Our Ice Track . . Is Melting . . . shit

Above: Just 5 hours later - turning to slush
Still a solid base, but we can't ride on water !
Weather Forecast:
Today(Thurs) High 40F  Low Tonite 5F
Friday High 19F  Low 10F
Saturday High 32F+
Maybe make some laps Saturday early ? 
That might be it for this season here in Iowa?
Burton, Crooks and Schmitty do all the track maintenance with ATVs and snowblades.  They keep it groomed after it gets loose with ice chips and fluff.  The track is holding up well with 15" of ice at 38F today.  Another warm day may smooth out the surface, and it'll freeze up tight on Friday night.  Straights are longer now (a bit more speed) with technical cornering. 
It's a "D Shaped" layout.  (like a mini DuQuoin Mile)  This will be the 6th weekend of motorcycles.
#iowa #motorcyclesonice #ridevintage #gobrakeless

Wico Timing

For the 1950 racing season, Harley engineers mounted their trusty Wico single-fire magneto up front, horizontally(again) and made up this really neato -50R gear cover.  It has an access door to "easily" change your ignition timing if you feel so inclined.  Here's the kicker.  You don't just move loosen the magneto and move-it to adjust it.  You unbolt this cone-shaped gear, that locates on a pin and is secured by the center nut.  It has multiple positions to achieve the degrees in timing you need.  Some smart cookie figured out which hole you need to use to get the precise degree or advance or retard.  Moving one hole doesn't mean "a little bit more" . . . the ratio of holes to gear teeth is not consistent or uniform.  This is a real head scratcher too.  I won't even go into how to time this thing, 11/32" and large lobes and #1 is rear cylinder . . . or I'll be confused(again), and you'll be newly confused.  The moral of the story is don't let it go out the door unless you know it's right.  Right?

WR = Weird Racing

33% of these engines are designed for more power.  Another 33% is designed for ease-of-maintenance.  The remaining 34% is a mystery why they did things this way?  What the hell?  I suppose it has to do with manufacturing and productivity? 
The upper covers are held by the valve springs(not under the guides like most) The lowers slide up over the upper covers.  The lower covers don't have threads, neither do the tappet blocks.  Each block is cast and machined with an o-ring groove - the lower cover snaps over the o-ring and seals.  A small set screw threads into the tappet block, securing the lower cover.  I use 26" bicycle inner tubes, cut to sections to seal between the covers (old school trick a racer told me). 
Tappet blocks are all angled weird due to WRs having the valves at angles to the bores in the cylinders.  Tappet bore is tipped in tappet block to match the valve angle.  Each tappet guide is specific to each valve - (ie Front Intake, Rear Exhaust, Front Exhaust, Rear Intake)
Don't mix 'em up ! The cams are straight in the cases, the cam lobes are straight - but the "feet" on the flat tappet are angled as they ride on the cam lobes.  The tappets are also site-specific.  The angled valves were carried over to the K-Model design.  However, the K design has the cam lobes themselves at angles, bores in case at angles, and everything else (including the tappet blocks) straight to match the tipped valves.
My head hurts.

Motor Hauler

My truck works great for an engine hauler.  I take out the passenger seat and bolt the engine stand to the existing seat studs.  Then you can admire your hard work while your driving down the road, and it's all bolted down . . . safe and secure. 

I like my K Model best . . .

Can't wait to ride it again . . . we need early Spring,
or throw it in the truck and head south??

1950 WR Gear Cover

This is the "peek a boo" cover for the Harley-Davidson WR racing engine. -50R part number.  I need the inspection cover (front) with the 3 screws and gasket.  It's a cast piece.  Enfield Racing has one available with their (Enfield Racing logo), but I'd like a stock one.  Another thing, it's a Harley WR engine, not a Royal Enfield (which is where the name came from).  I suppose we could mill off the Enfield.  They should have made some stock ones too . . . a sale is a sale.

Malibu in Iowa (No Drive in Winter)

If you live in Malibu, you drive a Malibu. 
If you live in Iowa, you'll soon drive a rusty P.o.S. 

