Bushman's Rebuild Update

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After a couple of months of traveling and dealing with demands of work, I have finally been able to get back into completing the rebuild of my 2013 CR. Progress is happening albeit slowly - I can only spend a couple of hours a day at a time, so I take on tasks that can be accomplished within that time. This motor is super easy to work on, a real joy to undertake this work myself. I have built countless Norton and Triumph motors in the past, this is really no different.

Day 1 - installed the new main bearings, completed the final parts clean, removed all gasket material. Mounted the crankshaft into the RH case - bolted up the centre mounting plate - I had recessed the threads about 1/8" of inch so the bolts would not bottom out this time. Used bearing mount 620 at the peg locations to fill in any enlongation caused by the plate being loose. Installed the balance shaft in the LH case. Applied ultra-grey sealer to the case and installed on the RH case - bolted up and torqued to spec.

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As usual, back in the office, I decided I would read the Norton Manual in advance of embarking on the next steps the next evening. I noticed in the manual there is a note in red about - "DO NOT FORGET THE SPACER ON THE BALANCE SHAFT"... well I had not installed a spacer. A bit of panic. Checked the bench and all the boxes of parts, under the bike, on the stand - no spacer. I checked the later EURO4 manual and the same parts diagram does not show a spacer - interesting, but later on in the EURO4 manual the same diagram as before with the red note. Hmmm. A quick email to Mr. Coote Senior in Ontario who confirmed that my bikes has the later forged balance shaft and therefore no spacer. Nice of Norton to clarify this in their manuals. Anyway - I could progress again.

Day 2 - installed the gearbox, primary gears and clutch. Cleaned and mounted the pistons to the rods, installed the cylinder barrels. Compared to other parallel twins (Commando), the 270 deg crank with the offset pistons allowed the cylinders to practically fall onto the pistons, no ring compressors needed.


Day 3 - installed the timing gears and chain, same method as older Commando's - count the links, in this case 15 1/2 link. My bike has the timing marks on the case and it was a very simple job to install along with the tensioner blocks. Timing cover installed, Oil pump installed and oil lines connected. I added oil into the sump at this point. Next installed the cylinder head and torqued up the bolts in sequence - several times. I will give it another re-torque before I add the rockers.



Side bar on the rocker shafts:

The rocker and top end oiling system that Norton have designed is pretty ingenious, but there are some issues starting to develop. My exhaust rocker spindles were seized on the shaft. Clearly a lack of oil. My fix is to ream them (flex hone) and hand machine spiral oil ways on the bushes. A supplier in the Netherlands is offering a fix which includes new bushes made from high-performance material - as apparently a number of 961's have suffered from failed bushes. Maybe something to keep in the back of your mind for down the road when things get noisy.

The oil system feeds oil under pressure up each push-rod from the hydraulic lifters. The push-rods are hollow with an oil way the full length. The top ball end engages in the adjuster which in turn is hollow that allows the oil to flow into the rocker arm through a tiny orifice. Once in the rocker arm it feeds the rocker spindle through a centre grove and then flows out to the roller end of the rocker shaft to oil the valves. It would seem that because it is a flow through system, that there is no pressure to lube the tight shaft bush. I will have to be careful about the depth of the spiral grooves so as to not starve the roller end and the valve.



It all seems very complicated and I wonder about longevity with the potential of crap to get caught in the tiny oil ways and cause damage. A good reason to make sure all filters and oil is changed regularly and NEVER use RTV
 

contours

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Thank you so much for this detail, Jim. For those of us who will not likely take up such a challenge this is fascinating stuff! Excellent photos, too.
 

Clive

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A really well documented build which could benefit the rest of us. Factory take notes?
 
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Anyone interested in the oil route, I made a manual on this. Thanks for sharing Jim. Been involved in a few of the many rebuilds my dad has done to the 961’s including my own. Looking forward to the reaponse after your first ride.
 

BritTwit

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Perhaps this could signal an engine rebuilding/blueprinting business in the offing?
 
