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Originally Posted by BSA_WM20
There is a reason why every BSA I own or have ever owned looks like trash.
and that is because I only buy trash .
Finally a BSA owner admitting that he bought trash. laughing


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When you see the state of some 'barnfinds' ...

[Linked Image from images.australialisted.com]

I can just see that going up for auction at Mecum
"Nice original BSA, restored from a complete bike" ...

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And before you sneer, I'll tell the story of a Dealer I've bought a couple of projects from.
He mentioned that he sold a Douglas project, 1920s era, flat twin, to an older chap.
A few weeks later, a pair of Douglii turned up outside his shop.
When they disrobed, he recognised one of them as his customer that bought the Duggie project.
He said "if that project you bought turns out like this one, you'll be well pleased".
The rider said "this is the project I bought".
And it was.

Dealer waz imprezzed ...
He had a photo of them.

Some restorers are more skilled than others. ?
And have good time management skills !
Buy from someone who has ridden it, extensively ??

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Originally Posted by Rohan
Thats why engines that were designed and built as racing engines will always be better ...

Try listing those from the pens of brit designers.
Like the 10's of millions on common engines that are found in cars and light trucks that can run over 200K miles without needing any repairs that were never intended or designed for racing...


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"Would someone pay any sort of premium at all to buy a bike with documentation showing details of the mechanical work, or is chrome and powder paint all that really matters? "

My thoughts are yes they would and have done so many times here at the shop. As any long term small businessman knows you have to stand behind what you do. Sometimes that means you lose money on a project or bike. Most shops that have come and gone do not understand that philosophy. Being really good at what you do, standing behind what you do and knowing how to make customers happy is the key to being able to charge a premium not documentation.

While I am not a trained engineer or a computer genius like many on this forum providing detailed photos and documentation has become easier in the last decade. People love to get photos via email or see progress on their project posted on social media. I will say I shy away from posting photos of how we do the work as everyone online is quick to point out that you are doing it differently than they do so you must being doing it wrong.

When I first went to work for Jack he told me to "Put the motorcycle first and do the best you can. The money will soon follow."

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Originally Posted by reverb
more in the way of what a Triumph; Norton Bsa of the 60s could do. ... 1000 miles per year ...a lot for a 1915 bike s technology.
quality in the assembling and machining is very important but design is way more important;
This is worth expanding on. I've had my 1928 Ariel apart, as well as my 1974 Trident. There obviously are differences in the design/engineering in the 46 years that separate them, but the similarities are striking.

The exposed valve train of the Ariel is an obvious difference, but the design of the Trident's valve train is fundamentally identical. The Ariel uses a bush to support the timing end of the crankshaft, whereas the significantly higher h.p. of the Trident requires a bearing. Still, though, there is no fundamental difference between a bush in this application on the Ariel and a bearing on the Trident that makes one capable of traveling 1000 miles and the other not.

The fact RPM's team of old Nortons has been successful in two multi-thousand-mile Cannonballs and one Chase (broken OEM piston notwithstanding), while a significant number of similar-age other bikes haven't been, is entirely due to assembly and machining, not to limitations of the design/engineering of old bikes. Because the differences in the bikes of the '20s and '60s were evolutionary, not revolutionary, the same applies to British bikes of the '60s. The quality of the rebuild makes a real difference, which brings us back to the questions I posed in my original post about documenting the quality of a rebuild.

Originally Posted by RPM
knowing how to make customers happy is the key to being able to charge a premium not documentation.
As a shop owner, who relies on repeat business and word-of-mouth, your experience isn't the same as one-time private sellers or auctions who have no such concerns for their reputations. But, your comments are relevant to the latter, anyway. Your experience has been that people will pay more for better assembly and machining from a shop with an established reputation for such. However, since in general private sellers have no such established reputation, the issue for them is whether documentation can be a substitute.

Originally Posted by RPM
I shy away from posting photos of how we do the work as everyone online is quick to point out that you are doing it differently than they do so you must being doing it wrong
I smiled when I read that. Two Britbike people are on my do-not-respond list because of their behavior on my Ariel thread. Nothing I've seen subsequently from either of them indicates they have any actual relevant experience of their own beyond what they've read and parrot back. You have 459 followers on Instagram, plus an unknown number of additional people who read your Instagram posts but haven't clicked on the 'follow' button. Anything you might post there that goes against what someone "knows" risks a vicious attack.

Addendum:
Originally Posted by NickL
blueprinting means building the thing as the factory would have,
I meant to comment on this earlier. No, as used by performance engine builders, "blueprinting" certainly does not mean that. The commonly-understood meaning is building an engine to a carefully determined set of specifications to maximize performance, which are seldom the same specifications the factory used to produce an engine for general all-around use.

