HOME and how to join Forum Open Area General Scott topics Webb forks Re: Webb Forks – copy of email thread

Paul W

Roger asked for the following email thread (between him and Malcolm Webb) to be published in case it is of interest to others…… so I have pasted it below:

Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2004 1:33 AM
No mystery about Webb forks, Norton and Velocette used them for racing so they were better than the rest in their day!
I can’t tell you specifically about Scott ones since my Scott lost hers after the war in favour of the Dowty types (a fairly common conversion) but I have used similar medium weight Webbs on a Velo and heavy weight ones on my pre-war Norton so herewith a little information to be going on with until the Scott experts reply (as I am sure that they will).
On the Norton and Velo type the damper is on the offside (kick start side) and the links threaded on the studs are on the other side.
To adjust you first slacken off the adjustable damper and spindle lock nuts on the nearside and rotate the spindles with their square ends to take up the side play. The idea is to take out the side play but to leave the knurled washers just free to turn with your fingers. No specified torque settings I am afraid, just tighten the lock nuts so they are holding the links.
If you have not ridden girder forks before, be prepared for the sensation that the whole thing is unravelling when you hit some rough road, you soon learn why we Brits copied the Germans immediatly after the war.
One tip, when you are satisfied with your initial adjustment, I would clean the ends of the spindle threads and coat them with plastic gasket, then tighten the lock nuts. This secures the nuts without the removal problems that using Loctite can bring. Do not underestimate the ability of girder fork nuts to come loose, I had a very embarassing experience some years ago with my Matchless V twin after a 30 mile ride to the MOT tester, since then I have used the gasket cement dodge (works on Triumph rocker box caps as well!).
I am sure that someone will give you more technical advice, but be assured, on a bike like the Scott you will find girders a little different at first, but will soon get used to them. Hope this helps.
Malc Webb

Sent: Thursday, July 08, 2004 1:54 AM
Re-reading my message, I may not have been totally clear.
Sit on the bike facing the front, on the right hand side of the forks you have the fork adjuster and the fork links with plain holes (no threads) the nuts just tighten onto the ends (I would stick these with gasket cement as well).
On the left hand side of the forks you have the spindles with the square ends, the fork links threaded onto the spindles and lock nuts. The knurled adjuster washers ( they should be knurled, some use plain ones) are between the links and the ends of the fork spindle holders.
Hope this makes more sense!

Sent: Friday, July 09, 2004 1:12 AM
Hi Roger
Glad to be of help, sorry that I underestimated your experience level, sounds like you know exactly what you are in for from girder forks!
I have recently had some E-Mail discussions with Roger Moss and he thinks like me that there is need for some basic information to be made easily available, not just the sort of advanced engineering that I imagine comprises the bulk of the “Technicalities” information.
I had a look around to see if I could find a diagram of a pair of Webbs, I began to think that there was something in this idea of a conspiracy of silence but I eventually found the attached in a small paperback Norton book.
These must be pretty much like yours (they are called “Norton” but are actually Webbs built to the Norton spec) the only difference is the checks springs connecting the links (an idea used by Ariel, Matchless and several others at the time).
I am not an E-Mail expert, hope the compression leaves the page still legible, I am up to date with the Anti-virus which scans everything in and out so this attachment should not give you any nasties.
All The Best

Sent: Sunday, July 11, 2004 1:05 AM
Subject: Re: Webb forks
That made me think! In the end I made a quick trip out to the garage with a torch to study my 1929 Norton.
I am pretty sure that the answer is that there are no knurled washers on the lower spindle.
One thing I forgot to check is which type of fork damper arrangement you have.
One type has a damper knob on the offside and just a friction disc on the nearside (square spindle end) this is the type shown in that Norton diagram.
Another type which I had years ago on a Sunbeam had a plain link on the nearside with not even a friction disc.
This type, I think had knurled washers on the rear link.
The other type, like the heavyweight Webbs on my old Norton has a damper adjuster both sides with a “star”
washer and strange shaped elongated plates which act as adjuster levers – these don’t have the knurled washers on the rear link.
If a photo would help, I can drag the Norton out when I get back from work tomorrow afternoon (I work shifts and some weekends) and sort some pics out on the digital camera.

Sent: Monday, July 12, 2004 1:35 AM
Subject: Re: Webb forks
I think I am with you now, this is definately the same set up as used on my old Norton. The idea is that you set up the bottom links in the same way as the top links with minimum side play and then the “star dampers” give you extra damping control.
It is so long since I had set of these apart that I am working from memory (which might be confused by the fact that I have dismantled not just Webbs but Matchless and BSA girders which varied in important details).
The eliptical plates (shaped a bit like a sycamore leaf?) have their own threads which, I think, are on the outside portion of the spindles. When you turn them they bear on the star washers which bear on a circular plate which then bears on a disc of friction material which in turn bears on the circular plate cast into the front fork spindle holder.
From what I can see balancing on top of my ES2 shining the torch down between the wall and the side of the old Norton (she just had to be nose in at the back of the shed!) there are no knurled washers on the bottom set of links.
Apologies, it has been a difficult day work-wise today (Sunday), I am on evenings tomorrow so I will try and drag the ES2 out of the way and try and get you photo of the old Norton forks.
If it is any compensation, these star washer types are the luxury ones devised for racing. Nortons adopted this type when one of their stars refused to race with the old (Druid) type forks because he thought that they were dangerous!

Sent: Monday, July 12, 2004 12:57 PM
I finally managed to get to the back of the shed with a camera!
Attached is a shot of the offside bottom link. The eliptical shaped plate (?) can be screwed clockwise to put tension on the star washer. The other side is pretty much the same except that the nuts are tightened onto the link instead of onto the end of the spindle and the square ends of the spindle protrude from the nuts.
I do remember that some forks that I have seen have two thin nuts on the nearside, the outer one acting as a locknut, mine has only one nut per spindle bearing onto the (threaded) link.
Despite what I have already said, there are Knurled washers on the bottom link. These are on the rear (steering head end) spindle only, and sit between the fork casting and the long flat linking plate so they are hidden in this picture.
These forks were put together about 45 years ago, presumably by the same chap who put the bike together for
racing (and ground off the frame number!). The “knurled” washers aren’t actually knurled on this bike (if you get what I mean) and are smaller than original.
I hope that it is all begining to make sense!

Sent: Monday, July 12, 2004 2:37 PM
Subject: Re: Webb forks
Having had time to think and re-read your message, a couple of points before I shoot off to work.
The adjustment at the back (steering head) bottom link is the same as for the top links using the knurled washers which I now have to admit DO live there. The rear part of the friction disc holder (the long flat plate) has no part in the sideplay adjustment – the rear hole should be big enough to allow it to slide over the tubular part of the side link.
The function of that part is to act as an anchor against the twisting motion of the forks working against the star washer on the front part. On some bikes like my big Matchless the disc holder plate doesn’t even extend over the rear spindle, it is cut short and bolted to a boss on the fork tube.
The eliptical adjuster at the front bears directly on the star washer, there is no lock nut as such.