Appeal for Several Parts for this "Historic" Restoration
As mentioned earlier in this thread, with only a few exceptions I have managed to collect everything needed to restore this machine to the configuration it had when it was the very first one to roll off the assembly line in February 1957. As an update to what I wrote before, after having looked for one for 15 years, very recently I was lucky enough to find a 376/89 carburetor. This was the last of the components containing stamped ID/type numbers (engine, frame, gearbox, and carburetor) identifying it as having been on a 1957 Spitfire. Even though the "temporary" 376/49 that had been on the machine for over a decade is in every way -- other than the lack of /89 -- identical, finally with the arrival of this carburetor the puzzle feels complete. Rusty, disassembled and in poor condition, but essentially complete. However, still missing are a few "generic" BSA items:
2-gallon Gold Star tank Exhaust pipes (42-2797 right; 42-2799 left) Competition Number Plate 65-6616
Clearly I could fabricate the pipes and number plate but, given this machiine's "historical significance," I would like to have the highest percentage of original components on it as possible. If you have any of these for sale or for trade (I have a fairly rare ASCT gearbox I no longer need), please send me a PM or an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Additional Literature -- Part I
Following is the first of two posts that will contain a collection of bulletins, ads and other literature in chronological order that is relevant for 1957 Spitfires and that I had not already included in previous posts. Unless I've overlooked something in my collection, when finished this thread should include everything that I have been able to find on this machine. Therefore, if you are aware of anything additional, please take the time to scan and upload it.
Hap Alzina Press Release. March 27, 1957.
BSA price list dated May 4, 1957. I don't know if this list is for the East or West coast, but I also have an undated 1957 East coast price list that does not include the Spitfire. Presumably that other list was printed before the decision was made to produce the Spitfire.
Cycle Magazine. May 1957.
Motorcyclist Magazine. July 1957.
Southern California Motorcycle News. August 1957.
Cycle Action Magazine. August 1957.
BSA (East) bulletin. Summer 1957. This is one side of a double-sided bulletin the other side of which was in an earlier post.
I'm desperate to see more pics, but really enjoying the bikes history.
How's this for a quick pics fix?:
It's the best I can do for the moment. It's the flange of the carburetor I finally lucked into after looking for 15 years. The AMAL "Settings List" shows it was used on 1957-58 "American Scr. Twin" (the list doesn't show anything for 1959 Spitfires, jumping to 1960 for the next one). The Hap Alzina bulletin earlier in the thread shows this is the carburetor I need, and also gives the settings for it. Interestingly, these two lists differ significantly on the settings:
_____________Amal____Alzina Main jet_______400_____240 Needle position__4_______3 Cutaway______3-1/2_____4
Yet another puzzle to deal with in this restoration.
With a resto like this, one of the things i find most impressive is the patience people have. I simply could not wait 15 years to find a carb, not when number stamps are so cheap!
With a restoration like this one it helps a lot with the patience to have more than one motorcycle running as well as more than one motorcycle that I'm restoring (or pretending to myself they're being restored, not just collecting dust). But, in each case the only customer for my restorations is me, and I have to do the work in the way this customer insists on having it done.
Aside from any other issues, because this Spitfire was the very first one produced I wanted an actual /89 carburetor on the machine as it had when it was made, not just a carburetor stamped /89, and I would know the difference no matter how well any such restamping were done. If it had been the second Spitfire ever produced the /49 I found for it 15 years ago would have been just fine.
p.s. It's worthwhile mentioning that the /49 or /89 were just codes used by AMAL to denote distinct differences in the assembly of carburetors so that they could supply an identical replacement whenever requested. As little a difference as having the needle on the 3rd notch for one unit and the 4th for another resulted in a completely different assembly code. Codes were issued in numerical order as the configuration was determined, so /1 was issued the year the Monobloc was put into production and, say, /101 came some years later (I could look up real dates and machines but won't take the time). However, because the same configuration could have been used on a given model motorcycle for several years, there isn't a strict one-to-one correspondence between /xx and the year of machine.
Anyway, while any Monobloc of the correct bore easily can be reconfigured with different jets, needle settings, etc. to be functionally identical to any other, the /xx number identifies the original machine it came on. Although a carburetor is a smaller component than a gearbox, I searched for a /89 for this particular Spitfire for the same reason I had searched for an SCT2.
Last edited by Magnetoman; 08/10/133:55 pm. Reason: added p.s.