As TM wrote in an earlier post, specifications used on a factory production line are the loosest they can get away with. An engine has to work with a bush at the largest end of its tolerance range and the mating shaft at the smallest end of its range, as well as vice versa. "Blueprinting" means determining the optimum clearance for that bush/shaft and using selective assembly to achieve it.

Last edited by Magnetoman; 10/22/21 7:21 pm. Reason: Addendum:
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I recently went to look at a vintage Alpha spyder at a local dealer. Before looking at the car I was given a 3" thick binder of "restoration documentation" to peruse. The book contained pictures and receipts for what was saId to be $80K worth of work performed. The car did not stand up to close examination. Fit and finish were both marginal. Documentation can be a start but who did the work and do they know what they're doing are more important considerations. Also, detailed documentation takes time. Shops need to get the job done and keep the price competitive. The receipt will just say assemble crank, not give all the details whether they did a good job or not.

As to paint and polish, I will favor performance. I don't have a bike which qualifies for the Cannonball but I have completed, with no points lost (other than on the quizs), both running of the Cross Country Chace. Both my '38 KSS Velo and my '55 BSA Gold Flash can be described as scruffy but both made the distance (two up on the Gold Flash). Keith Martin of Big D cycles told me "There are a thousand valid reasons why you might not accomplish what you set out to do. There is no valid reason not to look good trying". I can think of two reasons:
1- I'd rather spend available time on function rather than appearance
2- I like machines that show their age and experience.
My wife complains that we have no "pretty" bikes. I may eventually do a bike that satisfies her. Personally, I'd rather get another project running.


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Hi MagnetoMan; your points are good ones but I can add regarding build quality etc that my 48 pre unit is a very worn out engine; was that way when I bought it some 26 years ago. Head (iron) is completely skimmed and worn; cylinder barrels I sent one time to a machinist to put new jugs and they did it not so right. No more connecting rods for the 40s bikes so I used 50s con rods so special shell bearings; all the other stuff is the original. Engine leaks oil and is impossible to cure it. torque values are irrelevant now; head gaskets do not work so I use since many years ago, gasket rings like a VW beetle.
The only thing that I tried to do the best as possible is to assembling all super clean; washing and cleaning all the parts several times and then cleaned again so the bike is not a high quality rebuild because is not possible here due to the motor itself and that there s no any specialized Triumph or British shop with special tools and knowledge to do it at high quality HOWEVER; the bike has more km than all the other old iron in this Country and possible in many others.
Now I have a problem with the starting that I am trying to resolve.
So in my opinion is not always or is not possible to have a high quality rebuild and rely on that. I bet that the best shop there CAN NOT rebuild this engine better than what I tried with these same parts.
Still think the design is more important; An small engine like the Honda CG125 from the late 70s is not a modern design but wiser than a British design and is capable of many things that an older bike cannot.
Ariel and Triumph share due to E Turner I guess; many similar concepts in the design. Italians but also the Japanese too had plenty of problems and errors in many engines due to the design not the build process but they discontinued those...
May be is a mix between both? Design wise and high quality build? Problem is when we have non of that; like in many cases.

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Originally Posted by slow learner
The book contained pictures and receipts for what was saId to be $80K worth of work performed. The car did not stand up to close examination. ... Also, detailed documentation takes time.
This usefully takes us a step deeper into the question. Given that a fat book of receipts isn't necessarily useful, and leaving the time required out of it, what sort of documentation might be?

Originally Posted by slow learner
Keith Martin of Big D cycles told me "There are a thousand valid reasons why you might not accomplish what you set out to do. There is no valid reason not to look good trying".
I'm reminded of what James Dean was supposed to have said: “Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse.”

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Back to the top, I think.

I do have a lathe and mill. I did go to school for machining and did my time making injection molds and such. Then off to a better life in mechanical inspection and metrology. Back to school for mechanical engineering....


Would folks pay more for something well documented ?

Yes, I'm sure of it.

Would I document in great detail a 50 year old + bike rebuild with plans to turn it over to the new owner and maybe get compensated for my effort?

No way.

Perhaps the biggest reason would be liability. Something, someday, will go wrong no matter how much care is taken in assembly or what the new owner may have done, and my name will be on it. The new owner will then take it to some hack Britbike mechanic and flip to page 59 of the documentation package and say; "Look, right there is where he screwed up and that is what wrecked your engine"

I just don't think it is worth the hassle.


"Back in the garage with my [***] detector
Carbon monoxide making sure it's effective...
----THE CLASH-----

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Indeed. Horses for courses.
But they are not racing them, are they.
(as was noted in the post I responded to).

