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Norton 500 Trials

Hi,

I'm very new to the NOC and need help with identifying a 500 trials, is anybody knowledgeable on the pre production bikes,many thanks, Ken

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Previously Dan Field wrote:

Sorry I can't help but I'd like to see a pic of what you have! and I expect engine and frame numbers would help anyone ID it?

cheers

dan

Hi Dan

ive not bought the bike yet as it's difficult to say if it's genuine 500 trials or just a copy, it has a engine from a 1953 Model 18, the frame from what I have worked out is a WD 16 H of 1940 vintage. It has mostly genuine 500 trials parts, Alfin top end, BTH mag, trials forks (Roadholder) single bolt tank etc. it has a good provenance so I am hoping its a pre production 500T put together around 1947. Worst case it's was put together by an unknown person but it's not hiding any of its history so it's not really a fake as such. If I buy it I'm sure I will post lots of questions to the very knowledgeable members of this great club.

cheers

Ken

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Interesting, I don't know anything about pre production models if indeed there were any, but if it's a 500t I'd expect it to have the fork yolks with much reduced offset, ie not normal long roadholders, it should also have slightly different geometry to the standard framevand a shorter wheelbase. But you probably know that already!

Can you see what has happened to the original tank mounting brackets, are they still on the frame?

Mine is a heavily modded pre featherbed swing arm ES2, with amc gearbox and bantam 21" front wheel.

Dan

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Previously Dan Field wrote:

Interesting, I don't know anything about pre production models if indeed there were any, but if it's a 500t I'd expect it to have the fork yolks with much reduced offset, ie not normal long roadholders, it should also have slightly different geometry to the standard framevand a shorter wheelbase. But you probably know that already!

Can you see what has happened to the original tank mounting brackets, are they still on the frame?

Mine is a heavily modded pre featherbed swing arm ES2, with amc gearbox and bantam 21" front wheel.

Dan

Hi,

I don't really know much about the 500T, I've read the history sections many times to try and work out what was going on pre & post war but it seems like there was a development period prior to the 1948 launch of the 500 T, the fork yokes appear to be road bike but I have never seen a real 500 T to see the difference, a pic would be nice if you could post one, I'll try to download a pic of the bike but not sure what will happen, only got an iPad at the moment. Your thoughts on its value would also be good. The wheelbase is 57 inches, don't know what it should be, there is an original tank mount just in front of the seat. Hopefully a pic will appear next !!

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Nice pics, it has a Wellworty Alfin head & barrels, looking at other pics I see that genuine 500 T frames have a rear tank mount by the seat mount as well.

ken

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A very nice looking bike, that someone has taken a lot of trouble to build. However, with a 40's frame, and a 50's engine, it is a well built replica. Nothing wrong with that, if the price is right, and it is not being described as a factory built.

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Previously John Shorter wrote:

A very nice looking bike, that someone has taken a lot of trouble to build. However, with a 40's frame, and a 50's engine, it is a well built replica. Nothing wrong with that, if the price is right, and it is not being described as a factory built.

My my dilema is John, what is the right price?

Ken

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Has it got a standard ES2/18 front end on it, though? The forks look too raked out for a 500T. In which case it has standard roadster yokes, and the front brake does not appear to be correct. Does it have trials gear ratios, with extra-low first?

It does look nice, but value is something else. For example, a Triumph TR5 rigid. An original could fetch £10k, whilst a replica, built using a TRW military sidevalve frame (which the TR5 used), may struggle to make much more than half that, and be harder to sell, whilst looking, and in effect being, exactly the same bike.

Likewise, there are many AMC 'trial/trail' bikes out there, roadsters which have been converted to have off-road pretensions, which are barely worth half that of a genuine competition machine, in some cases considerably less than that.

It depends what you want, as it has no real investment value, whereas a genuine 500T has.

As John said, a nice bike at the right price, which is really what you feel it is worth to you, as a bike to use. You could tell us what the vendor is asking for it.......

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Previously ian_cordes wrote:

Has it got a standard ES2/18 front end on it, though? The forks look too raked out for a 500T. In which case it has standard roadster yokes, and the front brake does not appear to be correct. Does it have trials gear ratios, with extra-low first?

It does look nice, but value is something else. For example, a Triumph TR5 rigid. An original could fetch £10k, whilst a replica, built using a TRW military sidevalve frame (which the TR5 used), may struggle to make much more than half that, and be harder to sell, whilst looking, and in effect being, exactly the same bike.

