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].

SPECIFICATION
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.

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Norton "KNEELER" 1953

 

 

 

1953 NORTON "KNEELER". Although Norton's policy throughout their many years of racing has always been to race models more or less the same as the "production racers" they sell, they have tried many experiments which did not subsequently go into oroduction. Most of these were smallish items, but one complete machine stands out clear of the pack as a really revolutionary model—which didn't quite make it.

It was the "kneeler"; a machine based on the 350 c.c. "Manx" but embodying complete streamlining, front and rear, and a near-prone riding position. It made its debut in the hands of Ray Amm at the 1953 North West 200 meeting in Ulster where, after a bad start due to a flooding carburetter, he made fastest lap of the race on his second tour, getting into second berth in the process—and then stopped with engine' trouble. The model appeared fleetingly in the Isle of Man during a practice period but was not raced there.

Although the down-tubes and steering head of the frame followed normal "Featherbed" practice, the top-tubes did not, for they were splayed out behind the head to pass on each side of the cylinder-head, mating with the bottom rails just over the swinging-fork pivot. From these points smaller-diameter tubes, braced by others below them, swept upwards and rearwards to form top anchorages for the rear spring units. A variety of other tubes provided a carrying frame for the streamlining and pannier tanks and also mounting points for the gear-change and brake pedals.
The low pannier tanks made it necessary to use a pump to raise petrol to the weir-type carburetter. This pump was driven from the inlet camshaft and a similar pump was also fitted to some of the orthodox "Manx" models (to return the overspill from the carburetter, in this case).

SPECIFICATION
Engine: single-cylinder 350 c.c. d.o.h.c; light-alloy
barrel and head; shaft and bevel drive to camshaft
gear train. Ignition: Lucas magneto. Transmission: chain via four-speed gearbox. Frame: modified "Featherbed"-type duplex cradle with
swinging fork rear suspension, pannier tanks and
nose and tail fairings. Forks: "Roadholder" telescopic.