Thursday, August 6, 2009

NORTON COMES HOME



James Lansdowne Norton, 1910
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


James Norton was very respected for his superb engineering ability and his integrity. An entrepreneur at the beginning of the motorized transportation era he began the Norton Manufacturing Company in 1898 to produce bicycle parts. In 1902, the first Norton Motorcycle was built. Five years later a Norton ridden by Rembrandt Fowler won the first Tourist Trophy (TT).
(copyright 1997-2008 BritIron.com)


First taste of chain drive
B.R.S.' Norton, belt-drive
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


James L. Norton, founder of Norton Motors
chatting with Frederick W. Barnes, 1910
Titsey Hill hillclimb
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


After that epochal first-ever TT win in 1907 (using a Peugeot v-twin motor), Jas L Norton had not thought to take an exhibition space at the Motor Cycle Show - luckily the Peugeot company put the Rem Fowler TT machine in pride of place on their own stand, and much public interest was generated.
Unfortunately for Peugeot, the race win and subsequent attention gave Mr. Norton pause, and he quickly re-designed that v-twin engine with a few of his own improvements (like twin cams and roller mains), while adding a 3 1/2hp single-cylinder sidevalver to his modest range (with fully mechanical valves). The new single-cylinder model, progenitor of the 16H and clearly similar in layout and appearance, is shown above, in an advert from 1908. Note pedal-starting gear and long, high frame.
While many private owners came to love this single-cylinder machine, and had successes in all sorts of road trials, hillclimbs, and reliability trials, further success at the TT eluded Nortons since that first TT. (The photo below is from Brooklands, Easter 1909 - note early style high-saddle frame, 'tiller' handlebars, and pre-cursive 'Norton' logo on tank).
(From thevintagent.blogspot.com)


Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


After being trounced in the 1911 TT by a 1-2-3 Indian victory (the Indians had chain drive, clutches, and a two-speed gearbox, while every English machine used a single-speed clutchless belt-drive), James Norton, took out a full-page advert in The Motor Cycle:
"The American invasion, of distinctly American motorcycles, of distincly American design, built for distinctly American conditions, should prove a warning to the wide awake Britishers. Machines manufactured abroad of foreign material and designed for service under different conditions never CAN be as reliable and efficient as a British built, made in England, of British material, by British workman, designed for British service."
(From thevintagent.blogspot.com)


Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


Out of this humiliation, just six months later (in late 1911), the TT 490cc Record Type was introduced (see above) with a new, lower frame, the infamous 79x100mm engine dimensions, and shorter wheelbase - Norton's first purpose-built racing machine. Although Norton still didn't apply the advantage of gears and a clutch, this model became a great success in competition, winning regularly at many local and national events, barring the TT for which it was named!
(From thevintagent.blogspot.com)

Jack Emerson
After purchasing his TT model in September 1912
Note the high-saddle frame and old-script 'Norton' logo
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


1911 3 1/2hp model
with pedalling gear now gone
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


In 1913 Norton went into bankruptcy because James Norton was better at building bikes than running the business. However only a short while after James Norton gave it a new try with Bob Shelley - the new name was Norton Motors Ltd.
Dan O’Donovan (who was the brother-in-law of Shelley) developed the BS 490 cc bike which became the first production race bike.
('Norton Comes Home' by Tony Norton Copyright © Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd)
O'Donovan continued to develop his machines at Brooklands, and on April 6, 1914 he managed to beat the 80mph barrier on a 500cc machine for the first time, gaining 81.05mph for the flying kilometer. This on a belt-drive sidevalver using a cast-iron piston, unknown fuel octane rating, cast-iron one piece cylinder barrel and head, with a chassis barely evolved from the bicycle. By the way, he also used the Binks 'Rat Trap' carb.
(From thevintagent.blogspot.com)


Dan O’Donovan boasting a few records
set by 'Wizard' during 1914
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


George Cohen's personal 'BS' model
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


The science of combustion chamber shape, inlet and exhaust porting, cam profiles, compression ratios, and carburation were all in their infancy, and pre-20's, the best 'tuned' Norton engines came from variations in the iron foundry process, rather than some intentional series of modifications to a standard motor. Some engines simply went better than others, and the quickest engines made their way to the racing team, or to selected rider/tuners at Brooklands.
(From thevintagent.blogspot.com)



