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

12303 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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fucker, fuck off texas sucks ,sorry bout yert luck
Never met the man...... Actually I knew that, age I think playing with grey matter.
i get it the brit shit can be knotchy specially when they put a high dome piston in a goldstar ,that is my xb33 and they just shake there hreads
cannot start it it
i actually did get it started aftern i putn in a new quadrant and the lil gear it mates to and bushed the case
the kicker grears were climbing so bad
anyway i thought the harley piston story was bullshit till i did start it up and it would ping at retarded time
hmmm 237psi kicking it oopps
turns out it was a harley piston offset pin and all
i put in a nice low dome old bsa dude up here is a gent he could not believe the dome he was all like that dog wont hunt
so yeah check it for harley pistons and maybe get some lower ratio rocker arms or slo the cam down see
but definately get it running but like jal says take out some bark
but i would try the easy way softer valve springs and maybe just ungrind the lobes knock em down
just gring a 1/16 off the peaks
file the piston dombs down a good knicker
put some warshers in the intake so it restricted to 3/4''
dont laaugh that cut down the rpm playing
lower ratio rockers would be tits
here is what a harley piston looks like in a goldstar Auto part Wheel Metal

and that was after i filed and ground a ton of stock off still had 200psi kiking though
harley pistons are striccltly for racing brit shit cant play withem ,thats all
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actually i have heard that a low comp harley piston out of a ww11 postal fetcher is all a brit bike can handle,and thats a flathead
so keep sharp
I regularly run over 12:1 on racing brit engines. Photo is a modified 2 ring Manx piston for use in a pre 56 manx head compression is well over 12:1. See the squish platform on the piston? If you draw a line about half way between the top ring groove and the squish platform the section above the line is how much fits into the cylinder head at TDC. Compression isn't subtle on brit racer.

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My comment with regards to the 650ss engine isn't suggesting they can't take it but rather the maintenance schedule can get rather busy and that with the higher revs required to take advantage of a big cam ad high comp pistons the valves have job to keep out of harms way.

Using a race engine on the road is a waist of money, you might take advantage of the extra horses once in a while but generally the engine is spinning at low-ish RPM and the engine works against itself. As I suggested earlier, stock springs and lower comp pistons around 9 to 9.5:1 is all you need to change and lower red line to around the peak torque point. With some confidence I can say the original race pistons will not be replaceable anyway, just put them in the heritage box.
im know where you are man and agree with all its common good sense
i like to jkeep you spilling so i can learn more,see
but my harley piston story is true why i brought it up its funny
i just figured they were full of shit

i clayed that harle=y piston that was in my bsa
it was like nothing even much for squish i cant remember but there was never a hundrerd thousanths anywhere in that lashup and scary close too less than .025'' in many areas 250 psi kicking alky motor huh lol
it was all new bore never had run my bsa old guy up here had a nice almost flat top piston for it and rings

i have run that and its very easy starting cold or hot i can usually 1 kick start it cold or hot if not then it takes 3
now i wish it had just a bit more cr it feels a bit flat
meanwhile Street art Art Graffiti Footwear Shoe
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"Hungry for spanners" that, I have a couple of those.

I don't know when I'll stop being amazed: a bike nut in Texas buys an odd ball British antique he knows nothing about and within a matter of hours is talking to a Brit, thousands of miles away, whom he's never met and knows the machine inside and out. Unbelievable.
indeed it is really amazing and pretty bitchen to witness
the internet and these forums for like minds make it possible to share knowledge that otherwise might not get exposed
a glorious use in my opinion

and this shit is real ,its hard to describe i am just glad i can read along and at 60 continue to learn
shit its not like there are 1,000 jalsteve's out there, ill bet there is very few with his depth of expertise maybe only 5 or 20 above ground , i dunno

but how many are willing to share ? thats the real shining part, my hats off to you jalsteve:cool: you are one cool cat,man...
keep it coming i am much obliged
while i am at it can you, tell if my goldstar cams are just super mild by a real good image of the lobe ?
see when i got the cycle i went thru the timing chest making sure all was happy took good pics
gearbox as well it was my first britbox,i found it a lot like a bultaco trans or an automobile gearbox
i guess i could just look at images of db34 cams and what not but i would rather keep you talking,thats all
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I usually can't be arsed with shit like this.

A few facts here - Yes Norton twin cranks are forged but there was indeed a material change in Norton cranks around 1960, Norton published a bulletin in one off the weekly mags either Motorcycling or The Motorcycle. Norton cranks broke when pushed hard so did Triumph, AJS and Matchless just broke!!! But the same material was adopted by AJS and Matchless to cure their crank failure issues in from 1961 (works and TT marshals bikes got the stronger crank in earlier). I don't think Triumph ever changed they seemed to snap in the same place on unit T120 and T140!

Speaking of valve angles - everything is relative and I said "ish" referring to Norton, I wasn't comparing to Triumph or BSA you did that. Its a simple fact that engines from this period had little scope for generating big rear wheel HP increases over standard, stepping from mid 40's to mid 50's or perhaps a little more was about as much as you could get from a 650 unless grenades are your thing. Reducing cam base circles or altering follower radius are minor mods on standard kit which was normal stuff to do but that's hardly radical is it. Neither are raised dome Domi pistons. To reiterate my point there was little available so you worked with what you had or could get. If you would take the time to read what I wrote you might feel less inclined to shoot from the hip. I have built more "proper" race engines than I care to remember from 4 stroke GP singles and twins to 2 stroke multis and have a good knowledge of the fitting process. Stepping from a engine like a Manx in which much can be altered to a road pepped parallel twin is bit like getting off a thoroughbred and jumping an a cart horse so I can be a little dismissive or understate the work required to make a pushrod engine go well. And for God sakes don't mention the Norton domiracer....

