Questions? Looking for parts? Parts for sale? or just for a chat,

The WD Motorcycle forum

WD Motorcycle forum
Start a New Topic 
Newbie, new bike, saying hi.

Hello, this is my introduction thread.

I'm Paul, I recently purchased a 1940 BSA WM20 from Brian L. of this forum.

Hopefully I can look around and get some advice from you folks when the time comes to getting this bike tip-top shape. Please shout out a critique or criticism if you see me doing wrong. I want this vehicle to get as much respect as I can manage. I've been doing research and reading here since last year as is, just haven't said hi yet.

Here is the bike, might look familiar assuming it's been posted here in the past.

Full album here:

My plan is to get it running by time of the Brit Jam in Connecticut (home state) and ride it there. Eventually I absolutely want to tackle a full rebuild/resto in military style markings and gear.

I come from a family of bikers. Previously I owned a Harley WLA converted to a servicar but unfortunately "lost it in a flood." I went looking for another vintage bike, especially military after that. I regularly ride an pretty old Goldwing.

This bike has some oddity at close inspection. The paint is puzzling to me. It's clearly a rough finish, looks like there is sand or grit in the paint. Parts of it are brushed with a flat green and a glossy green shows underneath. However in other areas the flat green has gloss green flowing over it! I'm not sure if this was done during WWII or if this was something a previous civilian owner had done. Underneath the knee pads on the tank it's a very glossy green.

I'm not sure what's in the fuel tank. That could be a red oxide paint or it could be some old red kote sealer that's flaking? Either way I'm going to clean the tank and seal it. I figured using some M.E.K. would work.
The seat looks like horse hair and very fragile. I'm afraid of sitting on it. I want to preserve any parts that I remove from the bike. This seat is going to need a replacement.

The Odometer shows 503 (miles, kilometers?) and says the reading is in MPH. Were miles as a measurement original or is this a modification from being imported to the U.S.? I wonder if this bike really only has 503 miles on it since it was rebuilt in 1960 for civilian sale.

First planned steps:
Clean fuel tank and seal it. New fuel filters. Fresh oil, filter, spark plug, battery. New control cables. New tires. New seat. Proper side stand clip and mount (missing). Full maintenance pass.

That's it for now, thanks for providing the resources for this amazing military machine.


Re: Newbie, new bike, saying hi.

Paul, welcome!

That looks like a very worthwhile project. Possibly the first thing to do is work out what year the frame and engine are from. Henk has many of these records and can also tell you the correct C number for the tank. Many of these war horses are like great grandfather's antique axe - absolutely original... except the handle having been carefully replaced on two occasions and the head only once. Alex Schmidt may have a copy of the key card which can also be very informative. It can tell you where it was demobbed and which unit it served in last.

Once you know the production date, the esteemed rivet counters here will be able to tell you every part that's not "correct" for that period, and you can work from there.

I believe the paint is typical. Sometimes sand was added to paint to dull the surface for camouflage purposes. Shiny paint would be either from pre-war or non war service. I think you will be pleasantly surprised at just how inexpensive these things are to restore when compared with a WLA.

good luck with the project!

email (option):

Re: Newbie, new bike, saying hi.

leave the big rear light on - it's much safer !

Re: Newbie, new bike, saying hi.

Yes, Paul,welcome and it looks like a nice machine. I am afraid I am in the school of the more "used" a WD bike looks, the nicer it is, especially if the condition was actually acquired "in service" rather than neglect or bodging in private hands. Getting some history on the bike will assist you decide how to restore it. A bike is only original once. You can of course get a new cover for the saddle and maybe hang on to the original to pass on to the next custodian.....the cover should just unclip. Best of luck with the M20 and when you get tired of life in the slow lane, maybe you can add a Matchless to your collection!

Re: Newbie, new bike, saying hi.

Welcome, I am down the road from you in North Carolina.
Sorry, short welcome out the door to church!
One of the few, Frank USMC RET

email (option):

Re: Newbie, new bike, saying hi.

Thanks all.

Cas, hopefully I've reached out to the correct Henk and Alex for that info.

Frank, I did pick up the bike in North Carolina actually. My mother moved from CT to NC over a year ago and I took a road trip from CT to visit her, and friends in the state and drive back with the bike. What a gorgeous state!

Here's two more pictures, the paint under the rubber knee pads on the tank and a rebuild tag from the engine? What a contrast between the two paints!

Re: Newbie, new bike, saying hi.

I also found my M20 here in North Carolina, already done, plus less than 5 miles from my house! I have been a military vehicle collector for over 40 years and did not know the bike was down the road from me.
Next time you visit Mom, make a run to the coast. I am in a small town called Newport, just up from Morehead City.
Take care.
One of the few, Frank USMC RET

email (option):

Re: Newbie, new bike, saying hi.

That was my first M20, drove from Tennessee to Michigan non stop and return to pick it up. I will dig around and see what history I may have on the bike.

Re: Newbie, new bike, saying hi.

Hey, no kidding, awesome!

It's been through some minor changes that I mentioned above in the year I've had it. New seat cover, tires, rubber grips and a big ole pile of spare parts. Lots of little things all over the bike, plus collecting the dispatch riders gear, boots, gloves, kit, etc.

Putting the finish touches on a shed workshop for the bike right now so I can do some more heavy duty stuff in the future, engine rebuild, etc.

Thanks for looking for any stuff. The bike did come with a nice stack of papers and a bit of history too.

Thanks Jim!

All the best,

Re: Newbie, new bike, saying hi.

Been a year, my bike has been the shop for a major screw up by me. I left gas in the tank, and it ate the lining out of the tank, ate through the peacocks, and destroyed the carburetor. It is just about done, so if you visit Mom this summer, swing down and hopefully I will show it to you.
One of the few, Frank USMC RET

email (option):

Re: Newbie, new bike, saying hi.

Paul this is what was given to me when I purchased the bike from Owen P. McGuigan in Michigan.

"The bike is titled as a 1940
It was refurbished by the War Department 7/4/60
Purchased in 1960 by Ted McCullough of Ypsilanti, Mich.
Ted died in 1996 and bike was sold to British Bikes Only , Garden City , Mich
They sold the bike to Baxters in Iowa and McGuigan purchased it from them.
License plate number 15YE69
Frame number below seat 55-4223
At yoke( real frame number) WM20 103506
Carb 2761014R
Engine # M20 941?? Hard to read "

That was what was given to me when I purchased it. I actually emailed Bryan and tried to buy it back and he said it was sold. Small world for sure. Hope this adds something to the history.

Cheers and safe travels, I hope to ride an M20 this August in a 1000 mile vintage rally in Tn/NC/Ga.... I will keep you all posted!

Re: Newbie, new bike, saying hi.

I recall a snippet on some paper that went with the bike that sounds familiar to that. Either way I'll save what you have here with my huge stack of paperwork with the bike.

Rest assured the bike is being well taken care of!

Thanks for mentioning that vintage rally, I'll look into it. Not sure if I'll make it this year. If you can share more info about that I'd love to take a look!

Keep us posted.

Nieuwe pagina 1