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

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