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Re: Calling all Dash Y and Y bike owners..
Kevin (NZ). #789562 11/09/19 5:39 am
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Just found this topic and joined the BritBike Forum

My thoughts on the subject of "Y" numbers is this. I think it is a plausible explanation of what MAY have happened.

The British Government of the time taxed anything that moved. Perhaps the BSA Company had to advise the tax office of engine numbers of bikes that were to be built in order for the Government to collect Sales Tax ( or what ever it was called ). In 1967 they advised a block of numbers, say A65LA 5000 - A65LA 8000 , and paid the relevant tax at that time. For whatever reason, these numbers were never allocated to any machines built in 1967. Fast forward to 1970 and these numbers were still unused but BSA had already paid the tax for them. Instead of using a new set of numbers and paying tax, they decide to use the already taxed 1967 numbers. However, these numbers were from 1967 production year. So to use them in 1970 for the 1970 models, all they did was add a letter "Y" to the end of the number.

I know it sounds too simple, what with all the theories about bikes held for three years, strikes and so on. But it would explain what COULD have happened.

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Re: Calling all Dash Y and Y bike owners..
Kevin (NZ). #789711 11/10/19 5:39 pm
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[Linked Image]The dispatch books list the machines as being dispatched twice, once in 1966/79 and then a second time in 1969/70.
There is a set of service sheets detailing the work required to upgrade the original 1966 machines to 1969 specification.
Speaking to Alistair Cave (who was head of the BSA production), the machines were sent to the USA in 1966, but returned unsold.

Attached Files 242-1.jpg242-2.jpg242-3.jpg242-4.jpg242-1.jpg

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Re: Calling all Dash Y and Y bike owners..
Andy Lorenz #789725 11/10/19 8:06 pm
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Originally Posted by Andy Lorenz
There is a set of service sheets detailing the work required to upgrade the original 1966 machines to 1969 specification.
Thanks for posting those service sheets.

It's great to see the field upgrade information for the '-Y' (and apparently '-X') changes, which is handy information to have.

The later 'Y' (without the '-') machines are a whole different can of worms, because they have the later crankcases, etc. It seems unlikely that they were reworked at the factory to such an extent.
For whatever reasons, Al Cave's explanation seems to have some gaps. Unfortunately, he isn't around any longer to be able to provide more details, and there are probably very few remaining ex-BSA people left wh would have known the answer.

Re: Calling all Dash Y and Y bike owners..
Kevin (NZ). #789751 11/10/19 11:28 pm
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Also doesn't explain the 68 "hybrid" Spitfires with 67 VINs but otherwise all 68 parts.

Re: Calling all Dash Y and Y bike owners..
Kevin (NZ). #791055 11/23/19 2:47 pm
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Here are pages 5 & 6 of the 6 page service directive that Andy posted above.

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

Last edited by Gary E; 12/04/19 5:10 pm.

1967 BSA Wasp
1967 BSA Hornet (West Coast Model)
1967 BSA Hornet (East Coast Model)
1968 BSA Firebird Scrambler
1968 BSA Spitfire Mark IV
1965 Cyclone Competition where are you?
Re: Calling all Dash Y and Y bike owners..
Changaroo #791061 11/23/19 3:10 pm
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Originally Posted by Changaroo
Just found this topic and joined the BritBike Forum

My thoughts on the subject of "Y" numbers is this. I think it is a plausible explanation of what MAY have happened.

The British Government of the time taxed anything that moved. Perhaps the BSA Company had to advise the tax office of engine numbers of bikes that were to be built in order for the Government to collect Sales Tax ( or what ever it was called ). In 1967 they advised a block of numbers, say A65LA 5000 - A65LA 8000 , and paid the relevant tax at that time. For whatever reason, these numbers were never allocated to any machines built in 1967. Fast forward to 1970 and these numbers were still unused but BSA had already paid the tax for them. Instead of using a new set of numbers and paying tax, they decide to use the already taxed 1967 numbers. However, these numbers were from 1967 production year. So to use them in 1970 for the 1970 models, all they did was add a letter "Y" to the end of the number.

I know it sounds too simple, what with all the theories about bikes held for three years, strikes and so on. But it would explain what COULD have happened.



The "Y" machines were random throughout the production number range. As a result, they did not apply to blocks of numbers in sequence.


