daily tool kit?

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May 9, 2006
hi guys...

so i've been learning to enjoy the bike but each time i do, i have to first drain the sump, after that, it's pretty happy. maybe if i kicked harder, it would start w/o draining, but i don't think i'm there yet.

not wanting to be stranded, i guess i have to start carrying a 14mm ratchet/socket as well as a container for catching the oil. easy enough. a plug tool is nice to have in there as well. a rag too.

what are some other essentials you guys can't see yourselves not having with you when get on your bike? even though it costs more, i'm the type of person that would like to have the right tool in there, and nothing more. i don't need EVERY socket in the set, just the ones that i'd actually use on the bike. so w/ that in mind, what sizes of what tools would you guys recommend?
(i realize that sometimes the p/o uses different size/spec of fasteners so it's not a hard-'n-fast rule, but it would get me started in the right direction.)

don't hold back, w/ the new battery i've actually gained more storage room :)

14mm... On a Norton ?... Oh no...Get thee behind me, Satan ! Do you mean 9/16" AF ?

I have three different tool kits, a daily one under the seat, supplemented by a separate tool roll for longer runs and then the full works touring item with clutch spring compressor, spare head gasket and reserve Boyer Unit.

I've just had a look and have found the following items which have just arisen over the years so it may be a bit idiosyncratic and I have no intention of trying to justify it other than that I thought it was a good idea once.

1/2" x 7/16" AF open ended
1/2" x 9/16" AF open ended
9/16 x 5/8" AF ring
5/8" x 3/4" AF ring
1/4"whit x 3/16" whit ring (ground down to fit barrel flange nuts)
1/4" whit 3/8" drive socket, extension and tommy bar (for centre head nuts)
7/8" AF combination (Mk111 wheel)
15/16" AF combination (Mk111 wheel)
Small plug spanner
small mole grip (useful for broken cables etc.)
stubby screwdriver
Allen Keys
Rear damper C spanner
Amal spanner
Exhaust C spanner

Some of the spanner sizes are duplicate but that has just arisen because they were convenient and short-sized. If anyone knows of a supplier of a 7/8" x 15/16" AF ring spanner, please let me know !

I also carry fuses and a gearbox pawl spring after once breaking one - damned unpleasant to ride but really easy to fix if you have the part.

When I first ran the Commando, I used to make a point of taking it a mile or two up the road for small adjustments like Isolastics or changing needle positions or something. You'll soon learn what tools you need to carry !

Generally, Commandos have an inbuilt ability to always get you home. They are sometimes popping and banging a bit by the time you get there though :lol:
guess i have to start carrying a 14mm ratchet/socket as well as a container for catching the oil.

Don't be so pessimistic.....:wink: unless you stay somewhere visiting for a week or two ,and don't ride it the whole time you are there....you shouldn't have to think about draining the sump. I mean.....a trip to work or to a bike rally, just isn't going to be requiring you drain before heading home...or?
you mean to tell me that the bike, while being "european" DOES NOT use metric????

crap... :lol: this is certainly news to me! i will have to have a chat w/ the p/o... and unless a 9/16th is really close to 14mm, i'll stand by my diagnosis ;)

also, what does "AF" stand for? is this brit-speak for SAE?

thanks for all the tool suggestions. i'm the same way w/ cars, so i don't mind having more than usually necessary, just wanted to be on the right track. i also like having tools that double up in their function... while not always ideal for a particular task, they will usually be better than not having them.
hewhoistoolazytologin said:
Don't be so pessimistic.....:wink: unless you stay somewhere visiting for a week or two ,and don't ride it the whole time you are there....you shouldn't have to think about draining the sump. I mean.....a trip to work or to a bike rally, just isn't going to be requiring you drain before heading home...or?
ha ha... yeah... i guess that's what it sounds like... i'm actually in the process of doing my little experiment. i'm rolling back the days that pass between riding to see if i find a limit to my chances of starting the bike.

