New member introduction

Joined
Jul 8, 2006
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4
Hello everyone,

Just wanted to say "Hi" and introduce myself. As you can see in my sig I have 2 Nortons, a '75 850 I purchased new in 1976 and a '66 Atlas that I've had a little longer than that. To be truthful I currently have about 7/8 of the Atlas. I tore it down for restoration about fifteen years ago and still haven't found all the parts to complete the reassembly :oops:

The Commando has been off the road for a couple of years and I'm planning on giving it a good going over in the next few months before putting it back on the road this fall.

I've browsed the most recent few pages of posts and it looks like you folks have a great forum here. I'm sure I'll be making use of the archives and asking a few questions as my projects proceed. I'll also take a better photo of the Commando for my sig. The one you see below was taken in 1977 when I took a little road trip from Phoenix to San Diego and then up the Pacific coast to Seattle, Washington.

Vance
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2004
Messages
1,691
Hey Vance, Welcome, Buying Nortons new in the last yearof manufacter? You and me got to be close in age. I see you have the rare "Pack Mule" model Ya don't hardley see them no more. Love to hear some fixed on the side of the road stories from your "little trip". Have ya had to rebend your back fender brace yet? Looks like a lot of load. Bet your tire got real square real fast. How many chains how many tires how many deer???
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2006
Messages
4
Thanks for the welcome.

"Pack Mule" :lol: I like that. Hey, what can I say, it was called Interstate and I took that literally. Not really as much of a load as it looks, I'd say about 75 - 80 lbs. Not much chance for the rear to square on me, I took Highway 1 and 101 as much as possible so the edges of the back tire stayed nicely rounded.

The amazing part is that it did the whole trip, about 4000 miles by the time I got home without a single mechanical failure. I did put it through a fairly rigorous break in before I left. I did about a half a dozen 500 mile Sundays around the mountains of northern Arizona before leaving on the trip.

The only notable "failure" during the break in trips came on a winding mountain road at about sixty five mph. I noticed a sudden change in the exhaust note and instinctively backed off the gas (after a quick check in the mirrors.) Out of the corner of my left eye I catch something shiny in the road pacing me. I slowed further and watched my left silencer scoot straight as an arrow past me, continue another couple of hundred feet and sail over the slight embankment on the other side of the road and down into a fairly deep ravine. It took me a while to find it and to piece together enough hardware from the right side to keep both silencers in place to get me home.

Vance
 
Joined
Jun 14, 2003
Messages
747
Hi Vance and welcome!

I too have a '75 Commando, mine is a roadster. Love those period photos of your bikes. Have you had problems with the camshaft in your '75? Reportedly, the cams in the majority of the '75 models were super soft and would destroy themselves in less than 15,000 miles.

Thanks for sharing your bikes and bike experiences with us.

Jason
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2006
Messages
4
Hi Jason,

Mine started life as a roadster too, I added the Interstate tank and side covers.

Yep, cam went away at about 16k. The link below is to a pic of the remains. That little sliver is what's left of the timing side intake lobe. It was too wierd looking a piece to throw away.

Broken link removed

Vance
 
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MichaelB

"Sons of Arthritus"
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Jan 14, 2004
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Wow, that's worth saving. I have heard of the soft cams but hadn't seen a failure. That is eye opening.
 
Joined
Apr 7, 2004
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As I have said before always check the travel of the rockers before buying an old Commando. Some seem to loose .010 and stay good. ( work hardening) others go all at once.
 
Joined
Jul 8, 2006
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Mine was definitely the all at once variety. I noticed a progressive power loss and then a brief rattling sound as I coasted in to a parking lot. I don't think I went more than a mile or so after noticing the loss, but I had been in hilly country so I suspect the failure started much earlier than I realized. After trucking it to a nearby friends house (I was over a hundred miles from home) and doing a quick diagnosis I realized it was a major failure. I had been hoping for a fuel problem. No such luck.

These pics of the follower are scary too.

The face was completely worn away:
Broken link removed

And the push rod recess was hammered on one edge where the follower beat itself up briefly as the gap widened before the pushrod fell forward:
Broken link removed

The owner of the shop where I bought the bike theorized that the initial wear through the hardened layer of the cam was probably slow but that as soon as the follower came into contact with the softer but more abrasive steel below the damage progressed rather quickly. Needless to say this required a complete tear down and cleaning before returning to the road.

Vance
 
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