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#836252 01/11/21 12:38 am
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I have been reading R. Pike memoirs again during Christmas / New Year period - again, perhaps its my 3 rd or 4 th time.
And 2 days ago I got into discussion about a Sunbeam S7 / S8 and during it I dared to name it BMW R51 theme variation. S8 owner took it bad and linked me a big article about S7 development. I was never really curious about this bike and got quite shocked after reading it. Most of R. Pike problems with early variant of A7 / A10 twins - breaking crankshafts, braking valves and valve springs, engine oil leaks, OHC engine configuration were already solved in working S7 / S8 Sunbeam made in another BSA factory in Redditch. Why this OHC engine, which could easily became vertical twin wasn't developed is beyond me, instead BSA decided to redesign original A7 / A10 concept. The same question could be asked about later Trident, why this design never captured imagination of Mr. Healy is very strange for me. S7 / 8 engine had already easier and cheaper for production cast iron crank, strong engine block and cyl head made from aluminum alloy better oil system with oil being delivered inside of the cases not outside like dated Mr.Turner's design, very good engine characteristic with a short stroke and propensity for easy revs and horizontally cut cases. You can find opinions everywhere about S7 / S8 being a slow bike, but tourist version tested showed 85 mph max speed and never produced sport version 94 mph. For 500 ccm bike from fifties it wasn't too shabby, was it?
It looks for me as another lost opportunity for BSA.

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I suppose calling a Sunbeam a BMW is a bit like calling a Bantam a DKW variant which it actually was since BSA got the design ect from the Fatherland after a "disagreement: between 1939 - 1945


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The various BSA plants never worked together
They may as well have been on different planets speaking different languages.
Overcoming this was one of the reasons for Slumberglades which was the first time all of the design teams actually talked to each other.
The various divisions of the BSA Group never worked as a Team .

THis attitude came down from the top.
When the management finally decided that there was not going to be a WW III and they had to make a living making motorcycles there was a plan to build a brand new factory in Coventry to replace the obsolete & overcrowded plant at Meriden and to relocate all assembly from Small Heath which as an original rifle factory was never suited to assembling motorcycles.
Thus both BSA & Triumph would be assembled at Coventry and all of the individual parts plus some engines would be made at Small Heath and more engine assembly at Reddich.
The BOARD over ruled this because they were convinced the workers at Small heath would make substandard parts for Triumph & the relocated Triumph workers would sabptarge the BSA's on the assembly line. Thus they shoe horned two new lines into the timber floored rifle factory at Small Heat to make the twins & singles.

This is just how tribal the UK was at the time.

When the Thatcher government forced all of the remaining British motor companies to merge, which was a good idea, it failed again due to the tribalism
So in place of picking the best bits of each marque and using them universally across the range and consolidating the range to remove overlapping models . What happened was another layer of management got added o the already over managed factories so you still got each company making models in direct competition with other branches of the same company so no nett savings were made & they all went down the toilet still shaking their fists at each other.


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The Sunbeam, not being a flat twin, would be a very varied variant of a BMW.


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The BSA factory tried a lot of things like OHC, but found no performance gain over pushrod use and the idea was scrapped. In most cases development would start on something new then those above told the designers to scrap the idea, if your lucky enough to read epserts from The Final Evolution by Brad Jones and Thunderbolts and Lightnings the later mentioned by me is mentioned in the books several times, the OHC story was told to me by an ex factory designer.


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Originally Posted by triton thrasher
The Sunbeam, not being a flat twin, would be a very varied variant of a BMW.

The R35 was a vertical single .
They bring huge money now days


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Originally Posted by Allan G
The BSA factory tried a lot of things like OHC, but found no performance gain over pushrod use and the idea was scrapped. In most cases development would start on something new then those above told the designers to scrap the idea, if your lucky enough to read epserts from The Final Evolution by Brad Jones and Thunderbolts and Lightnings the later mentioned by me is mentioned in the books several times, the OHC story was told to me by an ex factory designer.

Were overhead cam engines consigned to the dustbin of history, or was BSA?


