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BSA A65D Lightning Rocket
I am trying to collate information on the A65D Lightning Rocket.
I have retrieved the following info off of the Web, if any one else has any info I would appreciate e-mailing me on philiplynnewt@gmail.com  
Many thanks Philip Wright

BSA in James Bond Thunderball

USA Model

The BSA Lightning Rocket was a British motorcycle made by BSA at their factory in Birmingham. A highly tuned version of the BSA A65R Rocket this was BSA's bid to capture the potentially lucrative USA export market in the mid 1960's. Twin Amal 389/206 carburettors and high compression pistons combined with an optional close ratio gear box to give lively acceleration.
Sharing many
A65 cycle parts, the Lightning Rocket had a slimmer fuel tank and mudguards - with extra chrome. From 1965 the A65 was discontinued in the UK and the BSA A65L Lightning become the main BSA production twin.

This is my Bike

This my bike, the "British" version, note the clubman tank, panels and variouse other parts.

BSA 650cc "Rocket Lightning" confirmed:
Eng No A65D 6228 – Frame No A50B 10301
History.
First purchased by
Mr Stanley Roy Worsfold in Feb 25th 1966 from
Phillips & Bloomfield Motors Ltd
68 London Street, Reading, Phone 52635.
March 1978 sold to his brother Mr Barry Malcolm Worsfold.
April 1989 sold to dealer:
Two Wheels (British Motorcycles)
35 Cross Street
Farnborough
Hampshire, 0252 522552
When purchased it had a fairing and a smooth rocker box cover, a rear rack and different handlebars.
·
1978 the rocker box cover was changed to a finned one.
·
1979 Rear shock’s changed

   
· 1989 Allen-head bolts used in engine covers.
·
12v electrics fitted by CW Motor Cycles of Dorchester
·
1991 Rear wheal sprocket re-toothed (welded type) by
Roger  Maughling Eng., Knighton, Powys.
Speedo recon. by Speedo Repairs of Frimley Green, Surrey.
·  
1995 Stainless steel rims & spokes front & rear
·  2001
Seat Recovered (was sculptured at the rear)
   
2010 New rings (stnd) new exhaust valve guides. (first time barrels off since new)

The above are the main changes plus routine maintenance etc.
The BSA 1962-65 Workshop manual the only model with
twin Amal 389/206 carburettors is the A65 Lightning Rocket,
which mine has.
In the publication BSA Twins & Triples
1964 A65 Lightning Rocket engine Nos A65D–101
frame Nos A50B-101
1965 A65 Lightning Rocket engine Nos A65D–1742
frame Nos A50B-4001

9th January 2009 update

On the 23rd September 2008 I received an e-mail from Terry Worsfold, Roy's brother to say that Roy had passed away and on clearing his garage found the original fairing that came with the bike when he bought from Phillips & Bloomfield and enquired as to whether I would like it.

The colour was Old English White, apparently, and a friend of mine who is a car body repairer, repaired the fibre glass and re-sprayed the fairing. The brackets were shot-blasted and painted gloss black.
 They also found the original back rack which I have had shot-blasted and painted gloss black but not yet fitted.

A photo showing the bike in the New Forest in 1966 was also forwarded to me and is shown below.

My very sincere thanks go to the Worsfold family for letting me have these items.


1966 New Forest


2009 West Bay

2009 West Bay

2009 West Bay

2009 West Bay

2009 West Bay

11th January 2012 Update

A complete engine rebuild was needed during 2011 which included new bearings, small and big ends, crank regrind plus misc., bits and pieces.
I did not go for the SRM conversion, the original bearings have lasted 60,000 plus miles, friends in the area helped to machine the new bearings and rebuild the engine for me, the cost to me was in the region of £600 which included "DRINKS" for my friendly helpers.

I also had a local company, Andy’s Workshop Services see front page, make a set of Siamese front pipes as I could not buy a set of A65 pattern pipes from any one that would fit. These cost £160 and worth every penny.

I have now taken the fairing off to enable me to have more "fun".

Replies from The Classic Bike Mart, Dec 2007.

Phil Wright's BSA (photograph no I in November issue) brought forth a good response.
First on the phone was my BSA guru Dick Lewis of Weybridge, who confirms that yes, it is a 1965 Lightning Rocket, a US export model and very rare.

