Saturday, 27 October 2012

I note I am holding in the clutch so there must be a car or another bike ahead of me .
One of the problems with buying old spare parts online and hence unseen apart from a picture is that you find stuff that has not been well cared for. Some items I have purchased looked like they had been dredged from the bottom of the sea having been there for decades.
Often you are so desparate for a part you will spend the time salvaging it to be workable again.
An engine is made up of 'big lumps' and all the fasteners and nuts and bolts which hold it all together.
A pet hate is when someone sells you something and does not include the fasteners. Old motorcycles use a huge range of types of thread and it can be difficult to get hold of the correct ones...or even identifying what type they should be.

Friday, 19 October 2012

They say that two heads are better than one and when things can go pear shaped when you are demanding high revs from a half century old engine it is as well to have a spare.

I expect there have been many discussions in the old days about alloy plates versus plain steel engine plates.
These are alloy which I have taken the opportunity to fit as I am re-assembling the engine after a blow up, with a crankcase which is 1956 although my bike is actually a 1960 model. As it will only be used in sprints this is of no moment and all the other bits fit.

After the horror of a small end which 'let go' and the subsequent engine damage during the early 2012 season I am taking no chances and likely fitting a high quality steel or alloy conrod.These are very expensive nowadays but I am also experimenting with alternatives.

The worst feature of towing is when it starts raining and you have to find some place to stop and haul out the covers.
It is difficult to say if desmodromic valve gear would have significantly helped Norton so late in the day when multi-cylinder machines were prevailing.
The combination of  their flat Guzzi type cylinder arrangement combined with the experimental valve gear might have bought some time in certain circumstances but I doubt if for long.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Pushrod tubes of this type are fairly easy to make . The one on the right is original Norton. The left one is fabricated from a length of alloy tube belled with a ball pein hammer. the top part is made on a small lathe.
When  the small end of a conrod decides to break it can release hell !
Fortunately valves are still available but I find prices can vary .
On the Norton single both valves are the same which helps as the exhaust usually goes first.
Note I do not have a high comp piston. I follow the dictum of  that master P.E Irving.
In his bible " Tuning for Speed" he states..." and it must always be remembered that it is not the actual measured compression ratio which counts, but the pressure of the gas at the end of the compression stroke".
This simple fact is something many people forget.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Beveridge Park, Kirkaldy around of riders about to go on to the track which was and  is no wider than most public park perimeter roads ! Racing is no longer allowed .
Very much a riders track it attracted many great names and was frequented by the great  Bob McIntyre .
The " A. Forbes" finishing second to Ronnie Mann was in fact Arthur Forbes and not Alex as the text shows.
My 350cc Norton on the trailer ready for the off. It is actually a boat trailer as I also have a small hydroplane.
...still some straps needed to hold it on....I confess I tend to have too many bits of webbing and rope to ensure it is secure. A bike coming off a trailer is the stuff of nightmares.When stopping off at  service station I always try and park within sight.If it means a lot to will mean something to less upright people and nowadays security is always a concern.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

In the late 1960's I was a  weekend race mechanic to a couple of chaps who raced as I had no money for such activity.

It was a constant wonder to me where they got that kind of money even though it was a very amateur affair.They do say however that if you wait until you can afford motorsport you will never start.

I recall helping the late Jock Findlay ( race number 33 at the above event) unload one of his Manx Nortons from his van.
 I thought it much heavier than expected and he gave a big grin when he saw me struggle. He was already fully kitted in leathers and helmet although it was early morning.
 I little knew that in a couple of months time he would take wins in both the Senior and Junior classes in the Isle of Man Manx Grand Prix races.
                                                                 John Findlay

Beveridge Park in Kirkaldy was very dangerous due to trees lining the road. It was and indeed still is a true public park and lovely to walk around.
It was a constant disappointment to me that they did not allow part of the course to be used as a hillclimb as it was fairly steep.
A pal was badly injured at the above sponsored event when he collided with a Bultaco.

We parked one year at Beveridge Park next to this Manx Norton ...the smell of Castrol R racing oil and newly cut grass......very evocative mixture and still brings back memories.
It was an era that has been revived by many riders in the past years.
Like many before me I was introduced into motorcycling through my father who had a short racing career when a member of the Greenock Motorcycle Club, of which my Uncle, Jimmy Clark was the Secretary.

