The BSA A7-A10 Forum

Bikes, Pictures, Stories & more => Chat, Offtopic, Meetings & Everything Else => Topic started by: RDfella on 03.02. 2019 16:48

Title: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: RDfella on 03.02. 2019 16:48
Around 30 yrs ago I asked the guy I used to get my spares from to find me a frame for an engine I was building. Not long after a ’58 GF arrived – bit tatty but complete and a runner – just. Deciding it would be a shame to scrap it, I put it to the back of my shed and got another frame for the project. Not getting any younger, last year I decided it was about time I restored it. How I regret that decision. It has been one problem after another - I should have used it for the project. Here’s a sample: front brake, despite all the usual remedies (including TLS mod) it remains on the dangerous side of adequate. The LH front fork leaks. I’ve rebuilt BSA singles front forks since the mid 60’s and never had a problem, but hey ho, this one won’t behave. I’ve given up trying to seal the thread and now rely on the fact there’s at least one (primitive) shock absorber on the other side. A few weeks ago the battery was flat. Traced the fault to the dynamo. Fitted a new armature and now the charging is off the gauge. I don’t ride at night, so gonna pull the field wire and forget about charging.
Today was sunny and fairly warm, so started the GF ready for a ride. But what’s this – no return to tank. Ran it for several seconds then shut it down. Pulled the timing cover and oil pump and checked the pump on the bench. Works fine and both worm gears are in good order. Put pump back and tried again. No oil return (and next to nothing in sump). At that point, I had difficulty stopping myself from smashing it up. Had the local scrapyard been open (it’s Sunday) I’d have taken it there and asked them to crush it whilst I waited. I’ve had many bikes over the years but this one has been the most unreliable and annoying; and by a considerable margin.
Will make up my mind over the next couple of days what to do with it. At present, either parting it out or dumping the engine and box and fitting something else seem the two best options. Only reason I’ve persevered this long is because so much in the way of parts and time have gone into the restoration.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: Rex on 03.02. 2019 16:53
Blimey....that's the sum of your problems? I reckon my A7 was a painful resurrection but I'd swap my problems for yours in a Flash! 
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: worntorn on 03.02. 2019 18:22
Rdfella, I read your post, saw the Union Jack and thought it was wrong, somehow in my mind I had you as a US member.
So I checked your profile , yep UK there too, guess I had it wrong.
Had a chuckle that the computer program here ( based on post numbers?) has you listed as " A's best friend".
The oil pump problem is a weird one, they normally pump something, even when in tough shape . Air lock in feed?
The other problems don't sound very serious, frustrating for sure, but pretty regular old bike issues.
I have a Vincent special  that has a nearly new  GSXR 600 front fork and noted recently that it is puking oil from one fork, so even the modern stuff isn't totally immune to problems.

Glen
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: Swarfcut on 03.02. 2019 18:49
 Post deleted by Author. February 10 2019.

 Prompted by a lack of appreciation for sound practical advice.

 Swarfy.


 

 
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: muskrat on 03.02. 2019 19:13
G'day RD.
Ah the joys of getting/keeping a 60 odd year bike on the road. On every smooth highway there is always a pothole or ten!
Sometimes it's best to get someone else to have a look. We all suffer from tunnel vision at some point.
Cheers
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: trevinoz on 03.02. 2019 21:17
RD, you should sell it immediately. A10s are not for you.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: BigJim on 03.02. 2019 23:05
Feel your pain!
Having something else to destroy ( empty beer can, annoying headlamp that keeps failing at the critical moment, the part that never fitted ((and was never ever going to fit when it was sold to me)), cuddly toy etc) and to hand can save the day.
I follow this up with a good shout and swear, then keep well away for a while.
I can get philosophical about it, after a few hours, with this technique.
Hope oil returns soon.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: Tomcat on 04.02. 2019 07:46
Good call Big Jim...
then keep well away for a while.



