Sunday, April 17, 2011

Up and Running

I revived The Norton from winter hibernation recently. I'm not seeing any more oil leakage from the head, so maybe, just maybe, the head retorquing did the trick. We will see.

At our club's Spring Tech Day last weekend I did brake work. I've been running a custom front brake with a Nissin four-piston caliper and a Harley brake rotor. I've been really happy with it, but the caliper developed a couple of sticky pistons last season. So I took the bike to Tech Day and the consensus was that a caliper rebuild is called for. In the meantime, I went ahead and put the stock brake back on. So I now have stock caliper, rebuilt with fresh seals, a drilled and resurfaced OEM cast iron rotor, and a Nissin master cylinder. I like the look. I'm using an old set of EMGO pads that need to be replaced, but I think with good pads this brake will be ok. I might leave it on the bike for a while.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


After five years of faithful service, The Norton failed to make it through the season. Back in July, I was prepping it for a weekend camping trip when I smelled hot oil. I noticed oil all over the left header and the chaincase, and more oil dripping off the cylinder head fins. I couldn't tell where it was coming from, but my assumption was a blown head gasket. So I parked the bike.

A couple of months went by before I had time to do anything with it. Finally I got the bike on the lift, had a look, but didn't really see any obvious failure points. So I retorqued the head, cleaned it up, and put it back together.

I fired it up today for the first time since July. It started first kick! I took it for a long test ride and all seems to be well for now. It's running good and it's not blowing oil anymore. So the source of the oil leak is an unsolved mystery at this time. I'll just have to keep riding it and keep an eye on things. A leak from anywhere on the head will run down and collect at the front, so it can be difficult to pinpoint the origin.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Back On The Road Again

Finally an update! I just brought The Norton back to life this weekend after an extended winter hibernation. The bike performed great last year. I took it to the INOA rally at Mancos, CO and it performed brilliantly there, including a 238 mile loop in some of the worst weather I've ever encountered. The rider suffered on that ride, but The Norton never missed a beat. I rode so much down there I actually wore out the rear tire.

The bike is sporting some updates for this season, including a steel gas tank, that reconditioned oil pump I mentioned earlier, and a nice new set of wheels. The new hoops feature Borrani alloy rims, stainless spokes, and they were expertly built by Woody's Wheelworks. The rear is an 18 incher and I've got Avons on the bike now. They seem like good tires but I never really had any complaints with the K81s. The Avons do seem to track raingrooves a bit less than the K81s.

The new oil pump produces a bit better pressure when hot, but it's not a big difference. It will be interesting to see if it helps with the wetsumping. The bike was wetsumping pretty severely with the old pump. My 850 (I could write another blog about that bike, and probably should) has a pump that was reconditioned by Raber's, and it wetsumps a lot less than this bike.

The new look for The Norton is silver and black. The new tank is silver, and I'm using the same black sidepanels as before. I like it. Looks very elegant.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Spring Updates

Time for an update! The Norton had a good season last year, other than developing an oil leak that blew gearbox oil all over the right muffler. It turned out to be from the kickstart o-ring (no oil seal conversion on this bike). I pulled the cover, put some silicone in the groove, and installed a new o-ring. No more leak, for now anyway. I need to do the same with the primary case sealing band. ATF gets through behind the big o-ring and it drips onto the floor. Otherwise the bike is drip-free.

For this season, the rear wheel received some attention. I decided to remove the rim clamp as it throws the wheel way out of balance and does not seem to be necessary anyway. I found the original Dunlop steel rim to be heavily rusted inside when I removed the tire. I cleaned it up as best as I could for now, but the bike needs a new rim. I'd like to find another good steel rim if I can, but NOS ones are hard to come by and the new reproduction steel rims are said to be of poor quality. So I may end up having to go with an alloy rim.

I'm also replacing the oil pump and switching to monograde oil soon, to hopefully get the wetsumping under control. I bought a used pump on ebay and took it apart to do the lapping procedure. That's almost done, just needs the final cleaning and reassembly. The pump that's in there has gotten so bad I have to drain the sump if the bike sits more than three days. I'm hoping the rebuilt pump will do better!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Howling

Summer has almost come and gone, so I guess it's time for an update.

The rear brake developed a problem about a year ago. Occasionally, when I would apply the brake, it would make a loud howling noise and a shuddering sensation through the pedal. It felt as it the brake shoes were chattering. I had the brake drum off a couple of times but didn't see anything wrong. But the howling persisted.

So a couple of months ago I took it off again and disassembled the brake plate. Again, I didn't really see anything wrong other than an accumulation of brake dust. I cleaned everything up with brake cleaner, regreased the pivots with disk brake grease, and put it all back together. This time I took care to center the brake plate by holding the brake on while tightening the stub axle nut. I had been a little lax about that recently.

Results: no more howling! The brake seems to work better too. So I think doing the centering procedure is important, and an occasional cleaning and greasing is probably helpful too. It pays to do things the right way.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Spring Tuneups

It's been a late spring here, so the Spring Tuneup isn't quite done yet. But it's getting there. I did the primary drive maintenance recently, changing out the ATF and cleaning the clutch plates. They were getting a little sticky from either gearbox oil or ATF, I'm not sure which. I might install a clutch pushrod seal kit next I go in.

I was having some problems with the carbs flooding and I noticed the float levels were set too high. I set them to spec, which is done by warming the bowls (I used a heat gun) and adjusting the position of the float seat with a small pin punch. It took me a few tries to get it right, but they're back on now and I haven't had any more flooding.

I also reached a milestone, wearing out my first rear tire on the bike! So I bought a new K81, fitted it to the front, and put the old front tire on the rear. The tires are easy to change with the Dunlop steel rims, but the rear was a bit difficult to balance with the rim clamp throwing things off. I'm not sure if the rim clamp is really necessary, but since it was original fitment and it's still there, I'm still using it for now anyway.

Still to do: gearbox and engine oil changes. Then The Norton should be ready for another season!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

The Long Cold Winter

Winter drags on, but December and January are behind us now and Spring is around the corner.

In the meantime, I can work on the bike without worrying about losing riding time. The fork oil change is done and the fork sliders and clockholders repolished. I like to do my fork oil changes the hard way, by removing the legs, taking the springs out, and allowing the oil to drain for a few days from the upside-down legs. Then I pour in a little solvent to flush out the sludge, let that drain, and they're ready to be refilled. It's more work this way, but I've found that just removing the drain screws and pumping the forks doesn't do a very good job of getting all the oil and sludge out.

The next task will be to fix the rear brake light switch and wiring. Both have gone non-functional. The cheap Lucas-imitation switch has expired, so I bought another cheap Lucas-imitation switch to replace it. I also have to trace out the problem with the wiring.

After that, drain the sump and that will be it for now. The rest of the maintenance - oil changes, new rear tire, new AGM battery, and timing chain adjustment - can wait until spring.