1967 BSA Wasp
1967 BSA Hornet (West Coast Model)
1967 BSA Hornet (East Coast Model)
1968 BSA Firebird Scrambler
1968 BSA Spitfire Mark IV
1965 Cyclone Competition where are you?
Re: Calling all Dash Y and Y bike owners..
Kevin (NZ). #791077 11/23/19 7:07 pm
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Gary, that's as good an explanation as I have seen (so far).

Re: Calling all Dash Y and Y bike owners..
Two Alpha #793648 12/22/19 5:27 pm
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Two Alpha.
Interresting thread. I have a frame, numbered A65LA18267 (no Y on the frame). First time registred in Norway August 7th 1967 as A65LA 18267Y. The Y was probably on the engine number only. As I do not have the engine, I do not know. The frame is for sure a 67.

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Re: Calling all Dash Y and Y bike owners..
Kevin (NZ). #794050 12/27/19 10:45 pm
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The Service Notes posted by Andy are dated 10/11/66.

These Service notes were referring to bikes made before that date (in 1966) but were 1967 models. The Lubrication and ignition updates to be performed were for these 1966 made bikes. Those bikes with a "Y" or "X" suffix, also manufactured in 1966, already had the improvements installed plus the suffix, to avoid any confusion as to which bikes were to be updated.

"Speaking to Alistair Cave (who was head of the BSA production), the machines were sent to the USA in 1966, but returned unsold."

I think that Alistair Cave in referring to "machines returned unsold", he meant that they were returned to Nutley in New Jersey, unsold, for the modifications to be performed. Not returned to England to be updated at huge cost to the importer and/or the BSA Company. That is why the service notes were sent out to the importers for the updates to be performed "in the field".

My own recently acquired Lightning has matching Frame and Engine numbers - A65 LA 7876 Y
This is a 1967 Number with a "Y" suffix.
This bike has a compliance sticker on the steering head of the frame showing it was manufactured by BSA Motorcycles in 02/70. The engine number is included on the compliance sticker.
This bike is clearly a 1970 manufactured motorcycle as it has all the 1970 features. The frame has the 1970 swing arm and the horizontal tubes for attaching a fairing welded to the front of the steering head. The engine has all 1970 features, 12 point cylinder base nuts, 3/8" base studs. thicker base flange, piston oil pressure relief valve. The clutch cable enters on the top of outer cover. The front brake is the 1969-70 version of the twin leading shoe brake. The clutch and brake levers have the holes for attaching rear view mirrors.

It is not credible that this bike was originally manufactured in 1966-67, exported to the USA, returned unsold at great cost to the BSA Company, then the engine, frame and front wheel were all removed and replaced with updated items with a new compliance plate displaying it was manufactured in 1970. Then it was again exported to the USA to be sold!

What happened to all the engines, frames and front wheel assemblies?

A chap in the UK re-imported a "Y" series Lightning with Engine number A65 LA 7726 Y with a compliance sticker the same as on my bike with a manufacturing date of 02/70. This is 150 numbers before my bike. It seems likely that at least a block of 150 "Y" series bikes were manufactured in February 1970. There is a restoration build started by "England-Kev" on:

https://advrider.com/f/threads/the-bsa-a65-a50-series.1171845/

of his "Y" series Lightning.

I am sticking with my theory at this stage.






Last edited by Changaroo; 12/27/19 11:01 pm. Reason: change some wording
Re: Calling all Dash Y and Y bike owners..
Changaroo #794057 12/27/19 11:37 pm
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Originally Posted by Changaroo
"Speaking to Alistair Cave (who was head of the BSA production), the machines were sent to the USA in 1966, but returned unsold."

I think that Alistair Cave in referring to "machines returned unsold", he meant that they were returned to Nutley in New Jersey, unsold, for the modifications to be performed. Not returned to England to be updated at huge cost to the importer and/or the BSA Company. That is why the service notes were sent out to the importers for the updates to be performed "in the field".
Sometimes the blindingly obvious can elude us for years.

It makes a hell of a lot of sense that the US east and west coast distributors would get the bikes back to make the modifications rather than send the kits out to dealers (and have to pay them) to update unsold bikes. The dealer bulletin would have been for the modifications to make at the next service to bikes which were already sold.

Now, all we need is for somebody to find the relevant dealer communication regarding shipping bikes back to be upgraded.

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