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Thanks to Rex E Gardner for this picture of his bike that he would love to trace.

It is a machine he built up when he was in the RAF in 195/52 stationed at El Adem which is 18miles south of Tobruk. It was built out of parts gleaned from the desert by an Arab who lived in Tobruk, and parts found in the desert and various places. Basically it was a Gilera frame and rear wheel, Benelli engine, BMW front forks and front hub in a Matchless rim, Triumph gearbox, Norton carb. Matchless tank modified to take the tall Benelli engine. He took it with him to Malta on posting and then onto England on demob. He rode it there untill he left for Australia. He has often thought about where it could be now, and would love to know if it was still in one piece and not wrecked and forgotten.

Here is what Rex recalls of the bike:

The Gilera frame caught my eye because of the rear springing, this gave a fantastic amount of movement and could be moderated by the friction dampers. It had a single downtube which restricted the placement of the engine so it was cut of and replaced with the twin downtubes of the Benelli frame. This engine was a rather low compression unit and came out of a peculiar Italian unit, which consistyed of a triangular frame bolted onto the Benelli rear end. This had an arangement of two wheels with a beautiful differential driven by chain from the normal rear drive sprocket. A box type of body was mounted on the rear and was used to carry stuff for supply.

The engine had a twin exhaust arrangement but I could only find one pipe, so one was blocked off. On the outlet end of the exhaust pipe was a lever that operated a perforated blanking disk, when I was in a town it was kicked up and so silenced the exhaust so efficiently that I was never pulled over by the police, on the open road the lever was kicked down and made it a straight thru pipe.

The Triumph gearbox had to be inclined at about 45o so it could fit in the space left by the big engine, I completely filled the box with grease and it gave me no trouble at all in the time I rode it, in the desert, around Malta, and in England.

I nearly forgot, the rear wheel of the Gilera frame was a quickly detachable one, at the time the English bike makers should have seen this one. I timed myself removing the rear wheel. Putting it on the stand, getting an adjustable spanner, opening same, removing the wheel took in all 40seconds. I suppose you remember the job of removing the rear wheel of a Matchie to mend a puncture.

I was lucky enough to be able to have some leave to England where I bought the levers headlamp rim and glass paint and a lot of little items not available in Tobruk.

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One Response to ““REG” Special”

  1. Sandro Miliotti on December 4, 2012 @ 1:59 pm

    This is Sandro from Italy owner of Benelli motorcycles only pre-war time and so this is a very nice motorcycle with engine type Benelli 500 OHC “over head cam” type 4TN low compression used also on civilian motorcycles from 1934 to 1940 and also on motocarro a particular tricylce to transport goods and troops, the frame is a military frame design for side valve engine Gilera type VL-500 built from 1938-1942.

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