What I love about this thread is the detail. I have found a kindred spirit in Magnetoman! I am new to this forum and also new to BSA. I have restored a couple of Kawasaki's but really wanted to turn my attention to an old Brit. Being an old Brit myself now in the USA. I searched for the right project and finally thought I had found it. Craiglist ad for a couple of "basket case" A65's. Turned out to be not 2 but 3 B44's. Matching frame and engine numbers from 1967. As much as it makes me want to dive in and start, to me, the research and collection of data from around that time is as much fun (and equally important) as the actual restoration. Great thread, love what you are doing here.
It was wonderful on summer nights to cruise around the city at one, two, or three A.M. wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a girl on the seat behind me. If I didn’t start out with one, I’d find one.” -Marlon Brando
What I love about this thread is the detail... the research and collection of data from around that time is as much fun (and equally important) as the actual restoration
I wrote in the first post in this thread that mine would be "...an approach to restoring a motorcycle that not everyone will want to copy" so I definitely appreciate your comment.
The nice thing about restoring any post-WWII British bike is that lots of similar machines were produced so even with rare ones like this Spitfire (or RGSDave's ongoing T100R restoration) 99% of the parts are common with the mass produced models. Unfortunately, finding that last 1% can be very frustrating. However, the key to finding all the missing parts is first to do the research to know exactly what those parts are, and then to relentlessly hunt for them until everything has been crossed off the want list. Even if/when it takes 15 years...
Note to RGSDave: if you're reading this, be sure to use one of the extended aftermarket bolts on whatever magneto you use until a BTH TTS6 turns up. With one of those bolts it's an easy job to swap magnetos, but with an OEM bolt a lot of parts have to come off the bike before you can remove the magneto.
Another note is that, unfortunately, there are basically two kinds of owners of BTH TTS6 magnetos (or any other rare part we need): those who have them in boxes somewhere in their garages but don't remember they have them; those who know they have them but won't sell them. This is why some parts require a decade of searching before they turn up.
I'll try to get the second installment of Spitfire-related literature uploaded later today.
This completes the items of additional literature having to do with 1957 Spitfires that began in the previous post. Again, if you are aware of anything additional, please take the time to scan and post it to this thread. With the next post I'll start extracting information from this literature that I need in order to do an accurate restoration of my machine.
BSA (East) bulletin. Fall 1957.
Cycle Magazine. November 1957.
American Motorcycling. November 1957.
Southern California Motorcycle News. February 1958. Because this advertisement was printed so early in 1958 and shows a machine with a racing number and custom pipes it is almost certainly a 1957 Spitfire.
Southern California Motorcycle News. May 1958. Although there is no way to be certain, it seems likely that the photograph in this article was taken of the rider during the previous season, in which case it shows a 1957 Spitfire.
Specifications for Rebuilding the first Spitfire: the Unknown Unknowns
Donald Rumsfeld, perhaps the world's leading expert on pre-unit BSAs, responded to a question about restoring a 1957 BSA Spitfire Scrambler by pointing out:
There are known knowns; there are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns; that is to say, there are things that we now know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=26CvN46xBbo
My intention is that this thread contain the maximum of known knowns and the minimum of known unknowns about this machine. Ideally there wouldn't be any unknown unknowns, but the best I can do is to minimize the chances of having them.
Give its "historical significance" as the first "Rocket Gold Star Spitfire Scrambler" ever produced, I would like to restore the machine as accurately as possible to original condition. However, despite the literature I've collected over the past 20 years, there are difficulties in determining precisely what that means. For example, some photographs show the Spitfire with a passenger grab rail, while others show it without. Since panchromatic film is somewhat less sensitive at the red end of the spectrum, reds appear darker in B&W prints than does silver. Inferring the color of the tank from some photographs it is red (as is mentioned in some documents), while in other photographs it is silver (as is mentioned in other documents).
It is important to realize that BSA made changes to their specifications during a production run. When they did, spares manuals that were subsequently printed did not list the original parts that had been replaced with different ones. An example of this is the initial post-War ZB Gold Star heads had a large cavity for hairspring valve springs (although coil springs were used from the start). This soon was replaced with an altered head, but only the latter head was listed in the later ZB spares manual.
