My 1966 BSA Bantam D7 Super Restoration

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21st September 2007

My offer of £375 for the 1966 BSA Bantam D7 advertised on ebay has been accepted and I am waiting for the seller to contact me with their details so that I can go and collect the D7 from their address in the New Forest.  I hope they contact me soon!

 

22nd September 2007

Well the seller did contact me first thing this morning and we set of at 09:15 on a 5 hour round trip to collect the D7 Bantam in a borrowed Transit van.  Well its in a better condition that I expected but does need a lot of work!  I opened the fuel valve etc, kicked it over several times and it spluttered into life, protesting at being started after such a long time I revved it up and it responded before cutting out.  Strange that this is the last time it will run for who knows how long but I am determined to restore it, and restore it I will.

The D7 Bantam looks complete and original which is great.  The engine number is FD7 1159 and the Frame Number is D735836.  The "strip down" commences soon and I have to say that the D7 is worth every penny.  The D7 was last taxed in April 1994 and the mileometer indicates 28755 genuine miles .

 

26th September 2007

Well the strip down is basically complete.  I have taken lots of photos for reference, and everything is laid out on the work bench for labeling and cleaning.  I have not stripped down the engine and gear box yet, just the bike into its component parts.  The bike is well built and every thing was nut and bolted together which makes the strip down quite easy really.  All sorts of nuts and bolts were removed and I am not sure if the original nuts and bolts were replaced during the bikes life for some reason, or whether or not the bike was actually made like this. 

Once all of the metal work is prepared I am going to spray it myself, it will not be as good a paint job as the professionals would do, but it will be the best that I can do.  It was never my intention to return the bike to an "as new" condition, but it is my intention to restore it to a good operational condition.  Once the restoration is complete I want the result to be as much my work and effort as is possible.

All of the metal work is rusty but "sound" and my first task is to find someone to shot blast or dip it to remove all of the paint etc.  Other replacement parts that will have to be sourced are the head lamp which is beyond restoration, a wiring loom which was "littered" with various crimps and connectors (I am hoping to make my own loom if possible), all of the nuts and bolts, the head light switch, head light, a seat, a complete set of "rubbers", oil seals, a set of number plates and lots of other bits and pieces.  Obviouly I know that this is not all that will be required but its something to work on and I am planning to attend some bike jumbles to source replacement components.

Chrome plating will be required for the handle bars and wheels, although I may paint the wheels black.

From a mechanical and an electrical perspective there is nothing so far that I feel I will not be able to do (famous last words!) but I am a little concerned about what goes where and in which order.  This is where the dozens of photos I have taken should prove to be invaluable.

 

5th October 2007

My latest task is stripping the engine and gear box to see what condition it is in and what is required.  I had to wait for the engine gasket set to arrive along with the BSA tool for removing the flywheel generator rotor.  If you attempt your own restoration do not attempt to remove the flywheel generator rotor without the correct tool.  The flywheel generator rotor is held in place by a star washer and a woodruff key and any other removal method would without doubt result in a damaged and/or bent shaft as the flywheel generarot rotor will no doubt prove to be obstinate during removal.

Back to the engine and gear box, its in excellent condition generally and I have checked the piston/rings, small/big end, gears and all other parts and I cannot believe how good every thing appears to be (see the photos section) with little evidence of any real wear.  When I drained the oil from the engine it was discoloured obviously but there were no metal "bits" in the oil or within the engine/gear box compartment.

Seperating the two halfs of the engine was an absolute "swine" and it was all I could do to resist the temptation to just drive a screw driver between the two "faces".  But I persevered and with a lot of coaxing and the gentle application of the hyde mallet the two halfs were seperated.  There are also two steel dowels which locate the two halfs in the correct position. 

The engine looks original and the mileage of 28755 I assumed to be 128755!  Could it be that the engine has only done 28755 miles?  Has the bike been the subject of an engine rebuild or replacement?  It certainly does not look like it and I think the engine is original, the engine number is anyway.  The bike was first registered in 1966 and last taxed in 1994, an operational life of 28 years theoretically, which equates to 1026 miles per annum on average.  The bike has had six previous owners so its a bit of a puzzle is it not?

