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Old 12-10-2017, 02:11 PM   #1
Dandy4
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Default 1963 BSA Bobber build

I started this bike project thinking I could throw together a basket case in my parent's basement for a nice little scooter. My goal was to spend ~$5k and be done in one year. A little over three years later, I can tell you that the budget didn't survive any better than the schedule. I learned a lot along the way and wanted to share it. I waited until I was pretty much done, so I wasn't one of those guys with a build thread that never results in a completed bike. Creating this thread was one something I was only going to allow myself after it was together. So this is the journey building my 1963 BSA Super Rocket Bobber.

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This bike was something my father bought when I was little. I can remember going into the basement, sitting on it and making noises pretending to do wheelies. Dad had hoped to make a Rocket Gold Start clone, however it never got off the ground. He only ever bought parts for it. Many years later after I graduated from college, I bought the bits he had with the idea to quickly make a little bobber. The bike had extended front forks and a number of spare parts, but the engine was completely torn down and most everything was in poor condition. The frame looked nice, but I found a suspicious amount of bondo while taking the swing arm off. After sand blasting, there were a number of issues we found, including multiple holes and some fence post welded on (poorly) as a side stand mount. Everything sketchy had an insane amount of bondo so it looked good painted, but I the integrity of the frame was surely compromised. Welding near the brazed frame fittings was a little harrowing, but everything worked out.

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I knew I was going to hardtail it, so I bought some tubing that was as close to the original specs as I could find (Speedy metals.com had the 1-1/8" tube, I believe), took it over to a buddy's place and got to work. I used a David Bird hardtail with a 4" stretch and 2" drop. Welded rear fender mounts (they didn't work...) and started mocking the thing up. I really wanted to use an original BSA fuel tank and a leaf spring mounted seat, however I couldn't find a tank I could live with and the leaf springs were a lot better in my mind.

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Early on in the project, I took the engine parts to Ed Zender at Morrie's Place in northern Illinois. Ed said I had a box of engine parts, not an engine to rebuild. Bummer. This turned out to be a theme on this bike, what I had wasn't right and required above average effort to use, was too far gone or just missing. This was the main reason for busting my budget, but it also allowed me to rip on my dad for a long time. Who takes their own kid to the cleaner on a basket case! I had to stop razzing him when he and mom offered to give my money back. Anyway, Ed sourced a replacement engine for much less than the original rebuild cost on my engine remnants. Over the course of the project he was my chopper tech support line, since I knew nothing about English bikes (the frame is energized! WTF!). He always helped and has a bottomless supply of original and new parts. I got all my BSA stuff from him and would recommend him to anyone needing parts of help. His shop is also a thrill. Rows of antique bikes and memorabilia.
http://morriesplacecycle.com/
90% of the aftermarket stuff is from Lowbrow Customs. They have been great to work with as well. Just a little disclaimer, I am not sponsored. I just feel it is helpful to share positive experiences, because not all vendors are equal.

I used an old sportster tank that had rusted through on me to see how a higher tank was going to look. It was completely different than the lower, bigger BSA tank but I was digging it. I got a similar, brand new tank from V-Twin and welded in some recesses for the original BSA emblems, which I thought were too cool to leave on the shelf.

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A friend of mine gave a me a 1963 license plate! I made a box to hold the battery, voltage regulator and display the plate. I then got a scrambler style exhaust, but they weren't just right, so I cut them down and used some of the scrap pieces for turnouts.

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I had to relace the conical rear hub, the original spokes were shot. Also, this wheel is from a much newer bike than my '63 A10. I used the video below to do so:
This evolution, as with most things on this bike, was an exercise in patience. The wheel is not perfect, but it rolls which I hear can be useful. Since the original QD hub actuates on the right side of the bike and the conical hub I had actuates on the left, I had to use a pull rod from the newer bike to run the drum. Luckily the rod fit into the brake lever. However I didn't want to run the brake light switch on the rod, I just didn't like that look so I got the original A10 brake set up with the crossover rod which has the lever for the drum on the right side of the bike. I fitted a universal switch to the front of my battery box and used the original crossover arm operate the switch.

