Vintage Motorcycle – C.W.S. Federal (1922) at the Flitwick Classic Car & Motorcycle Show 2017

On Sunday, 6 August 2017 we had the pleasure of taking Fed – our C.W.S Federal motorcycle – to the Flitwick Classic Car & Motorcycle Show. This local favourite gets better year on year, and for 2017 the 189 entries included some splendid vehicles. Where do all the motors roost when not gathered for display?

This would be the first time Fed has been shown since 1975 when he was exhibited at the Coatham Memorial Hall in Kirkleatham – click for pics

Early up to polish the old boy, check tyre pressure, and fit the newly painted registration plate. I felt a real buzz walking Fed a mile or so to the Rufus Centre in Flitwick. It was slightly surreal wheeling him along the cycle path. Art Deco meets tar macdam new.

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Wheeling Fed to the show

Built in 1922 Fed was the earliest motorcycle at the Show. Fitting that he stood alongside a Scott Super Squirrel (1925) which graced the roads in the same era. What a difference three years of innovation made – the Federal is very different machine from the water-cooled Squirrel.

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A good number of specimen pre-war cars also attended. The Model T Ford (1915) was our pick. Towards the end of the show a Fed snuck the opportunity for a cheeky photo shoot.

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Fed attracted lots of quizzical interest on a glorious, blue skies day. Next year we hope to attend with the Chiltern Vehicle Presentation Group and take Myfanwy as well.


VMCC | The Register of Machine – 1st Edition (1969)

On Saturday, 25 June 2016 I visited the London Motorcycle Museum. After perusing the old machines I ventured into the shop. A box contained a 1st Edition of the VMCC ‘Register of Machines’ which was published in 1969

The introductory pages provide an insight into how ‘The Register’ was conceived.


The Register entry for C.W.S. Federation motorcycles

CWS Federation Motorcycles in the 1930’s

The Co-operative Wholesale Society (CWS) manufactured Federal and Federation motorcycles from 1918 to 1938.

It is a challenge to find texts that mention these marques. Roy Bacon’s 1978 “A to Z of pre-war marques” contains a helpful resume of the Federation machines that were available in the 1930’s.


Federation motorcycles by year


Federation 2A 148cc (1933)

Amazon listing

Vintage Motorcycle – C.W.S. Federal (1922) – my childhood memory

My childhood memory is of an old motorcyclwe that lived in a tired, leaking shed at the bottom of my Nana’s garden in Humber Road, Thornaby-on-Tees. The machine gleamed black but his tyres were soft. He was covered with a heavy wool army blanket; grey with an exact stitch that wend its way around the edge. I used to visit him once in a while – spiders scuttled to their posts. I knew nothing of his name or history. It is a wonder the old fella survived such disagreeable conditions.


On 3 March the chaps at Stotfold Engineering fired up Fed for the first time in many years. Terrence Ives kindly recorded the moment. Video clip:

On Friday, 13th March 2015 I went to see our CWS Federal motorcycle at Stotfold Engineering in Biggleswade – I watched him splutter into life. This was the first time I had ever seen Fed run. Terry and the boys have done a splendid job restoring the old fella. A front stand had been crafted to lift the front wheel clear of the ground.

A week later Fed was delivered home. On the Sunday afternoon my children popped round on scooters to see him. Ben (12) was determined to film while Anna (8) defied gravity and positively bounced with glee.

A brisk push, release the decompression lever, and pop, pop, pop…. to produce a pleasing puff of smoke. A lack of time meant that we didn’t quite master the art of starting. Not to worry – we shall have another go.


29 March, Terry @ Stotfold Engineering –  “the carb flooding is so common, if it drips or pours as it can do, rock the bike backwards and forwards or tap the float bowl with a bit of wood or a hammer handle. Both of these normally get the float needle to settle into its seat. The other thing you can do is let the carb flood and then turn off the fuel supply and then start the bike, when the bike starts running turn the fuel cock back on and he will not leak as the vibrations of the engine will keep the needle in the correct seating position. Float needles not seating and causing flooding was still a problem right up to the 1960s as the needles were made from brass and the seat was brass, brass on brass was not ideal for an ideal seal.”

5 March – a second go. This time the nipple on the decompression cable detatched. Ho hum – I shall research whether to resolder, replace the cable, or fit a solderless nipple….

Vintage Motorcycle – C.W.S. Federal (1922) – Before and after the restoration

Our CWS Federal Motorcycle arrived in March 2014. ‘Fed’ was in remarkable condition for a 91 year old. However, 30 years of storage had taken their toll, the:

  • Nickel plating was tarnished.
  • Aluminium drive chain cover was pitied and showed signs of oxidation.
  • Front fender and rear mud guard were perforated with countless pinholes.
  • Leather ‘Gough’ pan saddle was desperate for a feed.

Here are some photos which show the condition of Fed when he arrived (2014) and in March 2015 after complete restoration.




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Vintage Motorcycle – C.W.S. Federal (1922) – Restored, March 2015

These photos show our CWS Federal Motorcycle when the 8 months of restoration work was complete.

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All credit to Terry Ives at the Stotfold Engineering Co. Ltd for doing such a splendid job. Click here to find out more about the history of this motorcycle and the restoration.