Real Classic

NORTON STORIES

- Frank W

RC206 was another action packed issue! I particular­ly enjoyed Frank's re acquaintan­ce with the Model 18.

My first 'real' bike was a 1948 16H attached to a stylish Watsonian Avon sidecar, which I bought in the early 1970s when my previous transport a Ford Anglia disappeare­d in the usual cloud of ferric oxide. The Norton, in both outfit and solo form, and latterly with an ES2 engine fitted to make a Model 18 very similar to Frank's, served us well for several years as our only transport. It took us on rainy camping trips to the Lake District and miserably cold treks from Birmingham to County Durham for several family Christmase­s as well as providing everyday transport. On one of the return journeys from the icy north we stopped to thaw out at a cafe and my wife refused to reenter the chair she was so cold. It was only through the efforts of a passing lorry driver that she was persuaded back in.

So a couple of years ago I decided I wanted something similar. I well remember the iffy gearchange that required contortion­s of the right leg to change down, not to mention the wear prone external clevises, so wanted something with the later lay down box. I also felt that a rigid frame was unsuited to modern road conditions, so lighted on a 1952 ES2. I must say that although it was fairly rough when I bought it, the Norton has proved to be an excellent machine. So much so that last year I parted with the Guzzi VS0 that had cohabited with it. I was always rolling the Norton out instead and the little Guzzi was being neglected.

I can't agree that the plungers don't work well although mine were seized on purchase and took a fair bit of effort, as well as the use of an angle grinder and manufactur­e of a new bearer rod to operate properly. Unlike Frank I actually think the plunger models look better than the rigids. The latter have a flimsy, unfinished look to my eye, while the slightly inclined plunger units echo the polished pushrod tubes. My bike also deals well with local bumpy bends which would have a rigid frame skipping and hopping.

The ES2 has a Monobloc carb rather than a 276 but runs very well on it, especially after fitting a 3.5 cutaway rather than the specified 4 which cured an annoying spit back at small throttle openings.

I entirely agree about the urge that these engines provide and mine feels the equal of the Velo Venom I had a few years ago, although possibly falling short on top speed.

It is happy to keep up with the traffic on local dual carriagewa­ys and takes off like a rocket. I discovered (when I popped off the head last year to repair a couple of broken fins) that it has a domed piston fitted which gives a compressio­n ratio round about 8.5:1 which must help. The laydown box, although not as slick as the later (misnamed) AMC version gives easy clean changes.

Oh, and congratula­tions on Frank's elevation to the motorcycli­ng peerage as a VP of the NOC treading in some illustriou­s shoes but very well deserved.

Thanks again for another great read Ian Soady, member Nortons are strangely addictive? How can this be? And thanks!

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