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#845183 04/05/21 2:57 pm
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Has anyone an idea of how BSA's made *after* August of 1972 were marked?

My understanding of how the model year worked was that it was based around the
factory 'holiday' from July to August.

So, model year of 1972 started in August of 1971 and ran to July of 1972.

Thus an engine number of PExxxxx was November of model year 1971, which
really means November of calendar year 1970.

The last model year code I see listed is 'G' which runs from August 1971 to July
1972.

How were bikes made after August 1972 marked? I understand that not much
happened after January 1973, but bikes were coming out of the doors between
August and December 1972.

Steve.

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If the factory was working as it had in the late 60's then an answer would be forthcoming, but in the last days the factory was in a mess so its guesswork. For example the last BSA B50's were badged and sold as Triumphs through the Triumph dealers, to fulfil an order for A65's but no engines in production instead the Triumph engine was fitted with BSA badges on the tank, called the T65.

https://www.britbike.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/769984/t65-engine-numbers

This may give you a clue there were no 73's to be worried about as this '73' is stamped 71 model year and made early 72 as the last A65.

https://www.bonhams.com/auctions/18221/lot/495/

This historic example of BSA’s swansong 650 comes with a hand-written letter (dated March 2004) from Mr Alistair Cave, who was the General Works Manager at BSA’s Small Heath factory from 1964 until its closure. In his letter Mr Cave states that this machine is the last twin-cylinder model built at Small Heath. One of BSA’s dealers had asked the Sales & Service Department if they could have the last-of-the-line machine, which was given a special ‘out of sequence’ number: ‘JE00100’. Mr Cave states that he visited the production line early in 1972 to see the engine being stamped with the number and later in the day saw the assembled bike on test.

Last edited by kommando; 04/05/21 4:07 pm. Reason: model year stamp E = 71
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Last off the production line c.1973 BSA 649cc Lightning
Registration no. SVN 902K
Frame no. JE00100
Engine no. JE00100

The J code means August and E is August 1970 to July 1971, so the number JExxxxx puts it's build date as August, calendar year 1970.

Everything shipped after that date was 'in stock'? Doesn't feel 'right'.

BTW, thanks for that link.

Last edited by S-NJ-W; 04/05/21 3:59 pm. Reason: Thanks for the link.
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I did say it was a mess.

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> I did say it was a mess.

Yes, Yes you did!

I guess I don't have a good idea of the degree of volume out of the factory for each model
year. I was anticipating 1000's of bikes per year from 1969 through to end of model year
1972. I think that only B50's were being made at Small Heath after Christmas of 72/73.
I read that somewhere, but can't remember where, now.

Would I be the first to express skepticism that JE00100 was the last A65 to be made? My own bike
has a later indicated build date (NG02xxx) which if read literally would be October of calendar 1971.
However, it was imported to the USA as brand new in February of 1973 and first registered for use
on the road in March of 1973.

So, that's part of what prompted the question. If my bike was made in 1971 but not exported until
1973, that would surprise me, for a cash strapped factory. If it was built in October of 1972, that
would make more sense. However, it looks like there was no 'H' for model year 1973, which would
have made the bike's number NH02xxx, had it existed.

Again, I understand I am looking for reason where none might exist.

What's also 'odd/uncommon' is that my bike's engine number is A65TNG02xxx. Most A65s
I have seen are of the format (using the same numbers) NG02xxx A65T. Maybe bikes built
after August of calendar 1972 flipped the number and model designation around as there was
no H for model year '73.

Again, I understand I am looking for reason where none might exist.

My frame number doesn't have the model designation. It's the same as the engine but without
the A65T.

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My '72 has the NE01XXXA65FS format in an A70L frame with a different number. Have not had it since new so possible the engine or frame were changed but that is what is on the title also.

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Quote
Would I be the first to express skepticism that JE00100 was the last A65 to be made?

If the letter from Alister Cave is genuine then it is exactly as per the letter, he was the Works Manager so was in charge or production and would have been involved in all decisions on what got made and when.

https://www.britbike.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=30270

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Like you said. A mess.

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Originally Posted by DMadigan
My '72 has the NE01XXXA65FS format in an A70L frame with a different number. Have not had it since new so possible the engine or frame were changed but that is what is on the title also.

I wouldn't be surprised if the engine from your A70 cycle was dropped into a flat track setup as soon as it reached the USA, with someone putting an A65 engine back into the rolling frame. That way, the frame and engine would have been together for a long time.

How do you know it's an A70 frame? I thought the '70 on frames didn't carry model suffixes.

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Originally Posted by kommando
Quote
Would I be the first to express skepticism that JE00100 was the last A65 to be made?

If the letter from Alister Cave is genuine then it is exactly as per the letter, he was the Works Manager so was in charge or production and would have been involved in all decisions on what got made and when.

https://www.britbike.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=30270
Further to that, production machines started at 101. It's quite possible that the JE/00100 engine was sitting in the storeroom, so was used to assemble the last machine rather than building up an engine from scratch.

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Originally Posted by S-NJ-W
How do you know it's an A70 frame? I thought the '70 on frames didn't carry model suffixes.
All of the A70L frames are stamped as A70L.
The "no model suffix" only appears to apply to 1the last of the 972 models, and only covers the variant suffix (L or T by then for twins). In BSA terminology, the Lighting and Thunderbolt were the models.

My first BSA was a 1971-built 1972 Lightning, A65L/NGxxxxx. This was on both the engine and frame.

As an aside, the NSW distributor imported a number of 1971 and 1972 A65s which had been returned from other markets and then shipped here. The tanks, air boxes and side covers were sent out to a well-known local spray painter to be resprayed in more saleable colours and they were sold as "1973" models.