Charles Sgonina on his OHV machine
with Dr. Lindsay and Jack Thomas
on their sidevalve racers, 1920
Images from thevintagent.blogspot.com


Norton 490cc3 latéral, 1921
Date 14 April 2006
Source Reproduction d'une photo de famille
Author Own work, Jean-Pierre Selve
From Wikimedia Commons



Vintage 1923 Norton 16H 500 Sport
Owner: Paul Adams, California
All Photos Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc


In 1925 James Norton died, however the design and production kept going. In 1927 Norton produced the CS1 which was very successful during the following years, it was then also released as a super sports roadster.
('Norton Comes Home' by Tony Norton Copyright © Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd)



Vintage 1926 Norton Racer
Owner: P. Dorleans
All Photos Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc


George Cohen on 1927 TT Norton at Ginger Hall
Isle of Man 1991
Image from norton.uk.com


Stanley Woods
Winner of 1923 Junior TT
reg. no. OF166
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


"Uncle Ned" on his CS1 Norton
1929-ish works type 7 inch front brakes
reg. no. OF166 is Birmingham
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


A 1929 Norton Model 18
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


Norton had great success in the 1930 and had a huge sporting / racing name. Team manager Joe Craig was mostly responsible for this success and it helped that he had been a former rider himself. Great models during these years where the International and of course the Manx. The Manx was in the beginning only produced to each order separately.
('Norton Comes Home' by Tony Norton Copyright © Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd)


The infamous Copperknob, a 1930 Chater-Lea racer
with JAP 500cc ohv engine
The Centenary (100 years since the track opened) celebration
Brooklands race course June 2008
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com



A new OHC engine was designed by Arthur Carroll and Joe Craig, leading to the launch in 1930 of one of the most successful and good-looking engines ever. In 1931, Edgar Franks updated the Norton range, and in 1932 the famous International Models 30/40 were introduced. These were the road-going replicas of Norton’s OHC racing machines which had won many races. The CS1 name continued, although now reserved for the touring version of the OHC models; prior to 1932, the CS1 was the sportiest Norton available from the catalogue.
(From thevintagent.blogspot.com)






CS1 Norton
‘The King of Bitza’s'
(described by previous owner Paul d’Orleans)
Rikard Jerksjö bought this CS1 Norton new
still in his son’s (Sven Jerksjö from Sweden) possession
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com


Sven Jerksjö wrote:
“My father’s CS1 was dispatched to Arthur Nyström, the Norton agent of Trollhättan, Sweden on the 29th of June 1931.”
The customer who had ordered the Norton found himself in financial difficulties, and not being able to pay for this expensive bike the order was cancelled. Then Rikard walked into the showroom and at the age of twenty bought the CS1 that would serve him for the rest of his life. Rikard did not bother to refit the electrics and kept the Norton in racing trim. For the next nine years he used the CS1 for daily transport, enjoying this fast machine on trips to work and for fun in the weekends. Then World War II started and being very fond of his Norton he stored it for the duration of the war.
After the war, Rikard continued to enjoy his Norton. Small modifications were made, like a tiny bicycle dynamo fitted to the rear wheel, powering the taillight. In 1953, a Norton four-speed gearbox replaced the original three-speed Sturmey-Archer 'box.
Somewhere in the mid 1950’s, Swedish law required that all vehicles should be fitted with proper lights and the Lucas magneto was replaced by a combined Bosch magneto/dynamo unit to power ignition and a Miller headlamp. In 1951, Sven was born and the earliest childhood memory he has of motorcycles is of his father’s CS1.
In the early sixties, disaster happened when Rikard lent the CS1 to a friend who was so overcome with the speed of the Norton that he crashed it into a stone wall. He flew over the handlebars and luckily also over the wall and walked away without serious injuries; the CS1 however suffered badly in the accident. Frame, forks and the front rim were bent and the tanks, both mudguards and other fittings were mangled. Not wishing to part with his beloved CS1, Rikard repaired the motorcycle, but many parts such as the front mudguard and the handlebars with fittings were replaced in the process.
The Norton was the primary family transport until Sven’s father bought his first car 1967. The pictures show him in 1969, still the proud owner of his first love. In that year, Sven got his driving license and he used the CS1 for two seasons before upgrading to a more modern Velocette. The CS1 continued to be used by Sven and his father though it was joined by a 1959 Norton Model 99 Dominator that Rikard, getting older, found easier to start and handle. He used his Dominator every summer until he passed away at the age of 69 in 1980.
a motorcycle bought new at the age of 20, rebuilt after a complete write-off in the early sixties (when no one cared about bikes), and kept in the family ever since, must be very good!
(From RIKARD'S FIRST LOVE; 1931 NORTON by By John de Kruif at vintagent.blogspot.com)