Likewise, there are many AMC 'trial/trail' bikes out there, roadsters which have been converted to have off-road pretensions, which are barely worth half that of a genuine competition machine, in some cases considerably less than that.

It depends what you want, as it has no real investment value, whereas a genuine 500T has.

As John said, a nice bike at the right price, which is really what you feel it is worth to you, as a bike to use. You could tell us what the vendor is asking for it.......

Hi Ian

it was advertised as a 1948 500T but when I looked into the numbers and told him it was not a genuine bike he took it off the market. I must say the seller was not aware of it. I don't live in England at the moment, neither does the bike, and like you say it is not something to invest in but it is a nice bike!! He won't drop below £3500 and I don't want to struggle to sell it after I've enameled the frame & painted it. All in all I think it's a fair price but would probably do better waiting for something a bit more useable.

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Looking at your photos I think that its unlikely that this bike is a pre production 500T, probably more likely to be a 500T special put together 20 or so years ago. As you probably know the original 500T was developed by Rex Mcandless (designer of the featherbed frame) using a WD frame and crutially his own "reversed" fork yokes which he made initially by cutting up standard Roadholder yokes, reversing them and brazing them back together to give a shorter wheel base and quicker steering. Prior to this Norton offered a "trials spec" model 18 which was little different to the roadster except for wheel sizes, tanks, exhaust system and gearing. The forks in your photo are standard Roadholders which when fitted to the WD frame gives a distinctly chopper type look. Some 500Ts were robbed of their fork yokes to be fitted to Manxes as they were reckoned to give sharper steering so some 500Ts may have ended up with the standard yokes. The correct yokes are hard to find. I don't know if anyone is making replicas and its quite a job to alter the standard yokes to 500T type. On the plus side this bike has the correct alloy top end and what looks like a 500T petrol tank but not a 500T oil tank, gearbox or front wheel and it would make a fun road bike but would be a handful for trials use with these fork yokes. I've attached a photo of my 500T, you can see the front wheel is much closer to the frame than in your photo and the wheelbase is approximately 54" depending on rear wheel position. Some more shots to follow of the yokes on the 500T and standard yokes on my featherbed model 19 special. Regarding values, good original or well restored 500Ts can go for upwards of £10,000. I think a special like this one would be worth possibly 1/3 of that.

All the best, Tony

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Previously anthony_leedal wrote:

Looking at your photos I think that its unlikely that this bike is a pre production 500T, probably more likely to be a 500T special put together 20 or so years ago. As you probably know the original 500T was developed by Rex Mcandless (designer of the featherbed frame) using a WD frame and crutially his own "reversed" fork yokes which he made initially by cutting up standard Roadholder yokes, reversing them and brazing them back together to give a shorter wheel base and quicker steering. Prior to this Norton offered a "trials spec" model 18 which was little different to the roadster except for wheel sizes, tanks, exhaust system and gearing. The forks in your photo are standard Roadholders which when fitted to the WD frame gives a distinctly chopper type look. Some 500Ts were robbed of their fork yokes to be fitted to Manxes as they were reckoned to give sharper steering so some 500Ts may have ended up with the standard yokes. The correct yokes are hard to find. I don't know if anyone is making replicas and its quite a job to alter the standard yokes to 500T type. On the plus side this bike has the correct alloy top end and what looks like a 500T petrol tank but not a 500T oil tank, gearbox or front wheel and it would make a fun road bike but would be a handful for trials use with these fork yokes. I've attached a photo of my 500T, you can see the front wheel is much closer to the frame than in your photo and the wheelbase is approximately 54" depending on rear wheel position. Some more shots to follow of the yokes on the 500T and standard yokes on my featherbed model 19 special. Regarding values, good original or well restored 500Ts can go for upwards of £10,000. I think a special like this one would be worth possibly 1/3 of that.

All the best, Tony

Thanks Tony,

Very useful info & pics, I will probably pass on this one

Cheers, Ken

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Tony, I'm pleased to see the 500T getting dirty!

Ken, values are subjectiive, it's worth what someone is willing to pay. I paid £2600 for mine, although it came with a load of bits to convert it back to a road bike if I wanted it also has matching numbers. I'd have thought ithe one you are looking at was worth nearer £5k if it's all been done, although I think it would help if it had the right forks, I'm going to have a look at reversing the bottom yolk as I have a spare set of roadholders but I thought they were cast, and if it was easy someone cleverer than me would have done it already! Although the headstock has been altered on mine and it has a wheelbase of about 54" like the 500T so I don't need the mod. Not that I've been able to ride it yet to test the handling. I bought mine to use for fun trials which are held on the day before the classic scrambles I enter, and for the many green lanes on my doorstep. I've got a jubilee for the road ....... what more do I need!

