•January 21, 2013 • Leave a Comment

Well, we finished the dry build on the PS.  That involves assembly of the complete motorcycle but before paint, polish and plating goes on.  Mainly to find the right stays (fender braces to most of us) fasteners, brackets and things that we couldn’t see at all that are hidden in the left and right side views we are working from.  An example being inside the battery box.  How is the battery secured or more properly, given how bikes generally were mounted and later Vincents, most likely how was it mounted originally?

Drilling holes.  Well, holes move.  Yes, its true.  Between the times you drill a mudguard and when it gets paint and you install it, the holes might seem in some instances to move.  Really.  But, drilling holes through finished paint is problematic as the bit can walk and ruin the finish.

However, our bits to be painted all went to Jeff’s Resurrections in Taylor, Texas.  Jeff is a master painter and for years has done the impossible.  We went to him and discussed the issue of gloss.  The entire motorcycle is black except a couple of gold leaf lines and a couple of decals.  But, the black was not originally all the same.  Some was carefully sanded and finished giving a high gloss, some was stove enameled where it was dipped in a bucket of paint, hung to dry and put in an oven to harden and cure.  Finally, a fourth type of black was used on fasteners and just a few other bits and that is almost a Parkerizing; not glossy at all.  Yes, bikes of this era in Britain used blackened nuts, bolts and washers.  No, its was not long-wearing originally and not particularly rust resistant, but its what they did.  Chrome would look more “today” but we’re not after “today.”  To add to this confusion, in some instances, a stud would be cadmium plated (silver) but used black nuts and washers.  The photos were vital here.  So, 4 different blacks are on the bike and they give it both interest and authenticity.  Restorers who use but one black on a bike from petrol tank to brackets end up with boring motorcycle restorations.

As well, research showed that for 1932, the industry used a combination of platings.  Cadmium was just being introduced, but for the controls and a few other items, the plating for polished parts such as hand controls could be either nickel or chrome.  Thus, when we acquired the correct type of pivoting brake and clutch levers and perches, we found they were originally nickel so they were refinished appropriately.  Then, other controls such as the magneto advance lever and twist grip throttle were chromed.  The color of these two is markedly different, but we wanted that variation as it is both correct and interesting.

In the interim since my last posting, we had acquired the rubber bits such as the correct round foot peg rubbers and the long and barrel-shaped AMAL grips.  None of this would’ve meant as much had not MARK UPHAM at British Only – Austria had started us off with a correct set of handlebars in an unusual “W” bend.  Vincents hardly ever used anything but a relatively straight bar but for this very, very early application, the “W” was correct.  Thank you Mark!

One of the great artists who contributed their genius to this project besides Jeff is Jesus.  He can create objects better than anyone we’ve found.  In this case, Jesus carefully measured the works images and produced the only set of High Gate Silencers certainly in Texas and probably in the US.  They are three-pieced and the other PS on the internet uses the wrong, later type “A” silencer.  Ours had to be right.  These dual systems are exquisite and use chrome, upper level head pipes.  Skeleton-ized clamps are used as the images show these and some early “A” Vincents used them.

The carburettor.  This early 1 1/8” instrument is of course, AMAL……BUT, it is mounted horizontally,   Ok, not so hard?  What if it’s a special one with the adjusters on the left side so it can be adjusted when mounted closely above the BTH magdyno and the cables exit the top on the off-side of the bike?  In that case, you better have yet another genius on the team and that’s Mac Whiteside.  Mac’s a welder and machinist I trusted to do a couple of missing bits on the Bathing Suit Bike years ago.  So, Mac reworked our AMAL, lengthening the body to the mounting flange and moving the adjustment for slide stop and idle mixture screw to the other side of the mixing chamber.  And its exquisite!  Thanks, Mac!

Interestingly to me at least is the unique finish we got on the pre-war float chamber body by lightly media-blasting a chrome finish.  Fantastic!  The mixing chamber is cadmium plated and the BTH magdyno below is natural, unpolished aluminium.

Lastly, before closing this report, when you see the bike you might or might not notice the spokes.  These are genuine ones from the period for a Vincent and very fine.  Not stainless new ones, but real and very thin, adding to the vintage look.  All for now; stay tuned. Oh, did anyone notice the caption on the image of the bike with two guys seated?  One is good friend IAN   of Falcon Motorcycles.  His eye was very welcomed on some of the finishes I explained above.

