22 April 2014

American craftsmanship...

There are only two parts on the Aermacchi that are American, Harley Davidson built. The tail light, and the bracket for the tail light. These are also the only parts on the bike that aren't metric, which made me add another wrench to what I thought was a complete tool kit for the bike.

When I built the Aermacchi, I actually planned on putting on a smaller CEV tail light and making my own bracket, but having found a cheap NOS Guide one still in the box, and already having the stock bracket I figure why not retain the only American flavors of the bike and this is how H-D rewarded me.

This happened after a 6 mile ride, at the end of my block (thankfully). The tail light bracket sheared off, and the whole assembly got caught in between the wheel and the frame, seizing the bike. When this happened I initially thought I really had seized the engine, or the chain jammed up somewhere. Since everything was stuck, I literally lifted up the bike and moved it to the curb to muscle out the housing.

The real kick in the ass is this isn't the first time this bracket snapped... Back in August 2013 it happened, but just sorta hung off the fender. I welded the bracket back together (see below)

and attributed the whole thing to a possible existing crack in the bracket that I neglected during the build of the bike. Well, this time it sheared about a cm behind the weld I made. So it's just a crap part that obviously wasn't engineered for the vibrations of an Italian thumper.

Now I will be making my own bracket, and putting that CEV light on the bike. I hope the steel is Chinese and the light is made in India.

Good thing the starter for the BMW came back from rebuild is whirring like the turbine on an ME262.

16 April 2014


They love manuals.

From my old VW, my new VWs, to my BMW Motorräder I've never seen such wonderfully technical shop manuals and detailed parts catalogs. Need the size of a locknut an obscure one year model reflector, they've got you covered.

I had to take out mein alter BMW Behelfs-Katalog from to research the front bearing bushing and bolt lengths for the unusual 3-bolt bearing carrier/oil pump housing that was used in the transition from /3s to /2s (Germans do weird things with model ranges too), and everything was there, in 4 languages, clear as day. Took all of 20 seconds.

It took me a 20 minutes looking for torque values on the Harley-Aermacchi shop manual after I stripped the threads on the head where the oil line banjo bolt goes when I was reassembling the top end only to realize that they weren't in the book. No where. I don't know if this was left out when Harley made their manuals or if it was never included in the Italian Aermacchi originals. I completely forgot about THIS too...

So kudos Germans, I'm proud to have descended from your tribes

27 March 2014


Starter in my BMW R90/6 went... no kickstarter for 75s, and I don't feel like push starting this all the time. So now the starter is out for a rebuild - just in time for the spring weather...

BMW R60 title work has been stalled. Seems the DMW wants more money before issuing a title to the seller, waiting on that, and then hopefully I'll come into possession of the frame and case. In the meantime I've been scoring some excellent deals on ebay. /2 tank for $101,axles and top cover for $11, front bearing carrier $27, stuff like that, but still no important stuff. I think I'm going to offload some of the R69S stuff I bought at the swap meet to buy a complete R60 bottom end that I can transplant into my case, as it stands now, I can't afford what I've seen on the internets. More waiting...

The Aermacchi is running great though.

This may be the first time in history that an Italian bike persevered in reliability over a German built machine, though saying that may have jinxed things.

All I know is the Gathering of the Nortons at Washington's Crossing is coming up at the end of April and my riding buddies are going to be very disappointed if they have to slow to the pace of the Aermacchi. Besides that, NJ drivers don't take kindly to vehicles that max out at 65-70 mph, going on a 100 mile trip on that bike greatly increases my chances of getting killed enroute. We'll see what happens, but for now all I can do is wait.

18 March 2014

Italian Motor Magazine Issue #6

It's been no secret that I love this magazine and not just for what I'm about to mention.

Issue #6 is coming out in the next week or so and the Aermacchi I built is being featured. I'm totally pysched, and to be quite honest a little bashful at the same time. Check the mag out, and I've said it before, it really is the best. Great home built bikes, no pretention

ITALIAN MOTOR magazine: Issue 6 on its way - and Happy Birthday Dave!: At last, finally, amazingly, Issue 6 of ITALIAN MOTOR is off to the printers and we hope to have the magazines back in a week - watch ...

25 February 2014

'54 radiator and swap meet

Finally found a company that had a radiator for the '54... Well, they had to build one custom for it, and it wasn't cheap.

