Saturday, 16 May 2015

Willing William

-SG- 'Willing William' was the nick-name given by 'Torrens' (aka Arthur Bourne) of 'The Motor Cycle' to his early twenties 16H Norton. He wrote various articles about the bike, which he was more than happy to modify to improve its performance and which was in a decidedly sporting trim. I don't have easy access to the back numbers of the magazine so am not sure what ultimately became of it - if indeed he ever told his readers. Perhaps when he became Editor of the Motor Cycle later in the twenties, he felt he should have some mount more suited to his position!

'Willing William' - 1922 Model 16H Norton

One of his modifications was the fitting of the Research Association brake to the rear wheel - see scan from Harwood's 'Speed and how to obtain it' below - which he would probably have done after Sheard's 1923  Senior TT win with the RA braked Douglas. Not long ago, I was sent a copy of a photo of - probably - 'Willing William,' which I attach. Martin tells me it is a mid '22 Birmingham registration and one can see a good bit of detail apart from the RA brake. Gearbox is now an LS and the right hand oil pump pedal is fitted, along with short sporty handlebars - and indistinctly, a sporting side-car.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Double-brake girders?


-JdK- Mick in the UK sent these pics of a set of unusual Norton girders containing anchor points for brake plates on both sides. We have seen home made jobs like this before but this set-up looks either original or if not, then very professionally done.


-Richard- These forks look like they were made at the Norton factory. Apart from the second brake fitting these are the standard WD 16H type. As a guess it is possible this conversion was done by Bob Collier who was Norton's "jack of all trades" and worked in the experimental shop post-war, and this type of thing would have been typical of the mods he would have made, perhaps for a trials or racing sidecar outfit. It will be interesting if any website viewers know more.

Friday, 8 May 2015

The Bill Fruin Sale

Click this link for the PDF

-SG- Back in October we had a posting of a 1923 SV Norton with sidecar attached, for sale in Holland. As is sometimes the case, the details provided by the seller were a touch fanciful but the bike came from Bill Fruin's collection. The other day I happened to come across the report of the sale back in April 1984 and the outfit concerned is illustrated in it. Bill was particularly interested in SV Nortons and 'created' a few with seemingly sporting pretensions of which this outfit is one. A solo from the same sort of period was also built which finished up in the Meriden Museum, also supposedly a Brooklands racer but nothing of the sort in my (biased) view ... I attach the sale report and, many thanks to Martin and Chas, scans from the Phillips catalogue showing Norton details (click this link).

Monday, 27 April 2015

c1907 Norton V-twin


-JdK- Contributed by Howard. Roger suggests it's a 1907 model as it is virtually identical to Rem Fowler's TT machine. Also, the registration is mid 1907.

-SGFowler's bike had (and I stress had as I am sure it no longer exists!) a chain driven magneto and this one has a shaft driven magneto ... so not the same! I am advised by Mike in Wales, who does know a lot about Norton products from pre 1914, that the shaft driven magneto machines date from 1908. I realise this may be contrary to what the registration mark O2833 tells us but ... perhaps the engine had been changed.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

1937 Model CJ Norton


-JdK- David in the UK sent these pics of his very original 1937 Model CJ Norton.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

1929 Model 18 Norton


-JdK- Dan in the UK found this 1929 Norton Model 18 in Essex and took it home. The previous owner John Lee advised it was raced during and prior to his ownership and that the engine was built and tuned by Stan Johnson.

Monday, 13 April 2015

Nuts! - update

Updated 13th April

-JdK- One of the most annoying nuts on a Carroll OHC engine must be the nut holding the bevel on the camshaft. I may be 'teaching grandmother to suck eggs' but it took me two weeks to tighten this nut so here's the story.

The best way to assemble a Carroll cambox may be to first fit the bevel to the camshaft and tighten this nut. Then the camshaft can pushed through the bearing in the cambox, and spacer, cams and roller bearing fitted whereafter the nut on the other side of the camshaft can be tightened. The problem is that this is a left-hand nut. The camshaft is locked with a spanner using the nut at the bevel side but as this one is a right-hand nut, when one nut is tightened the other nut may come loose and vice-versa.

