Sunday, July 31, 2016

Upper Mid-West swing

I left for the AHRMA race at Gingerman, near South Haven, Mi., with my H-D ERTT Sprint and my '46 Moto Guzzi Dondolino, although the Dondo wasn't finished.  It just needed the belly pan and exhaust installed, the rear sprocket changed, and a ton of safety wire.  I figured that I might be able to get that done on Sat. at the track and race it, or at least practice on it Sun.  Also in the van was my '68 TC 200 Suzuki road bike.
Though my Ram Promaster is the lowest, shortest one they make, it seems plenty big to me and I was able to sleep in it on the way out without unloading anything by suspending a cot crosswise above the bikes with ratcheting tie-down straps hooked to the roof.
I got to the track Fri. eve, unloaded, and rode the TC 200 into South Haven to get some dinner.  The bike ran fine at full throttle, but in town one cyl. cut out.  When I stopped, I realized that the carb was flooding.  So, riding back to the track, I was turning the petcock on and off to maintain an approximate fuel lever in the float bowl.
Pitting with Stu Carter and his Seeley 7R
Sat. morning, practice went well with the bike running fine and me refreshing my memory on the part of the circuit that I had ridden before and learning the new part built since I was last here in 2006.
My first race was my 'bump-up' class, 500 Premiere and I set off chasing Helmi Niederer on his Minavation replica Seeley G-50.  But, my bike started to run slower and slower and soon I was swamped with 750 Sportsman, Bears, and even electric bikes.  I did finish, but 5 th of 5 in class and 13th overall..  Back in my pit, I pulled the sparkplug out and found that the center electrode was broke off flush with the ceramic insulator, giving a 0.057" gap for my poor 6volt, total loss battery/points ignition to jump.
broken off center electrode
I didn't find anything else wrong, so I just put a new plug in.  
It started to rain shortly before the start of the 350GP race and I took it very steady on the warmup lap.  When the 'one' board went sideways, my throttle hung up and I couldn't get the bike in gear.  Everyone in the first wave left and I finally reached down with my throttle hand, grabbed the gear lever, and yanked it in gear.  The motor almost stalled but I did get off, last.  People started crashing on the very slick track and, in a couple of laps, I found myself in the lead in class and maybe 3rd overall.  Then there was a crash blocking the track, the race was red flagged, and it was decided to do a complete restart on Sunday.
Jason Roberts working on his Drixton CRTT
Sunday morning was still wet, but better weather was coming.  My bike ran fine in practice, though I was very carefull on the wet track.  On the warmup lap for the restart on the red flagged Sat. race, my motor misfired badly and it got worse after the green flag dropped.  The motor died completely after turn#3 on the first lap and I pulled off onto the infield.  While sitting on the bike waiting for the race to finish, I pulled off the the battery ground strap and examined it, but didn't see anything obvious.  Once back in the pits I plugged the ground back in and put the bike on the rollers and it started instantly.  Closer examination showed a bad connect in the ground cable, and I cleaned it up before the start of 'Sunday's' races.
Helmi Niederer dumping the fuel from his Seeley G-50 replica
The bike ran well again for the 500 Premiere race, but unfortunately, Helmi dropped out early and the other Premiere entries--Tim Joyce on Maurice Candy's Manx and Andy Mauk on Keith Lieghty's CB 500 Honda--pulled away rapidly.  First Wes Goodpaster (Bears), then Mike Dixon (750 Sportsman), Craig Chawla(Bears) and Ben Robinson(750 Sportsman) came by, giving me 7th overall.
Finally was the 350GP race and I got in the lead early.  At least four times Paul Germain, on his newly built DT-1 Yamaha, stuck a wheel in on me at the end of straights, but each time I backed him down and went on to win the class and overal by 8.5 seconds, with the fastest lap of the race.  It was a satisfying way to end what had be a somewhat frustrating weekend.
Paul Germain's newly built DT-1 Yamaha
Paul made his frame out of thin air

