18 July 2014

back in sync

After mulling around what I was going to do with this bike for three days, I was convinced to just put it back together and use it. It's served me well in the 6 years of owning it, never having tracking issues or anything resembling having a bent frame.

So... I wound up putting in new steering head bearings and races, rebuilt the forks, and needed to send my front wheel out for new bearings and shims (I bent two pin wrenches trying to get the hub nuts off). It's all back together and working wonderfully. As expected, the steering and cornering is a bit better since the rebuild, and there are still definitely no signs of a bent frame. I tested the bike at speeds from 0-110mph and it tracks straight and stable. Took my hands off the bars doing 60mph, still straight and stable, whacked the bars to intentionally destabilize the front end, and corrected the wobble by gently grabbing the bars - in other words, there is nothing wrong with this frame.

The tweak is still there, but I immediately forget about it once I'm on the road.

I remember watching a Jesse James special many years ago, I forget what he was trying to make, but he said something along the lines of "when you're bikes not feeling well, you're not feeling well." It's simple, but it's so true, and I think it's difficult to convey these feelings to someone who hasn't built a bike or a car. Having this bike OOS drove me nuts, I couldn't sleep right, everyday I thought about the problem and was dying to fix it. Everyday I had to wait for a part or tool to come in (btw, the CycleWorks bearing puller/press made life really easy), was like anxiously awaiting Christmas as a kid. I stayed up till 0010 last night putting everything back together. Even though I got up at 0445 that morning, I got in the zone, and then immediately test rode it. Knowing that everything was together, fixed, and didn't need any adjustment, I went upstairs, washed, kissed my wife, and slept like a baby.

Everything in my world is back in sync

07 July 2014

not an optical illusion

Since I'll have to take everything apart to get the frame straightened and since the R60 engine build is nowhere close to being finished, I think I'm going to transplant the drivetrain to the R60 frame for a conversion

I don't know how I missed this for the 5+ years of owning this bike

01 July 2014

dice magazine

I have a very conflicted relationship with this magazine.

I haven't ever subscribed because I'll always get a copy and something will almost always piss me off and I'll swear off the magazine. Then months will go by, I'll get curious about new bikes, and then order some more, get pissed off, and then repeat the process.

I think the bottom line is that I'm just not cool enough to appreciate the magazine. 

For starters, I love old BMWs, although I don't fit that stereotype at all. I'm far too young, skinny, and without a neon Aerostich explosion-proof suit. That being said, with a house, wife, and 1 kid (+1 pending), I'm pretty much living the life of a 50 year old anyway. I don't buy jeans more expensive than $20, my boots are purpose built (i.e. industrial designed for the industry, not "artisan" designed for hipsters), and I prefer my old leather jacket than a vest, even in the summer. My skin, and tattoos on that skin, are too valuable to me.

But I still like custom vintage bikes, and excellent photography, both check marks in the Dice category. I find both the bikes and pictures inspiring, but sometimes I get the feeling I'm reading a fashion mag. On one page I'll be checking out the primary on a pre-unit Triumph, the next page I'll be reading about what clothes and accessories somebody is wearing. I almost wish the magazine would be published without text, that way I can just enjoy the pics. Once I start reading about how someone bought the bike built from somebody else and the various shout out to all the popular Cali builders that did this and that - at that point is about when I get ready to toss the mag into the garbage. But I don't, I finish reading and eyeing, and then file the mag away in the book shelf.

I think this is it though. I'll keep getting my fix from GKM, IMM, and BMWMM. I'm the kind of guy that thinks if you spend $250 on a denim vest you're an asshole, same with having someone else build your bike so you can pose on around it in clothing more than my mortgage payment. I'm unimpressed by cute girls with 2 weeks riding experience on a stock Honda that someone else works on. I'm unimpressed by motorcycles being used as fashion accessories. Unfortunately all of these things have been outnumbering the gems that I buy the magazine for in the first place. 

People seem to be into this though, a lot of them; so the real problem, I think, is my antiquated, BMW riding, self. 