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Ken. From what you have shown us, I think it is worth £3.5k. That doesn't get much in the way of classic bikes theses days. It would leave some money for finishing, including possibly getting alloy yokes made. They would not look original, but would give the correct trail to make the bike work off road. You would then have a very nice bike. Or, put another 6.5k to it and wait for a nice original one to turn up, and then be afraid to use it off road because of it's value! A correct front brake may turn up in time, if you wanted to go further with it.

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Hmm i'm not so sure, £3.5k seems cheap? I haven't seen a running Norton (other than a lightweight) that cheap for ages, it worth that in bits surely? I think l'd have it for that assuming wheels, engine and gearbox are all good.

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Any chance of the engine and frames numbers??? I have a stack of 500T records and reports I could look through.

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Phil & all there seems to be a lot of interest in this bike so here is the story so far.

ive had a VMCC check on the engine number, it's stamped 47654 H3, making it a 1953 Model 18 built October 21st 1952 sent to GW Motors, Reading. Frame number W 24034 from looking at a Dutch WD site it is of 1940ish vintage. Not sure when he bought the bike but up til 1999 it was owned by Eric Carlsson the famous Swedish rally driver and brother in law to Sir Stirling Moss, google him and his Norton connection. He then sold to his good friend who had it another 9 years, he sold it to a Norweigan man who some time later swapped it for two vintage Husky trial bikes, it has the paper trail going back to 1999. An interesting story but sadly Erik Carlsson passed away this year so I'm not sure who put all the bits together but it was a long time ago.

Tony, how can you tell it has the wrong gearbox, do you think it's from the Model 18 like the engine?

attached is a pic of the frame number, hard to make out & possibly another number underneath it, if I buy it I will try the forensic / chemical route to see what's going on.

A Big thanks to all for all the info, comments & pics,keep them coming, all gratefully received.

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Ken

There is virtually nothing on your shown bike that is original 500T. I spent a couple of years researching 500T's before finding an original one owner from new 1949 500T, and I did learn that there are twice as many 500T's out there than Norton ever made !

As a guide for you, Tony's bike is almost spot-on, with scalloped front wheel and re-inforced brake plate, correct lower front guard stay with flat 'stand' plate. Correct rake to the forks, and the shortened rear sub-frame. Near vertical drop on the exhaust pipe. Doll's head gearbox with 500T only short (1/2") kickstart boss on the alloy end cover, with a matching short kickstart shaft, and spring. Manx alloy mudguards should have a riveted in alloy re-inforcing strip inside them. Manx chainguard. Manx pressed steel choke & a/r lever. Manx spun alloy cup fitted in a rubber mount with metal ring for the chronometric speedo, which had it's own unique serial no. Rear mudguard stays with brackets welded on for competion no. plates. Rear stand with spring on the left side. Lightweight steel oil tank with a vertical filler neck. Ultra thin steel petrol tank with dull chrome finish. Later ones were painted due to chrome shortage. Owners often dented the front of the tanks to get more steering lock. A lot of the 500T 'lookalikes' have alloy tanks. Rubber Dunlop seat, many have now perished, but good copies are available from Sammy Miller. Heavy steel footrests with 3 distinct large holes drilled in them. Engines and frames always had the number prefix 3T. Spec. did change a little as time went on.

The list goes on. All this and more in Roy Bacon's book 'Norton Singles', and Don Morley's book 'Classic British Trials Bikes.' A good picture of a perfect 500T in February of this years N.O.C. calendar. Also in 'Roadholder' 285, July 2011, Mike Pemberton has a good article with pictures of a pair of totally original bikes.

Don't let all of this put you off, if the bike you are looking at starts and rides well, and the price seems about right, go out and have some fun on it!

Roger.

