Tips for buyers

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The military 16H was a very close descendant of the civilian 1936 bike. It differed only in small details.
It is therefore very easy to have a civilian bike presented as a military bike and/or a military bike presented as a pre-war civilian one. Most present 16H's on the market are ex-military by origin, basically caused by the huge amount built.
Detailed differences found between civil and military bikes are given on the civil versus military pages, see  16H  and  Big 4

Some time ago, a 16H was marketed on e-bay as a 1947, military 16H, sporting a 1947 engine (traceable by engine number prefix) with enclosed valves (as introduced in 1938 on civilian machines).
Such an advertisement is either a fraud or an extremely careless description caused by ignorance and lack of effort to find the real valid information.

Why was this incorrect?
a) The British Army did not buy any 16H (or BIG4) Nortons after cancellation of part of the last big contract (S5161) in 1944. the RAF ordered some more (around 350) machines. The Army started demobbing large amounts of bikes "surplus to the requirements" shortly after the war ended.
b) According to a pre August 1945 Norton advertisement, Norton ended work on Government contracts at the end of August 1945.
c) It is very unlikely that the military would want to buy 16H motorcycles with the enclosed valves after the war as they decided not to so before the war because of the burden of additional spares parts logistics. With the abundance of spare part stocks for the 1937 specification engine, it is totally illogical.
d) With the start of building civilian motorcycles in late 1945, Norton introduced the cradle frame on all models.

When reading sales advertisements, be suspicious about what is offered, assuming that  you want to buy a genuine bike!  Newer frames with older engines or the other way around do however not mean it is not genuine, as long as the engines and frames are according to the 1937 specification or the variations there off. The only thing not physically altered between the early and late 16H model engines was the application of a dust cover only over the valve stems/springs. The cover changed from aluminium to pressed steel and the screw changed from round knob to a winged knob, but the cylinder remained basically the same apart from thicker mounting flanges on the later engines. Oil tight enclosed valves were not used. 
To make the situation slightly more confusing, there have been prewar 1938/1939 military Nortons with enclosed valves. These were however not for the British army, but for the Indian Army.

Frame parts and accessories did change considerably. Many variations and combinations thereof can be seen in contemporary pictures. It helps to have proper contemporary parts mounted to a bike when you buy it as it relieves the search for them.  

Buying a bike may be a bit difficult, even when you see it yourself. Especially the Indian machines which are now coming to Europe are very tricky things. I have seen a number of those, but the price asked far outweighed the actual value (my personal opinion). I would say that they are collections of loose parts travelling in the same direction (if you are lucky). These machines have been kept alive under the most difficult circumstances leading to machines with most unlikely, non contemporary, combinations of parts. One of the most dangerous ones I have seen had front fork spindles about twice the original diameter. Imagine how much of the original metal is left of the steering head brackets. This would therefore require a complete new front fork, which are very expensive and difficult to find.
I would also be very curious when opening the engine or gearbox. There can be surprises. I have seen engines with completely new, unused flywheels and conrod, as well as total wrecks. Main gearbox bearings with lead soldered onto the outer race to make it fitting its housing again.

If you are really looking for a genuine, prewar, civilian 16H, the most important give away is the saddle spring mounting. Starting with model year 1936, all civilian bikes had side mounted saddle springs. So whatever "1937" or later motorcycles being offered as civilian, but sporting the vertical saddle spring studs is an ex- military bike by definition.

Whatever you buy, be observant, don't let the seller make your decision. It is a gamble even when you know the previous owner (which is not necessarily the previous "owner") . Remember that military/WD 16H's were made between 1936 and 1945. Anything before 1936 is impossible as the Army did not order them yet (excluding the single items bought/used by the Army for evaluation purposes). Anything after 1945 is extremely unlikely as it is totally out of scope of post war military thinking and illogical in view of the surplus of transports available at the time. 

Two helpful but very basic articles were written in the past by Chris Orchard and published in the Classic Motor Cycle Magazine in 1986/87 in the "Basic First-time Buyers Guide" series. Part 4 and part 8 of the series describe the 16H and BIG4 respectively.