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I also needed a chain tensioner, due to the new hardtail's additional length. I didn't like the sprocket or skateboard style tensioners, however Monster Craft had a poly wheel that was cool (it doesn't look like they sell it anymore). I got a weld-able clamp from McShamster-Carr and made a frame mount for the tensioner wheel.
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Old 12-10-2017, 02:34 PM   #2
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Default Re: 1963 BSA Bobber build

I decided to go with a Bob Newby Racing primary drive, since I had no usable primary parts from the basket case (thanks dad…). I got this from Ed, however it looks like Lowbrow sells them now. I never got the outer primary cover to fit over the crank pulley. For some reason, there was interference and the pulley contacted the cover. I decided this was a future problem and that I would run it open while I was breaking the engine in. I neglected some things in order to get some fall riding in, but more on that later…

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Last September, I started it for the first time and started shaking it down. It rode really nice and the exhaust note was very unique. However the rear fender rattled at certain RPMs which drive me crazy. I tried a number of things to eliminate this, finally putting rubber washers between all the metal mating surfaces. On October 1st of 2016, I took it for another run but the fender rattle was still there. I was only ~87% sure it was the fender, so I got the bike up to a speed when the rattle was present and pressed on the fender to see if the rattle went away.

Now is a good time to tell list what I had put off until riding season was over:
• Fork stops. Yeah, I know. Duh.
• Fender hardware. I had forgotten about the cap head bolts I’d used to mount the fender. These eliminated a lot of my tire-to-fender clearance.
• A side stand. I had a backpack with a chunk of wood that I would use to prop it up if needed.
• Finally, any sort of, uh, verifiable legal precedence to operate this particular machine on the road.


Now, I remember pressing on the fender and hearing the rattle go away. Unfortunately, I was greeted immediately by another noise and the rear tire touching my hand… curious, right? The rear of the bike then kicked out from underneath of me and we proceeded to slow down the hard way. Luckily, I didn’t damage anything that wasn’t mine (although I drive over the score in the asphalt from the left side peg every day going to work). The Trooper showed up before we could load up, but he didn’t seem to care once he found out I hadn’t hurt anything but my bike and myself. He even helped load the busted BSA into the van! Thanks dude, wherever you are.

It turns out I had pressed the fender into the tire, causing the fender to wrap around the tire and get drawn under the bike. The fender mounts kept it there, so I was riding on the fender. This really lowered my coefficient of friction and then my body. The forks had dented my tank, the rear fender was scorched and some other items on the left side were scratched, but nothing that I couldn’t buff out. My flesh on the other hand was pretty ripe. Both cheeks, lower back, knee caps to the bone and my right arm. I learned quite a lot that day. I no longer rider without the proper gear. I am here to say that Levi’s are not good enough. Wear want you want, but I would recommend investing good riding gear. Gear is cheaper than down time and hospital bills. I will say that a backpack with a large piece of wood inside will protect your spine very well.

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Anyway, enough about my minor kerfuffle. Back to the chop!

Last edited by Dandy4; 12-10-2017 at 03:39 PM. Reason: updating post
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Old 12-10-2017, 03:06 PM   #3
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Default Re: 1963 BSA Bobber build

I got the neck bearing conversion from Lowbrow to run the sportster front end on this bike. I am very familiar with sportsters and have rebuilt those front ends before, where the extended forks I got with the bike were mildly terrifying. They flexed in all the wrong ways and I didn’t have the tools or knowhow to service those English parts. The Harley front end also allowed me to run a front disk brake. I picked a whole front end on craigslist for $50, shaved the lowers to get rid of the fender mounts. I got a new front wheel from V-Twin and older looking tires. I really liked how the 19” front wheel looked with the 18” rear.

After the accident, I had to redesign the rear fender mounts, repair the foot peg, mirror and some of the brake components. I think the bike looked better afterwards though.

