Skip to main content
000000 000001 000002 000003 000004 000005 000006 000007 000008 000009 000010 000011 000012 000013 000014 000015 000016 000017 000018 000019 000020 000021 000022 000023 000024 000025 000026 000027 000028 000029 000030 000031 000032 000033 000034 000035 000036 000037 000038 000039 000040 000041 000042 000043 000044 000045 000046 000047 000048 000049 000050 000051 000052 000053 000054 000055 000056 000057 000058 000059 000060 000061 000062 000063 000064 000065 000066 000067 000068 000069 000070 000071 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 000883 1.slide1 2.slide2 3.slide3 4.slide4 5.slide5
English French German Italian Spanish

Electric start conversion

Forums

Hi folks,

Is there a 'best' electric start conversion? Looking at the viability of converting a MKIIA and was wondering what options I have besides CWN and Alton?

Thanks Roger

Permalink

RGM are working on one but that's been a long time. For the MK2a you need to consider the black box airfilter which may clash with the CWN version.

Permalink

Correct me if I am wrong here but I think you can buy CnW parts from Holland avoiding the killer import tax from the USA.

I have used CnW parts on an 850 rebuild and have to say the quality of their parts is outstanding.

Permalink

Someone asked a similar question recently in one of the forums.

Here is my opinion - truth is they are both superbly made in terms of quality. And both companies are great to work with.

Each have their benefits and drawbacks:

Colorado Norton Works

  • + comes with a primary belt drive
  • - you cannot use the standard air filter (cNw were looking at a building a cut down ham can which maintains a classic appearance)
  • + it uses the standard alternator stator (which opens up your options for charging)
  • + wound field motor means positive or negative earth compatibility
  • + off the shelf (Harley style) motor with solenoid engagement

Alton

  • - transmission of starter torque is solely via the alternator rotor woodruff key
  • + maintains the original air filter
  • - comes with it’s own alternator (which limits your choice on charging solutions)
  • - permanent magnet motor means a modification (or Alton recommend they provide a different unit) to support negative earth installs
  • - bespoke motor using plastic shear pins to protect against backfire

Most people’s choice is driven by cost vs geography:

  • if you are in the US you buy the cNw unit
  • if you are in UK or Europe you buy the Alton.

Thinking of it like this, it means the pricing is similar.

I bucked the pattern, and got the cNw kit, and am really happy with the quality of the kit - I like Matt’s stuff. It’s a project bike, and I don’t have the air filter to consider, plus I was in the market for a belt drive too.

Either way, I feel we’re blessed to have two great choices!

cNw electric start

Two other options were available:

Old Britts - http://www.oldbritts.com/ob_3860.htm

  • This was a limited run,
  • Fred & Ella are sadly retiring
  • I this is no longer an option.

Quiet Power Drive (QPD) - http://www.quietpowerdrive.com/QPDhtm/QPDhome.htm

  • Bob ‘Ozzie’ Oswald is also in the process of retiring
  • I believe he worked with Kenny Dreer on the electric start for his concept 880 - which was Kenny’s evolution of the production Commando.
  • I worked with Bob on a belt drive project, and found his communication and timescales incredibly frustrating.

​​​​​​​Both of these systems were nice as the starter drove a crown wheel attached to the clutch basket, which made the entire setup low profile and unobtrusive.

Permalink

The compulsory belt drive with the CNW system is a negative if you prefer a chain drive as some people do (well I do!).

Permalink

agreed, and do feel free to ignore my post, as I said it's just my opinion :-)

 

Holland Norton Works do indeed list the CnW kit, but they're out of stock at the moment (see https://www.hollandnortonworks.eu/en/exclusive-commando-parts).

Buying stuff from HNW will be more complex now that Brexit has happened, but possibly less so than buying from the U.S. However, they are nearer, and Constant Trossèl is a delight to deal with.

 

In reply to by grant_tiller

Permalink

Hi Grant read with interest your post, I would like to make my own starter system for my 750 along the lines of the Old Britts one. I am trying to find out what starter Fred used, think it is a Harley Sportster? but would like to confirm before getting one. Also the ring gear, it looks to be a Harley one, if so which one or was it a special made by Fred. Would you know?