Griffin radiator on left, stock on right

Very clean, very light, and from what I can tell very good quality. That being said, for the astronomical amount that I had to pay for that radiator, they should have included fan shroud brackets on the side and top and pre-drilled the mounting holes... But they didn't, so I did

I don't have the setup for welding aluminum right now, so I bought a piece of aluminum bar stock and cut, bent, and bolted it to make the side fan shroud brackets. Then I had to bend up a piece for the top to secure the top of the fan shroud. It's not the cleanest, but it works.

Behold its glory! All the holes I drilled and flange modifications worked perfectly, the problem was with the lower hose which was in the most inconvenient position in the hood. This hose took about 45 minutes to just to hook up, and left me with cut up hands and arms. My father-in-law came over to help and was actually the one to get it secured on with a combination of channel locks and brute force. Once that was out of the way, filled up the radiator and went to start the car, and it won't crank. So that's charging now, maybe I'll get it to turn over by midnight...

Oh well, at least the swap meet on Sunday wasn't a bust

For $15,900, this Ducati racer could be yours

I passed... But bought this box of goodies for $50

Well actually $100... The '45 Harley jockey shifter was $50, everything else in the box was another $50, and the MOA anonymous books were free. I appreciate the thought behind the book gift, but they're pretty much like old phone books...

It's difficult to make out the contents of the box, but it's all internals for an R69S (crankshaft, camshaft, NOS con-rod, one of the two pistons, valves, springs, oil slingers, timing gears, and this and that). Now for $50 that was a steal to me, but I didn't have anything to use it with at the time of purchase. Now, however, it looks like I'll be getting possession of a '59 R60 frame and engine case, so now that box just got interesting.

I had originally planned on building a conversion bike with my spare R90 parts, now I'm thinking R69S. Pretty psyched about this project, more to come later.

06 February 2014

BMW made Full Fairing (police?) for sale

comment with your email address and I'll get back to you, $500 $400, local pickup preferred

It came with my 75 R90/6 can be found in the microfiche as P/N 46 63 1 234 863 (can also be found on maxbmw under full fairing in diagram 46_0061). Comes with all lights and mounting brackets - it also comes with special crash bars that are required for the mounts. 

Ikon shocks

Seems like I've been on a spending spree lately... Can't find any replacement radiator for my wife's '54, so the only option left is having a custom one built. Griffin radiator is doing the work, should be a couple weeks for it to come in.

Then I treated myself to some new shocks. Wound up going with Ikons, essentially a modern take on the Koni sport shocks of old, and rebuildable to boot.

Bask in their magnificence

Look stock-ish on the bike, albeit missing the aluminum shroud on top. Plus they look like they dropped the stance an inch or so, but that might just be an illusion.

Won't have a chance to test ride it until this ice and snow clears up on the east coast, hopefully we miss the storm currently predicted for the weekend. There's not a lot you can do to adjust these, but more than the stock ones. Just sitting on the bike feels better though...

01 January 2014

Happy 2014

20 degree morning commutes the past 2 days, and the first bike on the road this new year is a BMW... Where have all the Harleys gone? Happy New Year everyone

10 December 2013

Toasted coil packs and Triumph Gyronauts

This is what a busted VW Revision "C" Coil Pack w/ spark plug looks like

At least it blew at the end of my block instead of on the highway. About 10 minutes of work and 5 new Revision "F" packs and spark plugs gave me a car that runs like brand new. I didn't realize how down in power I was up to that point, I have a feeling a couple more were on their dying legs. I think I'll finally get a CAI and lose that ridiculous MKV engine cover and idiotic stock intake system.

but more exciting...

Saw this at Wayne's Speed Shop Toys for Tots Car Show on Sunday

Triumph Bonneville speed record bike, powered by 2 Triumph twins in tandem, never seen anything like it in person. Actually heard then when they were rolling it into position, one of the outriggers wasn't locked and they tipped the bike on its side! Just a beautiful piece of engineering, and my buddy Ranger sent me this video giving the entire back story of the bike. Nice piece of American history

Gyronaut X-1 Restoration Preview from GreeneHouse Creative on Vimeo.

19 November 2013

making the Chrysler air-cooled

My wife's car reminds me about everything I hate about American cars

* Water cooled
* Left hand threads on driver's side lugs, what's that about?
* Huge and heavy
* Mainly automatics

I removed the leaking radiator, so at least it's air-cooled for now. The guy at the radiator shop was really impressed with it and said it's likely all original. If it just needs a clean and repair it'll be $80-90, if it needs a re-core it'll be $500... ouch

I'm glad Rock Auto stocks so many parts for this car, with any luck she'll be able to drive it around reliably by the end of the month

this guy's not smiling about the car, he's smiling about the road-head

08 November 2013

new (old) project... my wife's

My wife's very first car and daily driver was a 1954 Chrysler New Yorker. Eventually she got tired of pushing it and went modern. Since then the car's mostly sat in the garage at my brother-in-law's waiting for us to find the space to store it and make it reliable again. That time is now, and for the time being I'll have another project to keep my hands busy for awhile...

