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Bike Profile - Posted 29th September 2010

Straight Rods, Shaved Edges - Moto Morini 350K Sport
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Things are looking up for Martin Gelder's Moto Morini Three and a Half, and also for Tim's Norton Navigator. It's amazing what you can find in the back of the shed if you look hard enough - and if you never throw anything away...

My Regular reader will remember that a month or so ago I'd had to bodge myself a new gear change linkage rod after my previous home-made effort lasted a mere seven years. The new one did the job but wasn't as neat as the original, and I knew a proper job was needed.

The linkage rod connects the forward set gear change shaft with the rear set Tarozzi footpeg and gear lever. The rod that came with the kit was a sturdy 8mm in diameter but it interfered with the engine case covering the alternator and gearbox sprocket, hence the bendy 6mm diameter replacement I knocked up in 2003. That eventually failed at one of the bends, so whatever replaced it would need to be either less flexible or - ideally - less bent to start with.

My first thought was to re-fit the 8mm Tarozzi rod and see if I could get away with just trimming a little from the edge of the engine case; it had almost fitted first time round, and the engine case in question was more sprocket cover than anything else, with no oil to contain behind it.

But could I find the Tarozzi rod? Could I heck. It wasn't where it should have been - the big box of bits taken off the Morini - and it wasn't where it shouldn't have been either. It was while digging through one of the places it shouldn't have been in that I found a grubby but straight 6mm diameter rod, threaded at both ends, roughly the right length, but more substantial feeling than the flex-o-matic bar bought from B&Q for the get-me-home repair.

Like it was meant to be there... 1982 Moto Morini 350K Sport: Note straight between rearset and gearbox

And you know the weird thing? It fitted. Perfectly. Okay, it ran a little close to one of the bolt heads holding the rearsets in place, and it could have done with being a little shorter, but it looked almost made for the job. And I have no idea where it came from originally. Possibly a Moto Guzzi Le Mans rear set brake linkage, but who knows? All that needed doing to it was to shave a few millimetres off the edge of the engine cover and it'd be sorted.

Bit of a shave and job's good 'un... Engine cover cut away for gear change linkage rod
Morinis on Right Now......

Okay, it's still a bit close to that bolt head, but I can replace that with a socket headed job if necessary. And it should probably be 8mm rather than 6mm. Otherwise, it's an improvement all round. Gear selection feels more direct, neutral is easier to find, and it looks tidier too.

All I needed now was an excuse for a decent ride to test it. An excuse like the Norton challenge, for example. Ride your bike to a place called Norton and take a photo. And what do we mean by place? It's open to interpretation, apparently. Over the last two years we've had shops and farms called Norton, streets and libraries called Norton, even a Honda dealer and an art gallery called Norton.

And I knew of one Norton that had been more static than many businesses and quite a few housing estates over the last 15 or so years: Tim's Norton Navigator.

You probably know someone like Tim. He's had his Norton for as long as I've known him, but I've never seen it running. I've never seen it uncovered, come to think of it; it's just always there, lurking in the back of the garage while the modern bikes come and go. But last time we were sharing tall tales and strong beers he'd claimed to have had it running for the first time in fifteen years. If ever there was a Norton in need of a challenge, it was Tim's Navigator.

Kick, kick, kick, kick, kick, splutter, roar, cough. Kick, kick, kick... Ah, the joys of classic motorcycling

I shouldn't have warned him I was coming. As I rode towards his house I could see his head and shoulders bobbing up and down as he tried to kick some life into the Navigator. Every fifth or sixth kick it would splutter, rev briefly... then die. This had obviously been going for some time, no doubt part of a plan which originally featured the Norton ticking over quietly to itself on its stand by the time I arrived, while Tim nonchalantly whistled and polished the tank with an old Fairport Convention Reunion tee shirt.

Morini: 'Tosse, tosse...' (Look it up) It runs! Note smoke from exhausts.

It hadn't quite worked, and by the time I got there Tim was as ready for coffee and pastry as I was. Suitably refreshed, we were able to spot some lumps of debris in the fuel pipe, and with a bit of jiggling, blow me sideways if Tim's Norton didn't start, run, and settle into a nice steady - if smokey - tickover.

Both 350cc pushrod twins... The Norton Challenge photo, finally. Norton Navigator and Moto Morini 350K Sport

All it needs now is two new tyres, a couple of control cables, a bit of clutch fettling and some other bits and bobs and it'll be back on the road. Come on, Tim...

Words and Pictures: Martin Gelder


Moto Morinis on Right Now...


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