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1963 Norton 650SS race bike. Am I up shits creek?

12307 Views 56 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Sluggo503
I know nothing about Nortons, I have been in the market for one and just bought this on eBay. I may have a POS or not. I have never bought a Ike on eBay and I'm quite nervous about it. Land vehicle Vehicle Motorcycle Motor vehicle Car

Here is some of the description
No reserve - high bidder owns this 1963 Norton 650 Sports Special Dominator. Clean and clear title in hand
This 650 Sports Special was active in the 1960's at local Pacific Northwest tracks where it was raced by Bob Waring. The cover of Cycle magazine from May 1965 features this very same Norton 650 motorcycle in action during the Canadian Motorcycle Road Race Championship race at the old Westwood Racing Circuit in Vancouver B.C. forever capturing a tangible piece of this bike's race history.

Bob Waring has since passed on and one of the two previous owners of this bike since Bob added the street legal trim as presently seen in the pictures. I purchased this motorcycle from the last owner as a buy and hold considering the fact the 650/SS model was produced in limited numbers for 2 years only (1962 and 1963) making it a very rare bike in the USA since only a handful were exported from the home market. The race history was icing on the cake in my purchase decision. Here's the specs:

Frame#: 20 1048xx. Featherbed slimline frame.

Engine#: 18SS1048xxP. Engine turns over, I have not tried to start it.

Wheels: Twin leading shoe 8" vented front and 7" rear.

Front rim: C.Borrani Record-19 x 2 1/4 -TD 324 A with Dunlop Racing KR76 3.00-19 tire
Rear rim: C.Borrani Record-19 x 2 1/2-TD 324 B with Dunlop Roadmaster TT100 3.60 H19 tire
These shouldered alloy rims are possibly from a BSA Goldstar...

Gas tank: Aluminum alloy dual oil/gas tank in the classic Norton design style with aircraft style flip-up gas caps and internal race style baffling from unknown maker. Paul Dunstall??

Bumstop seat: Fi-glass Limited of Edenbridge Kent is the name on the badge, made in England.

In true race bike form there is no center stand or even a kick starter-this bike is bump start only! I verified the engine turns over because the gearbox clicks through all the gears and in the top gears you can rotate the rear wheel by hand and hear the engine turning over. The gearbox inspection cap was taped over when I received the bike so I sealed the peephole again when I got it before I washed the bike and inspected it. It really is a period race correct bike with safety wiring on parts and evidence of racing hard as seen by the rash on the right header and very end of the right muffler (possibly Dunstall mufflers?). That seems to be the extent of the rash although the right clipon might have unseen end damage because the grips are unscarred and are newer Doherty units.

Carbs are Amal 1 5/32 Monoblocs with GP/TT type Amal remote float chambers. The frame looks good with some ancillary tabs removed, all the major mounting points are present and accounted for that I can determine. Frame and engine number and gearbox number will be revealed to the winning bidder only out of respect to the winning bidder (the last two numbers are all factory stock OEM stampings). It looks like the original 6v electrical system has been retained as evidenced by the 3 cell battery and the brakes actuate freely and the clutch lever still actuates the cable and hardware.
The front and rear hubs are Norton Manx magnesium hubs.
The front forks are Norton Manx and the swing arm is Manx too.
The gas tank is factory Norton but likely someone has welded the oil tank onto the Norton tank. The internal race style baffling is the correct dimpled hole design style as used by the Norton factory.
The magneto is special, no one as of yet has identified it and I find no stamped #'s or riveted tags, so if there is identification on the magneto body it is hidden by installation.
The two valve assembly on the right side under the seat is an anti-sumping oil line shut off valve. The lines to the oil tank are disconnected.
The toggle switches on the left side under the seat are for the charging system and lighting system. There is a handwritten wiring diagram explaining the function of these 2 switches in all the papers and letters and drawings and diagram specs I received in the purchase of this Norton
The 2nd owner of this 650SS was Sir Edward Bilton-Smith. The title for this bike is from 1974 and the name shown on the title is Edward C. Bilton-Smith. If you do a quick search on y0utube for "Sir Eddy Edward Bilton-Smith Norton Celebration of Life" video you will see this very same Norton 650SS you see here on eBay shown in that video at 3:29 into the video.

Also, a very knowledgeable Norton enthusiast has solved the magneto mystery. It's a Lucas square body 2MTT magneto but a rare and unique one with 2 spark leads.
Here is a pic of the bike from the video when Edward C. Bilton-Smith owned it Land vehicle Vehicle Motor vehicle Motorcycle Car
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If they are Manx magnesium hubs, then you should have a very close look at them for cracks. Easy enough to add a kick starter if you wish, but who knows what sort of compression it has.
These folks are into Commandos, but quite a few parts will fit what you have there. Prices are reasonable and they are good to deal with.
If that mag is getting tired, you can get it redone, but finding people who really know how to do them properly are scarce. There is a fellow close to you (who is one of the best), but probably impossible to convince him to do it. He's retired and busy getting a 28 Ariel ready for the cannonball run. If you are going to ride it, you could shelve the mag and use an Atlas distributor. Just toss the breaker plate and replace it with one of the programmable ignition systems from OldBrits or you can buy one direct from the supplier.
It will likely make it way easier to start. Only catch is you will have to switch to 12v.

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Actually I'm a big fan of magnetos. In most cases, if it came with a mag that's what stays on the bike. If that is a 2mtt, then its probably the most expensive bit on the bike. Odds are that the condenser has deteriorated just based on age. If the mag has ever been disassembled, then it has probably lost some of its magnetism and spark at kick over may be a little weak. Finding someone (on this side of the pond) who you can trust to repair it correctly with the proper bits isn't easy and its not cheap. To each their own, but if it were mine, due to the value and rarity I would likely put that mag on the shelf. I had a BTH TT done with a new condenser,bearings, rewound armature, re-magnitezed etc etc. I have no fear of using it because although they are not exactly plentiful, they can be acquired for less than a 3 bedroom bungalow.
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If it was a twin cylinder version of a 2MTT, then I assume the second pickup would be visible in the picture?
Not debating the value of a 2MTT versus the Manx bits and you would know better than I, but a functioning twin 2MTT must be worth a bucketload. The mag in the OP's fuzzy photo could also pass for a Scintilla. I think the one used on the Picador was along the same style.
The magneto is one sold by Joe Hunt at one time. I have the same mag that used to be on a Norton race-bike. The only difference on my mag is the finned cover actually says "Joe Hunt" on it, probably just an earlier or later run of castings. I e-mailed Hunt about it a number of years ago and they did not have much to say about it except that if I wanted replacement parts for it that they would have to see the mag or good photos of it's points etc. before they could tell me if they could supply them.
If it turns out that you need points and Joe Hunt can't supply them, then let me know. I seem to have a collection of NOS points and may be able to match something up.
If that mag was built in the USA, there is a slight chance I have something that would work as is or could be modified to work. Or as in the dark ages, maybe you could replace the points (see top left of photo) in the points if the rubbing block is still serviceable.

Snack Hamper

Jalsteve.... I have a box of oddball British pistons too. Some prewar. Chances are slim, but you never know....

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