VIN# question

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Greetings,
I know some of you guys know alot about VIN and engine numbers etc. so I thought I'd ask here.

I purchased a 1974 850 from a dealer in 2000. At the time I was working at the local Honda shop where we did state inspections so naturally I wrote my own inspection sticker for the last 5 years. This year no longer working there I went back for a 2006 sticker, gave the new guy my paperwork to check. He comes back and tells me the registration VIN number doesn't match the one on the frame. WWWHHHAAATTT!!!!!, go check, sure enough (I mean who ever checks their own paperwork). Got the sticker anyway because its not what you know its who you know.
However, now I am trying to figuere out whats what.

# From frame plaque 315 339
# From title & registration F109750

Do either of these numbers look right to anyone?

info appreciated
GB
 
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VIN numbers

Thanks L.A.B.,
I checked out Dynodaves website and all the numbers are correct datewise. The "Fxxxxxxx" number looks more to be some sort of frame part number. Its not on the steering head as far as I can see, got any suggestions as to where else it can be found.

If it comes down to it I'll stamp it into the steering head myself, which will be easiier than going to the DMV and trying to explain that you need a new title because someone made it out with the wrong number.

thanks again,
GB
 
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The F number should be on the headstock, but it is in small numbers and covered in paint. Mine is on the right side and has also been used on my paperwork instead of the number stamped on the plate.
 

L.A.B.

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Re: VIN numbers

geo46er said:
The "Fxxxxxxx" number looks more to be some sort of frame part number.

The 850 MkI and II (and some MkIII?) models do seem to have this 'F' frame number stamped next to the plate, and as far as I am aware it isn't a part number, you should find the part number on the front face of the left hand fuel tank mounting bracket stamped (rather faintly) in small numbers.
 
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I believe that it was John Hudson who once told me that the F sequence frame numbers were an attempt by Nortons to apply a Vehicle Identification Number shortly before the 17 digit VIN number system was internationally adopted.

Previously, they just seem to have relied on the number stamped on the red plate which was really just a conformity notice.

These numbers certainly appear prior to the Mk111 850 but it was only on the literature relating to this model that it was first acknowledged. The 850 Mk111 parts book and Workshop manual are shown as applying to Frames from number F125000 and
Engines from number 325000

Late Mk11 850s had effectively Mk111 frames (with the extended rear suspension gusset suitable for a seat hinge) so may well have been numbered.

My original Mk111 headstock is stamped #850#F130*** on the right hand side and 00141 on the left of where the plate fits.

My engine is quite an early one and is not prefixed #850# and carries a number #330***# which is 312 earlier than the frame number. As far as I could tell from copy Registrations from Swansea, it had always been so. Mine does not appear in the factory records.

I had a similar experience to Geo in that I had never heard of a frame stamped number. I checked my engine number against the red plate, found that number on the registration docs and was happy until I one day saw the F number was also on the Vehicle Docs. After checking and not finding it on the frame and protracted correspondence with the then Norton Motors who said 130*** was a 750 number, I convinced the licensing authorities that the document was in error and they altered it.

Needless to say, when I subsequently stripped the frame for painting, I found It. I stayed stumm ! I have since crashed the beast and have a new replacement frame which is not stamped but the old headstock is mounted on a Walnut plaque so I know where it is :)

It might be worth doing a number check with the Norton Club. The earlier the model, the better the chance that it's listed. You may also want to have a good look or even a scrape at your frame. A line 1/2" from the edge of the red anodised plate on the right hand (timing) side should correspond with the centre line of the row of numbers (if they're there !)

Sorry this is so long-winded. I hope it helps.
 
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Hi

I have been through a full rebuild with my commando 850 mk2a 1975 and I had to have the bike re registered on an age related plate as the number stamped onto the right side head stock didn’t match the reg doc, the number on the reg document was F112958 and I found the number F132272 stamped onto the right hand headstock, the engine number matched the number on the vin plate 318577 but licensing centre still made me re reg the bike. I am only the third owner of this bike so I think people that owned the bike before me may have chose to ignore this, I also found a small number on the left side tank mounting bracket which means the frame is a mk three frame, I was told the F at the start of the frame numbers mean that the frame was imported from Italy

Neil
 
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Neil,

If the F stamped frames were manufactured earlier than the factory literature shows, F112958 would seem to be roughly contemporary with your engine number but F132172 was definitely made in the Mk111 era as it is higher than F125000 It could of course have been supplied as a replacement part.

The DVLA were obviously more flexible in 1983 than they are now because they accepted my story. I have never heard of anyone looking for anything other than the red plate to ID a Commando frame so there are probably lots of potential problems out there.

I think that most people with a 32 year old motorcycle would have invested in a set of number punches :evil:

I have seen one owner Mk11As with Mk111 frames so I know that it happened towards the end of 1974.

Someone in the Norton Owners Club started the rumour in Roadholder about the "F" prefixes signifying Italian manufactured frames and sadly it was not or, at least not sufficiently, challenged.

