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Norton Commando
Identification

Updated 09/23/21

Norton Commando
Survey

Updated 09/23/21

Norton Commando
Torque

Updated 10/17/21

Special Parts
Updated 05/18/21

cNw Special
Updated 05/02/21

Norton US License
Plate Brackets


Norton Wiring
Updated 02/28/21

Used Parts For Sale
Updated 09/13/20

Norton Wiring Diagrams
Updated 02/28/21

Norton Rear
Wheel Lacing

Updated 03/02/19

Norton Front
Wheel Lacing

Updated 09/13/20

1972 Customer
Combat Build

Updated 10/19/21

1972 Customer
Combat Rebuild

Finished 9/7/2020

1974 Norton 850
Commando Rebuild

Sold 1/12/21 Updated 06/10/21

1974 Norton Wiring
Updated 08/24/21

1972 Norton 750
Commando Rebuild

Completed 5/15/19
First Place Norton 5/16/19
Sold 1/1/20


1972 Norton Wiring
Updated 09/06/20

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US Flag Thursday, October 21, 2021
In 2019 I was contacted by a guy building a 1972 Norton Commando Combat. His goal was to get the bike on wheels and complete and then bring it to me to finish and that's what he did. The engine/gearbox were of unknown condition and the cylinder head had broken fins and had been painted black (poorly). Also, the bike was built on a 850 frame that had holes in strange places, a broken steering stop, and the front end assembled very wrong.

He had a 750 frame at home and he found a really good deal on getting frames powder coated.  At the same time, I had a Combat apart in boxes. So we decided to have both of our frames powder coated which meant for the second time this year, I started a frame swap.  Since I was in a hurry to get his bike apart, I didn't take pictures.

So far: His replacement head is ready to go. That actually shocked me! The replacement head he bought had no valves or rockers and was a little dirty. I cleaned it up without doing my normal beatification. I took the valves from his old head, protected the stems with tape and media blasted them. The two intake valves lapped in fine! One exhaust valve guide was bad so I had to change it – then that valve lapped in fine without cutting the seat - unheard of! The other exhaust valve lapped OK but on close inspection the surface was pitted so I stripped a valve from another old Combat head and it lapped in fine. On that last exhaust valve I noticed that the guide was wrong – no place for the insulator and spring seat. I didn't have another guide to I took the one from the head where I got the valve – used lots of heat so I wouldn't damage the guide on the way out. You guessed it, the valve lapped in fine. All the rocker gear from the original head was fine and is now installed in the replacement head.

May 14, 2020 He picked up the frames to take to the powder coater.
 
May 15, 2020 I've decided to document this one since he doesn't want my normal "make it look new". Today, I took the crankshaft apart to check the journals and clean the sludge trap. At first glance, the sludge trap was almost clean. Unfortunately, all the nuts were staked so a new bolt set is required. On closer inspection as I cleaned everything I found tiny flecks of silver, shiny metal everywhere. On careful inspection the journals are fine but would not have been for long. The bearing shells have embedded flecks of brass or bronze and some minor scoring so they will be replaced as well.


Cranskshaft 1


May 16, 2020 The crankshaft is ready to go in the cases. It has a new bolt set, new big end shells (standard size), new conrod bolt nuts, and new "SuperBlend" bearings.  I keep the bearings together until I put the outers in the case.  The bottom end should be together and in the engine stand tomorrow.


Cranskshaft 2


May 17, 2020 Today started with a simple goal that should have taken 1-2 hours - get the crankshaft and camshaft in the cases and get the cases mounted in the engine stand. Things didn't go well!.

First problem: Whoever worked on this engine last used some sort of permanent, hardening, gasket cement on all mating surfaces. I tried every chemical I had to soften it. I ended up carefully removing it with single edged razor blades – took over three hours!

The camshaft on this engine used the tab thrust washers that are notorious for destroying engines. Most people just cut the tabs off so they cannot break off and damage the engine. But that means that the thrust wasters are free to spin with the camshaft and that seems like a bad idea since the aluminum engine cases would be the real thrust washers then. I had the more modern bushing in stock that eliminated the need for the tab washers, but you need a camshaft with oil grooves. Upon close inspection, I realize the bushing in the engine was the rare type that had no groves in it. So the bushing wasn't grooved and the camshaft wasn't grooved. So, at a minimum that bushing had to be replaced. Since I was going to replace the bushing and I had the newer style and not the original style, I decided to use the newer style. Then I looked at the new camshaft I had for another engine I'm building and realized that it's a modern Combat (2S) camshaft with the oil grooves. So, I installed the new bushing and will use the new camshaft – I'll get the other one grooved later.

The three pictures show the removed bushing, the new bushing and Superblend bearings installed, and the two camshafts discussed.

Camshaft Bushing 1
Camshaft Bushing 2
Camshafts


May 18, 2020 Putting the crankcases took a while! The camshaft bushing was perfectly sized to the camshaft when I installed it, but it shrunk a few thousandths once installed. It took very careful reaming so not only fit it, but align with the opposite bushing. At any rate, its together now and everything is very smooth.


Crankcase

May 19, 2020 Finished the timing side of the engine except the oil pump.

The next five pictures show the work done to the oil pump. Norton oil pumps are notorious for allowing oil from the tank to seep past the pump and fill the crankcase when the bike sits (wet sumping). This can be improved by reducing the clearances in the pump, especially on the feed side (thin gears).

The first picture shows the bottom cover (on left) and scoring. It also show the top cover with some scoring and a manufacturing defect.

The second and third pictures show those covers before and after dressing. The dark pitted looking areas are actually a manufacturing defect – the casting was not good and the milling did not cut out all the bad area. I have reduced it to a point where I'm sure it will be OK. Fortunately, this is the return side of the pump and can't contribute to wet sumping and since the sealing surface is fine outside the gear area it will be efficient. This needs to be the last time this pump is refurbished.

The forth picture shows the bottom cover dressed. Usually, this is all people do but I take it a couple of steps more.

With the gears in place, I dress the bottom side just until I start to see the gears being rubbed. The goal is to get to zero clearance without binding. I also lightly do the top side.

Then I carefully clean everything, including the slot in the top and bottom, and then assemble but only lightly tightening the screws. Add some oil to each port and feel how the pump turns. There must be no binding, but there should be some resistance.

Once I'm happy, I take it all back apart, re-clean everything, and put it back together using Loctite on the screws and tightening well.

Oil Pump 1
Oil Pump 2
Oil Pump 3
Oil Pump 4
Oil Pump 5

May 20, 2020 I must not be living right! I got the timing side all together and then got the timing cover out to install. What was sitting in the cover – the oil pump! That's right, the oil pump that I got ready yesterday was one I had lying around and I thought it was the one for this bike. I thought about continuing but decided to refresh the one that came wih the bike – it ended up being much better than the one I did yesterday so I installed it.

Then I started cleaning up the timing cover. Besides the two seals that must be replaced, it is important to remove the pressure relief valve to clean and inspect it and to make sure all the passageways are clear. Well, the last person to work on it was a gorilla! After an hour of trying, including with heat, I finally got the cap to come loose. On inspecting, the piston was stuck. A lot more time fiddling and I finally get the piston out. Then I started again trying to get the body out. Two flats on the hex were destroyed – have no idea how someone did that. I finally got it out what an air impact gun. At a minimum, the body must be replaced.

I spent a while at the buffer making the cover look decent. It has some nicks and scratches that could be removed, but the owner doesn't what the new look so I just polished it enough to look like a decent rider. I hope to finish the timing side tomorrow and start on the gearbox. Hopefully I can restore the cradle this weekend install the engine and gearbox so I can start on the primary.

Timing Side

May 21, 2020 I would really like to talk to the idiot who last worked on this engine! I spent over an hour getting the old gasket/cement off the timing cover! The cover looks right for a well maintained rider.

