Tuesday, April 30, 2013
I think I used up all of my luck on this one- I was digging through a seller's spot at a local car swap meet that had mostly Model A parts, when a few magnesium Norton motor parts caught my eye. Did a bit more digging and ended up with a nice little pile of Norton Manx parts as well as a few 1930's girder forks, early racing tires, and misc Indian, Triumph, and Ariel parts that I could already see padding my Paypal account nicely. The parts were cheap too. Really cheap. After talking to the gentleman who was selling the parts, I found that he had inherited a few 'old Norton singles' from his grandfather, but had no idea what the parts were that I was about to purchase. Without much though, I handed over the Norton Manx parts and told him to hide them from the swapmeet vultures- those parts would literally be impossible to replace. He quickly hid the parts and gave me a great deal on the girder forks and other goodies I found. I gave him my phone number 'just in case' he ever wanted to unload those Nortons but he assured me I wasn't the only one that was interested in them. I walked away happy with the deal I got, and that I helped keep the rare parts with a rare bike. A few months go by and I get a phone call from the guy with the Nortons. He told me that he'd decided to sell them to focus on his Indian Scout, and he would return the nice gesture by giving me first right of refusal on the bikes since I had helped him pick all of the Norton parts out of the 40+ crates of parts. He told me there was a 1950 Manx, a '51 ES2, and a '52 International. When he told me how much he wanted, I was shocked at what a good deal it was. Then I asked how much for all 3, and he scoffed, "That is the price for all three!" I promptly left work, procured the funds, and went to check the bikes out. Turns out they were about 10 minutes from my house. Sure enough- all matching numbers 1950's Nortons, and one did in fact appear to be a gardengate Manx, but had a kickstart- why would a Manx racebike need a kick starter? Without wasting anymore time, I handed over the cash and loaded the 3 bikes along with all the parts that I dug out at the swap meet into my truck. After about a week of researching Manx race bikes and speaking with Norton experts from Pasadena to London (special thanks to Bib Bibbiani for helping me figure out what I found- RIP) I was starting to think that this Manx with its kickstarter, special fork setup, double overhead cam motor, and beach-sand like mud all over it, might be a "Daytona Manx", which was a special effort between Indian Motorcycles and Norton to beat Harley Davidson at the Daytona 200 mile race. Francis Beart was the legendary factory tuner that was sent over to Daytona to dial these bike in and they dominated the Daytona 200 until Harley managed to convince the AMA to ban the DOHC Nortons. A fellow enthusiast was kind enough to send a copy of Norton's factory dispatch sheets listing frame and motor numbers that confirmed what I was hoping: the crusty old Manx I found was one of three special Works racers sent by the factory in Birmingham England, to Daytona Florida, and futhermore, is the bike that Billy Mathews rode to first place that year. The bike crossed the finish line 1.5 minutes ahead of the next Norton and is well documented in many official records, magazines, and books. There's some really cool history with this bike including the AMA Hall of famer, Billy Mathews, not racing it after the 1950 win due to being accused of Communist ties and being blacklisted. There's also a pretty good size dent in the side of the tank with blood on it. One of the Norton books references Billy Mathews crashing #98 after taking the checkered flag. I've seen pics of #98 racing at Daytona as late as 1953- easily identified by it's 21" front wheel used for 1950, among the lineup of other Manx Nortons with 19" front wheels. This bike has some stories to tell. Here's a few pics of #98.
Thursday, September 13, 2012
I saw this 1956 FLH for sale on the Jockey Journal a few weeks back and just could not pass it up. I was already headed up to Tahoe on vacation and the bike was about an hour away so I said what the hell, and brought it home. I've been wanting to build a rigid pan since I had to sell my '46 Knuckle/Pan a few years back to finish some classes. Nowadays, I've got a lot less spare time on my hands, and this bike was pretty close to what I wanted to build- an uncut straight-leg rigid pan with 18" and 21" wheels. Freshly rebuilt a few hundred miles ago. I'm still not completely sold on the original Glide front end (I envisioned a skinny chromed pre-unit Triumph front end with a mid-50's scooped half brake, topped off with some skinny Flanders bars) but it's growing on me and it does look the part of a late-50's/early 60's pre-chopper. I'm running it with the old flamed 3.5 gallon tanks for now, but I bolted on a pair of gloss black 1950's Mustang scooter tanks and fell in love with the lines of the bike. Not too skinny for the wide glide either. They're off to weld in a bigger petcock, but when they're done, the bike is getting a painted rear fender and a painted oil tank too. For some reason, everyone seems surprised that the bike starts first kick without all the acrobatic drama that dudes love to do when they kick a bike over nowadays. What's the deal with that? Are these old pans normally hard to start or something?
Sunday, August 19, 2012
Actually, this Award Cycle finned timing cover kinda found me. I got a call from a buddy that was looking for some parts for his pre-unit drag bike, and he mentioned he had an old finned timing cover as trade fodder. He found it at the bottom of a box of misc Triumph parts that he traded a 12 pack of beer for. Not a bad trade if you ask me. Obviously, it cost me more than a 12er, but in the end, my friend got the parts he needed for his drag bike, and I got the one aftermarket Triumph part that has eluded me for years. It's in great shape, with just one chipped fin at the top- easy fix. Apparently, these things are known for having issues with the crank bushing, but this one fits as perfectly as it's stock counterpart. Can't wait to get this thing all polished up and on my Tiger. UPDATE: I dropped the cover off with Tony at Classic Cycles Inc, and he had the fin repaired and polished it up. Not too shabby.
Friday, April 27, 2012
These old pics of Rich 'Richy' Richards #21 Triumph were recently posted on vintagemotorcycleracing.blogspot.com. This highly successful salt flat racer broke many records, but unfortunately, the bike is said to have been parted out years ago. Check out the rear brake drum swapped over to the other side to permit the use of a smaller sprocket for high-speed runs. In addition to being rediculously fast, the bike has the perfect stance and. The JoMo Triumph ad celebrates the 1954 World Record run at Bonneville and shows the bike in it's mid 50's trim when it wore #11 and chrome fork covers. Notice the top motor mount that's visible in almost all of the pics- it's got to work better than the wimpy stock top mounts.
Friday, March 2, 2012
I found these girders and late 30's/early 1940's race tires at a car swap meet along with lots of other very early British and American motorcycle parts. Most parts were 1940's and earlier but nothing was newer than the late 50's. It was a local collector that passed away and his grandson was at the swap meet liquidating for very reasonable prices. Keep that in mind fellow hoarders! I'm waiting to check out a few early Norton singles (International and an ES-2) from the same collection as well as an extensive collection of Whitworth tools. Fingers crossed.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
I'm not sure of the history behind this thing, but I saw modern pics of it a few years ago, and this vintage image of it at a swap meet just surfaced on the JJ. It's a 1940's Norton International with a Knucklehead motor- killer combo. I really hope this bike stays together and doesn't donate it's powerplant to a Knucklehead restoration.
Saturday, July 30, 2011
I saw this ARE (Alloy Racing Equipment) cast aluminum racing top clamp and thought the dimesions looked very similar to a Triumph so I scooped it up and sure enough- it fits 60-68 Triumph forks. I've heard of ARE (I had one of their finned points covers on my black '68 TR6) but I had never seen or heard of any aftermarket Triumph yokes before. I'm not sure if there was a matching lower, but it's ALOT lighter than the factory iron counterpart. Plus, I'm sure it won't look bad with a set of alloy Tomasselli clip-ons underneath it.