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?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Amateur Radio Week

It has been declared Amateur Radio Week in Indiana by Governor Pence. Next weekend will be Field Day weekend, where amateur radio operators set up "in the field" to practice their emergency readiness and to promote the hobby. I was planning on getting my amateur radio license but I put that on hold until my wife gets a little better. I would like to get my old Heathkit radio up and running again, however. It's just a receiver, not a transceiver, but I'm not really interested in talking to anyone, anyhow. Right now it would be nice to have the radio operational just as another option to listen to while working in the shop. Probably wouldn't take a whole lot to get an antenna up. All it needs is a wire that I could string between the shop and the barn, plus a ground. I've got a lightning arrestor on the roof of the shop that has a good ground. I could tie into that easily enough. Too many mosquitoes out there to do anything that requires standing in one spot for long, however.  That's if it's not raining.

I did join the ARRL. They have a nice magazine and the Indiana section sends out a nice newsletter in .pdf format, even if I can't decipher all the jargon/hamspeak. Maybe later this year I'll see about buying a cheap handheld and pursuing my license. If you're interested in amateur radio, you might want to see about a Field Day event in your area this coming weekend.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day

Photos From Here

The AJS is one of the prettiest looking bikes I've seen in a long time. There are several more detail shots of it at the source - click the link under the BSA photo. The craftsmanship is absolutely superb.

The BSA features the stock tank and sidecovers like our BSA has with one of the factory paint schemes. Actually looks pretty good sitting on the sidewalk in Paris. What would be even better would be me sitting in a little cafe waiting out the rain so I could get back on the bike and motor away. I'm not in Paris but I've got bikes and I've got the rain (boy do I have the rain). So I guess I'll have to settle for two out of three. I might make it back to Paris next year if things go right. If the rest of my traveling companions aren't up for it, I'll look into a bike tour. Maybe something like Edelweiss offers. That would be more money than riding around on the tour bus, but as long as I keep working at the college, I can swing it. Travel and/or a sportscar are about the only two reasons I can think of to keep me working at this stage of the game. 

With all the rain we've been having, the skeeters are out in force. I drug the screen door for my shop out of the big barn so I could do a little something without swatting bugs constantly. I wanted to start moving things from the back of the shop to the big barn but the rain has put that on hold. Today's supposed to be pretty nice but more rain being forecast for next week again. Going to screw up lots of field crops around here. 

Happy Father's Day to all you Daddy-O's. Enjoy your day. 

Friday, June 19, 2015


Frankie Flood has a bunch of nice motorcycle photos up at Handverker from Road America (plus a bunch from the HD museum). I was buzzing through them and saw the Norton with number 345 on it and it was "Whoa there, that number looks familiar".

Here's the fairing off the wrecked Sprint that's hanging in the back of my shop from my short lived time as vintage race bike owner/builder. Fun while it lasted. 

I swung by the Harley dealer to see about spending my gift card on some parts. Decided not to part with any of it yet and then I headed down the road to Staples. Rather than trying to use the copy machine at work to enlarge the wiring diagram and run the risk of incurring the wrath of the secretary, I'd just go to the pro's. Glad I did. Only took a couple of minutes and 22 cents. Instead of two small diagrams on the same page of the manual, now I've got an 11 x 17 of just the one I need. I'll tape it to a piece of cardboard and hang it up close to the bike. That'll expedite things. Might actually have the old Sportster running one of these days.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

High Water

It just keeps on raining. Tuesday was a beautiful day but more rain Wednesday and more still to come. The state highway south of me is closed due to flooding and the county got a sand bagging machine to help folks out. The beans in the field out front have water standing between all the rows. I managed to get the front yard mowed in between the raindrops yesterday, at least what wasn't under water. They're forecasting rain again for today and this weekend, and the next five days or so. I'm liable to have moss growing on all the projects pretty soon.

