Grey Flash 2751

The history and restoration of a Vincent HRD Grey Flash

I’m finally able to report that the fork blades are stripped of all of their paint. In fact, all parts have now been stripped but I’m going to start with the forks as they are an important reference point for this part of the restoration. We know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the forks are the original ones that 2751 left the factory with. We know this because of the many unique features found on the Grey Flash Girdraulic fork legs that differentiate them from Vincent Black Lightning items. The bike was exported new to New Zealand; the only Grey Flash exported new to that part of the world. For the bike to have acquired a genuine replacement Grey Flash fork leg would have been nigh on impossible. So the legs have to be original to the machine and, under the paint, we are likely to find the anodised finish listed on the Works Record Card. That is, unless it was destroyed by someone trying to obtain a “key” for said paint…

The listed finishes.

As we have seen, the dull chromium plated finish extends to several parts of the machine, including the UFM and RFM. For now though, I will be concentrating on the parts of the bike that were anodised. This method of finishing alloy parts has been around since the ’20s though didn’t start to become widespread, beyond military applications, until the late ’50s/early ’60s. We were sure that the anodised finish would have been of silver in colour and that this would have been done to give the aluminium parts a superior appearance and protect them from oxidization.

Several layers of paint were removed exposing the finish beneath – the first time it’d seen the light of day in many decades.

Prior to stripping. This grey painted finish was applied by Peter Johnson and Terry Prince. Under this was another, different grey painted finish and a layer of primer that had been applied by a previous owner.
The stripped fork legs.

To see how these legs differ in appearance from an unanodised set, prior to being painted, they will need to compared to an original leg in that state. I have an original leg, that’s never been refinished, elsewhere and I have a plan to dig it out, strip some of the old finish off and compare it to these ones. Then, I believe, the difference in finish will be quite apparent. Looking at these items on their own, they don’t appear to be showing any signs of anodising but I feel confident that this finish is indeed consistent with silver anodising albeit somewhat aged.

Anyway, for the time being, let’s just marvel at them. For sure, few have ever set eyes on a set of genuine Grey Flash lightened Girdraulic fork legs…

The milled parts are an expression of just how strong the designers claimed they were. They are lightened extensively and confidently.
This close-up shot of the machining shows that the surface finish inside the milled grooves is consistent with the general overall appearance on the entirety of the forks. If the visible surfaces had been roughed to provide a “key” prior to painting, it’s extremely unlikely that the person prepping them would have extended the same level of attention to the inside of the milled grooves.
The overall condition is excellent.
These special forks have received additional finishing attention…
A standard set features this script cast into them.

So, it is imperative that we are able to feel completely confident that the fork legs are indeed anodised. Once this has been confirmed then we will be able to use their finish as a point of reference when comparing them with other alloy components that we believe may be finished similarly.

2 thoughts on “The Forks Stripped.

  1. Franc Trento says:

    Absolutely excellent historical narrative on the GF Girdraulics Humphrey! Regards Franco

    Sent from my iPhone



    1. humphsmith says:

      Thanks Franc!!


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