Saturday, 16 August 2014

1931 parts book

-SG- Rod in Lincolnshire is working on a 1931 Model 18 project and judging by the shots he has sent so far, it is quite a major undertaking. He has kindly loaned the 1931 parts list (covering diamond frame models) which has now been scanned and added to our collection.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Binks and Amal Binks

The 1930 type 49 Amal Binks.
Very similar at first glance to the 1930 Type 6 Amal

-SG- It is probably common knowledge among those with an interest in the twenties period, that Binks, Amac and Brown and Barlow agreed to join forces in late 1927, to form Amalgamated Carburetters Ltd. (name changed to Amal Ltd about 1933). However, the new designs did not appear on the scene until the end of the following year, ready for the 1929 season. Initially the company produced needle type carburetters in brass supposedly embodying the best features of the Amac and B and B designs and these were designated the types 4, 5 and 6, depending on size. The type 6 became - after a few modifications along the way including a change of material to Mazak - the type 76 and towards the end of the thirties, after yet more changes, the 276. The types 6, 76 and 276 were all used throughout the very late twenties, thirties and forties by Nortons both on 350s and 500s. And to answer the 'yes, but' brigade, the type 29 carburetter, with a bore size starting at 1 3/32" and going up to 1 1/4",  joined the line-up in 1930, becoming the 89 and then 289, as the decade and modifications progressed. The 29, 89 and 289 (bore 1 3/32") were standard wear on '30s CS1s, according to one of my Amal Information sheets.

The 1930 type 49 Amal Binks
partly dismantled

I am not embarking on the seemingly undocumented trail which leads to the TT Amal carburetter of the early thirties and later, save to say that it appears to be a direct development of the final version of the 1928 needle type TT Amac, while the Amal type 27 needle-less carb. (introduced in 1929) owes its design features to the earlier - needle-less - TT Amac.

The type 49 with other parts - the air slides upper left
and the 1929 type 9 throttle slide and top/slide guide, centre.

But what of the Binks designs? The new company continued to produce the two jet types 7, 8 and 9 for 1929, looking at first glance like a regular Amal and using the Amal float-chamber, but internally being entirely on the Binks principles. And these changes affected Nortons, whose CS1 and ES2 models had been fitted with Binks' own two jet carbs. (with a bore of around 1 3/32") since production began in late 1927. What happened was simple - the two jet Binks was replaced by the new 'Amalised' versions, the types 7, 8 and 9, complete with Amal float chambers, and this appears to have taken place early in 1929. And the 1 3/32" bore version of the largest size - the type 9 -  was used by Nortons on the CS1s and ES2s.

I find it rather strange that despite the substantial number of CS1s and ES2s despatched in 1929, I do not think I have ever seen one of the quite numerous survivors still fitted with its original Amal Binks carb. Why this is, I don't know! Anyone out there who reads this and is still using an Amal Binks, please let us know. Incidentally, this is not the case with the 1928 models where a few still have the original Binks carb. in place.

Type 49 body, jet block (top), lower union nut, top ring,
throttle slide, and (cracked)  top/slide guide.

The early '29 unrestored CS1 which has been on the site previously (Alf's at the time, but now Mick's, following Alf's death last year) came without a carburetter BUT the throttle and air cables were still in place and attached to the ends thereof were an Amal Binks top ring, top/slide guide, air slide and throttle slide. It has been established that these all formed part of a 1929 type 9 Amal Binks carburetter.  Alf could not believe his luck when he managed to buy on e-bay a 1930 version of this carburettor (type 49), which although more or less all there and complete with Amal float chamber, had a broken slide guide which had been glued up. What was rather irritating was the fact that the 1930 versions of the Amal-Binks differ slightly from the 1929 versions and as a result Alf's original and quite good parts don't fit straight onto the 1930 version. However, it looks as if a few minor modifications can be carried out to make this happen and Mick and I are working towards this.

