Wednesday, 20 April 2011

The Anatomy of a 1954 Works Norton Featherbed frame

I thought I would make this post to give an idea of the difference between a Works Norton racing machine and its Manx production racing cousin.
We are only looking at the frame here for a 1954 500cc Works Norton. Striking differences can be seen immediately between it and a Manx Featherbed frame. The radius of the curve in the main tube as it goes from the top tube to the gusset plates on the works frame is smaller than on a Manx Featherbed.
Modifications to the rear mudguard loop carried out at the 1954 TT

500 stamped on drive-side gusset
It can be seen that the rear mudguard loop has been chopped off the frame pictured here. This was done in a hurry at the TT in 1954. An extra bracing tube was added between the top tubes at the same time. This frame is for a 500cc Works machine, as indicated by the stamping to the gusset on the drive side.

Pannier tank mounts and bowed drive side main tube can be seen
The drive side bottom tube is bowed out on the Works frame in order to clear the outside flywheel that was used on the 1954 machines. The timing side gusset and bottom tube are also relieved slightly in order to allow the fitment of a 5 speed Burman gearbox.
Oil cooler mount

The frame incorporates many Works specific features. On the top tubes there are mountings which hold the pannier tanks on either side of the machine. The timing side front down tube has a bracket added which supports the oil cooler which was used on the Works machines.

Front fairing mount

Weight saving inside the steering head

Front fairing mountings are also different from that of a standard Manx. The 1954 Works bikes sometimes utilised the rather unusual looking Proboscis fairing. The steering head on the Works frame is also undercut inside in order to save weight.

Rear chain oiler

The Works frame is made so that it holds lubrication oil for both the primary and final drive chain. The 1954 Works machine used a floating rear brake, with the brake-plate being unusually on the timing side of the machine. In order to facilitate this, the frame had to have a mounting for the brake torque arm on the timing side.
Rear brake mounting and modifications to clear the Burman 5 speed gearbox
As well as incorporating all the special Works extras not seen on a conventional Manx, the frame is of course much lighter than that on the production racing machine.


  1. what place is best to buy a good manx norton replica frame ? I heard several adresses but some guy`s say`s don,t buy here or buy there
    what manx replica frame is the best ?
    please reply on
    thanks Frank

  2. I noticed how the works bikes had more room for a larger oil tank, thus the small radius bend where the top tubes go down to the swing-arm. They had black-painted oil tanks to help them get rid of heat, and the extra room could also let them get the oil tank away from the carb bellmouth a bit if they wanted.

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