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1973 Commando 850 in Seattle

Discussion in 'Norton Commando Motorcycles (Classic)' started by walt_mink, Sep 14, 2017.

  1. walt_mink

    walt_mink VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    I got everything installed with minimal fuss. The alternator was a bear to get off, which was surprising, but with a bit of persuasion from a 3 jaw puller and a little bit of heat it came off. While I was in there, I noticed the timing plate had been broken, bashed, and abused before being reinstalled. I have a new one showing up from OldBrits today which, once installed, should make timing quite a bit more precise.

    From there, I removed the old parts and installed the new Podtronics rectifier. Wow - that really cleaned things up. Unfortunately, and I swear I test fitted, I somehow managed to mount it in a way that it's fouling the side cover. No biggie - I'll move that this winter.

    The TriSpark ignition and big coil went on with absolutely no fuss ... once I sorted out the clockwise vs counter-clockwise issue. :D I'm quite impressed with the whole setup and really appreciate the test functionality built in. As I mentioned above, I'm really not too sure about the timing not only because of the timing plate, but also I'm not sold on the degree job being done well. To sort that, I've built a hard stop so that I can find true TDC. I'll get that dialed in 100% and then will re-time the ignition both statically and with a light gun.

    Overall, the bike runs enormously better. It starts much more easily, makes a ton of power, and has a beautiful idle once warmed up. I'm still learning the right procedure for using the "choke" on the Mikuni and getting the system up to temperature. I'm either clicking it off too soon, or running it too long and that leads to stalling, which can lead to it being more difficult to restart. No biggie - just learning how she works.

    I've been riding it all over Seattle before the rain set in for the winter (it's here now) and have found a few more things to fix. On my first longer ride, I noted that the tach was working properly, which is a rare thing for anyone who's owned Smith's gauges. Unfortunately, due to the laws of British motoring, once I noted the proper functionality ... it immediately died. Oddly, the speedo, which was previously mostly in-op came back to life a few miles later. I'll start with new cables (which it clearly needs) to see if that fixes things. I also noted during my one stretch of riding in the rain that they aren't water tight, so that will need sorting too.

    The ergonomics leave something to be desired for a guy my size as well, so I'll need to work that out. I'm thinking some rearsets will help quite a bit along with a rebuilt (slightly taller and less worn out) saddle. I also think the rear springs are too soft for my weight, so I'll look into replacing them as well. I don't have a good opinion on the front forks just yet because I think the geometry is messed up by the sagging rear end. I'll be changing the fork oil this winter as part of the maintenance routine, and will reevaluate it with some more riding.

    One other oddity I've noticed: If I'm riding down a steep hill (very common here) with a less than full gas tank it'll starve the carbs and will stall the motor. I suppose I'll just have to keep the tank topped up at all times, which isn't then end of the world, but I prefer to run the level down before winter. Meh - a little fuel stabilizer and I should be good to go.
     
  2. MikeM

    MikeM

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2011
    Dont want to hijack but where would you add more grounds. My harness has been ehh modified as well.
     
  3. walt_mink

    walt_mink VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    One got added during the TriSpark install - it grounds directly to the motor. Another got added with the Podtronics Regulator (not rectifier like I mistakenly said above). There's lots of opportunities to add them, but I think going directly from the battery ground to block is a good idea too.
     
  4. eskasteve

    eskasteve VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    If you haven't done it yet you should join the NW Norton Owners club. www.nwno.org Good folks
     
    gortnipper likes this.
  5. seattle##gs

    seattle##gs

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2014
    The jetting specs from MAP for the 34MM Mikuni are:

    #3 slide
    series 159 P-0 needle jet
    #40 pilot
    230 main jet
    6dh3 needle

    runs great in the Seattle area. I live in West Seattle and put in a lot of work on these things. You will find my ad in Craigslist.
    My starting procedure is to kick the bike over 3 or 4 times with the key off and the enricher on. Then it should only take a moderate kick to start it if everything else is correct.

    The need for good clean electrical connections cannot be overstated. Especially the grounds. Quite often I cut off old connections and make new ones. It is possible to clean off the male part but impossible to clean the female side. So I chop them off and make new ones. The switch boxes are a real trouble area especially on the right side. A lot of times brake fluid has got inside the box along with corrosion. Worse yet, the previous owner has soldered on new connections. Quite often I will disconnect the kill switch to eliminate potential problems.

    The clutch stack is important for easy clutch pull along with a new cable. Oversize steel clutch plates are available at CLUBMAN RACING for about $15 apiece. They come in different thicknesses so buy the first and second oversize so you have something to work with. You will have an extra so you can advertise it on the for sale forum.

    Any more questions give me a call. I am in West Seattle.
     
    gortnipper likes this.
  6. gortnipper

    gortnipper VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    I used to live 21st & Barton for a long time. My first house. Was in NWNOC and VME.
     
  7. walt_mink

    walt_mink VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    I have already done so, and plan on meeting everyone on the 9th. Thanks for pointer - they seem like a great bunch of folks.

    Thanks very much! I think I'll get the carb parts ordered up and will steal your setup this winter. I also plan to dig into the clutch as one of my first projects. The pull certainly lightened up with some use, so I suspect replacing the cable will make a huge difference, but I'll get the stackup dialed in when I replace the clutch as well. Thanks for the pointer to Clubman.

    I'm also in West Seattle - 41st and Graham (Morgan Junction). I'm sure I'll see you around!


    Just about two miles from my place. Very small world, eh?
     
