No Engine Serial Number ??

RWS

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Hey Gents. While living in the UK during the 1990s I bought a Fastback. The registration documents showed Engine Serial Number 20M3S135392 and Frame no. 135392. She had the headstock plate showing the Frame number, but she did not have the stenciled engine serial number (see the attached picture). I was soon transferred back to the USA and with raising childern, work, moves and other bikes, the Fastback didn't get much attention. Now like many of us I find myself early "retired" with a bit of time on my hands until things pick up again (hopefully!). In the meantime I'm working on resurrecting the Commando and I'm curious as to your thoughts on the "missing" engine serial number. What do you think may have happened here? Perhaps the cases were replaced with brand new and not stenciled? Or maybe your aware of some other twist with the Engine Serial Number stenciling during this time period? I never got the bike re-titled here in Texas when I moved back, but plan to do so now and I have to take her to the Department of Motor Vehicles for a visual as part of the new title process. I suspect they will be satisfied with just the headstock plate frame number, or at least I hope so. Appreciate any insights you all may have. Thanks!

 
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Buy a stamp set and stamp the numbers on it, I had a Perkins motor in my boat that had no engine number on it, I never had any problems without it when I brought it getting it transferred over to my name or when I sold it 10 years later, but that is here and now where you are could be different, I be asking question to who ever is in charge of your transport dept. about it.
 

grandpaul

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You can leave it bare. In Texas, they are mainly concerned with the frame. What you have is almost assuredly a set of replacement cases.

I'd gain access to a set of number stamps and CAREFULLY stamp the identical number on the engine if it were mine.

Look at various photos after you do a forum search for "serial number" and notice the typical stamping pattern for your series.
 
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I agree that at some point the engine cases were replaced - probably some sort if engine "disassembly in operation" having occurred. Stamping numbers on the engine makes absolutely no difference to the operation of the bike, so why bother? As noted, vehicle registration is only interested in the frame number (later, the VIN). There is no interest or cross reference at all to an engine number. I wouldn't do anything at all about the engine number.
 

Fast Eddie

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Replacement cases are sold by OEMs unstamped because the damaged cases are supposed to be scrapped, and the original number is supposed to be transferred to the new cases. So, my money is on these being replacement cases that weren’t stamped, which is not uncommon.

IMHO, The decision as to whether or not to bother stamping them would be driven by the registration requirements.
 
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Never volunteer for anything you don't have to unless it is upon moral or legal grounds.
 

RWS

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Thanks everyone for your feedback. I'd love to stamp it just for my own self-satisfaction, but not sure I trust my skills enough to do so! Perhap I'll buy a stamp set and find something to practice on first......
 

baz

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If you do end up stamping the number yourself it's best to use a heavy copper mallet ,the stamp will transmit more energy so you can avoid re stamping
And copper is less likely to give you a miss hit
 
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The surface being stamped is not flat, it was later, so mis-hits are not uncommon.

 
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RWS

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Thanks everyone, I do have my trusty Thor copper hammer so appreciate that recommendation. Kommado, I appreciate the post as I might have assumed the serial number would be stamped below the barrel like most others. Looking at other posts, it looks like it moved to below the barrel around serial number 145xxx or so (from memory). Although the forward position is more difficult, at least I would have an excuse for any mis-hits.
 

grandpaul

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Well done, kommando. Exactly what I was referring to for RWS' benefit.

RWS, please post a photo of the finished product so we can all kibitz or congratulate. hee hee
 

texasSlick

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Rig up a guide plate to rest the stamps against so you do not get a wavy line. Also mark the plate to give uniform spacing.

Slick
 
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the plate
?engine only is issue?

The number sets appear to have changed a bit over time as production moved locations. However the numeral size as well as the font like 1 and 3 can hint if a counterfeit .
IMO, in the USA where usually in almost all states, the frame is the VIN, I'd leave the engine blank...
 

texasSlick

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?engine only is issue?

The number sets appear to have changed a bit over time as production moved locations. However the numeral size as well as the font like 1 and 3 can hint if a counterfeit .
IMO, in the USA where usually in almost all states, the frame is the VIN, I'd leave the engine blank...
When I imported my Atlas into Texas in 1969, the DMV checked both frame and engine numbers, and expected them to match, otherwise one needed a bill of sale for engine or invoice for engine swap. Perhaps that has changed since then, but AFAIK, still the way they do things.

Slick
 

maylar

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Yeah but if the engine has no numbers how would the DMV know that there should be? Are they experts in old British bikes?
 

RWS

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Yeah, for the purpose of registration/titling I'm going to plan on just going in with the frame number. If I were to mess it up, then it might create more questions and as maylar indicates it's doubtful they will know and I can feign ignorance if they do ask for it. I've been working on getting her roadworthy and have a few more things to do first but I'll keep you posted. Gents, just for the record this a very helpful and welcoming message board. They aren't always that way for the new guys.
 
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When i bought my first bike (70 commando yellow roadster) I had it under 1 year and under 3000 miles. Blew it up big time and the only things salvaged was the crank and head. Berliner/norton were somewhat slow in supplying the warranty parts to the Hamden CT dealer. Got new cases obviously. From 1971, I can't remember if anyone put an engine # on the new cases...Never ran right again and sold it $400 (IIRC new was $1635)
Maybe it is still floating around the Watertown/camp drum NY area
 
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If you stamp it and they query you are fucked . You have no fall back position. If they ask why the engine is not stamped you can say becausethe crankcases were changed by a previous owner . Its not such a big deal in the UK to have no engine serial numbers. What are called grey imports from japan donot seem to have engine serial numbers .
 

Fast Eddie

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How on earth could he be challenged for stamping it??

How is that conversation going to go:

“I think you‘ve stamped that”
”why”?
”they‘re kinda wonky”
”yeah, they‘re all like that...”

I can’t see how anyone could have any evidence or basis to argue at all !

A ground off and re stamped or otherwise tampered with number is a VERY different matter, very easy to spot.

But a number stamped onto virgin cases? That’s how they left the factory ...

Anyway, it’s the proper process. When you buy new cases they come unstamped because you’re supposed to use the old number after scrapping the old cases.

Same process with frames.

If you think about it, it’s logical. If you bought legit new unstamped cases, then later on bought a legit new unstamped frame, you’d have a bike with no identity unless you kept and used the old numbers.
 
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