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Originally Posted by BSA_WM20
The R35 was a vertical single .
They bring huge money now days


Bet it’s a dull ride too.


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"When the Thatcher government forced all of the remaining British motor companies to merge, which was a good idea, it failed again due to the tribalism"

Sorry but the concept that this "was a good idea" ........!!!! It failed because it failed to take into account the realties of the personal feelings and relationships!
Sure "tribalism" existed in the bike industry and the motor industry and the aviation industry before them, but another way of describing it is loyalty, dedication and commitment. Instead of using this to foster a spirt of competition and development, successive 'management teams' and Governments just lumped disparate and competing organizations together and walked away to their country clubs and golf courses. Instead of support, and assistance (as in Japan and the USA) all that happened was abandonment. History repeats, and the very recent (at the time) history of the aviation industry and their forced mergers (and subsequent collapse) was ignored, or perhaps not. Did the political influence and bribery scandal of Lockheed have a counter part in the motor and motorcycle industries??

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The easiest result to get from merging bad businesses is a smaller number of bigger, worse businesses.


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Originally Posted by triton thrasher
Originally Posted by Allan G
The BSA factory tried a lot of things like OHC, but found no performance gain over pushrod use and the idea was scrapped. In most cases development would start on something new then those above told the designers to scrap the idea, if your lucky enough to read epserts from The Final Evolution by Brad Jones and Thunderbolts and Lightnings the later mentioned by me is mentioned in the books several times, the OHC story was told to me by an ex factory designer.

Were overhead cam engines consigned to the dustbin of history, or was BSA?


I think it was one of those "you've spent enough time and money on this" situations... The factory must have haemorrhaged money on such tasks as this story seems to come up a lot for many a project. If they had seen more through then im sure bikes would have been more advanced.


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Hey Adam. I would like to read that bio. Where did you get it. Thanks Jeff

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Originally Posted by Allan G
The BSA factory tried a lot of things like OHC, but found no performance gain over pushrod use and the idea was scrapped. In most cases development would start on something new then those above told the designers to scrap the idea,.

Yes this is a phrase I read many times, however did anybody thought about lower cost of production? S7/S98 engine has cast iron crankshaft, much cheaper to make than build up crank of early twins, also this crank was much more reliable according to mr. Pike. Canceling of pushrods with their corresponding parts made all the valvetrain lighter and suddenly Jessup valves and their springs became good enough for high revs of the OHC engine. This inline twin could easily became a vertical twin and form a base for 3 cyl engine too. Reading BSA history one sees to many missed opportunities ( like M4 250 project ) and too many flops like scooters. Now I believe it was kind of miracle this company survived as long as it did.

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Trevor said
"When the management finally decided that there was not going to be a WW III and they had to make a living making motorcycles "

i know what you are saying but they were clearly not totally convinced as they mothballed all the equipment to make the SMLE (std allied service rifle ) and started cranking out the MK4 ( with pig sticker bayonet ) in pretty short order


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What is very easily overlooked with BSA is by the 50's the board were all jonney come lately's .
Most had their interests in , well, interest , particularly in that on their investment, today.
The bank appointed directors prime interest was in protecting the money of their depositors thus are naturally risk adverse towards any new technology that could fail in the future.
As such, more of the same always triumphs over the what if's and the it might';s and the this should no matter how good they look on paper and doubly so if you do not have the expertese to understand what you are looking at.
Remmber KHopewoods "Modular" redesign, not even looked at .
They were mostly selling all they could make so there was no justification in diverting resources on what they were not making at the time .

Thus no OHC as it would require a massive retooling cost not only for the engine, but a whole new frame to accomodate the taller engine .

Ask any one what is the most innovative car company right now and most would say Tesla
And why is this ?
BEcause it is an emerging company so it has to revolutionary & new in order to compete with the Fords, GMs VW's & BMW's .
And all of them could have done what Tesla is doing now 20 years ago, remember the Volt ?.
Because Musk still has a majority on the board he can run it like a private company and go off in tangets like an autonomous heavy truck or the planets ugliest SUV nd not worry about profits right now.
Remember Tesla has lost hundreds of millions to date and this will be the first break even year due to the cars rolling off the Chinese production lines.
They also produce nearly everything in house so there is no problem negoating new supply contracts or cancelling old ones with resultant financial penalties or production delays .
The stock is seen as a high growth stock, so those who have invested are looking for a massive capital gain in the future
BSA's sharehoders needed a dividend now , not a higher share price in 15 years .

