Real Classic - - Letters - Lloyd Wat­son

I fol­lowed with in­ter­est the saga of the BSA B21 re­con­struc­tion by John Lay. In June last year I bought a partly-re­built al­though not quite cat­a­logue K24 model 1939 350. I didn’t know un­til later that it is a Sil­ver Star, ap­par­ently only avail­able for one year. I came across sim­i­lar dif­fi­cul­ties as John, as well as an en­gine and gear­box which I un­der­stood had been re­built. This work wasn’t done by my friend from whom I bought the bike, and the re­build wasn’t done well, so un­ex­pected work was needed in that area. For­tu­nately most of the tin­ware was present, al­though not the lovely valanced mud­guards. The petrol tank ap­peared sound (of which more later), but I don’t spend mort­gage money on chrome so it is painted.

A new Ar­mour ex­haust and sev­eral other new bits came in a box. When it came to build­ing the en­gine and gear­box I was greatly helped by a man­ual from BMS. As the mo­tor is one year dif­fer­ent from the frame, I had sim­i­lar dif­fi­cul­ties to John with the pri­mary chain­case. Mak­ing a rear stand brought its own prob­lems. I used con­duit, as pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence told me that push bike parts are not strong enough.

Had I known a lit­tle more about BSA, as John clearly does, I might have saved time and ef­fort in sev­eral direc­tions. It would have been use­ful to know that C11 clutch parts are sim­i­lar. For­tu­nately the chain­wheel is sound, as is the gear­box sprocket. I had ex­pected the gear­box to be a pain, as the layshaft is slightly bent and I was not pre­pared to at­tempt straight­en­ing it. The big­gest prob­lem is the slow change from third to se­cond as there is in­suf­fi­cient back­lash be­tween the mat­ing dogs.

The DVLA coughed up an age-re­lated V5C. I was greatly as­sisted by the BSAOC who charged me a very rea­son­able £15 ( VMCC take note) for a dat­ing cer­tifi­cate. Thank you.

There is mi­nor cycli­cal noise when rid­ing slowly, which I sus­pect comes from the shaft. The en­gine is rea­son­ably oil tight, al­though not bril­liant. I have built nu­mer­ous bikes and rarely get them as oil tight as I would like, even af­ter much care flat­ten­ing mat­ing faces. I used Stor­m­guard Ex­tra-thick draught proof for the pri­mary case. A £10 au­to­jum­ble dy­namo and £2 con­trol box are work­ing to de­sign spec, you can’t get much bet­ter than that – but I thought £52 for the loom was a bit steep!

The BSA goes well enough, al­though the re­lined brakes leave much to be de­sired, and the re­con­di­tioned mo­tor is harsh, mostly due to the high mileage tim­ing wheels. Still it looks good enough, starts read­ily and has good power. The ex­haust is too noisy and there’s an an­noy­ing oil leak. I reached 300 miles with no se­ri­ous prob­lems al­though the next owner would be ad­vised to re­pair the fork spin­dles. It was worth the ef­fort and I en­joy rid­ing it, de­pend­ing on my mood. At 350 miles the petrol tank be­gan to leak. I refuse to use liners so will re­pair from the out­side. The kick­start quad­rant is worn but I’m told M20 ones fit. So on it goes!

Thanks for the up­dates, Lloyd. We have a very sim­i­lar sit­u­a­tion with our BSA sin­gle – when­ever Frank tri­umphantly rec­ti­fies the last prob­lem, I un­sport­ingly find the next one! Old bikes: al­ways a work in progress?

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