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Missing frame number

Hi all,

I am building a Triton with a slimline featherbed frame which has no number on it. Does anyone know how this might have come about ? Are the DVLA likely to issue a registration document and what is the best way forward?

Thanks in advance for any comments. Geoff 


Without a frame number you’ll get a Q, in all likelihood if you are building a Triton from an un registered frame you’ll get a Q anyway - have a look at rebuilt classic vehicles on their website.



Without a frame number I doubt you'll even get a Q plate, a lot of insurance companies will not insure them these days. 


How is the number missing Geoff? Has it been mechanically removed ie ground out? If so, a symptom of a dubious lost past.

Or is the number simply so faint as the metal gusset has corroded with age?

I had a conversation with another club member on the topic some time ago (sorry cannot recall the name) but "lost" numbers can still sometimes be recovered. The original stamping action "bruises" the metal below the surface, and with the right equipment (again I cannot recall), the bruising can be deciphered to reveal the original number. I think this process is/was used by the police when checking suspected "ringers", both 2 and 4 wheeled. (And possibly Reliants too Mr Oz!)


Nobody 'rings' a Reliant. Anyway are you inferring I have something to do with 3 wheels? 



Not wanting to sound as if I am trying "to teach my Grandmother to suck eggs" but can we assume you are searching for the frame number in the correct area for a slimline frame?

Hi Michael

We have looked in particular at the headstock and the left hand gusset plate supporting the swinging arm and there is no evidence of anything and the shotblasting revealed nothing anywhere. I would be interested to know what equipment would detect the bruising - infra red maybe ?

Hi Roger,

Well we have looked all over the frame but in particular at the left hand gusset plate and headstock. There is no sign of anything being erased and the shotblasting found nothing either. Are they the correct places to look ?


A replacement frame won't have a can it? I assume if someone has a V5C, he will stamp the frame with the V5C number. Only then it becomes unique.  The fact is that a group of steel tubes travelling in the same direction doesn't have unique DNA.  But once it is on the DVLA system it can be traced and restored to you if it should go astray.  Are there special people who are allowed to stamp new frames?


In the absence of a number, DVLA now seem to insist on the stamping of a 17-digit VIN which they issue / authorise. This does not of itself mean a 'Q' plate, but in order to be issued an age-related number, as a "Rebuilt Classic", an owner's club has to confirm that the vehicle

  • has been inspected
  • is a true reflection of the marque
  • is comprised of genuine period components all over 25 years old

The problem here (and clubs are faced with a serious burden in adjudicating these things) is that the NOC can't confirm it's a Norton if it has a Triumph engine, and the TOC, vice-versa.

The clear intention of DVLA's more recent interpretation of the long-standing rules is that there is no longer a way to build a 'Special' or 'Bitsa' using various quantities of old parts and then have the benefit of a Historic registration.

Were the bike to be built with a Norton engine, it would be possible (but by no means certain).


I had to register a Minerva engined motorcycle not so long ago. The frame and cycle parts were contemporary with the 1903 engine but were not Minerva.

With help from the VMCC it was registered as a 1905 Vince-Ely special. This did involve an inspection but an age related number was issued. It all went remarkably smoothly.


Further to Richard's remarks...didn't I read some official guidance that Tritons have a long history and do quality for 'historic status' even when assembled today? Does NOC have a policy? Might our dating officer be able to advise?

Hi Geoff,

In my experience of Featherbed frames, the number has been on the left side gusset plate, so yes you have looked exactly where I would have expected it to be! Best of luck getting it sorted to your satisfaction!


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