Triumph 500cc Speed Twin-1952
This is a Triumph Speed Twin produced in the latter end of 1952. It is has a 500cc over head valve (OHV) vertical twin-engine set in a lightweight frame.The cylinder head is of iron and came in one piece. It has telescopic forks and an original sprung hub
with matching frame and engine numbers and an original dual seat, that was optional over the standard solo seat. The 1952 model came originally in Amaranth red but unlike the earlier model it came with no nickel plated parts-the handlebars were painted maroon due to the nickel shortage caused by the Korean war, the rims were painted silver with an amaranth red striping . A good example from a 1952 brochure is illustrated below.
Triumph Bonneville T100-865cc, EFI- 2014
Oh, look what I just did! I went and got myself a fine looking Hinckley Triumph!!
To go to the neo-classic twin page click on the link above this.
1954 BSA, Shooting Star, 500cc twin.
The BSA A7 was the first of the BSA twin-cylinder motorcycles. It was conceived by Val Page prior to World War II and was a 495cc machine. The 1946, A7 in traditional BSA style was a reliable, hassle free machine without being boring. It had a top speed of 85 mph and was stylish in it’s own right. The bike was fine tuned and detailed by David Munro and Herbert Perkins. Like most machines of it’s time it had a rigid frame and telescopic front forks.
The engine was a OHV parallel twin, of 62mm x 82mm bore and stroke with a 6.6:1 compression ratio. It had iron barrels, topped off with an iron head which put out 26bhp at 6000 rpm .Within the engine was a single camshaft with four push-rods working in a tunnel cast into the cylinder itself. It had a pre-unit gearbox (which was separate from the engine i.e. bolted on, with an internal tensioner). It weighed 166 kg (365 lbs), with a fuel tank that held 17 ltr (4.5 gal). Fuel efficiency was pegged at 19-23 km/l (45-55 mpg).
BSA 650cc, A10 Golden Flash-1952
The 650cc Golden Flash also designated as the A10, targeted faithful ‘beesa’ guys who in those days went around on thumping sidevalve (SV) machines. An over head valve (OHV) which delivered a 100mph was just the ticket and the Golden Flash seemingly hit the sweet spot.
The A10 which was intended for the 1950′s came in a plunger frame right from initial production and had quite a few changes made to it from its look alike predecessor the A7. The cylinder head and block were of cast iron set on top of an engine with a bolt on crank with main roller bearings on the drive side. The two big ends ran on split connecting rods. The carburetor manifold was cast along with the head ( v/s the A7 which ran with a bolt-on) and it breathed through an Amal 276 carburetor. The engine was lubed with a gear driver pump on the timing side. It ran a dry clutch with a duplex primary chain drive set in an aluminum alloy chain case. Gearing was taken care by a 4 speed, bolt on gearbox. The machine ran on a magneto which was gear driven and set behind the cylinder head. The 6 Volt dynamo was located in front of the crankcase.
The BSA A10 came in two colours Black and a shiny Beige or Gold by which it was more popularly know by, with all the shiny bits chromed. This Gold cum chrome combination named the ‘Golden Flash’ proved a hit with the general motoring public and the overseas market i.e. the USA which was BSA’s main target for sales.
The Flash was the bike for me right from the moment I got my first ‘piled arms’ machine, which was a 1956, B31 swing arm. When I went to the store to pick up a copy of the Haynes manual for the B31, I chanced on the manual of a Golden Flash and I was smitten forever.
It had a Blue swing arm A10 featured on the cover and since my ride at that time was also a twin (a RD 350) I wanted it badly as I liked the B31’s reliable, steady as a house ride; I figured the A10 would be twice the fun of a B31. The ‘want’ turned into an ‘obsession’ when I saw a Golden Flash plunger later at a classic bike show and then there was no turning back.
As time went by classic twins were turning out to be harder to get than hens teeth, prices were astronomical and literally going through the roof. Over the years I sorted through basket cases of Flashes to bikes in ‘mint’ condition and they were always on the wrong side of what I could afford.
Anyhow I happened on the 1952/53 season Goldie I presently own purely by accident-it was touted to be in ‘mint’ condition so I journeyed roughly a 1000 kms to inspect it. After knocking back a bottle of scotch along with a good dinner with the owner and my father-in-law in a hotel room, we set out to his home to inspect the bike and wow was she a beauty. I was floored -and it wasn’t just the scotch working- literally! After an impressive ride behind the owner of the bike – I got to know later on when I got the bike, as to why he would not let me ride it – at around midnight when the streets were deserted, I just had to have the darn bike. It was back to the hotel and after a good night’s sleep the owner of the bike and I met up, a deal was struck and after writing out a cheque the Goldie was mine-for better or for worse!!!
