Simon Barringer

The story of a V twin Three-wheeler

Double Saga of a Vee Twin By John Barringer
Who also took all the ‘photos
Some pictures have a hi-res version, click  H
The name Simon Barringer may ring a bell with older members of the club as one of its youngest members ever to restore a 1931 BSA sports trike.
The story started in 1983, when as an impecunious fifteen year old he raided his life savings to raise all of £200 to purchase a restoration project.
It must be admitted that at this stage a BSA trike was not his first choice. He had in fact owned several cars prior to this including an Austin Seven Ruby, two bubble cars and an NSU Sport Prince.
If memory serves me right I think his first choice would have been an Austin Seven box saloon, but even then people were asking far more than he could afford, However, as often happens in life, fate took a hand. An acquaintance of ours, John Davis, told us of an old BSA trike that he had sold some time previously to a friend in north London. At the time of the sale this friend had been suffering from the widespread condition known as ‘enthusinasia’. As we all know it takes more than just a modicum of drive and energy to see a total restoration right through to completion. As a result the car still existed as a basket case.
After several telephone calls we embarked upon a journey to the gloomier end of Neasden in our trusty Fiat Strada (remember those?) with attached rattling trailer. The subject of our quest was parked, or should I say stacked, in one unit of a block of semi derelict lock-ups, a feature for which Neasden is famed.
The fact that it was a cold drizzly autumn day only added to our despair when viewing the proffered machine. This was in complete contrast to the enthusiastic sales patter metered out by the owner. His repeated use of the«  “Have I done the right thing Dad?phrase ‘with just a little work’, almost convinced us that by merely cleaning the plugs we could have a relaxed meander home through the leafy suburbs of Hertfordshire, Despite its condition it did seem to be basically complete, and unlike many old BSA’s did have some bodywork; and so a deal was struck.
The following day we unpacked the collection of tea chests and the remains of the bodywork. It seems that the vendor was so keen to see us on our way he had included several parts from other cars. There was a Ford three-speed gearbox, a Morris wheel plus other interesting, yet unrelated oddments.
Once he had sorted, as it were, the wheat from the chaff, the full dreadful significance of the project was revealed in all its glory. As we all know the initial purchase price of an old car is always the cheapest part of a project. Simon found that the restoration of the coachwork presented no real problems.
Unlike myself, who as a schoolboy had spent a whole term trying vainly to fashion a tent peg from a lump of recalcitrant oak, he sailed through his ‘O’ level woodwork with ease. He is the sort of person who can knock up a quality chest of drawers from a pile of firewood; whereas if I pick up a saw all I ever cut is my thumb.
The mechanical side did present a few problems that we are all familiar with.
To overcome wear and tear without the expense of buying or restoring new components he came up with an ingenious plan. By placing an advert in various car magazines he managed, at low cost, to acquire three more trikes.
The restoration then proceeded on the ‘mix and match’ principle. The only high cost items being a set of front wings from the BSA club, which together with the bonnet were professionally painted by a friend. Completion took two and a half years.
The next hurdles were of a bureaucratic nature. Although the car had its original number plates these were not accompanied by any paperwork. In the good old days prior to the existence of that jobBody restoration circa 1984  »     creation scheme known as ‘Swansea DVLC’, this never caused any problems. Even up until the late seventies it was possible to call into a local car taxation office and pick up a blank card logbook to replace a lost item. At that time one filled in the missing details oneself.
By the mid eighties things had changed for the worse. The main problem being that many forms needed to be filled in prior to a vehicle inspection to satisfy the authorities that the vehicle actually existed. Needless to say these forms contained dire warnings as to the penalties involved should one not cross the ‘T’s’ or dot the ‘I’s’. It seems strange that uninsured and banned drivers who kill others while drunk seem to only qualify for a jolly good ‘ticking off’, while filling a form in wrongly can get you ‘banged up’ for two years.
With sweaty brow and even sweatier palms we completed the required forms and then spent sleepless nights waiting for the flashing blue lights and the distorted voice through the megaphone telling us that the house was surrounded.
