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No.26 December 2016 - 2016 Summary and Winter Update

2016 Summary
Sorry I have not had the opportunity to send out a Newsletter for some time - but normal rules apply, too much time spent on just trying to fit in the normal day to day Norton parts business tasks alongside doing the day job - both of these between them seem to be taking 8 days a week!

It has not been a bad year for getting things done - but more so than in previous years it has been difficult to keep the Norton parts business going alongside a full time day job (i work in IT for a big UK retailer), which still is my main source of income - and still pays the mortgage!

With that in mind and some other recent developments, the main update now is that I am going to restructure the Norton parts business in the New Year to make it more manageable and ensure I can still keep it running without falling by the wayside with exhaustion.
I am sorry if this will not suit everyone, but I hope it might turn out to be a good thing and will mean eventually being able to concentrate more time on to the core differentiator of my business - being able to manufacture the rarer and more difficult to obtain specialist Norton parts, which you the real Norton restorer's and enthusiasts's are always asking me about

RacingVincent Staff Changes In Process
Unfortunately, I have to report that Steve, who has managed the Mail Order and Fulfillment side of the business for the last 2 years has decided to leave at the end of December 2016, and from that point onwards I will be managing the mail order side of the business on my own. All current orders are in good state and will be prioriitised first - Steve kept a meticulous office and was well organised, so I am hoping it will be a smooth transition.

However, because I only have very limited time available for this business. and because the supplier/manufacturing side already takes most of that time - I have decided I will need to limit the days the Norton online website ( is available to take new orders. I have not worked out exactly how I will best do this - but I am thinking that I might have to create a monthly schedule of days the website will be available to take new orders, and if necessary, let my regular customers know those dates ahead of time, so their orders get prioritised before I take others.
I may also need to review orders, and if large, give an inidication of how long it may take to complete that order - as I only have limited time available each month to do all the tasks. You might ask if I am intending to employ someone to replace Steve? - no, I am not intending to do that again at this time - frankly it is just too difficult to train someone up to work remotely and part time in our office, when I am not there, and I do not have time (or energy!) to go through all that again at the moment! So, for the moment I am going to see if I can do both myself. . . we will see.

Other Updates - so sorry if that was sounding a bit negative - but quite a few positive updates as well:

- Re-stocks: Although it might not always seem so (i.e. when you place an order and find some items out of stock!) - I have actually heavily re-stocked throughout 2016 many of the specialist made SOHC parts.we have CNC machined for these engines.
This re-stocking has taken considerable investment - hence why I have been reticent to give dates against some of the new pipeline items like top bevel gears - the main engine consumables we already offer are continually running out of stock - and I am pleased to say are being sent to customers all around the world, so I have concentrated funds on keeping these commonly requested items in stock

- New Catalog Items: Although nothing groundbreaking, we have continued to add new items slowly throughout the year. As always, these are listed below in this newsletter. The most significent item currently in development are our SOHC M30 magnesium crankcases (see Blog update from July). Truthfully, I am not as far progressed with testing these in combat as I expected to be in when I last talked about them, but only because of the other work we are doing - they are still very much a going concern. I have been waiting for a brand new crankshaft to be made - by my Bigend Supplier, which is now complete and covered in an update below. I have also managed to weld and restore an original pre-war racing magnesium cambox for this engine, so hope in the next few months to have the engine built and ready to test. Bob, my friend and machinist is already working on the second set of magnesium crankcases, to post war specification.
Chain Oiler and link
A11M/13+: We already sell Big End Jet Holders for Inters and SOHC Manx Norton's - but have now made some oversize ones for timing covers with wear, as well as a batch of the bigger diameter DOHC versions. Seee more below

RacingVincent Gets Its Own In-House CNC Machining Capability
By far the most important progression for RacingVincent this year has been that after 12 months of planning and searching, back in July 2016 I was able to find and purchase a suitable CNC 2-Axis precision turning lathe, with Live C-axis capability - which providing the operator does not screw it up (i.e. me!), will allow us to offer far more of the specialist Norton parts we like to specialise in in the near future.
I do not want to say too much at this stage - because it has taken me the last 5 months to get everything setup and ready, and as yet I have still to make the first parts - but I am very close now so hope to have an update soon.

