We Fix Our Own

Vinny paid a well-known shop to weld up and rethread the spark plug bosses in this set of early shovelheads. When he got them back they looked like they had been cut with a dull chisel. Worse yet, the spark plugs no longer reached into the combustion chamber because the shop didn’t machine them down enough.

Why deal with idiots twice? We fixed it.

His first time on the Bport. We’re so proud!


Set the controls for the heart of the sun. (Be careful with that axe?)

Turkey Pro National

Casey and I had an amazing riding day Sunday. Rode about 170mi. We left promptly at 8a, bundled up good for the 40F weather. At 70mph on the highway, it was REALLY cold. Easy enough to ignore when you know it’ll hit spring temps and be sunny as hell later in the day. Willpower and mental discipline will serve you well.

We hit a couple off-road sections which were fun. Went around a few “road closed” signs. Stopped for coffee a few times. Then we headed to Oley, PA for the 2011 Turkey Pro National, an annual memorial event for Snuffy Smith. Great turnout and even more cool bikes. The kind you don’t see every day. . . Vincents, Knuckleheads, rare Italian bikes, old Velocettes, etc.

Despite the crash on the way home, it was a great day that I’ll remember for some time.


Casey at Swamp Creek.

In the woods.

In the woods.

My favorite of the day. Amazing.

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Wear your damned gear!

All the time. Sure glad I had mine on yesterday. Sliding to a stop from 30mph on pavement kind of sucks otherwise. My left eye was about an inch from the street as I slid on my head and left shoulder. I could hear the helmet grinding away. SO thankful it went like this.

Holes in my 20 year old leather. Almost a hole in my helmet. Scuffed up palm on my glove. Swollen and bruised hip and elbow. Sure glad I didn’t leave any hand or arm meat behind. And it is meat and nothing more at that point.

My fault. Most crashes are the rider’s fault. Making excuses won’t help you improve your skills for next time. Failed to pay attention for a second looking off at some scenery and hit the leaves. Boom! Instantly down and sliding.

Casey took good care of me. We relaxed for a while and took stock of the situation before deciding both me and the BSA were safe to ride the remaining 50mi home.

Glad to still be here.

3/4 helmets, heavy gloves, leather boots and heavy jacket, minimum. Please.


Left arm. Got a little rash under there, but nothing major.

Lapel and collar of my jacket from sliding.

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Rd350 built up crank assembly

A few of you may of seen the pair of RD350’s I picked up a few weeks ago and there subsequent tear down. This will document the rebuild of the crankshaft. As I type the cases are out in Oregon being vapor blasted HERE, a process similar to glass beading except that its done with a slurry and produces a superior finish that doesn’t stain as easily and looks like the day the part was cast. In the meantime I have been sussing out different things on the bike and gearbox, removing unesscary tabs on the frame and collecting parts for the rebuild.

Having dissembled the the crank to inspect,I found out I would need new connecting rods and bearings in addition to the 4 main bearings that support the crank.

CRANKPINS, the big ends of the rods were just as trashed as well as some bluing form heat


While I neglected to take photos of pressing the crank apart it is almost the same as reassembly.

All apart with the pieces that will make it new again, also note the slotted con rod for better oiling

objectives are: Make special fixture to support the crank while pressing it apart and not bend the rods.

Almost fold the press and or explode my push bar to sepiarate the center webs that have been married for 40 years.

Catch crank halves as they fire out the bottom of the press.

All this has been accomplished by the simple fixture I made out of some large square tube with a half a dozen rags stuffed in the end and a plate with an notch cut out for the crank pin to sit.Crank pin in, rod and bearings and thrust washers on

The most difficult part of reassembly is pressing the two sub-assembles together while maintaining the rod side clearance at .001-.003 You can’t see from the pictures how I accomplished this with two pieces of bar between the crank webs. This proved difficult as the clearance I wanted to maintain went away to almost nothing, at least it prevented me from bending the crank pins! Because of this I had to reset the side clearances, not  big deal but a little harder than while it was still the sub-assemblys.  This is the point where I began to get frustrated and stopped with the photography class. After a bit more futzing around I was left with an assembled crank. Next installment will be truing the crank, STAY TUNED!

Chris’s Norton mill goes together

Sunday night I met Chris aka Goodwill down at the shop to put his Norton Commando motor together. While he has never built a motor before he has a pretty good mechanical knowledge and I get the pleasure of working with him 5 days a week to answer all his questions. He’s been coming down to the shop on Sundays and tuesdays for a few months quietly working away. Ive been pretty busy with my other projects so I haven’t been paying much attention to what he’s been doing. All his busy work of cleaning bolts, fixing threads, and sorting what goes where paid off on sunday.