  8. seattle##gs

    seattle##gs

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2014
    I am at 47th and Alaska
     
  9. seattle##gs

    seattle##gs

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2014
    Since you live so close, I have all the jetting you need. I can loan it to you. It will be a quick and free test.
     
  10. walt_mink

    walt_mink VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    It was super nice (and extremely timely) to run into you today in the junction. As we were walking away my daughter said, "Daddy, that guy knows a LOT more about motorcycles than you." :D Needless to say, I sent her to bed without supper. ;)

    I'll certainly take you up on your nice offer for the Mikuni parts. I'll give you a buzz when I find some time to bring it by. Thanks again for the generosity.
     
  11. seattle##gs

    seattle##gs

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2014
    Another good place to start is to re-torque the head when cold. Rule out that possibility right away.
    The Podtronics is a rectifier and regulator.
    I have a MK3 in my garage and the PO had wired in the Boyer and the battery wires both POS and NEG by twisting them together and taping. In his defense, he did a good job of twisting but still unacceptable.
     
  12. N0rt0nelectr@

    N0rt0nelectr@ VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2014
    You said you put a Tri-Spark in? Is it one of the new ones with the remote control box or an earlier one with it all in the points cavity?
    Being in Texas I have had issues with a Tri-Spark I had due to the heat. Went to a Pazon unit several years ago which has a remote control box.
    You bike looks sweet and the members of the NWNO will help you out I am sure.

    John in Texas
     
  13. walt_mink

    walt_mink VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    It's the version that's all contained in the cavity (Classic Twin TRI-0005B). Your comment on heat surprises me - I don't see any components on there that would be particularly heat sensitive. What sort of failure were you seeing?
     
  14. N0rt0nelectr@

    N0rt0nelectr@ VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2014
    I killed 3 of the Tri-Sparks before I threw in the towel. Sent each one back to Tri-Spark which they replaced but claimed that they never found a problem. I changed over to Pazon and haven't looked back. While at the NTNOA rally in Jefferson Texas in September I went out to dinner with Jim Comstock and his brother. We left the restaurant and headed for a local adult beverage store for supplies. When we went to leave Jim's brothers bike wouldn't start and a quick check showed that there was no spark. Jim had packed a spare Tri-Spark and it was quickly replaced with a new one and ran just fine the rest of their trip to Barbers or so I hope, I haven't heard that it wasn't. Jim called Matt at CNW and had him bring an extra Tri-Spark to Barbers just in case. Talking to Jim he said that Tri-Spark had or was going to go to a remote control unit under the tank with the trigger in the points cavity.
    All of my Tri-Spark failures were in Phoenix Arizona where it can easily get to 110 degrees in the summer time. Add that to the heat generated by the engine in the points cavity it is no wonder they failed.
    John in Texas
     
  15. walt_mink

    walt_mink VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Well boys, spring has sprung here in the PNW and the Commando is running better than ever. So far this year I've replaced the timing scale, all the cables, the clutch pack, the headlight, bled the brakes, replaced all the fluids, and did another full rebuild on the carb.

    On the carb, I took seattle##gs' advice on the jetting, and it (combined with a super clean in the ultrasonic) made all the difference. She starts easily and runs beautifully now. Related to that, when I replaced the boogered up timing marker, I could see that I was running it a couple of degrees advanced. Again, made a big difference. I had also noticed last year that the ignition and cover were only held on with one screw. I ordered another, but then found that the old one is snapped off below flush. Guess I'll have to get a thread repair in there.

    So now I'm back in my British vehicle comfort zone: fixing oil leaks. I have quite the leak coming from the tach housing (coming up through the cable), so I've ordered the updated version with the o-ring from Old Britts. This morning I also noticed the distinct smell of gear oil, which is heaven to a guy who grew up in the family's gear factory. It looks like it's coming from the kick start lever. A little bit of searching on here makes it apparent that I should pull the gearbox and do a refresh since it's got an unknown history to me. That's a bit of a bummer, but Junuary is just around the corner, so I won't be missing too much. It's all part of the adventure, eh?
     
  16. 84ok

    84ok

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
  17. frankdamp

    frankdamp

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Sounds great. Almost makes me wish we hadn't moved to Anacortes after I retired (I did say "almost"!). I don't think there any Nortons in town - never seen one anyway.

    When we first arrived in the NW back in 1965, I looked at all the little old ladies driving the freeway at 45 mph while peering through the steering wheel so they could see the road and decided "no motorcycles". I figured that, in a car you've got a full-time visual cue because you're sitting on the opposite side of the car, plus you have a built-in crumple zone.

    Since 1965, we've lived in Renton, Kent, Bothell, Mukilteo, Everett (and Newport News, VA). We've been in Anacortes since December 1999, and don't plan to leave unless I'm in a wooden overcoat.
     
  18. drp

    drp

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Check out Old Brits http://www.oldbritts.com/ob_main.html.

    Fred and Ella are wonderful people and even living in Ohio I usually get my parts in 3-4 days. I have compared prices and unless you take advantage of the pound vs dollar exchange rate Old Brits is usually cheaper if not very competitive than any other domestic suppliers and most of their parts are from Andover Norton. They have some excellent technical articles too. In my mind they are the best brit bike part supplier I have ever used.

    Ride em don't hide em
     
  19. walt_mink

    walt_mink VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2013
    Oooh - great site - thanks!

    My first 8 years in town were spent with only my trusty boxer BMW and - yeah - it's not the safest place to ride. Unfortunately, instead of just grey haired old ladies, you have to look out for everyone since they're all (almost without exception) on their phones.

    Yes - thanks! They're located very close to Seattle (Enumclaw, I think) and they get almost all of my business. They're a great resource to say the least.
     
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