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Surprise !!!!

Posted By: Fullauto

Surprise !!!! - 02/10/09 1:39 am

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Posted By: Tom Sanders

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/10/09 1:49 am

What the ....??

Is somebody casting new Commando heads?

Tell us more.
Posted By: Fullauto

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/10/09 2:07 am

Yes. Coming soon.
Posted By: Hortons Norton

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/10/09 3:45 am

Are these the ones that Matt at Colorado Norton Works is saying are coming soon?
Posted By: Fullauto

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/10/09 8:41 am

Correct. Matt will have as many as he needs in the near future. He should have his first one within a couple of weeks. The finish on this one is quite coarse as it was blasted without heat treatment. The final finish will be much nicer.
Posted By: Dave Comeau

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/10/09 12:52 pm

Congratulations on the long hard process.
Can't wait to get home and see them.
At work here, the pix get blocked.
Posted By: Tom_dup1

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/10/09 2:28 pm


One thing I've always wondered is, why do original Norton castings look so poor in comparison with say BSA or Triumph?

Posted By: Hortons Norton

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/10/09 3:36 pm

I can't get my mouth to stop watering!!!!
Posted By: Fullauto

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/10/09 10:57 pm

Thanks guys. It has been a bit of a long road. However, the people who have done all the real work, Harrop Engineering in Melbourne, Australia are consummate professionals who have done the job on time and under budget. They have been doing automotive stuff (heads, superchargers, discs and calipers, diffs etc.) for a very long time. Does anybody ever remember a motorcycle called the Hunwick Harrop from the early '90s ? A beautifully made piece of work.

Triumph and especially BSA castings are indeed much nicer than the original Norton heads. What you must remember is that the Norton head has integral rocker boxes with internal finning running in three directions !! Pretty much everybody else has bolt on rocker boxes which makes the casting process much easier. I would really have liked to have them investment cast for its' precision and beautiful finish but the assembly of the trees would have been problematic.

There are 17 parts to the mould with plugs which makes it a very complex casting. Most foundries looked at a standard head and wished me luck in my search ! Also, it makes me wonder how long it took to machine the heads originally as there is about four hours machining time using CNC machinery with two indexing points. One can only wonder how many stations, jigs and operators were used to machine each one at the Norton factory.

The finish on this one looks quite coarse as it was shot blasted straight from the mould. The production heads will be heat treated and then blasted, giving a much nicer, finer finish.
The heads will take all standard Norton parts with the only differences being in the porting, designed by Jim Comstock. More modern, smaller, but more efficient "D" shaped ports for better response through the rev range. Thank you Jim. I have left the exhaust port threads alone with no inserts as they are fine if you just tighten the exhaust nuts firmly. There is a bit more meat around the threads should we decide to use inserts later. However, we are not anticipating this to be a problem.

The alloy used is 6061 hardened to T6 specs. Both 750 and 850 heads will be available with Dominators a possibility later depending on demand. There has been a lot of input from Matt Rambow from CNW and Mick Hemmings in the UK who will be distributing the heads in their respective countries.

Start saving your pennies guys.
Posted By: johnm

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/10/09 11:16 pm

Australia seems to be the place to get this sort of work done. The UK and US have moved away from having the skills and the hourly rates in the UK at least are unbeleivable - three times NZ rates. Quality in the UK is usually pretty average as well. NZ is a bit too small to have the skill range but Oz has maintained its own car industry with all the skill and experience spin offs that brings.

A friend had Velocette crankcases made recently in Sydney. He said everyone working on the floor in the foundary was from China. I beleive a lot of the cast Manx parts - wheel hubs etc sold in the UK are actually made down under in Australia and NZ as well.

Norton heads are much more difficult than other heads. When you start looking at it you realise just how complicated they are with the integrel rocker casting.
Posted By: Hortons Norton

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/11/09 6:27 am

The price is the only thing that I hope will come down as you guys start making them in numbers. There must have been a big investment made to get them going, Glad to see you guys are doing this as this has to be the hardest part to make on a Commando. Thanks and keep up the great work. Chuck.
Posted By: Fullauto

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/11/09 6:50 am

Thanks Chuck. Bad news? The price won't come down. The good news? The Australian dollar has gone from about US 98 cents about 4 months ago to about US 67 cents. This is a situation that won't last. Due to the international currency scene, the Yanks will get the best of it at this stage. Should the Aussie dollar climb back to where it was, you can look at a 50 per cent increase.

The price won't come down because of a couple of things. The first is that the development costs were huge. People suggested making them in China or India but that was NOT going to happen for a number of reasons. Quality control and the fact that my heads were going to go out the back door as soon as my first batch was shipped being another. Ask anybody who gets an original design made over there and ask them how long it took their opposition to get the same product from the same factory at the same price. Morally also, having stuff engineered and made in another country does nothing for the economy of your own country.

Look at all the American companies who have closed factories in the USA and set up in third world countries because of labour costs. They forget that in the long term they will run out of customers because Jose who lives in a cardboard box in Mexico making refrigerators can't afford one and neither can the American guy who lost his job when the US factory closed!

