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

The WD Motorcycle forum

WD Motorcycle forum
Start a New Topic 
Author
Comment
BSA B40 Military M2 1968

I have just completed refurbishment of my Mark 2 B40 Military machine and wondered if any other machines still exist in Australia.
The bike has matching engine and frame numbers B40M343
The only records I could find was a copy of the BSA factory dispatch paper in March 1968 supplied by Lee Mitchell at bsawdb40.com
Thanks Paul Smith

email (option): pr.casmith@bigpond.com

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

Hi Paul, have you looked in the ledgers kept by the Australian War Memorial?

Rob

https://www.awm.gov.au/collection/AWM126/

email (option): robmiller11(a)yahoo.co.uk

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

It is highly unlikley unless they are private import.
The Australian Government ordered 450 B40 GA's
These were retired from 1969 to 1974 due to lack of spare parts.
Apart from that there were 20 C15 framed B 40's from the initial evaluation bikes and 2 B40 ( Victor ) framed B40s for the second evaluation round.
The spares for the army's WD B 40's plus the remainder of the initial order were sunk in the Suez canal in 1967 and the closure of the Suez created a transport crisis forcing ships to transit around the Horn of Arica which added several days to each voyage so there was a backlog of good traveling from the UK to Australia in fact there was a backlog world wide.
By the time the Suez reopened 1975 BSA was long gone as Dennis Poore was perpertrating the biggest asset strip in world history on the assets of BSA.
The army retired the B40's early and from 1969 started replacing them with Suzuki 400's for on road use & Honda Elsenores for off road use. From 1968 to 1980 the remaining B40's were maintained by private companies.
I have no idea if any were despatched to WA nor who in WA did the servicing of them if there were any.
In Sydney the contract was done by Cladesville Motorcycles.
In 1982 & 1984 the remaining B40 GA's that had been kept for spares were sold off from the Holdsworthy army Barracks.
I bought 2 from the first sale and another ( for spares ) from the second.
In 1988 one crated B40's ( and a crated M20 + 2 WLA HD's ) turned up in Brisbane barracks & were also sold off at public auction when the associated stores were sold off for for housing developments.
During the period 1980 to 1986 a lot of B40 GA ( and WM20) ) spares were auction off from the St Mary's site prior to it being sold for residential development which never happened due to soil contamination so it remains an industrial estate.
That was the last time any military B40's or B40 parts surfaced.
At one time we did try to locate all of them and managed to account for around 175.
Being a special order the B40 GA's do not appear in the general despatch records as they were built on a different line, thought to have come out of the competition shop production line.
As not all of the fleet arrived in Aust and the B40's were found highly unsatisfactory in service ( due to the silly Australian specification ). Suzuki GS 400 replaced them without any evaluation for the on road use and the remaining B40's went to field operations where they were deemed satisfactory.

What I can say without any problems is no B40 MkII's were received by the Australian Government

The Army archives motorcycle book is -203 and you will find the BSA's from item 94743 - 94744 ( C 15's ) then 94754 - 94753 ( c15 framed B40's ) then 94785 - 95234 ( B 40 GA ), 444 of them so 6 are missing.
The last records are from 1972 then there is space for future motorcycles but no B40 M's are listed thus none were in the posession of the Aust government by 1972, the year that BSA ceased trading so the records would indicate that any B 40M's sent here for evaluation would appear to be incorrect.

Now Dave Smith is pretty thorough and he spent hundreds of hours wading through the BSA records so I have no doubt that what he says is what appears in the BSA books but the books have been know to tell untruths.

I know for a fact that the B40 GA's started to drop big ends within a month of being introduced so I seriously doubt that the Defense Department would have even accepted free BSA's for evaluation to replace the badly specified BSA's that had failed in service. And the MkII is the Aust spec except for the gear ratios, the big end & 12V electrics.

email (option): bsansw1@tpg.com.au

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

Trevor, hi thanks for your great response, it has created even more questions for me!!
Reading the history of the Mk2 on bsab40.com it specfically states that 48 machines were sent to Austrailia, my machine was definately painted Landrover bronze green as the original colour could be seen in several places.
Cheers Paul

email (option): pr.casmith@bigpond.com

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

Paul,

Well I might be forced to eat some humble pie as I just checked the War Memorial web site and there are 5 more ledgers that I had not downloaded so there might be another motorcycle book although there were 20 empty pages from the 1972 Kawasaki entry & the start of the tractors.
Usually new motorcycles would be put on those pages but they might appear in another book as the Honda's & Suzuki's are not listed either.