Paul rubber mounted the motor
Andy Findling C-15 BSA
a golden intake manifold
John Rickard's two SR500 Yamahas
John had the swing arm spindle break and took the one from his 'B' bike to use on his 'A' bike
Stu Carter's trick custom transponder mount on his Seeley 7R
I spent a few days in Chicago, as I traditionally do between the Upper Midwest back-to back weekends, staying with friends and working on bikes at the excellent facilities of Ken Kales Sports Car Store.  I prepped the ERTT and finished the Dondolino.  Ken hosts the Chivinmoto weekly garage night while I'm there and it's always  a good bash.  I was also able to finally pull off the right carb on the TC200 and clear the debris in the float needle seat that was causing the carb to flood and forcing me to turn the fuel tap off and on.
Ken went to AHRMA racer Tim 'Merciless' Mings to get parts for this 600 Honda he was working on
A Berkeley car that the original Excelsior two stroke motor had been replaced with a 400 Honda twin motor
This could be yours: a Citroen Traction Avant from the '50's is for sale

Fri. at Road America, I rode the Dondolino around the grounds on the access roads and it seems to run OK, but there seem to be inadequate lubrication to the exposed valves and I discovered a blockage in a restrictor in the supply.  In Saturday's Class 'C' race, the motor misfired quite badly and I finished a distant 2nd to the one other foot shift entry but ahead of the tank shift H-D.
My '46 Moto Guzzi Dondolino
 In the 350GP race, I overhauled Jack Parker on his DT-1 Yamaha, but he came back by.  Game on and we swapped a few times until a bolt fell out of my shift linkage.  Not only was I stuck in 4th gear, but the lever was hanging straight down and when I leaned into the last right hand turn, it grounded and sent me onto the grass.  I was able to get back on the track and still managed to finish 2nd.
Jack Parker's CT-1 Yamaha 200GP racer

I found a loose high tension lead on the Dondolino and thought that might be the cause of the misfire.   But, I also found I had lost clutch freeplay and adjusted the cable to the limit.   I didn't see an easy way to get to the bottom of the clutch freeplay issue and decided the misfire was a magneto issue, so I didn't practice at all with the Dondolino and just nursed it through the race.  With the misfire worse than ever, I diced with the tank shift Harley until he crashed.  So, and even more distant 2nd of two.
With the shift linkage repaired on the Sprint, it went well in practice.  But after, I noticed that the swing arm was cracked.  I took the bike to Framecrafter's pit and Randy Illg welded as much as he could without removing the swing arm.  It wasn't ideal, but it was all the time we had and figured it would get me through the day.
It's hard to see, but there is a crack on the left side of the gusset.  Years ago, it cracked the right and you can see the weld repair
 Again, Jack Parker and I went back and forth, but I figured I had the upper hand.  While in the lead more than half way through the race, the spark plug lead fell off and the motor died.  DNF.  Unlike Gingerman, it was a very unsatisfying finish to a frustrating weekend.  But, the failures were better than a conrod through the cases.
A couple of H-D XR1200 racers
Paul Germain's 550 Seca Middleweight Superbike  and his 'old' DT-1 which he had to pull out when his new bike failed
Chris Spargo's RD 400 Yamaha F-500 racer
A clean T-150 Triumph triple Sportsman bike
Martin Morrison brought the ex-Gina Bovaird RG 500 Suzuki.  Gina used this to be the first woman to qualify for a 500 GP World Championship race.
Fettling the square four motor
A very nice AJS M-18 500
Stu Carter's Sound of Singles racer.  He just swapped the 450 Yamaha motor for a 450 KTM

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Memorial Day Weekend

Saturday, I rode my '59 Horex Resident from my Brother's house in Haddam, Ct., to the New England Motorcycle Museum in Rockville, Ct., about a 42 mile ride.  While the Museum is not officially opened yet, they had several bikes on display including a beautiful '49 Nimbus, a XLCR H-D, and several Ossas.  The Museum is an impressive project.  Ken Kaplan, its owner, has invested millions into restoring an abandon textile mill, parts of which date back to 1812.  Ken had hoped to have the official opening this weekend, but that's had to have been delayed.  Apparently, the State fire marshall has over ruled the local fire marshall, and more upgrades and mods have to be made.
On my way back to Haddam, I passed by Steve Rossi's home in East Haddam, and saw him in his driveway. So, I did a U-turn and pulled in and we chatted for a while.  When I went to leave, the Horex didn't want to start.  After a bunch of tries, where it would fire but not run, Steve suggested that I push it down the hill on his road.  He gave me a push and I got well down the hill building up speed when I finally dropped the clutch and, though turning over rapidly, it still didn't want to run.  then I noticed that there was about 1.5" of inner throttle cable pulled out of the outer.  Either the slide was hung up in the bore or the cable had broken at the slide end.  I parked the bike on it's center stand ( it has no side stand) and started walking back to Steve's house.  He had already figured out that I had a problem and was driving his pickup towards me.  When we got back to the bike, we found that it had fallen over.  We righted the bike and just managed to get in the back of the truck with his short ramp.  Steve drove me the 6 miles back to my brother's.  When we got it unloaded, we found that not only had the end pulled off the throttle cable (it was only crimped, not soldered), but the right exhaust pipe had broken when it fell over.

