Decent engineers?

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Having been disappointed by incompetent engineers several times over the past couple of years (in the Norwich area), I am keen to learn of any good ones within about 100 miles of Norwich.

All I'm looking for is an engineer who understands old British bike engines and can be relied upon to do genuinely top quality but straightforward work (eg: rebores, head work, crank grinding, work to restore bearing fit in cases etc), who can be relied on to do it roughly when he says, for roughly the price he gives, and most importantly, properly. And ideally, without charging stupidly high rates.

Can anyone help with this? I can't believe all the good engineers have gone!
 

bwolfie

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They are all dead. It's hard to find people these days that do anything but replace parts.
 
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My Machinist retired and all the new ones are CNC-operators. My problem is that there is not a program for old-bike or custom work and the new generation of Machinists don't seem to be able to measure or think.

Vince
 
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Unclviny said:
My Machinist retired and all the new ones are CNC-operators. My problem is that there is not a program for old-bike or custom work and the new generation of Machinists don't seem to be able to measure or think.
Vince
been machining since I was 14. I am 58 now. the main difference in skills now is the attitude to training. In Australia, today, as a apprentice, you are only taught the skills that the employer needs you to have in order to do your job. Technical college training never has been funded adequatly, and the curriclum divorced from reality.. it is possible here to do 4 years apprenticeship as a machinist and still not be able to cut a thread. this is true, I was asked by a apprentice about to leave can I teach him to cut threads as his new job required this.

A previous thread here reffered to the art of scraping. A poster was very dismissive of " old men with scrapers'. Old men with scrapers are the reason we now have developed technology that allows 150+ HP on a road bike. In assuming the poster was not old, I hope indeed he reaches old age, with or without scraper in hand. This is half the trouble. A little respect from those who rely on these skills would not go astray.

machining can be a shitty job. working with old machinery, to tight tolerances and producing faster than the speed of light , for low wages it can be very unrewarding. But when u have repaired the impossible, or made a very difficult part, you can feel a sense of satisfaction and achievement.

I think the reduction in manual skills and knowledge will only get worse, due to CNC. But this is the modern reality. If you find a good machinist, be polite and courteous. a little manners goes a long way.
best wishes Bradley
 

Time Warp

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B.Rad said:
I think the reduction in manual skills and knowledge will only get worse, due to CNC. But this is the modern reality. If you find a good machinist, be polite and courteous. a little manners goes a long way.
best wishes Bradley
You forgot a few home truths.
The average apprentice and then tradesman is a unmotivated drop kick who probably spends most of his time on 'Facebook and has his phone in his hand most of the day. :?:
They actually think they are entitled to a $3000+ paycheck per week but will do little to earn it. :roll:
The management will then rely on people like me (over 50's) to actually do the work in a safe and timely manner.
The flipside is I will actually help those tradesman who want to learn actual skills.

I find it easier to learn the skills and do it yourself,even a Boilermaker/Welder can cut a thread.





I take it the OP is in the UK but here in Australia seems little different,I put a thread up some months back asking for help with this same thing,reliable sources here in NSW to have machining work done on Norton's.
The thread got countless views but not one reply,I had it removed due to embarrassment,two emails sent to the NSW Norton owners club got the same reply (no reply)
I guess the answer is they are simply not there.
My Triumph work I had done in South Australia two states away,I am actually looking at sending a head to Jim Comstock in the USA.

There is another side though,a lot of folk probably want top workmanship (if it can be found) at bargain prices.
If you were to take a head to a machine shop for a job that might take minutes to do you still pay the charge out rate to actually set up the head for machining which might take far longer than the job itself.
 
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You forgot a few home truths.
The average apprentice and then tradesman is a unmotivated drop kick who probably spends most of his time on 'Facebook and has his phone in his hand most of the day. :?:
They actually think they are entitled to a $3000+ paycheck per week but will do little to earn it. :roll:
The management will then rely on people like me (over 50's) to actually do the work in a safe and timely manner.
The flipside is I will actually help those tradesman who want to learn actual skills.

