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Dommie Frame Number


Hello All,

I've just joined the world of classic bikes having recently bought a Dommie 88, I'm a total newcomer so unsure if I've bought a basket case or not, the idea here is to reconnect to riding as I got bored with modern bikes, I do plan to restore the bike next year but ride as is this year.

Could I ask for help to correctly identify the frame number, I think its 38847, from what I can see on the photos I've taken, the engine is 68890.  The idea is to apply for the factory record so I can start to understand a bit of the bikes history as I have zero paperwork sadly.

Thanks Roy


This book in our library will give you a lot of information on what you need.  Tab at top Library, Online Library,  then follow link to Heavy twins. You can purchase. Hardcopy which I recommend for workshop use.

 Your machine frame number is incomplete in the photos. There would be a model code (122 if it’s an 88).

Your  eng and frame numbers would have matched originally but this gives you two models to pursue now.  if you look on line for your numbers (search Norton identification) you will find several forms giving you the identifications relative to model years.




Looks legitimate. But is actually a Model 50 frame. 88478 with R13 above the number.




Hello Roy - So does your 88 have a number and letter on the drive-side of the crankcases above the primary chain-case  ?  I am expecting something like 122L . From the serial number you've quoted I am hopeful that it will be a Dynamo type Model 88 from 1955 ?  Good luck with the paperwork hunt.  howard

Firstly, thanks for all the replies, this is an entirely new world for me but I'll be sticking with it for sure as there's so much to learn about...

Howard, Yes it does have a number, it has an L & 122 as you've suggested so a dynamo model?

Tbh this bike has me utterly confused, I saw a video of the bike running and the first thing I looked for when it was delivered was as key to start it which it does not have, when I got it it would not start but I soon found out the battery was dead, I have a new one in place and thankfully it does run.

I have a feeling this is going to be quite the ride if you'll forgive the pun...


88478 would make this a 1960 model. However the style of the stampings looks a bit iffy.

OK Roy, so the Dynamo is there for the lights and horn. A regulator controls the current for the battery and lights.   A magneto provides the ignition.  The rest is standard stuff. Get yourself a set of the Dominator Service Notes from the NOC Shop or read it on-line through the library website etc.  Wideline 88's are reliable bikes and easy to maintain.   The Model 50 frame will have a slightly different front engine mounting bracket from a Dominator 88 frame.   Cheers, Howard


Hello again Roy - I should add that the magneto may be a manual advance / retard type K2F with the ignition position operated by a cable to the handlebar lever. Or it may be an automatic advance / retard controlled by the drive-unit in the timing cover.   Your frame will no doubt be the later type known as the Slimline (or Ladies)  frame.   Enjoy the world of Norton chops and changes. 


Hello Roy.

Are you able to post photos of your 'bike, both sides ideally?

Just a small correction; the engine is from 1956, not 1955 as previously stated, 'L' denoting the 1956 model year, which the number backs up.

It appears therefore to be a 1960 frame from the 350cc model 50 single, fitted with a 1956 500cc model 88 twin engine.

I wonder which gearbox it has? A 1956 model 88 would have had the earlier laydown 'box, but the original gearbox may not have come with the engine, so you may have the later AMC 'box, introduced in 1957. Engine plates for the 88-engined Slimline frame would be for the AMC, so it is quite a possibility this it what you have. Again, photos will verify one way or t'other.

In reply to by ian_cordes


Hi Ian,

I've attached photo's as requested, there was mention an advance-retard lever in a previous reply, don't think I have such a control fitted so that's another job on the list perhaps.

Seems this particular example is quite a collection of bits n bobs, should keep me away from the tv for a while with any luck.

Tonight's task is to gather books and manuals together, I have a lot to learn...


This bike is a magneto model. Magnetos do NOT have ignition keys. (unless you buy one from me, but that is another story) Flat batteries will NOT stop it starting. Slim line frame?? What wally said that? DSN will get all of these problems sorted ie of what it is. But of course the getting it going is another thing, best of luck.. And another thing-this bike does NOT need restoring, it needs riding!


Al is right as usual (always?!!).  If it runs...make sure tyres and oil are OK and ride it!  Don't take it apart until you must.  

Buy a copy of "Norton Twins Restoration" if you want to learn about Dommies...but don't let that persuade you to make changes.  Unnecessary fettling has destroyed far too many machines.

Other views are available...


Sorry Al and Roy - I confess to being that Wally, as you eloquently put it,  Al.  I was going from the year of the frame number with an R 13 prefix without the images recently included.  I had a 600 Model 99 with an R14 prefix and that was a slimline. The clue being the letter R.  I am not even sure that Norton actually made a Wideline Model 50 even in 1960.  Weren't the Featherbed OHV Models 50 and ES2 all Slimlines ?   Food for thought.........howard 


Roy, you have a fantastic looking bike! 

As Al Osborn says, it doesn't need restoring at all!


One thing about magnetos, they are like the little girl with the little curl.

When they are good, they are very very good but when they are bad they are horrid!

I would suggest you get someone who knows to have a look at the mag, with out taking it off the bike. Let him pass judgement before you send it away, but if you decide on getting the mag properly overhauled, you will not regret it.