For those interested in that sort of thing, the machine is an Austrian Emco 325-II CNC lathe, with Live C-Axis and a 12 station tool head with 6 of these being 'driven', i.e. they will allow driven milling tools to be used. This is a really important feature - and the main reason it has taken me so long to find the right machine, it is quite difficult to find CNC lathes with this capability that do not need a huge footprint to install and cost the price of an Italian supercar to buy. The reason the Live tooling (i.e milling) facility is so desirable is that it allows me to make Hex bolts from round bar - milling the hex. This is something I have been moving towards anyway on many of our parts - as getting hold of stainless steel hex bar in imperial spanner sizes is getting increasingly expensive. It will also allow me to do other tasks like cross-drilling camshafts, bolts for lockwiring etc, a very useful and powerful feature.
I was first put on to Emco as a machine tool manufacturer by one of my current parts manufactuers, who already have a couple of similar machines and last year bought the latest version of this same machine. I went to look at that machine and was very impressed - everything really high quality. Unfortunately - this being a high quality precision machine with BMW build quality, to buy that machine new with the tooling I needed would have cost about £70k - far more than I wanted to invest on my first machine, with all the dangers involved with getting a program wrong!

So I have bided my time, and in June was fortunate to have been put in touch with the owner of this machine by Emco themselves when he was looking to upgrade to the latest version, this one being one of the first Emco machines to be fitted with Live tooling (approx 2003). This one was used in anger right up to the day it was turned off and the new machine moved in. In the interim I asked Emco to give the machine a full service and was very grateful to the previous owner who kindly included a quantity of tooling with the machine (including some live tools and a pneumatic chuck). I have spent the last 4 months doing all the other necessary setup tasks to get it fully setup and operational. As an example of the complexity of the machine - it has 3 seperate motors, pneumatics for collet/chuck/tailstock, 3 different types of lubrication and even the coolant tray (suds) has a capacity of up to 37 gallons!
Anyway, alongside the machine itself, for the last 12 months I have been trying to get to grips with the programming language used with these machines - G-Code and I have to say - considering I was a programmer myself for many years - I have a new found respect for CNC machinist's, because I have found it a real challenge!

The upshot of all this background legwork is that I now have software on my laptops allowing me to write programs from the comfort of my living room in the evenings - before putting them on the actual machine, not a bad way to do things!. So we will see how this pans out, but if all goes well I have a very long list of parts I intend to make in the coming months - I will use this Newsletter to let you know how I get on . . . but another reason why I may need to limit time I can spend on the mail order side.

Emco 325
Emco 325-II CNC Lathe: Here is our new addition having now been installed and setup - like all CNC machines, it has a big footprint, this photo just shows the frontage and Siemens operating panel
Emco 325
Multiple Tool Head: This photo shows the 12 station radial tool head, which revolves to bring the selected tool into play. 6 of these toolstations are 'driven', i.e they allow Live tools to be fitted to provide 'milling' capability. There are two Live tools mounted here, at approxx 3pm and 9am positions, the one closest to the camera has a 90 degree head which can be used for cross drilling shafts and bolt heads (i.e. lockwiring bolts). Gold headed device is a very trick bar-puller, pneaumatically powered by the cooling suds.
Below toolhead is a revolving centre, also pneumatically powered

See below for the normal updates on new parts and restocks, as well as a short update on my own bikes and other stuff going on.
So as 2016 ends and 2017 is about to commence - I wish you all a Happy New Year and hope you all get chance to enjoy some time out on your bikes and time to tinker in your workshop's.