I could still not see the Aust Army even looking at any more BSA's and particularly B40's after the disaster of the first shipment.

The problem with them was the combination of the high speed needle roller big end bearing and the dual purpose gear box.
The GA's had a C15T 1st , 2nd & 3rd gear with the std 1:1 top gear.
This meant that the low compression engine had to be valve bounced in 3rd then laboured when 4th was selected.
So when riding street the riders would lug the engine in 4th rather than change down to 3rd.

When doing this the cage on the needle roller bearing could scuff on the outer race, then it wore through and finally broke up.
Every bike that a NSW BSA club member bought ended up with a big end replacement v=because they were all worn like this , which is why they were set aside for spares. Many of them had less than 1000 miles on the clock so they failed very early in service.
All the other B40 military bikes had the standard 1/4" rollers on the big end where the cage can not scuff on the outer race.

email (option): bsansw1@tpg.com.au

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

Well no Humble pie right now.
No motorcycles in the remaining 5 ledgers although I might need my eyes tested after trying to read some of the handwriting.
So it looks like what was written previously stands although there is n mention of the Suzukis or Hondas so they must be in the ledgers of a different department
We did a lot of strange things in the early 70's trying to pretend we did not have an army so could not have lost the Vietnam War and almost every government department that had Defense, or Army or Military in it's name had a name change.
Funny millions readily available for painting office door and new stationary and not a cent for the service people with destroyed lives.

email (option): bsansw1@tpg.com.au

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

trevor
Paul,

Well I might be forced to eat some humble pie as I just checked the War Memorial web site and there are 5 more ledgers that I had not downloaded so there might be another motorcycle book although there were 20 empty pages from the 1972 Kawasaki entry & the start of the tractors.
Usually new motorcycles would be put on those pages but they might appear in another book as the Honda's & Suzuki's are not listed either.

I could still not see the Aust Army even looking at any more BSA's and particularly B40's after the disaster of the first shipment.

The problem with them was the combination of the high speed needle roller big end bearing and the dual purpose gear box.
The GA's had a C15T 1st , 2nd & 3rd gear with the std 1:1 top gear.
This meant that the low compression engine had to be valve bounced in 3rd then laboured when 4th was selected.
So when riding street the riders would lug the engine in 4th rather than change down to 3rd.

When doing this the cage on the needle roller bearing could scuff on the outer race, then it wore through and finally broke up.
Every bike that a NSW BSA club member bought ended up with a big end replacement v=because they were all worn like this , which is why they were set aside for spares. Many of them had less than 1000 miles on the clock so they failed very early in service.
All the other B40 military bikes had the standard 1/4" rollers on the big end where the cage can not scuff on the outer race.
Some interesting info there Trevor,what a shame all those bikes and spares were lost to the sea.What I'm wondering though,is why the Australian army B40GA's were such a problem. As I understand it the Australian bikes were built to the same spec as the British ones,which here are well liked and sought after.(My son has just bought one of the last ones in very original and good nick from Lee Mitchell) The needle roller big end is not seen as a problem,as its the same bearing,(Albeit with a different crank pin) in the 500cc B50 motor - Again not particularly known for big end problems.The choice of gear ratio's may not have been ideal,but again not a huge problem.

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

Having checked again with Lee Mitchell in the UK it now seems certain that my machine was dispatched to Bennett and Wood in Sydney in March 1968 and must have been sold by them to the general public. Not sure if Bennett and Wood records wood exist anymore?

email (option): pr.casmith@bigpond.com

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

Jon Cull
trevor
Paul,

Well I might be forced to eat some humble pie as I just checked the War Memorial web site and there are 5 more ledgers that I had not downloaded so there might be another motorcycle book although there were 20 empty pages from the 1972 Kawasaki entry & the start of the tractors.
Usually new motorcycles would be put on those pages but they might appear in another book as the Honda\'s & Suzuki\'s are not listed either.

