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650SS rocker spindles early 67'


Hi Everyone came across an issue with my 1967 Norton 650SS today. The rocker spindles have been turning by themselves one worse than the others they also seem quite deeply set into the head which is why the tangs on the end caps were not engaging. 

Ordered some of the locking type one piece end caps from RGM today. 

Going to replace the rocker spindles but noticed on mine although plain that they do not have the flats. Just curious were these the original types going to order some with the flats next to the oil hole on them.

Popped the timing cover off an she's fitted with the 6 start oil pump.

Got my hands full with the commando rebuild hence going down the upgraded end cap route

Spindle came out by hand. 





Hi Tom, I'm rebuilding our 67 Atlas and had exactly the same question.  I have asked those who should know ,and they don't. I can only assume its an AMC  mod in the last bit of production of the 650/Atlas.  The RGM mod works on my 99 although you have to find some 3/4"or longer stainless hex head 1/4 Whit set screws as no  Norton supplier stocks them . Google camera bolts. I have done the mod on the exhaust side only . They need several hot grub screw retightenings  and have a tendency to throw off the cover cap (locktite when happy with the job). There is not another easy solution to the wear in the head. The 99 now runs much quieter. Turn the oil holes to point away from the pushrods  (seems wrong!) but check oilway clear to ball end. If you don't do this, the High pressure system can deliver too much oil to the inlet side (which can't drain fast) and smoke the valves, The rockers need the oil to be forced to go along the bushes and not all to the ball ends ,excess oil on the exhaust side  can drain down the push rod holes in the barrels and helps the cam. The wear has occurred thro the rocker bushes not getting oil and tightening on the spindles. The above set up will fix this. On the low pressure system (99 or early 650) its different if any one is doing one. I have bought 1" camera bolts and cut down to use all the alloy thread ,don't overtighten!!. If you suffer smoky valves you can fit commando guides with seals to the inlets.If the inlet side is not worn you can with care tap the plate tags out a bit more. Perhaps someone will make some side plates with bigger tags ?? The Commando situation is also different as the sloping engine drains oil better down the tunnels.


Hi Tom,

Coincidentally I found out on Monday that I have exactly the same types of spindles and , like you, could find no reference to this type. Although my bike is a 1964 650ss I do know that the head has been changed during my ownership.

The reason I was looking at the spindles was that mine could spin in the head and I wanted to check the position of the oil feed. I originally tried new spindle locking plates from AN but these still didn't engage. After bending one of these when trying to tap the 'tangs' out I looked for another solution. The RGM option that is described above was rather expensive  but I found that Norvil do plates with deeper tangs and these do seem engage. These are slightly more expensive than the AN plates but way cheaper than the RGM option.

I also came across a method to check the location of oil feed hole on the Oldbritt's site but I haven't tried it yet.



I always source non-standard stainless bolts etc from David Middleton or one of the other generic stainless suppliers.




Hi Graham,Middletons appear to have the set screws ,the old brits tip with the wire probe is a good one. Less good is the Old Brits comment about head feeds as it does not apply to the high pressure top feeds of the late 650/750 featherbeds.


Thanks guys I really do appreciate the replies I actually have a set of the Norvil ones that I got for my Commando rebuild. Alas they didn't reach deep enough for the spindles that are in my ss and turning but do for my Commando. Once I got over the initial shock of seeing it after a huge dejavue moment relating to my Commando got the RGM ones ordered so that will be interesting to try. 

My 650SS is a one owner bike before me an the engine is brilliant apart from this one issue unlike my commando which was full of problems including blast media left in the head by the previous owner which promptly did the engine in on me. 

Being 30 now and not around when these bikes were out I'm learning as I go but lessons I've already learnt on the Commando and all her problems have helped on the SS.

Digressing slightly but that's why I'm looking forward to trying the RGM end caps as my funds are taking a beating with the Commando rebuild rather than head off and getting it dealt with.

It's interesting to see you have the same spindles Graham as no one seems to have come across them who I've spoken to I'm wondering if its something they did in early 67 before the did the ones with the flats interesting stuff.  

I did spot on Norvil they do a spacer for the rockers when fitted with the flat type wondering if a set of those would help matters when I get a new set of spindles ordered.  