Marque Norton Model Model 18
Year 1931 cc 500
Engine 4 stroke over head valve single
Starting Kick Gears 4 (foot)
Top speed Don't know, don't care.
Images from barkshire.co.uk



Vintage 500cc 1933 Norton Model 18
Owners: Todd & Tracy Cole, Colorado
All Photos Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc



1933 Norton International 500
All Photos Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc


Norton 350cc Model 50 1935
Date 20 May 2008
Author Thruxton
From Wikimedia Commons



Vintage 1937 Norton International Racer
Owner: Paul Adams, California
All Photos Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc


Norton 16H 1942
Date 20 May 2008
Author Thruxton
From Wikimedia Commons


Norton ES2 motorcycle 1949
National Motorcycle Museum
Date 20 May 2008
Author Thruxton
From Wikimedia Commons


The Featherbed (which the new design Manx was also known by) got a new racing frame in 1950 designed by Rex & McCandless, it became a true race horse winning the world title in 1951. Great competitors during these days were the MV Agusta motorcycles and Gilera motorcycles.
Shortly after 1955 Norton stopped factory racing and went into a more market orientated period of existence. In 1949 the 500cc model 7 dominator was introduced which later was combined (1952) with the strong popular frame from the Manx into the model known as the Dominator 88.
('Norton Comes Home' by Tony Norton Copyright © Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd)
Interestingly, Norton didn't have the facility to produce the Featherbed frame themselves, nor could Reynolds (the tubing mf'r), so Rex brought his own jigs over from Ireland, and personally built the Works Norton frames from 1950-53. Rex McCandless was never an employee of Norton; he was paid by what worked - if an idea panned out, he was paid £1 per hour. If the idea didn't work, no charge. By 1953, Rex could see that the writing was on the wall for the Manx engine, and pressed the factory to build a proper 4-cylinder racer, as Gilera and MV Agusta had done. "Joe Craig was against the 4-cylinder project, and persuaded the Board that he could continue to extract enough power from the single."
(From thevintagent.blogspot.com)


Rex and Joe Craig
Image from thevintagent.blogspot.com



1950 Norton 7 Dominator 500cc
Owner: Brian Doan, Washington
All Photos Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc




1954 Norton Manx 500
Owner: Virgil Elings, California
All Photos Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc



Marque Norton Model Model 77
Year 1957 (1958 season) cc 600
Engine 4 stroke over head valve twin
Starting Kick Gears 4 (foot)
Top speed 80-90mph?


Norton Jubilee 1959
Author Thruxton
From Wikimedia Commons


Norton became known for fine handling machines. And another great classic rolled off the line in 1962 - Dominator 650SS (still mounted in the Featherbed frame mentioned earlier). The 650SS was fast, stable and sexy (in the traditional silver color of Norton).
('Norton Comes Home' by Tony Norton Copyright © Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd)


1963 Norton Electra 400 Atlas 750 Berliner
Motorcycle Ad
Dad's Vintage Ads


The Norton 650SS was followed by the Norton Atlas 750cc however this production bike didn't sell so well because of the high prices. Norton wasn't producing enough of them to get the selling price and margins under control. Norton once again started to struggle with financial problems.
('Norton Comes Home' by Tony Norton Copyright © Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd)


1965 Norton 650ss
Date 4 May 2008
Source originally posted to Flickr as 1965 Norton 650ss
Author Terry Whalebone
From Wikimedia Commons