I could still not see the Aust Army even looking at any more BSA\'s and particularly B40\'s after the disaster of the first shipment.

The problem with them was the combination of the high speed needle roller big end bearing and the dual purpose gear box.
The GA\'s had a C15T 1st , 2nd & 3rd gear with the std 1:1 top gear.
This meant that the low compression engine had to be valve bounced in 3rd then laboured when 4th was selected.
So when riding street the riders would lug the engine in 4th rather than change down to 3rd.

When doing this the cage on the needle roller bearing could scuff on the outer race, then it wore through and finally broke up.
Every bike that a NSW BSA club member bought ended up with a big end replacement v=because they were all worn like this , which is why they were set aside for spares. Many of them had less than 1000 miles on the clock so they failed very early in service.
All the other B40 military bikes had the standard 1/4\" rollers on the big end where the cage can not scuff on the outer race.
Some interesting info there Trevor,what a shame all those bikes and spares were lost to the sea.What I'm wondering though,is why the Australian army B40GA's were such a problem. As I understand it the Australian bikes were built to the same spec as the British ones,which here are well liked and sought after.(My son has just bought one of the last ones in very original and good nick from Lee Mitchell) The needle roller big end is not seen as a problem,as its the same bearing,(Albeit with a different crank pin) in the 500cc B50 motor - Again not particularly known for big end problems.The choice of gear ratio's may not have been ideal,but again not a huge problem.
John,
Did not see this post till now.
The problem was the gearing.
Unlike the other military B 40's this bike was supposed to be a dual purpose vehicle.
It needed to be good off road and still be able to be used on road for high speed escort duty.
As such the box on them is unique
!st is lower than a C15T first, second is slightly lower then a std B40 1st gear and 3rd is slightly higher than a std B40 second.
Top is the std BSA 1:1
Thus when used on the street you need to valve bounce in 3rd before selecting 4th.
Likewise if you drop from 4th to 3rd as you are slowing down or for a corner the rear wheel can lock up.
So the troops laboured the engine in top rather than change down.
When laboured in top the inertia in the cage is sufficient to force the rollers apart so the cage scuffs on the outer race.
Eventually it wears right through and breaks up.
The needle roller bearing is a very high speed bearing and does not work well at 300 rpm.
What most members did was to overgear the secondary drive and ride the bike as a 3 speed reserving top for an overdrive when doing long flat expressway runs or fit a B25 box from am blown engine which will slot right in without any modifications.
The Australian bike was nothing like the other versions
having concentric carb different gear box, unique despatch / tool box, unique seat unique big end bearing and 6 V electrics .
At one time I had a box with better than 200 conrods with the remains of the cage roll welded into the outer race.

email (option): bsansw1@tpg.com.au

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

well that's is a timely and interesting series of posts , Trevor

I just bought an ex army B40 GA off the ye olde gum tree.
was wondering how I would search its army ARN :

The Army archives motorcycle book is -203 and you will find the BSA's from item 94743 - 94744 ( C 15's ) then 94754 - 94753 ( c15 framed B40's ) then 94785 - 95234 ( B 40 GA ), 444 of them so 6 are missing.


found it no prob : I see it was disposed of in 1981 - so either lasted a long while in army service - or not used at all... will have to check when arrives in aweeks time (to Melbourne Australia). has non matching engine to frame number.

has the 1 side pannier and the circular map( ?)/ document case on other other side

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

Most of them were disposed on in 81 or 82.
Have a close look at the tank between the filler cap & mounting bolt
Look for the shadow of a stencil that read PROV-UR ore CERT - UR
First means we think it is an Uneconomic Repair the second says we know it is.

The Aust ones were fitted with a leather pannier on the left & the box on the right with a high level pipe that is unique to the B40 GA so that sound right.
Very few had mismatched engines but there were around 20 engines in various states sold at each auction I went to.
When you drain the oil always filter it and check for little flakes of cage.
If it is painted air force blue then it was stolen from one of our ex-members as there were only 2 blue ones and both get stolen withing a year or so.
I have a list of stolen B40GA's somewhere

email (option): bsansw1@tpg.com.au

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

Most of the bikes had less than 500 miles on the clock so they never made it to the first major overhaul.
Thus most have matching numbers.
I think the MP's bikes had higher milage but I never though about recording them.
At the time we were looking at buying a lot and use them to kick off a BSA parts shop
However as they needed new big ends this idea faded away very quickly.

email (option): bsansw1@tpg.com.au

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

Trev - is green -not blue- so not your mates.
Was on rego in NSW- so all kosher .... .
Its got another B40 GA engine.
The AWM books show it dispose d of with matching eng / frame numbers.