I would also ask if you can bear in mind that, now I am going back to doing the Norton business on my own - you can have a read of the RacingNorton homepage which I will shortly be updating, to update on how to place orders, and any changes to terms and conditions, given that I only have limited time available, but still want to offer the best level of service to those people with orders in progress

Best Wishes

Paul Norman,
December 2016 and (Parts Catalog)

What’s New? – New Products and Updates - December 2016

Here is a summary of what is new since last Newsletter. Click on any photo to take you directly to that item on the Online Catalog:

VinTele Prop Stand
A0615 Stand3: Telescopic prop stand - kit includes stand all fittings needed, fitting being well made, comes ready painted and with stainless steel fittings.

Picture below shows prop stand fitted to a Rigid 16H Norton
Vintele fitted 16H Norton

0615 Stand3: Telescopic Prop Stands (Es-Way Replica) - Full Kit

This is a beatifully made copy of the original pre-war Es-Way telescopic prop stand - a great add on for any 1920's - 1950's British rigid framed (and possibly Plunger) motorcycle and a period piece that would look great and in keeping on your roadgoing International - or any rigid Norton for that matter!

The theory is that the stand is mounted vertically to the two rear tubes of a rigid frame and when in the 'off' position it is fully raised.  Then when you want to park up, just pull down the telescopic tube with your left boot to the height you want, and it will stay in that position . . . therefore can be left at whatever lean angle you want.  Even better, when you then want to ride off, just kick the 'trigger' at the bottom and a strong spring will extend the telescopic leg again - simple!
These were quite popular in their day and I have an original one I was fortunate to have acquired from my old friend Titch Allen many years ago . .. which I have been saving to put on my 1937 roadgoing Norton International when I finish building it.

The kit comes complete with a variety of fitting brackets and stainless steel fastenings and the quality of the build is excellent - a really nice and unusual item

Price: £145.00 Each
(comes as a complete kit as shown with all fittings and instructions for fitting included)


DOHC Big End Jet
0082_3 M11/13_DOHC: DOHC Bigend Jet Holder
I do not normally sell later DOHC parts, so this is an exception - this is the Big End Jet Holder to fit DOHC Featherbed framed Manx Norton's.  Distinguishable from the SOHC type in that the shoulder/thread is 0.5" diameter

£11.00 Each


Big End Jet Holder
0082_2 A11/13+2: 2 Thou oversize Big End Jet:
As per our standar SOHC Bigend (and racing cambox) jet holder, but with an outer diameter 2 thou over . .. at the request of one of our customers whose timing cover had wear - a not unusual falut with old covers
£11.00 Each

Handler Rubber Doughnuts
0219 Gird/002+3: Rubber Handlebar Doughnuts - Girder Forks: 7/8" and 1" Handlebar size
We have stocked these in the past - but I have now had these manufactured specially for RacingVincent from a firmer, higher qualtiy rubber - both types back in stock

£11.00 Set
Dunlop Seat Covers
 0618 3475C: Rubber 'Small size' (Dunlop copy) seat covers"
Close copy of the original Dunlop competition rubber seat cover - this being the small size. If you have one of the original seats similar to the original one fitted to my 1938 Racing Inter in the photo, and it is now splitting - then this is a good quality replacement. (this listing is for cover only - does not include framework and fittings - I may look to make complete seats in the future)
£35.00 each

Manx type clutch spring holders
0610 A11M/400: Clutch Spring Holders for Manx Type ClutchCups are 1.250" in fit the narrower Manx Norton type clutch. Price is for set of 3
£28.00 Set

Bolt Thru Tank Rubbers
+0131 A11M/840 and 841: Bolthru Manx Petrol Tank 'Tophat' rubbers
(top ones shown). I have offered these in the past but only stocked in small numbers. We have now undertaken the investment to have them manufactured specially for RacingVincent - and I believe are better quality
£3.60 Each



Battery Box
0577 B386: Lucas Large Rubber Style Battery Box
Genuine Lucas reproduction of the old 6v style Lucas/Exide rubber batteries fitted to most Norton singles from 1930's onwards (after the T shape battery). This copy can then be fitted with modern gel type battery inside - see listing for detail
£26.50 each

