SOHC Oldham Coupling (Top Only) - Various Sizes: (Each)

Product no.: 0684 A11_764PX

In stock

from £29.00
Recommended Retail Price, plus delivery

This is the Oldham Coupling that is fitted to all SOHC engines as part of the the vertical shaft assembly.  Two of these are required per engine, and we sell them in various thicknesses.  This listing is for the none stanard type for different complression ratios - which we can offier in various thicknesses, but should only be used on the top bevel housing.  For the bottom bevel housing you should always fit a standard thickness 3/!6" thickness version (and were often fitted on the top bevel housing as well), which we also sell - see Item 0683 for these.

Update April 2024: New batch now in, and all sizes back available.  We have also introduced a new thickness: 0684-6 which has 0.240" extra deep middle section, as this had been requested by some customers (not sure if this was an originally supplied thickness - but believe it has been found necessary by some owners building engines from mismatched parts - a very common theme for this popular engine type). 

These couplings are CNC manufactured by ourselves from very hard EN24T to a high tolerance.  The length of the tangs are the standard Norton SOHC size having being copied from good condition (un-molested) original items.  Two of these are required per SOHC engine, one is fitted underneath the vertical shaft and one fitted above.

These couplings were originally available in different thicknesses, it being the width of the centre section that can vary - this was to allow for different compression ratio's, where the barrel height may have been amended to allow for a higher or lower compression ratio, in which case it is the top Oldham Coupling that could be changed.

It should be noted that the bottom Oldham Coupling should always be the same width - 0.187" (3/16")  which is Item 0683 - this is important as the vertical shaft has a lip on it at its base, that means it can rest on the inner ring of the lower bevel bearing.  Therefore if a thicker coupling was used it would mean the vertical shaft lip would sit proud of the bearing (and I assume this could place extra strain on the lower bevel gears - although how much risk there is of this I am not sure of. . . but it is the way Norton designed it, so must have been for a reason).

However, we offer a selection of different width couplings (both slimmer and thicker than the 'standard' size 3/16" type) to allow for if you are building an engine and need to adjust the coupling to allow for higher/lower compression ratio.  This is also very useful if assembling an engine from parts of different years, as there seemed to be many minor permutations of barrel height/crankcase height/conrod length/head to barrel spigot etc etc.  

This listing (0684) is for the non-standard thickness couplings - and the table below shows the different types we offer, both thinner and thicker than the standard type.  Go to Item 0683 if you require a coupling of the standard 3/16" width.

Please Note:  Original Norton Oldham Couplings it seems were normally supplied hardened - i.e. you cannot run a file over them (although I have stripped a number of engines with what looks to be hard - but unhardened couplings fitted).  However - as part of manufacturing these couplings - we found that almost every original Norton vertical shaft had a degree of tolerance in the slot - the result being that it is difficult to find an ideal tang width that is a reasonable fit into all vertical shafts - they would either be too tight, or be too sloppy.  Because of this we have machined these couplings from a very hard (but unhardened) steel - to the most suitable original tang width.  Ideally - the oldham coupling tang should just feed into the bevel gear/vertical shaft with firm finger pressure (or a light tap with mallet).  In reality, it is not unusual to have a coupling that drops into the slot with no resistence - but there should be no perceptable 'slop' or sideplay - this indicating a worn slot.  Being hard but unhardened - if too tight to go into a slot, it is possible to lightly 'stone' these couplings (i.e. a vice mounted fine sharpening stone used in conjunction with light oil), to mate the face of the tang to the slot in the vertical shaft/bevel gear.  With  this in mind - it should be appreciated that these couplings may be less tolerant of high mileages or heavy use than original couplings, and owners should make occasional checks whenever possible - i.e. when removing cambox or head for regular maintenance to satisfy themselves all is good.  The customeer must accept this design consideration as part of purchasing these couplings  (and if required may decide to have them Nitride hardened - if felt necessary).



Measuring The Required Width For the Top Oldham Coupling 

So when measuring your engine on assembly - you should loosely assemble the engine with head/barrel/cambox/vertical bevel assemblies all fitted - but no couplings or vertical shaft fitted.  Once everything is tightened down, you should then measure the distance between the top and bottom vertical bevel gears.  You then subtract the length of the vertical shaft, the width of the bottom Oldham Coupling (3/16" as explained above), then the remainder of the measurement should be the width of the top coupling you require. 

