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Old 16th October 2011, 23:16   #1
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Question Turning an Enfield Crusader into an Ensign - Am I crazy?

So, I've been looking for a Royal Enfield Ensign, which I have found. Well, half of one, anyway. The engine isn't all there (nor is it entirely missing, but enough of it not to be made functional). The papers aren't there either. Now I could go and try and find the spares for it, have them sent over from England, pay exponentially more for getting the thing running than what I would give for the bike/pile of spare parts in a garage. The other option would be just say 'screw it' and find a complete one, but prices these days are not always so reasonable (last one I heard of was one lakh).
I've also found a Crusader, and have heard of a Villiers 175cc engine up for sale (don't know if it's the one for Sherpa, Fantabulus, or Crusader, though). I would just go for this and restore it, excepting the fact that I don't particularly care for the way that the Crusader looks: I don't dislike it, but it's certainly less to my tastes than the Ensign is.
Essentially, what I want to know is whether taking the Crusader and turning it into an Ensign would work, at least from a theoretical standpoint. The gearbox, chain, and silencer all come on the same side, so it may be possible from what I understand. The frame is different, but it seems like there's room for the 175cc engine on the Ensign's frame. Although I would prefer more complete originality, I don't know how viable an option that is given the circumstances. Yes, to some of you, this may sound like blasphemy, along with cannibalising a perfectly salvageable Crusader (which is a classic bike on its own). But it does happen with Jawas, so I've noticed. . .
The other thing is legality: would there be an issue? I know some modifications obviously don't technically meet the standards of the RTO, but my idea wouldn't involve drastically modifying the frame or structure of the bike(s) in question, and I have seen several Bullet 500s which began life as 350s, and at least one Yezdi built from parts left over at Mysore. Which would theoretically mean that it may not be too much of a problem in that realm.

On the other hand, if this does not prove to be feasible, how difficult would it be to get engine parts for the Ensign (as far as I know, the gearbox is there, but it has no piston other things), and is there a procedure for getting a duplicate RC book in Karnataka?
So any input/advice/threats for mentioning my willingness to 'butcher' a Crusader?
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Old 17th October 2011, 11:00   #2
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Default Re: Turning an Enfield Crusader into an Ensign - Am I crazy?

Hi,
First of all, a restoration job on an obsolete vehicle requries lot of patience and a good network of contacts who can help you in procuring parts & direct you to good mechanics. Be clear on you objective. Do you intend to restore the bike as good as the original showroom piece or make it drivable with bare minimal effort (& investment) and try legalizing through a duplicate RC book or just a project bike for learning. Lot of study on the variants & minor modifications on such bikes built on a similar platform would help you.
Abt Duplicate RC book: The actual owner (on papers) has to launch a complaint for losing the RC book. With the FIR copy one can approach the RTO and get the duplicate issued. I am not sure if the vehicle has to be produced for the issue of duplicate RC book.
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Old 17th October 2011, 17:24   #3
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Default Re: Turning an Enfield Crusader into an Ensign - Am I crazy?

Well, my intention is to make the Ensign into something drivable, preferably while keeping it as original as possible. However, if it would be easier (and significantly less costly) to fit a Crusader engine into it, at least temporarily, I am willing to go that route. I would prefer having a functional bike over spending the next three decades looking for spares for a showroom piece.
I do know of several people who have completed much more difficult restorations in the past (namely of Ariel, BSA, and the like), and the general consensus is that it is quite difficult to get spares for Ensigns. Thus the idea of cannibalising a Crusader, since those are easier to come by (again, something which spares are not so easily available for, but more so than an Ensign). Realistically, what would probably end up happening if I went this route would be that I would continue searching out parts for the Ensign, and gradually get it back to original (but using those off of the Crusader to keep it as functional in the meantime). In this case, once the proper Ensign parts are found, anything off of that bike would be returned to its rightful place. And therefore I would end up with two: one Crusader and one Ensign.

Why all of this trouble when the obvious answer would be to just keep the Ensign aside until everything is found, and just fix up the Crusader in the mean time? I don't really know if I can give a real answer to that, aside from simply wanting to experiment with what is and isn't possible, whilst simultaneously keeping costs down temporarily. That and there's something I don't particularly like about the Crusader's design. Aesthetically speaking, that is.

In the realm of similar designs: there was the Enfield Flying Flea, several variants of the Ensign, the Prince, the Sherpa, and then the Crusader came. Add to this, there is the BSA Bantam, and so many clones of the DKW RT 125. The problem is that I don't know of anything else that would be particularly easy to find in India, other than the Sherpa or the Crusader, or maybe (if I'm lucky) another Ensign, Prince, or even a BSA Bantam. Seeing as to the fact that both the Enfield and BSA Bantam variants on this theme started out as 125cc versions, then gradually made it up to 175cc, it doesn't seem so senseless that things might fit. But I do have some doubts, as the gearbox would have been different, the frames changed slightly from one to the other, and so on. That's mostly what stemmed all of this: there's little doubt in my mind that one could fit a Villiers 175cc into an Ensign (which had a 150cc), but would it work?

My objective is to have a functional bike in the end, which at least appears as an Ensign, but may utilise parts of a Crusader to actually run.
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