Saturday, July 4, 2015

Sprint Report - 4

OK, this is the last of them. This one was buried in the back of the shop in the "elephant graveyard" of forgotten motorcycle projects. '68 250 SS model that was being worked on at about the same time I was racing. I pulled the head and barrel off it and got the valves ground. It's running a higher compression piston but don't really know about anything else - never got that far. I did paint the tank and fenders when I was painting my 350.

Surly came down with a belated Father's Day gift a few days ago and helped organize and clean up some things. I had to go to work so we didn't get a chance to chat much but we did discuss the Sprint situation a bit. No real conclusions drawn but something is always better than nothing. Especially with a couple of mopes with ADD - you make plans but move on to something else as soon as you leave the room. However, he got quite a bit accomplished and now we can see what we've got and I don't have to be around for him to find things. Thanks. I appreciate you giving up a vacation day.

The "invisible" barn cat. The Missus got us a couple of cats a year or so ago. I kept them in the new barn for a couple of weeks and then I opened up the big door so they could go outside if they wanted to. The thinking was they would stay around because that's where the food and water were. The one walked outside and looked around a bit and then bolted like it was a jail break. I saw him around the neighborhood a few times but he never came back home. The other one decided this place is the greatest thing going, especially since I've got it all to myself now. I never saw the cat but the food was getting eaten, the litter box was being used and no sign of mice. OK, I can live with that. When I drug the 350 out the other day to get a couple of photos of it I saw the cat for the first time since its arrival. It managed to get up on the top shelf and I was able to get the photo. Now at least I've got a photo to show the grand kids what the cat looks like.

With the crazy weather we're having, somethings are going great guns and others are suffering from too much water and the cooler temperatures. The lilies are doing well, as you can see. The animal population seems to be booming. There are rabbits all over my property, I've seen a lot of deer around and on the way home from work last week I saw what looked like 5 coyote pups run across the road in front of me. I picked goose berries yesterday and the red raspberries are coming in. The weeds, of course, are booming as well.

Other than mowing grass and some other yard work, I don't have much of anything else planned for the next couple of days so I should be able to get something done on the Sportster. We've got another week before the last chemo treatment. Typically, the week before treatment she isn't bothered much by the side effects, so I hope to get a few of my own things done. I was going to do a 5K this morning but I did one a week ago and since the weather's nice I think I'll just try and get out on my bike a little bit sometime.

Enjoy the holiday. Be safe. Don't burn the hot dogs.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sportster Rear Wheel

Doesn't look too much different than the last photo I posted of the Sportster but now there's a chain and a couple more shiny bits of hardware. I need to tighten up the countershaft sprocket and then I can button up that cover and the kick starter. I put the rear brake lever on with a new bolt and chrome nut. I still need to fix the threads on the shift lever, tighten down the exhaust pipes, align the rear wheel, tackle the wiring and the front brake. A little bit here, little bit there - I'll have it one of these days.

Looks like the weather is going to be decent for the next few days. In fact, the weather for the 4th looks to be ideal, at least around here. It'll be good to see some sunshine. Be safe and enjoy the holiday.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Photo From Here

You don't see too many rail bike photos on the photo blogs but I ran across this one and then, coincidentally, decided to check for comments on my previous posts. Glad I checked because there was one from a former student that I hadn't heard from in a while. 

This is a picture of his Fairmont Speeder that he brought over to the high school to work on about five years ago. He mentioned in his comment that he has it running but not completely done yet. In spite of the fact that he has since finished college, gotten married, bought a house and all that, I'm kind of surprised it's not done - the boy's a human dynamo. He's also got an old car he's working on and he bought an old South Bend lathe he's refurbished. He works for a short line railroad so he'll be able to run his speeder on the tracks and since he owes me a ride, when he gets it done I'll throw my rail bike in the back of the truck and we can go railroading one of these days. That'll give me some incentive to put the finishing touches on the rail bike. Maybe just leave it with him. That'll be one less thing to trip over. Would be cool to load up the camping gear and go for a little adventure like the top photo, however.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sprint Report - 3

Since I've been putting up Sprint stuff, I figured I'd throw up some pics of the rest of the fleet. This one actually belongs to Surly. I used to have the open shop nite at the high school and he would come down and work on things. He was working on this one as time allowed but he hasn't hit a lick on it since I retired. He's got some ideas on doing something with all the parts we have but we need to get together one of these days and get that figured out. We don't necessarily need to get busy on them but we do need to decide what stays and what can go. I need to start down sizing.

This one I made from scratch about 20 years ago. The motor is the 350 out of the race bike I posted photos of recently. Likewise the wheels. The front wheel uses a Triumph backing plate but the hub I made from a steel pipe with a flange welded to it. This has an aluminum plate bolted to it for the other spoke flange. The plate has a hub welded to it with the bearings. More trouble than it was really worth but it was a great design/machining exercise and I can guarantee you there isn't another one like it any where on God's green earth.

