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1929 BSA S29-19 Pictures

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Thanks to Les Elmer of NZ for these pictures of his BSA S29-19 493cc OHV 2-Port Light – he’s called Arthur…
The 1932 image was taken by the Father of the then 2nd owner (in the saddle in this pic), and then passed to Les by the 3rd owner (on pillion in the pic, and brother of the 2nd owner…). Les is just the 4th owner from new. Les has kindly also sent in this story….

My BSA: 1929 – 1972
My Dad was Arthur Elmer, and always known as Arthur. He had a very good mate in Arthur Ormes, who for perhaps fairly obvious reasons was always referred to as Artie. In 1931, Artie’s older brother Reg, bought ‘my’ BSA second-hand from Bennet & Wood, the BSA dealers in Sydney, New South Wales, and rode it north the 600 miles (960 km) to Brisbane, Queensland, later that same year. I have not been able to find who the original first owner was in Sydney, but I am hopeful that in time I will do so.

The BSAOC have certified my bike’s frame and engine numbers (H718 and K1119) are from a 1929 production batch, possibly immediately crated for export to Australia.

The third photo below shows Reg Ormes (in the saddle) and Artie Ormes (on pillion), preparing to leave Brisbane to ride down to Sydney and return in April 1932 on the bike, to be among the first to motor across the newly opened Sydney Harbour Bridge. This was a 2000 mile (3200km) round trip, following which the bike was in daily use in and around Brisbane for some two years. In 1934 the bike was ridden north from Brisbane the 600 or so miles to Mackay, having been bought by Artie from his older brother. Artie replaced the acetylene lighting by a battery-powered electric set. I have retained this same setup on the bike today, however incorporating an acetylene headlamp body similar to the one in the 1932 photo, but converted to 6V electric light configuration.

In 1935 a sidecar was fitted, and the outfit ridden back down to Brisbane over the mainly rough gravel roads of the time. It was used daily there for two years, before again making the trip back north to Mackay sometime in 1937. Between 1937 and 1945 the BSA outfit was in daily use as Artie’s only vehicle (he told me he did all his courting on it), until he finally bought a Morris 8 car in 1945, at the end of WWII. The sidecar was sold around 1947, and the bike then ridden only sporadically until 1958, when it was finally de-registered and laid up in Artie’s garage. By 1972 when I purchased it, the old BSA was stored in Artie’s garden shed, and though rather worn and weary, was totally complete.

My BSA: 1972 – 2002
I was 20 in 1972, and with rampant enthusiasm (and against my Dad’s excellent advice), I immediately dismantled the old BSA to “fix it up”. It stayed like that for the next 26 years, most of the time in tea chests underneath my parent’s house in Mackay. I left on a trip with a mate to Europe and England with vague ideas of acquiring the skills and knowledge while over there to enable me to restore the bike on my return to Australia.

As it happened, I stayed on in England until 1985, and then returned not to Australia but came to New Zealand, having met my NZ wife in London in 1981 (we married in New Zealand in 1988). I finally returned home to Queensland in 1990 to crate up the old BSA and bring it over to Auckland, passing the engine to a highly-respected NZ VMCC motorbike engineer (the late Dave Philpott), himself an Aussie who had also settled in New Zealand some 25 years earlier. Dave was a very sought after resource, and while I procrastinated about my exact intentions, years went by with not much work on the engine rebuild, with my focus going onto renovating our first and second homes, and helping to rear our children. In January 1998 I finally made a New Years resolution to restore the old BSA that year!

As my Dad was Arthur; Arthur was the name of the bike’s last (previous) owner; and is also my middle name, I had decided to name the old BSA ”Arthur”. By happy coincidence (via a restaurateur with a passion for old bikes), I found an ex-toolmaker and part-time bike re-builder who had the time, skills and enthusiasm to help me rebuild the bike from its basket case state. Having reached agreement on the approach, the dismantled engine was retrieved after its 7 years in Dave’s workshop, complete with its rebuilt big-end, including one of Dave’s own hand-made bearings.

Throughout 1998 and 1999 the old BSA progressively came together, and was then dismantled again for painting and final rebuild. About mid-1998 I began a world-wide search for the one major part I’d managed to lose over all the years the bike was dismantled – the hand gear-change gate. Via the Internet I obtained the exact part for £5 in the Netherlands, via an Aussie BSA nut living in the USA, who had sold it to a Dutch BSA nut for use in a rebuild. Luckily for me, that rebuild turned out to require a 4-speed gearbox, so the 3-speed gate was superfluous to his needs.

In the process I discovered the incredible camaraderie and friendship of BSA fans around the globe, and the unstinting help they readily give to like-minded BSA-nuts who they’ve never even met.! I also discovered information about the 2 Port Light model itself, and the small number of surviving examples worldwide whetted my appetite to know more.

