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1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

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1953 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by richard_chan at August 02. 2017

Hi everyone,

I'm a happy new owner to a 1953 (edited) Dominator 88. After my recent purchase of a 1972 Commando 750 in March, and spent the short few months making it run properly (as well as looking pretty) with help from members on this forum. Since the commando, I wanted something from the Dominator era, and this very bike caught my eye.

Just received delivery of the bike here in Dresden, bought from a firm in the Uk called Spinning Wheels.

Now having started the bike for a very short test ride, I'm sure I'll have some questions about the bike for the ever informing members in this club.

 

Happy days.

Rich.

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by John Shorter at August 03. 2017

Hi Rich,  One point, is it  a ´54 model (with iron head, and bolt on rear sub frame) or, the ´55, with several minor differences?

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by richard_chan at August 03. 2017

Hi John,

Correction after checking all the info I got.

I had asked Mr. Seifert at Norton GmbH, the records search here, as well as VMCC, all confirming production was 09.10.1953.

 

But was sold and first registered somewhere after 01.04.1955.

Rich

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by anna jeannette Dixon at August 03. 2017
Previously richard_chan wrote:

Hi John,

Correction after checking all the info I got.

I had asked Mr. Seifert at Norton GmbH, the records search here, as well as VMCC, all confirming production was 09.10.1953.

 

But was sold and first registered somewhere after 01.04.1955.

Rich

hello your Norton is date stamp marked  on the top lug of the frame to see this you need to remove seat and tank this lug holes the head steady it's in very small numbers  and a may be a letter to  my 1954 Dominator is stamped D/4/54  built April 1954  I have been telling Norton owners for some time but no one seems to be bothered  and still go down the factory records route  which only lets you the despatch date and the information on this     yours Anna j

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by John Shorter at August 04. 2017

Hi again Rich,  You are a lucky man!  You have one of the best Dominators ever built, before AMC started  cutting corners, to save a few pence, and trying to boost performance (to match their arch rivals Triumph.

The 500 cc motor was now highly stress, and, with the iron head, ran smoothly, with less vibration than later models.  The top speed (not that I suggest using it, on such a classic bike) should be a touch over 90 m.p.h. quite fast enough, off motorways, and the handling superb.

You may be interested to know, you can get a photo copied manual from the British National Motorcycle Museum.  Although a few small items, from the original, are missing, it is one of the very few manuals available for this model.

Being built in October ´53, it is probably a ´54 model, with the slightly better 8" front brake.

I know it is along way from Dresden to Belgium, but, if you can make the International Rally I would love to see your bike, and compare it to my ´54 88.

Regards, John. 

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by richard_chan at August 04. 2017
Hello Anna and John, Re: production date - ibwas not aware of this method you mentioned Anna. I figured Mr. Seifert would be pretty knowledgeable as he has helped me a lot with great advice throughout my Commando work, as well as owning the records. But I'll check it out next time I get the tank off. Re: John - good to hear a message of positive confidence in my new (to me) bike. I wish it was all original. But it was Fitted with period BSA Rocket Gold Star front brake being 190 mm and a 1956 AMC gear box which Norton fitted in 1956. Other than that, the bike was fully restored with detail pictures and documents. I would love to be at the rally, but with two little boys both under 3 years old, it'll be hard to get a free pass to go riding for a week and leave the family behind. In regards to the bike , the questions begins. I took it out in the city for a ride today, it had all gone very well for the 20mins ride to my destination. On the way back, probably 2 mins away from home, the bike idles a bit weird and dies at the lights. Couldn't get it to start for about 20 minutes, then all of the sudden it kicked over again. I figured it's a carb issue at this stage. So I first check the spark plugs when I got home. They were both black. Which to me means too rich. So needle DOWN one clip perhaps? And maybe pilot jet is blocked a bit? Would I need to take the entire carb off for cleaning? Thanks. Rich.

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by anna jeannette Dixon at August 04. 2017
Previously richard_chan wrote:
Hello Anna and John, Re: production date - ibwas not aware of this method you mentioned Anna. I figured Mr. Seifert would be pretty knowledgeable as he has helped me a lot with great advice throughout my Commando work, as well as owning the records. But I'll check it out next time I get the tank off. Re: John - good to hear a message of positive confidence in my new (to me) bike. I wish it was all original. But it was Fitted with period BSA Rocket Gold Star front brake being 190 mm and a 1956 AMC gear box which Norton fitted in 1956. Other than that, the bike was fully restored with detail pictures and documents. I would love to be at the rally, but with two little boys both under 3 years old, it'll be hard to get a free pass to go riding for a week and leave the family behind. In regards to the bike , the questions begins. I took it out in the city for a ride today, it had all gone very well for the 20mins ride to my destination. On the way back, probably 2 mins away from home, the bike idles a bit weird and dies at the lights. Couldn't get it to start for about 20 minutes, then all of the sudden it kicked over again. I figured it's a carb issue at this stage. So I first check the spark plugs when I got home. They were both black. Which to me means too rich. So needle DOWN one clip perhaps? And maybe pilot jet is blocked a bit? Would I need to take the entire carb off for cleaning? Thanks. Rich.