1930 Harley Model DL Cam Bushing

The No.3 bushing had spun in the case.  The cam is worn a bit, so a custom-made bushing is in order. 
I had Randy Mac spin me one out (from an FL pinion bushing).
Now I'll have some press-fit.  I'll use some Loc-Tite 620.  Maybe pin it too?  Old Harleys Never Die - Always Rebuild 'Em . . .

WR Idler Shaft Center Punch

Here's the little "center punch" that will press onto the WR idler shaft stud end.  Now I can slip the gear cover on, with all the cams in place, and start the gear cover screws, attaching the cover evenly until this center punch makes the perfect center to indicate where to drill my hole, and make the bushing. 
This will go in the box of tools and gadgets that never get used - ever again !

Jeff Wiley's '57XL

Our friend Jeff Wiley is more known for his high-performance ironhead stroker engines, drag racing and Bonneville runs, and the years he and Leo Payne campaigned drag bikes all across the country.  He's one of the few, remaining Harley-Davidson engine building master technicians and historians of a bygone vintage era.  However, he owns one of the nicest, stone stock, original 1957 Sportsters.  Here's a recent article from the Hagerty Insurance Magazine. 

TECH: Magneto

I build my own magnetos from parts.  Start with a good Fairbanks Morse body and go from there.  They usually work great (strong spark, etc.) . . . however, since it's the most "misunderstood" aspect of an engine build (compared to setting valves, carb jetting, etc.) you naturally suspect it's the problem/reason your bike won't start.  Whenever I think my magneto is the problem, I send it to Rudy Calin in Minnesota (Rebuilt Mags) to get it checked out . . .

 Rudy uses shrink tube to insulate the points spring.  The spring comes really close to the base plate, or screw heads sometimes . . . just good insurance against arcing or grounding. 
Rudy also replaced my condenser with the slightly snappier FM SXY2433 mfd.  I looked through my box of mag parts, and found I already had one . . . by Colt Industries (who purchased Fairbanks Morse Company)  Rudy also recharged my magnets !  Old Sparky Comes Alive !

(see my condenser output TECH chart soon)
I prefer these black caps with the "lightning bolt" or the old-time factory-made FM magneto caps.  The clear caps are handy to view your points breaking(or arcing), but they can allow sunlight to heat up condensation and moisture inside - also, I think they're just plastic?  Rudy has really nice & heavy cover gaskets available too . . . www.rebuiltmags.com

Tryin' to keep ahead of a sled !

Get off the couch - Ride Vintage (bikes or sleds)
Crank the volume and you can hear that ol' K Model....

WR Idler Gear and Stud


2 engine building enthusiasts (me and my dad) have worked on this for the last nights to get this Idler Gear Stud (and Gear) in the correct location for gear mesh, etc.  What a sucker it was . . . and now we need to make a sharp, steel, center punch deal to fit over the end of the idler shaft, and a solid aluminum plug installed in the gear cover, and "center punch" the cover, then we know where to bore the bushing perfectly - so the stud is supported in the cover too . . . It Still Ain't Done Yet !


I might have to cut off my splined Left footpeg mount? (I see there's is gone)
I keep dragging my left side on the ice . . . First my brake(took that off), then my stock peg mount(took that off), then my new higher peg(took that off too).  Now I stiffened the forks, and Bake brought me over another set of stiffer tubes and springs if this don't work . . . These guys(above) use the same peg I have now, with those pull-back bars?  If I can go half as good as Carroll or George sometime - I'll be more than happy.

1950 California Panhead

Kerry still enjoys old-school blogs (like this one) and he sent me a couple pics of his vintage rides.  He bought his '50 blue panhead(basket case) back in '76, and still enjoys shining it up for the Born Free Shows, or whatever else is happenin' around Cali.  For some it's just a fad - others it's a way of life.  Old custom Harleys never die, they just get rebuilt and carried on from generation to generation, each one doin' their own custom touches.  Each owner personalizing their ride, from daily riders to show stoppers.  As it looks here, Kerry couldn't make up his mind which he wanted - so he builds his bikes to do both  . . . Show-n-Go !

If A Sportster Is What You Want . . . (Ebay)

Some early Ironheads are poppin' up on Ebay lately.  Quite a variety . . . Check out this radical lil' stroker digger.  Performance is what you need.  It would cost a lot of money to build this today - and with some work - a real show stopper and tire smoker.  Custom frame, brakes, struts, Performance Machine parts . . . this thing is bad ass.  Little baby blue Victory.

