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Hello all:

This is my first post and introduction. Due to this virus thing, yet another bike shop folded up, and threw a beloved third party I was able to pick up what you see here. I'm not new to British motorcycles, but this is my first BSA. I was initially told that by the folks that bought out the bike shop (long time and beloved and trusted friends of mine) that they picked up a titled 1966 A65 BSA 650 Lightning! I was beside myself because....TO ME, the 1966 Lightning, is the pinnacle of the British reign of motorcycle cool. The problem is (as you can see), that except for MAYBE the engine, very little, if anything left is from a 1966 Lightning.

Now, I have a clean 1966 BSA A65 Lightning title, but this is where it gets goofy, the engine in question seems to be a factory replacement engine, and where the VIN numbers should be, it's just marked BSA BSA BSA...... All the "BSA Experts" I have talked to seem to think that's what one would see on a factory warranty replacement engine, and it would have been up to the dealer to stamp the correct VIN number into the pad? I am totally clueless and need some forum guidance. What say you???

So, please accept my introduction and advise me as where I should start, to be able to get this pile of parts together, and how I can go about getting this legally titled in my name and registered to ride (some day) on the street, without having to make excuses to a snoopy police office about a hokey VIN number.... smile I know better than to start dumping money into a project, BEFORE I have good numbers and a good title. But if I can get this straight, it should make a cool project.

Thanks, Neil

Hummmm..... I have plenty of pictures to help describe my issues, but I guess I am not yet allowed to post pictures yet???

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You have to be a member of the Britbike site to post pictures. Otherwise, use a free posting site, such as Flickr or others, post it there then you can use the link to post the picture here.
When you say "BSA BSA BSA" I presume you mean the BSA logo stamped on a raised block on the cases below the cylinder on the left side? That is from a much later engine year. Others can tell you when. Yes, if no engine number is stamped then it is a replacement set of cases.
There were improvements made to the later cases but if you want to be original then you need to find the correct ones.
It would be better to post this in the BSA section where the BSA only posts are.

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Hello and thanks.
I plan to make many posts in the BSA section, but after MANY years on countless forums, I have always thought a quick introduction post was appropriate. smile
Based on your reply, it sounds like I am in a pickle. Restoration is not likely an option, and this bike is a mish-mash of British parts, that now "vaguely" resembles and 1971 Lightning. The frame and tins appear to be 1971 BSA lightning, and the front forks and fender appear to be a 1st Gen tiny 10 inch rotor Triumph Disc Brake set of forks. Please believe me when I say, the lump in my throat was deep, when I was expecting to see a 1966 Lightning, and this was the reality..... sigh. I'm going to head over to the BSA forums, but I just wanted to ask, while I have someone's attention, is it possible (lawful), or is there a way, to get the VIN NUMBERS from the title, stamped into the cases? Or is that just a "impound my bike" proposition???

Last edited by Bikerlaw; 05/04/22 3:56 pm.
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you have a later set of ( replacement ) cases .
sold to dealers as spares .
BSA didnt start under-stamping the pad , with the bsa logo , till 1969~70 ?
later than 66 anyway .
a set of 66 cases would-not.. even have the cast raised pad .

if you have a titled frame , its a start .
... you cant just stamp this engine to a 66 frame , well you could , but 66 cases wouldnt even have the pad .


.... so whats the frame number ? i

sounds like those friends said
come over and buy a titled 66 ..
and you bought , a title from the 66 ( the paper )
and a completely different , later , non matching frame and engine .
( does not sound to me like the title has anything to do with the parts ,
except it were bought at the same time , from the same seller

sate of Virginia does have a process for re-titling bikes , cant say how well it workes .

https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/vehicles/reconstructed.html

Last edited by quinten; 05/04/22 4:12 pm.
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The 1966 frame would be a conventional double cradle frame, the later frames 1971, had a large diameter spine that doubled as the oil tank.
Which do you have?


BSA B31 500 "Stargazer"
Greeves 200 "Blue Meanie"
Greeves 350
Greeves 360
GM500 sprint bike "Deofol"
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Does your frame number match the number on the title document?


