Good Looking Project

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Too bad it is so far away from my home!

I missed on two bikes in similar rough/nonrunning basket case type condition at the local swap meet this summer.
Asking price was 1800 for both machines(as in $900 ea), both 1973 850s. I went to have a look at them towards the end of the swap meet and the owner had already left.
At the time I was somewhat relieved however tonight I would like to have the projects to learn from. I think I would build one as a 920 cafe, the other 850 stock.
Maybe they'll be back next year!
Pretty complete, needs airbox, grab rail, center stand, and a new (proper basket-weave) cover and a lot of labor. I guess $3K US for a non-runner this complete isn't a horrible price.

By the way, this is a '73 model MkV 750 so would have the mild cam, 9.7:1 head, 5 plate clutch, and the strongest of the 750 cases.
Those both look pretty good. They'd both need a sidestand and a real front brake though. And with my luck, everything else :?

My 750 was a $3600 ebay purchase and I'm into it for $10K now. My 850 project bike was a $2300 ebay purchase. I just plugged all the receipts into a spreadsheet and I'm currently at $9700 with more to go :shock: No such thing as a cheap Norton, at least not for me.

I have to keep reminding myself, the purchase price is really just the down payment!

So VERY true Debby, When I started my 75 I kept all receipts from the re-build and parts suppliers, Even thought it would be fun to keep track of time too. Well I don't think I would ever want to add it all up thats for sure, It will probably be more than the GNP of some small countries, And then don't ask me why but I went out and bought a second basket case, A 72 Combat that is now ready for powder coating, Some of my research has led me to believe I have caught some type of Norton virus, And I am currently working on a cure. But until then I will continue to research its effects and get back to you all as this is very troublesome and I wonder if a cure will ever be found!!!! Have a great day, Chuck. :?
They say there is no cure, only therapy (buy another one!)

And most people advise against adding up the receipts. I guess I know why now! :lol:

Norton Fever can be hazardous to your financial health :!:

I keep no records, I suffer no guilt, but the bank balance is not what it could be ;)
debby, I have spent in the region of twice as much as your current build cost :shock: and cannot bring myself to actually write down the numbers, but I made this Norton nearly as near perfect for me as I wanted it, including a new frame (which I found out wasn't necessary...........they all have a slight kink in the top tube where the frame is welded :oops: ) and I do have a spare tank (a steel interstate and seat) should I want to go touring, it has a Roadster on at the moment. I probably paid £500 or so pounds too much for it, but I'd got impatient and was sick of driving around the UK looking at poor state Commandos.

Years ago I couldn't afford the luxury of building a Norton just as I wanted it, but now at the mature? age of 49, I can, and I have no regrets. It is beautiful to me and I get a great deal of pleasure riding and maintaining it, and simply looking at it. :D

Therefore my advice is, if you want a Norton, get it, and enjoy it.
Well said Reggie, Even have spent what I did would i do it over? Oh yea!!! Thats why I have a new project now. Maybe it is something in the BEER, LOL. take care, Chuck. :lol:
None of you are as overbudget as my friend who purchased a very rough and incomplete basket case Vincent for $11,000 CDN about ten years ago. At that time nice running examples could be purchased for 18 to 20K. The plan was the usual, he would do lots of the work himself and find parts here and there, keeping the cost low.
He was not in a hurry so this could have worked out OK.

Unfortunately he is not mechanically inclined, although he did not realize this at the time. On top of that the Vincent is not an easy choice for rebuilding, they have a rather complicated engine and although parts are easy to get they are considerably more expensive than Norton parts. There were reasonably priced used parts available in the local club(such as the wheels and front end parts he needed) but he never got around to compiling a list and giving to the us.

Last year he took his boxes of old parts to one of the well-known Vincent restorers. His shop rate is just $30/hr, about 1/3rd of what a retail MC shop charges (and they would have no clue of how to restore a Vincent)
Even at this low hourly rate, with all of the costly new parts added in his total finished cost was $46,000!
He is still in shock over that figure, however he is thrilled with the bike. I suppose considering his investment he has to like it !
$4500 to buy it .. $500+ to ship it and another $5000 to replace most of what is there . For $10,000 you probably could buy most of the bike piece by piece ... new
Ron, I think the cost comes out the same no matter how you do it!

worntorn, indeed that makes my Nortons seem like a bargain!

I think I feel a little better now. I had a bad case of sticker shock when I finished filling out the costing spreadsheet. But that's just the way these things go, isn't it?

