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T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby Acebars » Fri Sep 27, 2013 3:57 pm

Apologies if this has been brought up before.

Why is it that the cafe racer people like to substitute a T120 engine into a featherbed engine rather than use the more powerful 750 Atlas engine originally installed (or 650 dommie engine)?

Is the evolved Turner engine better than Bert Hopwoods evolved Dominator (which he claimed to be superior than the speed twin?)

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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby dave M » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:34 pm

Acebars, There is some history involved in the evolution of the Triton, The first Norton twins that used the Featherbed frame were pretty slow, but handled very well, the Triumphs of the same era had somewhat flexible frames which were bolted together, but had good engines and lots of performance parts available even from the factory, it's not clear when the first Triton was built, some credit it to Dave Degens of Dresda Autos others cite different people. There was during the 1950s a car racing class for open wheel 500cc machines, this was the entry level and many future world champions got their start in this class, The Manx Norton was the engine to have if you wanted to win, Norton motors would not sell engines only whole bikes, so the car guys would buy the bikes remove the engine and any other bits that they needed and sell the rolling chassis on to the special builders, hence you find Tritons, Norvins, Norbsas etc.

by the mid 60s Norton were building good performing engines ie. 650ss and Triumph had a good handling frame, so the efficacy of such a swap was becoming questionable, but the notion that a Triton was the ultimate machine stuck in peoples minds and became part of motorcycling mythology. The 750 Atlas engine was considered to be 'a bridge too far' for the featherbed frame and vibrated too much, although the vibes were effectively tamed with the same engine in a Commando chassis. I wouldn't destroy a Norton to build a triton, but if I had a spare Featherbed chassis (I do) and a Triumph engine lying about (I don't) I wouldn't mind building one.

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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby ashman » Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:41 pm

Some poeple just like to put Triumph engines in Featherbed frames, myself have kept my Featherbed all Norton, but with more power so installed a very hot 850 Commando engine in mine, if built right it won't vibrate, I don't think its right to put other engines in them but who knows would be intrested to put a late model sportster engine in my other project Slimline frame.

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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby Triton Thrasher » Sat Sep 28, 2013 1:35 am

Acebars wrote:Apologies if this has been brought up before.

Why is it that the cafe racer people like to substitute a T120 engine into a featherbed engine rather than use the more powerful 750 Atlas engine originally installed (or 650 dommie engine)?

Is the evolved Turner engine better than Bert Hopwoods evolved Dominator (which he claimed to be superior than the speed twin?)


In the 1960s, Tritons were made from scrap bikes, not from Norton's latest 650 and 750 product.
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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby Matt Spencer » Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:42 am

" Why is it that the cafe racer people like to substitute a T120 engine into a featherbed "

Image

Becaus they cant afford a VINCENT engine . ? :D
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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby Matt Spencer » Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:45 am

Ever heard a Triumph 650 at 8.000 plus ?

More seriously , check this out . note the triton womble uses a poor line through where the Nor Vin. snots him , otherways , he mayve . . . :(

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_rKdyPqUL_E
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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby beng » Sat Sep 28, 2013 6:49 am

Recently in an issue of Classic Bike it showed what may have been the first Tritons. They were built in the early 50s, a 650cc and a 500cc pair of Triumph twin engines stuffed into real Manx chassis. This was done to save money as the Trumpet twin engine was a lot cheaper to buy parts for than a Manx, and easier to work on and tune too.

Poor lads latched onto this idea in the 50s and early 60s when it was fairly easy to find old Norton featherbed roadster chassis with either low-powered twin or single engines, or no engine at all from a breaker, and 50s Triumph twin engines that could be had for a reasonable sum to install in them making a very good handling motorcycle with good power.

I would say the most authentic Triton would be a 50s wideline with a early to mid-50s Triumph twin engine in it, a Thunderbird, t100 or t110.

The Bonneville twin carb engine and the Dominator 650 and 750 were not available to the working-class poor second hand until well into the 60s. Lucky rockers in the 1958-1963 period who had a decent job or supportive parents might have gotten their hands on a Clubman Goldie, Bonneville or new twin-carb Dominator, at which there would be little need or point in scrounging around for old parts to build a Triton.

The Tritons were there in the 50s though inspiring youngsters with their low price and ability to match speed with a lot of new machinery or even racing bikes, so they had a lot of credibility, no one had to hang their head low if they had any sort of Triton bolted together.

During the mid-late 1960s the cafe scene began to turn more from being young guys interested in fast motorcycles and fast riding into a fashion movement. Since this neo-cafe population is mainly concerned with style, they pursue not what actually was, but an ideal they created by taking the most extreme and exotic bits of actual rocker history and turning them into must-have fashion accessories. So they think that the more shit they can hang off thier leather jacket, the more tattoos they can slather on their skin, and the more rare and exotic bits they can bolt together into a bike, gives them more credibility or posing power at whatever venue they decide to display themselves, a bike night or internet forum.

This is why you see neo-cafe people talking about and pursuing a Triton with a Manx chassis and a t120 Bonny engine, and some huge ridiculous 4ls front brake that even a GP star could not get their hands on until the mid-60s or later, combinations of parts that were not probably or even possible in the 50s or 60s.

