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Old 10-05-2016, 07:10 AM   #1
Goldy
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Default 72 Norton restoration

I haven't done a build thread on here in a while, so I thought if there was any interest I would start recording the process of restoring a '72 Norton. The object is not going to be something that would be considered as concourse, just a nice looking machine that can be ridden on a regular basis. The bike is a 1972 chassis with an early '69 engine...from the pics you can see that it has been stored in a rather miserable and damp location (outside?) for at least 20+ years. A lot of stuff missing and a lot of stuff that just cannot be cleaned up. Got to finish up an AJS Model 30 before I dig into this one, but that should happen in the next week or two. The first thing to do will be to remove the engine and transmission and strip the frame so I can address some frost damage on the lower frame loops. After that I'll be tearing down the engine to see what kind of squirrels have set up housekeeping inside it.





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Old 10-05-2016, 08:29 AM   #2
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

I have a '72 (per the title) that per numbers and equipment is a '69. Looking forward to your restoration. Mine isn't good enough for reference but runs well.
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Old 10-05-2016, 10:49 AM   #3
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Cool Re: 72 Norton restoration

Count me in as very interested to see you bring this one back and riding down the road. My goal is to get a '71 - '72 Commando one day !
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Old 10-05-2016, 11:45 AM   #4
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

Nice. Passed here today, but sadly didn't have time to stop

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Old 10-05-2016, 01:46 PM   #5
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

I'm in !
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Old 10-12-2016, 04:06 PM   #6
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

Right before Canadian Thanksgiving, I got the AJS back to its owner, who seems very pleased with it. That means I got to start tearing into the Commando this week. Day one saw the machine stripped down to the basic components, with the frame laid bare and the crusty old engine up on the bench along with the transmission. I was going to spend the next day fixing a frost crack in the lower right frame loop and sorting out a pile of bits to go along with it to be powder coated, but instead I got side tracked and found myself getting carried away with trying to clean up the front wheel. When I'm doing this sort of thing, I like to try to refresh the original equipment if at all possible, rather than just replacing everything. It tends to be less expensive for the client and there's just something nice about being able to keep as much of the original machine as possible. At first I thought that trying to clean these wheels was going to be a waste of effort, but by lunch time I was pretty pleased and surprised with the results. Not absolutely perfect, but for a 'rider' it ought to be more than good enough. Maybe I'll tackle the rear wheel next and wait 'til after that to get into the engine. The chrome on the fenders is trashed though...too bad since they are free of dents and still crack free.

Front wheel before (note the fork leg backwards)


front wheel after:


Brake disc after machining and paint:


Frame, awaiting some TLC:


Ol' Crusty:
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Old 10-12-2016, 04:51 PM   #7
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

I had a Mk 2A 850 & a 750 fastback commando,... is that a dominator motor???.... only ask as it looks like it has a magneto or distributor that I don't remember any commandos having... the lump looks earlier than Commando ????... or am I missing something??
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Old 10-12-2016, 05:10 PM   #8
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

The early commando versions had the points behind the cylinders...about mid-way through the '69 run they changed to the points on the timing cover. My own '69 Norton is the later version.
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Old 10-12-2016, 05:56 PM   #9
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Kool, that explains it... learn something every day,....
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Old 10-13-2016, 10:06 AM   #10
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

WOW, that's a long road forward! Front wheel looks great. What did you use to clean it up like that?
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Old 10-13-2016, 04:16 PM   #11
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

Well, to answer your question, lots of elbow grease, but mostly penetrating oil and a collection of brass wire brushes...I did resort to a steel one for the most stubborn stuff. The spokes got a quick buffing with some Autosol and a rag. There was some heaver rust on the interior of the rim but not as much as I was expecting, that fell prey to a fine wire wheel. Then a final cleaning and waxing. The spoke nipples got a coat of chrome paint as did the rim interior. Even though it was in worse shape than the front wheel, I had similar luck with the back wheel today...again, not perfect, but certainly good enough....I got lucky with these ones; the job took about the same amount of time to do as it would have taken me to relace and true the wheels, but without the extra cost

Rear wheel, before:



...and after:

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Old 10-13-2016, 04:56 PM   #12
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

Can I ask about machining the brake disc? Are you just clocking up true in a lathe and taking a pass or something more sophisticated?
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Old 10-13-2016, 05:03 PM   #13
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

Just as you said...dial indicator and just skimmed enough to get a clean surface.
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Old 10-14-2016, 01:38 PM   #14
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

Nice work Goldy, looks great!
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Old 10-16-2016, 08:28 AM   #15
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

Cool thread, I shall watch with interest.
Nice work on those rims. What will you do now to stop them immediately going back to how they were when your back is turned? Although the surface discolouration on the decent chrome is all cleaned up, is there not lots of pitting that will just rust again super quick?
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Old 10-16-2016, 08:45 AM   #16
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

That wheel looks fantastic sir, SERIOUS elbow grease.
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Old 10-16-2016, 09:25 AM   #17
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

Quote:
Originally Posted by Curmudgeon View Post
Cool thread, I shall watch with interest.
Nice work on those rims. What will you do now to stop them immediately going back to how they were when your back is turned? Although the surface discolouration on the decent chrome is all cleaned up, is there not lots of pitting that will just rust again super quick?
These turned out very similar to what I found on my own Commando, when I restored it some 27 years ago. A decent coat of wax a couple of times a year has kept that one in nice condition, every couple of years a quick brush-up with a bit of Mother's, or Autosol...so it ought to work on this machine too.
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Old 10-16-2016, 12:59 PM   #18
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Excellent, that's good to know. Cheers.
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Old 10-19-2016, 03:31 PM   #19
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

Got busy with some other bits this week. A frost crack in the lower right frame rail was welded shut and made a small pile of bits to go along with it to the fellow who does the powder coating for me. Then I got into the engine. It seems it may have been rebuilt just before the machine was sent to motorcycle purgatory. Some things suffered water damage, namely the end of the crankshaft that fits in the oil seal. Had to machine it down and then press a stainless steel sleeve over it...silver soldered it in place too just for good measure before machining it to the proper size. Con rod bearings were new at 0.030" undersize, but will be replaced just to be on the safe side. Con rod journals were checked for out of round and after a light polishing are in perfect condition. Main bearings appeared new, but will be replaced with Superblend ones. Cam shaft is like new. One of the con rods is new...this engine must have suffered a catastrophic failure at one time or other, other than the new connecting rod, there are some spots where some damage was repaired by welding on the inside of the left crankcase half. The bores are still standard, but the water etching is so deep that I can feel it with my fingernails, so a new set of pistons and a rebore to match will be in order...a mouse must have been using the right cylinder as a store house, as I found plenty of seeds in there. Started polishing a few other bits and pieces too and I haven't looked at the head yet...that will be a tale for another day.

Chewed up crankshaft oil feed:



Repaired oil feed



Welding in crankcase...may touch it up a bit more...

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Old 10-19-2016, 03:59 PM   #20
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Default Re: 72 Norton restoration

Quote:
Originally Posted by rhysmort View Post
That wheel looks fantastic sir, SERIOUS elbow grease.
i agree that SERIOUS elbow grease is way better than regular elbow grease
very cool to see the original old pieces come back to life
nicely done
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