Intro - Hi from Florida!


Sep 16, 2021
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Hey folks I’m new. Finally found a 1972 Commando that you folks hadn’t got to yet. Drove up to Raleigh from central Florida to pick it up and trailer home last weekend. Hadn’t run in at least 12 years and from the looks of things hadn’t run much. Lots of parts store wiring connections, leaky glass petrol tank, frozen clutch, no brakes and pretty ugly too! What’s not to love?

Well now it’s mine and it’s going to be beautiful. Didn’t want to post until I had some good content so here’s a couple vids. Fired it up today!

Unsolicited babble:

Clutch probably is not frozen, and you probably already know that by now. Cold oil viscosity can hold the plates together preventing the clutch from releasing until the oil warms up. You can use ATF, which should let the plates separate easier. Caveat is the clutch center could need to be replaced. It takes me two kicks on the kick start with the clutch lever in to free my clutch when stone cold, unless it sits for a couple of weeks, then it take 4 kicks. (Different Norton clutch though)

That motor sounds about right to me. You could rebuild it and it might rattle quieter if that is what you are looking for. I wouldn't take it apart myself, because it sounds fine, and you could ride it while considering how you would rebuild it. They aren't really that much fun to tear down for no reason. The motors are not fragile even though they can be noisy.

Ride it 50 miles, and change the engine oil and filter and gearbox oil while hot, and do it again. Then go to regular 1500-2000K oil and filter changes. I run 20-50wt with STP in mine for the zinc. Also quiets it down some.

Get out the steel wool and see if you can knock off some of the rust. Restoring one to perfection will cost more than a new bike before all is said and done.

BTW, I said the same thing about rebuilding the motor when I pulled my Norton out of the corner of the garage after a couple of decades of not riding it. Decided not to. It's a bit of a rattler, but it runs fine. Still gets me plenty of thumbs up when I'm out riding it. Well, I think they are thumbs up. I suppose they could be the middle finger.
It doesn't look like it has the filter (introduced from 208754).
I should have left "if it has one" with regard to the spin-on oil filter in my post. I optimistically thought Norton might have introduced the spin on filter by 1972, so I deleted it, but I guessed wrong apparently. I just looked at a Norton serial number data base and 208754 is a tweener serial number with no specific date, but just before 73. I probably misinterpreted the data base though. :)
I just looked at a Norton serial number data base and 208754 is a tweener serial number with no specific date, but just before 73. I probably misinterpreted the data base though.

They were up to 211891 by August '72 according to Service Release N.2/9 (the introduction of the R&M 6/MRJA30, Combats having ended at 211110) so 208754 should have been somewhere around June/July '72.
Welcome to the forum.
looks like the red light on the headlight is lighted on the first video. Normally it would only be on with ignition on, engine not running. It should go off when engine starts. It tell you that there is no power from the alternator going to your battery. I would check that out before you go on any journey.
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My recently departed ‘72 was stamped April 1972 , serial 207384 … for your reference … you going to love your new ride !
Make it black
I like it so much I’m not going to half arse it. Apart she goes!
Good call.
After sitting for that long all it takes is one frayed cable or a rusty fastener in the wrong place and things can get hairy in a hurry.
Mine sat for 44 years and the smartest thing I ever did was a tear down and start over with a bare frame...very glad I did.
Those dunstall decibel mufflers still sound good. A mate had the 2 into 1 into 2 set up and they certainly let out a great sounding yowl.
Welcome, its sounds great, if it was mine I just replace the tyres if old, do a complete service on everything, make sure the battery is charging then just ride it, enjoy your new toy and do changes when needed, seems like a good bike, be a shame to pull the motor down if it don't need it, don't see any smoke and has a good strong idle, good luck and have fun.

Thanks all for the advice! I’m going to follow your suggestions and get the clutch freed up, rebuild the brakes and take it for a spin before disassembly. Anyone know if this is a stock color? It’s got some weird custom overspray lines but the paint underneath is a metallic blue. Should the frame be blue too? Or black?
It’s got some weird custom overspray lines but the paint underneath is a metallic blue. Should the frame be blue too? Or black?

Group 24 "Tank, Roadster, Fireflake Royal Blue"

Black frame.

The rear wheel rim looks offset too far to the left (actually not far enough to the right) or the wheel is out of alignment (or both?) in the first video.
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Welcome and good luck with your find .
If you have the skills , time and $$ I would tear it down . Lots of threads here on this site regarding bits found in crankcases that may have been in there from previous work or even from the factory. It does indeed seem to run fine - mine did as well for a couple of years . When I tore it down I found this -

5/8 “ long piece of piston ring being fed into the scavenge gears of oil pump . How long was it there ? Don’t know - likely a few years / few thousand miles .

Here is the scavenge gear of the pump - note the piece that was found in the pump . There was also a blob forge welded between two teeth from the pressure of being squeezed between the gears .
I could not turn the pump over by hand past this blob yet the kick start did it easily due to mechanical advantage and it ran fine all the while . I should state that the pistons , rings and bores were all intact and in excellent condition so this was likely from a ring job while in the hands of the previous owner or even the factory . The workforce of the failing British bike industry were not all the most conscientious of people.
Obviously I got lucky with this ticking time bomb so again, I would take it apart if you have the skills .
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Tear is down. Do the recommended upgrade stuff. If you are really serious don't do any cosmetic stuff now. Instead put it mechanically right, get some road time on it and then address issues that appear. When it is finally sorted, then pull the power
unit etc and attend to frame paint and similar. If the frame is not true you will want to have it sorted before the paint.
Voice of experience here...:-(
I’ll take measurements to make sure but the rear fender is out of whack (and the tank is sitting on a scrub sponge), making the rear wheel look weird.