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  Latest News:           Last Updated : 20/07/07      
Well, as now seems customary, I am writing this article from a very pretty holiday apartment overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, in very un-English (i.e. hot and sunny!) weather conditions, in late July 2007. As always, this seems to be the only time of the year I get the opportunity to properly update the website and finish off all those updates and articles I started in the Christmas Holiday's! Every now and again I try to tear myself away to do something with the kids as well, but, well there are only so many Ibizathean dross shops you can visit . . .
I am pleased to report that this time that I was not the only tourist sad enough to have bought his laptop with him on holiday. My wife pointed out to me another bloke sat in a corner of the hotel bar the other night, tapping away on his own.
Clearly his wife and family, like mine, are so embarrassed they have banished him to sit on his own with only a drink for company - terrible!

Holiday Shot 1

Lounging in Ibiza with my two daugthers, Abigail and Stephanie. Not a bike to be seen!

Holiday Web Site Work

Catching up on the website updates, while looking out at the Mediteranean. Well there are worse places to work from . . .

Anyway, it’s been an interesting year and a lot of water has gone under the bridge, particularly from a cammy Norton perspective. First though, I would like to say a big thank you again to all those of you have sent emails and contacted me in the last year. It is always nice to think someone out there is occasionally reading the site, and I welcome everyone's comments and observations. It is touching that the majority of the feedback is so positive, and I will try and repay that by trying to include more new articles over the coming months.

The On-Line SOHC Parts Catalog
One of the main developments in the last year has been a subtle move to try and develop further the catalog of parts I am able to offer on-line, mainly for the Norton SOHC engine, and slowly to expand out from this as well, although I will try and keep the emphasis on competition parts for historic motorcycles.
Although still relatively small in volume, I have tried to keep this in line with what I know I can deliver, as I am aware how infuriating it can be to place an order then have to wait for parts. I am already finding a couple of parts that are proving hard to replenish (and apologies to those of you waiting for copper bevel nut washers), but overall it has been a very positive year and I would very much like to thank all those of you that have trusted enough to place orders with me, I have valued your custom and hope you have not been disappointed.


Oldham Couplings

Oldham couplings - A trial batch of another part I hoping to offer soon


For me, I cannot be sure what direction this part time endeavour will take in the long-term, but I started it as a more economic method of providing parts for my own rebuilds and being able to share these parts with others, and paramount has always been to ensure that quality of product overrides all other considerations. While I am still enjoying the challenges of providing these parts, and am able to maintain the quality and service I would expect myself, I will continue with it, and with luck will continue to expand it further.
If you would like to know more about the new products I am able to offer, or those in the pipeline, I have introduced a new webpage, accessible directly from my RacingVincent Homepage (the animated banner with the yellow background) or by pressing the link here: Latest Product Review

By the way, one thing I would like to say about the direction the website is taking; I never set out to make the website a commercial site, to sell product or advertise. That said, as I am now selling some parts, inevitably there is a medium to be found where I can advertise this merchandise, but hopefully not lose the more ‘human’ viewpoint I try to aim for in the articles. I welcome your views, but up to now the most gratifying feedback I have received is that this still seems to be the case. I will try to keep site of that in the coming year.

New Articles and WebPages
Although I have tried hard (no really!), I’ve failed miserably in the last six months to publish any more articles, either for the Norton’s or Vincent restoration. However, I hope to rectify this in the next two months. I recently finished an article on assembling the Norton cambox, which will be published along with this update, but I also have the following articles to follow shortly:
Norton International
  - International Engine Articles:
More Norton International engine articles, to finish off this series, as well as an update on work since it was built
SOHC Manx Engine
    - SOHC Manx Engine Articles:
A new series of articles on the SOHC pre-featherbed 30M (Manx Grand Prix) square head engine, which will include a step by step photographic account of a rebuild I have recently undertaken of one of these engines, for my pre-war 'Big Plunger' Manx
BTH KD1 Magnetos
- BTH KD1 Magneto Articles:
At least one article covering the BTH KD1 magneto, and some tips on how to refurbish them

Manx Tank - Before

Bolt-Thru 1948 Manx Tank - Before

    - Petrol Tank Restoration:
A short series of articles on how to refurbish petrol tanks and the methods I use to get those very distinctive Norton panel lines, an area of restoration I have always enjoyed doing myself (well maybe 'enjoy' is not quite the right word . . . )

Manx Tank - After

And the same tank - After

Projects and Bikes Update:
Vincent Engine

Vincent Black Lightning Replica: Nope, sorry, still haven’t made any progress on this in the last year. I am coming under increasing pressure from friends and family (well some family and Titch mainly – my wife and daughters aren’t bothered in the slightest!) to make a move on it though, so I might try and get the big lumps put together this autumn.

