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Old 05-11-2013, 02:42 PM   #1
HapHazard OP
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Question Norton Commando Resuscitation Recommendations?

Resuscitation, not rebuild or God forbid restoration!

I bought this 1974 Commando Roadster about 10 years ago:

(Pic is after I did a bunch of stuff, like replacing the all-white-wiring with a repro harness, ceramic coating the Dunstall mufflers, installing the NOS taillight).

The PO had the bike painted all metallic blue (fenders, frame, instrument housings - even the triple clamps!). He had a cut-down Lucas taillight on it that sat at an odd angle, so I replaced it with the NOS piece, but I really don't care for it (looks, or the way it shakes with the bike's vibration), and may try another Lucas-style replacement. I really like the look of original polished stainless fenders, but the monochrome look isn't bad. The bars are probably higher than original, and I might get something lower and less Fastback style.

It ran, will run, has been the Queen Of Garageland, but I want to start using it a bit again (around town, day trips of 50-80 miles) and would like to update it a bit in terms of reliable performance.

Here are my requests for recommendations:

Carbs: The Amals have worn slides/bodies (idle races to 2000rpm when warmed up). I found a new set of two Mikunis with manifolds (but no throttle cables) for a very friendly price, but wonder if having the slides redone for $80 per carb, or buying the "new generation" Amals on EBay for $310 a set might give a acceptable and more "appropriate" result?

Ignition: It has points. I want to change to electronic. I'm leaning toward the Pazon Sure Fire:
if that, should I replace the coils? With what?

Front Brake: Is stock and works as well as you'd expect - poorly with bad feel. What options are there to improve it's performance? (I'd like to keep the master cylinder to maintain the original switchgear).

Tires: The tires on it are younger than I am, but that's nothing to brag about. It seems that Dunlop K81's are about the only thing that comes in 4.10x19 front and rear. I've read lots of confusing talk about Avons in metric sizes, but nothing that makes me want to experiment. Are there other (good) choices besides the Dunlops?

Any other areas to consider?
I'm not looking to do this as cheaply as possible, or throw massive amounts of coin at it, either.
What 'ya think?
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Old 05-11-2013, 05:47 PM   #2
pommie john
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There loads of options for what you want. The pazon has a good reputation, and they also sell coils that are right for their system. You might also look at TriSpark. They have a very compact and well renowned unit.

The front brake has a few options. The problem with the front brake is that the master cylinder ratio is wrong and you need the forearm of a gorilla to stop the bike quickly. If you want to keep the standard look you can get a re-sleeve kit for the M/c that fixes that, or you can go the whole hog and get a floating disc with Brembo 4 pot calliper of you want real stopping power.

I don't have much experience of re-sleeving Amals, but you can get brand new ones which might be the best option given that money's not the main worry.

I've always liked the Dunlops and they are now available in soft racing compound, known as the TT100 GP ( Check that they are street legal)
The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.
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Old 05-11-2013, 09:24 PM   #3
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I bought a Commando a couple of years ago and this forum is really good, what these guys don't know about Commandos is probably not worth knowing.
Mine has resleeved 32 mm carbs and it starts and runs well. I binned the horrible K and N pod and fitted a std airbox with a K and N inside.

Mine has a Boyer and it works....Boyer yuk. Got a Pazon Altair ready to go in at some stage this year.

Regulator is another one that I replaced, so electrics are good now.

Mine runs Dunlops as I've kept the 19" rims.

Make sure you buy your bits off reputable dealers as I've had a clutch nipple pull out after only a few miles.....

Have fun, they are a blast to ride, and sound awesome.

Pommy John races one so he knows stuff.
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Old 05-11-2013, 10:29 PM   #4
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There are some great Norton folks here. Brit Bikes is my favorite for British.
I bought a new 74 Roadster and after all these years is the bike I most regret selling.
Good luck!
Keep us posted.
BTW, I'd for sure ditch those painted fenders.

So much riding-so little time
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Old 05-12-2013, 05:05 AM   #5
chris a
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re-sleving the carbs is good.had to do a load of pre-monoblocs and they worked out great.
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Old 05-12-2013, 06:15 AM   #6
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I had my Amals sleeved: day and night: bikes starts easily, idle good and perform well. I have a Trispark after 10 years of Boyer: a lot better! I changed first the master cylinder for a Honda one: too much brake! After that I put a Magura... Great improvement! Now, after an accident (destroyed the bike) I have a Brembo kit from Norton Colorado.
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Old 05-13-2013, 02:26 PM   #7
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No one likes the twin Mikunis? I was kinda lukewarm on them, too. I'm leaning toward the replacement Amals.
Regarding the aircleaner - the PO had installed a set of polished velocity stacks on the carbs, they do have a bit of screening over the mouths (to exclude chickens). I want some filtering. but don't have any pieces of the OE airbox. I hear you Voltaire about the pod filters, but K&N also makes this which seems to be capable of running without the stock box parts:

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Old 05-13-2013, 02:40 PM   #8
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On the brake area, I was looking for the sleeve that Pommie John recommended, and this place has a re-sleeved 13mm master for $189 (or the sleeve for $74.50 and recommends professional installation). My master needs some attention anyway (shows a little snot coming out of the lever end).
They also have an interesting brake upgrade kit with a floating 12" rotor using either a 2 pot Grimeca caliper for $529 or a 4 pot Brembo for $100 more. Sounds pretty good for less $ than CNW ( $1200 & 11.5" rotor)?

Has anybody dealt with
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Old 05-13-2013, 03:20 PM   #9
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Get the new and improved Amals. They just plain work best on a Nort. And they aren't a bad price. You can get them directly from Amal which is part of Burlen Fuel systems.

