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73 Norton Commando

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  • #31
    Originally posted by baylisstic View Post
    well done, youve done great job with the paint. you must be getting excited now not long till its on the road
    Thanks. I am getting excited about getting it back on on the road.
    Last night I ordered a new fuel cap for it since I can't put the scratch and chipped old one back on such a nice looking tank. I doubt it will stop there though. Next on the list will be to fix the gear lever which currently has a lot of play in it and is rubbing on the timing cover. Then I suppose it will be some new bars and then who knows what else.

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    • #32
      Oh what an awesome thread!

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      • #33
        Re all the above.....


        "they all do that"

        I've been directly involved with Commandos(actually owning one) for just over 8 years now. I bought one which seemed mint, perfect paint by a respected painter, (supposedly) fresh motor-had it checked out by someone who REALLY knows their commandos. Picked a few things-incorrect carbs, front tyre aged rock-hard and camber worn, iso's needed adjustment-but basically good. So paid over the money, then the problems started. Just after I got it home, the head started leaking oil-badly. te-torqued, changed head gaskets, nothing would stop it. kept riding it, but it was messy. All the jokes about oil leaking pommy bikes. Clutch dragged. Then slipped. Battery wouldn't charge. Brakes were very ordinary. But I stilled loved it. Just wanted to ride. Only bike. So I bought a very cheap GPZ900R sitting for sale and unloved by the side of the road. A lot of cleaning and some mechanical work, mostly chassis, and it was a great bike, gave me some breathing space to sort the Norton. Eventual prognosis was the dreaded cylinder head porosity, well-known on the RH4 series of heads, so the only alternative was replacement. There are processes to fix this supposedly, but it's hit and miss. The replacement is fine, started riding a lot more. Then it started burning oil on one side. Stripping the top end revealed a massive set of tracks on one cylinder--end of gudgeon circlip had broken off, and migrated back and forth , wearing tracks in the cylinder wall opposite the pin. Way beyond boring---920 kit, anyone? Probably my fault, revving too hard. Deeper inspection revealed a badly worn camshaft, hardening gone--had been modified. So that was it for the motor. Full rebuild. S/h set of 10thou+ barrels, new pistons, stock cam, crank was fine with new shells. Along the way I had also burnt out an alternator, hard old wires shorted on the output.
        " Lightly Seared On The Reality Grill"

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        • #34
          Continuing. All of the above can seem insurmountable, but it's not. or even that expensive. Spares are easy , and cheap, to get. And there is a lot of help out there. More on that later. Before buying, I had joined an email list on Yahoo groups called "Made In England" Heaps of useful advice from people who had done it all. I'm still on it---even re-connected with someone I had gone to high school in Sydney with. There is also an American -based forum called Jerry Doe which is exclusively Norton.

          My electrics are still stock, because they work, but I will get around to Podtronics or something similar one day. The downside of Boyer ignitions is that they won't run on a low battery-start popping and farting at 11 volts, die at 10.5. No matter how hard you kick or push. If you are unsure if you have one, the black box, size of a small packet of smokes, is usually mounted under the tank behind the head stem. And the pickup replaces the points. Troubleshooting a boyer consists of removing a sparkplug and turning the ignition on--if the system is working you will get a spark across the earthed plug each time you do it.

          Veefore, sounds like you are missing the locktab washers from your zorst nuts; these lock to a cylinder fin on one side and the nut on the other. They shouldn't come loose. Make sure the pipe and muffler are connected firmly with a tight clamp--if they can move independently, you'll crack the pipe flanges pretty quick. Ask me how I know
          " Lightly Seared On The Reality Grill"

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Rocket View Post
            Ahhh the old Positive earth trick. I had a '66 Mk1 Cortina like that. Nuked two stereo's trying to hook them up before I gave up and just sang to myself.
            All the old pommy stuff has +ve earth. Headfuck for the uninitiated. Just a couple of years ago I had a phonecall from my 18 yr old son--they were trying to fit a stereo into a Morris Minor. The big sparks had them beaten. Had to explain an insulated mount to them--just like the one I used fitting a tape deck to my Mini Cooper 'S'
            " Lightly Seared On The Reality Grill"

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            • #36
              I'm breaking up this post because
              a) long posts can get boring, and
              b) my connection tends to time out.

