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Thread: Might as well make use of the Full License I attained but ended up never using!

  1. #1
    Join Date
    18th February 2021 - 14:10
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    1972 Norton Commando
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    Invercargill
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    Cool Might as well make use of the Full License I attained but ended up never using!

    Heya!

    I thought I had an account here way back, but it may have been nuked which is fair!

    Jumping back in to bikes after getting my learners to full on a 87 CBR250RR (The amount of R's were always in dispute, always being added to and taken away from)

    But that met its end the day I got my full license, deciding to take a victory ride, the poor thing at like 90,000km let all its legs out of bed at 18,000RPM and promptly vaporized the engine block, what a mess I made

    I never got that fixed, and sold it to a friend who put a replacement engine in it, so his kid could go for his license, so that was nice


    I had always wanted another bike but cars got in the way, and due to my father passing away this time last year, I have Inherited his '72 Norton Commando 750 Interstate, its been in the family most of my life, I'm 32 now and I must have been 8-10 when he first got it, back then to me it was always this scary black beast, must have weighed 1000 tons and sounded like pure wonderful evil! but it was always so amazingly intimidating to little o'l me back then, that stuck with me until recently when I had to move it in his shed, and sitting on it I thought "huh, You aren't as heavy and as terrifying as I remember you!"


    So that was my decision right there, that I needed to do the old man right, and get this bike back together, running, warranted and legal, and get it outside shaking kidneys off their mounts again


    Unfortunately, All of the current state knowledge about it, and any work it may need, was all in My dad's head, and I cant go pick his brains to find out about it, so I will be starting with fresh eyes, I need to give it a look over, find a service manual, and see about piecing it back together and getting it complete and running again, so While I will try not go for the spoon feed approach, i may have questions I cant figure out on my own I will spill here if that is alright

    Cheers!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    3rd February 2004 - 08:11
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    1982 Suzuki GS1100GK, 2008 KLR650
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    Wallaceville, Upper hutt
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    The Commando was slim and light compared to all the other "superbikes" of the era. Sad that the bike came to you in the way it did, but you have certainly scored a nice item. The bike museum (Richardsons?) will have some examples you can study for inspiration. Please dont wrap the pipes and put a brown seat on it.
    it's not a bad thing till you throw a KLR into the mix.
    those cheap ass bitches can do anything with ductape.
    (PostalDave on ADVrider)

  3. #3
    Join Date
    4th May 2017 - 10:23
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    Old Bikes
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    Central Otago
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    That will be a nice bike and the envy of your mates. Use the ClassicBikes board if you have any questions. Lots of grey beards on there.

    I returned to riding on old bikes. They are fine for discretionary Sunday bimbles and occasional commuting. Itís nice to have a modern one in the shed though. Sometimes the old ones arenít in the mood. Also, unless you ride alone, or with other old bikes, youíll be last to the pub.
    Ginge

  4. #4
    Join Date
    18th February 2021 - 14:10
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    1972 Norton Commando
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    Invercargill
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    Quote Originally Posted by pete376403 View Post
    The Commando was slim and light compared to all the other "superbikes" of the era. Sad that the bike came to you in the way it did, but you have certainly scored a nice item. The bike museum (Richardsons?) will have some examples you can study for inspiration. Please dont wrap the pipes and put a brown seat on it.
    I absolutely see that now, and I have grown to love the bike and bikes like it now, but to child me, and a Father probably winding up the scariness so I did not mess with his 2 wheeled pride and joy, It was some giant heavy beast that would fall over and pancake me! hahaha, and yes the Bike museum is wonderful! i do need to go back and look there to study the bikes there, I wont be doing strange stuff to it either, will be keeping it pretty stock in the image it was when Dad rode it, he did go to some lengths to keep it tidy and looked after, I would like to keep that going! - but I am open to the idea of modern solutions to things also, provided they are reversible or otherwise non destructive or intrusive

    Quote Originally Posted by Ginge09 View Post
    That will be a nice bike and the envy of your mates. Use the ClassicBikes board if you have any questions. Lots of grey beards on there.

