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BSA_WM20, George Kaplan, kevin, Magnetoman, NYBSAGUY
Total Likes: 8
Original Post (Thread Starter)
#657047 06/15/2016 10:08 PM
by Magnetoman
I can't remember now what prompted the obsession, but earlier this spring I decided I "need" to have a Catalina. That "need" resulted in a one-owner (before me) 1962 West Coast model arriving at my house this afternoon. It's a matching numbers bike that was shipped to Hap Alzina on 10 November 1961
[Linked Image]

This Catalina makes it three, allowing me to organize Gold Star rides with mini-packs of my friends. So, while recently a few of you, quite rationally, have been discussing downsizing your collections and/or adding electric starters I look to Keith Richards as inspiration that one need not grow old gracefully.
Liked Replies
#832451 Dec 6th a 09:36 PM
by Magnetoman
I split a short length of 1-1/2" ID Al tubing and used it to hold the footpeg rubbers while I drilled them with a 1" bit (not the 15/16" I mentioned that I might use) and then used a boring bar to open up a wide slot in the middle for the knob that's on the end of the original pegs.

[Linked Image]

[Linked Image]

With these full-length footpegs, the transformation of my Catalina to the perfect street scrambler is now complete: full-length footpegs, lengthened shifter, Clubman engine and gearbox sprockets, ASCT gearbox, perfectly adjusted clutch, perfect jetting, silencer (well, silencer-ish), NiMH battery-powered LED lights, and rebuilt/remagnetized magneto.

[Linked Image]

As I wrote about the gearing three years ago:

"The higher overall gearing plus the ASCT with its lower 1st seem excellent for how I will use the bike. Accelerating in 1st isn't an issue, of course, but holding a steady speed at anything over 20 mph was a bit buzzy. Shifting to 2nd with this gearbox drops the rpm significantly but not so much so that it causes the engine to lug. In 2nd it's within its "power band" down to ~17-18 mph, overlapping with 1st. Given the ratios, starting to be buzzy at 20 mph in 1st means the same will happen at speeds above 58 mph in 4th (which I didn't reach today, at least for more than a few seconds) so the ASCT plus the larger engine sprocket gives me gearing good for mountain dirt roads as well as for highways."
Attached Images
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#832516 Dec 7th a 02:30 PM
by Magnetoman
Originally Posted by Kerry W
Good enough within the limitations of period kit then!
Indeed. As I've written before, I try to keep my old bikes old to the extent possible. Even the modified footpegs count as "correct" because BSA introduced longer (folding) footpegs near the end of Catalina production. I admit, the extended gearshift lever and Clubman sprockets stretch this a little, although both are simple "period correct" modifications that easily could have been made to a Catalina by an owner at the time. The longer lever certainly makes the bike much more pleasant to ride because the stock position of the footpegs on a Catalina are further forward than on other Gold Stars, leaving too little room between them and the gearshift lever for easy operation.

Riding my Catalina is to experience what it was like to ride one 60 years ago. However, rebuilding in an "as-new" rather than "as-now" configuration is a matter of personal preference, because some people would rather have as many modern upgrades as possible (e.g. progressive-wound fork and shock springs, gas shocks, Mikuni, electronic ignition -- although, I'd argue that electronic ignition is anything but an upgrade over a magneto, 5-speed gearbox, etc.).
2 members like this
#831793 Dec 1st a 11:39 PM
by Magnetoman
I hope NYBSAGUY forgives me for not starting work on his magdyno today, but he stands to benefit from what I did instead.

Three features of the Catalina that revealed themselves as less than ideal on the 1200-mile Texas ride three years ago were the low gearing, gearshift lever that was too close to the peg, and too-short foot pegs. As I'm pretty sure I previously discussed in this thread, I addressed the first and second shortly after that ride by changing the engine and gearbox sprocket to give it a Clubmans overall ratio (39% higher) and by lengthening the gearshift lever to give it the same separation from the foot peg as on other bikes. I also swapped its gearbox for an ASCT, which has a lower 1st gear than the SCT, basically keeping 1st the same as it had been before. Since the modified lever is longer it requires a longer throw, but that's totally unnoticeable. Today I took care of the third issue.

Parts for Catalinas don't grow on trees so I didn't want to permanently alter the stock pegs by welding extensions directly on them. So, instead the solution I devised was to weld pieces of thick-wall Al tubing to make them the same 4" length as is usual for a British bike. As can't quite be seen in the first photograph (but can in the third), the foot peg has a raised "knob" on the end, complicating the modification.

[Linked Image]

After knurling the ends of the 1" OD × ¾" ID Al tubing, I machined slots of the appropriate length in 4" long pieces of it. The slots were necessary to clear the raised knobs. However, because the foot pegs are castings, not precision machined pieces, the slot on the primary side needed to be ~0.010" wider than ⅝" while on the timing side it was ¾". As the next photograph shows, after slipping the tube on the foot peg I made pieces to fill in the slots and clamp the tubing firmly to the pegs.