So, I'll quote a test the SAE did, back in the 1950s.
They selected at random a sample of cars from showrooms, I think it was 3 but my memory is a little fuzzy on this,
or what brand they were - a mixed selection ? - and ran them in and used them normally for a few thousand miles.

And then ran them on a dyno at full throttle, to see what would happen.
The best of them lasted 7 minutes.

There was an analysis of the failures, but in the main they concluded the oil frothed/boiled and the engines overheated
until oil pressure was gone and lube failure/piston failure/rod failure reared their ugly heads.


Originally Posted by Hillbilly bike
Like the 10's of millions on common engines that are found in cars and light trucks that can run over 200K miles without needing any repairs that were never intended or designed for racing...


Originally Posted by Rohan
Thats why engines that were designed and built as racing engines will always be better ...

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Originally Posted by slow learner
I recently went to look at a vintage Alpha spyder at a local dealer. Before looking at the car I was given a 3" thick binder of "restoration documentation" to peruse. The book contained pictures and receipts for what was saId to be $80K worth of work performed. .


So was the asking price anything like that $80k spent - or above ?

We've all seen ads for bikes "$30k spent, will accept $7k."
Moneypits, if you don't watch the budget.
Unless its the "exceptionally maintained, money no object" kind of motor...

Which I would avoid as a matter of course.
The owner is either anally obsessive about having things done for the sake of it,
or it was a POS to begin with !!!?
????

TV here is running series of "Wheeler Dealers" where they buy an old-ish recent car, do the
minimum of work to get it to a reasonable standard, and then flog it off for a profit.
Now I've owned one or 2 of what they were working with, and I'm impressed to how much
they can show doing to it in under an hour !
Paintwork they do, frequently. Engine rebuilds - never, that I have noted.
And they always seem to make a profit.
Amusing viewing, in lockdown anyway ...

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These old things are all destined to be unmovable museum pieces in a few
years anyway thanks to the green brigade. Go and thrash the hell out of any you
own now as pretty soon they'll be either melted down or in glass boxes.

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I've seen steam engines/traction engines etc at steam-ins that were pushing near 200 years old, so don't beat them to death yet !
And horse buggies etc of ye olde types that were similar at horsey events, so don't beat them to death just yet.

And I've experimented with running my lawn mower B&S on 100% ethanol, (supermarket grade metho) and apart from being a bit cold blooded to start, it ran reasonably well. So don't beat them to death just yet !

I'd agree that objects in museums are a shade lifeless though.
The Birdwood Mill (motor museum) has running days, where the exhibits can come out and motor about.
I think that was the best motor museum day I've had possible
Long may it continue.

We diverge ...

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NickL and Rohan,

Since neither of you seem to be interested in the topic of this thread, can you please stop cluttering it with irrelevant material for those who are interested? Thanks.

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Sorry guv' i'll sod off.

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I'd consider what we've posted as being highly relevant to collectible or saleable motorcycles, the sale and documentation thereof. Race bikes included. And where that might be going in the near future.
And the PITFALLS therein.

Your topic has already been largely shot down by multiple respondents. Inc by what we've posted.
If you can't see that, then you have an extremely limited understanding/interest of such things .. ?

I've got half a fair collection of such bikes, and have been involved with them for much of my life,
and have always taken in interest in others collections, sales and ramblings.
I'd be wary indeed of something that had thousands of words/detail photographs of the resto process.
Given that squillions of $$ are likely to be involved ? !!

Quote some of your own experiences to better illustrate your discussion point.
So far its all been airy fairy ...
Broaden your horizons, live a little ?

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And with that said, maybe we could jump to perhaps the most well known collector possible. ?
Now I've seen it said that Jay Leno doesn't sell any of his collection, but long term that cannot be sustained !
(I wish him no harm in the world, but ...)
I've also seen it writ that he has an army of restorers/mechanics employed - so what will his bikes sell for - eventually ?
They'd be some of the best documented bikes imaginable ?
https://www.hotcars.com/jay-lenos-motorcycle-collection-is-out-of-this-world/

I know of someone here much employed on keeping a fleet of old Indians well maintained and restored. Ditto ?

Or will they go through (any number of) auction houses, 48 seconds each to the final hammer.
Description written by someone who barely knows bikes
As many do...