The reason the above is relevant is the October 1958 Hap Alzina bulletin shown earlier in this thread was issued 18 months after the first batch of Spitfires was delivered. That bulletin says "Parts listed below are not shown in the regular exploded view Spares Catalogs." where from the context it is clear they mean the A10 spares catalog. For the "Spitfire Scrambler 1957" there are 31 parts listed, including the frame, with most of the cycle parts from Gold Star lists (DBD as well as earlier). Because of BSA's practice of not documenting changes that were made during a production run, all we can assume is the Alzina list describes the ultimate specifications of this model, i.e. not necessarily the specifications of the ones made earlier in the production run, which may or may not have been the same as the last ones.
As mentioned earlier, the 1958 version of this machine basically was a modified A10 rather than a modified Gold Star. For the "Spitfire Scrambler 1958" there are only 8 parts listed, with six of those just mudguards and stays. The other two are a 19" rear rim and 42-6339 "Rear Wheel Assembly." I haven't tried to find that rear wheel assembly in catalogs, but it's the only significant part listed for 1958 that this Alzina bulletin says isn't straight from the standard A10 spares list.
In addition to the possibility of undocumented changes during the production run, making my quest for authenticity more interesting is that the February 1958 'Cycle' magazine has an article about the forthcoming 1958 BSA models, and about the Spitfire it says: "The Spitfire Scrambler will be continued exactly as introduced in the 1957 season... Finish is silver and chrome tank...". The text for that article, which clearly is just a reprint of material supplied to them by BSA, would have had to have been in the magazine's hands by ~December 1957 to make it into that issue. Since we know the 1958 version actually was produced as a stripped down A10 rather than as a Gold Star hybrid, what this means is that sometime after December the situation changed. Again, though, this article does say the 1957 tank was silver, contradicting at least some other BSA literature that says it is red.
The same October 1958 Alzina bulletin also has an exploded diagram with part numbers for the "Spitfire Scrambler Gearbox with Needle Mainshaft and Layshaft - 1957 Only". Again, the "1957 only" in this Alzina bulletin directly contradicts the press released-based article in 'Cycle' that says the model for 1958 "will be continued exactly as introduced for the 1957 season." While we already know the 1958 version was different, the point is that even when information is in writing it cannot simply be taken at face value. All available information has to be collected, evaluated, and then the best informed judgment applied to arrive at the most reasonable conclusion.
What Photograph Should be Used as a Guide for the Restoration?
BSA used the same studio photograph in all of their advertisements in 1957. For several reasons I believe this is a factory photo of a pre-production model and thus it only roughly represents the configuration of a 1957 Spitfire. For example, an inset in one of the ads has a "flying Spitfire" that is lacking the number plate, showing this machine has at least slightly different specifications than the production model.
The next photograph is a composite of two of these official BSA photographs, from an advertisement in 'Cycle' magazine and from a BSA Nutley press release. I brought them into Photoshop, overlayed them with BSA Nutley on top, made BSA Nutley 50% transparent, and aligned the bikes in the two layers. You can see from the slanted "National Champion T.T. Racer" text that the Nutley ad had to be rotated a few degrees (2.7-deg. to be exact), but that otherwise the two photos are identical.
This is further seen in the two enlarged insets to the right, of the rear tire and of the reflection in the right exhaust pipe. Every knob, spoke, and reflection is identical in the two photos. Given that the evidence indicates this machine is almost certainly a studio photograph of a pre-production model my conclusion is that it can't be used to determine what size or color of fuel tank was used. Or, for that matter, for any other detail (e.g. whether or not there should be a passenger grab bar).
Earlier in this thread are press release-based stories from three magazines (the identical text was used in two of them). The 27 March 1957 Hap Alzina press release says deliveries will commence two days later, implying the machines were already in the hands of the distributor when the release was issued. Although there isn't much time between then and the April cover date of the 'Motorcyclist' magazine issue that contains a story and a photograph, anecdotal evidence I collected is that issues of this magazine were sent out late during that period. The same photograph appeared in the May issues of Cycle and American Motorcycling. Hence, my conclusion is the photo in these magazine articles is almost certainly a photo of one of these first Spitfires. The use of a sheet as a backdrop further indicates a lack of time to take the machine to a studio for a proper photograph. Because of the timing of these events my conclusion is it is highly likely that the photograph in these three magazines was made in the U.S. of one of the first batch of Spitfires to arrive. That batch included my machine, so this is an excellent photograph to use as a guide in my restoration.
Clarification:The tank in the photo shown in this post is not the one I believe belongs on these machines. The one I believe is correct is shown in the two magazine articles that are in my third post in this thread (dated July 15).
Last edited by Magnetoman; 08/16/1312:23 am. Reason: added clarification
This and the following one or two posts will describe how I addressed several configuration issues that had to be dealt with before I could begin to properly restore this machine.
