I thought I'd posted this story about my works 650SS before, but I can't find it.
I was provided the bike for my ride-to-work, about 45 miles. Public transport for the trip would involve two buses, then a train, then another bus and would take about 2 1/2 hours each way. The Odometer showed 132,000 miles when to took it over, but I have no idea if it was true. I had no problem in the first couple of weeks, then it blew a head gasket on the way to work. I fixed it during the morning and it ran very well.
About 6 months in, Plumstead requisitioned it back to do some single carb tests. Sidecar people were highly ticked that the Commando couldn't run a sidecar. They reassembled it and shipped it back after the tests were done, and I was very happy to give up the 50cc 2-stroke Motom and the Villiers-India scooter I'd been riding and get back on the 650. I set off home the first evening after it came back and was threading my way through downtown Wolverhampton. I typical Brit fashion, I was weaving through the slow, rush hour traffic. I whipped out to pass a slow car, then had to pull in again behind a double-decker bus. Whe I rolled off the throttle, the engine stayed at a high power setting. I was saved by the fact that it was magneto ignition and had a kill button.
I limped home about 8 miles using the kill button to control speed. I got the shop to send the team van out the next morning to take me and the bike in. Stripping down the carbs showed one slide almost full open. Apparently, whoever re-assembled the bike at Plumstead didn't realise the slides were lapped to fit the carb bodies ahd they'd been crossed over. Plumstead hadn't run the bike after putting the dual set-up back on. Once fixed, I rode that bike for the rest of my time at N-V. On my final run before I left, the oil-tank drain plug fell out when I was cruising the M-6 freeway at 85 and the engine seized. In the run-down of N-V in 1968/69, I don't think it was ever fixed.
Someplace, I have a photo of my two daughters sitting on the bike at home. They were 4 and 2 at the time, now 51 and 49. I'll try and find it and post here.
ex-Norton Villiers - Marston Road
Develpment & Competition Department