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Originally Posted by Rohan
maybe we could jump to perhaps the most well known collector possible. ?
Maybe Jay Leno, like George Barber, has established a foundation to set up a museum for his collection. I don't know but, in any case, it's irrelevant for this present thread because nowhere in my original post did I mention collectors:
Originally Posted by Magnetoman
Beyond the pleasure that doing such precision mechanical work might bring, in monetary terms are you (me) wasting your (our) time? Are people who buy restored old British motorcycles today unlikely to put enough miles on them to reveal shortcomings in the mechanical work? Would someone pay any sort of premium at all to buy a bike with documentation showing details of the mechanical work, or is chrome and powder paint all that really matters? Does the average buyer of an old British motorcycle (as opposed to the average Youtube video maker) know enough, or care enough, about the mechanical aspects to even judge the quality of, say, someone else's work to install new guides and seats?

Basically, I'm hoping for an informed discussion of questions like these with people who do more than bolt parts together, which would mean people who at least own a lathe and mill. However, as I said at the start, it doesn't seem very many people on Britbike fall into that category so this could be a very short thread.
The above is what I started this thread to discuss. Anyone who wants to discuss collectors, using ethanol in lawn mowers, whether or not engines were rebuilt on a reality TV show, 1950s SAE tests of cars, whether Bill Ivy had an engine failure, casting of iron badges, etc. etc. is more than welcome to start their own thread. Please, though, don't clutter this present thread with irrelevant posts.

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Originally Posted by Rohan
And then ran them on a dyno at full throttle, to see what would happen.
The best of them lasted 7 minutes.
I've seen KZ400s run for longer than that with no oil in them at "guess how long it will run" contests.


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Some of the oil purveyors will sell you an additive that you can then drain all the oil off,
and it will then get you to your destination, no dramas.

Personally, I'd not try it in MY bikes though. !

Documented or not ....

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Originally Posted by Magnetoman
welcome to start their own thread. Please, though, don't clutter this present thread with irrelevant posts.

Why is it 'irrelevant' though ?
All of this surely pertains to what is documented and known about a particular bike - and what is revealed to the seller ??
And some lovely examples of same. And some pondering of what is the future for classic bikes - which surely has some bearing on prices - now and in the future.
And you yourself introduced 'blueprinting for performance', which naturally leads to building race motors.

Since you haven't defined what it is you are actually trying to establish, we've been poking around the edges trying to scope this out. Perhaps we missed something. Is this a personal quest or agenda of yours ?
Thinking of selling a bike, and pondering the best tack to take - and where to sell ??
You seem inexperienced at this, if I may say so, from the lines you are taking here. ??
"Would someone pay any sort of premium at all to buy a bike with documentation showing details of the mechanical work,
or is chrome and powder paint all that really matters? "

For top $$$, somewhere like LasVegas /Mecums/ Bonhams etc etc seem to attract some hefty bids and records.
Fleabay has to have set some records for some unlikely stuff attracting huge asking prices.
Well documented or not. And achieved or not ...

Is that what this thread is all about ?

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Quote
This is worth expanding on. I've had my 1928 Ariel apart, as well as my 1974 Trident. There obviously are differences in the design/engineering in the 46 years that separate them, but the similarities are striking.

Well not to be disrespectful, but your starting time in education would pre-date computers just like mine did.
As such we both know the tedium of doing complex calculations using log tables
So it should be no surprise that when any factory came across set up that worked in real life, they stayed with it.
Apart from BSA most UK motorcycle companies were a cottage industry that just got bigger but the volumes were really not substantial enough to pay for extensive research . Even then BSA used & reused the same bores & strokes from 1910 up until the unit singles .

As for piles of receipts. all that indicates is some one paid some one else to do some work
It is not like it is a NATA or SAE certificate
When I got the M20 it came with a 1/2 inch of receipts which showed that the previous owner had spent a lot of money & been taken for a ride by the "restorer" who was notoriously of the belief that "the right part is whatever I have in hand that fits in the hole" , hence the plunger guards on a rigid frame.
Now I knew Barry Greaham did things like spray wheels & spokes fully assembled and would happily fit incorrect parts , but the previous owner did not.
So the fact he got charged $ 90 for a piston +$ 80 for a "custom " piston pin + $ 45 for piston rings when it was just a +20 bore and a NOS +20 piston was $ 35 complete and if it was army surplus, most had a second set of rings & clips in the box.
However BArry had a box full of Beenhams piston blancs so he always machined a blank to fit, full round of course and because Harry never properly degassed his melt, were prone to growing in use , which mine did on the express way on the way to Shans's back in 2005 .

But it was very pretty & shiny, till the paint started to lift because Barry would just give the bikes a quick rub with turps soaked steel wool & then spray with a mix containing a lot of penetrol so it came out very smooth & very shiny.

