Norton Model 50 350cc
I have always admired the Featherbed Nortons and some years back I restored a 650SS . I particularly like the singles, but a Manx is probably out of reach, even a look-alike. The old British 350's from all of the big manufacturers were nearly always 500's with a smaller bore and piston, so consequently the bottom ends were over-engineered and under-stressed, so this was what I decided I would attempt to find. I have been along the road of looking for vehicles before and have fallen into the trap of buying a complete machine, ready for restoration, only to end up replacing sub-standard parts for which I had paid good money, with costly new items. You then also end up with stuff which is not quite good enough to use, but too good to throw away.
This is a similar bike - an ES2 500cc
I decided that this time I would build this bike from parts, and therefore end up only with the correct parts at the right prices. I happened across a featherbed frame and swinging arm some years ago with the modified top rail for the single motor, and started collecting stuff from various autojumbles and the like. Some years later, my good friend Keith Horsfield was parting with an alternator Model 50 engine, which was stripped for inspection. He had bought it with the intention of building a bike, but got called away on one of his many overseas Civil Engineering contracts. Apparently it had lain under a bench (probably a joiners - from the covering of sawdust and oil on it!) for many years, possibly since the 60's - when Triton building was all the rage. The engine was in first class condition and Keith had painstakingly coated everything with Ensis fluid, for corrosion protection.
A pair of genuine Dunlop chrome wheel rims came from another friend, Nick Rigby, in exchange for some other Norton parts I had hanging around, and regular scouring of the ads in Old Bike Mart, has turned up most of the other stuff. There are quite a lot of good repro parts still available, such as cables, rubbers, handlebars, exhausts etc, so I haven't bothered getting any of that yet.
I realise that I will end up with an age-related number, but that doesn't bother me too much, the engine and frame numbers are actually of the same year. I don't intend doing an exact concours machine as I will ride it fairly regularly, and have already deviated from standard by using stainless steel fasteners wherever possible. I think I will probably fit glassfibre mudguards, some of which look quite good, and then I won't have to worry about the winter salt in those areas. Being an Engineer by trade and having a lathe and milling machine in the workshop, means that I can produce a fair number of parts myself, which is quite satisfying.
I hope mine turns out as good as this example!
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