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New owner serial number anomaly
#719182 12/18/17 1:03 am
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Nick H Offline OP
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Greetings!
I am the excited new owner of a BSA Lightning with a frame number with the prefix "A65". According to various sources, this would be a 1972 frame yet it is not an OIF frame.
The engine number has the prefix "A65L" which according to those sources could be a '66, '70, '71 or '72.
Can anyone help with what I have?


1966 BSA Lightning
(2) 1967 Triumph "Choppa"s
1974 Indian ME125
1960 Harley Servi-Car
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Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719183 12/18/17 1:36 am
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A65L (Lightning) models ran from '62 - 72.

A65 prefix is the BASE MODEL, has NOTHING to do with the year of manufacture.

You need the full serial number to get the date range.

A65 models included

A65 650 cc 1962-1966 Sometimes called "Star Twin"
A65R Rocket 650 cc 1964-1965 Sports model with 9:1 compression, separate headlight, and sports mudguards
A65T Thunderbolt 650 cc 1964-1972 Single carburettor. From 1971 had oil-bearing frame
A65L Lightning / Rocket 650 cc 1964-1972 Twin carburettors. From 1971 had oil-bearing frame
A65S Spitfire 650 cc 1964-1968 High performance model produced in Mk I, Mk II, Mk III and Mk IV versions
A65H Hornet 650 cc 1966-1967 Sometimes called "Hornet Scrambler"
A65F Firebird Scrambler 650 cc 1968-1972 Twin carburettors. From 1971 had oil-bearing frame, high level exhaust pipes on left hand side


Last edited by GrandPaul; 12/18/17 1:40 am.

GrandPaul (does not use emoticons)
Author of the book "Old Bikes"
Too many bikes to list, mostly Triumph & Norton, a BSA, & some Japanese
"The Iron in your blood should be Vintage"
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719185 12/18/17 2:04 am
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The A65 models used A50 as the frame prefix until mid model year '66. After that A65 was used on the frame and the engine and frame numbers matched.


Bill B...


Boomer
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719187 12/18/17 2:29 am
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Frame numbers beginning with "A65" did not start until 1967. Previous A65s had frame numbers beginning with "A50" (as did the A50s). 1967 ushered in matching frame and engine numbers.

Starting in 1969, engine and frame numbers were prefixed by two letters designating the month and year of manufacture.

That would make the frame either a 1967 or 1968. But again, since by 1967 engine and frame numbers matched, there should be a letter after the "A65", T, L, H, or S, denoting the model. If there are just numbers after the A65, I don't know what to make of that. If it's a match to the engine, it SHOULD read "A65L".

In regard to the engine, if there are just numbers after the "A65L", that would indicate 1966. 1967 models were prefixed "A65LA", and 1968 models were prefixed "A65LB". Prior to 1966, A65 engines were prefixed "A65A, B, C, or D".

If the engine has a smooth rocker cover (not finned) and no inspection cover over the alternator, it is most likely a 1966.

It kind of looks like that engine doesn't match that frame, but of course this is all according to "the book" (Roy Bacon in this case) - as you may have gathered from other threads regarding BSA serial numbers, there's an exception to every rule.













Mark Z

'65(lower)/'66(upper, wheels, front end, controls)/'67(seat, exhaust, fuel tank, headlamp)/'70(frame) A65 Bitsa.
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719207 12/18/17 10:32 am
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At least your frame has a number on it. Mine is totally devoid of one, the only clue to its age being that it has the fairing lugs on the headstock.

Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719210 12/18/17 10:46 am
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Any photos of the frame?

Headstock lugs were on some bikes from 69onwards, however the position of the seat mounting lugs and their shape.... plus a photo of the rear loop will tell a lot.


Now let’s all have a beer beerchug

68’ A65 Lightning “clubman”
71’ A65 823 Thunderbolt (undergoing restoration)
67’ D10 sportsman (undergoing restoration)
68’ D14 trials (undergoing transformation)

Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Mark Z #719215 12/18/17 11:36 am
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Originally Posted by Mark Z
Frame numbers beginning with "A65" did not start until 1967. 1967 ushered in matching frame and engine numbers.
there's an exception to every rule.



Not true. It started during the '66 model year. I have a '66 frame stamped with A65L and the numbers are genuine. This has been covered on here before.


Jon W.