Needless to say none of this happened. We were visited by a charming young lady from the local taxation office who said she had come to make the inspection. Upon opening the garage she cried, “Oh no”. My heart sank. She then continued in a softer tone, “There has been a terrible mistake”. A brief vision of me trying to avoid a confrontation with ‘Big Joe’ in the shower room of ‘The Scrubbs’ drifted into view, but was instantly dismissed by her next phrase. “I thought I was inspecting a motorcycle”.
I felt sorry for the girl in case the same penalties would be applied to her as a result of this error. I need not have worried. It seems there is an ongoing«    Finished at last–first time around H
confusion within the official mind, as there is indeed within the official computer, concerning companies that produce both cars and motorcycles. If one combines this with the added complication of three wheels, than all reason seems to go out of the window. It was clear from her remarks that she had no knowledge (or indeed interest) in old machines, and so this hurdle was easily cleared. The next problem was the MOT test.
As not every station is licensed or equipped for trikes, I directly approached the local MOT headquarters for a list of suitable garages. Only two existed in the Bedford area. One was a Datsun main dealer whose principle three-wheeled trade seemed to be from testing invalide carriages.
My first telephone call to this establishment was answered by an ill tempered mechanic, who made it quite clear that he was not interested in testing home made motorcycles. I tried calmly to explain that it was in fact a factory built car with three wheels. His reply was that BSA’s never built cars and that he would under no circumstances test it!
My next telephone call was back to the local MOT headquarters, where a protracted conversation was undertaken to the manager via his secretary. It seemed that he would not speak to me directly as I was not of a high enough status being only a member of the general public. I would have thought that being a member of the over-taxed populous who contributed generously to his index linked pension would have put me at the very front of the queue!
The message that his secretary conveyed to me was that a garage could refuse to test a vehicle if I made unreasonable demands, for example: demanding an instant test. I told him I had never demanded anything in my life, and had only politely requested an appointment. Under those circumstances, he informed me, they could not refuse. I am delighted to say that the garage in question went bankrupt shortly afterwards.
My next port of call was the other garage on the list. It was clear that he had never seen a BSA trike before in his life. The test lasted two and half-hours and included many references to the MOT manual and at least three telephone calls to the MOT headquarters. His confusion concerned lack of seat belts, no cills, fabric coachwork, air-cooling, monochrome number plates, center throttle and much more that the rest of us take for granted.
At the end of the day it passed, so all was well – except for insurance. As Simon was only a learner driver no one would insure him and so I had to do all the driving.
As many of you will know he had several happy years rallying the car until th many of us, were memories of the fun days out with that first car and the friendliness of club members.
In 1999 he learnt that the trike was up for sale again but at that time he had just acquired an historic 1923 Daimler D16 sleeve valve landaulet, which would take at least four years to restore.
On the 22nd of February 2004, almost fourteen years to the day since selling it, he re-purchased his old trike from David Huskisson in Tunbridge Wells. With the passing of years and corresponding improvements in finances he decided to carry out a much more thorough restoration.
Again he found himself rebuilding the coachwork, which, it must be said, had lasted well over the preceding twenty years. The gearbox and various other mechanical bits were handed to Mike Scott-Coomber in

«   Body restoration 2004 H
Biggleswade who made a great job of restoring and modifying oil seals etc. Mike also supplied a new electronic ignition set up to give improved accuracy with the firing on both cylinders, something that is almost impossible to achieve with the original system. The old plastic interior was discarded in favour of new red leather. This time round the front suspension was re-bushed to remove all free travel so avoiding the rather vague steering characteristics so prevalent in well-worn machines. Someone once made the analogy of ‘piloting a trawler through ice’, although I felt this to be a rather unfair exaggeration.
Time taken to restore it a second time exactly eleven months. Does it look good? Yes. Does it go well? Yes. Does it handle well? Yes. Does it still leak oil? Yes. Is it lots of fun? Definitely!

Nearly finishedH
The finished article–2005H


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