 70s), a while after they had stopped using the barn for anything more than storage, there was little better for me than to explore amongst the piles of wood, old shop tools once powered by leather belts and wooden pulleys, old signs and all the type of "great finds" that we now see on American Pickers. There was about a 7 inch path that lead over and around piles everywhere. I would easily give anything to explore that barn now. In 1976 the last of the two brothers passed away and the township began to view the barn as a fire hazard. My grandmother, the sole surviver amongst her siblings and the last resident of that property was forced to remove the barn and find homes for everything in it that was of any value. This falls into the age old story of “If I had now what was thrown away or given away then I could retire.” Or, at least I’d be a "pig in ____" with all the great antiques. I was however, given a number of things like an antique safe, some furniture, some tools, and antique scale, etc. But my point in telling this is that in the process my grandmother said to me “Do you want that old motorcycle in the loft of the barn?” I knew nothing about motorcycles but it looked pretty cool and it was Uncle Charlie’s so it had sentimental value to me. We grabbed some old rope and hoisted it down. Looking back on the process “old rope” may not have been the smartest choice but it worked.

    It was in pretty complete condition. Uncle Charlie had hand painted it at some point but all the parts were there. He had even wired on a few loose parts to keep it all together. I imaging that when he stopped riding (maybe in the 30s) he hauled it up to the loft and there it sat for 40 years. After moving it from it’s previous dusty home it sat in my parents basement for a while. I’d occasionally tinker with it not knowing much about it. Over time, and as I began to learn more about it, I came know that this “little gift” from my family was more important than I first thought. A 1915 Excelsior Big Valve had dropped in my lap. I was smart enough at that point to get it in the hands of a pro for the restoration.

    It’s pretty much of a historic piece and a sentimental antique to me now. It’s probably 97% restored (like there isn’t always SOMETHING that can or needs to be done, researched, explored, rebuilt, etc.) yet… I’ve never started it. I told you this story would drive some people crazy. My goal is to research it further, gain more information and just for fun start it up for it’s 100th birthday some time next year. So my reason for joining? To learn more, hear what's going on here and to get a little help on this project. Cheers.
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Well, Bill... I, for one, liked the story! Welcome to AMCA... and yes, you do have to start that bike someday or you will drive some people crazy!
    Pisten Bulley is Harry Roberts in Vermont.

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    • #3
      Thanks pisten-bully. I know, it's time for me to add the audio to this family heirloom and hear it running.

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      • #4
        Please you-tube it so we can all hear it run for the first time. You are doing a beautiful job. You should be able to find what you need here.
        D. A. Bagin #3166 AKA Panheadzz 440 48chief W/sidecar 57fl 57flh 58fl 66m-50 68flh 70xlh

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        • #5
          Uncle Charlie had great taste in motorcycles, what a good save.
          Kyle Oanes AMCA # 3046

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          • #6
            Bill:
            great story and bike ! thanks for sharing. I sent you a PM since I too am from SE, PA. The site of your picture look very familiar.
            Best
            dan

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            • #7
              I am from south Jersey and heard rumors of your bike through the years but could never locate it. What a nice machine. I have a 1914 Excelsior that is a short couple model like yours.

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              • #8
                Hi Dave,
                Thanks for your note. Interesting there was a "rumor" out there about the 1915. I have had a low profile with it. I think the sentimental value and just the look of it has been enough for me. I do want to crank it over for it's 100th year in 1915 and am starting to reach out for information.

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                • #9
                  Uncle Charlie would be proud! I bet when he bought it.... he never could imagine it now. Sure looks great! Did they have a muffler? OR were they straight pipe like yours?
                  Jim

                  AMCA #6520

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                  • #10
                    I know, I have some old photos of him with cycles (unfortunately not the X) and I like to think he's getting quite a kick from the bike now. It did originally have a muffler. I haven't found one or much reference on them so I chose to put a straight pipe on it. I have the original set of banged up pipe that I lent to someone years back (they wanted to manufacture a set for an X that they have). The pipes may have been modified. They had a rectangular hole cut into them but it didn't look like an original location of a muffler. I understand that the mufflers often got banged up and were frequently just taken off.

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                    • #11
                      Welcome Bill, I think the Excelsior Big Valve Roadster, like your's, is the most interesting bike Excelsior made. I would even go as far to say it was the most interesting motorcycle made by any factory in the pre-war era. I know of 2 BV Roadsters out West, and your's now makes 3. There was also a fellow in New England that had a 1917 BV in the 3 speed Excelsior chassis. I've posted a few pictures of Big Valves, and my 1916 standard X. I love your bike.







                      Eric Smith
                      AMCA #886

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                      • #12
                        Hi Eric,
                        Thanks. I love the bike too. I really got lucky with my great uncle's choice in bikes. And thanks for the photos and graphics. I love this stuff. I had heard there is about 5 or 6 of them in the country but you would know better than I. I was just typing to another member about the pipes. The photo you sent shows what looks to be a patch (I circled it). My original pipes also had a patch there. Do you know anything about this? I wondered if it was where a muffler was taken off but it didn't quite make sense to me.

                        eex7.jpg

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                        • #13
                          It looks like it may be a cut-out, but hard to tell from this blurry photo. Our fellow member Gene Harper may be able to shed some light on that. There may very well be 5 or 6 BV Roadsters out there, but I wish there were hundreds of them. I'll bet your Great Uncle, and anyone else lucky enough to own one, had no trouble with bragging slack jawed yokels on Harleys, and Indians

                          Eric Smith
                          AMCA #886

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                          • #14
                            EBAY Brochure
                            http://www.ebay.com/itm/Genuine-1915...item20ef0ee2aa

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                            • #15
                              Gene was who I lent the old pipes to a bunch of years ago when he needed something to model his from. In fact, he also made the pieces for mine which I've since (obviously) had them welded, finished and nickeled. "... slack jawed yokels" you're probably right.

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