Author Topic: Advice please - Norton Dominator  (Read 1193 times)

Online Greybeard

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Advice please - Norton Dominator
« on: 02.10. 2017 17:13 »
Hey chaps!
Our postman asked me about getting his deceased fathers Norton Dominator going again. At first I thought I'd just try and find someone online who'd be able to work on it. I'm now wondering about offering my services to do it for him. I explained that it is likely to be expensive; told him how much I spent on my BSA. I'd have to store my bike somewhere else as I don't have room for two machines in the man cave. I have a hoist and suitable spanners. Obviously I need to find out what level of finish he wants. I don't even know the age or state of the bike. I think I should be expecting payment for the work but I'm likely to be cheaper than a Norton specialist company.

What are your thoughts on this idea? Do you have knowledge of working on these bikes?

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #1 on: 02.10. 2017 19:32 »
G'day GB.
What year and model? I just downloaded a manual from here http://www.classicbike.biz/Norton/Repair/1960s/NortonRepair1960-1968.pdf
Parts list here http://www.classicbike.biz/Norton/Parts/1960s/NortonParts1961_1962.pdf
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Online Greybeard

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #2 on: 02.10. 2017 19:51 »
Thanks Musky. I don't know anything about this Norton except it's a Dominator. I'll update when I can.
Should I tackle it?

Offline Sluggo

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #3 on: 02.10. 2017 21:41 »
Depends on what you want out of the experience.  Compensation for time and knowledge?  Satisfaction for returning a classic to life?  Opportunity to learn, develop skills, and expand your horizons?

There is a severe shortage of knowledge and skill to work on vintage bikes. The key is proper compensation and managing the wide range of issues related, From psychology-counseling & education of the owner, To dealing with vendors, suppliers and related tradesman you have to outsource tasks too. (Plating, paint, machine work & welding that you might not have the resources to do yourself).  The demand is there, but few people perform all these tasks well.

I for example LOVE this sort of work, but I am a terrible business person, I have the skills and knowledge but learned I need someone else to manage certain aspects such as accounting, estimating, inventory and budgets. 

The psychology side of things should NEVER be minimized.  I have a lengthy list of stories when I ran my own shop, ran other shops or was employed by others.  There is a NEED for a book for small business owners on how to deal with staff-employees, vendors and anyone else you come in contact with.  I often sought advice from others and had one customer who ran several restaurants and clubs.  His behavior became a problem. (It did not end well and he tried to sue me-lost).  A trusted friend told me to look at the other persons perspective and in this case this person came from a culture of:
A) All employees are stealing or gifting their friends and family YOUR products
B) Customers tend to be dishonest
C) All vendors are cheating-shorting you if the opportunity presents itself
D) Cash based business so either you have to work 90 hr work weeks or have a trusted relative/spouse-close friend watching things when you are not on site.

So, I learned a lot from that experience but today, I no longer have the patience or tolerance to deal with that stuff.   I Dabble a little in this trade these days to fund my own interests but I do NOT operate a store front for the public.

But I knew Kenny Dreer very well,, (He used to live down the street from me) and he is well known in the Motorcycle world long before he revived the Norton name.  But he ran off a LOT of customers because they were too difficult to deal with. But best advice he ever gave me was
"YOU have to manage all aspects of the job, NEVER let the customer call the shots".  Seems extreme but its true in many ways.

As to the Norton itself,,, SURE!  Will be fun! Very similar to late 50s-early 60s preunit BSAs, parts sources are generally plentiful and excellent, prices are not bad and very simple designs.

They have their faults and issues just like BSA-Triumph but depending on model and year its all very manageable.   Wealth of knowledge out there.  I gave a tech talk at last years INOA Norton rally in California, and I will be attending the 2018 INOA rally in Washington state.  I can send you tons of tech material and info on Nortons of any year/model and if you need help, I am happy to do so, or point you to others as well.

I am a founding member of O.N.E (Oregon Norton Enthusiasts) and you can check out the website here: http://oregonnorton.org/
and download newsletters there as well.

And yes, I own a LOT of Nortons, from Norton America Prototypes (952/961) to several Commando's, Atlas, A wideline custom with a Buell engine, several 500 singles-1947 & 1962, and multiple Hybrids- IE: P11, N15, G15,  and  a Matchless G80CS.  I have a local Dommie project I might purchase soon,,its in sad shape but its calling my name. 

Also, I was a founding member and contributor to the world fastest Norton 500cc team, Currently holds 2 land speed records.  That whole thing is a story in itself.  500 twin using wide range of years and parts, many were Commando, sitting in a slimline featherbed frame.

Here is a picture of my good friend and Norton Guru Sir Eddy.  Eddy had the very first Manxman twin in the western US.  He also was featured on the cover of several magazines back in the day as a well respected tuner.  At one Point Berliner motors (Norton Importer) had his race team beat, and beat badly at a national race by Eddies bikes raced by Sonny Burres and TL Hoagland so being a real class act,. Berline said "I dont care who wins as long as its Norton at the finish line"
Remember that any advice received on a free internet forum is generally worth about 1/2 of what you paid for it.
We overcharge every 3rd customer to pass the savings onto you.
You can have High Quality, Low price, and fast turnaround. Pick any 2, Never all 3 at the same time.