Fuel Tank Color
As mentioned in the previous post, the March Alzina press release says the tank is silver, while the undated east coast literature (that uses the same photo as in the magazine articles) says it is red. I am unaware of any other factory literature that refers to anything but these two colors. Whether this is a possible West/East coast difference, or a change in color for everyone in mid-year, or a mistake by the person who wrote the East coast release remains somewhat uncertain at this point. Earlier in this thread I posted photographs from some obscure west coast motorcycle magazines that show Spitfires. However, it's impossible to know if they are in stock form or already had been modified (in a couple of cases they are in ads for aftermarket parts, such as crossover pipes, so clearly those have been modified). Also, I have seen at least two 1957 Spitfires with faded blue tanks but, again, there is no way to know if these were their original tanks. The next photo is from an article about a particular racer published in May 1958, and it looks to me to be a silver 2-1/2 gallon tank.
As mentioned in the previous post, the February 1958 'Cycle' magazine has an article about the forthcoming 1958 BSA models, and about the Spitfire it says: "The Spitfire Scrambler will be continued exactly as introduced in the 1957 season... Finish is silver and chrome tank...". I am unaware of anything in print that points to other than a 2-1/2 gallon tank, although I cannot be certain whether at some point the west coast bikes might have changed to red. But, there is nothing to indicate they did, so using anything other than silver for my west coast bike isn't supported by any literature. A final point is that although BSA advertisements contain their standard disclaimer that specifications may vary between East and West, that doesn't mean they actually did vary.
Fuel Tank Size and Configuration
BSA used the same dies to produce the major stampings for the tanks of a number of different models, varying the locations of the fuel outlets, studs for straps, etc. to suit the intended application. The limited number of shapes is quite helpful when trying to identify a tank from photographs as well as when looking for one a particular machine.
I've already mentioned I determined that at least the initial batch of 1957 Spitfire Scramblers used 2-1/2 gal tanks. Beyond the volume of the tank, close examination of the following photograph shows it was of the configuration used on Clubman Gold Stars. Although having an external vent on a machine intended for use in the dirt might not have been be the best idea, the next photograph shows that the tank has both the hinged cap and external vent as used on Gold Stars.
From article in April 1957 'Motorcyclist' magazine.
My conclusion from all the materials I have been able to find is that at least the first batch of Spitfires to be delivered to the U.S. had the silver 2-1/2 gallon Gold Star tank with hinged cap and vent tube as shown in those initial press release/articles. Although I can't rule out the possibility that later ones were delivered with different tanks and/or colors, the only tank of interest here is that on the first Spitfire.
1964 A65 Lightning Rocket Tank
Thanks particularly to the restorer Ross Thompson, as well as to Gordo, Boomer and Mark Shearer in a series of posts in the Gold Star forum, I discovered that I already own a tank quite well suited for restoration/reconfiguration for this Spitfire. The tank is one that I've owned for so many years that I don't even remember where I got, and I now know is from a 1964 BSA Lightning Rocket. However, despite it being for an A65 and being manufactured after the last Gold Star had left the factory, the bottom of the tank is made with the same asymmetrical stampings with a recess on the right side for the throttle cable of an AMAL GP as supplied on Clubman Gold Stars. The only difference between the bottom of this tank and one for a Gold Star is this A65 tank has the fuel outlets further forward, and the studs for the tank strap are further toward the back. Also, the top of this tank has a different fuel cap and lacks the external vent pipe. However, since the major stampings are identical, at the same time the dents in it are being removed it can be reconfigured to be identical to one that left the factory mounted on a '57 Spitfire.
Bottom of tank from a 1964 A65 Lightning Rocket. Aside from the location of the fuel outlets and tank strap studs, this stamping is identical to the bottom of a 2-1/2 gallon Gold Star tank.
The top of the following composite is an enlargement from the photograph in a BSA East Coast brochure, and the middle is the one used in the three magazine articles published in April and May 1957 that I discussed earlier in this thread. Although I wish the resolution were better, it is still sufficient in these two to reveal that the tank has the vent and the type of hinged fuel cap used on Gold Star tanks. Also, it can be seen that the magazine touched up the photo they used by removing the "bump" surrounding the hole for mounting the tank.
(top) From BSA East Coast brochure. (middle) From article in April 1957 'Motorcyclist' magazine. (bottom) Tank from a 1964 A65 Lightning Rocket.