Next I moved on to the cylinders. The bores look perfect and they have no taper at all. The hash marks look new. Those two sentences make no sense with the rest of what I'm about to say. The pistons are standard size and in good shape. They appear to be OEM because they are the kind that tend to lose their top that were used at the time. This engine has the aluminum plate to lower the compression so it has been opened before. The engine was clearly burning oil. The rings on the inside have burned on oil on the sides and the ring at the top of each cylinder is thick carbon. I think, but can't be sure, that the compression rings were installed upside down. They are not marked and have no inside bevel. They appear to have an outside bevel that was installed up. I always replace rings when I have a top end apart no matter their condition. That's especially important if they were running upside down. I have to talk to the owner – if it were my bike, I would replace the pistons since they are the kind that can lose their heads.

Timing Cover

May 22, 2020 Prepared the cylinders for paint today. They had some missing paint and some rust but media blasting cleaned that up – usually have to blast to completely clean metal but these were in better shape. Tomorrow, they will get a through acetone cleaning and then sprayed with special motorcycle barrel paint.

Studied the pistons and rings again. There is a Norton service bulletin about the rings (N69) and another about the combat pistons (N2/4). The rings are the improved type meant to stop excessive oil use, but the second ring was installed upside down! There is a little mystery about the pistons. The factory supposedly switched to solid skirts at serial number 204168 – this engine, 204385, does not have the solid skirts. There is a note in the service bulletin that they were still shipping dealers interim pistons. The interim pistons has deeper pockets for the valves but presumably still had the oil cutouts in the skirts.  Since I know the engine had been open before, I'm assuming someone replaced the pistons back then.  The engine might have been one of the ones with a bad cam that caused a rebuild.


May 23, 2020 Painted the cylinders today. I use my powder coating cabinet lined with cardboard so I can paint inside with a fume extractor.

The first picture shows then upside down after a thorough cleaning and after masking. The paper towel in the middle is because once the bottoms of the fins are painted, I have to turn the cylinders over without touching the paint – the towel is just lying there.

The second picture shows them finished and shows the paint I use. It's a pretty intense hour to paint them – all coats must be done within one hour and if you go too fast you'll get runs. Also, there are so many nooks and crannies in a Norton head it takes really careful spraying to not make a mess of it.

Painting Cylinders 1
Painting Cylinders 2

Once I was done with the cylinders, I moved on to the gearbox. It fought me but I won. First was the little retainer screw for the drive sprocket. I finally had the heat it and use a punch and hammer. Then the sprocket nut would not budge and I don't have a deep enough 1-1/2” socket so I started on the other side. The outer case screws were Loctited in! Finally got those out with an impact screwdriver. The cover, you guessed it, had the same permanent crap on the gasket – finally got the cover off.

Was happy to see that it looked good inside. Getting the inner cover of was not a problem but then the quadrant post was Loctited in – ridiculous. Next issue – the gearbox still had the original, notorious lay shaft ball bearing (2nd picture). Generally, the lay shaft will slip out of the bearing, or the bearing will slip out of the shell. Neither would happen. So, I heated the case to 200 degree F. No joy, so I heated it to 300 degrees F. No joy, so I heated it to 350 degrees F and if finally came out – I've never had to go that hot before. Then, I had to get the bearing off the lay shaft. There's no room for a puller so I had to clamp the bearing in my vice and drift the shaft out of it – took a while but it went. I think the sleeve bearing is good – it was too hot to check today. With a little luck, the gearbox will be all done tomorrow.

Gearbox 1
Gearbox 2


May 24, 2020 Got the gearbox all cleaned up, installed new seals in the outer cover, and was ready to assemble when I realized that I'm out of lay shaft roller bearings :-(

So, I stated on getting other parts ready. The triple tree is blasted and ready for paint. The engine/gearbox cradle is cleaned. It does not have the oil filter mount so I need to add that. More importantly, the center stand holes are damaged and I have to figure out what to do about that. In a perfect world, I would have a lathe and I would make 850-style, but over sized bushings for the center stand. Since this is not a perfect world, I'll have to come up with something else. I may punt for now and use the one from my other Combat and worry about it later.

Ordered the pistons, bearing, and a bunch of parts from AN for this and other bikes tonight.

Gearbox 3


May 25, 2020 The center stand on this bike apparently was installed wrong for quite a while. The holes in the engine/gearbox cradle (cradle) were elongated and wallowed out and when I got the bike there was no bushing in the center stand which also was wallowed out. There are two versions of center stand and mounting hardware to go with it. The 750 version (this bike) would not work do to the holes being wallowed out. The 850 version would not work due to the holes in the cradle and center stand being too small.

To fix this, the cradle and center stand both needed to be modified for the 850 hardware.

The first picture shows the hole in the cradle and the 850 type bushing. The smaller diameter of the bushing needed to fit in the cradle snugly. I used a drill press and progressively larger drills to both round and enlarge the holes. The largest drill bit I have is ½” which is not big enough so then I spent forever with a round file fitting the hole to the bushing. The 2nd picture shows the bushings properly fitted to the cradle. Notice that the bushing does not reach all the way through the cradle. When the thru bolts are tightened, the bushings must not move.

The third picture shows the problem with the center stand and the forth shows the bushings fitted to the center stand.  This also took forever :-(

The fifth picture shows the center stand installed on the cradle as a test. It works very well. The bolts are 7/16” which is correct but they are just for test – I have the correct 7/16” bolts to install once the bike is back on it's wheels.

The cradle has had all rust sanded and the swingarm sealing surfaces faced.  I'll paint it tomorrow.  I won't drill for the oil filter until I have the swingarm back.  Even though I have all he measurement, the swingarm comes close to hitting the filter on the factory drilled cradles so I wants to double-check the location before drilling.

Cradle 1
Cradle 4
Cradle 2
Cradle 3
Cradle 5

May 26, 2020 Painted the cradle today. The picture is after the 4th coat. Did six coats.

Also blasted all (I hope) of the small black parts to get them ready for powder coating. The battery tray was the most difficult. It had the standard stick on rubber pads, but apparently as some point battery acid got between them so it's pretty pitted. Also, almost every arm was bent. Straightened all of them while checking against a spare frame. The battery box will look good, but not great, once coated.

Tracking says that the pistons and rings will be here Thursday. Assuming no shipping hiccups, I can get back on the engine then.

Cradle 6


May 28, 2020 The pistons and rings arrived late today.

I got the cylinders ready:
  • Lightly honed to refresh the cross hatching
  • Made sure all the threaded holds were clear and that the head bolts threaded into them nicely
  • Cleaned very throughly and then sprayed all bare metal with WD40
  • Reinstalled the tappets
  • Verified the ring gaps - all were .012" - perfect
  • Installed wires so I can hold them with the engine hoist while installing -you'll see why tomorrow
I got the pistons ready:
  • Rinsed them to be sure they were clean
  • Installed the rings
  • Installed the inner circlips - you'll see why tomorrow.
Then I cleaned the cylinder base studs and reinstalled them in the crankcase. Some were so rusty that they wouldn't come clean but I had some from other bikes so I came up with a decent set.  Not sure what I'll do about the nuts.  I normally replace the studs and nuts so I have some - hopefully enough to make a decent set.

So, the cylinders are ready to go on.  Wish I were 30 years younger - you won't believe what I have to do these days - you'll see tomorrow.

May 29, 2020 The normal way to install cylinders is to install the pistons with rings to the connecting rods and then hold the cylinders in one hand and manipulate the rings into the cylinders with the other hand. I can still easily do that with Triumph cylinders, but Norton cylinders weigh too much.

To resolve this, I do two things. First, I use my engine hoist to raise and lower the cylinders as needed. Second, I partially install the pistons from the bottom, lower the cylinders over the connecting rods, push the wrist pins through, installed the outer clips and lower the cylinders.

