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73 Norton Commando

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  • 73 Norton Commando

    I have decided to chronicle the story of my Commando.

    My Dad bought it about 12 months or so ago. It had been sitting behind a shed for about 10 years and hadn't run in that time.

    He took it home and gave it a clean up. The bike was quite rusty and all the alloy was badly corroded. He freed up the engine and replaced the wheel bearings. Then he set about giving it a quick spruce up. This was 6 weeks later:

    There have been some teething problems with it. Initially the clutch slipped badly in the higher gears. That was fixed and after the first test ride at full power my 70 year old Dad decided it was too much for him and asked me if I would swap my 60 Velocette Viper for it. What could I say?

    In April this year I discovered a crack in the crankcase just before the Indian Harley Club Rally. There were also a few electrical problems with dodgy old wiring.
    The engine survived the rally without the crack expanding any further but the electrics failed leaving me stranded on the side of the road and having to push it back the 5km to the Motocross track.
    After the rally I stripped the motor and had the case and the inner primary cover welded.
    The crank had the sludge trap cleaned out and was reshimmed. The pistons and rings were in good nick so a light hone was all that was required before reassembling the engine.
    The wiring problems were sorted when a Podtronics regulator-rectifier was fitted and the constantly failing zener diode was ditched. I also fitted a Boyer electronic ignition which has given the engine a bit more zip.
    I rewired the charging and ignition systems but left the lights alone for the time being. Later I am planning to strip and paint the frame and will rewire the whole bike then.
    While I was happy with the bike as it was my Dad decided to paint his Velocette so I thought that this would be as good a time as any to do the Norton. From a distance it looked OK but close up you could see lots of little dents and chips and scratches in the paint work.

    First step was to sand out the old areas of bog. Sadly, there were 8 layers under there.

    So the best way I could think of to get rid of the rest of the paint sinceI was two and a half hours from Perth and the shops were closed was with a blowtorch and a scraper.

    This was great fun as there was still a little petrol in the tank and every so often the flame would play across the opening and shoot a two foot jet of flame out. It made me jump the first time even though I was half expecting it. It was even more fun with the oil tank as that had lots of openings at different angles so you didn't know which hole the flames were going to shoot out of.

    Once the tank was stripped it was time for the bodyfiller.

    Then sanding to level the filler.

    Next step was to lay some etch primer on it.

    While I was at it I also did the left side panel.
    which had a dent in it. (right side of the photo)

    Side panel with filler.

    And with etch primer.

    And the oil tank.

    Next step this weekend is to prime and paint in deep black COB two pack. There is still a bit of work getting it to final paint ready stage but I should knock that over in a day or so.

    I'll post some more photos after the paint is finished.

  • #2
    Always amazes me the layers of paint to be discovered, i found 70's lime green under the black on the gt500 tank. The norton camu up nice, fresh paint it always a winner. keep us posted.
    I'm Living the dream. Really I am.


    • #3
      very nice Veefore!! This is pretty much my favourite old bike, only because i've ridden one ^_^

      My old man has one, the same year. He's stripping it down now. I may ask you for some advice if we come across any problems!!


      • #4
        Nice man - love those!!!
        Increasing my carbon footprint - one 500 @ a time...


        • #5
          Great, cant beat the old bikes!
          National pride should not be a crime!.


          • #6
            This was my intro into bikes my dad would sit me on the fuel tank and do bog laps of the local streets. I was four, the best ever photos to look over. I wish I could still find them.
            There are only three sports: mountain climbing, bull fighting, and motor racing.
            All the rest are merely games."
            Ernest Hemingway


            • #7
              I just got back from a mates place where he made up some stencils for me to paint the Norton logo on the tank.

              I also found the Commando stickers for the side panels that my Dad's mate bought when he was in Tassie for Targa. The only problem is that they may not suit the black background with their black outline.

              I also managed to find my old airbrush. It has been sitting in the bottom of a drawer in my store room for about the last 8 years or so. Hopefully I cleaned it last time I used it! :o

              Roll on Saturday!


              • #8
                You have my attention, Nortons give me a woody
                Hmm then again.... so does everything else

                Love ya style, Love the bike

                Registered watcher
                Real Men Ride Nakid


                • #9
                  awesome. i'll keep an eager eye on this thread.


                  • #10


                    • #11
                      Love it. If you have trouble with the airbrush take the needle/nose bit to a jewellery shop and get them to put it in an ultrasonic cleaner.
                      Originally posted by Abuse this
                      Get a load of this pussy, he wouldn't travel back in time to murder a baby.


