New Commando owner

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Jan 27, 2008
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I'm new to this forum, and new to Norton. I just picked up a basket case (on Friday, the 25th), and am in the process of taking inventory of what I need. I hope I'll find useful info, and will share what I learn about the bike.

What I know so far:
850 Commando, built 04-73. Odometer shows 3741 miles, and I think thats pretty accurate, judging by the shape of the bottom end.
I guess the bike is a roadster, as it has the roadster-style seat and the small glass tank. Wheels are chrome, and the tires look original (Dunlop TT100)
The last owner started a restoration, but lost heart or interest. He changed the color from red to black, but his painter messed up the job. I think I'll go back to Candy Apple Red. The owner previous to him had re-covered the seat, and it looks like a factory replacement - 'Norton' script on the back and an embossed weave pattern on the top.

The past of this bike is a little sketchy, and I think it has passed through a half dozen people since it was last on the road. The title dates to 1985, and hasn't been re-assigned since that owner sold it.

I know, that's a lot to read from a first-poster. If anyone on this forum also belongs to, they'll know I tend to ramble.

(one of my other bikes is a 1050 Speed Triple, which I believe is the modern equivalent of the Commando)

Anyway, thanks for the opportunity!
Welcome to the Norton world BillT. I'm sure you'll find this site a mine of useful info.
You might find this post gets a bit lost in the anything else section, most of the action happens on the Norton section.
ntst8 said:
You might find this post gets a bit lost in the anything else section, most of the action happens on the Norton section.

I agree = Message moved!
Welcome BillT.

I think you'll find the forum friendly and helpful.

The basketweave seat cover is correct for the 1973 model year, however it should have a steel tank rather than fiberglass. You'll find some varying opinions on the glass tank. Many of us have had good fortune with cleaning and lining fiberglass tanks and some have had nightmares. In any case, if you keep the 'glass tank, line it before you repaint it. Most tank lining systems do not recommend their product for fiberglass. The Caswell plating epoxy system is the only one I am aware of that will recommend it. Many have had success using RedKote, Por15, Hirsch, and others, even if the suppliers don't recommend them for fiberglass.

There are new steel tanks available (made in Pakistan) for $400-$450 that look decent, but will need some filling and surfacing before paint. Greg (Norbsa) on this list has one being painted now I believe.
Thanks for the info, Ron. I don't know what is correct for this particular bike, but the tank and side covers do have matching original paint. I guess its possible a previous owner got different pieces as a set. Going through the boxes of parts, there are a few things that previous owners picked up, like all new isolastic mounts, m/c rebuild kit, new fender stays.

I've stripped most of the paint off these pieces (it looks like they've been repainted at least six times). The first color coat over the primer for all three pieces is red (Candy Apple Red?). The inside of the gas tank looks to be in pretty good shape, and it doesn't leak (water, anyway). I guess it wouldn't hurt to use a sealer on it.

I feel I'm pretty lucky in that there's a Norton 'guru' about 25 minutes away, in Fort Lauderdale. I've been over to his shop three times for parts, and he's had everything right on the shelf, except for standard rings - he'll have those by next week. He's also sent my head out to have new exhaust threads installed. Its supposed to be back next week, too.

While waiting for engine parts, I've been cleaning and rebuilding chassis parts. Forks are done, triple clamp is done, rear subframe is done, shocks are done. Next step is re-lacing the rims with stainless spokes. The wheels are in good shape - no dents or pitting on the rim chrome - but the hubs need cleaning/polishing, and the spokes are weathered. I'm going to try doing the spokes myself. Its been almost 30 years since I spoked a wheel, but I'm sure it'll come back to me.
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