I now own a Norton 16h. I just paid Dutch Lion Motorbikes and in a few weeks they will ship it to me in the US.
I would like to know as much as possible about this bike's history. I joined the Norton Owners Club last night. Unfortunately the records request system appears to be only for pre-and-post war bikes.
I requested a 'basic search', no word yet. Should I do a factory records search even though it seems to not cover war bikes?
If you can help me gather any information on this bike's original configuration and service I would be very (very) grateful.
I am told it is a 1942 Norton 16h. Some googling has revealed a previous owner was Rob de bas in Holland, however on the wdNorton webpage it lists it as a 1940.
My copy of "British forces Motorcycles" has no information on frames numbers between 83000 and 90000. The information for the engine in the book only says 01/02/40CD (Contract Date).
My father served in WWII and was part of the Normandy invasion. He rode an Indian war bike during the war, so I have a keen interest in knowing if this bike has any war history.
Frame number W84817
Engine number W17426
Tim, I have posted a reply on the NOC and WD Motorcycle forums as follows :-
"The Orchard & Madden book is a fantastic piece of research but fortunately some more snippets of information have become available since it was first published in 1995.
The motorcycle numbered W84817 was delivered under contract S2602. Reference to 'O&M' shows 5000 machines with WD Serial numbers C5266965 - C5271964. Ordnance records show that these were in fact W83765 - W88764 (you'll notice that the last two digits match the serial numbers).
W84817 would have displayed the number C5268017 on the fuel tank.
This contract was actually noted for delivery 'Jan 1944 at 1600/month' which would put delivery of yours to RAOC Chilwell somewhere around January or February of 1944 with onward delivery to a unit at some point after this."
By 1944, the WD16H was no longer being issued in great numbers to the British Army but the Canadians remained loyal to them and most of the images of bikes from this contract show them in Canadian service. At the end of the war, most Canadian transport was left in The Netherlands so this may account for the Dutch connection (an examination of the post-war documents relating to it may shed some light) but there is also the posibility that it was bought from post-war BAOR sales or that it moved to The Netherlands more recently (the Dutch are well-known for raiding the UK's diminishing supply of old motorcycles and spare parts )
Don't be afraid to get it dirty !
The machine details on this website actually show frame number as 1944 and engine as 1940 which seems correct.
Congratulations on your purchase and welcome to the forum.
Your bike would originally have had an engine with the same number as the frame. The fact that it now doesn't and that it was found on the continent indicates that it probably does have service during the war. However for reasons that Rob outlines elseware on this website your chances of finding out what it was are next to impossible.
I have to correct you on one remark.
I added the bike as being 1944, not 1940.
The engine however is 1940.
I added both frame and engine dates because the majority of bikes do not have matching numbers anymore (W prefixed bikes that is).
For me the Frame gives the bike age, not the engine.
Norton themselfs however used the engine as primary identificator, at least until the start of the war.
According to the civil registration it was first registered in 1954.
This likely indicates that it may have been used by the Dutch military after the war. Those bikes were decommissioned between 1950 and 1956.
The majority of these Dutch Nortons were actually bikes left in Holland by the Canadians.
I am in the proces of re-editing the website page. I have made some mistakes in sequence and some bikes have new owners.
I am also forced to re-date a number of bikes as there is more info now then when I first started the website.
You are the second american this week who is importing an ex WD16H.
I did not see the bike advertised. Is it still in civilian guise?
If not can you send some pictures to me.
Are you OK with the bike referenced on the website?
If not I will remove it.
I don't know where to begin in thanking you!!
Tim, there is really no way of telling if the machine W84187 saw any active wartime service. It was certainly made in time to have either gone to France in June 1944 (most units had recent or rebuilt equipment) or to have been shipped later as a replacement.
It could equally easily have seen Home Service only or been shipped unused to forces in Germany after the end of the war.
My feeling on examining your engine number is that it shows signs of having been ground or filed and I suspect that this is a re-stamp. If originally W17426, It should be followed by a 'Broad Arrow' stamp with an inspection mark (probably 318) There would also be a number prefixed 'WO' on the front of the timing chest.
The bike has quite a lot of owner modifications which contribute to making life quite difficult for anyone wishing to build a correct WD machine. A correct civilian restoration is also difficult but retaining a modified machine in civvy trim is a lot less obvious.
If you're planning on going down the Canadian route, I'd recommend a copy of Clive Law's 'The Canadian Military Motocycle'
and it tends to be a bit pricey but if you can find a second-hand copy, the now out of print 'The Winged Wheel Patch'
The books are on order!
Can you tell if my bike should be Olive Drab?
Would my speedometer mount be center or offset?
What would my plate/taillight configuration be?
I have ordered a NOS front fender for late war bikes, a correct toolbox, a NOS sidestand, I know I need the superstructure for a cargo rack.., I will remove the rear seat, any other obvious changes that I need to make?
(British) Olive Drab differed slightly from the US colour of the same name but was intended to bring uniformity. It is first mentioned in Army Council Instruction 533 of 12th April 1944 which states that equipment in this colour would be delivered to units shortly. However, the exact date will have varied dependent upon the stocks held by different manufacturers.
My feeling is that a January / February 1944 Norton would have been SCC No.2 Brown originally. However, the best course of action is to wait until it arrives and then look inside frame tubes / headstock etc. It's pretty rare for an older restoration to have been subject to a complete paint removal.
The clues are often there if you want to look for them and follow this sort of route.
1944 WD motorcycles carried no rear number plate and simply a small taillight. Owners make their own choices how to deal with this. Some fit early-war equipment, others post-war and some simply make a modern set-up quickly detachable. I'd suggest looking at photos on forums. Whatever you do, if it is road-legal, it will not strictly reflect the bike's in-service appearance.
All speedometer brackets after roughly May 1940 were of the offset type.
If you fit WD pannier racks, then you will need a rear seat and pillion equipment also. The frames can be found but original covers in 'Rexine' leathercloth are next to impossible and vinyl is different.