The bottom of the composite shows my A65 tank over which is a yellow overlay that I carefully traced from the outline of the middle photograph. Where I could not clearly see the outline of the tank (i.e. at the front, and most of the indentation for the badge), I left gaps in the tracing. As can be seen from the slightly different perspective I should have photographed my tank from a position slightly further to the right. However, aside from this, the composite shows my tank is essentially identical to the one in the other photographs.
The only apparent discrepancies are that the tank in the middle photograph is slightly more pointed at the rear than is my tank and it is missing the bump for the mounting hole. However, both of these are due to how that magazine touched up this photograph. The bump can be seen in the top photograph and, although the contrast is too low to see the rear of the tank, a similar comparison I made with a photograph of a 2-1/2 gallon Gold Star tank provided by Gordo showed my tank and his are identical. Also, the resolution in the two other articles is even worse than the one I used in the composite, but the rear of the tank can be seen in one of them and it is identical to the A65 tank. That is, my analysis shows BSA used the same dies to stamp this A65 tank as they used for Gordo's Gold Star tank.
The composite photograph in the previous post shows that after repair, reconfiguration, and rechroming the tank that started life on an A65 will be an exact Gold Star tank for my restoration. However, repairing it only will be possible if the metal is in good condition, so I inspected inside the tank with my borescope. The following photograph shows a small region in the "pocket" at the left, rear where the design of the tank makes it most likely to collect water and fuel residue. The region at the left of the photograph is the bottom of the tank, and at the right is the side.
If you aren't used to examining metals with a microscope you might think that the inside of the tank looks bad, but actually it is quite good. The magnification of the borescope image depends on the distance of the end of it from the object so I can't put a precise value on it for this photo, but it's somewhere between 3x and 5x and with a resolution of ~0.3 mm. For comparison, I also used my borescope to photograph the outer wall of a piece of new EMT conduit at approximately the same magnification:
The ridges on the surface of the EMT have a spacing of ~1 mm but the undulations are so slight the tubing is shiny and feels almost smooth to the touch. Basically, the borescope shows the metal on the inside of my A65 tank is in nearly as good condition as a new piece of EMT tubing, with only patches of discoloration and surface rust, so this tank is an excellent candidate for restoration and reconfiguration into a Gold Star tank.
I can only speculate on the following, but my guess is that the "flying Spitfire" tank decal was not introduced in 1957. This limited production, race-only model entered the lineup months later than the rest of the range so there would have been less time and motivation to tart it up with a special decal. However, the next year's A10-based version had become a standard model in the lineup by then so a decal would have it conform with the other machines in the lineup.
Addendum: Service Bulletin No. 15 from Hap Alzina, dated November 13, 1958 lists eight "varnish type paper decals" that they "obtained from BSA." Remembering that the Gold Star scrambler was given the name "Catalina" starting with the 1956 season, part number 42-8109 is a "Catalina Scrambler decal. Also listed are small and large "Super Rocket tank decal," which was another new model for 1957 (U.S.-only that year). More to the point, part number 42-8112 is a "Spitfire Scrambler decal (Picture of scrambles rider in action)." This is fairly strong evidence that as originally supplied in 1957 these bikes did not have decals on their tanks, which only began being applied to the machines sometime later.
Last edited by Magnetoman; 06/16/145:41 pm. Reason: Addendum about decals
I am nearly at the same stage of restoration with my 57 Spitfire Scrambler, engine no. CA10SR.201. Lucky for me it was my dad's bike. He was the second owner since 1962. Unluckily, he let is sit out in the elements for 20 years before I rescued it. The cylinders had been blown two different times and it looks to have been crashed a couple times - broken motor mounts, crushed tool box, bent front pegs, etc. But, aside from a bad spray can paint job and someone bondoing in the badge mounts, it is all original. Your thread has been really helpful in identifying the bike and a proper restoration. I just got the magneto and generator back from Mickey Peters who did a great job on both. He also added a custom rubber seal to the clutch plate that will help with the typical oil leak problem there. He even plated the generator body back to the original gold color. Also he added an auto advance, which while not original, doesn't show and is a great improvement for starting. I look forward to more of your posts.
Your thread has been really helpful in identifying the bike and a proper restoration.
Thanks very much for your response. My goal has been to put everything I could find on this bike into one place so the few people who have one would finally have a comprehensive reference source for information.
Although it is about a very specific model, the process I've followed is broadly applicable. However, this thread isn't like most other restoration threads here and I was beginning to think no one was actually reading it. So, again, thanks for your response.