 

19th October 2007

The engine, gear box and clutch etc have been partially reassambled with new gaskets and Hermetite in an attempt to minimise the potential for oil leaks once it is re-installed.  I need to order a small end bearing for the con rod and then the cylinder head can be reassembled with the piston etc.  The oil for the engine is meant to be SAE40 and thanks to the BSA Owners Club I have found out that the modern day equivalent is 20w50.

I have also started to strip down, clean and reassemble other components such as tail light, tax disc holder, shock absorbers, kick starter, gear change lever and so on.

The fuel tank has been flushed, cleaned, painted and polished.

I tried to remove the baffles from the exhaust silencer as it is "choked" with carbon.  I have now confirmed that the bafflers should be removable and have to be cleaned with Caustic Soda solution.  See additional notes on this subject in my Restoration Tips page.

I have found a company locally who can shot blast and power coat all of the metal work for me, but to keep the costs down the major metal work items are being powder coated and the rest hand painted and I am hoping to take the parts to them next week.

I have also obtained quotations for lots of other spares that are required and the only problem appears to be the headlight assembly, but I am going to the bike jumble at Ardingly soon and hopefully I will find one there.

 

1st November 2007.

Well, the metal work will not be back from the powder coaters until next week.  At the moment I have been cleaning and checking the Amal 375 carburettor, and checking, cleaning and reassembling the front fork assembly and the rear brakes and hub.  I have ordered some more spares from C and D Autos and they are really good, and know their BSA stuff.

Went to the bike jumble at Ardingly but had no luck with a replacement head lamp, or the component parts.  Did manage to get a set of Whitworth sockets and a BSA D7 parts list with "exploded" views though.

There was one really good stand with a huge selection of stainless steel nuts and bolts etc and the next time I go to a bike jumble I will take all the nuts and bolts etc that I need with me to use as patterns.

When I stripped the engine down the piston had three grooves, ie for three piston rings but only the top two were fitted!  Research, parts lists and feedback from others is split 50/50 as to whether this is correct or not.  I am going to fit three rings but do not really understand why only two were fitted?  The rings come in various sizes based upon piston diameter and mine is around 61.38mm +/- 0.2mm.

Still cannot get the mufflers out of the silencer but there is something "rattling" around inside the silencer itself.

 

11th November 2007

Well, I have collected the metal work from the powder coaters, and after weeks of cleaning, scraping, checking, researching, painting and more cleaning I have commenced with the rebuild of the Bantam D7.  I am trying to reassemble the bike in a logical order but at the moment I keep comparing the project to the assembly of a wardrobe from MFI!  You know...instructions? where does this bit go? I've got a "so and so" left over and last but not least I don't remember it being like that!  Photos of the rebuild will be in the Photos page of this web site to record the progress as I go.  Its early days yet but the D7 is beginning to take shape, all the early hours spent on it in the morning at weekends are beginning to pay off.

It has always been my intention to restore and rebuild the D7 to ride and not to a showroom condition.  So the chromed items will be cleaned and reused, after all its part of the bikes patina and the D7 is 42 years old.

I have a funny feeling that my Christmas presents this year will have to be BSA parts. 

 

24 November 2007

I have decided to repair the seat having found out the price of a new one!  I have welded the metal work and painted it, cut the foam and refurbished the seat cover.  The wiring is complete and I have either run the cable in braided sleeving or bound it with spiral binding.  The bike is mostly assembled now and I need to order more spares such as brake cable, clutch cable, speedo cable, horn/dipper switch, fuel pipe, and BSA tank badges etc and I still need and exhaust silencer (although I may use the old one) in the short term and a head lamp.  The front forks have been "charged" with oil.

I have found a really helpful supplier of new and second hand BSA spares (check the links page) and I await the deliver of more replacement parts.