so far, after 7 days, i'm unable to start. same w/ 6. (then i had to go riding so i said screw it and changed my intervals all around.) i will be resuming my testing but it's not always convenient to wait DAYS until you can ride again :lol:
Better to use that time you are wasting worrying about intervals, to find out why it is hard to start...mine starts the first kick after months in the barn....so there is some other underlying reason why you are having troubles....and although some of the nuts and bolts are very close to metric and will allow you to use metric tools, the bike is a combination of different specs, and none of them metric...unless someone knows differently. Invest in a basic set of Whitworth tools and in combo with a set of Satanically blessed metric wenches, you should be close to being good to go....
Don't forget that the old Deux Chevaux oil filter has a metric 'fred, and of course spark plugs but you shouldn't find yourself using metric spanners unless you have fitted newer spec Lockheed parts or those nice Tommaselli twistgrips.

I quite agree on the wet-sumping as well, it shouldn't be a problem at those intervals. Is it actually a problem quantity of oil and not just the proverbial tea-cup full ?
problem is, i actually don't know at which point it becomes a "problem quantity" and part of my experiment is seeing how much oil actually makes it through there and in what amount of time.

maybe it's psychological for me and it really isn't enough to affect starting?- i don't know

in a week i get about a 1/2 quart out of my sump
}{arlequin said:
you mean to tell me that the bike, while being "european" DOES NOT use metric????


My,my, you do have a lot to learn (if this isn't a wind-up?).

You are likely to come across the following fastener types on Commandos:

UNF/UNC/Whitworth(BSW)/CEI (Cycle)/BSF(BS)/BA/BSP(Gas)/and a few others!!! The only original metric threads would have been the spark plugs and oil filter cartridge thread, so you should have tools for SAE and also more for the odd Whitworth/BSF, as their hexagon sizes are different.


AF (across flats = international speak) refers to the spanner(wrench) jaw size.

Great Britain (United Kindom) being a country using Imperial measurements (where do you think you Americans got them from?) until the seventies when it 'officially' became part of the European Union.

Many Brits are still a little uneasy about being referred to as 'europeans'.
The Commando is most definitely not metric. Early models (the "featherbed yokes" type) had "British" fasteners - Whitworth BSF & cycle) Thereafter they tried to change to SAE which we call AF (Across Flats) because the spanners (wrench ?) show the "AF" dimensions of the screws rather than the OD of the screw itself. The NOC Service notes suggest that AF stands for "American 'fred."

9/16" is about 14mm but a 13mm spanner will soon round off 1/2" fasteners.

This situation is further complicated because later models kept whitworth dimensioned nuts but threaded the studs UNF so they are not interchangeable with earlier nuts that look identical.

The gearbox is derived from the pre-war Sturmey Archer and has 1/4" cycle (26tpi) reduced hexagon nuts so the spanner marked 1/4" will not fit it - the one marked 3/16" will - Got that ?

On the subject of oil drainage, I have to confess an ignorance of US measurements. Isn't half a quart a pint ? Is a US pint the same as an Imperial one ?A tea cup is 1/3 pint so it sounds a bit much. What do you see from the dipstick ? If the tank is not overfilled and does not drop below the "min" mark then there shouldn't be so much oil that the drag or pressure stops you from spinning it over fast enough to start it and if you then keep the revs down, it should clear itself without doing any damage.
You are over thinking this too much. I am at the point now where I don't concern myself with the wet sumping, as long as there is still oil the bag.
I pull the cap and take a look, if the screen is visible, then I drain the sump.
When it does start, if it smokes like Smokey Joe, then I know there was too much oil in the sump. But I don't fret about it. Just let it idle till the oil pumps back in.
Not everybody will agree with me on this but I also know there are a lot who do.

Concerning wrench sizes, there are three standards in the world, metric, SAE, and English. The English system is obsolete, but is still found on our antiquated British machinery. The English system was always identified to me as English Whitworth, but it is more confusing than that with BSF, AF. & W.
After 30 years I still don't understand it. What I do know is my current English wrenchs are marked with a W.
A 1/4 W is close to a 14mm and a 9/16 sae, but they are not the same.