BSA B31 500 "Stargazer"
Greeves 200 "Blue Meanie"
Greeves 350
Greeves 360
GM500 sprint bike "Deofol"
Rickman Jawa 500 "Llareggub"
'35 & '36 OK Supreme
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Originally Posted by quinten
you have a later set of ( replacement ) cases .
sold to dealers as spares .
BSA didnt start under-stamping the pad , with the bsa logo , till 1969~70 ?
later than 66 anyway .
a set of 66 cases would-not.. even have the cast raised pad .

if you have a titled frame , its a start .
... you cant just stamp this engine to a 66 frame , well you could , but 66 cases wouldnt even have the pad .


.... so whats the frame number ? i

sounds like those friends said
come over and buy a titled 66 ..
and you bought , a title from the 66 ( the paper )
and a completely different , later , non matching frame and engine .
( does not sound to me like the title has anything to do with the parts ,
except it were bought at the same time , from the same seller

sate of Virginia does have a process for re-titling bikes , cant say how well it workes .

https://www.dmv.virginia.gov/vehicles/reconstructed.html

Let me try to answer the best I can..... smile
First, I can't find ANY numbers on the frame. Not on the downtubes and not on the head..... frown
So, if a 1966 engine wouldn't have a VIN pad, where would the VIN be on a 1966 Lightning? It was my understanding that prior to 1970, all VIN's were on the engine, no?
Yes, it really does sound like I have a bunch of non matching parts, and a completely unrelated title to a 1966 BSA lightning...... sigh.
As far as having Virginia re-title the bike, I know that's an option to peruse, but not one I would peruse. I have zero vested interest in this particular motorcycle, I just have an undying love of the 1966 chrome tank Lightning's, as they are my personal favorite. So resurrecting this from the dead would be a labor of love for a fan of this bike. I am just the current owner seeking ideas from the experts....y'alls. smile But I am no lover of 1971 Lightning's...

Again, thanks' for these great replies. I'm gonna' figure out how to post pic's!!!!
Till then, please just imagine a blue 1971 650 lightning, and that's what I got....

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Originally Posted by Andy Higham
The 1966 frame would be a conventional double cradle frame, the later frames 1971, had a large diameter spine that doubled as the oil tank.
Which do you have?

It's an oil in frame, frame....later than 1966 for sure....
And I can't find any frame numbers....

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Quote
First, I can't find ANY numbers on the frame. Not on the downtubes and not on the head..... 
So, if a 1966 engine wouldn't have a VIN pad, where would the VIN be on a 1966 Lightning? It was my understanding that prior to 1970, all VIN's were on the engine, no?


the engine stamp was always on the primary side case , just below the cylinder mating ,
so this is correct ,
but what happened at this location changed over time .
1. but up to 67 ? ... the case was simply stamped
2.in 68 ? they added a number pad , to the casting ,
but the pad was not milled ( sand cast should still show under engine stamp )
3. later , 69~70 ? ... bsa milled back the pad and understamped the bsa,bsa,bsa logo .
The under stamped logo , I believe was an attempt to make the VIN numbers harder to tamper with .
( I think it makes it easier , as you can reweld the pad without interfering with the surrounding Sand cast )

( engine pad change dates above , are approximate . someone with a better memory
is more than welcome to chime in and correct)

frame numbers ? depends of whether it's pre-oif ... where the numbers would be stamped ,
1. primary side , front-engine mount lug
2. OIF ., where frame is stamped on the front- primary side of steering tube .

[Linked Image from cdn.myonlinestore.eu]
[Linked Image from motoplaneparts.s3.amazonaws.com]

If your frame doesn't have numbers ... and the engine doesn't have numbers .
And number tampering isnt detectable
You are free to make up any story about how the parts ... are not part of some distant past theft .
like ... both the frame and engine ... are from a dealers stock of replacement parts .

