View Full Version : 67 BSA Chopper Build Thread (First 2 wheeled project)

09-24-2010, 3:13 AM

This is my very first motorized 2 wheeled vehicle so Im on a huge learning curve here. Thought It would be a good idea for me to document the build.

I bought this 67 BSA lightning on June 1st of 2008. I had to have a friend of mine take it for a test ride for me because I had no idea how to ride a motorcycle. I got it home and had some trouble getting it started and keeping it running. After a little tinkering I got it running and took it down the driveway. I forgot about the clutch and almost went down a hill into the creek, I barely saved it though and figured out how to go up and down the street.


I thrashed on it for a while to get it ready to go to my car club's Father's Day rod run. The more I did to it, the more I realized It was a huge mess. I took it around the block a couple times and was still determined to make it to the show. I rewired a few essential things. The wiring was a disaster so I knew it would get a full rewire eventually. Little did I know I was about to tear it down as far as possible. On the day of the show I saddled up with my dad following in my s10 with supplies for the show. About 10 miles into my trip my dad signaled for me to pull over. Told me it was smoking. Got an adjustable wrench and tightened up the loose jug bolts. haha. Got back on and kept going. A few miles later it just shut off. I tried and tried to get it started again, I even tried to push start it (nervous and naive) while a motorcycle cop watched. It was dead so we loaded in the truck and so began my journey.

(my bike and my cousins old ironhead)

I started to tear it down with the hopes that it would be a quick build. The deeper I got the more I found wrong with it.


While tearing it down I found some awesome stuff like horrible welds covered with body filler, and the stem was actually 2 stems welded together.....kind of scary after seeing the quality of work through the whole bike.

I pulled the engine and sent it off to Meatball at Hell on Wheels in California.


After spending a few months there I got it back all pretty and fresh.

Rebuilt crank new right hand bush rod bearings pistons rings stator and rotor boyer ignition new clutch plates new hardware machine work and hand filing on the cases because they were warped
Im happy, can't wait to hear it run. The only thing he forgot to do was fix a broken fin under the exhaust port.

I got sidetracked with a 56 buick kustom that my dad and I are building, so the BSA didn't get any attention for quite a while. About all I did in that long span was get the frame sand blasted.


I also had a machinist friend of my build a new top clamp (or whatever its called) and some bearing cups for my springer front end.


When I had some extra time I got around to polishing my front brake backing plate. I plan on lacing this front hub/drum to a chrome 21" mandap rim. (Found a NOS dunlop WM1 but its drilled for a spool hub)


After (a little dirty from greasy fingers but you get the picture)




I haven't been taking many pictures recently but I got the old hardtail (filled with holes) cut off. I also got my front hub put back together and painted with new bearings. Just about ready to send it to buchanans to get laced to a WM1 Mandap rim.

Im going to have to stick with the rusty ol harley 16/bsa hub in the rear for now because It works and Id rather spend the money on stuff thats essential to the build. I got my new bearings installed in that but found that my rear axle is bent. A new one should be arriving in the mail soon. Once I get that problem fixed i'll be able to get my brand new Shinko double whitewall mounted and then start setting up my new hardtail.

To Be Continued.....

09-24-2010, 8:05 AM
Great pics and writing. Your sense of humility is truly an asset and inspirational to guys like me with questionable experience. keep up the good work!

09-24-2010, 8:15 AM
props on the build man.
seems like alot of beezers are coming to life on this board.
know how it feels to take a step forward and then 10 right back.

this is the current state of my 69 firebird, still waiting on the engine getting a complete rebuild.
also have a complete new rear wheel for it, as the one on it has a nice wobble to it.
<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/subportrait/5020554302/" title="BSA by calebwilkerson, on Flickr"><img src="http://farm5.static.flickr.com/4111/5020554302_fd7a93db98_b.jpg" width="1024" height="765" alt="BSA" /></a>

09-24-2010, 9:07 AM
Viva Le' Beezer!!! Lookin' good. Just don't let it sit for 5 years like I have. Keep making progress!!!

09-24-2010, 10:04 AM
Thanks for the kind words guys. Feels good to be able to see my progress in pictures and writing.

Great pics and writing. Your sense of humility is truly an asset and inspirational to guys like me with questionable experience. keep up the good work!

Brett, just remember, if you fuck up, it can always be fixed! About the only thing I ever learned from dating girls is that Confidence is key. If you don't have that, you wont get anywhere. I try to use that when building stuff too. If I mess up at least my bike wont laugh at me. haha

Gravel, your bike looks bitchin. LOVE all the parts. You got great taste.

