I felt that it was time for me to sign up to your club. My name is Pete Chase, I have been restoring British bikes and customizing Japanese bikes full time for the last 11 years. I specialize in hand formed metal work and general fabrication, but I do just about everything exept machining. Lately, Ive come across some pretty special projects.
I am just finishing up a restoration on an early 1968 Commando Fastback. This bike was ridden hard, it appears the bike threw a timing side rod and shredded the motor. I hadn't noticed when the bike first came in, because it showed matching numbers to frame and transmission. someone had spliced a newer engine half with points driven off the camshaft. This motor had two different con rods and pistons. Over the course of 2 years I have put this bike back together as correctly as I could. Including adding a neck brace to the frame and sorting out every other little bug (hopefully) The tank and covers were hand painted back in the 70's and my customer and I decided to leave it because it looked to cool with its 45 yo patina everything else was touched.
My other Current Norton project is a first day production Norton Manxman 650 an older lady was selling due to her husbands passing. She said that it was a Norton Manx. When I went to see the bike I saw a black featherbed frame with wheels, off to the side what appeared to be a 650ss twin mono block engine and a tote of misc parts. I hold her that it was likely a 650ss or an atlas from the mid to late 60's. we made a deal based on an average cost of a mid 60's 650 basket case and I was off. When I got home I started clicking in some numbers and found that the VIN number puts the bike at a 1960 production and that the 650SS didn't come out until 61. My bike was a 650 based on the #18 stamped on it. so long story shorter, I learned about the Manxman that was produced on nov. 7 1960 for less than one year. I knew my bike had to be early production because is was a 1960 model. I then started to see some of the original polychromatic blue popping out from behind the black paint on the frame. I started scraping with my fingernail and revealed nearly all of the blue paint on the front end. I also got curious about the seat and sure enough, under the black seat was the original red seat with white piping. I have disassembled this bike down to every nut and bolt. I haven't sanded, painted or polished anything, Just cleaned it up as good as I can. I have rebuilt the transmission only needing all bearings seals and gaskets. Every gear and shift folk was in perfect condition. I am currently going through the engine. I split the crank, all new hardware and bearings in the bottom end, I am using as many original parts as possible and many engine components are making the cut, but I am not compromising anything mechanically. This is the good stuff. The bad part is everything that was in the tote of misc parts. oil tank was stripped and painted, gas tank was stripped and pointed, both are original as they have blue paint still in the filler neck. Also I have no exhaust parts or airbox.
If you haven't seen it yet there is an on-going article in HEAVY TWINS section relating to the rebuild, in America, of what is thought to be the first Manxman along with Facebook videos etc.
The latest video shows his engine, frame and gearbox no's.
Anna, a member of the club, owns and rides one, and is an authority on the model.
Hi Peter.....if your Norton is showing Blue paint under the black that is covering the frame then this suggests that it may actually be an early Mk1 Manxman 650. After the first 440 were built these bikes tended to be exported with Black frames. The very first batch headed off to the USA with single carbs and then these were followed by batches of mixed twin and single carb.
By September 1961 the twin carb 650SS with larger fuel tank was being produced. However, just to confuse everybody outside of the UK. these were called the Manxman Mk 1 in Europe and the Manxman Mk 2 in the USA. The choice of colours were all blue, blue and black frame, silver and black and red and black. Plus a choice of small or large tank was possible.
Peter....if you use the internal mailing system to send me all of you bikes engine numbers I can probably give you the details of production and shipping of this model.