It's a hobby RDF, if you're not enjoying it, leave it alone for a while. Then you will figure out how to fix these little issues. ;)
Everyone has teething problems after a resto, no matter what they tell you.  *eek*
My bikes are going nicely ATM, so this is what I'm doing for entertainment. No new parts are available for it, everything has to be made or pirated from anther car!
Cheers TC
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: cyclobutch on 04.02. 2019 10:49
Had the same thing with a Sunbeam S7D. A dream bike for me, and foolishly I bought one that had just been rebuilt. Now I'd wager I'm not so handy as some folks on here, so eventually after I had been through a huge catalogue of faults, which included having the engine out on the bench for fairly serious work I then handed it over for expert attention.

After all of which the bike was still desperately unreliable, still quite vibey, and it turned out I really didn't even enjoy riding it that much. The last work I did was switching it to wasted spark - after which it would not even run at all.

So it owes me big time and I really, really hate it. So much so that I can't even face switching the coil back over, getting it running and selling it on to claw back whatever I can. It languishes in one of the lower sheds, out of sight.  It's been a horrible experience and so I can only sympathise. 
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: RDfella on 04.02. 2019 12:40
Thanks for the support, fellas.
I learnt a long time ago, whether it's relationships, vehicles or whatever, there comes a time when you have to face the fact you're flogging a dead horse. I have reached that point with this bike. Maybe these continuing problems wouldn't bother me so much if it hadn't been a similar situation throughout the restoration, but I'm not prepared to carry on with a bike that’s going to be a perpetual ‘what’s wrong now’ scenario (and that’s assuming I could solve this latest mystery).
I had that with a Velocette in the mid 60’s. Frame kept breaking where the bottom rail met the downtube, the kickstart was a crappy design that bruised your ankle, but the final straw was the auto adv unit. It had a hole drilled in the taper to locate a spring. Result was if you did it up tight enough not to slip it split – and slipped. The bike went to our local dump.
Then my Triton. I didn’t like the handling, couldn’t ride it at night because the alternator couldn’t keep up with the lights, and got fed up with having to clean the clutch plates every couple of days to prevent the slip which prevented it going over compression fast enough to strike a light. I sold it.
Now the A10. Even more grief than the Velo or Triton. After so much work sorting out wear and tear and others’ bodges, I’d hoped for a reasonably reliable bike - like my other ones, which I just start and ride.
It's a lovely looking bike and the frame handle well, but the engine is more trouble than it’s worth. As an engineer I simply cannot tolerate unreliable machinery.
So, as others have advised, I’m going to keep away from the bike for a while, because otherwise I’m likely to take a lump hammer to it. Indeed, if my mate hadn’t been with me yesterday I would have done just that.
But what to do? I believe there’s another member with a Sunbeam giving him similar grief. Won’t go so you can’t ride it, and can’t sell it either. I’ve discounted the idea of fitting another make of engine, as I’d still have the leaking fork and rubbish brakes. Whatever I decide, this bike will be gone one way or another. And soon. The crusher is looking very inviting.


Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: RichardL on 04.02. 2019 13:07
RD,

I think my words here will mean little, but what the heck.

When I go out for a ride with friends, or in group rides with others riding modern bikes, I warn about my riding style by telling them I don't have what they would call "brakes."

As for oil return, the one time this happened to me was after the oil lines had been disconnected for a while. Turned out a spider had left its egg sack in the intake fitting.

If you do happen to abandon the A10, I don't suspect you'll be visiting us here, so we will miss your engineering knowledge.

Richard L.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: berger on 04.02. 2019 13:08
I just love that bit -"as an engineer-" well I say you are not working on a rocket to take you to the moon its an old brit bike , get a smile  *smile* on your face and go through the simple steps, which are very simple and get it sorted instead of throwing the toys out of the pram . if I had your way of thinking I would have had 40years of other bike riding instead of 40 years of I love my bike I hate my bike and sorting out its problems *fight* I take my hat off to greybeard - now he has had problems , you have a little upset *razz*
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: RichardL on 04.02. 2019 13:18
Hear, hear! Agree wholeheartedly regarding GB's inspirational tenacity.

