Information Section: Norton SOHC Engine Bearings and Imperial Bearings in general
If you are new to Norton motorcycle restoration - or indeed any classic bike restoration, then you may be more used to going to a bearing supplier for Metric bearings and finding they are available quite cheaply. You then look here and see these bearings are far more expensive!
Well, the reason for that is that most bearings fitted to Norton SOHC engines are now obsolete or made in very small numbers, therefore if they are available they are far more expensive than metric equivelants - or, as is often the case, they are being held by specialist bearings wholesalers, who buy up any remaining stock - then hold the trade bearing suppliers to ransom!
A couple of the bearings listed in this section are a very good examples of this (see vertical bearing 0005 as the best example), however, unfortunately we are all in the same boat - without major engine surgery it is not possible to fit a modern metric alternative. Added to this, many of the bearings fitted to these SOHC engines were variants of the standard bearing, with different tolerances as fitted to sports/racing engines, making them rarer again!
Wherever possible, I look to supply the original specification bearing, supplied by a top quality bearing supplier - i.e. RHP, SKF, Hoffman or similar. Only if absolutely unobtainable now will I list a cheaper quality modern alternative - and I will make this absolutely clear in the listing. I spend a considerable amount of time every time I need new batch's of bearings going to those bearing suppliers I know and trust . . . and although the bearings are not cheap, I am normally able to negotiate a slightly better price because of the long term relationship I have with them.
Packaging: Unless otherwise stated these bearings will always be 'brand new' quality supplied in original packaging with absolutely no corrosion. However, because many of them have been on the wholesalers shelfs for a long time - Sometimes (dependent on which wholesaler the bearing supplier has got the latest batch from) the original cardboard packaging will be tatty, marked or even replaced with new boxes - all of which is absolutely normal when buying from trade bearing suppliers, but the bearings themselves will always be new - never used or corroded! Also, you will always be able to check the outer track of the bearing itself and be able to check the maker - if it is RHP or SKF, FAG etc . . . then they will have this engraved on the outer track.
You may be able to find cheaper bearings on the Internet . . . but always check with the seller first to find out if they are original UK/European/Japanese manufacturer, or (as getting increasingly more common) a much cheaper Chinese copy. I am not decrying this - I think eventually we may all be forced down this route - but for the moment I would suggest that if you have the choice and it is just the cost that is swaying your decision - then try and buy the best you can afford - even if you have to give up cigarettes, women and wine for a few weeks!
With all the above background said, I can only suggest you consider the mindset that I apply - given the (limited) mileage most of us do with these engines - if you buy good quality once, hopefully you will not have to buy again for a long time!