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Norton Villiers Commando 1968 Re commissioning an adventures at 30

Discussion in 'Norton Motorcycle Rebuilds' started by norton_rider, May 30, 2019.

  1. norton_rider


    Feb 6, 2011
    Hi everyone so a few years ago I got lucky enough to find a very early example of a 1968 Norton Villiers Commando within the first 70 bikes according to the engine an frame numbers which all match including the gearbox.

    Always wanted a 68' as my uncle raced his 1968 back in the day! With lots of Gus Kuhn stuff.

    Unfortunately as a few are aware do to the family print company closing an getting made redundant, I didn't get to ride her much apart from a few goes will dig some pictures out from the work I did do which included checking the valves and installing a Tri Spark Electronic ignition.

    Going through the bike now found a couple of things to sort out..

    Don't think the fuel taps are original and not mad on how they are sealed.

    Needs the matt chrome redoing on a few of the items.

    Fuel tank mounting stuff is rubbish previous owners stuff gonna order the right kit from Andover.

    Slight leak on the primary chain case so gonna order a new rubber o ring any tips anyone?

    Slight leak on the bottom of the timing chest outer cover as well.

    All in all though not bad usually keep notes but alas they were in the desk at work so had to go through her all today just to sus out exactly where I was up to.

    Anyway hope you all enjoy :) planning on the first ride tomorrow.



    Uncle Jud on his Race bike!
    [​IMG]IMG_20180920_162840_694 by norton.rider, on Flickr

    My Commando
    [​IMG]IMG_20190517_172011_102 by norton.rider, on Flickr

    Spent some time checking the clearances.
    [​IMG]IMG_20170917_120230978-01 by norton.rider, on Flickr

    New Fluids and ended up getting drenched just after I'd done them, joy's of Norton English weather!
    [​IMG]IMG_20170917_160516994-01 by norton.rider, on Flickr

    Tank off!

    [​IMG]IMG_20170828_103932047-01 by norton.rider, on Flickr

    Gave the carbs a clean out while fine dining on some beans haha.

    [​IMG]FB_IMG_1559242321063 by norton.rider, on Flickr

    Test fitted a replacement tank I got, need to get it pressure tested and extend the front studs as they are not long enough but really not bad used a profile gauge and the top curvature of the tank is pretty much identical to the original, back bits are slightly different where the strap goes but functions ok. Something to get painted later in the year

    [​IMG]LRM_EXPORT_20170922_154204_wm by norton.rider, on Flickr

    [​IMG]LRM_EXPORT_20170922_155320_wm by norton.rider, on Flickr

    my two babies chilling out together when I was replacing the grips on the 650SS

    [​IMG]LRM_EXPORT_20170823_182307-01 by norton.rider, on Flickr

    Bit of a video talking about the 750

    First start of the year :) All ready or the ride out quite a funny moment when I was looking for the kill button on the 650ss then I remembered it was a key lol

    Plan for tomorrow is down one of my local test routes just to put a few miles on her engine still needs running in so wanna do a short 10 mile ride then come home an check everything is tight.

    So should hopefully have some GoPro footage all being well.

  2. gortnipper

    gortnipper VIP MEMBER

    Nov 11, 2013
    Check there are no gaps in the mating surface.

    Smear the o-ring lightly with with RTV and clean the case and cover mating surfaces before installing.
  3. norton_rider


    Feb 6, 2011
    Ok Cheers mate :) appreciate the reply
  4. Matchless


    Dec 23, 2010
    Hi Tom,
    A nice looking '68. Two things, firstly are you aware that the frame is the early type that can break around the headstock area. Sometimes they broke in the first few thousand miles but others went on for many years letting go with little or no warning. My '68 Commando had it's frame changed FOC a few months after leaving Plumstead. Lots of info. on this site about the problem & even some film footage of the works test riders trying to break the frames.
    Secondly, where did you buy the steel tank from?


  5. norton_rider


    Feb 6, 2011
    Hi Martyn thanks for the heads up yep fully aware of the issue with it spoke to Norman White in depth about it an a few other people I know :) my uncle used to race a 68' Keeping a close eye on it

    Got it from a seller called Pummy on ebay seemed to be the most recommended ones and really great to deal with the only issue is the front studs arn't landing correct and are to short but will be an easy fix once I get round it.