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This is all very fascinating. Only thing that bothers me, since I don't have anywhere near these skill; all the rebuilds being performed on 2013 and up bikes in NA makes me wonder....should I dump it before its too late? What's my longivity going to be?
Already had rings replaced at 2500 miles.
 

BLIGHTYBRIT/SF

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That’s a good question,hoping I never have to ask though ,but for some it may be the “elephant in the room “
 
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Maybe we can ask Richard -7 if any of they're rebuilds had issues with the rocker arm bushings ?
 
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What is the approximate cost to rebuild / re-engineer a 961, labour and materials?

Glen

The problem is availability of parts. As crazy as it sounds, its like pulling teeth getting even simple things like gaskets.

My dad is almost (actually there) done with all of this. Zero support from Norton makes it not worth it. If a dealer struggles to get parts then what’s the use of continuing with Norton.

Simon clearly doesnt like us or appreciate us so I’m sure thats why. You guys may have better luck.
 
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Day 4: Another productive evening. Scrolled the exhaust rocker spindles using a boring bar by hand with a small HSS cutter, honed the surface for clearance, cleaned and applied assembly lube. Install rockers, set valve clearances, re-torqued the head bolts. Installed the rocker cover, the primary cover, gear shifter and the fuel injectors. Connected a whole lot of cables and hoses. Starting to look like an engine again. Lots of fiddly stuff to come, but looks like will be running this weekend...yeah....it came off the road in August last year, long time in the process.

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What is the approximate cost to rebuild / re-engineer a 961, labour and materials?

Glen
For me the cost of the parts has been relatively minimal. Norton Canada have supplied 2 bearings and 2 gaskets, plus paid for the crank being trued $200. I suspect one of the bearings is a $250 unit. I also replaced the 2 main roller bearings, I found old stock FAG NJ307E out of Belgium for $45/ea, these are easily $300-$400 bearings for the right ones. I have also replaced the sensors and coils, that is a $300 hit as well. I sent my ECU to Ontario for remapping and updating - charge for postage and the remap fee. Thankfully I have not had to source other engine parts or do any restoration work (pistons, valves all left alone), so this build is really in the realm of blueprinting, just doing it over right this time.

Don't forget to include the cost of special tools - Richard-7 supplies what is needed, especially the clutch stop and balance shaft spring set. I made a bearing puller of my own for the blind roller bearing at the end of the balance shaft, fabricated the gear stop and had pretty much all the tools I needed on hand. There is a small security torx bit required to remove the timing plate, which I had, but would be a must to have item.

As to labour hours - I would hate to think what a shop would charge - the tear down and clean up, inspection is typical of any motorbike, say 8-10hrs, then I had to deal with balancing the balance shaft, getting the crank trued, removing and replacing bearings and general fussing around before I could start the rebuild - this occurred off and on over a couple of months and I have no idea of what hours I spent, not sure what a shop would charge. The build itself is going quite efficiently, 8-10 hours so far, plus I would expect another 4-6hrs for the final push to get it running. I don't know what the shop production allocation from Norton is, but I am thinking it has got to be up around 30 hrs - at shop rate of $90/hr - that is $2700labour. Add parts, consumables, oils, oil filter, and taxes.

I would love to hear what others have experienced on this. Is 30 hrs conservative or optimistic?

Then there is the 100mile service to re-torque the head and valve clearances - say 4hours.
 
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The problem is availability of parts. As crazy as it sounds, its like pulling teeth getting even simple things like gaskets.

My dad is almost (actually there) done with all of this. Zero support from Norton makes it not worth it. If a dealer struggles to get parts then what’s the use of continuing with Norton.

Simon clearly doesnt like us or appreciate us so I’m sure thats why. You guys may have better luck.

Your Dad has been the number one resource for me in undertaking this work. His experience with working with the issues of these bikes has got to be best around. He was able to point me in the right direction every time.... the first diagnosis with the balance shaft bearing.... then the crankshaft mounting issue.... then the out of balance, balance shaft.....then the rockers. I bet he has seen it all - and I gather with such poor support from Norton UK, what is the point of continuing to fix their problems without any acknowledgement or ownership of the problems.

