Saved from the rubbish tip for just a pound

We visit Devon to learn about John Hammond’s long, hard slog to get his 1957 BSA B33 restored and back on the road

When John Hammond, who was a road racer and competitive Manx Grand Prix and TT performer for 35 years from 1964 until 1999, bought his 1957 499cc BSA B33 in May 1971, it was to save it going to the local rubbish tip after the previous owner, one Bert Gardner from Cheltenham, found he couldn’t operate the kick-starter. When John persuaded him not to destroy the bike but sell it to him instead, Bert insisted on taking just £1!

Turned out nice again – after many years of waiting, John Hammond’s 1957 BSA was restored to immaculate condition – but torrential rain on the day of OBM’s visit to his Devon home meant that the pictures had to be taken within the confines of his cramped garage.

John used the BSA single as a ride-to-work machine and also took it on a few longer runs until one day, while riding home, he heard a rumbling noise from the engine department. It continued for a minute or so and then cleared, so he continued on his way.

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Deciding that something must be wrong, he parked the bike in his home-built garage and went to work in his van, then, come the weekend, he started to strip the engine.

He soon found the problem – the piston had broken up as far as the gudgeon pin, and the remains were nicely ground up into some very small bits.

The piston was clearly scrap, so he rang Eddie Dow of Banbury for advice. His recommendation was that the engine flywheel assembly should be stripped down, with a new piston, big end and little end, and a pair of valves all being replaced.

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Read more in February’s issue of OBM – out now!

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