Have tried to contact Fred on order@oldbritts.com but it has bounced back presumably because Fred has retired now?

Can’t afford to buy either CNW or Alton system but could afford just a starter and ring gear as I have a belt drive and the rest of the bits I can make.

Hope you can help.

Regards

Tony

Permalink

Tony, I have gone the DIY route, KLF300 starter with internal planetary gears and a GL1100 sprag unit. Problem is it won't work with a belt drive as the sprag unit needs oil.

The Old Britts ring gear is a special due to the diameter not matching the Harley but the gear profile is a standard used on a lot of starters so can be ordered from a gear cutter once you know the profile, buy the starter and then measure the gear to determine profile.   

In reply to by grant_tiller

Permalink

I like your comments and have the same opinion.  Belt drive, only a problem if the gearbox is not fixed and blocked in the correct position. Had more than 30'000 on my first belt and only changed

before a longer trip. 

Permalink

Interesting John, have been looking at using similar, Honda, starter but on the timing side but worried that the crank drive gear would not be up to it. Article in Roadholder by a chap looking to do similar on a Dommie looks interesting and would like to see how he gets on.

Am favouring using the the starter to drive the clutch particularly with a belt fitted.

My clutch drum is 185mm dia, a few ring gears for Harleys look to be about a right diameter so was wondering if Old Britts used one of them and modified it, but which one?

 

Permalink

Mine is driveside, Norton tried the timing side but something was breaking so they dropped the idea in 72 and started from scratch again to give the MK3 design. Triumph tried timing side too and chased breaking components by adding strength to each broken part until the crankcases broke themselves and went no further.

I reduce the triplex sprocket to duplex and use Merc duplex timing chain as a primary chain, use the thinnest alternator which is the 10.5A 3 phase and with some other tweaks this gives space for the GL1100 sprag unit to run on the driveside of the crank. The starter motor sits in the magneto position as per MK3 and Alton and a chain drive runs to a sprocket behind the primary and then a shaft runs inside with another sprocket that runs a chain to the GL1100 sprag unit. I used the Honda Africa Twin and Polaris 700 twin starter setups as the basis for the starter gearing ratios. It easily spins the 750, yet to try it on an 850.

The only original parts I modify are the inner and outer primary cases, easily bought 2nd hand if the changes need reversing.

Permalink

A couple of thoughts on Grants excellent summary above

Alton - the woodruff key shouldn't be relied on for load transfer. The nut on the crankshaft needs to be torqued, and to my mind retorqued after the first good ride, so that all being compressed together transfers load between elements. Any relaxation of the sprocket on its taper will affect that compression hence my thought on retorquing. Just my opinion of course.

Alton - changing polarity. No too difficult for any who are handy with spanners, Alton can provide a nice clear instruction sheet, but they recommend returning to base rather than DIY.

Not sure its relevant, but I recall from when I looked at this option a couple of years it involved some significant engineering which was reflected in the cost - all up i recollect it was about £3200 at the time - not cheap compared to the alternatives.

Permalink

The Harley starter is a standard Nippon Denso offset gear reduction unit which is found on many, many vehicles over the last 30 years. Usually it is 1.4kW, but there are 1kW units. As it is series wound it doesn't care about polarity. The only differences between different models are the starter dogs and the casting which bolts up to the bellhousing. Crude violent things.

I am hoping that modern electronics will allow me to control the torque and avoid the problems that Norton and Triumph struggled with. As an example I can apply gentle torque and just wait until it reaches TDC, not something that Norton could have done in the '70s.

I am only aiming for a low compression 600cc, not a high comp 750cc, and so far the development is going well. The mechanical side works satisfactorily, but I have a lot of improvements in mind.

I knew about the Bonneville, but I only learned that Norton had tried this in the last week!

 

Permalink

Just for info, here a drawing from the Norton Villiers patent of the unfortunate starter-to-be:

estart

 

 

 

Norton Owners Club Website by White-Hot Design

Privacy Policy