Next, having paid a large lump of cash for the development costs, the heads are supplied to me at a fixed cost, which, over time can only go up because of the complexity of the design and the labour factor. As it is, it will be a long time before I recoup my initial investment. Discounting will make this impossible. As it is, I wonder whether I will ever turn a profit. The market may be saturated before this occurs. The heads are , I think, reasonably priced and in the US they will be somewhat of a bargain.

Speak to Matt. He should have a firm retail price for you now.
Posted By: Jim Clausen

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/11/09 11:34 am

"Look at all the American companies who have closed factories in the USA and set up in third world countries because of labour costs. They forget that in the long term they will run out of customers because Jose who lives in a cardboard box in Mexico making refrigerators can't afford one and neither can the American guy who lost his job when the US factory closed!"

That's referred to as "good business" in the U.S. Must be true. Look how great our economy is.
Posted By: Hortons Norton

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/11/09 3:46 pm

But I am sure they will be the best possible quality and that is why they will be worth it. Thanks again for taking on something as tough as this and spending the money to get it going, Not many people would do this, Have a great day, Chuck.
Posted By: johnm

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/11/09 7:58 pm

I forgot to say thanks and well done.

I may be interested in a Dommie head soonish. Is is possible to get them partially machined so we could set them up for racing with squish etc?

Its for a race bike so there would be no come back if we manage to screw it up. If necessary we can do all the machining.

Excellent work


Posted By: Fullauto

Re: Surprise !!!! - 02/11/09 11:02 pm

A definite possibility John. Not just yet however.
Posted By: Hortons Norton

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/07/09 2:34 pm

Any updates or pictures on the heads? I have started to save a few bucks and would like to know how long it may be? Every time I start to look at the heads on e-bay a voice in my head says don't do it, Wait for the new head! Thanks and have a great day, Chuck.
Posted By: Fullauto

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/09/09 12:29 am

Good timing Chuck! I'm just about to head (no pun intended)out the door to go to Perth to see the first of my new heads. Matt Rambow (CNW) has received his first one and you'll have to speak to him regarding pricing and the quality. Matt's a hard man to impress but I think he was blown away when he saw it. I'll be taking photos today but I won't be back home until Sunday. My 850 will have it's new head fitted in the next couple of days and I'll be riding it over Easter. Mick Hemmings in the UK will have his any time now for the Brit customers.
My man in Perth (Ben at British Imports), who will be handling Australian and New Zealand sales, just stood and stared at the two he received for about twenty minutes! He was mightily impressed as well. So, here we go. Once the first ones are on and tested (only four exist in the world at the moment)the rest of the batch will be manufactured. I expect this to be in the next 6 to 10 weeks.

Photos here on Sunday (our time).
Posted By: Rohan

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/10/09 11:50 pm


The original reason BSA and Triumph etc bits look a bit neater is that the simpler head design means they can be diecast - polished steel produces nice shiny surfaces. V expensive for those steel dies though, v expensive indeed.

The complicated all-in-one design of the Norton head means it essentially can only be "sandcast" - using the multi part and cored bizzo shown above - a steel die just can't be made to produce all those internal fins and chambers etc...

Great work, thanks for showing.

Posted By: PsYcHoBiLLYRocKeR

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/12/09 2:50 am

Very impressive indeed
Posted By: Fullauto

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/12/09 12:37 pm

Sorry guys. I'm an idiot. I forgot to take my camera!!! Also, I didn't get to ride it as it measured up as needing a rebore so it won't be finished for a week and a half. However, it was a real pleasure to pick up No 1 and just admire the job that Harrop Engineering have done. Everybody who has seen it has been mightily impressed by the quality and finish. The port profiles look tremendous (thanks to Jim Comstock) and I am so looking forward to riding it next week. Matt Rambow will have high quality photos on his website very shortly (far better than anything I can take).

Aluminium barrels are next!
Posted By: Blapper

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/12/09 2:22 pm

Aluminium barrels are next!

Improved heads and barrels for T140's Pretty please? wink

Blapper redwine
Posted By: Fullauto

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/12/09 10:36 pm

What's a T140?
Posted By: kommando

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/12/09 10:59 pm

One of those trying to be a Norton things eek , best it can do is use peashooter silencers grin
Posted By: Fullauto

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/19/09 10:44 am

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Posted By: Fullauto

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/19/09 10:48 am

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Posted By: Alan Prudhomme

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/19/09 7:31 pm

Posted By: Alan Prudhomme

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/19/09 7:41 pm

If you are going to produce a alloy barrels PLEASE make them look like stock. The alloy barrels produced now stand out like a sore thumb, TOO FAR FROM STOCK!
Posted By: Fullauto

Re: Surprise !!!! - 04/19/09 10:24 pm

There are only 4 heads at the moment and we do need to make a couple of minor changes before production starts. Believe me, you won't be fitting smaller carbs. They will flow very well with bigger ones.
Aluminium barrels are a bit further down the track but will look like standard barrels with a bit more meat around them for larger liners/bigger bores if needed.
The pads on the front fins are also going to disappear. The Fullauto Technologies logo will go to the top of the head and the serial number will go to the side of one of the rocker boxes. Thay will then look just like a Norton head, except, of course, for the obvious quality differences.
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