              As for help, I've mentioned the MIE group at YahooGroups, and jerrydoe. Murray at Cyclecraft has re-opened full time apparently--he closed up shop during Keatings recession-we-had-to-have, along with others, and worked for wages--now he re-opens just as we are about to have another. Ironic. At least we won't have 20% interest rates this time JCS on great Eastern actually still stock some basic Norton/Triumph parts, too, as well as tyres, though of course the vast majority of their business is Hinckley stuff. John and Bill are absolute fonts of knowledge, though the young guys know f-all , as you would expect. Eades over east do good mail order, though I get most of my stuff from British Spares in NZ, where you get it GST free(export), and in NZ dollars.

              My Commando is now a very reliable runner, I think nothing of riding it 400k's plus without a problem. Regularly wear out back tyres. I was told to hang in; the experienced hands told me there would always be initial problems to sort, unless you were lucky enough to find a seller who knew how to run one(and then they mostly don't want to sell:mellow The more you ride them, they said, the better they get. And they were right. You've all seen the pictures I've posted --they are a real head turner, and a very involving ride. And nothing sounds quite like a 180 deg vertical twin on song. You'd have to be cloth-eared to mistake them for a tractor.
              " Lightly Seared On The Reality Grill"

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              • #37
                As for the clutch issiues--they really all do that. It's a result of a system which is really meant to run dry, but picks up oil from the primary chain, which eventually gets into the plates. It's just something you deal with-not hard. Or necessary to do that often--unless you are really doing a lot of miles, it won't even be once a year.Mine is actually more prone to dragging--it just means removing the outer primary-easy, and lifting the plates out. You MUST have the proper tool to remove the clutch circlip--it retains the diaphragm, and is under pressure. Simple enough to make, or cheap enough to buy. Compress diaphragm, remove circlip, lift out plates, wash in petrol, rub off any buildup -600 wet and dry will do, and replace. Later commandos have steel and bronze plates, which will never wear out, earlier models have fibre plates, which are easier on the clutch hub-steel driving plates will eventually groove the hub, causing drag. I actually filed a really fucked one down, which worked fine. What to run in the primary causes some debate--ATF is a common choice, though I find it doesn't let the auto primary tensioner fitted to the Mk111's (in mine , at least) work at it's best.
                And never fit an o-ring chain to a Commando -there is insufficient clearance to the inner primary, and you can actually wear a hole around it. just stick with a cheap, ordinary Renolds or whatever, even industrial chain--they are not hard on chains.
                " Lightly Seared On The Reality Grill"

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                • #38
                  If any of you have specific questions, PM me your e-mail address, and I'll forward on some of the stuff I've saved from the MIE forum on the subject.
                  " Lightly Seared On The Reality Grill"

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                  • #39
                    Thanks for your input Ranmar. I always look forward to your posts on Commando's.
                    There have been times I was ready to give up with mine but I have stuck to it. I have just become used to the fact that it isn't a "jump on and ride whenever you feel like it" kind of bike. It does require a lot of maintenance but I have come to really enjoy doing that. Getting to know the bike inside out makes me closer to it than I ever was with any of my (new) jap bikes.

                    BTW, I do have the locktab washers on my exhausts but have been told by Ben in Morley and Murray in Welshpool to toss them. They reckon that they simply don't work and that was my experience as well. Most of the advice I have gotten lately, as well as that of the Jerrydoe forum was to fit the exhaust nuts and tighten them right up. Then ride the bike until the engine gets hot and tighten them again. Check them again after each ride for a while and they should be good. Just as a safety precaution I have also drilled and lockwired mine to the rocker cover stud. Mine also has a support bracket welded on the left side to the front engine Iso mount. When I get some new pipes made up I am thinking about getting a support like that on both sides. With the standard setup, the engine moves up and down (and around a bit, depending on the tightness of the Iso's) so obviously the header pipes move with it. At the other end of the pipes they are mounted to the frame which is not moving with the engine. This means that the movement put on both ends of the pipe varies with engine revs and it is like it is constantly trying to "wiggle" the header pipe in the exhaust port. Seems kinda silly to me. I was thinking that by fixing the exhaust headers about 8 inches down from the port to the engine mount the pipe would be better supported and not be constantly trying to move around inside the exhaust port as it does now.

