Sunday, 25 June 2017

1927 Model 25 Norton - For sale


-JdK- Tino in Italy is selling his 1927 Model 25 Norton. The words below come from Tino: "It is not painted. The engine has been fully restored and runs perfectly. The fuel tank is original Norton as are the Lycette saddle and the ML round magneto. It has a newer Norton girder fork but many parts of the Webb HW and the BB carburetor are available. It arrived in Italy on 10.6.1927. Frame and engine numbers are matching and identify the bike as a Model 25. The currently installed Dell'Orto carburettor is not included."

Contact us when you are interested

Monday, 5 June 2017

Bitza Model 16H Norton


-JdK- This is my 1938-ish 16H Norton built from parts collected over the years. Rebuilding a few Nortons left me with a pile of rusty and incorrect parts and it seemed to make sense to acquire a frame and an engine and assemble the lot into a complete motorbike. Don't bother contacting me about what is not correct; I know and I don't care.


More interesting, I tuned the engine based on Paul Greet's suggestions. Briefly, the compression was raised by skimming 2-3 mm from the head, a much larger inlet valve was fitted together with a 1 1/8" carb and a longer and wider inlet tube. The 'header tape' on the exhaust hides a narrow (1 1/2") exhaust pipe welded from bits of a car exhaust.


The result is a very enjoyable motorcycle! It usually starts first kick and idles perfectly. Acceleration is now similar to that of an OHV model and it will easily do 100 km/h. It's as much fun to ride as my OHC Norton but at a fraction of the costs and without splashing oil all over the place


I will be riding this machine in Scotland in the coming few weeks, together with a friend on a similarly tuned 16H. We would like to hear from anyone living in west Scotland and willing to lend a hand should they prove to be less reliable than we anticipate!

Thursday, 1 June 2017

c1934 Model 40 Norton


-Richard- This bike (as recently advertised on eBay) looks to be a 1934 racing specification version with some later parts fitted. I do not have the Norton records, but it looks as though it may have been supplied for the 1934 Manx Grand Prix as it appears to have features more often seen on 1935 models. The frame, forks and wheels look correct, as does the engine except the magnesium cambox and the mag chain cover which are both the later type. The gear box should really be Sturmey Archer and the clutch is of this type. The box now fitted looks post-war. This will be a problem because this clutch needs the corresponding engine shock absorber as currently there is not one in the transmission. I think the bike should have a Norton 3 spring clutch for 1934 anyway as only the works bikes retained the S/A clutch that year. The petrol tank looks like a recently made replica and possibly the oil tank as well. Also the fork check springs are the later type replacements and the Andre steering damper should be anchored to the tank. In conclusion I think the bike has been restored in recent years with only the tanks and the shock absorber/clutch in the transmission being the only visible minus points.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Stanley and Norton Z2351


-SG- We recently received a couple of further shots of Stanley Woods and (presumably his) Norton Z2351, taken in Dublin at the same time as the previous photograph posted on the site in 2011. Unfortunately it is still impossible to see if the power unit is of the dry sump type so we can't really add anything to the comments made previously about this rather special machine.  None the less, the photos are nice to have and many thanks to the sender.

Friday, 5 May 2017

c1924 Model 16H Norton



-JdK- This photo was contributed by Richard and shows a c1924 Model 16H Norton, personalized for serious racing!

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

1933 Norton Model 19 - A Basket Case


-By Olav in The Netherlands/Belgium- In the winter of 2015-2016 I restored this pretty rare machine for a friend of mine. The frame (# 498xx, i.e. 1933) he bought a few decades ago containing a Big Four engine. He sold that engine and later found a 1933 model 19 engine (# 551xx, 82x113). He didn't have much else for the bike but gathered bits and pieces to complete it over the years. A NOS pair of (correct type) girders came from someone in the far north of Holland, correct upper fork yoke from a friend in the UK, the beautiful petrol tank was found on a WD16H for sale at a Dutch trader, and he was able to make a deal and exchange it for the correct tank to suit that bike, etc. etc. To sum up: all the bits and pieces came from different sources and places and to me was the challenge to turn it into a complete and authentic looking bike.