Bakelite Cover
0577 B386: Repro Lucas Dynamo End Cover
Reproduction bakelite dynamo cover (in plastic) of the type commonly fitted to all Lucas mag/dyno units from approximately 1937-53
£11.00 each

Oil Pump Screws
0609 A11/732: SOHC Oil Pump Screws
These are good quality high tensile screws from which I have then machined down the head and cross slit for a screwdriver - to reproduce the original Norton oil pump screws. These screws have a very shallow head to ensure they do not foul the oil pump drive plate in use. Price is per pair
£7.50 Pair
HT Spark Plug Cap
0083 WCX600: Champion Spark Plug Cap
Reproduction of the classic 'Champion' style HT plug cap - I remember these being around in the 1960's!
£7.10 each

0298B A2/360B: Norton Kickstart with Extended Clearance Regular customers will know I have had issues recently in getting new supplies of Norton kickstarters/gearlevers from my offshore 'cheap and cheerful' supplier. Well, I have now been able to have a small batch of fixed kickstarters made for us with extended clearance for exhaust pipes that do not feed well under the gearbox kickstart casting - a common issue with some afternarket Norton exhausts. Only very limited quantities and not sure if they will make for me again
- so be quick!

£45.00 Each
Exhaust Valve Lifter
0581 A2/2330: 7/8" Bar - Exhaust Valve Lifter
Following numerous requests - I am now stocking this exhaust valve lever of the type commonly fitted to Norton singles originally. Sold quite a few already - and will go well with the Eccentric exhause lifter pins which are now back in stock!
£16.50 each

Bonhams Catalogs
Bonhams Auction Catalogs 2008-16
Lots of different catalogs available

Bonhams Motoring Auction Catalogs - Most auctions back to 2008
I am fortunate to be on Bonhams mailing list and therefore receive all their auction catalogs - which are an excellent read and have first rate high qualtiy photographs.
Unfortunately space is becoming an increasing issue in my household and shelf space is at a premium now(!), so
I have a created a new section for them on the website - because they are far too good to end up in a car boot sale!
As they have some excellent photos to help with restorations, as well as being a good read in their own right - I have listed each one indvidually and tried to give some information on the most interesting vehicles in each catalog - if you get the chance and have not seen them before - have a read of at least one to find out how interesting they are

Various prices from £8 : £8 - £15 each : dependent on size of catalog and quality of content

ps - I have not listed all of them yet, so if you have a particular auction you know of and do not see it listed - just email us on normal Sales email

1961 Tax Disc
1961 Tax Disc: As you can see, tax disc is almost indistinguishable from an oringal (except for perforations!) and has been 'hand written' with your bike details and relevent local council stamp

New Product Liine : Historic Tax Discs- Various Years
I have been working on this new product line in the background for over a year now - ever since looking for a suitable historic tax disc for my Royal Enfield Constellation - and will be looking to introduct them early in the New Year

I will be listing these facsimile Tax Discs by year, and each order will consist of 3 copies of your chosen year. Two of the discs will be pre-printed with your own bike details (which I will give you the option to provide) as well as a County Council stamp of your choice - therefore if you know the location the bike was first owned in, you might decide you would like the tax disc to show that original district.
The third tax disc will have the County Council stamp printed, but the motorcycle details will be left blank, in case you want to handwrite one with your own style - or use it on another vehicle

Each year is a faithful and accurate representation of the actual disc for that year (unlike many of the tax discs you see advertised elsewhere) - and has taken much work and effort to make it so.
As supplied, all 3 discs will be supplied as they would have originally been supplied by the local post office - i.e. as a rectangular shape, with the correct supporting information on the outside of the perforation (unfortunately - I cannot reproduce the actual perforation holes in the paper - but they are printed accurately and you just cut around those marks before inserting into a tax disc holder).
As a final detail - each tax disc has the correct additional tax information on the back of the tax disc.
As always with facsimile items I offer - the tax discs are printed on high quality paper of a type similar to the original, and from a professional quality printer.