Now if you're into dark and doom - Want something with a bit more death.  This far out prism diamond in the rough is for you.  Full Diggerization !

You got to be a tough stud to go crankin' on this bitch.  This bike IS pretty killer.  Lot's of work went into this back in the day.  A really nice paint job with murals and themes is what it needs now.  If you came riding up on this, all packed - Respect you will receive. 
You say both these motorcycles are just too gnarly for you????? How about this bone stock barn find with plenty of rust and aluminum disease???

I've traveled many miles on an early ironhead such as this.  These are actually great touring motorcycles (especially on 2 lane back roads).  I fitted mine with a 22T transmission sprocket.  I can run 70 if needed - but it prefers about 62mph.  Loaded.  Bags full with a big duffle bag for back support on the buddy seat.  Tuck down behind the compact windshield during heavy rain or high winds.  Your body will be ready to get off before you ever need fuel.  If this is just too much baggage for you to handle?  The next "stocker" is the one you need !

 A big 1000cc with optional aluminum rims.  This is the Neil Diamond of Harley-Davidson Sportsters.  The XLH (with electric start) and the hardest seat ever fitted to a stock ironhead.  This seat will make you leap off around 60 miles.  It's also one of the hottest seats, able to reach soaring temps in full sun.  It'll burn you, right through your denims.  The plastic gauge covers get so foggy you won't care anymore about revs or speed, you'll be enjoying life so much on this factory gold beauty.  Place your bids now. 

Gremlins Do Exist

I can't figure this thing out.  It just starts hard.  Everything is spot on (ignition timing, carb, intake, cam's timed, adjusted accelerator pump, wire continuity, new spark plugs, valves set . . . etc) Now I removed the magneto(sent it to my magneto guy to check it out) and added a distributor(timer), battery and coil, and it acts the same.  I need to get it running and take it for a good ride around the neighborhood, maybe some slow speed backroads - get some carbon built up . . . that always helps it seems.  I run 8.5 std compression, 4 1/2" stroke, new Super E, Andrews AB, and have tried 3 different types of spark plugs.  Starts best cold, enrichener up, couple shots of fuel, throttle closed, timing full advanced.  It takes about 5-10 kicks.  After it runs to warm up - then I can't get it to start.  Valves aren't tight, has spark, has fuel, had the timing every which way . . . Fart.  I hate to start changing "big stuff" . . . since it should start and run fairly decent with about any combination, especially this combination.  Hey, at least it looks kinda cool?!  Best thing is just keep checking things, and not get too excited.  Maybe I should ship this out to Kerry in Placerville?  He knows how to make a panhead run . . .

Left-Side Dual Carburetors

It makes sense to me . . . have the carbs-on-the-left.  Less intake runner and more direct shot of fuel and air to the valves.  But then you have less time for the fuel to atomize, turn to an oxygen rich mixture of gases ready to explode.  Huh.  I'll have to ask Kevin Baas how his dual-carb panhead(carbs off the left) performed?  I never heard him complain about it.  The long intake manifold runner on a panhead, I always figured kinda worked like a tunnel ram on a V8.  A larger amount of gas and air getting all mixed and sucked in for a huge explosion.  The more gas and air, the more power. 

Spearfish Creek, So. Dakota

This photo was almost 20 years ago.  I was in Sturgis for an Ironworks Magazine photo shoot.  I was so excited that week.  It was like I finally hit the "big time" with a bike I built(with dad) soon to be in a magazine!  I rode to Spearfish that day on backroads, rode the canyon, waded in creeks, it was hot.  One of the most fun days I've ever had on a motorcycle.

1953 BSA Gold Star

Yesterday, I was gassing up my pickup at the local station with my bike in the back, when a guy approached and asked what year my bike was...?  I proudly said, "It's a 1952, K Model Harley."  He said his dad has(or had) a 1953 BSA Gold Star racer.  I thought, hey cool.  I went to say something about my Harley, but he interrupted to tell me how great British bikes are . . .  bla bla bla bla bla . . . it pretty much went downhill from there.  Oh, well.