Head Steady disassembly

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Mar 7, 2005
I am in the process of removing the head from my 850 for a new head gasket. I am at the stage of removing the head steady.

The middle head steady bolt is pretty difficult to get at. None of my allen keys fit into the space required. Is there any technique for removing (and tightening) the allen head bolt other than hack-sawing an allen key to make it shorter?

A question for the forum - what was the original finish on the 750/850 metal airfilter? Were they chromed or painted? I have a black plastic mkIII type but prefer the look of the 'pan-cake' type.
Hacksaw most likely won't work...steel is hopefully too hard on the allen key. My special allen key, is a ground off to about 1/4 inch long on the short end, ...keep it cool with water in a cup...dip it in often, and grind about half of the outer section of the bend off, so it will fit under the head steady. Same key will help with removing, fitting the intake manifolds/carbs too. Short and corner rounded off. Just keep it in your Norton tool kit. If you request...will post a picture...
Thought my explanation might be a bit hard to figure out....here is the allen key. Shorter length and ground off in the corner, allows it to be inserted from a slight angle, past the head stready.
The other key is cut out like a sort of ball on the end, actually both ends. This allows the allen key to be used at an angle other than absolutely straight into the screw head, can be handy for turning in a screw by hand, or getting at a screw that you can't get at except at an angle, naturally you should use a key without this ball cutout, to tighten the last bit, or loosen.
Head Steady disassembly
I cut down a standard allen wrench as shown in the pic above. A ball-end wrench might be handy but not necessary.

As for cutting, I used a Dremel tool and a cutoff wheel...

Hey TT
Bondhus L-Wrenches which make allen head cap screw wrenches are available. They make standard and metric sizes and will cost less than $20.00 cndn for a set. do a google serch on these wrenches and you will make it happen. Or find an allen head wrench that fits the cap screw and grind it down to fit under the head steady bracket. good luck
Thanks for the input.

I cut down one of my allen keys as per Debbie & hewhoistoolazytologin's notes. Since then I have seen ball-end allen keys..never noticed them before. Carbs and Head Steady are removed OK.

I now see how the standard head steady fits together. So now I understand why people replace it with something better. I like the look of the Mike Taglieri's homemade headsteady.

I am on to my next problem - getting a socket and lever to fit the bolts under the exhaust ports. I am reluctant to trim down the only 1/4 inch BS socket I have. Still thinkng about this one... frustrating things these BS components. I think I might put together a 3/8 inch drive lever that will fit in the recess using the socket I already have.
Hi there "Tourist Trophy"

While you're in the mood to modify your tools, don't forget about grinding down the box-end of a 1/4" Whitworth wrench. You will need this little jewel to access the pesky head nut that lives between the two intake tracks.

As regards to modifying a socket for the nuts beneath the exhaust ports, a standard Whitworth socket should work, sans any modifications - at least this has been the case on all the Nortons I’ve wrenched on.


I have a 3/16 inch Whitworth socket and a 3/8 inch drive breaker bar. Together I cannot fit this onto the exhaust port bolts. The socket fits only without the breaker bar.

Am I missing something? No chance of fiting a ratchet onto the socket while it is on the bolt.

Do you use a box end wrench to loosen them?

TT (slow learner)
I'm sure some of the members have special tools for this...but I have to use a box spanner. There is no way I can get an acurate torque on these three nuts, but I do use a socket/torque wrench on the other bolts, hold the torque wench short on the handle when I do them, and get a feel for how much I have to push to get the correct torque...then simulate the same pressure on the box spanner for the three nuts......sort of "seat of the pants " method, but it has gotten me through years of doing the head up tight. There must be some proper way/tool for this...but I have yet to see it. Use a box spanner to get them undone at least, then wait for other suggestions from the more informed forum members...might be a jewel of a tip out there!!!
If i could comment on the use of a torque wrench for a moment. The proper torque is achieved only when the force is applied at the HANDLE. As you slide down the handle or add an extension to the handle the torque will change regardless of what you have the wrench set to .

My suggestion would be to use the torque wrench where possible and for the remainder of the hardware, use common sense. A 7/16 box end wrench that is short enough to swing past the exhaust pipe will allow you to tighten those front nuts securely yet not allow enough leverage to strip the stud in the head

My apologies!!!

Yes - a box-end wrench is the only practical tool for accessing the nuts beneath the exhaust ports. As far as torque goes, you will have to use the feel method. It's not particularly scientific but seems to work under these circumstances.

Again I apologize for saying that a socket will work in this application.

Thanks Jason,

I have progressed to the next step. Exhaust port bolts are off - as well as the bolt between the inlet track.

I have started up the grinder for the box wrench...

Now I need 2 pairs of hands to lift the head off... Where is that help when you need it?
Try lifting a bit up and proping for a few moments with a plastic screwdriver handle....get string around the pushrods...loop around each set separately, and keep pressure on the string, and they will stay up there in the head. Lift all together off...lean the head backwards though...it won't come straight up and off. String can be used to get the head with pushrods back on the barrels too. Just sort of use looping and holding the string to keep the pushrods up in the head.

Note.....it will be very tricky to get tall the pushrods lined up with the rocker arms when you refit the head. The bottom end is no problem, they find the right place( Long ones for the intakes, in the middle, I think!) , but the top ends will try to find somewhere to sit besides the rocker arms ends.....Be careful...it is possible to not pay attention and tighten the head down with one or more not where they should be( I did this last week), and bend something....slow and careful will be the best way....
I used a variation of the 'string' method for keeping the pushrods in the head. Some extra long rubber bands tied together and looped around the pushrods. If they are long enough they hook over any nut or bolt on the top of the head - keeping constant tension on the pushrods.

So.. the head is off and the I found a copper gasket (in good condition). Lots of oil spread around the right hand side of the barrels and head. Piston crowns look good but the right-hand inlet valve was almost white in color (it looks washed clean with unburnt gas).
Just a short note on the head steady....

Walridge Motors sells a special bolt to replace the center head steady mount bolt. It is a piller style bolt that is longer and allows easier access with a stardard allen wrench. By no means a necessity, but nice.

part # 06-7745P

Walridge phone #(519)227-4923
Update - Head honed but needs new valve seats and one new exhaust valve. PO had put in 2 new inlet valves and 1 new exhaust valve!!!

Beyond my capabilities so I'm off the road until it returns from the shop.

Time to attend to other maintenance chores. Where to start?
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