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Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Classic Norton Commando Motorcycles.

Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby kommando1 » Sun Sep 03, 2017 8:57 pm

And, when used in the proper application, SS saves so much time. God only knows how much cadmium dust I have inhaled when cleaning my spokes. They are now all stainless and maintenance free. Stainless steel isn't ideal for everything, (shear factors? etc) and can be glaring on vintage bikes. But, when used thoughtfully ( and with an anti-seize compound) are a great asset. The fenders on my Norton are original, and SS, they would probably have done more components with it if it wasn't ridiculously expensive back then, and Norton was always struggling financially.
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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby acotrel » Sun Sep 03, 2017 11:28 pm

The trouble with the fasteners on the old bikes is that most of them were cadmium plated. These days most platers only offer zinc because of the toxicity of cadmium. . Cadmium plating causes severe hydrogen embrittlement of high strength steel and zinc is not much better. Zinc is much less corrosion resistant to cadmium and if you spill battery acid on it, it will fizz and disappear were cadmium will stay there a bit longer. If I was restoring an old bike which was of real historic value, I would not use stainless steel unless it had been used originally on that model bike - only cadmium plating . I'd like to own a Vincent, however my brother restores a lot of Speedway Vincent sidecars. Nearly every bolt on them is a 'special'. They were designed so that you were always at the mercy of the dealers. The solos are nice to ride, but a bad one handles like a bag of shit. The adjustable dampers under the seat are extremely important.
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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby Frankie17 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:34 am

I find it a little strange for anyone to write off the possibility of Uk production
One of our largest manufacturing contributors to our GDP is motorsport where we have an abundence of talent and capacity Most of the F1 teams are Uk based for a reason
there are several Uk motorsport casting companies i have dealt with who are more than capable of small batch production

Barron clark castings produce the Gold star heads for some UK specialists
Staveley castings produce Alloy Ariel 500 single heads for some Uk trails guys
Uk race castings producing classic car heads and blocks
BCP castings motorsport castings and CNC finishing
Illmoor engines casting and CNC machining
Geo fisher casting OEM for rover etc


As for the comment regarding Commando prices , most dealers are selling usable stock machines around 9- 10k (i am talking about real world bikes that actually sell )

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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby kommando » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:48 am

£ has dropped 20% in currency markets, this will reduce labour and overheads but not material costs (Aluminium priced in $)
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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby Frankie17 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:14 am

The pound may have dropped and material cost have risen

but it has also de valued against the Australian Dollar and global shipping costs have increased

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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby SteveA » Mon Sep 04, 2017 3:52 am

Frankie17 wrote:I find it a little strange for anyone to write off the possibility of Uk production
One of our largest manufacturing contributors to our GDP is motorsport where we have an abundence of talent and capacity Most of the F1 teams are Uk based for a reason
there are several Uk motorsport casting companies i have dealt with who are more than capable of small batch production

Barron clark castings produce the Gold star heads for some UK specialists
Staveley castings produce Alloy Ariel 500 single heads for some Uk trails guys
Uk race castings producing classic car heads and blocks
BCP castings motorsport castings and CNC finishing
Illmoor engines casting and CNC machining
Geo fisher casting OEM for rover etc


As for the comment regarding Commando prices , most dealers are selling usable stock machines around 9- 10k (i am talking about real world bikes that actually sell )


You have a few points here which I can accept, you certainly have a better knowledge of the UK casting capability than I ever will, even if I would get nervous going to talk to someone who does work for F1 teams for a conversation that included money! Particularly when they expect me to cover their full cost of development up front. These companies are not going to take any of the risk and make their own investment, which is my main criticism of British industry rather than capability. (Said after a 40 year career in aerospace industries).

So I looked for a new Gold Star head, and indeed, I can buy one for about £1000 if I include VAT and some shipping. I might also need some rocker boxes which are of course integral on a Norton twin, as of course is the second combustion chamber! So all in all, with a more complex casting and machining operation, the likely costs and relative prices are somewhat similar! I have no idea on potential volume, but there are still quite a few Gold Stars out there.

I did look at Ariel and Vincent head availability and prices but they are not as freely available, however I know others on here know the prices. There is a replica market for these bikes, as there is for Manx and G50 engines, as well as restoration.

So in conclusion, if you want to produce a Norton twin head in the UK, it is possible, if you make the investment, and somehow access the drawings you need for the baseline and possibly also access a revised port design to develop the widest potential market, and invest up front in manufacture. But nobody did it, so nobody actually knows what that would cost, or how reliable a supply they could achieve.

Ken has made the initial investment, financed production batches, supplied to retail outlets who maybe didn't make so much of an investment? (I don't know of course)

As I understand it Ken is also a patriotic Australian, and prefers to keep production in Australia, not least where he can keep a better eye on what happens.

So when I needed a head and was frustrated with what was available on the used market, there was a new one available, and I am pleased with it, and have used it about as hard as I can.

Let me know when there is a UK sourced alternative available, I won't hold my breath.

Who needs to make the investment of time, money and heartache, when they can simply buy in at the volume they are ever likely to need?

