Sunday, May 20, 2012

Last weekend,12-13 May, I took my 250 Aermacchi CRTT to Loudon, N.H. for the USCRA Vintage Celebration, a vintage bike and car event.  I last rode this bike at St.Eustache, near Montreal, and it ran terribly.  A month or so ago, I finally got around to looking at.  I started checking the basics and found the ignition timing at 19 degrees, not the 48 degrees it's supposed to be.  I think 'that must have been the problem, but why was it off.  Did I totally screw up when I set it or did the rotor move on the taper?'  I the first practice Sat., it ran well.  I put a fresh plug in for the 2nd practice and the bike seemed very good.  But, the plug looked lean and somewhat glazed despite the fact that I had the biggest main jet I own in the carb.  I checked the entire fuel system for any blockage and found nothing.

 So, I raise the needle a notch.  Come the race, the bike had no power and wouldn't rev.  It felt like the ignition was retarded and I thought the rotor must have move again.  I pulled off at the end of the first lap but, when I checked the timing, the marks lined right up.  I went over the motor hoping to find some problem, but didn't.  It's started easily, but on the warm-up lap of the 2nd race, again I had no power and it didn't want to rev and I pulled off at the end of the warm-up lap and didn't start the race.  Looking over the motor again I noticed the outside flywheel was cracked--again.

 I had cracked a couple before I had discovered my crank was out of true.  Now, the new flywheel I had put on after I had the crank trued was cracked.  More worrying was the 'dead spot' I felt when I turned the flywheel back and forth.  It felt like there was a loose big end or small end of the conrod or that the wrist pin or crankpin were broken or something about to fail catastrophically.  Yesterday, I took the top end down and found the piston had been hitting the head and the looseness was in the lower end with either big end bearing failure or a broken crankpin.  Clearly the cases have to come apart. 
But, that wasn't nearly as bad as my friend and arch nemesis, Phil Turkington crashing in the first practice and breaking his femur and foot.  The corner workers didn't see him and, depending who you listened to, he lay off the track either two or three laps until the practice was over and a couple of racers told race control he was out there.  Phil was remarkably philosophical about it, saying it was 'pilot error' and we must accept the consequences of the risks we take.  I think he has a high tolerance for pain , too.
The entry was pretty meager, but there were a few interesting bikes.

Jim Jower's 250 Ducati

Randy Hoffman's Vincent Comet

Randy Hoffman's KTT Velo in a featherbed chassis

A Laverda SFC
I don't usually pay much attention to cars, but there was a 1927(?) Bugatti there that I thought was fabulous.  It's a supercharged, 2 liter, straight eight.

  The motor looked like it was carved out of a solid block and nothing looked cast. 

The wheels, however, were definitely cast, and huge and cable operated.

 The Jaeger tach makes a Vincent speedo look insignificant. 

There were several interesting road bikes in attendance.  Bill Burke brought his 250 NSU Special Max and his Moto Guzzi 250 Airone Sport.

 Then a 680cc Brough Superior showed up to upstage everyone.

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