Skip to main content
000000 000003 000006 000009 000012 000015 000018 000021 000024 000027 000030 000033 000036 000039 000042 000045 000048 000051 000054 000057 000060 000063 000066 000069 000072 000075 000078 000081 000084 000087 000090 000093 000096 000099 000102 000105 000108 000111 000114 000117 000120 000123 000126 000129 000132 000135 000138 000141 000144 000147 000150 000153 000156 000159 000162 000165 000168 000171 000174 000177 000180 000183 000186 000189 000192 000195 000198 000201 000204 000207 000210 000213 000216 000219 000222 000225 000228 000231 000234 000237 000240 000243 000246 000249 000252 000255 000258 000261 000264 000267 000270 000273 000276 000279 000282 000285 000288 000291 000294 000297 000300 000303 000306 000309 000312 000318 000321 000324 000327 000330 000333 000336 000339 000342 000345 000348 000351 000354 000357 000360 000363 000366 000369 000372 000375 000378 000381 000384 000387 000390 000393 000396 000399 000402 000405 000408 000411 000414 000417 000420 000423 000426 000429 000432 000435 000438 000441 000444 000447 000450 000453 000456 000459 000462 000465 000468 000471 000474 000477 000480 000483 000486 000489 000492 000495 000498 000501 000504 000507 000510 000513 000516 000519 000522 000525 000528 000531 000534 000537 000540 000543 000546 000549 000552 000555 000558 000561 000564 000567 000570 000573 000576 000579 000582 000585 000588 000591 000594 000597 000600 000603 000606 000609 000612 000615 000618 000621 000624 000627 000630 000633 000636 000639 000642 000645 000648 000651 000654 000657 000660 000663 000666 000669 000672 000675 000678 000681 000684 000687 000690 000693 000696 000699 000702 000705 000708 000711 000714 000717 000720 000723 000726 000729 000732 000735 000738 000741 000744 000747 000750 000753 000756 000759 000762 000765 000768 000771 000774 000777 000780 000783 000786 000789 000792 000795 000798 000801 000804 000807 000810 000813 000816 000819 000822 000825 000828 000831 000834 000837 000840 000843 000846 000849 000852 000855 000858 000861 000864 000867 000870 000873 000876 000879 000882
English French German Italian Spanish

Hello Newbie Dominator 88 1960



I am new to the ownership of my Dominator 88. 

This is my 3rd years of ownership of the bike, 

Year 1 used at weekends when the weather was lovley.

Year 2 Not used at all ( tank/carb drained ) 

Year 3 ( Now) changed choke & throttle cable. Stripped and serviced carb with new gaskets (AMAL)

Drained oil tank, Sumpa nd gearbox, New oils SAE50 4.5pints and EP80/90 1 pint.

new fuel.

spark plugs cleaned.


i could not get the bike to kick over at all??

tried bumping- bike run but very rough.

then the bike would kick over but with alot of effort.


tried the following day could not kick over so bumped again and she started. she did kick over but not been able to kick over since.


Not sure if i messed with the screws on the Amal carb so followed hayes manual direction 1.5 turns for the pilot screw ffrom closed. not sure abt the other screw????

I would love some help on getting her running better and advice on where i could take her to get looked over ??

based in Albrighton, Shro[pshire.


Thank you 





hello well it's not  the amal carb try  putting the right oil in  the sae50 should be in the gearbox and  Duckhams w20/50 in the oil tank  and then she just may start  to heavy oil will be like treacle  and it then has to be forced thought small oil ways  No good it's  no wonder the bike will not start,  all this is your learning curve    even my  !954  Norton dominator model88  uses Duckham Q 20/50 classic  and runs and like a sowing  machine  and  my Norton Manxman 650 runs on Duckham Q 20/50  Classic  It starts easy  and runs nice   getting the right oils it's that easy   yours  Anna J  


Hi Neil, these sort of problems seem common after a prolonged lay-up. When you say 'kick-over' do you mean that the bike is physically difficult to kick-over on the starter lever or that the kickstart lever moves OK but the engine just won't start (which is what I think you mean). If it's the second then I imagine that your problem is probably blocked/dirty carb jets - new gaskets etc. are good but the carb will need a proper clean-out. As the bike was laid-up for a year or so then this is a common problem if the carb was left with petrol in it, SAE50 oil will be OK in the motor (as specified by Norton when the bike was new) however, long term, you might think about moving to 20/50 multigrade in the future.