1957 6T Thunderbird 650
1968 T100R Daytona 500
1971 TR6R Tiger 650
1970 BSA A65F 650
1955 Tiger 100 - Project
1971 BSA A65 650 - Project
1972 Norton Commando 750 "Combat"


"Every time I listen to AC/DC, so do my neighbors"

Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719241 12/18/17 3:26 pm
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Thank you all for the incredible response! Here's some photos that may shine some light on the year of this Lightning. Anythings possible in 50 or so years. The full frame number is A65 79157 and the engine is A65L 4500.
This bike came from a museum and has been stored indoors for 25 years anyway. Missing some pieces here and there and the pistons came seperate so when the weather warms I'll be putting it back together and will surely be here looking for help and advice.
[Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image][Linked Image]


1966 BSA Lightning
(2) 1967 Triumph "Choppa"s
1974 Indian ME125
1960 Harley Servi-Car
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Allan G #719244 12/18/17 4:02 pm
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Starfire if your frame does not have a number then in all probability it is a replacement frame issued by the factory, it is not uncommon to find engines and frames without numbers. If back in the day a bike was involved in an accident or the engine blew up then the factory would issue a new frame or engine or casings to the dealer who were then authorised to stamp the original numbers onto the replacements. Sadly not all dealers complied which here in the UK causes problems when trying to register bikes that the DVLA does not have a record of.

Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719252 12/18/17 4:28 pm
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Those engine numbers look legit to me..


[Linked Image from live.staticflickr.com]
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719254 12/18/17 4:51 pm
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Not so sure about the legit, hard to tell from the pics , but the finned rocker cover is 67 on, the barrels look like thick flange 70 on ( the nut is missing from the front LHS barrel stud! if my eyes arent playing tricks) ,

A pic of the clutch cable entry would help, vertical entry to timing side cover is defo 70 onwards. If so the number pad had been ground back and a new number has been stamped which would explain some of the anomalies. it does look ground to me, the case area between primary cover and barrels usually has an ugly casting flashing remeainder, that has completely gone in the pics.

What front brake? if 2LS the chassis is probably post 68.


71 Devimead, John Hill, John Holmes A65 750
56 Norbsa 68 Longstroke A65
Cagiva Raptor 650
MZ TS 250
The poster formerly known as Pod
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719276 12/18/17 7:53 pm
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Just had a look on the BSA owners website for machine identification and the only year for that prefix A65L is 1966 but there is no listing for frame numbers that begin A65 they should have letters after the A65 and before the numbers. Unless they were different for export models you can check this out for yourself on the BSAowners website.

Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719283 12/18/17 8:40 pm
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While not being real familiar with unit bikes, ( I do own a '65 Spitfire Hornet ), the numbers look to me to be factory stamped. However, in mid year '66 when BSA started to stamp A65 on the frame the numbers then matched. Since the numbers don't match the bike is somewhat of a bitsa explaining the different year parts. Also I see both engine and frame numbers as being '66.


From the BSAOC number ID section:

UNIT A-SERIES
1966 'A' series machines started the season with A50, A50B and A50C frame designations with the usual non-matching engine markings. After frame 3200 the engine and frame markings were the same.


Bill B...


Boomer
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719286 12/18/17 8:49 pm
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I've looked at several online sources, including the one here at Britbike which says my engine with the A65L prefix is a '66 even though I have a finned rocker cover, inspection cover for the alternator and a thick flange. I suppose it could be a '66 with replaced parts.
Also '70-'72 had that engine prefix followed by a letter code for the date which I don't have so I doubt it one of those. It's hard to see in the photo but the frame has A65 7 with 9157 beneath it. The only frame listed with just A65 with no letter is a '72 and it certainly not an OIF so that's a mystery. Unless anyone can identify a feature of the frame that would date it.
BTW, I'm aware of the missing nut - the pistons are not in the cases.

Last edited by Nick H; 12/18/17 8:53 pm.

1966 BSA Lightning
(2) 1967 Triumph "Choppa"s
1974 Indian ME125
1960 Harley Servi-Car
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719293 12/18/17 9:06 pm
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It could simply be that the “7” in the frame number is an “L” stamped upside down. The picture is unclear but it would explain the anomaly. My late 66 frame has a numeral “1” stamped upside down so it happens.

Chris

Last edited by ChrisX; 12/18/17 9:52 pm.

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Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719303 12/18/17 10:13 pm
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Ha! That has to be it! That "7" is shaped like an "L" while the lower "7" is shaped at an acute angle. Thank you Chris I never would have thought of that! So...That would make the frame a '70 (or '71 according to the charts but that was OIF, was it not?)
I'm going to call it mystery solved. It's a 1970. Non matching numbers so I suppose the motor could be a '70 or '71.
Now I'm just going to need a oil tank, kick start lever, side stand, chain, various ignition and motor rebuilt parts and lots of forum help! It's a cool bike - notice the chromed Monoblocs?

Last edited by Nick H; 12/18/17 10:24 pm.