 

6th December 2007

Bit of a setback, I ordered some new and second hand parts, sent the cheque off and it has not arrived at the sellers address!  Nothing other to report but frustration at two weeks now of little or no activity.  So near and yet so far...

 

23rd December 2007

Well the replacement parts have finally arrived and have been fitted, and now I need additional parts which I will order after Christmas.  All of the control cables have been fitted with the exception of the throttle cable and I am about to commence with the final wiring and connection of the component parts such as the head lamp for example.  It appears to be a little "congested" inside the head lamp bowl itself and I was hoping to use bullet connectors for ease of wiring and service and maintenance etc.  Its very cold in the garage at the moment (no colder than that!) but this has done nothing to dampen my enthusiasm but the expense of the rebuild is limiting my progress.  The expenditure required to get the D7 to an MOT condition is in sight though and even now I can honestly say that I cannot see a time when I will ever sell the D7, its mine and a lot of me has gone into the rebuild and as a first restoration I am quite pleased with the results and also I have learnt so much along the way.

This project was never about getting a return on money and time expended but budget is important.  Hence some items will be restored and replaced in the future as and when funds dictate, for example the seat, silencer and wheels, in the interim the old will have to do.  So far so good, the project has been very rewarding and a lot of fun, and I have been in contact with people all over the world who like me are ether restoring or have restored BSA Bantams, you see I am not the only one restoring a Bantam am I?

I have also added additional information to this web site that I think may be of some use to others such as parts lists, history and a service manual and I have been reseaching the BSA factory in Small Heath in Birmingham, it really was an industrial giant.  To date I have had "visitors" from Australia, America, Canada, Denmark, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malasia, New Zealand, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom to this web site, if nothing else my typing speed has improved!  The Web Site has also been a challenge and a first attempt and I am now listed by various search engines etc and hopefully this will lead to additional visitors.

The BSA Bantam Forum on Yahoo and its members have been brilliant, you know whats its like, you feel a bit of a twit asking for help and advice but the respondents are all helpful and only too willing to assist a fellow Bantamite.

2008 will be the year the D7 is back on the road at 42 years of age.  Thinking about it the D7 will be in a better condition than I am!

 

31 December 2007

Its been a busy few days.  I have completed the rewire with the exception of connecting the horn/dipper switch which is on order, and I have also installed a fuse in the circuit, although not part of the original installation I thought it prudent.  I have also refitted the head lamp, checked the operation of the ignition and head light switches, fitted the bulbs, "made up" both number plates and installed all of the control cables i.e clutch, throttle, brake and speedo.  I am having a few issues with the carburettor at the moment as mine does not exactly match any of the information I have, and since I stripped it down and cleaned and checked every thing I have had a few carburettor fuel leaks.  This means that I will have to remove it, check it all over again and then reinstall it. I have also refitted the original exhaust silencer which has some historic damage to it caused by the operation of the kick starter, a problem I have noticed on lots of other Bantam D7's which I need to look into and resolve. 

 

26th of January 2008

Well...I have spent quite a lot of time on the D7 during the last three weekends trying to get it started.  During this time it has started, well on four seperate occaisions for about three seconds each.  I have checked the following, piston position in the cylinder i.e. the right way round, timing, points, HT Lead, spark plug and gap, that the spark is being generated, points, condenser, connections and last but not least the Amal carburettor "once or twice".  The petroil mix is being drawn into the cylinder as repeated attempts to start the bike result in me having to drain petroil from the engine sump, which incidentally is via the removal of the smaller of the two drain plugs.  The new spark plug fitted is the GNK equivalent of the original Champion L7 but I have been wondering about spark plug temperature and length so have ordered the Champion equivalent of the L7 which is the L82C which I will fit this week end.  Fingers crossed!

I know people that I could ask and they would come around and diagnose the problem quickly and easily I expect.  But thats not the point, I want to resolve it myself, you know, sense of achievement, persistance, determination and...enough of that.  Any ideas anyone?

