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Updated 04/03/24

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Updated 07/24/24

850 Commando Recommission
Updated 07/23/24

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Build Oct 23

Title transferred
Ready for pickup 06/03/24

1975 Norton Wiring
Pickup 06/07/24

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Updated 06/04/24

Roadster 850
Updated 04/03/24

Blue 69S
Delivered 05/17/24

High Mileage 850
Delivered 03/26/24

Mk3 Engine & Gearbox
Delivered 03/07/23

1973 Customer
BasketCase Build

Delivered 07/15/22

1974 Norton 850
Commando Rebuild

Sold 01/12/21
Updated 06/10/21

Customer Combat
Delivered 09/07/20

1974 Norton Wiring
Completed 07/27/20

1972 Norton 750
Commando Rebuild

Completed 05/15/19
First Place Norton 05/16/19
Sold 01/01/20

1972 Norton Wiring
Completed 07/19/18

Customer Combat
and 69S Builds

Closed 10/18/23

US FlagWednesday, July 24, 2024
June 7, 2024 A guy has been waiting a long time for me to have time to recommission his 850 Command Roadster. Several years ago, he did a lot of work on it and then life got in the way as often happens. So, now the bike has been sitting for a long time. I normally would not have documented this but it's a little different from what I normally do, and I'm going to document is in a different way that will be more concise.

He gave me a list of what he wants done and then anything else I see that needs to be done. Below is what he wants done and a couple of things I noticed. I'll add a date when each is finished. I'll also do my daily-type comments as needed in my normal format.

Service Forks: July 6 the forks themselves are done.

Check and replace steering bearings if needed: July 6, 2024 they are good, only needed to replace the bottom nut and tab washer.

Adjust Isolastics: See the July 17, 2024 write-up.

Service Gearbox: Completed June 18, 2024.

Change Engine Oil and Filter: Completed June 18, 2024

Check and replace oil hoses if needed: Completed June 18, 2024 Return line original herringbone in good shape.

Has an in-line anti-sump valve, do something about that: Completed June 18, 2024.

Service the Primary: Completed July 15, 2024

Check/Service the swingarm pivot: Completed July 16, 2024

Flush and refill front brake: July 12, Caliper done, master cylinder inspected, When disk is back need to the final bleed. Completed 7/23/2024

My added things:

Check/Service the rear brake, cush drive, and bearings: Completed July 17, 2024

Check/Service the front wheel bearings: July 7, 2024 Replaced bearings with sealed. The disk is grooved so sent it TrueDisk to be ground.

Check/Cleanup wiring:

June 8, 2024 All bikes must fly if I'm going to do more than a little to them! My priority right now is to finish a Trident that a guy has been waiting to buy even longer than this, see: Trident. So, it might be a while before I start daily updates on this one.

The first picture show it rigged and ready to fly. The second shows it just before landing on the roll around table.

Rigged to Fly
Coming in for a Landing

June 17, 2024 I'm almost done with the Trident so this will start getting attention soon. I'm waiting for a couple of parts for the Trident, so I did a little on this today. It looks like it was services before being parked - that's good. The engine oil looks new, but of course, it is getting changed. The gearbox oil appears new too, but after draining a while that last part was brownish. I suspect that was caused by condensation. I'm trying an old school trick to clean it out. After it was fully drained, put the plug back in and added about 10 oz of mineral spirits - wish kerosene were available! Tomorrow, I'll drain that and do it again. Once it looks clean, I'll put in some SAE 30 to flush out the remnants of the mineral spirits, drain that and then fill it with proper gear oil. Of course, if it doen't come clean, then I'll strip the gearbox.

June 18,2924 The gearbox flush worked, and it is refilled with gear oil. The weird color may be identified - it appeared that a fly and a beetle like a ladybug were in the gearbox! There is no way in once closed so the only way was when last worked on.

Of course I don't for sure know the condition but it looked good after the second flush. So, for now I'm calling it good and when we get to testing, we'll know for sure. Once it has a few miles and is warmed up, I'll drain a little oil and see if it looks good.

