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#711250 - 10/11/17 10:46 pm A7 Opinions  
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limeyrider Offline
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gastonia .. NC
Thinking of buying a 1955 A,7 Shooting Star project bike, I'm not that familiar with this model , any advice would be much appreciated ....i.e. what to look for, weaknesses etc.

Thanks,

James.

Last edited by limeyrider; 10/11/17 11:24 pm.
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#711258 - 10/11/17 11:43 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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Tridentman Online content
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James---buy it quickly---or if not give me the details and I will.
55 years ago I started my motorcycling in UK by learning on a BSA Bantam.
After a few months I passed my test and bought a 1960 A7 Shooting Star from an uncle.
Great bikes. I later bought a 1954 A7 Shooting Star (for 15 pounds!) and that bike was an absolute gem.
As a solo flat out at 95 mph coming down to Creg-na-ba on the Isle of Man TT course to hauling a sidecar on holday from UK to the south of France (and back!).
The A7s are frequently overlooked compared with the more numerous A10s but are basically the same in terms of frame, brakes, tanks etc etc.
The engine is 500cc compared with the A10s 650cc.
But the engine is sweeter and smoother IMHO.
The A7 Shooting Star was the sporty version compared with the A7 which was the cooking model.
The Shooting Star typically had a slightly larger carb and a higher compression ratio.
Also the Shooting Star had an aluminum alloy cylinder head whereas the A7 had a cast iron head.
The Shooting Star had a manual magneto whereas the A7 had automatic advance and retard.
A 1955 model will probably have full width brake hubs known as "Ariel" hubs as they were first used on Ariels (Ariel was a company within the BSA Group).
But if you have the half sided hub then --great--because that is a better brake IMHO.
The gearboxes are robust---virtually the same as used on the BSA Gold Stars etc.
The engines are good--the weakness is the timing side bush especially if frequent oil changes have not been done.
However the pre units were better than the unit construction later engines (A65/A50) in that respect and the A7s were better that the A10s (less power).
Overall a good handling sweet bike well suited to back road riding.
HTH

#711260 - 10/11/17 11:59 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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gastonia .. NC
Great ! thanks for that appraisal.....it has made my mind up...sounds like the perfect project / back lane rider. Thanks again.

#711264 - 10/12/17 12:20 am Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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They aren't Gold Stars, but are lovely bikes in their own right.
A nice tidy, well sorted A7 Shooting Star will probably cost less than a Gold Star project, particularly a DBD34.

The other things to watch out for with any BSA twin are:
- thoroughly clean the crankshaft sludge trap.
- line ream the timing side bush
- pin the timing side bush if it didn't come pinned. They have been known to turn and restrict oil supply.
- ensure the crankshaft is shimmed to spec to set the end float.

The 6 spring BSA clutch doesn't have a good reputation, but you already have experience in that area.

#711265 - 10/12/17 12:27 am Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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gastonia .. NC
Thanks Shane ... it keeps getting better ! .... the six spring clutches were fine . The timing side bush info from Tridentman and you is good to know ... especially the pinning !

Thanks again.

James.

#711275 - 10/12/17 2:02 am Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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Tridentman Online content
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Correct--the six spring clutch does not have a good reputation.
However that bad reputation was gained on the A10s and particularly the later more highly tuned more powerful Super Rockets etc.
BSA themselves recognized that by fitting the Triumph clutch to the very last A10s (1961/62).
However a good six spring clutch is perfectly OK for an A7SS IME.
BTW---I kept my 1960 A7SS in UK for 9 years during which time it was my only transport.
Some years ago when I was approaching the normal retirement age of 65 I decided to buy myself another as a retirement present for myself.
I eventually found one in UK, flew over there, bought it and had it transported back to US.
It is a 1960 A7 Shooting Star in polychromatic green.
Please let us know how you get on---and photos will be very welcome!

#711278 - 10/12/17 2:14 am Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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gastonia .. NC
I will post photos when I get the project home. Your trip back home to buy the A.7 speaks volumes ! :-)

I asked the seller for the engine number .... apparently it is NOT a Shooting Star model , engine number is ... CA7 .****

Any further comments ?

Last edited by limeyrider; 10/12/17 4:41 pm.
#711350 - 10/12/17 7:39 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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Orygone
James, does it have the full width hubs?


Bill B...


