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.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Gettin' There

Cleared up most of the mysteries with the horn, coil and gas tank mounting yesterday. I had taken the tank off so I wouldn't get it screwed up and like a dumbass assumed the threaded holes by the neck were for the tank. That's the place most gas tanks mount but with the Sportster, maybe yes, maybe no. Because there are a couple of different tanks available for these things, some use the holes by the neck but the peanut tank uses the hole through the neck gusset. I got a large tank with this rig when I bought it and it uses the hole in the neck. That was the tank that was on the bike when the previous owner got it and that explains why there was no stock coil mount and why the coil was mounted to the top engine bracket and the ignition switch was mounted someplace other than the stock location and who in the hell knows where the horn was at or if it was even on the bike. 

Now the tank and the coil mount are where they should be. The spacers I machined up to go between the coil mount were a little long to fit between the mounting ears on the tank but it was no trouble to shave off about an 1/8" on both of them. The new horn came in the mail yesterday and I stuck that on the bike - just one bolt into the crash bar boss on the frame down tubes and that's all that took. It sticks out just a little far so I might bend an offset in the bracket to make it a little less obtrusive. It looks like it belongs there, though, and many motorcycles do in fact have the horn mounted in this location. I stuck it on a battery to hear it and it seems plenty loud enough. It's supposed to be 130 decibels but I've got some kind of infection in one ear and can't hear much of anything out of it now. Of course even on a good day I don't hear things like I used to. As long as the cars move out of my lane when they try to pinch me off, it'll be loud enough.

I stuck the clutch cover on the bike as long as most everything else was in place to get a feel for how the finished product was going to look. And as long as all the major bits were where they were supposed to be, I climbed into the saddle to get a feel for it. It's been more than twenty years since I've ridden one of these things. Saddle height is low and the pegs are up relatively high for my long legs. Likewise the handlebars are up in the air a bit but at least they are more cowhorn than buckhorn. Most everything I've owned and ridden since the 70's has been some type of cafe or drag bike set-up with a flat bar at least and a couple with rearsets. Surly installed a pair of aftermarket bars that are a little higher than stock on the SV I'm riding now but it's still a fairly "sporty" riding position. I'll definitely be "in the wind" with this thing.

I machined up the lower motor mount spacers as well. They fit like a glove but I need to get some black paint on them before I call them done. I should probably take the headlight apart and paint that as well. The rest of the sheet metal has fresh paint on it and if I don't paint the headlight bucket and this thing actually starts and runs when I get it back together, I'll wish I'd painted it. Same thing goes for the generator. Besides, I still haven't tried out the new sandblasting cabinet yet. Be a good reason to put that into operation. 

Looks like I'll be close to having it all together before vacation's over. If nothing else, I'd like to have the motor all buttoned up before Monday. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Switch Bracket

Didn't get much done on the Sportster the last few days but I did finish the ignition switch bracket - pretty happy with how it came out. I'll pick up some stainless or chrome mounting screws and washers to use when it's time to mount it up for keeps. The stock horn normally mounts underneath the switch but I'm going with something a little different. I've got a super loud horn coming that I'm planning on mounting up front off the crash bar boss. Horn will be here in a few days, so I'll see how that all works. If I don't like it, I'll put the horn on the VW.

Made a couple of spacers for the coil mounting bracket. According to the parts book, the bracket I've got is what is called for but it's supposed to bolt on the outside of the ears on the front of the gas tank. However, the arms on the coil mount aren't long enough to clear the gusset behind the steering head/neck and bolt up to the tank mount. The coil bracket will bolt through a hole in the gusset but the gusset is only about 5/16" thick and the bracket is 2" between the arms with the mounting holes, hence the need for the spacers. I think what I've got figured will work just fine as long as it clears the bottom of the gas tank. Again, if it doesn't work, I'll try something else. I'm not looking for a 100 point restoration here. Machining up a few custom parts will "make it mine" and set it apart from the crowd. Besides, Harley always had a lot of options for anyone buying one of their machines. You could get them spec'd out pretty much anyway you wanted. No reason not to do the same thing forty years later.

I still haven't gotten around to making the spacers for the lower front motor mount. I'm planning on doing that next and then I'll go back to putting the motor together. I think I've got everything needed to put the jugs and the rest of the top end together. I'll finish up the gearcase first and then tackle that. 

