Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Horex lives

After picking away at my '59 Horex Resident 350 for over two years (picked up Christmas, 2012) intermittently when I visited my brother and sister-in-law, I finally got it on the road.  Over Easter weekend we pulled the bikes out of the basement and I took the Horex for only maybe a two mile ride, as it wasn't insured or registered.  It wasn't shifting correctly, but ran well enough for me to register it.  

So, last Thurs., I called Dairyland's 800 number to add it to my policy with my '53 Moto Guzzi Airone and '68 TC 200 Suzuki.  They couldn't find a manufacture's code for Horex, surprisingly enough, and therefore they couldn't insure it.  I asked "why not?" and was told "company policy".  I asked to speak to a supervisor and she told me the same thing.  But why?  They only insure bikes for sale in the US and some vague talk about knowing the specs.  But, I'm just asking for liability insurance.  Company policy.  
I called my brother and asked him who he insures his bikes with and he tells me Dairyland.  So, I called his agent and the agent tell me this is ridiculous and says he'll look into it.  He calls me back and says he just talked to Dairyland and they said no problem, but he couldn't actually do it for me for some reason.  I call Dairyland back, and I'm told the same thing, that they can't insure it because there's no code for Horex.  I speak to the supervisor again and tell her what the agent told me.  She doesn't budge.  I tell her that my brother has a Jawa insured with them; does that have a MFG code?  She starts to waver a bit.  I call my brother back and get his policy # for his Jawa and Norton Electra.  I call back the supervisor and ask why, if they can insure these bikes and my '53 Airone, can't they insure the Horex.  She says she'll have to speak to the underwriters, but it's not going to happen today.  
In the meantime, I've called Progressive, Allstate, and Geico and they're more than willing to insure the Horex, but for a good deal more money and it would mean another policy with a different expiration date.
Fri. morning, I speak to the Dairyland supervisor again and she tells me the underwriter says they can insure it by calling it a 'custom', but they need photos of it and a valuation.  I tell them it's worth $1000 but it will be several hours until I can send them photos as it in Ct. and I'm in N.Y.  So much for my plan of registering it on my way up to my brother's.  But, I ride up there and and take and email photos.  After some delay, I speak to the supervisor again and she says she doesn't see any turn signals on the bike.  I remind he that it's from 1959 and they didn't have them then, nor does my Airone and Doug's Jawa have turn signals.  She finally caves and agrees to insure the bike and I get the insurance ID cards emailed to me just before 5p.  When we printed them, sheets and sheets came out and I thought 'how many copies do I need?'
This meant trying to register the bike Sat. morning.  My brother warned me that when he last went to DMV on a Sat. morn, he got in line at 7:45 for the 8a opening, got in the building at 8:30 and got out at 11:45.  Maybe things have improved a bit as I got there at ten of 8 and got in the building with the first group.  When I showed the clerk who gives out the numbers my paperwork, she look at the insurance card that I handed her and saw that it was for a Suzuki, not the Horex.  Oh no, they send the wrong card.  Then I remembered the three sheets we had printed out and, sure enough, the third was for the Horex.  They had sent ID card for all three bike on the policy. Phew.  
So, I got a number and settled down with a good book, 'From the Race Shop Floor' by Hedley Cox.  After two plus hours, my number was called and I got my second scare when the clerk took the last registration certificate of the Horex, from April of 1977, and showed it to another clerk.  Then they both showed it to another clerk, who gave me the thumbs up.  Phew.  Everything was going swimmingly until I swiped my credit card to pay for this privilege, and the computer froze up.  After a wait and much button pushing , it unfroze (melted?), but then she had to go to the supervisor to make sure that I wasn't charged twice.  I got out of there at 11:30 after another character building experience at DMV.

