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New member just starting out

Discussion in 'Norton Commando Motorcycles (Classic)' started by Ironracer, Jul 17, 2018.

  1. Ironracer

    Ironracer

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2018
    Hi Guys, new member here from Washington State, originally from England.

    I've always wanted a Commando (my dad had an Interpol) so I'm building one up from frame and cases alongside my other projects.
    I have almost zero experience with old British bikes; I had an Enfield Bullet 350 once but it never needed anything replaced or worked on so it really doesn't count.
    I have tons of questions that I'm slowly getting the answers for by searching and reading the parts books, waiting on the Commando bible to arrive, but I could use a recommendation for any manuals other than the factory workshop manual.

    Cheers!
     
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  2. marshg246

    marshg246 VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2015
    Welcome! Look above one the first page at the forum: "Sticky: Technical Information". There's a lot of info there. As you have specific questions and needs try to ask specific questions - you'll get better replies.
     
  3. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Well, my advice is to hold fire!

    If you really have only a frame and cases, and zero experience, you are facing quite a challenge and a VERY costly project.

    If time, patience and cash are in plentiful supply then carry on.

    If not, proceed at your own risk...

    I know I sound all negative, but it would be cheaper, easier, and quicker to buy yourself a tatty but fundementelly sound bike that needs some TLC, and use this as your project base.
     
  4. dave M

    dave M

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2005
    The Clymer vintage British bike manual
    Is very good, also the original Norton workshop manual. The Haynes manual is not much good in my opinion.
     
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  5. marshg246

    marshg246 VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2015
    I agree with Fast Eddie, unless you're just wanting a big challenge. I'm almost finished rebuilding a 1972 750 that was more or less complete when I bought it and it came with some spare parts I could use/sell. Forgetting my time, I'm into this rebuild for over $8000 so far. See: http://gregmarsh.com/MC/Norton_1972.aspx to get an idea of what it takes to rebuild one.
     
  6. Craig

    Craig VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    I on the other hand will encourage you ironracer , really cool thing to do .... you can choose how much you want to spend and how much time you have .... I rebuilt my ‘72 over many years always managing to ride it each season ... while it looked different during each phase it was always improved .... to the point now where sometimes I just look at it in shed , plus it’s now just a hoot to ride ! .... took me so long I’m sure even my wife has lost track of how much $ spent ... this method always gave me something to do in bad weather and never really drained the pot ... during rebuild I have managed to add a Ducati and MG Griso which are both modern bikes used for other purposes .... so I say go for it and enjoy every hurdle cleared .... !
    Craig
     
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  7. Ironracer

    Ironracer

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2018
    I have plenty of experience building bikes (Guzzi being my passion), I actually prefer to build them up from parts as I can better focus on how it takes shape in a form I like.
     
    Craig likes this.
  8. Craig

    Craig VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    There you go Ironracer , there is always a contingent of naysayers on every forum .... the odd time they have true , honest advice that should be heeded .... rest of time I try and take it as humour .... check out hobot’s threads when you need a pick me up ,great entertainment and vast info .... sadly he was chased away by a few .... enjoy your build , bet it turns into a nice Commando
    Craig
     
  9. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    In that case, go for it.

    And please learn how to post pics and keep us all involved / informed.
     
  10. marshg246

    marshg246 VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2015
    By all means go for it! I'm not a naysayer, just providing info but Craig is right - there are plenty around with something negative to say.

    I have a 1974 frame, engine casings, and gearbox casings, all matching numbers that match the title I have, and I will being doing the same thing. One difference is that I have a lot of spare parts including a complete gearbox and nearly complete bottom end components so it will be slightly easier for me.
     
  11. Craig

    Craig VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    One “book” I have found to be quite helpful is the Norton Factory Service Release .... kinda odd title but it full of info on problems , factory fix and the date changes made in assembling the bikes .... the issue I have runs from 1970 to Sept. 1973 , I think .... maybe it known by another name elsewhere .... hobot gave it to me several years ago , I sent him an East Coast Lifestyle t- shirt in return ... since then I have shipped several Norton Parts to many on this forum for the simple cost of shipping , plus a Norton themed T- shirt from a local shop , system has worked great for a few years now ....
    Craig
     
  12. frankdamp

    frankdamp

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Welcome, Iron Racer. Where in England was your family originally from? I emigrated from my home town of Leyland (Lancs) in 1968, with wife and two daughters.