The myriad small items took up the rest of 1999, and although the bike was first fired up after 41 years in September 1999, problems with the tank which had been badly rusted, caused much consternation, time, and many $$s to fix..! I was determined to get the bike registered and road-legal in its 70th birthday year, and we just achieved that goal, getting it VIN’d and registered on 31st December 1999!

It took all of 2000 and half of 2001 to iron out persistent bugs in the carburetion and have the rebuilt magneto further sorted, but primarily for me to learn the peculiarities of successfully starting, and smoothly riding, a vintage bike. Unfortunately this period was lengthened considerably by twice stripping the 2nd gear pinion. As I found undamaged originals were virtually unobtainable worldwide, I finally had some gears made in modern materials, at a significant cost and several months delay to my plans. Finally, by the summer of 2001 the old bike was starting on the 1st kick, running happily, and very enjoyably easy and fun to ride. I therefore entered the New Zealand BSAOC National Rally of Easter 2002 here in Auckland, where to my very great surprise old Arthur won the prize for the best pre-1945 BSA.

  • Manufacturer:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
  • Year: 1929
  • Decade: 1920s
  • Machine Type:

10 Responses to “1929 BSA S29-19”

  1. Bonjour
    I am French and I began a BSA S29 in 1929 as yours. I realize all the mechanics (including crankshaft), wheels and paint. I congratulate you for your restoration and history which relates to your motorcycle. I have liked painted the same color as your my BSA. Can you tell me: if it is the original color and the color reference if it exists.

  2. Hi Didier.

    Sorry for the slow reply…I only just spotted your posting.. My BSA is not painted in an original colour. They were almost always mainly black (frame; wheels etc) and with a BSA-green (or chrome) tank.

    The colour of mine is more like the old Indians which I’ve also loved since I was a kid. All the best for your restoration.. I would love to see some pictures of your bike (now) and also after you have restored it…

    Cheers, Les

    • Bob Mitchell on April 13, 2012 @ 9:49 am

      Hi Les,

      My name is Bob Mitchell and I have a going BSA 1929 s29, however we know that it does not have the original carburetor, can you tell me what model and make of carburetor is correct. My email address is centurycottage@gmail.com.



      • Hi Bill.

        Well, I finally saw your reply to my posting…only 3+ years after you posted it :-( Sorry about that mate and hope you still have your BSA 1929 S29.. Ny carb is an AMAL, but there is no “correct” carb IMHO, as guys back in the day swapped the manufacturer’s fitted parts just like young fellas (and not-so-young fells :-) do today. Old Arthur is still going strong & I kicked him over today just to make sure…started 2nd kick so all good. Sadly however he currently has a flat rear tyre, and as I’ve just had my contract IT job end early and just pre-Christmas, I’m a bit focused at present on looking for a new job to pay the mortgage etc. He passed his WOF (Warrant of Fitness) just 2 weeks ago so he’s all good for some great Summer rides asa I get around to pulling that wheel out and getting it repaired. Please drop me a line to my email address as I’d love to get some pix of your S29-19.

        Cheers, Les

      • Hi Bob.

        A very long time since you contacted me via the VintageBike.co.uk website but I do hope that you’re going OK and still have your 1929 BSA S29-19? I’d love to see some further pictures please to post up on my FB page for our 1929 and 1930 S29-19 2 Port light motor cycles (link to my FB Page is below)


        All the best from a lovely sunny Summers afternoon here in Auckland.

        Regards, Les

        P.S. My email is elmers@xtra.co.nz if you’d like to reply via that channel.

  3. Hello,
    On my blog, I’d put the picture BSA s29.


    The engine, serial number, options, copy logbook.
    With the owners I know in the world.
    An Italian, Czech, Australia and two in France.
    If you agree.
    What you think?
    It can be useful for us.
    That way we can see the difference models.
    Can you give me your email address


  4. John Nisbet on March 2, 2012 @ 11:46 am

    Les looks a nice Bike I have Owned and ridden Many B S As in my 80 years but never owned or seen a Twin Port Great to see that you use it I am afraid that My riding days are over Though I still own a 1927 A J S side valve and often get tempted to have a go again best of luck with the latest rebuild .At My age I stilll enjoy Reading .Looking and talking about Bikes ….John

  5. I had enjoyed reading about Arthur and his love affair with Artie, I had not been so lucky as to restore something that old before, but did manage to restore a Harley Davidson WL. It was a blast to get all the pieces and bead blast them into reasonable service condition. I had my share of rebuilds with her now, and finally she is running as she would back then back to bone stock, not stroked or sets of drag pipes to get more umph out of her. Stock! Runs just great and looks good too!

    Oh I think the red color is great!

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