Richard L.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: Greybeard on 04.02. 2019 13:47
Steady on guys; you'll have me walking on water, (instead of just passing it)
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: bsa-bill on 04.02. 2019 14:25
Quote
instead of just passing it

Walking to do so accounts for 99% of my exercise regime *conf*

Yep restoring these old irons can provide many a challenge, exactly what we need to keep geriatric grey matter from taking to many holidays
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: Rex on 04.02. 2019 16:16
Surely "as an engineer" (whatever that particular catch-all term means) you will appreciate that you're working with long-obsolete machinery, and that alone means that the bath-tub diagram is now well into the "tap zone" for this bike?
At least with something as intrinsically simple as an A10 you have a lot of input to the problem solving process and said problems can usually be solved in a basic workshop. Imagine having the same problems with Honda Four of any variety or a Hinckley Bonnie. A nightmare!
BTW do you know if the tip still has that Velo?
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: worntorn on 04.02. 2019 17:17
Now and then there are MCs and autos produced that are just full of problems.
History has shown that the A10 is not one of them.
You must have a bike that was bodged by former " engineers"
On top of that, I can safely say that many problems are self inflicted, although it's a hard thing to admit.
When I think of the most difficult problems I've had with old Brit iron, they all fall into one of these three categories-
1. Worn out
2. Bodged by former owner
3. Bodged by me, even though I thought I was doing a great job at the time.

Glen
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: stev60 on 04.02. 2019 18:31
If there is one thing certain, there has always been someone there before you, doing things to drive you insane. They can be irritating but forgiving as well, my C11 stopped for no apparent reason, finally found that previous owner, who lives to far away to visit, had left the spacer and circlip out on the cam follower arm , the shaft had worn the housing hole out an extra 3mm  before the pushrod jumped out, it had done a lot of kms in that state, with cam followers wandering all over the place, hitting things they shouldnt *eek*
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: duTch on 04.02. 2019 19:54

 In case I missed something, the only easy things I can can think of that may stop oil returning is if you've accidentally mixed the hoses from/to the tank, and no supply to return ....or if you have a magnetic sump plug it may e holding the ball down
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: RichardL on 04.02. 2019 20:01

 In case I missed something, the only easy things I can can think of that may stop oil returning is if you've accidentally mixed the hoses from/to the tank, and no supply to return ....or if you have a magnetic sump plug it may e holding the ball down

....or, the occasional spider egg sack.   *spider**lol*
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: trevinoz on 04.02. 2019 20:08
The oil return problem is usually a stuck ball in the scavenge pipe, but I am sure that you would have eliminated this as the cause, RD.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: BSARGS650 on 05.02. 2019 10:59
Mmmm...RD, if it is any help, I had a wife that was just like that A10, troublesome, unreliable, bitchy and a drain on resources.  Even expert counselling did not help.  In the end I got a new one and she rides beautifully.....I hear her new lover has unfortunately inherited the very same problems......

Up and at 'em, give it another go after a nice cup of tea, otherwise, it deserves the lump hammer fix...
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: a10gf on 05.02. 2019 12:57
Moved the topic, as it's more a philosophical matter :O) than any precise tech discussion.

To OP, regarding how to sort out oil flow etc, please create dedicated topics in the tech boards.

Thanks
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: RDfella on 05.02. 2019 17:23
Someone posted previously that A series bikes probably aren’t for me. They could be right. After almost 60 yrs of riding motorcycles, this A10 really got under my skin. I just don’t have the patience to deal with unreliable machinery, so guess I’ll stick with my singles and vee twins. At least I don’t have to spend ten minutes draining the sump before I can ride them, or worry about stopping when I’m on the road.
Regarding my GF, I’m so pi**ed off with it I just want it gone. I’ll get a mate to have a look and see if there’s anything I’ve missed and, if he can fix it, it’s for sale straight away.
I’ve had an interesting time reading the advice from gurus such as Greybeard, Muskrat and others but, about to be A10-less, am not now likely to be returning to the forum.
Ride safe and have fun.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: RichardL on 05.02. 2019 17:46
Adieu. Sorry it didn't work out.