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The oil tank was fabricated to mount into the new rear section on the frame. I did use the drain plug and fill cap off the original tank. I originally had the rocker oil feed line plumbed after the oil filter, but I believe that adversely limited oil flow to the top end. For the final hard lines, I ran put the filter inline after the rocker feed. The filter should be fitted on the discharge of the pump on the return to the tank. The return line also needs to be sized appropriately, so I welded the line shut and drilled a 3/32” hole (reference: https://www.jockeyjournal.com/forum/s...ead.php?t=6651). A proper repair on the fuel tank was going to be tough, since I had already sealed it, but my body guy assured me that it wasn’t going to be too bad.

I was also running a seat from Redtail Leather, which is a very nice product.

http://www.redtailleather.com/

My dad with the bike. What a fiend!
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Last edited by Dandy4; 12-10-2017 at 03:36 PM. Reason: updating post
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Old 12-10-2017, 03:34 PM   #4
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Default Re: 1963 BSA Bobber build

https://photos.app.goo.gl/y2GwnINtSYjkJnZr1

Link to a short clip of the bike running.

Last edited by Dandy4; 12-10-2017 at 03:54 PM. Reason: updating posting info
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Old 12-10-2017, 03:44 PM   #5
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Default Re: 1963 BSA Bobber build

Wow...I hit a deer a few years ago and was glad I had some decent gear on (chaps boots and Joe rocket jacket)...now I ride with full armor, even on the hottest summer days! I hope you healed up alright. The A10 is a GREAT machine...I hope you enjoy your version, looks great.
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Old 12-10-2017, 03:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: 1963 BSA Bobber build

Now, with the rear fender squarely reattached (with some additional clearance and button head bolts), the side stand added, fork stops and the other necessary repairs complete I could begin teardown.

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(Yikes, It's upside down!!!)

Of course, after it was all apart I found some other items on the frame that needed to be addressed before everything was painted. Nothing some mig wire and cussing couldn’t alleviate.

The transmission was also showing its age. I had already taken it apart to clean and reseal it, however there was noticeable play in the output shaft, so new bushings were needed. I also used the tip of the speedometer cable and some rubber to make a seal, since I am not running a speedometer.

I spent a lot of time thinking about the color. The bike was originally going to be green, then two tone blue and white, using Midnight Blue from a Sunbeam Tiger. I thought that it would have been cool to use another English manufacturer’s color, but it was too dark. I settled on Estoril Blue, which is a BMW metallic blue and a Harley Big Blue Pearl top coat. I know, a BMW color on an English bike. If any purists made it past the hardtail photos then this might finalize their distaste for my taste. Whatever. I also worked to add some texture by powder coating light housings and front end, then chroming the light grills and various other pieces.

Below are photos of how is looks today. It is waiting to be pinstriped, which I think is needed to break up some of the blue. It is not running again yet. I need some little knickknacks and registration… After that I will post a better video and I hope to enter it into Mama Tried 2018. Either way, I love it and can’t wait to put some miles on it. Thanks for looking.

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Last edited by Dandy4; 12-10-2017 at 04:19 PM.
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Old 12-10-2017, 04:21 PM   #7
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Default Re: 1963 BSA Bobber build

Quote:
Originally Posted by Goldy View Post
Wow...I hit a deer a few years ago and was glad I had some decent gear on (chaps boots and Joe rocket jacket)...now I ride with full armor, even on the hottest summer days! I hope you healed up alright. The A10 is a GREAT machine...I hope you enjoy your version, looks great.
I am fine. It took awhile to regrow my flesh, but my pride and marriage survived. I have some Kevlar lined jeans now and a couple different jackets depending on the weather. Thanks for the compliment.
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Old 12-10-2017, 08:55 PM   #8
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Default Re: 1963 BSA Bobber build

Dude this turned out nice. Sounded sweet as well.
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Old 12-11-2017, 04:37 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cajun View Post
Dude this turned out nice. Sounded sweet as well.
Thanks! I am really enjoying it.
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Old 12-11-2017, 05:13 PM   #10
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Default Re: 1963 BSA Bobber build

Nicely done! The overall stance and look are right on! Enjoy...
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Old 12-12-2017, 10:50 AM   #11
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Default Re: 1963 BSA Bobber build

Thanks for the full story, this sort of story is similar for most choppers brought to life from bits and bobs!
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