I think I have finally narrowed my hunt down to a clean running A10 that only needs a new owner, for a price that my wallet thinks is fair. 1958 numbers correct. Before I hand over my hard earned cash I was hoping you pre-unit guys could guide a unit-guy like myself on the ins and outs that can make or break the deal. Crack prone areas? Transmission failure issues? Magneto identification? (He said it was a race type magneto, looks stock to me) Anything else?
I have always heard these are hands down the best. Being a BSA fan I am happy to park my tired and worn out Thunderbolt for rebuild. I have loved the swing arm pre-unit bikes since birth.
I plan to bring the bike home, clean, service, tune and ride. It is currently a rider which I'm excited about since I have never owned or ridden an A10. I actually stumble on A65's like no one wants them
If I were you I'd go take a look at the 1957 Road Rocket advertised on the British Cycle Supply website and on the bay area craigslist. Being able to pick up a bike close by is a huge advantage. Plane tickets to inspect and shipping costs increase the cost a lot plus the time spent. I have looked extensively and If I lived where you do I would look at it carefully and probably buy that '57. As a matter of fact I know I would buy it. I almost did and the only reason I didn't is the airplane ticket, the Uhaul rental and the 15 hour drive. I don't know the guy and I have no interest in the bike other than I think it's a very cool and special A10.
Re: Pre purchase Advice A10 Help?
#555131 07/27/149:16 am07/27/149:16 am
Dennis, I know of three types of mags 'original' to the bikes. There may be more?
The first one has a ... 'bakelite' end, black in color, that is spring clipped to the mag. Has a spark plug wire-sized opening in the 'bakelite' that you place the kill switch wire into....
The second type has a threaded fitting that gets a two-part cap twisted/spun snug onto the mag, and the kill switch wire centrally nutted onto a post with an electrical eye equipped wire...
These two have the spark plug wire fittings spring clipped into each side of the mag... Whatever their factory names are.... They have brushes that slide against the rotating 'distributor' ring inside the mag....
The third type of mag, some would call these "wader" mags. Both the spark plug wire fittings and the point cover utilize screws to hold them 'tightly' closed from outside moisture. I've never owned one to be able to tell you how the kill switch wire is placed to kill the engine....
All three of these are Lucas mags? If something else was fitted, it might not be stock?
I have a '54 frame that the upper rear engine/trans mount, the cross tube under the battery tray? It cracked, fractured, and twisted slightly...
I hear about the non-equipped front four-lug frames, the lower welded-on lugs tends to fracture off...
People in the past, trying to start their recalcitrant engines, would stand on the bike with the side stand down, kicking away, bending the side stand mount, twisting it around the frame, breaking it away from the frame, squeezing the frame by over tightening the clamp.
I've got a frame that has a chunk of metal ripped somehow from a side of a tube... These frames do not seem to be made of any particularly special metal, so watch the frame hasn't gotten tweaked somehow.... Check that your wheels track truly?
There is a "GOTCHA" I'll warn you about? There is a distance piece, inside the frames, I cannot find a part number for, back inside where the shocks go, another bolt goes through the frame, and this distance piece, that holds the rear upper mount of the oil tank in place. Or the tool box... If this drops out, and you don't notice it's gone, when you re-install the oil tank, you can squeeze the frame and distort the metal, this is an area really hard to get into, to somehow get the metal flattened back out... I'm missing 7 of these distance pieces...
I've got two or three swing arms that are slightly bent, so the wheel, when in place, is cocked to one side. Both are bent the same direction...
I've seen where someone over tightened cylinder hold-down nuts too much, and cracked the engine main case castings... I have a set of cases, where someone stripped the primary case mounting holes, needing heli-coil inserts installed, and the case in at least one of these heli-coiled holes is cracked, and oozes oil...
I've also seen and have one trans case, where a chunk of aluminum is broken out where the sealing surface is... Never have found a reason for this... The missing chunk was relatively small... NO sign of gear teeth marking... Or other impact damage...
NOT trying to scare you away, I REALLY LIKE pre-unit twins and singles, I'm just saying what I've encountered in 30-some years of playing with these bikes... I'll bet you really enjoy how much smoother your A10 is over your T-bolt?
Is the bent swinger a common issue? We're the bikes you came across ridden off road?
Sorry Dennis, I have no idea what many of these parts encountered in their environments... Most, if not all these parts and bits I have now, came to me as parts. My original A10 I bought in '85, and the first A10 I owned, were the only 'complete' A10's I've ever bought, as far as I can remember...