You also have to remember the silly tax avoidance scheme BSA was running under where 100% of next years production cost were financed via loans from the banks so you have to at least break even every year or the bank does not get the depositers money back and the company ends up with a cripplingly high debt they can not trade out of, which ultimately is what happened.


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Originally Posted by Adam M.
Originally Posted by Allan G
The BSA factory tried a lot of things like OHC, but found no performance gain over pushrod use and the idea was scrapped. In most cases development would start on something new then those above told the designers to scrap the idea,.

Yes this is a phrase I read many times, however did anybody thought about lower cost of production? S7/S98 engine has cast iron crankshaft, much cheaper to make than build up crank of early twins, also this crank was much more reliable according to mr. Pike. Canceling of pushrods with their corresponding parts made all the valvetrain lighter and suddenly Jessup valves and their springs became good enough for high revs of the OHC engine. This inline twin could easily became a vertical twin and form a base for 3 cyl engine too. Reading BSA history one sees to many missed opportunities ( like M4 250 project ) and too many flops like scooters. Now I believe it was kind of miracle this company survived as long as it did.

You are missing the point Adam.
We are motorcyclist so we understand all of the "engine" stuff.We know a malleable iron crank is sronger than a built up one and a forged crank is stronger still & lighter to boot.
We know an OHV has superiour power out put to the same capacity SV and an OHC is beter still.
All they knew was the built up cranks have worked fine for 50 years and they knew how to make them.
The board were all money men and all they inderstood was profit / loss statements & balance sheets .
A new engine would have to be made somewhere, and there was already no space.
More money would be needed than the expected profits from this years sales
And it might be a market failure .

It is the same story with the cycle motors ( winged Wheel ) , Scooters & Dandy.
All of these were marketed to cash in on the now know to exist high sales of these types of vehicles.
Unfortunately by the time they got them ready to market, the boom was past and they all failed miserably.
Even worse because they were all rushed through design & developement they all had major flaws which did untold damage to the reputation of the company.
Again "Money Man Thinking" don't spend a penny unles you can guarantee a sale.


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Originally Posted by Dave Martin
"When the Thatcher government forced all of the remaining British motor companies to merge, which was a good idea, it failed again due to the tribalism"

Sorry but the concept that this "was a good idea" ........!!!! It failed because it failed to take into account the realties of the personal feelings and relationships!
Sure "tribalism" existed in the bike industry and the motor industry and the aviation industry before them, but another way of describing it is loyalty, dedication and commitment. Instead of using this to foster a spirt of competition and development, successive 'management teams' and Governments just lumped disparate and competing organizations together and walked away to their country clubs and golf courses. Instead of support, and assistance (as in Japan and the USA) all that happened was abandonment. History repeats, and the very recent (at the time) history of the aviation industry and their forced mergers (and subsequent collapse) was ignored, or perhaps not. Did the political influence and bribery scandal of Lockheed have a counter part in the motor and motorcycle industries??

You have a funny idea about Loyalty.
All of the car companies were in deep financial trouble save a few speciality low production brands .
If Thatcher has said stop making this rubbish 6 cylinder Jag engine and fit the small Rover V8 to Jag and stop making your large V8 to Rover & fit the large Jag engine to Rovers, would either have done it ?
Was the government supposed to go through all of the factories & tell them what to make & what not to make , who to sack & who to keep on ?
We all know what sort of thing that results in , there are a lot of them still driving around in Russia & North Korea
Telling the industry "You are all in the same canoe & have to work together or we will not stop you going over the waterfall" is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.After all they were he supposedly automotive experts and all of them knew what was right & what was wrong with their own brand and probably every one else's. All of them were living on taxpayers money so it is quite reasonable to tell them if you want more taxpayers money then you have to show how we will get good value for that money and carrying on as is is not an option.
IF the industry could not sort themselves out into a single profitable enterprise ( and they could have ) then why should the taxpayers continue to prop up a dozen failing enterprises ust to keep some egos intact.
The japanese government provided support in the form of the Long Term Finance Bank so factories would not be saddled with crippleing debt.
They did not tell them what to do & how to do it.
That is not nor has it ever been the job of a government in a free enterprise economy.
Ther is a big difference between Loyality and pig headded stupidity.
ask the workers if they would rather put a Rover badge on the MG or have no job I am faily sure I know what the answer would be .


