OEC Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

OEC Motorcycle c.1930

OEC Motorcycle c.1930

Dear sir

I was searching for information about an OEC motorcycle and came across your page.

I wonder if you could identify the model of the machine in the attached image?

I have been transcribing the diary of Andrew Sutherland, a crofter in Rogart, Sutherland. Andrew was a cousin of my grandfather. I only knew him as an old man, But he was a talented and practical man who seemed able to turn his hand to anything.

From 1922 he became interested in wireless, he taught himself the technology from magazines and soon was making wirelesses for his neighbours and friends. He built himself a charging hut with a waterwheel over a stream by his house to charge the accumulators for the wirelesses.

At the end of 1928, he acquired a non-running OEC motorcycle. He stripped it down, and re-assembled it with a some help from the local garage.

10th Feb 2024. Peter writes:

Problem solved!. Andrew got himself a new (newer?) OEC on June 4th 1930. That would explain the picture with a JAP engine rather than a Blackburne. He got the non-runner OEC with Blackburne engine in November 1928, managed to get it running by February 1929. He had further problems with it - having to repair the clutch and replace the 13-toothed chain drive sprocket. Then on 13th May 1930, he ordered an OEC. Paid £37/10/-. The bike arrived on 4th June 1930 The ad on your website for the 1926 models has prices of £46 and £68 - so it cannot have been a new machine? Did the company cut its prices in 1930?

    A catalogue for 1930 models gives a price of £68-10-0 for a 500cc OHV twin-port sprung frame (Andrew's model). That catalogue would likely have been printed in late '29, but even if they dropped prices substantially due the onset of the Great Depression, highly unlikely that he could have bought a new one for the price you mention. Ed.

FYI I have attached a section of Andrew's diary showing his progress on the m/c.

Monday 12th November

Cleaned. About. To Wm Rosses garage. Tried O.E.C. [motor cycle, Blackburn engine]. Threshed. Lily at her green bicycle. [1]

Saturday 17th November

West and stormy. For Pittentrail. Cleaned. Stripped motor-cycle. Threshed. Fair dry day. To smithy. Davie mended hinge.

Monday 19th November

Put sheep down to stubble. Mended gate. At motor cycle. Saw Wm Moore. Got into M/C gearbox. OK. For home. Wm Moore & I up.

Thursday 22nd November

Wet. In tups. Sorted out. To Wm Murray, W L Mackay and K Gunn, Morness. 4 lambs and 1 ram to Pittentrail. Down at 4. Saw Uncle Sandy Mackay, Muie. Saw Ian M Grant, he had inspection of bike, chains &c. Pronounced in reasonable order. Made big threshing in barn.

Friday 23rd November

Cold, wet. Cleaned. Sorted drain, east above road. Put net in gate. Put down sheep and ram. At M/C., off cylinder gudgeon pin worn. Wet all day.

Friday 30th November

For Pittentrail at 11, Marg & I, 2 carts. Down. Threshed and fanned 2 ½ qrs. To Col.Gilbert Gunn’s lecture on “The de-rating and local government scheme” – some criticism???. Back by Ian M Grant’s at Dalmore. Got wrenches for motor cycle.

Monday 3rd December

East with oats to station for Golspie meal mills. (Mackay). 1st oats this year. ½ Robbie Mackay (Grant) up loads of turnips to stackyard. At M/C. – stripping.

Wednesday 5th December

R Mackay & I loading up Green Tops to back of house. Wm Moore helped. Still stripping bike.

Tuesday 11th December

Hector Ross, postman, up. I for Pittentrail. Snow almost all away. At m/bike engine. Off big end. Packed box with one side of crankcase and piston.

Wednesday 12th December

Off Box. (M/C.) and clipping turnip.

Wednesday 19th December

Finished turnip pit. At motor cycle. Lily down. Alex down with cart. Lily & I put “lines” on m/c.