    I returned to riding on old bikes. They are fine for discretionary Sunday bimbles and occasional commuting. Itís nice to have a modern one in the shed though. Sometimes the old ones arenít in the mood. Also, unless you ride alone, or with other old bikes, youíll be last to the pub.
    I have a friend with a Nice GXSR600 and he loves the Nortons too, he is probably going to fizz like crazy when I tell him I will be working to get it assembled and going again, and I bet they will be there to offer help and motivational boots to the rear to make sure it happens :P

    Oh for sure, I remember the trips dad would take on it, the cold start ritual on its own was something else to behold, and that's exactly what he did with it, casual Sunday rides in good weather or to bike runs with mum in tow, and yes, Mum would always complain about arriving late or last, in the dark, so your words ring especially true haha


    One thing I do have burned into my brain when I was a kid was him cursing up a storm and pulling the side case off the motor, and oil gushing everywhere, something to do with there being the engine crank case for oil, and then an external sump or reservoir you actually check the oil from? If i recall correctly there is a correct and an incorrect way to check it, and if you check it incorrectly, it appears to be bone dry, you panic and top it up, but it was full the whole time, you just overfilled the bajeezuz out of it, and now have some messy problems to resolve!

    This was easily 15+ years ago though, and My recollection of such events could be completely wrong, but it is why I'd love to get hold of some service\owners manual's or documentation so I can study them for little things to keep an eye out for so I don't make a messy mistake!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    18th February 2021 - 14:10
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    1972 Norton Commando
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    Invercargill
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    I managed to dig out a service manual that Dad had in his collection, found some receipts from 1997 also, different style handlebars which does ring as familar as he did complain about the handlebars it came with haha

    its going to be some good reading, - Today I learned that a "Positive Ground" is a thing, so I will need to be cautious around that, and make sure I connect the battery right when I arrange that

    But things are feeling much clearer after a quick glance over the book, and what fluids and service Items I should arrange - but It also clears up the oil mess story I remember too!

    So it has a Dry sump system, that explains the external sump and why it has to be checked a different way, but the oil mess dad caused was actually in the chain case, the book says no more than 200ml oil should be in here, well I guess he got the fill points wrong and put in like 2-3 liters and then quickly realized his mistake! only to find out the book says that to drain this section's oil you must detatch the entire case cover and to "put down a very large metal catch tray" as it will come out of the entire lot at once in a giant puddle ahahahaha

    Ahh this explains so much now, but now I have a list of things I need to verify, check and plan for to arrange before I start putting it all back in place (I checked that everything is there which is wonderful) and look at firing the beast up and warranting\registering it for the first time since March 2006 according to the rego tag

  6. #6
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    4th May 2017 - 10:23
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    Have a poke around the Britbike forum. A lot of manuals are online or PDF/DVD. Thereís a Norton specific sub board there.

    As above though, donít underestimate the knowledge of others on this forum. The Kiwis loved the Nortonís back in the day and there are still heaps here, well loved.

    Most old Brits of that era run a dry sump engine. Oil tank on the side of the frame under the seat, oil pump somewhere in the sump. If left to sit for a while the oil feeds under gravity into the sump. When you check the oil level at the tank itís empty, so you top it up. When you start the bike the oil pump scavenges the gravity fed oil out of the sump and back into the oil tank ( which is full because it was topped up ). The bike starts puking oil.

    Modern solutions to old bike problems would include;

    Electronic ignition - available off the shelf ( online ) and usually cheaper than rebuilding an old set of points unless you have a parts source. The EI units are well tested and proved.

    A good set of carbs. Amal still make carbs for that bike. The new Premiers look the part and are supposed to be worthwhile.

    Decent tyres and brakes. Your bike is capable of around 100mph in the old money. You need the tyres and brakes to cope with that. They handle really well. For an older bike.

    My philosophy is to bolt them back together and get them running reliably. Then strip and paint and make them look pretty. So far I have four running reliably but none looking pretty.
    Ginge

  7. #7
    Join Date
    3rd February 2004 - 08:11
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    1982 Suzuki GS1100GK, 2008 KLR650
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    Wallaceville, Upper hutt
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    You will learn about "shimming the isolastics" - the secret to maintaining the handling while keeping vibration under control.
    Is yours the drum brake or disk brake model?
    it's not a bad thing till you throw a KLR into the mix.
    those cheap ass bitches can do anything with ductape.
    (PostalDave on ADVrider)

  8. #8
    Join Date
    18th February 2021 - 14:10
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    1972 Norton Commando
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    Invercargill
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ginge09 View Post
    Have a poke around the Britbike forum. A lot of manuals are online or PDF/DVD. Thereís a Norton specific sub board there.

