Another P11 Update – Getting Close Now

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I think I have to scratch the Electronic Fuel Injection, I don’t particularly want to, but I don’t think we’re at that point yet. There are a few issues with fitting the kit I want to the P11, some of which I think is more a result of the 1967 Norton P11 engine really having been designed in the late 1930s. The thing that I think is going to sink it is the ignition that has to be linked to the ECU and there not being a way to do that without spending another $1,300 – some of it on stuff I don’t want on my Norton. There is also a slim chance that I could do ALL of this and discover that none of it will work unless I also install a $1,700 Electric Starter kit – which I REALLY don’t want. For now I’ll continue to work with the folks who sell the kits to try to iron out the issues but I think that the idea most likely needs to be shelved for 1-3 years to let technology continue to evolve.

I have also decided to shelve the Belt Drive & Commando Clutch upgrade as not necessarily being necessary quite yet. There are a solid number of people who believe that Belt Driven Primaries aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, and there are also quite a few people who still use the 3 spring AMC clutch and single row primary despite how easy it is to upgrade either or both. Instead I am going to restore what I have, ride what I have for a year or so and then decide if what I have needs to be better or not.

So I have ordered (all new) a Clutch Basket/Sprocket, a 21T engine sprocket, a single row primary chain, 3 springs, 6 Barnett Friction Plates, and a new Rotor Nut. The steel clutch plates are fine, and the cush drive rubbers in the clutch hub are fine (surprisingly). So not needing to replace those bits saves a bit of money. This is the way the Clutch goes together,

These are the clearly worn out friction plates,

They should look more like,

Steel plates,


The worn out sprockets on the clutch basket & engine sprocket,

And how the primary drive looked before I dismantled it, so that when I re-assemble it you’ll have a point of reference for the improvement. Note the new stainless fasteners looking all lovely going around. Also note the proximity of the footpeg mounting stud to the frame which is why rather than fixing it in place using a nut on either end I’m going to switch to cotter pins – which will make it/them easier to remove as the threads will no longer matter. You can also see the hole in the primary case(s) where the stud for fixing the footpeg bracket would have come through – I had intended to remove all of these parts & the inner cover for getting at the Magneto, but thats no longer necessary which I’ll explain soon.

Another project that I’ll be doing this winter is strengthening the front Twin Leading Shoe Brake plate. As far as drum brakes go, I am a fan because I like mechanical simplicity and their readily apparent issues (disc brakes can develop issues that are harder to see – like the hydraulic hose stretching over time reducing performance). I think that out of all the TLS Brake plates fitted to road going bikes, the best two were that fitted to the early /5 BMWs and the vented one fitted to the early Norton Commando’s, examples of both seen here,

The only issue with the Commando brake was that it could flex under certain conditions and the solution to that is to install a stiffening kit. Here is the stock plate inside,

Here is the stiffening kit,

And the combination of the two, which is fantastic.

The next bit of work is my continued working of the front forks, as you remember I purchased Roadholder forks, and then I purchased kits which will allow me to replace the far out dated internal damper design with dampers out of a 2007 Honda CBR600RR with custom wound progressive springs – which will give me superior roadholding even for today – which when they were new is one of the things that made the Norton’s so great – superior forks & handling during the 50s – 70s – then the world caught up and passed them and this kit allows me to keep the classic front fork’s outer style – though I am going from metal shrouds to rubber gaiters – and have modern handling at the same time.


Norton P11

Clear difference in the original internals (top) and the new Honda internals,

I still have to rebuild the forks before I install these new kits. New bushings, seals, and fiber washers. I have also decided to use the Ceriani fork trees rather than the Roadholder trees as I do intend to use this bike as a bit of a duel sport, the Ceriani MX trees provide much thicker clamps around the fork tubes and a much more substantial steering stem,

Though that is much of the reason I’ll be switching to rubber fork gaiters, beyond the fact that off road the metal shrouds apparently trap more dirt than they protect from – but also because the shrouds are designed to work with the Norton trees, not the Ceriani,

The last bit of news for tonight’s post is the Magneto ignition, I have decided to replace the Lucas K2F magneto with a BT-H FM2R Magneto. I actually could have picked the BT-H copy of the K2F – which is pretty slick,
My Competition K2F mounted,

BT-H Copy,

But its money for looks and I don’t care about my bike Looking exactly as it would have in 1967, if I did, this whole process would have cost me way more money and the bike I got at the end would look only slightly different than what I have now – but it wouldn’t be as good as what I’ll have when I’m done for the fact that I live in a city.

What I’m trying to do is build a bike that’s a cross between the 67 P11 and 67 Atlas.

The BT-H magneto is, well first of all, it’ll look like this,

It mounts the same way as the Lucas, physically takes up the same amount of space, and it Is a magneto. But thats where their commonality ends. The BT-H has a modern ignition, which is what makes it better than say a Joe Hunt magneto, the Joe Hunt still requires setting up and a bit of maintenance, its not as bad as the Lucas K2F for constant tinkering but for the cost of the thing its not what you’d expect it would be – and I say that having had 2 of them, they aren’t bad mags, they just, they aren’t as good as a new Lucas K2F was and they sure as hell aren’t as good as a new BT-H. The BT-H uses the more modern CDI type ignition and the triggering is magnets rather than points – the only moving part in the BT-H mag is the spindle – which is what I want for the cost of a new magneto, because with the BT-H the operative word in that sentence is new – as it should be.

I’ll also be able to ditch the Auto-Advance (top left),

With an 18T Sprocket,

I am going to replace the mechanical speedometer & tachometer with electronic clocks, the fellow at BT-H recommends I use the modern electronic Smiths and since they will fit my original Smith’s mounts and look the part – really, I’m not yet sure if I want the original Grey face or if I want the ones that were sold for Nortons with the N. But these are modern Electronic gauges!

That means no cables (the speedo cables are over 5′ long), no $290 tacho drive off the timing case/camshaft, no $92 speedo drive on the rear wheel, no dimly lit bulbs to light up the faces that will fall out because of the vibrations.

I’ll install the Speedo first, then later on after I collect the new big-end shells, JS Conrods, pistons, and valve springs – lap the cases, and all of that, thats when I’ll buy the tachometer. Till then I’m thinking I’ll install a metal plate where the tach would have been mounted (on the right) and in it I’ll install a key’d ignition switch because this bike is slowly turning into something that I don’t want just anyone to be able to start and ride off.

To sum all of this up, basically, I have finally figured out a really solid idea of what I want this bike to be when its finished. I can now picture it in my head clear as day, I know the end game for the engine, gearbox, and everything else. I have figured out the perfect (for me) blend of modern and vintage simplicity, and it thrills me. Even better, she really is very close, especially now that the primary is so close. A couple more months and she’ll be on the road. I still need to fit tires, add some missing brackets to the frame, and buy the magneto. But now that my health is turning round, everything is moving at the best speed possible, only hindered by my income and my still shifty health and lack of muscle – both of which are improving slowly but steadily.

One Response to “Another P11 Update – Getting Close Now”

  1. hrwat1

    Really interesting build.
    Would be interested in hearing more on the fork conversion – as I am 85% through a restoration of a ’67 P11 and brakes and forks have been one of my biggest issues.

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