Moving right along. Kind of a glacial pace but it's going together. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

New Parts

Coil mount, electrical terminal strip and ignition advance kit for the Sportster sitting on top of the parts manual. I printed out, three hole punched and loaded into a binder pert near the whole parts manual. The parts manual is worth its weight in gold when putting one of these things together, especially if you weren't the one who took it apart. Now that I've got most everything I need to put the bike together, I just need to do that. I need to get back in the swing of things so I can locate all my tools and get things functional, as well. 

I was going to buff up the heads of a couple of stainless socket head bolts and couldn't find the buffer. It's on a stand, so it takes up a bit of room but I hadn't used it since I retired from the high school. Since it's fairly large it could only be so many places and since I made the thing as a machining project in one of my college classes way back when, I knew I didn't leave it at the school. It only took a few minutes walking between buildings to find but it definitely sent the message that I need to work with the tools a little more if for no other reason than I'll know where they are. Anyway, the bolt heads are nice and shiny now and the gauges, headlight, kickstarter, and shift lever will be held on with shiny stainless Allen heads, the same as the engine case covers. 

I also started on a bracket for the ignition switch and choke cable - engine turned aluminum. Time consuming as hell but I think it will look pretty cool when it's done and installed. The top engine mount is a non-standard item, so the ignition switch and horn don't fit up like factory but I think what I've got planned will look nice, and if I wanted to go all stock, I can always do that by buying a new engine mount. I'll be able to tell when I get the switch bracket done and bolted on. If it looks good, I'll keep it. If not, shop for a mount.

Have a good weekend.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Buon Ferragasto

La Dolce Vita

Eye-Tie holiday today. Doubt seriously if I ever make it back to Italy again but I consider myself real lucky to have been there, not just once but twice. Love to do a motorcycle tour of the northern part of the country some day. However, if I want to scratch the Italy itch in the future I'll probably have to settle for watching Fellini movies. 

In the meantime, I'm living the sweet life out in the shop and around the shack. Finished up a couple of little jobs inside - one of which was accomplished with the much safer table saw - and did a bit of yard work outside. Not much done on the bike the last couple of days but all of the parts I ordered have come in. The dealer called yesterday telling me the ignition advance kit was in so the Missus, the dog and I took a pleasant little drive in the country and picked those up. I've got one more week of vacation to get things done. Should have the bike close to being together by the time school starts and have a few more things checked off the project list. The weather's been co-operating nicely with cool temperatures and just enough rain to keep the garden and the farmer's crops doing well.

La Dolce Vita indeed.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Back to School Rant

Now let me tell you about Rafael Cordero, IS 302. It was built in the 70's with a strong vocational training infrastructure. Machine shop, wood shop, cosmetic shop, and more. 
Then that damn report was released: A Nation at Risk. 
The shops were turned into classrooms and the vocational training programs gutted. You with me?

That's a little quote from a post at Clemsy's Corner. It pretty much stands on its own legs but if you check out the link it'll put it into context. While you're there, check out his post on Common Core. Well worth your time.

I suppose I don't need to concern myself with Common Core or anything else that occurs in the public schools since none of it affects me directly anymore. However, it was my lively-hood for 36 years and I've got two other really good reasons. 

Photo From Here

And those reasons would be the grandsons. I don't know what path the boys will take after high school but I hope to hell they will have a decent education that will properly prepare them for whatever path they may choose.

The local paper a week or so back reported on how the State Superintendent of Public Instruction in Indiana has basically become just a figure head with no say in anything that matters and a couple of days later it reported that the previous superintendent was fined $5,000.00 for politicking on the people's dime. Big bunch of craziness going on there in Indy. California has shot down teacher tenure, the reasoning being that tenure has prevented students from getting the education they deserve. And all the bozos on the federal gov bus are saying if they just put the good teachers in the bad schools and get rid of the bad teachers, everything will be peaches and cream. I hope they realize that this is the year 2014 and as a result of No Child Left Behind, all of the little scholars are going to be at grade level. Well no, that didn't happen. All it really did was make damn near every school corporation in the country in violation of the law, unless you were granted a waiver by the great and powerful Oz. All that pressure on the schools and the law was doomed from the start.

