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Mark Swindells Club Magazine & Website Editor
Villiers S25 Carburettor Float Chamber Modification
I was in the process of checking the float level on my Cruiser 68 carburettor, after suspecting that this could be the cause of a very rich mixture problem, when I happened to place the Villiers carb against an AMAL Concentric sitting on my bench. Immediately it was obvious that the dimensions of the float chambers were very similar and I got to thinking, as you do, that it may be feasible to graft the AMAL float assembly onto the Villiers body to take advantage of the design and modern Ethanol resistant materials. At the front of my mind was the recent problems I had experienced with dissolving brass gauze tank tap filters on other machines. That was as sufficient reason to investigate the practicalities, the seed was sown!
Once the bowls were removed, the only obvious problem to accommodating the AMAL float bowl assembly was the position of the S25 pilot jet tube which would have had to pass through the body of the standard plastic float. If I could modify the pilot jet feed then the transplant appeared fairly straightforward. Initially I struggled to find enough room to fit a small bore feed tube over the float towards the main jet holder but a recent development from AMAL, the new “Stayup” float appeared to offer a solution. This is manufactured from special military specification close cell foam and is claimed to be puncture proof. A couple of Stayup float kits, which also includes a viton tipped float needle and gasket, were obtained direct from AMAL. I cut a small piece of material from a float and found that the component is a solid closed cell foam moulding, it was looking promising. The float and material removed were left to soak in petrol for a week to check for any fuel absorption. This test indicated that the closed cell structure was effective and the float was indeed puncture proof! I could, therefore, mill a narrow channel in the top of the float to clear the modified pilot jet feed tube.
The spare AMAL concentric float chamber that I had to hand was the later type fitted with a drain plug, some earlier bowls do not have this facility. This provides the ideal opening to accommodate the Villiers carb sleeve-nut bowl fixing. The bowl threaded boss had to be machined to reduced its height slightly so that it did not foul in the 1H carb recess. I left enough thread remaining such that I could refit the original drain plug to enable bench testing and setting of petrol level.
This is a excerpt form an article in this quarters Club Magazine.
Whilst every effort is made to ensure that all information contained on this website is accurate, neither the Francis-Barnett Owners Club or its Officers or Membership can be held responsible for any inaccuracy in any articles or advertisements. Readers of this site must satisfy themselves that techincal or other advice, solution, method. material, or product or service printed there in is appropriate and safe for them and their machine.
A Brief History of Francis-Barnett
Gordon Francis, son of Graham Francis of Lea Francis fame, combined his talents with Arthur Barnett in 1919 to create a new lightweight motorcycle for which they felt there would be a great demand. In the post-war era economical transport was at a premium and the new motorcycle was developed not only with the motorcycle enthusiasts in mind, but also for citizens who needed reasonably priced personal transport. This is not to say that the early motorcycles were cheap to purchase, but neither was any form of transport immediately after the war. Gordon Francis and Arthur Barnett were, in fact, related by marriage. They started their business in Coventry in the Midlands and by coincidence the first Francis-Barnett motorcycle was constructed in the same workshop as the first english motorcycle, the Bayliss-Thomas Excelsior.
The first Barnett was a 292cc side valve J.A.P. engined machine with a two speed Sturmey Archer gearbox. Its red and black petrol tank was a very pleasing sight to a prospective purchaser. The only hesitation they might have had was the price of £84.The price continued to be a problem with the costs of production. Gordon Francis came up with a revolutionary plan giving the buyer a cheaper but better machine. In the army he had observed with alarm the frequency of motorcycle frame fractures. He was able to try out his ideas for overcoming this problem when back in the Francis-Barnett workshop. In 1923 he evolved a system of six pairs of straight tubes and one pair specially formed which made up the framework of the motorcycle. In appearance the frame below the tank formed an inverted triangle; the triangular shaped tank was held by a similarly formed set of tubes.The framework from saddle to rear wheel hub and down to the footrest formed yet another triangle.
The wheels of the new Francis-Barnett were on spindles, these could be easily removed. The machine was driven by a 147ccVilliers two-stroke engine with flywheel magneto, Albion two-speed gearbox and belt final drive. Light in weight, easy to strip and reassemble, it was also light on the pocket and cost only £25. The reason for the low price was that lower cost were incurred in the manufacture of the parts required. Everybody was satisfied with the new little Francis-Barnett which was claimed to be "built like a bridge" because of its constructional principles. The frame was in fact guaranteed against breakage forever. It was not the only motorcycle coming out of the factory in 1923 as there were also 250cc and 350cc machines with sidecars available.
The next impact on the motorcycling scene made by Francis-Barnett was the Pullman, a 344cc vertical in-line machine with a two-stroke Villiers engine.
This became available to the public in 1928 and in next two years Francis-Barnett followed the fashion which called for cream coloured machines. The 250cc Cruiser, brought out in 1933, typified the Francis-Barnett attitude to the traveller who did not want to dress up to keep clean on his or her motorcycle. This model was virtually totally enclosed. Production continued until the Second World War, as did the manufacture of the Stag model, a 248cc Blackburn engined machine with overhead valves, first introduced in 1935. The other events of the pre-war period were the manufacture of a 125cc model called the "Snipe" and an even smaller machine, an autocycle named"Powerbike" with a 98cc engine. Both of these machines made a return immediately after the end of World War 2.