Here's a close-up detail of the top triple clamp. As I mentioned previously, I had access to a CNC at the career center I used to work at. I basically taught myself how to run the thing because even though they got the new piece of equipment, the instructor retired the following year and they didn't replace him, shutting the program down instead. They shut the whole school down shortly after that but for a year I had the machine shop all to myself. For a guy like me, that was as close to heaven as I'll probably ever get. 

Since I had access to all the cool toys I made a bunch of motorcycle parts, including the triple clamp. I carved the HD logo in the top of it and the bottom is skeletonized, if there is such a word, to lighten it up. Sortly after completing the frame, they closed the school, I started at the high school and then moved closer to the school. After moving I no longer had a well equipped home shop, nor did I have access to a machine shop. It took me a while to get up and running at home, I went back to college part time, started the boxing gym and went where my interests took me but I was done with motorcycle racing and most of the motorcycle stuff that went with it. 

This one got just enough done to it that I could take it for a spin around the school parking lot and that was it. I need to finish hooking up the back brake, do some wiring and I think that would be all. I've posted quite a few things about Harley Sprint/Aermacchi but surprisingly enough, I've never posted anything about this bike before. Of all the things I would like to be able to call myself, a frame builder and/or panel beater top the list. This one I did all the work on myself. I built the motor, including pressing the crank apart and replacing the big end bearing. I built my own wheel and laced both front and rear wheels. I designed and made the frame (the spars are streamline tubing as used on wing struts on small airplanes. The rest is 4130). I made the exhaust, including the muffler. I made both the seat and the tank from aluminum sheet. And I painted it. I don't usually brag too much but this shows what I was capable of 20 years ago. I've since gotten a bit better on some things but maybe lost a little on others. I could probably call myself a frame builder at this point but I've still got a long way to go to be a decent panel beater - not done trying though!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Sprint Report - 2

The college got a few more CNC machines in the lab where I work this past week. They're pretty cool but it certainly doesn't look like a facility for training beginning machinists. I think the advisory committee is looking to have people trained specifically for their plants rather than making actual machinists out of them. I don't think there is going to be a manual machine, either mill or lathe, in house. I'm thinking it might be fun for me to learn a bit more about CNC machining, however.

Here's a couple shots of the Sprint gas tank going along with the last post. If you look closely at the lower photo you can see where the seam opened up in the crash. This would be an easy fix if a guy knew anyone who could weld aluminum.

The seat would take more than a bit of welding, however. It actually looked pretty nice prior to the crash - little ducktail on the rear, reinforcing brackets riveted in on the sides, closed cell foam padding. Not much good for anything now. I do still have the buck/former I used to make it. You could drill the rivets out of the brackets and save those, then knock out a seat. Wouldn't take all that much. If you annealed the sides you might be able to pound it pretty straight and salvage it. And then again, maybe not. Regardless, more than I'm interested in doing. Especially right now.

I bought the new chain and plug wires for the Sportster and set about getting those installed. No sweat on the plug wires, especially since I relocated the coil to the stock location. The chain on the other hand was a bit more difficult. I had to take a few links out, which was no biggie and then I threaded the chain on to the sprockets, put the little tool on to keep the ends together, put the master link thru, pressed the side plate on and then discovered that the new master link that came with the chain was missing one of the grooves for the spring clip. What the Hell? Never seen that before. So the chain installation is on hold until next week. I'll swing by the bike shop and get myself a new genuine Harley Davidson master link to replace the genuine Harley Davidson one that came with the chain.

Going along in the same vein, I wanted a chrome nut to secure the new chrome brake lever that goes on the backing plate. It takes a 3/8" fine thread. Menards had two left so I bought them both. At 67 cents a piece, why not? I open the first bag up and sho-nuff, it's a coarse thread, rather than a fine thread as the bag is marked. Fortunately, the other one was in fact fine thread, so that's all cinched up. I also bought a chrome plated flat washer. It was $1.09 and the nuts were $.67. Seems like it would be the other way around. Not much involved in making a flat washer. Oh well. Looks good now. In fact, I'm going to get a chrome bolt for the chain guard next time I'm at Menards. Might as well have everything shining brightly back there.

At least I've been able to get some work done as of late. The wife has one more chemo session to go and then things should be getting back to normal sometime shortly thereafter. She's been doing real well compared to what I've heard others have gone through but it's not fun just the same. We're just real lucky we have good insurance and that I'm around most of the time to help out with the household chores and take her to the doctor, etc. As Roseanne Rosannadanna used to say - It's always something.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sprint Report

I received a comment from Frankie Flood at Handverker on my post "345". Seems he's got a 350 Sprint that he'd like to make into a racer and wanted a little more info about the  one I built.

