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Fullauto Technologies cylinder heads

Discussion in 'Norton Commando Motorcycles (Classic)' started by Fullauto, Aug 30, 2017.

  1. Fullauto

    Fullauto VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2009
    There have been a few changes on the long and winding road. The business has changed along the way, so let me inform the esteemed members of the forum what is happening. I was informed that the price of my heads was to now be 50% higher than previously. This was non negotiable and a fruitless search for other foundries to do the work was undertaken. So, I had a couple of choices. The first was to take the casting production overseas. Not an option to me. The second was to pack up shop and either sell all the tooling and intellectual property or mothball it. Not very palatable either way. The third path was to go ahead with production but change the way I do business. My intention is to set up a website and retail the heads direct to the customer, while maintaining supply to my established dealer network at somewhat less attractive terms than previously. The website has not yet been set up. That will be happening shortly. Consequently, the new batch of 27 heads is being packed as we speak to meander it's merry way to me. As this batch has taken so long to come about, not because of my suppliers, Harrops, but because it was a serious decision to be made regarding the future of my heads, with various back orders and current demand, I find that all that I have left to offer my retail customers is a solitary 750 head.

    But, fear not readers! I have ordered another batch which is to be delivered by late November. With the changes, I am hopeful that a constant supply will soon be available. With 200 heads sold up til now, not including the current batch, they have come to be a sought after product. I have about 37,000 miles on my first production head (number 2 ) and I cannot ride my bike enough! I do 1,000 miles per month, using my Norton as an everyday bike. Enough of that.

    My heads will retail for AU$3400.00 plus GST for Aussies, plus postage worldwide, so that the increase in price to the customer is not as great as a 50% increase in costs would normally infer. Heads can be ordered by emailing me at kenc@upnaway.com. I will issue an invoice by return, and when the money appears in my account, the head/s will be sent.

    It's a real gamble if I survive or not and hasn't been without a lot of sleep deprivation and gnashing of teeth. Money is always an issue, but I hope to have my new product available in the new year. No, not barrels! Not yet.
     
  2. worntorn

    worntorn

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2006
    Weren't they close to that price before?

    Glen
     
  3. Fullauto

    Fullauto VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2009
    Yes, Glen. I have tried to keep the price down for the end user.
     
  4. Mr. Rick

    Mr. Rick VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    My currency calculator give this 3400 Australian dollar price (today 8/30/17) as:
    2685 USD
    2262 Euro
    2078 GBP
    If I were 58 years old instead of 68, this wd be a no brainer. I'd order one today and thank my lucky stars it's available.
     
  5. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Best of luck with it Ken.
     
  6. SteveA

    SteveA VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2011
    Ken, with good 40 year old heads getting even harder to find the market will be there.

    Similarly with the values of Commandos themselves still rising, as a percentage of bike value it is a sensible purchase.

    For a racer like me surely the best basis there is for a new motor.

    Good luck with it.

    Before long there will be complete motors coming from the antipodes as there already are with gearboxes.
     
  7. Fullauto

    Fullauto VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2009
    Thanks guys. It's been pretty tough to keep it all together. But, hopefully we will move along now.
     
    Kvinnhering likes this.
  8. JimC

    JimC

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    Since you have a backlog of orders and no competitors, that I'm aware of, I don't reckon price should be your main concern. If your customers were price conscious what in the hell are they doing with a Norton? Keep up the quality and there will always be a market for your product.
     
  9. NortonMKIIA850

    NortonMKIIA850

    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2017
    Speaking for myself only, I bought my Commando nearly 20 years ago when I had a job and could afford it. But circumstances change. 20 years later, I don't have a job and can just about afford to keep it going, barring any major developments. But I love it, it's become part of who I am. Just saying ...
     
  10. Frankie17

    Frankie17

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2015
    once the current market demand is filled price will become an issue , selling direct and cutting dealer margins will only discourage dealers from purchasing stock , competing with thier supplier does not sit well with most traders as forward orders from dealers on future batch production go out the window , as a result full auto will have to fianance thier own production and stock in the future which puts even more pressure on cash flow

    i have seen lots of UK manufacturing companies take the same path , with manufacturing and direct selling you have to have very deep pockets and carefully set your retail price levels where it is difficult for new players to enter the market overprice your product and competition will eventually arrive
     
  11. SteveA

    SteveA VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2011
    Not going to argue with your comments on the difficulty of doing business and the complex decisions on matching supply to demand. AN is a dealer for this part today, and they will need to keep a head in the catalogue to offer the full range some builders will want to single source. And they know full well the complexity of retail alongside wholesale.

    But I am interested to know your current assessment of potential 'market'.

    How many completely new engines are being built each year for racing and restorations worldwide?. Peter Williams replicas could possibly use a production batch if the potential is met there, NYC Norton is making a few bikes with new motors, then you have what CNW and HNW are doing, and a few others. Then you have well funded home scratch builds in 3rd party frames, full bike restorations and the repair market. 2 Batches? 50 heads, around 1 a week?

    The 200 sold so far have I think been manufactured at a lower rate, I had #101 in my hands in late 2014. I would think it might be difficult to fund and run manufacture rate beyond two batches of 25 a year.

    Ken will have a better idea and I am sure this is what has been driving his worry beads for some time, but onn the basis of what we can easily see, I would anticipate several years at that rate is viable.

