Monday, October 28, 2013

The Sunday after the Fall Giro, 29 Sept., was the Pewter Run in Penacook, N.H.  Last year, Tony Lockwood had let me ride his Excelsior Manxman and this year he offered me his 1925 Norton 16H.  This is a 500cc sidevalve, three speed, hand shift, flat tank with 'clincher tires' and a lever throttle.
Tony Lockwood's 1925 16H Norton
I was tremendously impressed with this bike.  It started easily and ran well.  Carlton Palmer pointed out to me that it had a 'cheater' carb on it, an Amal when it originally had a Binks.
The cheater Amal carb
When I asked Tony about this he confirmed that that was true and pointed out that it had a 'cheater' magneto, too.
The 'cheater' magneto on the 16H Norton
Tony warned me that the dogs on second gear were worn and it would pop out of gear under load.  It's not a positive stop selector so you have to feel how far to move the hand shift.  Sometimes I moved it too far and went from first to third, but the motor would lug amazingly well.  So it was wind it out in first, a bit of second, then short shift to third.  Tony suggested while lugging up hills in third gear, retarding the ignition a bit would help.  He told me to give it a shot of oil with the plunger on top of the tank every 5 to 10 miles, as it has total loss oiling.  I totally forgot about this, but when I caught up to him on his 1913 Motosacoche, he reminded me.  He had mounted a watch on the handlebar and there after I gave it a shot of oil every 15 minutes.  I had been warned to allow plenty of time for stopping as the brakes were primitive, but I found them totally adequate for the speeds it was capable of (50ish mph I'd guess; no speedometer).  I did get bounced around on the rough bits of road and didn't go crazy in the turns on the clincher tires, but I had no trouble passing many newer bikes.  As the bike had no route sheet holder, I was just following the arrows and missed a couple of turns.  Near the end, I was confused when I came to a stop, then followed several who came past me.  After a mile or two we realized we had gone the wrong was and turned around and just about when I got back to where I had gone wrong, I ran out of gas.  As I started to push, a couple of guys in a pickup truck stop to ask what the problem was.  The driver said he lived right nearby and went to fetch some fuel.  But, after we put it in, the carb wouldn't 'tickle' and it didn't want to start.  So, I pushed and coasted the last mile to the finish.  Once I got there it started right away.
What a treat it was to ride this fabulous old bike on a gorgeous, warm Fall day through beautiful back roads with like minded geezers.
Tony once again won the prize for the oldest bike in the event and the oldest combined age of bike and rider: 175 years!
Some of the other fabulous bikes at the event:
Carlton Palmer's KSS Velocette
Adam Schoolsky from RocketMoto rode this beautiful 1945 Moto Guzzi Airone
They had exposed valve springs and girder forks through 1947
The kickstarter and gearbox on a Nimbus

The Nimbus frame: riveted flat stock.  How could it have any rigidity?
Clive Doyle's AJS R10 with a DOHC Manx head grafted on.  Not something you see everyday.
Many more images can be seen at:  

Friday, October 25, 2013

Correction:  At the AHRMA Barber race I saw Len Fitch, the owner of the bikes I raced at St. Eustache Sept. 7&8.  He informed me that the bike I raced in Sunday's final Vintage GP was a TZ 350D, not a 250 as I thought he had told me.  This makes more sense, as I wonder why an older TZ 250 would have motor on a later RS 250 Honda.  I will now edit the St. Eustache report.
Barber (and Daytona report to come).

