Pattern Making as Engineering Art – The Musket V-Twin

Casting pattern for the new 1000cc Musket V-Twin

Casting pattern for the new 1000cc Musket V-Twin

An email from Aniket Vardhan arrived a few days ago with an update on the Musket. Attached were photos of the just finished casting patterns for the cases of the big twin version of his Royal Enfield Musket V-Twin. His first Musket, based on the 350cc single generated a huge response from around the world, but it wasn't long before everyone began asking about a twin based on the 500. Combined with the appearance of the ACE Fireball high performance kit, how could he not do it? All he had to do was design an entirely new crankcase based on the bigger cylinders, decide how best to cast the pieces, create the intricate patterns necessary, cast the parts, finish the parts, build the engine, test the engine, fit it into the modified frame and test the finished bike. In other words, he had to create a whole new Musket! Once everything works as planned, he'll be able to go ahead in whatever direction he chooses.

Casting pattern for the new 1000cc Musket V-Twin - left side

Casting pattern for the new 1000cc Musket V-Twin - left side

Wood working and metal working are usually viewed as different branches of the "hands on" family tree, obviously related, but each group keeps to itself at reunions. Conversation in the wood family is about saws, planes and grain while the metal men speak of milling, welding and grinding. It's only when their pattern making cousin shows up that the two sides spend much time together, and when they do, the result is engineering art, wooden pieces that take on the appearance of a finished, engineered metal part, after all, that's why they exist, but with the warmth of the wood from which they're created. Some of us could put those patterns up on the mantle and leave them as is, parts worth looking at in their own right, but we would be interfering with their mission, to form the molds for the molten metal that will eventually become a functional machine.

Casting pattern for the new 1000cc Musket V-Twin - right side

Casting pattern for the new 1000cc Musket V-Twin - right side

Creating the patterns is slow and painstaking work, but, as you can see, they look gorgeous. They reflect the care and craftsmanship Aniket brings to this entire project, plus the eye of someone who knows what will look just right, the cooling fins on the timing cover are sweet.

Casting pattern for the new 1000cc Musket V-Twin - timing cover

Casting pattern for the new 1000cc Musket V-Twin - timing cover

Here's Aniket to describe the process:

Just finished sanding the new casting patterns, have sort of been 'dead to the world' for the past several months.

Things which caused delays - biggest one was a modification which will allow *left side shift* with the newer 5 speed transmission. I had never seen one of those transmissions up close until I saw Chumma's.

Discovered that the left side shift lever is mounted on a shaft that runs through a hole drilled right through the crankcase. This, of course, needed a new boss to be accurately located and placed right where this drilling would be. Don't ask me how annoying that was and how long it took :-(

Then there was a change in the timing cover for machining reasons, had to completely remove and rethink the bosses for the oil feed banjo bolts. Better now in wood than later on the castings.

Some of the features of the new design:
1. V angle is now 59 deg. This was arrived at after considering feedback on the original Musket engine, making it more compact, reducing length and making frame fitment much easier while allowing both 350 and 500 top ends. The narrower angle looks nicer too, though this is a matter of taste.

2. The oil filter is now housed in the timing cover- the smaller and lower of the two holes visible. This needed a lot of relocation of the internals but simplified the oil circuit (the original motor has an external filter housing which needed more plumbing). The larger and upper hole, at the 'peak' of the timing cover is the ignition/points housing, which is now a part of the casting, as opposed to the bolted on housing in the original engine.

3. Cooling fins sculpted onto the timing cover. Just HAD to do this :-) Pretty! The timing cover is much more in keeping with classic air-cooled aesthetics. It is overall a much more sculpted, smoothly radiused form which recalls fondly the beautiful castings from our favorite vintage engines. Took a LONG time!

4. New motor will allow left side shift with the 5 speed gearbox.

Let's see how CNC machining goes. Quick, I hope!