Norton changed the Norton Atlas motorcycle into the Norton Commando 750cc – Once again Norton had heads spinning with this new design and power machine. Norton upheld it’s name of developing good controlling bikes (create frame work) and even with the heavier engine Commando 850 cc the vibration wasn’t too bad (frame + rubber mounting system).
('Norton Comes Home' by Tony Norton Copyright © Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd)



Norton Commando 850 MK3 'Ala Verda' Classic Racer
All Photos Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc



1968 Norton Commando 750 Fastback
Owner: Daniel Schoenwald, California
Photo Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc



1968 Norton Dunstall Drainpipe 750 Racer
Owner: Jamie Waters, California
All Photos Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc



1969 Norton Mercury 650
Owner: Mike Crick, California
All Photos Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc



1972 Norton 750 Commando Special
Owner: Dan Brockmier, California
Photo Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc




Electric start conversion for pre-1975 Commandos
Images from oldbritts.com


1975 manual Group 1 exploded view
Images from oldbritts.com


Norton had been consumed into the Norton Villiers Triumph group but the whole thing went into liquidation and by 1978 the last commandos were built.
(From Best Motorcycle Gear.com )
After nearly fifteen years of US ownership, Norton, the quintessential and most famous of British motorcycle brands returns home.
As a result of prolonged negotiations and a multi-million pound deal Britain can announce that the Norton motorcycle brand is, at last, back in caring British hands.
Stuart Garner a UK based businessman and owner of Norton Racing Ltd has bought back all the trademarks and development work relating to the Norton, Manx, Atlas, Commando and Dominator brands.
Norton Racing Ltd is already in development of a new rotary engined race bike and now with the ownership of the brand itself plans are being developed to introduce a new road bike for 2009.
‘This has been a challenging and exciting period for us’ Commented Garner ‘We are proud to have brought the brands back home and we now intend to focus on re-establishing Norton as a premier motorcycling brand across the World’ he added.
In the early nineties the brands were bought by Norton Motorcycles Inc in the USA with the view of developing a new Commando road bike for the US market. Nearly $10 million was spent on IP, design and development, and this development work has formed part of the new deal. The investment can now be brought to bear on the new global project for the Norton Commando 961.
Norton intend to develop a strong presence on the track and on the road during 2009 with a new 15000 sq foot factory and office complex based at Donington Park - Norton are at the heart of motorcycle racing once again and committed to investment to make the initiative work.
As well as creating a new ‘state of the art’ road bike the Norton brands will see a vigourous licensing programme through Norton Global Brands to safeguard and develop licensing of all kinds from spare parts to clothing.
Commenting on the programme Garner said ‘Our trade marks and brand have incredible strength and value, we will strongly enforce our position as the new owners of these world famous brands and ensure our new partners benefit from a robust protection programme going forward’.
‘This is the beginning of a new and exciting era in a brand that was started over 100 years ago by James Lansdowne Norton. It has sustained ups and downs over the years but still stands for performance and excellence. These will be the standards we live by from now on’ stated Garner.
('Norton Comes Home' by Tony Norton Copyright © Norton Motorcycles (UK) Ltd)




2007 Norton Commando 961 SS
Signature Series 'Kenny Dreer' production
80hp parallel-twin retro cafe racer with Ohlins suspension
Owner: Norton Motorsports Inc.
All Photos Copyright © 2008 KHI Inc
2008 Legend of the Motorcycle
Concours D'Elegance
Copyright © 2009 KHI, Inc









All Images from @2006 Colorado Norton Works


And Ian Wright had the fantasy to get 65 British military motorcycles on the beach of Arromanche for the 65th anniversary of D-Day. On June 6th 2009 there were a little over 150 bikes on the beach of which 144 were officially registered for the Guinness Book of Records.
(From The Norton WD 16H and BIG 4 website)


Batterie de Longues gathering
Picture made by Jakob Oud at wdnorton.nl
The Norton WD 16H and BIG 4 website


June 6th, Arromanche beach, Mine (counted for)
picture made by Ian Wright at wdnorton
The Norton WD 16H and BIG 4 website


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