Tuesday 25th December

Cleaned. Threshed with flail. West some sheep. ½ For Pittentrail. Bike at Beatties. No stuff for bike. Letter from Minnie & Lily in Glasgow. Saw Cameron, station; and for home 6.45

Tuesday 1st January 1929

Cold. About. Geo Ross & Mrs Ross, Cnockan, east at night. Battery on charge. Came on hard frost. Water wheel stopped.

Wednesday 2nd January

Cold. For Pittentrail with tups. Took bike. (pedal cycle) Saw Bain leaving his ram with Capt. At P.C. Forbes radio. At motor bike parts. Cleaning and soldering. 1st O.E.C.

Friday 4th January

Frost. For Dornoch. Fourpenny (Forbes) sheep fair; Drumdivan (Gunn); Proncy Croy (Ross). Home. Motor Cycle parts came. Cycled along Embo line.

Saturday 5th January

Out hay and Swedes for sheep. Alex to station for coal. Put engine & gearbox in bike.

Friday 11th January

Fed. West batteries to charging hut in Ballan burn. Ice in buckets. ½ Round east. Put west 2 Dalnessie sheep. Mild. Frost coming out of ground.

Tuesday 15th January

For Pittentrail. To take up cart. Posted letters. Saw Cameron, stationmaster. New wavelengths in on Sunday. At bike (M/C.), put lot of small parts on. Frost and snow.

Monday 21st January

Cleaned. About. Alex MacLeod east after the 2 sheep I put west. I went to Pittentrail. Posted letters. Saw J.M.Grant west and he tuned Motor Cycle for me. (Old OEC with Blackburn).

[1922 OEC started to manufacture motorcycles under their own name. Then, the tank transfers changed from plain Blackburne to OEC-Blackburne, as the Blackburne was now concentrating solely on the supply of engines to the trade.- PJL from https://cybermotorcycle.com/marques/oec/ ]

Thursday 7th February

For Pittentrail, Bute in cart & Lus. Lily down too. Left Lus in D.C. smithy. Capt in Pitt. Got horse shod. At motor cycle.

Saturday 9th February

To plough. Trying M/C. Plough to 4. At motor cycle – going at last. Round fields.

Monday 11th February

Frosty. Cold. To Golspie. Got motor license & cartridges. Out for a run to the Mound and metal heap. Lost silencer at road bridge.

Thursday 28th February

Milder. In turnips. In last corn stack. 1 ¾ hay in yard, 1 Ballan, 1 below. For Pittentrail. Bike [M/C} at Beatties. Down. 2 new valves. Put these in. Grinding & scraping to 11. Lily to Torbreck. Draughts match – Rogart 17 v Dornoch 10.

Friday 1st March 1929

Cleaning corn. Got Robt Grant and Pitfure cart to take up stack from below. 1 stack left. Out bike – Ian M Grant tried [it]. I tried his, went !!! At his radio, found bad connections. Trying a “pentode valve”. Home 12. [The 1st test of a multi electrode power valve (1965)]

Evidently lost accurate record to Sat 16th. To Pittentrail. Started stubble. Finis and at lea. No rain and mild. Keeping motor bike in order. Uncle Sandy Mackay, Muie, started work on Aultimoult bridge. Finis in 2 weeks.

Home on Saturday 16th after loading coal all day. Up Clashpeanal brae with m/cycle – very rough road. Alex MacLennan and I put off some patches in park.

Leis gach deagh dhùrachd

Peter J Lawrie / Pàdraig mac Iain mhic Labhruidh

Peter notes that the information and photographs belong to Rogart Heritage Society (rogartheritage.co.uk).

1. More images in comments on OEC Motorcycles (and please no lewd remarks about the meaning of "Threshed. Lily at her green bicycle.")
2. Editor's best guess is that images are of his friend's machine which is probably a 1929 model OEC 500cc OHV JAP Twinport. Thus far no catalogue images of the '29 have come to light, but it's nigh on identical to a 1930 catalogue image - and the 1930 catalogue would most likely have been printed in 1929.