There was also a real good editorial in the Wall Street Journal last week about the Common Core written by Marina Ratner. Ms. Ratner has the expertise and the credentials to be taken seriously when she says replacing the current standards in California with Common Core is only going to make math education worse. But since she actually knows what's going on, the politicians won't listen to her anymore than they'll listen to me. Since Indiana is going to have their own standards, they won't be able to blame any failure that occurs on Common Core, rather, I'm sure they'll blame it on the superintendent even though they've pretty much shut her out of any decision making.

I realize no-one in a position to change things (meaning policy makers) is going to read this, but just in case they do, let me say a couple of things here. First of all, like it or not, all men are not created equal. It's like the old joke: When the Lord was handing out brains, he thought he said trains, so he's still waiting at the station. There are always going to be those that are more academically gifted than others. There are also many students in the system who are not native English speakers. Smart as a whip or dumb as a post, your at a serious disadvantage if you can't speak the language. There are also those who come from abject poverty, broken homes, the learning disabled, any number of things that put students at a disadvantage, including those students who just don't care. So plain old common sense will tell you you're going to have a pretty big spread from the top to the bottom in your class rankings. If they were all equal you would have the entire graduating class as co-valedictorians.

Because you have such a wide spread of ability and effort levels, you might as well do the best you can to accommodate all of them by offering accelerated classes, vocational classes, remedial classes and special ed classes. If you put students in a class where they're in over their head, they're not going to profit. If they can't meet the benchmark in spite of their best effort, you need to give them as much as you can to prepare them for gainful employment. Square pegs don't fit into round holes. Individualize the instruction as much as possible. Technology is making this easier all the time.

Believe it or not, teachers are people too. Which means they are not all equal either but they're not going to get better if you continue to downgrade them and hold them responsible for all the ills of society. Pay them well, give them autonomy but hold them accountable. If there are bad teachers out there, and I know there are some, at least here in the heartland it's possible to get rid of them. It takes an administrator doing his job, but it can be done. What you don't want is to pit one good teacher against another in some kind of "highly effective" pissing contest. Give the teachers the material they need to teach along with the necessary supplies and facilities to do the job properly, then step back and let them do their job. How they do it should be up to them. The Building Trades instructor is going to have a whole different approach than the History teacher. Why wouldn't he? He's got a completely different clientele with totally different expected outcomes.

Students are different, teachers are different, local needs are different. Stop trying to cram a one size fits all approach down the throats of everyone. If you've never taught in a classroom, you're certainly welcome to your opinion (but you know what they say about opinions) but you should never be making policy decisions until you know what goes on. The answers are out there. Take the time to find them - here is a good place to start. I should be able to get you plumbed up in no time. If I can't, I know a lot of people who can.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Happy Birthday to the Missus

Better than I deserved.

Happy 64th Baby!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Fiat 642

Photo From Here

That's a pretty cool transporter, yes? Should be, it's what Ferrari used in the late '50s to haul their race cars around. If you want to make a model of this thing there are several options. If you want to get in free, go here. You can download a paper model to give you something to do in the evenings when the mosquitoes are too bad to be outside. Myself, I've got plenty to keep me busy but I sure do dig the old trucks/transporters.

Took care of some things around the shack yesterday but did get out into the shop for a little bit. Dug through the bins and found a pair of gauges that had the lights I need for the Sportster. I was even able to use some of the rubber mounting hardware to replace some of the "hard as a carp" grommets that were in the Harley's gauges. Surly hooked me up with a copy of the parts manual, so I printed out some of the pages that clarify a few of my questions. He also gave me a couple of books on Sportsters to look at. I finished up the one last night that is a history of the Sportster by Allan Girdler. Nice book - all in color, shiny pages, chock full of good dope from a guy who knows his stuff. Might do a little machine work today. I've got to fix the threads in the shifter lever and generator, and I've still got to make the spacers for the front engine mount. Supposed to rain on and off all day today. Be a good day to work in the shop a bit.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