Type 49 throttle slide, jet block (underside)
and lower union nut.

Mick has taken photos of the carb. parts and the outwardly similar appearance to a regular Amal is apparent straightaway. The top/slide guide and throttle and air slides are all very close to the original Binks versions, while the small jet block carrying the pilot jet and main jet is an Amal idea, and as with the type 6 carbs., it is held in place by the same bottom union nut. The float chamber seems to be the standard 1930 bottom feed type - I think unchanged from '29. Apart from the fact that the top ring and top/slide guide differ between '29 and '30 models, the 1930 type 49 incorporated a throttle stop screw on the side of the body, a feature also of the 1930 versions of the Amal types 4,5, 6 and 29.

A 1931 photo from my files of the Type 49,
showing the throttle stop screw -
similar to, but not quite the same as,
the Amal Type 6 etc.

Friday, 8 August 2014

1948 Norton OHC engine for sale

-JdK- Dirk in California has this postwar - though very nice - OHC Norton engine for sale. In his own words:  "It turns over freely and has compression. I am asking $7000". Contact Dirk directly on phone number 626 484 0039 or via email

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

When is a Norton not a Norton ...

-SG- Howard sent in this wonderful Australian image which recently appeared on Facebook, purporting to be a 1913 Norton.

Howard suggests it could be an Arno. As far as Howard knows, Nortons never used Arno engines or 'badge engineered' complete Arno bikes so why this example would have Norton (assuming the first, concealed, letter is an N) nicely painted on the tank is a puzzle. Apart from building complete bikes, Arno also supplied engines and a few of Australia's fledgling motorcycle manufacturers fitted them before WW1.

Bob in Australia has other ideas about the machine and rather than just quoting odd bits from it, here it is:

"There was an Australian made Morton motorcycle around about 1914. Little is known about them except what is written in Rob Saward's A-Z of Australian- made Motorcycles. "The Morton Cycle and Motor Works, 282 Park St, South Melbourne, Victoria sold Morton Precision 31/2 hp motorcycles in about 1914. The ownership of the business at that time is not known." His entry then goes on to talk about who bought it in 1920 but did nothing with it so not relevant to us.

The numberplate reflects a date from around 1914-16. I have to hand a 1912 directory which give the numberplate and owner of every Victorian vehicle and we had got up to 6600 by then so 8916 in the 1914-16 period sounds about right.

The 282 Park Street address exists unchanged and is one in a row of ordinary suburban shops. It gives every indication that this was one of many suburban bicycle shops that at that time would erect a motorcycle from whatever was to hand. This one happened to get an Arno engine.

All in all, I think you have a Morton."

Monday, 4 August 2014

Bill Lacey; c1931 Model CS1 Norton

-SG- Following on from his successful spell with Grindlay Peerless in the second half of the twenties, Bill Lacey became Norton's official and very successful Brooklands rider/ tuner in 1930/31. Roger has established beyond reasonable doubt that Pat Driscoll was also involved with Bill - hence Driscoll's early thirties mounts being fitted with Druid ES front forks - but to what extent he was involved with the development of Lacey's Carroll engined steeds is not entirely clear to me. The talk Bill gave in the eighties which I attended (and at which I made detailed notes) did not in fact mention Driscoll as being part of the enterprise, but perhaps no one (including me) asked the right questions at the time! There are various photos of Lacey plus Norton in circulation, some of them taken at Montlhery and some at Brooklands. All show a three stay framed machine fitted with Carroll engine of either 490cc or 588cc, and an N type racing Sturmey Archer gear-box, as used on the 1930 works machines (and a few others supplied to favoured dealers.) And, as we have mentioned before, the forks are ES Druids.

The Brooklands photograph of Lacey's Norton above is one I have not seen previously and it shows off the bike to perfection. In case it's of interest, I can say that the rear rim is 20 inch and the front 21 inch.  The twin-float Amal carburetter - almost certainly a Type 27 set up for use with alcohol fuel - shows a considerable down-draught angle and is - I think - also offset to the right.

