Norton Commando Resuscitation Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Old's Cool' started by HapHazard, May 11, 2013.

  1. HapHazard

    HapHazard Waiting for Gudenov

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    Resuscitation, not rebuild or God forbid restoration!

    I bought this 1974 Commando Roadster about 10 years ago:
    [​IMG]

    (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, http://amalsleeve.com/index.html or buying the "new generation" Amals on EBay for $310 a set http://www.ebay.com/itm/Norton-Triu...Parts_Accessories&hash=item3f24af98fb&vxp=mtr 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:
    http://www.ebay.com/itm/170252715975?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1438.l2649
    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?:ear
    Thanx!
    #1
  2. pommie john

    pommie john Long timer

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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)
    #2
  3. Voltaire

    Voltaire Bored Of The Rings

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    I bought a Commando a couple of years ago and this forum http://www.accessnorton.com/ 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.:clap
    #3
  4. Xcuvator

    Xcuvator Justa Venturer

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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.:D
    #4
  5. chris a

    chris a Been here awhile

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    Southern France
    re-sleving the carbs is good.had to do a load of pre-monoblocs and they worked out great.
    #5
  6. Prmurat

    Prmurat Long timer

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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.
    #6
  7. HapHazard

    HapHazard Waiting for Gudenov

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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: http://www.amazon.com/R-0990-Norton-Universal-Rubber-Filter/dp/B00062YHYM

    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. HapHazard

    HapHazard Waiting for Gudenov

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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).
    http://www.clubmanracing.com/nortonbrakes.php
    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)?
    [​IMG]

    Has anybody dealt with Clubmanracing.com?
    #8
  9. lrutt

    lrutt SILENCE.....i kill you

    Joined:
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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.
    #9
  10. Voltaire

    Voltaire Bored Of The Rings

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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.
    [​IMG]
    I like bikes you can make bits for :D

    [​IMG]
    #10
  11. R-W

    R-W Been here awhile

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    Location:
    San Carlos, Mexico
    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). :huh

    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!
    #11
  12. HapHazard

    HapHazard Waiting for Gudenov

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    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?
    #12
  13. Doug Matson

    Doug Matson Long timer

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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.
    [​IMG]
    #13
  14. Peashooter

    Peashooter Older Dog

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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.
    #14
  15. yokesman

    yokesman Been here awhile

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    Oddometer:
    556
    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.
    #15
  16. Steve G.

    Steve G. Long timer

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    I'm still a fan of Amals hanging off of a Norton. And I've seen limited success with rebuilding/sleeving old ones. Just buy a set of new ones, pre-jetted to your bike, they work great.

    Ignition,,,Boyer-Bransdon EI is pretty good stuff, inexpensive, hidden, set it and forget it. New copper core plug wires must be used whatever you decide. Carbon core wires will last only months with the vibration this engine is capable of. And with coils, exact cosmetic replica and German made PVL coils are the only way to go.

    Brakes,,,,,yes, all it takes is money here. From re-sleeving the stock master cylinder to a smaller size, to all out Norvil disc/caliper combos, it's all a matter of MONEY!!

    Tires. OEM used Dunlop K81-TT100s. I see no reason to change. Modern tire compounds have made this tire better than original, and certainly exceeds the capability of the bike. Some guys go for Super Venoms, which are very good. But they don't have that classic look. Use good quality Metzeler tubes, avoid Kenda/Cheng Chin etc. , and renue the rim/spoke covers.
    #16
  17. caponerd

    caponerd Kickstart Enthusiast

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    Location:
    Halfway between Munich and Redditch.

    I love it when people blame the current president for something that happened the year he was elected!
    Can you say "non-sequitur"?

    Best to stick with motorcycles on a motorcycle forum. At least we agree on that!

    [edit]
    Before I'm accused of trying to politicize this thread; OP, my opinion is that everything you've mentioned would be worth doing.
    I don't own a Commando, but I do have two Royal Enfields, a 1966 interceptor and a 1958/9 Indian Tomahawk, and have done some updgrades to the Interceptor to take advantage of newer technology. It was worth it.
    #17
  18. HapHazard

    HapHazard Waiting for Gudenov

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    Wow! That's a beautiful bike! (And a lot more involved than "resuscitation"!:lol3)

    What is that neat polished taillight?
    #18
  19. bill h

    bill h Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    149
    Location:
    ambler, pa
    HapHazard: I've been riding my 72 Commando since 1977 and now that I am old, I can say it is just about right.

    Here are some things to consider, I apologize in advance, if you aware of the things I recommend.


    Wet Sumping: If the bike sits, it can be as little as two weeks, before starting drain the sump.

    Also get a Yamaha 650 PVC valve from Mikes XS and plumb it in the breather, It will go a long way to stop the oil from weeping from everywhere.

    Tires: If the tires are old replace them. A tire failure will ruin your whole Norton experience. Old hard tires just don't grip well and are hell in the rain.
    I like Avon Roadriders AM26 and have them on my Commando and 650SS.

    Clutch Cable: Do yourself a favor and install a Venhill Teflon lined cable. At least lube the current cable and make sure it is routed correctly.


    Clutch stack. Check to see that the height is correct and add a shim plate if necessary. Plenty of info about this on accessnorton.

    Primary drive : Use ATF fluid in the primary drive

    The Venhill cable, ATF fluid and correct clutch stack height are probably the best things I did to improve the bike's rideability. No more carpel tunnel after a long ride.


    Electronic Ignition is not a must if it starts and runs well. However. I am now running Pazon on both Nortons and my Triumph T100c. I like the ease of installation and the fact that you can set the timing at a lower rpm than the Boyer.

    Carbs: If the amals work use them. But, take them apart and clean the jets and idle passages.

    I have a Mikuni VM34 on the Commando.
    I like it, the bike starts, idles and makes good power. Most importantly , it idles at a stoplight and doesn't stall. I don't have to keep blipping the throttle.

    Electronic Rectifier / Regulator goes a long way to keep everything lighting and sparking

    Isolastics. Check the isolastics. I converted to adjustable iso's

    Brakes: As others have stated having the master sleeved to 13mm will
    improve it. I went to a Brembo master and caliper with a floating disc and it stops , it really,really stops . Which is what I need here in suburban Philadelphia where everyone is talking on the cell phone or texting or doing anything but paying attention to driving.

    Oh, that leads me to horns. Get the loudest horns you can find and install them. e.g Stebels


    Check the rear drive chain for rust and stretch and wear.

    Check the swing arm for play.

    Hope this helps

    Bill

    2002 MZ Skorpian

    1972 Norton Combat Commando

    1971 Triumph T100C

    1967 Norton 650SS
    #19
  20. Doug Matson

    Doug Matson Long timer

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    The tail light is off a 66' Triumph that I massaged a bit to fit and polished.
    #20