1966 BSA Lightning
(2) 1967 Triumph "Choppa"s
1974 Indian ME125
1960 Harley Servi-Car
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719305 12/18/17 10:40 pm
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A 71 motor would have 5/16 "rocker cover studs 70 were 1/4". its probably a 1970 thats been nicked at some time and the number pad ground off, as mentioned before if the clutch cable enters the case on the top side then its 70 or later for sure.probably a Bitsa with those earlier carbs. We are here to help , ask away.


71 Devimead, John Hill, John Holmes A65 750
56 Norbsa 68 Longstroke A65
Cagiva Raptor 650
MZ TS 250
The poster formerly known as Pod
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719307 12/18/17 10:52 pm
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[quote=Nick H]Ha! That has to be it! It's a 1970.quote]

It would make your frame no. A65L 9157 which is a 66 Lightning frame. The numbers being stamped on the curved frame lug is also 66 or earlier. During that year they began stamping frame no’s on a flat pad in the same place so definitely not post 66 as far as I can see.


What's this thread?
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719314 12/18/17 11:54 pm
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Gavin, it’s a small studd barrel.

Frame looks pre 67 to me and the engine numbers do look legit for 66, I have bought a 66 A50R bottom end and they look the same stamping. The post 66 frame’s has a square boss for the numbers to stamp to. Also I believe that’s pre 66 had the numbers stamped on the head stock.

Type of front wheel means jack. My old mans got a 69 on TLS inhospitable A10... doesn’t make the bike a 1969, nor have the forks been swapped. Although if it was correct it would have the flat top yoke (which it has) and QD front wheel... but the bike isn’t as it left the factory. Above the passenger foot peg loop there also looks to be a tab....

The tab on the timing side alone was for the rod setup on the full width drum. However they fitted tabs to both sides when the hornets with high pipes came out as a means to mount the exhaust at the tail end. Don’t know about 65 but commonly seen on 66 Lightning’s.

To go deeper, the left side rear shock area... there looks to be like a tube welded in just north west of the shocker top bolt, which is correct for year, 67 on had a hold instead (never found out what either was for) also if you lift the seat, the seat mounting tabs should be very close to the gusset for the rear shockers. 67 on they were moved further back... and in 69 the tabs became raised instead of flat. (Mine has both bust that’s a modification by myself for the clubmans seat to fit properly)



Now let’s all have a beer beerchug

68’ A65 Lightning “clubman”
71’ A65 823 Thunderbolt (undergoing restoration)
67’ D10 sportsman (undergoing restoration)
68’ D14 trials (undergoing transformation)

Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719317 12/19/17 12:25 am
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Damn and I thought I had it all figured out! I also see that the clutch cable goes into the back of the timing side cover horizontally so there's that clue. So we think it's a '66 all around?
I would like to get this right so I can get it on the title at some point. The bike was advertised as a '72 by the way!

Last edited by Nick H; 12/19/17 12:26 am.

1966 BSA Lightning
(2) 1967 Triumph "Choppa"s
1974 Indian ME125
1960 Harley Servi-Car
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Jon W. Whitley #719330 12/19/17 1:38 am
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Originally Posted by Jon W. Whitley
Originally Posted by Mark Z
Frame numbers beginning with "A65" did not start until 1967. 1967 ushered in matching frame and engine numbers.
there's an exception to every rule.



Not true. It started during the '66 model year. I have a '66 frame stamped with A65L and the numbers are genuine. This has been covered on here before.


Ok then, the frame could be a late '66. The engine number would also denote a '66. Also the flat-bottomed fuel tank. But the finned rocker cover suggests a '67, also the inspection cover over the alternator rotor. Jon, any evidence that they started those in late '66?

I've never seen a side panel like that one. Did BSA ever provide such a panel, perhaps for factory racers? If not, then it would be an aftermarket piece. I can't read the writing on the panel. The carburetors are the correct ones, but they appear to be chromed, which would not have been done at the factory. The rocker cover also appears to be chromed.

But Nick, I think your question was more along the lines of "What do I have?", rather than "How original is it?" So it looks like '66 or '67, or a combination thereof, and as far as I know there weren't any significant engine changes between those two years, so most service parts are interchangeable. The inspection cover in the primary cover is a good thing, will facilitate strobe timing.


Mark Z

'65(lower)/'66(upper, wheels, front end, controls)/'67(seat, exhaust, fuel tank, headlamp)/'70(frame) A65 Bitsa.
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719372 12/19/17 1:35 pm
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Thank you all for the help. The side covers are surely aftermarket. They say "1965 World Motocross Champion". I'll keep them for now and need to find an oil tank (bag?) that will work in that space.


1966 BSA Lightning
(2) 1967 Triumph "Choppa"s
1974 Indian ME125
1960 Harley Servi-Car
Re: New owner serial number anomaly
Nick H #719456 12/20/17 6:13 am
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To legit to quit! I have about 15 BSA A65 cases - early and late and many look just like yours


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