Friday, August 29, 2014

Sidecars +

I found another spot for shots of classic motorcycle racing from the 50's & 60's. It's Classic Motorcycle Racing, surprisingly enough. While checking out some of the photos I came across the name Cat Crescent and it rang a bell. Rider and monkey were a Swiss couple who raced a very innovative outfit of their own design. Plus they had a really cool transporter - the Cat Van. Here's a good page for photos of same.

The Swiss have been a dominant force in sidecar racing for quite sometime. In addition to Rudi Kurth, Rolf Biland won world titles in a Louis Christen Racing sidecar outfit, a Swiss firm that has pretty much held a monopoly on competitive sidecar design since the 70's. Biland was involved in the development of the SwissAuto 500cc two-stroke that made something like 200 horsepower. Obviously there's more to the Swiss than chocolate, watches and pocket knives with red handles.

Didn't get much done on the Sportster the last few days. The weather has been beautiful so I did a little more painting on the house and other outside chores. I did pick up the speedo cable from the dealer and I painted the generator. It's looking like rain on and off the next few days, so I should be able to spend some time working on the bike. Also need to take a look at the pickup. Apparently the little squirrel has managed to chew a couple more wires, this in spite of the live trap I've got under it. 

Have a good weekend - enjoy the holiday.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Machining News

Freddie doing a little trick riding

and Renzo doing what the Italians do so well - looking cool!

I found both of these here. Lots of photos of bike racing from the 60's and 70's. Seems I keep drifting back that way. This keeps up I'll be puttin' the bell bottoms back on and I'll be workin' on the bikes, drinkin' long neck Rhinelanders. Only $3.99/case back in the day as long as you had a case of empties to return. 

Meanwhile back in the present, I had an interesting conversation Monday with a new hire at the college. Seems they're going to be starting a machining program and this guy is the man in charge. He said he hopes to have the equipment in place by January for the start of the Spring semester. Seems too the equipment is going to be in the lab where I'm currently working. That helps explain the move to a full time lab tech in there. I still don't want to go back to work full time but having access to a machine shop could be lots of fun - especially if the job has insurance. That'd save me a ton of money. Regardless of how that all works out, I might sign up for a class with him if it fits my teaching schedule. I can take the course free as an employee and I could learn a little more about CNC programming and get some formal training in machining. They will be offering both a machining certificate and an Associates Degree. 

It's already got me thinking about getting a CNC retro-fit for my Bridgeport or maybe a Tormach. Man, I've got to stay healthy so I can somehow work all the things I want to do into the next twenty years or so. $7K for the machine, another couple grand for some concrete, insulation, etc. in the back part of my shop - lets round it off to $10K. Spread that out over twenty years = $500.00/year. Hell, that's cheaper than cable television. The wheels are turning now.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Took the gear off my generator the other day to see if it was the same as the one Surly gave me. I didn't actually try to stick it on but a cursory inspection says it's the same. This gives me two options. Put my gear on his generator or take his apart and use the front piece with good threads on mine. I don't know if his works, or if mine does either as far as that goes, but in his case the previous owner put an alternator on the bike either to replace a generator that didn't work or to upgrade. I think I'm going to gamble on the fact that it was just an upgrade. I'll throw a fresh coat of paint on it and bolt it on. It's a pretty simple matter to remove and swap it out later if it turns out to be a junker. I picked up some wire the other day as well so I can start down that path. 

Started back to school again so I'll be working on the clock more and on the projects less. Probably less blogging as well - since I got the Harley I've been putting them up pretty regular. Even though I don't get a lot done on any given day, there's been some progress most every day. Good to have a mission other than mowing grass.

I didn't get the engine bolted together before school started back up like I wanted but I'm going to blame that on the evil earache. The eardrum ruptured from the pressure the other day. Had some nasty crap in there for a while, then it went to a clear liquid that I took to be a good sign but sure was a bunch of it came out of there. The only positive thing about popping a hole in the eardrum was that the pressure level went down, so the level of pain did also. 

Long weekend coming up with the Labor Day holiday. I'm hoping to be able to get out in the shop and spend some time on the bike. It'd be nice to have the motor all buttoned up in the next week or so. 

Monday, August 25, 2014

Toy Trains & Math

Photo From Here

I stumbled across this photo and was surprised to see the little train. Regular readers may recall I came across one similar to this at the Hunnert Car Pileup back in 2009 and decided I should make one for the grandson.

Here it is just before the finish paint job and final assembly.

And here it is all done up sitting next to the pond sailer I made for the other grandson. I might not be the best at any one thing, but you have to admit I'm versatile.

Now for some math. Please keep in mind I learned math before Common Core so I'm at a big disadvantage here. 

The Sportster has a 23 tooth countershaft sprocket and a 51 tooth rear sprocket now. Depending on the year, stock is either a 20T or 21T. The 23T will give less acceleration but lower RPMs at cruising speed and a higher top speed.

For a 20T@ 6200rpm: MPH = rpm x effective real wheel radius / overall drive ratio x 168 = 107.7mph

For a 23T@6200rpm: MPH = 123mph

For a 20T: RPM@60mph = 3454rpm

For a 23T: RPM@60mph = 3005rpm

With only about 2 useable gallons in the little peanut tank, if I ride this thing to work I'll have to fill up pert near every time I leave the house. Definitely not going to be the touring rig. None of the roads on the way to work have a speed limit above 55 and I see no reason to concern myself with a difference in top speed between 107 and 123. The difference in revs at 60 miles per hour can be substantial, however, depending on where that falls on the power curve. With a motor known for lots of torque, probably won't be an issue here. Need to pass a car? Just twist it up and drive around. The old drag racer in me likes the idea of quicker acceleration, however. In fact, you can go as low as a 19 tooth sprocket.

