The first rebuild
And so started the slow process of learning all I could about BSA and Triumph parts, mostly by going through manuals and reading the Classic Bike magazine. I started to buy all the parts needed for the Tribsa re-build as and when I could afford them. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a clear plan and I’d never really heard of a ‘dry build’. But I learnt (and spent) a lot. I had the frame stoved, but the finish was like Hammerite. So I flatted it back, hired a spray gun and gave it a couple of coats of the now unavailable, but brilliant, Tekaloid coach paint. The finish was like glass. I went totally OTT on the chrome plating, had SRM polish and balance the rare one-piece crank, Norman White worked some magic on the cylinder head along with fabricating a twin carb manifold and SRM re-built the gearbox. I also forked out on a brand new and eyewateringly expensive BTH magneto. The list went on and on. A trip to George Prew procured stacks Rocket Gold Star cycle parts and just about anything I could buy that was new I did. My brother had an old plunger B31 petrol tank which I had shortened to fit the swinging arm frame. The Roadholder forks were updated with Commando internals and I procurred a new twin leading shoe brake plate and hub. Terry Hobbs M/Cs made a special wheel spindle to fit. Being a graphic designer I designed a logo and got some decals made for the tank. I also made a cardboard seat base and sent it to Roger Dennis who used it as a template to make an alloy seat pan and then upholstered it. The frame had lots of bits chopped off in its past so it had no provision for a centre stand, and I had to get a platform made for the custom fabricated battery box.
My bedroom slowly filled up with boxes of new, refurbished, painted and chromed parts. It took about 8 years to get to this stage! Then it finally got to point where I had just about everything needed to do a complete rebuild.
It seems incredible to me now that I had the best part of the bike built in a weekend, although I guess it must have taken a couple of weeks to really complete it. The bike looked absolutely stunning. It could have come straight out of a showroom.
But, and here’s the strange thing, the whole thing turned out to be a bit of an anti-climax. Yes, it got admiring looks and complimentary comments everywhere I went. Even filling up in the garage was embarrassing as people would linger in their cars after refuelling and wait for me start it up. Trouble is, by now, I’d had a diet of modern Japanese bikes. Riding the Tribsa with it’s beautiful but meagre 34bhp engine and antiquated brakes was a bit of a disappointment. It handled well but it seemed all noise and no go. So, after having a small featurette in Classic bike in May 1993 I decided to trade it it for one of the new Triumph Sprints. And I thought that would be the last I would see of her.
But little did I know that the Tribsa was to come back into my life in a way that, statistically, was so unlikely that only fate could have taken a hand!
Note missing rear loops, no centre stand lugs and re-inforced swinging arm.