Conclusion, you need a set of English wrenchesc / sockets.
The Whitworth fasteners are found on the motor / trans, the rest will be SAE. There should be no metric.
1 US liquid pint = 0.832 Imperial pint.[/quote]

Right, I shan't be going there for a beer then !
MichaelB said:
The English system was always identified to me as English Whitworth, but it is more confusing than that with BSF, AF. & W.

Don't forget CEI and BA, both of which can be found on our Commandos :!:

As for the toolkit, for me the essentials are a cell phone and a credit card! :D

EUROPEAN??? gods teeth look at what it says on your Norton "Made in England" not European not British but English & damn proud of it too!

Rant over :p

PS Metric sizes are all 'AF' in that the size is measured over the hexagonal flats. 14mm is around 11 thou smaller than 9/16"
I have glanced through this thread again...and if poor Harlequin isn't by now convinced he has to carry a 20 pound tool box with him to go around the block ....I'd be surprised.

The way I read it....his original question was what he would need to take with him on an evening bug killing excursion, not what he would have to have with him to make to the Paris to Dakar race finish-line.

In all the years I've spent doing evening rides, and anything less than a couple hundred miles or so, there have only been 2 things that I consistantly wished I had with me and I didn't. A wrench to tighten the mirror stem to the handlebars and a wrench to tighten the exhaust nut that had come loose and caused the famous Norton rattle.

The mirror has had a habit of coming loose and turning in the wind so I can't see the fellow behind trying to kill me with his bumper. Deadly and also annoying as can be.

The exhaust nut has though, been the real pain in the butt. I have had to use everything from stones, logs, discarded auto parts and even the heel of my boot, to get the exhaust nut sort of tight enough to get it home without ruining the threads. I have wished so many times I had a C spanner with me, that any normal person would have just gotten his head out of his rear end and put one into the side panel and gotten it over with.
Not me. I needed it again this morning.

Good thing I have one at home....eh? :wink:
Mobile phone and strict instructions to SWMBO to keep her mobile close by is all you need.

Oh and the car she comes in must have 100lbs of Norton Tools and assorted spares :roll:
I never need all the tools that I carry with me although I do make a big show of lending them out at rallies and things but I really do feel that the Norton God is a perverse one and the only way to appease it and not need tools is to always carry them.

That's the reason as well that I have carried the same pawl spring under my seat for 20 years. I've never broken another one since.

My daily tool kit just has a few open-enders and allen keys, enough to tighten loose clamps and things and to take the tank off to get at the electrics.

Generally though if I'm strapping on a bag with wet weather gear to keep the Rain Gods happy then I shove in the tool kit as well.
Hi, also recent(ish) Norton owner.

the -

in a week i get about a 1/2 quart out of my sump

sounds familiar - Much the same with mine when I got it home.

I fretted about anti-drain valves, oil types etc., but in the end, for want of a better idea i took the timing cover off to have a look. Found that there was no conical rubber washer on the oil pump stub. Fitted one, problem solved. Now I can get on with trying to fix the rest of the leaks.
Tool sizing

Funny, I recall that when uncrating/setting up new Nortons in '71, that I had to use all three wrench standards. Some of the small metrics have no direct sae/AF interchange, plus head markings are usually different. It seemed that the only hardware that was consistently sized was in the engine and trans. Every time I worked on a different Norton, I had to try a couple wrenches to make sure I had a proper fit, and you had to be very careful when replacing a bolt or nut to make sure the thread was proper. The impression I got was Norton was very cosmopolitan. ( I think that was the name of the USA Importer! )
What set the tone for me regarding Norton hardware was rebuilding the first Norton engine and discovering that the workshop manual specified the torque for the nuts holding the crank assembly togther as "very very tight"unquote. Since you can only get an open wrench on the nuts, I supposed that it sort of made sense, in a weird kind of British way! I did spend the rest of the day mumbling to myself, though. Ahh, the good old days :roll: :lol:
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