A friend that does this for a living put it like this : Someone comes in with a roller and they want it gone through.
This is the way it will work I will spend 200 hours doing this work I charge 50.00 per hour (it's a fully equipped shop)that's a check for 10,000 down on the table before I start. Now you will get a monthly statement for your parts bill be sure you pay it promptly.
Now you can figure that a lot of people say, well the bikes not worth that done. And of course that is for you to answer I provide the work and parts you provide the bike. Did you suffer from the idea that you were going to make money on this venture?
He still has more work than he can do.
I guess we are quite lucky that in our local Vancouver club we have the expert John Mcdougall who only charges $30 hr for shopwork. This is for a fully outifitted shop. John does everything needed for restoring old Brit bikes, mostly Vincents,however he can be coaxed into working on Nortons.
He can rebore, grind crankshafts, etc. In Vincent circles he is thought to be the best engine fitter in the world.
We also have Dan Smith who is particularly gifted at the tackling the most challenging of machining jobs. He has done a lot of very high quality standard type machining and motorcyle rebuilding over the years, but now primarily does his own thing.
Here is one of his creations that came out of his basement shop. ... v4-engine/

Since there are none of these left in the world to restore, he made the entire engine, one perfect piece at a time. I've ridden this bike and it is a treat, very smooth.
At the moment he is recreating a series A Vincent twin. Since these are priced in $200,000 range, he thought he would just go down in the basement and make one. The AJS took him 18 months, the Vincent will take even less time.
His costs are very low, about $3500 for the AJS. All he needs are the raw materials. Wouldn't that be nice?
You are indeed lucky with guys like these around. Absolutely fantastic !
Actually 200 hrs for all engine ,frame, wheels, paint and plating work is flying. No wasted moves on a build from a roller to finish. It might be interesting to query your guys on an out the door build cost. My bet is that they are very close in overall cost. It's the way it works ya know. It's fun doing it all yourself but if you track the hours and pay yourself a wage on paper you will see the cost is very close to that of an honest professional. A competent builder can cut your time buy one third, most are worth their rate. Knowledge of the bike being all important hard to beat a man at his own game.
Kind of like house builders around here they will quote a price of 100.00 a square foot on a stick built house knowing that the final cost will go way over that and that you will hang yourself with the details. It will be all your fault and all profit for them. And this is how they survive, a bait and switch of the oldest kind.
There is no profit in a detailed restoration of any bike. If you get out even you did very well indeed.
I would have to put both of these fellows in the professional category. John McDougall has a steady stream of Vincent engines arriving for rebuild from points all over the world and has been doing this for many years.

The total time required varies greatly. For example, John did a total rebuid of my Vincent engine/ transmission in just 73 hrs including some custom machining to incorporate numerous fixes for common oil leaks.
Right after my bike he did the engine/trans of an Argentinean bike. Quite a number of Vincents went to Argentina as they were the Police bike there plus many were sold to the public. These bikes are generally in horrible shape, having been rebuilt by the local blacksmith with homemade and very crude parts.
Where my engine required a one page parts list for rebuild and 73 hrs, the Argentinean engine required seven pages of parts and 315 hrs of labour,much of it repairing crankcase threads, broken bearing housings etc.
John repaired 37 stripped bolt holes on the engine, plus a lot of other damage. Probably if it was anything other than a Vincent engine it would have been thrown away, however due to the relative rarity people now seem to restore Vincents from tiny bits of Vincent DNA.

For speed, I don't think many could surpass Dan Smith. He has spent his entire life as a machinist, starting with an apprenticeship in the Shipyards and eventually running his own firm, which he sold a number of years ago.
His sole purpose for taking the machinist's apprenticeship was to eventually become a motorcycle machinist. He has definitely made the grade. Here is another shot of his AJS creation ... _1936.html

In addition to the engine trans, Dan built most everything else for the bike except the frame, since he had a correct AJS frame on hand. For example, when it came time for the exhaust headers and mufflers, he went down in the basement and produced them one day, then sent them out for chroming. Same with the fuel tank, although it took much longer.
I should point out that his basement shop is full of automated state of the art machine shop equipment specific to motorcycle reconstruction. Without that he would be less proficient.

The other article incorrectly described the AJS as SOHC, but you can see by the photo it is a V4 DOHC. What a complicated engine! By comparison a Serives A Vincent twin will be easy for him.

As you say, 200 Hrs is very fast for a total resto. I know of a Vincent Restorer in the Northern California area, more of a talented hobbyist.

His finished products are excellent, however he does not have the benefit of a lifetime in the trade as our two local fellows do. He estimates that the average Basket case resto takes him about 500 hours to complete. He also has people in line waiting for his services.
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