Here let me add a personal post-script: back in the late fifties, not long after I had joined the VMCC, I was made welcome by John Offord and his wife. John was a highly skilled sheet metal worker, and produced sundry examples of his art from his modest works in Crowthorne. For instance: fuel tanks and other parts for Norton tuner Ray Petty: full streamlining for George Brown's Vincent sprinter 'Nero,' and another for Francis Williams (Norton JAP sprinter): racing car bodies in magnesium sheet for one of the GP teams. Next door to the Offords lived a chap with a Norton - not any old Norton, but, he declared, an ex-Lacey, pre-war Norton. I saw it - once! As I recall it, was a girder forked bike with a Carroll engine but all set up for road use with lights etc. But he said it was 1932 and in those rather distant days, if it wasn't pre-1931, then it wasn't that interesting! I heard later that he sold it to Vintage Norton tuner and cylinder head specialist Stan Johnson, and as so often occurred with bikes Stan bought, it was promptly dismantled ... After Stan died, his entire collection was bought by Mick Cox, who sold several basket case Nortons to those who were in the market for them, but who bought the remains of the supposedly ex- Lacey bike, I know not ...

Saturday, 2 August 2014

1936 Model 40 Norton

-JdK- Paul in the US sent these pics of his very nice Model 40 Norton; Simon and Richard have a look.

-Paul- I bought this bike five or six years ago in England and shipped it to the US. There are some records concerning the bike from the mid 60's. At that time it was bought, restored, and it would appear raced by a Barry Cryer. Note in the receipt that Barry bought it for 20 pounds. Wish I had! A letter from Matchless details the factory records of a June 1936 machine. The engine and frame still match the original records. The gearbox was changed at some time and is stamped SN 4071. Not "original paint" of course, but I would say it carries a nice patina consistent with a fifty year old restoration. As you will see, it has rear suspension, though I note it as a different style from that on the works bikes. I have a separate note claiming this was one of only four non-works plunger framed bikes made in 1936, but I put that in the category of rumor.

-SG- I have looked it up in the records and it indeed formed part of a small group of four Model 40s all of which are shown as being to “Manx Specification”. Two of them were despatched to Alexanders of Edinburgh, Paul's on 7/6/36 and the last of the four on 21/7/36. Of the other two, one went to the Dublin dealers Kelly's and the other to Ron Harris in Maidenhead. No purchasers' addresses are shown for any of them. It is my opinion that it is very unlikely Guthrie had anything to do with the bike as by 1936 he was a fully fledged works rider and despite being a Scot would not have been sent a works bike via Alexanders!  Besides which he and his brother ran a garage in Hawick and indeed bought a few bikes for their local customers. I am told the Manx Spec. description relates to the Manx Grand Prix specifically - Nortons and the other makers of racing bikes nearly all produced a limited number of rather special Manx spec. bikes for favoured dealers/riders as a rather cheating way of getting round the Manx GP regulations which did not allow riders to use 'proper' works models. The Manx spec bikes probably shared various features with the works bikes or of those of the year before - all's fair in love and motorcycle racing!

Your bike being shipped on 7/6/36 might possibly have been for a trade supported rider entered by Alexanders in the TT - you might get some clues if you have a look through the 1936 TT Numbers and preceding TT Notes and News articles - but just as likely it and the second one were used by Alexanders' riders in the '36 Manx.  Study of the relevant articles in M/Cycle/Cycling and the TT Special might give you a clue!

-Richard- Cryer owned this bike until the 1980s when he died unexpectedly at a relatively early age. He was living in Reading (U.K.) at the time and the bike was then owned by another Norton enthusiast from Reading named Tony Jamieson who later sold it through Atlantic Motorcycles of Twyford.