Price: £12.00 Set

1964 Tax Disc
1964 Tax Disc: NEach year the tax disc was a different colour, so the police could easily distinguish it was valid at a glance - to avoid tax evasion and Guiness labels!
1960 Tax Disc
1960 Tax Disc : The late 1950's tax discs were a very different design. Currently I have only completed the last year of this design - 1960, but hope to be doing all years from late 1920's onwards


Back In Stock


Items Recently Back In Stock:

- Inlet and Exhaust Valve Guides
- Crankcase Oil Feed Bolts and Adjusters
- Eccentric Exhaust Lifter Pins
- Kickstarter levers (Folding and non Folding)
- Petrol Tank Dished Washers
- Left Hand Crankshaft Nuts
- US8 Vertical Coupling - twin ball bearings (original new old stock, very hard to find)
- Valves: restocked earlier this year, again, lots sold since then!
Loads of other engine parts remanufactured

Items Out of Stock but Progressing:
- Girder fork handlebar rubber dougnuts - Just come in! see above
- Racing Mudguards - been on order for some weeks, expecting shortly
- Wheel Rims and Spokes - new order progressing
- Lots of other bits . . .and bobs!

Items To Manufacture Next:
- Omega Pistons: Just waiting to get enough money together for the large investment of a new batch. Sorry, now ran out
- Magnesium ribbed outer timing covers - ditto these, waiting for funding
- Lots of new parts to be made on our own CNC machine - hence where most of the big funding has gone in the last few months

Eccentrix Exhaust Lifter Pin
:Eccentric Pins for SOHC exhaust valve lifter mechanism back in stock - a very popular item. Click on photo to go to catalog
  Other Updates      

RacingVincent M30 Crankcase Progress:

Well, I have not done as much with the Norton's as I intended to at the start of this year - i.e. I was hoping that I would have had a pre-war SOHC M30 racing engine built by mid year, to test our new M30 magnesium crankcases, but unfortunately other tasks (mostly the CNC setup) have meant that this is not as far progressed as I was hoping.
That said, I have done some of the smaller preperation tasks of the engine and assembling all the other necessary items - including new oil pump (from my now retired cam maker), Omega oversize slipper piston, a full engine kit from our own stock etc.

New Crankshaft - and available to customers as Special Order
Then last but not least - I had been waiting for my regular BigEnd manufacturer (a very well established and respected company) to complete to my pattern a complete 500cc new Longstroke M30 specification (i.e. pre-war Manx) crankshaft, using a brand new Longstroke SOHC conrod I already had.
As a pattern for making this, 12 months ago I had given my manufacturer an original Norton Manx SOHC 600cc crankshaft for rebuilding with new racing Bigend and NOS conrod (possibly the last remaining 600cc Manx rod??!) - and had asked if they could replicate it in the more normal 500cc configuration, with a view to being able to re-produce it for me in small batch's in the future.
Well, I am pleased to say, that just as with previous crankshaft's they have made for me - this crankshaft looks really excellent - a first rate job, with a really high quality of finish. I have also had it pre-balanced for the piston and conrod I am using, so comes to me ready to fit.
If you are interested in purchasing a similar crankshaft assembly then email me on the normal sales email:, however, do not expect them to be cheap, and timescales would likely be up to 6 months and would require a deposit. This crankshaft uses an American Carillo rod I have held back from my own stock but with the US Dollar/GBP rate being poor at the moment I would need to confirm alternatives available

So now as I write this (late December 2016) - it is just a case of trying to find time to get on with assembling the engine. As you might have seen in my recent Blog article (see if you havent - there is an article with more pictures of the crankshaft), we finished machining the crankcases some months ago, and they were then stamped, blasted and rechromated.
All other parts are ready to go and since I previously mocked up the engine - which at the time was using a rebuilt post war magnesium cambox, I have now managed to weld up a broken leg on my only unused complete and original pre-war magnesium cambox.

