Norton Atlas - shaken, not stirred


Dyslexics of the World - Untie!
I'm going to be picking up my '66 Norton Atlas in just about a month, so I'll go ahead and start the requisite thread on the subject. This is the bike with its current owner sitting atop it. The bike is still in that same garage several years later. He had sold it to his uncle, who is now in his 70s and has no interest in the bike any longer. The bike was bought back and now I'm getting it in trade for some work I'm doing to another vehicle.


It is a fairly clean, generally unmolested bike that just needs a few things. I'm planning on keeping it as close to stock as I can, although there's talk of putting a small bikini headlight fairing on at some point. The mufflers aren't stock, but he has the stock pipes. The oil tank cover thingy should be painted and it is currently black - he thinks it is an aftermarket replacement but isn't sure. Additionally, the back of the rear fender has been chopped, but he has a spare front and rear fender for it as well.

I'm going to put fresh tires on it, get it running and driving this summer and then send the spare fenders off for de-chroming so I can weld up the cracks in them. Once they're crack-free I'll have them re-chromed and put them on the bike. The eventual goal is to have it look like it came from the factory:


...although I want to keep as much of the patina as I can. I've already found a nice '66 Michigan cycle plate for it and will register it historic.

I'd love to know if anyone has access to paint codes from these old Norton bikes. I've found a few online but nothing definitive. I have a very good paint shop who can probably match it, but the more information I can get the better.
Cool! I'm about to get hold of a 65 Atlas-engined Matchless G15-CS (matchless/norton hybrid) myself over the summer.

Watching to see what you do with this one...looks fantastic.

That rear fender's a bit sad to see, though. Ouch.
Great looking bike...I have to admit that I'm a little jealous. There are t tons of top quality parts still being made for these machines and it is often more cost effective to simply purchase new parts rather than repair and chrome the ones you have (unless you are a stickler for keeping the original stuff on the machine). As far as the oil tank goes, I would't take it for gospel that it was originally red, so many odd ball machines rolled out of that Norton factory it's almost comical. I'm sure you will be pleased with the machine once you get it all sorted out....keep us posted please!
I finally had an excuse to go across the state and pick up the Norton today. Yesterday was a Weird Al concert that I had been dying to go to, so I borrowed a trailer, made hotel reservations and hit the road yesterday afternoon. This morning at the crack of oh-my-god-I-didn't-realize-there-was-a-5am I dragged my butt out of bed and started heading southeast.


Headed to Ontario via the Bluewater Ferry which crosses at Port City, MI. Easy, fast border crossing, although a bit out of the way. Sadly they don't do vehicle importation at the border station there, so I couldn't use the ferry to come back. I ended up taking this route primarily because I didn't think I could stomach having to go through Detroit twice in once day.



Loaded up and ready to go. Just in time, too, as quite literally as soon as I shut the door of my truck it started pouring and it lasted until after I dealt with the border crossing. Nothing like checking straps for tightness while getting soaked.


Almost there... this was just outside Lansing, MI. And, I might add, just before a piece fell off the trailer ramp causing it to dangle precariously to the side. A nice rain-soaked, highway shoulder repair with bungie cords got me the rest of the way. I did have to fab up a repair piece once I got back because I was alone and couldn't get the bike off the trailer without a functional ramp!


Repair piece made, bike unloaded, tired, going home.

Once I'm rested I'll make a separate post on the border crossing (via Detroit/Windsor tunnel) if anyone is interested. It went pretty smoothly.
Sounds like you had a mighty long least you got it home at last.
Beautiful bike and I am glad you are restoring it and not hacking it up. Enjoy!
Minor update -

Charged up the spare battery I had and got ready to install it. I pulled the battery cover and seat off to look at the condition of the wiring harness. Sadly, the previous owner had purchased a new harness from someone in London, ON and it isn't anywhere near proper. The color codes are right but it isn't wrapped correctly, has lots of crappy parts-store bullets in and there are some broken/bad connections around the headlight area. It also doesn't have spark, so I have to track that down.

Fortunately for me we're friends with a shop in PA called British Wiring, which is a division of a company called Triumph Rescue. They do a phenomenal job sourcing proper harnesses from England and they had a harness for me in stock. It should be here sometime next week and I'm going to just re-wire this bike properly from the ground up. Or grounds up. You know.
Awesome. Love the British bikes. Not many of these around here. Glad you're keeping it stock too
New harness is here.


