1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star restoration (1000 miles and more)


Kickstart, shift on right, drum brakes and spokes
1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star Restoration

Someday…How many times have you told yourself “Someday, I will find the bike I have always wanted?" Well for me, “someday” finally arrived and I feel like the luckiest bastard in the world. After 10 years of patience, perseverance and pure luck, I found a barn fresh 1962 DBD34 Gold Star that I could afford. My goal is to restore her from the crank up to full UK clubman specs and then will ride the hell out of her this spring.

My bike arrived from Texas and I am the one who found it in the first few minutes it was listed on Craigslist and snapped it up. I feel like a I won the f%#@ng lottery…


Original US Clubman Specification

My goal is to bring it to UK Clubman specs like this bike.

The Sale

As many of us often do, I was searching Craigslist for vintage British bikes and parts. The following listing popped up in Dallas/Fort Worth “Barn find BSA 500!!!with title!!!” It was listed 20 minutes earlier, my mind raced to thoughts of a Gold Star, though it was probably an early 1970’s Gold Star, a Royal Star or another 500c BSA. A man named Brad answered my call and I asked him a few basic questions. He is a Harley guy working for American Cycle Traders and knew little about BSA’s, except they were old.

I asked “Does it have one or two exhaust pipes?”

“One” he replied. My pulse quickened.

“Could I have you walk out to the bike and read the serial numbers on the left side of the crankcase beneath the cylinder to me?”

“Sure, it is right outside on my trailer”, “Let’s see, DBD34 GS 6XXX..”

I have the BSA Gold Star serial numbers committed to memory for an imagined moment like this. My head was spinning and I wanted to scream out in joy, but forced myself to play it cool.

“Could you read the numbers on the frame near the neck atop the gearbox on the left side?”

He said “CB 32 10XXX”. Wow, this cannot be happening…

Then I asked “Now could you read the numbers and letters atop the gearbox on the right side?”

Brad wiped off the dust and dirt and said “ RRaT2”

Hmm, Is this the legendary close ratio RRT2 gearbox or not? Maybe, but I still own a standard box in great shape I could use…

“Does the motor turn over?”

“Nope, motor is frozen.” Grrr….

I ask a few more questions. “Broke fins, damage to cases, solid frame?

“Yes, the top one. No, Yes.”

“I need your e-mail address to send your full asking price. Consider it sold and pull the ad”

“Really?, OK.” Brad replied.

With my head spinning and my fingers typing as fast as possible, I sent a Paypal payment to a complete stranger 1100 miles away, gulp, a big leap of faith and the adventure begins…

The next hour was spent researching my bike and I called Brad back. “What the hell, I have had 75 calls in the last two hours! People are offering a hell of a lot more than you paid, what is this thing?”

I explained this “thing” is 1962 BSA Gold Star 500cc single cylinder US spec clubman motorcycle. The Gold Star is one of the most sought after, important, powerful, fast and beautiful motorcycles ever to roll out of Birmingham during the 1950-60”s. I have been dreaming of this bike for 10 years. He honored our deal despite much higher offers. (One of the things I liked while in graduate school in Texas was your word or handshake is a contract, paperwork is just red tape.)

The next day I called to arrange and pay for shipping my bike to Minnesota. A BSA “expert” showed up at his shop with $5000 cash more than I paid for the bike. He wanted to part it out on E-bay. “No sir, it is already sold.” You are a good man and a man of your word Brad Van Horn.

Brad bought two bikes from the original owner in New Mexico. He and his wife are alive and well and expressed a desire to see this bike restored. Brad and I agreed not to disclose his purchase price or my purchase price, so I will not. The original New Mexico title was included and I agreed to send photos and report progress of the restoration to the original owner.

We contracted Steve Loken of Lokenmotive Transport to haul my bike straight up I-35 to my doorstep. With his leadfoot, I had the bike 5 days after I found it. Now the fun begins.