Alright then, what's the point of all this you ask? Just wondering if it would be worth the expense to swap out to a smaller sprocket or just get it running with what I've got and see how I like it. By doing the math I'm at least able to make an informed decision. And that's why you pay attention in high school.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Squirrel Season

I fired up the truck the other night to haul the garbage down and got a warning signal to check the gauges. Looked at the temperature gauge and it was pegged on hot even though I had just started the vehicle. I took a look the next morning and found where the wires had been bitten in half just above the top of the plug for the sensor. The next day I saw a little piney squirrel running out from under the truck, so apparently that's the culprit that got the temperature sensor wires and the wires for the fuel pump a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, in both cases there was enough wire sticking out to solder things back together. With the temperature sensor I had to splice in a piece of wire because the little rodent had chewed the wires in two in a couple of places. Currently there's a live trap under the truck in the hopes of catching the little darling. Always something.

This one has nothing to do with squirrels other than the fact I might have gotten a little squirrelly on it a time or two. I got a comment from Rich on my last post concerning motorcycles from the 70's. This is my '78 Yamaha SR500. I bought it used sometime around the early to mid 80's. Surprisingly, I dated the back of the photograph and this was taken in '93. I sold it shortly thereafter when I got my '94 Ducati, so I had it about ten years. It had a pipe with a Super-Trap insert and a different carb on it when I bought it. I did the flame paint job on it. I'm a welder not a painter but I was pretty happy with how the job came out. Not bad for a rookie, as they say. It was a fun bike to ride. Yamaha came out with an updated version, the SRX which had a 600 cc four valve single cylinder motor and dual front discs. It wasn't real popular but was a really nice bike. I should have upgraded the 500 to one of those instead of the Ducati - probably would still be riding it. 

And for comparison, this is what Rich was riding back while I was on the Yamaha - '81 Sportster. Obviously, this one isn't quite as it left the factory either. To me this looks like the kind of rig you could ride to the store even if the store was on the opposite coast, maybe without the stroker motor, but still. If a guy was going to have just one bike, this thing could be it. My Yamaha was a great little commuter but you wouldn't want to spend much time on the Interstate with it. But then again, I've never wanted to spend much time on the Interstate with a motorcycle. 

I had a Toaster Tank BMW 750/5 for a while back then also. Realistically, if a guy was going to have just one motorcycle to do anything and everything, something close to that would be my choice. I commuted back and forth to work on it and the detachable hard bags were perfect for a shop teacher. It was nice and quiet, got decent mileage, had no chain to lube or adjust and was big enough to ride down the big roads and light enough to still be a sporty ride on the twisties. Actually, I think that's the only bike I've ever regretted selling.

Time to get out of the 70's before Mr. Peabody's WayBack machine throws a rod and I'm stuck there.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Ferrari Hydroplane

I received an e-mail from Jamestown Distributors - an outfit for boat building supplies - and there was a link to a story about a 1957 Ferrari hydroplane.

If you're interested in V-12 powered racing boats, and who isn't, then spend a couple of minutes checking this thing out. Engine turned dash, state of the art construction, nothing but cool. If I'd have been born rich that'd be me in the saddle of old Number 9 there zipping around Lake Como. Instead I've got a half finished row boat in the top of the barn that I'm hoping to row down the Iroquois River one of these days. That's OK, though. I'm not rich but I've got "my own".

I always liked B,S & T and the whole jazz/rock/blues blend to their music. Not sure when the concert was filmed but it would have to be about the same time the Sportster was in diapers. The 70's were a good time for music and motorcycles. Kaw two stroke triples, Suzuki two stroke triples, especially the Water Buffalo, and then the four cylinder four strokes from the Big Four with 750 -1100cc's of displacement. Unfortunately, both the Sportster and the entire British motorcycle industry were left in the dust of the performance race. The Sportster has persevered and seems to be doing well in the HD line up these days. There's a couple of really nice looking ones on the showroom floor at the local dealer. Likewise, Triumph rose from the ashes and seems to be doing well also. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for BSA, Norton, Matchless, and the Villiers powered small commuter bikes like Frances Barnett, James, etc., even though most of these were already done for in the 60's. Royal Enfield seems to be making progress over in India now, however. According to their website, they've got dealers in 42 countries, including three in Indiana. You'll be seeing a lot more from India in the next few years as far as automotive and motorcycling products go. Tata Motors owns Jaguar and Eric Buell is working with an Indian company. When they get ramped up over there you can bet they'll be major players.

Like the British motorcycle industry in the 70's, things haven't been going all that well around the shack the last couple of days, at least as far as project progress goes. I had to swing by the college the other day to get my syllabi posted and talk to my boss a bit. While in town I went by the bike shop to see about a speedometer cable. The Sportster had a big tank on it like the big twins would have with the speedo in the middle. That gauge uses a different diameter cinch nut to hold the cable in place than the speedo I will be using. I took the parts with me and, of course, they had one like I had in stock but not the cable I need. So it's ordered. Did some other shopping and made a trip to the library while I was out. Enough to waste about two-thirds of a day. I did pick up a couple of stainless button head screws for the ignition switch bracket and I got the front motor mount spacers painted up.

The earache I've been bothered with all week has also contributed to the slow down. Eustachian Tube Dysfunction the doc called it. It's getting better but it's a real pain, literally - kind of like when I had the shingles a few years back. Didn't seem to be any real reason for it - just showed up out of the blue to make me miserable for a week or so. Probably some type of Karma payback thing.

You know what they say, though. What goes up, must come down.

Keep on a rockin'. Better days are coming and when they get here, I'll be the one on the Sportster.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Check This Out!

There's an article on the Miller Electric site about my replacement at the high school and what he's doing with the Welding Program.

Couldn't be more proud. Be sure to check it out.