Saturday, January 17, 2009

1950 Norton Model 7 Dominator: Introduction

Not the flashiest machine, but a solid one that's well engineered and has good road manners and the excellent Norton pedigree.
This bike and two other Model 7s of consecutive serial numbers were dispatched from Norton's Bracebridge Street works, Birmingham, England, on March 20, 1950, and were sent to Brockhouse Indian Sales, USA. Brockhouse was an English holding company that had recently purchased Indian Moto Cycles and used the Indian dealership network in the US to distribute a number of English-built motorcycles, chiefly Norton but also Royal Enfield, Vincent, and AMC machines.
When I purchased the Dominator in 1998, it had last been licensed for the road in 1974 in Minnesota. From the machine’s thoroughly worn out condition, it was obvious that it had been kept in service by a dedicated owner despite several setbacks (repaired rod through the case and crash damage) and lingering ailments (badly stress-cracked sheet metal and a broken spring in the rear suspension). During the restoration I did most of the work myself except for electroplating, machining, and aluminium welding. When I was younger, I
worked in autobody repair; the other skills I learned as the Dominator project progressed.
I returned the bike to the road in 2002 and since then have ridden it more than 10,000 miles. Nortons of this vintage really are fantastic machines. They are simple, fast enough, and reliable, and they handle well if you’re fearless (like works-racer Harold Daniell) or reckless (like me). In my opinion, the original 6-volt electrics and magneto ignition are entirely adequate if you use a solid-state voltage regulator (for example a PODtronics unit) and have your magneto refurbished with new armature windings and a new condenser.

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