The oil feed hose was an original herringbone hose. Unless physically damaged, they seem to last forever, and you cannot buy them today. Once in a while a NOS piece will be found, and they sell by the inch. The telltale sign that they are original are either two red striped side by side like these or a reg and green stripe sis by side which were seen on Triumphs.

Unfortunately, the feed line to the engine had a one-way valve installed. Those have a good and bad side. The good side is that they stop wet sumping. The bad side is the destruction of engines! The feed side is gravity fed to the oil pump. The oil pump produces very little suction. I tried to blow through the valve I could not and when I used air it did open but that pressure is WAY more than the weight of the oil and suction of the pump, so it was a engine destruction waiting to happen. I rebuilt and engine last year badly damaged but the same valve! So, that link has been replaced.

Drained the timing side fork. First clear water came out, then new-looking oil with chunks of black stuff. I noticed that the axle nut is on backwards and the gaiter is cracked. Since I need to check all that as well as the steering bearings, I'll disassemble, clean, and check all the fork components. I need to do most of it anyway as when the owner delivered it I checked and the forks are not on the same plane which can be bad at speed.

Oil Line with valve
Timing side fork drained

July 1, 2024 Spent some time on this bike today. I drained the drive-side fork is it had only some sludge that came out first and then clean oil - no water. Then I started loosening things to get the front wheel off and got stuck for a while. The spindle nut was very tight and as I said before, on backwards - see the first picture. Once it was off I found the washer that does not belong and that was crushed into the threads of the spindle. That took a LONG time to get off - see the second picture. Then I put the nut back on just for the third picture to show how is supposed to look. Looks like someone spent serious hammer time on that nut!

Front Spindle Nut 1
Front Spindle Nut 2
Front Spindle Nut 3

July 3, 2024 After all the weird problems with the Trident, was ready to just get the front end of this bike apart and finish it in a day or two.

Got the caliper, hose and master cylinder off without much trouble but it clearly has not been serviced in a very long time as it was milky The pucks appear to be nearly new thickness but have been drenched in brake fluid and the pucks are really stuck. The disk and pucks have some small grooves. I'll talk to the owner – if it were my bike, I would send the disk to TrueDisk LLC ( to be surfaced. They stop better than new once he grinds them and it's not expensive – about $95 including shipping both ways. A new disk is over $200 plus shipping from the UK.

OK, now the really weird! Normally removing the front spindle only requires twisting and pulling. Sometimes, light tapping. I had to use an aluminum drift and the hammer in the second picture! The pictures show why. I have no idea how one fork leg is that much "longer" than the other! I suspect that the one on the right is not all the way up into the triple tree or the fork is mis-assembled on the inside. It took so long to get the axle out that I ran out of time. I should have it all apart tomorrow and will know more then.

Front Spindle 1
Front Spindle 2

July 5, 2024 Had a real struggle getting the fork collars off. Normally my strap wrench easily removed them. In this case it too a lot of heat and a lot of pulling before they finally let go. They are a bit of a rusty mess. I've cleaned them up and will try to re-plate them. If that doesn't work well, I'll replace them.

The fork problem was weird. It turns out that the bolt through the bottom of the drive-side slider into the damper was nearly unscrewed which let the slider extend more than normal. The only reason the oil didn't all come out is the sludge in the bottom somehow sealed the bolt.

The short red line in the picture shows how deep the sludge was with the bolt almost out (I wiped that one off). The long red line shows how deep the sludge was in the timing side. The bottoms of the dampers were also full of sludge.

The fork tubes are in decent shape. The dampers are in really good shape. The damper rods have some rust but not where it matters so I won't change those. The springs are in good shape. The top bushings are worn enough that there is a little movement so it's best to change them. The bottom bushings are fine, but I only have sets so those will be changed. The seals were working but are hard so they will be changed too. The paper washers were missing.

The steering bearings are fine but the bottom nut and tab washer are very rusted and the tab was not bent so I'll change both.

I got the most of the sludge out with WD40 and a big bottle brush. Now the sliders are soaking in the kitchen sink in soapy water so I can get them perfectly clean.

