1971 Norton Commando Fastback 750 restoration (new guy)

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so im new to the forum and i have a sweet old '71 commando fastback that was found in my uncle's barn a few years ago. i originally started it as a school project and thats about over but i want to continue working on it after the project is due. it was last registered in '75 so its in pretty rough condition but i have always wanted a classic bike to own/fix so i started on the restoration:

using a fine steel wool to remove rust and polish it up a bit
i bought a new battery,
new spark plugs
new petcocks
new fuel lines

right now im attempting to make it run, i took the tops of the carbs off and they look to be in good condition inside. im still pretty much a novice at this so i was wondering if some more experienced guys on the forum had any advice for me on how to make this heap run. ill post some pictures soon.
 
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You mention it is a school project. give us some details as to what the "school" project is all about. Lots of us here have actually been to school. My point is, we might be able to help you with the project. My kids had to do a senior project, a culminating project, usually they get carried away with a too involved project. My project is to bring peace to the world, okay, how about just bringing peaches to the world. We might be able to help you make it a manageable project, one that gets good marks and gets you past that point. Then, school project complete, we can help you make progress on the bike. Sometimes the two can be in conflict. Rather than restore an entire motorcycle for the school thing, just do a portion of the body work, or a particular mechancial job, not the whole thing! Make it a manageable project for the event, the school event. The restoration, that could be a multi year program in some cases, and of course, money $$ enters into the equation.
What do you need to do to graduate? Well, okay, not all the stuff! We could take a collection for library fines...
 
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this is actually a senior independent project, one that is supposed to make us learn new skills and improve upon them. i figured i'd learn about some basic motorcycle mechanics since i had this classic bike literally sitting there waiting for someone to do something with it. i was trying to at least get it to run for the project and a bit of basic body work. i plan on not ending this restoration with the end of the project, i want to see it to the end... even if it means waiting a while (college, money, workshop space permitting). thanks for any help.
 
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When you learn how to torque the 3 underside nuts on your cylinder head with a box-end wrench and a ball peen hammer, you'll really impress the teacher.
 
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1971 Norton Commando Fastback 750 restoration (new guy)

1971 Norton Commando Fastback 750 restoration (new guy)



there they are, the promised pictures
 
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well the school project exhibition is tonight but im going to keep working on this beast. its set up at the school right now. thanks for all the encouragement, any more advice from the experienced guys would be great. :)
 
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rustybluecommando92 said:
well the school project exhibition is tonight but im going to keep working on this beast. its set up at the school right now. thanks for all the encouragement, any more advice from the experienced guys would be great. :)

Take too many pictures...
 

ML

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Rusty,
Good find, it looks all there and that's half the battle over. The 1st and most important thing you MUST do is get a copy of the Norton Manual and the Parts book. Study these. Don't pull apart something you don't understand yet. You need the books to ask the right question to get the right answer.

Next, you MUST have the right tools. We talking Whitworth spanners for the engine and gearbox and mostly UN for the chassis.

When you have got the above in your head and in your workshop, start firing questions and send pix. You'll get all the assistance you need. Not only what it is, how it works, where it goes, how to do it but including what to pay and where to find it.

Cheers,
Mick
 

grandpaul

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I'll bet if you hook up an old battery and dump some gas in the fuel lines, that you can get it to fire!

hee hee

Pretty good "before" picture for the 2010 "most improved" award, but you better hustle, or it'll have to wait for the 2011 go-round...
 
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first thing i did was get my hands on a Norton instruction book and some Whitworth wrenches. i have new fuel lines and petcocks, i just need to replace the intakes on the bottoms of the carburetors and then put the battery in. hopefully that will make it fire. i was amazed because it actually turned over and isn't seized up after about 25 years of sitting. then it's just a matter of replacing the front fork tubes and a little other body work and i might be able to ride it.
 

rvich

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Nice project...

but don't fool yourself into thinking that it will be ready to ride by cleaning it up. After sitting for 35 years the seals and O-rings will be hard and cause leaks. The wheel bearing grease probably looks like peanut brittle. The islolastics are probably turned to powder in their tubes. The swing arm bushings need attention. And the tires are probably ready to burst. These are all within the grasp of the average mechanic.

Take good notes and pictures while you take stuff apart. I like the large zip lock baggy method, putting parts from any group together for storage until I figure out what to do with it. You don't necessarily have to tear the engine down, but you might as well see if you can get some kind of compression test and even better a leak down test to figure out what shape the cylinders are actually in.

Does your uncle remember why the bike was parked in '75? Was it running then?

I am not an expert by any means, but I bought a bike last fall after years of being away from them. I have been going through the above processes despite the fact that the bike had been well stored for 20 years and looked great. Most of all, read this forum daily. It is amazing how many mistakes I avoided because of some tip or comment I read here.

Good luck and enjoy!

Russ

PS-you should include your location in your profile. Help might be living next door.
 
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UGh, face facts you either go into it soup to nuts now or do it
piece meal as it leaves you stranded > with or w/o major
damage from what ever let go failed.