 
Ian Ferguson in Overton, Hampshire agrees and says frame numbers would have been A50B and engine numbers A65D, whereas the Lightning Clubman engines were A65DC, the 'C' denoting close ratio gearbox. Roy Bacon's BSA twin book confirms this. Ian had one of these Lightning Rockets back in the mid-70s, bought from Claude Rye. He sold it to a Hell's Angel in Southampton around 1978 and wonders where it is now (KHV 47D).

Fanny Barnett expert John Harding in Ross-on-Wye agrees it's a Lightning Rocket but thinks it's a 1964 model. He confirms the numbering for Lightning Clubman machines as A65DC.
Philip Britlin in Strathaven agrees the Lightning Rocket identification, and so does Alan Coates, both of whom also refer to Roy's book.

 

 

The bike below is on the NEA Automotive site.

1965 BSA Lightning Rocket

The 1965 BSA Lightning Rocket has 650cc and twin Amals. Fully restored from the crankshaft out. Every part on the bike is the original part except the exhaust system and front and rear rims (which are NOS Jones) and the rear shocks (Hagons). The new exhaust is, as you can tell, Siamese and is BSA NOS for the 1965 European-version Lightning Rocket (the US model was not offered with Siamese exhaust). I have the original rims, shocks and exhaust system. Of course, all numbers match. I was the third owner and the second owner is a close friend of mine who acquired the bike when it was nine months old. I sold the bike a year or so ago to a Norwest Airlines pilot and long-time Brit-Iron enthusiast. This exhaust system is a very rare item. In fact, it's the only one I have ever seen on a Lightning Rocket in this country. BTW, the side cover badges are off for repainting to match the tank badges.

Just another good-looking motor...

The engine was not sandblasted, shell blasted, or otherwise blasted - it has the original casting patina. It was cleaned with kerosene only. It could use further polishing but, personally, I prefer the original casting patina - you can never get it back once you've blasted it with walnut shells or something. 

All fasteners that could be replaced by SAE stainless steel have been replaced (although I have ALL of the originals, right down to the last washer). This means all fasteners that have a bolt and nut as opposed to those that thread into a casing, etc.  BTW, that doodad you see between the down tubes just above the exhaust system is the Tympanium rectifier. It has since been moved to a very neat location behind the left side panel. The wiring harness is excellent throughout and I have a complete spare, just in case.

No Heli-Coils have been installed as all the original head bolts and threaded holes were in perfect condition. The engine had never been apart until I rebuild it. All the old fasteners that were re-used are in excellent condition. New oversize stainless steel spokes, new fork tubes (by Frank's), Boyer electronic ignition, 12v conversion with Tympanium rectifier, new chain, new primary chain, new primary chain tensioner, etc., etc., etc. Yes, all the parts that you can't see were replaced and I have the receipts from British Only to prove it. BTW, this bike starts on the first kick every time, hot or cold.

It ALL used to be "Show Chrome"...

All chrome has been re-chromed in triple plate show chrome by ABC Chrome in Waterford, MI, including the fuel tank. Those of you familiar with ABC know they do many of the show cars for Autorama, etc. The chrome on this bike cost $1500 in 1996. There were no dents or other damage to the bike prior to re-chroming - this was a straight bike. It had never been dropped, hit, or mistreated. Even the clutch and front brake levers were perfect. It was simply 30-some years old and needed to be stripped and restored.

The entire chassis was powder coated in dark blue. All "cycle side" components were done - wheel hubs, frame, swing arm, foot pegs, fork housings, taillight bracket, and so on and so on right down to nuts & bolts. Every single piece of original chrome was re-chromed - right down to every nut & bolt.

The tires are new K-81 Dunlop's matched to the original cross section. The engine was built by David Coe in Ionia, MI, and received all new bearings and bushings in both engine and transmission except the right side crank bushing which was in "as new" tolerance. Many knowledgeable BSA fans are aware that 1966 was the year BSA unit twins received the left side crank bearing change that weakened bushing reliability. 1965 was the last year for the original roller bearing crank and, as such, this year is considered by many to be the finest unit motor of it's kind. It is bulletproof, simple to build and simple to maintain and makes excellent power. 

Also, the BSA chassis was mechanically the most elegant on the market in the 60's. It even has a quick-change rear wheel that allows the wheel to be removed without disturbing chain tension (makes fixing flat tires a breeze). That is remarkable for 1965. BTW, yes, the rear sprocket is in perfect condition.

