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1973 Norton Commando Restoration

Discussion in 'Norton Motorcycle Rebuilds' started by BigNickDawg420, Dec 11, 2018.

  1. BigNickDawg420

    BigNickDawg420

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2018
    Hello everybody! I'm happy to be a part of this forum. I bought this Commando late last year on a whim as my first motorcycle. I had some trouble getting in getting it in decent running condition, but after some new carbs and an electronic ignition I got some good riding done in the spring/summer. I fell in love. The bike is complete but its in rather rough shape, and I decided to have it rebuilt. I took it to a shop and was quoted a complete rebuild price of about $16,000. It was a little out of my projected budget, but I really wanted to see this bike restored. I have taken it upon myself to do the majority of the work myself with sending out the engine gearbox for professional rebuild. I have been studying as much as I can about these bikes from the moment I first bought it. I consider myself fairly mechanically savvy, having worked on more than a few classic cars that I've owned. Maybe I'm getting in over my head, but with my desire, and of course hopefully a lot of help from the people in this forum I can get through this and have a beautiful, reliable daily driver in the end.

    So here it is. I rented a shop, bought a bike lift, and started the dismantling process today.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    nortriubuell likes this.
  2. ashman

    ashman

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    It looks pretty good to me as it is lol but its the best way to learn about your bike is to do most of the work yourself, with the right tools etc they are not hard to do even rebuilding the motor and gearbox, a good workshop manual, the right tools and patients and there is always some here to help when stuck, send out worn parts to get machined and replace anything worn, do a few upgrades while at it, when you pull thing apart take pics, mark parts and where they come from.
    There are a lot of good engine builders around, but there are also some bad ones around the best way is do it yourself and you learn a lot on the way, remember labour cost will be very high if someone else does it and you might not get what you paid for.

    Good luck with it as its a nice looking in my eyes.

    Ashley
     
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  3. Danno

    Danno

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2010
    I agree with Ashley. Other than the rattle-can paint job, it looks to need little more than some cleanup and maintenance. A total nut-and-bolt restoration is a break-even process at best and if you hand it to someone else to do, you might as well hand them a blank check with it.
     
    BigNickDawg420 likes this.
  4. 84ok

    84ok

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
    amazing! i'm interested in the story?? you really lucked into a jewel of an experience that also has unmatched support!
    what all was the estimate for?
    wouldn't hesitate to have a close up look at the gearbox yourself before deciding which way to go next, there is an important original known bearing issue (failure can lock up the bike, on the move) to sort out for sure
    https://www.oldbritts.com/gearbox_d.html

    https://andover-norton.co.uk/en/shop-drawings/5

    fuel tank steel?
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
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  5. concours

    concours VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    Welcome
     
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  6. baz

    baz VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    May 26, 2010
    Just ride the tits off it mate
    It doesn't need restoring
    And welcome
     
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  7. MexicoMike

    MexicoMike

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    If you do mechanic work on classic cars, there is nothing you can't do on the Norton with the help of the shop manual/advice from this site. That includes rebuilding the transmission and engine. Heck, removing the stock horn is harder than rebuilding the engine! :) In any case, plenty of help is available here! I will express my admiration to anyone who buys an old BrittBike as a first-ever motorcycle! ;)
     
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  8. BigNickDawg420

    BigNickDawg420

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2018
    Thanks for the warm welcome everyone. I guess she does appear to be in decent shape. Other than leaking a lot of oil, the engine does run strong. Now there are definitely some issues with the gearbox; it is all but impossible to get into gear and rolling without stalling several times, and it sounds like you can hear gears/teeth catching each other when going from neutral to first, which I'm guessing might just be a worn out clutch. Also it likes to skip gears when up-shifting sometimes, and the biggest problem is when hitting mid-high RPM it just drops itself right into neutral. The forks also need to be rebuilt as they leak quite a bit, and there are several loose spokes on the rear wheel.

    In response to 84ok's questions. I had been shopping around for my first bike. I do love Harleys but thought it would be kind of ignorant to spend 10-15k on my first bike. I seen my first Norton that was for sale which was a '72 combat I believe, I just thought they were really sexy bikes. I found this one a short while later and picked it up for $5500. I've caught a bit of flak from a few friends who are strictly Harley riders, but they just don't get it, haha. The $16,000 was quoted for a complete restoration, and when going through the estimate invoice, I noticed they were rather liberal with the labour and parts pricing. And it does have the original fiberglass tank, which I would like to use again, but I have read that it may not be worth it.

    One issue I had yesterday was getting the return oil line from the crank case to the oil filter off, its impossible. I'm guessing more dismantling has to be done.

    Stay tuned! Today I'm going to attempt the go through and remove the wiring system! :confused:
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
  9. Craig

    Craig VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Welcome Dawg .... good luck with your project .... lots of know how on here .... ask away !
    Craig
     
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  10. concours

    concours VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2011
    That trans may be fine, just a clutch clean up/adjust stack height & add a Dynodave seal.
     
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  11. 84ok

    84ok

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
  12. Tornado

    Tornado VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2017
    Congrats on your acquisition! I thought I was crazy to get my Commando as second second bike!

    There is a very thorough video series on YouTube of a guy in Sarina restoring a complete basket case.



    Good source of in Country parts...MotoParts Inc in Alberta and also Walridge in Ontario.

    I see you are in BC. Gimme a holler if you make it to Vancouver region some day.
     
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  13. xbacksideslider

    xbacksideslider VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    I don't want to be a killjoy but sometimes these projects get stalled and the bike never rises again. So, with a strong running engine hampered by a dicey transmission, you might be incremental and start with disassembly and inspection of the clutch and then proceed to pulling the shafts/gears out of the gearbox in situ for inspection. That's all stuff you would be doing anyway. As for the tank, put that part of your paint money onto a steel tank, especially if your fuel is governmentally tainted with ethanol.
     
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  14. 84ok

    84ok

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
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  15. BigNickDawg420

    BigNickDawg420

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2018
    I'm pretty committed to doing a full teardown and rebuild, get everything painted and put back together, and have it looking immaculate. So I might as well do the engine with it, and I may still yet decide to have a go at the engine and transmission myself. I'll do some more research on it. I've only got a Haynes manual, and man is it terrible. Thankfully I found the Norton Service manual in the tech section today:).

    Here is picture of today's progress.
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. grandpaul

    grandpaul VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Maybe it was JimC that did the estimate?
     
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  17. grandpaul

    grandpaul VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2008
    Welcome!

    You'll find all the assistance and resources you need here, that's for sure.

    You are starting out with a better-than-average "donor" bike; when you get a really ratty or non-running one, you can get your budget doubled and tripled by small Commando-only parts like $13 sidecover pin bracket and the like.

    Also good that you started with a bike you were at least able to ride and "feel", to know the thing wasn't flopping about, shuddering and clanking inside the cases.

    You've already got a good start in on it, so keep after at.

    I'm pretty sure this thread will end up getting moved to the "Norton Rebuilds" section...
     
  18. JimC

    JimC

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007

    It wasn’t me, but $16,000 is certainly a lot more realistic than some $3250 claim for a restoration. Isn’t $16,000 about half of what CNW would charge?
     
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  19. L.A.B.

    L.A.B. Moderator VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2004
    I think we've heard enough about this, so no more, please. :( :rolleyes:
     
  20. jsnorton

    jsnorton

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2018
    It looks like you have a good bike to rebuild, the transmission issues may be due to clutch adjustment, you should check that. Have fun with your project and keep us posted.
     

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