Why are you convinced to get rid of the points?? Is there something wrong wtih that setup? Mine has been flawless. I can't tell you how often I've seen guys who 'improved' their Nortons with Mikuni's and electronic ignition and kick and kick and kick. My old gal with the stock amals and new slides, stock points, all stock as a matter of fact, pops right off. Points will always get you home, same can't be said for EI.

As for brakes, you can sleeve down the MC and that should improve things. I have to say once I wore my disk down through the chrome plate to the copper coat it works great now and is all stock, but sleeving is easy and cheap. I'd switch to DOT 5 as well but that's just me.

Tires, yup there aren't a lot of options for 19's. But when they are on there they just work great. Handling is very good.

Make sure you check out the isolastics very closely, get those babies shimmed up proper.

Resist going with a KN filter. The stock one works just fine and fits and won't let all the crap in the KN does. BTDT

Not sure how your clutch is setup, key thing though is to make sure the stack height is perfect. If so you will be rewarded with a very sweet clutch.

Tranny.....make darn sure your layshaft bearing is still ok. Dead giveaway would be if the kick start lever moves on it's own whily you are riding. If so, get that sucker apart and put a proper bearing in. The stock ones were a major POS that would fall apart and trash the whole trans. But it does warn you. I haven't done mine yet as it hasn't talked to me yet, but....I'll be changing it out this next winter just for piece of mind.

Only other minor fix that you might need is the clutch pushrod oring fix. Basically the trans fluid can migrate through the pushrod and make the plates a little sticky/grabby. I've not had the problem, but if you do, it's an easy fix.

I would urge you to go with the new 'Premier Amals' though and resist the urge to go electronic igniition. All my old bikes still run points, a 'point' of pride and they really aren't hard to maintain.
2006 HD 1200C, 2006 Tri Scrambler, 2001 Duc M900, 2001 Hon XR650L, 1994 HD Heritage, 1989 Hon Hawk GT, 1978 Hon CB750K / sidecar, 1977 Guzzi 850 LeMans, 1976 Hon CB750K, 1965 Hon 305 Dream, 1973 Nort 850 Commando, 1971 Tri Trophy 650, 1970 Hon Trail 90, 1970 Tri Tiger 650, 1973 Hon Z50, 1984 Yam Virago 1000, 1981 Hon Passport 70, 1970 Suz T250, 1971 Yam RT1 360, 1965 Hon CT200
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Old 05-13-2013, 03:33 PM   #10
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+ 1 on the clutch pushrod seal, cheap and easy to do. The tranny oil gets on the plates and makes the clutch drag.
They are fun bikes to ride and the sound of those reverse cones.
On my to do list is the sleeved m/c.
I made up a nice head steady for bugger all last year.

I like bikes you can make bits for

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Old 05-13-2013, 04:38 PM   #11
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Love my Nortons!!!

Rejuvinate it, restore it, keep it parked, just don"t SELL IT!

In the past 4 years my restored Norty's have gone up thousands while
my bank savings account has done nothing and my real estate values have gone in the tank. (Thank you Mr Obama).

Harley's... all over the place for sale. (and cheap)
Norton's... maybe 8 on FleaBay U.S. at any one time.

Keep it and love it baby!
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Old 05-14-2013, 12:29 PM   #12
HapHazard OP
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Originally Posted by pommie john View Post
I've always liked the Dunlops and they are now available in soft racing compound, known as the TT100 GP ( Check that they are street legal)
I've been looking, and it seems that the GP compound tires are available in the UK and Yurp, but not here in the USofA.
I guess I'll start emailling.
Do you know if the GPs would have the same time life length, or shorter or longer before getting hard and useless?
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Old 05-14-2013, 07:29 PM   #13
Doug Matson
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I have my MK III down right now. Frame off to powered coat and motor is waiting for me to get time to put it together. Try JS Motosport for carbs and motor parts. I have a custom made head (FullAuto), JS light weight pistons, Carillo rods, custom lifters, Beehive valve springs and a stage 1 JS cam, JS twin 34mm carbs, and lots of other parts. The forks you can use LandsDown Enginering for adjustable sliders. OldBritts has many custom parts they also use PowerArc ignitions, Colorado Norton Motorworks has great parts also. I have their Brembo brakes front and back along with a hydraulic clutch unit and some stainless steel parts. AccessNorton is a great site for info as was mentioned. Really the only limit is $$$$ and your imagination! Here is a pic of mine just before i tore it down to do the motor, I had already rebuilt the wheels. It was a pile of rust and grease when i got it. It should be a fun ride when I get it back together.
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Old 05-15-2013, 06:24 AM   #14
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Call Phil Radford at Fair Spares America. He resleeves the master cylinders and usually has them on an exchange basis. Also, take your disc to a shop that does surface grinding and have it ground flat. Top it off with new pads and a steel line and you will be surprised how well it works without the cost to change out the caliper and disc.
The new Amal Premier series are good carbs, what they should have built years ago. If you don't want to tickle them anymore, get a single Mikuni kit from MAP in Florida. Good kit.
If you keep points, just make sure that the mechanical advance is in good shape. That is what wears out and causes headaches, not the points, which can easily be replaced. If you are like most Norton owners, you won't put enough miles on it to wear the points anyway. Just sayin!
Keep the oil changed with 50 wt oil that has a zinc additive and ride it.
There are tires out there, the new Avon RoadRiders are good, the Dunlop K-81's, and Bridgestone B-45's are all good tire and available in the correct sizes. I like the K-81's because you can rotate them. The front tire wears forever, the rear goes fast. I take off the front and move it to the rear and keep fresh rubber on the front.
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Old 05-15-2013, 08:18 AM   #15
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I had a near new 850 that was serviced and returned home to a 2000 rpm idle,
the twitt was a triumph mechanic and set it up without slack in the cables to allow for the engine movement.
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