On reflection, I probably paid a bit more than I should have for this bike, but then I didn’t have the hassle of travelling ‘darn sarf’ to look at it and then the cost of getting it home. As always, owners can’t tell you about problems they don’t know about…or sometimes won’t about things they hope you won’t spot.
I had all the provenance for the bike from the original owner up to the chap I bought it from, with the exception of the chap he bought it from. After a bit of searching I found the bike had been sold at auction in a tired state, for about half what it cost me. Having needled my seller a bit, I managed to track down the chap who’d bought it from the auction. He told me about the work he’d done on it to put it back on the road which was a great help. My seller had replaced the rear shocks with Hagons (I managed to get the original shocks from him), fitted two new Dunlop tyres and tubes, had the seat recovered and attached a carrier to the rear using what looked like a big Meccano kit; there was a 70s style top box too.
The carrier and top box will probably be sold on.
Things that I knew about from initial inspection:
- Both rims were in poor condition and I planned to have the wheels rebuilt using stainless rims and spokes.
- Some of the chrome parts and the mudguards showed signs of corrosion; the fork slider extensions needed replacing and the mudguards would be removed and painted at some time.
- The engine wet sumped if left standing…most of them seem to do this.
- The clutch lever needed replacing as did its cable; some of the other control cables looked a little tired too.
- Some of the rubbers looked a bit the worse for wear; gear lever, kickstart etc.
- The steering damper wasn’t really working at all and the knob wouldn’t hold position.
- The stop lamp switch was in poor shape.
On digging deeper, I found the following in addition to the above:
- The pinch bolt side fork slider had a snapped clamp; this is a very common issue on the Norton Roadholder forks, normally caused because the bolt has been tightened at the wrong time and / or it has been over-tightened. I decided for aesthetic reasons to replace both fork sliders; not cheap but I only intend to do it once. The break was relatively new, so I suspect it was done by either the tyre fitter or the seller when he refitted the wheels. The ride home on the trailer could have been responsible too, of course; benefit of the doubt time.
- One of the fork stanchions had a tiny bit of pitting on it, so I decided to replace both. I intended to fit a full bush and seal kit anyway and the pitting could have caused leaks.
- The port side fork had NO OIL in it whatsoever and the starboard fork had barely any; I’m guessing the ‘ride outs’ that the seller went on were a bit choppy.
- The battery was an owners’ club battery but It’s actually a bit big for the battery box; I replaced it with a slightly smaller one…and installed a fuse.
- The gearbox inspection cover had a snapped fixing on one side.
- The speedo shock absorber rubbers were perished and the ammeter wobbled about.
- The petrol tank mounting rubbers were well past their best.
- The crankcase oil filter was a well and truly matted piece of felt; the carrier looked home made too. The end cap was also missing.
- Other cosmetic bits and bobs.
There were no oil leaks I could spot and the oil was clean with no metal bits on or around the sump plug. It ran pretty well, although I may upgrade the contact breaker set to the later 6 series, which allows independent adjustment of the timing for each cylinder. I’m actually pleased the snapped pinch bolt caused me to rebuild the forks, as I’d originally intended to ride it and see how it felt; it would have been bad.
In my head, before I bought the bike, I rather expected to spend a grand plus a little. I won’t ride my bikes unless they are right and safe, even though an MOT is not required. I reckon the final bills will be around £1,400 with some reduction when I sell the bits I’m replacing for aesthetic reasons.