Don Anson Melbourne Australia 

It's evident from the drive side photo that the bike is fitted with a magneto with auto advance.  Therefore no battery required for starting.

Can't see a choke lever and cable though. There may be a spring loaded choke fitted under the tank.

Also it looks like an -drain valve fitted at the oil tank. 

Folding kick start lever a nice modification.


As others have said ,far too good to mess with ,particularly if you are unfamiliar with classics. Obviously put together by someone with plenty of experience. The only two points i would consider is   1 , the gear side footrest is too low for easy  gear selection and looks to be out of level with the other side ,and  2 ,the front brake shoes could be worn or in need of a couple of steel slippers ( NOC PARTS) as the drum lever angle has gone past the ideal position for best leverage.


Ian makes the point about anti drain valve  which is the fat thing in the oil line below the tank.  Do make sure oil is returning to the tank next time you start it.  You say it will run with no oil at all...but not for very long before the engine is wrecked.

Look up correspondence on automatic anti drain valves.  They can allegedly prevent oil reaching the pump, especially after an oil change.


Hello again Roy - I've just checked the archives and seemingly the ES2 and Model 50 single cylinder bikes adopted the Wideline frame in 1959 before switching to the Slimline in 1961.  So your R13 prefix is correct.  Regards, Howard


Yes there is a choke lever on the top of the carb, looks like a 'pigs ear' to operate. (unfair to pigs!) AND I see the coil mounting on the frame, so this was a coil ignition  (18D2/1) model when made. The plot gets deeper. But Roy, do not take any credence by all this 'must be original tosh'.Once you have the bike running just use and enjoy. Learn how to start it, sort the front brake 'inefficiency' be aware of the automatic non return valve in the oil line. The rubbish foot rest/gear lever position can be easily sorted with a spanner. Onward.


Can't thank you all enough for all of the observations, info and input, I've a fair list of little jobs to tend to for now, the next task will be identifying the paint colour as the laquer used is very, very brittle and has chipped on the edges and where fixings have compressed it but painting in reality for next year, this season is to get out and ride.

So, I'll be looking forward to next weekend when I can actually get out on the road for a wee hurl as I've not been exited about a bike since my Hayabusa Gen 1 many years ago...



Last we heard is it wasn't starting, Choke, magneto, etc what happened?


Don't forget that the gears are on the right and the change is 'back to front' (sorry Luddites) in that it's up for first, down for second etc.


Sorry Alan,

yes the bike runs, it was a combination of me not understanding the bike and not realising the choke was on top of the carb, found the tickler, added choke and it fired right up after 4 kicks, damn these bikes sound good after a diet of euro stifled engines!!

So this evening I decided to start on the brakes and the front wheel, seems I have a mix of metric and imperial fixings which I'll sort on rebuild, I have a crunchy wheel bearing so I'll grab a full front and rear set just in case while I'm ordering a side stand kit this evening.

I did note that the tabbed washer locking the two brake shoes in place had only one tab left, can I do away with this and use loctite in it's place?


Ok, I have a section of products from loctite 243, medium strength will be the ideal product for this situation.


 seems I have a mix of metric and imperial fixings which I'll sort on rebuild,   Metric on a 1950s Dominator front brake?? What ever is going on?? I remember a situation on here some time ago, when someone measured the nuts and couldn't understand the sizes-AF or what, it was pointed out to him Whitworth!!

Then there was an owner of a British bike he'd just bought, when chatting I mentioned spanners, He was almost proud of the fact that he'd let all his Whitwortrh spanners go with his last British bike he'd sold! Then there was the late 50s Triumph I worked on once,the Whit spanners didn't fit-aha these could be AF......Bother they are Metric as they are cheap stainless!! never mind the bolt holes are Imperial, more dodge and bodge.


Roys Model 88 is very interesting and could have left Bracebridge as a very different machine. Either as a 1956 Model 88 twin or a1960 Model 50 single.

In 1956, it would have been fitted with the new Daytona camshaft which boosted the performance of the 500cc engine significantly.

That month was  also the change-over period from Laydown to AMC gearboxes. 

The change-over period began in April 1956 but only for some bikes as the batches supplied were insufficient to match weekly production rates. The very first batch of AMC boxes  being only 67 in total. Roughly just a third of a normal weeks production.

These AMC gearboxes were allocated to bikes with engine/frame numbers 68761 to 68828. From then on old stocks of the ‘lay-down’ box were fitted to the next 101 bikes.  Including Roy,s Norton.

The Wideline Featherbed frame 88478 was built in February 1960 for a Model 50 single.  If it had been built for a Model 88 engine then the frame would have been a Slimline. In either case the Gearbox would have been an AMC item and the primary case would have been Chromed.  General finish being Black with a Silver tank.


You mention buying a side stand.  Don't expect to fit it in a single session.  RGM website has detailed fitting instructions.  It leans against an engine plate but manufacturing tolerances on featherbed frames were somewhat lax, so each must be fettled to fit.  And the entire primary side must come off and engine released from stand stayed on the shelf for years before I did something major on the engine.

The side stand is also quite short, so the tilt angle of the bike is very sensitive to ground levels.  And bikes before about 1960 had fuel filler on the left of the tank top.  They moved it to the right when it became clear that using the side stand with a full tank caused the tank to overflow.


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