The only twin I KNOW about, ever used specifically off road, is a friend's A7. I know it hasn't been started in at least the last 5 years, as it resides in my storage, and may not have been started or used the previous ten???
The GSS I'm associated with, I bought somewhere in Indianapolis... Gold Star Spitfire Scrambler... This also wasn't a complete bike, someone had put some dirt bike wheel in the forks, very loosely [ BARELY! ] held in place... This made the bike able to be wheeled around... Some FOOL put standard street down pipes on, and used plumbers tape [ perforated SOFT steel strip ] to strap the pipes TO THE SWING ARM!!! GSS frames were made WITHOUT the passenger foot peg loops, so there was no place for the stock mufflers to be mounted.
So, neither of these, my friend's or this GSS, has a bent swing arm. I've heard of a couple people who have bent or had a bent swing arm, but, no, I don't think they are too common an occurance...
IF you have your heart set on an A10 and you've got one staring you in the face I don't want to see you go through the agony I felt when I decided to think about it on a local A10. I had no idea how difficult it was going to be to find another one after that one sold. That's why I would take a good look at the one in San Anselmo. Ride it, ask a lot of questions and look at it carefully all over. If everything seems right it's probably not too far off although it could be. This bike seems like a very honest bike to me and, like I said If I lived in Sacramento, that bike would be in my garage right now, no doubt about it. You snooze, you lose and then you're in the house of pain. Maybe I'm a little too impulsive at age seventy with fewer years to enjoy this younger man's hobby. Bob
zoe---what is this about a " younger mans hobby"? Just remember " You are only as old as the woman you feel"! I am almost up there with you and agree completely--" he who hesitates is lost" --or at least loses the bike. A time to be bold, take a deep breath and go for it! HTH
This is great! I absolutely agree with your rational. I called and made the appointment to look at the 57. I must say, at 33 I get some guff from the neighbors about being involved in an "old mans hobby" I have always been into collecting broken old bikes and I assume most of you too. Great advice too. "You'll never remember why you didn't go" The powerfull words of my brother the pastor of all things, translates to me as "buy it now or you'll regret it"
The formula for how many motorcycles to own is: n+1=y n = the number of motorcycles you currently own.
There are two schools of thought on this: 1) if you don't buy something another one will come along. And, 2) buy it now or you will regret it later. I'm firmly in the TM's camp that #2 is the way to go.
There might be some, but at the moment I can't think of a single motorcycle-related instance where I regretted having purchased something, nor a single instance where I didn't later regret not having purchased something I wanted when I had the chance.
MMan--my experience exactly. My advice is "Don't mess about--buy it". My logic is that if you buy wrong you can sell on to someone else. In fact I have never had to do this. I think you develop a "nose" for these things over the years and rarely if ever get it wrong. Not of course saying that I am perfect (far from it!) but-- lucky maybe.
An incident early in my professional life still sticks with me. In 1975 I passed by a shop in London that had in its window an LP record of Idi Amin's more interesting radio broadcasts. For some reason I was fascinated by him and at that point he was still in the buffoon, rather than mass-murderer, stage of his career. Anyway, I can clearly remember thinking it would be inconvenient to carry the record with me so I could stop there later and pick it up. I never made it back to the vicinity of that shop and in those pre-internet/eBay/Amazon days there was no way to even look for it once I was back in the U.S. Ever since then when I'm on a trip and see something that I think I should buy as a present or for me, I buy it. Of course, it takes forgetting this rule a few times and regretting it to reinforce its "importance." If nothing else having mostly abided by this practice most of my career will make for a bizarre estate sale after I'm gone.
I was in Istanbul earlier this month and hadn't found a present for my wife when I came across a lovely, too-expensive piece of jewelry. So, should I buy it, or should I wait in the hopes of coming across something less expensive? The answer is precisely the one TM gave: don't mess about, buy it! (a quiz for you guys who aren't married: which is worse, giving your wife a too-expensive piece of jewelry, or giving her a story for why you returned from your trip empty handed?)
Don't any of you bikers get sucked in on this one. Your wife says, "Ok, honey let's agree to not get presents for each other this Christmas, nothing at all, Ok?" . "Ok, nothing at all, it's agreed. We'll spend our Christmas money on the kids and stuff for the house. Got it, nothing at all." After everyone has gone home, Christmas dinner is over, reading in bed, my wife says, "I still can't believe you didn't get me ANYTHING, NOTHING AT ALL, NOT EVEN A CARD, I JUST CAN'T BELIEVE YOU GOT ME N O T H I N G FOR CHRISTMAS!"
Getting her a basket case Rocket Gold Star probably wouldn't have been a good idea that year either.