First Things First…

Before I could really spend any real time working on the Gold Star I needed to liquidate three other project bikes I had scheduled for the next year. First up was my 1966 Triumph Bonneville project. This really hurt, but told myself I can always find another 66 Bonnie in the future for a realistic price. It sold to a nice guy in the Anoka, MN for a $1700 and I felt good he is going to bring it back to stock as I had planned. Ouch, but I keep telling myself I have a Goldie. Next, I E-bayed the Rocket Gold Star replica I was going to start this spring. I had collected a 1956 A10 frame and 1958 Super Rocket motor, forks, hubs tool box, oil bag etc was sold for a total of $1500. I kept the standard gearbox and came out a head on the deal. The motor went to a man in Indonesia building a RGS replica and the frame to a member on the Britbike forum. Sir Lucas’s magneto and dynamo went to Australia and forks to the UK. Twenty-four hour a day global society.

The next victim was a 95% restored 1975 Honda CB400F Super Sport. I have built three and sold two of these and am sitting on a fourth, so one had to go immediately, while the other will go in the spring once complete to fund the Goldie. She went to a cool dad in Minneapolis who wanted simple classic bike for his daughter. He paid me to finish the restoration, to lace new rims, mount new tires etc for him and I will make a little extra on the deal so I ended up with $1800. Yikes, I am going to spend more than that amount for a crankshaft and other motor parts…

First Impressions

Steve Loken dropped off my new bike on my day off. It was a beautiful warm Indian summer day and I got to spend some quality time photographing, assessing and breaking the bike down. The bike may look terrible to most people, but to me, it is a shining jewel. The good news is nearly everything is there: tank, clocks, 190mm front drum brake, transmission kicks through and shifts, etc. The bad news is the motor is seized (frozen rings?), the cylinder head has a broken top fin, no Amal GP carb, the clocks are cores for rebuilds at best, no side or center stands, one of the centerstand tabs is broken off the frame, spokes and rims are bad, seat pan has rust holes, broken Lucas head and tail light lens, dented tool box and oil tank and a few other minor things. So what, the frame and motor match and every missing part is available in the US or UK. I have my Goldie at last.



A broken clock gives the correct time twice a day. My clocks tell me I will be spending hundreds of dollars to restore them.

Anyone home?

My dirty kinky girl

Restoration Method

I have built and restored a 1966 BSA Lightning, 1974 Norton 850 Commando, 1976 Triumph T140 and my current ride, love of my life, a 1966 Triton (Triumph/Norton hybrid café racer). Also, I have been restoring and selling several 1970’s Honda CB 400, 550 and 750’s for cash to support my vintage British habit. So, I know bikes, what to do (and not to do), where to get parts, find information and have tools and am well prepared to plunge into the mysterious world of the single cylinder Goldie.

I have worked as a museum curator, archaeologist and archaeological conservator and have graduate degrees in Art History and Anthropology. My training and work experience has me handling objects centuries and millennia old, some extremely valuable or priceless, so restoring a 50 year old motorcycle is easily manageable.

My goal is to restore the bike to UK Clubman specifications and ride the hell out of her. I would like to retain and restore most of the existing parts, rather than replace everything. The concept of motorcycles as blue chip investments or part of an investment portfolio or the concept and practice of building “show” bikes drives me absolutely crazy. I think the concourse people need medication. Why spend all the time, energy and money to create something you will never ride, let alone even start? To me, riding bikes hard, as designed, is most enjoyable. To each is their own.

Since I have a beautiful Triton, a second bike is a luxury, not a necessity, so I made a deal with myself that I would not go into debt building the Goldie. With all that needs to be done, I am on track and budget to have this running next June. Yes, I realize motorcycle projects take three times as long and twice as much as planned, but this is a realistic goal for me.

I already owned Mick Walker’s Gold Star Book and ordered a factory parts list and service manual as well as The Gold Star Book from George Prew.