I was going to order the chain and plug wires for the Sportster but I decided to check with the local dealer first since I have a gift card for there - maybe do that today. I started looking at the wiring the other day. I'm going to make a couple of copies of the wiring diagram before I start fooling around with things. If I can sneak it through on the college copy machine, I might be able to enlarge it a bit. I can then stick it on a piece of cardboard or something and have it hung up close to the bike where I can see it without fooling with the bi-focals. With small print or intricate things I usually just take my glasses off rather than bobbing my head up and down. If I take the glasses off, however, then I can't see anything clearly that's more than about two feet away. A big ass wiring diagram will make life easier. Maybe I should just draw one up on a piece of poster board. With all the rain that's being forecast, looks like a good time to hole up in the shop as much as the schedule will allow. Since I pulled the cover off it the other day I've been itchin' to get back after it.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Go Fast Stuff

Top photo: "TV" Tommy Ivo. I think this was "Showboat", the four engined, four wheel drive rig from the early 60's.

Lower photo: Russ Collins. One of several multi-engined drag bikes he campaigned back in the 60's & 70's. I think this one was the Atchinson, Topeka and Santa Fe.

The American way - if one's good, two's better, and too much is just enough.

Above: Smokey Yunick and Fireball Roberts. I met Smokey Yunick at A.J. Foyt's auction at Indy - true automotive genius. Fireball Roberts was no slouch either. It's been a long time since I've been there but the museum at Talladega has one of Fireball's Pontiacs in there. This might be the car. Surly and I were there while racing my Sprint at the little road course about a mile away. Normally you can take a ride around the high banks there but when we were there Harley had rented the track and motorcycles were buzzing around. Nice place to visit if you're ever in the neighborhood. Myself, I want to get to the Barber museum and track next time I'm down in the Land of Dixie.

All photos from Reign of Methanol. Lots of cool photos there.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Hawks Win

From Here

Hawks Win The Cup

Bike Show

Saw these, as well as a bunch of other photos, at the 520 Chain Cafe of the 2015 Indy Rockers Reunion. Lots of cool motorcycles pretty close to my backyard. It would be nice to ride down there next year and check it out. Of course, I can only remember a max of three things when going to the store without making a list. Chances of me remembering a bike show a year from now might be a little shakey. 

I had a Suzuki triple like the one in the photo, once upon a time. Mine looked a lot nicer. I painted it up Midnight Blue. I put some homemade rearsets on it and changed the gearing. Pretty quick stoplight to stoplight. What it really needed was some of those cool chambers. 

The BSA photo needs no explanation.

Managed to get out and do a little something on the Sportster finally. The last time I worked on it was December - that's just not right. Anyway, I had a couple of free hours so I made a shim and welded it in to the actuator for the rear brake light switch. The new chrome brake rod I bought is a little smaller diameter than the stock one, so the actuator wouldn't clamp down tight. All fixed now, including a fresh coat of black paint. 

Here's where I left off.
I drug the chain out of the parts box and it's pretty close to trash. I'll order a new one and some new plug wires to get rid of the gaudy blue ones. I was thinking maybe the ACCEL yellow ones but I'll probably stick with black. I won't have much time for working on it this week coming up again. The wife is doing chemo again and I'm working a couple of days. It's been raining on and off the last few days and it looks like that'll continue for another five or so. Lots and lots of standing water around the county. Any free time I'm going to have when it's not raining will be used trying to mow or weed. At least I'm back on the bike. There's not really that much left to do. The wiring, the front brake and some little odds and ends are about all that are left. 

Congratulations to my old running buddy/PhD/former colleague at the high school on his marriage Saturday. Peace and happiness to you both.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Tank Repair

Patched up the BSA tank for my buddy yesterday. I was going to do it a couple of weeks ago but since he said he was in no hurry, I thought I'd wait until the hottest day of the year - got up to over 90 with humidity to match. I couldn't figure out why I was sweating while working on the tank. Wasn't doing anything real hard. Even the welding wasn't that hot. TIG welding with a 1/16" tungsten doesn't put out much in the way of heat. Finally paid attention to the disc jockey on the radio - 91 degrees. That explained that. Anyway the tank is done. I did use the new brake on the patch piece, by the way. You can't see it in the photo but the patch extends down into the tunnel a bit so I needed a right angle bend on the piece. Easy to do with a brake. 