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Great thread, we've just been reading and waiting for more from you! I've got a question. You say the frame is a GS frame. Maybe you can enlighten us on the difference between an A10 frame and a GS frame excluding the stamped bend for the oil pump clearance.
Magnetoman, a while back, in the shout box, Allan Gill mentioned that if you use the drop-down menu below the message box, and then select USING HTML and UBBCode your posting will appear. Morgan replied that HTML will never be turned on, due to security reasons.
I was getting blank postings, so I tried what Allan suggested. I figured that I couldn't hurt anything if Morgan has his settings the way he wants it. Anyway, it worked for me. Coincidence?
In any case, especially if you have a lengthy post, it is wise to copy it to your clipboard and perhaps even paste it into your word processor package (like MS Word) before you hit the Submit button. That way, if you hit a glitch, you can simply paste it into the forum post box on your next try. It helps keep your blood pressure under control.
'64 TR6R Plus some Twins from other countries (U.S., Germany, Japan)
I was getting blank postings, so I tried what Allan suggested. I figured that I couldn't hurt anything if Morgan has his settings the way he wants it. Anyway, it worked for me. Coincidence?
We'll see if it was a coincidence a few seconds after I hit 'submit'. I've been uploading posts the same way for the past two years without this particular problem before, and the post I submitted a couple of minutes before was just fine. Anyway, if this one works, I'll try uploading the next installment again.
p.s. I submitted this post with the default "Using UBBCode," as I've done with all other posts. It appeared without problem. I then cut/pasted the following post from the Word document and tried to post it the same way. All that appeared was a blank post. I then tried again by changing the "markup" box to "using HTML and UBBCode" and, as you can see, it appeared.
Last edited by Magnetoman; 09/05/1311:32 pm. Reason: added p.s.
I made an interesting "discovery" about the Carburetor Alloy Distance Piece 65-2562 listed for this model in the 1958 Hap Alzina Bulletin. The next photograph is an enlargement from one of the magazine articles that, as I've already discussed, evidence strongly indicates is one of the initial production models, and could even be the actual machine that I own. I've marked in yellow several reference positions on the engine, carburetor and frame:
I next used Photoshop to overlay a photograph of my machine that I took from approximately the same perspective and then scaled to the same size as the magazine photograph. The composite below shows the yellow reference marks from the 1957 photograph coincide very nicely with the corresponding features on my own machine.
Note, however, that I did not have the 1" distance piece installed when I took this photograph. This image analysis clearly shows that the machine photographed in 1957 did not have that distance piece either (or the drip shield).
Another discrepancy is a Hap Alzina press release shown earlier in this thread says the engines in these machines were supplied with high lift camshafts (H) and high compression pistons (HC) so following usual BSA practice mine "should" have HHC stamped under the engine number, but it does not. I am aware of several later ones that do have HHC stamped. Such discrepancies are consistent with it taking a while before the build specification became standardized on this model, which perhaps shouldn't be surprising given its introduction outside the normal planning process. In any case, even though the Hap Alzina bulletin issued 18 months later lists the distance piece, as mentioned earlier in this thread the configuration of machines shipped prior to any such revision to the specifications that took during 1957 would not have been reflected in such a bulletin. My conclusion from the evidence is that the engines on at least the initial batch of machines shipped to the U.S. did not have this particular piece. Luckily, in this case since I already have it the distance piece would be trivial to add it to the bike in the future if some new information ever came to light indicating it actually should be present. As an aside, I hunted for years before I found that distance piece, and was very happy when I did. Now I've decided it should not be on this particular machine. Sigh…
90% of the Time, 10% of the Restoration… In most restorations you can count on the final 10% of the work requiring 90% of the time. In this one, the initial work feels like it has required 90% of the time. Things that are normally just taken for granted, like knowing the color of the tank, took considerable time to research. This doesn't even count the "dead time" of waiting years for one of only ~400 gearboxes made over a half-century ago to show up for sale. But, finally, I believe that just about everything that can be known about a 1957 BSA Spitfire Scrambler, is known, and just about all the uncommon parts for it that can be found (except the exhaust pipes), have been found.
What About Unknown Unknowns?
If the carburetor distance piece and the drip shield were not on the initial machines shipped to the U.S. as my image analysis indicates was the case, it raises the question of possible unknown unknowns. Since this particular difference was not documented in the 1958 Hap Alzina bulletin, might there have been other differences? Unless additional documentation comes to light, that will remain an unknown unknown.