 

 hello well since I have owned Nortons for 40 years or more and own a 1954 model 88  and rebuilt it from ground up I know these things the bike tells its own tail if you know where to look   just scrape some paint off the top lug next the head stock  and you see very small stamp marks that the date of manufacture so look for your self-do not really on data   as I have done years of research and found the information give on the record is out  and in some cases as much as ten months out,   yours  anna j

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by robert_tuck at August 04. 2017

Bad behavour when warm is often  the magneto  acting up  which would also dirty up the plugs. Sometimes its just a too rich mixture which is helpfull when cold  but soon soots up the plugs when hot. Put in some new plugs and repeat the exercise  and when the bike wont start take out the plugs and kick over with a new plug held against the head and look for a nice blue spark ,if its not there ,its ignition, most likely the mag condenser.

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by John Shorter at August 04. 2017

Rich, has your bike been rebuilt with an iron, or alloy head?  If iron, check to see if you have steel, or alloy, pushrods.  Steel rods were used with the iron head, alloys expand more when hot, and you lose valve clearance.  You CAN use alloy pushrods, but, valve clearance should be increased to 6 thou inlet, and 8 exhaust.  I had the same symptom you describe. Spent hours adjusting ignition timing, and carb, before Phil Hannam put me right.

 

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by richard_chan at August 05. 2017

Hi Robert and John,

 

Thanks for your replies.

I assumed also it was running rich, so I dropped the needle down on clip. The bike wasn't happy with this at all. Sluggish on pull away and coughed with throttle and pilot screw adjusted.

So went back to middle clip, cleaned out the carbs as much as I can. I ran good again. Tho it is hard to tell if it is the ignition fault at the moment, as I have no new spark plugs available.

Speaking of spark plugs - what is recommended?

Re: John - I have also checked while cleaning the carb. I have a T2225 on the head, which means an alloy head. So assuming this, should I be using a Champion N5C / NGK B6ES with 0.020" gap as recommended? Right now, N5C are on there. And they seems hard to come by.

As for the push rods, I wouldn't have a clue what was put on, I'm again assuming now knowing it's a alloy head, that the previous owner had put in alloy rods too?

In other questions - the clutch is very heavy on the bike. The bite limit is also very small. I also have to open my hand fully to feel the clutch bite, is they normal? I also find it hard to find neutral as well, having to keep looking down to double check. I took the Commando out after a short ride on the Dominator, and my word... The Commando is soooooo smooth compared to the Dominator. Tho riding position on the Dominator is brilliant, much more aggressive than my other bikes. Almost feel like a chopper.

Thanks again.

Rich.

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by John Shorter at August 05. 2017

Sorry to be a "Doomer" Rich.  Being built in October ´53, your bike could be an early ´54 model.  It would not originally had an alloy cylinder head.  What is the engine number?  The ´54 model would be stamped J122, with the serial number above.   Being over 60 years old, many non standard, or later parts may have been used when it was rebuilt.  I use NGK B6HS plugs, and, despite some enthusiastic use, these have not been changed for over 12 years.

 

You are bound to have "teething problems" with a bike of this age, but if you persevere, it will be worth it.   A good Dominator should run smoother, and require less maintenance than a Commando.  However it will never have such a brutal surge of power.

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by richard_chan at August 05. 2017

Correct. J122 serial. Mr. Seifert also said it's a 1954.

As for the plugs - I know the B6HS can be used on iron heads, and alloy heads are B6ES, so there lies the confusion. Should I be using one or the other? Or no difference?

I know the bike have had complete work done on it, I guess now I need to go through and check all the documents and receipts for what was done.

Thanks

Rich

 

Previously John Shorter wrote:

Sorry to be a "Doomer" Rich.  Being built in October ´53, your bike could be an early ´54 model.  It would not originally had an alloy cylinder head.  What is the engine number?  The ´54 model would be stamped J122, with the serial number above.   Being over 60 years old, many non standard, or later parts may have been used when it was rebuilt.  I use NGK B6HS plugs, and, despite some enthusiastic use, these have not been changed for over 12 years.

 

You are bound to have "teething problems" with a bike of this age, but if you persevere, it will be worth it.   A good Dominator should run smoother, and require less maintenance than a Commando.  However it will never have such a brutal surge of power.

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by anna jeannette Dixon at August 06. 2017
Previously richard_chan wrote:

Hi Robert and John,

 

Thanks for your replies.

I assumed also it was running rich, so I dropped the needle down on clip. The bike wasn't happy with this at all. Sluggish on pull away and coughed with throttle and pilot screw adjusted.

So went back to middle clip, cleaned out the carbs as much as I can. I ran good again. Tho it is hard to tell if it is the ignition fault at the moment, as I have no new spark plugs available.

Speaking of spark plugs - what is recommended?