I'm Curious about the spacer you mention, Is it for use with the narrow later rockers if used in the earlier head?.If so ,will only be any use if buying new rockers.The new spindles may help with the loose fit as its often the harder material that wears most.  I had thought of installing some shims at the blind end in the head.My spindles are without flats too.


ignore me totally miss read it number I was looking at was 596060  

Just a quick edit on those spacers I was banging on about miss read the parts list they are for fitting the commando rockers into a earlier list.

Hoping to have the SS back on the road by next week one thing I am curious about though everyone 6 start oil pump so high pressure feed. noticed this in the manual 

Just reading my 650ss manual part number p106/P  it will be noticed that the rocker spindles have a "flat" on one side. the spindles should be fitted with all flats facing inwards to the centre of the engine and slot spindle end lying horizontal. Now as far as I an others are aware high pressure feed requires the spindle flats to be pointing outwards.


This sort of conflicting information comes about because the manual is describing the earlier set up . with a low pressure feed . Also AMC were still learning that the high pressure feed caused as many problems as it solved . I do wonder if the Commando had a sloping engine to look racy or if it solved the oil drainage problem that the HP system and  hump in the middle of the head caused!!. If you want to fit inlet seals then you need Commando guides to retain them ,the guides may also be shorter to accommodate seals which if so would make them wear a bit faster!! .Improvements are not always good.  I have modified and "improved" the low pressure feed on the 99  , time will tell. Testing,testing,-------.


Ah thanks Robert yep certainly interesting an I agree with what you mean regarding that. With what I've read an learnt about my Commando was thinking it was a missprint 

Thanks for the reply :) 


Got the definitive answer on this today Robert was done in 66 before they machined the flats on the spindles when they first went to the six start high pressure feed. Drove down to Norvil today an got the new type spindles to fit with the flats tomorrow from Norvil and a few other bits :) exciting stuff 

Massive help fitting me in so I could get the parts should be back on the road this weekend!


Don't forget the longer bolts (set screws!) for the RGM conversion. It does not come with the kit and using the old ones will rip the threads out. far too short.


Thanks Robert I didn't realise the older ones would rip the threads just re read your post from the other day I'll get some sorted :)


Seems as though everyone has their cylinder heads off at the moment. I too am rebuilding my 650 top end this week and also have the plain rocker spindles, with no flats, in a bike with a low pressure feed to the head. My bike is a bit of a bitsa, so I had assumed that the plain spindles were a mistake possibly brought about by the non-availability of the scrolled type when the motor was last rebuilt circa '77 (it's been in the family a long time). Were they hard to get at some point? My motor has a number starting 117 so quite a few units prior to the revised oiling system and longer valves setup. Dates from about 1966?

Given that the guides are absolutely worn out, (one was loose in the head), was pouring blue smoke out of one pot at 4000 revs plus, and the bike hasn't done all that many miles since rebuilding, I think that, with plain spindles, the oil was reaching the rockers and pretty much just stopping. Insufficient oil mist getting to the valve stems would explain rapid wear, or could it be that old stuff was left in the bike in '77. Plain rocker spindles make no sense to me with the low pressure feed off the return line.

I don't recall how they were oriented as I didn't know they were plain until I took them all out. Until I gave the bike the beans keeping up with a 750 on the way to the AGM in Donington last year it has been trouble free - and was notable for having a completely oil-tight head. Now I think I know why.

In any event, I'm going back to scrolled rocker shafts for now. Call me old fashioned.



If after your refurb you find as I did that the valve chambers run pretty dry ,its possible to experiment with the return fitting in the tank and arrive at a satisfactory flow. I consider that the poor supply could also be down to the gentler usage that the bike gets so that each owner should tailor the flow in line with the use,and possibly the oil grade Higher revs and thinner oil seems to boost the lubrication to the head.I did try a jubilee size restrictor but that proved far too oily.I'm currently experimenting  running synthetic 10/40  which is probably too thin,a change to XL20/50 is next.


Thanks guys had her running today :) sound's alot sweeter now test rode as well. Actually saw my first decent set of plugs colour wise on a short trip to! Had to re adjust the valve clearances to.

Got one slight issue to sort with the primary chain being loose that's the slight noise in the video. 

Gonna adjust that in the morning or order a new one if needs be.


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