Sunday, 16 April 2017

c1926 Model 19 Norton


-SG- I was recently sent this photo which I believe was taken at one of the late '25 shows (perhaps Olympia) and depicts what I think is a 1926 Model 19, judging by the engine height. It appears to be fitted with a Lucas magdyno to power the diminutive headlamp.  Note the absence of a steering damper and - of really no importance - the pleasing shell-shaped shades on the lights around the bench the bike is standing on!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Another one


-JdK- and another early Triton ...

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

1921 Model 9 Norton


-SG- We recently used some photos of John's original Model 9 in our posting about a Model 9 replica. Here's some history of John's bike and further photos. John writes:

"It was bought new in 1922 (possibly old fashioned even then) by Tommy Marshall of Maltby, a small South Yorkshire mining village, from Dan Bradbury of Sheffield. Tommy used it extensively (winning a speed trial at Ollerton north of Nottingham in 1923) up until 1928 when he bought a Rudge. This was soon disposed of and he returned to the Norton until 1934 when he purchased a new Inter Norton. He worked with D. R. O’Donovan at Carlton cycles during the 1930’s and kept both Nortons until he died in the late 1980’s. The Nortons were acquired from Tommy’s nephew by well known Classic Bike dealer George Pollard. George restored the Inter but sold the single speeder to Peter Mather of the M & C museum at Bakewell, Derbyshire. Peter began restoration but realised quite soon he would never be able to ride it so I purchased it from him part restored. After over 20 years of riding it is still my favourite thing on two wheels. It will start by pulling the back wheel round, cruise at 50 mph plus, has the bark of a Manx, and is motorcycling at its most pure and functional."

Sunday, 2 April 2017

James Wesley Shaw

Jimmy Shaw
Father Jimmy, son Wesley

-Bruce M. Hill- When current Ulster motor cyclists recall the past and familiar names, the following come to contemplation – Woods, Bennett, Craig, Rusk and Bell – but the name of Shaw is perhaps not as familiar as those mentioned. The reason I believe, is that both father and son were devoted and dedicated to the sport. They gave all they had – they enhanced and enriched the sport, both were outstanding sportsmen in motor cycle racing, car racing and trials and they contributed an inestimable amount to foster their professional skills, not only in Great Britain, but also on the Continent. When they hung up their helmets – that was it, neither sought adulation nor further fulsome praise. Both were modest and retiring – always willing to help those up and coming riders – and primarily, both had a motor business to maintain in central Belfast. The competitive era was over; they retired gracefully and got on with their business.

Yet, from the beginning of World War 1, until the thirties, the name of Shaw was a household word – Jimmy Shaw served with distinction as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps in World War 1 and it was there that he formed a life long friendship with a young man – W E Cotton – “Billy”, showman and band leader (became a big radio and TV personality) and an E.R.A. racing driver. In ‘This is Your Life’, Cotton referred to some of the hair-raising episodes of this period, when both were temporarily grounded for low flying!!

Demobilised in 1919, Shaw began a motor cycle agency in Belfast and then entered the Isle of Man 1920 TT Races, riding a 500cc Norton. It was won by Tom de la Haye on a Sunbeam. Shaw was 7th. Beating experts like H R Davies, Freddie Dixon and Graham Walker. A magnificent start to a racing career, the press were already commenting on his meticulous preparation, his steady calm and unflurried riding. To make up for his placing in the TT, he made fastest time in the 500cc class on the Kilometre speed section on the Douglas promenade after the racing had finished.

1921. Began with the 50 and 100 Miles Championships on the Magilligan Sands, where Shaw won the coveted Norton Cup presented by ‘Pa’ Norton himself, and collecting the 100 miles Championship. He competed in most local road races and hill climbs, again distinguishing himself with Fastest Time of Day at these events.

1922. In the Belgian Grand Prix, Shaw was 4th in the 500cc Class on a Norton, using this same machine for the French Grand Prix. In the Ulster Grand Prix he retired with a front wheel puncture on lap 5. In the Senior I. O. M. TT, he retired with engine trouble on lap 3. It is interesting to note that he was co-driving with Kaye Don at a record-breaking session at Brooklands earlier in the year in an A.C. Car.

