Sunday, 21 May 2023

Good taste ?


-SG- James Robinson, editor of The Classic Motorcycle, is, I suspect, much more of a user than some of his predecessors. And recently added to his stable is Brian Johnson's Model 18, as Brian is unfortunately no longer able to ride. Here's a recent print of it in use in Ireland (Dun Urlann, Graigue).

Tuesday, 16 May 2023

An early block print ...


... of a Model 8, from 1919. Details are in our copy of the 1919 brochure - engine guaranteed to do a 65 mph lap at Brooklands and a maximum speed of 70mph for the kilometre. Brakes not suitable for modern traffic!

Sunday, 30 April 2023

Seen one of these?


-SG- I must say I haven't, and I would be very pleased to actually own one!  This is the nickel plated handle-bar badge produced by Nortons to mark their 1924 successes in the IOM. Although doubtless some chaps were given one, the works actually sold them to anyone who wanted - price Half a Guinea (10/6d). Someone correct me if I'm wrong but in today's money I think that is about £39...

Saturday, 29 April 2023

1907 and all that!

-SG- I recently wasted several hours going through a stack of old VMCC magazines, removing the odd pages of interest. Amongst them were a couple I have scanned.

The first - an excerpt from the Motor Cycle of 5th June 1907 which refers to 'an amateur winning the twin cylinder class.'

The second - a letter from author L R Higgins (Private Owner and Britain's Racing Motorcycles), the final paragraph of which - stating Rem Fowler never won a TT - was a trifle controversial!

Friday, 28 April 2023

Rem's bike again!


-SG- The other day I was given a copy of the Montagu Motor Museum Catalogue for 1959. And lo and behold! a new story (to me) for the origin of the Rem Fowler fake! Original run over by a lorry!  Wonder if the National Motorcycle Museum knows that?

Saturday, 22 April 2023

Graham Walker - 1923 TT


-SG- Numerous photos exist of Graham and passenger Tommy Mahon in the 1923 TT.  This one is remarkably clear and shows the braced front forks well. Graham finished second to Freddie Dixon.  This was the first appearance of the 588cc TT outfits.

Monday, 3 April 2023

1934 Works bike ...


-SG- I recently came across Alain Daigne's 2012 French publication 'Manxman'  - a collection of seventy photos of racing Nortons from 1900 to 1970. Two of the shots are of the 1934 works bike - photographed like many others over the years against a sheet held up in front of the office door.  Grateful to Richard for what he has to say about it: 

"The bike in the pictures is the 1934 works racer as used by Jimmy Guthrie to do the 1934 TT double. This was the year that the works engines were completely up-dated using full magnesium castings and bronze skull/ aluminium cylinder heads and aluminium barrels. The crankcases used the front top bolt to attach the engine to the frame for the first time, and the front down tube was fitted with 2 separate mounting lugs. The lower lug was fitted with the usual triangular engine plates and the higher lug had separate straight plates to the top crankcase bolt. The following year, 1935, the crankcases were re-designed and used the single set of front engine plates that were subsequently used on all racing spec. Inters and post-war garden gate Manx. This meant the 1935 frame lost the lower lug, although the 1934 double lug frames were still used with the later engines in some events. The other firsts for 1934 were aluminium petrol and oil tanks, and the Norton designed gearbox which were put into all the range for 1935. The exhaust system is a straight-through pipe but a megaphone was used for the 1934 TT and most other major events."

Sunday, 19 March 2023

1910 TT Programme


-SG- Without wishing to diminish the importance of Rem Fowler's win in the twin cylinder class at the inaugural 1907 TT, the fact remains that the Norton performance in the TT for the next seven years was, to put it bluntly, poor!  Ten retirements and three not very good finishes. One of the retirements was J L Norton himself in 1910.  He retired after two laps, the second being unduly long following a cam follower breakage. It was reported in the Motor Cycle that he managed to get the bike going again - albeit very slowly - by greatly reducing the inlet valve spring pressure,  to the extent that the engine ran on the Automatic Inlet Valve principle. Ingenious or what! (He also retired in 1909 and 1911!)

Alan recently sent scans of the 1910 TT programme which he came across in the IOM recently and Martin has done some useful tweaking on the images to make them more legible. Many thanks to both!  Incidentally, the second Norton rider listed - P Brewster - did not start following a practise crash. Again quoting from the Motor Cycle - 'he attempted to take the corner at an impossible speed.....'

Sunday, 5 March 2023

Early 30s Model 18 Norton


-JdK- John in the UK sent this very nice photo of what looks to be an early 1930s Model 18. "My wife just got this family photo from a relation living in the Derby area. She thinks the photo was taken in the 1930’s. Could the tank colour be original?"

Thursday, 2 March 2023


-SG- We have I think mentioned before that Nortons did not supply vast numbers of military spec. machines during WW1. Seemingly most went to Imperial Russia and Juris has one of them -  a Big Four - which is in danger of being back together in the not too distant future. Ian in UK has recently come up with a small 1918 booklet - scans attached - relating specifically to the 'Empire or Military Model B4.' I have never seen this rarity before - thanks!