Shipping my newly acquired Commando, input appreciated.

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Dec 13, 2006
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A dream finally coming true! I have lusted after a Commando for 37 years and have finally acquired a 750 S through a friend. The bike is in Vancouver, Canada and I am in the Los Angeles area.

Here is my plan; fly to Seattle and rent a cargo van, drive to Vancouver to load her up, drive her down, do the US Customs hassle, and get her to a shipper who will then ship her to LA as I drop of the cargo van and fly back. She has been sitting for a year and is in need of some tweaks like a carb job, fluid changes and new battery.

I would really appreciate any input with reference to my game plan as well as recommendations for reliable motorcycle shippers.

Any insight into dealing with Customs and do I have to worry about the Canadian side? (NAFTA :?: doesn't seem to apply to the ordinary guy)

I found a fair amount of info on the US Customs site but nudda on the Canadian site.

Thanks in advance. Jerry, you have created a great spot here and you members have created an enjoyable community!

Cheers,
 
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Why not just get it shipped to you straight from Van? I am sure you could get the seller, since it is a buddy, to take it to a cycle shop, get them to fix it since the US - CDN dollar is in your favour, then get the shop to crate the sucker and ship it to you. Might be cheaper than renting a Van ect. or it might be too much hassle for the shop.

I bought my MkIII out of province and had the thing shipped 1000 km and it only cost me $180 CDN and the bike was crated in a Harley, cardboard and metal shipping crate. Mind you, this was not accross the border so I cant tell you about import fees ect.

All you have to worry is about the US entry since it is coming out of Canada you don't have to do much. You will get hit with fees when the bike enters the USA, but since you want to bring it accross yourself, there probably will be no brokerage fees so that wil save you some cash.
 

worntorn

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I did the reverse, I bought my Commando in the US and imported it to Canada. There was no duty to pay, just sales tax and GST. I did require an advance clearance of sorts from the US Customs, this was a records check that took a couple of days to do. The US Customs did this check to make sure the bike was not stolen and that the person I was buying it from was the registered owner, before releasing it. They informed me that without this check the bike could be exported to Canada, but technically could not ever be brought back into the US, even for a day ride.
I only expected to have to deal with Canada Customs as the bike was being imported to Canada, so this was an extra little hurdle that I found out about by calling the US Customs in advance.
You might inquire as to whether Canadian Customs do a similar check in your situation.
 
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Dec 13, 2006
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Thanks for the replies.

Jerry, I'll try that link in the morning.

Coco, The brokerage fees would add up. The suggestion to get her fixed up in Canada is a good one and has given me an idea, I might pull the carbs and send them to the fellow in Ontario to get the slides brass plated etc.

Worntorn, Thanks for the heads up on the report ensuring the bike is not stolen, going to check into that in the morning too. I'm sure the seller has a clean bill but as a technicality it might be worth the extra work.

Appreciate the replies.
 
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Oct 27, 2006
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Timely topic. Yes.

I recently drove northward to get my new-to-me 1970-71 750 Norton Commando. To Niagara Falls, to be precise. Horrible place. Stay away from it. AT ALL COSTS. Canadian seller met me there to transfer funds (mine) and bike (his). I expected major hassles at the border (had all the legal paperwork for the sale). The border patrolman walked back and looked o'er the bike. He said, "Look's like she's pretty much original," then waved me on. I could not believe it. I COULD NOT believe it. We sailed home through some stormy weather (Erie/Buffalo, always, always).... and landed back home here in lowly Pittsburgh, PA. Currently listening to some T-Model Ford and wondering if anything is right about this bike.

At the end of the day (drawing near), I suspect IT IS all right: The bike, even if I've been 'taken,' (or not), is downright an aesthetic daydream. I could look at it forever and not be all that upset. Eye candy n'er had a better definition.

k.ster™
 
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Hey Kevin, thanks for the input and while I would agree about Niagra Falls, the Canadian side is not as seedy as the US side.

I hope my border crossing goes as smooth.

