Canyon Carvers . . .

An excerpt from a story about our Spring Opener trip in 2010 . . .

We met some new folks in Knoxville after suffering a mid-trip slump earlier in the day. Complete with a little bitching and tension from having spent the last so many days with five guys on the road. At a rest stop at dusk about 100mi from Knoxville, Vinny and I decided “Let’s ride as fast as we can right into the middle of the busiest place we can find in Knoxville, park right on the sidewalk, walk in like we own the place and talk to EVERYBODY we meet and buy them beer!”

Rather than entertain any further discussion, we were flying along at 90mph in the starry dusk with unseasonably warm winds ruffling our sweatshirts. We were there in no time and the plan was an irrefutable success.

Three people we met: Nathan, a young vet who now builds sick canyon bikes and rides it like he means it. His friend John, a musician and fellow rider, albeit of the gentler variety. Tony, plain fucking insane and builder of the Banshee-powered RD below. Fastest bike I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been around the block a few times.


Full story here: Spring Opener 2010



Tanks ALOT Den

Paint man Den did my pre-unit tank last minute for me. Den is moving to San Diego this week. When I say last minute I mean he was carrying his boxes out to the uHaul between coats of clear. Thanks for all the memories and I’ll be out to visit soon.

West Philly fume room




I swapped out the old maggy on the preunit last night. The old one was starting to give trouble occasionally causing me to miss a day of riding and requiring me to close the gap down to about 16 thou. It’s replacement is a spare I had around and rebuilt by Doug Wood engineering. Inside it’s been rewound, re magnetized and new modern condensers and coils fitted. Doug says they will run all day at 28 thou gap. Well see.

The simple things!


Early HD Timer Conversion

Where can I buy one of these? Nowhere? Ok.

We’ve been helping Ralph turn his ’70 XLCH (The Iron Headache) into a reliable machine for regular use over the last couple months. As most people who’ve owned an ironhead will tell you, there’s a pile of work hiding in all of them. Some choose to refine the bike over a period of years fixing crap as it occurs. This gets tiring and often leaves you short of your destination. Some folks like that approach and that’s perfectly valid. We’re trying fast-track Ralph to understanding his machine thoroughly and addressing all the major systems in advance of their likely failure. This week? A non-fidgety low maintenance ignition system.

His bike has an external ignition timer as opposed to the embedded timing chamber that later sportsters and cone shovels have. This slims down the choices a bit. There are three main issues that limit choices: The timer does not accept a bolt-in points replacement as the body of the timer itself carries the points. The timing weights are also integral with the timer shaft preventing use of an ignition that doesn’t use centrifugal advance weights. Lastly, the timer shaft rotates clockwise whereas later sportsters, cone shovels and evos rotate the timer shaft/cam counter-clockwise. Hmmm.

I recommended a Dyna S for this job, as would probably anyone who has put serious miles on an early bike. They are cheap, simple and stone reliable. There’s a reason most bikes at the drag strip run them. You can run them with stock HD coils and existing weights. In the even of a rare failure out on the road, you can pop your points (that you carry in your tool bag, right?) back in and keep it moving.

Young Dan and I got to figuring out our approach last evening using an old Dyna S I had in my stash. We had it largely figured by time Ralph arrived. Both of us are prone to impatience and are easily consumed by interesting problems to solve. Details are in the captions below. Enjoy.


We removed the pickup sensor from the new ignition and marked holes for mounting on the old timer. Tapped to 4-40 to use the mount screws it came with.

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Oregon trip

A while back me and the family went to Oregon. We stopped by a air museum in tillamuck. Real cool place, amongst all the ww2 planes and blimps I spied this baby in the maintenance hangar. Talked to the original owner who has had it since new. Check out the O.G. Remote float carb and Dunlop desert sled rear tire.

Bonneville DREAMING