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The weekend of 14-15 Sept. I went up to my brother's to shake down a couple of bikes for the Fall Giro the following weekend in Newry, Maine.  I had talked my friend, Phyllis, into entering the Giro on my brother's 175 Bridgestone Hurricane Scrambler.  That hadn't run this year and maybe not since I rode it in the MotoGeezer Kick Start Classic late July, 2012.  It took a million kicks and a few pushes to get started, but then it ran fine.  My Moto Guzzi Airone Sport hadn't run in over two months, but that started on the first kick.  I also took my sister-in-laws new acquisition, a R-65 BMW, for a ride.  I went about 20 miles on each of them and they were all good.  The next day, we went to the Italian Motorcycle Owners Club meeting in Sturbridge, Ma.  I rode the Airone the 68 miles on back roads;  Doug and Amy drove in the cage while Doug recovers for his latest total hip replacement.  It was a beautiful day and there were a bunch of interesting bikes there including Buzz Kanter's '47 Guzzi Astorino and a Bimota V-Due (which seemed to run fine).  I forgot my camera and so have no photos.
But, Josh Martin risked his life by taking this photo from the middle of the road on our return.
Paige Mazurek, yours truly, and Bill Burke with our Horizontals on the way back from the IMOC rally
The next Fri., I picked up the Airone and Bridgestone in my van and drove up to Newry, while Doug and Amy took the Subaru with trailer to run 'sweep'.
Sat. morning was foggy, but fairly warm.  Rich Hosley was #80, I was 81 and Phyllis 82, with the highest number  being 89, I think.
Before the start Sat. morn.  Ken Richardson photo
Rich's Ossa Wildfire didn't want to start until he put a new plug in it.  Then, after the agility test, he shut it off and it didn't want to start again. I pushed him with the Airone about a half mile down hill before it started again.  I realized a didn't have my earplugs in and Phyllis misinterpreted my hand signal to 'stop, wait for me' as 'go'.  So, she took off while I searched for my earplugs, convincing myself I'd left them back in the hotel room, only to find I had them on me all the time when I got back to the room.  So, we were all separated early and I rode by myself to the first checkpoint.  I was surprised to find that Phyllis wasn't there, but she showed up shortly after, having missed a turn and gone a distance the wrong way.
Rich Hosley's Ossa Wildfire with my brother 175 Bridgstone H.S behind it at the first checkpoint.

The morning fog that made navigating so hard had burned off and we rode together though Errol, N.H., to the lunch stop in Rangeley, Me.  At lunch, Phyllis and I admired the C110 Honda of Eli Kirtz.
A Honda C110, one of the few 50cc bikes in the Giro.  Eli is wearing a Swedish Army jumpsuit.
Eli's mascot

