| Norton SOHC Background
I have been fascinated by ‘Cammy’ Norton’s of all varieties since I was a child, but really it is the earlier SOHC type – officially classed as the Model 30 (500cc) and Model 40 (350cc), that I find most interesting. Particularly, that golden period between 1930 and the late 1940's - when Norton were almost unbeatable in Grand Prix Racing, that holds most attraction. I watched them race with my father at early VMCC events in the 1960's, and have always remembered the fantastic noise they made, the charimastic smell of Castrol R30 as you got close, and more often than not, the yellow glaze of the caster oil covering the engine and oil tank, that had escaped from the Hairpin valvegear. They epitomised the classic profile of racing bikes of that era.
My 1938 Racing International in the paddock area at Brooklands
|In recent times, the later Featherbed twin cam
variety (the immortalised Manx) has attracted more glamour (and not without
good reason), and in the last 15 years has enjoyed a resurgence of serious
racing use, thanks mainly to the engineering prowess of companies such
as Summerfield, Molnar and Walmsley in the UK and McIntosh in New Zealand.
Indeed, it is now possible to purchase a complete, brand new replica Featherbed DOHC Manx Norton, with which you can go out and start Classic Racing immediately, safe in the knowledge that the bike underneath you is not about to grenade itself, due to terminal old age.
|Although, I too love the Featherbed Manx, far
less has been said about it’s SOHC relative, even though the two
types are very closely linked (and it could be said, that one evolved
into the other). Apart from a small band of marque specialists –
notably Stu Rogers and George Cohen, very little information (or parts!)
is available for the Single Knocker variety. I hope this new section of
my web site will help put this right.
As well as including a little bit of history about the SOHC Norton, I shall also include sections detailing the build and restoration of my own (two) Cammy Norton’s. Additionally, I am hoping to be able to offer for sale some useful engine parts (both new and used) later in 2006.
My Interest in SOHC Norton’s
I have been interested in all Cammy Norton’s since I was a boy,
and if truthful would say that I actually feel more of an affinity to
them than I do Vincent’s, despite my website having originally
been written to cater for the latter!
|Restoring a 1938 Racing International
Unfortunately, when I was racing myself in the mid 1980’s my meagre finance’s could not run to affording a camshaft engine, so I had to make do with tuning the more humble pushrod relation. This did not stop me going to look at a couple of potential purchases, but somehow at the time it did not quite happen and eventually I ended up putting all my available savings into the Vincent basket case that you see featured on this site.
|I did manage to acquire quite a few engine bits over the years though, and in more recent times with finances not quite the problem they were when I was actively racing, I was able to acquire another complete engine and put together the bike you see featured here. It is the engine restoration of this 1938 Racing Inter that forms the basis of the articles which I cover in this section. As with the Vincent restoration, I hope you find the different articles interesting and informative. I offer my standard disclaimer of saying - please don’t take everything I say as gospel!, but that said, I suppose it is fair to say that over the years I have had a fair amount of experience of Norton singles as a whole, so at least some of it should make sense!
As I write this article in February 2006, I am in the process of sympathetically
restoring a lovely late 1930’s SOHC Manx Norton outfit, which
previously belonged to my old friend and ‘driver’, Titch
Allen O.B.E. This very period racer has a customer version of the rare
‘Big Plunger’ chassis, as fitted to the Works Norton’s
in 1936-37. He always referred to this outfit as his 'Posing Outfit',
so I feel quite honoured to have been entrusted with it.
If you have any questions you would like to ask me, suggestions for
future articles on this website, or would like to enquire about any
parts I have for sale or swap, then please feel free to email me at
the following address: email@example.com