New to Nortons

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Dec 5, 2005
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I have just purchased a Norton Commando Roadster to keep company with my 1970 T120R. I am new to the Norton marque and would like to confirm the model. It has matching E/N Frame No 220723 and bears a manufactured date of Oct 1972 on the ID plate attached to the headstock. Does the Norton year model follow the same system used by triumph[ie August -July]. On this basis I assume I have a 1973 Mark V, made in Oct 1972. Am I correct?
The bike was a non runner as it had been stored for a number of years. However, after cleaning out the fuel tank, carbs , oil tank and draining the crankcase[no nasties appeared] and adding fresh oil and filter the engine started on the third kick. It ran well and has good compression. I intend to repaint the frame and tinware and replate the various fasteners but beyond this the bike appears mechanically sound.
Welcome Bazz,

And congratulations on getting the bike going so easily!

I don't think that Norton used the same model year production run dates as Triumph did however, the plate date stamping would seem a bit odd as all the information I have gives the production period for the 750 MkV as March to October 1973, the engine/frame numbers running from 220000? Are you sure the plate is stamped 1972 and not 1973 which would seem to fit?



There does seem to be something odd about the production figures for the 750 MkV as the last MkV is supposed to have been number 230935 which would suggest there was nearly 11,000 MkV's made at a time when they were already building the 850 model, or there was a gap in the production numbers somewhere?
Your number and build date should be right. I have two MkV's, 220808, built in November 1972, and another near the same number (don't remember the serial number exactly) built in October 1972. Both are titled as 1973 models. I have seen the same lists L.A.B. mentioned, but dismissed it because the MkV was no longer available after May or June of 1973. It was discontinued when the 850 production began. All MkV's should have serial numbers beginning 22XXXX and have the 5 plate clutch, large taillight, black clock holders, basketweave seat cover, and stronger, reinforced engine cases. The cylinder head should be stamped either RH5 (low compression) or RH6 (high compression). They were available as Hi-Rider, Roadster, Interstate and supposedly Fastback.
Well that's odd!
As I cannot find any mention of 22XXXX numbered bikes being produced before March 1973!
Also the engine numbers of the various detail modifications carried out during late 1972 production are listed:

212173 Sept 1972
211110 Sept 1972
212278 Nov 1972

I'm not sure 750 production stopped when 850 production began.
MkV version also had silver painted cylinder block.
No Fastback MkV.
My 1971 750 has a build date of Oct 1971 and is titled as a '71. All the build details are consistent with the 1971 model year.

My impression (could be wrong) is that they operated on a calendar year basis.

I have a 73 750, 2208##, manufactured Nov. 1972.
Oct 72 would be consistent for yours.

L.A.B., here in the Colonies, 1973 750's had black barrells. 850's had silver.
My head is NOT stamped. Do others have their heads stamped.
It seems like there could well have been a batch of (220000 serial) bikes made and maybe they were all sent to the US (don't know where Bazz lives? [I see Bazz has now added that info]) that hasn't been noted in any publication then?

I've e-mailed to the Norton Owners Club technical department about it as they now have the factory records, perhaps they can shed some light on this?
All 1973 model Commandos including the MkV's had silver barrels when they left the factory. Both of mine are silver, (one has been in my possession since May 6, 1973). Both have heads stamped with RH6. Does yours have the 5 plate clutch or 4 plate?

There undoubtedly was some cross over as machines were assembled in late 1972. The last of the Combat parts were being assembled along with the "new" 1973 model MkV. I have found 1972 Combats with build dates of October and November 1972. However these had 21XXXX serial numbers.
Well, I stand corrected about the barrels on some 750's. It does clear up a question I have wondered now for several years.

I purchased my first Norton in Oct. 1973, a blue 850 Roadster. Also there were 2 750's a red and a black, both with black barrels. Barney Tillman (Tillman's Cycle Center) made a modest attempt to explain the 750's were faster than the 850's and made kind of a big deal that these would be the last, but I wasn't haven it because I wanted Blue.
The Blue 850 became mine.

My Superplus, 1973 brochure shows the 'Short Stroke' with black barrerls. Barney was a dedicated Norton dealer selling all the go the fast stuff
including new complete Dunstalls. It makes sense he would have 'Short Strokes'. Mystery solved.

My 73 750 is a long stroke with 5 plate bronze clutch, black clocks, steel tank, basket weave seat, large tailight.
It has 25k plus miles and has been overhauled at least once by the PO.
So the black barrels mean nothing. The head very well may have been changed. The head / barrel spacing is tighter than an 850 not quite as tight as a Combat. I haven't checked the intake ports yet.

Update: Couldn't wait, pulled the head steady, RH 6 under the head steady.
Ron, are your triple trees black or silver?
I didn't mention the short stroke 750 as these are quite rare. I have never seen one in the flesh. These indeed had black barrels and a larger bore.

With Norton's penchant for using up old parts first, it would not be unusual for a MkV to come out of the factory with a set of "old" style black barrels. After all, it's just paint.

My triple trees are silver on both MkV's.
Speaking of paint...

At what point did Norton paint the engine and transmission cases silver?

Ron: Yes, the short strokes are very rare and I liken them to the Loch Ness Monster, heard of them, never seen one.
I have only known one person who had one and it was a transplant from Brian Slark, when he owned British Marketing.

I can't honestly say whether they were Short Strokes or not. All I know is they had black barrels which led to my thin conclusion 73 750's had black barrels. Your theory is a good one and heck, they may have been left over Combats.
It's not that big a deal I have often wondered if I came close to crossing paths with Immortality and didn't know.

Barney Tillman, being a Norton specific dealer in east Los Angeles, right down the road from the importer, Berliner, it wouldn't surprise me he would have em, if they ever even produced or imported em.

I am considering recreating my 73 to a factory fresh 750, in Fire Flake Blue, of course. Now that I have the barrels and trees settled, what about the grahics / decals and pinstripe.
Are the graphics in silver with matching silver script on seat and no pin stripes on tank and side cover?
Do you know of a source for the 'Correct' color?
There were at least 200* short stroke models made for the 1974 season in order to comply with US racing homologation rules but the short stroke engine was based on the 850 engine (77mm bore with a stroke reduced to 80.4mm).
I don't have info on any made in 1973 but I would think that if there were then they would also have to have been developed from the 850 unit?

Edit: Subsequent discussions suggest that the supposed 200 short-stroke production machines may never have actually been built.
My running MkV is original paint in blue flake. This is not actually the Fireflake blue you see in the fibreglass tanks. It's a much smaller flake. I just got my side covers back from a friend who had his painter match the color for a '74. It's a little different on the '74 as the basecoat is light. He did his with a silver basecoat. The '73 750 is over a dark basecoat, either dark gray or black which shows through with the flake. My friend spoke with Mick Hemmings about this and he claims that he worked in the paint department about this time and the difference was indeed the primer/basecoat. In any event, the blue is the same color in '73 and '74 but the effect is quite different.

Also, the 750's had gold decals with black edging and NO stripes for '73. The 850's from '74 had silver decals with no edging and silver stripes on the tank and sidecovers.

I can send a picture of my '73 to Jerry to post for reference or if you PM me I'll send some close ups of the paint.
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