    As above though, donít underestimate the knowledge of others on this forum. The Kiwis loved the Nortonís back in the day and there are still heaps here, well loved.

    Most old Brits of that era run a dry sump engine. Oil tank on the side of the frame under the seat, oil pump somewhere in the sump. If left to sit for a while the oil feeds under gravity into the sump. When you check the oil level at the tank itís empty, so you top it up. When you start the bike the oil pump scavenges the gravity fed oil out of the sump and back into the oil tank ( which is full because it was topped up ). The bike starts puking oil.

    Modern solutions to old bike problems would include;

    Electronic ignition - available off the shelf ( online ) and usually cheaper than rebuilding an old set of points unless you have a parts source. The EI units are well tested and proved.

    A good set of carbs. Amal still make carbs for that bike. The new Premiers look the part and are supposed to be worthwhile.

    Decent tyres and brakes. Your bike is capable of around 100mph in the old money. You need the tyres and brakes to cope with that. They handle really well. For an older bike.

    My philosophy is to bolt them back together and get them running reliably. Then strip and paint and make them look pretty. So far I have four running reliably but none looking pretty.

    Thats awesome info thanks - yeah that dry sump stuff makes absolute sense now I know it is that sump style, apparently there is or can be an anti drain valve in the oil feed line from the top sump to the engine that needs either adding on some models or replaced if worn out that can help?

    Yeah I am absolutely going to put good quality fresh rubber on it as the tyres were old even before it was stored back then, and are perished now, its not worth the risk keeping those on the go

    So far that's my idea also, get it running and happy, then I will give it a deep clean and polish, see if the paint or any chrome needs work and go from there - EI and carbs are a great idea too, I'd like to re do the oil and fuel lines for peace of mind right now, but the carbs will likely at least need a clean or rebuild, I will see how they go, but later on would be nice to see what can be done to make them better




    Quote Originally Posted by pete376403 View Post
    You will learn about "shimming the isolastics" - the secret to maintaining the handling while keeping vibration under control.
    Is yours the drum brake or disk brake model?

    "Lockheed" Disc Front and drum rear, Front fluid is bone dry so may have a leak somewhere I will look for, and yeah, all of the digging about I have done these last couple of days the isolastics comes up constantly, either shimming\renewing it, or there being a later revision that is better that you can rework onto the previous models? I'll be looking into that area also as I do recall the bike being quite the shaker for better or worse

  9. #9
    Join Date
    25th March 2004 - 17:22
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    RZ496/Street Triple R/GasGas/ etc etc
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    Wellington. . ok the hutt
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    18,499
    They are pretty. You could consider polishing and painting bits until you are happy with it and find a KTM390 to bomb around and have fun on. Probably less frustrating and you won't gave to become an imperial guru able to identify a 3/8 vs a 19/16th Knatsbollock as it fires past your ear.
    I've been told. Dreaming`s free.
    Think I'll go, back to sleep.
    Everybody listen, voices in my head
    Everybody listen, do yours say, what mine says?

  10. #10
    Join Date
    22nd October 2002 - 11:00
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    Coromandel Harbour
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    You might find this useful: https://www.nocnz.org.nz/. There's bound to be some really useful contacts and probably in your region if you're really lucky! A mate of mine here in Coromandel used to be the national secretary.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    18th February 2021 - 14:10
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    1972 Norton Commando
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    Quote Originally Posted by F5 Dave View Post
    They are pretty. You could consider polishing and painting bits until you are happy with it and find a KTM390 to bomb around and have fun on. Probably less frustrating and you won't gave to become an imperial guru able to identify a 3/8 vs a 19/16th Knatsbollock as it fires past your ear.
    Yeah for sure, its not gonna be a daily or beater, its gonna live a good life of good storage conditions and rides on sunny days, I will be cleaning and polishing it as best as I can, and learning from it the paint and metals are in great condition if dusty\grimy from storage - although I did find a paint chip on the tank that I caused many many years ago due to my carelessness parking my push bike next to it, I still feel the totally deserved wrath from that to this day

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackbird View Post
    You might find this useful: https://www.nocnz.org.nz/. There's bound to be some really useful contacts and probably in your region if you're really lucky! A mate of mine here in Coromandel used to be the national secretary.
    oh wow, that's awesome, thankyou! I will definitely check that out!

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