The final important thing to remember when taking this measurement is that it is essential to allow a 'clearance' gap on each Oldham Coupling to allow for expansion - I normally ensure a minimum of 0.015" (i.e. 15 thou) on each coupling - remember to account for this clearance in your calculations (i.e. a total of at least 30 thou gap for both couplings). 

To accurately measure the distance you might find it is easier to make a telescopic adjuster - similar to the one shown in one of the photos in this listing.  I made this many years ago by boring a steel cylinder approx 0.5" in outer diameter, to allow an aluminium 0.250" shaft to slide up and down inside it, and a knurled bolt screwed in from the side, so the shaft can be tightened in position when fitted, then with a scriber you can mark the position, as you will need to loosen it and allow it to be removed for accurate measuring.  A tool like this can be invaluable for accurately measuring.  

Email us on if this is not clear or you require more inforation.

Last two points when ordering these couplings:

1. You should ensure the coupling slides into the 'female' tang of the vertical shaft completely, so that the top face of the shaft/vertical gear is fully touching the middle section of the Oldham Coupling.  If you find the tang of the Oldham coupling touches the bottom of the slot of the vertical shaft/bevel gear - then it is very probable that your original vertical shaft/bevel gear has been modified!! - this was not unusual and I have seen it done on many occasions, I would expect that this means at some point in the past a previous owner has had to change parts or compression ratio and found it caused the vertical assembly to be too long for the cambox - therefore has shortened the end of the vertical shaft or gear to account for this.  If this is the case with your bike, it is possible to carefully grind the length of the Oldham Coupling, to shorten it slightly so the base is again in contact - however I must point out - if you do this it is at your own risk! (although it was not an uncommon thing for old owners to carry out, I cannot recommend it).  We will shortly be selling our own manufactured vertical shafts to original length's and these will be being made to fit the original tang length - as per these couplings.   And for further information - later DOHC engines were normally fitted with couplings with shallower tangs - approx 0.300" in length seems common.  If your shaft ends have been shortened to allow Oldham Coupling tangs of this length, it may be because at some point it was mixed with DOHC parts.

2. Wear of your vertical shaft or bevel gears and the fit of the Oldham Coupling?:  It is very difficult to be hardfast about what tolerance of fit is acceptable when fitting Oldham Couplings into the verical shaft/bevel gears.  Over the years I have measured very many original Norton Oldham Couplings and vertical shafts - and even when they have clearly been unused, there tolerances have varied by up to 2-3 thousandth of an inch??!!  However, as a yardstick - when assembling an engine, I normally like it when an oldham coupling tang will push into the vertical shaft/bevel gear slot with a firm finger pressure.  It should not lock up, but neither should there be any perceptable play once in place at all.  If there is perceptable 'slop' between the tangs then I would suggest your shaft has excessive wear.  We have manufactured the tangs on our Oldham Couplings to be in tolerance of the most common standard fit - and we then fitted to a variety of original shafts, and know they will either slide in or just require a light tap.  Final point to note - it is not unusual when fitting these into original shafts/gears to find that one end of the slot on the shaft/gear is a 'looser' fit than the other.  This seems normal - I think it was a consequence of this engine design that one side of the tang slot wears slightly more than the other - just make sure there is no perceptable 'slop' or rattle, indicating there is too much wear.

Not a cheap item, but reflects the difficulty to manufacture

Below is the different width of top couplings we can offer (only for use on top bevels.  You would not use these widths on your lower bevel assembly unless your vertical shaft/lower vertical bevel gear has been altered): 

Oldham Coupling Non Standard Thicknesses
Item Number: Coupling Thicness:  Notes:
0684_1 0.125" Thickness Highest Comp Ratio (or low head/barrel combination)
0684_2 0.140" Thickness V.High Comp Ratio (or low head/barrel combination)
0684_3 0.160" Thickness Hiigh Comp Ratio
<< 0683 >> 0.185" Thickness << Std size - See Item listing 0683 for this coupling >>  Can be used for both Bottom and Top Coupling
0684_4 0.200" Thickness Lower Comp Ratio (possibly the size Norton used for Pool petrol)
0684_5 0.220" Thickness V.Low Comp Ratio (i.e this when used with multi barrel spacers)
0684_6 0.240" Thickness New Apr 2024:  Requested by some customers - would expect this is either a low compression engine, or maybe an engine assembled from parts, and found to be needing this thickness to give necessary height to vertical shaft


Customers who bought this product also bought

Recommended Retail Price, plus delivery

Browse this category: 1.a Norton SOHC Vertical Coupling and Bevel Parts