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My A70 frame has a full serial # stamp just as with an A65: A70L/GEnnnnn. It is curious how the serial # layout switched mid production in 1971: model code at the beginning instead of at the end.

Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
It's quite possible that the JE/00100 engine was sitting in the storeroom, so was used to assemble the last machine rather than building up an engine from scratch.
Makes sense!


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Wow, it really is all over the place.
As I said earlier, my frame only has XG then the engine number digits stamped on it. No A65L/T/FS.

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Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
[It's quite possible that the JE/00100 engine was sitting in the storeroom, so was used to assemble the last machine rather than building up an engine from scratch.

Why would it have a number on it, if it wasn't paired up with a frame?
I know, looking for reason where none might exist.

I don't know at what point engines were assembled and numbered. Having worked in British factories
at the time, I anticipate that the bikes would have been built in batches, i.e. we need 50 Lightnings
this week. The engines for that weeks production would have started assembly the previous week
(maybe Thursday or Friday) and been numbered on the line, as they were mated with the frame.
I only say that because it would have been easier to number the engines, than the frame, on the line.

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Originally Posted by S-NJ-W
Why would it have a number on it, if it wasn't paired up with a frame?

Sorry. Not clear. The point I was trying to make there was, if you had an engine in the storeroom
that was NOT numbered, why, in 1973 would you give it a date code from August 1970?

Numbering it as 100, not 101, means you wouldn't have 2 numbers the same, as production
numbers started at 101, so you could have stamped any date code you liked there, without
having a duplicate. Why not stamp an accurate date code?

I know, looking for reason where none might exist.

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Originally Posted by S-NJ-W
Wow, it really is all over the place.
As I said earlier, my frame only has XG then the engine number digits stamped on it. No A65L/T/FS.
That's quite interesting. OIF twin frames are quite different to OIF single frames, so it would have made sense to have at least the range stamped on them.

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My T65 has JH, August 72, 73 year model. It came out of the Triumph factory but is badged BSA.

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Stamped A70L001120 on the headstock. Stamping is the correct size so possibly original.

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Originally Posted by kommando
<snip>Mr Cave states that this machine is the last twin-cylinder model built at Small Heath.
<snip> Mr Cave states that he visited the production line early in 1972 to see the engine being stamped with the number and later in the day saw the assembled bike on test.

The last A65 was made in early 1972? "Early" being say, Jan/Feb/Mar of '72.
Mr Cave says he watched the engine being stamped.

So a bike like mine, arriving in the USA in February 1973, hung around the factory for a year before someone decided to ship it. Hard to believe.

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BSA were bankrupt, the dealer network was destroyed, nobody wanted to buy a new bike from a company that was bankrupt with the possibility of no spare parts so bikes stood around unsold for long periods.

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Originally Posted by kommando
nobody wanted to buy a new bike from a company that was bankrupt

I 'get' what you are saying, but that wasn't my experience. I was running a 1969 A65L at the time of
the bankruptcy. I have a number of friends, 4 of which I still chat with, that traded in their existing
rides because of the deals that both Pride & Clark and Elite motors were offering on BSA twins in
South London in the middle of 1973.
Personally, I didn't perceive an issue with the spares situation.

When the stub of the left hand con rod made a surprise appearance through the crankcase of my A65
in '74 I bought a B50SS with less then 1k miles on it, cash, from Pride & Clark. Wish I still had it, but
that's another story. However, no problems about buying it.

Again, I find it hard to believe that bikes sat around the factory for up to a year waiting for a dealer
order to come in.

Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
That's quite interesting. OIF twin frames are quite different to OIF single frames, so it would have made sense to have at least the range stamped on them.

But visually, very different. Would have been on two separate mfg lines. It also means you can prepare
the frames into 90% complete rolling cycles prior to the start of a model 'batch' run.

Oh well. The bottom line is, as Kommando said, it's a mess.

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Originally Posted by S-NJ-W
Like you said. A mess.
My CE has the model number stamped after the serial number on the engine. Oddly enough, the frame and engine numbers are off by one digit, one has a 3 while the other has a 5 in the middle of the number sequence. Too much of a coincidence, I figure that somebody grabbed the wrong die when stamping.
It gets weirder when talking about Trident numbering. For some reason, probably the Hurricane, they delayed production of '73 Tridents and kept stamping G on T150s until October of '72. I have such a bike, and the TR3OC has confirmed that it was made in October of '72. The title says '73, I'm sure that it wasn't sold until then.


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Well they did stay in the despatch dock .
As Shane said previously both he & I have "73" models which were reworked 71's
Mine was sold in 1976 to the original owner, an his had a German compliance plate but was sold new in OZ.
We had a few A75 owners who bought their "Brand New " A75's in 74. through to 76 at big knock down prices because the dealer was not offering any warranty .
BSA were being tarted up & sold in the colonies till around 1980 because no one wanted to sell them.
Fine if they were bought at auction where it is "As is , where is" but a dealer in OZ had to give 12 months warranty
Not something most would want to do given that the OIF models only had a single season so inherent warranty problems really had no time to surface and there was no effective factory parts scheme .


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Originally Posted by BSA_WM20
Well they did stay in the despatch dock .
As Shane said previously both he & I have "73" models which were reworked 71's
Mine was a 1971-build 1972 model, but near enough.
Originally Posted by BSA_WM20
Mine was sold in 1976 to the original owner, an his had a German compliance plate but was sold new in OZ..
I think I saw that in Barry Ryan's showroom, and wished I had enough money to buy a "new" Lightning. Either that, or he had a similar new machine there in 1977 in amongst the new Triumphs and Nortons.


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