I was in a conversation with an old racer the other day about the development of Manx Nortons and the name Edgar Franks cropped up. I am sure many would have heard of Joe Craig who developed Norton’s Works racing machines, but the name Edgar Franks would be known by very few.
Edgar was a mechanical engineer at Norton who worked on many machines over the years. It was Edgar Franks who assisted Arthur Carroll and Joe Craig in the re-design of the Norton over-head-cam engine after Walter Moore left for NSU. Edgar also redesigned the Norton range for 1931. Changes he made included making new lower frames which made the rider adopt the knees fully bent riding position due to a saddle height of only 26.5”. Other changes included Norton making their own hubs, brakes and Webb-type forks, instead of buying in components.
In 1933 Franks designed the Norton model 50 350cc OHV motorcycle. It was also Edgar Franks that designed the Norton oil-bath primary chain case which was introduced in 1934 and used until the 1960’s. The first telescopic forks for a production Norton machine were designed by Edgar Franks for the 1940 Manx model.
In January 1950 it was Edgar Franks who took Rex McCandless, the Featherbed frame and Rex’s jigs to Reynolds Tube Company. Reynolds went on to manufacture the Featherbed frames for the Manx Norton racing machines.
One of Edgar Franks’ biggest contributions was in the development of the Manx Norton production racing machines. For over two decades Franks continuously improved Manx to keep it competitive. It is a common mistake that Joe Craig developed the Manx machine – instead Joe Craig was in charge of the Works racers. So without Edgar Franks hundreds of racers would not have had such an effective racing weapon as the Manx Norton.