The petrol tank had fantastic patina: all the chrome had come off but it was solid and the grey panels and norton logo looked original while the black striping had long ago been restored using red paint, but that gave it a nice individual touch. So there was no doubt that it should remain that way, and the rest of the bike made to suit that authentic appearance.

The oil tank had been painted black but underneath the paint some original chrome plating had been conserved, mostly where the striping had once been. When cleaned up and after application of red striping it matched the petrol tank beautifully.

Two other parts were left mostly in their original paint: the number plate bracket, which on top still had a very nice logo from a dealer, although illegible now, and the primary chaincase. Allthough that needed some repair and a modification (the hole for the footrest didn't match up). I just dabbed the repairs with a brush and some paint.


All the other parts were cleaned to bare metal and repainted. The mudguards were brand new, so they really needed a few tricks to make them look old (like hammering dents, using a blowtorch, 'dusting' fresh paint, etc.). I had an old saddle cover which was servicable again after restitching most parts. I made clamps from spring steel strip for the wiring, etc etc. Lots of work but it makes for nice details on the bike. Everything just had to match up to that petrol tank in style, that was the objective. The only mismatch is the brand new exhaust pipe and silencer: no alternative for that alas, but if someone has some faded originals he might sell: yes please! As the bike is used often, they hopefully will quickly gather some wear and tear.


I completely rebuilt the engine. A new BSA piston was used: fits perfectly and adds a bit to the compression ratio. The engine is highly modified by the way: bigger valves, hairpin springs, and also a positive oil feed to the guides. Someone made a hole just behind the inlet pushrod tube, tapping into the feed to the rear of the cilinder. From there a copper line is going up to the head were it attaches to a splitter with seperate feeds directly into the guides, with the flow adjustable using screws and shims. Very nicely made, I think it must have been done in '50s, probably not much later  because by then replacing coil springs by hairpin would have been a bit backwards?


The guides are made from bronze by the way, technically/theoretically not the right material to use in cast iron heads; heat transfer between these two metals is not optimal. But in practice it may be adequate enough, especially when cooled a bit by a positive oil feed. So I left them in place. Clearance was fine so I didn't expect the valves to seize easily. And it's easy enough to replace them should they wear quickly.

The hairpin springs were chrome-plated and all four of them broke within the first few 100 miles of riding. Maybe because of the plating? Or just from old age? Anyway, I replaced them with new ones, of the same type as used on the cammy Nortons.


After completion I used it for around 600 miles, as was agreed upon with the owner. To assure reliability, for one thing. There's always some kind of technical issue showing up within a few hundred miles (like those hairpin springs), but also to properly run in the engine. This takes, in my experience, at least about 600 miles, and it makes a big difference. At the start, with everything still new, the engine feels rough and stiff, while after several 100's of miles you will really notice it freeing up and getting smoother. Only after running in you can really properly adjust the carburation, and then, by considering fuel and oil consumption and performance you can assess the state of tune of the engine and consider how well the rebuilt went.


My apologies to elaborate a bit on this, but I often wonder why people spend so much money and effort on rebuilding an engine when it will take many years for them to get the bike run-in properly as most people rarely ride their bikes. They would be better off to quickly run-in the engine or even maintain the worn condition of the engine as it will often be much easier to start an much smoother in that condition, providing it is set-up properly.

Anyway, oil consumption was hardly noticable (except for a bit of waste in the first few hundred miles), also helped, I guess, by the second oil scraper ring on the BSA piston. Fuel consumption is around 1 liter per 25 km (71 miles/imp. gallon), which is quite OK for a 'tuned' 600cc thumper. Top speed isn't revolutionary (didn't try, but it speeds up easily to around 110 kmh / 70 mph), but the way is stomps around like a brutal beast is of course impressive. The engine, with it's huge flywheels and long stroke, was made for sidecar use and that's how it feels like: torque galore, not hammering but smooth, realy easy to ride. It has four gears, but ridden solo, two would have sufficed. Acceleration is good, but my '38 ES2 is quicker (as you would expect).

