Friday, December 31, 2010

Friday's Pin-up and New Year's Wishes

I wish everyone a wonderful New Year and safe motorcycling. I also want to thank all those who have stopped by and  have shown their interest, provided help, commented, and provided the camaraderie that makes this a rewarding experience. Good Luck for the New Year!!!

Moto Guzzi with dustbin

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Rocinante Mecanico Boxing Day Double Feature

If you're like me and recovering from some Christmas merriment then sit down a while and enjoy these wonderful films. The first offers a bit of education about the race and all the heroes of the TT are present. Makes you wish you were there!!!!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday's Pin-up


Handley on an Early Gold Star
Courtesy of the VMCC

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Rocinante Mecanico M.C. Sunday Feature

What I want for Christmas!!!! Great footage and the commentary is fabulous.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Clutch Restoration- Part 2

If you are just jumping in to this post you can quickly go here to catch up from the beginning. At any rate. I finished preparing the plates and planned to use old school friction material. The original asbestos material is really the best stuff  but for obvious health reasons cork is the only alternative. I could have used modern bonded plates but I was curious as to how the oldtimers did it and really didn't feel like paying and arm or a leg for them either. With a few tips from none other than Rick Parkington at Classic Bike magazine I got on with it last week-end.

Here's me at the stove boiling up corks to soften them up for fitting much like you would corks for a petrol tap. This is definitely the one time that something I cook tastes like it should! Great care should be taken when fitting because the corks while soft are thin and fragile. The cork inserts will have uneven thicknesses after boiling due to the different densities of cellulose in each piece therefore I just centered them in each plate. 

Once completed, I let the the cork inserts thoroughly dry and will sand them flat and to size. I haven't figured that out yet but Rick Parkington said it was knucklebusting stuff. Stayed tuned for a full report.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Simply Beautiful

If you are like me then you are going through withdrawal from the end of the racing season. This video is definitely methadone for the afflicted. Enjoy and check out The Cartorialist for awesome motorsport pics.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Papa Knows Best.........

"There are only three sports: mountain climbing, bull fighting and motor racing, all the rest are merely games."

-Ernest Hemingway

Well, perhaps Rugby as well!!!!!!!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Clutch Restoration- Part 1

Taking advantage of the Thanksgiving Holiday to get things done on the Model 7, I took the clutch apart mostly because there was some slip and the adjuster didn't seem to work. The plates are pretty knackered particularly the pad material which is considerably thinner than specified in the manual.

The pad material consititutes a hazardous material situation because they are a composite of cloth,steel, and asbestos. I highly recommend wearing a mask when initially taking apart unknown clutches and brakes because of the deadly health risk. I love dismantling the bike because it's often like an archaeological expedition. You get to see the handiwork of previous owners- the good, the bad, and the ugly. In this case, I noticed the clutch mushroom which is a difficult and expensive part to find was replaced at some point by a valve that fits and works perfectly. Genius!

I plan to beburr the plates and replace the asbestos pads with cork. I run a dry primary case with an IWIS self-lubricating primary chain so I have a some doubts about the durability of the cork. The experiment will be an interesting one. More to follow.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Making Headway

The first order of business on the Norton Model 7 was to replace the rocker oil feed line. The original had a a kink where the banjo fitting meets the oil tank union. My concern was that the kink restricted oil flow to the top end impacting its lubrication.

Original line with kink

I purchased a new line from Norvil. Norvil offers two varieties of rocker oil feed lines. There is a one piece version and a two piece. I chose the one piece thinking that the clear plastic tubing wired to the original feed line was a bodge like many other fixes on the bike. The more I thought about it I came to realize that it was a smart modification that did two things. First, the plastic tubing serves as a sort of shock absorber dampening vibrations that could damage the soldered joints. Second, the clear tube serves as a sort of sight glass allowing me to visually ensure that oil is going up the line. It doesn't guarantee lubrication but I figure that between the visual confirmation and the pressure gauge measuring oil pressure off the scavenging side I'll be pretty safe.

First, the tear down started easily until the removal of the oil tank. Stripping off a Model 7 oiltank requires the removal of a screw buried behind the battery carrier. The only problem is that the bolts for the battery carrier are behind the oil tank. Needless to say, a few contortions later and I got the tank off without having to take off the battery carrier.

I did a test run with a length of wire coat hanger and cut the feed line at approximately the point I wanted the clear tubing to be situated. The hacksaw is a british item that stabilizes the blade via a springloaded guided that minimizes wobble providing a nice clean cut. Get it at Garrett-Wade.

