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Garden Gate Manx: The Book about my Bike | Other | Tested

Anatomy of a Norton

A couple of years ago it was predicted that books would be killed off by the Kindle, but that’s not going to happen while there are still people like Niels Schoen around. This Dutchman is passionate about the Garden Gate Norton Manx that he inherited from his uncle, and he is also passionate about books.

As a freelance mechanical engineer, Schoen realised there was a way to share his passion with others. And it involved completely dismantling his 1948 Model 40.

He parked the Norton in the living room of his fourth-floor Rotterdam apartment, so at least he had somewhere warm and dry to work. He then began unbolting every single component, breaking it down to the smallest part, and carefully measuring every dimension with old-tech calipers and steel rules before using SolidWorks CAD software to create 3D illustrations.

The first component he processed from bits to bytes was the big Amal Type 10RN9 racing carburettor. It took another nine months before he had finished dismantling and measuring the Norton, and five years before all the drawings were finished.

“From time to time I had to mask the smell of decaying oil coming from the engine’s dungeon by burning scented candles and opening windows before my wife came home from work,” writes Schoen.

The hardback book sets the scene by introducing Uncle Ko and his collection of Nortons, before getting into what makes this book both beautiful and unique. And that is the illustrations created so carefully by Schoen – more than 300 of them in 164 pages.

To give you some idea of the depth of detail, the Amal alone consumes no fewer than seven pages and 17 full-colour drawings, including sectional illustrations to show how it works. Stunning.

The accompanying text supplies explanatory notes and background info such as: “The top cap spring…has the look of a small, thick book and is therefore nicknamed ‘the Bible’.”

The chapter covering the engine includes an annotated valve-timing diagram and a nice explanation about why a crankshaft needs a fixed and a loose end. Oh, and that in the days before Loctite, Bracebridge Street engineers used solder on the screws that secure the mainshaft bearing plate. And the gearbox chapter includes instructions on how to rebuild it, which makes this book a Haynes manual on steroids.

By Phillip Tooth