Here's the frame I used. Doesn't look like much, especially with about twenty years of dust on it. It's a 250 frame but I ran a 350 motor in it. The 350 frame was a big heavy double loop thing, while the 250 is pretty much the bare minimum necessary to carry the engine and the two wheels required to actually be a motorcycle. The front end is off a 650 Yamaha if I remember correctly. I chopped the steering head off the Sprint and welded the one off the Yamaha on. I could have just as easily ran the 250 front end or the 350, for that matter, but I had my reasons at the time. In fact you can see both the 250 & 350 front ends hanging in the left of the photo. I think the rear swingarm is totally scratch built from 4130 tube. The main tubes are a little smaller in diameter but the bridging underneath gives it all kinds of support. There is a crossover tube to move the shifter from the left side to the right - the opposite of what most guys do. My rider was also racing some little Ducati's and they all shifted on the right side as did the early Sprints. The 350 was already switched over to left side shifting from the factory but my guy wanted it switched back. The aluminum can with the yellow sticker is the catch can.

The above photo shows the bolt in piece to make the 250 frame a double loop frame like the 350. The top of the triangle bolts into a hole in the tab below the steering head, the bottom bolts directly into two holes in the engine. It's made from 3/4" 4130, also. Stiffens up the frame a bit and has Dzus mounts for the fairing. The fairing lowers are hanging there, as you can see. Fabbed from aluminum sheet as was the rest of the fairing. The windscreen on the fairing was a stock EMGO item. The top of the fairing had a steel armature inside it that bolted up through the same holes as the windscreen to keep things from rattling apart and supported the mounting peg that slipped into a piece of tube on the steering head to hold it in place.

The rear wheel was a stock 250 hub laced to an aluminum rim. The stock set-up had a thick sprocket with rubber bushings inside for a cush drive. Not much of a selection of sprockets available that way. I machined up a magnesium spacer and then machined up blank plate sprockets from the farm store to fit. I had access to a CNC mill at that time so I made a fixture, wrote a program and away I went. Worked really well.

The front wheel was one that I made myself. It used a Triumph backing plate and brakes but the hub was an aluminum fabrication bolted to a steel pipe. Lots of welding and machine work but the guy said it stopped really well. 

The rear of the frame is a little tweaked as a result of the crash at Daytona. It wouldn't take much much to straighten it out however. Likewise, the top of the fairing took a hit but it too could be straightened out without a lot of work. However, if I was going to go racing again, I'd think about making a whole new fairing. The craftsmanship on mine was fine - in fact I was rather proud of it - but the aesthetics weren't the best. I'd try to knock out one like the photo below. For one, it would have the classic Aermacchi racer look, and secondly, that's the kind of stuff I enjoy doing and would like to get better at.

The gas tank should still be use-able but the seat is probably junk. They are both made from the same aluminum sheet as the fairing. I didn't think about it when I took the frame photos or I would have shot a couple of them also. I'm sure they're still around, I never throw anything away.

I imagine I've got a couple of pictures of this thing around somewhere. I posted one without the fairing a while back from the first season I ran it. It was painted Guard's red, rather than the black cherry. I'll see if I can find a photo of it all put together and then put it up here. I've got a small book that I had printed up that's a collection of articles on the Sprint racers, by the way. The majority of the information in it was originally put together by Syd Lawton, I believe.  There's some good stuff in it. Let me know if anyone's interested in a copy. 


Printable Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail Audiobook Cover Art

I recently completed two books and I've got about 50 pages to go on a third book on a couple of remarkable people.The first one I read was the one in the photo above. Grandma Gatewood thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail solo - no tent, no sleeping bag, no fancy gear, and she did it at the age of seventy. Not only that, but she did it again later. And then she hiked it in sections after that. Great book. Remarkable woman.

Next up, A Man in a Hurry: The Extraordinary Life & Times of Edward Payson Weston.

Edward Weston is credited as the World's Greatest Walker and after reading about his exploits, hard to argue with the that. He was able to walk more than 100 miles in a 24 hour period and, like Grandma Gatewood, he walked from New York to San Francisco averaging 40 miles per day, also at the age of seventy. I didn't realize the sport of walking or pedestrianism was as big as it was back in the 1880-90's. It was quite the thing. Five or six day races, big purses, side bets that were bigger still, lots of spectators. In fact, whole towns would turn out to watch Weston walk through on his journeys.

The book I'm currently finishing, The Last Great Walk, is also about Edward Payson Weston but rather than a pure biography of Weston like A Man in a Hurry is, it not only deals with his walk to San Francisco but also how we as a people no longer walk as we have for thousands of years but instead use other forms of transportation and what that means to us as a society and as individuals.

I'm only about five years younger than Grandma Gatewood and Edward Weston were when they set off on their big journeys. I can hold my own when it comes to walking but I'm not so sure I could keep up with either of those two. I've wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail for a long time. Probably never going to happen now but who knows? If that old bird could do it a couple of times in her seventies, there's hope for me. I've got no inclination to walk across country, however. At one time I would have entertained the idea of cycling across country but not now. I wouldn't mind tackling it on a motor cycle. Go south until I hit US 50, turn right, keep heading west until the Pacific comes into view. Doesn't sound too hard, now does it?