The first picture shows the cylinder rigged and checked that they are level which make the whole process easier. The second picture shows the pistons in the cylinders. The third picture shows the cylinders ready to lower enough to push the wrist pins in. I forgot to take one picture. On a Norton, the cylinders must be lowered most of the way and then the base nuts put on since there's not enough room once the cylinders are all the way on. Using the engine hoist makes this very easy. The fourth picture shows the cylinders installed.  The rotor is just stuck on the crank to make it easier to turn the engine.

Cylinders 1
Cylinders 2
Cylinders 3
Cylinders 4

May 30, 2020 Didn't have much time today, but planned to get the head on.  Since several fasteners are difficult to get to on a Norton head, I always check all threads to be sure they have no problem.  There's not much worse that getting a Norton head on and then having a nut you can't start!  While doing that, I noticed the intake side center stud was rough.  On closer inspection, I realized that the threads were about half there right in the tightening zone.  It's difficult to see in the picture but the discolored area is actual quite bad threads.  I figured no problem - I have a bad head and the original head.  I took a stud out of the bad head with no trouble.  However, I worked on getting the bad stud out for two hours with no luck applying heat/cold/shock.  So finally, I went gorilla.  I clamped vice grips on as tight as I could make them and banged on the vice grips  with a big hammer - fully expecting the threads to come out with the stud and needing a helicoil.  Shocker - it came out clean!

Head Stud


May 31, 2020 Got the head on and torqued today. The rockers are adjusted and the rocker covers are restored and installed.

Actually this bike came with very poorly chromed rocker covers. The ones I installed were from a parts bike. The intake covers only took a little to polish up. Both exhaust covers had been over tighten at some point and would have leaked. I flattened than and then polished. One was smooth but with dings and scratched – it polished OK. The other's surface looked cast aluminum. So, I sanded a little and then polished. It's no mirror finish but is wat better that what came with the bike and is in keeping with the owner's desired.

Engine 1


June 1, 2020 More or less stuck waiting for my Andover Norton order to arrive. Did install the oil pipes and sump vent, and cleanup the work area so I can do the gearbox as soon as the parts arrive.

June 2, 2020 Had a little help today so I was able to get some of the clutter off the floor and up into the attic and while doing that realized that I had a cradle and swing arm.  Stripped that and used the cradle to make a pattern to drill the holes for the oil filter.  Spent most of the day cleaning up - maybe I'll trip less often now!  Did turn the painted cradle over so I could paint the areas that were not accessible due to the way it was sitting.  The cradle is fully painted now.


June 5, 2020 Surprisingly, the parts arrived today - they were supposed to arrive Monday.  Installing the new layshaft roller bearing went without issue.  I reinstalled the sleeve gear bearing and then the sleeve gear.  I was sure that the sleeve gear bearing was good but then I spun the sleeve gear - wow, the rumble!  So, out with it and in with a new one.

The first picture shows preparing to tighten the sprocket nut (left-hand thread). 

Have a look at the second picture without looking at the third so you can see the mistake I make every time - see it?  No, OK, look a the third picture and read below it.

Gearbox 4
Gearbox 5
Gearbox 6

With the inner cover on, you cannot insert the pivot for the gearshift.  There are so many things that have to line up to install the inner cover that it's a PITA to get on and off - you'd think I would remember that so I didn't have to do it multiple times!  The other thing that can be a PITA is getting the gearshift mechanism synced.  I did get that right on the first try.

June 6, 2020 Before installing the outer cover, the clutch actuator must be installed and properly aligned.  To do the alignment, I temporarily put the outer cover on and mark the inner cover in line with where the clutch cable enters the outer cover.  Then I take the outer cover off and transfer the mark to the edge of the inner cover (see inside red circle.  It's hard to tell in the picture, but the slot in the clutch actuator is directly in line with that mark.  The second picture shows the gearbox ready for the outer cover.

Gearbox 7
Gearbox 8

With the gearbox finished and tested, I moved onto finishing the cradle and then installing the gearbox in the cradle.  Below you'll see the template I made to make for the oil filter holes.  I put a piece of tape on the cradle in the general area.  Aligned the template and trace the holes for the oil filter.  Then removed the template, center punched and drilled for 5/16" bolts.  I brushed painted the holes and moved on to installing the gearbox in the cradle.  When I took the bike apart, the bolts were all wrong that held the gearbox.  You had to fully disassemble the primary to get the gearbox out.  It had the right bolts and nuts, just installed incorrectly and it was missing the top spacer.  That's all corrected now.  Tomorrow, I'll connect the cradle and engine and install the rear isolastic.  Depending on how long it will be before the frame returns, and what else is going on, I may finish the primary before installing in the frame.

Cradle 7
Cradle 8

June 7, 2020 Ready for the frame.  As you can see in the picture, the engine and cradle are united and the rear vernier isolastic is installed.  I also temporarily installed the inner primary cover so I could centralize the support stud.  That's much more difficult once the power unit is in the frame.

Cradle 9

June 9, 2020 Powder coated today. Some of the parts are for this bike, some are for another combat I'm rebuilding, and some are extras.  The battery tray for this bike is done too, but it was too hot to get out of the oven when I took this picture.  All these parts had a good bit of rust so none look perfect but at least they won't rust again and they will look fine for these bikes.

Frame 1


June 13, 2020 When building engines I like to set the rocker clearances and spend a little time turning the engine over to fill the oil ways while it's still on the bench. If I install the rotor, I can do that but it still takes a good bit of effort for arthritic hands.  So, I had a friend with a 3D printer make me a tool for the job.  Watch the 7 second movie below to see the tool in action.

June 28, 2020 The frame arrived today – it looks great!  While waiting, I fixed a customer's 1979 Triumph T140, worked a little on a 1970 T120R I'm rebuilding, and started working on a 1967 Norton 650SS for a customer..

The first picture shows the power unit lying on its timing side on 2” thick square of foam rubber and the frame in place with the bolt in the rear isolastic. Notice the pipe insulation on then frame and the foam over the head. That's a good idea while lowering the frame over the power unit – it's a little fiddly and it's east to bump the frame. Once it's about in place, it's simple to put the long stud through the frame and rear isolastic.

The second picture shows the front mount with the Vernier isolastic installed. Now for the fun – installing the front isolastic.

The third picture shows the front mount installed with temporary studs.  The proper bolts plus a couple of spacers are shown at the bottom.  They were a mess.  They have now been blasted and will be re-plated and then installed. 

Now we can make progress with this bike!

Frame 2
Frame 3
Frame 4


June 29, 2020 The front motor mount bolts are re-plated and installed.  The new certification plate is installed as are the steering bearings and triple tree. 

Frame 5

June 30, 2020 The swing arm and shocks are mostly installed.  This took a while as the powder coater coated the inner edge where the bushing are installed so that had to be cleaned up.  The washers that were on the lower mounts were wrong and I'm waiting for my AN order to have proper washers.  I still have to install the end caps, but the through rod is bad so I have to do something about that.

Frame 6

July 1, 2020 The in earnest building has begun. The head steady hardware was all rusty - it has been blasted and re-plated. The swing arm through rod end was bad - that's been brazed and is installed and the swing arm is filled with 140 oil.

Building 1

July 2, 2020 Friday, I got my left little toe stepped on by a guy in boot while I was wearing flip flops. That toe has been broken three times in the last two years. Saturday, I was being stupid and holding a Triumph seat hinge while drilling a hole in it. The bit caught and the pain was bad enough that I didn't look for a short while – I thought I ripped my thumb off! Sunday night I ran my four small toes on my right foot into the leg of my couch. Apparently, that didn't hurt enough because I did it again in 20 minutes.

By Tuesday, my left toe hurt but I could stand that. My thumb and hand were twice their normal size. My right toes were black and blue and the one next to my little one was obviously broken and out of line. My grandson was with me so I had him set it. Wednesday morning both feet and my hand hurt but it was tolerable.

Today, my toes were so bad I could barely walk so I went to see the podiatrist. He confirmed the broken toe and said that is perfectly set and taped it.

So, I didn't accomplish much today. I did get the oil filter and lines installed and the hardware for the Z-Plates cleaned up. I tried to get the foot pegs off the Z-Plates so I can polish them, but they must have been installed with thread locker.