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                    • #40
                      I'm a bit surprised that Ben and Murray would both suggest to toss the locktab washers. You do need to flick them back and re-tighten the nut occasionally, but, if fitted correctly, they stop the nut from unscrewing. Of course, you can drill them and lockwire to either the rocker box fixing, or to a drilled hole in a fin, a little tidier if done well. The only problem I have with them is that they can ring a little, or rattle...just put new ones on, cost $1.50(?) each. To go with the the new header pipes. I cracked the flanges on my old pipes, due to the fact that the clamps between the header and muffler had stretched over the years, and weren't really clamping any more. Which puts a lot more weight on the pipe flange, with inevitable results. The rear end of the exhaust system isn't really rigidly mounted--those rubber bobbins mounting the muffler plates to the Z-plates allow for movement between the motor and frame . Keep an eye on those bobbins-they perish, and are cheap as chips to replace. Loosening off the bolts that go thru the diamond-shaped plate back into the rear of the muffler , then re-tightening, is a good idea to release stress on those rubbers.There is a good diagram around showing how the actual powerplant/drivetrain, all the way to the rear wheel , is one unit, and the frame is separate to, and connected to it, by the isolastics. This is where it differs from the conventional idea of a 'rubber-mounted " motor.

                      Do you have any manuals? The best value around would have to be the CD's put out by Kim White. The Norton one has absolutely everything on it, and is particularly useful for parts ordering, with all the exploded views of all the models. Contact him via e-mail at kimthecdman@techinfo.com.au. They are great value at about $60 ea (all the Norton stuff is on one CD) and there is also added value with the old posters, photos, etc included. He also does Triumph and BSA , for those who are interested. keep at it, mate, it'll all come together in the end. It really helps to have something else to ride during the difficult days...
                      " Lightly Seared On The Reality Grill"

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                      • #41
                        hi Ranmar. I do have the manuals on CD. There is also an online manual at Norton Commando Workshop Manual

                        There does seem to be a lot of conflicting advice on the net from both owners and non-owners and also and amongst the local "experts". Being fairly new to Commandos I am still finding out the hard way what is and what isn't good advice.

                        I did a bit of research on the exhaust of the Commando and it really appears to be a terrible design. Mounting anything solidly to two separate parts that are not moving in unison, even with a small rubber buffer between them is simply poor engineering. My Dad replaced the rear rubber mounts when he first got the bike as the originals were perished. I have found it interesting that the movement of the engine against those new rubber mounts has caused them to deform in less than 1000 miles and they are starting to develop stress cracks. This after checking the alignment and tightening up the exhaust flange before tightening up the rubber mounts to ensure everything was aligned. From what I gather the length between the flange mount and rubber muffler hanger gives it a LOT of leverage to work it loose. When my exhaust popped out we did have the lock tabs on and correctly bent between the fins. It didn't help because the lock ring only had to loosen off a fraction of a turn (2 or 3mm) that the tabs naturally allowed and that allowed enough "wiggle room" to eventually wear the threads enough to come out. The lock ring didn't unscrew all the way. It actually wore the threads enough to "pop" out. Lock wire pulled tight doesn't allow ANY movement at all and should keep them uniformly tight.
                        Of course, had I been more aware of this common problem I might have done what most Commando owners do and checked them every couple of rides. That seems to be the best way to look after them and is something I will do regularly now.

                        Regarding lock wiring to the fins. On the Accessnorton.com (Jerrydoe) site they seem to be VERY against using the fins. I had originally wired them to the fins but removed them and redid them to the rocker box fixing after reading about fins cracking.

