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New member introduction and a question for you.

Discussion in 'Norton Commando Motorcycles (Classic)' started by Jdub, Dec 11, 2018.

  1. Jdub


    Dec 1, 2018
    Hi all, I am new to this great forum so wanted to post an introduction. I just purchased 314219, currently fitted with a candy apple red Roadster steel tank and side panels for about twice the price I should have, especially since the gearbox serial number does not match the frame and engine. And there is a MK3 rear engine isolastic cradle wrapped around that gearbox (yup – no adjustment slot!). Additionally, the head steady is the early non-box style (what?) and the front brake master cylinder is without any parts at all. I hope to have this bike up on my stand shortly to see what other horrors await.

    But this motorcycle must fill the hole left in my heart when I sold 305308, my first Commando and the bike I always wished I had never parted with. It is truly getting tougher and tougher to find the unmolested Commando, but they are out there, I just missed the opportunity. Spent about a year looking including all of the U.S. and some of Canada – the heavily dusty and original bikes are out there, but you have to be fast to move on these. That said, there is no end of well-restored bikes with proper modifications if you have the money, and frankly that is probably what I should have done in this case.

    I have a question for the group here. Would it be appropriate to set a sticky post titled “I have your Engine, Frame, or Gearbox” on this forum? The purpose of this post is to build, by VIN number, a clearinghouse for “orphaned” engines, gearboxes, and frames so that anyone might, somehow, find their “missing” gearbox (in my case). If I posted this, I would offer up my later gearbox by number so the person with the matching engine and frame (VIN tag, really…) could work with me to get it back into their machine.

    Happy to have found this forum and looking forward to many useful and wasted hours poring over the information.

    EDIT: As requested pics here.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2018
  2. 84ok


    Aug 10, 2014
    pix pls?

  3. Craig

    Craig VIP MEMBER

    Dec 20, 2005
    Welcome .... enjoy your new bike !
  4. cliffa


    May 26, 2013
    Welcome Jdub,


  5. marshg246

    marshg246 VIP MEMBER

    Jul 12, 2015
    It appears that there is no interest in this. Read through this thread: https://www.accessnorton.com/NortonCommando/looking-for-my-1st-commando.25841/
    nortriubuell likes this.
  6. jimbo

    jimbo VIP MEMBER

    Sep 25, 2004
    IMHO, Play with it, have fun, learn about it, don't worry about the numbers, finding matches will take a lot of time and a lot of luck.
    concours and cash like this.
  7. grandpaul

    grandpaul VIP MEMBER

    Jan 15, 2008
    No, I didn't build that bike.

    (just thought I'd clear the air right up front)

    I might have a spare tranny cradle, I'll have a look...
    nortriubuell likes this.
  8. jsnorton


    Oct 10, 2018
    Luckily I have all matching numbers :)
  9. Jdub


    Dec 1, 2018
    Thanks for the welcome! I would truly love to find gearbox 314219 but do understand the pin in the haystack.

    Pics here as requested. BTW, The pics I posted show a tank that is super clean inside and I am curious to know who made it - can you tell or are there hints to decoding this? I do have a '73 Roadster tank with a dent so that is going to get the treatment back to black as will the side covers but interested in the origin of the current tank.

    Thanks again!
  10. thunderbolt


    May 16, 2016
    Luckily I have all matching numbers as well!!! 315001
  11. 84ok


    Aug 10, 2014
    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018
  12. NorComCycles


    Aug 23, 2012
    Your premise seems to be that somehow, and for whatever reason, owners have removed perfectly good gearboxes, engines, or indeed even frames, and fitted other such items that assumably were made available due to similar actions by someone else. I find that ridiculous. The reason that your bike, for instance, has a non matching number gearbox is almost certainly that the original shattered to pieces at some point, or at least suffered irreparable damage of some kind, and a replacement used gearbox was found from a bike that likely was wrapped around a tree. When you see engines and gearboxes in non matching frames, it is almost completely certain that whatever bikes started life with those components have long since bit the dust. There could be other reasons in a small number of cases, like perhaps a 5 speed upgrade, but that would by default preclude the owner ever wanting back something that he sold because he no longer wanted it in the first place.
  13. grandpaul

    grandpaul VIP MEMBER

    Jan 15, 2008
    Not necessarily. I once bought a huge lot of bikes and parts in a big U-Haul truck; in that lot were several Norton heads, cases, transmissions, and transmission cradles. None of the cases' serial numbers matched the transmissions. As you used the term "owners", you overlooked the possibility of "breakers" (salvage yards).

    Of course, another very real possibility is that the CASES were previously grenaded, and a replacement set has been installed with a replacement ID tag on the frame, stamped to match the cases on a salvage build.

    As mismatched as this bike is, it's a very plausible explanation.
  14. Pete Komarek

    Pete Komarek

    Sep 8, 2018
    Beautiful bike. Consider a Magura master cylinder or a sleeved down stock style for better braking.
  15. MichaelB

    MichaelB VIP MEMBER

    Jan 14, 2004

    I for one grenaded my gear case back in the 70's on my 850. I knew nothing about gear box numbers at the time.
    Bought new case at dealer. Have no idea if it had a number or if he stamped a number on it.
    What I do remember is it cost $145.00, ONE HUNDRED FORTY FIVE DOLLARS in or around 1975.
  16. worntorn


    Dec 22, 2006

    The Vincent club has a registrar who can tell you if the upper and rear frame numbers for your bike are correct for the engine. The frame numbers when new were always different from engine numbers, usually by a factor of 1900, but not always.
    One of my Rapides has Comet frame parts.
    When I provided the bike's numbers to the club, the Registar informed me that the original upper frame is on a running bike in Sweden and the original rear frame on a running bike in Scotland. I haven't bothered to contact those owners because matching numbers aren't very important to me.
    Using information provided by the club Registrar, local club members here have done several swaps to put original frames back with their engines. Often this kills two birds with one stone, correcting both bikes involved in the swap.
    It seems that in the 50s, 60s and 70s when matching numbers on machinery was of very little or no importance, anything went. People assembled all sorts of combos just to get a runner.
    So Jdubs suggestion not only is a good one, it already exists and is in use in at least one other club.

    Last edited: Dec 13, 2018
  17. N0rt0nelectr@

    N0rt0nelectr@ VIP MEMBER

    Sep 15, 2014

    Where are you at?
    As for the gearbox, it might be that sometime in the past it was damaged along with the cradle. I know that RGM sells a cradle with the Mk3 cotter set up but with the adjustment slots. I think these are made by or for AN.
    John in Texas
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 13, 2018
  18. Onder


    May 11, 2010
    A lot of boxes have cracks between the bearings and in time the owner got a new shell. I have my original shell perhaps Science one day will
    find a way to repair them. I keep it because of the matching numbers thing might matter when I sell. Meanwhile the internals are in another shell.
    Suspect this is common. Later Triumphs and BSAs are unit so you have a better chance of getting a matching numbers bike.
  19. baz

    baz VIP MEMBER

    May 26, 2010
    Personally I couldn't give a monkeys whether my numbers match or not
    My bikes are built by me from parts ,my bikes are just for riding and not as some sort of investment
    ludwig and KiwiNeill like this.
  20. trident sam

    trident sam

    Oct 23, 2012
    Totally agree Baz,
    I've got a couple of T160s , the one with the mismatched case numbers is a much sweeter motor than the matching numbers bike.

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