Rick loves his Marmite

I've always thought that giving a name to a bike is a bit daft but, if this bike was to get a name, it would probably have to be “Marmite” yes I love it but I know there will be folk out there in Beezaland who will hate it and probably think the same about me for rebuilding in this style. Well it's my bike and I'll do what I like!!!! Read on and you'll probably be more understanding.

In 1970, having just sold my C15 for £60.00, I bought the bike from Fred Spooner, a bike dealer on the corner of Kemble St. in Prescot, Lancs, (as it was then) for the princely sum of £45.00 (I still have the receipt).

Pete ejected and we all went sliding and rolling down the road

A couple of months later my old mate Pete and I, with about £10.00 between us decided one night, as we'd never been before, to ride to London...to cut a long story short, we got to Nuneaton, or was it Northampton??!!!! and decided to turn back.

Clocking 80 on the M6 about 10 miles south of Keele services the back tyre (square section sidecar tyre) blew out. Pete ejected and we all went sliding and rolling down the road. It was about 4 am so very little traffic and surprisingly we both got up relatively unscathed. The bike was another story. It had bounced about a bit and was pretty bent and battered. I have a lingering memory of showers of sparks flying into the air as I followed the bike down the M6 on my back. Un-ridable!

Luckily for us, along came a police ambulance with two friendly bobbies in it who picked up the bike, put it in the back and drove us to Keele services where they put the bike in the police compound for me to collect when I could. (No charge). We then “thumbed” our way back home to Rainhill.

A few days later I got a mate with a Champ Jeep to take me to collect it. One of the same policemen found a guy with a crane who lifted the bike on to the back of the Champ and off we went. (Again, no charge).

I think that influenced my old mate Pete to join the police, himself.

Now then, back home...I've got a smashed up Golden Flash, a shed, some tools and after coming under the influence of Fonda and Hopper, I've just seen, in Widnes of all places, a real live Harley chopper. Ex WD flat head, yellow with springer forks... That was it...Build a Chopper...Well I did, almost.

Having done most of the work on it, my life changed a bit, college, moved, got married etc. The bike never went on the road. Took it to pieces, put it in boxes, and like the albatross in the Ancient Mariner, it was with me wherever I went.

It looked good for the time, but it would have been a death trap

Good job I never got to put it on the road then. If I had, I probably wouldn't be here to be writing this. It looked good for the time, but it would have been a death trap. It moved around with me for years, then My mate Andy, who had helped me with the original build and gone on to rebuild bikes and sports cars called me. “You still got your old Beeza?” “Tell you what, I'll take it off you, rebuild it, ride it for a year, then give it back to you.” That sounds like a deal...so all the bits came out of the cellar and off to Andy's in Southport. Unfortunately, after a bit of work and further dismantling of the seized engine the bits came back to me as Andy had become the proud owner of a 70s Chevy Corvette in need of a full restoration. The Corvette is now in the hands of his son in Australia.

So in 2006, after being cajoled by “Dave in the pub”, I pulled all the bits out of the boxes, and started the project.

As I'd done some serious de-lugging on the frame I decided to put it back together in a way that would reflect the style of the 70s but would pay homage to BSA. The front forks had been extended by me with the some drilled pegs and the top of another pair of fork tubes. Pete's Dad had an arch welder...he never let me forget the burn holes in his new vinyl floor!!!!! The front wheel had a 17in rim so I decided to start again with the front end. I got a complete front end off a Yamaha 125 Dragstar, got some engineering done by Fat Lip Andy (a different Andy) to make it fit. The chopper tank I had was off a 1948 Excelsior Talisman, so I had it re-tunnelled, flush filler cap fitted, had two taps fitted and fixing brackets welded on.

The engine had been seized, so I had it re-bored, then rebuilt with an alloy head (that I'd been given years ago) along with a brand new “Spitfire” cam, by Saddleworth Classics who also rebuilt the gearbox. I was going to do all that myself, but decided that my skills weren't up to it and after all that time I didn't want it to blow up because I'd done something daft.

