Twenty First Birthday

Twenty-first Birthday, (Author anonymous)
From “Front Wheels” February 2000
The following article was first published in ‘Motor cycling’magazine on 31stDecember 1953. It was sent in by John Joiner, who made the comment thathe had driven a good few miles in BSAs, possibly 40,000 plus, but to have covered160,000 was a remarkable feat! A thought echoed by us all, I would Think the Authorof the article is identified only by the registration of the trike GY6864, at the time of the last register ofBSA cars (October 1996) the vehicle was still in existence and livingin France.
Last autumn a 21st birthday was celebrated in my family. The coming of age was that of my air-cooled, twin-cylinder BSA three-wheeler, a ‘Blue Star’ special sports model that I first acquired on September 22, 1932.
To date, it and I have together covered over 160,000 miles – and some of myexperiences may interest others who are, or who contemplate becoming members of the three-wheeler clan.
Last autumn a 21st birthday was celebrated in my family. The coming of age was thatof my air-cooled, twin-cylinder BSA three-wheeler, a ‘Blue Star’ special sports modelthat I first acquired on September 22, 1932.
Let me start with the failings or complaints side first. In my case I found the enginelubrication system not too satisfactory and had big-end trouble and rather undue wearon the offside, or ‘dry’ cylinder around the 7,000 mile mark.
Being a bit of an engineer, I rearranged the oiling system by fitting under the camshafta trough which is kept fed with oil from the pump, and the overflow spills over the big-ends etc. I also arranged a jet of oil to play on the big-ends and left the existing jet, asfitted by the makers, for the lubrication of the timing wheels. I further retained the oilfeeds to the rear of each cylinder but they, together with the feeds to the camshaft,timing gear and big-ends, were all restricted to about 0.020-in. jet size to maintain theoil pressure. This was done by trial and error until I obtained 151b. p.s.i. on the gauge
when the oil was cold, and approximately 6-81b. p.s.i. when hot. I also did away withthe oil regulator on top of the timing case, as there was obviously no further use forthis. In any case, I felt that this was where I was getting some of the original trouble.Another fault is that the gearbox slowly passes its oil into the front wheel drivedifferential case. As this is a comparatively slow process I have done nothing about it,other than top-up the gearbox as required, and let some out of the differential case!I find that if one keeps the rear wheel arm trunnion bearings properly greased – as oneshould do – the Ferodo shock absorber disc soon becomes greasy and almost useless,until removed and cleaned with petrol.
I also found that the seat upholstery and those ‘puncture-proof air cushions did not lastmore than about a couple of years. However, I have covered the seats with leather andreplaced the air cushions with Dunlopillo.
Another point is that unless one adds about a tablespoonful of some sort of lubricatingoil, or at least a double-dose of upper cylinder lubricant, to each gallon of petrol, theoverhead valves are very prone to run dry in their guides and squeak at idling speeds.
It is to this oil in the petrol that I give very great credit for the long life of the engine. Ihave had only one set of new valves and guides and the third rebore was at 160,000miles. This, to my way of thinking, is excellent service: and I have no air cleaner orother device to reduce cylinder wear.
I renewed the front universal joints and fabric couplings at around the 100,000-milemark and occasionally have had to fit a road spring leaf.
Apart from these points the car has given me splendid service. It has been, and is, indaily use, including the war period, and has not been ‘nursed’ or ‘petted’ but is alwayskept reasonably clean and serviced, work which I do myself.
I find the tappets do not need adjusting from one decoke to another (that is, about every10,000 miles) so long as the rocker gear is kept greased.
The handling of the car is most satisfactory, coupled with finger-tip steering, goodbrakes and excellent visibility. The suspension is a bit on the hard side, but one mustnot forget that the car is only a runabout and not a luxury limousine. I regularly obtain45-47 m.p.g. on runs, but this changes to around the 40 m.p.g. figure on town work.The oil consumption is negligible and, as the car is usually driven between 45 – 50m.p.h. I consider this quite satisfactory for an engine of this capacity (1,021 cc.).There is a maximum speed of a good 60 m.p.h. (on the speedometer) but this is veryrarely used.
During all these years I have toured England and Scotland pretty thoroughly and haveclimbed such hills as Wrynose, Hardknott, Doverhay, Beggars’ Roost and Rest-and-be-Thankful, to mention but a few, and have never failed.
My major expenses have been: three or four batteries (I use 11-plate, not the 9-platetype as originally fitted); one new hood and sidescreens: three rebores (one justcommencing life); tyres, plus one inner tube. The tyres average 24,000 miles each,possibly because I fit 4.50 in. by 19 in. covers in place of the original 4.00 by 19 in.There have, of course, been sundry minor expenses such as lamp bulbs, wiper bladesand the little odd things that go with any car or motorcycle, but I must say that thisBSA has given, and I hope will still give, splendid, reliable service for a good manyyears yet. It certainly shows no signs of senile decay!
Perhaps I might mention that it is always started on the electric starter, winter orsummer, until the battery is ageing – and then I treat it to another!






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