AJS G8

1926 498cc (3½ hp) AJS. G8

Engine No. G 85624

Frame No. G 85624

A spare left crankcase half (drive side) No G 90069, including crank & con rod, barrel and piston was picked up in Melbourne in about 1963.

This bike was bought new by Dad in December 1926 from Stilwell & Parry, the Melbourne agents. It has an historical interest as the G8 was the first OHV 500cc single in the AJS catalogue. Dad used it for day-to-day riding and also for some dirt-track racing. He found it not really ideal for the dirt; probably because the frame was rather too long and high.

Some modifications were made to the machine in its heyday and will be scrupulously preserved:

  • A Binks “Mouse Trap” racing carburettor was fitted soon after purchase, and a lengthened and curved inlet tract was made up for the carbie, so that it would clear the frame saddle tube.
  • The lower brackets of the Druid front fork springs were lowered and gusseted in order to fit stronger springs.
  • Cut-down mudguards were made up for racing; although the originals were kept for touring.
  • The steering damper cross bar adjuster was replaced with an elegant knob, which appears less threatening to certain significant glands should the rider have an accident causing him to slide up the tank.
  • The fork bump damper adjusting nuts were fitted with thumb levers for adjustment on the move.
  • The contour of the handle bars was lowered for better handling.

Due to Dad’s marriage in 1937, the unemployment lingering from the Depression, and the birth of his son (Me!), the bike was stored at the family farm near Birregurra in about 1940 when we moved far afield for Dad to find work. After returning to the Birregurra area it was sketchily re-fettled in about 1952 for me to learn to ride. I had great fun riding it around paddocks and back lanes, but after three or four years it broke a piston (fortunately with no corollary damage) and was laid up again; except for one brief flurry (generating vast billows of smoke), when Dad tried using an undersized piston. The parts that I found in 1963 would have served to set the AJS up again, but by then Dad was engrossed in rebuilding a Norton Dominator 7 that he had acquired and very little was done to the AJS.

After Dad had been admitted to a nursing home in the 1980’s I was given the AJS to care for, while my young brother Keith DLR was given the Norton Dominator. The AJS was brought up to Darwin in January 1984, to be tidied up and take its place at the head of a sequence of family machines followed by my 1950 18S AJS and my son Michael’s Honda CX500.

As Dad was not the sort of person to throw anything away, the tools, owner’s manual, acetylene lights, racing numbers and various worn and replaced bits & pieces have all been kept with it and should make the task of restoration relatively simple. About the only significant problem with the machine is the Mazak alloy (monkey metal) internals of the mechanical oil pump, which have disintegrated over the years. As a back-up hand pump is fitted the bike can still be ridden, but new oil pump parts need to be made up – of a reputable metal this time.

The G8 AJS in the 1920’s – Dad & his sister Elona

Again in the 1930’s – Edna Kelly (later Mrs C R De La Rue (Mum))

Dad on the AJS G8, circa 1970?        (Unwillingly receiving a nervous passenger.)

Pieces of Trivia:

The spare parts mentioned as being found in Melbourne in the 60’s were one of these windfalls that come along all too seldom. I was riding my 50/18S AJS along Dandenong road from Clayton into Melbourne when I picked up a large case nail in the rear tyre somewhere about Oakleigh. The tube was torn badly and while I was still thinking evil thoughts about the matter I saw a motorcycle shop that I had never noticed before down a side road. It was definitely one of the ‘old school’ shops, grease and cobwebs, but provided me with a tube, and while chatting with the owner I mentioned that we had a G8 500 AJS. He casually pointed to a pile of dusty bits and pieces in one corner and commented that he had some engine parts for one.

It emerged that sometime before World War Two a customer had brought in a crankcase half with flywheels, con rod & piston and the cylinder barrel to have some work done. When he came back, he didn’t have the £7/10/- to pay for the job, so left a £4 deposit and said he would be back with the rest the next weekend.

So, having waited the best part of thirty years for his customer to return the proprietor concluded that he wasn’t coming back, and I could have the pieces for the £3/10/- owing.

I couldn’t pass up this deal, so paid the money and wrecked a perfectly good airways bag (and took some paint of the 50/18S tank) ferrying my prizes back home before he changed his mind.

He was not however, selling a very nice Long-Stroke Sunbeam that he had mothballed.

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2 comments on “AJS G8

  1. Lawrence Moloney says:

    Hello – thanks for the story. The Motorcycle shop you mention was in Warrigal road near the corner of Warrigal road and Dandenong Road, a couple of doors down from the intersection on the south west. It was owned by Mr Frank Frost – Franks Motorcycle Sales and Service. Frank was a long time member of the Oakleigh Motorcycle Club and a very active official at club events. I was fortunate enough to become the owner of Franks Sunbeam a short while after his death in the early 1970s – unfortunately I no longer own the bike.

    • Colin De La Rue says:

      Thanks very much for contacting me Laurence – and brushing up my memory of the episode.
      I left Victoria in 1971 and my recollection of the location had become a little hazy.
      The name Frank Frost rang a bell for me, it was certainly his shop. I am glad to know the
      Sunbeam wasn’t thrown in the tip after his death.
      Regards, Colin DLR

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