Boomer
#711355 - 10/12/17 8:05 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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The standard A7 had the iron head, lower compression ratio and smaller carb.
At least--they did when new---what has happened to it in the last 60+ years is anybody's guess.
It is easy to check the head material and quite easy to look at the carb number stamped on the flange.
If it has an iron head--then no problem--the difference in performance is a bit academic these days.
The iron head has the advantage that it is a bit quieter than the alloy head.
Still a very pleasant bike and just right for back roads riding -- very happy and sweet at 55-60 mph.
HTH

#711356 - 10/12/17 8:21 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: Boomer]  
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gastonia .. NC
Hi Bill, no the bike has single side, 8" brakes..

#711358 - 10/12/17 8:25 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: Tridentman]  
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Even absent the A7 SS spec., I may still go for the bike, most of the original tinware is present !....amazing after so many years. ..carb, speedo and headlight are missing. As a back roads rider it looks like a winner.

Thanks to Bill and HTH for your comments.

James.

#711369 - 10/12/17 9:45 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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Adam M. Online content
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I was lucky enough to spend some time on a friend's A7 SS in my misspent youth smile.
What I remember is very nice, smooth, easy starting bike, comparing to my old 750 BMW / K750 cross bred, but also quite gutless.
My friend regularly kept borrowing my bike for his dates, I enjoyed easy starting and lack of drama on the BSA.

#711371 - 10/12/17 9:49 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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James---FYI ---HTH means Hope This Helps---it is not my name!
Single sided brakes are better IMHO than the Ariel full width hub brakes and also better than the later full width hub brakes.
If it is just the carb, speedo and headlight missing then that is pretty good after all these years.
A carb and speedo will not be cheap but are certainly available.
A headlight is also pretty readily obtainable.
If the headlight shroud is missing that might be a bit more difficult.
Certainly on the basis that you have described in my view it is well worth going for---as long as the price is reasonable.
What is reasonable?---need photos to give you a view on that.
HTH!

#711377 - 10/12/17 10:28 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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It might well be a '54, I think the '55's had the full width Ariel hubs. May be '56, I bet HTH would know. Some '54's, at least here in Oregon, were sold as '55's and I prefer the rod rear brake and 8" front.


Bill B...


Boomer
#711381 - 10/12/17 11:05 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: Tridentman]  
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My apologies Tridentman ! .... not familiar with the shorthand stuff !.
I have viewed only one photo so far,timing side.... not enough to gauge good or bad value.
If it helps to date the bike the almost complete engine number is CA7 ..217*, frame number CA7..1123*, another feature is the deeply valanced mudguards ... front and rear ...1954 or 1955 ??

The 8' brake on the Gold Star was more than adequate when set up properly .... on an A7 it will be a real stopper !!.

Thanks Bill and Tridentman

James.

#711390 - 10/13/17 2:13 am Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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Engine #s:
1955 started at CA7-1501
1956 started at Ca7-2701
so yours looks to be a 1955 engine.
Frame #s:
1955 started at CA7-7001
1956 started at EA7-101.
The same frames were used on A7s, A7SSs, A10s and A10RR (Road Rocket)---so many more frames than A7 engines--- so your frame is a 1955.
Frame and engine numbers were not matched at that time so you have a 1955 frame and a 1955 engine---fair chance that the frame/engine combination came out of the Small Heath factory together in 1955.
Deeply valanced mudguards (fenders) were standard and by todays standards look very heavy and old fashioned.
But IMHO they have a certain period charm.
Good news on the 8" brake---they are a very good brake when set up well.
On my 1954 A7SS I was in the Isle of Man in the late 1960s with some friends.
We were doing a fast circuit on a non race day and decided to stop at the Creg-Na-Ba Hotel (about 3/4 of the way around the 37 3/4 mile course) for a drink.
We had got into the bar, ordered beers and I was just about to sip my pint when a guy burst into the bar saying "Whose in the BSA twin?--it is on fire".
I rushed outside to the bike.
I had used that single sided 8" brake so much around the circuit that on parking up the heat had got to the wheel bearing grease and it was smoking up into the air.
Having assessed the problem and that the solution was to let the brake cool down I immediately went back to my pint.
Of course to allow enough time for the brake to cool meant another pint---or two---but that is another story.
HTH!

#711392 - 10/13/17 2:42 am Re: A7 Opinions [Re: Tridentman]  
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Tridentman ...thank you for the dating info. ! ..much appreciated, it sure would add to the cache of the bike if it turned out that the numbers were " factory matching " !.
The mudguards do look heavy ... but as they are original would have to stay ... maybe !.

Good story from the IoM !!... a perfectly logical excuse to down a pint or three !.

Thanks again.

#711411 - 10/13/17 12:26 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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Nice score James. I don't have personal experience with an A7, but everyone I know that does, speaks highly of the A7. You know it is going to handle well.

One thing about the original fenders being on there, they don't make originals anymore. While they are controversial, the Indian made repops offer you some different styles to use and keep the originals safe in the shed.