More Stripped Threads

Ordered a few more parts on Friday, picked up a couple of things from a different source on Saturday, plus I started to sort the electrics and a couple of other things Saturday morning. The terminal strip that attaches to the top triple clamp has one end mangled up - one of the things I ordered - so I'll replace that soon. One of the bolts that holds it and the headlight on was stripped. Unlike the rest of the 5/16" bolts I've come across so far, these are coarse threads rather than fine. I'm assuming that's because the triple clamp is made of aluminum but the bolts that hold the gauges on which are right next to the others are fine thread. If that was stock, that's just asking for trouble. I have a Heli-Coil kit for the coarse thread bolts so I went ahead and fixed the bad thread. The only problem involved was the fact I had to remove the handlebars in order to get enough clearance for the tap wrench. Since the tie downs were attached to the handlebars, I made a quickie bracket out of a piece of flat bar and bolted it to the boss on the down tubes for a new mounting point - after I ran a tap through one of the holes to chase the threads, of coarse. Another 5/16" fine thread that wasn't so very fine. 

One of the things I'm finding out is even though I've got lots of junk, I don't have some of the right type. I was lucky to have a little piece of the flat bar that I could use for the hold-down bracket without it being a big deal. I was looking for a small piece of aluminum the other day and couldn't fine anything. When I was at the high school, I always had a pile of "shorts" I could go to when I needed a little piece of something. If I'm going to continue to work on this stuff, which I certainly plan on doing, eventually I'll end up with a bunch of little cut-offs, but in the meantime, I need to start building up an inventory of some of the common stuff needed for making brackets, gussets and such. Small angle, flat bar, small pieces of 12 gauge sheet - the usual suspects.

As long as I had to remove the gauges, I took the back off one of them to see about the lights. Nothing in there for illuminating the gauge face or the high beam indicator. Since this model year had Japanese gauges on it, I might have something laying around that will fit.  Maybe take a look around later today.

Still lots to do. I figured this job more as a pull the parts out of the boxes and bolt it all together and not fix everything that has threads on it but it's all coming together. It's going to be nice when it's done.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Table Saw

That right there is what a finished project looks like. 

I got this old Craftsman saw from a guy I used to work with. He was the Machine Shop instructor when I first started teaching and I owe him for a lot more than just the saw - first rate craftsman and human being. He gave me a call a few years back and said he was moving out of his condo and in with one of his family members due to failing eyesight. He said he needed his woodworking stuff out of there in something like two days, so come and get it. And I did. It's a nice little saw, well made from cast iron like they all used to be, but the on/off switch was located on the motor around back of the saw right next to the belt. Not the safest set-up by any means. I bought a good switch about a year ago but hadn't gotten around to installing it. Well, yesterday was the day. 

I took the saw off the stand and drug it out of the basement so I could weld the box on to the stand and then wired everything up. The stand has leveling screws on the bottom so I took those out, wire brushed the threads and oiled them up. It's got a couple of casters on the back legs so the saw can be moved around easily and I took those off and greased them up also. I need to build a fence in the back of the house and some new steps and gate so the dog can run back there and I'm sure I'll be needing the saw. When that job is done I'll move it up into the woodshop in top of the new barn.

Didn't get much done on the bike yesterday due to working on the saw and a couple of other things but I made a couple of decisions about the horn/ignition switch/coil conundrum. I've got a plan of attack and plan to get after it in earnest real soon.  

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Progress In The Garden, In The Shop Not So Much

Picked a couple of interesting looking carrots yesterday. The one reminded me of the one-legged hooker Cuzzin Ricky and I saw a few years back. The one on the right and the one cross-ways in the photo seem to have grown through the weed control fabric in the bottom of the Square Foot Garden, hence the necked down portion up a bit from the lower end. The end came off the other one when I pulled it out. Starting to get tomatoes finally. I've been getting a few small ones - can't remember the name right now- that are shaped like a plum tomato but smaller. They're pretty tasty on a salad. I've got one of the Celebrity tomatoes that's almost ripe. We'll be drowning in maters like we are with cucumbers pretty soon.

Stuck the heads on the bike to try and make sense of the top engine mounting bracket/ignition switch/horn/coil mount conundrum. I've come to the conclusion I'm missing a couple of things and what I do have is some type of non-standard item. 

A quick internet search turned up this on EBay - supposed to be the stock set-up other than the fact that it's chrome plated.