Fitted new spark plug, no improvement and I have just found out that I have not installed the insulating "washer" between the two "halves" of the contact breaker set so in effect the contacts were always "made", so I made and installed a fibre washer and the bike started for a short period and then cut out, now the battery is flat and needs recharging. 

 

10th February 2008

IT'S ALIVE!  Recharged the battery and started and ran the engine for about 10 minutes, revved it up, oh yes the smell of exhaust gases and the "roar" of the BSA Bantam engine, at last I am "getting there".  Unfortunately the battery is only good for one or two starts when charged and it discharges quickly so I have to get a new battery, the modern equivalent of the original is a B49-6 6V 8 Ah.  Still lots to do and after four weeks of "is it this" and "is it that" I really feel that I have achieved something this week end.  Brilliant.

 

22nd February 2008

Bad news I am afraid.  I did have the bike working but when I bought a new battery and installed it I made a silly mistake, I connected the battery and had the polarity reversed, and basically connected the battery the way you would connect a battery today, i.e. with the negative to earth and the positive to the supply.  Problem is that this bike is positive earth which means that the negative should be connected to the supply and the positive to the earth.  Now the bike will not start and there is no spark at the plug, so I have ordered and I am about to install a new ignition coil and a new rectifier and I only hope that I have not caused any damage to anything elase such as the generator.  On a positive note the parking light and the brake/tail light work as does the horn, the head light does not work as it  will only work when the bike is running.

I have also installed an in line fuse and carrier to the circuit and I also hope that by entering the details into my restoration diary I may prevent someone else making the same mistake.

To say that I am annoyed is an understatement of course and I am very dissapointed.  Its been five months now restoring the Bantam, but I have no regrets, the Bantam will work again as its only a matter of determination, persistance, time and money. 

 

 

23rd February 2008

Replaced the rectifier and the Bantam started second kick!.  Stopped and started it several times and ran for a period of time.  Some slight problems are,

Exhaust gases leaking around the exhaust nut even though the copper gasket is installed.

Head light does not work when the engine is running.

Exhaust "smokey" so petroil mix may have too much oil.

Petroil leaking from exhaust silencer connection.

Apart from that, not bad considering the condition of the bike when purchased in September 2007, and for a Bantam manufactured in 1965 and registered in February of 1966, i.e.42 years old.

Lots to do still though, tidying up cables, wheel replacement at a later date and of course a new exhaust and silencer. 

 

 

3rd of May 2008

Well I hav'nt had much time to spend on the Bantam lately due to "circumstances", but I am back now and my enthusiam has not been dampened.  I have fitted a new exhaust silencer (and cut open the old one just to see how it was constructed, and the baffles were loose inside and damaged) and I have had the Bantam running, but not consistently.  I thought I had cracked it but...a friend of mine is coming over to give me some advice tomorrow and to have a look at it with me.  Everything appears OK but the crank case gets "flooded" with petrol.  Checked everything over and over again so its time to get a little help and advice.

I am going to draw my wiring diagram and add it to this site in due course, but I have added the wiring diagram for the replacement solid state rectifier.  I am also going to add the ignition and head light switch functions, i.e. which contacts are open/closed in each switch position.

I had a job in Birmingham believe it or not so I took the opportunity to visit Armoury Road in Small Heath.  I have added a few photos of what remains of the BSA factory (or part of it) to my Photos page.  The area has been redeveloped obviously but the "foot print" of the original site can be assessed and gives an idea of how large the Armoury Road facility was.  At the height of the BSA operations at Small Heath BSA employeed 28,000 people!

 

4th of May 2008

Well what a day its been!  My mate Gary Munday came over and we got the Bantam working and repeatedly, how about that.  The thing is there is a ritual to follow, firstly make sure the strangler is closed, then turn the ignition on, open the fuel tap, press the tickler three times, kick the Bantam over three to four times, open the strangler, kick the Bantam over two or three times and it starts, adjust the Amal carburettor to suit.  Ah the mighty roar of the Bantam, the exhaust gases, the burning oil...nothing like it!