    Going to line the current tank at some point


  6. norton_rider


    Feb 6, 2011
    Some footage from Today :)

    Such a fun ride out! R/h exhaust came loose but all in all not a bad shake down test.

    Last edited: May 31, 2019
  7. NPeteN


    Nov 20, 2018
    Very nice bike.
  8. norton_rider


    Feb 6, 2011
    Thanks Pete :)
  9. cjandme


    Feb 5, 2011
    Nice early commando you've got there. I'd do more than keep a close eye. Your frame. That head stock needs to be triangulated IMHO, sooner rather than later. Anyway it is a beautiful bike you got there. Cj
    nortriubuell likes this.
  10. Bernhard


    Apr 20, 2011
    nortriubuell likes this.
  11. norton_rider


    Feb 6, 2011
    Thanks guys yep I've been speaking to Norman White about it :)
  12. kommando


    May 7, 2005
    Concur that that frame is top priority, funny that someone had the knowledge to fit a box type headsteady instead of the failure prone flat plate type but did nothing to the greater risk frame headstock.

    I would not be riding that bike anymore until the frame is fixed.
    nortriubuell likes this.
  13. norton_rider


    Feb 6, 2011
    Yep thanks guys :) I'm gonna get in touch with a few of the Norton guys that are still about in the uk to see about sorting it, was wondering about that head steady is that a later type ?

    Got the 650SS to fly around on once the clutch is sorted over the next week or so.
  14. L.A.B.

    L.A.B. Moderator VIP MEMBER

    Nov 20, 2004
    Correct. The carbs are also the later type with 'waterproof' ticklers and float bowl drain plugs and the fuel line and banjos are 850 Edit: Mk2 and Mk3 type.

    Yes, 1973 (220000)-on.

    The speedo and tacho cables wouldn't have been routed outside the headlamp brackets originally and the plastic covers on the instrument cases are 74-on.

    Edit: The correct tacho cable would also have a protection spring:
    Last edited: Jun 4, 2019
  15. norton_rider


    Feb 6, 2011
    Ah thanks L.A.B. rally appreciate the reply trying to work my way through it and sort all the stuff that needs sorting bit by bit as funds allow. So if anyone spots anything that's not original shout up :)

    Gonna sort the Matt Chroming out as well.

    Not sure who wrote the article or found the footage apparently the footage was the original frames at the time If I'm reading the article correct.

    Found this very interesting regarding the frames. Some amazing footage including a test bike in orange with what looks like a small tank + cut away so they can see the frame
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
  16. Triton Thrasher

    Triton Thrasher

    Feb 10, 2009
    Are you winding it up?

    Fast Eddie likes this.
  17. L.A.B.

    L.A.B. Moderator VIP MEMBER

    Nov 20, 2004
    I believe the footage was taken after the frame had been modified to prove the frames no longer broke, as it states:

    "Filmed evidence of this brutal testing was taken by Alan Jones - some whilst riding pillion on another Commando alongside the test track - which, after being viewed by the relevant American authorities, was sufficient for them to lift their threatened import ban."
  18. norton_rider


    Feb 6, 2011
    The bit I was looking at in the start of the paragraph :)

    The starting point of the investigation was to carry out extreme condition testing of the current Commando frame to try to replicate the frame breakages as found in America and, to this end, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) tank testing facility at Chobham, Surrey was utilised.

    I might be miss reading it though

    Then the article finished about how Sprayson came up with the idea to put the extra tube on :)

    Haha yeah wind an go the Commando, Triton.

    Been hunting all over for my exhaust nut tightening tool gotta be somewhere :)
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2019
  19. BusDriver330


    Oct 4, 2018
    Looks fantastic. Thanks for putting it on the road for everyone to see.
  20. norton_rider


    Feb 6, 2011
    Thanks mate :) people were stopping in the cars when we were at lights an commenting can't wait for another spin!
    They get a bit of a shock when it's me under the visor with my age :)

    Only I could miss place the biggest spanner I have haha for the exhaust rose nuts! Gonna hunt for it again shortly.

    What upper revs is everyone going to on a rebuilt 750 commando engine an for how many miles got a rough idea but just wondering what the opinions are on here.

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