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Thread: The 1916 Excelsior

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    Default The 1916 Excelsior

    I have wanted to share this Excelsior project with my fellow AMCA members. Now that our diligent forum administrator has changed the title of this category, I think itís more usable. I hope more members take advantage of this and show what they are doing. For example, seeing how Slojo tackled some of the obstacles on his Gray Ghost build has been very useful, and inspiring to me, and showed how most any problem can be solved.

    I have already posted much of this on Buzzís CAIMAG forum so it will be a re-hash for some of you. I parked the Excelsior project last June, but Iím now back on it and have more to add. So, Iíll start with a bit of Excelsior history, and the history of my 1916 Big X..

    I have a good friend in Orlando named Charlie Carter. Charlie was a past editor of ďThe Antique MotorcycleĒ and was known as Mr. Excelsior back in the 70s and 80s because of his great interest in the Chicago Brand X. Charlie had a printing industry related business in the old part of Orlando, and it was always enjoyable to stop in after work for a cocktail, and some B.S. In addition to Charlieís motorcycle collection, the owner of the building he was in, was a prolific collector of old cars, stock cars from the Daytona beach racing days, and real period hot rods from the late 40s and early 50s. Needless to say, there was always something interesting to look at.

    In addition to Hendersons, Excelsiors, and Indians, Charlie had the fenders, a gas tank, most of a motor, a transmission with clutch, and many of the odd brackets, and control parts for a í16 X. I looked at that stuff for the better part of year before the hook got set. I had just finished a Series 20 Excelsior and I didnít know if I wanted to go back down that rough road. Particularly, building a bike from parts. Still, I found myself looking at pictures of í15-í19 Excelsiors, and liking the styling more and more. I donít remember the details of the deal but I got what Charlie had.

    That year I went to Davenport and Iím thinking it was 1990. I didnít have expectations of finding anything major for the Ex, but, Mike Smith had a 1916 Excelsior frame, fork, and handlebars and that was the most advantageous purchase Iíve ever made in this hobby. My long term project suddenly became most of a whole motorcycle.





    I wish I had taken more pictures of the í16 X pile as it grew, but that was in the days of film cameras and I was more selective of what I took pictures of. This is the only picture I can find of the í16 in parts. Itís really a better picture of my 1919 Henderson in parts.

    Eric Smith
    AMCA #886

  2. #2
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    Sep 2005
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    Default

    To give you a bit more history; the first picture is of a 1915 Excelsior. '15 was the first year for a 3 speed transmission (like H-D and Indian) and streamlined styling before H-D and Indian. The '15 was unique in that the shifter was on the right side, but even more unique from a restoration point of view is; the majority of components are mildly, to profoundly particular to 1915. I found a lot of '15 stuff when I was searching for '16 stuff.



    This is another picture of a '15. It's either a pre-production model, or a very early production model as there is some debate on some of it's components. Having a babe posing with your product wasn't lost on the ad men of the day but Excelsior also liked to stress that their bikes could be easily started by women due to the compression release feature.



    This picture is of a 1916 Excelsior and of course I'm the only Excelsior guy that thinks the '16 is better looking than the '15.

    Eric Smith
    AMCA #886

  3. #3
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    Default

    Oh man this is gonna be awesome! Thanks for making the effort to take us along with this one Eric!
    Cory Othen
    Membership#10953

  4. #4
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    Default

    It's dťjŗ vu all over again!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
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    Lachenaie Qc
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    Default

    Hey Eric,

    I'm glad you have decided to make a rebuilt thread of that awesome Excelsior. It is such a nice bike! I'll follow that with as much interest as you have followed mine on Buzz's site!
    Bob
    '' The hurrier I go, the behinder I get ''

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    So Cal
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    Default

    Very glad to see the new category, right on Eric - keep it coming!

  7. #7
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    Default

    I've had a major set-back on the '16 X. Somehow I have lost all of the control parts from the handlebars, down to the frame head. That is a lot of parts, all weird, and complex. Needless to say, I have looked everywhere, and speculated on every possible scenario. In addition to being a huge loss, it has killed my enthusiasim for this project. I think the best thing for me to do is put the X in mothballs and wait until I can find a replacement set. . . And, a better frame of mind.
    Eric Smith
    AMCA #886

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    Jersey City
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    Default

    Eric, you didn't look hard enough. They are there, in a box under something. Move onto the next plateau and keep looking. They did not grow legs. Bob

  9. #9
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    Apr 2003
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    Seaford, NY
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    It's so fustrating when you can't find something. I couldn't find a box with some parts from my 1915 Harley. I looked and looked and swore that maybe the ex wife threw them in the garbage or something. Well after almost a week of full time looking I found the box hiding under another box in the basement. Why I put them there I don't know or remember. Eric, As hopeless as it may seem, keep looking where it should be and shouldn't be. I feel for you, you'll find it.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
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    I find losing stuff one of the most frustrating parts of this hobby. I've spent an entire Saturday tearing the shop apart for that particular "piece" only to randomly trip across it a day or two later. It can seriously set back the time line! My wife knows that "lost" look on my face and always asks if the "shop gremlin" has stashed something on me again? Once found I vow to be more orderly, yet I still lose the odd thing!

    Those parts will show up before you know it Eric. Hopefully it will renew your spirit!
    Cory Othen
    Membership#10953

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