Most helpful positive review
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
A must for BSA unit single owners.
on 17 February 2001
The key to enjoying your C15/B25, or your more robust B44 or B50, is to understand its limitations: both those dictated by design and those inflicted by age. Author Rupert Ratio (a.k.a. English design technology instructor Dave Smith) captures this up in his wonderful recent book, The Rupert Ratio Unit Single Engine Manual for BSA when he writes, "In owning one of more of the BSA Unit Singles, the approach which best promotes a trouble free and rewarding coexistence can best be summed up by the maxim:
Put it together properly, Look after it properly, Warm it up properly, Exercise it properly! But, accept its performance limitations - it isn't a big parallel twin, and it isn't Japanese!"
And, a wonderful and unique book it is, indeed. Smith has concocted a recipe of 1 cup shop manual, one cup restoration guide, a half cup of factory service tips, heavily seasoned the mix with suggestions based on personal experience, and sprinkled liberally with the philosophies of a long-time rider, and cooked up an equally tasty and nutritious dish for anyone who owns a Beezer unit single. The Unit Single manual starts with brief history of the machines, and then proceeds to chapters on rebuilding each element of the bikes' electrical and mechanical systems. (Note that the operative words in the title are "Engine Manual" - the book does not explore brakes, frame, wheels, etc.). Each chapter includes selections from dealer service sheets and the factory's and author's illustrations." Most importantly, the book takes into account a very important factors never touched in factory manuals, usually ignored by Chilton and Clymer, and only occasionally acknowledged by Haynes and Nicholson - that the owner/mechanic is unlikely to own factory service tools and must be resourceful in developing alternative means of coping with repairs. Rupert even takes this a step further, offering ideas for repairs by the roadside. For example, he suggests that when an unexpected electrical failure occurs during a journey, a pair of tire levers can be an effective means of prying an alternator rotor from the crank end. Speaking of alternators, here's an typical example of how Rupert's tips take into account the age of the machines, typical frailties of the components and that simple ingenuity can help the owner avoid a search for an expensive, or rarium or unobtainium spare: a common problem with alternators is the output wires breaking off. New wires can be soldered on, even if it's an encapsulated-type unit and the stubs of the old are barely showing. Using a utility knife or sharp chisel, he says, carve away the encapsulation material exposing the wire ends, and solder new wires in place. After routing the new wires through the stator laminations, re-encapsulate them with epoxy resin. The process is illustrated by a series of helpful drawings. I was particularly intrigued by the illustrations, charts and specs list that appear throughout the manual. Certainly, some of them we've seen before, (e.g. drawing of lining up pinion timing marks) but even there, Rupert ads notes from experience (the halftime pinion mark is often obscured by the lockwasher). Criticisms of the manual are minor, indeed. Rupert's writing is clear and detailed, unfortunately his artistic skills don't rise to the same level: while the factory drawings are typically excellent, his additions are somewhat primitive and, in one or two cases, a bit of a struggle to fathom. (Hint for Rupert: no artist myself, I've found over the years that even the most simple computer paint/drawing software - even the stuff that comes bundled with your PC/MAC) makes it easy to create effective illustrations of bike parts and repair techniques). By the way, perhaps the most common problem we've encountered over the years with virtually all BSAs of late '60s vintage isn't mentioned. Around 1969, BSA changed the dimensions of its needle and needle jet combinations. You've got to ensure that you've got the right components paired or the bike just won't run right. I learned this years ago from a factory service sheet which we've reproduced several times in this magazine. Both my A65 and B25 (both '69s) were mismatched and correcting the error made for a world of difference. The Unit Single Engine Manual isn't the only text you'll need to tackle your steed's care and feeding (nor is it intended to be) - you'll need a Haynes book for its detailed breakdown and buildup of the entire machine, and a spares book to show you in what order those gears, washers and bushings slide on the mainshaft (shoulda made some notes when you took the gearbox apart!). But, I wouldn't be without it. These words are clichéd, but they definitely apply: the book is a must for any C/B unit single owner. Oh yes, one complaint about this book: just what I need - another project. I haven't run my B25 in at least 11 years - it's languished in the back of the garage behind the snow blower, toy box, lawn spreader and a pile of roofing shingles while I I've been playng with the A10 and the Triumph Sprint. But, after reading this book, (Honey, the kitchen shelves and new sliding door to the deck may have to wait) I'm motivated to clear away all the junk and haul the bike into the daylight. When I do, Rupert's book will be sitting on the workbench.