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First Black Shadow - Stevenage workers


Phil Mahood

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VOC Member
The first production Shadow did come to Canada. Back then, nobody thought of any particular bike as historic. It just went out randomly like an other in that period. It is well documented (Richardson's) as engine #696. It was discovered as a basket case by Byrne Bramwell and Bob Williams in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada in 1978. Byrne started a restoration and then sold it to Somer Hooker. Somer completed the restoration and then sold it to Bar Hodgson a few years ago. Number 696 was at the recent Florida get-together where it was voted as Best In Show by those present.
 

Prince Duster

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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.
Several of the workers from Stevenage who Gerry Jenkinson and I have spoken to, including Dave Bowen on this forum, have confirmed this. PCV was not, indeed, complicit - but bikes were made to look finished when in reality they were part-assembled in order that senior management were confident X-amount of cycles were ready to be dispatched and sold that week. It was hand-to-mouth manufacturing for much of the time: creditors needed numbers to keep them at bay, workers would - as could happen in British manufacturing - shift production items to keep the bosses at bay. Numbers were stamped late in the whole process. David Lancaster
 

Dominique2

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VOC Member
very interesting !
as I own the 5th Black Shadow, the first in France ordered with a sauce pan clock but with KM/ph , as noted on the Works Order Form (only 2 x B Shadow were sent to France ...in june 1948) I am looking for a Sauce Pan Clock (it was change to a more modern one later)
If I could find one or someone who can rebuild one , it would be great !
Anyway, it is great bike in this condition
what it is funny: there is no B at the end of the number stamped on the UFM, mine (as on a Rapide and I gues it is the same on Bob Culver first one...note sure) , but there is a mention on one among the two documents : a B is added on a document but not written on the other (on the Works Order Form the B is written, but not on the Engine Specification Sheet, mentioned as a Rapide !!!)
On the 2 documents, even it is a Shadow (F10AB/1B/ 000) it is noted as a Rapide B , so I Wonder if they could wait for the decision of a right new name to promote these first new models...
I would like to know if there are the same difference on the first one.
 

vibrac

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
The original name was the Vincent Sports Rapide this was used in original promotional material, but I suppose after the debarcle with the poor castings that resulted in them being painted black (see Bananamans explanation originally on this forum that he expanded on in my book) the name Black Shadow came to mind as being more sucint and descriptive, as to when that decision actually occurred within a margin of months I was unable to find out
 

TouringComet

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VOC Member
VOC Forum Administrator
I’ve seen Black Shadow Sports Rapide in some early advertisements. Had not heard of Vincent Sports Rapide before.

I think the Black Lightning name was shown as Black Lightning Racing Rapide early on, quickly shortened as well.
 

TouringComet

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VOC Member
VOC Forum Administrator
very interesting !
as I own the 5th Black Shadow, the first in France ordered with a sauce pan clock but with KM/ph , as noted on the Works Order Form (only 2 x B Shadow were sent to France ...in june 1948) I am looking for a Sauce Pan Clock (it was change to a more modern one later)
If I could find one or someone who can rebuild one , it would be great !
I believe one of the guys in the Vancouver section made a replica sauce pan case.
 

Robert Watson

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VOC Member
That would be me....... and it was a right Pain in the backside to make.
The face plate is completely different and I had no idea how they mounted the works inside so just made it up as I went along. I still don't think it is right but there probably isn't another one within a few thousand miles of me so I don't worry about it!

This is what we call a Rapide in Shadow clothing!
I did have to point out to a certain ex-member that the JRO 101 (One before JRO 102 as a small joke) when he complained that a Club Exec member was running around with a number plate that had been issued to a Jaguar in London which is highly illegal in the UK that said number plate was some 7000 miles from any authority that would have a problem with that!

Another SoCal Member subsequently built JRO 100 and we call it not one upmanship, but one downmanship!


IMG_4375.JPG
 

Dominique2

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VOC Member
That would be me....... and it was a right Pain in the backside to make.
The face plate is completely different and I had no idea how they mounted the works inside so just made it up as I went along. I still don't think it is right but there probably isn't another one within a few thousand miles of me so I don't worry about it!

This is what we call a Rapide in Shadow clothing!
I did have to point out to a certain ex-member that the JRO 101 (One before JRO 102 as a small joke) when he complained that a Club Exec member was running around with a number plate that had been issued to a Jaguar in London which is highly illegal in the UK that said number plate was some 7000 miles from any authority that would have a problem with that!

Another SoCal Member subsequently built JRO 100 and we call it not one upmanship, but one downmanship!


View attachment 27460
thank you so much for those informations (I heard about Jaguar stuff) and this good sense of humour (apologise for my poor English)
 

Dominique2

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VOC Member
I’ve seen Black Shadow Sports Rapide in some early advertisements. Had not heard of Vincent Sports Rapide before.

I think the Black Lightning name was shown as Black Lightning Racing Rapide early on, quickly shortened as well.
Thank you ! I have only seen some advertisements made by the French Importer Clément Garreau, without "Sport Rapide" mention... he only advertised about his own shop and was Norton importer too (his main job I guess). On this January 1949 advertisement the bike is called Black Shadow (7th of January 1949, so made at the end of 1948) Moto Revue janvier 1949, with road test of the Black Shadow (206 km/h advertised on cover). We can notice the short exhaust pipe that we saw on different bikes as Rapide when Garreau share them for test on magazine.
the WW means it is a work shop registration, so the bike is not sold.
So it would be great to have some picture about the English early advertisement as well (I never saw any one) with Sports Rapide mentions
 

Attachments

vibrac

Well Known and Active Website User
VOC Member
You need a copy of this
Vincent And H R D Motorcycles How They Were Promoted And Sold (David Wright Book)
there may be one on ebay
 

Somer

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VOC Member
The picture is of the proto-type , JRO102 . It still used the early style timing cover with raised oil galley ways. 1B/696 used the second generation timing cover. 1B/696 was also the 1st Shadow with a B suffix in the frame number. I owned 1B/696 for a long time.
 

Dominique2

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VOC Member
Very Interseting , on 799 the B is on the document (works order form) but not stamped on the UFM... but the timing cover is an early one, with raised oil galley ways as shown on magazine where its road test was published... the 7 th of January 1949 (probably tested one month or a couple of weeks ago)
On this same magazine (Moto Revue 7th, & 8 th of January 49) there are the new models shown in the London show : so there is a picture of a Black Lightning with Girdraulic forks BUT the early timing cover as well...on page 4. (Comet with Girdraulic as well on the same page)
And a picture of Rollie Free (Roland F Free)on page 15 and comments on his record .
 
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Somer

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VOC Member
I think some of the confusion arises from the forms being pre-filled out and then the secretaries would cross out or add as needed.
 

TouringComet

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VOC Member
VOC Forum Administrator
And as mentioned before, changes like the timing cover casting, there ends up being overlap, a period when both are in inventory. The first bike with the new design does not necessarily mean that all subsequent bikes will not have the earlier design.
 

Somer

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VOC Member
True. In the case of the Shadows though, I've seen the few that followed mine and they had the later style.
 

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