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Manx Norton 40m Restoration (I hope)

65822 Views 161 Replies 28 Participants Last post by  Cyorg
I got a phone call almost a week ago, I missed it but the caller left a message. The message recorded poorly but my knackered old ears heard "I've got a couple of bikes", "restoring" then "Norton" then I though I heard "Manx" then "Seeley", "Surtees" and "Beart"! What the......... Best I call this guy back but best not sound too keen and perhaps I should give it few minutes? Bollocks I must have called him back before he had put the phone down.

The chap on the phone was an old racer, now 75 years old and still had two of his old race bikes, he gave me his name which was a little familiar then started to tell me about his bikes. One was a 1954 350 Manx with a Surtees connection and the other was a period built special which consisted of a 57 Beart Manx frame with a Matchless G50 engine fitted, the engine was the 3rd G50 AMC made and the full bike was constructed in 1958. All very interesting and right up my street, appointment made and the next day I went to see the bikes.

I met with a spritely gentlemen who then took me to the bikes. Both were hidden under piles of stuff, the Manx was in big pieces and looking very sorry, the Manx G50 was as last raced in 1972 and complete. I hatched a quick plan a decided the Manx would be the most problematic, probably incomplete and would take the longest. The Manx G50 I could get on with later in the year.

So what do I hope to do under this post? I plan to write a short post every few weeks accompanied by a half dozen photos of the restoration work as it progresses. Hopefully some of you will find it interesting and not too boring. I will detail the engine build and other parts if there's enough interest. This Manx has gone through many changes but these will be reversed and the bike restored to 1954/5 spec as requested by its owner. Or rather this bike will be a restored as the factory racer that in my opinion every "caferacer" owes a debt.

By the way the old racer had ridden for Francis Beart winning a Junior Manx, rode for Ray Petty, has won the Thuxton 500 on a factory supported BSA and endurance raced Laverda's for Mead and Tomkinson amongst lots of other stuff.
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Magnesium engines - In the house if you wife doesn't object, in the house if she does!
Started a read through this thread and it's golden but this quote had me spitting beer. Great stuff jalsteve

Also, when you mentioned the JAP motors it took me way back. My father past away when I was quite young and most of what I knew was second hand. My brothers always said he road JAP bikes. Of coarse by this time a JAP bike in Canada meant something completely different and made no sense to me. As I grew up I learned about the J.A.P. which cleared up allot of head scratching. Best thread yet. Some real "wow" moments. Quite inspiring to see life being given back to a piece of motorcycle history. Thanks for that. Cheers.
A little frenzied activity over the last week or so.

The summer has been a nightmare, everything being turned around far too slowly. Parts delivery has been appalling with 2 weeks waiting time tuning into 4 weeks then 8 weeks then 16weeks, some specialist services have been very problematic which pushed my blood pressure well into the danger zone i.e. Waving a 1 meter length of scaffolding pole and shouting threats of execution did speeded things up a bit though. But just like waiting hours for a bus to turn up then many turn up all at once, so it was with the parts I had been waiting months for, everything turned up at the same time but for 3 different bikes!

So over the last few weeks I've got stuck in and have pretty much finished the rolling chassis, just a few parts to fit but these are bolt on and therefore no great drama. That said there are few bits with a chrome plater who I am sure makes his tea using the liquid in his plating baths. He's totally barking mad.

Anyway the front end is now on and oiled up. Everything has been stripped and cleaned, measured and found be generally OK with just a little wear on the stanchions. I have made new upper fork shrouds in alloy, as used by John in period, I think the originals came from Norton and are similar to those used by works bikes 1951 - 53. Note the correct type mudguard bracket for Manx up to 1956 (Y brackets turned up in 57.).
Bicycle fork Bicycle wheel Steel Pipe Auto part

Lower fork legs were in good condition, so linished then polished. New seal holders as the old ones were battered, sometimes its just not cost effective to restore and re-chrome. Made new alloy brake air scoops, larger top scoop is works type, lower rear is standard but its hard to see. The brake linkages are a mix of original and new replica using whatever I could. Internally the brake condition was remarkably good so a quick assembly and adjustment after the clean up.
Spoke Tire Wheel Alloy wheel Automotive tire

Fork crown area turned out nice and bang on period wise.
Vehicle Motorcycle Automotive lighting Headlamp Automotive design

Fuel tank Vehicle Automotive design Fender Automotive lighting

Rear end had problems like the sprocket studs and dowels were wrecked so been reinstated at mid point.
Spoke Tire Wheel Automotive tire Bicycle wheel