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""When the Thatcher government forced all of the remaining British motor companies to merge, which was a good idea, it failed again due to the tribalism"

Sorry but the concept that this "was a good idea" ........!!!! It failed because it failed to take into account the realties of the personal feelings and relationships!"



What web site did you read that on Sonny?

I had the tremendous pleasure of working in the production engineering industry around about that time ........The whole closing down of factories etc in the Western world was pretty much a global thing .........Maggie in the UK , Ronnie Regan in the USA (thanks for the rust belt Ron) and here we had our own IMF World Bank and ILO lackey one traitor to the working class called Rodger Douglas ...he presided over countless thousands of honest workers losing their houses as they could not afford the 25% PA housing mortgage interest rates due to the "market correction"

Many of those workers made redundant never worked again as there simply were no jobs for production workers , many hard working people lost their businesses and a fair few suicide ......so take it all to TWITTER OK or Farcebook

Oh and by the way lets introduce user pays education and close all the Psychiatric hospitals as well .......no votes in the mentality ill after all

I watched MY INDUSTRY get systematically destroyed and now have to listen to internet experts going on about things they very likely didn't experience

YEAH you are right that did push my buttons


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Here is not the place for political discourse of the re writing of history but we are actually agreeing, "The japanese government provided support in the form of the Long Term Finance Bank so factories would not be saddled with crippleing debt.
They did not tell them what to do & how to do it."
Unfortunately the various British governments DID tell them what, and where to do "it". Mergers were forced, factories were placed for political reasons. The Japanese did not force Honda and Mazda to amalgamate, they supported both with cheap long term financing that allowed both to re tool and develop magical things like OHC, and shockingly, electric start on motorcycles!. Britain lumped a bus company with a sports car manufacturer and expected miracles. The simple fact that the Japs are still around, and the Brits are not shows which was the correct way of doing it!

Instead of paying on the front side in cheap investment, which eventually comes back, the British taxpayer paid on the backside in expensive unemployment payments, which never comes back. And we lose the wonderful Norton, Triumph, Ariel, and of course BSA, and the Japs sill have Honda, Suzi, Yamaha, Kawasaki.

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whatever


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Originally Posted by Ignoramus
whatever

I started my professional metallurgical career being sent in to close down 2 foundries & shift another so you are not telling me anything I did not already know.

In the UK industry was a mess.
The plants were all too small to be run efficiently on a high volume low margin basis which was needed to meet the competition from Japan & then Europe.
Same story with steel plants most were too small to run economically
When I read the histories of different RR , Bently & Daimlers cars, most of them spent more time on trucks being shifted all around the country than they did on the productin line.
British industry has grown up from the industrial revolution where lots of people worked in relatively small factories built almost on top of each other.
If you troll thrugh period films of British & Japanese factories the difference is obvious
In the UK parts are taken out of a stillage, some thing is done to them and go back into another stillage to be either stockpiled or moved to a different part of the factory to have some thing else done to them
In the japanese films, there are no stillages in the background full of 1/2 made parts.
machines are organised so parts go from one directly to the other, originally by being passed between the two operaors and latter by robots ( transfer arms if you like ).
The BSA factory was built to make firearms, not motorcycles.
Every building was carefully designed to efficiently make firearms and when not making armaments the motorcycles had to be shoe horned in .
From what I have read & heard nearly every other British factory was the same.
Jag bought Daimler off BSA for one reason only, so they could get the space to build a new modern strait through assembly line, not because they wanted to make Daimlers and that should be blaitlently obvious by the poor badge engineered Daimlers they made, which were just Jags with a slightly more luxurious interiour and softer suspension.
Same story with Rolls Royce & Bentley