He will be running one of those fancy superblend bearings on the drive side an a ball on the timing side to control the crank end float.

Chris heating up the cases to accept the bearing race

Crank has been built up and the rods polished by Classic Cycles in frenchtown NJ, you could comb you beard in the reflection of these things. We put the bearing in the “bearing shrinker” aka shop fridge for a while and sorted a few things out. After sufficient shrinking time Chris fired up the heat gun and heated the cases to install the bearing. It dropped in for install with no hamfistery needed.After that, we used sufficient force to assemble the case halves for a dry run on the end float of the crank and camshaft. 2 or 3 tries later we had the float within acceptable limits on both and were ready to jizz them together.We fitted the halves back together one last time and torqued the bolts to: just tight enough in/lbs, checked it one more time and had a Beer. PERFECT SUNDAY



Sorry AMCA Purists. . .

. . . but the 47 year old cloth wiring and flag terminals had to go.

Made a mistake by not replacing all of it when I rebuilt the bike. Too much resistance. This is only a 6V bike, making it worse. Many wires are internally corroded even though the jacketing looks fine.

I kept the old sheathing/conduit at least.

Bright lights and loud horn now. Hopefully better battery life too.


Cool wires, but beat.

In with the new.

8 Years Ago

Hard to believe it’s been 8 years since I took a two month long trip around the country. I rode 11 thousand miles. I was snowed on, rained on, burnt by the sun, flooded out in my tent, swam under the Golden Gate bridge, threw snowballs off the Big Horn mountains, came face to face with a Buffalo in WY, snakes in NM, cops in Long Beach, lizards in TX, hiking in Trinity CA, stripped down bare ass naked and sunburnt when I reached SF and ran down the beach into the Pacific. Met and stayed with new folks almost every day. Picked wildflowers and put them on my bike every few days, watching them turn to dust slowly with wind and miles before picking more. Met up with old friends. Made new ones. And so on, and so on and then some. I still daydream about that trip. While cliche, to call it a life changing experience is perfectly apt.

At Lassen Volcanic park in N. Cali

Some observations and mental meanderings I quickly wrote down upon returning . . .

It happened.

I came home.

Two months, roughly eleven thousand miles, three or four hundred beers, and many new friends later. . . I came in from the cold. I paid the price on the last leg of my trip. It was around forty degrees Fahrenheit and I pulled every last ace from my sleeve in an effort to stay warm. Big deal. The Sun God was kind enough to provide me with balmy days up until the very end. Hell, I got to ride through Kentucky, West Virginia, and Virginia in eighty-degree weather in a sweatshirt, at the end of October no less. So many beautiful roads framed in bubbles of blaze orange and blood red and glowing yellow were put before me as I meandered through tiny little coal towns on the way back to my home coast. I was intimidated by the powerful beauty and richness before me. So much so that the thought of trying to capture something of it seemed a timid joke. I reverently kept my camera in my saddlebag. My natural inclination to want to borrow a snatch of this to share with my friends or to rekindle my own memories later in the bogs of grey winter were tugging at me. As I often do in times and places of great significance, I decided that this was intended for eyes and memories only. How lucky was I to have caught this perfect curl of Indian summer?

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Im Turning Japanese

For a long time now Ive been wanting a Yamaha RD350-400 but just couldn’t justify the cost of buying one with all my there current projects. I bought a fancy app for my phone that searches craigslist for you under the search criteria you want. It cost the same as a good cup of coffee, best 2.99 I HAVE EVER SPENT! At work this past week this modern marvel of technology lets me know that there a pair of rd’s for sale in upstate NY for $100 with title. Called guy and he gave me the story, been sitting since 81′ was the fastest bike he has ever ridden etc. After getting off the phone I felt an immeadate call outta work sickness coming on. Me and Cleo Dog took the 10 hour ride there and back through the fall leaves and countryside.Lately Ive been rather disapointed in the amount of time I’ve been getting at the shop. This project will be done at my house only like old times. Get to put a few hours in after the kids go to bed. 

So Simple and well designed, no wonder the brit's went out of business

This will be kind of a super bike build. Lots of fiberglass, the bike stock weighs in at 351 lbs dry, pretty light to begin with. Im going to try to shave at about 50 lbs off it. I split cases and crank the other night, The build sheet will include new bearings throughout, rods, pistons, banshee reed cages, yz125 reeds, boost bottle, updated brakes and shocks, and aluminum rims. Stay tuned.