July 3, 2020 My foot is worse but I did get a little done. I was going to put the oil tank in but it had more rust than I could stand. Normally, I blast and powder coat them but in keeping with this being a squared away rider, I cleaned the grease and grime and then sanded off the rust and started painting. The pictures didn't come out. The back and sides are done and tomorrow I can turn it over and do the front.

July 4, 2020 My foot is MUCH worse today. I can barely get around using crutches so I got nothing done.

July 5, 2020 My foot is a little better today. I was able to (barely) get around without crutches. So I took a lot of aspirin (not supposed to take any) and did a little work. The oil tank is finished being painted. The horn is cleaned up, tested, and installed. The rear fender is installed after quite a fight. I was convinced that the frame rear loop was bent, but I checked against others and it wasn't. It appears that the fender was pulled into a larger radius than normal – maybe the old frame was bent. With a lot of work, I decreased the radius and now it fits – that would have been a nice job for someone younger!

Building 2
Building 3

July 6, 2020 My ankle and foot are huge! Very little sleep last night. Went to the doctor today and he prescribed superman pills (steroids). Right now, I'm invincible and all pain throughout my body is gone but I'm an accident waiting to happen. Didn't dare work on bikes today. Won't be sleeping much in the next few days. If my leg swelling goes down, I'll go back to work and try to be careful (hard on steroids).

July 7, 2020 What toe, what foot, what wrist, pain doesn't exist for superman! Put real shoes on so I wouldn't hurt my foot more and decided to get the rear wheel on.

So, first I cleaned up the brake drum/sprocket – it had a good amount of caked on grime. Then I had a look at the brake – see the first picture – you do not want to see shiny rivets holding the brake lining on! Rechecked the drum – a nice sanding with 220 cleaned it up. Took apart the brake, with a great deal of difficult – one shoe was seized on the pivot post. Then I started cleaning – may have never been done since it left the factory! The road grime was very difficult to get off – at least I now know that the scraping sound was when I turned the rear wheel before – it was that thick on the backing plate. The second picture shows it all clean and the new shoes installed. Interestingly, the actuator had no grease at all and the hole was wide open – they are usually a bear to get opened up. The pivots now have anti-seize and the actuator is properly greased.

Then it was time for the cush drive fight. Installing new rubbers is usually a battle even though I have a good system for doing it. Maybe it went together easily since I had no pain in either thumb and I'm superman. At any rate, it only took five minutes to mount the brake side and then the wheel itself. See picture three – progress!

Building 4
Building 5
Building 6

July 8, 2020 My leg is a little better and I'm stil on superman pills so I tackled a job that always seems simple but is often a PITA.

Over the years, Norton made minor changes to the mounting holes on the frame and on the coil bracket. This coil bracket probably came with the 850 frame I removed. On most 850 frames, the holes are elongated. This 750 frame had just the right size holes and the threaded holes in the coil bracket need to line up with them. Also, we had the frame power coated. After I removed the powder coat from the holes, they were still too close together by about a 1/16 of an inch. It's an awkward place to work but with a round file I was able to elongate the holes enough to make it work. I coated the bare metal edges and installed. Then I cleaned up the reflectors, coils, and coil brackets and installed them. This always seems like it should be a 10 minute job, but it turns into a couple of hours!

I don't remember if I mentioned it before, but you can see the re-plated head-steady plate in this picture too.

Building 7

July 15, 2020  My latest AN order came in today so I'm back on this.

It's a disease! I was going to installed the oil tank, but noticed that the part that shows with the cover off had a lot of dust in the paint - I have no idea how that happened. So, I wet sanded and repainted. Yes, I know it does not show and the tank was rusty and pitted but I couldn’t leave it. It still won't be beautiful but it's not embarrassing now.

Took the forks apart. They had very old ATF in them but surprisingly no water. Also, no significant rust and the dampers, springs, and sliders seem to be in good shape. I'll check the sliders better after I get them cleaned up – as usual there is a lot of sludge in the bottom. The tubes on the other hand have to be changed.

July 16, 2020 Installed the oil tank today. That went fine.

Then I cleaned and inspected the fork sliders. Besides the usual sludge and the drain plugs being put in by a gorilla, they are excellent inside. I can't detect any wear. I normally change the bushings but might not this time. The bottom bushings feel fine in a quick test in the sliders and the top bushings feel fine on the fork tubes even though the fork tubes tore up the seals. I'll installed the top and bottom on the new tubes and check again. If still good, it will save some money to not change them. The rest of the internals are in great shape.

The sliders had a lot of scratches, dings, and dents. In keeping with the owners desires, I won't go crazy making them perfect, but I did spend time with 600 wet and dry paper removing the worse and then with 1000 wet and dry. Tomorrow, I'll spend time on the buffer. They will look really good, just not perfect.

BTW, I normally don't take the forks off the bike without preparing to take them apart. This time I was in a hurry and made it harder on myself in the end. My normal procedure is:
  • Remove the fork cap nuts
  • Drain the oil
  • Loosen the collars (06.1137) using a strap wrench, NOT channel locks!
  • Remove the caliper
  • Remove the wheel
  • Remove the fender
  • Remove the bottom bolts
  • Pull the springs and damper out the top
  • Pull the sliders off (yank them a few times and the seals and top bushings come out)
  • If the tubes or fork ears are going to be replaced:
    • Loosen the bottom triple tree pinch bolts
    • Remove the tubes
This makes several steps easier since the bike is holding most of the parts while you work.

July 17, 2020   Expected to get the forks done today, but spent too much time on the phone being answer man.

They are all buffed and together except the collars. They were rusty and well chewed up by channel lock wielding gorillas in the past. I planned to replace them but didn't realize I was out of them. So, I filed the channel lock marks as best I could, sanded, and sand blasted. I'll re-plate then and install tomorrow. I did end up using the old bushings – there was no need to change them. Of course, the bottom fiber washers, paper washers, and seals have been changed and new short gaiters will be installed once the collars are on.

July 18, 2020  The collars are re-plated.  Maybe not as good as new, but quite good nonetheless.

Building 8

The forks are done and on the bike. On a Norton, the fork ears are secured by two O-rings at the bottom and one at the top. So to put it together is a little complicated, here's how I do it:
  • The lower part of the triple tree is left loose and dropped down about ¼"
  • The two bottom O-rings are put in the bottom slot and held with a little grease.
  • The top O-ring is put in the slot in the top and again held with grease.
  • Each tube is slid up through the bottom to a little under where the would meet underside of the top of the triple tree
  • The pinch bolts are snugged just enough to keep the tubes from falling.
  • The fork ears are slipped over the forks and slid down to the O-rings making sure the O-rings stay in place.
  • The top of the triple tree is rotated to line up with the fork tubes
  • Then using three of your two hands, you loosen one pinch bolt, hold the fork ear in place, slide the tube up into the top of the triple tree, install the top nut through the instrument case, and finger snug it.
  • Then do the other side the same.
  • This is critical: you temporarily install the headlight shell.  If you don't and you do the next step you won't be able to align the fork ears!
  • Tighten the bottom nut snuggly – not real tight yet - the fork ears will now be locked in place.
  • The fender and front wheel need to be installed before tightening everything.
The front axle has been de-gorilla'd and re-plated. No more beating it in and out of the fork tubes!  I couldn't stand the front fender bridge so that's been painted - expected to have the front fender and wheel on today, but that's the way it goes - I can't help myself.  The headlight shell it terrible but at least it is easy to change later.  The instrument cases need cleaning up too, but you can't put the forks together without them, so they will come back off at some point.

Building 9


July 19, 2020  It's a roller!  The front end is together and aligned.  The left side bearing cover/spacer was damaged and rubbing on the wheel - took a while to see why - it is for a drum brake!  Fortunately I had a new one or I would be stuck on the front wheel.  The instruments are back off to polish the cases.  The front fender has some scuffs but it looks good.