"Handed" Amals, NOS badges...

Close inspection will reveal that the twin Amals are "handed". It is very rare to find one with handed monoblocs, but it sure makes getting at the ticklers easier. They look cooler, too. (For Amal aficionados, there is a 389 and a 689, 1 1/8 bores, needles and jets set to stock.)  

I have a complete photo history and complete pedigree dating back to the original owner and I have the original title. As I mentioned, I am the third owner of this bike. The first owner had it for 9 months; the second had it until 1996 when I bought it as a restoration project. Before my rebuild, it had 22,000 miles on the clock.

Finally, Finch painted this bike. HD fans might recognize him from Finch's Custom Cycles in Auburn Hills, MI. It is a pale yellow metallic and it is beautiful. Handling is light, quick and predictable for this vintage machine. Brakes are awful but typical for the period. Gearing seems tall but I suppose I’ve gotten used to five speed gearboxes and the old 4-gear job just feels tall. In general she is a very nice bike and a pleasure to ride. It sounds wonderful, smells like a Brit-iron twin ought to, and buzzes like one of those 25-cent bed vibrators. It's a great bike.

OK, What's Wrong With It?

I did the rest on this one prior to the arrival of my first child. These days, I'm lucky to get fifteen minutes of uninterrupted time to myself. I just don't have the time to fix the little details and, although I ride the bike and fix the big stuff, I'm anal retentive enough that even minor flaws bug me. This one deserves someone that has the extra time to keep it in show bike condition. It is truly that nice.

The seat needs to be recovered. The pan is fine and there are no rips or tears but a nice new cover would look sharp. The speedo and tacho both work fine although the main odometer is so faded you can't read the numbers. The trip odometer works fine but lacks a reset stick - I have no idea where it went. These instruments cost about $100 each to restore properly but frankly, they wont work any better than they do now. They'll just have new rubber bezels and look prettier. BTW, the amp meter works also, which is just about miraculous for an original Lucas part. The headlight on/off switch works perfect but the bakelite actuator vibrated off one day. Also, the ignition key vibrated off and vanished. Both add up to a minor nuisance.

The tank leaked and damaged the paint on lower edge of each side of the gas tank. Luckily, I have enough of the original paint to do the tank and side covers at least once more so touch up is a relatively minor thing. I replaced the old Ewart petcocks with modern valves (saved the Ewarts, of course). I have not (and do not intend to) Kreem the tank. There were two pinhole leaks and, in response, we lead soldered the seam on both sides. The rest of the tank is solid as a rock. It's important to remember that this tank was perfect - not a dent or mark of any kind when I re-chromed it. Therefore, the chrome is perfect. The tank is in excellent condition except for the paint flaws and those are easily corrected.  

Also, the aluminium engine covers are due for a good polishing and the rear brake light actuator switch needs painting. The right fork leg seal weeps a bit because the seal moved slightly out of its seat when I tied the bike down in the back of my truck one day. Simple fix but I don't have the time to fuss with it right now. Finally, there is a slight scuffmark on the front fender between the fork tubes where the headlight bezel rubbed against one day; it is minor enough that you have to look for it. Likewise, there is a scratch in the chrome on the rear fender under the passenger grab bar you have to look under the seat to see.

That's about it. It is an exceptionally nice 1965 BSA Lightning Rocket. There are very few around and just about none of them have all their original parts. This one is show quality throughout except for touching up the paint on the tank, the seat cover, painting the brake light switch, polishing the cases and a good coat of wax. Incidentally, the bike cost just over $5500 to restore, plus my labour.

 

 

Lot 293: BSA 654cc Lightning Rocket

 

Vintage and Collectors Motorcycles, Bonhams (25th April 2004)

[View all lots in this auction]

Presented in superb condition

Lot Details

Auction

Vintage and Collectors Motorcycles
Bonhams, Stafford County Showground

Type

Motorcycle

Lot Number

293

Estimate

£4800-£5200

Outcome

SOLD

Hammer Price

-

Hammer Price (inc premium)

£3680

Year

1965

Condition rating

1

Registration number

FKJ 217C

Mileage

-

Chassis number

A50B 9480

Engine number

A65D 5691

Engine capacity (cc)

654

Engine - cylinders

 

Number of doors

 

 