Reclaimed Pre-War Racing (magnesium) Cambox
I have to say - I am really pleased about this last piece of the jigsaw. I had originally bought this lovely cambox from old friend Arthur Moore in Australia about 10 years ago (Arthur very sadly passed away last year - and I miss our Skype chats) as a complete cambox, taken directly off a very similar specification pre-war Manx racing engine.
At the time I had bought so many other rare parts from Arther (including my 600cc sidecar Manx chassis) that I just could not afford to buy the engine as well - despite really wanting it! But what I had done the deal on at the time, was a collection of complete and incomplete racing cambox's - which included a very nice fully complete one. However, at the last moment, the pre-war engine which Arthur had sold to an Australian enthusiast was stripped for inspection - and it was found that the cambox had broken one of it's rear legs, probably the reason it had been removed from the bike it came from - as it looked a very old break. So as it was deal breaker - Arthur swopped cambox's with the one I was going to get and I got this cambox, along with a spare shell . . . the idea being that if I could repair this broken shell, then I got a bonus shell into the bargain!
The thing is, original pre-war magnesium casting's are notoriously poor quality compared to the post war equivelants - and often will not weld. This was confirmed when I gave the casting to my normal welder, who is well versed in exotic alloy welding - but unfortunately he confirmed back it was turning to charcoal as he welded, despite his best efforts.
So I had pretty much resigned myself to having to relegate this cambox shell to the 'patterns' bin, but just before I did - I wanted to give it one last Do or Die attempt myself. So I paired back and filleted the broken areas as much as I could, bolted both parts to my cambox leg jig and then stuck it into the oven to get it really hot. I had prevously bought some high magnesium rods from the US, and so banged up the amps on my TIG welder as much as I dared. I then spent a scary hour watching the rods disappear into the cambox at a terrific rate - but at least it seemed to help to burn off the worst of the impurities as well. The finished result - while far from being perfect, was good enogh to get some reasonable penetration and I hope that from the look of things, it will now be a quite usable cambox.
Given that the insides of the cambox when I stripped it down all looked to be original and good condition original race spec factory Norton, it is really gratifying to be able to put it all back together in the cambox shell it started it's life with. Although Arthur is no longer with us - I hope he would approve and be as chuffed as I am - he too apprecated that kind of thing.

So as always, I will keep you informed of build progress, and will try and take some photos of assembly along the way

M30 (pre-war Manx) Crankshaft
Pre-War M30 Crankshaft
New M30 500 crankshaft is a work of art and beautifully finished. It uses Carillo conrod, but alternatives should be available for similar customer crankshafts - which I should be able to offer as Special Order
Below: Same crankshaft alongside original Manx Norton 600cc SOHC Lonstroke sidecar crankshaft (on the right in this photograph) - which was rebuilt with new BigEnd and New Old Stock Norton conrod by the same manufacturer. This original crankshaft was used as pattern for the new assembly

Pair of Manx Norton Cranshaft Assemblies

Magnesium Crankcases

Our Magnesium Crankcases
Just a reminder of the reason for building this engine - as a test bed for testing these crankcases . . . hopefully complete engine will be built by Spring
New Pre-War Manx Engine
Pre-War M30 Welded Cambox Leg: I am unashamedly chuffed to have been able to sucessfully reclaim this original pre-war magnesium cambox (which came to me from old and sadly missed friend Arthur Moore) with a broken leg. Despite it being very poor quality magnesium alloy (most of the pre-war castings were) - evenually I was able to put up the amps high enough on my TIG to force out most of the impurities and get some fusion. It was then re-machined for me by crankcase mystro - Rob (who is currently machining our second set of magnesium crankcases)

As this came to me as a complete and original pre-war racing cambox - straight off a 500 racing engine of virtually same spec as the engine it is going back onto - it is great to be able to keep it all together as an original unit
Exhaust Valve Lifter
Pre-War RacingVincent M30 Engine - Test Bed
Just a reminder of what the engine will look like when complete - this was a mockup I did when the crankcases were still WIP