The Breakdown

My bike spent 30 some years in storage in the dry New Mexico climate. I sprayed all the hardware, fasteners and moving parts in PB Blast penetrant and nearly everything came off easily. No drilling or easyouts, no snapped bolt heads, no impact driver. The only parts that gave my grief were the dreaded swing arm bolt removal and the fork sliders. I had Winona Welding and Sandblasting try and press out he swing arm bolt, but they needed to cut it and press out the remaining part. The fork sliders were siezed beyond belief and I have spent many frustrating hours trying to free them. No luck, so I found a used pair through the www.britbike.com forum. Everything else was photographed, cleaned, removed, labeled, bagged and boxed.

Weapons of Mass Deconstruction

The frame appears to be straight, rust free, and without repair. The only damage was a missing centerstand mounting tab.

Missing centerstand tab.


Goodnight Goldie

I will document the individual components in following posts. Stay tuned!
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star build

Here is more of my project:

The gearbox shifts easily through all gears and the kickstart is smooth. On the other hand the motor is frozen solid. I have been soaking the rings and bearings in PB Blast, ATF and acetone, Sea Foam Deep Creep and Marvel Mystery Oil for more than a month. I need to weld up an engine stand so I can bring the motor into a machine shop to press down the piston and remove the cylinder. Once I get the motor broken down, Peter at Mods and Rockers in Mankato, MN www.modsrockers.com is going to vaporblast this beauty back to foundry fresh.



My bike came with the original title with correct frame and engine numbers. The original owners signed it for me-I am the second owner! My local DMV had never seen a 1962 New Mexico title, but the women behind the counter know me and my penchant for weird old motorcycles, particularly those without titles. They remember me well after titling my Triton. This time, I handed over the title, signed a check and walked out with license plates and my title is on the way. Simple. My dating record and dispatch record arrived from Stephen Foden of the BSA Owners Club in the UK and I am the proud owner of a 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star dispatched to Hap Alzina.

The real deal!

Time and Money

With my Goldie and transport paid, I still have a bit of cash to get started buying overpriced motorcycle parts, rechroming, cadmium plating etc. My goal is to make her a complete roller first and then work on the motor last, after I scrape up the funds for a cylinder rebore, piston, rings, Pearson crankshaft, Carrillo rod, bearings, unleaded valve seats and valves etc. Money, money and more money, but you need pay to play with this thoroughbred.

I ordered a replica 4 gallon tank from S&M Motors on E-bay and tank badges, cap, clips, hardware etc from Domiracer. A quick call to Buchanan Rim and Spoke got my two 19” WM2 and WM3 flanged Excel rims punched to my hubs with stainless steel nipples and spokes. This is the same set up as my Triton and I love it. A pair of Avon AM26's arrived recently from Dennis Kirk as well as my full front end (tubes, springs, cover shrouds etc) from the UK. Seat kit from Leighton in Birmingham is on the way. I saved a pair of unused UK made rear shrouded shocks from my RGS replica.



Flanged rims and stainless spokes

All the black bits were sandblasted at Winona Welding and Sandblasting and they had to listen to me babble about how great this bike is, what a rare find it is etc. They did a great job and I took everything down the road to Custom Powder Coating in Minnesota City, MN.



Chris Evanson at Custom Powder Coating had to listen to me babble about this bike, but he has a few old bikes in his stable, so he understands and appreciates my passion. I paid him extra to do a great job, take his time masking and plugging and make to look as good as possible. I normally paint my bike with catalyzed auto paint but for some reason I went with powder coat and opted for “jet black”, one step below gloss black. Everything is done and looks great.


I prepped and primed the tank and will post images soon.
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star build

HOLY SHIT!..........You have my full attention!

I am ready to see this thing come around, and it looks like you have a lot of work to do, but it sounds like you have what it takes to get it there!

Good luck, I will be watching this one for sure!
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star build

wow, I hear rumors of barn finds such as this this, but never actually witness them. great job on your marvelous find and I look forward the all the progress you will be making!
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star build

If you have any problems getting parts [ like the clocks ] let me know. LOADS of BSA and Goldie stuff at the UK's 2 main Classic Bike shows - spring and Autumn [ Fall ].
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star build

Nice catch. Looks like it will be a really nice bike when it's done. The small tank and high bars are like the Catalina Scrambler model so I guess the US version was made to look like that.

are twittering goldie silencers still available?
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star build

Thanks everyone for the kind words and offers!

