All in the Family

Story by Greg Williams// Photos by Amee Reehal
August 22 2018

Wayne Rudd not only has an eye for the classics, but is also doing his part to preserve an 86-year-old heirloom

When Uncle Edwin Mathison’s 1932 BSA L32-2 was pulled from the barn near Round Hill, Alta., back in 1966, it was a dusty and dirty old motorcycle.

That didn’t really matter to his young nephew, Wayne Rudd.

Throughout his years growing up on the family farm near Camrose, Alta., Rudd dreamed about riding a motorcycle, but never got one until he’d graduated high school. That’s when his dad learned Uncle Edwin was selling the BSA.

“I didn’t know what size bike I wanted or anything like that,” Rudd says, “but we went out to look at the BSA in the barn. My uncle wanted $50 for it, but my dad instead negotiated a trade using one of his 1950 Dodge half-ton trucks for my uncle’s 1946 Monarch and the BSA.”

While some teenagers at that time might have been more interested in the latest motorcycles from Japan, not Rudd.

Not Deterred by Age

The 1932 BSA“I recognized the BSA was a classic, and its age didn’t put me off at all. In fact, I really liked the look of it,” Rudd says.

Bolted to the licence plate bracket on the rear fender of the BSA was a 1944 Alberta tag. Although the bike was obviously neglected and likely hadn’t been used for 20 years or more, Rudd was drawn to the charms of the classic British motorcycle and set about preparing to make it run.

His dad helped pull the spark plug so the Lucas magneto on the 349 cc single-cylinder side-valve engine could be checked for life – it gave a fat, blue spark across the plug gap. Encouraged, they changed the oil and poured fresh gasoline into the tank.

First Ride

“The kick start didn’t work, but I pushed it in gear about 20 feet and dropped the clutch and got on the saddle,” Rudd recalls. “It started, and away we went around the farmyard.”

For Rudd, the BSA is a piece of family history. Uncle Edwin originally purchased the BSA to get to his job as a steam engineer at a coal mine near Cadomin, a small hamlet just east of Jasper National Park. The roads were so bad, Rudd explains, that Uncle Edwin felt safer getting to and from work on a motorcycle than in a car. Although he left the Cadomin area in 1938 and soon got a car, the BSA remained in the family.

Regardless of how his uncle might have used it, Rudd put the BSA to the test, as he says, racing it around the farm on a dirt course, and occasionally riding it on the lonely country gravel roads.

“I kept it around the farm,” Rudd says, and admits, “mostly, I just abused it, but it never missed a beat.”

A Collection Started

Riding the 1932 BSAIn 1967, Rudd bought a 1950 Ariel KG Deluxe Red Hunter for $40; he further added to the collection in 1968, when he picked up a 1943 Harley-Davidson WLC for $125. Then, in 1969, a friend of Rudd’s sold him a basket case 1959 AJS 18CS.

“I kept all of these machines because it wasn’t big money that I’d paid, and there were sheds all around my parents’ farm where I could store them,” Rudd says.

His first brand-new motorcycle was a 1969 Norton Commando Fastback in burgundy metal flake. He didn’t keep this bike long and sold it for $1,000. With that money in his pocket, he had the option of buying a Vincent Black Shadow from International Cycle in Edmonton, a convertible 1958 Cadillac Eldorado or a new Arctic Cat snowmobile.

“Which one do you think I bought?” he asks with a sigh. “Yes, I bought the Arctic Cat.”

In the early 1970s, he sold the snowmobile to get back onto a new Norton Commando, followed by a 1975 Honda CB750. His last “used” motorcycle-related purchase was a 1928 Indian Scout engine that he discovered while shopping with a friend for a used fridge. In the weeds in the backyard of the house they were visiting sat the engine, and Rudd got it for $5.

By that time, Rudd was playing bass guitar in the bluegrass/country/rock/folk band Winterwood. Their claim to fame was opening for Ry Cooder at a show in 1977, but by 1978, the band had played itself out and Rudd moved to Calgary, where he got a job with the City.

A Little Help, Please

Engine of the 1932 BSA“I retired in 2012, and always had the bikes on the back burner,” Rudd says. “I didn’t want to sell them. I wanted to restore them – but couldn’t do them myself because although my dad was very mechanically inclined, I’m the opposite.”

