Smiths Chronometric, what is the attraction?

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I can not believe the ridiculously high prices people are paying for Smiths Chronometric instruments.

With the thousands of bikes scrapped since the early sixties, there is surely thousands more Chronometric tachs and speedos laying around than there is bikes left intact that originally used them. Having said that the only thing creating demand for them must be people putting them on bikes that never had them in the first place.

The Smiths chronometric instrument itself was a utility-grade piece for mass production, there is nothing precision or special about it. It certainly has a lot more things that can go wrong with it than a magnetic instrument though.

Smiths Chronometric instruments have the build quality of a 1950's consumer-grade wind-up alarm clock. They will work for decades in their intended application because unlike that cheap clock, which has to run 24/7 for months or years on end, The Smiths speedo or tach on a bike ridden an hour per day only sees 1/24th the amount of wear! And we know that most pre-64 British bikes see much, much less use than that.

Smiths high-end competition instrument of the fifties and early sixties, the ATRC as used on the Manx, G-50 Matchless, and all the other factory and works GP bikes, was a very simple magnetic instrument with a lot less parts and a lot less to go wrong with it. The ATRC has very much in common with the sixties and seventies magnetic instruments that were put on every British bike.

It is ridiculous that the set of clocks on a common british bike of the fifties or sixties can be worth most of $1000, 10%-20% of what the bike itself is worth!!!

Hipsters, posers, profiteers, speculators etc. certainly have a heavy hand in this inflation, buying up the instruments for use on bikes that did not come with them originally for their boulevard appeal. Just one more part of this hobby they have ruined.....
 
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I have no direct experience of the Chronometric clocks, but I have looked at the price they go for on e bay and I have to agree they are expensive.
But are they any better than the magnetic instruments? Again I don't know but I believe that the UK police continued to use them up to around the last police spec Commando (1977 ?) long after Triumph and Norton had started putting magnetic instruments on the civilian models.

Webby
 

grandpaul

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I like the tick-tick-tick motion.

Kind of a wierd post altogether.

"I don't like them", and "they cost too much".

Don't get me started, I would post about HDs...
 
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grandpaul said:
I like the tick-tick-tick motion.

Kind of a wierd post altogether.

"I don't like them", and "they cost too much".

Don't get me started, I would post about HDs...
Ah sure, get going it will bring a bit of spice in this thread :roll:

BTW Beng, I have a nice chronometric tachometer on my café racer, I sold the matching speedo for a good price a couple of years ago and I have a nice chronometric speedo on my desk going up in value day by day :wink:

Jean
 

grandpaul

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hee hee

I have one or two very expensive paperweights also.

I HATE PAPERWEIGHTS!
 
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On option for those of you that like the look but not the price is Indian made magnetic instruments that look like chronometrics. No idea how good they are, but considering the price and that they're built in India, I'd say complete rubbish! :mrgreen:
 
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I re-read the start of the thread, and I never said I did not like them, they do the job. I have three old Nortons that have them on as original equipment so I am forced to tinker with them.

I sold two extra chronometric tachs on ebay recently. I put one up for what I thought was a REALLY high price and it sold really fast. Ebay nicks you for having high starting and instant buy prices, so the second one I put on starting at $9.95 figuring I would be happy with whatever I got and I was astounded that it went for almost twice what the previous one sold for.

If you like the name "chronometric", then you will really like the full name of the ATRC instruments, I believe it is an abbreviation of Auto Tempo Racing Chronometer. They usually go for twice the price of chronometrics though, that price being set by the current cost of new ones, and the fact that most of the factory GP bikes they came on are owned by millionaires now....

I just feel sorry for the guys that have to buy them to make a restoration correct, they have to pay the price that is driven up by the hipsters.
 

grandpaul

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You could have sold them for a nice low price to someone here, to do your part to keep the prices real.

You don't NEED to sell the on e-bay where rich hipsters collude with you to drived up prices...
 
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Availability of tachos and speedos is pretty different in the UK. Relatively few bikes were fitted with tachos but of course every Triton has to have one which pushes the price of those up. I have to say that prices of chronometric speedos in the UK are not that silly, the restorers will give up to about £60 for a non-worker and charge something over the £200 mark for a restored item. Specific 'Green Globe' or 'Wiggly Line' Commando SSM clocks will sometimes fetch more.

I suspect the older the project, the greater the chance that the speedo will be missing.

I don't think that we should fall into the trap of regarding eBay global market prices as the norm. At a UK jumble last year, I picked up a tarnished 8" headlamp reflector for £5. On eBay last week, one in the same condition fetched £80, but put yourself in the position of a restorer in say Argentina who never sees British parts at a jumble and has no contacts in the UK. He's going to pay what it takes.

Personally, I like original equipment and would hate to see a magnetic on an early bike.

I think that I posted this picture before. It's a 'pin drive' Jaeger type. I couldn't not have the thick pre-war cable on a '39 bike.



I paid £100 for this one a few years ago. It needed just a clean.
 
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grandpaul said:
I always wondered what that tick mark at 30 MPH was for...
I alway assumed it was because of the 30 MPH speed limit in town/city.
 
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It is indeed the old built-up area speed limit. A yellow line on pre-war clocks and white on the later ones.

In the UK at the time, 30 mph was the only speed limit and applied in built-up areas. outside of that was not restricted.

Older Police Officers used to refer to the 'derestriction' marking as the 'GLF' sign - It stands for 'Go Like F*ck' :)
 
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It has been said many times that Smiffs calibrated their Chronometrics to read 30 MPH when the vehicle was in fact doing 27 MPH hence when in the UK
you will be allowed 10% above before being given an invitation to attend and make a dontation to her majesty's coffers...as a by the way if you like Chronometrics why not try a Bonniksen........ http://www.bonniksen.co.uk/technical.htm
I'm not quite sure I understand the logic of the first post on this thread.....I would have said that there are more bikes that need the speedo's than there are speedo's there are only three/four people in the southern half of the U.K the can repair them. :D
 
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Hipsters, posers, profiteers, speculators etc. certainly have a heavy hand in this inflation, buying up the instruments for use on bikes that did not come with them originally for their boulevard appeal. Just one more part of this hobby they have ruined.....

I’m not so sure that the Hipsters, posers, profiteers, speculators etc play such a huge role in price. Mostly it’s a supply and demand situation for restorations. Check out the prices of rusty, ratty, busted chronos; still very high and it is for the parts.

It is ridiculous that the set of clocks on a common british bike of the fifties or sixties can be worth most of $1000, 10%-20% of what the bike itself is worth!!
Dont get me started on this! Your quote should be on the mind of every potential basket case buyer. Petrol tank badges, nacelles, sheet metal, switches…….
All that said, there is an art about the chrono that represents the reason we have these old bikes. Clunky, mechanical and works great..I love mine!! Maybe that’s why the prices are high.

 
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Another part of the problem is a lot of people are building bikes up out of bits from Ebay and autojumbles and in the Uk you can get an age related registration for your number plate, this has come about because of the very high prices the genuine and original machine commands you can build a what is a replica out of obtained parts i.e chronometric speedo's and the only way you can tell is by examining the log book this will have the date of first registration.....I have to confess I'm guilty of this I bought a collection of parts that someone was going to build into a Velocette Venom and after two years of collecting and building I have a bike I could never have afforded and it's only ever worth as much as somebody will pay..total cost to build £3500.00 fun factor priceless
 
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