Sunday, 24 September 2023

When is a Norton not a Norton ...


-SG- ... when it's a South Australian Railways copy! 

Many thanks to Leon for a profusion of photos - and information - regarding the 557cc SAR engine dating from about 1910 to 1915.  It seems they were fitted to small railway maintenance trucks and quite a few of them were to be had back in the sixties and seventies.  But now, they are pretty rare.  

Although the crankcase castings incorporate substantial extra mounting lugs, it is very clearly a Norton copy. Whether Nortons were paid any sort of premium for use of their basic design is not known. The photos of the cylinder barrels - Norton on the right in all cases - shows the design similarity and the cams/followers look much like those employed during the twenties.

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Best and Lloyd


-SG- Adam's 1927 Model 18 is suffering from Mazak trouble - i.e  the oil pump body has cracked! If anyone has an original spare they don't need he is more than willing to pay a sensible price for it!  Please get in touch with me and I will provide his contact details.

Saturday, 2 September 2023



-SG- ... was noteworthy for two reasons - first, in the autumn, the Great Depression affected world wide stocks and shares and caused unemployment problems which lasted for several years. Sales of Norton machines were affected - such that, for instance, the despatch books show many machines dated 1930 which were not despatched to a dealer until 1931 or even 1932.

Secondly, 1929 marked the establishment of Amalgamated Carburetters, used by virtually the entire UK motorcycle industry from then on. The only exceptions I can think of are Villiers, who made their own carburetters, and Bowden Carbs. which were available to those who wanted to use them. My 1930 Model 18 had been fitted with one before I bought it in 1956 and I must say it worked very well. Incidentally, I no longer have it!

The first Amal carbs. used a cast brass float chamber with a relatively long float needle (3.405") but this seems to have been changed quite early on to  a shorter type (part number 14/024 - length 2.950") following a change to the position of the needle seat. This shorter needle was seemingly used in all Amal float chambers fitted by Nortons throughout the thirties.

The scan attached shows the needle seat positions.

Friday, 1 September 2023

Harold Daniell's foot rests


-SG- Thanks to Alan for this photo from a recent visit to the Manx Museum. While Harold Daniell may have been a bit on the portly side - even by my standards - I find it hard to believe he needed special footrests! Perhaps one of our Manx specialists knows more!

Tuesday, 29 August 2023

Jurby, Isle of Man; M25 bitza?

-SG- Thanks to Alan for these photos of a well constructed OHV special - almost a post-vintage Model 25, one could say!  The bottom half of the engine started life as a 16H from March 1931 while the top half would appear to be ES2 of the same period. Plus Inter forks and front wheel and a racing version of the Doll's Head box ... altogether a 'fun' machine! Wonder if it goes as well as it looks!

Monday, 14 August 2023

1930 DT Norton in Denmark


-SG- Allan Sorensen sent me this photo a while back. It dates from the early thirties and shows what seems to be the only DT Norton shipped direct to Denmark - the dealer being a company called Petersen. 

The rider is Svend Aage Engstrom and the man standing behind the bike is Kaj Sorensen - eldest brother of the well known S A Sorensen and himself a Norton agent in Copenhagen.  Thanks to Allan for the photo! 

Monday, 7 August 2023

Primary chain covers - For sale


-JdK- For sale by one of our readers: Model 18 and 16H 1925-28 enclosed primary chain covers and rear chainguard. British made. Copied from an original; a dye was made to press part of the cover. Only three left and no plans to make any more.  £480.00 each. Contact Phil on or landline no. 01691 650137

Thursday, 3 August 2023

More on Four Speeders


-SG- Earlier this year we had a short posting about the few four speed 'cross over' box machines which have survived from the twenties. As I mentioned, by the time 1929 came along the number being sold was quite small. BUT a recent chat with Robert - who has a 1926 Model 24 - prompted me to have a more in depth look at the figures and I was very surprised at the result. The first machine actually listed is a Model 24 (although the Works called it a four speed 588 in the records) in mid 1925 and this was shortly followed by a few four speed Big Fours. But come 1926 and the numbers grew surprisingly such that by the end of 1928 there appears to have been model totals as follows (e and oe!):


Model 14 ... 177

Model 24 ... 399

Model 34 ... 114 

Model 44 ... 43

And for what it's worth, the Four Speeders made up about 3.5 % of total machine output in the period of their production. 

And a final point ... it is apparently possible to replace the four speed gearbox with the usual type CS three speed version.  The frame lug is the same although the rear wheel has to be turned round to get normal chain alignment etc.

