Monday, 21 March 2011

Project Daytona, February 2003 – In The Beginning

This was originally posted as a blog style entry on a website, documenting the progress of Project Daytona through research and restoration of two BSA Daytona racers in 2004 as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of BSA's historic win in 1954.

Why are some people who have never met and who live in different continents restoring bikes via the internet?

The story starts in the 1990s when some BSA enthusiasts in Florida wonder if it would be possible to find and restore a Daytona BSA, a bike that has always fascinated them. But there are two problems - they can't find a bike and can't find anyone who knows anything about them.

Although they don't know it at the time, another BSA enthusiast in Scotland is researching twin carburettor kits sold for BSA pre-unit twins in the USA. His research also touches on the Daytona twins, as these were fitted with twin carburettors. He puts the result of his research on a web site.
One of the Florida guys, Don Bradley sees the reference to Daytona bikes on the site and emails the Scottish BSA guy Myles Raymond asking for any information he has about these bikes. Myles doesn't have much so asks what Don has. Neither has much but both agree that this is important information and that they should keep in touch and share whatever they find.

Myles Raymond - research and website, Scotland
A year later they get in touch again - things have moved on. Don has unearthed more parts, more information and has decided to restore the bikes in time for the 50th anniversary of BSA's 1954 in 2004. He wants this to be a big event and plans a celebration attended by the original BSA riders. By this time Myles has more information too, has some leads on UK contacts who may know even more about the bikes' history and is planning to create an online archive for the information.

Things have now reached a critical mass. Myles offers to help the project any way he can but thinks that because he is in the UK, he is best placed to find information or ex- BSA staff who might help. Don will head-up the restoration partly because he has the bits of bike that have been found so far and partly because Myles is by his own admission is a poorer mechanic than Don.

They decide that the only practical way to share this information is to keep it all on a website where it will be available to anyone regardless of location or timezone. Myles will build the website partly because he's done one already and partly because Don is by his own admission, a poor typist.

Don Bradley, Bob Birdsall - BikeRestorations, Florida

So a website is built and used as an online archive and project management tool. Early in the research stage while the team is still uncertain about the specification of the bikes the web site contains much information that is speculative. To protect against the more militant BSA enthusiasts who might interpret the web site contents as gospel and take issue a decision is made to keep the site private. The URL is only circulated among the project team members or trusted individuals who are helping.

In practice the website works spectacularly well, bridging the difference in distance and time and the restoration proceeds.

There are still problems to solve and questions to answer but by April 2003 the team is confident enough that they can complete the bikes to the original specification and the website finally goes public in April 2003.

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