Considering that the tunbing is zinc coated copper, bending requires the use of  a tubing bender to avoid putting a kink in the line. The bends were compound ones requiring bends in multiple axes. The tubing bender is available at Eastwood Company here in the USA

After some deburring and polishing I ended with this.

The final product fits very well although the picture above is one step shy of completion. Thinking I was done, I am now taking the opportunity of easy access to the gearbox adjuster now that the oil tank is removed to do a much needed clutch/primary drive overhaul. Stay tuned for that adventure. 

Friday's Pin-up

John Surtees and Vincent Grey Flash 1951

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pretty Pics

I have a thing for art and really have a thing for motorsports related art. There's something about capturing the essence of form and function that I truly appreciate whether it be by sculpture, painting, drawing, or photography. If you dig the details of vintage motor vehicles  including some wonderful bikes then click above for a real treat. You can than Working Class Customs for bringing this to my attention

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Bobbed 1951 Model 7

I was going through my usual list of blogs that I follow when I came across a Model 7 Bobber featured on LE CONTAINER, which incidentally is a great blog featuring some wonderful photography. It is definitely worth a visit. I had first seen the bike on the Jockey Journal forum and thought it to be pretty striking. It is definitely not a motorcycle for most purists but it had me thinking a bit.

1951 Plunger Framed Norton Model 7 Bobber

The idea of bobbing my bike has passed through my head a few times even before seeing this picture. The natural stance of the 1951 Model 7 makes for a great bobber platform and from a practical standpoint eliminates the search for rare tinware. The rear plungers on this bike work well as all to often plungers seem to detract from the minimalist aesthetic at the core of the bobber style. The difficult part with this particular bike is achieving balance as the oilbag and tool box are side mounted on the right. Looking closely at the frame, it is evident that it would be a major engineeering effort to centralize the oilbag and still have sufficient capacity. Overall, I think this a sharp looking scoot.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday's Pinup

Sammy Miller in 1957 riding a Mondial 125cc

Friday, November 12, 2010

Do you like adventure?

Dumb question. Motorcycling is all about adventure! Who hasn't thought of riding the Panamerican Highway or some equivalent? But some actually do it and do it in a big way.We are all familiar with McGregor and Boorman taking the "Long Way Round". Definitely a series I enjoyed watching. But what if you and your buddy decided to quit your jobs and circumnavigate the globe on 70 year old Nimbus motorcycles and document the whole journey from rebuilding the bikes to the travels over the next 2 years. Well, you would get this:

The reference to Croesus  in King Croesus' Contempt for Death or KCCD is a complicated one which required some research on my part. The best explanation that I could draw from the Wikipedia refers to the fickle nature of one's fortune which is a natural and essential component to any good adventure. Their itinerary is an ambitious one that does a bit more than circumnavigate the globe:

I haven't read through the whole adventure yet but the blog is fantastic. It offers great technical detail, fabulous photography, and superb humor from two of the ballsiest Norsemen around. Check them out here and support their adventure!

Friday's Pin-up

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Salute to All Military Men and Women

Flag over the 10th Combat Support Hospital

A bit of recognition to all those soldiers, airmen, and sailors willing to lay it on the line and God Speed to those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

All work and no play........

.....doth  a dull boy make. My posts definitely reflect that my attention has been diverted elsehwere. Well, I am finally on vacation and now that I am done taking my certification exams on this:

Drank a couple of these:

brewed close by at the Spoetzl Brewery
in Shiner,Texas

I can now get back to this:

Stay tuned for some good stuff!!!!!!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday's Pin-up and an explanation

Well everybody, I apologize for being short on content here lately but Monday is my big exam for certification in Transesophageal Echocardiography and I have been studying like crazy. My scoot looks forlorn in the corner of the garage waiting to be put back together. I have some good posts planned so stick with me. Vacation starts Monday afternoon. Enjoy the pin-up.