Thanks to Ken for vision, investment and tenacity, and the knowledge and contributions of Jim Comstock and Mick Hemmings.
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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby NortonMKIIA850 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 4:53 am

I would add [later: oh, someone already did!] that, of course, the original Commando mudguards are stainless ... If you ever had a 70s Jap bike, you'd know how valuable that is! And if you live anywhere near the sea, you can pretty much watch your chrome disintegrate before your eyes! I had a few parts re-chromed locally to what I was told was 'marine standard', and they did hold up very well, but 15 years or more later they're pitted enough to look like they have an original finish, so that's one option. But I've got quite a lot of additional stainless on my bike, mainly because I do live near the sea and I'd rather ride the bike than polish it ... Not because I think it looks 'pretty'.
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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby oldmikew » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:23 am

The front mudguard on my 1971 mk3 Fastback was chrome not stainless , these came along a few years later. I am surprised that it would not be possible to find a jobbing foundry in the UK to sand cast Norton heads... assuming someone makes a pattern
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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby NortonMKIIA850 » Mon Sep 04, 2017 7:36 am

oldmikew wrote:The front mudguard on my 1971 mk3 Fastback was chrome not stainless , these came along a few years later.

I did not know that! Then, I've no idea when 'later' was, mine was built September '73. Cheers.

p.s. To get back to the topic, kinda, if you need a new head for a bike that you use and there's only one, non-factory source, you'd be crazy not to go there ... Anyway I doubt most people would even notice the difference externally, until you told them. Touch wood my (cylinder) head's fine, but it's great to know that there's someone out there making them!
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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby tonybsa » Mon Sep 04, 2017 2:42 pm

All,I have to say,is,Thanks for perservering with these heads,you are providing a service.As an engineer,I understand the time,trouble,and money that you have spent on this enterprise.People like you are to be applauded,not criticised.
I dont have a lot of money,but you can bet I am starting to save now for one of your heads,I would rather spend my money on new non pourous aluminium,than secondhand crap.
My Combat head,and 28mm port 750 head will be going on ebay when I have bought one of yours to replace them.
You have provided people with a chioce,where previously there was none.Critics should remember that.

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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby 1up3down » Mon Sep 04, 2017 5:58 pm

who is criticizing the Fullauto heads or the fact that they are being offered for sale? Did I miss something?

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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby gortnipper » Mon Sep 04, 2017 6:04 pm

1up3down wrote: Did I miss something?


Not really.
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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby acotrel » Mon Sep 04, 2017 11:32 pm

I think some people flinched at the price. Most bikies are cheap skates. - Just a fact of life, but often buying something cheap is false economy. Something which interested me is the cost of decent Commandos in America. I know a guy who imports them into Australia from America and he re-sells decent ones for close to $20,000 Australian.
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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby SteveBorland » Tue Sep 05, 2017 1:03 am

I think the people talking about possible competitors to FullAuto heads are seriously underestimating the cost and complexity of just doing the casting. Once the raw casting exists, the actual machining can be done relatively easily (after the CNC program has been written of course), but there is currently no shortcut to the casting process. Modern technology cannot help much here, in contrast to the machining processes, which are under constant development, with massive improvements in quality, consistency and ever lower costs.
I've often looked at the head and thought about how it was made, and always end up shaking my head. It's by far the most complex bit of sand casting I've ever seen. Way back in a prevous life, I done some work with sand castings for the auto industy, but they were far simpler than this.

Looking forward into the not so distant future, the development of dissolving 3D printing resins means that it will be possible to print a very complex cast mould which can be removed after casting by soaking in a solvent, leaving the finished casting ready for machining, but to be realistic, no-one is going to do this for a Norton head. Quite apart from the costs involved, the range of alloys suitable for this production method will be limited, and I very much doubt that one suitable for a cylinder head will be developed. After all, everyone is going to be running around on electric vehicles in a couple of years from now anyway.

Summa summarum, Ken will have the market to himself for the forseeable future, and I really hope he makes a small fortune on it.

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Re: Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Postby Fullauto » Tue Sep 05, 2017 2:27 am

SteveBorland wrote:I think the people talking about possible competitors to FullAuto heads are seriously underestimating the cost and complexity of just doing the casting. Once the raw casting exists, the actual machining can be done relatively easily (after the CNC program has been written of course), but there is currently no shortcut to the casting process. Modern technology cannot help much here, in contrast to the machining processes, which are under constant development, with massive improvements in quality, consistency and ever lower costs.
I've often looked at the head and thought about how it was made, and always end up shaking my head. It's by far the most complex bit of sand casting I've ever seen. Way back in a prevous life, I done some work with sand castings for the auto industy, but they were far simpler than this.

Looking forward into the not so distant future, the development of dissolving 3D printing resins means that it will be possible to print a very complex cast mould which can be removed after casting by soaking in a solvent, leaving the finished casting ready for machining, but to be realistic, no-one is going to do this for a Norton head. Quite apart from the costs involved, the range of alloys suitable for this production method will be limited, and I very much doubt that one suitable for a cylinder head will be developed. After all, everyone is going to be running around on electric vehicles in a couple of years from now anyway.

Summa summarum, Ken will have the market to himself for the forseeable future, and I really hope he makes a small fortune on it.


Hahaha! I'd be happy to get my money back! I haven't put the deposit down on the Ferrari yet.
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