All repaired and fitted. Rear shocks are the originals refurbished and have made new alloy top and bottom shock shrouds again a used on early works bikes and by Surtees.
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Spoke Vehicle

The chassis needed everything, it was bent, brackets cut off, brackets added, the rear subframe and upper shock mounts were mostly scrap. The frame restored back to standard / original!
Wheel Vehicle Tire Automotive tire Automotive exterior

The chassis just about finished!
Land vehicle Vehicle Motorcycle Motor vehicle Car

Next is engine assembly time!
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Wow, really coming on nice. Out of curiosity what handlebar grips would be correct for out of factory finish?
Best would be something that feels nice in your hand, something you're used to holding onto.....

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Wow, really coming on nice. Out of curiosity what handlebar grips would be correct for out of factory finish?
Amal used to supply their own grips and were fitted to Norton originally but some hated them because their grip would hold oil which would be flying everywhere on an open valve spring manx at 7200rpm. So some used ribbed type like Doherty. The ribbed Amal type turned up later in the 60's. But many used whatever they liked from radiator hose to linen adhesive tapes. I have fitted modern medium compound Renthal in black which are the best on the market in my opinion and they don't degrade with UV light exposure or with oil or fuel. Both of those picture below will last a few years then fall apart.

Cylinder Auto part Muffler

Metal Cylinder Titanium Muffler Steel
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2017 was a busy year a unfortunately several race bikes with troublesome engines distracted me a bit. But finally, yes finally I am back on this Manx.

The magneto was a mess - When patina is a pain in the butt.

When I 1st removed this Lucas 2MTT magneto from a Manx engine I thought it was likely scrap resulting from years and years of neglect and to be truthful I didn't want to get involved with it. And knowing that the 2MTT magneto was incorrect for a 1955 Manx I spent about a year trying to find the correct item, a Lucas SRR but I had no luck. So I rolled my sleeves up expecting trouble.....

The attached photos show exactly how bad the magneto was when stripped, through preservation to rebuilt and pressure tested. The worst parts being the drive end bearing holder which was scrap and magneto top cover which after light blasting almost fell apart but I managed to salvage 90% of the rest including the coil. I was very lucky to find some new old stock Lucas parts and I remade others.
All the fasteners are original which i might re-black to sharpen it up a little, the Lucas ID plate is the original which will stay complete with a few dents and faded paint. I think it turned out OK in the end.

The pictures say it all!

Auto part

Water Auto part Metal

Auto part

Auto part Metal

Auto part Engine Machine

Auto part Pump Automotive starter motor Tool accessory Electric motor
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nice work
sheeit is that magnesium lol it corrodes bad enough to be i figger
Onto the engine.....

1st a few before photos!
Auto part Engine

Auto part Machine Metal Rust

You name it its been sorted. Crank has been stripped and light blasted and treated. New rollers in the big end and new small end, then assembled and trued. Crankcases were a mess but have been light blasted and chromated. The main bearings are the originals which despite looking horrible were good, just one roller in one race was knackered but guessing this was breaking up in use rather than due to corrosion. You might think i could just buy another = wrong. These bearing races made by Hoffmann haven't been available for years so the only solution was to remove the cage rivets open the bearing, replace the damaged roller with a graded item (slightly undersize) then reassemble and rivet the cage up.

Restored main refitted.
Auto part Clutch Clutch part Rotor Automotive wheel system

Rebuilt crank installed and shimmed against the timing side main to ensure the crank is central.
Auto part Bearing Clutch Machine Engine

Crankcases back together with oil pump fitted.
Auto part Engine

Still waiting for a piston to turn up!!!!
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Work the heads - Two heads photographed, in the foreground in the original head for this bike, compare to the later head? Note the shallower squish shoulder on the early head (1954 to 1956). The later head use a higher crown piston, either three or two ring type. Both inlet and exhaust ports have been reworked opening the throat of the valve seat which reduces the valve seat area, also the ports have been polished through and are a work of art. Not my work i must say, this engine have been through the hands of Norton works shop, Francis Beart and Jim Smith (Jim prepared engines for Phil Read, Joe Dunphy amongst others).
Auto part Metal

The cylinder - The cylinder has been relined and bored to size but the spigot have not been notched for connecting rod clearance, so over to my draw full of metal files, a few lumps of plastiguage and fit the ring-less piston to the rod. Mark the bore approximately and then get filling, trial fit, remove, file, trial fit, remove file until close. Then plastiguage, measure clearance, file and so forth. Clearance of around 0.045 to 0.060 thou
Auto part Metal