Its entirely possible there's bent crank to beginning of cracked
cases at cradle mount stress risers.
Rusted valve stems in guides, clots in the crank sludge trap
and worn gear box bushes wearing out more expensive
parts faster.
Brittle cables about to bind or break, rear wheel bearings
getting sloppy to jitter on the weak rear dumb axle to fracture.
Lucas bullets turned to dried clay like intergity.
Swing arm bushes worn and spindle oil chronically gone
back to its source - till rusted swollen and lipped impossible
to remove w/o destroying swing arm.

After the manual and parts book, INOA sells their Tech Notes
collection of legend and lore on what to watch out for
and what to upgrad around.

Get good torch and pullers and scale of hammers and drifts,
[I lend out mine far away time to time, only need a few
minutes once or twice a life time, but beat swearing chronically]

A hand smack impact torque tool may be vital on a few slot
head screws.

Browse Pawn shops for 1.5" box/open end wrench for
the LEFT HAND REVERSE nut that holds the drive sprocket.
It don't fit on perfectly square but good enough to torque up.

Get the Crooked Bent 1/4" Whitworth box end wrench
to take the swearing out of tricky to reach engine nuts.
This bent wrench may be one of your most used on the
many tight nuts in this size. Socket 14mm or 1/4" W
will also be needed and likely ground thinner to get it on.
Some nuts don't seem to fit any Whitworth, SAE or Metric.
I've been saved a number of times by the socket sets
that have grooved out grab flats that self adapt to
overlapping nut sizes and can get off round cornered nuts.

I found out that its best on 1st pensive effort resistance to un-doing,
to 1st hit it good with torch then spriz with Kroll oil
or your own AFT-Kerosene/disese mix or heat and
let wax melt down into crevices. May have to repeat
heat, lube and rap on cycles a while to get joy.
Later Blue and Red Locktite will be your stay put friends.

Search up diluted molasses rust removal on old tractor sites.
You'll come across other methods - products with the search.

Front brake innards will likely be rusted & damaging to use,
caliper plug may be the hardest thing you ever un-do.
Needs special dual pin tool - has two pin sets to do front wheel
bearing retainer. Rubber hose may be swollen inside.
Be sure to check brake level at gas stop intervals
till sure it ain't leaking out unaware or no warning no brakes!

Oil tank bottom support is known cracker, should have
factory nubbin focus sitting on rubber pad you create.

About most injurious to you to do will be the isolastics.
Rubbers can be flipped from storage sag but may
never work right until renewed. Well worth expense
of venirer type if '75 don't already have them.

Oil in tank often all ends up in sump, so if topping
off tank after sitting w/o knowing this, start up
will soon change the oil for you as a couple over fill
quarts spread on floor. Otherwise just fill up cases
as manual says and let it all leak out to proper levels
to learn.

Do not over tighten the clutch end nut, as bears against
thin circlip that should be replaced about each
time exposed. Buy a small handful. Dental pick gets if off.

Don't let new fuel taps dry out once used or may
never seal again. Store in diesel of gas jar.

I detest plastic bags, things poke thru them and they
rumple up to have to un tangle to see what inside
and labels written will dissolve off. I much prefer
the clear food containers with a label tag dropped
inside if not obvious what it is at glance. Stack nicer too.
Each component parts get dropped in as un-done
to keep the Grope Monster at bay.

hobot
 

rvich

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Hobot,
Why sugar coat it? Might as well tell it like it is...

The good news is he doesn't have a front caliper!
 
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"but don't fool yourself into thinking that it will be ready to ride by cleaning it up."

Heck, even if everything on the bike was in perfect, brand new condition, if you read much here you know that you have to "upgrade" all sorts of components or risk immediate and total disaster if you actually try to ride an oem Commando. :)

In any case, if all the parts are there I'll bet you can get it back into good, reliable condition for not more that 4-5k. (OK, maybe 6-8k).

Good luck, looks like a serious "project" but, as noted, there is plenty of expertise here to help you along.
 

rvich

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Something else to consider...if it has a fiberglass Fastback tank that has been sitting dry for 35 years, you will never get a better chance to seal it before the new fuels start to eat it.
 
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THAT''s a REALLY GOOD POINT! Seal the tank now or risk the wrath of the ethanol gremlins!
 
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Don't want to discourage a healthy new surrogate host to bring fought
another Commando tearing his flesh and resources to emerge.

Alas the carrot of a roadworthy wonder smooth de-lighter has
about ground me down a number of times to infantile rage
screaming swearing runing blindly out shed into the night
>> when swinging a large tool with great might didn't solve
hang up. Commandos can reveal the real you to surface.
BTW I'd lost count of electrical to mechanical impasses
solved by my half reasoned acts of violence : (

This 'hobby' or pathological obsession, has improved me
as much or more than the Nortons, mind-emotional control to
stay focused on disgusting un-resolved straining at unknown tasks,
maturity to not take the shorts cuts but bite bullet resolve to
just get deeper into it, AND
a confirmed sense of meta-physical magic that bringing
up a subject to focus of global Norton minds can work
at sub atomic level to disolve corrision lock or quantum
tunnel past hung up lip-rim, so next try doing exactly
same thing but suddenly way less effort brings amazing relief!

Too bad I'll be decayed in the end - what ever my lessions,
while our Commandos will live on and on beyond us.

As my buddy Westley said on my 1st arrival at a Norton rally,
'look around', "its All About The Bikes". Bring souls together
that would never commune without shared infections.

Safe Journeys and fetterings,
hobot
 
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