Today in Motorcycle History

Dalm Motorcycles and Engines

J. C. Dalman and Sons of Birmingham produced a motorcycle in 1914 and 1915.

The make was very short-lived and was a lightweight two-stroke machine typical of the era.

Although the motorcycle itself soon disappeared, the Dalm 318cc engine with bore/stroke of 73x76mm remained available as a proprietary unit until well into the next decade.

Marques which employed these engines included:


AMONG the most interesting of the medium-powered air-cooled two-stroke engines the Dalm engine takes a high place. It is designed and manufactured throughout by J. C. Dalman and Sons, of River Street, Birmingham, and not the least wonderful point about it is the fact that no material alteration has been made to the original design. The cylinder has a bore and stroke of 73 x 76 mm., giving a capacity of 318 c.c. The transfer pipe is cast with the cylinder, and one of the first points to strike the eye is the great area of the exhaust ports, which discharge the gas into two separate pipes each of lin. full inside diameter. The transfer ports also are of interest, for though the gas enters the duct by two large ports it is distributed over the face of the baffle by four smaller ones. A release valve placed in front of the cylinder is arranged so that the gas is led directly into the exhaust box casting thus helping largely towards the ideal of a clean engine. The piston is domed somewhat less than is the case with the average two-stroke, but the baffle is extended somewhat above the dome so as to prevent loss of gas through the exhaust port.

It is interesting to note that both crank bearings and big end bearings are lined with white metal instead of the more usual phosphor bronze, and the large surface in conjunction with carefully ground crankshaft gives excellent wearing qualities. The balance weights are carefully machined and riveted to crank webs. The "petroil" system lubrication is employed, the surplus passing through ducts to the crank bearing.

We were enabled to see an engine on a test bench, and it was interesting to note it started up by the simple expedient passing a rope round the belt pulley giving a sharp pull. The engine ran evenly and emitted a clear clean exhaust The compression was excellent in spite the newness of the engine - a feat which is partly due to soundness of workmanship, and partly to the fact that three piston rings are employed.

The Motor Cycle, November 26th, 1914. p592


Following the success of the Levis two strokes, commencing about 1911, quite a number of imitations were designed and commenced to be marketed about 1913. One of these was the Dalm engine produced by J.C.Dalman and Sons of Birmingham. In England Dalm engines powered about a dozen makes of motorcycles of considerable obscurity at one time or another. Aurora, P&S, Hansan. R.W.Scout and Symplex were some of these. Production of the Dalm engines ceased in the financial slump of 1922.

The popular Levis engine was of 211cc, the Dalm copy was exactly 50% larger at 318cc. Construction was similar to the Levis engine although heavier and stronger, all bronze bearings, bol ted up big end and lubrication by petrol or by drip feed to the big end, as preferred by the purchaser. The big difference from the Levis, a three port engine was that the Dalm engine had eleven ports, there was one carburettor port, two window ports in the piston, two ports at the bottom of the transfer passage, a band of four ports at the top of this and two exhaust ports, total eleven. Each of the set of four transfer ports was 1/2" wide and 5/16" high. Evidently the Dalm engine was designed for low speed pulling, not for revving.

About 1916 there was a shortage of motorcycles and engines in Australia. Dalm was then among the unusual makes imported. As to appearance, Jim Sheldon's book, pictures an R.W. Scout with Dalm engine, a Dalm engined bitza is shown on page 89 of Mal's book. Peter Managhan of Adelaide is the proud owner of a nicely restored example apart from wheels, tyres and carburettor, and these are to be replaced in due course. Drive is by belt direct from a pulley on the inside of the flywheel to the rear wheel . What is the make of the motorcycle? Peter comments that when he acquired it. Wally Woollatt said that he could remember only two coming to South Aust., imported by J.N.Taylor and Co. If the bike that Peter has is one of these, then it was probably sold by Taylors using their brand name as a Victor Dalm. Again in Mal's book it is noted that a Wyatt Dalm participated at the Sellick's Hill hillclimb of January 1917. Did Wyatt Mototia of Adelaide assemble this motorcycle or was it a rebranded import? Perhaps the ultimate clue to the identity can be derived from the engine and frame numbers (engine no. 318, frame no. 545).

From the pages of the Vintage Motorcycle Club of Victoria newsletter, December 1987. Minor edits. Images omitted. Posted by Gerard Pentland to Early Motorcycle Literature.

Sources: Graces Guide, The Motor Cycle, et al.

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