Fork Goo

July 6, 2024 Finished cleaning the sliders and re-plated the fork collars. Then gave the sliders a quick polish. I mentioned earlier that the forks were not on the same plane. That is sometimes hard to correct. This time I was shocked. I removed the triple tree bottom nut and tab washer to replace them, gave the timing side fork bottom one nice hit with a rubber hammer and they were perfect. Installed the new tab washer and nut and tightened fully and rechecked - still prefect. Then I put the forks back together and that took time but went well.

The owner decided on having the disk ground so I took to off - I'll ship it on Monday.

The double-row (disk side) bearing was rough and the other side was OK. I will change them both to sealed bearings since they are both expensive. It took forever to get the bearings out. It's really weird that the Triumph front disk bearings can be changed in about 15 minutes once the wheel is off and the Norton uses almost the same setup, but getting the first bearing out is very difficult. Once it's finally out, the rest is easy and it's all easy to put back together.

Tomorrow, I'll install the bearings and put the wheel back on without the disk so I can work on other parts of the bike.

Fork Collars

July 7, 2024 The front wheel bearings are changed and the front end is back together less the caliper and disk. The disk is leaving for TrueDisk in tomorrow's mail.

The caliper is fighting me getting the inside piston out. The caliper has leaked some and the inside piston is either rusty or covered with crud on the part I can see. It will probably come out with air pressure. I'll definitely change the seals and will inspect the bores and pistons - hopefully I won't find anything wrong. The fork are filled with straight SAE 30. I wish you could still find SAE 20 but it doesn't make a big difference in Norton forks.

I may not be back on this for a couple of days. The right fork has a small leak on the Trident I've been getting ready and the guy who wants it is coming Saturday. Also, I have a bike coming to recommission on Wednesday, and two bikes coming on Saturday - I have to clean up so there's room to get them all in! Worse than all that, two more are coming near the end of the month! I definitely need to learn to say no!

July 12, 2024 Back on the caliper. Struggled a bit but rigged a better seal and used air to pop the inner piston. The outer pushed out without much trouble. The seals looked OK but were both leaking. The inner seal apparently was put in on top crude. Took quite a while to get the slot clean. The outer slot was fairly clean but there was a manufacturing defect in one spot where there was a bump of metal protruding a little into the slot. Very carefully reduced that. Then gave it a quick polish on the buffer, washed it out thoroughly in hot soapy water, blew it dry, wiped everything with alcohol, and then installing the new seals. Then inspected the pads. Then cleaned up fine and I sanded them with 320 grit paper to get rid of the grooves. They have plenty of life left. Then went through my pre-bleeding (pre-filling) procedure that makes bleeding the system MUCH easier. The Bundy pipe was misshapen at the top end but I was able to correct it.

Checked the master cylinder and found no reason to rebuild it. So, I put it all together and will finish bleeding it when the disk is back from TrueDisk.

July 14, 2024 Got started on the primary today. The first thing I noticed was that the oil looked like maple syrup in both color and consistency. But once drained and the cover was off, the inner and out primary covers looked new on the inside and there was none of the usual black deposits. I can't imagine why the oil looked that way.

Then I noticed that the chain was very loose. That's easy to fix.

Then I took the clutch apart to inspect and everything there looked good. The basket has a tiny bit of wear but I can find no other wear.

Then I completely cleaned everything and noticed that the degree indicator was worn halfway through so I took a good look at the rotor and noticed the very over-sized Belleville washer behind the nut. In the first picture the red ovals show where it was rubbing on the degree indicator. I also noticed that the rotor was out further than it's supposed to be on a Norton. So, I got out a big breaker bar to crack the nut loose and realized it was barely tightened - wow! Lucky it didn't make a terrible mess! So, off came the stator and rotor and the second picture shows another Belleville washer - there's not supposed to be anything there!

Tomorrow I'll put the primary back together properly, adjust the chain, put the cover back on with a new O-ring and refill it.

