With more accurate information I now have, I have decided to tidy up the bikes history.
It was left in Guernsey, Channel Islands after the war. It had been supplied to the German army in Cannstadt 1934. R11 single carb series 5, frame P9075, engine 73094.
It was purchased in 1946 by the son of the then Island Bailiff, Sir Ambrose Sherwill. My Father attended that sale and bought a DKW 350. He and his younger brother, (the one riding the bike on several photo’s) pushed the bike several miles home. I have an auction catalogue from the sale of the bikes and cars sold off after the occupation, 146 lots with 82 bikes and outfits. Among them 13 FN sidecars and 2 BMW machines.
My Father had been evacuated to Yorkshire along with his Mother, brother and two sisters. His Father remained on the island for the duration of the war. At the end of the war my Father was 18. They moved back home after the liberation and he started work training as a marine engineer. There was a large amount of salvage to tidy up on the island and much of the work he did was related to this. His interest started here in motorcycles.
The R11 was bought from Sherwill. My father had several other bikes at this time, a Steyr car, and the FN. It was used during the early 1950’s and then in the late 50’s my uncle for hill climbing. You can see from the photo’s a progression from supercharged R11 and then R17 engine parts and tele forks.
The early photo’s are from the Val des Terres hill climb held in Guernsey. There are some clips of the Val des Terres on you tube.
My uncle tells me they had a couple of R12 engines and an R17 engine that was bought along with an R12 combination. With plenty of bits to mess with my uncle hillclimbed the bike until the early 1960’s. The engine case was cut to run a V belt from the flywheel to an arnott supercharger bought from a scrap yard in 1957. The belt stretched alarmingly when revved. The cam was hollow allowing him to cut, reposition the lobes, then re-weld on a spigot. The inlet then fed the front port and exhausted straight from the rear. I don’t know what gain there was from this, but it did the hill in the low 50 seconds. (How much faster if he had worn goggles?) I think the fastest machines today are around 27 seconds. It was never done seriously, it was a hobby and done with very little budget. Many of the parts were later sold to Markhouse Motors by my uncle. The supercharger was bought by local bike and car racer Maurice Ogier. (his Daytona Laverda story is worth checking out)
Some of my earliest memories are the bike with my uncle riding it, being told at 3 or 4 years old not to be frightened while standing 2 feet from this un-silenced monster has scared me for life!
The bike was brought to Yorkshire in the 1960’s where my family now live. My uncle, now 77, still lives on Guernsey and I visit him each year when I visit family and friends. I intend to take the bike this summer as people over there ask if I still have it. Taking him for a ride, or him me, round the island would be something to remember. The occupation museum wrote to me in 2008 knowing I have the bike, saying it was considered part of the island occupation history and would like to be considered should I wish to sell.
My Father died in 1981, I then restored the bike. At this time I had no information on parts available or contacts etc. but luckily my father had the insight into keeping all the original parts. I struggled with the exhaust as the only photo’s I ever found were of series 1 to 4 with the early type system. I reproduced this type and ran it like that until 1986. It never had a speedo or left knee rubber.
The bike languished at the back of the garage, and several other places, for many years as children and business took my time.
Last year I had time to pull the bike from the back of the garage and do some work on it. I researched part suppliers and found much of the info I needed. I got so carried away I even bought a very original R62 needing restoration to go with it.
It had some wear in the original 78mm bore so decided to rebore and fit new pistons. It also needed new valves and guides. The crank also had some play in the big end bearings so decided to rebuild the crank. The gearbox was cleaned out and left untouched apart from a couple of bearings. Mag dyno was rewound etc. It needed new rubber parts and correct exhaust system, and a speedo. Bearings have been replaced throughout and replaceable filter fitted. I painted it 30 years ago and it will not win a concourse but still good to use. The original headlight seemed to have been replaced with an R12/17 unit at some time. I have now replaced it with more authentic looking reproduction unit. I have fitted stop light and used halogen 6volt bulbs front and back. The club forum has been very helpful, but the main difficulty is not having experience of another similar bike. I need to experience another similar bike that is sorted to compare, then I will know where to draw the line.
There was always BMW motorcycles in my life. Through the 1960’s other than those already mentioned my father owned R51, R66, R69s, and when he died he was running an R60/2. It had done only 19000 miles and an old friend asked to have it. When 9 or 10 I used to ride on the back of the R69. If anyone knows whereabouts of R66 uk registration NPE 45, or R51 reg BTR 855 please let me know. The R69 was sold to a man that wrote the bike off. I had a couple of them in the early 80's, a 1978 600/6? (can't remember exactly) and a 1981 800/7. My wife and I travelled europe on these before having children.
Today the R11 is going better than ever. I think I have sorted the carburation, and it smoothness on the road still surprises me for something this age. I think the vibration it does have, is not annoying like the more modern bikes I have had. 18 hp is on the lower limit of required power for the roads I use it on. It does cope well with the hills and slower roads, but can’t keep with traffic on faster A roads.
Putting it back on the road is a fitting end for a bike that has been in the army, lived in a tunnel, supercharged, left in various sheds, left behind sofa’s in spare rooms for years on end, several garages, and a storage container for several months.
I think my old man would be giving me a pat on the back.