A Winter Project
By John Whitcombe
I was looking for a winter project so I kept an eye on Trade Me and asked around at the Classic Motorcycle club without much luck.
Want I wanted was something that was complete, or nearly so, as I didn’t want to have to hunt the country looking for parts.
I tried an old friend in the Manawatu who set up a visit with Peter Thompson of Thompson’s Motorcycle Museum in Rongotea. Peter has a large collection of motor cycles and parts, but the only bike that he would part with was in his words, “a bit unusual might not suit it’s a 65 BSA (three magic letters) it’s a B40 but a WD model.” My reply was, “What’s a WD?” He replied that he presumed it stands for war department. So there it was (see first photo) rather tired looking but complete and original. Peter said, “I’ve got the saddle bags for it somewhere if you want them.” “YES!” and the deal were done.
This bike had never been registered in New Zealand and still had the British number plate and ownership papers. The best information that Peter could give me was that he bought it in Wellington about 20 years ago and that it had been stored in a container since then. The only information prior to that was that it was thought that it came to New Zealand in a container of parts brought in by British Spares, probably part of a job lot which included the bike
A bit of time on the net brought to light a collection of these WD bikes. The Mitchell Collection at http://bsawdb40.com/ is well worth a look. The site shows a bike with the same registration letters and although the numbers are not shown it must be close to my bike. This confirms that the bike was made for the Home Office and in particular the Auxiliary Fire Service.
Looking at the British ownership papers shows it was first registered on 18th March 1965 and since then has had two private owners before being shipped to New Zealand, with the last change in September 1994.
So the project started. As you can see from the before photo the bike was showing its age, although factory-made by BSA the paint work consisted of only one top coat and over the years this had worn away to leave quite a bit of surface rust showing.
This was about the time that BSA was getting into financial difficulties and they could not complete the next order placed by the Home Office and this may explain the thin coat of paint.
As winter came on the fireplace in the shed was stoked up and the bike stripped and refurbished and is now as shown in the photos.
John winning the Best Unit Single (British Spares) trophy at the 2013 BSA Rally for his 1965 B40 WD