Are the plugs sparking OK?


Thank you for your replies.

kick over- yes the bike does kick over after I bumped it. ( but not easy at all plenty of kicks the kick start itself is free and moves easily) spark plugs are clean and good spark.

the carb was cleaned including jets it’s spotless.... 

I do have some Morris sae 50 and also have Morris saw 20w 50 

so it it best for me to put the SAE 50 in Gearbox ??  SAE 20w 50 in the engine???   

Any ideas on the screws??? Amal 

thank you



Hello now Amal pilot jet screw should one and a half turns out to. Two turns when the engine is running and next the throttle screw for slow running you find all this information in your service Manuel or Haynes manual ,just give the carb a good tickel and get your finger wet then try a good kick some like a bit of choke some do not and flood easy but once she has a smell of petrol she start and run , but you must have the. Ignition leads on the right way round and normally the lead for the drive side is the one nearest the battery box coming from the mag or dizzy ,yours Anna j



I am still struggling get the bike to run... 

oil changed 

carb cleaned & jets

new battery ( electronic ignition)  good spark on both plug

will get new plugs tomorrow....  

kicks easy enough and it sometimes try’s to start......

so now have no idea where to go so maybe time to get mechanic..... 

Any suggestions???  

thank you




Have you checked ignition? If it was running and you have not touched the ignition it is almost certainly set up correctly. Unless it has slipped, which can happen if it backfires.

All it needs is fuel, air and a spark. 

Are you closing the carb air slide when starting it? And opening it straight away? 

The lower screw with its head at the bottom only adjusts tickover. The horizontal one is important for starting, that's the pilot air screw, 1 1/2 turns out to begin with.  If it does start and then seems very lumpy, it sounds like you need to lift the air slide. You don't have the throttle and air slide cables mixed up, do you?

It'll be OK soon!


Hi Neil, SAE50 or 20/50 are both OK for the engine. The gearbox needs EP90 (not SAE50).

This may sound a daft question but are you sure that you're using the choke properly. Cold starting - (choke closed) the choke cable should be in the slack position and once warmed-up the choke should be opened by pulling the cable to the 'tight' state. The only reason I mention this that when, in the early '70s, I got my first Commando and I got it wrong and I had exactly the same problems as you have. As it appears that you haven't altered many settings it's difficult to advise. However:

1) Are all the valves operating correctly (none stuck etc.)? - could be a problem after a lay-up

2) Are the valve clearances (tappets) correct?

3) Have you (or can you) check the ignition timing? - if you haven't moved anything since it used to ride OK then it's unlikely to be a problem but it's worth checking.

4) Does the carb 'tickle' correctly - press down the tickler and after a couple of seconds petrol should dribble - if it's much slower then you may have a blockage somewhere (tank tap filters clogged-up etc.)

On a Twin, if only one cylinder has a problem then they can be a pig to start - when you do manage to get it to run does it run on both cylinders? if not then just touch the exhausts - the duff cylinder pipe will be cold/cool - if this is the case then it's more likely to be valve-gear issues or possibly a coil problem (if the bike has twin coils rather than a distributor).


hello, all now  we do know that EP90 does attack  brass bushing in the gearbox  and they ware more quickly  has John Hudson told us all  Now I use a Castrol ST 90  Witch does not Attack Brass  Bushing in the Gearbox,   you can use a 50sae in your gearbox  that has brass bushing  , yours  anna j



Once again your information is wrong

See the technical section of this website, look under Heavy twins, Gearbox, oil types, Hypoid gearbox oils explained.

