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BLUF: what's the normal pumping rates for Norton commandos?

I picked up a 74 Commando that was freshly rebuilt by the previous owner, long story short it sat for a couple of weeks and it has been marking its spot (size of the mark truly puts my 48 Harley FL to shame "Norton 's mark is a couple orders of magnitude larger"). Any way I pulled the big plug out from under the engine with a 1 quart container and filled it twice and had about a pint left over on the third attempt (in my estimation a little over 2 1/2 US quarts were in the sump). Is that normal for sitting about two weeks? It seems excessive to me, I left the bottom plug out and have a container under it so that I can measure the true sumping rate.


So to repeat my main question, is this normal?
if not what's the fix?

Anyhow, its time for me to leave for an AMCA Chapter meeting at a Harley Dealership located about 65 miles away, I'll be riding my 1966 Lightning. ( doesn't seem to sump or leak, and the electrics work and yes I checked to ensure it still has oil in it)

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Last edited by Aboatguy; 05/01/21 3:49 pm.
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That 2 weeks is excessive by any consideration.
It varies bike to bike, but some bikes can stand for many months or more..

If it truly was only 2 weeks since it was ridden, if that was my bike I'd be tempted to take the timing cover off and see
1. That the conical rubber oil seal on the oil pump is in good order, and correctly located.
If its not, it can lead to no oil going into the crank - which is not good. AT ALL. And also cause excessive wet sumping
(which is the least of your worries in this scenario)).
2. That the oil pump is actually in there !!

The Manual details removing the oil pump and flatting down the end plates on that oil pump.
Which for me has greatly reduced the sumping tendencies of my Nortons.
I've not met a leakage rate like that though.

I'd also comment that that quantity of oil you drained out is more than should be in the tank ?
It sounds like someone found the level in the oil tank was low, and topped it up again.
Without checking how much had gone down into the sump.

However, if your container under it doesn't indicate an excessive leakage, maybe you could refit the sump plug,
ensure the oil tank is filled to the mark on the dipstick, and gently start it.
If it all sounds happy (and well oiled) it just might be good to go.
Act wisely !?

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Rohan

Thanks so much for the response. It has been only two weeks since if ran it (haven't ridden it yet)

Still working on some little fiddly things before I'm willing to ride it.

I removed the seat in order to put the drained oil back into the tank and according to the dip stick it is not overfilled .



I'm going to leave the jar underneath the opening in order to see how much it leak over a week (hopefully its not too much) if it is a bunch I'll pull the cover and check the pump. thanks again

Last edited by Aboatguy; 05/02/21 7:48 pm.
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mine did that from new,but not as fast. no doubt from wear and tear over the years yours is worse. the only true answer to this is twofold,ride it everyday or if thats not convenient get in touch with AMR in tucson to get your timing cover and oil pump reworked.i did, and it doesnt wet sump anymore.whatever you do dont get conned into any oil line valves of any type or description. and from what im told the mk3 timing cover doesnt work. amr -520-303-4394 or [email protected] and in case you didnt notice theres a dash between amr and tucson

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Well it leaks almost 800 ml in a day.

[Linked Image from i.postimg.cc]

So in three or four days the oil tank would be empty and all the oil would be in the sump. Immediately after pouring the oil back into the tank I realize that I should have just put a lid on the jar and placed and empty one under the bike.

Tomorrow I'll be better prepared and if I don't check it tomorrow there will be a big puddle to clean up..

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+1 for AMR


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I think you NEED to take the timing cover off and have a look at the conical oil seal on the oil pump,
and also the seal that goes in the timing cover onto the nose of the crankshaft.

The only way that all that all can go through there so quickly is if one of those is damaged (badly),
and without oil going INTO the crankshaft its not going to be good for the engine, at all.

Unless there is no oil pump fitted at all !
Or its in a very bad state.
There might be other options, but I can't think of any.

There is a drain plug on the oil tank, if you undo the 2 little bolts on top of the sidecover and slip it off.

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Taking the timing cover off unfortunately disturbs the ignition timing - you have to remove the points plate (or leccy ignition)
and the advance/retard mechanism (if still there) , so be prepared for refitting those and resetting the timing.
This pretty much requires a strobe timing light. These are available for not much $$ but you will need one.

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If you have either points or electronic ignition, mark the plate and case. If you don't turn the crank you should be able to get it very close to the original position. Still recommend you check it with a strobe, but it should start up okay and probably require very little adjustment if any.

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as the cover has to come off either way,i still think you will be well served calling amr. i should have read your original post more carefully with respect to the quantity being passed over night.ill manage it better the next time. be advised that there are several thickness of timing cover gasket that can be bought. this influences the amount the "faucet washer" seal gets smashed between the cover and the pump. that faucet washer is the feed pump outlet . inside the cover is a garlock seal that seals the oil way in the cover to the crank stub.so if you stop and study the oiling diagram in the service Manual there are several ways leakage can occur like you are experiencing even a loose oil pump or pump gasket issue is possible. there are other pathways that the amr modifications eliminate. while the seals mentioned should be checked, IF the pump mounting is secure and leak free the oil still has to gravity feed through the pump and this rate of flow will be determined by oil pump internal clearances. if the seals on the pump and cover are intact the oils only way to gravity leak is through the rod bearings.one major mod amr does is put a check ball on the pump outlet. in theory it prevents oil flow unless the pump is running. but as i previously mentioned there are OTHER ways that oil finds its way into the crankcase just sitting. there was lots written in the access Norton website with lots of pictures on the other leakage area's. mine sat for a solid year during all this lockdown crap and i doubt its passed a few tablespoons of oil.

