In August 2017 a friend and I rode our bikes to St. Joseph MO to be at the site of totality for the solar eclipse. Along the way we stopped in Anamosa IA to go to the National Motorcycle Museum. At the hotel the next morning I was chatting with a couple in their 80’s who were out on their trike, also going somewhere to watch the eclipse. In our discussion the gentleman mentioned that he had two bikes in his storage barn that he wanted to sell: a 1975 Harley; and a 1973 Norton. My first love was a Triumph and I had been on the look-out for a British bike to restore and we made plans to meet up in September to look at the bikes. Turned out they live in Plover WI, about 2 hours from my house.
We got together and inspected the bikes in mid-September. Both had been put in storage here in 1990 by his friend, a Veteran who had to enter the hospital and unfortunately went from there to a nursing home for the next 27 years. On his recent death the widow asked that the bikes be sold. The Harley was a chopped Sportster and we declined on that one. But the Norton, although covered with barn grime from the 27 years in storage, had beauty underneath and only <15,000 original miles. He had been diligent about squirting oil in the pistons and rotating the engine a couple of times each year. We bought it and hauled it home, becoming only the second owner.
Over the next two years we stripped it down to the frame and did a frame-up restoration. The engine was in good shape and only the top end needing refreshing, which was done by Dale’s Cycle in Walworth WI, a British bike specialist. Rebuilding the engine in my shop required obtaining Whitworth and other special hand tools, some of which had to come from England. Most of the NOS parts, and a lot of expertise, came from Morrie’s Place in Ringwood IL, a specialist in old bikes. The frame and other components were painted by our local paint shop. The tank and side panels were painted by a Norton specialist in Indiana. All the gunked-up aluminum and pitted chrome was polished by Oconto Metal Finishing in Oconto WI, who also provide the polishing for S&S. Some of the hardest work was figuring out and re-creating the Lucas wiring (you were on hand for some of that). Over many long hours in my shop, coffee in hand and tunes on the Pandora, the bike was painstakingly restored to stock, as-new condition. It starts on the first kick (most of the time), and it’s a joy to ride.
Because Al wants to share this beauty with others, he applied to the Concours de Elegance Riding Into History motorcycle show and has been accepted to participate/compete. The show will be held in St Augustine, FL on April 24, 2021. Admission is only $15 for spectators! Al and his wife Barbara will attend that show (https://ridingintohistory.org/concours/ ) before driving to the AMA Hall of Fame Museum in Pickerington OH. They will be donating the bike to the museum. Since the museum currently does not have a Norton motorcycle, they are very excited to get this one. A tip of the hat to you Al! To read more about Al Lankford including his EMS background, CLICK here: https://roadguardians.org/al-lankford-asm-lead-instructor/