Anyway, bit by bit the bike was coming together. I then moved to Somerset and found myself living next door to another “Dave”, a bike enthusiast, dirt racer and engineer with a lathe and pillar drill in his garage and friends who can do just about anything with metal. He took my old gearbox sprocket and a new 18 tooth one and grafted one into the other but stepped out by 1/8in. to make more space for the wider rear wheel. Shame you can't see it, it's a work of art! The back sprocket was also shimmed out. I made various brackets, the seat, the fly screen, the side panel, the wiring harness etc, fitted an electronic speedo driven from magnets set in the back sprocket, remote oil filter, upped it to 12volt with a regulator from Dave Lindsey, who rebuilt the mag and dynamo. The dynamo is on a belt drive from Hawker. The primary drive is now a belt and clutch from Bob Newby.

It didn't start first kick, but it does now, if you go through the correct process

Harry Ingham, at the bike shop in Todmorden, laced the stainless 500 X 16 rim on to the original rear hub and Central Wheels put the stainless 275 X 21 rim on the Yam front hub. Rear shocks are Hagon, 2in. shorter than original. Nearly everything that could be replaced with stainless has been, mainly thanks to the sadly missed “Lightening Spares”...oh the list goes on...but eventually it got finished. It didn't start first kick, but it does now, if you go through the correct process.

So lets get it registered. I've got the old log book in my name. I've got the receipt for the purchase of the bike in my name. I've got it's last MoT cert. Should be a “Piece of cake”.

Sorry!!! Even with the help of Steve Foden (BSAOC), the DVLA didn't like the front end when I tried to re-register it with photographic evidence. I had to put an age appropriate BSA front end back on.

Well, to fund some of the work I'd had done, I'd sold off my usable surplus BSA front end bits, so there I was trawling ebay and auto jumbles to make up a front end. Eventually I found the remains of a set of B31 forks near Wigan. So with the help of Fat Lip Andy, and Wigan Paul the forks found their way to Sowerby Bridge, to be passed on to friends who were coming to visit us in Somerset. Eventually they ended up in my garage, where, with a bit of help from “next door” Dave and the loan of his mate's B31 front wheel a usable front end was cobbled together and fitted.

Then, DVLA wanted a new vin number stamping on it, so paint had to be scraped from the head stock to get it stamped and I've got to say, it looked a bit rough. They then wanted it MoT'd so I insured it on it's VIN and rode it to the MoT station. That was in 2015...first time on the road since 1970. Thankfully the MoT guy loved it and it sailed through.

Then they wanted it inspected by BSAOC. Thankfully again Julian loved it. (Thanks Julian).

All this done, I got an age related plate and another old Beeza is back on the road. RESULT!

I've, quite legally, now put the Yam front end back on. The disk brake is fantastic. Unfortunately the front mudguard got damaged by the B31 forks, so I had to respray it. While the front end was off I also stamped out a new VIN plate and got it welded on by another neighbour, dressed it with a Dremil and it's really neat. Some very handy chaps down here.

So...how is it going now? It's February now so I've not been out on it much. Only done about 100 miles at running-in speeds. Had some problems with the gear changing but after renewing the gear change spindle bushes and adjusting the tension of the primary belt that seems to be sorted.

I'm a very happy boy with a very personal Beeza!

Got an oil leak between the primary case and crank case and some seeping from the rocker cover. Going to sort these when I've done the running-in and need to torque the head down.

But after all this time...I'm a very happy boy with a very personal Beeza! It will be on the road, not just under a dust cover in the garage.

There are a few of morals to this tale:

Firstly, don't go doing loads of work and spending loads of money on a classic rebuild without first finding out what the rules are.

Secondly, never part with anything until the jobs finished and the black and white reg. plate is securely fitted to your finished project.

Thirdly...take your time!!!!!!

See you on the road.



Frame detail

As in 1971

Still in 1971

2006, A10 with wooden leg

Wooden leg and CX back wheel

Let's try a Yam front end

Yeh, that'll do!

Try some of the old bits for size

Try the gearbox with rusted chrome engine plates

Stuart, at Brown's, Halifax. Did re-bore, crank and head

Re-built engine on the bench

Nice shocks!

Nice shiny wheel!

Engine in

From the front

Feb2010. Try the tank after some welding

Feb 2010. Front end's looking good

Aug 2010. Moved to Somerset

Coming on!

Love the belt drive

Must fill that space

Nice lamp

Headlamp in place

There's a space to fill

Blue Peter style side panel

Panel in place. Nice pipes!

That sissy bar's out of line!!!

That'll have to go back to the bender!

Oh, better, and PAINT!!!!

Seat brackets

Speedo sensor on back sprocket. Nice!

Tool bag

Hand made seat and tool bag

With old BSA front end


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