CYCLE ATTACHMENT ENGINES: 1919 Simplex Power Unit

 

1919 Royal Sunbeam 24″ Gents Cycle

Fitted with 1919 SIMPLEX Power Unit 104cc

Manufactured by Patrick Engineering Co of Birmingham

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This lovely old 1919 Gents Royal Sunbeam sports the latest 1919 bicycle accessory – a Simplex engine to fit onto the rear carrier.

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One of the (many) things I enjoy about cyclemotors is that they invariably have two histories, ie that of the cycle as well as the engine.

By 1919 when this Royal Sunbeam was manufactured, the Sunbeam marque was well-established at the aristocratic end of the market. Sunbeam’s 72-page dealer guide ‘Hints for Selling Sunbeam Cycles’ defined their customer base as:

Those who know the best thing when they see it, and are willing to pay for it;

Those who always pay the top price on principle, in order to obtain the best;

Those who pay a high price because they want something that is known to be classy and distinctive.

Sunbeam founder John Marston died in 1918 and, in 1919, the company was bought by Nobel Industries Ltd (later to become I.C.I Ltd). The new company had made lots of money from armaments during WW1 and they poured their profits into Sunbeam. The company maintained its previous very high standards and continued to produce quality machines. The price of this model in 1919 was £19 19/-.

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I fitted this engine to the Sunbeam bicycle a few years ago. The engine is made by Patrick Engineering. My friend Patrick in France loves vintage Sunbeams and old cyclemotors, so he ended up with it as a present.

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SIMPLEX POWER UNIT

made by PATRICK ENGINEERING Co Ltd, BIRMINGHAM

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The designers and manufacturers at Patrick Engineering experimented with the Simplex for five years before it came onto the market. It was first described in the Motor Cycle magazine in 1915.

One innovative feature of the Simplex unit is the multiple-plate clutch, automatically operated in conjunction with the compression release. The rider therefore only needs one lever to stop and disengage the engine.

The 2-stroke engine with revolving countershaft clutch, weighs about 23lbs. It is easily mounted onto a bicycle rear carrier.

Patrick Engineering did design a 2-speed model. But the original single-speed unit was so efficient in road-tests, propelling the rider uphill with ease, that the 2-speeder did not go into production.

Sole distributor for the Simplex engine was Messrs Henry Garner Ltd. and it was priced at £23 guineas. Sales started around October 1919, with initial plans for production of 100 per week.

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Here is a contemporary review of the machine

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RUNBAKEN MAGNETO

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Here are a couple photos of the magneto on its own

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Photo locations: White Cliffs Cafe, Saltdean & Brighton Pier