[Linked Image]

I made the filler pieces from flat Al that I curved using a vise and hammer. The most difficult part of the operation was welding the filler pieces since that required me to squat and balance on one leg, bent over, while using my other knee to operate the welder's foot pedal, all the while maintaining the correct distance of the TIG torch from the metal. It was quite uncomfortable as well as tough on the leg that had to support my weight while balancing since otherwise the other knee wouldn't have been able to smoothly control the arc. The resulting welds have full penetration, but aren't the prettiest ones I've ever made, as seen in the next photograph.

[Linked Image]

The stock Catalina pegs are ~¾" wide so the present 1"-dia. Al pegs would be fine as-is (which is why I knurled the ends). However, I'll now buy a set of foot peg rubbers (which are 1½" dia.) and drill them for the 1" tubing. That will make it easier to keep feet on the pegs as well as eliminate the bump that's now in the middle of the modified pegs, that might be annoying on a long ride.

If I ever wanted to return the pegs to stock condition I'd just have to grind off the welds and slip the tubing off. The final photograph shows the modified foot peg in relation to the gearshift lever that I previously lengthened.

[Linked Image]

As a final note, the original metal of the foot pegs will continue to support most of the weight so I think the Al will be fine, but if I had steel tubing of the same dimensions in stock I would have used it instead. However, I'll ride the Catalina for a while before adding rubber covers so I can monitor the Al for any sign of problem, in which case I'll upgrade to steel.
Attached Images
1 member likes this
#832497 Dec 7th a 05:16 AM
by Kerry W
Kerry W
Good enough within the limitations of period kit then!
1 member likes this
#832577 Dec 8th a 01:41 AM
by kevin
Originally Posted by Magnetoman
As I've written before, I try to keep my old bikes old to the extent possible. . . . Riding my Catalina is to experience what it was like to ride one 60 years ago.

^^^this is a worthwhile point of view.

there was a time when i was dumber and would have disagreed, but no longer. over the years i have realized that the most interesting thing about old machines--to me-- is the understanding of the lost world that they were once an ordinary part of-- rather than improving and updating them in an attempt to keep up with the current, different world, i prefer to use them to experience an alternate reality, one which has passed away for a lot of people but which continues to exist for me anytime i kickstart some leaking old relic.

i make an exception for my old T120, which i bought when i was 21 years old and immediately began to modify. it's no longer even approximately original, and is a great deal faster, more reliable, and lots uglier than when i started with it. i continue to change it without the slightest remorse, because it's part of a personal relationship that i have shared with it for some 40-odd years.

but the other motorcycles i don't like to update. i'm much more interested in what they are, as designed, as constructed, with all their limitations and weird technological idiosyncracies. maintaining and riding a primitive and out of date machine offers a richer experience when being primitive and out of date is recognized as having been the state of the art for someone else, somewhere else, sometime else. there was a time when total-loss oiling was normative, when ignition advance was voluntary, when riding at night was an adventure because joseph lucas was in control. when you leave an old motorcycle more or less as-is, or rather, as-it-was, then another system of values becomes dominant, a different way of looking at technology and the social contract that people had with it. and i will easily accept the observation that "primitive" is a word that really doesn't apply-- ancient motorcycles are not "primitive," because the term imlies that a specific set of criteria define "progress." they are simply different. there's nothing backwards about not having valve guide seals, or using hairspring valve springs, or straight gearbox gear dogs instead of undercut linkages, theyre; just indicators of different worlds, where different conditions and expectations obtained among thje users.

this is really apparent in racing, where old machines are run against each other, and the goal isn't to be the absolute master of speed and handling of the ages, but rather to be th ebest of a certain period of time and mechanical understanding. i race an old T120 in LSR, and it's vastly slower than the state of the art ZX14s and hayabusas. but i live and tune and race in a separate reality, one where the hayabusa is as alien as a flying saucer, and about as relevant.

so that' s my rant. thank you, magneto, for pointing this out
1 member likes this
#832608 Dec 8th a 12:00 PM
by BSA_WM20
It depends a lot on how many bikes you own, how often you ride them, how far you ride them & when you ride them, particularly after dark .
Back in the days when I had money and 5 running BSA's it did not matter & I was happy to put up with lights that were barely better than a torch.
Even more so when you can pick a bike to suit the ride you are intending to do .
OTOH when I lived in the city and rode a BSA every day as daily transport and some days , all day for work in heavy Sydney city traffic, then things like a Boyer & progressive springs on the A 65L were very much appreciated.
As was a nice thick & softer saddle as SWMBO quickly refused to sit on the back of the WD B40 untill it got a std civilian saddle fitted and low level exhaust .
Same story when you had to ride them 700 km to a rally and be in a fit state to pitch a tent before drinking too much booze and talking rubish all night before packing up ( don't know why we bothered to bring a tent at all come to think of it ) the ride back 700km's in time to start work Monday morning.
1 member likes this
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