Herb Harris

Where are we now?

•June 13, 2011 • Leave a Comment

After our appearance at THE QUAIL MOTORCYCLE GATHERING, we returned to Texas and awaited reaction to our bikes. It is now coming in. One report, seen in the event and gives credit to GENE BROWN, longtime HVG customer and probably the most prolific concourse d’elegance winner in recent American history. Gene won BEST OF SHOW and his class as well. The BoS motorcycle is his BROUGH SUPERIOR restored for him by HARRIS VINCENT GALLERY some years ago. His Vincent Lightning and 1-mile “Muffy Bike” BSA Gold Star are both sensational, the Vincent also being an HVG restoration.

Note the images as our center-of-field did pull in people, including the press and even AMARYLLIS and IAN of FALCON MOTORYCLES. These are very creative and fine people and their ideas on motorcycle build are without limit it would seem. Their “THE BLACK” (not black by the way) is an interpretation of a Vincent, but with the trademark special features of a Vincent redone to add adjustment, increase airflow, cooling and more.  A “super Vincent” if you will. They displayed THE BLACK at our patch of green as the show wound down.

On our return, we finished the latest Series “C” Black Shadow, numbers matching with discreet electric starter which is now tested and ready for sale. Every Vincent we build presents a unique challenge and never the same as one before. Like people I suppose. This one was minor and was a timed-breather part inside the outer timing cover that tried to seize, but which we caught in the first minutes of start-up. That fixed, Mike has installed the tuning set of pipes so we can run it around, stretch cables, induce a number of hot-cold cycles and more. In this way, we will be able to deliver a ready to go Vincent which will already have its head nuts re-torqued, any oil leaks addressed and adjustments made.

As to THE CREAMER II, its back and we are doing the final items as it got sent to California not totally finished. The cylinder valve guides had not arrived when we left and those are ready to be installed as is the AMAL carburettor set. The red, British tyre inflator and LUCAS ALTETTE horn, red also are on the bike. This is one very red bike. Anyway, some adjustments to the links between the car and the bike and we’ll be ready to ride it some and do the adjustments mentioned for the Shadow above.

Now, you might ask yourself, what are these guys going to do for next year that can top THE CREAMER II? I’m asking myself that too, but have an answer, though it may be a bit radical. Again, the focus is on all-Vincent, just not necessarily as they did one. Yes, we have another sidecar, but it’s a bit different than the BLACKNELL. It’s a SWALLOW Jet 80, a metal car without the wooden frame of a Blacknell. Stay tuned on this one.

Vincents continue a price march upwards. A BLACK LIGHTNING with good racing history is up for private treaty sale now and the price is to be determined, but should be very significant. As car collectors move into motorcycles, they bring with them greater resources and somewhat different expectations. On whole, this is a healthy thing for motorcycles. A collector who pays what a very nice home costs for a Vincent is going to take good care of it and is never is going to sell it at a loss. Never.

Closing now and be back soon with more reports. Your thoughts?


For more information, visit the HVG website at

The HVG Blog—here goes

•June 8, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Over the years as a lawyer, I can say that I must have written millions of words. As an editor and the publisher of the recent biography Jerry Hatfield and I did, I wrote some. ROBB REPORT has kindly let me write some for their fine pages over the years. Blogs.

You can see that our old site is gone. It was actually a great place and over the years, we put a lot of great stuff on there. But, it didn’t capture enough of the dream. No “stuff” one really needs to do an excellent job as a motorcycle collector or restorer. So, now we do.

Look for some things to be added very soon. Things like lists of genuine rare Vincent serial and registration numbers for Series “A” Rapides and Series “B” Black Shadows. Images of engine serial numbers from Vincent Black Lightnings and lists of British registration numbers indexed to location. Why? Did your British motorcycle originally sell in London? If not, just where? If you know the registration numbers, you’ll be able to tell. All of this is important to knowing the pedigree and history of your Vincent.