If you want an "alien head" nacelle, I likely have one I can part with. It needs some minor work (tabs) but is straight and not needed for anything I currently have.


Life is too short to drink cheap, bad beer.
#711415 - 10/13/17 1:24 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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Not heard the nacelle described as an "alien head" before--but it is a very apt description.
James--if you want to find out whether the frame and engine were together as they left the factory then the Vintage Motor Cycle Club (VMCC) in the UK have the factory despatch records.
As a non member you have to pay for them to issue you a certificate---if you are a member it is a bit cheaper.
HTH

#711419 - 10/13/17 1:48 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: Rich B]  
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I have not yet " closed the deal " on the A7, but that is just a matter of getting a date set with my son to go on a road trip with his truck and trailer ! smile.

All of the comments about the A7 have piqued my interest, thanks to all who have contributed.
Rich B, thanks for the offer of the " alien head " nacelle, once I get my hands on the bike and see what's what I may take you up on that ...GO Buckeyes !! smile

Tridentman, I will surely check in with the VMCC regarding dating of the bike.

Thanks again to all.

James.

#711476 - 10/14/17 12:37 am Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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bon Online content
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Alien head ? Don't you mean the cow pat (plop) nacelle ? One thing about the touring tinwear for the a7/a10/ b-series swinging arm singles is i find tin wear easy to come across, as a huge amount of people doing restorations, seem to go the replica rgs/goldie route. The only thing i had to pay much money for for my a10 was the fully enclosed rear chain guard. An original British made one, not an injun one.

I find the a7/a10 in touring trim to be a very civilised, sensible machine, and very comfortable.

#711617 - 10/15/17 2:40 am Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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I got a couple of photo's of the potential project bike from the seller,one photo shows the crank and pistons , the timing side bush is in place on the crank .... would this be a normal situation ?, I assumed that the bush would be a tight enough fit in the timing side case that it would not come away with the crank ?.... the inner race of the drive side roller bearing is also on the crank ...I am assuming that the outer race of that bearing is still in the case.
From the photo it looks like the pistons are trash, and also +.040", so a rebore out to +.060" will be required.

Any opinions on the timing side bush ?

Thanks,

James.

#711621 - 10/15/17 3:34 am Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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Lannis Online content
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Originally Posted by limeyrider
I got a couple of photo's of the potential project bike from the seller,one photo shows the crank and pistons , the timing side bush is in place on the crank .... would this be a normal situation ?, I assumed that the bush would be a tight enough fit in the timing side case that it would not come away with the crank ?.... the inner race of the drive side roller bearing is also on the crank ...I am assuming that the outer race of that bearing is still in the case.
From the photo it looks like the pistons are trash, and also +.040", so a rebore out to +.060" will be required.

Any opinions on the timing side bush ?

Thanks,

James.


Maybe (for some reason) the crank and cases and bearings were all separated, taken apart properly, and the owner just slid the bearings on to the crank to show that he has them?

OR the bearings seized to the crank and spun in the cases and came apart that way? That would mean an expert weld repair or replacement cases ....

And if you can see from a normal photo that the .040" over pistons are trashed, you'd better not assume that .060" over will clean the bores up!

Lannis


OK, I admit it, I'm addicted to brake fluid.

But I can stop any time I want.
#711645 - 10/15/17 1:38 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: Lannis]  
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Thanks Lannis, the outside diameter of the timing side bush looks clean ..i.e. no aluminium pick up which might indicate that it had spun in the case, but who knows ?, I'm a little gun shy since my last project bike turned out to be a real mess when I got into it.

It looks like the drive side piston has quite a lot of smearing on the skirt , both pistons look rough in the ring area's ..... new pistons needed for sure, whether a +.060" rebore will clean up the cylinders ... hard to say.... maybe new cylinder block needed also !..... I think I just talked myself out of the project !.

Thanks again,

James.

#711648 - 10/15/17 3:02 pm Re: A7 Opinions [Re: limeyrider]  
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Hi,
Dont give up on the A7 project so easily !!!
The main bush can sometimes come loose in the casing, (not often) It is good practice to true up the casing bore
and fit an oversize bush when line boring true to the drive side main.
This prevents oil leakage between the case and bush
The bush has two flats on it and there are corresponding lugs on the T/S case
If the bush had turned those flats and lugs would be well damaged, Have you seen a photo of the case?
The cylinder can be relined back to standard if necessary, there's a good thickness of iron on the A7 cylinder skirt
They are a very nice bike when sorted

John

Last edited by chaterlea25; 10/15/17 3:03 pm.
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