Lower bevel clearance (same applied to top bevels) - There are always tight spots on the bevels, sometimes very obvious sometime not so BUT always shim to the tight spot. Remember the greater clearance you allow the more backlash in the timing and the greater shock you with put on the valve train (throttle on to throttle off). The manx engine is alloy it will grow with heat so bevel clearances should be close perhaps just a few thousandths of an inch set with bronze and thin steel shims. Remember measure clearances with all holding bolts fully tightened and make allowance for gaskets cement. In period they were built without any and just two gaskets.
Auto part Machine

Modifying the piston - The cylinder is the short type fitted from 1961 to 1962 and uses a two ring piston. Now go to the top photo of this post and look at the heads again, see the different squish shoulder, yep that means i have to machine the late piston for the early head. Piston altered below. Its not just a simple case of putting in a lathe though and spin it up. The squish measurement is vital and needs to be around 0.040 to 0.045thou. So its bit by bit and little like fitting the cylinder, i fitted a 0.040 thou compression plate under the cylinder and work away from there, machining the piston close, trial fit, plastiguage, measure and adjust. This allows me a little margin for error or rather i can alter the base plate thickness to get the squish perfect.
Auto part Engine Tool accessory Automotive engine part Machine

Modified Piston below.
Metal Brass Tin

Cambox - Whats to say, I could write a 50 page dissertation. They are not that complex they just need to assembled with care. All bearings fitted square, and end floats corrected. The cam shafts by the way are Vernier pegged and can be taken apart for accurate valve timing.
Auto part Engine Automotive engine part Vehicle

Does anyone know how to remove the big image below?


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Cam timing - Timing a Manx isn't so complex, but it does need patience.

Before any attempt to time the valves, piston squish (see previous post) , top and bottom bevels running clearances must be set and valve drops at TDC - Always make sure the valve fully falls into the valve pocket on the piston, often they do not and catch the pocket edge, most often on the inlet valve. A little micrometer blue on the valve and spin whilst in contact with the piston to check.

Also you need some specialist tools in addition to a degree disc and pointer. What exactly is needed depends on the method of timing - either timed with running clearance or timed with 0.040thou of lift and no clearance. I prefer to time with running clearances.

Late 350 figure below (you can go a few degrees either way).

Valve Drop at TDC not less than -
Inlet 0.330”
Exhaust 0.245”

Squish at TDC .040 - 0.045”

Valve Timing.
With 0.008” Tappet clearance
Inlet Valve Opens 71 deg btdc
Inlet Valve Closes 93 deg abdc

With 0.017” Tappet clearance
Exhaust Valve Opens 74 deg bbdc
Exhaust Valve Closes 59 deg abdc

Late 350 inlet and exhaust cams.
Finger Ammunition Brass Metal

Ammunition Brass Revolver Metal Gun

Obviously start at TDC. You have 3 Vernier adjustments 1/ Top input bevel, 2 and 3 at the cam shafts.
Auto part

Engine Auto part Automotive engine part Machine
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Engine back in.

Land vehicle Vehicle Motorcycle Motor vehicle Engine
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Clutch and primary sorted, breathers fitted, oil tank fitted too.

Note the period primary chain oiler!

Motor vehicle Auto part Vehicle Engine Motorcycle
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Clutch and primary sorted, breathers fitted, oil tank fitted too.

Note the period primary chain oiler!

View attachment 86289
it's a real treat seeing your work,top of the game that you are.
i have been to half a dozen bonhams auctions,here stateside and have seen comparable work ,but none better
is there a chancs any of was yours?
thanks for sharing
it's a real treat seeing your work,top of the game that you are.
i have been to half a dozen bonhams auctions,here stateside and have seen comparable work ,but none better
is there a chancs any of was yours?
thanks for sharing

Ref Bonhams bikes - I have no idea. As well as the UK I do have bikes in Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan and a few in Aus. 20 years ago i built an MV that I know is in the US (a bike built from leftover MV comp shop parts but never raced in period it was a 500 / 3 cyl).
Latest bike coming together, a 3 cylinder Yamaha in full monocoque chassis!

Land vehicle Vehicle Motor vehicle Motorcycle Classic
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Invalid link to attachment, you tease!
There you go, I don't know what went wrong that time.
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