Nortons at Brooklands
Nortons at Brooklands
My 1938 Racing Inter on left and (if I remember correctly) Chris Streather's beautiful early 1930's competition Inter on the right (sorry if got this wrong Chris!) basking in the sun at Brooklands outside the Clubhouse

Nortons at Brooklands
New Addition - Douglas 2 3/4 hp: A recent April visit to Stafford Classic Bike Show Bonhams auction bought about the most unexpected purchase - 1920 Douglas flat tanker project - I have always hankered for a Douggie flat tanker, so could not resist this opportunity to own 70% of a genuine belt drive one!.

Two Vincent's together
. . . and progress: Four months later - after an intense build spurt in preperation for Brooklands in July - a part built Douggie race rep - modelled on the 1912 Works 2 3/4 hp racer that won that year's Junior IOM TT and then went on to win it's class at Brooklands a month later - this bike got far more attention at my recent Brooklands visit than my Norton!


Progress On My Own Bikes and (Any??) Racing Updates - 2016

Racing: I will do that first as it is a short update - it will come as no surprise to hear that I did not do any race events at all in 2016, despite intending to at the start of the season and even renewing my licence with that intent.
However, over the previous winter I had first started to talk seriously about a CNC machine and as spring developed and it became clear the new crankshaft was still a couple of months away from being complete, I decided to change priorities - to start to prepare my workshop and move around my RacingNorton stock location's, so I could get ready should a suitable CNC machine come available - which it duly did in Jully.

In fact, as it turned out I only participated in one bike event the whole year - that being a viist to one of my very favourite venues - Brooklands, which for the first time in a long time, opened it's gates to the classic motorcycle fraternity again.
I took the '38 race Norton to give it a blast up the Test Hill again - and it not being a proper race meeting, I put the open Megga back on again, to give the spectator's a reason to stick their finger's in their ear's!
As always a lovely laid back day, with nice people - and great to see old friends - including numerous Norton friends and customers.
I have been meaning to do a short article - showing a few photos of the day and might even include a few short clips of people going up the hill on YouTube - including Ian Bain (there with his father - both true gentlemen), myself and a few others on a whole range of different bikes - some finding it more of a challenge than others - the hill is a bit steeper than it looks . . . hence the term Test Hill!

Project Bike Progress:
This took on a very unexpected turn in April of this year. At the last moment I found myself visiting the Stafford Classic Bike Show - not a normal occurrence, to attend the Saturday Bonham's auction that was taking place to cover memoribilia and bike parts, as opposed to the following day - which was the main auction event for complete bikes - including a rare collection of unrestored (and very rusty!) Brough Superior's.
The reason for my infrequent attendance was that a friend had told me just before the event that he had seen advertised that there was a collection of Vincent spares for sale - including more than one Vincent rear swinging arm (RFM), one of the few remaining big items I needed to give me enough to start work on my 3rd Vincent - a Grey Flash replica.

New Marque in the Norman garage - Douglas 2 3/4 hp 350cc Twin
I will not go into detail in this update on what happened on the day - I have been writing another article about this on and off for the last few weeks, which will cover it in more detail shortly. . . save to say - I came away with a most unexpected purchase a flat tank Douglas, belt drive project kit!
I might not have given much indication in previous articles, but I have had a craving for a flat tanker for a long time - and reading the auction catalog before hand told me it might be time to empty the piggy bank and take a very careful look on what else was on offer on the day, other than Vincent bits.
I cover it in more detail in the forthcoming article - but save to say from the photos on the left, I was sucessful in my bid for one of these project kits - and spent the next four months finding out an awful lot more about the early history of Douglas motorcycles and the racing derivatives - always my favourite gender of motorcycle - and having competed against very fast OHV Douggie sprinters in the past - the reason I have always had a hankering to own on.

