At Italianiron/BritIron Classics, it has always been our approach to offer higher quality products rather than what is cheapest. As a result of this business philosophy, we are very proud to source products where we are assured of their quality. Such is the case with regard to our aluminum fuel tanks for the "deep sump" TT 2, TT 1 racers and the "shallow-sump" TT 900 racers where we use modern Ducati engines. In addition to our Ducati and TT Racer fuel tanks, we are now offering a nice selection of high quality aluminum Norton Commando fuel tanks. The purpose of this blog post is to discuss the quality of our fuel tanks and to discuss how they are made. We are also very committed to the sport of Vintage Motorcycle Racing that also drives our need to offer better built and higher quality items that can best handle the stresses of the racetrack. Shown below is the new aluminum "shallow sump" TT 900 tank that I am using on my "blue on red" TT 1 with 750 cc race-prepped engine on the left and the previous fuel tank version of the TT 2 styled tank that is mounted on my "silver on red" TT 1000 with Monster S2R engine. Both of these hand-made aluminum fuel tanks maintain very smooth, rounded shapes that seem also to "flow" consistently and evenly along the frame rails of both racers.
At Italianiron/BritIron Classics, we enjoy working with craftsmen who manufacture our aluminum fuel tanks by Hand using a mallet, sandbag and an English Wheel. Apart from the raised "eyebrow" on the top of this "shallow sump" TT 900 fuel tank that is pressed, the rest of the fuel tank is made with human skill. To quote Andy Molnar, "all that is used to turn them from a flat sheet of aluminum is skill, experience & the rack of the eye!" All of these aluminum fuel tanks after being formed, are Gas-Welded which is arguably an art form in itself. This is a qualitative advantage to the production of our fuel tanks that we have determined over time. On the internet there are many articles on the topic of the numerous advantages of Gas Welding. I am currently quoting a section of an article written by Kent from TM Technology, "TIG vs Torch". Obviously what is best, TIG or Torch is based upon the project undertaken. However, "if you find yourself working on metal that needs to be bent, rolled, hammered or shaped in any way, then you will really appreciate the strength you get from gas welding as you can work the heck out of the metal, something that you cannot do with your TIG welds which can crack, break or leak". Cracking, breaking or leaking are obviously unsuccessful results when using an aluminum fuel tank on a street or a racing motorcycle!!
As anyone who has worked with aluminum knows, as soon as you touch a thin piece of aluminum with a torch, it instantly distorts like a crinkle potato chip or crisp! TIG welding aluminum often leads to a Heat Affected Zone (HAZ) next to the weld which often leads to premature failures. I discussed in a previous blog post about the "real world" experience that I had as a result of a premature aluminum failure of a TIG welded "Imola" fuel tank in the 14 June 20 blog post (link listed below). It was so surprising to me that this failure happened to this newly purchased aluminum fuel tank for my 1974 Ducati 750 ss and on the first race!! However, this aluminum Imola fuel tank cracked at the front frame mount as I was pulling into the pit garage after the race. What a mess was created when all of the residual fuel out of this large capacity fuel tank flowed down from the front of the tank and all over the floor. I was lucky that the break had not taken place during that BOTT race at the Mid-Ohio race track as there could have been some real fireworks!! Shown below is a special photo of Malcolme Tunstall, professional racer, mentor, and friend with me and my 750 ss racer with aluminum Imola fuel tank at the AHRMA (American Historical Racing Motorcycle Association) races at the Mid-Ohio racetrack when Vintage Days was simultaneously taking place. This photo was taken on Friday during practice sessions and before the cracks occurred. To this day, the Mid-Ohio racetrack remains one of my favorite US tracks as it is very reminiscent of UK & European racetracks that "flow" versus our many "point and shoot" US racetracks.
There are many shops that continue to manufacture and to offer aluminum fuel tanks using TIG welding. However, we do not. As such, it is my intention to state our position that we believe that due to the properties of aluminum, that Gas Welding is a superior welding technique for that medium and to assure the quality manufacture of our aluminum Ducati and Norton fuel tanks. Kent continues in his article that "On aluminum from .032"(.081 cm) to 3/16" (.476 cm) the torch wins on penetration, and the TIG has to weld both sides, or it needs a constant back-purge of inert gas during the welding operation. Distortion is equal or slightly better with the torch. The torch wins 'flat-out' on speed and leak resistance on tanks. The TIG has inherently weld-density issues because it boils the aluminum inside the weld bead, leaving more leaks on aluminum tanks." This is our experience as well and why we believe that Gas Welding combined with the process of Annealing, produces a superior product. We offer, in our opinion, a more reliable, safer, and a more qualitative product in our portfolio of aluminum Ducati, Norton & Seeley fuel tanks. The first of our new Norton Commando portfolio is shown below:
If you are looking to restore one of the most valuable of the early Norton Commando's, the "Fastback", we can definitely be of service. After the restoration of a John Player Norton and a Paul Dunstall Norton, we will be restoring a "Fastback" with one of our new aluminum fuel tanks that is shown above. Our new aluminum Norton "Fastback" Commando fuel tank fits the Norton 850 & 750 Commando but will also fit Triton`s and other Cafe Racers that use a Commando chassis. Our tank is a faithful copy of the original "Fastback" tank and manufactured by hand on an English Wheel, Gas Welded and Annealed all over to prevent cracking. This tank will fit the original Commando Fastback seat. This fuel tank is supplied with twin 1/4 BSP fuel tap bosses & 2" Monza flip cap. It can be supplied in a raw brushed finish, or polished for an extra charge.