1923. Shaw finished 7th in the TT ahead of Tom de la Haye and Bennett, while the Norton team of Shaw, G M Black and Simister won the team prize. In the Leinster ‘100’ he was 3rd on handicap, captaining the Norton team. The Ulster Grand Prix was won by Wal Hanley (Rex Acme) Shaw 2nd (Zenith) and Joe Craig 3rd (Norton) Owing to a scoreboard error, Shaw was declared the winner, the crowds were delighted and he had just been congratulated by the Lord Mayor when the error was discovered. Shaw took the sad disappointment like the great gentleman and sportsman he was and rushed over to congratulate Wal Hanley, adding to his popularity, which was, at this time, unassailable.

1924. In the 500cc class Shaw was now producing outstanding performances, his high standard of preparation, his level of excellence in all his events – indeed his personal performances were often the criteria by which the performance of other less competent riders was judged. He was a super tuner, and he knew how to coax the best out of his machines without damaging his engines. Pit stops, which were frequent in those days, were practised to perfection. R H Wright, the International timekeeper, told me that Shaw and his regular pit attendant, Harrie Palmer (many years Hon.Sec. Ulster Motor Cycle Club), would practise outside Shaw’s garage in Belfast, until they achieved perfect harmony in all their movements connected with pit stops.

An outstanding, and at this time an International event, the Taileann, motor cycle races at Phoenix Park, Dublin, before a crowd of 40,000 spectators, Shaw won and according to local press, gave an outstanding display of his abilities on two wheels.

He did not have any success in the TT Races of this year – in the junior race his machine was a Zenith. In the Portmarnock races, he finished 3rd to a win by Stanley Woods.

1925. The Norton team for the later half of 1924 and 1925 was Alex Bennett, J W Shaw, S Woods, J Guthrie and J H Simpson – that was the full team for Junior and Senior races. He won the Ulster Grand Prix of 1925, then a sealed handicap race, after a ding dong battle with Joe Craig. Shaw, now 33 years of age, was the outstanding Ulster hero, riding better than ever – it was estimated that at least one person out of every house in Ulster was present to see the great man make his and their day at the Clady Circuit.

It should be pointed out that sand racing in Ireland was equally as important as road racing is today, where wet and dry conditions required different special skills, tyres, gearing etc. The important Championship Races were held on the Magilligan Strand, adjacent to Portstewart, consisting of 5, 50 and 100 mile races. Shaw won more championship races here than any other rider. Woods and Craig were frequent rivals. Shaw’s race time then was calculated to be 72 mph. Mention of the Norton team reminds me that Alex Bennett, born in County Down, J W Shaw, Belfast, Joe Craig, Ballymena and Stanley Woods were all Irishmen!!

1926. In the Ulster Grand Prix, Shaw did not have the same good fortune as in the previous year. He retired with pre-ignition trouble. In the French Grand Prix he made fastest lap, Bennett winning the race. Shaw in spite of all his commitments in International racing, still found time for local hill climbs and as many of the “100”s as he could manage, finding himself with the honour of scratch position in handicap events.

1927. In the Senior TT, Shaw finished 4th.to a win by Bennett. However, Shaw was riding a push rod Norton engine – his OHC engine had been damaged in practice, but he still beat Graham Walker (Sunbeam) and Freddie Dixon (HRD). Craig retired on lap 6, Woods on lap 5, both on OHC engines. In the Temple 100, Shaw finished 2nd. on a 350 Velocette.

However, his greatest personal victory was to win the 1927 open Ulster Grand Prix 500cc class, beating Longman and Woods. Craig led at the end of lap 1, Woods led laps 2 – 8 and Shaw laps 9 and 10. All records were shattered, Shaw creating a new time and speed record for the 500cc class. This again showed the results of his meticulous preparation, skill, consistency and a well-judged race. This was his greatest achievement and proudest victory. Fans were still celebrating well into the Sabbath in Ulster!! For a local man to win the UGP was indeed every Ulsterman’s ambition.

1928. He was to ride in his 10th. TT race. In the Junior, in 4th. place, on a very hot day, he came off at Sulby due to the melting of the tar, damaging his Norton. In spite of injuries, he rode a few days later in the Senior but retired with engine trouble. In the Temple 100 race, won by Percy Hunt, Shaw on a 350cc Velocette, won the beautiful Welsh Challenge Cup and made FTD. He made FTD at Ballydrain and Bannbridge races and in the Ulster Grand Prix, he won the 350cc Handicap race.