The bike was shipped home to me-which was great, thank you sir! The next day I decided to take the Goldie back to my stable where rest of its ilk were parked up and man, was I in for a surprise! She started just fine but wouldn’t go into gear and when it did and I let go the clutch she just kind of started to go forward and quit right there. To cut to the chase, I managed to get the bike in 3rd gear and rode her back home between the 3rd and top gear and was I pissed and then it struck me as to why the dude who sold me Flash did not allow me to take the bike out for a ride on my ownsome but insisted that I ride behind him and even when we riding two-up I could tell that the gearing was messed up and on asking him as to what the trouble was, he said that he was so used to riding Triumphs that he was getting the shifting wrong-Triumph gear shift the other way around compared to BSA’s . So much for being a ‘mint’ machine. I just parked up the bike in my garage and walked around it shaking my head and consoled myself that at least the engine ran healthily in top gear-so there was still hope.
The next day I called up a friend of mine who happens to be a whiz at old bikes and asked him to come around. We sat down and opened up the gear box and found everything to be hunky dory. So it was onto the other side and after undoing the primary chain case and dismantling the clutch we saw what the problem was-the clutch was shot and I mean completely, the slots in the clutch bell were worn thoroughly and the tabs on the clutch plates worn to 1/8″. So the dismantled clutch was set aside and I ordered up a complete clutch assembly from SRM in the UK, (a great bunch of guys to deal with) along with clutch springs and bolts and went away to work. I got back a month later and saw that we had got the new clutch assembly. The next weekend we sat down to it and the new clutch assembly went in really sweetly together with some new roller bearings (quite a few of the old ones were damaged and missing).
The bike was started up and taken for a ride, she shifted gears like a dream but the forks seemed to be bottoming out, so we got some fork oil and stuck it in the forks and man, the next thing I knew I had a load of fork oil dribbling all over the floor. On inspection we found that there were no drain plugs in the forks which really freaked me out-so much for ‘mint’ huh!? I was seriously getting to dislike that word.
The next day we got drain plugs for the forks, filled the forks with oil and whew! Did she handle fine after that. The only problem now was that both cylinders did not run perfectly, we checked the spark on both cylinders which checked out ok, though they seemed a bit on the weak side. So we got new NGK plugs and stuck them in, the problem still persisted.
The timing was checked and seemed ok. The only thing left to check was the automatic ‘advance retard’ . Off came the timing side cover and we found that one of the spring were broken on the Lucas ATD (automatic timing device). The ATD was removed and we found that we had a bigger problems than just a broken spring. One of the pivot arms on the ATD wasn’t sitting right due to a worn rivet . The ATD was taken to a work shop and refurbished completely.A week later it went back onto the bike. After boxing up everything, the bike was kicked into life and I smiled nope, I grinned like an idiot just hearing the throb of both the cylinders in sync with each other.
Then finally it was the moment of truth time.I kicked the bike into life-just one kick was all it took and the engine settled into that muted powerful chugging that I’m so used to now. The oil pump worked really well, on checking the oil return to the oil tank (another piece of equipment that I had changed out as the oil tank that had come with the bike was off a BSA B31 plunger and I was lucky enough to get an oil tank on eBay in really good shape-although it was painted black, which I have just left, the way it was for the time being ) and after idling it for a bit, listening to sound of the push rods, inter spaced with the sound of the cams amidst the chugging of the engine-wow was that was really music to my ears!!!
Then it was onto the road with the Goldie, I pulled back on the clutch which was seemingly quite light and she snicked smoothly into first gear although with a bit of a ‘clunk’ which made my heart skip a beat but on letting go the clutch and opening the throttle she pulled away smoothly, no fuss at all and I had to take in a deep breath because I had inadvertently been holding my breath for quite a bit!
The bike delivered the horses as smoothly as you pleased in response to the throttle opening and at that moment I believe I was the happy dude on mother earth! The gearbox engaged really quickly and took a bit of getting used to but it wasn’t long before I was onto it and enjoying the power delivery and the ride. With sweet solid handling and nothing unpredictable being thrown at me. After a while I even got used to soaking up the vibes being thrown at me which were really SOMETHING. The plungers worked just fine and cornering was a breeze, not as sharp as I would have liked it to be but then I think it did great for a bike that was built 59 years ago.
With quite a few Brit bikes in my garage, I had got used to the front brake being almost non-existent and relied a lot on the rear brake. Timing your braking has a lot to do with getting your brakes to work well for you and I found the brakes on the Goldie just fine, they could do with a bit of a clean up I’m sure but I will wait until they get a bit more iffy. TLS (twin leading shoe) are what this baby needs but I want to get the real feel of this bike and ride the way it was set up by BSA before I get to fine tuning the ride. The bike still needs a bit of fettling but she’s definitely on the road now and I’m looking forward to putting in as many miles as I can on her.
All in all I think it’s a wonderful machine and 10Q to the previous owner even if the bike wasn’t exactly in mint condition and he happens to have a vivid imagination, at least I got to realize a 25-year-old dream thanks to him and last but not least a BIG shout out to my buddy the wizard mechanic who really made it all come together!!!
To go to the R90/6 Boxer twin page click on the link above .
To go to the R100RT Boxer twin page click on the link above .