Red Tri-BSA Rebuild

This tasty red Trumpy/BSA won Best European Bike at the Ironfest Bike Show. Members of the 42nd Highland Regiment (1815) Australia Inc. were willing to pose with it to give it that special British flavour.

I ALWAYS wanted an old school custom. It’s good to build a custom bike as there are no rules on what to use.

I started work on building the bike from scratch about three years ago, on and off. It took some time due to finding parts for it. I had no plans on what it would turn out like; I just made it up as I was going along.

The work was done outside in the yard and in my dinning room. It was a typical backyard job. I had no garage, funds were short, so all the work I did myself. I started looking for old second-hand parts at wreckers, swap meets, etc.

Tri BSA 2

When I got the 1954 Triumph Thunderbird 650 cc motor it was a mess. Most of the parts had to be replaced. It was hard to find side-covers that were not cracked or scraped but I found some in time. I accepted the integrity of the motor and left it standard but restored. 

The late ’50s BSA A10 frame needed some welding done so I had to borrow a welder. The only electric tools I had were an old bench drill and a grinder.

The gearbox is a late ’50s Triumph slick-shift. It was not in too bad a condition but still had to pulled apart and restored.

Most of the gaskets for motor and gearbox I cut myself; and all the alloy I restored by sanding with wet-and-dry then polishing with a T-shirt and Brasso — this was fun!

The front wheel I found at a swap meet. It was so rusty that you could fold the rim into a shoe-box. That was fine as I only needed the hub, a Trumpy twin-leading shoe which needed a lot of sanding and re-chroming. I got a new English 19-inch rim and spokes and laced it up.

Thanks to running a magneto, the wiring-harness was easy to make and I found an aftermarket 12 volt rectifier and regulator in one.

The battery box as well as forward controls, number plate holder, linkages and brackets I had to make out of sheet metal — this is where the grinder and hacksaw came in — then they were sent off to be chrome-plated.

Spraying the bike I used acrylic blaze red (spray tins) as it is easy to touch up; polished with the T-shirt and Brasso again.

Making the seat pan was easy for me as I have worked with fibreglass before, and I got it covered by an upholsterer down the road.

The mirror, headlight, speedo, handlebars are new aftermarket. I will replace them in time for ’50s — ’60s ones once I find some.

Given the way I scratch-built the bike, it handles great. This is the first time I have built a bike. It was a challenge but I will never look back.

words by Peter West; pics by George

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