Fri., after I realize that I couldn't register it to the next day, after replacing the left side engine cover, I took it for a short test ride and found that I could not select 4th gear.  So, I pulled the cover again and found that I had indexed the selector incorrectly.  I moved the pawl carrier what seemed like one spline on the shaft and notice there was a line on each which seem to line up.  Sat,, after I got the license plate on, I took off to visit a friend in Mystic, a little over 40 miles away.  As soon as I left I realize that I now couldn't select 1st gear, but decided to carry on anyway.  The motor is quite torquey and with a little clutch slip and patience, I seemed to manage fine starting in 2nd.  I was pleasantly surprise by how well it handles and how decent the suspension is.  The brakes however and very underwhelming and the motor does vibrate some.  I missed a turn and ended up going through Bozrah, probably making the 40 mile trip 50 miles.  In Norwich, I noticed the nuts on the front engine stud spinning loose.  And, I was gaining clutch freeplay and it didn't want to disengage fully.  At my friend's house, we tightened the engine nuts and readjusted the clutch cable and discovered that I had a slight gas leak from one of the mounting tabs on the fuel tank, despite the fact that I had coated the tank with POR-15.  Jim took me over to a neighbor he had met who I used to race with in the good ol' days, Tom Silva.  I raced Tom's H-2 Kawasaki once at Bridgehampton, and it seized on one cyl., but was still pretty fast.
I headed back at maybe 6:30 and it started to get cool.  I had replace the ignition/charging system with a cheater Powerdynamo, a 12V, 150 watt system with pointless electronic ignition.  So, I plugged in my electric jacket liner and gloves and enjoyed a toasty vintage ride.  I drained the tank when I got back, but didn't get anything else done before dark.
The next morning, I refilled the tank and rode to the British Iron Association breakfast in Colchester, an 18 mile ride that I managed to make at least 20.  The thermometer read 40 degrees as I rode through Haddam, but again, I was plugged in and warm.  Most of the guys had never seen a Horex before, but Ad Coppens had almost bought one when he was a lad back in Holland, but he bought the Matchless instead and now he's an AMC repair and parts specialist.
When I got back, I took off the side cover again and finally got the selector indexing right.  I took off the fuel tank and the tank had been previously been epoxied where it was now leaking.  I removed all the epoxy to see if I could see exactly where it was leaking.  It looked like it had been soldered before it was epoxied, but even putting some compressed air in the tank and spraying soapy water mover the area, I couldn't see a leak.  I put the tank back on and put gas in it and there was no sign of leaking.  Go figure.  
Yes, I did lube the chain after taking this photo
Amy Roper photo
With the left side cover in my lap, figuring out the indexing.  Amy Roper photo
Brother Doug getting his Benelli ready for the ride.  Amy Roper photo
My brother and I went for a ride, Doug on his 250 Benelli.  After we had gone several miles, I looked down and saw that my fuel cap was missing.  We turned around and retraced our path, looking for it.  I was thinking that I was never going to find it and that it was well off in the woods somewhere.  But, a mile back at the last intersection, there it was, laying in the middle of the road.  I'm the luckiest guy in the world.  We carried on with our ride on great roads in ideal conditions, warm and sunny by now and with the leaves still off the trees so one could see deep into the woods and around corners.  After a while, the barrel pulled off the end of my clutch cable, so we headed back.  I was very glad that I now had use of 1st gear and only had to come to a full stop at one traffic light.  I was able to waddle in neutral and kick it in gear and make it back without too much abuse and we got in about 40 miles.  I soldered a new end on the cable before putting it away.  
All together, a pretty successful debut for the Horex, successful enough to justify investing some more into it.  I need sprockets, exhaust head pipes, a speedometer that works, and a few 7 X 1.0 X 40mm oval head slot head screws (where do I get those?).

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dave, Love the blog and the Horex story is very compelling!! hee hee.. So,.. the gas cap incident reminded me of my "lucky day" story. It was early 70's, maybe 1973, at Summit Point. I was "campaigning" the Gold Star and during practice one of the spiral gears in the right angle tachometer drive gearbox fell out so I had no rev meter.. I was pretty bummed, but figured I'd just go out there and shift by ear for the race. I really had no idea where the tach stopped working, but figured I ought to at least LOOK for the thing and from the pits, right at the turn going onto the main straightaway, on the far side of the track, I saw something shiny in the dirt.. When it was clear, I ran across and sure enough it was my gear. I think I needed duct tape for the repair, but got it all working again (that was over 40 years ago - possibly a cotter pin was missing?).... That was my lucky day, though I don't think I finished any better than usual seeing all the TZ350's that were running in the class at that time.... but didn't blow the engine up either.. - bill in Maine