MATCHLESS VERSUS COMMANDO GEARS

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Jun 14, 2003
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Does anyone know if the gears, shafts, cam plate, etc., from a Matchless gear box are the same as those used in a Norton Commando gear box? I have a spare shell and inner and outer cover for my ’75 Commando, but no gears. So, I was thinking about bidding on a complete Matchless gear box - which is on EBay now - with a view to use the guts in my spare Commando gear box shell.

Thank you,

Jason
 

Ron L

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Jason,
The mainshaft is certainly different. I'm not sure about the gears though.
 
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Bear in mind that Norton upgraded the metallurgy of the gearset about '70-'71. This was in response to gearbox failures due to the Commando's horsepower. I don't know the extent of the changes made inside, but 4th gear (layshaft) was certainly done. The improved gear will have a '6' on one side. I don't think any others are so marked.
Note: 4th gear is also final drive, meaning the lower gears all drive through it. This will become obvious if you tear a tooth off by launching hard or popping a wheelie. The resulting knock you will feel/hear will be noticeable in every gear. If you are lucky, you only have to replace the one gear in this situation. Sometimes both. Really unlucky, you replace everything that rotates, along with the main case and possibly the inner case!
BTW, I've only seen three catastrophic failure modes: #1 Wheelies! 2-sudden engine destruction, 3-push starting after dropping the bike on the swung out kickstarter (sheers off the layshaft inside the box)
The external change made was to replace the clutch discs with ones designed to engage softly, to lessen the shock loading of the gearset, especially from first gear abuse. re:wheelies. These are the 4 plate solid fibre discs, later changed to the 5-plate bronze setup.
 
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Thank you all for the excellent info regarding my gear box question. The Matchless gear box on EBay is now darned near the price of a Commando unit. This coupled with the differences between the two has given me enough reason not to bid on the Matchless unit.

Still looking for gears...

Jason
 
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Jason, RGM do a 4-speed close ratio g-box kit that consists of all the required gears but NOT the shafts, This might be worth the outlay given that you have to buy a set of internals anyway and you would then have a spare gearbox with a different spec to play with.
 
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The Matchless gearbox was used on the P11, because that was a Matchless 500 Scrambler with the Atlas 750 motor. Even the outer case is a different shape.

You could probably adapt the entire box to fit in a Commando, but you'd have the right-side, up-for-down shift style of the pre-regulation days. Incidentally, did N-V go over to left-side shift before the end?
 

ILLF8ED

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Left side shift

Frank,

Yes, on the 850 MkIII electric start in '75.
 
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