Need help

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Apr 18, 2007
I just inherited a 72 combat commando. I need to know all the fluid capacities and types before I start the bike. It has sat for probably 3 years, and appears to have been meticulously maintained. Any advice is appreciated!
Lucky dog, You got no manual for the bike? Anny up and get the parts catalog for this year bike and the factory manual for this year bike. You will end up wearing out the pages money well spent. Parts are cheaper from vender's that require part#'s when ordering. The "Norton tech digest" from the International Norton Owners in the U.S. is a 20.00 deal. tells you all the updates and other uncovered stuff about your bike. You might even have a Combat Commando. Lucky Dog.
Thanks Norbsa..

Definitely plan on spending tons of money on literqature. This bike was my father's pride and joy, and I have fought tooth and nail to get it after his death- going on three years. I just feel like a kid in a candy store when I look at it. I WANT TO RIDE IT !!!
Also try the Andover Norton site. The parts there are very expensive but they have a nice parts breakdown that will give you the part number for almost all parts. Some vendors such as Clubman Racing need that number.

How much money and how much time do you have?

Having a bike that was in the family will be better than dealing with an e-bay "great deal"

Do you want to keep it stock or make good improvements such as belt drives(easy), Mikuni carb and electrical goodies?

The Old Britts site now has the parts diagrams at the top of each category page, and the page itself contains the part numbers and descriptions. Easiest way I've found to cross-reference part numbers.

As for fluid types and capacities, that's easy enough to find just by running a search on this forum. Be forwarned that discussions on exact fluid types in terms of oil weights, mono/multigrades, what to use in the primary, etc. will give you 11 opinions for every 10 people you ask so you'll probably just have to read until your eyes glaze over and then draw your own conclusions.
We can all help you better if when you post questions you use part#'s and page #'s from manuals. You need to keep your need to ride in check with your learning. New tires, oil, filters, and most important do you ride now? Can you ride? You going to love it I predict.

You'll love it.

I was lucky enough to be a development engineer at N-V on the Commando program. I started out doing test rides on the two "hack" prototypes and went through about 18 months of development work before I emigrated to the US to work for Boeing.

After several years on inferior machines, getting on the prototype Commando was a revelation. My immediately prior bike was a mid-1950s BSA A7.

I got to take the Commando protoypes out on road trials - what a blast. No discenible vibration, power to spare. Unfortunately, I couldn't tell how fast I was going because we had a 1600 revs/mile speedo drive and a 1000 revs/mile indicator. At about 85 mph actual, the speedometer maxed out and we had to rely on rpm readings for speed.

The bike had some quirks, due to its Atlas ancestry, but it sure was a lot of fun. One quirk was that we didn't have either a center stand or a prop stand on the protoypes, so we had to lean the bike against a wall whenever we had to leave it for "Coke and pee breaks". Also, the carbs were jetted way rich, so gas stops were very frequent in the early test days. My family had a filling station in Leyland, Lancs., about 110 miles from the Wolverhampton HQ for the development program. N-V bought a lot of petrol from my family!

N-V didn't pay worth a damn, by modern standards (not bad by contemporary standards) but the perks were great! Riding a high-preformance machine from Wolverhampton up through Lancashire and around the Lake District and back and getting paid for it? Priceless.

My favourite ride was Wolverhampton via M6 to Levens Bridge, then west across to Ravenglass, over Wrynose and Hardknott Passes into Ambleside, then across to Penrith, the A66 to Scotch Corner and down the A1 to Nottingham. Then it was a bit of a drudge ride back to Wolverhampton. About 480 miles in 8 hours.

I'm sure you'll find the Commando a real adventure.

For historical comparison, I was with N-V from early 1967 through about Whitsuntide 68.
Frank you have written a number of posts that I have saved these years but that one is a keeper for sure. Love hearing about things from your end. Commando VS the A-7 not really fair you know. But I do know what you mean. I had my first bike break down far from home like 800 miles the man who helped me out rode a Norton. Before I got on the back one day to get parts he warned me I have done a little work to this bike. To me it seemed like a rocket ship compared to my 650 TR6 anyway.

I'm not sure if I'd read any of your previous posts, but this last one was quite nice.

I've been mainly doing Bonnies for the last 20 years, but recently started working with Commandos about 4 years ago. All of a sudden, I've got 2 Combats in my shop, (besides one in the garage, an N15CS standing by, 2 Commandos on the shelf, and 4 that I've fixed up and sold), one Combat just now running earlier today.

More and more, I'm liking these Commandos real well; although I still think the Bonnie is "prettier" (don't laugh).

I'm pretty sure I'm going to keep this Combat, it's a hot rod.
Thanks for the positive comments, guys.

I should point out that I got a severe fit of the heebie-jeebies when I came to the US in the summer of 1968. I had a difficult time adjusting to driving on the opposite side of the street. I figured that, at least in a car, you have the stimulus of sitting on the other side.

On a bike, there's no help in that manner. Also, back then, bikes were even a smaller part of the traffic flow than they are these days. We had a small-ish car (a Datsun 510 wagon) and I had trouble with the senior citizens in the big Cadillacs not seeing me.

On that basis, I decided not to pursue riding on the street. Now in my mid-60s, I don't think I'll change my mind. Anacortes is full of 80 year olds in big old barges who can't see over the steering wheel. I feel safer in town when I'm driving a 30-foot Gillig transit bus!

By the way, for those of you unfamiliar with the English Lake District, the two passes I mentioned are single track roads with passing places, and have gradients of 30 percent or slightly steeper in several places.

Try a Google map look see. It's very interesting if you combine the map and the aerial photos.

Thank you so much for your fascinating post. That must have been a cool job. I took the liberty of mapping out the route. Is this a close approximation? (Click on 'VIEW OR EDIT RIDE PLAN' then zoom.)

You Tube has a several good videos of the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes. That looks like the highlight of the ride. Here are two samples.


Thanks very much for the links to you-tube. The two passes haven't changed very much. I had the fun of doing that at least once a week towards the end of the development program.

We ran a figure-eight course based around Wolverhampton at first, so that the recovery van didn't have more than about 30 miles to come get us when we broke down.

The Lake District route came after we'd done high speed endurance at a test track and were reasonably happy with reliability. I don't know where the other test rider went. I chose the Lakes because I went by my home town (Leyland) on the way up there.
I have travelled over these passes myself many times on my Norton. What the YouTube doesn't convey very well is how challenging a few of the hairpins are especially going up Hardknott pass. If you met a car coming down on the hairpins whilst you were on the way up........., definately a wobbly :? moment. I only have 29.5" legs :!:

I am going over the two passes later this year, either on my Norton or other Brit bike. I'll think of you :wink:
Apart from short legs, I too suffer from that. It's the bloody sheep I'd like to warn any first timer of. When lambs are about look out for the ewe on one side and the lamb on the other, coz at the last moment one will try to join the other.
Frank, I always wondered why my Commandos loved the passes.

What an invaluable resource to have one of the 'founding fathers' of the Commando here on this forum: Thank you very much, Frank.

I bet you don't get this kind of adulation in a beoing forum!

Karl Hoyt
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