This looks like what I've got - the coil bolts directly to the flange.

From what I remember and most all of the photos I've seen, the ignition switch is on a bracket on the left side of the bike. The bracket also has a hole in it to mount the choke cable. The horn mounts to a bracket that uses the same bolt as the ignition switch, both of which bolt to the top engine mount. In my case the top engine mount has that flange on the outside which currently has the coil mounted to it. Not sure where the horn lived, if it was even on the bike. I wouldn't want the coil that close to the heads and jugs, however. All that heat can't be good for things.

J&P has this coil bracket listed in their catalog for the 1965-78 Sportster. I've got nothing in the boxes that looks remotely like this and I've only got a couple of boxes with parts left in them to sort through. I've got nothing that looks like a horn bracket either. There's a boss on the downtubes right below the headstock that has a couple of threaded holes in it. It's on the outside of the frame loop rather than on the inside like you would expect if it was there for a coil mount. Be a good spot to bolt on some crash bars like they used to do - or some highway pegs if you're a yoga instructor.

The parts guys at the dealer have been pretty good to me, maybe they can show me what's called for in the parts book when I go in to pick up my ignition parts in a couple of days. Actually, with the flange on the engine mounting bracket, I could just make an aluminum plate that bolts on and drill it for the ignition switch, choke knob and horn. Maybe give it an engine turned finish so it's got some bling, plus that's the kind of crap I like to do any way. The J&P chrome coil bracket is only $13.99, so I could just buy that if I knew where the hell it went. Obviously a little more research is in order.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Photo From Here
Damn, that sure looks like fun.

I was once again rummaging around in the shop looking for something and came across the mandrel for turning the lower wheels for the English wheel. It's a 1/2" shaft center drilled on both ends. One end has a plate with a roll pin stuck through to drive the wheel welded to it. The other end is threaded so the heavy washer can be tightened up against the roller while machining the desired contour. Nothing too complicated here but something else that needs to be machined.

I've been going out to the shop every evening after dinner and working on the bike a bit. I let the chickens out during the day and they come home to roost about 8:00 PM, so I work until roughly eight and then lock the hen house door and head to the shack. I got the footpeg rubbers on, the brackets cleaned up and new hardware installed. I stuck the jugs on there mostly to see where some of the rest of the parts go. There's a bracket that bolts to one of the lifter boss bolts, a couple of oil lines on this side to feed the top end, and there's a big bracket that bolts on top between the Vee that I need figure out how it goes together because the ignition switch, coil and horn all get suspended up there some kind of way. I'll stick the heads on today and start sorting all that jazz out. There'll probably be something that requires a trip to the dealer or the hardware store. I need to hit an auto parts store for some wire and rubber hose as well.

I found the tach drive and cable in the boxes. The cable has got a couple of minor kinks but it at least fits on both the drive end and to the tach itself. The speedo cable, on the other hand, fits nicely on the front wheel but doesn't fit on the speedo. Both of the gauges have no wiring. The speedo has a couple of stubs about an inch long sticking out the back side but there's nothing visible at all on the tach. The two dash lights are going to need some work as well. The manual has a wiring diagram so I'll start chasing wires pretty soon.

Every day a little something.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

One I've Never Heard Before

" (And most Camaros then were 305-motored cars with slushboxes, which wouldn't accelerate hard enough to pull a greased string out of a cat's ass.)" Quote and photo from here. Have to add that one to my repertoire.

Went to the bike shop yesterday to see about the springs for the ignition advance flyweights. No luck from the Motor Company but the counterman found an aftermarket kit with the weights, roll pins and springs for 25 bucks. Said it would be here in about a week.

A tap for a Heli-Coil and a few inserts to repair the stripped generator is about $25.00 as well. I think that'll be the route I take, especially since when I tried to put the new rubber on the shift lever, it only had about two threads left and it takes the same size as the generator. I need to take a look at my inventory of drills, taps, etc. and maybe pick up a few other things as long as I'm ordering.

I picked up the bolts I needed for the footpeg mounts and a kit with electrical terminals to replenish the stock. Menard's didn't have the wire I needed for the points so I need to stop at an auto parts store. The wire runs through the gearcase cover and I want to string that through before I tighten up the cover. Likewise, there's an oil line fitting on the back of the cover that will be a lot easier to get the hose and clamp on before I bolt the cover up, so I'll see about getting that on there as well. I'm not sure of the routing of the oil lines yet but the previous owner sent a little diagram along with the bike. I just need to find it now.