25 June 2014

60 years apart and yet in my winter gear I'm indistinguishable from this guy

20 June 2014

god, I miss being a pipeliner. life in supervising controller land is for the birds. I shouldn't say it's being in management that's the problem, though that's a whole other can of worms, more so because I'm trapped in an office now instead of roaming the tank farms. I've replaced climbing tanks and tightening flanges with trips to the coffee machine and cracking skulls. I feel like a caged animal sometimes, like this nightshift, 60s and clear, but we don't even have windows in here... fucking fatigue management.


for this


for this

this full moon

for this one

I think I need some sleep

16 June 2014

Triumphs and Chryslers

The biggest reason I don't own one, is because something like this always happens when I'm out riding with someone who does... Leave it to Lucas electrics to burn all the insulation off a wire and short out the ignition.

Crusin' USA with Cookie

13 June 2014

26 May 2014

German auto fuses, who knew?

I've always used this type of fuse in my vehicles and never realized it was racially specific

23 May 2014


Eventful month so far.

Drove the family to Disney for a long overdue vacation. I'm glad I did because it convinced me never to take I-95 that far ever again. 1100 miles of a straight line is exhausting, if I ever visit my retired uncle in SC, I'm taking the long, windy way. Adam from IMM says if I made that trip from Britain I'd end up in Mandello del Lario - Guzzi factory. Hopefully the next time I drive a trip that long I'll be doing just that. Speaking of which...

I got presents when I arrived back to beautiful NJ. A buddy of mine, Bill, sells these towelettes and donated buckets of them - they worked fantastically removing 60 years worth of sludge from the R60's timing cover. More exciting though, issue 6 is here from England.

Well worth the wait, they just don't make quality magazines like this very often. I just found out that Adam that publishes Italian Motor Magazine is the brother of Guy that publishes Greasy Kulture, another top notch magazine from over the pond. Me and my brothers don't share any common interests, let alone do anything as remarkable and publish our own mags.

And look at this clown... The first 2 pages of a 7 page article. I'm just getting over being bashful about the whole thing

 I finally realized my head is worth more than $40 and gave up the vintage half helmet.

I fought getting a full face helmet for many years now, but I'm happy I made the switch. I wanted something with a more vintage look as modern Shoeis and the like still just look wrong to me. The Bullitt seems like a better quality helmet than the Biltwell Gringo (solely based on simply holding them in my hand and trying them on), yet retains the vintage look, and feels very comfortable while riding. I thought I'd remove the face shield and use the goggles, but my field of vision is better with the screen and I'm kinda digging it. I used to have a bell half helmet years ago and I hated it and swore off any future Bell helmets, but this one pretty damn good, at least so far.

Never seen a Paul Smart Edition Sport Classic in person till this week. $19K will buy it. Don't have the money and don't want a modern bike, but maybe I can convince a someone to buy it so I can at least test ride it.

That new BMW RNineT was just to the right of this picture again, cool bike, but when you own a REAL R90 that you built yourself, who cares?

02 May 2014


Like most of America, I dread going to the MVC (DMV). It is a bureaucratic abyss of Dantean proportions, but NJ more than most...

Every time I have to title a vehicle, particularly if it's an out of state vehicle, I feel a deep dread. The kind of feeling you used to get as a kid when you break something and are anxiously awaiting your parents to make the discovery and punish you.When all goes perfectly and I'm presented a good NJ Title without a fuss, I leave feeling like I've just gotten away with something or broken out of jail. Looking at the process in a logical manner, it shouldn't be this way. You bring in legitimate, legal documents and fill out fairly straight forward forms to obtain new, legal documents expressing your ownership of a vehicle, but it doesn't work this way.

