1926 Paragon-Villiers 2-Stroke Engine Assembled in Vancouver

Typically used for commuting, Terry's 1926 Paragon-Villiers may well be the only survivor from one of motorcycle history's darker and dustier corners.

| September/October 2020

 motor-bike

  • Engine: 147cc piston-port 2-stroke single, 55mm x 62mm bore and stroke, 3.2hp @ 3,500rpm, Petroil mix 16:1
  • Top speed: 30mph (approx.)
  • Carburetion: Villiers carburetor
  • Transmission: Chain primary, dry clutch, 2-speed Albion gearbox, handshift, chain final drive
  • Electrics: Flywheel magneto ignition
  • Lubrication: Petroil mix 16:1
  • Frame: Open, single tube
  • Seat height: Adjustable
  • Suspension: Druid Mk1 girder fork front, rigid rear
  • Brakes: No front brake, rod operated, external acting on steel channel rear
  • Tires: 26 x 2.125in front and rear

Ubiquitous is a word that has become … well, ubiquitous.

Defined as “seeming to be found everywhere,” the word is frequently misused. But it would be true to say that, in the British motorcycle industry, Villiers 2-strokes really were ubiquitous. Dozens of makers from Aberdale to Zenith used them to power mopeds, commuter bikes, sports bikes, trials and motocross machines, even racers and sidecar outfits. Just about every British bike builder except the majors (Ariel, BSA, Triumph, Matchless, Norton, Velocette, Vincent) made a Villiers-powered machine at some time. And while they were generally reliable by the standards of the day (even with minimal maintenance) they also had inherent problems — the flywheel magneto being one of them.

Case in point: in the 1960s, back in the Old Country, my uncle Ted rode an Ambassador motorcycle. At least, he did until the Villiers engine quit. I was 15 and motorcycle mad. And in a conversation that probably didn’t involve my parents, Uncle Ted told me I could have the bike, and see if I could get it running.



I knew nothing about engines and what made them work, but I started messing with the bits I could see. I do remember that there was a wire coming from the spark plug that didn’t seem to go anywhere. I had no idea that it should be connected to the magneto. Deciding the fault must lay within, I took the cylinder head, barrel and piston off. Seeing nothing obviously wrong, I started reassembly — but I couldn’t find the wrist pin. That was the end of the rebuild and the Ambassador, which was consigned to the wreckers. And I had forgotten this episode until I first saw Terry Frounfelker’s 1926 Paragon and its Villiers 2-stroke engine.

Made in Canada

paragon-vancouver

JohnGregory
8/24/2020 11:04:55 AM

I was a Berliner Distributor. After the NVT merger Mr. RD Poore took us through the old Villiers plant. It was on a stream with a water wheel powering one long shaft with belts to the machinery. Now a big motor powered the shaft. They were making Norton Commando parts. The AJS 250cc scrambler with the Villiers Star Maker engine was very competitive in the mid 70s. They built a fast 500 2 stroke twin. It could lead road races, but it vibrated so bad that no one could last a race. Years later someone found an engine. They re-indexed the 250 cranks to 90/270 and it was a lot smoother. John Gregory




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