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A Canadian who is new to Bantam ownership but not to Bantams.
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Helno
Ontario Canada
First Gear User
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May 19, 2021
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May 20, 2021 - 12:28 am
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I recently inherited a 1950 BSA Bantam D1 (and a few other bikes that are much less interesting.)

This bike was restored by my father (Bert) from an abandoned wreck. 

The story of how he came to own it is interesting enough to share. Somehow this Bantam was made in 1950 and made it's way over to Canada but was never registered after 1964. The 1964 date is when there was a change to a new registration system so anything that was not renewed after that has no record and that is the case with this old bike. In the 80's father worked with a man who's parents lived in Thessalon Ontario. His father passed away and his mother asked him to clear out the garage. In the garage they found what remained of this bike and the only explanation for it's existence was that the mother recalls some neighborhood kid asking if he could store it there over the winter. I guess he never came back. 

The son correctly decided that despite being in many rusty pieces that there was still some value here and decided not to drop it off at the dump. He consulted with my father who was known for working on oddball small engines. He managed to figure out what it was and after estimating what it would cost to get it going decided not to pursue it. He had given the box of engine parts to my dad and asked if he was interested and he was. 

It took a while to source the parts since at the time the only way to even find stuff was to write letters requesting catalogues. He slowly pieced things back together and I can remember spending quite a few days out in the garage scrubbing parts. Sadly I don't have any pictures of the rebuild but it was pretty extensive. One of the welders who did a bit of work on it joked that there was more rust than part of some of the bits he was asked to patch up. 

He was able to get the bike to a ridable condition sometime in the mid 90's and I remember how happy he was when it first started up coughing out a cloud of blue smoke. He rode around the yard for a bit and then with no paperwork or insurance took off across town to show it off to his friends. Apparently the points gave out halfway through town and he ended up pushing it home.

Despite his best efforts it continued to roast the points and struggled to run for any length of time. We experimented with DIY CDI ignition systems but finally got it running well with a retrofit battery ignition system designed for early Gas engines for large R/C aircraft. The old British bike managed to fry a few of those in confusing and unexpected ways not seen previously by the manufacturer and they eventually sent him a "MilSpec" unit that remains on the bike to this day. 

Once he had the title clear and the bike running well it was time for paint. My mother was living out of town attending school and she dropped in to surprise him and found the livingroom turned into a paint booth. He blended his own Mint Green paint and applied it with a brush as it would have been done in the factory. 

Over the years he took the bike to many vintage motorcycle events and it was always a popular attraction since it was quite different than the normal old bikes seen in Canada. 

He really enjoyed this Bantam and it was one bike in his collection that would never been for sale at any price. He often commented that he hoped I would be riding it when it hit 100 years of age. I'll be close to 70 then but here is hoping I am able to keep it going. 

Here are some pictures of him shortly after the restoration was complete. 

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And some more recent pictures. (I'm sure the astute will be able to spot the bits that are not stock, some are things I plan to fix but some are staying as a testament to his craftsmanship.)

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He had a small youtube channel and it has a few videos of the Bantam running and documenting some of the work he did to raise the compression.

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Stoo63
GLASGOW
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May 20, 2021 - 10:43 am
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Great story, Ryan and a lovely bike. A real credit to your Dad. He's made a fantastic job of it. Especially as it was all back in the pre-internet age.  we do have a few Canadian members but surprisingly not as many bikes turn up as do in Australia.  I'm sure you'll have lots of fun with itinto your 70's and beyond 🙂

You will find just about everything you could ever want on the Forum via the FAQs and technical sections;  ** Please log in to view **

Have a really good nose around the forum and enjoy yourself. Looking forward to seeing your progress.

Good Luck!

All the best,

Stewart

 '55 D3 Battery; '58 Square Four (project); '59 D1 direct lighting plunger; '59 Tiger Cub; '60 5TA;  '76 FS1-E; '91 GTR 1000;  '97 Honda Sky SGX50.

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cocorico
Central France
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May 20, 2021 - 11:50 am
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Incroyable! Great story there. Anything 'non-original' is part of the bikes history, so ya boo sucks to anyone telling you otherwise.

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