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What could be better than a 350cc Gold Star? Why a 500cc Gold Star of course but then would 650cc Rocket Gold Star be better still? We take a look at all three together.
The first man to top the 100mph mark at Brooklands was Douglas Davidson in 1921 riding a Harley. From then on, anyone who did a 10Omph lap at the Surrey circuit was awarded a Gold Star badge. One quiet Wednesday, at Brooklands, in 1937, four times TT winner Wal Handley came out of retirement to ride what looked like a standard (ish) BSA M24 Empire Star, but beneath that standard-looking exterior lay a highly tuned factory special, running on alcohol, with 13:1 compression and a racing magneto. BSA had also retired from building works bikes back then, but when Handley scorched round the Brooklands banking to win his race (despite a handicap of nine seconds) at an average speed of 102.27mph and a fastest lap of 107.57mph, everyone made a note that BSA were back. Not bad for a standard-looking Empire Star.
Factory bosses were quick to cash in on Handley's achievement. The following year, the M24 Gold Star went on sale.
making a silk purse...
OK, so the old M-series singles and later B-series bikes weren't sows' ears and, in truth, it didn't take too much to turn them into world beaters, but the differences are significant, and mostly in the engine. Pretty much all the cycle parts are the same between a B31 and a Goldie. It's the alloy cylinder barrel, high compression piston, alloy head, GP carb and close ratio RRT2 gearbox that really make the difference.
It's not however as simple as all that. The road racers and off-road machines had different spec engine internals and cycle parts and even the archetypal Goldie, the DBD34 was available in several different specs depending on what the customer wanted. Genuine Gold Star engine cases always end in 'GS', which is important if you're buying and restoring one, but most of the racers these days use standard B31 items which cost a fraction of the price.
you, me and baby makes three
It was like The Three Bears, Daddy Bear, Mummy Bear and Baby Bear and an instant attraction. We pulled up on the roadside in a quiet rural Lincolnshire village and within minutes, two residents had stirred from their post evening meal slumbers to witness something rarely seen on Britain's roads today, all three members of the Gold Star family together.
#1 1959 db32 350cc
#2 1961 dbd34 500cc.
This is the VMCC's Christmas 2010 raffle bike and what a little peach it is too. It has a bit of Manx GP history, in that Bill Cadger - he of the Bob Mac Memorial Meeting fame - campaigned it a time or two a few years ago. It has a Mk1 Concentric carburettor which allows the engine to tick over, when warm at least, and a standard gearbox. The latter makes life easier in town or traffic but the ratios allow the revs to drop just a little too low and it takes a few seconds for the power to cut back In. Don't forget also that the pedal is reversed on a standard cam plate, so it's one down three up! Riding position is stock Goldie with the dip-ons and rear sets and the front end sports the sought after but not necessarily better 190mm full width drum brake. The tank is alloy, unlacquered and crying out for the Autosol.
Long time Gold Star OC member Keith Beacroft was entrusted to give it the once over and while at the time there were still one or two minor jobs to do - the rev counter had stopped working for example - overall it's a belting little bike, which stops, goes and handles really well. The magneto has recently been overhauled by FTW, in Sheffield, and now the bike is a guaranteed starter within a couple of kicks. The compression is exceptionally healthy and can be completely uncooperative to all but the firmest of kicks. Once the valve lifter has actually done its job, the starting procedure is, with the carb' flooded, the air lever and throttle closed and the advance-retard lever set mid way, to swing the kick-start a good few times to get the engine spinning and then release the lever - instant life!
Mr Crook, from Devon won this bike for just the p ew raffle tickets, and has himself a very special little
According to the Gold Star OC, this particular bike was shipped out to Singapore, straight from the factory. That's as much history as is known of it. It was laid up for about 15 years with a faulty gearbox, prior to the present owner rescuing it. It's been refurbished, rather than restored and the work has been on going, as components have failed along the way. The rusty wheel rims have been replaced by flanged alloys, courtesy of Central Wheel Components and Gold Star specialist Dave Flintoft has given the engine a thorough inspection. He recommended fitting scrambles cams, to bring the power down to the midrange, more sensible than the clubman top of the rev range cams, for modern road conditions. It runs out of puff around the ton now, but even that's a few points and hefty fine.
The clutch was beyond sensible refurbishment, so has been replaced by a NEB 16 plate unit, though it retains chain primary drive. SRM Engineering have converted the magneto to electronic operation which has meant a conversion to 12v electrics. The starting procedure is slightly different to the Junior. Flood the GP and keep the throttle closed, wind the air lever wide open, find compression, ease it over on the valve lifter until the kick-start is as good as at the bottom of its swing, then let It back to the top, swing and release. Job done. If, however, you don't catch it on the throttle once it's fired, you'll have to wait five seconds for the coils to recharge, otherwise the auto ignition is still set on full advance and that could lead to one hefty crack on the calf. It's loud too - the Goldie twitter is there too for all to hear - in fact no one could fail to, you can hear it for miles!
rice of a bike.
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