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My Norton Dominator 88SS - 342BEL

Bought new from Craze Bros Ltd, Christchurch Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth, January 1962. Cost: about £320.

1st of the new spec for 1962 88SS with downdraught inlet port head (the same as new 650SS), twin 1 1/16”Amal Monoblock carburettors, with RH carb float chamber cut off. High compression pistons, Lucas Competition magneto, with manual advance & retard, Smiths Chronometric rev counter, chrome plated mudguards, dark green & dove grey paint finish, fitted with Avon GP, racing type rear tyre. I had short “Ace” type handlebars fitted from new, in place of the standard straight bars. (pics 03,04)

This model won the 500cc class & 2nd overall in the 1962 “Thruxton 500 mile” production bike race, ridden by R Ingram & Fred Swift, who was a Norton test rider.

My first modification in 1962, was to remove the Smiths Chronometric speedometer from it’s mounting in the headlamp housing, & fit it to a bracket, the same as the rev counter on the opposite fork top, for a more balanced look. I filled the hole in the headlamp housing, with an old type round, plastic Norton tank badge, which fitted perfectly. I also removed the top covers & fitted the chromed bottom covers on the top of the rear suspension units.

Some time in early 1963, the timing side crank shaft bearing failed & I stripped the engine for a rebuild. I also had the big end shells replaced & the magneto brushes replaced by Hunts Engineering in Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth.

The next mod was after a minor accident in 1963. I replaced damaged footrest & gear lever, with a set of “John Tickle” rear set foot rests, gear linkage & brake pedal. I also fitted a pair of “Eddie Dow” Rocket Gold Star silencers & had the petrol tank, oil tank & tool box sprayed silver (by Eddie Poole).(pic 05). The covers on the rear Suspension units were removed to expose the springs. In early 1964, I fitted a red “Bill Jakeman” racing fairing. (pics 06 – 09)

The bike did two trips to the Isle of Man TT, including several laps of the Mountain Circuit, in 1963 & 64, also many trips to Brands Hatch, Thruxton, Castle Combe, Silverstone & Mallory Park, to watch race meetings.

Norton

1964 Guthries Memorial I.O.M.

L-R Vick Fry’s 650SS Norton, Dave Rowden’s 350 BSA Gold Star, Walt Sandy’s 250 NSU Super Max, Eddy Poole’s 500 Norton International, Bob Docking’s 350 Norton International, My 500SS Norton.

After I bought my MG 1100 car in 1965, I kept the Norton, I had finished my engineering apprenticeship & had a bit more money, so I decided to modify the bike further to Paul Dunstall spec. I stripped the engine and polished the head internals, removed the inserts in the inlet ports, which had reduced them from the 1 1/8” used on the 650, to the 1 1/16” for the 500. I bought a pair of left & right handed 1 1/8” Amal Monoblock carbs from Dunstall’s to fit the 1 1/8” ports. He convinced Amal to make a special RH float chamber carb for the SS Nortons, to replace the one with a cut off chamber, as it was thought that the RH cylinder was running weak on LH corners, due to the single float chamber on the LH side. I also bought from Dunstalls & fitted, a 3 ½ gallon fibre glass fuel tank, single racing single seat, a set of swept back exhaust pipes, Gold Star type silencers & clip on handlebars. I replaced the chrome mudguards with aluminium alloy ones, removed the headlight casing & fitted a small Smiths magnetic rev counter in the centre of inside of the fairing. I moved the speedometer to a bracket on the inside the fairing, out of view but legal! (pic 10). Chrome top covers put back on rear suspension units.

It would do over 100 MPH, I once saw 108 MPH in 3rd gear at about 8500 RPM! It was faster than my friend Vic’s 650SS!

I rode it in this trim to a race meeting at Castle Coombe in 1966 and the gear change return spring broke, sticking it in top gear. I could not ride it home, so our friend, Rex Trimnell kindly took me & the bike home in his van, as he had been racing there. I rode it very little after that & eventually sold it, less fairing, which another friend, John Simpson bought for his Manx Norton racer, to Noel Woodcock for £100 in 1968, I think!

The bearing failure & the return spring, were the only failures that I had in the whole time that I owned the bike. I think I covered about 30,000 miles on it.

Mike Foote.

From DVLA website 18/06/2019:

342 BEL
✓ Taxed
Tax due:m01 March 2020
MOT No results returned

Vehicle details

  • Vehicle make: NORTON
  • Date of first registration: January 1962
  • Year of manufacture: 1962
  • Cylinder capacity (cc): 500 cc
  • CO₂Emissions: Not available
  • Fuel type: PETROL
  • Euro Status: Not available
  • Export marker: No
  • Vehicle status: Tax not due
  • Vehicle colour: GREEN
  • Vehicle type approval: Not available
  • Wheelplan: 2-WHEEL
  • Revenue weight: Not available

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