The inner primary cover is cleaned, polished, and installed.  A bullet was dodged there!  The master link has been clipping the seal plates but never caught and ripped them apart.  Most likely the center support was not properly shimmed - it is now, but I'll put the master link in backward nonetheless.  The chain is on, but it has some frozen links so it needs to be changed - I put it on because it's easy at the point and it will make it easy to pull an new chain on.

I expected to have the primary back together today, but when I turned the clutch basket over to inspect the bearing I realized that there's more to do.  There is crusty rust on the back of the clutch basket that must be removed.  Once removed, the basket will be fine ot use.  The bearing feels gritty.  I'm not sure if it is dirty or bad at this point.  The clutch basket is are now apart and the bearing is out so I can clean it all and properly inspect the bearing.  The splines look perfect - not sure why the rust is on the back.


Building 10
Building 11

July 20, 2020 It's hard to tell in the picture, but the rust is gone and in most places you cannot feel anything – the metal is just discolored. Not sure where the cakes of rust came from. I used a razor blade to scrape off most of it, wet sanded, and finally soaked in rust remover. The second picture shows the splines which are in excellent shape. They did have a great deal of caked on crud which WD40 and a lot of brushing removed.

However, I'm stuck now. The bearing is bad and I cannot find the one I'm supposed to have in stock. I ordered one from Amazon today which is supposed to arrive Thursday. Hopefully then I can finish the primary.

The instrument cases are polished and installed and I found a headlight shell in my used parts that is MUCH better than the one on this bike so I'll donate that to the cause.

Building 12
Building 13

July 21, 2020 Since I'm stuck waiting for the clutch bearing, I decided to get the handlebars on, and the front brake bled. What's the saying? "The best laid plans of mice and men". Mounted the handlebars and got the master cylinder and switch consoles out. The master cylinder looked bad (paint missing) but I was going to let that go but then I looked at the switch console! The first one's wires were a mess, most of the contacts didn't work, and just look at the housing. I had a better cable that I had already cleaned and tested so I blasted the housing and buffed it. The pictures aren't great but trust me – it looks good.

Then I figured I better check the other one while I had everything out to rebuild them. That one was even worse – notice the red oval – the whole side is missing and two wires were disconnected. So, I cleaned up and repaired another one I had.

BTW, getting the housings and internals is hard and costly. Getting good, correct color, and correct wire color cables is nearly impossible. Therefore, I've developed a procedure to restore the cable. The two in the picture were basically black before I restored them. They aren't perfect, but they look plenty good for a rider.

Then, I couldn't help myself. Once a master cylinder is part, it only takes seconds to blast one (the paint is terrible). I painted it. I sometimes powder coat them, but the prep for powder coating on a master cylinder is very time consuming.

Wiring 1
Wiring 2

July 22, 2020  Finished the second console and decided to paint the clutch lever mount.  Also buffed the front brake and clutch levers.  The clutch bearing came in so started on the primary again.  This bike had a lock washer and nut to hold the clutch on.  That was correct for 72, but the lock washer on the bike incorrect (way too flimsy).  I prefer the later style with a tab washer, plain washer, and nut so I'll install that - it seems much safer to me.

July 23, 2020 Two steps forward, one step back! Before reassembling the master cylinder I inspected the components. The first picture shows the badly rusted piston and the outer boot. The rust wallowed out the hole in the boot and the brake fluid on the inside of the boot implies that they was a minor leak. Since the rebuild kits are inexpensive and the master cylinder is easy to rebuild, I rebuilt it.

Then I installed it on the handlebar with the rebuilt switch console and verified that the switch console worked and that nothing was shorted to the handlebar. Then I tested the brake switch. It had rust on the mating surface but I was able to clean that up- its installed finger tight – will be removed to tighten the hose (easier that way).

Then I installed the hose – another step back. See the second picture. The hose is way too long. I don't know if I have one or will have to order one. The fourth picture shows the master cylinder installed with the hose just hanging.

Then I installed the clutch lever housing and switch console. You can see that in the third picture. Also in the third picture you'll see that the clutch and crank components including the rotor are installed. The stator is not installed because the wires are chaffed and very hard. I did do some testing and the stator seems electrically OK. I have to figure out what to do about the stator – I'll go through the ones I have and see if I have a better one. I sold my last new one I had. I thought I took pictures of the stator but I guess I didn't since I can't find them.

BTW, saw the podiatrist and got a steroid shot in my foot – superman mode returned at about 3pm. Will be gone around 3pm tomorrow – it's a shame that steroids are bad for you.

Building 14
Building 15
Building 16
Building 17

July 24, 2020 Had company today so I put them to work.  My Grandson cut a new chain from my bulk chain so that's done but most importantly, the center stand is on!  That's always a big event since I can't get one on by myself these days.  The bike has quite a ways to go before I take it off the table, but at least now it could come off the table and stand on its own - it's standing on the center stand on the table now.  To me, that's one of the biggest milestones for a rebuild.

Also, ordered a braided stainless hose.  They cost less than ordering new rubber hoses from AN; and, they: improve the braking action, are DOT approved, and are made in the good old USA.

July 25, 2020 I have a couple of small project I need to get done so I'll be off this for a short while.

July 31, 2020 Made a little progress.  The timing side Z-plate is cleaned and polished and it and the footrest are installed.  The drive side is a mess.  There is one missing stud and nut and the other two nuts are stripped so they cannot be unscrewed.  I'll have to cut those nuts off to get the footrest off.  I cleaned and polished a Z-plate I had and installed that on the drive side.  I found a stator online from a guy who didn't know what they are worth - that should be here in a couple of days and then I can finish the primary.  By then, I'll have the footrest off the Z-plate.  The primary chain and drive chains are adjusted.  The clutch cable had several bad places but I cleaned it and used heat shrink where the covering was bad.  At some point in the near future, a new clutch cable is in order.  Anyway, it is installed, the gearbox is filled and closed up.

So, it's getting close to wiring time.


August 1, 2020 More progress.  Got the foot peg and rear brake off the old Z-plate so once the primary is done that can all go on.

The front brake hose is installed and the brake is bled.  I counted this time - from empty, it took 97 brake lever squeezes to bleed the brake.

The muffler mounts were a mess.  I cleaned them for a while and gave up.  I had a set of stainless ones that were messy so I couldn't sell them - I polished them a little and put them on loosely.  There's always a lot of slop in them so I like to do the final tightening when I put the exhaust on.  The passenger pegs and mounts were a mess as well.  The pegs themselves have been painted and the hardware is blasted and will be repainted.

I"m doing a little R&D with this bike.  It had the original plastic rocker feed lines.  The braided stainless kit that AN sells are very expensive.  I'm working with the guy who makes the brake lines to make them.  The first try was 90% there.  In a week or so, I should have a perfect set to install.


Building 18

August 4, 2020 The stator arrived and it is shockingly good - it has a 1979 date code.  The primary cover is chrome plated, and as usual that lets things down.  It was plated with chrome only so it is a mess.  It's a shame because it doesn't have the footpeg damage so many have.  The footpeg and rear brake are not perfect but they cleanup up nicely.  The rear brake cable is not usable; so, I need to install a new one, the safety return spring and rear brake switch to finish that area.

You'll notice that I've painted the timing mark white and the area around it black.  The rotor has a TDC and BDC mark - it's a pain when timing if you don;t know which is which.  I also verified the timing scale in the primary cover - this one is perfect - that seldom happens!

The center nut was in terrible shape but I had a half-decent one so I Installed that - no point in a new one with that primary cover!

Building 19
Building 20

August 6, 2020  The owner has decided that the primary cover needs to be replace so I have a new on on order - the available ones on eBay are listed for nearly the same as new.

I forgot to mention the other day that I rummaged through my signal parts and between them and the ones that came on the bike, I have made a decent set.  I have new ones in stock, but the originals are better even if they don't look as good.  I may have mentioned that the headlight shell that came with the bike was pretty ugly.  Well I had a used one which was quite a bit better, just not perfect so that and the turn signals are installed.

