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First Black Shadow - Stevenage workers


Prince Duster

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Many thanks to Colin Cooper for this treasure trove. His father, Norman Cooper, served in the tank corps during the war and joined Vincents as an apprentice in 1947.

Norman took this shot which, according to his family, has never been seen until now. It is believed to be the original Black Shadow. Brampton forks, of course, HRD stamps on the cases and early 5-inch speedo - plus a line-up of Rapides in the background, which does suggest it's one of a kind at the time.

Gerry Jenkinson and I have now filmed 16 men and women who worked at Stevenage for our documentary, SpeedisExpensive. Some have passed away since we filmed them. And many, like Norman, left us before we could reach them.

But it has been a privilege to record the recollections of people such as Hans Edwards (drawing office), John Surtees (apprentice - racer), Christine Howard (drawing office), Alma Papworth (front desk), Ernie Allen (tool-maker - Ted Davies' passenger), John Griffiths (assembly - racer), Ken Blake (assembly), David Bowen (apprentice-restorer), Richard Whitting (former Sunderland WW2 flight engineer - engine assembly) and racers/record-setter/builders such as Harry Lindsay, Brian Chapman, Fritz Egli and Patrick Godet.

Information about the bikes, and factory, keeps emerging.

David Lancaster.
 

Attachments

TouringComet

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
VOC Forum Administrator
No generator fitted, looks like the blanking plate fitted.
 

A_HRD

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Float chamber has a plug in the bottom.
Seat and rear suspension - blackened studs.
Peter B
 

bmetcalf

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
The carb cables are routed under the tank rather than between the tank and the UFM, which seems like the gentler bend.
 

chankly bore

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Many thanks to Colin Cooper for this treasure trove. His father, Norman Cooper, served in the tank corps during the war and joined Vincents as an apprentice in 1947.

Norman took this shot which, according to his family, has never been seen until now. It is believed to be the original Black Shadow. Brampton forks, of course, HRD stamps on the cases and early 5-inch speedo - plus a line-up of Rapides in the background, which does suggest it's one of a kind at the time.

Gerry Jenkinson and I have now filmed 16 men and women who worked at Stevenage for our documentary, SpeedisExpensive. Some have passed away since we filmed them. And many, like Norman, left us before we could reach them.

But it has been a privilege to record the recollections of people such as Hans Edwards (drawing office), John Surtees (apprentice - racer), Christine Howard (drawing office), Alma Papworth (front desk), Ernie Allen (tool-maker - Ted Davies' passenger), John Griffiths (assembly - racer), Ken Blake (assembly), David Bowen (apprentice-restorer), Richard Whitting (former Sunderland WW2 flight engineer - engine assembly) and racers/record-setter/builders such as Harry Lindsay, Brian Chapman, Fritz Egli and Patrick Godet.

Information about the bikes, and factory, keeps emerging.

David Lancaster.
This picture appears on page 62 of "Vincent Vee Twins" by Roy Harper.
 

vin998

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
VOC Forum Moderator
Note how narrow the gold lines are on the fuel tank.
 

genedn

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Note how narrow the gold lines are on the fuel tank.
Hi Simon,

I have an old shadow tank that needs restoration that has the same thin lines. It is from a C model shadow that was left in a Michigan State barn for 50 years.
 

Robert Watson

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
The blanking plate at the generator drive might be because there appears to be no electrics fitted yet. No wiring, no headlight or brackets, no dip switch, no battery..........
 

genedn

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
The blanking plate at the generator drive might be because there appears to be no electrics fitted yet. No wiring, no headlight or brackets, no dip switch, no battery..........
Interesting to see that the choke cables are running down the right side of the tank. The adjusters right at steering damper height.
 

TouringComet

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
VOC Forum Administrator
That’s where the adjusters are on my unrestored Shadow built in late 1952.
 

Graham Smith

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
VOC Forum Administrator
VOC Forum Moderator
That caption says 1949, but the speedo graduations are the early type. Too bad Roy can't clarify that now.
Bob's Black Shadow JRO102 was the prototype, not the first production one.
 

Lambers

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
As Graham says, JRO 102 was the prototype Shadow and from the VOC database it was made in Feb 1948.
The first production Black Shadow was made in April 1948, was shipped to Canada and ended up in the USA, where I believe it is today.
The first production Shadow had ribbed brake drums, as has the one in the picture but I don't know if JRO 102 had similar. Maybe someone has an old photo of JRO to clarify what brake drums it had?
 

vin998

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
VOC Forum Moderator
The "Motor Cycle" and "Motorcycling" road tests for the prototype Black Shadow are reprinted in "Vincent Gold Portfolio 1945-1980". In both magazines it has a Feb 1948 test which describes the engine including the cylinder heads and barrels as painted black and ribbed brake drums.
There is a picture of the bike in pg 21 of the above book which shows no headlight. This is from Motor Cycling Feb 19 1948.

Simon
 

Daimog

Well Known and Active Website User
Non-VOC Member
Talking to Ted Davies one day about quantity of different models, he says records cant be trusted as some machines were thrown together to look complete at the end of the day, counted off, then next day stripped down and rebuilt properly, then counted off again.
 

Lambers

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
Talking to Ted Davies one day about quantity of different models, he says records cant be trusted as some machines were thrown together to look complete at the end of the day, counted off, then next day stripped down and rebuilt properly, then counted off again.
To be honest I think the factory records are the only thing that we can happily trust as an accurate source of information. Simon Dinsdale and his predecessors will I'm sure agree that there are the occasional mishaps and corrections but overall they are pretty bang on.
I can't imagine Phil Vincent being complicit with any of Ted's suggested procedures and I just wonder what Ted meant, other than there are bikes recorded that never left the factory, which don't cause us a great problem
On the other hand I have heard rumours that Ted 'alledgedly' produced several models from his own shed that were definately not in the factory records.
As for numbers of each model made, we never quote exact figures in order to be roughly correct.
 

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