    1938 Racing Inter: Actually, I have had quite a few problems with this bike lately. I have an unusual loss of power at the top end, and a recent top end rebuild (loose exhaust valve seat and subsequent bent valve) has failed to cure it. It was out at the Festival 1000 Bike Festival, but I bought it in early as all was clearly not well. Before continuing with any of my projects I want to get this fixed, so I can do a few more sprints.
    1938 ‘Big Plunger’ (Manx) Outfit: As some may know, I have owned Titch Allen’s last sidecar outfit for about 3 years now, what he tongue in cheek referred to as his ‘Posing Outfit’. Although fettling it slightly (it had been laid up for approx 9 years) and fitting a refurbished front conical hub and modern 21” competition rubber, it remains almost exactly as he last ran it. It is currently fitted with a 600cc pushrod engine, but the chassis is actually a very rare customer version of the first Norton ‘plunger’ type frame, which was used by the Works team in 1936-38. These frames are distinguishable from the later ‘Gardengate’ plunger frame, as the rear plungers are much bigger in diameter and have an alloy top cap. ‘Works’ frames are usually identifiable by a mass of lightening holes in these plunger castings, giving rise to the other common name for them - ‘Pepperpot’ frames. I don’t believe customer frames were supplied with these holes, although I have seen a couple with them, which may have been added later.
    My intention was (and ‘is’ eventually) to replace the pushrod engine with a more correct full magnesium SOHC Manx Grand Prix spec engine, with a square head, which just started to become available in ‘38-39. I would then like to restore the bike to as close to full ‘Manx’ spec as possible, while still maintaining it’s usability and character.
The thing is, I have ran it at the last two Festival of 1000 Bikes, as well as a couple of practice sessions, and if the truth be told, I have had so much fun sidecar’ing with it as it is, that I am loathe to strip it down at the moment! In 2006 I was able to provide it for Titch to have one last foray on to the track, with myself in the chair (a great honour, and quite moving, I hadn’t been out with Titch for over 10 years).
In both 2006 and 2007 I was also able to get another session in the chair with Titch’s son - Steve Allen, a very talented sidecar pilot himself. We had great fun ‘parading’ it and trying not to look like a ‘mobile chicane’ in the company of far more modern and capable outfits!

Titch in Outfit

At the grand age of 91, Titch Allens last ride of the 'Big Plunger outfit, Mallory 2006 1000 Bike Festival - Brilliant!

Steve Allan and Myself

At the same venue 2006, Steve Allen and myself having a lot of fun on the same bike

  The other thing is, having always been a sidecar monkey (passenger) in the past, I have actually taken a real shine to piloting the thing myself – great fun! I am not sure my best mate and new volunteer passenger, Andy Phillips, would agree with this, but steadily we are improving our technique each time we go out and in our last ‘parade’ in the wet actually managed to slide our way past someone!
All these antics do not bode well for the new Manx engine at the moment though, but as I am sure many of you will sympathise with, sometimes you can try and make things better and just end up spoiling a good thing. I need to finish off the engine anyway (and have taken plenty of photographs of the rebuild, as the subject of future articles), but might delay the final decision for a bit longer, after all, the bike is still very useable in its currents specification and is just as Titch always liked it!

1955 Double Knocker

Very original 1955 DOHC Manx - Like many, a bike I have loved since I was a boy


Double Knocker: You may have noticed some time ago that I was advertising that I may be interested in buying a Norton double knocker. Well I actually purchased a very original mid fifties double knocker at the end of last year. I wont go into details now, but don’t be too surprised if you see me out at future meetings on one in the near future.

  Other Projects: As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, a lot has gone on from the Norton perspective in the last year, and one of the most gratifying for me has been able to acquire a wonderfully original late Gardengate Manx 600cc chassis! This started at the end of last year when the previous owner contacted me for a second opinion on some other parts he had for sale. Since this time, we have become quite good friends and although living on the other side of the world from each other, the wonders of Skype (like phoning somebody on the phone – but internet based and no charges!) has meant we have been able to chew the fat as if we were both sat down the pub together! Although from very different backgrounds, one of the wonderful things about this hobby is that it gives you the chance to share common interests and learn a little bit about other peoples life’s and that can’t be bad!  

596 Gardengate Manx

I would be lying if I said I was not 'over the moon' about my latest restoration project - a very original and unmodified 596 Gardengate Manx chassis. It would seem it has spent all its life in Australia

    The frame itself has that lovely patina of metal that has been gently rusting in warmer climates than the UK, and looks like it has never had a hacksaw to its lugs in its life! When it arrived on my doorstep (literally, thank you DHL) I unpacked it and just sat there in the garden looking at it for a couple of hours, soaking up it’s patina, flaking green paint and all.
I already have a lot of the main chassis parts, and am hoping soon to acquire most of another SOHC Manx engine, so this is likely to become a not too distant restoration project. Looking at the Norton records, it looks like it was originally supplied to Australia as one of the last SOHC sidecar outfits, so it would be great to build it back in that spec. If anyone could help me with any 596cc engine parts, particularly barrel, crank and head I would be most grateful. I would also like to thank Arthur, the previous owner for entrusting me with it, I hope one day I can rebuild it into something approaching its original specification then maybe offer you a go on it!

Anyway, that about brings me up to date on where I am at the moment. I have also got a couple of further Norton projects waiting in the wings, but knowing the speed I go at, these are not likely to hit fruition for a couple of years yet. Never mind, I like to think ahead, and it gives me time to look for the missing bits!

Best Wishes,
July 23rd 2007.


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