Nice AJS Racer

Friday, October 29, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Objects of my desire

I love looking at auction catalogues especially Bonhams detailing some wonderful bikes, spares, and collectibles. Most of the stuff is out of my league but one can dream. The October 17th Staffordshire auction has some great items with all the usual cast of high dollar characters. There appears to be a liquidation sale of Vincents and Vincent spares. Beautiful pieces to be sure especially when paired with Broughs and Goldies. What caught my attention however was the little beauty below:

1953 EMC 125cc Racer courtesy of Bonhams

According to the Bonhams' description, EMC was founded by Dr. Josef Ehrlich, an Austrian engineer, who emigrated to Great Britain in 1946. His unconventional ideas appear to have forced him out of mainstream production and into racing. His initial design of a phasing piston was considered a form of supercharging and was blocked from competition by the FIM. Dr. Ehrlich then built a series of Puch-based split single racers in 1952 which I believe is pictured above. Very popular in the 1953 TT with Surtees being the most notable rider. Unfortunately, he was injured on a practice run. According to the Bonhams' description, these bikes had the honor of being the noisiest bikes of all time.

Credit to Bonhams for all the info and photo

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday's Pin-up

RAC Team at the 1938 ISDT in Llandrindod

Saturday, October 2, 2010

A Few Thoughts

I'm just sitting here watching the Petit LeMans sipping on my morning coffee while perusing this weeks blogs and came across a couple of tidbits. I like motorsports for the nostalgic notion of sportmanship in the old fashioned sense. I am not the only one. Notably, Jeff Decker in a recent blog post on his Cannonball experience alluded to that as well. All of us who ride classic, vintage, and veteran bikes are romantics trying to recapture a bygone era. I will say that nostalgia is a bit dangerous in that it is an abstraction that tends to filter out the negative aspects. Maybe things weren't as "honorable" back then as we percieve them to be leading to disappointment when we are confronted with less than gentlemanly conduct. Reading period racing books seem to indicate that competition was pretty cutthroat even in the early days. I am sad to read that The Cannonball revealed some competitive ugliness that clearly was not in the spirit of the event. I will not let that detract from my admiration of the competitors particularly the good guys that I follow religiously via the web.

I was completely gobsmacked by the story  of Paul Teutal's Falcon rip-off and fell into a stream of explitives that I won't repeat. I am glad that Paul Jr. came to his senses and took the t-shirt off his site. What is weird is that the Falcon bike is not his aesthetic and belies a certain amount of marketing desperation. It does highlight more of what Jeff Decker alluded to in his post. Motorcycling currently is very popular particularly "classic" motorcycling. That popularity has opened up the hobby or lifestyle to many and I can say that in my own little adventure I have been a beneficary of it. It has also brought many for the wrong reasons such as profiteering, status seeking, fashion which all boil down to selfishness.  The beauty of the internet is that while it has promoted the presence of this unsavory element it also appears to filter them out. Let's face it. Paul Jr. in less than 24 hours was called out and reacted appropriately to the pressure.

What I learned from all of this is that life is self-sorting. My nostalgic vision will occasionally bump up against what I abhor but I am also afforded the ability to quickly filter it out. I have mentioned it in past posts that through this blog I have been able to make some great friends and hope to make more that share my vision. Actions definitely speak louder than words and us newbies to classic motorcycling are the future of the sport. We are charged with being good stewards but also require good mentoring to preserve the arcane knowledge that makes the hobby so interesting and essential. The good guys are out there and we collectively know who they are. Happy Riding and Wrenching!!!!

Friday's Pin-up.......better late than never

Moto Hurtu with De Dion Motor
Very early "Cafe Racer"!!!
pinched from I don't who...sorry

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just enough time.......

I haven't really been posting stuff lately due in part to vacation, super late hours at work, and I am studying for a Transesophageal Echocardiography exam. It's cool stuff but dry reading with some technical physics involved. I was taking a short break from studying when I came across this awesome blog. It's a bit of a start-up but  packed with good stuff. Take a look at the videos on the sidebar. Truly professional stuff on a truly beautiful bike. Take a look here.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday's Pin-up

I was on vacation last week and so I owe you all two pics. I am slowly getting back into the swing of things. Have a good week-end!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

New Friend

Time and again I am amazed at how well this blog has expanded my sphere of friends. It's alway pleasant to get a new follower or an email from a reader. Many of us in the classic bike business enjoy working with our hands attempting to get in touch with a less modern age. It is undeniable though that the internet has done wonders at unifying us hobbyists and providing access to tools, parts, even whole motorcycles that otherwise would be inaccessible.

Every now and then, you meet a super cool dude that is very talented. His talent is only superceded by his generosity. Roland is a fantastic metal worker and creates some awesome custom parts. His current project is a BSA single based bobber that even unfinished is amazing.

