BSA Royal Star Restoration

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BSA Royal Star Before Restoration

BSA Royal Star rolling chassis. John H. Glimmerveen

Restoration projects come in all types. Some bikes require basic mechanical work and some just need some fresh paint. Others, like this 1966 BSA A50 Royal Star, are in pretty bad shape when you get your hands on them--and will need a lot of work.

The engine was seized on this bike, as water had entered the cylinders due to unplugged inlets and poor storage. The good news was that all the major parts were with the bike, and there are many suppliers of genuine or performance related parts available.

Having photographed the bike and parts from many different angles, the bike was separated out into various systems and individual sub-assemblies for further photographs.

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Dissassembled Bike

BSA Royal Star chrome parts. Andy Greene

With the bike disassembled, every part could be fully checked and inspected. Parts that are considered consumables (cables, brake shoes, chain) should be ordered in preparation for the rebuild. Any part that is found to be difficult to source can have time dedicated to it once other items are away at specialist shops.

All items to be plated (Zinc, chrome,) should be separated out, photographed and listed. It will save a lot of time during the rebuild phase if each bolt is listed as it is removed from the bike; the bolt sizes, location, and plating type should all be recorded.

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Engine on Stand

BSA Royal Star engine on stand. Andy Greene

Disassembly of the engine/transmission unit is best done on a purpose-built engine stand. If a stand is not available, it is good practice to loosen as many bolts/nuts as possible while the engine is still in the chassis.

Nuts like the center nut retaining the clutch sometimes have a torque setting of 85 lbs or more. Keeping the engine in the chassis to loosen this nut will make life a lot easier.

Tip: Do not remove the cylinders and pistons before the large nuts on the crank or transmission shafts have been loosened. The pistons and/or rods can be damaged if the crank turns.

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BSA Royal Star Cylinder Heads

BSA Royal Star new and old cylinder heads. Andy Greene

As the original head and valves were damaged after water got into the engine, the stock head was replaced with a Wasp dual-port version. Besides allowing better gas flow, this head has a higher compression, bigger valves, and twin carb mountings. As the owner wanted this bike to be a café racer project, he decided to use Wasp cams and high compression pistons.

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BSA Royal Star Cylinder and Pistons

BSA Royal Star cylinder and pistons. Andy Greene

As the engine is being worked on, it is a good time to send the chassis and swing arm out for painting. Most chassis restoration projects will require the use of sand, glass or bead blasters to remove rust or old paint. However, the owner must ensure the blasting company is familiar with motorcycle chassis work so that no damage is done to an irreplaceable item.

Before sending the chassis to be blasted, the owner must block all holes (headstock pivot, swing arm through bolt holes, for example) to stop grit from building up inside the chassis tubes. This can be a major problem when the chassis is subsequently sprayed, as grit can be blown out of the tubes onto the fresh paint. On this particular chassis, the owner decided to have it powder coated.

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Headlight and Ace Bars

BSA Royal Star headlight and Ace bars. Andy Greene

Once the chassis returns from the powder coaters, any threaded holes should be re-tapped to ensure the threads are clean before re-fitting any components. The first items to be fitted to a bare chassis are the front forks, and on this particular bike, the headlight mounting brackets which are located between the top and bottom triple clamps. As this bike is using Ace bars instead of the stock bars, the fuel tank has been temporarily fitted to check the lock-to-lock clearance.

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BSA Royal Star Oil Tank

BSA Royal Star oil tank. John H. Glimmerveen

The oil tank is a critical component on any dry sump lubrication system. Besides fitting new lines, the tank must be thoroughly cleaned. To ensure reliability, the tank should be ultrasonic cleaned before it is painted.

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BSA Royal Star Engine in Chassis

BSA Royal Star engine in chassis. Andy Greene

Refitting the engine back into the chassis will facilitate fitting of the oil tank and its associated lines, and the placement of the electrical wiring harness. In addition, the clutch cable and rev-counter cable can be reattached.

As the cables and wires are being reattached, it is good practice to rotate the handlebars from side to side periodically to ensure full and free movement. The throttle cables in particular must be free and operational (no sticking) throughout the lock-to-lock movement of the forks, as must the wiring harness which must be located in such a way that it will not chafe.

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BSA Royal Star Wheels

BSA Royal Star Wheels. Andy Greene

During a restoration, an owner may want to upgrade certain parts or systems. If originality is not the top concern, some parts can be replaced with period-available components. The wheels on this BSA have been re-spoked with stainless spokes and alloy rims have replaced the stock steel items. Besides better corrosion resistance, these alloy rims have reduced the unsprung weight considerably (albeit the spokes are heavier).

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BSA Royal Star Concentric Carbs

BSA Royal Star concentric carbs. John H. Glimmerveen

As the bike nears completion, it is particularly important to pay close attention to the details. Although a bike may have many new parts that are not visible, items such as the fuel lines and HT leads should be replaced with new items as they are clearly visible during any inspection. These are also two items that have a limited life span and should, therefore, be replaced as a matter of course.

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BSA Royal Star Instrument Bracket

BSA Royal Star instrument bracket. John H. Glimmerveen

The fabrication of mounting brackets is often required on restoration projects. As the owner of this bike had added a rev counter, he fabricated these aluminum mounting plates (A). To offset any vibration issues with the instruments, a two-tier mounting bracket system is used. The lower bracket is solid-mounted to the top triple clamp; the instrument carrying bracket is then mounted to this via rubber bushes (B).

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BSA Royal Star Restored

BSA Royal Star Ready to Ride. John H. Glimmerveen

After a comprehensive restoration project, the day will finally come when the bike is finished. Ownership will now take a new direction: classic motorcycle riding!