1951 BSA Motorcycle for Ozbike Magazine
It’s well believed that Perth is the most remote capital city on the planet. It’s three days drive to the next major capital and a lot of the time W.A. is almost regarded as it’s own country. If Perth is so remote, then another four hours drive out of Perth will put you in Albany, a mid-sized town on the Great Southern coastline.
Albany is a magical place to visit and has some stunning scenic rides if you have access to some wheels during your stay. It’s no wonder then that it has a strong presence of motorcyclists, both of the modern machines and more regularly, classic bikes of every era. Every year they assist hosting a hillclimb and ride days and attract bikes from all over the State.
Lloyd Elliott is one of those long time locals who really loves his bikes. In fact he spends most spare time building or riding them. “I just like coming into the shed at nights and weekends and working on them.” He says. And he backs it up with a current collection including 1970 Benelli, Triumph Sprint, 1965 BSA Lightning, Commando, Triumph Tiger 100, and a 1948 James Autocycle!
Then there’s this 1951 BSA.
Bought looking a bit like a rusty jigsaw puzzle about three years ago, Lloyd did a full ground up rebuild in his shed. The difference being that he started the project just after New Years and it was finished by July the same year! Not a bad turnaround considering the hard-to-find parts and the fact that he’s living in this pretty but remote seaside community. The Internet has been his best friend. “I used to have to write a letter and post it in the mailbox to ask for parts.” Lloyd remembers “These days I just fart around and buy stuff online. A lot of my parts come from England and America, some from India, Bangkok, all over the world. If I buy something from the Internet, I’ll buy two..or three. Whats the use of having just one part? Probably explains why I’ve got 17 helmets.”
This BSA is an A10 model ‘Golden Flash’, an OHV 650cc parallel twin produced between 1950 and 1962 with the plunger frame, the gearbox directly mounted to the motor. Running the primary chain so adjustments can be made with just a screwdriver on the fly. In 1962 BSA replaced it with the Rocket Gold Star with a swing arm frame, meatier carb and cam. Progress in action.
Lloyd bought the BSA locally where it had been sitting in the previous owners shed for around 14 years. It was time to get to work. The repro tank and mudguards came directly from India “Their reproduction metal is very good, made from cross filings from the lathes, their rubber is terrible, made from old tyres melted down, just doesn’t last.” Most other missing bits and pieces came from www.feked.com in the UK, Lloyd can order parts on a Sunday and have them in his hand the following Friday. Certainly beats the old postal system.
Having a tight knit bike community around town helps when it comes to the more specialised work. “I’ve got a mate, Paul, who helps with any panel work. I help him out with his Norton’s.” Glen at Colour Burst Auto Spray Painting in Albany does all of Lloyds paint jobs, including the factory correct polychromatic silver beige that this A10 came out in. The bits missing bright work are sent to Perth where Mike at Vinci Chrome rejuvenates and coats them to a mirror finish. The rest is all Lloyds hard work.
Being a self taught bike builder is something that Lloyd is quite proud of. His garage is stacked with workshop manuals from dozens of models. He’s learnt his craft over years of patience and studying and trying jobs over and over. It takes a sturdy man to keep trying something until it’s done right.
Only a couple of months after it’s completion, fellow vintage bike enthusiast Shane Ulrich took a shine to it while on a club run. Some arm twisting along with a cheque and offer of a bonus 1959 Austin Westminster finally convinced Lloyd to part with his new machine. Shane already owned a couple of old bikes but the quality of workmanship on the BSA was too hard to resist. He’s changed a couple of things to make it more his own, like swapping the Avon tyres to K70’s, and plans to keep it for the long haul.
Story & Photos by Brian White