Friday, July 30, 2010

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A New Little Buddy

Picked up this cast figure the other day out of pure nostalgia rather than necessity. Bibendum as he is called because of the noise made by thumping inner tubes is the mascot of Michelin Tires. I have a certain fondness for Bibendum as the garage around the corner from my grandparents' house in Tours, France had a huge Bibendum fixed to the roof of their tow truck. I remember the owner who was a friend of my grandfather giving me a small foam rubber version of the tire maker's mascot. I loved walking around that garage with its tools, greasy mechanics, and the smell of fuel mixed with oil.

As one of the two largest tire manufacturers in the world, Michelin based in Clermont-Ferrand, France is normally associated with motorsport with its participation in Formula 1 and MotoGP. It is fitting though to mention on the last day of the Tour de France that Michelin gained fame in 1891 by patenting a removable pneumatic bicycle tire that allowed Charles Terront to win the first long distance bicycle race- Paris-Brest-Paris.

Bibendum has been a wonderful mascot with his instant recognizability and sympathetic character. More importantly, Bibendum unifies a world of  enthusiasts regardless of the number of wheels or the powertrain that drives them.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Another Beautiful Piece of Moto Art

Got an email yesterday from Elvio Patuano of Zanzaracers that included pics of his latest creation. His bronzes are really beautiful and if I ever manage to save some money I wouldn't mind including a piece in my collection of Moto Art. This bronze will please the ever growing enthusiasts of dirt track racers.

Elvio's work has been getting exposure lately with an exhibit at Retromobile in Paris as well as a feature article at the venerable Southsiders blog. For those who haven't read my previous post on Elvio's work, his other artistic passion is handmade vintage raceboats with the twist that they are fantastic creations which never existed! Truly amazing.

His latest creation is of a Harley-Davidson 750 XR2:

Wax maquette

Friday's Pin-up

The Gambalungha---my favorite bike!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New Tool for the Tool Chest

As I gain mechanical experience, I have been wanting to venture into more technical aspects of restoration and maintenance. One thing I really want to conquer is timing the engine. Timing is as much art as it is mechanics. The principles are fairly straight forward but I suspect a novice like myself could take a good running engine and turn it into a disaster in short order. I have decided not to launch into this unprepared and have been studying several period books as well as my Norton manual. The manuals provide the settings but not much information about the process. Clearly, this lack of information harkens to an era in which it was assumed one knew how to tune one's bike or there was a specialist nearby to help. Definitely not the case for me deep in Texas. For the novice classic motorcyclist however this assumption is an anachronism that ironically is at the root of the fun of the hobby. Learning to be self-sufficient and  to develop mechanical skills is indispensable to one's enjoyment.

I recently acquired two items necessary for this technical adventure. First is the timing degree wheel. I purchased this reproduction Castrol wheel mostly out of nostalgia. It helps sometimes to look the part.

The other interesting tool I acquired is a modified timing chest cover. I don't like to see the destruction of classic motorcycle parts but in this case the ends justify the means. Turns out that the unsupported halftime pinion could be damaged during the timing process. The cutout timing cover allows support of that pinion while permitting access to the gears.

Now that I am equipped there's little excuse not to get on with it!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Friday's Pin-up

Looks like Daytona just don't know who or when.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Finally settled in......Time to get to work!

Had some time off during the 4th of July week-end to finish up the task I wrote about a few posts ago. I got the workshop cleaned up as well as the parts collection sorted, cataloged, and boxed. Hooray. You'll notice the fan in the backround. It sure is handy in the humid heat of Houston. It rests on top of the other indispensable garage item- the refigerator full of ice-cold beverages. Here are the before and afters:



Can't wait to get started. I have a bunch of projects planned. Good times.

Friday, July 2, 2010