The old harness is kinda ok, but there are issues that a new harness will just help solve. It's wrapped in crappy electrical tape, has lots of Autozone-ish bullets, lots and LOTS of bad crimps and hacks, etc.



Old harness out:


Seriously hacked headlight socket:


I spent lots of time putting new bullets on the remaining wires. Fortunately I have a great stock of all 4 sizes of Lucas bullets and connectors, the right crimp tool and even the tool to help push the bullets into the sleeves properly.


It's about 90% right now. I have everything on the frame done - it's just the kill switch waiting to get wired up (I lost a tiny little screw and need to go to the hw store and get another one) and I need to pull apart the headlight dipper switch and clean the contacts or repair the wiring as I'm only getting high beams.

I discovered some interesting things too - the gas tank is using garden hose o-rings as spacers/mounting rubber which I'll have to correct, one of the air cleaner mounts is the wrong size and is missing some other bits for the air cleaner, et.

I also pulled a dummy move and decided to pull the primary cover off to inspect everything. Well, not a dummy move but I forgot to mark where the foot pegs were positioned so now I have to spend the time getting them back in a comfortable spot. Yay.
It's alive!!!

We had a good day at work yesterday and I wrapped some stuff up early. I decided to spend a bit of time putzing around with the Norton so I finished up wiring the last few bits (although I still have to pull apart the dipper switch and clean the contacts), put some fresh gas in it, tickled it and started to kick. I ended up pulling the plugs and giving them a nice cleaning in the beadblaster and then re-installing them about halfway through. Just when I thought I was going to give up and head out to my bass gig I heard it pop. A few more kicks and VROOOOOMMMMMM!!

The bike won't idle, the brakes are WAY out of adjustment and I still need to do a bunch of other stuff, but I took about a 10-minute victory lap around the parking lot before shutting it down and heading out. Now I need to figure out where it's dripping from.

Yeah, I'm used to British things leaking oil. Or rather, constantly re-applying their anti-rust coatings.

My daughter was with me last night when we stopped by to grab a few tools so she wanted to sit on the Norton.


I think she thinks she's going to get to ride it when she turns 16.
Proof - it does run! Kinda. Sorta. It actually runs much better than it did a few days ago - I guess it helps to make sure both plug wires are actually connected to the magneto!
I picked up a few parts from BritCycle and made a bit of progress last week. The air filter assembly I received with the bike was in bad shape - the filter element (wire mesh) is a rusted piece of scrap, the filter housing itself is missing the mounting plate and the rubber grommets, and the mount rings it came with were different sizes (one was correct, one is too damn big). Since the parts I'm missing are hard to come by I opted for at least a temporary measure in the form of a "custom-designed K&N filter". It's K&N, and it's clearly custom. The problem is that even this one doesn't fit really well. As you can see I had to mash it up a bit to get it to clear:


I'll keep looking for the air filter parts I need and will put the stock airbox back on once it's 100%.

I also fixed the headlight/horn switch and fit a new fork lock. Normally I wouldn't worry about fork locks but because this is a magneto ignition, the ONLY security on the bike is the fork lock. Without it anyone capable of kickstarting the bike can just start it up and ride away on it.


Next up is to try and track down a new primary cover gasket and a few other odds and ends along with new tires.
So it's been a while since I've even had a chance to stare at my Norton. I'm elbow-deep in trying to get my Beetle project done (or at least get the body and chassis together so it isn't taking up such a massive amount of space) and I didn't even have a chance to think about the bike until about a month ago. I'm hoping to have it on the road by spring, but with the limited time I have I opted to get some of the work done via checkbook!

The wonderful folks at Checkered Past Cycles in Galesburg, MI have the bike now and are working through a few issues. It ended up with low compression in one cylinder and at this point it looks like a 1mm overbore is probably in the works. While it's there it'll get the oil leaks sorted out, new (properly sized) tires, and hopefully it'll come home running well by the time the snow and ice goes away.

The proper mufflers and an unmolested rear fender are both on the way, but the fender will need to be de-chromed, cracks welded and then re-chromed before I can install it.

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