Surprisingly I have never had a well sorted 99 / 650 make more power than a sorted unit T120 with its wide valve angles and high domed pistons - I have built quite a few of both. In fact the 31CSR I had with a head skim, sports cams and single carb would leave a 650ss for dead and pulled a healthy 126mph at Snetterton.

What are you building at the moment?

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Look we are both knowledgeable guys and with prostate permitting we can have a pissing competition but you can stuff the "but just enjoys hearing themselves talk the most" last word freak thing straight back up your arse.
on a side note do you use any slick coatings on parts that can benefit from it ?ie piston skirt thrust faces,cam lobes,non rolling element lifter faces etc ?i started using
it in 1980 orv so when a friend of mine multi-time national champion sidecar racer larry coleman, who was sponsored by kal-gard, introduced it to us...
my experience esp on 2 stroke pistons is that it is/was quite beneficial
on my own race bikes ,air-cooled jobs, kawasaki and rotax

coleman piloting the number one
Vehicle Formula libre Racing Sports Motorsport

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Your cams should be marked, if not you'll need to measure lift and duration but figures can vary due to wear and tear or just buy a new set to be sure. Vernier cams work well for perfect timing you can also alter timing to suit riding style or conditions. Goldies are notorious for not starting hot or cold. I have found that induction is lazy and the plug is often a dry as a bone despite carb/float flooding and kick priming. Remember cam form is a combination of cam, follower and rocker ratio.

Most British gearboxes are car like.
once i dropped the cr down to a sane level for my use ,just cruising around here on public roads..once that was sorted it has never given me any starting issues
i can almost always get it fired up first kick hot or cold
of course my starting prep and procedure are perfection but only because over the years i have always had enough interest to read and memorise every bit of information from qualified sources about how to do it ecactly thev way it must be done
i think the word kick, is what throws a lot off on how to get a good spin going
besides of course having the crank in position, kicking, lol at the pedal is of no use
the lever needs be positioned as high as possible in its stroke with a good solid sector engagement
then its down to being coordinated enough to get body weight launched up by pushing up off the left peg
then as you come back down the right leg is extended
this gives a smooth long powerful stroke every time
it is the only way to get good crankshaft spin/inertia right on thru ex stroke and back down into intake stroke/comp stroke
my mag must have good maggots innit
i put in new points,gapped correctly and cigartette paper timed full pull on advancer to be the recomended degrees before tdc ,cant even remember what that was but
at full retard it idles slower than i would have thought possible
a few trial aned error sessions gave me a short range of advancer lever positions to clock to when starting
and the lever fully released gives max advance position according to my information
i've been careful to not ever get greedy on the advancer,during starting ,that is never think it needs more advance to start .. i hate it when shit kicks back
when hot i always give it a few gentle clean out spins with wot and decompression lever fully engaged and the sprk fully retarded
i think that is the key to a hot start as fresh cool as possoble charge

i fantasize of a compressed gas (i would use dry nitrogen of course) nitrogen starting system for it
learning to start the huge single cylinder ajax nat gas compressor units is what has gotten me thinking of this
of course incorecctly designed and applied could lead to scrap metal ,but i do want to build it just for kicks lol
it will absolutely work ,way betterb than we can imagine
a cam drive operated switching valve would only allow the starting gas tom be introduced for a very specific short time ,as in 45 degrees or more past tdc on the power stroke then shutting it off i dunno somewhere shy of bdc
a small very high pressure gas bottle would be be needed on the bike then a small secondary chamber to supply a limited volume at whatever pressure is ,from testing,determined to be ideal
the seconday chamber and its ability to be recharged with only limited volume is a safety deal
the cam operated switching valve will fully discharge the starting chamber to atmosphere as soon as it shuts off the incoming charge
and the starting gas charge is going to be introduced into the comb chamber thru a one shot decompression valve

this way the comb chamber is automatically sealed from the starting system plumbing upon fire
lol its not a race mod strickly for fun and the design exercise will get all kinds of heads spinning
you might laugh but the design is 100% viable it has been in use for over 100 years !!
the system will be much lighter and less obtrusive than e starting
it could be built cvompetely hidden from casual view
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Your cams should be marked, if not you'll need to measure lift and duration but figures can vary due to wear and tear or just buy a new set to be sure. Vernier cams work well for perfect timing you can also alter timing to suit riding style or conditions. Goldies are notorious for not starting hot or cold. I have found that induction is lazy and the plug is often a dry as a bone despite carb/float flooding and kick priming. Remember cam form is a combination of cam, follower and rocker ratio.

Most British gearboxes are car like.
yep and harley pretty much everything was at one time a lay shaft type with input and output coaxial
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indeed i to,feel, an oil film is the peak of loobricty ,rare as chicken lips in this digital age however
castor ,yessir i pay attention to frame geology,when sawapping out forks i keep a cloes eye on castor trails ,nothing worse than a customer complaining of soiled shorts from an ill engineered front end lashup that basivcally not mincing words
has reached spontaenious instability
additives? roger that never touch the stuff...... well i am a reminisint old fool not much hearing left but i can smell so so
admitedly i keep a few bottles of blendzall #485 around and use an oz or 2 per galion of gas in all my rides because the smell is so glorious and it turns heads whenever i fire up a heater \
just letting the idler fumes spread ,if someone looks over with a wry grin you know its brightened their day harkening
[h=2]#485 "Gold Label" Racing Castor/Power Booster[/h]
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