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Sometime it's difficult to see them as they could be painted over. However I would ask the defunct shop owner through the beloved third party about this discrepancy between your ownership and a bike you picked up. I understand that for you 66 lightning was a pinnacle of motorcycle cool, but bikes from later years were simply better because of array of mechanical improvements done to them between 67- 72. However OIF line introduced in 71 changed a looks of the bikes completely and even today they are not acceptable to everybody.

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Is the engine in the frame? If not it is possible you have a triumph frame. the rear engine plates are detachable from the frame on Triumphs, welded as part of the frame on BSA. Also, the frame number would be on the left downtube near the headstock (at least on '76) and along the sheet metal re-enforcement, left side of the headstock on a '71.
It seems you should have done a little bit of research on the year you wanted. However, since you have a '66 title and the bike clearly is not you probably have some recourse in either getting your money back or the correct bike.

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an example of a September 72 bsa ( still early high seat oif )
( look past the oxidation to see the bsa logo )
[Linked Image from motoplaneparts.s3.amazonaws.com]
[Linked Image from motoplaneparts.s3.amazonaws.com]

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Originally Posted by DMadigan
Is the engine in the frame? If not it is possible you have a triumph frame. the rear engine plates are detachable from the frame on Triumphs, welded as part of the frame on BSA. Also, the frame number would be on the left downtube near the headstock (at least on '76) and along the sheet metal re-enforcement, left side of the headstock on a '71.
It seems you should have done a little bit of research on the year you wanted. However, since you have a '66 title and the bike clearly is not you probably have some recourse in either getting your money back or the correct bike.

Dangit! I wish there was some way I could post up pictures.
Because I want to make sure I know exactly what your talking about. The rear of the engine is absolutely held on by metal plates that are bolted to the rear of the engine cases, and bolt (not welded) to the bikes frame. I am also fairly certain, that based on pictures of a 1973 Triumph Bonneville, that at the very least, the front end is not BSA, but 1973 Disc Brake Bonneville. Given this new information, it sounds like the FRAME may also be Triumph, not BSA....?

Thanks so much for the pictures. Very helpful! And yeah, there are no numbers on the neck like shown in the pictures.

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Originally Posted by Bikerlaw
Originally Posted by DMadigan
...... you probably have some recourse in either getting your money back or the correct bike.
...... And yeah, there are no numbers on the neck like shown in the pictures.
Sounds like it is time to pay the seller a visit.

This makes me think of years back when I bought a swap meet XR200 for my son to ride. The seller fished a title out of a box full and handed it to me. I looked it over and luckily thought to compare it to the VIN number on the frame. It wasn't correct, so he fished through his box again and found the right one which I of course verified to be right. This saved us both a lot of hassle.

All that to say, your seller could have made an honest mistake and should appreciate you helping straighten things out. If not, he needs to refund you and take the bike back.

BTW, you are wise to be dealing with this before doing any work on your project. Well done. PS: Buy yourself a BSA Twins buyer's guide. Very useful.

Last edited by Stuart Kirk; 05/04/22 9:21 pm. Reason: Proof read
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Originally Posted by Stuart Kirk
Originally Posted by Bikerlaw
Originally Posted by DMadigan
...... you probably have some recourse in either getting your money back or the correct bike.
...... And yeah, there are no numbers on the neck like shown in the pictures.
Sounds like it is time to pay the seller a visit.

LOL, thank you for the quick reply. No, that is not even a possible issue....
This bike was acquired by my brothers WIFE in a wholesale buyout of a bike shop that went COVID19 Belly Up. It was just a business opportunity she saw. Neither of us has more that maybe $30-40 bucks total into this bike project. The shop owner was trying to part together this bike to recoupe as much money as he could, before the shops doors closed for good. What I ended up with, is the result of his work, just as he closed up shop. So I got pretty much an entire motorcycle, a 1966 BSA Lighting title, 4 boxes of parts, and crushed dreams of a beautiful 1966 red/chrome BSA. Each time I come back here, I come one step closer to answers, and that's a good thing. Sadly, it looks like I'm never gonna' be able to marry my title to my engine, even IF I wanted to build from scratch, a 1966 Lightning. I even started to think I would just order a Featherbed Frame, and bolt my forks, swingarm and drivetrain to it, and go that direction, but even that's looking like a pipe dream.