Primary 1
Primary 2

July 15, 2024 Finished the primary. The chain is supposed to have 3/8" total up and down movement - it had 1-1/8"! Corrected that. Checked the degree indicator - it was off by two degrees so I corrected that. In the process I needed to put my TDC tool in the drive side spark plug hole. I could only get it in three turns. When I removed that plug, it was difficult. Just looking, the threads seem OK but new and old plugs will not go in without forcing them so I need to chase the threads but I loaned my spark plug thread chaser and never got it back. After putting the outer primary on I needed to removed the top big plug to add oil. I cannot imagine how it was put in but I finally had to use a large breaker bar and the correct tool and it was still hard! I got it out and after filling the oil, put it back in properly without trouble.

July 16, 2024 Tackled several things today:
  • Removed the rear wheel and checked the bearings. They are fine and have already been changed to sealed. However it took forever to get the wheel off because at some point the axle was overtightened and the standard Norton speedo drive problem occurred - warped.
  • Checked the brake drum bearing. It is fine too.
  • Check the swingarm for play and smooth movement. It is fine
  • Removed the fender and horn so I could add oil to the swingarm - what a PITA for this simple task. It only took about an ounce. This bike is late enough that it has the permanent seals and it's seems to have never leaked.
  • Check the cush drive. One small rubber missing and the rest are good.
  • Tested the horn - it works fine.
  • Put the horn and fender back on.
So, now it was time to see if I could fix the speedo drive. When overtightened they get warped, the "top hat" spacer get trapped, and a ridge of metal gets extruded on the inside by the inner spacer. the hardest part of fixing them is getting the "top hat" out without damage. That too a long time. Once it was out, some judicious hammer work made the drive's outer surface flat again. Then I had to carve away the extruded metal on the inside without losing and metal chips - only stabbed myself with an X-Acto knife three times! Once that was done, I taped off the inside and used a Dremel sanding disk to cleanup the hole and get it back to the right size so the "top hat" would go back in. then, I removed the felt seal retainer, throughly washer it out with WD40, blew it dry and re-packed with grease. Then some hammer time to fix the seal retainer and put it cab together. I would have just replaced it as it took way to long to recover, but I'm out of them.

I still need to check the brake shoes, and replace them if needed. Then I can put the wheel back together, adjust it, and move on.

Rear End

July 17, 2024 The brake shoes have about half their life left and the drum look very good. Cleaned it all up - the road grime was terrible. Replaced the missing cush rubber and put it back together.

Then I looked at the ISOs and was surprised. They are some sort of verier, but not AN or RGM and the boots are not put on normally. I'm going to leave them for a test ride. If they prove to need something, then I'll have to figure out who made them and how to adjust them.

July 18, 2024 I didn't have a lot of time today, but I did start looking at the wiring and did hear that the front disk is on it's way back I probably won't update again until Sunday. I have a bike coming tomorrow for an e-start installation that has been waiting a really long time.

July 21, 2024 The e-start installation I mentioned is finished and I'm back on this bike. The disk arrived in yesterday's mail. When I sent it, it was clean but ugly and grooved. It came back with an excellent grind pattern on the brake surface but of course the center was still not good looking. The first picture shows it masked for painting

The second picture shows it in my paint/power coat cabinet being painted. The board under it rotates so an even coat is easy to apply.

The third picture show is done. The lighting makes it had to take a picture that does it justice. the ground surface is even all the way around.
Disk 1
Disk 2
Disk 3

July 22, 2024 The first picture shows rhe restored disk (almost) installed. Big problem! The second picture shows the wheel centered in the caliper. The red arrow points to the gap that should not be there - that side locates the hub/disk. If the axle is pushed in fully, that gap closes but then the disk is almost touching the fork leg and the disk is off-center in the caliper. Most likely, the caliper timing side spacer is not the correct one for a Commando. I'll have to take is back off and compare the spacers on both sides to new spacers to see what's wrong.

Disk 4
Disk 5

July 23, 2024 The front disk alignment problem is fixed. The timing side spacer was incorrect - I have idea where it came from but I had a good used one. The drive side spacer is fine. The brake is bled but Commando brakes are notorious for trapped air so I will double check it later. So, now, assuming I don't find anything when testing, it's only the wiring to clean/fix up and it is a real mess. I'll probably take the bike off the table to do that. My foot and knee keep me from standing for long periods.

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