Some people believe an engineered piece can look only one way, dictated by the function it performs, but seeing the process of an engine like this coming together and hearing Aniket's thoughts behind it, we see that there is much art involved, there always has been, and those who try to say that engineering is cold simply don't understand.

Aniket, you never fail to impress. Beautiful work, and there are followers of this project around the world that can't wait to see and hear it fire up.

Link: Musket V-Twin

Casting pattern for the new 1000cc Musket V-Twin - two sets - think of the work!

Casting pattern for the new 1000cc Musket V-Twin - two sets - think of the work!


  1. Mean Monkey says

    Back in the mid-to-late 1970’s, I worked in a couple of small-lot sand-casting foundries in the industrial Flats (Cuyahoga River) area of Cleveland OH. There was a ol’ geezer pattern maker named Bob at one place, who could only be described as an sculptural artist. With very few power tools, he’d quickly carve and fabricate mold boards that were often pitched after the short production run. Hanging in my garage I have a gear pattern he made for a replacement set on a 1890’s factory crane. It is art.

    I’d have to say that Aniket Vardhan is, at least Bob’s equal as an sculptural artist, the timing cover and cases should decorate someone’s wall (I’d bet Paul Crowe would like them) when the production run is completed. Bob would be proud of you.

  2. Tirapop says

    Beautiful! I remember seeing pictures from an exhibit on Italian coachbuilders, “Carrozzeria Italiano”. One of the exhibits was the body buck for an Alfa:
    Panel beaters used it to check the pieces they were forming. It was a beautiful thing in its own right.

    Casting patterns for even simple parts, when well made, are beautiful. The craftsmanship shows.

    In this day of CNC, 3D printers, silicon molding, and lost foam investment casting, it’s heartening to see this old craft is still practiced.

  3. '37 Indian says

    Like a lot of us, I look forward to every entry on this website. Thanks Paul! Occasionally, something comes along that is way out of the box, but makes total sense, and this is one of them. Aniket is someone that I would imagine the Enfield people should have their eye on. Another build that is similar to this but uses radial aircraft cylinders is Ian Douglas’ “Warbird”, see -

  4. Barry in Germany says

    Beautiful. I’ve been looking at Anikets site 2 or 3 times a week, ever since the Badger thing ( “My God, it was hot!”) but: nothing. Well obviously the poor lad had a lot to do, so I didn’t want to distract, even in such a minor way; then, last week I saw these… EUREKA!
    Not only new cases but those modest fins, all of the small radii consequent, 59 degrees, 500 and Fireball heads. A bike to kill for (Well, no but..) Artistic? The way they’re photographed proves the attention to EVERY aspect of this build. Big respect, Aniket

  5. Russell B! says

    So cool when crafts collide. The Musket project is an inspiration on so many levels.

    I can’t see how anyone can look at a vintage Norton alongside the current Norton and deny the hand of different artists at work.

    Kevin Cameron, in the latest (February 2012)) print issue of Cycle World, writes about current devolopments in casting techniques that make the process sound as much like art as science or craft. Tried to find a link on the CW website but was unable to do so.

  6. tim says

    I just went off to read the Wikipedia article on sand casting.

    Man, there’s a lot to this stuff. Good luck with the project. Following with interest

  7. coxster says

    Big thanks for the post. Growing up my dad had a buddy that was a pattern maker for US Steel in Joplin MO, lost him a few years back. I thought he was the coolest guy my Dad knew. He gave me my first motorcycle ride on the back of a Yamaha 360 in ’73 or ’74 :D, and then gave me his left-over Popular Science and Popular Mechanics mags out of kindness that helped make me who I am today. A true craftsman.

  8. says

    Just got up from a nasty cold and saw this post! Paul, thank you so much for such a beautiful writeup!
    Guys, thanks so much for your encouragement and support! It is really invaluable through the laborious, slow and frustrating times in this project!
    Here’s to a running 1000 coming up this year, sooner rather than later, fingers crossed!
    Very best wishes to all of you for a very happy and successful 2012!

