Well, everything has come together (amazingly) so the morning will find me pointed towards Sturgis and then eventually Bonneville. I would like to thank all of you for the support and kudos (and some of you for the spare parts). I could not have got this far without you. Now with the dust of the build settled all that is left to do is start it up and let her rip. I will try to post some updates from the road but you all know how bad I am at that...but I will try.
So this is it. I can't promise a record but I will promise you that I'll take the bike right up to it's absolute limit and see what she will do. Take care and I'll see you on the other side in two weeks.
First day, Jon Swanson diving into the brake. Almost looking like a bike...
J&E pistons looking like jewels.
Forks were free bees but needed a lot of work which was my first job.
Brian working his magic on my barrels (that does not sound good).
End of day 1. We have gone backwards at this point as we removed the fender to mount the oil tank. Scary stuff with 4 days to go...
Motor balancing begins bright and early on day 2.
This one is for you Shoe!
Oil pan getting the bolt down. We did this about four times before we were happy with the fit.
Sure could use that rear wheel and tire...last pic of the day. Spent a lot of time on the little stuff.
Morning of day 3 the engine is coming together - literally.
Brian doing some coaxing. After getting the ill fitting pistons dialed in the motor never gave us another problem.
Doug mounting the rear wheel so he can machine some spacers for the Barnes hub.
Halfway through day 4 we finally get the motor in the frame. This was a critical milestone I knew we must make. If it had not happened it would have been game over for us. Remember the bike goes on a trailer heading to Sturgis two days from this point so the pressure was definitely on.
About five minutes after this pic was taken we had our second major problem - a slightly bent main shaft in the transmission. We measured it and found it was a little less than 20 thou out of wack. There was no turning back at this point so I proceeded to install the inner primary and drive bits. I was hoping that the primary belt and drive chain would negate a little wiggling in the tranny. The tranny staying together at a hundred and thirty was another issue on my mind as well.
Jon grinds off the bosses on the bottom of the Moon Eyes foot pedals that would become my floor boards - one of my favorite details on the bike.
The outer primary cover was the real deal and needed 4 hours of coaxing with various tools to complete the installation. A total bitch of a job that landed in my lap.
Luckily I never had to do any drilling or filing to get the fit I just beat the inner primary into submission.
Beginning of day 5. Now we're getting somewhere! The off the shelf pipes went right on.
Brake details designed by Jon. "Race Shit" he called it.
Let's get those tanks on I want to ride this thing tonight...I'm leaving in the morning!
Floor boards mocked up...
...and then zapped by Brian.
At last the tanks are on...getting close now but it's way late.
We still needed to get the tach mounted and steering stabilizer figured out so it had to come off the lift.
We decide to hear it run and begin the 8 heat cycles needed to break in the new motor so in goes the gas...only to come squirting out of a tiny pinhole BEHIND the front tank mount flange. This took the wind out of our collective sails so we decided to go to dinner. Jon then decides it can be fixed and jumps all over it inventing a new sand blasting technique in the process. By 10pm the tank is fixed and tested - it's tight as a ducks ass so we celebrate with a beer and decide to keep going.
While Jon was fixing the tank I positioned the tach into place (to my total amazement) I found two tapped bosses in my triple trees that line up with the studs on my tach! Jon finishes the tank repair (without damaging the fresh paint) and makes a bracket for the last stud on the tach. With that sorted in about 30 minutes we attack the steering stabilizer which falls into place easily.
Now it's time to FINALLY hear this thing run. I get the first shift of kicks. I eventually get her running but realize she is a BITCH to start but runs SO smooth once firing. We begin the heat cycles and finish the 8 of them up early Sunday morning (day 6 - or D-DAY) as this pic is taken. The test ride is only minutes away now - the sky looks sketchy and the clock is about out of time for us so we can afford no more setbacks.
It's been a VERY late night, but the engine runs strong and the tank no longer leaks so we roll it out of the shop and let daylight fall on the bike for the very first time. I look tired here because I am tired here - running on adrenaline, pressure and stress has not been good on my face as you can see. I'm just dead tired at this point - we all were.
The test run consisted of a deserted two mile long piece of country road with a big bend in the middle so a 1 mile pass at speed was pretty much all you could muster. On my first pass I was just listening to it run expecting the worst - it all checked out so I turned the bike around and gave her a big hand full of throttle - Brian who was chasing me on his souped-up evo said he was with until about 100 and then I just walked away from him. We figured some where in the neighborhood of 105-110 and I was barley into 4th gear at about 45oo rpm's when I had to shut it down because the chain became too lose. We built a very strong running bike. It is also absolutely glued to the ground showing no signs of poor handling. I could not be more stoked. Time to put it in the truck and take it back to the D.