Gidday Time Warp. yes, u r absolutly right here. I have no argument with this.

However, if a tradesman is working for himself in his small business, AND has been established for a while and makes a profit, , it necessarily follows that he is relying on a satisfied customer base for a source of future work and referalls. This tradesman is definitly not unmotivated drop kick with a phone in his hand as he pulls the feed lever.

these types of business must be the ones that one would seek out when seeking reliable businesses to do work.

this skills issue can be a very complicated topic regarding cause and effect. The best insurance when dealing with a new shop is to actually talk to that businesses customers who have had work done there. more you talk to, the more accurate the information gained.
Best wishes Bradley
 
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It's so true, decent mechanics that can actually fix things are disappearing and machinists that can make parts without a computer are few.

Old British motorcycle engines are fairly simple devices, with a little reasonable care they can be made to run a long happy life.

I've brought many old cars and motorcycles back to life for people. Some have brought me chicken shit and want me to turn it to chicken salad for $10 hr, I'm certain there are others here that do the same kind of work and have encountered the same thing.
 
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It definitely seems there are fewer machinists that do reliable work. And even fewer that have any experience or interest in old motorcycles like our beloved Nortons. And it's getting harder and harder to even identify someone that's competent and trust worthy. After all, these old parts can't really be afforded to get messed up when someone is doing a repair.

Jim Comstock is on this forum, and he did marvelous work on a 650 head that I sent him a while back. He's actually currently working on a set of cylinders for me as we speak. He's got a ton of experience and skill, and he's part of our Norton community. His prices are more than reasonable, and he's easy to deal with. I'd recommend that anyone in need of machine work on a Norton, get in touch with him. These old parts are worth saving, and there's a massive sense of satisfaction seeing them repaired and put back to use as they were intended. I know that half the battle is just finding and identifying someone that you can trust to do that work. And most times it's best to have a recommendation. So, for what it's worth, I'd send Jim and email for anything you have. It's also great to keep work within our community of enthusiasts.
 

Time Warp

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wilkey113 said:
Jim Comstock is on this forum,
No need to guess who posted these out.
Another case evacuator and a set of lifters were waiting when I flew back from work yesterday.
Purchased off MikesVintageCycleParts who sent them on to Mr Comstock for surface grinding.

 
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This is not a new problem. In about 1973 or 74 I was offered a job as a sort of development fitter/machinist by a motorcycle company near Southampton , simply because "most mechanics are parts replacers".
cheers
wakeup
 
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"most mechanics are parts replacers".
Sometimes, this is good ?

If I put my Ford in for a service, I'd hope the mechanic didn't have to, or try to, re-engineer anything to have it working as intended.
I don't want any home made radiators, or oil pumps, or window winders, or gaskets or windscreens etc etc etc.
If parts are available off the shelf to do this, then use em !!!?

Interchangeability is what made motoring affordable for the masses.
 

Time Warp

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wakeup said:
"most mechanics are parts replacers".
Parts replacer.
A person who dose not have the ability to trouble shoot a problem so replaces any parts hoping to solve the problem,he then bills the customer to suit.

Example for Rohan.
I found the problem with your Norton misfire,it was the carburetors,and the complete ignition system including the battery and Lucas capacitor needed replacing.

Actual problem,the points had closed up.
 
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Thanks, not familiar with that phrase at all then.
My stuff would only go to a dealer with a very strict understanding of anything to be done.

With all these electronics these days, parts swapping is about the only way to diagnose some intermittent faults then,
if it doesn't throw an error code ??
 

L.A.B.

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Tigernut said:
Having been disappointed by incompetent engineers several times over the past couple of years (in the Norwich area), I am keen to learn of any good ones within about 100 miles of Norwich.