Races tended I think to be on the beach at Saltcoats on the West coast of Scotland but I think that they may also have used Ayr.

My father in the 1930's
Although he belonged to the era of Jimmy Guthrie as a hero he was young enough to be very upset when the news of the death of Bob McIntyre was announced in 1962. My father was not particularly technical but appeciated the work of Joe Potts in Bellshill and Joe Craig who kept Norton machines to the fore in the golden years.
Sand racing on beach at Saltcoats; Scotland 1937. the machines seemed to be mainly road going or road racing. Pretty sure that it is jimmy Valente in front .
Programme for sand race 1937
Riders in the above event; apart from knowing my father in the race; I recall as a boy meeting Andy Marr and Stuart McAuley on the programme. Jimmy Valente ran a  goodmotorcycle shop in Glasgow for many years on Great Western Road where all the main dealers had their outlets.
Some one must know who these chaps are-feel certain it is Andy Marr in front !
Smudge due to slow shutter speed back then.
 Look at the pre-WW2 crowds on a wet Scottish beach with no burger vans !
...and they are off...well some of them.....
...some interesting machinery there...
Looks like the tide is coming in. Bikes a sandy mess and no pressure washers then.
Think this was me on a Vincent about 1965/66...outside the town of Largs
My father had a liking for 350cc nortons he passed on to me. Indeed just before WW2 he rode with my mother from Greenock to tour the north of France and Begium- I told him when I understood such things he should have paid more attention to newspaper reports on what was likely to happen on continental europe !

growing up on two wheels

In the 1970's when I still had the bike on the road.

Before I decided roads today were too dangerous and the desire from my youth to sprint took over.
My 1956 AJS MS around 1973.Lovely machine it purred the hundred miles from Greenock to Dundee with fresh washing.
aged 4 on my fathers Francis-Barnett
My father was in the Customs and Excise ( now called Revenue and Customs) and used bikes to get to the various harbour offices on the lower Clyde.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

In this picture I am trying a short  megaphone on the exhaust but I feel that for sprinting, especially 1/4 miles stuff a straight pipe is very much better.There are an increasing number of tracks which demand relatively low sound levels.
I am experimenting with baffles to keep the noise within limits.

The machine has a Manx Norton alloy tank; alloy racing Borriani rims and special racing cams.

The frame is wideline featherbed norton and was one of the last before they changed to the slimline version.The basic engine is not strictly speaking suitable for this type of sport but as they is all I have and possibly all I want though a manx model would be nice.
The oily stuff on the ground is expensive castrol R racing oil which spat out when a pipe came loose.
The freezing wind early in the season could cut your face off.

My machine was made in 1960  - Bracebridge Street Birmingham, and has had a number of modifications made by me over the years. It is only since  I retired that I have been able to spend some time on preparing it. So far I have concentrated on using it as a sprinter. Early days- though I am nearly at pensionable age.

I live north of Glasgow in Scotland so there are few places to use it . Crail Raceway in the far East of Fife offers the nearest place for a blast and bike category events there tend to come under the auspises of the Scottish drag bike club.

I am a member of both the NSA (National Sprint Association) and also the Scottish Classic Racing Motorcycle Club.

Kirkbride in Cumbria is quite near Carlisle on the border and I hope they keep holding events there as it is the closest where NSA events are held.

I tow my Norton on a trailer and I feel that is about as far as you can tow and still feel it was an easy drive. A van is really necessary for further afield and also provides an overnight home.

I had the misfortune of breaking the small end last season and parts are becoming rare and expensive.

Though parts are expensive it is not as expensive as running a Manx Model.

Many events nowadays are for both cars and bikes which makes sense as both need the same infrastructure.Sometimes they even talk to each other !
I run the bike on ordinary unleaded pump petrol. The carb is standard Amal monobloc but it is a 389 model giving a larger intake diameter.Main jet size is always a matter of trial and error .
I also have designed and built a small hydroplane but the old Norton takes up too much of my time to give it the attention it is due.