    (just a guesswork opinion, I am no retail/restoration expert).

    A wider product range of heads, ready fitted optons and blanks for developers, and moving beyonds just heads may well enhance the proposition.
     
  12. mdt-son

    mdt-son

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2012
    Ken, I sincerely hope you will not slash making the 850 heads, as supply of good OEM heads has virtually dried up .....

    -Knut
     
  13. acotrel

    acotrel

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2012
    'Quality does not cost - it pays'. Too many of us buy primarily on price, that is why much of what we buy is crap. It is also one of the reasons the Chinese are more successful and our manufacturers move offshore.
    A lot depends on what you are doing with your bike. About 10 years ago a Molnar Manx was brought to race at Phillip Island, it was reputed to have cost $90,000 to get it there. In that context , Ken's $3400 Australian is not so much. The problem is that most of us bikies are cheap-skates. In Australian Historic racing, there is only one cheap option. You could build a competitive Period 4 Featherbed JAWA two valve for about $15,000. The rest is ridiculous.
     
  14. kentvander

    kentvander

    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2012
    Have you talked to Bruce Verdon of TTIndustries? He manages to offer his transmissions in Aluminum or Magnesium. The castings look good and his prices seem good for complete transmissions. I can't believe his production volume of Norton gearboxes is much greater than your FullAuto heads. Just an idea. I got one of your heads and hate to hear you're considering discontinuing production of such a quality product. Best of luck!
     
  15. gortnipper

    gortnipper VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    He makes more than gearboxes for Commandos, he does for Manx, G50 and race cars as well, so has a bit more scaling efficiencies I would imagine.
     
  16. acotrel

    acotrel

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2012
    Ken came to visit me a while back and showed me one of his 750 heads. They appear to be super quality. I looked at the exhaust port to see the anti-reversion mod. It seemed to be only slightly different from the OEM item. One thing I'm very strict on with four stroke bike engines, is that I always use skinny header pipes. The following comment is interesting :
    'Reversion Effects From a Restrictive Exhaust System
    Generally speaking, as backpressure is allowed to increase (largely based on header primary pipe size), cylinder pressure at the point of intake valve opening will correspondingly increase the energy level of reversion pulses delivered back into the inlet track. There is a balance that needs to be struck between primary pipe size to effectively improve the exhaust “blow down” period and proper cylinder evacuation. This becomes particularly critical during mid-rpm operation where over-sized headers provide insufficient flow rates for good cylinder cleansing of exhaust gas. Think about the time when smaller primary pipe size improved mid-rpm power with little or no attending loss at higher engine speeds. Reports of such observations among engine dyno operators are quite common.'

    In the same article, it says that advancing the cam 6 degrees exacerbated the reversion problem in a particular motor. My 850 cam is advanced 12 degrees and I use a 2 into 1 exhaust with skinny header pipes and fat tail pipe. When I ride the bike, it is extremely difficult to avoid over-revving it. I don't have a Fullauto head. One thing I have been very careful about is that the IDs of the header pipes exactly match the IDs of the ports in the head (no steps ). One thing which worries me is the welding flash on the interior of the pipes where the component bends are joined The article I've quoted mentioned that the comments were not relevant to 'wave tuning'.

    I've noticed from photos that Steve Maney seems to use fat header pipes on his 2 into 1 exhaust systems. A big problem with Commando frames, as with Featherbed frames - is it is difficult to get the header pipe lengths the same while fitting them around the frame.
     
  17. acotrel

    acotrel

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2012
  18. SteveA

    SteveA VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2011
    And several more motorcycle products, and follow up with replacement parts/sprockets etc, there is a whole lot more.

    But I think you mean economy of scale efficiency! :D
     
  19. Fullauto

    Fullauto VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2009
    I have financed everything right from the start. Pressure on cash flow has been with me from the start. Everything had to be taken into account and that's exactly what I did. As for pricing, I have not considered how much the market would stand, unlike some, but rather what it needed to be to survive. As to the retail price, I will bet you can go out and find a number of exhaust systems for modern bikes which are more expensive. A mate of mine who is entranced by Ducati legend has two magnesium single sided swingarms, which, when purchased, had a retail price of AU$15,000!

    As for competition, I am just waiting for somebody to think that they can get it done better in India or China. I will laugh myself silly as the warranty claims grow. I have had one warranty claim where the owner had a blown oil gallery. I sent a replacement head immediately without waiting for the failed head to arrive for inspection. I have another pending where the owner doesn't like the look of the threads. That's it. In 200 heads, that's pretty good. I have not heard a negative comment about the product from the start, except on the price. Compare apples with apples and see what's good value and what's not.

    There's a funny thread on Facebook at the moment about steering dampers. I simply say. "don't waste your money on fluff, use it to set your bike up properly" and people ignore you after talking about their worn tyres and worn swingarm bushes. Fixes the problem according to them! Sorry, getting off topic.
     
  20. Fullauto

    Fullauto VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2009
    No, I haven't. Mainly because his business is based in New Zealand and I wish to do everything in Australia. I believe that he sells about 70 gearboxes a year. I sell 25 to 30 heads a year but always have more orders than heads. I think in about two batches I will be ahead of the game and have a constant stock of heads.