The last paragraph in the article is :-

Is hypoid oil good for your gearbox? This question has comes up from time to time and has featured recently on NOC-L. Apparently, the word is out that hypoid oil can damage non-ferrous parts of gearbox internals. However, there is a letter in the September 1998 issue of the Vintage Motor Cycle which should put our minds at rest. Here, Pat Lelliott who was until recently Technical Services Manager of Duckhams Oils assures us that for well over 30 years the hypoid gear oils manufactured by reputable companies have been formulated with additives that do not react with non-ferrous gearbox components.

David Kennedy in Roadholder No. 202, Nov/Dec 1998

That was in 1998 so well over 30 years before that is pre 1968. most likely early to mid sixties is when Hypoid oils got safe.

Please stop spouting spurious/wrong information


Peter Shand

Chairman EYNOC 


hello yet again peter your not reading thread right and there are many engineering forums on this subject  and EP oil contain additives  that are sulfur-based and  will cause premature wear  on yellow metals like brass or bronze bushings   were as Castrol ST 90 as an additive that helps against  corrosion and helps against wear and help out yellow metals when under stress   So this gearbox oil is more suited for Norton Gearboxes with bronze bushings, And I do not care what anyone else says facts are the facts and even John Hudson said the same thing So  try reading some of the thread correctly,  And I have been around Nortons And other Makes  since I was 15 years old  So that's 51-years experience   So please stop your disinformation    Yours   Anna J 


My old friend worked in army tank gearbox development. He told me that in the tests they did, hypoid gear oil did stain bronze bushes but had no measurable ill effects. Allegedly they did at one time...many decades ago. Technology moves on...not always in a worse direction.

Norton recommended either 50 grade engine oil or 90 gear oil. The numbers for engine and gear oils have nothing to do with each other.



You must disagree with everything on the NOC website. Have you read the article headed  'Hypoid gear oils explained',  Oil types, Gearbox, Heavy twins, in the technical section? 

Maybe you should apply for a job as Technical services manager of Duckhams oils as you seem to know all sorts of stuff.






As this is a thread started by a new member having troubles starting his bike, can we please get back to the subject and not go totally off at a tangent. A heavier oil may may it a little harder to start but that is not his problem.



Anyone wiser than me that can explain why Neils bike is so reluctant to rotate. Never had that problem myself. Could there have been something gone wrong when servicing the carb? Like a gasket obstructing float movement. Tried start spray?


Are you still there, Neil? Is it actually stiff to turn over, or just unwilling to start? Or starts but unwilling to run?  Does it spin easily with the plugs out? I started my Dommie a couple of weeks ago, after neglecting it for several months and it took a couple of minutes to get going properly. 


Good evening 

I put new plugs in and still would not start.... so stripped everything again carb, cables..... 

reset pilot screw to Haynes manual setting... 

tried again and nothing, tried bumping again.... started and ran well but was revving fast... 

turned her off and tried to kick again but would not start.  It kicks over but won’t start.... 

then was speaking to a friend in the village and I mentioned that I had messed with the two screws... and that I had reset pilot screw and screwd the throttle screw all the way in...... 

he then told me that was wrong and to unscrew the throttle screw.... 

I did this tonight and a few good kicks she started........ 

now just got to set it up to tick over.... as it cut out when I let go of the throttle.... and tried kicking over again and again she started.... 

will have a play again tomorrow evening.  any hints or tips ???  thank you all for your help... 