All I'm looking for is an engineer who understands old British bike engines and can be relied upon to do genuinely top quality but straightforward work (eg: rebores, head work, crank grinding, work to restore bearing fit in cases etc), who can be relied on to do it roughly when he says, for roughly the price he gives, and most importantly, properly. And ideally, without charging stupidly high rates.
Slightly over 100 miles from Norwich, but there's Mick Hemmings in Northampton (also does Triumph as well as Norton)?
http://www.mickhemmings.com/


MRC in Saffron Walden, about 80 miles from Norwich:
http://www.motorcyclerestorationcompany.com/
 
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In Australia these days you cannot do home mechanics on any car which has chrome bumper bars, so in the major cities the old auto engineers have mostly disappeared . I live in Benalla which is 200 Km NE of Melbourne. When I first came here I had difficulty getting anything machined or welded, cast or plated. However you learn to spot people who will stuff up a job. The old skills are still here being used on farm machinery. There is one guy in particular who has a boiler making shop, and a hydraulics agency- when I go there , most jobs are $10 and $30 for anything a bit tricky. His work is top quality. Also we still have an engine reconditioner who is pretty flash. There is the town of Castlemaine which is about 200 Km away which has industries based around hot rods, what I cannot get done in Benalla, I can always get done there. Plastics die makers are always best if you want close tolerances in particular parts, e.g. shortening cylinder barrels and keeping them square. In every case you need to know exactly what you want and plan the sequence of events. I would never give my motor or gearbox to someone else to build, you can get some really stupid stuff that way. Stay away from motorcycle shops. If you want to find idiots, that is where they hide.
 
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I can recommend The Head Shop in Warrington not far from me, they mainly deal with classic cars, Aston Martins, Ferraris Etc. I know it's probably 200+ miles from Norwich but you don't always have to go to a Classic Bike specialist to get good quality engineering for your classic bike.
I took my cylinders for honing, they charged me £15 which I thought was a decent price, and they were also machining new valve guides in a Norton Commando head in the machine shop.

So depending on what you need, it may be worth a look around for similar specialists in the Norwich area.

here's a link http://www.head-shop-uk.co.uk/home

Let us know how you get on and good luck
CB
 

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Rohan said:
Thanks, not familiar with that phrase at all then.
My stuff would only go to a dealer with a very strict understanding of anything to be done.

With all these electronics these days, parts swapping is about the only way to diagnose some intermittent faults then,
if it doesn't throw an error code ??

My stuff would only go to a dealer with a very strict understanding of anything to be done.
There lies the problem and so back to the original thread query :?:

Under all the electronics and sensors is pretty much what has always been there,cars are little different.
In 2000 I brought my first Suzuki TL1000S which I still have including another one in 2004.
By 2003 not only was I adapting different throttle bodies but changing electronics,the difference was the ECU could be communicated with via PC software.
It got to the stage people would bring me their TL's to fettle.
Little different to a Amal or Dellorto and screwdriver,same thing different approach.



I owe you a PM Bradley (I am slow at replying at the best of times )
I will contact the QLD engine reconditioner you recommended and see if they can grind the crankshaft from my Eldorado,they have a common need like the Norton crankshaft and that is the journal radius being critical to avoid failure.
I will ask about the Norton crank but at this stage it will most likely be sent to Victoria along with a set of con rods so they can be sized to suit.
 
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I don't know where I would take a crank to be ground these days. There used to be a small crankshaft grinding business in North Melbourne called AER Speed Grind. If you ever went there the factory was usually deserted and you had to walk up to the pub on the corner to find the fellas. Their work was always perfection in every way. If you asked for a particular journal size, it would be done within 10ths of a thou.
 

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acotrel said:
I don't know where I would take a crank to be ground these days.
There are two in Victoria that have experience with Commando crankshafts (Ask Mike at Road and Race) and Martyn Adams in SA but I did not have a crankshaft ground (rebore and a unleaded head conversion)

Perhaps the people who can do these jobs do not embrace modern communication channels (Internet)

http://www.mdamotorcycleengineering.com.au/index.html



 
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