The second photograph on the left shows the handiwork of 4 months of the Douglas taking over as my main Sunday afternoon 'relaxation' away from the rigours of day job and Norton business . . . as a semi built replica of the 1912 Works Douggie racer - which mine will be based on. My bike is actually a 1920 model - frame and engine number confirming this, but the 2 3/4 hp model that first concreted Douglas for its horizontally opposed, outside flywheel engine, ran for a very long period - approximately 1910 - 1926 in one form or another. And as it happens, my bike came with the pre 1919 front forks used on the early racer's and was of the same 2 speed belt drive (clutchless) specification of those 1912 race bikes.
I should probably not be saying this, on what is after all a RacingNorton update - but I have actually had more pleasure working on a @100 year old pile of bits than any other project bike in the last 5 years - the feeling of age and history is terrific.
I will leave it there for now as far as the Douglas is concerned, but look out for a future article to cover it in more detail - and apologies in advance if I continue to rant on about the virtues of pre-Kaiser motorcycles!


  Other Garage Changes - Vincent Updates and Others
I published an article on my 1950 Vincent Comet restoration a few months ago - but other than a couple of short trips around the block to highlight the normal teething issues you get with any new restoration - it has sat in the garage with covers on it, since July when the CNC machine was purchased.
However, on stripping the timing case down to check a sticking exhaust valve lifter mechanism, I found one cam lobe heavily worn and both cam followers likewise (I had not stripped these down at the time of the restoration as all looked well on what I could see, and I remember it being used ok up to the mid 1990's - just goes to show. Anyway, I was amazed to find that Gary Robinson was still making new cams for Vincent's - it had been 20 years since he made me a pair for the Lightning, so treated the Vinnie to a new standard profile cam, and two new followers from Maughan's.
It was a very chilly day in early December when I next got the opportunity to venture on the roads with the freshly put back together Vinnie. I had also done a few other jobs on it in the meantime - including resetting the Burman positive footchange correctly (this time!) so it went from being a single spped to a four speed model!
It was only a short distance trip, but enough to tell me that although the engine was running sweetly and crisply - the petrol tank would need to be to be drained and cleaned again - because it kept misfiring at irregular intervals and then clearing and running ok again - classic symptons of the dried rust particles having loosened and blocking the fuel filters. Other than that and the other normal post restoration niggles - I am sure it will be a lot of fun next year - very much looking forward to some nice rides on it

Vincent Comet
Vincent Comet - On The Road: Well, sort of! . . . this photo was taken on its first proper venture out of our housing estate - on a crisp December Sunday. Much as it sounded sweet and seemed to remain oiltight (unlike my Constellation), it kept hiccuping on what I think was rust in the fuel lines. Petrol tank sealant is now in the post and hoping it will be fit for nice rides come Summer
Collection of bikes on driveway
Ducati - last photo shoot: I posted this photo in my last Newsletter, shown alongside a couple of my other bikes in 2015.
Much as I have really enjoyed ownership of the Ducati (my second big Ducati twin), it was sold in the Summer as available garage space ran out and the need for CNC funds arose - very fondly remembered though, and running beautifully right up to the day it was sold

And finally - I would like to wish my venerable old Ducati 916 a fond farewell, after approx 12 years of ownership it has moved onto a new home, and I still have a misty tear in my eyes!
To be truthful - that is not the case, I rarely regret ever selling a bike, even though I do not do it often, and with the Ducati it was the right time to sell it - I was not really getting time to use it (and have another very similar performance Honda 600RR Race Rep available on tap, whenever I want to scare myself down some quiet A road), I have ran out of room in my garages, and I have some of my best memories of balls out road rides ever on this bike - it was a fantastic bike - so hope someone else is now enjoying it just like I have done. And of course - the funds it raised got immediately channelled into my CNC lathe purchase kitty!

So thats about it for 2016, still lots to be getting on with . . . and I do keep squeezing past my part built 1937 road going Norton International thinking 'I must get back to getting that done as well!', but only so many hours in a day!
Anyway, thats about it for now - hope your own restoration projects keep you from having to watch the TV Soap shows in 2017!

speak again soon,


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