I hope Dennis J buys that '57 Road Rocket in San Anselmo, rides it home, tells us the story and I hope it is as cool as I think it is. I came very close to buying that bike myself and the only reason I didn't is my good friend, who lives nearby, offered me his '63 Spitfire at a very reasonable price and I am now one extremely happy camper. I even rode it to Home Depot today to pick up some stuff and it actually started when I came out to go home. I would not have the confidence in my starting ability to have made the same trip on my Catalina although I probably should have.
WOW!--the decades of experience that has gone into the last few posts! Denis--at the age of 33 (less than half my age)you have a great opportunity to buy an A10. After starting my motorcycling career 52 years ago on a Bantam, within a year I moved onto an A7 and then had A7s and A10s for many years. For most of that time they were my only form of transportation, including a sidecar outfit when kids started to come along. So I have fond memories of them. They are great bikes--rugged, reliable and easy to work on. I think you are going to see two of them. My advice--buy at least one of them--you will never regret it. HTH
I was finding it easier to rationalize the $4800 price after I searched the nation for another A10. What kept me from pulling the trigger was the logistics, as previously stated, an airline ticket, a one-way U Haul truck and two days out of my life. If I lived in Sacramento, as Dennis J does, it would be in my garage now.
If I owned a stock looking Road or Super Rocket I would make it look like that '57 A10 anyway but with a front fender. Like the owner stated his bike is not a good candidate to be returned to stock.
The oil burning issue would be easy to fix with an over-bore, a pair of pistons and rings and a valve job or maybe even less.
It comes with a front fender and two Smith's Chronometric gauges.
One of the problems with these sort of garden variety A10s is you buy a basket case for $2000 to $3000, drop six or seven into it and it's worth 5 to 6 when you're finished. Denis J could buy this good running '57 for $4800, ride it home, clean it up and slowly do what's needed and have a cool slightly hotrodded bike, INHO.
When I wanted a retirement present for myself several years ago I wanted a 1960 A7 Shooting Star in polychromatic green(just as I had owned at the age of 18). Couldn't find one in US but found one in England. Flew across on Friday evening, saw and tested the bike on Saturday morning, did the deal and flew back Sunday. Friend of mine who is a classic bike guy and owns a freight forwarding business in UK handled the transportation back to the US for me. As a matter of interest I fly this Friday from Joooisey to Milwaukee, pick up a U Haul and a 69 Rocket 3 and drive the 900 miles back to Joooisey. Take me a couple of days I reckon. The moral is " If you want something then go go go for it" Dennis--we all want you to get one of these A10s. Please be very positive and buy one. Photos please of your new bike!
Getting her a basket case Rocket Gold Star probably wouldn't have been a good idea that year either.
Wandering even further off topic, a decade ago I put together a trip to the wine country of Calif. as the Christmas present for my wife. I plotted out a route through the wineries, booked the rooms at quaint bed-and-breakfasts, and made reservations in highly rated restaurants. I put all the information in a booklet for her to open as her present, which that year happened to be at her brother's (and his wife's) house. My wife opened her present first and she and everyone else clearly were taken by the (uncharacteristically) thoughtful and romantic gift.
My b-in-law's wife opened her present next, found a hands-free telephone headset inside, and clearly was crestfallen (and embarrassed). He realized he was in trouble so tried to defend the gift by explaining how practical it was because she talked on the phone all the time. The expression "when you find yourself in a hole, stop digging" couldn't be more appropriate. Although this happened at least ten years ago, she never lets him forget it.
So, Zoe, I agree. Getting your wife a basket case RGS for Christmas wouldn't have been a good idea.
Denis, if the price is right and the bike is right go for it. There is a caution here, there are many overpriced bikes out there because so and so told the owner it was a antique and worth buckets of money. With the internet it is easy to check what things are actually selling for and a ballpark price you should pay. When you have wanted a particular model sometimes it is easy to rationalize buying something overpriced because of the "I always wanted one factor". That being said, I have never regretted buying a motorcycle. Of the over 30 complete bikes I still have, I still am pleased with them even though I will never complete more than a fraction of them. When times were tough, going to school on the GI bill, working part time and working on other peoples cars on the weekends I still squeezed out enough money or trades to pick up most of my British Iron when it was still relatively cheap. I don't regret it. Do not let the "I could buy a new (whatever) for what they want for that old bike" thinking creep in. When you have had the new (whatever) for a couple of years you will regret not buying what you really wanted. And NO, a RGS basket case for your wife for Christmas is a bad idea. However a B25 for a anniversary present would be OK.