It was easy for Norton UK to disown me and my efforts, because I am not a "authorized" shop...so your spotty teenager apprentices responsible for hand assembling these machines are far superior than 45 years of experience wrenching motorcycles. You don't need a degree to work on these bikes, they are a lot simpler than the MV Agusta 3 and 4 cylinder bikes I get to work on. I guess at some point I am going to have a few stern words with Norton UK....in the meantime I have no hesitation in publicly disclosing the un-talked about issues with the 961.
 
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For me the cost of the parts has been relatively minimal. Norton Canada have supplied 2 bearings and 2 gaskets, plus paid for the crank being trued $200. I suspect one of the bearings is a $250 unit. I also replaced the 2 main roller bearings, I found old stock FAG NJ307E out of Belgium for $45/ea, these are easily $300-$400 bearings for the right ones. I have also replaced the sensors and coils, that is a $300 hit as well. I sent my ECU to Ontario for remapping and updating - charge for postage and the remap fee. Thankfully I have not had to source other engine parts or do any restoration work (pistons, valves all left alone), so this build is really in the realm of blueprinting, just doing it over right this time.

Don't forget to include the cost of special tools - Richard-7 supplies what is needed, especially the clutch stop and balance shaft spring set. I made a bearing puller of my own for the blind roller bearing at the end of the balance shaft, fabricated the gear stop and had pretty much all the tools I needed on hand. There is a small security torx bit required to remove the timing plate, which I had, but would be a must to have item.

As to labour hours - I would hate to think what a shop would charge - the tear down and clean up, inspection is typical of any motorbike, say 8-10hrs, then I had to deal with balancing the balance shaft, getting the crank trued, removing and replacing bearings and general fussing around before I could start the rebuild - this occurred off and on over a couple of months and I have no idea of what hours I spent, not sure what a shop would charge. The build itself is going quite efficiently, 8-10 hours so far, plus I would expect another 4-6hrs for the final push to get it running. I don't know what the shop production allocation from Norton is, but I am thinking it has got to be up around 30 hrs - at shop rate of $90/hr - that is $2700labour. Add parts, consumables, oils, oil filter, and taxes.

I would love to hear what others have experienced on this. Is 30 hrs conservative or optimistic?

Then there is the 100mile service to re-torque the head and valve clearances - say 4hours.

Jim, since we sent you all those items things have changed. Since Peter retired, we can no longer get parts. Not even gaskets. We have an order in now but if it doesn’t go through then we will be closing the doors on nortons.
 
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Jim, since we sent you all those items things have changed. Since Peter retired, we can no longer get parts. Not even gaskets. We have an order in now but if it doesn’t go through then we will be closing the doors on nortons.
Wow, that is really sad.
The BC Dealer is closing doors in two months - I am negotiating to get what he has on hand off him.
We are pretty much fooked then for the future in Canada. How many dealers are continuing?
 
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Your Dad has been the number one resource for me in undertaking this work. His experience with working with the issues of these bikes has got to be best around. He was able to point me in the right direction every time.... the first diagnosis with the balance shaft bearing.... then the crankshaft mounting issue.... then the out of balance, balance shaft.....then the rockers. I bet he has seen it all - and I gather with such poor support from Norton UK, what is the point of continuing to fix their problems without any acknowledgement or ownership of the problems.

It was easy for Norton UK to disown me and my efforts, because I am not a "authorized" shop...so your spotty teenager apprentices responsible for hand assembling these machines are far superior than 45 years of experience wrenching motorcycles. You don't need a degree to work on these bikes, they are a lot simpler than the MV Agusta 3 and 4 cylinder bikes I get to work on. I guess at some point I am going to have a few stern words with Norton UK....in the meantime I have no hesitation in publicly disclosing the un-talked about issues with the 961.

Thanks for mentioning Jim. And I’ll definitely be sharing a lot more if we do shut the norton doors.
 

BritTwit

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The sun is finally out here in NYC and I was feeling pretty good.
After the news about another Norton dealer closing in North America I'm starting to get depressed.:(

Richard,
Does Matt at CNW have any aftermarket contacts who could produce full gasket/seal/o-ring sets for the 961 if sets can't be sourced from Norton directly?
 
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