Rookie needs help with 73 Commando

Joined
Nov 20, 2006
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Hi All,

I'm new to this site and to Commandos. It's a long story but basically I ended up with a 73 Commando that's been stored for the last 10 years or so. I filled up the fluids and installed a new battery.

I'm trying to start it up and need help with the basics.
1) What position should the ignition (key) be in?
2) What position should the control (on the handle bar) be in?
3) Does it matter what gear it's in?

Any advice/suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.
 
Joined
Jan 8, 2006
Messages
46
Hi SoCal,

You will get a lot of help from this site, the guys are great.

I must be first to see this so here's my help for you. I'm not too sure on your particular model but my key is turned to the far right for ignition. The control on the handlecar I assume you mean the choke which if standard and same as mine should be turned fully anti clock to engage the choke (the cables actually slacken and allow the choke slides to lower). The bike should be in neutral, I suggest getting on the bike and rolling back and forth lightly whilst selecting this.

Hope this gets you going, as I said the others will soon reply with more detail on your particular model.

Rgds Vince
 
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Jan 8, 2006
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46
WOOPS, choke should be turned to fully slack, ie, up for ON and then turned anti clock to the stop to turn OFF.
 
Joined
Nov 20, 2006
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Thanks Vince. Much appreciated.

For the handle bar control, I wanted to know what position the switches (next to the red one) should be. It has three positions - up, middle, bottom.

I would like any suggestions for where I can pick-up an owner's manual for a 1973 Commando Roadster in the San Diego, CA area.

BTW - I was out in Sydney, Hayman Island, and Adelaide couple of months ago. Beautiful country.
 
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Jan 8, 2006
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Thanks for the country compliment, Ive been to SoCal a couple of times and enjoyed the place, a lot of fun, especially the theme parks for the kids and muscle beach for a look at ......... well you know!

Try www.britishspares.com for your manual and any other bits you might want, I find this NZ company very good.

Rgds Vince
 
Joined
Dec 5, 2005
Messages
64
Welcome to life with a Commando. I have just fired up my 1973 750 after a full restoration. So far as the various controls are concerned , you will have.
1. Ignition switch. This will be a four position switch. The positions, starting from anticlockwise position are:-
parking with lights[ignition off]
[ii]lights and ignition off.
[iii]ignition only
[iv] ignition and lights.
The key can only be withdrawn when in position and[ii]
2. Controls. From a sitting position on the bike, you will have on the left the headlight dipper switch[lever], headlight flasher[top button], horn button[bottom button]. On the right hand side there is the direction indicators[lever], kill button[bottom button] and spare button[top button]
The air control lever[choke] may be mounted on either the left handle bar or the right side. Fully open the lever is moved to the downward position[ie anti-clockwise]
Hope this helps
Bazz
 

L.A.B.

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SoCal

Choke lever assemblies on Commandos can either be left or right handed handlebar lever units and going by rotation can give the wrong information, so with the standard Amal Mk 1 carbs tight wire (choke slides fully up) is choke OFF. Although you may find just flooding the carbs with the tickler buttons is enough, the choke can be left off for starting.
Amal Mk 2 and Mikuni (cable operated) types are the opposite.

There is a riders instruction manual here (850cc) 1974 version but basically the same for a 1973 model although you haven't mentioned if yours is 750 or 850? (both types made in 1973) and the handlebar switch arrangement was changed during 1973 I think:
http://translate.google.com/translate?s ... rton%2Ehtm

A full workshop manual and parts book is available, and the parts lists can be found on the BSA Regal website:
http://www.bsa-regal.co.uk/norton/parts-list.php
 
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Aug 21, 2006
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SoCal said:
Hi All,

I'm new to this site and to Commandos. It's a long story but basically I ended up with a 73 Commando that's been stored for the last 10 years or so. I filled up the fluids and installed a new battery.

I'm trying to start it up and need help with the basics.
1) What position should the ignition (key) be in?
2) What position should the control (on the handle bar) be in?
3) Does it matter what gear it's in?

Any advice/suggestion would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

If you have Amal carbureters, the first thing you will need to do is "tickle" both of them to fill the float bowls with gas. Should be covered ticklers on both carbs. Push these down until fuel runs out. If you have a Mikuni carb, there is a lever at the top-front of the carb which functions as a choke. Push this down.

And before ALL of this, you need to turn on the gas taps!! Good luck!! When I was first learning to start Brit bikes, I was always worried about flooding them. Pretty hard to do in my experience.
 