After lunch, Phyllis and I took off together and, after some miles, we are going down a fairly steep hill with a fairly sharp left turn just before a stop sign at a crossroad.  I crossed and started up the hill on the other side when I notice Phyllis isn't behind me.  I stopped and waited a minute, then turned around and went back.  There's a pickup stopped and someone waving frantically at me.  Phyllis has crashed and is off the side of the road.  A bunch of Giroist stop as she's getting up.  Her face is bloody despite having a full coverage Arai Corsair helmet on because evidently she scooped up a bunch of rocks in it as she crashed.  She was a bit dingy and confused.  We dragged the bike up the bank and called Amy in the Sweep Car.  Amy was taking a dead bike back to the hotel and would be a half hour before she got there and another hour before she could get to us.  The fellow with the pickup truck, a Harley rider, volunteered to take Phyllis and the bike back to the hotel.  So we humped the bike up into the bed and cinched it down.  By this time I was assured that she was beat up, but basically alright, so I carried on with the route.  Serious fun.
I made it to the afternoon checkpoint with a minute or two to spare.  In the final leg back to the hotel, my bike was backfiring on the overrun.  When I got back, (after  checking on Phyllis who had taken a shower and was feeling much better and was much more lucid),I discovered that one of the nuts that hold the exhaust head pipe into the head had come off.  It was 7 X 1.00M  and, incredibly, no one had a spare.  After checking with several people to no avail, I finally realize that the seat spring bolts were 7 X 1.0 and I stole the nut to use on the exhaust and replace the bolt with a 6mm one.  It started raining as I was finishing up and the forecast indicated Sun. was going to be a washout.
As promised, it was still raining Sun. morning and a lot of lightweights packed up and went home.  But, as the last bikes were leaving the morning agility test, it stop raining.  The day just got nicer and nicer.  The route was better Sunday, also, with more turns, tighter roads, and more dirt roads.   Mark Young on his 250 Ducati Scrambler, followed me much of the morning.  Late in the morning, I missed a turn, but Mark didn't.  I went about a mile before I realized what I had done and did a U-turn.  Now, I was following Mark.  The route went on a long dirt road.  My bike started backfiring again on the overrun.  I figured that nut had loosened and I'd deal with it at lunch as that was not far away at the Worlds Fair, N. Waterford, Me.
When I got there, I discovered that the hanger bracket had broken on the muffler, undoubtedly from being stressed the day before when the exhaust was flopping around, and the muffler had dragged along the dirt road, ripping the fishtail off.  If I hadn't missed that turn, Mark would have seen this and been able to stop me.  Alas.  I wired the hell out of it and tightened up the header nuts and it was quiet, if ugly for the afternoon.  After we got back to the hotel and punched in and before the awards presentation, I got my bi-annual haircut on the solstice  (4:44p).  Long time volunteer Barb Wood's son, Mike, was doing the Giro for the first time.  He's a professional barber and he volunteered to do the cut.  So, I had my first professional haircut since 15 April, 1970, the day I got out of the Army, in front of the assembled crew.  Ken Richardson documented this, and has a bunch of other great photos from the weekend at his blog:
Geoff Boughton put together a nice, short video:
Some other nice bikes from the event:
A Zundapp Super Sabre