In the mean time, our friend Gordon Pulis had arrived on his '71 CL 175 Honda.  He and I set to soldering the end back on the cable.  Miraculously, the end was sitting in the bottom of the carb and had not been sucked into the cylinder when the engine was spinning over rapidly down the hill.  Now that I think about it, maybe it's not so miraculous because the slide was totally shut, so the cable end couldn't get by.  That fixed, we attacked the exhaust pipe.  The head pipes on the bike are in really rough shape and the right one had a section of EMT electrical conduit welded into it and it broke right next to the weld.  This pre-existing repair had caused the pipe to flare out too far outboard, so the break in the pipe offered an opportunity to tuck it in more.  I oxy-acetylene welded the break in situ, then removed the pipe and finished it up with MIG.  It wasn't elegant as I burnt through the very thin pipe many times but, with a bunch of grinding, was serviceable.

Gordon and I put everything back together, switched bikes, and went fo a 35 or so mile test ride.  Gordon pointed out that the motor's refusal to idle down after it got warm was perhaps just due to a lack of free play in the throttle cable and not an air leak or ignition advance problem.  But, investigating that would have to wait as Sunday was the Steve Rossi Tiddler Tour.
Steve is active in both the Italian Motorcycle Oners Club and the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club, so I rolled out my '53 Moto Guzzi Airone Sport for the TT.  Rich Hosley brought his Ossa Wildfire to Doug and Amy's house and, after he took the Horex for a quick ride, we all left for Steve's house across the Connecticut River, Doug on his '65 Benelli 260 and Amy driving her Subaru with a trailer running sweep.  
Rich Hosley heading out on his Ossa Wildfire.  Amy Roper photo
It was another gorgeous day and there was a big turnout, although there seems to be some displacement inflation in what people consider appropriate at a Tiddler event.  There were no Brit bikes this time, but plenty of Italian, Japanese, German and Spanish bikes.  In addition to my brother's and my bikes, there were at least three Sprints and three Ducati singles.

My '53 Airone Sport. Amy Roper photo
There were two DT 250 Yamaha singles, an XT 350, and a CS5 Yamaha 200 twin. Honda was represented by a CL 90, a CB 125 single, a 125 twin, an XL 175, and a CA 77 Honda Dream. 
Jean Frazier's 125 Honda twin

 There were three R-27 BMWs and a MZ 125 from Germany. And a Bultaco Alpina and Metrala in addition to Rich's Ossa from Spain.
Scott Rikert kicking Bill Burke's Metralla. Amy Roper photo
I finally bump started the 'taco and it ran fine for Bill the rest of the day.  Amy Roper photo
In the morning, we headed west and crossed the Connecticut River on the Chester ferry.  It arrived on the Hadlyme side just after I arrive so I nearly had to wait.  I was a bit outraged by the $6 fee for motorcycles as cars are $6 and bicycles are $2.  There's no justice.  Though last away after disembarking on the Chester, I missed the first turn and, even though I don't see how it could be shorter, I ended up ahead of the others on the ferry with me and was one of the first to stop for lunch in Durham.  Steve Rossi had some trouble getting his newly acquired 250 Ducati Monza started, but with a run and bump we got him going.  After Rich Hosley gassed up his Ossa Wildfire, he discovered he had a gas leak and put the bike on Amy's trailer.  But, it turned out the leak was high in the tank tunnel and, after it leaked down below, it stopped, so he pulled the bike off the trailer and rode it into the finish.  That was the only business Amy and Lynn had in the sweep vehicle. 
Amy Roper photo
After a good smooze at Steve's house, many retired to Amy & Doug's where the party continued into the evening.  Once again, great roads on a beautiful day with good turnout of bikes and riders.
Steve Rossi's Falcone

Steve is a Citroen nut, too.  An Ami 6
and a CX