Rudd moved all the machines from the Camrose farm to his Calgary home and began searching for a restoration specialist. After seeing the Old Motorcycle Shop set up at the local World of Wheels show, he visited their shop and obviously liked what he saw. Rudd first took them his Ariel, and upon its completion decided to take them the old BSA.
In the fall of 2016, he delivered to the Old Motorcycle Shop his Uncle Edwin’s machine, and mechanic Giordan Bassi began the project. Although now working at Ill-Fated Kustoms, Bassi well remembers the BSA, and picks up the story.

“It was worn right out,” Bassi says. “Every aspect of the engine needed some attention.”

When he got the side-valve motor apart, Bassi discovered a broken piston ring. Rudd had probably unsuspectingly run it that way for many years, as the L32-2 is a low-compression motor, with a ratio likely around 5:1. Bassi sourced a plus-.060-inch piston, and Jim Titmus of Skylark Cylinders bored the barrel to fit the larger piston.

Meanwhile, the big end on the connecting rod was so worn there was a quarter inch of play at the crank. To quote Bassi, “It was gone, gone.”

Sourcing Parts

Parts availability for the L32-2 was spotty at best. In its day, this particular BSA model was a workaday machine and didn’t have the sporting appeal of the company’s overhead-valve, 499 cc Blue Star that came equipped with a high-compression piston, racing cams and high-level exhaust.

“I scoured the earth for many of these parts and pieces to fit the L32-2,” Bassi says. “Many of the bits came from Cornucopia Enterprises in Germany.”

While he ordered a connecting rod bearing from British Only Austria, this turned out to be the incorrect size. After sending it back and several emails to British Only, Bassi learned the bearings were coming from Alpha Bearing in the U.K.

“I eventually called Alpha directly,” Bassi says. “When they learned I was calling from Canada, they said, ‘Oh, you’re the guy with the L32-2 bearing.’ I ended up sending the old bearing as a sample because they had the incorrect records about the bearing dimensions – it all worked out in the end.”

Saved Parts

The old valves were refaced and the seats in the cylinder recut and lapped in. Bassi kept the springs and keepers and put them back into service.
Inside the transmission, the gears were all in great shape. The issue was the kick-starter ratchet and the drive sprockets – none of them had any teeth left. The sprockets were so worn out that the chain would simply slip around the worn nubs.

Bassi could not locate BSA sprockets, so he found replacements with the correct tooth pattern and number of teeth. He then took the originals and the new sprockets to Humfrey Industrial Repairs in Calgary, where the teeth were removed from the old sprockets and the inside dimension of the new sprockets bored out to fit overtop. Once aligned, the old and the new were welded together.

The kick-start ratchet was built up with special filler rod, and new teeth cut.

“Those were big jobs,” Bassi says.

The pre-war BSA used tapered roller bearings in the front and rear wheels. These were so well packed with grease that the pieces were simply cleaned up and returned to use. Up front, the girder fork required a new main spring, and Nick Christian of the Old Motorcycle Shop had to fabricate new spindles, lower links, star spring washers, steering stops and fender stays.

Original Bodywork Survived

A reproduction Lucas headlamp came from Vintage Replica in the Czech Republic, as the original was too far gone to save. All of the sheet metal, including the gas tank, fenders and toolbox, went to painter Guy St. Pierre of Cyclemania in Okotoks, Alta. “He salvaged all of the pieces,” Bassi says. “There were so many holes and cracks in them, but Guy repaired, prepped and painted the original parts.”

All of the tinwork was bolted to the freshly powdercoated frame using cleaned and cad-plated BSA hardware. Almost every fastener on the motorcycle has the BSA pile arms logo on its head.

Bassi constructed a new wiring harness using cloth-covered wires, and finished the BSA in little less than a year. Now, Rudd has the motorcycle licensed and insured for the road, and it’s running well. He intends to ride the motorcycle to local shows, where others can see the vintage machine.

Although Uncle Edwin wouldn’t likely recognize his dusty and dirty old BSA, he’d surely be proud of the completed restoration.


Copyright ©2002-2024 Motorcycle Mojo | Privacy Policy | Built by Gooder Marketing