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #4 on: 02.10. 2017 22:01 »
I would advise against working on other people's bikes unless they are good friends and they work alongside you. I find that most people who know little about bikes think that everything gets sorted with a couple of flicks of a spanner. Generally they have no idea how long and how much expertise some fairly simple (in their minds) jobs take. Whenever I get involved with other people's bikes I nearly always regret it because the jobs take twice as long as I thought they would. However, I know I'm a miserable bugger so, If you feel benevolent and you just fancy a project which somebody else will benefit from more than you, go ahead!
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Online Black Sheep

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #5 on: 02.10. 2017 22:33 »
If you are going to contemplate tackling this bike, take a long, hard look at it. It could be it needs simple recommissioning but it could need a complete rebuild. Even a simple recommissioning can be anything but simple.
Owners also expect not to spend any money on parts or your time.
A few years ago I undertook to fix my son's Norton 88 following a blow up on the autobahn. It eventually needed everything from front brake to rear brake and everything in between rebuilt. It took me 2 years of spare time and used a good chunk of my spares stash and the sad fact is he hasn't ridden it since. Hmm.
At the outset state how much you charge an hour. Make it realistic and see what the reaction is.
2 twins, 2 singles, lots of sheep

Offline Sluggo

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #6 on: 02.10. 2017 23:01 »
Sludge trap! Sludge trap! Sludge trap! (Just say'n)

Familiar with Shipwrights disease?  (Aka in military circles as "Mission Creep")

Check out this lads youtube series, (He is in our Norton club) and here is what you can expect from any vintage twin with unknown history.

See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4r2CVzzLaJc&t=860s

Norton Atlas Project – Shep – Engine Disassembly - Part 15 Conrods & Sludge Trap

" Published on Jan 9, 2017
Took advantage of a cold and snowy Sunday and spent some time in the garage splitting the crank assembly. Seeing what’s inside the sludge trap made the whole disassembly worthwhile. The cheeks came off without too much trouble and revealed a LOT of sludge in the trap. "
Remember that any advice received on a free internet forum is generally worth about 1/2 of what you paid for it.
We overcharge every 3rd customer to pass the savings onto you.
You can have High Quality, Low price, and fast turnaround. Pick any 2, Never all 3 at the same time.

Online Greybeard

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #7 on: 02.10. 2017 23:07 »
When he was admiring my Plungie I told him I spent near enough £4K restoring it so he knows this project is likely to be expensive. I will ask him if I can see the Notrun, (correct name in this instance!). I need to know if he sees the machine as a possibly valuable asset to flog or he wants to keep and ride it or a bit of both.


The idea of working on a different motorbike excites me a bit. It's a pity I don't have a large garage like I had at our previous address.


I may find myself in a position to buy the machine if he doesn't want to invest in it.


Anyway, the next sensible step will be to have look at the beast.

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #8 on: 02.10. 2017 23:13 »
Sludge trap! Sludge trap! Sludge trap! (Just say'n)

Familiar with Shipwrights disease?  (Aka in military circles as "Mission Creep"


Oh yes! I discovered that problem when I had decided to just get my A10 going...one thing leads to another, etc.


I know about sludge traps as well.

Offline jachenbach

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #9 on: 03.10. 2017 14:48 »
If you truly enjoy it, go for it. I work on other's bikes as I feel like it. Shop rates here are around $80/hour US and I charge $50/hour (helps pay for my own bike parts). Noone else within 300 miles will work on an old (or new) Guzzi. I pick and choose the jobs I'll do. Older bikes may take quite a while as life interferes with working on them. My customers have just been grateful for someone to work on them. The current V50 has been here for over 2 months due to illness and other obligations, but the owner is totally understanding. Long as the owner understands you're doing this as a FAVOR and hobby, not a full time job, it seems to work out fine.

Offline coater87

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #10 on: 06.10. 2017 22:43 »
 GB,

 My not long winded advice is if the bike interests you, buy it outright.

 Working on someone else's stuff very quickly goes from fun, to frustrating, to losing a friend or putting your own money in just to get the damn thing gone.

 Lee
Central Wisconsin in the U.S.

Offline duTch

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #11 on: 07.10. 2017 05:44 »

 
Quote
...Working on someone else's stuff very quickly goes from fun, to frustrating, to losing a friend or putting your own money in just to get the damn thing gone....

 ... or maybe not receiving important mail  *eek*
Started building in about 1977/8 a on average '52 A10 -built from bits 'n pieces never resto intended -maybe 'personalised'
Have a '74 850T Moto Guzzi since '92-best thing I ever bought doesn't need a kickstart 'cos it bump starts sooooooooo(mostly) easy
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Offline Tomcat

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #12 on: 07.10. 2017 07:35 »
GB,

 My not long winded advice is if the bike interests you, buy it outright.

 Working on someone else's stuff very quickly goes from fun, to frustrating, to losing a friend or putting your own money in just to get the damn thing gone.

 Lee




Lee, IMHO this is the best answer to GB's question.  ;)
'48 A7 '59 SR '74 850 Commando TDM900

Offline Topdad

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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #13 on: 09.10. 2017 15:58 »
how you getting on with this GB decided yet ? *dunno*
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Re: Advice please - Norton Dominator
« Reply #14 on: 09.10. 2017 16:55 »
how you getting on with this GB decided yet ? *dunno*
Hi Topdad. Thanks for asking. I haven't seen the postie for a while. When I do I'll ask if I can see the bike. If it looks worth having I may try and persuade him to sell it to me. This may be a preferable option to him. However, I will need to be happy about the price; I'm on a pension now luckily with some savings so 'Er Indoors' will have to be persuaded to the value of the transaction. If I see the machine I'll take some pictures and may come here to ask advice on an offer price.
I still have not decided whether it makes sense for me to restore the bike. If I had more room I'd be happier about the job but my own A10 will have to live outside under a cover while I work on the Dommie.