So getting right back to your original post, unless the workshop writes a novel or videos every part of the job plus of course is certified and offers an extended warranty there is no way the end user has any idea if , for instance the valve guides were machined out paper thin then collapsed into the hole and the new guides were shrunk properly into place or he ripped them out cold & shoved them back in using a 50 ton press in 10 minutes but charged you 3 hours because you would not be able to tell strait up.
A good workshop can do excellent work and they can also do rubbish work to get rid of the nuisence customer who rings every day twice a day .
In most cases the customer will not know how good the job was done unless they strip the bike down & inspect each & every part that was attended to or the bike goes bang & stops in some inconvienant place, and of course ripping the bike apart again sort of negates having some one else do the job in the first place.

If some one asks me exactly how I am going to work on their mower I say thank you , show them the door & direct them to Big John's workshop.
The same applies to people who tell me how to do my job and most competient mechanics I have come across have had a similar philosophy .

If I had paid you to rering & and replace the valves on my M20, would you be offended if when I came to pick it up I pulled a leak down gauge out of my boot & proceeded to do a test before I paid you & took the bike ?
And as this is taking up more of your valuable time are you entitled to charge me extra ?


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As to knowing what is to be accepted or acceptable on an old British bike I would say the average owner has very little understanding full stop.
We who rode them way back know pre units will leak oil out of the primary chain case unless the slinger / seal is extensively modified.
We all know that the rocker cover on a 7's & 10's is stressed beyond the design limits so will weep at best or pour out oil at the worst but just look at how many obsess over the oil weeping out.. Now these can be modified to overcome that, but the question is "should they" ?
Is making your BSA oil tight, which almost none were from day one being true to the spirit of riding old bikes ?
Just go through the posts here and see how many had problem with leaks from the chain case on their BSA's not realizing that it was the intentional chain oiler / chaincase vent and not an oil leak that requires repair ?

So my answer to your question is IMHO that way less than 50% of owners are knowledgeable enough to know what is & is not acceptable .
And most of this is because they have come to British bike riding late in their life either as a retirement hobby or after having owned a host of substantially better designed & made modern bikes .
As for sins on You Tube, when I come across a linked video , I try to view it then post corrections where I feel they are necessary or when it is obviously the work of a shaved monkey that worked out how to use a video camera then post a host of reasons why they should be ignored in the forum where the original link was posted so future viewers can decide for themselves if it was worth watching.
Posting correction in the comments is apparently not done and will end up with the deciples harrassing you endlessly ( good reason not to be on social media )

Last edited by BSA_WM20; 10/23/21 8:00 am.

Bike Beesa
Trevor
Joined: May 2004
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Joined: May 2004
Posts: 5,029
Likes: 118
Originally Posted by Magnetoman
Originally Posted by Gordon Gray
Wouldn’t it be difficult to prove that the work in the detailed documentation was actually carried out?
In the olden days of manual cameras and Kodachrome film it would have been difficult and expensive to document everything, but with today's digital auto-focus, auto-exposure cameras and phones, and inexpensive color printers, it would be easy and cheap. Yes, things could be faked, but that's an issue even for simple things (e.g. you could be charged for changing the oil and filter on your car, when the work was never done).

\Cheap yes but immensely time consuming.
On occasions when I was assisting some one else I would photograph the proceedings for a Banter story.
Even with two of us there it doubles the time required to do the job
Fine for enthusiasts or ametures but not for a professionals who have to justify their invoices to the customer , unless sold as an add on extra prior to commencement of the work.
I marvel ( and greatly appreciate) the detail you put into your restoration posts and wonder where you get those 30 hour days you must be living in to get them all done.
One of my eternal regrets is I never archived all of Stan Millards postings , as while the posts are there, all of the background photos hosted on photoshops are now gone.

I seriously doubt when told you would rebuild a persons magneto for $ 400 or $ 600 with a complete video of you doing it many people would cough up the extra $ 200 unless they thought it would add another $ 200 on top of that to the resale value of the bike .

Then there are the people who have no idea at all.
I got rung up yesterday & asked if $ 35,000 was reasonable for a model A BSA
The reply was $ 15,000 tops because while the 2 strokes were rare, they are not all that rare ( I know of 3 ) and not a viable rider.
The person said I was wrong it was a V twin and eventually sent me a link to the bike.
It turns out to be a quite rare model E, not an A at all and the deluxe version with fully enclosed cast chain cases to boot
But the 1922 frames had an A prefix so the owner thinks it is a model A
Much like all of the people who ask if their DB34 is a bitsa because the frame says B32 .


Model E on gumtree

Last edited by BSA_WM20; 10/23/21 8:32 am.

Bike Beesa
Trevor
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