Since I'm going to be waiting for parts, having this thing running before vacation's over might be a little bit of a reach but it'll be worth it when it's done.

While I was in the bike shop I talked to the salesman, who's a former student of mine, about the new 750 Street. He said they had one but it moved and they won't be getting any more in for a couple of weeks. I'm not in the market for another bike but I would like to take a look at one up close. From the photos I've seen, it looks sharp and if you're going to do most of your riding just buzzing around town, you really don't need anything bigger than a 750. Actually, I wouldn't need anything bigger than that to ride across the country but I know I'm in the minority with that line of thinking. Of course, maybe this thing won't pull a greased string out of a cat's ass either but Harley needed something in their line up besides the big Hogs. At $7500.00 it doesn't look like a bad deal. It comes in a 500cc version for about $700.00 less. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Country Living

We had a big storm roll through on Friday. The persimmon tree, which was loaded with fruit, took a pretty big hit. The top of the tree is mostly gone. There are a couple of branches left above the split that should be cut off but I'd like to see if I can leave them on until the fruit ripens and then I'll just whack the top of the tree off, tar the stub and hope it survives. Persimmons are dioecious, meaning you need a male and a female for fruiting.  I planted two trees at the same time and whether it was just luck or the nursery new how to tell them apart, I ended up with one male and one female. The male is only about half the size of the female and since it is small and won't set fruit, probably won't be too susceptible to storm damage. 

The peach trees which were loaded with fruit last year did absolutely nothing this year. They were damaged last year and look pretty shaggy now. I think I'll be planting a few fruit trees next spring. 

Went to start the pickup the other night to take the garbage down and it wouldn't start. Fearing that it was something electronic, I had my neighbor come over to check it out. Apparently something crawled up on top of the gas tank and chewed a wire for the fuel pump in half. It was parked outside and I move it a couple of times a week so I didn't expect that. Anyway, we got it fixed - I at least helped - and it's running again. The joys of country living!

Worked on the Sportster a little bit over the weekend. I shimmed and double checked the end play on the cams. I dug out the ignition advance and found that the flyweights don't have any springs on them, so I need to get a pair of those. Also the generator has a bad thread on one of the mounting holes. Actually it's more like no thread on one of the holes. The thread is supposed to be a 5/16" fine thread and, of course, I've got a Heli-Coil set for 5/16" but it's for coarse, not fine thread. I could drill both holes out and go with the coarse thread but I hate to go non-standard on things. I could just do the one hole in coarse and leave one fine and that way someone down the road will be able to put the wrong bolt in the hole and strip the other side too. It's not like that doesn't happen every day. The end of the generator is a chunk of cast iron that's about an inch thick. I could take it apart, braze the hole shut and then re-drill and tap it as another option. As always, I'll come up with something.

I still need to machine up the spacers for the front engine mount and I need to pick up some wiring supplies. The footpeg brackets are clamped on with a 1/4" fine thread bolts. I ran a tap through those to chase the threads but I need to get a couple of Grade 8 bolts for when they go back on the bike. Moving forward. Maybe not fast but forward just the same.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Ribbed Rubbers

Got the new footpeg and shift lever rubbers in the mail the other day. The rest of the cam shims I had ordered along with a new clutch cable also came. I've got a pkg of grease Zerks coming for the shifter shaft. Surprisingly there is no grease fitting on the kickstarter shaft. The bushing has a hole in it for grease but the cover the shaft passes through doesn't. The cover is held on by only two screws so it wouldn't be that big of a deal to pull it off occasionally and dab a little grease on it but you would think a kick start only machine would have a fitting. If I decide to add a fitting, I'll have to buy a tap but probably worth it in the long run.

I finished summer school the other night so I'm on vacation for about three weeks now. I hoping to have the Sportster  running by the time the Fall semester starts. I've got a bunch of things to do around the shack while I'm off but barring any unforeseen disasters, I think getting the bike running is do-able. Just keep peckin' away at it, little bit here, little bit there.

Have a good weekend.