Last edited by jaycee; 05/04/21 10:20 am. Reason: nore info
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I've experienced similar wet sumping issues with my 72 Combat Commando and also low oil pressure.

Despite rebuilding the oil pump by flattening the body faces and re-orientating the rocker shafts to partially obscure the oil holes, the wet sumping persisted although the oil pressure improved a bit.

Eventually I decided to fit a new Andover Norton oil pump and in the two weeks that its been fitted I haven't seen any significant drop in the tank oil level and the oil pressure is much better. I haven't had a chance to fully test it out but my initial impression is that after a 10 mile ride the pressure is around 8-10 psi per 1k RPM which is around where it should be. Haven't had the bike sitting long enough to draw a full conclusion on wet sumping but so far so good.

From what I understand and comparing the old and new pumps, the new pump is built to much higher tolerances and will help avoid oil seeping past the gears. Additionally, an oil seal has been added to the drive shaft which the old pump didn't have, this was I believe a major source of leakage leading to wet sumping.

I've no doubt the AMR mod works well but in my mind fitting a new pump is probably better as then you get the benefit of improved oil pressure and less leakage.


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to be fair i did both,replaced the pump with a new one and amr's mods. but there was lots read on the access Norton webste about the OTHER ways it leaks

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Originally Posted by gunner
...I've no doubt the AMR mod works well but in my mind fitting a new pump is probably better as then you get the benefit of improved oil pressure and less leakage.
Or do both. smile


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Originally Posted by jaycee
tbut there was lots read on the access norton webste about the OTHER ways it leaks

Oil pumps ain't rocket science.
But if you work hard enough at it, it can be !! ??

After flatting down the end plates on a 73 850, it could stand for 6 months and barely pass a few drips.
But, it hadn't done 100,000+ miles - so was maybe still like new ...

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its NOT just the oil pump.theres something about the oil ways from the relief valve and theres also the ball check amr puts in. like i said, the access Norton site had all that information and one that even amr didnt know about until i fwded the info to them.

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Yes I read all that guff.
If'n you work hard enough at it, it can be turned into rocket science. !!

All those hard ridden Commandos didn't need it when they were new,
its only pampered pooches these days ??

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Originally Posted by Rohan
Yes I read all that

Remember too that all this re-engineering is going into not having the oil pump flow oil while it is parked ... !

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I had the typical Commando sumping problems and sent it all to AMR and that fixed it. They put an anti-sumping valve in, revised the routing of the oil pressure relief valve, and O-ringed the oil pump, if I remember correctly. You also get a different oil pump seal and an oil pump gasket and can also get a cover gasket. This corrects all the inherent Commando design problems and parts and assembly issues that lead to “normal” Norton sumping.

Yours leaks much more than the typical one so there may be something else wrong but when you take it apart and send it to AMR and then assemble with the new AMR seal and gaskets you can also address the rest of the advice here, since it’ll already be open.

You can send it to AMR, reassured by the endorsements here and elsewhere. They do good work and I’ve never heard anything negative.

A suggestion for when you take the timing cover off if it has a Boyer: first set the timing mark precisely dead on, then take youry phone camera and snap a pic of the location of the magnet in the hole on the Boyer plate, and put it back just like that. It makes starting it and running it to re-time it much easier and quicker with less possibilities for kicking back while starting it.

And since now you’re on notice that this “full rebuild” may have some deficiencies you can be forewarned to watch for other things that may also arise.

Last edited by linker48x; 05/05/21 5:48 pm.
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Quote
A suggestion for when you take the timing cover off if it has a Boyer: first set the timing mark precisely dead on, then take youry phone camera and snap a pic of the location of the magnet in the hole on the Boyer plate, and put it back just like that.

Thats a really good point and is exactly what I did when I took the timing cover off and installed the new oil pump. I'm using a Pazon ignition but the principle is the same. One issue I found using this method is that the magnet moves when you tighten the rotor allen bolt, so its a bit of trial and error to pre position the rotor to get the magnet position spot on.

Although I didnt go for the full AMR mod, I did add one change to help eliminate one of the leakage paths. This was to blank off the OPRV oil return hole in the crankcase with a very short grub screw loctited into place and add a new drilling to the timing cover so that the OPRV can blow off excess oil directly in to the timing case. See This Link with further details.


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Originally Posted by linker48x
I had the typical Commando sumping problems and sent it all to AMR and that fixed it.

Did you flat down the end plates before you sent it away though ?
I found in an 850 with low miles that was all that was required to be able to sit for months and have no problems
(I was away, and after months there was still plenty of oil in the tank.).

Although the OP here is likely to have more problems than that - as discussed.

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So I finally unwinterized my 73 850 w/ all the AMR anti sump steps—anti sump valve, OPRV re-routed, and the oil pump o-ringed. It has sat from late September 2020 to early June 2021, about 9 full months, and it was down no more than 1/2 qt on the dipstick— if it sumped at all, it sumped no more than 1/2 qt over the last 9 months. This, from a bike that would previously empty its oil tank into the crankcase in no more than 2 weeks, until AMR did its stuff. So, there you are.

Last edited by linker48x; 06/11/21 5:50 am.
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Its good to hear then that spending all those $$ has worked !

I'm not sure that my low miles stock bike would have been any worse ?
But have heard that even on the showroom floor some bikes were a little, shall we say, incontinent.
Not al oil pumps were equal, even back then ?

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So, here is the web link for AMR. http://www.amr-of-tucson.com/anti-wet-sump-information/ Their fixes cost $100 with the OPRV fix, $80 without.


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