Cafe Racer Forum banner

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

12358 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
See less See more
1 - 2 of 57 Posts
Wrong. Norton cranks were always forged steel with a cast-iron central flywheel. Being an SS made no difference at all, the same cranks were used in all the bikes across the board. For 1961 the 88/99 cranks were made stronger by making the internal sludge-trap smaller diameter, thus increasing the thickness of the rod-journal wall. Triumph bikes also had steel cranks with iron flywheels. It was Matchless that had the all-iron one-piece crank which switched to nodular iron about 1961.

Anyone should know the Norton twin had a narrow valve angle compared to the BSA or Triumph pre-unit twins, so would have less problems with cam timing and high compression, and anyone should know the 650ss got 9:1 compression with a flat-top piston while the Trumph and BSA 650s needed domes for the same ratio. The 650ss did not have any higher compression pistons than any other 650cc Norton twin, but there was a domed piston for the 99 that was sold by Norton starting in the late 1950s that was an option, and people put those into 650cc bikes sometimes after shaping the skirt for the larger 650 flywheel. Ed Bilton-Smith had the backside of his standard 650 camshaft ground to a smaller radius and he did not have to "pocket the valves". Any competent mechanic checks valve-piston clearance, so that point is moot. Taking advantage of intake and exhaust pulse cost the least of any engine modification as all it entails is making the exhaust pipes or intake manifolds longer or shorter, very easily and cheaply done.

The lesson is that the person who does the most talking might not know the most, but just enjoys hearing themselves talk the most.......
That was pretty much of a dick reply. Are you as big of a know-it-all dick in real life as you come across on here? SO far you have made 2 posts and managed to deliberately call out and insult 2 of the regulars on here. Paul and Jalsteve have both been on here a while and have shared lots with the members on here. I think they both have established credentials via work ending up in publications and on racetracks. Just who are you, what have you done and why should I care?

Your attitude sucks. I hope you come across better in person.

Have a sparkly day,
  • Like
Reactions: 2
Just fit a Coffman starter. It worked for Jimmy Stewart, so it should work for you. I just generally bump start my 500 single race bikes, except the Ascot, I kept the electric starter on it and it even has stock compression. Bump starting a 12.5:1 500 single with slicks on grass takes some experience and skill. I got pretty good at it.
1 - 2 of 57 Posts