Anyway, I'm quite satisfied about how the bike turned out, and so was my friend to whom I had to hand it over again after enjoying it for a few months. But that's how it goes, on to the next project!

Sunday, 16 April 2017

c1926 Model 19 Norton


-SG- I was recently sent this photo which I believe was taken at one of the late '25 shows (perhaps Olympia) and depicts what I think is a 1926 Model 19, judging by the engine height. It appears to be fitted with a Lucas magdyno to power the diminutive headlamp.  Note the absence of a steering damper and - of really no importance - the pleasing shell-shaped shades on the lights around the bench the bike is standing on!

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Another one


-JdK- and another early Triton ...

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

1921 Model 9 Norton


-SG- We recently used some photos of John's original Model 9 in our posting about a Model 9 replica. Here's some history of John's bike and further photos. John writes:

"It was bought new in 1922 (possibly old fashioned even then) by Tommy Marshall of Maltby, a small South Yorkshire mining village, from Dan Bradbury of Sheffield. Tommy used it extensively (winning a speed trial at Ollerton north of Nottingham in 1923) up until 1928 when he bought a Rudge. This was soon disposed of and he returned to the Norton until 1934 when he purchased a new Inter Norton. He worked with D. R. O’Donovan at Carlton cycles during the 1930’s and kept both Nortons until he died in the late 1980’s. The Nortons were acquired from Tommy’s nephew by well known Classic Bike dealer George Pollard. George restored the Inter but sold the single speeder to Peter Mather of the M & C museum at Bakewell, Derbyshire. Peter began restoration but realised quite soon he would never be able to ride it so I purchased it from him part restored. After over 20 years of riding it is still my favourite thing on two wheels. It will start by pulling the back wheel round, cruise at 50 mph plus, has the bark of a Manx, and is motorcycling at its most pure and functional."

Sunday, 2 April 2017

James Wesley Shaw

Jimmy Shaw
Father Jimmy, son Wesley

-Bruce M. Hill- When current Ulster motor cyclists recall the past and familiar names, the following come to contemplation – Woods, Bennett, Craig, Rusk and Bell – but the name of Shaw is perhaps not as familiar as those mentioned. The reason I believe, is that both father and son were devoted and dedicated to the sport. They gave all they had – they enhanced and enriched the sport, both were outstanding sportsmen in motor cycle racing, car racing and trials and they contributed an inestimable amount to foster their professional skills, not only in Great Britain, but also on the Continent. When they hung up their helmets – that was it, neither sought adulation nor further fulsome praise. Both were modest and retiring – always willing to help those up and coming riders – and primarily, both had a motor business to maintain in central Belfast. The competitive era was over; they retired gracefully and got on with their business.

Yet, from the beginning of World War 1, until the thirties, the name of Shaw was a household word – Jimmy Shaw served with distinction as a pilot in the Royal Flying Corps in World War 1 and it was there that he formed a life long friendship with a young man – W E Cotton – “Billy”, showman and band leader (became a big radio and TV personality) and an E.R.A. racing driver. In ‘This is Your Life’, Cotton referred to some of the hair-raising episodes of this period, when both were temporarily grounded for low flying!!

Demobilised in 1919, Shaw began a motor cycle agency in Belfast and then entered the Isle of Man 1920 TT Races, riding a 500cc Norton. It was won by Tom de la Haye on a Sunbeam. Shaw was 7th. Beating experts like H R Davies, Freddie Dixon and Graham Walker. A magnificent start to a racing career, the press were already commenting on his meticulous preparation, his steady calm and unflurried riding. To make up for his placing in the TT, he made fastest time in the 500cc class on the Kilometre speed section on the Douglas promenade after the racing had finished.

1921. Began with the 50 and 100 Miles Championships on the Magilligan Sands, where Shaw won the coveted Norton Cup presented by ‘Pa’ Norton himself, and collecting the 100 miles Championship. He competed in most local road races and hill climbs, again distinguishing himself with Fastest Time of Day at these events.