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Ken,

Looking at your photo it appears to me that the gearbox is not a 500T type. Its a little hard to tell from a side on photo but I think it has the longer kickstart shaft so the box could be from a 16H or model 18. I've attached a photo of the gearbox end on my 500T which shows the kickstart and its shaft. The distance from the front of the gearbox to the inside of the kickstart lever is 1 1/2". I don't have the other type of gearbox to measure but I think this distance will be 3/4 to 1" longer on these boxes. The other and most important difference is that the 500T gearbox ratios are different. The 3 lower gears are quite close together so they can be used in trials sections and then there is a big jump to top which means the 500T still has a good turn of speed on the road. Mine is good for 70 ish flat out but it is on overall road gearing and its happiest at 55 to 60mhp. I agree with others on the forum that I think £3,500 would be reasonable for this bike even though its really a collection of different bits. It would still make a good fun road bike. Don't worry too much about repainting or making it shiny, just have fun with it as it is. The Eric Carlsson connection gives it a bit of historical provenance but probably won't increase the value significantly.

Best wishes, Tony

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This an interesting hybrid, those with more knowledge can say what it's built of , certainly not original 500 t but it looks like a pre featherbed swing arm frame to me which is why it doesn't have a trials tyre (it only just fits in)the swing arm) but the down tube is wrong and the ad says the numbers match. In anyevent someone has done a lot of nice work

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1954-Norton-500T-Trials-Bike-twin-shock-pre-65-/121815758215?hash=item1c5cc8f587:g:zmEAAOSwsFpWSM83

Dan

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Well it's at £3500 already with a week to go, bets on what it will reach? I'm guessing £5,000. Which would prove my valuation of course!

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Dan, yes it is an interesting one as you say and at first I thought it may have been a Rex McCandless swinging arm conversion of a rigid 500T. He did quite a few of these on Norton and other makes in the 1950s and 60s but I'm sure you are correct in that it is a modified swinging arm Norton frame. The front downtube has been chopped and the engine cradle removed for more ground clearance. It has the 8" front brake as used in the last 500Ts, not sure about the forks. The front wheel is quite close to the frame, could be 500T yokes or maybe the frame has been altered for a steeper head angle like the frame on your bike (how does it steer?). Someone has put a lot of work into building it and it's a good looking bike with the 500T tank, alloy top end and that upswept pipe, although the silencer will soon burn your leg, but why go to all this trouble if a 400 rear tyre cannot be used? The front tyre is an enduro or motocross type and could not be used in pre 65 or twin shock events. Perhaps it was intended for green lane use, but the neat rear chain oiler and tucked away speedo suggest more serious competition intent. The matching numbers could mean the bottom end of the engine and the frame belong together, or of course the numbers may have been restamped (perish the thought!). The rear brake pedal is awful and would dig in on a narrow gully and the footrests are too low just like the original 500T. It will be interesting to see how much it goes for.

All the best, Tony

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Previously anthony_leedal wrote:

Looking at your photos I think that its unlikely that this bike is a pre production 500T, probably more likely to be a 500T special put together 20 or so years ago. As you probably know the original 500T was developed by Rex Mcandless (designer of the featherbed frame) using a WD frame and crutially his own "reversed" fork yokes which he made initially by cutting up standard Roadholder yokes, reversing them and brazing them back together to give a shorter wheel base and quicker steering. Prior to this Norton offered a "trials spec" model 18 which was little different to the roadster except for wheel sizes, tanks, exhaust system and gearing. The forks in your photo are standard Roadholders which when fitted to the WD frame gives a distinctly chopper type look. Some 500Ts were robbed of their fork yokes to be fitted to Manxes as they were reckoned to give sharper steering so some 500Ts may have ended up with the standard yokes. The correct yokes are hard to find. I don't know if anyone is making replicas and its quite a job to alter the standard yokes to 500T type. On the plus side this bike has the correct alloy top end and what looks like a 500T petrol tank but not a 500T oil tank, gearbox or front wheel and it would make a fun road bike but would be a handful for trials use with these fork yokes. I've attached a photo of my 500T, you can see the front wheel is much closer to the frame than in your photo and the wheelbase is approximately 54" depending on rear wheel position. Some more shots to follow of the yokes on the 500T and standard yokes on my featherbed model 19 special. Regarding values, good original or well restored 500Ts can go for upwards of £10,000. I think a special like this one would be worth possibly 1/3 of that.

All the best, Tony

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Re Anthony Leedal's photos, the last one of a complete 500T shows another major difference between the 500T frame and other rigid frames of the 30s & 40s and that is the front petrol tank mounting. The front of the petrol tank at the bottom each side has a metal loop holding a rubber bush. The frame front down tube has a horizontal bar with a short rod at each end over which the rubber bushes slide. The tank is secured near the back by a single bolt. .

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Previously Dan Field wrote:

Cinic!!

Anybody know what the vertically stamped engine numbers are ? The bike I was looking at had them.

 

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