So presumably changed post sale

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

Hi Trevor, all this is interesting stuff. You say that Aussie WD B40's had special gear ratio's. What would be really good is if you could tell us how many teeth the sleeve gear has,plus how many its mate on the layshaft has. If this could provide a bigger step than the B40 GB ones then there is a market for them here in the UK. I'm currently gathering parts to build an early C15 dist type engine with an early C15T gear cluster,this is as far as I know the widest ratio sleeve and its mate that BSA made.This cluster won't go into the later cases that the WD box will fit.Currently the WD box I have gives 3 lovely ratios for trials work, but there isn't enough of a gap to get a decent road speed,22mph and its revving its brains out...

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

AFAIK the sleeve gear is the std BSA 1:1 with the clutch.
They were geared to 65 mph ( same as the M20's )

If I get a chance I will count the teeth on the box or provide with BSA part numbers
There were no special gears, it was just a selection of ratios that were available.
1st was a slow march
2nd was a quick march
3rd was only a bit faster than a sprint.

I accidentially got into an Anzac Day march one year on the way to the All British Rally which was at Myrtleford in those days.
I could comfortably ride with the marchers in both first ( which was a bit loud ) or just off idle in second.
That was the std box
After that I fitted the biggest secondary drive sprocket I could get to fit inside the chain guard.
From memory it was a 23 tooth in any case I had to pull the gear cluster out to fit it.
The 2nd & 3rd bikes got whatever would go through clutch hole.

SO now you made me look it up.
According to the service manual 00-4133 the internal ratios are the same as the UK Mk I, but that does ring true to memory.
particulaarly as the Aust bike had 75 mils more oil in the box.
Again according to the manual the overall ratios are taller being they were supposed to have
23 / 52 primary
19 / 50 secondary

Both use WM3 x 18 rears but we fitted WM2x 18 fronts against your WM2 x 20
When I go to the storage I will pull a box out & measure

IT might be what the manual says & what BSA supplied were different or the mind behind these fingers is not remembering things as they were.

My genuine ( army ) parts book is out on loan at the moment but I do remember what it said is there and what actually was there were occasionally at odds with each other.

email (option): bsansw1@tpg.com.au

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

reading about about the service manuals , Trevor - do you have copies of any ?

I found this riders handbook at my club library

AWD being Australian War Dept - not all wheel drive ...


and interestingly tells 'the 'troops'' not to labour the engine….to no avail


Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

Hi Trevor
I'm thinking about a B40 engine No. B40GAKH6624 (#from present owner)
Would this bike be from the 1st or 2nd batch? Would it have the problem Big end bearing?
Cheers
RayK

email (option): Raykinch129@gmail.com

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

Engine B40GAKH6624 is form the last batch of 25 spare engines supplied to the Australian Army. The KH is the date code indicating this one was produced September 1972 as most of this batch were. The British Army received 75 spare engines form this batch of 100 spare engines made July-October '72.
The B40M mentioned at the start of this thread is A B40 Rough Rider sold on the Australian civilian market. It is in effect a B40 Military Mk2 but having been sold new on the civilian market it has no military history - the Australian Military forces did not buy any B40 Mk2 machines, only Mk1 machines.

Re: BSA B40 Military M2 1968

I ran a British Army GB40 for a couple of years....That also had a wide ratio box that wasn't very pleasant for daily road use...Whether it was the same box as the Aussie B40s I have no idea...I took mine out and replaced it with a 'std' gearbox which was a great improvement...There was and probably still is a strong market for the GB40 gearbox clusters....Much sought after by the trials riders...I nearly bought another GB40 last weekend but was beaten to it by another buyer....Ian

email (option): ian@wright52.plus.com

Nieuwe pagina 1