I have built a Lightning Clubman Replica. British Cycle Supply has been the source of a number of major and minor bits. Wanted to include a picture for you. I started with a very rough 1965 Lightning Rocket. Since the forks, frame, wheels, etc are the correct running gear for a Lightning Clubman, used that as the basis. The original plan was to make it resemble a Lightning Clubman, somewhere, it got out of hand and became a very detailed replica. Started in August of 2004 and completed it in July of 2006. Has a Dunlop alloy rim in the front, Morad on the rear, late half width front brake for the extra braking area. Rear sets are duplicates of the Small Heath rear sets using sketches allegedly from a real one and some poor pictures. Engine is a 1965 spec. A65D motor used 9-1 compression to run on today's fuel. Has a close ratio box in 1st & 2nd with std 3rd. Works super! Overall gearing is for the Isle of Man, which makes starts a treat. Wiring harness was made by myself, has modern charge control and electronic ignition. Ross Thompson restored tank. The paint, which was colour matched to a NOS BSA tank was applied by Wes Adkins from East Canton Ohio. The colour is getting a tremendous amount of comment. I was hesitant to paint it gold, but after seeing the final result, it is stunning. The exhaust system was a major component supplied by BCS. You had Lightning Clubman exhaust on your site; I immediately bought the full set. Fit was excellent and it sounds awesome. Bike is a blast to ride. Down side, it will probably get me into trouble, as it likes to run somewhat faster than legal! Thanks for your help on this project and look forward to using you in my future projects.

Rich Bucher, Stone Creek, Ohio.

 

Bert and Chris struck by Lightning as 'dream classic' returns from treatment by Robin James team.

The 1966 BSA Lightning was in a sorry state when restoration work was begun on it for Bert and Chris Tromans, of Wolverhampton, England. Worse was to come, as it was not looking better after much searching and heartache for them. Bert and his wife entrusted the restoration to what they call "the Robin James infirmary", and the fully restored motorcycle is now a dream classic in their eyes.

"Anyone having Robin James attend to their precious machinery will obtain, right from the start, total professionalism, and will be kept informed at every stage of the process," Bert comments. "The firm’s attitude towards detail and authenticity makes the difference between a disastrous first restoration (contact me!), and the superlative job done by Robin and his team."

The BSA Lightning Rocket 650cc was returned to its owners in ‘as new’ condition. "It is a fact that customers bring their bikes to us to sort out others’ mistakes," agrees Robin James. "And we don’t just make them beautiful, we make them go well too!"

"If it won’t start and stop like it did when it was new, we do something about it," he promises.

Enquire with confidence about the professional restoration of your cherished machine by Robin James Engineering Services, the Concourse awards-winning, British restorer of classic motorcycles, established in 1979.

Please telephone us for an initial discussion with Robin James. This is the best way of contacting us: the discussion can take in the particular history of the motorcycle and your wishes for its restoration. You will have Robin's undivided attention but will not be pressured, and our advice is free. Reach us on +44 (0) 1568 612800.

Alternatively, please fax us on +44 (0) 1568 616457, e-mail us on
info@robinjamesengineering.com, or write to:

Robin James Engineering Services,
Clinton Road,
Leominster,
Herefordshire HR6 0RJ
England.

We look forward to responding to your interest. Thank you for visiting our website - and we hope that, before long, we will meet you in person.

 

BSA Number Data
1964
 

Model

Engine prefix

Engine sequence

Frame prefix

Frame sequence

CC

A65 STAR

A65A

101

A50

5501

650

A65 POLICE

A65AP

101

A50

5501

650

A65R ROCKET

A65B

101

A50B

101

650

A65T THUNDERBOLT ROCKET

A65B

101

A50

5501

650

A65R ROCKET WITH REV COUNTER

A65C

101

A50

5501

650

A65L LIGHTNING ROCKET

A65D

101

A50B

101

650

A65SH SPITFIRE HORNET

A65E

101

A50B

101

650

1965 

A65 STAR

A65A

1134

A50

8437

650

A65 POLICE

A65AP

267

A50

8437

650

A65 LIGHTNING

A65DC

2158

A50B

4001

650

A65 LIGHTNING CLUBMAN

A65DC

2158

A50B

4001

650

A65L LIGHTNING ROCKET

A65D

1742

A50B

4001

650

A65R ROCKET

A65B

334

A50

8437

650

A65R ROCKET WITH REV COUNTER

A65C

1082

A50

8437

650

A65SH SPITFIRE HORNET

A65E

701

A50B

4001

650

 

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