                      • #12
                        Backtracking a little but I didn't have time last night. When I got this bike I was a total electrophobe. I was allergic to electrics and anything that I did touch was bound to cause the smoke that runs through the tubes (wires) to escape and never work again.
                        However, I was bound and determined to fix the problem myself. Everyone told me to just take it to someone to fix it but there was no way that I was going to do that.
                        So, the initial problem was that the previous owner had fitted a dodgy Tandy style zener diode. This had burnt out and was going straight to ground, draining the battery. I read up as much as I could about the Norton's electrical system then went and bought a proper $80 zener diode for it. This time though I wired in a fuse so that if it did burn out it wouldn't create a dead-short to the battery. A test ride down to Byford and back seemed to be going well until the bike started popping and farting about a km from home. It stalled but after a couple of minutes sitting it kicked over and just made it home. The fuse between the battery and zener had blown leading me to believe that the zener was dead. So, another $50 (it pays to shop around) and another zener was in just in time for the Indian Harley Club 2 day rally. The battery was fully charged and away I went. Day 1 was excellent with some great roads and a lot of fun until the exhaust started to unscrew itself from the head and popped out. I stopped by the roadside and with burning hands screwed it back in and hit the cooling fines on the exhaust nut with a various bits of wood and a rock to try to tighten it up enough to get it back to the base at the motocross track. It popped out twice more on the way but I got there. Sunday morning and I only got about 10km before the exhaust worked loose again even though I had tightened it up overnight. I decided to pull the pin and head back to base and was about 5km away when the bike popped and farted and slowly died. A quick check showed that the fuse to the zener had blown again and the bike had been running without any charging for the whole weekend, slowly draining the battery. I pushed the bike back to base and slept off the exhaustion in the back of the Pajero. In the following weeks another zener and another blown and I decided I had had enough. Scouring of Norton forums and manuals and anything else I could find led me to believe that the alternator output was too high for a single zener and that on some later models two zener diodes were used to cope. By this time I was NOT interested in going down that route anymore and after speaking to Ben at Morley Motorcycles I purchased a Podtronics regulator-rectifier. This led me to have a go at overcoming my electrophobia and rewiring the charging system altogether. In the end it was easy which was what inspired me to rewire the ignition system as well and purchase the Boyer electronic ignition. These two changes made a world of difference.
                        The exhaust issue had chewed out some of the thread in the exhaust port and without having the money to send it of to be welded up and have the threads recut a bodge was done by grinding the flange on both exhaust headers down a couple of mm which allowed the exhaust nuts to screw further into the head and into fresh threaded metal. I also lockwired the flange nuts and since all the chrome was corroded away anyway I got my father to weld a brace to the front Isolastic engine mount to support the header pipe. In hindsight, I don't know why Norton didn't do that in the first place because the system that they had was a moral to cause the headers to work loose as the motor vibrated in the isolastic mounts.

                        There was a bit of a break before I did anything else with the bike. I only rode about 100 miles on it over the next 6 months but I did spend about 30 hours or so just tidying it up.
                        Then, a few weeks ago I was scheduled to go on a run with the Velocette Owners Club to York. I wasn't sure how the bike would go so on an overcast saturday I headed off up Greenmount for a test run. The ride was so much fun and the bike was going so well that it wasn't long before I ended up in Kellerberrin. I overnighted there and came back sunday into the strongest headwinds I think I had ever ridden in.
                        That run, about twice as long as the York run was going to be gave me enough confidence in the bike to do nothing but wash it for the following weekend. The run to York was through the worst weather I have ever ridden in. Some of the older bikes had to stop because they were being battered by the wind and rain and at one point I had to stop in the pouring rain on the Clackline-York road to help a car driver move a tree that had fallen and blocked the road.
                        The bike performed flawlessly and even with the howling wind and pouring rain never missed a beat. I think I may now be cured of my electrophobia.

                        Oh yeah, from now on, I'll keep my posts less wordy and try to get more photo's in.
                        Last edited by Veefore; 16-10-2008, 07:41 AM. Reason: felt like it.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by CBRsairz View Post
                          My old man has one, the same year. He's stripping it down now. I may ask you for some advice if we come across any problems!!
                          No worries. I knew nothing about these things when I got it but after asking lots of helpful people I have picked up a few things.


                          • #14
                            Looks mighty nice there Veefore, good to see another old Norton being resurrected from the graveyard, always liked them for some reason.
                            In Kazakhstan if you want sugar in your coffee you ask for Kunt


                            • #15
                              very very jeleauos nice work mate i shall keep watching this.
                              Its so small