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1956 BSA B31 Special - Part XIV
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A couple of years ago, Phill Rashleigh built his dream machine, a super-special 500cc single-cylinder off-roader in Gold Star style. Letís see how theyíve been getting on together...

Where were we last time? Oh yes, NVNL riding the bike and saying how much he liked it, which was nice to hear. However time has moved on and the Beeza has had her third MoT which will mean she is into her third year on the road. In that time sheís seen two 216 rides (thatís the Longest Day RC Rideout, in case youíre not familiar with it), and around 2000 miles under the tyres. Some of those miles were off-road and they proved that I am not up to taking a bike of this weight, gearing and power delivery up a rough track at speed! A mate of mine is, but that another story...

So what has happened? Where have we been, what has been changed and is the plot still in one bit?

'Which was nice to hear...' NVNL riding the bike and saying how much he liked it
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As can be imagined, the first summer was just getting out there and riding, getting a few miles under the tyres and see what needed doing, what she was capable of and what (if anything) needed doing to improve her. To be honest, apart from changing the oil and handlebar position, all was well.

Rides were confined to blasts up and around the moors usually ending up stopping on at the Barbican for a coffee at the Captains or a little stop further around on the Hoe. As the summer went on I got braver, began to trust the bike a little more and go further afield, Tavistock was now part of the round trip as was Two Bridges and even Post Bridge. I started to get a weep of oil from the front of the head and a quick phone call sorted to Roy sorted it out; seems it was everything just settling in.

The further I travelled the more I was able to take stock of what I liked. I did notice that the rear of the seat was a little high; I had copied a works BSA saddle height but I wanted to lower the back of the saddle a little as I found I was sliding up the seat and onto the tank on longer rides -- but thatís just fiddling, right?

It's the details that make all the difference... The new battery box, from above...

Then came the first winter and some serious thinking. I wanted to move the battery from what was a standby position in a little tray on the left side of the bike to where I really wanted it to be, tucked out of the way under the saddle along with the fuses and the Hawker electrical gubbins. This would also allow me to lower the back of the saddle and get it level which I hoped would stop me sliding up and onto the tank.

The bike was stripped of the saddle, oil tank, rear guard, exhaust, battery box and she was sent down to Cornwall for some new bits to be made.

Nice welding... The new oil tank, from the left and from the right...

The oil tank was re-fabricated by Lewis and a new neck was made by Roy that was able to accept a Monza-style filler cap to match the one on the fuel tank. Lowering the seat very slightly and installing a battery above the oil tank reduced its capacity. Iím not too worried about the reduced oil capacity as the bike is not used for non-stop long distances rides, she has regular oil changes with modern oil and the tank is hung out in the breeze (more or less), so all should be well. I checked this with Roy and he uses smaller oil tanks on his racers and the motors are well able to race in the top ranks and survive on the IoM course, so I un-crossed one set of fingers and trusted to his knowledge, again!

The return oil way was the only part of the new tank I wasnít particularly happy with. The alloy Taylor Dow tank I have has its return entering at the front of the tank in the base, with an internal pipe going up to the neck to show the oil returning. I wanted something similar but knowing I would be fitting a filter at some point made it inconvenient to plumb it in this way. We decided to put a fitting in the oil tank filler neck as this would be close to the filter when it was fitted, and it would all be covered up when I put the alloy racing plates on. Not pretty but a simple solution and a reduction in flexi-pipe length, well eventually...

Tidy... New oil tank and battery box fitted to the bike...

I also console myself with the knowledge that older F1 cars swirl the oil down the neck of the oil filler in the same manner to reduce the amount of bubbles in the oil as it returns to the oil tank. Not that I was that scientific with how I went about, but it is a nice thing to point out when someone asks, so please donít tell too many people...

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Next episode: accommodating an accumulator (or battering a battery, if you prefer!)


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