Ran the engine, drained the oil and refilled with new.  Only outstanding problem now is the operation of the head light, not quite right.  Hopefully the Bantam will start tomorrow as well.

 

5th of May 2008

It started, two days in a row!  This week end I want to tighten every thing up, grease all the grease points, fit the drive chain, fit the seat and get it ready to run.  Took the head light switch apart and the internal switch contacts were badly corroded so this may be the reason for the head light issues, hope so.  Once you take the switch apart it cannot be put back together due to the way its constructed and the number of bits and pieces used.  I have read lots of articles about the Bantam when it was new and I can only assume that new Bantam owners of their day must have left for work early to make sure they got there on time.

 

26th May 2008

Well I have had more problems with the bike and getting it to start consistently, and until I do I cannot find out the reason for the head light not working.  I was checking the timing etc again and one of the studs broke of in the engine, !  Luckily I managed to remove it and I am trying to source replacement studs.  The stud was not overtightened and I can only assume that the existing studs were age hardened and brittle, and may have been overtightened at some point in the past and were "stressed".

The kick starter pedel also gets stuck in the "up" position occaisionally and I think the issue is with the kick starter spring, and the fact that the spring is weak and does not return the quadrant the the correct position each time, and it (the quadrant) occasionally comes to rest "on top" of the ratchet plate so I am also trying to souce a new spring.  Had to remove the clutch to check this out and made my own clutch compression tool which I was quite pleased with, yes it is easier to buy one but not as much fun.

The D7 continues to provide a lot of fun and frustration and I was hoping to ride it weeks ago, but the D7 had other plans for me obviously.  Still never mind, each time a problem manifests itself and I resolve it its one less thing that has the potential to go wrong at a later date.

 

 

4th July 2008

I have installed the new cylinder head studs, and reset the timing and points etc.  Someone contacted me from Canada as they had two of the female "plugs" that the light and ignition switches plug into for sale.  My plugs were not in the best condition and the "contacts" within the plug were far from being in peak condition.  Anyway twenty Canadian dollars (about £10 sterling) was sent, and two plugs were returned.  These have now been fitted and these "plugs" do not appear to be avalable from anywhere as a seperate item and are only available as part of a wiring loom at circa £48 + VAT! 

I have also fitted a new kick starter spring and the kick starter pedal still gets stuck in the up position occasionally and I think this is due to the fact that the kick starter quadrant and the starter pinion are perfectly alligned on occaision, i.e. the "peak" of the adjacent teeth are perfectly aligned.  Put the bike into gear and move it slightly and this overcomes this problem.

Spent quite a lot of time trying to get the Bantam to start which it does but not reliably and repeatedly.  My attention has returned to the carburettor and I am going to check it all over again this weekend.  As my mate Gary Munday says "if its got a good spark and there is fuel it must start" which it does but we think there is a fuel/carburettor issue.  Theres something I am missing I know and I have read all of my manuals and instructions (Gary Munday does'nt though) and I am "stuck" but will not give up. 

I have also added a Forum to the web site as an "experiment" which appears to be going well.

 

22nd of November 2008

I am back on the case.  Fitted another carburettor from another bike via a transition piece and the Bantam would still not start!  Sent the Amal off to Chas and he checked it over and sent it back to me, fitted the carburettor and during the "testing" the kick starter snapped!  Ordered a new kick starter which arrived, fitted it and began trying to start the Bantam and the clutch cable snapped!  "Project Jane" is proving to be "difficult" but with a lot of care and attention and time of course I am sure in the end it will work.

 

17th March 2008

I have sold the D7, sorry to see it go but my thoughts and attention are elsewhere now, and I have other "things" to occupy my mind. 

I hope those of you that visit the site continue to enjoy it, I have enjoyed building it and all of the comments and e-mails I have received from all over the world.  If you are restoring a BSA I wish you well with your restoration.

If you are ever in Telscombe Cliffs and you see a Royal Enfield Bullet it will be me riding it 

And finally...

"Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'press on' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

Over and out!

 

 

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