A Second Ossa Wildfire

Mitch Fraizer's 175 CZ, like my brother's, but earlier

A nice Bultaco Metralla

I think the only bike there that would have be eligible for the original Giro d'Italia, a '56(?) 175 Gilera

Sunday, October 6, 2013

One week after racing in Utah, I was racing near Montreal at the VRRA's Quebec GP at Autodrome St. Eustache on September 7th  & 8th.  It's always a fun event, with 1/8th mile drag racing Fri. night, and Stock Car racing on the 7/16th mile oval Sat. night.  When I raced there last year, I met Len Fitch and admired his two stroke Yamahas.  He suggested that I should race one sometime, so I got in touch with him before this year's event and he said he thought he could get something together for me to ride.  That  something turned out to be a 1972 TR3 Yamaha.
In the foreground, Len Fitch's TR3 Yamaha
The bike was quite original with the exception of front forks and brake from a TX500 Yamaha, a common period modification, swapping the four leading shoe drum brake for a single disc.  The bike also had a lengthened swing arm and Koni shocks, also common period mods.  I put many miles on the TD3 250 Yam back in the day ('73-'75), but never rode the 350cc TR3, though I raced a hot-rodded R5C, the road bike the TR3 was derived from, from '76-'78.  So, it was like old home week, though I did have some trouble shifting it initially.  I was convinced I wasn't able to select 6th gear, though statically it shifted into all the gears fine.  I finally realize that I was going through the slowest corner in 2nd, not 1st, and I was indeed getting 6th gear but the bike was gear too short.
Len geared it up once, but it was still a little short.  Len told me not to worry about it and just let it rev past 11,000 rpm.
Len's TZ 350 D on the right, TR3 on the left
Len brought four bikes: a '77 TZ350 D and two RS125 Hondas, in addition to the TR3.  One of my 'teammates', on the RS 125, was Stacey Nesbitt.  Stacey is a senior in high school and she has already won the Canadian CBR125 Honda National Championship (2011) and the CBR 250R National  Championship(2012).  While she was on a newer bike than me with slicks and tire warmers, she was also on a much smaller bike with a little over 1/3 the displacement of what I was riding, yet she passed me in both practice sessions.  I was very impressed.  She was there with her parents, who are extremely supportive of her racing.  The whole family came from Northern Ireland, Stacey when she was 15  months old.  Her dad grew up 6 miles from the Dundrod circuit, home of the Ulster GP.  They moved to Quebec to take jobs at Bombardier in the Aerospace industry.
I was entered in Middleweight Period 2 and in Saturdays heat, I was able to track down early leader Mick Vaclavik who was racing a XS 650 based Yamaha in a custom, one off chassis, and motor by for the win.  He apparently had a slipping clutch which he thought he would be able to fix.
Mick Vaclavik's XS 650 based 750 in a Dennis Curtis frame
Sunday morning, I tried to put on taller gearing, but ultimately realized that we couldn't do it with the sprockets and chain we had and returned to the sprockets we had used Sat.  The short gearing meant I got a good start in the Period 2 Heavyweight final and was never headed.  It turned out that Mick wasn't able to cure his slipping clutch.
I was also entered in the 12 lap Vintage GP, the last race of the weekend.  This is a class for bikes sold as race bikes, as opposed to converted street bikes.  I was expecting to race the TR3 in this race too but, at the last minute, Len asked me if I want to ride the '77 TZ 350 D that Steve Humphrey's had been racing.  Steve was racing his RS 125 in the Vintage GP, so the TZ was available.  The TZ was  newer and with monoshock rear suspension, and Len figured it was faster.  I was able to get one 'scrub' lap in during the warmup lap for the previous race, which was a bit of a help, but I wasn't exactly 'one' with the bike at the start.
There are three divisions in the Vintage GP class, Light, Middle and Heavy weight, and the TZ 350 is considered Middle, as is the TR3.  But, there were no Heavyweight entries, so I was gridded  on the second row of the first group, with the 125s behind us.  I quickly got into 4th place behind David Percival on an RS 250 Honda, Chris Hurst on a TZ350 Yamaha and Joe Soles on an RS 250 Honda.  It became apparent, as I started to get comfortable on the TZ, that it was geared too short, also.  On the 5th lap, I got by Joe Soles, with Percival and Hurst long gone.  What I didn't realize was that, after a bad start, Stacey got by Patrick Gagnon, to lead the 125s.  A lap later, she got by Joe Soles and got right on my rear wheel, with Joe right on her's.  Gagnon and Humphrey were following closely and swapping back and forth, too.  But, she couldn't get by and at the finish there was less than one second between me, Stacey, Soles and Gagnon.  Stacey's best lap was 0.852 seconds faster than my best, and I was probably holding her up as my best lap (as well as Joe's and Patrick's) was the last one, where as Stacey's was the 5th before she caught up to us.  In fact, Joe, Patrick and Steve all had a faster best lap than mine, they just didn't have enough of them.  Patrick Gagnon made an entertaining video of the race which can be seen here:
Nev Miller raced a Velo MAC and we compared notes with the Gary Roper MAC I race out West.
Not something you see everyday: a Ural roadracer; it wasn't last!
The Ural final drive
Another unusual road racer: Rick Yates' Kawasaki F7 175

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Two days after I got back from the IOM, I conducted a 'Loose Screw Seminar' at Bar Matchless.  I just gave a brief overview of my 'career', then opened it up for Q & A.  There were about 30 people there and we had some good questions.  Everyone seemed to have a good time.

The next day, I flew to Salt Lake City to race at the 8th annual Bonneville Vintage GP.  Once again I was riding Gary Roper's '51 Velo MAC and Mike Bungay's 350 H-D Sprint.  Gary had replaced the electronic tachometer, which didn't work worth a shit, with a proper Smiths Chronometric mechanical tach.

 Not only did it work perfectly, but it certainly looked the part, too.