In the shop, we are putting the finishing touches to the latest BLACK SHADOW, a matching numbers beauty originally sent by Vincent to San Francisco. It is available and it is electric start (though discretely so.) Push a button, ride off, have fun. Or ride circles around your buddies trying to kick start their bikes and amuse yourself. Either way, you’ll be really glad you have the benefit of this wonderful French electric starter from M. Grossett, powered by the best battery on the planet—at $1,200 it should be. More tomorrow.

For more information, visit the HVG website at

The Quail Motorcycle Event 2011

•May 24, 2011 • 1 Comment

Harris Vincent Gallery launches “The Creamer” lovers dream to the approval of the crowds

The very red 1949 VINCENT RAPIDE with attached and originally a factory-installed BLACKNELL BULLET  sidecar made its first appearance flanked by two HVG Black Shadows.


COMPLETION HERE! 1952 Vincent Black Shadow, Series “C” – All Matching numbers

•May 24, 2011 • 1 Comment

At last, the B30B project is about done.  This remarkable Black Shadow, originally sent to America in the day and specifically to San Francisco, according to the factory build documents, is very close to its start-up.  As the images show, at least some do, its in the wiring stage and then the cables and fuel lines go on.

More than any other Shadow we’ve done in the last few years, B30B, THE GOLDEN GATE BIKE, has incorporated into it so many original small parts, being the nuts, bolts, washers, screws and special parts all of which we have carefully checked and then had cadmium plated in white cadmium plating.  The result is the original finish and much lighter than the grey look of stainless parts which are all you can buy today if you don’t have original parts.  Notice that on the inlet manifolds.

This motorcycle had no broken cylinder fins to start, the cases match and it even shows to have the original, three-weight wheel balancing equipment as per original factory equipment.  Clutch and front brake levers are original, but rechromed by our platers.  The curve to them is smooth and not a series of three sharper bends featured on the current crop of Chinese copies supplied to restorers.

The French-built electric starter on this bike ensures it will be a joy and not an episode of frustration or embarrassment when you take a ride on your Shadow with friends. Moreover, prior batteries we found were only good for 4 tries.  If the engine gets flooded, that’s it for awhile.  Now, with the latest ones which still fit inside the original battery shell, you can crank the engine for several minutes—it’d overheat the starter I’m certain and ruin it, but the battery has that much reserve.  Our customers like to ride, not change sparking plugs.

New saddles from our master maker in California, Michael Maestas have arrived and we now stock both saddles from him in the early and late stitch patterns, depending on the completion date of your Shadow.

The Golden Gate Shadow had a buyer, but is available.  For those of you who follow the info on the site, you know that we believe not every buyer is right for an HVG bike.  This proved to be the case with the B30B bike and we had to “fire” the prospective buyer as I was fairly sure his expectations couldn’t be met by any bike.  It’s hard to take points off the board, but in the hopes he’ll be happier down the line and we’d be happier down the line, you now have a shot at this great bike.

Inside the engine, the polished aluminum steady plate will be laser-engraved with the engine number, the date it was restored by HARRIS VINCENT GALLERY and your name as the original owner.  Inside, but you’ll know its there and we’ll have a photo for you of it.  As always, we will present the buyer with the three items accompanying each new Vincent Black Shadow originally.  These include the RIDER’S HANDBOOK, a tool kit in a custom leather tool pouch with our Rollie trademark and a British made tyre inflator (tire pump) which fits on the lower right edge of the petrol tank.

It is the best in the world.  Its sister bike was recently on the cover of ROBB REPORT- COLLECTIONS and the upcoming issue of ULTIMATE MOTORCYCLING will have a feature and cover on another of our Black Shadows.  Why?  They’re the best.  We can only make a few and that’s all we really want to build.

For more info about our bikes visit

Harris Vincent Gallery launches new website for ordering bikes and original memorabilia

•May 17, 2011 • 1 Comment

We are proud to announce our newly completed website featuring information, photos, and videos about original Vincent HRD motorcycles! You can browse bikes for sale, vintage magazines and books, original british racing trophies, clothing, and other memorabilia as find out more info on how we restore and build Vincents. Herb Harris is one of the world’s leading experts on the history and mechanical details of these unique and rare british motorcycles developed by Phil Vincent from 1928 to 1955.

Visit our new Vincent HRD website at