In the early 1970's, the factory updated the Commando "S" and called it the Norton Commando Roadster thus creating the iconic look for the factory that riders and enthusiasts have enjoyed and appreciated for decades now. Shown above is our Aluminum Fuel Tank for the Norton 850 & 750 Commando "Roadster", but will also fit Triton`s and other Cafe Racers using a Commando chassis. Our tanks are faithful copies of the 1975 Commando "Roadster" tank in particular and is manufactured by hand on an English Wheel, Gas welded and Annealed all over to prevent cracking. This tank will fit the original Commando seat. Our tank is supplied with twin 1/4 BSP fuel tap bosses & 2" Monza flip cap. It can be supplied in a raw brushed finish, or polished for an extra charge.
As the Norton Commando became more popular worldwide and more riders were taking their machines greater distances, the factory introduced the larger capacity "Interstate" fuel tank to support the needs of those riders. Shown above is our Aluminum "Interstate" Fuel Tank for the Norton 850 & 750 Commando, but will also fit Triton`s and other Cafe Racers using a Commando chassis. Our fuel tanks are designed as faithful copies of the original Commando "Interstate" tank. It is manufactured by hand on an English Wheel, Gas Welded and Annealed all over to prevent cracking. This tank will fit the original Commando seat. It is also supplied with twin 1/4 BSP fuel tap bosses & 2" Monza flip cap. It can be supplied in a raw brushed finish, or polished for an extra charge.
There is no question that the Norton Manx is an iconic machine and its fuel tank is easily recognizable. Shown above is our Aluminum "Mini-Manx" Fuel Tank on a specialty build. These fuel tanks are designed to look similar to the iconic Manx 5 gallon tank but in a sleeker 3.5 gallon size. This fuel tank is designed to fit the Norton 850 & 750 Commando, but will also fit Triton`s and Cafe Racers using the Commando chassis. These tanks are manufactured by hand on an English Wheel, Gas Welded and Annealed all over to prevent cracking. This tank will fit the original Commando seat and is available with or without indents for Clip-on handlebars. It can also be supplied with a carb cut-out at the back of the tank if required. Supplied with twin 1/4 BSP fuel tap bosses & 2" Monza flip cap. Painting or polishing services are available at an additional fee.
The Norton factory capitalized on the 1972 racing season with its Norvil branded racing catalogue of spare parts when factory riders Phil Reade and Peter Williams were having many racing successes on their John Player & Sons sponsored Norton racers. As a tribute to the "glory years" of those Production Racers and shown above is our Aluminum Norton Norvil Fuel Tank. This fuel tank is made for the Norton 850 & 750 Commando but will also fit Triton`s and Cafe Racers using the Commando chassis. This fuel tank is a faithful copy of the Norvil Production Racer fuel tank. It is manufactured by hand on an English Wheel, Gas Welded and Annealed all over to prevent cracking. This tank will fit the original Commando seat. It is supplied with twin 1/4 BSP fuel tap bosses & 2" Monza flip cap. Paint and polishing services are available at an additional charge.
The "Lyta" Short Circuit Norton Sprint fuel tank is the quintessential Norton specialty item for the Cafe Racer enthusiast. Shown above is our Aluminum "Sprint" Fuel Tank for the Norton 850 & 750 Commandos, however, it will also fit Triton`s and Cafe Racers using a Commando chassis. Our fuel tank is a faithful copy of the "Lyta" styled Sprint tank and it is manufactured by hand on an English Wheel, Gas Welded and Annealed all over to prevent cracking. This tank will fit the original Commando seat. This aluminum fuel tank can be supplied either with or without indents for Clip-ons. It is supplied with twin 1/4 BSP fuel tap bosses & 2" Monza flip cap. Polishing and paint services are available at an extra cost.
In addition to our product portfolio for TT and other Ducati racers, we are also excited to support enthusiasts for Norton Manx and Norton Commando racers through Molnar Manx and BritIron Classics Norton. Please understand that the prices for our TT, Ducati and Norton Commando aluminum fuel tanks as listed on my Italianiron.com website are not eligible to be discounted. The "Make An Offer" feature is available for use on all of our other OEM Ducati and Norton items. As a result of our offerings, it is our hope to help you to become immersed in the history, the passion and the early technology of these amazing machines. Let us "Fuel Your Race Passions" to keep the sport of Vintage Motorcycle Racing alive and well!!