I normally wire bikes, especially Nortons, from scratch.  For more on that, look here and here. This time, I not going to do that for several reasons:
  • It's a lot of labor
  • My component supplier has raised prices so much that it costs a lot in components
  • The headlight harness is in good shape
  • I thought that the main hardness was in good shape - more on that below
This bike will have a Tri-Spark ignition and Tri-Spark MOSFET rectifier/regulator and an oil pressure switch instead of the silly assimulator.  So the Zener, bridge rectifier, assimulator, ballast resistor, and condensers and their wiring is not needed.  After cleaning the main harness I started unwrapping it so I could get rid of the unneeded wires and breakout other wires where they are needed.  I like working on bike but don;t like dirty hand - I clean them often.  The harness is about 2/3 unwrapped and my had got that dirty in about 10 minutes of unwrapping.  The entire hardness should have take 20-30 minutes to unwrap - took me an hour to get this far!  Why?  Although the harness was properly made using hardness by the factor, over the years, people have attacked it with plastic electrical tape.  DO NOT USE PLASTIC ELECTRICAL TAPE ON HARNESSES!!!!

Vinyl hardness wrap has no adhesive, is flexible, is water and oil tight, easily be cleaned, and is not expensive.

Fortunately, the wires are quite good, just dirty. I will spray with WD40 and wipe each wire, then wipe each wire with denatured alcohol.  In keeping with my normal wiring, I'll reduce the connector count under that tank as much as possible, run a single 14ga ground rather that the snaking 18ga ground wire that is standard, Run a 14 ga Blue/Brown to the fuse and on to the master switch and two ignition (white wires) circuits - one for actual ignition and one for lighting other than the headlight.

Wiring 3

August 8, 2020 "The best laid plans of mice and men". While cleaning the wires I discovered that all the wires to the tail light had been chafed bare in three locations and had over heated as well. Also, there were some "work hardened" wires especially ground wires. So, what started to be a clean/remove excess/re-wrap turned into a big overhaul. The first two pictures show the harness halfway made. The brown and white wires on the right of the second picture also were damaged and have been replaced. The third picture shows most of the extraneous and bad wires I've removed. Since I'm re-making the main harness, I'm doing it exactly like I normally do from scratch; except, that there will be more connections under the tank than I like. There will be quite a few less than stock though.

Wiring 4
Wiring 5
Wiring 6

August 11, 2020 I've done a little more on the wiring, but mostly have been stuck on other things for a couple of days. I did install the new primary cover today. I'm two for two – I put the engine at 30 degrees BTDC before I took the old cover off and when I put the new cover on it showed 30 degree so the timing scale in both is accurate.  I didn't polish the cover - that's the way it came from Andover Norton.  That you can see my white hair in it tells you that it's pretty well polished - it could be made like a mirror, but it really good just like it is.

Now, I suppose that crappy footrest rubber needs to be changed!

Building 21

August 13, 2020 It's probably is not clear from the pictures, but a good bit of progress was made today on the wiring. All main harness wires are run and all breakout locations are defined. Next, circuit by circuit:
  • The wires will be trimmed to length (if needed)
  • The wires will be terminated (if not already)
  • The circuit will be tested
Once the entire bike is wired and tested, I'll add even more zip ties to make sure nothing moves. Then I'll remove the harness from the bike and wrap it.

Wiring 7
Wiring 8

August 14, 2020  I didn't have a lot of time today, but I did make some progress. When I start terminating and testing, I get the taillight and rear turn signals connected first so I can check them without fiddling around.

On a Norton, the frame, and therefore rear fender are not reliable grounds. So, a ground wire is run to the taillight by the factory. In theory, that ground also grounds the turn signals. Probably before any corrosion starts, that is true, especially if paint is scraped off where the turn signals bolt on.

I never rely on that! That's especially true when all the taillight parts are rusty and I powder coat them which I did in this case. Also, the turn signals were a mess. Like with the front ones, I went through my parts and made two decent ones – now I'm officially out of everything except sockets and lens to fix turn signals.

The picture shows my solution to grounding this style of taillight in a way that ensures that each component has a good, reliable ground. In the taillight itself, there is a copper, very thin, braided ground connection – I will replace that with a much large braided copper connection to be sure that is reliable as well.

Wiring 9

August 16, 2020 Too many visitors, too many phone calls! I didn't finish the wiring today, but it is all tested. Just needs the final wrapping and installation.

The headlight socket gave me fits. The beam unit, which is mostly in great shape had white corrosion where the bulb sits and it was insulating the bulb from ground. I have new sockets, but the originals are much better made so I cleaned up the original.

The ignition switch was not reliably snapping into the four positions – that's all cleaned up and working fine now.

The foot brake switch I installed tested good after I cleaned it up and installed it – now it has quit working reliably so I'll change it.

August 17, 2020  The picture shows the harness ready for final installation. Some of the connections to the headlight harness, engine ground, oil pressure switch, horn and coil ground need to be cut to length and terminated. It's best to leave them until the end as minor changes in where they end up happen when the harness is wrapped. It's a simple job from here since everything is tested. The headlight is closed up and the turn signals are all aligned as well.


Wiring 10

August 19, 2020  Progress has been slow the last few days as I'm having swelling trouble with my legs again. Still, I'm getting there. The Tri-Spark ignition is installed, tested and statically timed. The tail light, brake switches, and headlight are all done. I forgot to install the instrument lights so I still have to do that. I ran out of covers for the master switch, so it is only temporarily connected for testing, and the oil pressure switch is not installed yet so its wire isn't connected. Also, I'm out of long black cable ties so the white ones are temporary until I get black ones.

Next is the carbs. I would push hard to use new premier carbs, but Amal hasn't been able to supply the 32mm carbs for quite a while and I'm completely sold out. So,. I'll have to make do with the carbs that came with the bike.

Wiring 11

August 20, 2020  I'm 70 and have all my hair - no bald spots. Good thing because I'm about to rip it out! I'll whine about that in a minute.

I installed the instrument lights and finalized the coil wiring today. Then I tried to bolt down the taillight. I talked earlier about the rear fender being somewhat out of shape, probably due to the old frame. That's cropped up again. The three holes for the fiberglass part of the taillight are not in the right place by a little. I'll have to remove the taillight and elongate the slots a little – not a big deal, just fiddly.

The last thing I needed to wire was the Tri-Spark rectifier/regulator. That was no big deal. Then I decided to check the leakage current to it and to a PODtronics POD-1-HP out of curiosity . Nothing was working. It turns out that I forgot a splice in the brown/blue wire – Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! Now I have to take the harness that was finished and installed back out of the bike, unwrap it, make the splice, and as my wife used to say “Lick my calf over”. If you don't understand that saying – think about a newborn calf and it's mother's first job after giving birth! The only good news is that I wanted to do that test which has nothing actually to do with this bike but it did let me find the problem instead of having the bike done and it not charging.

August 21, 2020 The harness is fixed and reinstalled.  So is the taillight and the rear brake switch is replaced.  I end got black zip ties and velcro wraps today so that's done.  Checked everything and all was well until the very last check!  The front brake switch quit working.  When I first tested it, it didn't work.  There was a lot of rust in it so I cleaned it out and retested and it seemed fine.  I even had the PITA cover on it.  Now I'll have to change it.  At least I have some and they're not expensive.  The annoying part is having to re-bleed the brake.

August 22, 2020  So, two wrongs can make a right! More on that after the first picture. The front brake switch is replaced and the brake re-bled. The wiring is all strapped down. There are a few outstanding things related to wiring. I had to order a master switch cover. I have to line the battery box with rubber and make one of my battery hold-downs.

Wiring 12

Besides being powder coated, this frame needed the side stand lug replaced. The power coater took care of that and did a very good, but not perfect, job. He had the template from OldBritts and he had my good frame to reference. Still, without a factory jig, it is almost impossible to do perfectly.

