This is the classic challenge of a british bike. It started fine, and ran fine for a while before dying unexpectedly. A quick look at the wiring revealed that it was fried from the rectifier down to the ground on the frame. Why ? I have no idea so far, but it will need a harness. Looks great, but today it required a rescue call and the trailer. I am not ready to eliminate the PO or me from the equation yet, but I have not really touched the wiring. This is how British bikes get their reputation!
1973 Norton Commando 750
I paid an unexpected visit to California, PA while out for a ride. The Norton has no reserve on the petcocks, so if you don't watch your fuel, empty is....well...empty. Family to the rescue, but it provided time to contemplate why the place got its' name. It turns out that Frederick Wolf built the California Hotel in this Bucks County location.
It is somewhat sterotypical to suggest that electrons have a unique tendency to escape from British bikes, and that Lucas is in fact the lord of darkness. However, my experience with multiple pieces of British iron is that there is some apparent truth to the matter. The bike ran and started fine last year. It has been lovingly stored in a dry and relatively warm garage. It has a new battery. It has beautiful paint. And turning the key does nothing. No lights, no neutral indicator. Nothing.
Hours of searching leads me to a horn wire that was grounding out, but removing that changes nothing. It is a mystery of how it would ever had run if that horn wire was the issue. Typical mystery not confined to Brit iron (To Spark or not to spark and On getting Grounded). Hours more and it was obvious that for no apparent reason, there was no juice at the ignition switch. I changed the horn from the Stebel to a common aftermarket one, provided a path to the key switch, and voila we have ignition. Armed with air, fuel, and fire, the machine show signs of firing after just three kicks, but finally fired after about twenty.
Something happened within the harness over a four month period that shall remain a mystery. It is a 40 year old machine, and I'm glad it is running, but it does add to the stories floating around about sudden mysterious electrical challenges and British bikes.
With panels now back from the painter, the machine can now get the battery reinstalled. It is held in place by a velcro band, but now there is a battery mat installed to dampen some of the vibration. The circlip holding the clasp pin was a bit worn, but was pressed back into service. The tank and the side panels look great in plain silver. With everything in place, I was greeted with electrical issues. No ignition, no firinng. Oh well, on to the next issue....
I finally decided on an approach to the Norton. Mild cafe treatment. After all, it is a true period cafe racer such as would have graced the parking lot of the Ace or the Busy Bee. That decision meant that the original tank would be kept and I ordered a steel replica. It looked pretty good, and the holes seemed to line up ok. A quick picture confirmed that it would look good too. I almost wished it could stay as-is. I prepped it for paint along with the side panels and handed it to a pro. The Caswell tank sealer also arrived. Enough for two tanks so this one and the Yamaha tank will get the treatment.