It definitely need a new radiator, but I've heard that the shifting linkage may need adjustment, the front tire has a leak, and the carb needs an idle adjustment... In other words, nothing really that major, except for the radiator, which I haven't been able to locate on the aftermarket yet (if anyone has any ideas let me know). Then it'll be time to bolt in seat belts and prep it for carrying car seats, and then hand it back over to the wife. I really have no desire to drive it, a heavy, floating sled just isn't my cup of tea, but I do appreciate its beauty and period luxury.

19 October 2013

New rubber and Liqui Moly

My Metzeler Lasertec rear tire bit the dust on the BMW just shy of 5k. When I say bit the dust I mean the center tread was just about flattened, but there was still plenty of life left on the sides, I guess that's what I get for commuting on highways.

I wound up replacing it with a Heidenau K36. As the Lasertec front is only about 50% worn, that remains on the bike, not sure if I'll go with a K34 front like on my Macchi, or stick with another Lasertec.

I like the vintage look, and it's definitely a beefier tire than the Lasertec. I actually took it to a shop to get mounted because the sidewalls looked so thick I knew I would have a hard time. I'm glad I did though, because I found out that they now stock Liqui Moly products.

If you haven't heard of Liqui Moly, they're a small German oil company that makes some really great stuff. Mainly I buy their additives, but I use their fully synthetic 5w40 in my car (meets the VW 502.00/505.00 standard) and at one point I did use their Racing 4T 20w50 in my R90/6, until I read this BMWMOA thread. Where LM really shines is in their additives, though, I've been using the Molybdenum Disulfide additive in my gear oil for years now and found it to work brilliantly - no more fine sediment in the airhead transmission. Finally, I can drive down to a local shop to buy gear oil additive instead of having to order it online, and I'll finally get to test out the LM47 grease with MoS2 on the rear drive splines - up to this point I've been mixing Würth Sig3000 grease with Honda Moly 60 (50/50) for that application, along with the transmission input splines. We'll see how it holds up after the next tire change.

I also whipped out my Cycleworks Wheel Bearing Greaser tool that's been sitting unwrapped for months now.

As you can see, it has a zerk fitting on one side to feed the grease in, two holes in the body to let the grease out, and 2 o-rings to seal the tool inside the wheel hub. All you have to do is remove the axle, put the tool in (once on each side of the hub) and pump in new grease. I know most guys only give it a few pumps, I kept putting in new grease until I saw clean red grease coming out the other side. BMW oldtimers swear by this tool, I'm not so sure about it, but I guess in theory it's essentially the same as using a bearing packer tool, except your using the hub to contain the grease instead of a plastic cone... Again, we'll see how things look when I have to change the tire again.

05 October 2013

new house, new (old) stuff

Finally moved, finally have decent workspace

the motorcycle bay/welding station, may even put a motorcycle lift in, all depends on my wife's '54 Chrysler. That'll occupy the space where I took this picture from, it's biggggg...

Also got a hold of one of these:

 BMW savvy people will identify this as a parts book for /5 models through about 1984. Did I NEED this? No. But I own one for every other vehicle and it saves me from having to go on the computer to MaxBMW every time I'm working in the garage and need a part number. This book will be full of greasy finger marks and oil stains in no time.

Then this:

That's right, vintage Harro race suit. Got it on Ebay so I had to go off the measurements the guy listed, which were my size, come arrival, pants are perfect, jacket sleeves and chest are perfect, length not so much. Going to have to get a piece of leather to extend the length of the jacket so I can actually bend when I'm on the bike. That being said, the suit feels good when it's not zipped together, even if the jacket turns into a belly shirt.

Still getting my bearings and setting things up, more to come soon, maybe even another build...

17 September 2013

gotta get one of these tags for the Macchi

I'm just about to move to a new house, but I'm definitely going to be getting one of these after I get settled in

ITALIAN MOTOR magazine: New in the ITALIAN MOTOR store: repro vintage Ital...: More excellent stuff to spend your hard earned cash on. If you're as obsessed as we are about the details of Italian motorc...