It is finished

Have not posted in a while.  Since the last time the boys have been very busy.  They have painted, assembled and ran the bike.  It was very exciting.    Here are a few pictures of the finished bike.

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Christmas Break

Well Christmas break is here.  Stephen did a  pile of work up to now getting the engine completed and a bunch of parts put onto the bike.  It is acutally looking like a real bike now.  Just a few more things to do before we can tear it apart and paint the frame.  Here are some pictues of what it looks like so far.


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Rear fender

Because we were not using a stock rear fender there needed to be some modifications.  I had Casey mark and cut notches for clearance on the swing-arm and chain.  It turned out great.

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Wiring handle bars

Now that volleyball is finished, Hayden and Casey are coming in on their own time.  I had Hayden mark and drill the handle bars for internal wires.  The grips that we bought for the bike have big ends that go by the controls.  This allowed me to just reverse the housing and switches and hide the hole for the electrical wires up against the grips.  You cannot see them at all and I was able to keep the original switches.

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We are going to install an aftermarket electronic speedometer/tach.  It is now mounted and will let you know how the wiring goes once we get to that.  It does make the front end look clean.

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Engine is Finished

Stephen did a great job over the past few months in prepping the engine and assembling it.  He took his time and did a great job.  I cannot waite to hear it run.

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Timing Side


Stephen has the timing side completed.  Oil pump is in and the timing chain is installed.  You will notice that the oil seal on the oil pump looks a little different.  this is because I sent the timing cover to AMR and they did the machining and installed the ball bearing.  From my understanding, this is now similar to the MK3 solution.

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Engine Assembly

Stephen is making great progress on the engine reassembly.  We did by the videos of Mick Hemmings rebuilding Norotn engines and trannsmisions.  It was the best $100 I every spent.  It made it so easy to rebuild the engine and assebly it correctly.  Without the videos, we would probably not discover that there were a few things done wrong with the engine before.

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Fixing Crank End Play

Stephen fixed up the end play on the crank today.  We ended up going with the shims from Old Britts.  Great selection of sizes in the kit and easy to install.  We still cannot belief how slick ti works to heat the cases to drop the bearing in and out.  Took us to tries but we got it down to 0.005″ of end play.  This should do.

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Painting Cases

Stephen went through and prepped and painted the cases and tranny today.  They turned out very nice.

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Engine Parts

Most of the engine parts came in today.  This worked out great as Stephen was ready to start building.

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Engine Cracks

In the process of rebuilding the engine Stephen notice some cracks in the crankcase where the engine mounts to the cradle.  Took them to a local machine shop and had them weld it up.  He did a great job.  I have included both before and after pictures.

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Starting on the engine

Well  we are back in school and are starting on the engine.  Stephen measured the crankshaft end play today and found that there was 20 thousands of an in.  A little to much.  Ordered a mess of engine parts today from Motoparts including the shims to fix the crank end play.



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Year End 2011

It has come to the end of the year with Casey, Hayden and Stephen all putting in a great deal of time and effort into the Norton.  Each one of them took on different aspects of the build and did fine work.  With the bike being in boxes and the updating of parts it did, at times, take patience and a bit of trial and error to get everything to fit together.  We did have to take things apart a time or two to get it to work porperly.

I think Casey’s biggest accomplishment was the front wheel.  I know that he found this a challenge as anyone would.  I have watched many “bike building” shows and the lacing of  wheels, more times than not, was not done by the builder but sent out to be done. He took his time and ended up building a great wheel.  I could alwasy count on Casey to take his time and make sure it was done right.

Stephen also did a great deal of work on the bike.  I think his biggest role was all the machining that he did to prepare parts such as the hub on the rear wheel.  He also took a lead role in the building of the transmission.  He came in many lunch breaks to work on the bike.  He by far put in the most time.  Stephen knows how to work and this showed in amount he accomplished on the bike.

Hayden had his fingers in almost every part of the build.  He put in many hours making and shaping and reshaping of parts such as the headlight bracket.  He was the go to guy when it came to the mounting of parts on the frame.  He spent many hours fitting parts,  adjusting parts, drilling new mounting holes  and hunting for nuts and bolts to get the parts attached.  I think Hayden showed the most patience.  There were many times that I asked him to tweak some part on the bike.

I am very happy with how the year went and especially on how well the three boys worked.  They were always ready to work and took pride in the work they were doing.  We are right on track for getting the bike finished next year.  Will be posting again in the fall.


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Muffler Brackets

Since we are not using rear pegs the original muffler brackets were bulky and obvious.  Redesigned the brackets to better blend in with the mufflers.  The boys started building them and then I finished them off.  All that is left is to get them chromed.

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It has been a while since my last post and a lot has happened.  The boys were able to rebuild the transmission.  It was quite a challange for both them and me.  Between build tools for removing and inserting busshings to findinding out that some parts were not in as good a shape as we believed, it took a few weeks.   In the end it worked out.