    I did an apprenticeship immediately after high school with British Aircraft Corp. (1958 - 1965) which included a 2-year Ordinary National Diploma at Blackpool Tech and a 4-year Diploma in Technology at The Royal College of Advanced Technology at Salford (later the University of Salford and the degree became a B.Sc.)

    I had a couple of short jobs, the last of which was as a development engineer at Norton-Villiers for 18 months or so. I was a test rider on the prototype Commandos until they went into production and moved from Wolverhampton to the old AMC factory at Plumstead Road. That was shortly after the Commando appeared on the N-V stand at the 1967 Earl's Court show. I stayed at Wolverhampton and moved on to the prototype AJS Stormer program, but then emigrated to join a lot of my former BAC buddies at Boeing, in July '68. The Stormer was still in the development stage when I left.

    I retired from Boeing in 1998 and we moved to Anacortes the following year. I did a couple of years as a bus driver with Skagit Transit, but fully retired in mid-2002. We live in the Skyline district, just over the ridge south of the ferry terminal.

    If you're not too far away from Anacortes, I can give you any help you may need, perhaps even hands-on . Please e-mail me (dampshop@comcast.net) or use the land-line phone (360-293-3748).

    Good luck with your project.


    Frank Damp
    (known by my legal first name of Allan while at Boeing).
     
  13. eskasteve

    eskasteve VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2012
    Welcome. As a new Norton owner you need to haul ass down to Elma, Washington for the International Norton Owners rally. It's going on from July 16-19. Good opportunity to see a lot of finished bikes and get some questions answered. You should also join the local chapter, The Northwest Norton Owners www.nwno.org. If you go down to the rally they will have a membership person there as they are this years hosting club.
    As for buying a fixer versus starting from scratch numbers don't lie. I've recently done it both ways. My current 73 850 was a $6500 very nice bike to start with but of course I had to put about another $3000 into it. Roughly $9500 for a very stellar ride. Two years before that I did a ground up build starting with a complete abandoned 73 750 basket case. Two years of time plus about $14,000 to make it as nice as the 850. I enjoyed both projects but got more satisfaction out of the 750. I knew EVERYTHING about that bike. Unfortunately it was a victim of a downsizing move so I sold it for $10,000. Ah crap, I just realized that I lost money on that one in addition to all of my labor. Owning Nortons has never been a good financial move. Have fun and enjoy the journey.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
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  14. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2013
    Steve, that’s why it’s my deliberate policy to NEVER keep track of costs!

    If I can afford what I want, I’ll buy it. If I can’t, I won’t. Simple as that.

    I never expect these things to pay off. Which is good, as if I did, I’d be gutted !!
     
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  15. MexicoMike

    MexicoMike

    Joined:
    Jan 31, 2010
    I have never let the lack of ability to afford something stand in the way of my lifelong motto of buying high and selling low! :)
     
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  16. 74850

    74850

    Joined:
    May 10, 2014
    Welcome
    I will encourage you to build it. No idea how much mine cost but when I got it some fool had made a chopper out of it, the only original Norton parts were the engine, transmission and z-plates. The steering head had been cut and reangled to accommodate a stupidly long Springer front end. It ran but would take 4 lanes to do a u-turn.
    After alot of eBay and swap meets as well as colarado norton works and walridge I now have a roadster. More fun than a barrel of monkeys now.
    It was worth the late nights building. I have no idea how much money I spent, it's better that way!

    Craig
     
  17. Ironracer

    Ironracer

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2018
    The way I look at the costs of parts and stuff, if you spread out the cost over the time it takes to build it's really quite reasonable in dollars per satisfaction hour (legit SI unit right there).

    Frank, I'm from Kent, (just outside Gravesend) but I've been stateside for almost 13 years now. I studied automotive engineering at Loughborough hoping to work in motorcycle engine development, ended up in motorcycle emissions control systems before I moved over here and now I manage production for a veterinary dental equipment manufacturer. Pretty far from what I thought I'd be doing :)

    Eskasteve, my timing sucks. I guess I'll have to go next year, maybe on a Commando...
     
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  18. Nater_Potater

    Nater_Potater

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2013
    True, but, by working in a somewhat far-removed field, you won't be so burned out at the end of your work day that you'll actually want to work on the bike in the evenings!

    Nathan
     
  19. Lineslinger

    Lineslinger VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2017
    Your getting off cheap.
     
  20. Lineslinger

    Lineslinger VIP MEMBER

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2017
    If you do nothing else, give it 30 minutes a day.
    Even if you just sit there and stare at it, every day, clean a part or make a plan or see if something will fit or pour beer on it, give it a half hour a day.
     
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