1922. In the Belgian Grand Prix, Shaw was 4th in the 500cc Class on a Norton, using this same machine for the French Grand Prix. In the Ulster Grand Prix he retired with a front wheel puncture on lap 5. In the Senior I. O. M. TT, he retired with engine trouble on lap 3. It is interesting to note that he was co-driving with Kaye Don at a record-breaking session at Brooklands earlier in the year in an A.C. Car.

1923. Shaw finished 7th in the TT ahead of Tom de la Haye and Bennett, while the Norton team of Shaw, G M Black and Simister won the team prize. In the Leinster ‘100’ he was 3rd on handicap, captaining the Norton team. The Ulster Grand Prix was won by Wal Hanley (Rex Acme) Shaw 2nd (Zenith) and Joe Craig 3rd (Norton) Owing to a scoreboard error, Shaw was declared the winner, the crowds were delighted and he had just been congratulated by the Lord Mayor when the error was discovered. Shaw took the sad disappointment like the great gentleman and sportsman he was and rushed over to congratulate Wal Hanley, adding to his popularity, which was, at this time, unassailable.

1924. In the 500cc class Shaw was now producing outstanding performances, his high standard of preparation, his level of excellence in all his events – indeed his personal performances were often the criteria by which the performance of other less competent riders was judged. He was a super tuner, and he knew how to coax the best out of his machines without damaging his engines. Pit stops, which were frequent in those days, were practised to perfection. R H Wright, the International timekeeper, told me that Shaw and his regular pit attendant, Harrie Palmer (many years Hon.Sec. Ulster Motor Cycle Club), would practise outside Shaw’s garage in Belfast, until they achieved perfect harmony in all their movements connected with pit stops.

An outstanding, and at this time an International event, the Taileann, motor cycle races at Phoenix Park, Dublin, before a crowd of 40,000 spectators, Shaw won and according to local press, gave an outstanding display of his abilities on two wheels.

He did not have any success in the TT Races of this year – in the junior race his machine was a Zenith. In the Portmarnock races, he finished 3rd to a win by Stanley Woods.

1925. The Norton team for the later half of 1924 and 1925 was Alex Bennett, J W Shaw, S Woods, J Guthrie and J H Simpson – that was the full team for Junior and Senior races. He won the Ulster Grand Prix of 1925, then a sealed handicap race, after a ding dong battle with Joe Craig. Shaw, now 33 years of age, was the outstanding Ulster hero, riding better than ever – it was estimated that at least one person out of every house in Ulster was present to see the great man make his and their day at the Clady Circuit.

It should be pointed out that sand racing in Ireland was equally as important as road racing is today, where wet and dry conditions required different special skills, tyres, gearing etc. The important Championship Races were held on the Magilligan Strand, adjacent to Portstewart, consisting of 5, 50 and 100 mile races. Shaw won more championship races here than any other rider. Woods and Craig were frequent rivals. Shaw’s race time then was calculated to be 72 mph. Mention of the Norton team reminds me that Alex Bennett, born in County Down, J W Shaw, Belfast, Joe Craig, Ballymena and Stanley Woods were all Irishmen!!

1926. In the Ulster Grand Prix, Shaw did not have the same good fortune as in the previous year. He retired with pre-ignition trouble. In the French Grand Prix he made fastest lap, Bennett winning the race. Shaw in spite of all his commitments in International racing, still found time for local hill climbs and as many of the “100”s as he could manage, finding himself with the honour of scratch position in handicap events.

1927. In the Senior TT, Shaw finished 4th.to a win by Bennett. However, Shaw was riding a push rod Norton engine – his OHC engine had been damaged in practice, but he still beat Graham Walker (Sunbeam) and Freddie Dixon (HRD). Craig retired on lap 6, Woods on lap 5, both on OHC engines. In the Temple 100, Shaw finished 2nd. on a 350 Velocette.

However, his greatest personal victory was to win the 1927 open Ulster Grand Prix 500cc class, beating Longman and Woods. Craig led at the end of lap 1, Woods led laps 2 – 8 and Shaw laps 9 and 10. All records were shattered, Shaw creating a new time and speed record for the 500cc class. This again showed the results of his meticulous preparation, skill, consistency and a well-judged race. This was his greatest achievement and proudest victory. Fans were still celebrating well into the Sabbath in Ulster!! For a local man to win the UGP was indeed every Ulsterman’s ambition.

