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Process / & rebuilds

The description that follows is about the phases of the rebuild, basically how it all works. It starts with the teardown and inspection phase of a customer’s bike. Parts not automatically being replaced by the new parts package must be serviceable for reassembly. Any extra cost for replacement of deficient parts is determined up front before starting the build. New parts are now ordered and those going to paint, powdercoating, machining or chrome are sent to those sources. All work is with long term sources in the USA except for chrome and paint. While this work is being performed, the fork sliders, dampener modifications, Z plate assemblies, calipers, rear brake assembly, swing arm, are prepped, detailed, rebuilt and made ready for the rolling chassis.

The rolling chassis phase begins once those parts are returned from their sources. A single bolt is not turned until all fastener contact points and grounding points are carefully cleaned to bare metal of powdercoating, a tedious process of many hours, as they will loosen with time. See the photos in “gallery of details” for the amazing array of components in this process. The reward is when it is all standing “on it’s feet”. Now it gets exciting.

The core work begins on the engine starting with the crankshaft, ground and polished by one of the best in the nation. The rest follows the same attention to details; new crank hardware, resized (returned to perfect round) rod big ends, new rod shell bearings, straight and true cylinder bores, new camshaft (options available), surface ground lifters, and certainly the head work by Comstock Engineering. Jim Comstock has been my source since the late 90’s and has earned the reputation as the finest head work in quality of components, intelligent engineering and performance to prove it. This attention in the engine build continues to the transmission. The mainshaft and layshaft are measured for straightness with a dial indicator. All gear sets, gear bushings, kickstarter prawl, shift linkage springs and prawl, are carefully inspected and replaced as required. With this completed, work turns to the cases. What defines a modern motorcycle for me is the precise fit and finish of the castings and it is here the Norton needs help. The mismatched seams, casting lines, flashing, and rough surface finish are unacceptable in todays world. The task is tedious with many hours of hand filing and sanding work but my quiet time and affordable shop rate allows it. As standard, all mating parts are seam matched and the surfaces refinished prior to glass bead blasting. Surface refinishing is also applied to the barrel and head with the head getting fin edge polishing as well and barrel gaining a new luster after paint is applied. As an option, polishing details can be applied to the transmission and engine cases as seen in the “details gallery” and the “rebuilds gallery” on #DN07 & #DN08. The brilliance and glow these details add against my standard muted cast iron coating on the covers is a fresh new look that is remarkably easier to clean and keep clean compared to the broad polished surfaces that becomes almost too much alloy. The treatment further allows all the chrome and abundance of other polished alloy to stand out.

The wiring process follows which is custom to every bike build. Quality components, simplicity and fitment are key. The wire and connectors are supplied by a huge marine supply company out of Fort Lauderdale Florida. Marine grade means the copper strands are tin coated for no corrosion and run inside thicker more durable insulation and the connectors use a heavy shrink sleeve that becomes water tight when heated. The rear tail light loom passes through the frame loop for protection and a cleaner appearance as does the ignition pick up leads going to the points compartment. The new Crane Cam coil adds a simple two wire connection eliminating the messy bundle of the stock coils. Pin block connectors further streamline the handlebar switch cluster loom connection with another at the tail light connection. A lot goes on inside the headlight shell so care to organize routing for no pinches or stresses is important for a clean job. Finally, I am overkill when it comes to grounding points with as many as possible without adding bulky bundles. There are some photos in the “details gallery” showing these examples.

Installing the painted body pieces starts to rapidly complete the build. However, choices in frame, tank, fenders and side cover colors must be made early in the build. My local paint guy is a highly regarded talent doing many restorations of vintage cars, trucks, and Jeeps. Quality PPG paint is the choice and his prep and application is excellent. He likes to do the final rub out with a trip to my shop bringing his whole family that helps with the process. That’s a special day for me also. The bike is now ready for photos but not quite yet to ride. A used exhaust system is installed for start up and break in. With my check list completed it is now started. Ignition was set statically at assembly to usually a new timing mark on the scale created by degree wheel calculations so this needs to be set by strobe light. My Mikuni jet set up is usually very close as I have been running them on all Nortons since 1982. When all is right, I like to put at least 500 miles of break in with all torque downs and valve adjusts and system checks done during this phase. It is now ready for delivery. Refer to the text about “transport and delivery”.

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