Nono, I'll do my best! It has already sat longer than I would have liked.

Heres a question, do any of you guys have a crack near the top of the rear down tubes? I have a crack all the way around each of them on my frame. Thought I saw this on 1 or 2 other BSAs so Im curious if its a common thing. Looks to be about the same area where the bare metal is showing on your frame Gravel.

09-24-2010, 10:24 AM
FYI to any of you BSA lovers that might be in the New England area. There's a BSA chop up the street from my job for 1200 bucks. It's all blacked out with a looooong springer, and a hardtail. If you want some info on it I'd gladly run by and get some pics and a number for ya. It's in Kittery Maine.

09-26-2010, 8:11 PM
i don't have a crack there, at least not one that i've seen.
could just be your frame or how it was welded (?)

keep the updates comin man!

09-27-2010, 7:30 AM
I met an old british bike guy on Saturday who is very knowledgable and helpful. He told me that is a common place for BSA frames to crack. I'll try to update this thread every time I make some progress.

09-27-2010, 5:56 PM
If it is not too uncool, could you tell me approximately what it cost to have the motor rebuilt by Hell on wheels?

09-11-2011, 1:13 AM
Welll....its been a little while. Redid the room Im building my bike in. Also got a completely new frame because the old one was so messed up. Going to tack the hardtail on tomorrow and have my buddy weld it up. Also going to chop the springer. I had to put all the crap on there for the super duper mock up photo though.


09-11-2011, 6:16 AM
Beautiful work! Want to swing by here and polish my cases!!?:p Looking good!

09-12-2011, 1:19 PM
Nice! Amazing how life gets in the way! Keep it up.

09-14-2011, 6:06 AM
First of all I need some opinions from you guys. Ill come back to that In a minute.

My dad and I have been working on the bike every night. As the picture above shows, we got the hardtail tacked in place. Taking it to my buddies house on Sunday for him to tig weld.

We cut the frame off of my table and flipped it around to the side of the table where the steel hangs off of the wood. Now we have to start shortening the springer. I dont have one of those fancy wheel clamps so this is what we came up with.


Its just 2 shims welded to a piece of thick flat stock with some supports. Obviously we leveled them before tacking them to the table. Then we leveled the wheel and tightened it down.


Luckily the rear leg lines up perfectly with the neck. The leg is also very close to the table so It is pretty easy to measure for the trail. We got a half ass Idea of what it was (but will adjust and change this later) and then used these jacks to set the frame at ride height. The jacks actually just have an adapter thing we threw together to set up the rear end in our 56 Buick.


Here is where I have some questions. First, how much room should I have between my tire and lower tree on the springer? I dont have much at all when the trail seems to be correct. Distance from tire to tree is about 1-1/4 inch. How much will the old springs settle with the A65 motor in there and me (170lb) on it? How much will it travel up, going down the road?


This bike looks really close too. I just cant tell how close from any of the pictures Ive seen. Its in Dice issue 19


And my final question. I read lots and lots of different stuff on rake and trail. Most of what I read say go down from the center of the neck at the angle of the neck and mark the floor, then go straight down from the line down from the axle and measure the distance between the 2. I found another article where it refered to that as "fake trail". And this other measurement as "True Trail" Take a look at my drawing and you will see what I am talking about. What are your opinions on this? I put my measurments for both of these in my drawing. Here is the link to the article I read that in.



So I guess thats about it for now. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

11-15-2011, 11:53 PM
Its gettin' there...
I still have to mount my sissy bar, fender, build a little battery box, and finish my new oil tank and mount it. Im going to move the seat down a little bit. I might even use a different pan. That one looks too big. Then gotta wire it and tune it up and then comes paint. I might also do some short z bars too.

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/s720x720/389422_10150368017607772_509722771_8503687_1104581 469_n.jpg

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/s720x720/316530_10150368017917772_509722771_8503693_2758063 74_n.jpg

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/s720x720/380021_10150368017817772_509722771_8503692_2086666 759_n.jpg

https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/315560_10150368018087772_509722771_8503696_2642820 13_n.jpg

11-16-2011, 10:01 AM
looks great, but that seats gotta go.

11-16-2011, 12:39 PM
Dig it! Dig the stance. Just dig!