You need a manual. Meanwhile, download the Amal carburettor tuning instructions. Various sites have copies. You probably won't need to worry about changing slide or main jets if it worked OK before but it will tell you which adjuster screw does what.

peter  now I have no needed of any type of Job any more  And I do not disagree with the NOC as this is not  about the NOC  as you seem to make threads personal  against me,  for some reason, and you seem to make simple engineering into a major engineering job,   So the question is are you disagree with Castrol's data  gearbox oils As they have Made ST90 for gearboxes with Yellow metals plain bearings, And these threads are only advisory  And I urge  owners to do there own research As there are lots of other threads on the internet out there,  yours  anna j


There is a lot of misinformation out there about the effect of modern gear oils on 'yellow metals'. All GL4 and GL5 oils are required to pass the ASTM D130 copper corrosion test, as were their predecessors. So you can, IMHO, use a modern gear oil to either of these specs in you gearbox. These universal test methods are backed by extensive field testing and subject to rigerous quality control. Where the anti scuff agents used are aggressive towards bushes, then corrossion inhibitors are added to the formulation to inhibit attack.


Never trust random posts on the web, Anna.  Charles knows what he is talking about.  The problem with the web is that 99% of its content has been copied from somewhere else.  It scares me that, as books disappear, we can't trust anything we read.

I hope Charles will confirm but, as I understand it, hypoid gear oils are really intended for gears where sliding contact is dominant, like worm drives and skew gears.  Since the Norton box has straight cut gears, hypoid gear oils aren't needed anyway, and we might as well use engine oil just as the manufacturer stated.

I'm trying to think where a hypoid gear oil might be a benefit, and the only place I can think of is the worm drive to the oil pump.  And that's in engine oil anyway.


Neil - any more news on your bike?  Sounds like it's sorted?


Hi Neil,

A small but often overlooked element in the starting procedure of most bikes and not only Norton is that when cracking open the throttle a little prior to kickstarting is to make sure that you hold the front brake lever in. The reason for this is to prevent the throttle being rotated round too much so as to excessively lift the carburettor  slide . One sees many motorcyclists rotating the throttle automatically far too much as they operate the kickstart lever. 

The choke is on when the lever is moved anticlockwise . Shortly after firing up my Dominator 99 I rotate the lever fully clockwise to the fully open position.



The throttle cable seems a bit to long also, found the product number and invoice for the cable I purchased from noville... it’s for the mono bloc carb.

called nor vile today and he has posted me out the correct cable for the Amal concentric carb... so hopefully that will help and once I set up the carb correctly it will be happy riding from there... 

the cable I have now has a lot of play... 





hello now, all this information about Castrol ST90  is from Castrol them selfs and has nothing what so ever from me  I am just a messenger  Now Ask your selfs this Why Has Castrol made ST90  As it says it was formulated for Gearboxes that have brass or bronze bushings as plain bearings  just like our Norton have,  And this is Fairy new type of Gearbox oil that Castrol As Formulated  For Classic Vehicles  Yours   Anna J    


If  you look at the technical sheet on this oil, you will note that it is a GL4 quality product. As such it is almost certainly different in formulation from the product recommended by Norton all those years ago


hello Now your all missing the point GL4 and GL5 are not suitable for Norton Gearboxes  Has Norton Gearbox are not under extreme presser, And the Gears has Brass Or Bronze Sleeve type bushing known as yellow metals, And in the last 10 years   Castrol have formulated a GL3  oil for Classic and Vintage Cars and Motorcycles known as ST90  Now see castors own data sheet  below        yours anna j


By what evidence do you claim that GL4/5 oils are unsuitable for Norton gearoxes ?

  If, as the equipment  manufactures agree, the ASTM D130 copper corrosion test included in the API sequences ensures that there is no risk to bushes etc in their gearboxes, and that the requirements for GL4/5 are higher than those for the obsolete earlier specifications. Why would they not be suitable for use in Norton gearboxes ?

As I said earlier, their is a lot of misinformation out there on the net.