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                        • #42
                          It sounds like you still have the original alloy threads in the head? To have them strip out is quite common, unfortunately. The fix is to have a bronze threaded insert pressed in and scotch keyed-mine had this done already-as did the replacement head. No more problems. Most British bikes have an their share of engineering that makes you go WTF :o, with the benefit of hindsight, of course. A lot of their engineering was really not much advanced on the models of the late forties. The Commando motor, if you didn't know, really started life as a 30-odd horsepower 500 twin in the Model 7, late 40's. Explains why there is so little gasket area around the head by the time they got out to 828cc

                          You just live with the quirks, and yes, there can be a lot of conflicting opinion, unfortunately. But you can trust me ( cos I get my information from an impeccable source)
                          " Lightly Seared On The Reality Grill"

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by ranmar850 View Post
                            It sounds like you still have the original alloy threads in the head? To have them strip out is quite common, unfortunately. The fix is to have a bronze threaded insert pressed in and scotch keyed-mine had this done already-as did the replacement head. No more problems. Most British bikes have an their share of engineering that makes you go WTF :o, with the benefit of hindsight, of course. A lot of their engineering was really not much advanced on the models of the late forties. The Commando motor, if you didn't know, really started life as a 30-odd horsepower 500 twin in the Model 7, late 40's. Explains why there is so little gasket area around the head by the time they got out to 828cc

                            You just live with the quirks, and yes, there can be a lot of conflicting opinion, unfortunately. But you can trust me ( cos I get my information from an impeccable source)
                            Mine hasn't had the bronze insert done yet. That is a job for the next rebuild. I am just trying to get it to hold together until then. Speaking of engineering that makes you go WTF you should see a Velocette. Now there is a bike that went it's own way.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Veefore View Post
                              Mine hasn't had the bronze insert done yet. That is a job for the next rebuild. I am just trying to get it to hold together until then. Speaking of engineering that makes you go WTF you should see a Velocette. Now there is a bike that went it's own way.
                              Yes, I believe Velo's are in a class of their own in that respect. Not for the mechanically unsympathetic. You could still buy the Venom Thruxton new when I started riding-- a mate's father owned a bike shop. A real multi-brand, old school place. Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda, Triumph, Norton, Bsa, Velocette--ancient concrete floor, complete with puddles of oil from the brand-new British bikes--no, true. We could usually connive a ride on anything, even if it meant a discreet handover a couple of streets away--but the Thruxton on the floor was off-limits. Totally. The mechanic, a racer, (as we all were, but he was a lot better at it)could ride it, and said it was absolutely awesome. Amal GP carb(with no idle circuit)complete with stack--a racer you rode to the track, competed with, then rode home.
                              I still haven't ridden one
                              " Lightly Seared On The Reality Grill"

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                              • #45
                                Originally posted by ranmar850 View Post
                                Yes, I believe Velo's are in a class of their own in that respect. Not for the mechanically unsympathetic. You could still buy the Venom Thruxton new when I started riding-- a mate's father owned a bike shop. A real multi-brand, old school place. Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda, Triumph, Norton, Bsa, Velocette--ancient concrete floor, complete with puddles of oil from the brand-new British bikes--no, true. We could usually connive a ride on anything, even if it meant a discreet handover a couple of streets away--but the Thruxton on the floor was off-limits. Totally. The mechanic, a racer, (as we all were, but he was a lot better at it)could ride it, and said it was absolutely awesome. Amal GP carb(with no idle circuit)complete with stack--a racer you rode to the track, competed with, then rode home.
                                I still haven't ridden one
                                As a member of the Velocette Owners Club I know only one person in WA who has a thruxton. He has two other velo's as well as a 80's BMW which is his modern bike. The Thruxton is used regularly. He actually rode it to Bunbury last year for the Indian Harley Club 2 day rally then rode it home again afterwards. I love the Thruxton but at around $30,000+ now they are a bit out of my reach.

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