1929 Norton CS1
By Ken McIntosh
Answering an advertisement in 'The Unapproachable' in about 1999, I bought the rather sad remains of Norton's first OHC model from New Plymouth. This was easier said than done as the phone number in the ad' was wrong, and the seller couldn't get immediate access to the bike but persistence paid off!
The bike had been used as a 'ride to work' bike in Christchurch up to the 60's and was totally 'used up'
Some frame restoration work had been done to a good standard but the rest was to prove a test of our resolve, especially as avid Norton fan and collector Kevin Grant had bought the bike off me and wanted it restored to racing standard. (I also have a CS1 awaiting restoration that came from the late Fred Hemmingway in Normanby)
The CS1 (C = Camshaft, S = Senior, 1 = Model 1) was designed by Walter Moore to replace the push-rod OHV motor designed by 'Pa' Norton, and combined with the new cradle frame was a huge leap in technology and styling.
The CS1 won the Senior TT first time out, in 1927 and even more remarkably an unknown rider Tim Hunt won the 'Amateur TT' in 1928. Open only to private riders on private machines Hunt won at a speed higher than the TT record. He used the same bike in different trim to take a Gold Medal in the 'Scottish Six Day Trial'.
Strangely further development bought little success and the push-rod Sunbeam and 4-valve Rudge proved dominant until Irishman Joe Craig reappeared on the Norton scene and helped design a new motor with Arthur Carroll for 1930.
Despite its failings the CS1 must rate as the best looking 'Vintage' bike ever, and riding it back to back with my 'Flat Tank Model 18' it is a huge step forward in both handling and comfort. The engine is mechanically stronger, with steel flywheel (replacing cast iron), bigger main shafts and bearings, and through-bolted cylinder studs.
In full TT trim, with close-ratio kickstart-less gearbox, 8 inch brakes, Amac TT carburettor, Lucas Racing magneto, and the beautiful 3-gallon petrol tank and wrap-around oil tank it set the style for racing Norton's for the next 20 years.
Kevin, who races a 350 Manx, and owns the Britten, has entered the bike for the Pukekohe Festival so club members will get a chance to decide for themselves if it is 'the best looking vintage bike made'
Reprinted from the New Zealand Norton Owners Club magazine 'The Unapproachable' January 2007