I am writing to inquire about the designs and the numbering/lettering that can be found on a Norton Big4 sidecar. I am currently getting a Norton Big4 combination back on the road in time for the 70th anniversary of DDay in Normandy. I have the contract number which is C4112324 and were curious as to how to mark the front of the sidecar. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
that is not a contract number, but the C number on the tank! If you can let me have your frame and engine number, I May be able to find out more.
Will also take my B4 to Normandy!
As I read it Bryn would like to have some info on division or regimental markings or such to add to his bike.
I guess you should be able to do that better than me :-)
In the mean time having frame and engine numbers will increase our registers :-)
Better to start at the beginning, assuming the C number is correct, and later finding out it's not, wastes a lot of time, Normandy is getting here quick!!
But Always nice to add some number to the database, 55 Big Fours to date, more then 1% of the total!!!
The bike belongs to my father David, he says you two have met on a number of occasions. My father and I will probably see you there, we will be camping with John Tindley in Normandy. Dad has built a new sidecar from scratch which is more accurate than the old one and we have done several other repairs in the last 6 months as well as a new paint job. The engine number is AS1066, there is also a 5cm long bronze plaque riveted to the engine which says: cat no.3959. The frame number is more difficult to read but we think it is 3370.
That sounds a bell!!
I do have that bike in my lists and the 33 was indeed the uncertain factor.
The 3959 plate in dicates the spare part number for the complete engine unit including carburettor, the magdyno sparking plug and HT lead.
"AS" prefix numbered engines were replacement engines made as such.
Putting it like that 1% of B4 bikes known, the wd16H is much more unique!
I got about 250 of them so that is only 0,25% of the total. :-)
But then its back to Bryn's original question, some military unit paint scheme!
I would like to remark however that the present census number C4112324 does not fit a bike with frame number S3370. This Census number is from contract V3565 while the actual S3370 is from contract C7576.
If the bikes were numbered consequetively, its number would likely have been C4386007. However, B4,s were hand built and the sequence of building was totally random. The only (relative) certainty is that the number of S3370 was one between C4384906 and C4386026, and probably at the higher side of the range.
Yes, I know Dave, here's a picture of the bike in Normandy in 2009;
The bike on the left, then John T's and mine on the right, but mine is resprayed now in the right colour.
Will have a look at my b/w picture collection if the C number or a near enough one, will give some clues to units and markings, with the B4's usually units got blocks of bikes, that were more or less in sequence.
Will get back on this, but vey bizzy right now!
Just had a look, anything Dunkirk can be ruled out, also the Royal Northumbrian Fuseliers post Dunkirk, can be ruled out, they all got new bikes in the middle of 1940, and C numbers started with C418**** so too early yet.
The Airborne training that was done with B4's could be a possibility, there are some pictures of these, and some show numbers like C4385511 but also C4592992 so that is the contract after that of Dave's.
Then there is C4385758 and has markings of the Northampton Regiment, 4th battalion. and another on in that range (C438575?)in training in Ireland with the Royal Warwickshire regt. in 1941
Canadian, Czech, Polish and Australian units had earlier contracts, so would not use those markings. the only FFI marked bike was from the contract after, but if marked so, you would be very popular in Normandy!!
Anyway, let me know what you decide on, and I can email a sample picture, of markings, if available.
I would also ask Rik, if he has anything in the ledgers for this contract, but fear they are not there.
This is all just a presumption, based on existing pictures, and there might be many more other units using B4's at the time.
There are no B4 frames as high as this in the surviving few ledger pages. Neither are there any B4 spare engines (plenty of 16H though with AS prefixes).
The census number referred to C4112324 would have originally been allocated to Frame / Engine S1066 but the 'AS' spare engine sequence had nothing to do with this. The B4 spare engines that I've seen seem to consistently have numbers in the low thousands.
S3370 relates to contract C7576 which comprised 600 box bodies and 541 standard..fortunately, the records do show that the standard bodies were S2876 - S3416. The last 20 were allocated C4427053 - C4427072 and if I calculate back from S3395 / C4386026, I arrive at C4386001 for S3370.
As Lex says, we really on a few chance photographs to arrive at allocations. It's clear that there were a number in Northern Ireland and there is no evidence of Canadian allocations from this contract.
They were presumably being used for training in a reconnaissance rôle, perhaps at a time when Carriers and armoured cars were being kept where the threat of invasion was greatest.
Thanks for the information Rob, Lex, and Rik, I will relay this info to Dad and will let you know what we decide on. Any photos would be welcome, my email is email@example.com