Rich beyond the dreams of avarice

Amac 10MDY and Amal twin floats

What a lash up!!! Just in case anyone was wondering how the carburation was developing on the 1930 M90 I thought I’d post this picture of the steps taken to check and correct the float height on the Amac 10MDY currently fitted to the bike. It’s the wrong carb for the year and I’d like a later Amal 29/001 if anyone can help but “we are where we are” on this one…

The Amal twin floats are most likely 15 degree items that have been machined to operate on the level so to speak. But they were clearly never designed to operate with the Amac. After making up a new, elongated float chamber holding bolt complete with a spigot for some clear plastic pipe it was easy to see that the float level was some 6mm too high. Adding the aluminium spacer drops the level back downwards and this setup should help with fine tuning once back on the bike. I’ll make up a proper brass spacer and new banjo bolt once the correct dimensions are established as the existing one is too short to work with the spacer.

All this is yet another example of how much time can be spent trying to get groups of disparate components from different eras to work together with some degree of harmony.

Norley meets Buell Lightning

To paraphrase Robert M. Pirsig  “it is better for a good idea to destroy a motorcycle than for an owner’s club to destroy a good idea”. Sometimes a chap has to stand upright in the face of those without clear vision and those who would seek to maintain the “status quo”. Nigel O’Connell is just such a man and, close to the Welsh seaside town of Aberystwyth, he found Paul and the guys at Norley frame kits were willing and able to turn his wet dream into cold steel.

Buell XB12 feather bed frame kit

Norley have been making Manx Norton frames for 40 years and also produce frames for other high-profile companies involved in the re-creation of iconic motorcycles. The café-racer things has always appealed and whilst everyone wants an Ogri-bike few can afford the Vincent technology to power it. After spotting this gap in the market a few evenings were spent with beer mats in the pub and the Harley/Buell engine’d Norley frame was born. Weighing in at 15.5kg including swinging arm it shares its geometry with the original Manx Norton featherbed design.

Nigel’s project began with a perfectly good Buell XB12 that was a nice, but not quite mint, example. The sort of bike you’d be happy to ride in all weathers and not have to worry about cleaning nano-seconds afterwards. Yet smart enough to impress outside the pub.

Buell XB12S

Why not drive it down to Wales in the back of the van and completely dismantle it then? I confess to being initially sceptical but after the first visit and talking with Paul I began to see a chink of light. This is the first XB frame kit that Norley have produced and so the first job was to take the bike apart and build a new jig using the original frame. The motor is suspended from the beam frame in the donor bike and this means some lateral thinking when moving the lump across to its new home.

Buell cafe race frame kit

The concept of the new bike is a not-so subtle blend of new and old that retains the essential characteristics of the classic café-racer and the Buell Lightning. To Nigel, this means keeping the original Buell wheels and especially the unique rim-mounted disc brake. A conversion to chain drive is unavoidable and to retain the fat Buell rear wheel caused a number of alignment issues. One rear wheel was sacrificed to the cause and Nigel now has all different varieties of Buell front forks coming from his ears.


The amazing thing is that it all does fit together and looks in proportion to boot! I’m looking forward to our next visit and a chance to see the completed rolling chassis. There’s a lot of work to do yet of course but this will be a massive step forward and I’ll publish some photos as the project develops.

Nigel with Buell Norley frame