But, it was going to take more that a new tach to win this year as Alex Mclean was entered on Bob McKeever's 500 OHC Norton.  The MAC, being a 350 didn't have much of a chance.
Gary Roper fettling the Velo MAC

Mikes Sprint was the same as it's last outing at The Ridge in July, other than the stator mounting holes being repaired.  It did have a chance, though there was some good competition there with Paul Germain on his DT-1 Yamaha, Jim Neuenburg on Fred Mork's 350 short stroke Sprint, and Tim Sheedy on his 350 Honda four.
In the Sat. morning practice, the Velo was great but somehow the wrong gearing got put on the Sprint and we had to gear it down twice.
Karl Engellener, master motor builder, changing the gearing

As expected, Alex McLean pulled away in the Class C race and I was well clear of Fred Mork on his 500 Cammy Norton.  The Class C was combined with 250gp and Lightweight Historic Production and I ended up 8th overall.  This was in part because Paul Germain seizes his DT-1 which caused Billy Hamill, former World Speedway Champion. to crash.
This meant Germain didn't start the 350 GP race.  I led from the start and was never challenged, though late in the race, Dave Crussell came by on his Formula 250 Kawasaki Bighorn.  But, Tim Sheedy turned the fastest lap of the 350GP class, about 0.3 sec.s faster than me.
My friend, Tom Marquardt, had talked to me a couple of weeks before about riding his 380cc Yetman CB77 race bike in 500 Premiere.  I was non committal, as I already had a fairly full dance card, but said I'd try it in practice.  As it turned out, I wasn't able to make Fri. practice because of the Loose Screw Seminar and, in the mean time, Tom had talked to Thad Wolff who was looking for a ride.  This was a good solution as Tom and Thad go way back and I had a fairly full dance card.  But, I noticed after Sat. races that my fastest lap was quicker than Thad's in 500 Premiere.  Now, Thad was the only starter in 500 Premiere, so he wasn't pushed at all and I figured he could go much quicker.  But, I figured it was my moral obligation to make him go much quicker, so I bumped the 350 H-D up to 500 Premiere on Sun.
The bike had started to chatter in turns # 5 &  6 in Saturday's race and we worked on that a bit in Sun. morning practice by altering tire pressures and altering technique, which maybe helped slightly, but the chatter was definitely still there.
Sunday Class C race went much like Saturday with Alex McLean riding off and me finishing a distant 2nd, dicing with some of the 250gp bikes.
The 500 Premiere race was next for me and was combined with 500GP, Bears, Formula 500 and Vintage Superbike Middleweight.  I nailed the start and lead flag to flag, but Thad only finished a little over a third of a sec. behind.  Apparently, I had gapped him a bit in the middle, but he closed on me towards the end so, I'm told, it was a good race to watch.
Finally, there was the 350GP.  The chatter had gotten worse in the Premiere race and I was putting it down to worn tires.  Again, I nailed the start and led for 4-5 laps with Paul Germain second on DT-1 with his spare motor in it.  I wasn't the only one with chatter as Paul had it bad, too.  Tim Sheedy and Billy Hamill (on his 200GP bike!)came by Paul and he ended up running off the track and letting Jim Neuerburg by.  Then, Sheedy came by me. We swapped back and forth a bit then Billy Hamill came by.   Billy had incredible corner speed and, while I passed him a couple of times on the straight, he was creeping away and annoying Tim.  On the last corner before the checkered flag, Billy went underneath Tim and they came out of the corner about even.  I looked down at my tach a second and, when I looked up Billy was crashing in front of me and I had to swerve to avoid him.  Tim took the checkered flag first and me second but, as we started the cool off lap, the red flag came out.  I'm told that Tim had cut left across in front of Billy and taken out his front wheel.  Tim confessed that some 'Red Mist' had overcome him and  he had made a error of judgement, as he could have out dragged Billy to the line and the shortest distance to the line was to stay on the right edge of the track.   The referee disqualified Tim and Billy was awarded the win, with me second.  Billy was banged up and lost some skin, but luckily nothing serious.  A wild race with plenty of drama.
one of the more interesting bikes on display was this B-50 BSA streamliner

It had just come from the BUB event at the Salt Flats

ram air cooling