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Enots semi-automatic oil pump

August 13, 2012

enots oiler

Pioneer motorcyclists had many things to think about while riding their ‘bikes.  One of them was the flow of oil into the motor.  They didn’t have to think about the flow of oil OUT of the motor, as the breathers and the lack of oil rings on the piston did that for them.


The first oil pumps were very simple, devoid even of check valves.  They required the rider to pump in a measure of oil every so often; maybe a full pump every 5 miles, depending on the oil type, the riding conditions, etc.  If the pumping action was forgotten by the rider, the motor would overheat, and possibly stick the piston in the bore, or maybe lock up the big end bearing, or main bearings, etc.  So it was a big deal when semi-automatic oilers came on the market a few years before WWI.  They still required a hand pump to fill the pump chamber.  But a coil spring would press the piston pump back upwards, and force out the oil to the motor.  An adjustable needle valve could be set to give just the right number of oil drops per minute, and many units used a sight glass so that rider could count the number of drops, if they weren’t busy keeping the bike between the hedgerows.


The 1913 Veloce needed a new petrol tank, as the original one was destroyed by rust.  I asked the tinsmith to leave out the oil pump features, as I planned to fit a semi-automatic type.  Enots made a nice one, although it wasn’t as popular as the Best and Lloyd type, but I did find one on eBayUK.  The name “Enots” is STONE spelled backward, as the company who made them was Benton and Stone.  They also offered other accessories, and the little brass sump screw on the bottom of the old Velo motor is stamped B&S.

 enots oiler brass

Disassembled for inspection:



The old leather cup washer had perished at some point, and the rubber replacement had hardened.  So I cut and formed a new one from some rubber that is resilient to oil.



To mount the oil pump, the first step was to measure and cut a hole.  Then I used PEM nuts to give a female thread on the inside of the tank top.  Welding or brazing of some bungs or welding of nuts would have worked.  But since the tank was already closed up when I got it, PEMs worked really well.  They are press fit into drilled holes, typically with a hydraulic press, where they lock into place and will not spin.  In order to reach into the tank, I used a small C clamp, and made a cylindrical tool to contact the PEM nut and locate it. 


PEM nuts



This Enots type pump has a hemispherical glass cover that allows the rider to see the oil dripping, while the Best and Lloyd type have a cylindrical glass barrel.  Oil pumps were not trusted in the early years, and even in the 1920s is was common to see them fitted with sight glasses so that the oil flow could be verified. 


On the bottom end of the pump, I used a simple bulkhead fitting to pass the copper oil line through the tank, with a thread on the bulkhead to mount the tap.  Some 1/4” copper tubing down to the motor and the job was done.


enots 1913

This earlier Enots type had the oil output pipe on the exterior of the petrol tank.

  Mr Ingram with 1913 Veloce

In this photo from the Veloce 1914 catalog, Mr. Ingram has a Veloce 500cc like mine.  The oil pump and its external line can be seen on the side of the petrol tank, just in front of the exhaust pipe.  The standard drawing of the bike in the catalog shows a manual pump that is internal to the tank, but it was common for people to change them to the semi-auto types.  There are only two period photos of the Veloce 500s and both bikes are fitted with these oil pumps.


 davison oil pump 1913

And this is a notice of a new design for 1913 from Davison.


6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 13, 2012 11:57 am

    Never seen the automatic oilers like this. Strictly a UK thing? I think US built bikes used a plunger pump running off the end of the crankshaft. My Pope is this way and certainly Harley and Indian were as well. There is also typically a hand pump but only for extra oiling on hills. By the way, where did you get the tank made? It is the last (large) bit I need to make for the Pope.
    Brian in Santa Cruz

    • August 13, 2012 12:16 pm

      Hi Brian. The semi-auto hand pumps were mostly used in the UK. But they were superseded by metering devices (not really pumps) on the ends of camshafts or crankshafts like those used on American bikes like Pope and Excelsior, etc. Best and Llyod made a good one used by Rudge, JAP and others. They only metered the amount of oil that dripped into the motor via gravity feed from the tank. Basically they eliminated the need for any hand pumping and used gravity instead. Later on, say in the late 1920’s, real oil pumps became popular, with either piston pumping action or gear pumping.

      The tank was made in Australia, by a friend of the previous owner of my bike. As these things do, it took a long time to arrive… Likely you can find a quicker supplier locally.

  2. August 13, 2012 12:25 pm

    been hooked since you first mentioned the name Enot

  3. August 13, 2012 4:14 pm

    Heehee! I love that testimonial:
    “It has made an enormous increase in power, ensuring at the same time, correct lubrication”

    That says a couple of things:

    Even in 1914-ish, motorcyclists were power hungry (why am I surprised, considering the meager outputs those early machines had?… not! ha!)

    I would have thought that correct lubrication, ie no seizures, would have been top of the list of benefits!!! Isn’t it funny how motorcyclists often get their priorities wrong,, increased power is mentioned before reliability indeed, nothing has changed.

    But it leaves me wondering, just how close to failure must that gentleman’s motorcycle have been if it has managed to liberate sufficient power to elicit that comment!! The mind boggles at the “blueness” of the internals in his engine!

  4. Charlie101 permalink
    August 14, 2012 4:26 am

    Hehe, mee to wants “enormous increase in power” where do I find an Enots?


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