Seems like you have some buyer's remorse happening so I'm feeling bad for you, trust all will be good in the light of a new day.

Cheers,
 
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NoHoNorton said:
Seems like you have some buyer's remorse happening so I'm feeling bad for you, trust all will be good in the light of a new day.

NoHoNorton--

Whoops.... I think I described the bike a little harshly. Actually I love it, but it being my first 'real' vintage bike purchase (I have an old Ducati that needs restored but I bought that as a favor for a friend who needed the money), I'm just coming to terms with the unknown elements of the bike. It goes without saying (and yet I say it) that there's a different set of assumptions at play when buying new (and often they are unrealistic as well). By all the indicators I've encountered, I think I got a good buy on the bike, and I'll 'deal' with whatever issues come up with it. It's all part of the process. So don't feel bad for me at all... like you, I'm now a member of an elite group of folks!

Best of luck on the process of getting the bike o'er! I trust it will all go fine.

kevster™

PS When I was crossing back over with the bike, the border patrolman walked back to the truck and eyed up the bike for some time. I thought he'd ask for papers and proof of purchase, the usual stuff. When he returned, he said, "Looks like she's all original." Then he asked if it was a 1970 or '71, I said it was, and he said, "She's a beaut. Enjoy it." I had this rather irrational but firm feeling that he was either a former or current Norton owner.

PSS We were taking the bike back on a Sunday, so of course all the weekend tourists were heading back to the U.S. at the same time. Took us nearly an hour to get to the border.... crawling along at 2-3 mph at best. During that hour three or four guys rolled down their windows to shout questions and compliments about the bike. Get ready to be a celebrity(!)
 

worntorn

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I live about 2000 feet north of the Canada/US border. The same day I brought my Norton home thru the Customs, I decided to take it out for a spin. I had no insurance, (mandatory here, $600 fine if caught) and it still had the former owner's outdated Washington plate on it. I made it about 1500 feet up our quiet little country road before I was stopped by an RCMP roadblock. The Police officer told me they were on a manhunt for some dangerous criminal who had just illegally crossed the border into Canada.

I had also left my wallet and drivers licence at home ,but it didn't really matter as my Motorcycle Licence had been let go years ago and I did not have a current one.

The Officer was so interested in the Norton that he completely forgot to ask me for proof of ownership, licence, or any of the other things I was missing like a current BC plate. He went over the bike for several minutes, declaring it a real beauty, then waved me on. I still wonder if he noticed my stale dated Washington plate as I rode away.
It pays to ride a classic!
 
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Dec 13, 2006
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Great stories there, kevster and worntorn. Hoping my border crossing is as smooth, no reason it should not be. The numbers all match and the history is impecable going back a decade or more, I guess it depends on the officer on duty and what kind of day he has had.

So I have settled on the plan of flying up to Seattle, renting a pick up, driving to Vancouver, hanging with some good friends and then doing the handover. Back to Seattle, drop bike off to be shipped.

Get back home and wait.

When she arrives no doubt I will take her for a spin around the block ala worntorn, if I can get the carbs to play nice with me for a short while.

kevster, glad to hear you are feeling good about your new mistress!

:twisted:

Jerry, I am awaiting a quote from Shipvehicles, thanks for the link! This joint of yours rocks!
 
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Dec 13, 2006
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A follow up. Today my Norton was delivered and am I smiling, big time. Tomorrow I have to drain the sump (she wets if she hasn't been ridden for a long time) and then I'll fire her up and tweak the carbs, she's running rich.

I ended up flying to Seattle, renting a pickup and drove up to Vancouver to stay with some great friends from way back. Had a an excellent time. The seller showed up with the Commando in his pickup so it was a breeze doing the transfer. She looked every bit as good as the photos if not better.

The hardest part turned out to be the Canadian Border nazis. They decided that renting a vehicle in Seattle rather than fly to Vancouver was suspicious and coming all that way to buy a motorcycle more so. Needless to say it was an unpleasant experience and I was finally sent on my way after a thorough search of vehicle and bags.

