Page 618. 1940 Levis Auxiliary Engine. 80cc. New-Old-Stock
1940 Levis Auxiliary Engine.
80cc deflector-top two-stroke.
The Levis Auxiliary 80cc engine is a very rare unit these days. This model of Levis engine was fitted to the HEC Power Cycle, manufactured by Hepburn Engineering Co (HEC) of Kings Cross, London. The machine made its debut at the Earls Court Show in November 1938 and went on sale in 1939. However, sales were short-lived.
With the outbreak of war, the company relocated to Birmingham. But, on 3rd May, 1940, the company’s factory in Thorpe St, Birmingham was bombed. No more autocycles were built, and Levis and HEC merged to manufacture air-compressors. There were some engines left over and after the war a consignment of them was purchased by the Swedish company Apollo to launch their 1951 Autocycle; the following year the Autocycle was replaced by the Apollo Motorette, with a 40cc Fuchs engine. There is also a Hercules Tradesmen’s Bicycle that has survived which is fitted with the 80cc Levis engine.
This example of the Levis Auxiliary engine is new-old-stock, and has never been used.
THE HEC AUTOCYCLE, 1938-1940
HEC Power Cycles Ltd, 234 Pentonville Road, London N1
The HEC Power Cycle was one of very few autocycles that did not use the more common Villiers engine. Instead, it had an 80cc two-stroke engine designed by Hepburn Engineering Co (HEC) and built by Levis. The die-cast crankcase incorporated an oil-bath primary chain-case that enclosed the clutch and the duplex chain primary drive. The final drive was also by chain. This was unusual in using the same size chain as the pedals. Overall gear ration was 14:1.
Introduced in 1938, the prototype machines differed only slightly from later production models. The usual controls were fitted, using inverted levers to operate the brakes. The improvement of a back-pedal brake was later offered as an option – HECs fitted with this had a conventional brake lever. A rear stand and a carrier were other useful features that had not been included on the prototype but were incorporated on the production version. To accommodate the rear stand the exhaust had to be changed. On both models the engine exhausted into a large alloy expansion chamber; the long tail-pipe of the earlier machine continued to the back of the rear wheel but later models had a second tubular silencer and a short pipe to leave room for the stand to be lowered. A less obvious improvement was a change to a three-point, rather than two-point, mounting for the engine. Before World War II the HEC was marketed at the price of 17gns [£17.85].
Above is a detail from the HEC Power Cycle brochure. Below you can see an advert for the Swedish 1951 Apollo Autocycle, which used the remainder of the unused Levis engines.