Richard L.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: RayC10 on 05.02. 2019 17:50
Just sell it!
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: muskrat on 05.02. 2019 18:31
G'day RD.
I'm real sorry to hear you feel this way. In your 18 months here you have been a valued contributor. You don't have to jump ship, even if you dispose of the A10.
I would have imagined that a man of your mechanical grounding would find the odd A10 problem a breeze. But then sometimes we all get over something.
Horses for courses. I enjoy going down to the shed an hour before I go on a ride. Drain the oil, check the tyres, charge the battery etc. Borrowed a mates modern on the weekend and did the same to it. To me it makes the ride more enjoyable knowing the bike is up to it.
I find the hardest thing with my A's is waiting for parts and nothing to do in the shed.
I really hope you find peace with the A10.
Cheers
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: KiwiGF on 05.02. 2019 19:06
Someone posted previously that A series bikes probably aren’t for me. They could be right. After almost 60 yrs of riding motorcycles, this A10 really got under my skin. I just don’t have the patience to deal with unreliable machinery, so guess I’ll stick with my singles and vee twins. At least I don’t have to spend ten minutes draining the sump before I can ride them, or worry about stopping when I’m on the road.
Regarding my GF, I’m so pi**ed off with it I just want it gone. I’ll get a mate to have a look and see if there’s anything I’ve missed and, if he can fix it, it’s for sale straight away.
I’ve had an interesting time reading the advice from gurus such as Greybeard, Muskrat and others but, about to be A10-less, am not now likely to be returning to the forum.
Ride safe and have fun.

In my experience the A10 is not unreliable, neither is my b31. Both wet sump a bit but I don’t have to drain the sumps before riding them, even after weeks of being unridden. I’m an engineer but these bikes only require the skills of a good mechanic to rebuild.

Having said that if I had only one bike, it would be the b31  *fight*
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: trevinoz on 05.02. 2019 20:36
I guess there are engineers and there are engineers.
I agree with Kiwi, these machines don't need a university degree to maintain them.
I can only comment on my own early experiences with an A10, being an 18 year old apprentice electrician and armed with a set of service sheets and basic tools I managed to strip down and rebuild my Flash and it ran beautifully until the 10.5:1 pistons and 357 cam plus a heavy right hand took their toll.
Back to the shed and start all over again. Change the pistons and fit new (used) barrel and back on the road.
Wet sumping was unknown as the bike was used regularly and the brakes were not too bad, single sided, but all brakes were pretty ordinary then, cars included.
So I would like to wish RD well but I feel that he didn't try hard enough. 
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: RichardL on 05.02. 2019 21:44
... these machines don't need a university degree to maintain them.

Though, I find it helps in choosing the correct profane expression when frustration sets in.

I'm a motorcycle mechanic of very limited experience (or, a lot of experience on one bike, as seen in my avatar) and she is running beautifully right now. No wet sumping (or so slow as to not matter), charging and sparking on original Lucas serviced by me. I have always been driven to resolve my A10 issues as a personal accomplishment. Taking nothing away from RD's technical knowledge (which is significant), I suspect his already extensive work on various motorcycles means he does not get the same satisfaction from working out problems that I do, and that's just fine. We are who we are, nothing wrong with wanting to move on.

Richard L.

P.S. Apologies, RD, if any of this sounds like two-bit psychoanalysis. My degree is an EE, not a PhD in psychology.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: cyclobutch on 05.02. 2019 22:32
There's bikes and there's bikes. Some are just going to be a pain in the nuts. Sometimes you really do have to move on.

Good luck with the sale.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: Joolstacho on 05.02. 2019 22:46
When it boils down, it's as much about mental attitude as mechanical aptitude isn't it.
You need a stubborn streak for sure.
Some have it, some don't.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: Black Sheep on 06.02. 2019 07:02
Some years ago I got the bike I had always wanted - a 1954 Velocette MSS (don't ask). What a pain that turned out to be. Timing miles out, carburation miles out, dynamo burnt out, petrol tank leaking, clutch fried, gearbox pretty much unusable. It took a lot of blood sweat and tears to finally sort it out, especially the clutch and gearbox. At times I was tempted to put it on eBay but couldn't bring myself to foist it on some other poor sod. So I had to persevere. Now it's a first kick starter and a pleasure to ride. I'm pleased I've got it. 
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: Joolstacho on 06.02. 2019 07:28
Yep, I've run my Velocette Clubman for about 40 years. It'll get buried with me*, that's how much I love it.
And YES it's been a pain many times. Nothing REALLY worthwhile in life is easy.
(*Actually I'll pass it on to someone who will cherish it... with luck!)
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: muskrat on 06.02. 2019 09:43
I've had my A7 plunger for 38 years. Rebuilt once.
I'll get cremated and the ashes  poured into the hole in the backbone. If I can't take it with me I'll go with her.
Cheers
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: mikeb on 06.02. 2019 10:10
i laughed out loud when i read your initial post RD. someone finally said it!
my a10 is a keeper but when i first wrecked it it was more a grudge match i wasn't prepared to lose