I've still got a couple of jobs left for other people. One's pretty simple, the other not so much. I'll see if I can get the easy one knocked out PDQ and then get back on my own stuff.

I got a nibble on my Honda. I looked back on my posts and I got it running in July of 2008. It's been sitting ever since. I need to quick figure out a good asking price so it'll go down the road. I definitely need to thin the herd.

Summer school's started back up. Not going to cut into my free time too much with only two days per week but with all that's going on around here, it's really hard to get going on any of the fun ones. Lot's of time spent caring for the Missus. She's been having some trouble dealing with the chemo but only two treatments left. Saw the oncologist the other day and everything seems to be progressing on schedule. So that's a good thing.

I've got a young guy lined up to help me out with prepping the back part of the shop so I can get some concrete poured back there. I'm going to try and get started on that next week. Be nice to finally have that finished. As always, steady by jerks!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015


From Ricky Noot's blog - his newly assembled toy. I like it. I like it a lot. Click on the pics and make them bigger. It gets even better!

Edit: Should enlarge now when you click on the pics!

Monday, June 8, 2015

If I Were Twenty One

From Here

William Knudsen was President of General Motors prior to the start of World War II, so I'm assuming this was written pre-war or even during the war. The last paragraph could have been addressing the the need to re-tool after the war but it seems also to apply to our current situation in manufacturing, especially if you use mechanic in the general sense of the word rather than the specific sense as someone who works on wheeled vehicles. I especially like the line "best of all is the man who combines the learning of books with the learning which comes of doing things with the hands." 

When I was 21 I was going to college, on and off, I had a good start as a welder, was able to swap engines and keep my cars and bikes running. Nothing unusual back then. Pretty much the same as everyone else I knew, unless you got drafted. Now days, if a young guy will get up off the couch and decide to be a mechanic, again in the generic sense, the sky's the limit. CNC machining, CAD drafting, 3D printing, Programmable Logic Controllers - all kinds of computer driven opportunities, and with maker spaces, YouTube videos, and web sites like Coursera, you can take college courses free from some of the finest universities in the world. 

Twenty one or not, it's a great time to be a mechanic.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Just Phonin' It In

Photo From Here

Every since I started this blog I've stayed with my commitment to post at least twice a week. So that's what we've got here - throwing something up before deadline. 

It was a busy week but nothing worth writing about. Trips to the doctor, trips to the college, more trips to the doctor, cut the grass, weed the garden, go to the gym, cook, clean, do laundry. Next week's looking like more of the same. Things will get better. Stay with me.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Ramps With a Side of Paranoia

I got the angle iron frames for Cuzzin Ricky welded up the other evening. Not much to it other than the fact that I fabbed them up outside which meant I had to shim the pieces up so they would be flat when I finished welding them. In the photo the two frames are clamped together back to back. That's always the easiest way to do it. Take your time and tack the first one nice and square then all you have to do is lay the next one on top of the first one, clamp the pieces to keep them from moving and then tack those together. These are going to be ramps for a trailer, so I'm not sure what the next step is. I'll see what he has in mind and if it requires anymore from me. If not, I'll drop them off and call it good.

I rode the SV up to the college yesterday to get things ready for summer school. That didn't exactly happen as I had planned but it was a beautiful day to be out on the bike just the same. When I came home I had a little time to kill before lunch, so I thought I'd peruse a few things on the computer. One of the first things I saw was an article about the FBI having a list of all registered motorcycle riders and how said owners are considered gang members. The original source was the Washington Post. I saw it by way of the Feral Irishman (NSF). Since I've got a registered motorcycle, I'm on the list. Since I've got a concealed carry permit, I'm also on that list. And since I live close to Chicago I've probably had one of the FBI small planes fly over the house unbeknownst to me as well. The Missus summed it up pretty well when she said those black helicopter jokes aren't so funny anymore. Something bad is going to come out of all of this government intrusion into our private lives - not sure what or when, but it'll happen.

So how 'bout those Hawks?