Bringing the bike through the US Customs, the agents were all complimentary about her, printed out a form after checking the previous owner supplied paperwork, checked that the VIN on the bike matched, calculated the duty, $76.00. Budda bing I was on my way.

Stopped to check the straps before getting on the freeway, some guy and his wife pull over in a car, bike talk ensues, he used to have a Fastback and was sorry he sold it.

Anyway got the bike to the shippers outside of Seattle last Monday, more admiration as she was being strapped to a shipping palette.

She really is a beaut. :D
 
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NoHoNorton said:
The hardest part turned out to be the Canadian Border nazis. They decided that renting a vehicle in Seattle rather than fly to Vancouver was suspicious and coming all that way to buy a motorcycle more so. Needless to say it was an unpleasant experience and I was finally sent on my way after a thorough search of vehicle and bags.

:D

They might have thought you were coming up to bring back a van load of weed to the US. Lots of marijuana goes out of BC.
 
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NoHo:

I have a 1971 Fastback and live in Pasadena. You may have some more fun in store cause you now have to deal with the California DMV. Since it is a 750S and is from Canada it may not have a Federal Motorvehicle Safety Standards Label on its head tube. It may not be required to have one, though, since these were only required after 70 or 71 I believe. I say this because I once purhased a Laverda Jota from a guy in MA, and it had no FMVSS label. Since it was an 82 I could not register it (I was referred to the CHP and the officer would not verify the bike, stating it likely was a Canadian bike, not intended for US import, and ridden into the States). Of course, that being said, it seems everyone and his brother sells excellent copies of the red FMVSS labels that were put on US import Nortons, and it would not take much to get one, punch in the frame number, and rivet it to the headtube....not that I would recommend doing this, mind you.....You also may want to go into British Motorbikes of No. Hollywood and say hi to Kevin, since you may need to visit his store now and again.....
 
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Spub said:
NoHo:

I have a 1971 Fastback and live in Pasadena. You may have some more fun in store cause you now have to deal with the California DMV. Since it is a 750S and is from Canada it may not have a Federal Motorvehicle Safety Standards Label on its head tube. It may not be required to have one, though, since these were only required after 70 or 71 I believe. I say this because I once purhased a Laverda Jota from a guy in MA, and it had no FMVSS label. Since it was an 82 I could not register it (I was referred to the CHP and the officer would not verify the bike, stating it likely was a Canadian bike, not intended for US import, and ridden into the States). Of course, that being said, it seems everyone and his brother sells excellent copies of the red FMVSS labels that were put on US import Nortons, and it would not take much to get one, punch in the frame number, and rivet it to the headtube....not that I would recommend doing this, mind you.....You also may want to go into British Motorbikes of No. Hollywood and say hi to Kevin, since you may need to visit his store now and again.....

Thanks, Spub.

What I have been able to ascertain is that any vehicle manufactured after 1980 may as well be sent to Bagdad rather than imported into the States let alone California.

My research leads me to think (hope) that 'S' will be grandfathered, her actual assembly is December 1969 as stamped on the frame, her first registration in Canada was, naturally, 1970.

Anything will be easier than my experience with the Canuckistan border agents, and, Coco, I was going IN to Canada when hassled not OUT. Maybe they thought I was smuggling in fake Clamato Juice, eh?:D

Definitely will stop in and say hi to Kevin, drive by his shop often, not yet on my Norton, tho.

Hope to be all legal in the next week or two......

Will keep everyone posted and then maybe some Norton social time.

Cheers,
 
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[quote="NoHoNortonAnything will be easier than my experience with the Canuckistan border agents, and, Coco, I was going IN to Canada when hassled not OUT. Maybe they thought I was smuggling in fake Clamato Juice, eh?:D

Cheers,[/quote]

I realize that. I was just thinking because you drove up in an empty van, the Canadian border patrol thought you might be bringing something back accross into the USA other than a case of Canadian beer and a box of smoked salmon. :wink:
 
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