Re: John - I have also checked while cleaning the carb. I have a T2225 on the head, which means an alloy head. So assuming this, should I be using a Champion N5C / NGK B6ES with 0.020" gap as recommended? Right now, N5C are on there. And they seems hard to come by.

As for the push rods, I wouldn't have a clue what was put on, I'm again assuming now knowing it's a alloy head, that the previous owner had put in alloy rods too?

In other questions - the clutch is very heavy on the bike. The bite limit is also very small. I also have to open my hand fully to feel the clutch bite, is they normal? I also find it hard to find neutral as well, having to keep looking down to double check. I took the Commando out after a short ride on the Dominator, and my word... The Commando is soooooo smooth compared to the Dominator. Tho riding position on the Dominator is brilliant, much more aggressive than my other bikes. Almost feel like a chopper.

Thanks again.

Rich.

  Hello I now use BOSCH  W8DTC  these are better for ethanol petrol  and their self-cleaning   OR you can get Champion N9BYC which have the same Heat Rating Has N5C  and So does Bosch W8DTC   these plugs were made for ethanol fuels and do not have any type of resistors so there OK for a magneto use, has magnetos do not like Resistors  they give the Magento  a hard time  and eventually damages the condenser in side the magneto  so go have fun   yours  anna j 

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by richard_chan at August 06. 2017

Hi Anna,

Thanks for the tip.

I'll see if I can locate the items you mentioned. Champion is hard to come by here for some reason, NGK and Bosch is easy of course.

Hopefully I'll have the bike properly registered tomorrow without issues and be home without the authentic old bike experience again.

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by Gordon Johnston at August 06. 2017

B6HS is a 1/2" reach suitable for iron heads, B6ES is 3/4" reach, suitable for aluminium heads only. NGK are excellent in my experience and last for years.

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by richard_chan at August 08. 2017

Hi again everyone, 
Bike registered and on road, now for the tuning it needs.

I have checked on the bike - it has a AMAL 376/77 carb on it. Which from what I gather, is for a T100. 

I've emailed AMAL, they suggest that a 376/19 is for the Dominator, but on their website, it is listed for 1955-1956. 
Does anyone (John and Anna maybe) know the correct carb for the 1954? 
I'm wondering why they went to a different number carb tbh...

Thanks again

Rich

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by richard_chan at August 09. 2017

Hello again,

Ive order a various types of spark plugs. The original Champion N5C as well as champion N9BYC.

I have found that the previous owner has installed a Pazon surefire 6V unit with magneto on the bike.

FOR THE N9BYC, would I need to also use non resistance caps with it? Or the regular NGK cap will do? Would a regular resistor cap be problematic for the non resistor spark plugs?

Would a non resistor cap/plug be problematic for the surefire unit?

Their site is not clear on this.

Thanks

Rich.

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by Charles Bovington at August 09. 2017

Previously richard_chan wrote:

Hi again everyone, 
Bike registered and on road, now for the tuning it needs.

I have checked on the bike - it has a AMAL 376/77 carb on it. Which from what I gather, is for a T100. 

I've emailed AMAL, they suggest that a 376/19 is for the Dominator, but on their website, it is listed for 1955-1956. 
Does anyone (John and Anna maybe) know the correct carb for the 1954? 
I'm wondering why they went to a different number carb tbh...

Thanks again

Rich

For 1951 to 1954,  they used a (2)?76 amal , 1" choke with 170 main jet,   3 1/2 cutaway slide, Needle position 2, Needle jet, .107

From 1955 to 1963, they used the ,then new, 376 monoblock with 1"choke, 240 Main jet, 30 pilot jet,3 1/2 Slide, Needle position 2, Needle jet .106

Hope this helps.

Don't forget that these jet sizes etc. were set for fuels which differ quie s lot from those available today.

 

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by richard_chan at August 09. 2017

Thanks Charles for the reply and information.

The 376/19 (second one you stated) is basically what I have right now. Except I have found some scoring on the barrel , so went with a new one from Amal.

Any previous versions can no longer be purchased anymore as far as I can see.

I'll keep it on the standard setting and try it out , adjust accordingly.

Thanks again

Rich

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by John Shorter at August 09. 2017

Hi, yet again Rich.  The original 276 Amal is still available, but, at a price! (almost 100 pounds more than the 376 monobloc, plus tax). Since you already have a later cylinder head, it would be pointless fitting the older type carb.

Re: 1954/1955 Dominator 88 - New owner

Posted by richard_chan at August 09. 2017

Thanks John,

That makes total sense. I just assumed the previous owner had his reasons.

Anyways, carb is here tomorrow. The bike is idling less than perfect at the moment, should be much better once it has a new carb.

Rich.

 

Previously John Shorter wrote:

Hi, yet again Rich.  The original 276 Amal is still available, but, at a price! (almost 100 pounds more than the 376 monobloc, plus tax). Since you already have a later cylinder head, it would be pointless fitting the older type carb.

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