At first look the bike appears to be a 1938 racing specification International, but the records do not agree with this. This is why I think Mr Cryer thought it was perhaps a works machine. My best judgement is that it was a 1936 racing spec. Inter' which would have had a rigid frame. The bike was most likely returned to Nortons in 1937/8 for up-dating and a new spring frame. This was in an era when a motorcycle did not have identity as we would think of today and the new frame would have been stamped up with the old frame number. Looking at the pictures the frame is a 1938 racing frame fitted with road type side damper forks and racing check springs. The engine and gearbox look to be the original 1936 items but with a later rev. counter timing cover. The front wheel is the original 1936  racing 7" item and the rear is 1938 spring frame type which is different to the rigid. The tanks have been changed at some time, the oil tank being wider than it was as standard and the petrol tank looks to be a steel welded bolt-through type which was first used in 1948 on Manx Nortons.

-Paul- A couple of comments: the only reference to Jimmy Guthrie comes in the letter replying to Barry Cryer. For Barry to ask that specific question I can guess he inherited that as an opinion or rumour from the prior owner. Far more likely than this being a fact, I'd suggest that creative marketing was alive and well in the mid 60's just as it is today, though at twenty pounds Barry didn't look to pay much of a premium for the provenance!

Much as we'd all like to stumble on an ex-works bike, that was never my expectation, and just knowing that the bike's major components have been together since the 30's is fine with me. The question of whether the frame dates from '36 or '38 seems to revolve around the factory records describing the bike in '36 as being to "Manx specifiation". So soon after the works bikes ran with rear suspension, would a customer bike - even a rare and favored customer - have had that feature ... ?

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Use 'em! ... 1939 Model ES2 and 1924 Model Big Four Norton

-SG- I recently exchanged messages with Dave, up in the North-West of England who does just that, with his two pre-war Nortons!

He has a 1939 ES2 with plunger rear springing which at one stage belonged to VMCC founder C E Allen. He uses this extensively and considers it a machine to ride rather than for special occasions only. It has been used for touring Sardinia, the Antrim coast in Ireland as well as numerous local and national Vintage events. As the photos show, this bike has the 'new for 1938' engine with enclosed valves/valve gear and flat cam followers. I owned a non-springer version - albeit 1946  - for twenty years and it went very well though I have to say, perhaps as a result of the flat cam followers, it was rather clattery. Dave has done considerable and successful research to find the original registration number which the bike now carries. It was first supplied to dealers Eddie Stevens in Wales.

His 'other' Norton is a 1924 Big Four, which came in a partly dismantled state several years ago and amongst other things, was missing a tank. A replica was obtained of - to quote Dave - only moderate quality but it got the bike up and running ... This bike, too, has seen plenty of use and has proved extremely reliable. Amongst other jaunts which it has been on are tours of Tuscany and the Dolomites, several Irish National rallies and local Vintage events near Dave's home patch. An 8 inch drum rear brake is fitted in the interests of personal safety although Dave has retained the original dummy belt rim type. A side benefit of the Big Four is that, for those lunch stops outside a pub, it is remarkably convenient: the footboards will hold three pint glasses each and the tank top, four!

Let me add a footnote -  the Big Four came with original footboards and Norton embossed rubbers - see photo above. Dave lent the latter to the Jeff Hunter business in UK which supplies rubber items for Vintage and Classic machines, as a result of which moulds were made and replica footboard rubbers are now available for those that want them. So thanks are due to Dave from owners of Big Fours (or other footboard equipped Vintage Nortons) who have obtained new footboard rubbers from Hunters.

Friday, 25 July 2014

1929 Model JE Norton

-SG- The JE and CJ models appeared at the 1928 Olympia show. However, actual deliveries did not start until April 1929, which seems to indicate rather inept forward planning in Bracebridge Street!  Neither model sold well - in my view, partly a result of the depression and partly because there were plenty of other cheaper 350cc bikes on the market and the CJ had not performed that well in Road Racing. Indeed, the records show plenty of both models being sold off cheap well into 1931.