MichaelB

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Welcome. There is a whole ritual to starting a Commando that borders on black magic.
All the above is good advice. I may add to make sure the battery is strong and the connections sound. Fresh gas.
Let us know if you still have problems.

A very good store in S/D is http://www.gpmotorcycles.com/
They know Nortons and can get you anything you need.
They used to race them.

Cheers
 
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tpeever said:
SoCal said:
If you have a Mikuni carb, there is a lever at the top-front of the carb which functions as a choke. Push this down.

And before ALL of this, you need to turn on the gas taps!! Good luck!! When I was first learning to start Brit bikes, I was always worried about flooding them. Pretty hard to do in my experience.

Just going through all of this as well. I never found that lever on the Mikuni after about 5 minutes of trying to start the thing. :wink:
 
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Coco said:
tpeever said:
SoCal said:
If you have a Mikuni carb, there is a lever at the top-front of the carb which functions as a choke. Push this down.

And before ALL of this, you need to turn on the gas taps!! Good luck!! When I was first learning to start Brit bikes, I was always worried about flooding them. Pretty hard to do in my experience.

Just going through all of this as well. I never found that lever on the Mikuni after about 5 minutes of trying to start the thing. :wink:

Do you mean you eventually found it or it doesn't exist on your bike? There is a conversion kit that I have seen that allows you to use the Amal choke cable and handlebar lever with the Mikuni choke. Sounded like an interesting idea since the lever doesn't readily allow any intermediate settings and is hard to get at!!
 
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My carb has the lever, I just never spotted it at first while sitting on the bike. I havn't owned a bike in years until buyning my 850 so I was trying to start the thing while thinking "where the hell is the choke lever?"
 
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Nov 12, 2006
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SoCal, welcome to the world of Real Motorcycles. You don't mention in your post if you have ever owned an English motorcycle. I will assume you're new to this whole brit bike thing,so I gotta say, don't let anybody freak you out with horror stories about AMAL carbs, or Joseph Lucas,"The Prince of Darkness" or kickstarters breaking your leg with kickbacks, or any of that rot! I have been riding English bikes for over 30 years, I own 2 Commandos, 3 Triumphs, and 2 BSAs, and I have found Lucas components to be quite reliable. Electric problems are almost invariably wiring faults,especially those little flat spade connectors, called Lucars. The female part has a tendency to lose spring tension over time, and vibrate loose. Cut one off your bike, and take it down to the auto parts store, and match it up. Belden, and Standard Ignition make good replacement Lucars. Replace all the female ones on your bike. You will remember me later,on a dark stretch of highway, if you don't.

AMAL carbs work fine when new, but wear out relatively quickly. They can be resleeved,and the needles, and jets etc. replaced to bring them back up to snuff, or new replacements are quite affordable. The single Mikuni set up, by Sudco, and others, offers a nice, loping 600 rpm idle, smooth around town, low and midrange, performance, and simplified tuning. You won't get the throttle response, or top end "run out " with the single carb, that you will get with the dual AMALS. I have also found the AMAL set up to be a much easier cold starter than the Mikuni. My '71 750 Roadster is set up with the single Mikuni. My '73 850 Interstate has the stock AMALs. Both bikes have the stock, points ignition.

As far as starting your Norton goes, I can't comment on the switch position, because, unfortunatly, neither of mine have had the stock switchgear since before I owned them. So, once you have figured out where your switches need to be, with the gas taps(both) turned on, bike on centrestand, trans must be in neutral. Pull in clutch, and cycle kickstart a couple of times, just to free up the clutch plates. If you have AMALs, dispense with the choke altogether, just tickle both carbs. This means push down on those little buttons on the carbs, till gas flows out all over your finger, and dribbles down all over your nice clean cases. ( NO Smoking!)
If its a Mikuni, just push the lever all the way down. It is not really a "choke" but actually opens a separate circuit in the carb, and will not work unless fully depressed.

With the clutch let out, and the bike on the centrestand, push the kickstarter down till you feel compression. Leave the throttle closed, and kick through hard, and fast, with all your weight, and follow through. Don't worry, it won't kick back unless your timing is off. It will probably start on the first kick. Mine always do.

PS: If your bike for some reason doesn't have a centrestand, get one.
Never sit on your Commando on the sidestand, or you will break the little pivot tab right off the frame, and possibly leave a big hole in your frame.
I learned this the hard way! :cry:
 
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