Roland's atelier is located in perhaps the most unlikely places- Britanny, France. You need to check out his blog- Outta Control. I can't wait to see the final bike!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

More Art from My Mother-in-Law

My mother is smitten. She loves drawing motorcycle related subjects to the point that rather than relying on me to supply her with pictures she went out and bought several books and magazines. She surprised me with several awesome drawings including one of a Norton Model 7. She told me her favorite was the Indian Military Bike. I'd say she has pretty good taste. The prototyping for the calendars and cards is shaping up nicely. You can see the initial gallery here. The latest and independently done examples of her work are below:

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Curiouser and curiouser.......

If you haven't read the previous post you will be lost. I thought I had made a cool discovery of the obituary of Artie Bell in the "The Story of the Ulster" by G. S. Davison that I had received in the mail yesterday. After writing the previous blog post, I started reading passages in the book looking for references to Artie Bell. Fascinating literature to be sure. I was once again surprised by two more clippings located behind the dustjacket! The most notable of the two was an  article dated February 21, 1968 in the Sunday Express detailing the crash that ended Artie Bell's career as a motorcycle racer.

Amongst the fantastic details of the accident which involved the great Geoff Duke, the article indicates that Bell broke every bone in his body but was nearly killed during surgery by being transfused the wrong blood type because he was not wearing the customary medical information necklace. Bell's play-by-play description of the incident is a scene from the movies. Thanks to the dealer from whom most of my collection has been puchased for this little treasure.

Do you believe in ghosts?

In previous posts I have mentioned the importance of history to the classic motorcyclist. That nostalgia is both a necessity in order to keep your bike on the road and a pleasurable aspect of the hobby to know the context in which the bike came into being. I owe a great deal to my Norton Model 7 in terms of expanding my horizons. I have made new friends, learned new skills, and have started collecting period literature. My little collection is very narrow and is centered around the author G. S. Davison. (I'll write more about him in a later post).

Yesterday, I received the second to last book required to complete the whole collection of first editions. I was leafing through the book while watching Formula 1 qualifying at the Belgian Grand Prix held on the Spa-Francorchamps race track when this piece of paper fell out. It turns out it was the obituary for Artie Bell who had passed away August 11th 1972.

Artie Bell is an Irish motorcycle roadracer known for his short, brilliant, yet tragic racing career. He stunned the racing community by placing 2nd at the 1947 Isle of Man TT and winning the 1947 Ulster Grand Prix aboard his personal second-hand 500cc Norton. His association with Norton is an important one. During his brief career as a Norton team rider, Artie Bell worked with fellow Irishman Rex McCandless to develop the famous Norton Featherbed Frame. Artie Bell's racing career ended July 2nd 1950 in a terrible accident at the Spa-Francorchamps race track! His Grand Prix career only lasted one month.

Artie Bell at speed

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cool stuff

I don't really venture into the modern motorcycle world much but there are times when new innovations really interest me. I love adventures and I have thought about doing some long motorcycle trips a bit more complicated than the exodus to Sturgis. I'm talking about Ewan McGregor level work here. The key to making it nice for me is a nice place to sleep and even maintain my bike. Well, the solution is here....

The folks at NomadTent have come up with the perfect solution. Makes you want to get a Beemer and ride to Alaska straight away. Check out their site. Cool tent and awesome pics to inspire anybody to ride off into the sunset.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Art a Little Closer to Home

I write a great deal about motorsport art and enjoy finding new artists that capture the beauty of my hobby. For the most part, I have never gotten the opportunity to actually see in person the pieces I have featured but there are a few that I actually own. It was a pleasure some weeks ago to find a budding motorcycle artist within my own family. Turns out that my mother-in-law who was a well-known potter and photographer in her day has switched from doing colored pencil drawings of flowers to motorcycle related pictures.I was dumbfounded by her talent. She tells me that she really enjoys the subjects and has become more and more confident tackling mechanical details. Here's a look at the initial set with more in the pipeline.

Like many customizers and bloggers, I wouldn't mind putting the Rocinante Mecanico M.C. brand out there to fund some of my projects. Together my mother-in-law and I came up with a few prototypes:

A collection of greeting cards

A customizable calendar

We are still developing the details but are genuinely excited about the project. The goal is to make the calendar and cards customizable allowing the purchaser to choose the drawings they want included in their order. I should also say that my mother-in-law is open to commission work with a few artistic rules. If you are interested drop me a line.

Friday, August 13, 2010