Saturday 4 January 2014

Three-stay ... two-stay

updated 03 february 2014

-JdK- We have discussed Norton three-stay frames in the past; now the question is when the first two-stay frames were used for the CS1 (500cc) Nortons. Note that the CJ/JE (350cc) models used two-stay frames from the start.

Woods says he won the 1930 Ulster Grand Prix on this one ...
 but he was mistaken, see photo below
three-stay frame

We have pictures of Woods at the 1930 Manx Grand Prix (summer 1930) on a three-stay CS1. There are also pictures of 1930 Works racers of van Wijngaarden, Simpson, and Hunt, all on three-stay CS1s. Woods informs us (above) that he won the Ulster on a three-stay Norton but he was confused as the photo below was taken at the Ulster and this Norton clearly has a two-stay frame.

Woods at the start of the Ulster on his CS1,
early september 1930:
two-stay frame and Enfield rear hub

Mick Woollett (In Norton - The Complete Illustrated History page 135) suggests that Stanley Woods used a three-stay for the Dutch TT and for the Ulster and at the last race of the season (21 September 1930) used a prototype with a "down-draught carburettor, a four-speed gearbox and a two-stay frame". There are, unfortunately, no photos with the text. Woollett probably was wrong about the Ulster and about the gearbox, see the photo of Woods and a two-stay Norton above and the Torrens pic below.

The CS1 used by Torrens in autumn/winter 1930:
two-stay frame and 3 speed LS gearbox

Torrens, in an article in The MotorCycle of December 1930, rides a machine with a two-stay frame and suggest that this is the machine used by Stanley for the Dutch TT, the Ulster Grand Prix and the French GP. This Norton clearly has a three-speed gearbox as described in the article. A picture of the machine is reproduced above.

Woods and Psalty at the French GP, 21 September 1930?
two-stay frame and enfield rear hub

We have one photo on the website of Woods on a two-stay CS1, still using an Enfield rear hub, reproduced above. Unfortunately we do not know when/where this photo was taken. It must have been taken in summer or early autumn (there are leaves on the trees) so it could have been around 21 september 1930, at the French Grand Prix in Pau. French importer Psalty's presence in the photo does not prove much but at least suggests the venue could be France. Further, if you look carefully it is the same machine as used in the Ulster and as used by Torrens.

Interestingly, the two-stay version of OF9502 is extensively discussed in Titch Allen's "The Story of the Norton" (Part 16, September 1972). It has been owned and raced by Chris Harrison. -SG- "In one of the few letters I exchanged with the late Chris Harrison about the bike, he said the engine was such a tight fit in the two-stay frame that the inlet tappet adjuster and lock nut had been ground down to stop them hitting the frame ... was it a 350 frame, perhaps?"

Woods at the Dutch TT, end of June 1931:
two stay frame and Norton rear hub

There are plenty pictures of 1931 two-stay racers on this website. It seems that Works racers Woods, Hunt etc. used two-stay frames in combination with the Norton rear hub in 1931. Others including Daniell had two-stay frames combined with Enfield hubs. So two different types of two-stay 500s were used in 1931. The catalogue for 1931 still depicts three-stay frames for the regular CS1 models of which we have examples. Finally, we have examples of two-stay 500cc OHC Nortons using Enfield hubs that were delivered to regular customers, (this one and this one), but only as late as August 1931.

We still can't be sure but it could be as listed below:

  • Woods and others race three-stay CS1 Nortons in the 1930 Manx GP.
  • Woods probably had a prototype two-stay CS1 at the 1930 Dutch TT in which he came second.
  • Woods had a prototype two-stay CS1 in the Ulster, beginning of September 1930 and in the French Grand Prix on the 21st of September 1930 at Pau in France. He won both races.
  • Torrens rides Woods' two-stay racer as used in 1930
  • The gearbox of the two-stay version of OF9502 was a three-speed. 
  • The Torrens Norton, the Woods French GP bike and the Ulster winner are one and the same with lights fitted for the test.
  • The OF9502 two-stay version may have been little more than a CS1 engine in a 350 CJ frame.
  • Norton builds two types of 500cc two-stay frames for the 1931 season; with a Norton hub for Works racers, with an Enfield hub for lesser gods. 
  • Your name had to Woods, Hunt or Daniels to get a two-stay 500cc OHC Norton before August 1931.
  • Norton continues to supply three-stay 500cc OHC Nortons with an Enfield hub in 1930/1931 to regular  customers.

We would like to hear from anyone who has a different view and from anyone who owns a late-1930 or early-1931 two-stay 500cc Norton of which the identity has been confirmed. Further, pictures of early 1931 CS1s are very welcome. When did the next two-stay 500cc OHC Norton after Woods' prototype arrive? Note that a 500cc OHC engine shoehorned in a 350cc CJ frame looks like a two-stay CS1!