I am going to rebuild the clocks (or have Nisonger or Joel Levine do so and I cough up the cash) and have found the correct twittering muffler/ silencer in the UK. Every other single part is available in the US or UK and I am going to re-zinc or cadmium all the existing hardware.

I cannot wait to hear this bike thump and twitter as she once did. For now, I keep geeking out on Youtube videos like this BSA Gold Star Fly Past.
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star build

Often times luck like this doesn't fall on those who deserve it. I think this bike met the right owner. Good luck on your build. I'll definitely be watching.
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star build

my lord...

I am beyond jealous.

you deserved it man! absolutely amazing story! :D
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star barn find restoration

Saw the title and wasn't going to look
Thought it may be another ** yr old who's grandfathers bike was going to be hacked up 2010 'cafe style' ::) without having a clue about history of Goldie's
Kudos for your patience and plan, going to be an expensive restore but worth it to get exactly what you want.
Guess you'll have it around for a long time 8)
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star barn find restoration

My new seat cover kit arrived this weekend from RK Leighton in the UK http://www.rk-leighton.co.uk/ and this is how I transformed an ugly rusty pan to a new seat.

The original seat was missing its foam, had shreds of the original cover, was deeply pitted on the top with many small holes but was generally solid overall. I originally ordered a replica seat with white piping from S&M Motors through E-bay but they sent a seat with black piping, so I sent it back, It was cheaper for my to restore my original pan and recover.

The holes and pits were apparent after sandblasting, so I had a local welder friend fill the holes in trade for our favorite fermented and hopped beverages. After grinding down the welds, I filled some of the deeper pits and remaining pinholes with Lab Metal, a high temperature resistant body filler that will withstand the heat of powder coating. The powder coating looks good, the holes are gone but nobody will ever see it since BSA seats do not flip up like Triumph seats. It does offer protection from future rust.



Andrew Leighton recommended glueing the foam to the pan, so I sprayed it with some adhesive, let sit until tacky and then pressed them together.


The cover slipped on easily, fit very well and I tapped on the clips. I started at the back then clipped the front and then worked up the sides. Inverting the pan and putting a knee on it made it easy to pull the cover to the correct position.


Looks much better!

On to the tank tonight…
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star barn find restoration

First off, great work, seat looks perfect! Second, I love that all your photos have a nice white background...sweet touch!
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star barn find restoration

Great story and I have to say the bike could not be more deserving. I have saved a couple of British bikes from Ebay doom. I meet a guy last year that was a Goldstar freak. He used to race them in the early 80's. He showed me 13 Goldies in his barn. Most in various forms of decay. He had good intentions for them and had a garage full of pallet shelving to restore them. He said in the early 80's they were pretty easy to come by and very cheep to todays prices.

Most of have a list of bikes and women in our head. This bike is on the list for me. Glad to see you marked it off yours!

Congrats! l look forward to your updates
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star barn find restoration

Beautiful stuff so far. Really great story as well.
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star barn find restoration

Thanks all!

13 Gold Stars in the barn?? For real? I need to see a photo!

I have no problem with parting out some bikes on E-bay for those parts will eventually end up in running bikes. With Gold Stars, nearly everything is available including brand new motors from ABSAF in Holland and motor parts from numerous sources in the UK and USA. It is the frame and the original cases that are elusive and expensive. My Goldie was too complete to hack up into pieces. It may look bad, but all I see is potential for next summer. I have no interest in every selling this bike and going to ride her hard.

A nice, near stock 1960 US Clubman Gold Star just went for $20,100 on E-bay. Multiple that by 13! http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=140488711266&viewitem=&sspagename=STRK%3AMEWAX%3AIT#ht_500wt_1182
Re: 1962 BSA DBD34 Gold Star barn find restoration

this is such an amazing thread. Great find, great write-up, and awesome photos. I'm happy for you to have found your dream bike, that's really cool!
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