1923 Packman and Poppe Anyone?

This week, I had a phone call from a gentleman in Corfe Mullen who has just joined the VMCC a few days ago!

During our phone conversation, he explained that he is really a vintage car man (Bullnose Morris) but has recently bought a 1923 Packman and Poppe motorcycle that was extensively modified 50+ years ago by  the “famous” Mr. Edward Heward who used it for grass tracking in the Petersfield M/C club.  The current owner’s dilemma is either to 1) leave it as modified or 2) restore it to original.

As I knew absolutely nothing about Packman and Poppe motorcycles, I did a little research and offered to pay him a visit today, which he gladly accepted.  It was certainly a lot better than I was expecting but there are many alterations including: the fitting of an OHV Blackburn engine which resulted in frame and engine plate alterations and lose of correct tank, movement of saddle and its mountings, additional frame tubes for added strength, hand-change conversion to foot-change and various other things.

Packman and Poppe rear wheel bearings are quite unique…in that they are set in the frame rather the hub. The rear hub is also a QD one that leaves the brake drum and rear chain in place.  The company only existed between 1923 and 1930 and it is difficult to find any information about them.  Because the frame has been altered somewhat, we’re not even sure what model this started life as, but it’s probably an L2 or L3.  No sign of any frame number to help us.

But the biggest surprise of all was that it is running…and sounded great:

Over tea, we discussed the pros and cons of either leaving it like it is, or restoring to original.  Due to the number of alterations already carried out coupled with the rarity of the bike (only 5 known to survive), the latter would be quite a challenge as an engine would need to be found, tank made, frame altered etc.  The former would be attractive if the grasstacker was indeed as famous as thought, but I’ve not found any reference to him anywhere, so who knows.

If anyone is interested in this bike, the owner is quite open to offers – cash or swop.  On reflection, he wishes he had bought an unrestored model from a more common maker (i.e. BSA, Ariel, Norton, Rudge etc) from the 1920’s; preferably one with acetylene lighting.  Also, if anyone knows of another owner of these bikes or has more information on them, please do let me know.

After a couple of hours, I left him with our 2018 Programme Card, my contact details if he wants to come and see some rusty Ariels (he does!), and a promise I’d post something similar on the VMCC Forum.

Author: Paul Wirdnam

Strangely addicted to Ariel motorcycles from the '20s, 30s and 40s.

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