Monday, 26 June 2023

Use 'em! 1930s International Norton


-JdK- This is my 1930s International Norton, bought in September last year. I took the bike to B.O.M's Veteranen Tour in Belgium last weekend and as I hate to carry bikes on a trailer I rode the bike to Berlare, near Antwerp, did the tour on Saturday to Houffalize near Luxembourg and rode the bike back home near Utrecht on Sunday. All in all I did 585 miles - 940 km in three days without any issues. These pics were taken on Sunday evening and I did not clean the bike. Off course we've seen oil tight Nortons before but for a Carroll engined Norton this is pretty OK. Most of the oil it leaks now comes from a breather throwing oil in the magneto chain case and I guess it was designed to leak out this way as later Norton have a small tube in this chain case to drain excess oil. It runs on Castrol R40 bytheway.

What is it? The Norton came from the factory in 1933 as a Model 40. There's no mention of special tuning but it had no kickstart, racing footrests and racing chain guards and large tanks fitted. The engine currently fitted comes from a 1938 CS1 and has been in this frame at least since the 1960s according to the old green registration book. The girders are 1946, the gearbox late 1930s. Previous owners were James Gardner (1966), Henry Ormonde Gurr (1973, below) and Dennis Butler (1987). I think Butler had it sold by Andy Tiernan in 2021 to Dave who sold it to me in September last year.

There is a movie on YouTube (above) where Andy Tiernan talks about the bike and it's pretty funny. He remarks:  "it was used by someone who went to Scotland on it, cruising at 70 and seeing 80. The engine was done by a well known gentleman in the engine world connected to Ricardo, but can't remember his name. It was done to a very high standard". I like Andy, he probably means Ormonde Gurr who was known to work on Ricardo Triumphs but it sounds a bit silly. If anyone knows more about any of the previous owners (except for Dave off course) then let me know!

Dave liked the bike a lot and did 3000 miles on it in one year which to me suggested the bike should be in decent condition and it ran OK when it arrived. But as always I expect to find plenty wrong with a 90 year old bike and I therefore took it to bits and rebuilt most of it over the winter.

I thought it would be nice to list what needed doing:

The engine was partly disassembled. The crank was left in situ, mainly because the pinion is stuck on the crankpin and I did not feel like applying a lot of heat and using a big hammer. The big end and mains feel fine and everything inside the engine looks clean. The standard CS1 piston looks unworn but the rings were stuck in the grooves which were cleaned. The small end bush was scored and therefore replaced. The guides and valve stems have some wear but were cleaned and reused as were the springs. The cam box was cleaned and new rubber and cork seals fitted. I did not change the timing while this seems to be a mixture between Model 30 and CS1 timing; inlet opens 45 BTDC, closes 60 ABDC; exhaust opens 85 BBDC, closes early at 30 ATDC. Compare this to the tabulated data we compiled. Perhaps this was the genius of the well known gentleman and Ricardo.

The gearbox needed a few new bearings and a thrust washer

Both wheels needed new bearings and new brake drums. The old drums had been skimmed which sounds like a good idea but the downside is that all standard size shoes are too small now giving a very spongy feel to the brakes. New drums fixed the problem.

The girders were rebuilt using new spindles. The headlamp was fitted with new brackets to position it somewhat lower. The 22 mm handlebars were replaced by proper 1" bars which cured the vibration. Numerous holes were welded in the guards and new brackets fitted. Weird-threaded bolts and nuts replaced everywhere. The internals of the dynamo were thrown away and the lights replace by energy efficient LEDs. The magneto was rewound. All petrol and oil hoses replaced. New tires fitted. New brackets and springs fitted to the saddle. New petrol taps.

Not too bad and it was worth it, this has quickly become one of my favorite Nortons. Not sure if it will do 70-80 MPH in Scotland but it was very happy cruising at 55-60 MPH in the Ardennes yesterday.

Friday, 16 June 2023

A 1930 racing spec CS1 Norton

-SG-  Back in 2010 we had a couple of postings about 1930  racing spec. CS1s in Yorkshire. One of them, registration number WX5232, seems to have disappeared without trace. The other, a matching numbers machine with reg. no. WX5132, has apparently been stashed away in a  dis-mantled state, for the last sixty years or so - and has recently re-appeared, after a full re-build; see above. Phil, the new owner, tells us it should be appearing at this year's Banbury Run. This is a machine of some importance and rarity - supplied in August 1930 to wealthy Skipton butcher Jack Carr. Jack finished 11th on it in the MGP of 1930 and 3rd in 1931.