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I should have been more clear on the engine plates. The BSA has plates which mount to the boss on the rear of the gearbox and from there to the main backbone and the bottom cross tube, the Triumph has the engine plates mount at the downtubes from the rear Shocks to the primary and inner gearbox case. Look at quinten's first picture.
As stated, you can use a free picture Hosting site to post pictures here.Right mouse click on the picture brings up a list, one option is "copy link" or something like that. Use the Full Editor here and along the top row is an icon of a picture. Click on that and pop-up allows you to paste the link.
If you only have $30-$40 invested you can easily get many times that back. Selling a non-running bike will not get you close to a '66 Lightning so it all depends upon how much you want to get out of this one.
The disc brake front end is a direct swap from the Comical drum.

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Originally Posted by DMadigan
If you only have $30-$40 invested you can easily get many times that back. Selling a non-running bike will not get you close to a '66 Lightning so it all depends upon how much you want to get out of this one.
Further to David's point, that's a bargain price for what's there, and with a little luck could be trade material for the basis of a 1966 Lightning.

Posting it on the Garage Sale board as a "want to trade" may yield some results.
I'm on the other side of the world, but would quite happily upgrade from a 1966 Lightning basket case to that if it was nearby.

Some pictures would be great as well.

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join imgur and upload your images there.

then take the link from the imgur image and post it here

the picture will show up, not the link.

like this

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

your frame numbers may be buried under serious re-painting. i had to sand off the paint to find the numbers on my 66 thunderbolt before i bought it. a cooperative seller


i'm old enough to remember when patriotism meant not trying to overthrow the government.
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OK, lets give this Imgur thing a try.....


[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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is that a seat latch i see , on the drive side ?
this and high seat rails ( at the oil filler )
are some of the hallmarks of the early OiFs

engine pad looks pristine ,
just like you would expect from unstamped replacement cases .

something is wrong with the side Stand , its not broken off .

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Yes, that's a seat latch. Is that important? Like Triumph vs BSA?
I popped the seat just to show that it is in fact an oil in frame motorcycle. I.E.... theres the filler cap.....
Side stand seems OK....?

[Linked Image from i.imgur.com]

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Originally Posted by Bikerlaw
Side stand seems OK....?
That's why it doesn't look right. Most of them have the bracket bent or broken off from people starting the bike on the side stand.

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Originally Posted by Shane in Oz
Originally Posted by Bikerlaw
Side stand seems OK....?
That's why it doesn't look right. Most of them have the bracket bent or broken off from people starting the bike on the side stand.

LOL, OK, I understand..... smile

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The first OIFs had the lunch box latch for the seat, later changed to a sprint plunger knob. And the hinges were moved to the opposite side because as you might have already found out, the seat drops closed when on the side stand. I guess they figured you would never have the seat open unless on the centre stand.
You have a fairly complete '71 Lightning.
The broken front mudguard stays is a little unusual as it was better re-enforcement than the original 1/4" wire stays.
Missing the tool tray between the coils and rear mudguard.

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In most if not all states the title refers to the frame number not the engine number.
So IMHO you need to look diligently for the frame number in the locations as previously identified by prior posters.
If there is genuinely no frame number (as well as no engine number) then you have a problem.
You could try to get some sort of identifying number from your state DMV--but this would probably be a short cut to a mental breakdown as states normally expect the number to be designated by the manufacturer.
The other alternative is to stamp the frame with the same number as on the title you have.
Not strictly legal but I guess we all probably broke the law today by driving over the speed limit.
You could leave the engine unstamped and describe it as probably a warranty replacement where the dealer presumably forgot to stamp the replacement engine.
The year of the bike and the year of the title would not match but you could register it and use it as a rider.
I can't see that anyone would be harmed by doing this and it fits with what I was taught many years ago by my motorcycling mentor.
One of his favorite sayings was:
"The law is for the guidance of wise men and the blind obedience of fools"

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