1929. His last year in competitive motor cycling, he finished 10th. in the Junior TT winning again the main Championship sand races at Magilligan Strand.

1929 proved to be a watershed in the Shaw family. Jimmy had infrequently competed on four wheels in a ‘Star’, now became an official works driver with ‘Lea Francis’, in company with Kaye Don, W H Green and Sammy Davis. Their cars were front wheel driven and supercharged, competing very successfully, in the TT Races, Brooklands, Phoenix Park, Dublin and the Isle of Man.

Now emerged another J W Shaw, Jimmy’s son Wesley, who from photographs at an early age, was never far from his father’s side when he was racing. Wesley was handling motor cycles from the age of 7 – remember those were not the type of machines which today are tailor made for enthusiastic youngsters – they were as used by the professionals, and Wesley was capable of putting them through their paces like an expert. I wonder was it because of his long association with motor cycle racing so early in life that his own racing career was so short?

July 1932 saw Wesley (18) compete in his first official race at Ballydrain on a 348cc Norton. He finished 2nd. and made FTD and probably would have won, had he not stopped to change an oiled up plug. Surely a worthy successor to his world famous father and the promise of a great racing career? The same year he was 2nd. in the Temple 100 and finished 9th. in the Carrowdore 100 after a fall which considerably delayed him.

In 1933 he finished 2nd. again in the Temple 100 and although he competed in both the North West 200, the Ulster Grand Prix and the Enniskillen 100, none gave him success.

Wesley then turned to cars, both trials and racing. From 1934 onwards, he won every major car trial, both North and South of Ireland, including the Round Ireland Car Rally and he was Irish Champion for 3 years. His cars were always Triumphs and his navigator was the lovely Norah Johnson, who married Wesley in 1940. In 1935, the Triumph Car Co. sent over a specially built supercharged Triumph car which Wesley raced at, what was then an International venue, Round the Houses at Bangor, County Down.

Mr. Jimmy Shaw (I always addressed him as Mr.) was the Managing Director of ‘J W Shaw’, which had the Triumph car franchise in Belfast as well as a Norton Motor Cycle agency in East Belfast. He was a very successful businessman, while his wife Ethel, a strong hidden asset, played an enormous part in the success of the business and they were both well supported by Wesley.

During World War II, Jimmy joined R.E.M.E. (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) becoming a Major and was awarded the OBE for his services. Wesley was involved with war work locally. After the war, Jimmy and his wife emigrated to America while Wesley joined his uncle’s car business in Belfast.

Personal Recollections:

I shall always remember Jimmy Shaw as an elegant, meticulously dressed gentleman, who was a great raconteur of the old days, when he enthralled me with his personal anecdotes and his inexhaustible fund of stories, when I unashamedly should have been attending to my school studies. He was a man of rich and cheerful personality, dignified and courteous – a gentleman with the Old World charm and a champion of ethics.

Wesley, who rubbed shoulders with the ‘greats’ of the racing world, was never pompous nor dramatic, but to mad enthusiasts like myself, was a warm and kindly friend, with his many acts of kindness, in allowing me into the sacrosanct of motor cycle racing where many of the greats, both riders and drivers used his extensive garage.

Finally, my sincere and grateful thanks to Norah and her family for giving me permission to delve into the racing history of these two outstanding men – father and son.

BRUCE M HILL (Bds)

Monday, 27 March 2017

1927 Model 34 Norton


-SG- Thanks to Alan who has sent us these photos of a 1927 Model 34 recently acquired by a friend of his. For sure one of the rarer Norton models ( I see we have had but two postings about them over the years), this is virtually complete.  Alan's comments follow:

"Terry has just managed to acquire this largely original 1927 Model 34 which has lain undisturbed at the back of a garage for some 25 years. After the war, the machine was apparently owned by a local secondhand motorcycle dealer for many years who had a timber box sidecar attached. He reputedly used to sleep in it during his IOM visits! The machine came with a couple of boxes of bits, including the original primary cover which will probably be refitted, and kick start components. The intention is to lightly recommision the bike rather than restore. Incidentally the modernised handlebars and controls may well be replaced as part of this exercise."