11-16-2011, 6:58 PM
very good job man!!:clap for you::cheersmate:

11-17-2011, 9:39 AM
those seat springs look a little tall, almost like you'd be siting on top of the bike instead of being part of the bike, the paint on that sportster tank gives me an idea for my BSA project, but i love the over all shape of the bike

11-19-2011, 1:59 PM
Thanks guys. I definitely plan on changing the seat. It needs to go down a bunch. I still want it fairly level though so Im not sliding off the back of it and sitting on the fender instead. I'll post some pics when I get it changed and make some more progress.

03-07-2012, 9:23 PM
I haven't done anything on my bike since the last time I posted but Im ready to get this thing on the road. I was playing around with some different handlebars today. Let me know which set looks better to you.

More pics can be found on my blog.

03-08-2012, 12:27 PM
I like Pic #2

03-08-2012, 8:02 PM
totally the ones on the right!

03-09-2012, 8:59 AM
Thanks guys! Im getting a lot of feedback from my friends too. So far it seems like #1 and #2 are about even with votes and #3 (the short ones) are what most everyone likes. I think im leaning towards those. I think the bike flows nicely with those and your attention doesnt get drawn to the bars first, like it does with the taller ones.

03-09-2012, 9:24 AM
I really like the bike. I'm only concerned about the front legs of the springer.
is it the pic or are they best back some?

03-09-2012, 10:14 AM
I really like the bike. I'm only concerned about the front legs of the springer.
is it the pic or are they best back some?

Thank you. Yes, they are bent back some. This was a really long springer when I bought it. The bends are so perfect and consistent that I knew it had to be factory (aftermaket, but meant to be like that) This was confirmed when I saw one other one built just like this. I shortened it about 16 inches. This thing is really heavy duty and well-made.

I am not worried about it for any reason. But for the sake of my safety and knowledge, maybe you know something I don't? What are your concerns?


03-09-2012, 11:34 AM
I was just concerned it may have been bent in an accident which could have caused crack or a possible failure of the front legs.

That's why I was asking.

03-09-2012, 3:11 PM
I was just concerned it may have been bent in an accident which could have caused crack or a possible failure of the front legs.

That's why I was asking.

Oh I see. Well thanks for your concern! I appreciate it. I try my best to listen to what everyone has to say since this is my first motorcycle.

09-09-2015, 3:06 AM
This is weird to go back and read through. I've been working on the bike a little bit over the last couple years. Slowly but surely the project is coming along. It looks like some of my pictures and links are broken/outdated.

I guess I have done quite a bit since my last post on here. Unfortunately technology advances faster than I have time to sort all my pictures. Between new phones, digital cameras, computers, and social media, my build pictures are scattered across various different places. I'll post what I've got on this computer.

Here is the stuff I did since I last updated this thread.
<li>Cut the BSA tank in half and narrowed it.</li>
<li>Made an oil tank out of a Cal Custom small block ford finned aluminum valve cover.</li>
<li>Bent up a set of exhaust pipes but I'm not happy with them (ripples in the bend) so I am going to make another set. Gotta be perfect since I am getting them chromed.</li>
<li>Fabricated a hidden headlight mount</li>
<li>Made new spring mounts for the seat as my original mounts put the springs at an ugly angle.</li>
<li>Had spacers made for the front wheel.</li>
<li>Made a brake stay and bracket for the front brake backing plate.</li>

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09-09-2015, 3:10 AM
I threw the wassel tank on there just for fun, but I really like it so I am going to make mounts for both tanks and switch them out from time to time.

One other thing, I have been writing for fun a little bit over the past couple years. My friend, Joey, and myself write about cool old stuff on our blog. Everything from choppers and hot rods to architecture, signs, and mid century modern furniture. I've posted a couple detailed updates on this BSA project on there. The address is www.AtomicAgeAlchemy.com

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09-09-2015, 5:58 AM
whats up with the springer? looks like the front leg is at a different angle than the rear legs?

09-09-2015, 6:05 AM
Love what I see so far. Great build. Looking forward to more progress pics and comments.

09-09-2015, 6:11 AM
looks good man! i would definetly look at the front legs of the springer before your final mock ups

09-09-2015, 7:36 AM
whats up with the springer? looks like the front leg is at a different angle than the rear legs?

looks good man! i would definetly look at the front legs of the springer before your final mock ups

I did quite a bit of research on the springer when I got it. It is a Fury front end and is supposed to be like that. It had shiny chrome on it when I got it and practically looked brand new. I looked over it really well after I had the chrome stripped off of it. All the measurements checked out and I even found several pictures of other identical Fury springers on the internet. All of them had the same bend in the front legs. It's super heavy and very sturdy. It still works exactly as it did before I shortened it, too.