Hello So Castrol's own date sheet is disinformation then is this what you are now saying and GL3 ST90 is no good at all then. And you lot know better then Castrol at make these oils I rest my case.   Yours. Anna j 



Norton themselves recommended EP90 (it says so in my factory workshop manual!)  So you disagree with the actual makers of our bikes as well!

It says in on the spec sheet of Castrol ST90 that it is 'For gearboxes and differentials where a non low EP gear oil specified'

One might wonder if Castrol marketed ST90 to cater to the paranoia surrounding this and so shift/sell on a lower spec oil.  



I'd be a bit worried about putting ' Fairy new type of gearbox oil' in my gearbox. 

Fairies know less about making gear oil than my dog!  


As stated above Castrol offer both GL3 and GL4 products for 'classic applications' As to knowing more than Castrol. This is simply a silly remark since it is not Castrol who state ,erroneously, that GL4 /5 oils are not suitable for Norton gearboxes. As the tribologistfor the company from whom they bought the additive formulations used in their oils, I had excellent relations with them on the proffesional level. As to ,they are now part of BP  and  now are not the company who formulated oils in the 50's.

P.S. you ignorred my point about evidence of harm and why ASTM D130 is not guarantee of non corrosion of bushes.




Again have you read that article? or have you just skimmed it for evidence? I suspect the latter.  The following paragraphs are copied from the first page.

'History: The gear oils of a few decades ago had lead additives that were effective at wear reduction, but not very good for the environment. A long time ago they began to be replaced by gear oils with a phosphorous additive (in itself a decent anti-wear additive) with active sulfur to grip hold of the gears and create a very solid sacrificial layer of material that could be worn off, thereby protecting the gear surface. Eventually it was discovered that the active sulfur was causing corrosion of brass and other soft metals used in differentials and transmissions. Somewhere around 30 years ago a deactivated or buffered sulfur was developed that would react with the phosphorous to create the protective/sacrificial layer in the conditions created in the gear boxes (temperature and pressure) without being corrosive to the brass, copper, etc. This additive system is used in most gear oils today. The problems arise when we try or need to use the same product in the transmission that we use in the differential. Many people have called oil companies and been told by the “Techs” that answer their questions that their oils have buffered sulfur and therefore are not corrosive to yellow metals, so their GL-5 oils can be used with brass components. While that answer is totally correct, it does not address the question asked: Can I use your GL-5 in my synchromesh transmission?

 Stick to putting your Fairy oil in your manxman, It actually might fly!   Not!


I detect a reaction here that is a little upsetting for new members to experience. I live in farming countryside, and one oil fits all in old tractors, nobody cares as long as it runs. Fence wire and baling twine do most repairs, the only blot on the horizon are the Green Loonies trying to save the Planet with their windmills and solar panels. In all old Nortons, engines that go round are a bonus. We should be gratefull that there are no nasty modern things they call computers. Imagine the forum pages that would be taken up with computer faults.

I love technical stuff, so oil used to be Castor Oil, nasty smelly and causes cancer in anyone who lives too long. All the WW1 pilots got covered in it and were too black and slippery to catch by the Germans. They all suffered a side effect commonly known as the screaming trots. This particular oil is very good for ancient engines and gearboxes, but it oxidises and forms a nasty coatng when hot, lovelly smell, and makes your old sidevalve Norton ten miles an hour faster, and black inside! They won the TT on it, didn't they. Then whales donated their Blubber (fat) to the public, this makes steam engines go round and up and down, its very smelly, and gives you Cancer. It was used to make your rattly old Norton on the machine tools. All the modern stuff is made from Bones (fossils), thats what the Greens tell us. Now as we are saving the ungrateful Planet, oil is made from treated eco unfriendly gas. So as everything is made from something the Planet supplies, we should be grateful that someone somewhere has put all this together and made something of use for us to argue about. It is of course your old Norton Motorcycle, and some engines power your old farm tools too. Have a nice day everyone.


Norton Owners Club Website by White-Hot Design

Privacy Policy