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

1937 Model 30 Norton


-SG- Circumstances prevented my attendance at the recent Pukekohe Classic Race meeting in NZ but Artie was there - for the 38th time - and sent me a couple of photos of Inia's recently restored 1937 International. This started as a very sad wreck - even the frame tubes needing replacement - and the bulk of the work was carried out by Ken McIntosh. The power unit is one Artie used and developed in his own Manx for some forty years. The bike was ridden briefly at the meeting by Lyndsey Kyle - I say 'briefly' as Lyndsey was unlucky enough to have an 'off' although the bike was undamaged apart from a footrest and the doll's head gearchange.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Australian 1926 Model 18 Norton


-SG- Thanks again to Ian who has recently lent me the attached photo which - lucky chap - he picked up a while back in an antique shop for a couple of dollars. It is an enlargement - nearly A3 size - and I have had it shrunk to A4-ish for ease of transmission.While I appreciate we have had a few similar period photos before, this shows quite a lot of detail. The bike looks fairly well used so I guess the photo was taken considerably after 1926. Small points worth mentioning ... a. Front brake/hub is Enfield. b. It has an ML magneto more usually fitted to the SV models at this stage rather than a CAV. It may perhaps have been changed or maybe, Nortons fitted all Australia-bound bikes with MLs, whether OHV or SV.  c. It has a straight pull twist grip throttle control, probably B and B. d. The original 1926 footrests with detachable upper rubbers are still in place. Original photos such as this are greatly appreciated!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

1920 Model 9 Norton ?

Above; the Vintage and Veteran Norton

-SG- My attention has recently been drawn to a supposed Model 9 for sale at Veteran and Vintage for a little matter of £22500 (above). Looks quite tidy although a bit strange and short and there seem to be quite a few differences to other Model 9s (like forks, frame and frame number stamping, for starters) but as this is not a period I'm that strong on, I sought advice elsewhere!  Mike writes:

"I am pretty sure I remember this bike back in the 1980s. Michael Freeman Motors had it for sale, but    withdrew it after some research. It was auctioned off after Mr Freeman died. In my view, the frame is a 16H 1924, with a belt drive back end; forks are 1922; and  engine 1921. It's quite a nice bike, very convincing, Mr Freeman bought three Nortons from the widow of a Norton enthusiast from the Devon area, this one, and the other two were no better as I recall. One was a Big Four with final drive by belt, supposed 1924. It was bought by a certain Mr G Cohen!"

To double check, I have asked for some photos of an authentic Model 9 and these are provided below. A quick comparison between it and the 'Vintage and Veteran' example shows up the various differences. All in all the V and V bike seems like a good looking if expensive bitza ...

Below; a genuine 1921 Model 9 Norton


Sunday, 5 March 2017

Barry ...

-SG- I recently heard from Barry in Yorkshire, whom I have known for longer than either of us care to remember.  He has carried out quite a number of good vintage Norton restorations over the years and was prompted to get in touch by the recent posting of the 1933 Model 50. He writes:

Barry's 1934 Model 50

"The Model 50 on the site reminds me of my first Norton – a 1934 Model 50 with four speed SA box and tank gear change. How I came by it is perhaps worth relating. Back in the late fifties, when I was doing a bit of trials riding, we used to practice on a farm nearby, owned by a couple of ‘hill-billy’ brothers.  They used to watch us throwing ourselves at the countryside and used the Model 50 as every day transport.

About ten years later, when I got interested in older bikes, I went to see them.  They still had the Model 50 in a shed which had nearly collapsed onto it and they actually gave it to me. Luckily the plug was still in it and believe it or not, after cleaning and drying out the magneto, it started and I rode it down to the back lane where I lived.

c1923 Model 16H

I did nothing to the engine or gearbox – just painted it and used it for a few years until I got the1923-ish 16H, my first flat-tank Norton.  I believe it is now in Australia. (see photos)

1928 Model 19

The final photo I enclose shows the late Tom Potter – a Chelsea Pensioner – with my 1928 Model 19 in a field at the top of Sutton Bank in Yorkshire.  Tom had a flat tank Norton in Singapore early in WW2.  Needless to say it had to be abandoned when the Japanese invaded!"

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

The 1928 Norton Folder

Click this link for the PDF

-SG- Ian has kindly lent some of his comprehensive collection of Norton literature and the 1928 fold-out leaflet shaped like a Norton flat tank is perhaps the most unorthodox. Scans herewith!