So if you build a Triton, try to build a historical one out of parts that might have been laying at a bike breakers in the 50s or early 60s, a collection of mundane roadster parts, an old Es2 or 88 chassis with a big torquey Thunderbird or T110 engine thrown into it and a low set of handlebars, Norton straights or some clipons and maybe rearsets. Forget all the crap that came out in the mid-60s like glass Manx tanks and sweptback pipes. And please if you ever find any real old Manx parts go ahead and get them and use them, but if you ever find some poor bastard who needs them for the restoration of a real Manx Norton, then sell let them have them for what you paid or what it will take you to buy replicas.

Nothing pisses me off more than the posers that are buying up all the old competition or rare parts for their POS specials, driving up the prices of parts for those trying to fix up a real piece of history, so that they can sit at some pathetic bike night and show off. Leave the Manx parts and other scarce shit to those restoring and preserving real history, not destroying or changing it to suit their egos.

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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby bill » Sat Sep 28, 2013 11:25 am

IMHO IF you just have to build a triton than a pre unit lump is the better route. the unit turnip lump is to short for a PROPER fit. either the countershaft is to far forward, the crankshaft is to far back or both are to far from where they should be.
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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby wilkey113 » Sat Sep 28, 2013 2:31 pm

Here's a link to the 2 Tritons that beng is referring to.

http://i1228.photobucket.com/albums/ee4 ... 3a172a.jpg

I'm not much a fan of the Triton in general, mainly because I'm a purist for Norton featherbed machines, but these 2 original Tritons are quite nice, mainly because they were built in the period.

These days, I don't see much sense in building a Triton at all. That's of course, just my opinion, and there are plenty of guys out there still building them. As beng mentioned, a wideline featherbed with a pre unit Triumph motor, would be the most appropriate rendition of a Triton, as they were originally built on the cheap with discarded parts. I also think that the pre unit motor looks best, and fits best within the featherbed frame. The unit Triumph motor looks junk, and within a slimline frame, is even worse off. Basically that would be an inaccurate recreation of what the Triton really was. None the less, some people still build them, and my only hope is that they aren't breaking perfectly good Norton Dominators and Atlas' to do so.

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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby Matt Spencer » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:06 pm

ditto : alledgedly the first ' Tri Tons '.

Image

further to the pre - unit trip , theres a picture in a recent ' Old Bike Australia ' of a Orange Fairinged
slimline raceing triton from Belmain , at the N Z Classic Bike Festival .
Dual Dunstall bolt on discs , and R I D G I D P. U. case / gearbox spaceing . For better weight distribution
& chain alignment . Talking to the builder ( pilot ) back in 1980 , he said he had the 800c.c. 8 stud barrel
cast ( and a spare ). 32 mm Dellortos , ran Metahanol . And timed at 159 mph down Conrod .

SO , the best set up might be , these days , grab a unit for ' all the bits ' , a (matched ) set of P.U. cases ,
and a swing arm P. U. gearbox case(s) , to throw em in . save a lot of parts chaseing , and the duplex
primary / clutch etc fits in the P. U. primary cases .

Just as well I didnt buy that Manx Triton oil leak for $ 300 back in 78 Beng . :( :lol:
Of course , Decadent Capitalists can buy REPLICA Manx Chassis , to build a genuine replicer

The real Dresda Triton barcelona 24 hr job .

Image



heres one of those nasty brakes . Image


or a desperado could build his own frame , with a unit Triumph swing arm .

Image
Last edited by Matt Spencer on Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby Time Warp » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:35 pm

Maybe someone will do a 961 Triton. :D

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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby Rohan » Sat Sep 28, 2013 7:52 pm

Time Warp wrote:Maybe someone will do a 961 Triton.


Won't be much triton in that 'triton' then, will there. !
Didn't we see them announce a manxman or a cafe racer or some such, just recently.
Same concept, more or less. ?

'Someone' on this board, who does/supplies a lot of triton stuff, has done a Hinckley in an Atlas slimline.
Ben talks a lot of drivel, as usual, this would qualify as one of the best Tritons around.
And with 80+ bhp on tap, and being able to get the head off in the frame, one of the fastest and neatest as well.
If folks didn't think they could build a better mousetrap, we'd all still be riding penny-farthings ???

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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby Biland » Sat Sep 28, 2013 9:45 pm

Triumphs are fine and dandy but if you want to go fast you need a Weslake.

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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby Time Warp » Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:06 pm

How many cylinders is that,looks like a 'chook chaser engine.

I think back in the day a lot of folk wanted a good handling,reliable twin any way they could not a road going single ?
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Re: T120 engines in Norton Featherbed frames

Postby acotrel » Sun Sep 29, 2013 12:46 am

I raced a short stroke 500cc Triton for 12 years. There is no Triton on this planet which is better than a 500cc short stroke Manx Norton. I managed to stop my bike from feeling light in the front end by moving t he motor as far forward as possible. There is no way to move the C of G lower, as it is in a Manx. I would build another 650 Triton tomorrow because I'm into nostalgia kicks, however it would be much smarter to use an 850 commando engine and a six speed box. A 650 pre-unit Bonneville engined Triton is a really good fun bike, especially if both E3134 grind cams are fitted. They will cop 8,000 revs all day, and they give a real adrenalin rush. I'd love to have one just to take out on Sundays and thrash around our town. It would give all the young guys a real thrill - as well as the cops.
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