These models and other two-stroke lightweights were to be the order of the day. They continued in production under the name Francis-Barnett even when the Company amalgamated with Associated Motor Cycles Ltd, the London based Matchless concern in 1947.Models like the "Plover","Falcon"and "Cruiser" sold well in the fifties and many a worker rode to work on a FB in those far off days,on a machine that was recognised as a quality lightweight. The colour had changed to green (known as "Arden Green") from the predominantly black finish of the earlier days. A full range of factory designed accessories was also available to ensure the rider's comfort and convenience. The off road rider was also well catered for with a range of competition models that acquitted themselves well. For a short period the tried and tested Villiers engine was abandoned in favour of AMC's own Piatti designed unit; these were not wholly successful and the Company reverted back to Villiers. The market place was changing however and production was transferred to the Birmingham based James Company,(also part of the AMC Group) in the early 1960's. The factory in Lower Ford Street,Coventry was closed, some workers transferring to James. All individuality disappeared,both James and FB models now being virtually identical apart from the badges and colour. This continued until 1966 when the whole AMC empire ceased to operate. All signs of the factory in Coventry have now disappeared under the ring road but the Owner's Club thrives with the intention of "keeping alive the living legend". Many cherished examples of models bearing the famous trademark appear at the Club's Annual Rally which takes place each year in August.
John Baker / John Goodberry.
A Brief History Of The Francis-Barnett Owners Club
In May 1955 the Club was formed with Mr.G.J.Privett as Hon.Secretary with clubrooms at the Greenford Community Centre in Middlesex. Members met on alternate Tuesday evenings. Although the club was in no way connected with the manufacturers,a popular feature of its activities was the annual visit to the Francis and Barnett works at Lower Ford Street Coventry. Unfortunately records of these early days were lost after the Club was wound up on the Company ceasing to trade in 1965.The Club was re-formed in May 1986 in Bristol on a national basis that has subsequently become international with Members spread world wide.Early Members who are still with us are John Harding, John Crockett, and Keith Young. A bi-monthly magazine "THE DIRECTORY" was published and became a quarterly publication from 1987. The Club has a Annual Rally/AGM which is held at different venues in addition to the regular meetings of the West Midlands, East of England sections.
F.B.O.C. EVENTS 2013
Ashford Classic Show Kent 1st April
Stafford International Show 27th/28th April
Kempton Park Show 25th May
Banbury Run 16th June
Romney Marsh (Ham Street) Kent 7th July
Festival 1,000 Bikes (Mallory Park) 12th 13th 14thJuly
Founders Day 21st July
I. West Kent Run/Show Kent 3th/4th Aug
F.B.0.C. A.G.M Brooklands Museum Surrey 11th Aug
Popham Airfield Megameet 18th
Borders Classic Show Shropshire 14th/15th Sept
Borders Classic Show 14th 15th Sept
Ardingly Real Classic Show Sussex 13th Oct
1956 Falcon Trials Replica bike, with many nice features ( small seat, chunky rear wheel, good reg. number, V5). Bike was last ridden at least 15 years ago, but has been dry-stored since. Open to any reasonable offer. contact Jim Leslie at Jim.email@example.com or phone (eves between 7-9 pm, please) on 01832-280965.
Considerable quantity of very good quality spares, mainly used but some new and unused e.g. nice dual seat ( green), chrome wheels, literature, Miller headlamp (new?) contact Jim Leslie at Jim.firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (eves between 7-9 pm, please) on 01832-280965.
I have a small supply of spares for sale inc. 10D gasket sets and other Model 53 bits; eighth whit. tank badge screws and various AMC two stroke parts. Please phone Tony Woods on 01728-832043 for details. Francis Barnett Falcon 81, 1958, restored, good starter and runner on SORN. £1200.00. Tel. Garth, 01508 499794 (S. Norfolk)
LE Velocette Mk 3. Steering head bearing set (new) £25. Wheel bearings (new) 4 off £25. Both inc. of P & P. Les Rogers 01386 793140. E-mail: email@example.com
Kickstart and gear lever for 1961 Plover 86 15T engine. Please search your shelves chaps to help me complete the rebuild. Tel: Brian on 01456-486442.
Rolling bridge frame any model from 1930 to 1936 also bridge frame saddle type petrol tank, any model from 1929 to 1936 also any parts to rebuild a 1930 Empire Model 12. I have swaps including a 90% complete 1934 Cruiser 45 with V5. Ralph@Ballhatchet.com 01753 646008.
Battery operated starter rollers. One needing repairs considered. Tel: 0286 686 21615. (after 6pm)
I receive a lot of emails everyday and it is very difficult for me to reply every email instantly, but i do usually get around to them eventually... A lot of the emails I receive I am unable to answer, so before emailing me, please take time to look at the frequently asked questions below:-
1. Could you please identify my bike. I am sorry but I am unable to identify peoples bikes, as I am no expert on Francis-Barnett Motorcycles. We do however have members who can help and who frequent our forum. If you post your question onto the forum you are most likely to get a responce, there is no need to register to use the forum as all guest are welcome. You will find a link to the forum on the link tab above.
2. I would like to post my bike photo's on the website. We now have a group page on Flicker , this is open to public viewing. Only members are invited to upload photo's to this group at this time. You will find a link to the Flickr group on the link tab above.
3. Could I advertise my bike on the For Sale page. Advertising on the For Sale page is only open to our members. All adverts go into the club magzine before they are published to the website.
If you would still like to email me please do so by clicking on the photo below.
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