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Fender supports

Stephen has taken on the task of machine a few custom parts.  He has started using the metal lathe and is going like crazy on it.  He is a natural.  the first thing that I had him build was a set of supoorts for the rear fender.  We had to make these because we are not using a stock fender.

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Side cover

If you take a look at the pictures of the bike before we started you will see that it did not have the side cover for the oil tank.  Hayden has been working at mounting this side panel.  With a little modification ( with hammer) he was able to make it have a great fit.

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Hayden has been working on the headlight mount.  The mount turned out great.  He was then able to mount the headlight.


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The bike so far.

The bike is starting to really come together. I think that we should be done all the frame related parts by the end of April with any luck.

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Received the Corbin seat in  the mail a few days ago.  they did a great job and it looks great on the bike.

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Had to do some modifications to the mirror mounts to get them to work. Had to make a special bolt for the one on the master cylinder side since the threads in the mirror are different to the ones in the master cylinder.  For the mirror on the clutch side I had to build a spacer to bring it up to the same height as the other one.  I made it out of stainless steel and it polished up to as bright as the chrome.

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Helping out

Spent some time this weekend giving the boys some help.  Managed to mount the tail light and signal lights on the rear.

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Handle Bars

Good job Hayden putting the grips and controls on.

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Front Fender

Casey did a great job mounting the front fender.  Thanks for putting up with be so picky about the fender.  🙂

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People with to much time

A Norton Transformer

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Man, it is good to start seeing parts being put onto the frame.  Its actually starting to look a little like a motorcycle.

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The finsihed front wheel

Pictrue of old front wheel



The front wheel final is finished. It is now all nice and shinny.  Casey did a great job from start to finish.  I have included both before and after pictures so you can see the difference.

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More Parts for the Front End

Just received some more stainless steel parts for the front end from Walridge and British Cycle.  Thanks for all the support.  Those parts are going to look great.

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The Real Wheel

Stephen is taking on this challenge.  He has so far replaced the bearings with sealed units.  He has sanded down and polished the rear hub and is currently lacing the new stainless steel rim and stainless steel spokes.  It is looking really sharp.  I have polished the rear hub cover and together with the work that Stephen is doing should make for a sharp unit.  Thanks again to John for all his help.

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Upgrading the Forks

The next part we started to tackle was taken on by Hayden.   His first big job is to sand the nicks out of the lower legs (sliders).  He started with 80 grit and worked his way up to 320.  After doing a pleminary polish he found a few spots that still need some sanding.  He is currently finish his sanding and will start polishing today with any luck.

We are also going to lower the whole bike by first lowering the front end by 1 1/2″  by using shorter fork tubes.  John at Motoparts supplied us with the new tubes and also did the machining work on the damper tubes.  Thanks again John.

The last thing we are going to do for upgrading is to replace the bushing and seals along with going to progressive springs.  Hopefully this will all work out.

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Wheel lacing

Casey built a jig for lacing the wheels.  We put the front wheel on and it only has a wobble of 0.090″.  Not bad for his frist try.  We will start to true it up next class

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The Front Wheel

The next part that we tackled was the front wheel.  Casey is taking on this challenge.  As you can see the front wheel looks pretty rough.  We are going to replace the rim and spokes with stainless steel.  Polish the hub, upgrade the bearings to sealed and put on a stainless steel rotor ( Miles Design).  All of the parts came from John at Motoparts and the best find from him was the rotor.  It happened to be one of the ones that are polished and have the spiral design to the holes.  It just took a little more polishing to make it look really sharp.  I will post a picture of the finished wheel when it is done.

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The Frame

Because of some bad decisions with frame modifications and finding out that in Saskatchewan SGI will not licence a “modified” or “home built frame” we were in need of a stock frame for the bike.  After doings some phoning , John at Motoparts offered to sell us a used frame at a great price.  Just one example of how John has helped us out. He had the frame to us the next day. It only needed some modifications to work with the triple trees that we have.  Hayden took care of this in did a great job by changing it from having two tabs to having one.

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Making Connections

In September I realized that we were going to need some help to be able to do this project.  I started by contacting various parts suppliers for British bikes.  The three that I contacted in Canada, Motoparts Inc in Edmonton, Walridge Motors out of Ontario, and British Cycle supply in Nova Scotia all are willing to give us help.  I must say that I was blown away with the support I have been getting from John at Motoparts.  He has been a great source of information and has been giving us a great deal on parts.  Thanks John

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Before Pictures

Here are some pictures of the bike before I bought it.  There was no extra charge for the bird pooh.

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The Idea

I am an Industrial Arts teacher at Allan School, in Allan Saskatchewan that has had a Norton 850 Commando motorcycle in boxes for 15 years. I talked with three of my Industrial Arts Students, Casey, Stephen and Hayden, that are in Grade 11 to see if they would like to do a customized rebuild of the bike.  They were completely into the idea.  This blog will document the rebuilding process of this bike.

I estimate that it will take 1 to 2 years to complete as the students only have about 100 hours each per year to work on this project.  I am hoping that the students will do about 90% of the work.  We will see how it goes

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