put it to the back of the shed again? or if there's truly no joy in it then out with the big hammer or down the road!
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: Slymo on 07.02. 2019 05:39
Fixed my leaking fork with plumber’s Teflon tape.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: kiwipom on 07.02. 2019 20:59
hi guys, Slymo its good for that `PTFE`tape , commonly known as `Plumbers Tape For Emergencies` not used for a permanent seal on plumbing systems, cheers
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: edboy on 08.02. 2019 19:59
maybe its an age thing.
as an old fart it was measuring and metalwork that described engineers not where do i plug my laptop in and what page is the watch with mother flowchart located.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: Rex on 09.02. 2019 10:51
When I was a lad that would classed as the (very skilled) job  of a fitter, whereas engineers had letters after their names and designed aircraft, bridges and space rockets.
Now the bloke who fixes the washing machine is an engineer, the one who lays the carpet in the front room is a fitter and the little Thai bird who sticks on false nails is a technician. *sad2*
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: ChasF on 09.02. 2019 12:52
When I was training as an electronics engineer a few years back (I don’t think the term ‘software’ had been invented!) we were always taught that engineers were problem solvers whereas technicians follow a procedure, process or whatever. My problem solving training has served me well ever since no matter whether it be an electronic, electrical, mechanical or even a civil engineering issue that has to be solved.

Old bikes are, in my experience, reliable if put together correctly and, these days, avoiding the many dodgy pattern parts available. Most of the problem solving involves overcoming bodges or hamfisted spannering which have occurred over the many years and miles of service.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: edboy on 10.02. 2019 06:05
yes, we are no longer called engineers. i m called a train maintainer now and that includes fixing washing machines , repairing lino and carpets and sticking nails where ever the job requires them.
letters after your name in top management but usually apprenticeships on shop floor.
however the new apprenticeships are not craft ones, in my book. the real glory now is changing some electrical box somewhere that logged a fault. wow.
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: lawnmowerman on 10.02. 2019 09:56
The word engineer (Latin ingeniator) is derived from the Latin words ingeniare ("to create, generate, contrive, devise") and ingenium ("cleverness").

There are many different specialisms in engineering but all share the same qualities of being able to adapt and think "out of the box" rather than following a set process.

Jim

Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: Rex on 10.02. 2019 11:15
I always understood that the word "engineer" stems from "one who looks after engines", and similar to "grenadier"  soldiers who specialised in grenades, and bombardier etc etc.
In the US train drivers were termed "engineers" up until recently (and maybe still are).
Title: Re: A10 - most invigorating bike I've owned
Post by: worntorn on 10.02. 2019 18:37
Here in Canada an Engineer is someone who has attended University. It's arguably the toughest course load to navigate, more difficult than medicine or business. We have a lot of respect for Engineers, at least until the dam breaks or the floor collapses.
We rely on them to figure out how to build difficult items and we expect those items to perform their tasks, be safe to use and durable. Most of the time they get it right.

Other than that we have the striped hat wearing "Train engineers" with the word "Train" always added to differentiate from a degreed engineer.

My expat UK friends seem to refer to anyone who picks up a tool of any kind as an engineer, so, as with many things, the same word has a different meaning in the different countries.

Glen
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: duTch on 10.02. 2019 20:49

 Goung back to RD's original post, if the dyamo was refurbed (or partly) and has a mechanical reg maybe that just needs a bit of a tweak- I did it to mine and made a huge difference and I'm no electrical engineer.....

 Regarding the oil no-return; apart from homeless spiders or other critters sheltering from storms, I can't help wondering if there is actually oil in the tank......I assumed there to be, but some obvious things can be easily overlooked.... *dunno*
Title: Re: A10 - most irritating bike I've owned
Post by: edboy on 10.02. 2019 22:01
it sounded like rd threw in the towel.
the answers to his problems are old ones posted on the forum, but he has to see the wood from the trees when reading them. or seek assistance such as the bsa owners club.