We have not had much about surviving JEs on the site other than a few close-ups of a head, last summer, and photos of David's complete machine back in February 2010. It was a pleasant surprise therefore to see one on the Norton Owners' Club stand at the recent VMCC Founder's Day event. This bike was bought by the present owner and a friend back in the early sixties for less than £2 but pretty well all complete. It then got dismantled and ownership passed to the friend ... who did nothing with it for decades and finally sold it back to the chap who has it now, presumably with due allowance for inflation along the way! It is now very presentable and in case regular site visitors wonder why I am not carping on about the doll's head gearbox, later Lucas magneto and kneegrips, I can tell them the original LS box and magneto still exist, the box being in good shape although the magneto needs re-furbishing. And for those who want them, good 1928/9 pattern kneegrips are readily available in the UK from Hunters.

The machine has engine number 1102 - making it the third JE to appear in the records - and it was originally despatched to Coventry Motor Co in mid April 1929 but didn't find a buyer until December 1929. It is shown as being fitted with the Druid Enclosed Spring forks - standard wear for both JEs and CJs at this period - and these are still in place. The owner was not that complimentary about them - he says the damper doesn't work too well ... Unusually, it has 8 inch Enfield finned rear and front hubs, whereas standard fitments for these 350s were 7 inch Enfield rear hubs and 7 inch Hortons at the front.  For what it's worth, this variation is not mentioned in the records.

I am aware of two further JEs - one in UK and one in the Isle of Man - but there must be more survivors than that!

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

c1930 Model 18 Norton

-SG- Brett in Australia has sent in this nice family snap of his grandfather Harry Brown on his '29/'30 Model 18. Brett says he is not entirely sure when it was taken but judging by the tidy appearance of the bike and the original lights and magdyno still being in place, it might just be pre-war or early after it. He relates also that his grandfather - serving with the forces in New Guinea at the end of the war - somehow managed to acquire a quantity of Harley parts and windshields from the departing US contingent which were miraculously - and profitably - re-allocated back to Sydney! What ultimately became of the Norton is unknown.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

1930 Model 18 Norton

-SG- This machine has had the same owner (sadly now dead) for over fifteen years and is well known in the south of England where it has been much admired, used and has shown great reliability. It is for sale now at Vintage and Veteran.

It started off as a veritable basket case and has been turned into a very presentable machine. Engine 45715 began life in a 1930 Model 18 shipped out in September 1929 and it is for this reason it is fitted with the 1928/9 oil pump, like the bike in New Zealand, covered by the recent posting. The frame number pre-dates the engine by several months.

For the quite high asking price I would hope to find little wrong and indeed, I would rate the overall restoration as pretty good. However, there are a few points worth making - some plus and some minus! Potential buyers may like to consider the quite minor 'minus' points if making an offer!

First, the 'Plus' points:

  • It is fitted with a correct brass type 6 carburettor and float chamber.
  • The front hub is correct - a 7 inch Horton.

Nit-picker's 'Minus' points:

  • Tank lining is not quite correct.  The black lines aren't quite wide enough in my view.
  • The kick start lever is wrong and comes from an LS gear box. It should be straight, not curved.
  • The restorer has plated the brake arms - as I've said before, by this date they should be BLACK!!
  • The clutch lever is a later type and the clutch arm on the gearbox is not Sturmey Archer.
  • It is fitted with a very nice - but incorrect - 'Square' ML magneto and there is no magneto shield, which in any case, will only fit the correct ML CMAK magneto.
  • Bearing in mind the overall finish the restorer has aimed for, I am surprised he failed to re-plate the scruffy cylinder base nuts and rocker box support/cylinder head sleeve nuts.
  • The rear hub is not the right one being - I believe -  slightly later but it fits well and this is not a noticeable point.