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Today in Motorcycle History

Fafnir Motorcycle Engines

A Brief History of the Marque

Fafnir is the dragon from the Nibelungen saga in Norse mythology, and appears under different names in the works of Tolkien.
Aachen-based Fafnir built a range of engines up to 8hp V-twins under licence from the Werner brothers, and from 1903 produced complete motorcycles. Their engines were used by most early German and several British motorcycle manufacturers, and also by firms as far afield as Australia.

Founded in 1894 to produce sewing needles, the firm soon began production of bicycle spokes. The first Fafnir engines were built in 1899 in single and v-twin format of 2 to 8hp. A Mr. Gaslin had been employed for this - he had previously worked with De Dion Bouton and Cudell for nine years.

The firm produced car kits as early as 1904, and by 1908 complete automobiles were rolling out the factory door. After WWI car production resumed, but by 1925 the firm was in serious financial trouble and the banks killed Fafnir.

Manufacturers which employed Fafnir engines include:

The Fafnir Motor-Bicycle.

The Fafnir motor is one of the latest German-built machines. The motor has a cylinder bore of 2½ inches, and a stroke of 2¾ inches, giving 1¾ effective horsepower, which has proved sufficiently strong for ordinary roads and hills. The motor is very small, and has a weight of only 23½ lbs. The bearings are wide and of phosphor bronze. The exhaust has no thread, as it is considered that threads are liable to become so set that only breakage can remove them. A bridle lock is used instead, which can be removed by loosening a screw. The exhaust valve lifter is used as a regulator, doing away with a compression cock. As on large motors, the crank chamber has a small ball valve. The lubricating arrangement is very neat, and a connection between the oil tank and the crank case can always be made at whatever angle the motorcycle may be placed. The regulation of the gas and the control of the motor are simple. The Fafnir motor, as well as the motorcycles, and single parts of each, are supplied by Aachener Stahlwaarenfabrik, at Aix la Chapelle, in Germany. It is the first German firm to supply the parts of the machinery and bicycle for small makers to construct their own motorcycles.

Source: Motor Cycling Magazine, Dec 17th 1902.

Fafnir Motor Cycle Engines (1914)

FAFNIR engines are manufactured by the Aix-la-Chapelle Steel Works, a long-established firm which is known throughout the whole Continent for the quality of the material employed in the various branches of engineering with which it deals. The Fafnir firm is one of the oldest connected with the construction of motor cycle engines, and has been in the business over fourteen years. The address of the London branch is 211, Upper Thames Street, E.C.

A variety of models is manufactured - the 2 ½ h.p., 70x80 mm., ball bearing crankshaft, and the popular 3 ½ h.p., 499 c.c, 85x88 mm.

The engine, which weighs about 54 lb., is beautifully made, and is provided with a gear-driven magneto The mainshaft is provided with a double row of Skefko self-aligning ball bearings, and an internal exhaust valve lifter is adopted. The valve rockers are fitted with roller ends, thus minimising the friction to as large an extent as possible, and the tappet bearings run in long bushes. The distance pieces below the valve guides are drilled at the sides, so as to keep the springs from contact with the cylinder, thus keeping them cool and adding to their life, while in the latest models adjustable tappets are fitted. Great care has been taken with the design B of the engine, oil holes being pro vided in all bearings to ensure perfect lubrication. The latest models of this engine will be provided with a chain-driven magneto.

The Fafnir adjustable pulley is quite an interesting piece of work The method of operating is clearly shown in the accompanying illustration. The knob A is attached to a spindle holding the bar B, and when pulled out allows the pulley to be turned till, on the knob being released, it again engages with the slot C. The pulley therefore can be operated and the gear ratio raised or lowered without the aid of tools, a point which should be much appreciated by the average rider.

The illustration of the Fafnir method of holding the gudgeon pin is also interesting. It will be noted that two rings only are fitted to the piston, and that the gudgeon pin is slightly tapered, and has a slot cut in its narrow end. A spring ring is fitted into a slot in the piston itself, and on the gudgeon pin being driven through the ring springs into the slot and holds the gudgeon securely.

To most of these models the Fafnir two-speed epicyclic gear box can be fitted. It is designed to bolt straight on to the crank case, and is driven by means of three pinion wheels direct from the crankshaft to the belt pulley, which runs at half the engine speed.

Besides the 3 ½ h.p., the Fafnir Co. supply a 5-6 h.p., 70x80 mm. twin; a 4 ½ h.p., 86x96 mm. single; and a cycle car engine. 85x88 m.m. twin, which can be had either water- or air-cooled, and fitted with or without a leather cone clutch.

The Motor Cycle, July 16th, 1914.

natb at
1912 Peerless motorcycle made by Healey in Australia
Need Conrod for 500cc Fafnir motor also a carburettor
Nat Brazzalotto
Perth Western Australia
carlkuhle at
Fafnir circa 1907/1910 single cylinder Inlet over exhaust
Looking for cam followers for Inlet over exhaust single cylinder fafnir engine or drawing /sketch to enable me to make them.
Carl Kuhle
Castlemaine Australia
davenportaut at
Fafnir 1909 onwards I think
I'm looking for as much information as possible
I have frame. forks . Engine magneto fafnir carburettor wheels tank
Stephen Davenport

Sat Dec 24 2005
scott.roberts5 at bigponddot com

My Granmothers brother owned a 1909 Fafnir red motorbike. This bike was sold years ago and has been restored to new condition. How many were made in 1909 and how much would this be worth today you think?

Thanks for your time

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