1928. He was to ride in his 10th. TT race. In the Junior, in 4th. place, on a very hot day, he came off at Sulby due to the melting of the tar, damaging his Norton. In spite of injuries, he rode a few days later in the Senior but retired with engine trouble. In the Temple 100 race, won by Percy Hunt, Shaw on a 350cc Velocette, won the beautiful Welsh Challenge Cup and made FTD. He made FTD at Ballydrain and Bannbridge races and in the Ulster Grand Prix, he won the 350cc Handicap race.

1929. His last year in competitive motor cycling, he finished 10th. in the Junior TT winning again the main Championship sand races at Magilligan Strand.

1929 proved to be a watershed in the Shaw family. Jimmy had infrequently competed on four wheels in a ‘Star’, now became an official works driver with ‘Lea Francis’, in company with Kaye Don, W H Green and Sammy Davis. Their cars were front wheel driven and supercharged, competing very successfully, in the TT Races, Brooklands, Phoenix Park, Dublin and the Isle of Man.

Now emerged another J W Shaw, Jimmy’s son Wesley, who from photographs at an early age, was never far from his father’s side when he was racing. Wesley was handling motor cycles from the age of 7 – remember those were not the type of machines which today are tailor made for enthusiastic youngsters – they were as used by the professionals, and Wesley was capable of putting them through their paces like an expert. I wonder was it because of his long association with motor cycle racing so early in life that his own racing career was so short?

July 1932 saw Wesley (18) compete in his first official race at Ballydrain on a 348cc Norton. He finished 2nd. and made FTD and probably would have won, had he not stopped to change an oiled up plug. Surely a worthy successor to his world famous father and the promise of a great racing career? The same year he was 2nd. in the Temple 100 and finished 9th. in the Carrowdore 100 after a fall which considerably delayed him.

In 1933 he finished 2nd. again in the Temple 100 and although he competed in both the North West 200, the Ulster Grand Prix and the Enniskillen 100, none gave him success.

Wesley then turned to cars, both trials and racing. From 1934 onwards, he won every major car trial, both North and South of Ireland, including the Round Ireland Car Rally and he was Irish Champion for 3 years. His cars were always Triumphs and his navigator was the lovely Norah Johnson, who married Wesley in 1940. In 1935, the Triumph Car Co. sent over a specially built supercharged Triumph car which Wesley raced at, what was then an International venue, Round the Houses at Bangor, County Down.

Mr. Jimmy Shaw (I always addressed him as Mr.) was the Managing Director of ‘J W Shaw’, which had the Triumph car franchise in Belfast as well as a Norton Motor Cycle agency in East Belfast. He was a very successful businessman, while his wife Ethel, a strong hidden asset, played an enormous part in the success of the business and they were both well supported by Wesley.

During World War II, Jimmy joined R.E.M.E. (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) becoming a Major and was awarded the OBE for his services. Wesley was involved with war work locally. After the war, Jimmy and his wife emigrated to America while Wesley joined his uncle’s car business in Belfast.

Personal Recollections:

I shall always remember Jimmy Shaw as an elegant, meticulously dressed gentleman, who was a great raconteur of the old days, when he enthralled me with his personal anecdotes and his inexhaustible fund of stories, when I unashamedly should have been attending to my school studies. He was a man of rich and cheerful personality, dignified and courteous – a gentleman with the Old World charm and a champion of ethics.

Wesley, who rubbed shoulders with the ‘greats’ of the racing world, was never pompous nor dramatic, but to mad enthusiasts like myself, was a warm and kindly friend, with his many acts of kindness, in allowing me into the sacrosanct of motor cycle racing where many of the greats, both riders and drivers used his extensive garage.

Finally, my sincere and grateful thanks to Norah and her family for giving me permission to delve into the racing history of these two outstanding men – father and son.

BRUCE M HILL (Bds)