So the nut holding the bevel should be very tight. The 'square' at the end of the camshaft is easily damaged and cannot be used; further, the camshafts are made from unhardened steel like EN8 and can be easily twisted and damaged when you apply brute force.


The best way seems to be to just grip the bevel between two pieces of wood (shaped like in the photo above) in a vice. This looks brutal but the teeth on the bevel will be embedded in the wood and the torque will be spread over a large part of the bevel. It won't damage the bevel.

When doing this I found out the bevel needs to be gripped very tight in the vice otherwise the wood will splinter. I used good quality Meranti hardwood and a one-meter length of steel pipe to tighten up the vice. This was required because the nut needed 200 Nm torque (that is a lot!) before it was tight enough to allow the left-hand nut at the other side of the shaft to be torqued to 50 Nm. This is probably because the nut at the bevel side hardly moves once torqued up to around 40 Nm. It needs a really good pull with a very long spanner before it moves after that!

(Ian Bennett and Dr George also use this method and around 200 Nm to tighten this nut. Others suggest to just fit the cambox the engine, lock the crank and then tighten the nuts on the camshaft; that means putting a lot of torque on the teeth of the bevels. Perhaps the engine may withstand such abuse but it doesn't feel right to me.)

Update by Dr George on the 13th April: "I was inspired by this article and decided to upgrade my tired old lead jaws. Below is my new tool; it's two alloy plates with two thicknesses of roofing lead. It works perfectly!"

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Late 1920s Model CS1 Norton


-JdK- A photo of a late 1920s Model CS1 Norton. RE8518 was issued between 1921 and 1947 in Staffordshire.

Friday, 10 April 2015

Bennett, 1925 Senior TT Works Norton


-SG- Here's an uncommon shot of Bennett and his 1925 Senior TT Works Norton. Interestingly another photo popped up that was made seconds before or after the other one.

The oil pump adjuster is visible on the oil pump cover (it was simplified in '26 and onwards) and one can see the drooping footrest - damaged when Bennett had a minor 'off' during the event. Note also the front brake - still very small but with brake arm pointing forward. Small or not, I can tell you from personal experience this makes otherwise rather useless small Vintage brakes infinitely better!

Sunday, 5 April 2015

1920s Model 18 valve springs


-JdK- While checking over my 1927 Model 18 last summer I discovered that one of the valve springs was broken. Rather annoying as they come in a different size compared to the later OHV models and are difficult to find. I managed to buy a few sets but as all the original Norton stock is now gone they are all replica and -not surprisingly- all different. I sent them off to Viktor for a closer look.

Dimensions of the 1920s Model 18 valve springs and the recorded data. In blue the old/used spring; in green the replica spring from Czech Republic. In purple and red the two replica springs from the UK.

Viktor does everything with great care and took a scientific approach. The tension of the springs was measured at 41 mm; that's how far the springs are compressed when the valve is closed. And at 30.8 mm; that's the compression at full lift when using a standard W7 Model 18 cam.


The outcome is that the strength of the springs differ a lot, see the summary in the table above. Both UK replica springs constantly apply around 10 kg extra pressure on all the delicate parts of your Model 18 valve train and this is bad news; it will result in a lot of extra wear, especially on the cams and the followers.

My 1927 Model 18 has been tuned with a high compression piston and IT cams, it goes like stink and it likes to rev. It does so on the softest springs I could find; the old/used springs in the table above. So I suggest there is no need at all for stronger springs in a flat tank OHV Norton.

If you have ever new springs made you could probably ask the supplier to use the data as presented in the figures above.

Do realize that the 41mm/30.8 mm dimensions are for a c1927 Model 18. For other models/years valve stem length, position of the collets and dimensions of both the top and bottom collars etc. may differ which may affect spring pressure.