Norton "FEATHERBED" 1950




1950 "FEATHERBED" NORTON. Although Nortons had won the 1949 T.T., it had become increasingly obvious to the development team at the factory, headed by "Wizard of Waft" Joe Craig, that the results of more and more power being wrested from the highly tuned motor was that shortcomings were being revealed in the navigational department—and this on the racing model from a factory whose products were advertised as "The World's Best Roadholder"!

In Ireland the brothers Cromie and Rex McCandless had been experimenting, very successfully, with swinging-fork rear suspension— Jim Ferriday had, through his Feridax organization, offered a service whereby private owners' machines were sprung by McCandless—and they had had a lot of racing success with a Special using a near-horizontal Triumph twin engine in a duplex frame. In the winter of 1949 they got together with the Norton factory and the result was seen early in 1950 when a team of factory racers appeared, looking vastly different from anything previously to leave the Bracebridge Street works

Gone was the old "garden gate" type of plunger-frame, with bolt-through fuel tank and vast oil tank. In its place was a new-look racer with swinging-fork rear suspension and a full duplex cradle frame in which the main frame was made of two lengths of tube that swept down from the top of the steering-column tube to encircle the engine and gearbox and then rise vertically to the seat nose, where they curved forwards and returned to the base of the steering-column tube, which was thus cross-braced. Short lengths of tube were welded in between the loops to act as spacers and just astern of the gearbox a pivot was formed between gusset plates to carry a rear swinging-fork. A bolted-on sub-frame carried the seat and mudguard and anchored the tops of the rear hydraulically-damped spring units. [Continued opposite].

Engine: single-cylinder 500 c.c. d.o.h.c; drive to
camshafts by shaft and bevel gear. Ignition: magneto.
Transmission: chain via four-speed gearbox.
Frame: full duplex cradle with two tubes forming continuous loop on each side of engine and gearbox and ends crossed to brace steering head; bolted on sub-frame for top anchorage for swinging-fork rear suspension units.
Forks: "Roadholder" telescopies.