The side stand itself also had problems. The bushing is worn and should be replaced but I don't have one right now – I sure wish I had a lathe – I could ream the hole in the stand and make a bushing to fit perfectly! The end where you push it down with your toe was pointing in the wrong direction. And, the main shaft had been beat on to straighten more than normal.

Sorry the pictures all turned out fuzzy.

In the first one you can just make out that the stop is below the frame so it's doing nothing. The lug is slightly twisted clockwise – one of the wrongs. But it is slightly pointed too far down – the second wrong. But add them together with me hammering what seems like forever, and the stand should work fine. I measured the 850 I have with it on the center stand and the side stand out. It was 4.5” to the top of the crook where the bottom of the side stand sits on the ground. This one measures 4.5” in the middle of it's up and down slop (needs a bushing). I tried the new stand from that bike on this one and it measured the same. So, those two wrongs canceled. Still, the bumper only minimally stops on the frame and I don't dare bend the stand anymore because it would make the bike lean over too much. More on that shortly.

In the second picture you can see the bumper problem (before I beat it into submission) from a different angle and you can see the end pointing in the wrong direction.

In the third picture you can see the end of the stand now pointing in the right direction.

In the last picture, you can see the final solution. The bumper will actually work by itself, but for a little better cushion, I wrapped the frame tube with three rounds of thick rubber tape. If that holds up it will be fine. If not, some sort of metal clamp around the tube would work.

The stand has now been blasted and painted – it will go on tomorrow and hopefully I'll be back on track.

Side Stand 1
Side Stand 2
Side Stand 3
Side Stand 4

August 23, 2020 Installed the exhaust on the drive side today. Of course, I ran into trouble. We swapped the exhaust between this bike and the owner's 850. This bike had cross-over pipes so the exhaust nuts were the short version. The pipes I installed need the long version. So, I went through my junk and found a pair. These exhausts are temporary so that will be fine. In fact, the junk ones I found look better than the ones the bike came with. The side stand is installed too - had to use a new spring as the old one was stretched. Fiddled with the rear brake cable quite a bit – always do on a Norton – bad design and the routing is critical. I haven't done the drive side exhaust yet since I and doing some R&D on a rocker feed line and the exhaust would be in the way.

Then I started on the carbs. The first picture shows what I started with. They are R932/19 and L932/20 which is correct for a Combat so they are probably original. That's where the good ends! The second and third pictures show what the insides look like. The bowls, jets, and jet holders and unusable. Fortunately, I went through my old carbs and found usable bowls and jet holders. The main jets are wrong anyway as they are supposed to be 220s and are 240s. The needles are not good, the float needles are plastic as are the floats. Most importantly, the slides are supposed to be 3 cutaway and one was 4 and the other 5! So, Amal Major Repair Kits with StayUp floats will be used, new ticklers installed, new drain plugs, and new slides. They won't be new and I would push to install Premiers, but they are unavailable and have been for a while.

The true annoyance is shown in the fourth picture. Someone used some sort of thread sealer on the mounting nuts. In the first carb, the studs came out of the manifolds. On the second, I heated them with a torch and got the nuts off. Locktite on the threads into the manifolds is a good idea – on the nuts – a terrible idea! The carbs and manifolds have been cleaned. The bowls and mounting flanges have been flattened.  Tomorrow, I can build them.

rbs 1
Carbs 2
Carbs 3
Carbs 4

August 24, 2020  The carbs came out nice, even if I do say so myself!  They were very clogged so it took a while to get the bodies clean internally.  Almost all the internal parts are new.  The bodies show only slight wear to they should be good for a couple of years.  The cables are next and I'm almost afraid to look at them.  Hopefully they are usable so I don't have to make them!

Carbs 5

August 25, 2020  Well, I was right to be afraid to look at the cables!  The short cables are all choke cables!  Of course, I didn' notice that until I had them in the carbs and they wouldn't work - the "stick out" is too long.  I can remake them shorter, but more importantly, the slide is jamming in the left carb.  So, I have to do one of my most hated things on a Norton, and remove that carb.  It may have been over tightened at some point, or ???  The old slide didn't stick so possibly the new slide is bad, but if so, it will be the first I've seen and I've sold hundreds.  I'll try another before removing the carb.  Hopefully, I have another body if this one is bad.

Norton's are annoying anyway.  Having the splitter and the cable length adjustment on top of the carb is a PITA.  On Triumph, you use a dual-pull twistgrip and two one-piece cables.  The adjustment is near the twistgrip so it's simple to sync the carbs with the tank on.

August 26, 2020  I'm starting to feel like I'm whining with every report :-o. The carb saga…

I tried another slide in the left carb and it stuck too; so, off came the carb for inspection. I couldn't see anything wrong, but the slide had one rub mark so I knew it was binding there only.

Since I have a 72 Combat in boxes, I dug though the boxes until I found the carbs. I cleaned up and checked the right one – it was fine and not too worn. It did have a plugged needle jet passage from mud daubers but that wasn't too hard to clear. However, when I tried to put the bowl on, I realized that one of the two screw holes was stripped – that carb is unusable. Then I went through my boxes of carbs and although I found plenty of bodies that would work, none of them were marked 932/20. That doesn't technically matter but the owner wanted to use the originals.

Next came two hours with a fine file cleaning up the high spot in the carb adjacent to the tickler. Once the slide was able to move correctly, I installed the carb and worked on the cables - that went OK.

OK, home free? No way in hell! Put everything together and the twist grip would not twist! The tensioner was more rust than metal and came off the screw. It's not needed anyway do I removed it and the screw and reinstalled.

OK, home free? No way in hell! Now the left carb worked fine but the right slide was dragging the choke up with it and jamming. So, took the right slide/choke out, changed the choke slider and put it back together. Finally, the throttle works. Then I cleaned up and went to install the choke lever – can't find the mounting screws – gave up for the day :-(


Carbs 6

August 27, 2020  I was very popular today!  Every time I got my hands dirty someone called me.  I should have not answered!  I did get the carbs statically synced and then I went to work on my rear brake cable R&D project.  I'll write that up here later - too tired right now.  I did start a new thread on Access Norton about it.

Here are the pictures. The first picture shows the problem.  That's a brand new cable from AN and it's already scuffed just by installing it – this bike is being built and has never sat on the rear wheel.

The factory large Z-Plate spacer (06.0472) is approx. 35/64" thick and the two smaller spacers are 5/8" thick. I used the same ID and OD for each but 5/8" thick for the large spacer and 3/4" thick for the small spacers. This spaces the silencer mounting out a little over 1/8" since the large spacers is only 5/64" thicker and the other two are 1/8" thicker.

The second picture shows the result. There's now plenty of clearance to the silencer mount. The cable touches the swing arm, but I will tie wrap it to the swing arm at that point so there will be no rubbing. The cable lies nicely between the various nuts and won't hit them as the swing arm moves.

The third picture is another view. The fourth picture just shows the spacers in place. Besides the spacers, you need two 3/8" UNF x 2-1/4" bolts. The standard bolts (14.0235) are 2" long and are a little short. The 1/2" rear mount stud is long enough for the new spacer.  I still need to get the longer bolts - the standard ones are used right now.


Rear Brake Cable 1
Rear Brake Cable 2
Rear Brake Cable 3
Rear Brake Cable 4

August 28, 2020  Found the screws for the choke lever and installed and adjust that.  Got the master switch cover today so I installed that and retested.  Grrrrrrrrrrrr!  The tail light was on no matter how you turned the switch, including off.  Took the switch back off and tested - nothing was right.  Would have installed a new one - I have four in stock - they are all junk!  So, I set about fixing the one that came with the bike.  It's working again.  One of the four pressure springs got stuck and got out of position shorting the switch out.  It's good for now, but I wouldn't trust it from long.  I'm trying to find a source of a good switch.  I haven't tried AN because they are very expensive and I think they are using genuine Lucas (Wassell) and I can get them for much less there myself.

