Members's bikes: Liz & Apa Gomez' New Imperials

We are Liz and Apa Gomez, members of AMAL and currently the sole members in Luxembourg of the New Imperial Owners Association (NIOA). We became acquainted with the New Imperial brand in 2020 and have since then developed a strong affinity for both the bikes and the people in the AMAL and NIOA groups.

Our first New Imperial is a 1929 Model 2 with an interesting history: The bike was initially exported to Denmark, where it was registered in May 1929; serial numbers indicate that the frame was built in February 1929, and the engine in March. The magneto-chain cover bears a stamped plaque indicating engine displacement, serial number, and weight of the machine; this could have been a requirement for export to the continent but we are not certain at present.

We do know that in the U.K., the Model 2 “Light Tourist” benefited from a reduced tax rate due to its weight (empty) under 100 Kg but we are not aware of any such exemptions in The Continent.

The trail of ownership is well documented until 1938 and we know for sure that the bike was being used by its owner as of May 1940, as attested by a fuel-ration stamp from the Copenhagen Police Department, note that this is during the German occupation of Denmark.

After the war, there are again fuel-ration stamps in 1946, 1947, 1948, and 1950; the last documented police stamp is from February 1956, after which the trail disappears until the bike was found in Germany in 2020.

It would have been virtually impossible to obtain service and replacement parts during the war, so the bike underwent a number of adaptations, mainly replacing imperial threads and fasteners with metric ones as well as fitting a non-standard electrical system and headlamp.

The restoration process took almost three years and could only be completed thanks to the invaluable help provided by Adas Janusauskas, David Jarvis, Chas Lipscombe, and Andy Dean; we learned a lot from them and also had to get into the mind-set of late-1920s designers to understand why some things were done in a particular way; a truly enlightening experience.

As a rather unexpected bonus, we discovered that the enthusiasts on New Imps, and particularly members of the NIOA and AMAL are, for the most part, a collection of unusual characters where we think we fit quite well so, double benefit: interesting bikes and equally interesting friends, things don't get much better than that!

During Banbury 2022, Liz found that she liked the "charm" of flat-tankers; then, shortly thereafter, a 1928 Model 2 was advertised for sale in the NIOA newsletter; it was promptly acquired and brought to the Grand Duchy. Then, upon starting the engine, we couldn't decide if it was a motorcycle or a fumigation machine. Fortunately, the neighbours did not call the environmental police on us.

David found (amongst many other needed parts) a suitable oversize piston and rings and after installing those and reassembling the engine, the fumigation feature was brought in line with the natural, spontaneous, light-blue trail left by any authentic side-valver of the time.

Today, the bikes are almost finished (an artist's job is never over) and ride well; they are due to receive acetylene lamps, a missing rear carrier for the 1929, and a few other mostly-cosmetic bits.

Because the restoration and assembly process took longer than initially expected, we missed most key dates in 2023, including the Dorset Giants Run, the Banbury Run, the Tour de Luxembourg, and the "Alen Zwier". However, at the beginning of September a large vintage cars and motorcycles exhibition took place in the small town of Lasauvage,

The Luxembourg AMAL nembers are also a jolly group of enthusiasts which sponsored participation in the Lasauvage event through a stand where the two Model 2s were exhibited to considerable interest from the attending public.

French speakers tend to confuse New Imperial with New MAP, which was a French brand that existed until the late 1950s so, we had some explaining to do for the benefit of the public; thankfully, Jane of NIOA provided a good summary of the history of the marque and we translated the data sheets into French as well.

A rewarding journey which shall continue...

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