How to strip a BSA stop-switch and more tips from the world of CB’S shed-dweller
I went to look at a vintage bike for a friend last month. The £23,000 asking price was high for this model, but reflected the fact that it was in very original, unrestored condition. The seller said the electrics had been done – and certainly the mag-dyno looked shiny and rebuilt and the wiring new. But while the bike started easily, turning on the lights registered a discharge on the ammeter. I tried a few revs and even cut the engine to make sure the needle still swung to discharge, in case the ammeter was reading backwards. “It’s not charging,” says I. “Just a flat battery,” says he. “No, I mean it isn’t charging,” I repeat. “Like I said, the battery’s flat; it needs to be charged up!” he retorted, as if I was a simpleton. Tempers simmered... the lights worked, so the battery wasn’t flat; the ammeter reading showed the dynamo wasn’t producing current. When I bluntly suggested he get a meter and I’d show him he was wrong, he snapped: “You’ve annoyed me now,” pushed the bike back in his shop and shut the door. Maybe it was a lucky escape. I mean, for £23,000 wouldn’t you expect the lights to work? It was probably just the rusty voltage regulator under the seat at fault, but I can’t imagine this bloke being too hot on providing any aftersales care... But maybe I was being unfair. I may well have come across as just a time waster. I mean, if you can truly afford a £23,000 bike you can probably find another 50 quid for a regulator. It was a small problem on an otherwise very nice machine – and that set me thinking. Original paint is now so highly prized that demand has created a seller’s market. But ‘unrestored’ means exactly that; what you are paying for is largely cosmetic, don’t be fooled into thinking an unrestored bike will be mechanically perfect, it may need a lot of effort to make it as faithful as it looks. After all, it’s had a long life; it’s unlikely to be just the paintwork that’s worn.
Unrestored bikes like this Vincent Comet look great but the purchase price may just be the start…