1954 AJS 16MS

Last week, on the 2nd of November 2022 to be precise, I hired a long wheelbase Ford Transit van from Tyne Valley Car and Van Hire; they are literally a couple of miles up the road. A friend and I went up to see Roddy and Doris Jones in Damhead, near Edinburgh, to pick up a couple of AJS motorcycles. I’d already been up the Sunday before to meet them and agree a deal.

On the way up it was a nice day…but there were signs north of the border, warning of heavy rain and strong winds…wee Nippy’s harbingers of doom! We made good time on the way up and quickly packed the van, before having tea and biscuits with Roddy and Doris. Roddy has some great stories about his life around motorcycles so I’ll be back up to hear more. These are the last of Roddy’s bikes to be re-homed as he is having issues with his health.

On the way back, there was indeed torrential rain and strong winds. The van handled it well and we stopped at Jedburgh Woollen Mill for lunch. By the time we got home, the rain was heavy and we got soaked unpacking…only for the rain to stop about thirty minutes later.

1959 AJS with 1958 Matchless G80S engine

The first bike is a 1954 AJS 350, a 16MS according to the engine number, with a Burman GB (B52) gearbox. It’s been modified with a larger rear sprocket and 21″ front wheel for trials work. It works well but I’ll probably need to add a valve lifter.

The second bike is unregistered, but although it has an AJS badged tank, it has a 500 cc Matchless G80 engine from 1958 with a 1957 AMC gearbox. This was Roddy’s scrambler and it too, works well. A dating certificate from the AJS and Matchless Owners Club is now in process so I can get it registered. It will also probably need a valve lifter. Roddy gave me an old lever which cleaned up nicely, and Steve at AMC Classic Spares has already sent me a cable.

I’m not planning to do too much to them, but they’ll need a full going over and new tyres. There are a few bits that need replacing, such as the fork gaiters on the 350. Roddy built both of these bikes from basket cases, along with parts he bought at auto jumbles.

An original valve lifter lever that scrubbed up well

The frame number identifies the bike as an AJS, so despite the Matchless engine number, that is how it will stay. Once my dating certificate makes an appearance, I’ll ask the DVLA for a suitable 1959 registration number.