OK, so I blew the lid off the surprise and posted a pick of the finished bike. I was stoked and wanted to celebrate a little. The bike went from a raw frame to a running beast in 5 days. This is the story of the build up-north at ACME Vintage. Since the motor was being built by ACME I decided to ask Brian Heinlein (ACME's owner and spiritual leader/renown gourmet) if he would let me come up and use his expertise and shop to put the whole bike together. He didn't seem to think that was a problem (he even offered to let me stay in his cozy log-cabin next to the shop) so I packed up a truck full of swap meet finds, other land speed odds and ends, my toothbrush and bolted north last Tuesday.
Arriving at the shop I was hell-bent on finishing the project so it was reassuring to find Brian's entire shop already going full-tilt on my bike. I had spent the previous days getting a lot of the little parts cleaned up and ready for the final build so that first day I thought we had a pretty good chance of actually finishing the bike on time - as long as there wasn't a single major problem. Well you know what happens with these things, we had a bunch of major problems right off the bat, like my pistons ordered from J&E weeks prior never making it to the shop and then showing up (with two days left) made to the wrong dimensions. Or the rear tire not fitting into the fender, or the totally restored gas tanks leaking, or never finding a master cylinder, etc,etc.
But I also had some very positive things on my side like the guys that work with Brian, Jon Swanson and Doug (never got his last name). Doug contained a wealth of knowledge on the vintage Harley and was a master machinist to boot. Numerous times we had to fire up the lathe to create something for the engine or chassis and Doug was able to nail it every time - a perfectionist, even coming up with an answer to a problem in the middle of the night and stopping by the next morning (on his day off) to make sure we understood why something was not working. He ended up helping out a half day (off the clock) just to see the motor in the frame with a day to go. Thanks Doug!
ACME's other hidden weapon is Jon Swanson. Jon and I clicked like brothers on the first day. It was a little eerie because it felt like we had worked together before. There was not a single thing I dreamed up that Jon couldn't make happen. More than anyone on the project it was Jon that was absolutely convinced we could get it done, committing almost every waking hour to the project for 5 days straight (even getting his lovely girlfriend Tammy involved in the build when spirits were low near the end facing a major setback). Jon is ten years my junior but managed to school me in a variety of machinery around the shop. He has a deft hand, a sharp eye and bull like work ethic that brought the bike together with no drama. Jon, I only wish you could have come to Bonneville to see her run in anger. If you ever need anything just let me know!
Brian ended up acting as our technical (and sometimes spirtual) leader. Always calm and confident he was the foundation of the build as the motor was his responsibility. Brian builds race winning flat track motors and was excited to build a motor for Bonneville, something he has never done. His knowledge calmed us all down in many of our panic situations. His roof kept the rain of my head at night and his AMAZING cooking (and vegetable garden) kept my stomach satisfied the entire time. He also has a large pile of very cool bits and pieces that ended up donating themselves to the build. So with this team I set out to finish up the sled - I was in good hands...
BTW - Brain is soon to become a television star on a new Discovery Channel bike show with the guys down at the Wheels Through Time Museum - look for it on the tube in the fall.
It's alive! ALIVE!!!! That's the moment the bike came down off the lift after a 5 day full court press by Brian, Jon (standing in pic), Doug and myself at ACME Vintage this past week/weekend. Bonneville here we come. Complete story coming soon...
Spent a couple days with Craig from Front Street Cycle at Wauseon - a rightoues dude indeed. He's also pretty handy with various tools that shape metal - check out his blog/shop here http://frontstcycle.blogspot.com/
Does it look like a race bike yet? Alright, Finally got the frame back from down south. The quality of the job appears to be first rate. I hope so because it took almost three times as long as the 2 weeks I had scheduled to do it (it also cost about three times as much as I had budgeted...) But now I have everything and we can begin putting everything back together. I'm stoked because I have some very cool bits for this bike and it should be killer when complete. I'm telling myself even if I go out to the salt and under-perform I'll still be as happy as a pig in poop because the damn thing is going to look so stinking hot. So start the countdown and wish us luck...
Here's what 200 bucks bought me this year at Wauseon . Barnes hub with interchangeablesprockets (for the BonniPan), Roth air cleaner, ultra rare pair of Rocky foot pegs with first year logo, clean set of aluminum clip-ons (also for the BonniPan), '69 Mitten plate and a super clean set of HD swept control pulls (BonniPan bound as well). HAD A BLAST. Major post coming soon.