Some years ago - I'm talking early eighties when I was young and obsessed with small Japanese two strokes - my dad came home with a wreck of a Norton on his trailer. It was some sort of rough cafe racer. Within days he had the engine out and taken the frame and other parts for another project he and his cousin were working on. He dumped the engine and gearbox to the back of the garage where it sat for years. When I asked what plans he had for it he just shrugged and said he didn't know but it was "all wrong". After he died this engine and other Norton bits and pieces came into my possession. Recently and since I have now got the Norton bug I decided to have a look at this engine myself. The engine number tells me that its a 1958 99 but it has magneto ignition and an alternator. It has a downdraught head fitting onto barrels with no spigot. The head has the groove for a spigot though. I would have thought that would have caused some confusion in the combustion chamber no? Anyway, obviously somebody has thrown this together from various engines. But just thinking what I could do with it. But first I would like some confirmation what I have here. Was the combination of magneto and alternator only specific to the nomad at that time? Was there anything else that was only common to the nomad engine wise? If a Nomad, is the gearbox any different internally considering that the Nomad was a scrambler? I believe the nomad used a higher compression but the pistons look identical to standard 99 pistons. I haven't split the crankcases yet by the way. At the moment I'm thinking that if I could swap the downdraught head for a standard 99 head and get some barrels and pistons I might be back to a standard nomad if everything is right at the bottom end. I have a wideline rolling chassis it could go in. Please forgive my naivety here but I'm learning all the time. Any opinions appreciated.
Sounds like you have the basis for a late 1958 wideline 99 or a cafe racer . If fitted with a single carb manifold the later head would blend in fairly well. You would need 650 SS header pipes. Ignore the head recess ,won't cause a problem . The Nomad has a single downtube older style frame and very difficult to find tinware. Go with what you have. Usable 99/650 barrels are very hard to find . Take care of yours.And the pistons. Rings can be found.
Thanks for your comments Robert. I see now that any ambition of building up a Nomad from what I have was fantasy. As you point out the frame is the older single downtube and finding the tinware etc would be a nightmare. I'm actually currently working on building a 650SS cafe racer and don't really see the point of having another. But since your comment I've been thinking on other lines. I now know that the Nomad is a rather rare bird. There may well be someone in the world who really wants the engine and gearbox of mine (that's if it is indeed a Nomad engine). So I'm thinking perhaps to sell it to someone who could really use it to complete what is a rare machine and I could use the proceeds to buy myself an early 88 engine to go in my wideline frame. I've never experienced an 88 but I hear that they were really sweet and smooth. I've yet to split the cases so who knows what I'll find in there but I plan to rebuild it just for the pleasure and experience. I appreciate that I would be unlikely to recoup the cost of this. But I would know exactly what I have for selling purposes.
The Nomad engines were stamped with 15 for 600cc, and 16 for a 500cc. The frame will also be stamped with either the number 15 tor 16. There are many Nomad parts being produced, but the frame was an ES2, and not the Model 77, as listed in the Norton History books. I wrote a very comprehensive history of the Nomads for Roadholder, magazine, and it was presented in three consecutive issues. The Nomads were made from 1958 to January 1960, and only just over 350 were made and dispatched. The Nomads specification can vary enormously, so it will be down to the year and even the month that they were produced.
The short-lived Model 77 had a 600cc Model 99 engine that was also stamped with 15 on its cases. These arived in 1957 and also had magneto ignition but a dynamo up front for power. 1958 saw the 77, 88 and 99 all in production but the latter two gained an alternator and coil ignition while the 77 appears to have soldiered on with its original electrics.
This engine of mine isn't a Nomad. Engine is stamped 14N so that tells me its a 99. Thanks Anthony for pointing me in the right direction. I see now that it's actually rather easy to ascertain from published lists of engine numbers and model codes but I got drawn into the curious fact that it is a 1958 99 with magneto ignition and alternator. But maybe it isn't a curiosity at all and people more in the know than me might tell me that there are a few about but that's not what the books I have say.
Since I've established that I have a standard 99 engine and not a Nomad, I'm still pondering as to why my 1958 99 has a magneto and alternator arrangement. From this very website which concurs with other books I have it states referring to the Model 99.
"The original magneto and dynamo electrics were replaced in 1958 by a coil, distributor and alternator set up"
I accept that it may be possible and probably likely that some 99s were made with the magneto and alternator as with the newly released Nomad in 1958. However, could it be feasible that someone in the past has used a timing side crankcase from something else and converted to magneto? From my limited knowledge I would have thought that this would be very unwise since I always thought that crankcases were cast together to ensure a perfect match. Before I make plans to put this engine to use myself or sell it, I think its rather important to know.
On the back left side of your engine should be some stamped numbers and letters. See attachment for example.
If you have 99C then your engine was originally built with an alternator and distributor igniition. If it just has 99 then it would have sported magneto ignition.