For example... With the R60, I was trying to get a NJ Title after purchasing the frame+case with a clean VT Title, notarized Bill of Sale, appropriate form, and the seller standing right next to me, at the state MVC headquarters in Trenton. After waiting a half hour on line, and then about another 3-5 at the counter waiting for the worker to come back out of the back room, she said to come back with a pencil etching of the VIN. I've never had to do this before, but it was 1600 and the DMV closes at 1730, so we drive back to the seller's shop, get an etching (actually 3), and come back. After waiting another 45 minutes, everything they asked for is presented to them. The worker responds that she can't read the numbers on the etching and to see her supervisor. Supervisor responds that she can't read the numbers and to come back with a photo. Much arguing ensued as the numbers are clear as day, but they were closing in 20 minutes and as a bureaucrat they pretty much hold you up as long as they want, and pretty much do whatever they want. So I leave in a rage saying I'd bring the engine case in so they could trace it themselves, but they refused. I pick up my frame and case, drive an hour north to get back home, and plan to go to my local MVC to repeat the process the next day. Upon arriving at my house, I ask my 3 year old if she could read me the numbers on the etching, which she does to perfection. My 3 year old has better eyesight and reading capabilities than the Trenton MVC employees.

Fast forward to this morning, go to my local DMV, bring all the same paperwork, plus a photo since I didn't want to have to make any additional trips, and try the process over. While handing over the etching, I ask the employee if she could read it which she does on the first attempt, never even mentioning that it was in any way illegible, and seemed confused that anyone could argue it was illegible. Good so far, but then came the VT title, which she wasn't familiar with. After 3 talks with her supervisor about it and 10 minutes elapsing, I see her come back to the window with a plate in her hand and a title. I exhale, relax, and then get anxious to get the hell out before someone comes and fucks up the process. It shouldn't be like this, I had all the appropriate legal documentation and shouldn't have had to stress in any way, but this seems to happen all the time. It's good DMV employees don't work in hospitals, because I swear they could witness a baby being born and invalidate the birth certificate because the doctor said birth was 0845 when the clock really said 0844...

I think the DMV employees are a sadistic bunch, and I can't blame them for it. I'd probably be the same way if I had to deal with some of the nonsense they run into. Just this morning I saw a woman ask a man 4 times if he had his fingerprints done (HAZMAT endorsement), to which he never responded a single time, someone throw all his paperwork on the floor and leave because he didn't have the required insurance and got mad, lots of people who couldn't speak English, and maybe 4 or so people who came up to the window without forms filled out even though they had a woman whose only job was to hand out those forms and remind the people on line that they must be filled out before getting to the window, at least 3 times in the half hour I was there.

I might be that way if I had to deal with all of that, but then again, I'm trying to apply logic to the DMV process...

28 April 2014

Gathering of the Nortons 2014

I spent so much time talking with people I haven't seen in awhile and checking out rare stuff, that I neglected to take any pics.

so here's some I stole from the internet

via Bill Braile. All the cool kids have black leather and sunglasses, I guess that's why BMW riders aren't cool . On arrival everyone was chipper, Chris swore he saw Wayne Carini, but it wasn't

Then there was a lot of good conversation with good friends, good bikes, good beer in New Hope, some other things, and then...

Like Philly Rockers vs Mods, Chris' magneto shaft broke on Rt. 33, so it was a roadside shaft replace and retiming. 77 Bonnies have an appetite for hardened shafts... I'm just checking plugs and showing off my ass. Dolce's Triumph won a Trophy for best Norton, and then won a trophy just resting on the side of the road

via Tommy Dolce

And then I got home and the bike died in my driveway. Thought that was weird, but it started right back up. Went to take it to work today and I couldn't get it to start. Puzzled at why my bike has been acting so un-German this month, and running late, I had to drive in in my car. Got home and did a basic mechanical check, valve lash good, carbs looking good, plugs looking good, but couldn't find the issue. Then noticed the tach bolt at the trans (where the bike grounds) was backed out and the threads in the trans case were stripped, the bike wasn't making a good ground - common Airhead issue. Relocated the ground cable to the sub-frame and voila, I'm ready to invade Russia.

Also found out today that the title work is in for the 57 R60, looks like I'll be picking up the frame and bare case on Friday

Come play at war, man, and bring your best toy

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.