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C Numbers

Just putting the finishing touches to the M20 and now stuck with fitting the numbers on the tank ending at the knee rubber. I've read the sites page on these so I want to retain the correct size and position.

The problem is my 1939 number with the C totals 8 digits. Making them narrower looks terrible. So the question is can I get away with dropping the first number ie 3 so it begins C9etc which fits perfectly or drop the C below the number with the BSA tank badge above? Decisions decisions...…. Oh forgot these are hand painted. I quite enjoy doing this!

Many thanks Dave.

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Re: C Numbers

7 digits plus 'C' prefix was the most common for RAOC supplied motorcycles...The 1939 system involved fairly small numbers and the 'C' above...all on the large pre-war style tank of course. Later on, BSA painted them in a single row but quite high up...They should fit and it's most certainly not correct to leave one digit out, although sometimes they were overpainted to some degree by arm of service and other markings.

Re: C Numbers

Great thank you. I suppose there are few details For RAOC machines ie C3928905?
Regards Dave.

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Re: C Numbers

Not that exact one, Dave but we can be pretty sure of the style used..This was just after the deletion of the white-edged black background but the style of number remained unchanged.


The figures were 1" in height, as per this image of my handy folding steel rule against a French-registered M20 that was at Beaulieu some years back...It shows the details of the hand-painted signwritten figures.


Re: C Numbers

That is fantastic. I've got mine wrong obviously, but the C is now above the number and hand painted. That's the best I can do. Bike is ready for registering so paperwork sent off and so we wait!

Thank you again. You don't come across such originality very often, so well done in spotting it!

Regards Dave.

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Re: C Numbers

Hi Rik,
Do you know the date when the white-edged black background font stopped?
Or even better a timeline across the war as they changed (big ask I know)?

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Re: C Numbers

Hello Scott, my file of BSA photos is not as comprehensive as my records for Nortons and there seem to have been differences between the manufacturers.

With BSA, I have very few bikes with a local authority registration not having a black background and none of those without the 'civvy' number seem to have the background so it's likely to have been around the outbreak of war...September 1939...I'd expect KM20s to have had a black background and WM20s not to have had. It's difficult with the earlier bikes as the backgrounds were sometimes overpainted during 1939/1940.

This is the highest serial number that I know featuring the pre-war panel.


It's more complicated with Norton as they seem to have stopped in September 1939 and then started again in December, possibly until as late as March 1940 and I have no explanation for it !


As for later styles, they again varied between manufacturers and contracts...The best option is simply to look at photos on each side. I don't really have enough photos (if we think that there were getting on for 200,000 BSAs and Nortons) to be able to say that a style definitively changed on a certain date.

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