Sunday 14 April 2024

A bargain ?


-SG- My attention was today drawn to the upcoming Bonhams Auction 29273 and to Lot 87. This is an incomplete 1929 Model 18, none the less with matching numbers.  It is missing tanks, mudguards, wheels, clutch and carb. Anyone wanting to embark on the Vintage Norton trail might  be interested ...

Saturday 13 April 2024

OHV pushrod / rocker covers


-SG- What you may ask, has a 1928 photo of a chap on a Francis Barnett got to do with Nortons? The answer is simple - not really him but his dad! 

I knew John Newman back in the seventies, when he was running the local garage in Chobham, Surrey. He still had an early two-stroke  (I think a Velocette) and was interested in my 1930 Norton - by then fitted with a 1929 engine, with of course exposed valve gear ... this led to his recollections of his father's early OHV Norton in the twenties which was fitted with the first inverted cup rockers - see scan. These of course did not retain any lubricant as originally supplied and John's dad used bits of rubber tube to try and remedy the situation! 

Move on to November 1928 and Norton's had seemingly woken up to the needs of pushrod end lubrication and mentioned it in their publicity material! Again - see scan. None the less, they do not appear to have mentioned any seals in the 1929 Parts List.  Meanwhile the Desmo Company had started selling  'Flexi -Lubricovers.' While Desmo did not mention any specific brand they considered to be in need of the Lubricovers, the engine outlined in their ad. is without doubt......a Model 18!!  Thanks to John for the 1928 stuff!

Friday 12 April 2024


-SG- I was pleasantly surprised to receive a scan of a 1928 Mobil advert from John - for which many thanks - which mentioned a TT event near Alexandria in October of that year.  And the winner  and second place man were both NORTON mounted! 

Maddie at the VMCC library has kindly located the brief  report that followed a few weeks later, in 'the Motor Cycle' - also attached.

What/where next?!!

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Another Flat Tank Norton result


-SG- Thanks to Alan for his message below and photos ! "Congratulations to Terry for his ‘Runner Up’ award in the face of some stiff competition in the ‘Best Vintage Machine’ class at the recent Bristol Classic Show. Terry acquired the bike as a stalled rebuild project only some six months ago and in rapid time has turned a frame with an engine, gearbox and forks installed into a very presentable and complete machine, as per the pictures attached. The bike originally rolled out of the factory in 1924 as one of the  early OHV Model 18’s. Little is known of its pre 2000 history although it’s specification has been upgraded with the incorporation of some subsequent 1920’s improvements, including the later valve gear, 8 inch Enfield brakes, fully enclosed primary chain cover, magneto shield and later oil tank. The machine was originally supplied to Messrs D R O’Donovan and Hubert H Beach of Great Portland Street, W1 and Terry comments ‘It would be nice to think that perhaps one of these illustrious worthies might have sat astride - or maybe even ridden -  the machine ... '

Tuesday 2 April 2024

More on single gears!


-SG- David has scanned a few letters from 'The Motor Cycle' in November 1923 for which thanks!  Apart from those riders greatly in favour of single speeders, it's worth stressing the letter from W J Hassall, on behalf of the company, to the effect that they would still supply a single speeder if desired.

Did any one actually take him up on his offer? I spent half an hour looking at the relevant section of the Despatch Books this morning and finally found one entry for a Model 9 (engine number 8289) in April 1924. The purchaser is shown as  F R Moore. I think this may be the very last Model 9 in the records but if anyone has found a later one, please let us know.

No sooner said than done! David has located a slightly later model 9 with engine number 10565, despatched in June '24 to a dealer called Wise.

Monday 1 April 2024

1920 Model 9 Norton


-SG- David plus Model 9 attended the recent Sunbeam Club gathering at Brooklands. Thanks to him for recent photos of the bike and a few words about it!

"Unrestored 1920 Model 9 TT believed to have been exported to Western Australia early in its life, returning to UK in 1977. Fitted with a Phillipson pulley with a handlebar operated brake which gives more control than the automatic action of the clock type spring in the central drum.

Ratio is normally set at 4 1⁄2 to 1 (O' Donovan recommendation) with a lowest available of about 5 1⁄2. Machine is light and powerful so will climb most hills surprisingly well even with a relatively heavyweight rider. Just visible are Terry spring top links on the Druid forks which allow a slight fore and aft movement, greatly adding to comfort with no effect on handling. Pictured recently at Brooklands."

Saturday 23 March 2024

Sunbeam Centenary


-SG- The Sunbeam Motor Cycle Club was formed in 1924 and to celebrate its centenary an event was held at Brooklands on 17th March. This was well attended with nearly three hundred participants, virtually all with pre-war machines.

I was slightly entertained to see the  illustration on the programme cover - none other than Noel Pope at the track on one of Beart's NORTONS, dating I think from 1938!

Friday 22 March 2024

1929 Adverts from "The Motorcycle"

-SG- John from the UK has recently sent me a couple of 1929 advert scans.  These are on a two page spread - must have been a bit of a drain on the advertising budget! He was pleased to see the Model 18 on the second page, as he has one himself - recent photo attached!

Friday 15 March 2024

Norton belt driver !


-SG- Thanks to Martin for this 1928 'Motor Cycle' article about riding single speed belt drivers! The author has only mentioned the magic word Norton once in his text but even without that it would be pretty clear that is what he is talking about. From a single speed Model 9 in about 1920 to his new OHC machine in 1928 ... re-learning old techniques on the one hand and the march of progress on the other!

Thursday 14 March 2024



-JdK- An email from Gary: "Hello there Simon and John. My 1926 tank looks original to me. What do you think. Got a surprise when I took the knee pad mounting plates off. Norton logo is different to some in that it has a little hook at top left on the N. The scroll along the top is well above the lower case letters and the t has a little leg to the right. The pie crust has been silver which I think makes it really stand out and the red pin stripes stop either side of the Norton logo. Looks to be the same logo as you have recently pointed out Simon but without the regd trade mark under it" 

-SG-  I would say extremely original!  I am not 100% sure when they first started putting the regd trade mark bit on - but probably after the 1926 legal changes following Pa Norton's death the previous year. My original 1929 tank - see web site - has the trade mark bit and probably was a transfer when first made.