The updated Forward to Steve Wilson's Norton Story refers to the Chief Development Engineer at Wolverhampton mentioning ...handling variations in mid 1972... by which time around half the frames were being made in Italy. "They were distinguishable by a mark on the front petrol tank mounting" (my italics)

1972 /73 was the period that these frames were in production (i.e. mostly late 750s). I have read somewhere (but I can't find my source at the moment) that the mark on the tank mount was a "V" which would seem logical because they were made by Verlicchi (who built some very high quality frames for Ducati and others so they weren't all bad).

Verlicchi no longer have their records but all the indications are that their frames did not continue into the mk111 era. Perhaps the reported shortcomings of the Italian frames led to the contract being stopped ?

Someone somewhere must know the truth behind it all !
 

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Neil said:
I was told the F at the start of the frame numbers mean that the frame was imported from Italy

Neil,

I believe I gave that information to you previously, as that was what Norvil guru Les Emery once told me.

Although if the 'F' frames were Italian made then just about every 850 MkI, II and early MkIII frame was Italian, as they all seem to have this F number?

So now I don't really know if that info is 100% accurate?

That would seem to suggest that Reynolds Tubing didn't make any Norton Commando frames for about 2 years!

The mystery continues....
 
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L.A.B.,

I agree with your assesment regarding the implausibility of the F number indicating Italian made on the Mk111s

I thought I'd post an image of the parts book which indicates that ALL of them should have an F prefix number. (I have a suspicion that the last 1977 receiver-built batch didn't have)


VIN# question
 

L.A.B.

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79x100 said:
I thought I'd post an image of the parts book which indicates that ALL of them should have an F prefix number.

It's well known that the 850 MkIII production started with frame 'F125001', although I don't quite see how that indicates that ALL Mk III's should (or would?) have had F series frames, just that production STARTED with F frames.


(I have a suspicion that the last 1977 receiver-built batch didn't have)

The F(1) series numbers would seem to have been dropped well before 1977, as my own Mk III is date stamped July 75 and has a frame number that matches the plate number (334***) not F1*****.

The date stamp (and number) also ties in with the info on the atlanticgreen website frame page where there is evidence of a June 75 bike with matching frame/plate numbers (333093).

http://atlanticgreen.com/commandoframes.htm

According to that info there also appears to have been an interim period (May 75) where the frame number matched the plate but still carried the F prefix (F332473)?
 
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L.A.B. said:
It's well known that the 850 MkIII production started with frame 'F125001', although I don't quite see how that indicates that ALL Mk III's should (or would?) have had F series frames, just that production STARTED with F frames.

The F(1) series numbers would seem to have been dropped well before 1977, as my own Mk III is date stamped July 75 and has a frame number that matches the plate number (334***) not F1*****.

The date stamp (and number) also ties in with the info on the atlanticgreen website frame page where there is evidence of a June 75 bike with matching frame/plate numbers (333093).

According to that info there also appears to have been an interim period (May 75) where the frame number matched the plate but still carried the F prefix (F332473)?

Curiouser and curiouser !

I don't think it's stretching a point too far to say that if a manufacturer introduces a new range, sets out their policy for frame numbering in the official documentation and follows that policy for the first four months of production, then the bikes "should" have such a number. I am well aware of course that Nortons often deviated from their intentions.

My machine is an April 75 which explains why it follows the original system. Interestingly, the nearest bike to mine on Dave's list has an engine 137 earlier and a frame 109 earlier. They seem to have consistently built more engines than frames. Were they unreliable or something ? :)

When I mentioned the 1977 bikes, I probably should have said those bikes which were built after the factory originally closed. Yours must be one of the last "official" ones because the factory didn't re-open in August 1975 after the summer holidays.

Nevertheless, the point that I was trying to make is that it would seem strange if a factory manual was printed which referred to a numbering system which didn't appear on all the frames.

I wonder who could confirm that Reynolds still made frames up until the end ?

One other thing, when did the "850" prefix start appearing on the engine numbers ? Mine (330***) doesn't have it although it does have the circle symbols before and after. Maybe that was also at the point where the 850 prefix number on the frame started matching the data plate ? Does your engine have the prefix ?
 

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79x100 said:
Nevertheless, the point that I was trying to make is that it would seem strange if a factory manual was printed which referred to a numbering system which didn't appear on all the frames.

I would expect that the technical information contained in the manual would have been sent to the printers at some point around the time of the start of the production run so any change in policy regarding a change to frame numbering system isn't going to show up?

I wonder who could confirm that Reynolds still made frames up until the end ?

Ken Sprayson could no doubt answer that question!

Maybe that was also at the point where the 850 prefix number on the frame started matching the data plate ? Does your engine have the prefix ?

-Yes although according to atlanticgreen all (apart from one) 850's (April 73-on) that are listed have the *850* prefix.
 
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Anyone have a contact for Ken Sprayson then ?

Is he still on the "scene" ?

It would be nice to get the definitive story while the possibility still might exist.

Maybe a published letter in "Roadholder" might find it's way to him ?
 
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