My rocker oil feed R&D project is behind waiting so I'll install the standard line.  I'm hoping to start this bike the weekend!

August 29, 2020  Made a lot of steps forward today and none backwards for a change.  Make an expensive mistake though - keep the last sentence from yesterday in mind and I'll get to the mistake.

Start today looking for the 3/8" x 2-1/4" bolts I needed.  I didn't have any.  Checked the Make Do Po site and not only do that carry them (according to the site) but the Annandale store had 19 in stock.  Of course, the 38" UNF drawer was empty - they had no 3/8" UNF and no place for the one I needed.  I figured maybe the much bigger store in Bailey's Crossroads would have them so I drove there.  At lest their 3/8" UNF draw wsn't empty but there was no place for 2-1/4".  The did have 2-1/2" so I got two of those and cut them down.  Then the real fun began!  If you've never changed a bottom drive-side Z-Plate bolt - do what you can to never have to unless the bike i apart!  It's one of those PITAs on a Norton.

Now for the mistake.  The guy helping with my rocker feed line R&D project needed a sample of the OEM nylon lines.  The 72 Combat I have in boxes came with a new one.  Since I don;t use them on my builds, I sent the one that came with this bike and planned to use the new one here.  I have no idea where the previous owner got them, but the cross-over tube is about 3" too short and it cannot be used.  So, to make this move alone, I installed the last stainless line set I have from AN and I certainly cannot charge th owner for that mistake!

When my grandson was here helping me, he blasted a bunch of part.  The plan was that when he came back I would teach him ot powder coat.  He got too busy being a teenager and getting ready to go off to college (in other words, he slept a lot) and never came back.  I'll have to powder coat it tomorrow so I can installed the air cleaner.  Here's what I can think of that left:
  • Speedo cable - I only took a quick look. It seems in terrible shape.  I hope I have a decent used one since I don't have any in stock right now.
  • Tach cable - I haven't looked, but I should have one in stock if it's bad.
  • Powder coat the front of the air cleaner and install (maybe the 2nd hardest thing on a Norton)
  • Make and power coat a battery hold down.
  • Install the license plate
  • I realized today that my rider has a good new master switch so I'll put that one on this bike.  I haven't gotten back to the work I was doing on my rider for about two years so it's no big deal.
  • There are a few things that must be once the bike is on the ground.
    • After bouncing the front end up and down, tighten the pinch bolt (see the tag hanging from it so I don't forget)
    • Fill the oil tank and check for leaks
    • Double-check the rear chain with someone sitting on the bike.
    • Strobe the timing.
    • Set the idle speed and mixture

Finishing 1
Finishing 2

August 30, 2020 This project started March 1, 2020. We decided to change the frame early on so I striped the bike down and worked on the engine and gearbox. The frame came back from the powder coater June 28, 2020. So, although I've been working on it for five months, the actual building has been just over two months.

Big events to today! It came off the table and the owner and I installed the tank, finished up a few things, and fired it up. Then he took it out for a ride. That went pretty well. He reported the engine reving when the clutch is pulled – I'll take it out myself so I can understand that. Also, I guess I didn't tighten the headlight enough because that came loose.

At any rate, it started very easily and idles well. I ran out of time to make the battery hold down so that's outstanding along with final tuning.

The bike needs a proper shakedown ride.  It hasn't been ridden far enough to get it completely warmed up and probably hasn't been above 60 mph or in 4th gear.  The one burst I gave it took it to 60 without hesitation but I was in a 35 zone riding without the registration so I was about to do that long!

Finishing 3


September 5, 2020 Will this never end? The owner reminded me that he likes the speedo on the left which is Norton standard.  I guess I got confused since it's on the right on all my bikes (Triumph standard).  I switched them today.

When we first started it, the tach didn't work, but then it started working while he rode.  It's still works, but the speedo has stopped.  It's probably just sticky but I still have to check it out - the cable is a mess which I repaired and is a little short for the speedo on the left, but its should work.

The clutch/switch console won't tighten enough to be stable - still have to fix that.  I thought he didn't have a tach cable but I found one in his parts box so I swapped it for the new one I installed since it is in decent shape.  I re-aligned the headlight and turn signals and tightened it better.

I took the bike out (very hard for me by myself) and it started first kick and idled well.  So, off I went to see what he meant about it idling fast with the clutch pulled.  As soon as I got above 3000 RPM, it wouldn't go below 3000 RPM!  One or both slides are sticking or the junction box is getting caught.  I've had the junction box do that before and as much time as I spent on the carbs, I'm having trouble believing that the slides are the problem.  So, once I recover from the effort of getting the bike out of the shop and back in, I'll get into that.  I keep saying that I'll never do it the Norton way again and then did once again.  It is so much better to have a twin pull twistgrip and cable adjusters inline near the twist grip like on Triumphs.  It's pretty ridiculous to have to take the tank off to adjust the cables and slides!

The good news is that it runs strong and handles well.

September 6, 2020  I don't want to jinx myself, but I might be done!

The speedo is not working but will probably start working - there's nothing wrong with the drive or cable.

The loose clutch/switch console is fixed - added rubber.  I guess the handlebars are slightly small because I've never had this before.

In previous pictures, you'll see the standard air filter and surround beneath the bike.  I could not get it in by myself and had to touch up the cradle paint scratch from trying.  You'll notice in the next picture an air filter installed.  This one is narrower, installs easily, and doesn't cause damage on the way in.  I took if form the 850 I have for sale so that bike is off the market until I can replace it.

It turns out that the left carb slide was sticking and the cable was popping out of the junction and catching - makes no sense because it wasn't when I put it in.  There was a little grit that was causing it - it must have been in the air cleaner when I installed it.  Anyway, it all works now and was fine on a short test ride (too worn out to go far).

I'm getting pretty good at making battery hold downs!  Beneath, to the right, and behind the battery is self-stick high density foam and the hold down bracket it lined with it as well.

The second picture shows the left-side panel/toolbox installed.  Actually, everything is installed and it's done except for a better shakedown ride and possibly touching up the idle.

Finishing 4
Finishing 5


September 7, 2020  It's done!  The speedo still doesn't work but the odometer does so it probably has a broken wire inside.  This can be a winter project - the owner can just send it off to Vintage British Cables, and it will come back like new and the odometer reading can be maintained. 

I noticed that gas was barely flowing with one petcock open - the air hole in the gas cap was clogged.

It starts first kick and idles - important if you watch my gyrations so get on.  I stand on the right side, kick with my right leg, walk around to the left side and force my right leg over - all while on the center stand.  Getting off is even worse - I have to get off on the right side, balance the bike up as I walk around behind it and put the center stand down.  I had one very scary moment.  I was wearing sneakers and I have very big feet.  My foot got stuck under the gearshift when I started to get off the bike.

I took it out for a ride keeping in mind that it must be broken in (new cam, pistons, rings, and brakes).  It runs very well.  I got up to 6000 rpm once in 3rd gear and shifted to 4th, but slowed down right away.  It pulled strong all the way there.  The idle could be better, but it's the best I can do with these carbs - shouldn't be idling and old air-cooled bike anyway.

I stopped at a gas station and filled up - it started first kick while hot, of course, no tickle.

The owner put the correct tires on the bike - Dunlop TT100s.  I'm used to Avon Roadrunners now and they feel very different when leaning into corners.  The Avon's have smoother grip in corners, but the Dunlops are probably better in the rain and definitely better in the grass.  I used Dunlop K81 or TT100 for a very long time so I'm certainly not against them.

If you've been reading along and have the idea that I'm crazy and will rebuild your bike for you - you'll have to give me time to finish some my projects and to forget about this, the other frame change, the  "just get it going", and the 650SS I've done this year.  I have 14 bikes to repair/build/finish building that I can remember right now.  The 850 Roadster I finished last year is still sitting here needing a few minutes of work and then to be listed for sale.  If you want a beautiful 74 850 in black or red just stop by with a check for $13,000 which is a steal.



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