Friday, June 19, 2009


Tas owned an early Bronze-head ex-works Norton Model 40 International, which I thought, before seeing photos, might have been one I just sold.. but his bike has a two-stay frame, while mine had the earlier three-stay type.  There can't have been many bronze-head ohc Nortons on the West Coast of the US, but perhaps his machine is out there somewhere..

.Hi Paul,
My name is Tasman Graham, and my daughter Kathy has been in touch with you concerning the history and location of my old Norton Model 40. As we presently understand it, the bike you owned  spent time in Germany, came to the States to you, in turn you sold it to John in Holland. This background information is a bit at odds with my bike’s history as I have been  able to reconstruct it, some of this info came via Stan Dibben, from George Cohen’s memory.

It was first a factory bike for several years, then it was imported to the agent in Launceston, Tasmania, E.T.H. (Trevor) Jowett. It might have been in Victora  for a short time. It was raced in Tasmania from the late1930’s, pre WWII, and the owner in 1950 put it up for sale so he could buy a newer one. I purchased it directly from Jowett It had few identification marks, but in late 1950 I dropped a valve doing the flying mile at Greens Beach. It was then rebuilt by the BSA Goldstar wizard, Pat Brown, in Devonport, Tasmania. In order to keep the cost down, he used a 348cc BSA Goldstar piston in lieu of the Norton piston which was very expensive. Unless the bike has been rebuilt, it is probably in there.

The bike had two valves, a few were made with four, hairpin valve springs, and the racing fuel petrol aluminum tankcap centered on top of the tank. Also, the aluminum fuel tank had scalloped edges where the sides were soldered to the bottom, beautifully done. When I sold it, it was partially restored, all the tin painted, but the seat was not finished

I was born in Idaho and moved to Tasmania with my mother in 1934. In 1952, after I turned 21, I started looking for a way to come back to the U.S.A. to see my father and brothers. I met some of the crew of the Matson line freighter SS Sierra and was able to purchase a ticket from Brisbane to San Francisco. I sold the Norton to a crew member on the same ship and it paid for my ticket home. The only name I have from that crew was the purser, Robert Boehm of Portland, Oregon, whom I have so far been unable to locate, and believe he may be gone. The last time I saw my bike it was lashed to a mast of the Sierra on 7 Oct. 1952.

Some recent information from the Tasmanian Motorcycle Club of this period has encouraged me to track down the history of my bike. I am enclosing copies of the only photos I still have, one showing the right side in its original form with me sitting on it.

The second one shows the left side after I had started restoration. The new paint job was complete but the replacement seat was not finished. This is how the bike looked in Oct. 1952. With everything going on in those days, I did not have sense enough to keep information like engine or frame numbers of any of my bikes.  So this is going to be hit and miss, but with the information I got from Kathy, it shows great promise.

By the way, I enlisted in the U.S Army in 1953 and was stationed in Germany from ’54-58 where I was able to attend much of the Continental Circus, including the Dutch TT at Assen in ’55-’58.

There are a few mechanical details that might be important, but we can discuss this at a later date. A final note: I am now 77, have no lungs, am blind and have terminal cancer, so every day is a gift and a new trip, and maybe we will have time to sort this out, I do hope so. I sure thank you for your response and help to Kathy.

Cheers, Tas

Does this story ring a bell to anyone?  Contact me and I'll send the info to Tas...


Anonymous said...

Dear Paul,

-- Just talked to my dad and he is so grateful for your efforts to help him. He's not feeling too well tonight, but asked me to let you know he wants to write you and thank you himself tomorrow.

Thanks for all you are doing. Even if he does not find out what has happened to his bike, he definitely feels that your blog posting is the best effort with the most hope for success. If it doesn't hit the jackpot, I think he will be content that to do more could not have been possible.

You are so generous to take the time to help. Thank you from the heart.


Richard said...

I work on vintage motorcycles in Atlanta for the son of the original Norton dealer, started in 1948. In the late 50's or early 60's he found an Inter for sale on Emory University campus which had not come through their shop. He has since acquired a second Inter, both of which he still has. I'm not saying either is the bike in question, but a lot of people attend this university from out-of-state, so it's in the realm of possibility. I can easily get photos.

Anonymous said...

Dear Paul,

Thanks to Richard for his offer! Richard, if it truly would not be a problem, that would be great.

My dad said that "George Cohen assured Stan Dibben that it was a '33 Manx. Yet, if it would be easy to get a photo, I would appreciate it.
If the bike has four valves, of course it would not be possible for it to match my old bike."