As for blaming the government for the rise of Japan & the fall of the UK that is beig so simplistic it is not funny.
There were hundreds of Japanese motorcycle & vehicle builders . And just like in the UK they merged, got taken over , went bust or changed industries .
The big difference is the cultural value of work & workers.
In Japan if a new machine put 20 people out of work, the factory found some thing else for those 20 people to do
In the UK, USA or OZ for that matter, if a company installed the same machine they sacked 21 to 30 people because culturally none of those countries value the employees.
GErmany eventually cotoned on and took employees into the management & board room and that made them the manufacturing powerhouse of Europe.
US UK & Oz managers were still considering themslves to be at war with the unwashed scum on the factory floor.
And this is what rocketed Japanese industry not government intervention, although providing low / no interest finance & keeping the Yen artificially low did help a lot
China is apparently doing the exact same thing right now.
And don't overlook the biggie.
Most UK & US companies were formed to avoid tax and in particular inheritance tax or death duties .
As such managment takes a massive amount of cahs out of these businesses.
last time I hear, the CEO of Ford still takes home more than the entire board of Honda & Toyota combined .

I would imagine it was the same for the excessive numbers of managers in Rover, Jag, MG , Morris, Austin, Singer, Triumph etc etc etc.

One of the places I worked at was Rowntrees both before & after the merger with Hoadleys & Sweetacres .
Hundreds of confectioners got sacked but not a single manager.
Thus there was a Minties manager , a Fantails manager , a Jaffa manager etc etc etc. Each of them had an assistant manager a sales manager an advertising manager etc etc etc .
managers wore different coloured caps while the workers wore plain white ones.
I can not remem,ber a single shift when there were were moe white caps visible on the floor than coloured ones, excluding the light blue foremans caps and the darker blue supervisors cap. About the only thing that did not have a full management team was the dunnies. British management at it's best.


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Not every factory got money it was not handed out like lollies and a kiddies christmas party
You had to show that the money was needed , it would be repaid and there would be a net benefit to Japaneese industry
How much of the £ 200,000,000 paid out to Poore over the decades got reurned to the taxpayer.

One of the long term finance banks was an indirect customer of mine through OCS Toyoko and I pick up thousands of air freight satchels for them in the 70's & 80's, a contract I carried till OCS closed down. From what I could gather lots of the companies were still paying back the debt several decades latter.
Western companies would just declair bankruptcy, pick up the assets from the liquidater for 1/2 of their value then brag abput how they shafted the government.
I am nothing like an economic historian but some time in the 80's there was a massive change in businesses.
Directors whose job was to safeguard the shareholders money suddenly became proxi managers dictating thing like dividends .
Shareholdings suddenly seem to get consolidated int powerful voting blocks holding directors to ransom and from then on in ther was no more win win solutions I had to win by a massiive margin that had you on your knees begging or the deal was not good enough any more.


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Thatcher did not merge any Automotive factories, that was done earlier under Labour direction, then when it became bankrupt was partly nationalised in 1975.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Leyland

I worked in the UK automotive sector for 30 years some of which in senior management. At the end of the day each factory is a set of lines on a spreadsheet, depending on the current fad of management theory it lives or dies on the numbers on that spreadsheet. If a plant is lucky the board may have a manager on the board with a past history working there can help the plant survive, most can't.

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Originally Posted by kommando
Thatcher did not merge any Automotive factories, that was done earlier under Labour direction, then when it became bankrupt was partly nationalised in 1975.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Leyland
.


Thatcher was and is unpopular with some people, but not with everyone. After all, somebody must have voted her party into power (how many times?). Accusing her of car or bike factory mergers is a remarkable distortion, Dave Martin.

Jobs in subsidised car factories making bad cars are not jobs worth maintaining, in terms of the national economy. Unless, you’re a communist, like Tony Benn or Michael Foot. And the actual communist economies got into a bigger mess than Britain’s.


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