Author Topic: Information about a Norman Rambler?  (Read 21003 times)

Offline cardan

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2024, 12:02:23 AM »
Do we know what the Roamer transfer looked like?

I bumped into this photo recently, showing a Roamer on a Super Elliott display in Adelaide the 1950s. Seems to be a 197cc Villiers (?) with swinging arm rear suspension, so maybe 1953 or so. In Adelaide you could buy this bike as a Roamer, Rambler, Norman, (all Norman brands) or it seems (during 1951-52) Super Elliott.

Anyway, the Roamer transfer is particularly ugly!

Leon

Offline 33d6

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #16 on: March 18, 2024, 04:58:20 AM »
I’m pretty sure it’s from 1954 Leon. That was their first year of what we would regard as a normal swing arm rear end. For the previous five years or so Norman/Roamer/Rambler had tried to develop their own Tele forks and rear suspension without success. 1954 saw a regular swing arm with bought in suspension units and bought in  early MP (Metal Precision) front forks which were better than Normans own but had their own built in problems that didn’t come to light until rebuilding was necessary.
Finally they fitted those very pretty Armstrong leading link forks that more or less saw them out.
Normans made some very stylish lightweights in the 1950’s. All with front suspension’s that can make a grown man weep. Ask me how I know.

Offline cardan

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #17 on: March 18, 2024, 05:22:20 AM »
All with front suspension’s that can make a grown man weep. Ask me how I know.

I'm ready!

Offline 33d6

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #18 on: March 21, 2024, 02:38:55 AM »
Norman fork’s range from the sublime to the gorblimey, but all present unusual problems to the modern restorer.
Norman first discarded girders to make their own forks in the late 40’s. This was the period when Britain had cleaned up after WWII and everything had to be new and fresh. Girders were out and télés were in except few designers actually had any idea of how they worked.
The Norman concept had a quantity of oil held in the top of the teles above the seals where it would magically provide some sort of damping action. They further provided a balance tube on the top yoke connecting each leg so oil could move itself from leg to leg to balance out the action. The Owners Manual carefully advises that a quarter pint of engine oil only needs to be poured in one leg for successful operation. Further to this they fitted grease nipples to lubricate the bushes and advised they should be oiled (not greased)every 200 miles.
In service the oil soon found its way past the seals to fill up the void below. Needless to say no drain plug was provided so the oil just accumulated and steadily reduced the fork action as it did so. The only way you find out why your forks don’t work is to pull them apart and find the accumulated mess. Luckily, having a fairly extensive library I found various illustrations in Show magazines of the day that helped a lot.
To be fair Norman realised this quite quickly removing the balance tube and revising the Owners Manual to just providing enough oil to lubricate the internals and no more. Problem solved——-not.
Unfortunately the most easily available Owners Manual is the early version without the fork revisions and you don’t even know the revisions exist until a friend chances on a later copy in an op shop. Needless to say Norman didn’t reprint the Manual but merely printed the revised instructions on a slip of paper and glued it over the top of the original. Using a minute blob of glue of course so you can flip back and forth to see both.
After a few years Norman dropped their own make forks and fitted early undamped MP (Metal Precision) forks. Neither better nor worse than their own I think it was just cheaper and easier to buy in forks than develop their own.
Early MP forks are what current riders call “upside down ‘ forks with the slider working up and down inside a bushed outer shroud. When the fork bushes are worn out the sliders will have twice the wear and also need replacing. Essentially rather than being the wearing part the bushes act as laps. Road grit and the like embeds itself in the bushes then wears away the sliders much more effectively than it does the bushes. As there are no spare’s available rebuilding early MP forks requires pretty good machine shop facilities. And I’m not even mentioning the basic design that makes disassembly without damage a nightmare.
Finally Norman fitted Armstrong leading link forks. Bang up to date and as good a lightweight fork as you could get at the time. Pity Armstrong disappeared from the game. Rebuilding a set of Armstrong’s will lead down many rabbit holes and expenditure. Even worse if they are bent. But a late model Norman twin is a very pretty bike and rides as well as it looks.
So there you are, get yourself a classic Norman and you will have a bike where the front end restoration may take as much effort as the rest of the bike.

Offline R

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #19 on: March 21, 2024, 10:55:16 PM »
Oddly enough, you can almost substitute the word Norman with Norton here, and get almost the same story !!

Almost - the technicalities vary a little.  But spread over many decades.
Damping was almost a foreign concept back in those days !
And were often a case of one step forward, one backwards and 2 sideways. ?
We diverge, so the details can wait ...

Offline cardan

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #20 on: March 22, 2024, 05:57:19 AM »
Wow.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall when management and designers were talking over new models and future directions. We think of 2-stroke lightweights as being pretty utilitarian, but there were obviously people in the companies who had aspirations to build a better mousetrap. I have to admit I don't know (or didn't know!) much about Normans, but I'll think better of their efforts from now on.

I recently researched Tilbrook in South Australia, and like some of the more interesting UK brands (DOT, DMW, Greeves...) it was a good reminder that there were some very interesting Villiers-engined bikes built in the 1950s.

Re the swing-arm Roamer in the photo above, I'd say 33d6 is spot on with 1954 (see attached). In 1951 and 1952 Super Elliott seem to have sold autocycles and Villiers engined "Super Elliotts", but I could find no photo or survivor... I assume they were just re-branded Norman/Roamer/Rambler. Yell if you've seen one!

Cheers

Leon


Offline R

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Offline cardan

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #22 on: March 22, 2024, 09:21:17 AM »
It's the same photo! I've not figured out where it was taken - the photo is part of a collection attributed to British Tube Mills, and presumably it was in Adelaide, and now we knoe it was c1954 I will take another look.

Leon

Offline Rex

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Re: Information about a Norman Rambler?
« Reply #23 on: March 22, 2024, 09:56:27 AM »
The past is truly a foreign country, as the old cliche goes.
Take Scott, postwar. Presumably they started with a blank sheet of paper with a sports bike for the new era of post-war enlightenment.

"Righto Smithers, take down the following model requirements-
1) oil injection, no premix here
2) double-sided front brake, huge back brake for max braking efficiency
3) Oleo-pneumatic Dowty forks developed from WW2 aircraft landing gear and giving a wonderfully supple and compliant ride
4) Water cooled engine for max power and efficiency."

"Very good boss, but how about the number of gears and rear suspension?"

"A three speed gearbox and a rigid rear is good enough for any chap and that's what we'll fit".
And so they did, and duly went under three years later.