    • cowpieapex says

      Aniket, you are my hero.
      In an era when we can not repair or modify most of the technology in our lives, you are keeping alive that sacred link between the work of our hands and the objects we create. We know that 5,000 years ago people were creating sophisticated castings. We are privileged to know in our generation yet a few who can through the skill in their hands and the knowledge in their heads bring forth a fully realized new machine.
      As we go through our daily travels we may from time to time see old foundry patterns employed as architectural ornaments. These new patterns have some work to do before such a retirement. To truly appreciate this outstanding work you must realize that every single Musket crankcase will be poured in an individual mold drawn from this pattern, if I am not mistaken.
      Down in my shop there’s a sand bench and a blast furnace. Your accomplishments inspire me.

    • Bill R. says

      feel better soon, aniket.

      major kudos for your skill and initiative! any chance of your 1000 making kit form for sale?

      just dreaming out loud.

      (subscribed to your blog)

      p.s. kneeslider, those captchas are getting too difficult to read. just fyi.

      • Paul Crowe - "The Kneeslider" says

        Just reload the text in the recaptcha to get another one if you can’t read it. The top button with those 2 curved arrows will generate another challenge.

        • Bill R. says

          thanks, i did just that. maybe i’m getting old but it seems fewer of these are legible.

          oh crap… i have to answer another one!

  9. B*A*M*F says

    Those are beautiful. As a fellow industrial designer who has done a lot of CNC machining, I’m impressed. These patterns take a huge amount of time to figure out, and then figure out how to machine. Then there is the sanding and sealing. I’ve only ever made one wood pattern for metal casting (I’ve done a handful of lost wax), and it’s hard work.

    The Musket has the potential to be a middle class man’s Vincent. A left shifting, 1,000cc Musket with modern brakes has kind of become my fantasy bike.

  10. todd says

    spectacular! I love that stuff like this still happens in the world. Though I’m sure Enfield would love to hire him, I doubt we’d want to lose this sort of talent to a corporate giant.


  11. steve w says

    Where I used to work (in the motorcycle industry) they has this rapid prototype machine that made all the parts in plastic. Really cool stuff. It could then go to machining and in some cases directly to testing before any actual casting was made. Plastic molds of cyl., heads, carbs, FI, etc.Cool stuff. I need to try my hand at casting obsolete parts for Vintage Kart racing, One of these days——————————–

  12. Z_Money says

    I believe there is no such thing as a stupid question. Now here is my stupid question:

    Do the internals go on the same mould. I would imagine they would but …..

  13. Stephen Hoye says

    Love seeing so many people interested in creative pursuits and design. Thought some of you may be interested to know that a very interesting charitable architectural reclamation outfit in the the North Side neighborhood of Cincinnati currently has several hundred wooden patterns of all sizes for sale for whatever price you can bargain with them. (I picked up a rather large pattern for a 3′ diameter flywheel for a song). They were removed from the abandoned American Can Company factory here in Cinci, which actually never made cans but, rather, the machines that made cans. Most of the patterens date from 1890-1920. They are trying to move them quickly as most are stored outside and the mid-west winter will be hard on them. Here is a link to there site:

  14. matt johnson says

    Thanks for you note Christmas eve, keeping my eyes open for a basket case RE. For your cold, try 1 capsual of propolis a day, (bee pollen) I work at walmart, havent been sick scince November. A very infectious enviroment. God Bless, we need your engine…Matty

  15. Gearhead250 says

    Aniket—you are my HERO!!! I’ve always wanted to tackle a project like that, and now maybe I will—–Always wanted to built a V-twin from a single cylinder engine! I’m 23 year vetren of the helicopter industry, and have many years of mechanical experience along with a few years of Machining expierience….. But I’ve never known just how to get started——-you’ve inspired me greatly—Thank you!!!

  16. says

    Beautiful work; as both a commercial prototype sculptor and a hobby foundry user, I greatly appreciate the skill and craftsmanship in his pattern making, as well as the other page on the casting of the cases!