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Friend of mine emailed me that pic this morning - he said they were Nortons.

I don't know myself so I took his word for it...

Great pic though :cool:
 

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Looks more like this Triumph, to me. Note the two oil tanks, and frame shape. Also some front end

 

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Norton 16H. The caption in the article actually identifies them.

Norton16H-2L.jpg

The finned cylinder overhang and the exhaust pipe are the give away. Not many bikes with that almost straight down exhaust pipe flange. The oddly shaped tool box is also confirmation (the underwater ones are missing their lids).

now do you want a real challenge? the bikes are sitting in the bed of a pickup truck with another similar truck parked next to it - what year and model truck are they? (and yes I do know the answer).

bonus points if you can identify the two sedans behind the trucks (I don't know what those are).
 

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Norton 16H. The caption in the article actually identifies them.

View attachment 85129

The finned cylinder overhang and the exhaust pipe are the give away. Not many bikes with that almost straight down exhaust pipe flange. The oddly shaped tool box is also confirmation (the underwater ones are missing their lids).

now do you want a real challenge? the bikes are sitting in the bed of a pickup truck with another similar truck parked next to it - what year and model truck are they? (and yes I do know the answer).

bonus points if you can identify the two sedans behind the trucks (I don't know what those are).
Bedford QL's? Not sure about the suffix.
 

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Bedford QL's?
Nope, Though good guess, they are too big.

By the way, the lore on this wreck is fascinating. Apparently Jacques Cousteau visited the wreck in 1955 and raised one of the motorcycles. I wonder where that is now. Maybe I should ask Fabien.
 

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While the ones with the upturned pipes are Norton 16H, it looks like some of the other bikes might not have the dolls head gearbox. If so, that would likely make them the BSA M20 WD version. Also Norton Big 4's are hard to distinguish from the 16H when at the bottom of the ocean.

I asked a couple of the experts about the pipes and one explanation was:

"As a young apprentice, I was told at the time the exhaust was made like that to stop the wind blowing up it and blowing the spark out on the Lucas magneto"

This is from Bob, who is the world's eminent expert on the WD 16H:

"These bikes were made on order of the British Army in India, often referred to as “India Office”.
The pipes were upturned in the attempt to keep the rear end above water when crossing rivers/stream or whatever water.
India office was the only service ordering these exhausts.
They were built between 1937 and 1940. They also sported parts like sump guards, front mudguard grab handles, Vokes Aircleaners, pillion equipment and rearward extended luggage carriers where the British army did not have any of these at that time".
 
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