Restoring the World's First BSA Spitfire Scrambler ("Rocket Gold Star")


This thread describes the restoration of my 1957 Spitfire Scrambler. It's going to be in two parts, possibly with an extended intermission between them. The first part will take events in chronological order as best I can reconstruct them, from my acquisition of little more than a butchered frame and an engine in 1994, through the process of identifying what I had purchased and how it had been originally configured, up to it being a nearly complete machine that is ready for restoration. I will include all of the material I have been able to find to date on this poorly-documented model, as well as describe an approach to restoring a motorcycle that not everyone will want to copy. The second part, once it starts, will continue through to the final restoration.

A Lucky Purchase

In the Fall of 1994 I was given the opportunity to buy an incomplete A10 based on only a few photographs. The machine looked to be in wretched condition (which later proved to be all too accurate), but the asking price was very low so I decided to buy it for the parts. When the box arrived at a friend's motorcycle shop there wasn't much in it, and what was there clearly had led a very hard life:

Inside the box were an engine in a frame, front and rear wheels and hubs, fork tubes (but no top yoke), an unidentified seat, a Std gearbox and an A65 frame:

Loosely assembling my purchase, what I had sort of resembled a motorcycle only if viewed from at least 20 feet away:

Although it would be silly to try to restore a fairly common BSA A10 starting from something this incomplete, even more critical than the many missing parts was that the headstock had been crudely hacksawed from the frame and even more crudely reattached in a very clumsy attempt to make a chopper. The "workmanship" was unbelievable, with short sections of galvanized iron water pipe stuffed in the downtubes to help rake the head, and with the entire assembly held in place with aluminum pop rivets and globs of poor welding. Evidence of all this was hidden beneath deep layers of epoxy body filler, some of which I removed before taking the following photographs:

However, the machine never could have operated in this form since the first modest jolt would have snapped the flimsy pop rivets and separated the front end from the rest of the machine. In spite of this, as I was to find once I had the production records, miraculously this particular engine and frame had managed to remain together since leaving the factory forty years earlier.

Delivered to me was only an engine, dangerously butchered frame, wheels, hubs and forks (minus top yoke), and Std gearbox. Still, I was happy enough, because I had paid very little for it.

Almost immediately after opening the crate I saw that the engine number ended with 101 which meant it was the first in some series. It turns out I have an unusually large library of English-language motorcycle books and manufacturers' literature, including indexed sets of a dozen magazine titles, so I assumed that as soon as I got home from my friend's shop it would be easy to find what year and model BSA this CA10SR101 engine came fromů (to be continued).