30 November 2012

Speed records, slow bikes, and smoked Cowboys

Every year I get a DomiRacer catalog/poster in the mail. I think the only thing I've ever actually ordered from there were some clip on bars as their inventory is more suited to English bikes - i.e nothing in my stable. I've held on to them because they have pretty neat posters on the back of them and I didn't want to just throw them out. This year I sent off the BSA one to Ranger and the Triumph land speed record one to CK. It got me thinking about the BMW museum in Munich where Sara and I came across Ernst Henne's 1937 supercharged 500 (pictured below) that set a speed record on the autobahn at 173.7 that held for 14 years

I remember reading something about them having to remove the cockpit hatch to set the record because it was making the bike unstable. Then I think about BMW airheads being notoriously tractorlike and slow. My R90/6, even with the modifications I made, tops off around 115-ish, and even if I put in the higher compression pistons and dellortos I can only expect gains of about 7hp. Airheads were never close to the supercharged racers, or even the naturally aspirated RS54 racers, whereas other manufacturers kept their street bikes somewhat tied to competition racers (Ducati for instance).

This got me thinking about the Aermacchi/H-Ds, mainly this:

My Sprint 250 isn't a CR model, but I still doubt that this was a standard CR engine, either way this is pretty insane. This record is 100mph more than the top speed of my SS 250, I'd really love to see more details about this bike and how they eked out that much power from a 250 single - with apparently no intakes in the bodywork for cooling the engine. Mick Walker never really covered the stuff going on in the US in his book about Aermacchi/Harley Davidson and since Harley refuses to acknowledge this part of their history it's slim pickings for info online. Maybe a trip to the H-D museum would yield more info, but I'd rather use that time and go back to Germany for the BMW museum again

In other news, Dunkin Donuts let me have this poster, my boss wishes they hadn't

I should have added a bloody spinal cord to Tony Romo's head

24 November 2012

Terrano Iron Works?

I can't believe that it took me till this Thanksgiving to find out that my late grandfather was an expert welder, along with his brother and father. They ran the Terrano Iron Works in Queens, hand making fire escapes, railings, and the lot. I knew my grandfather was a salesman for a welding company, but never knew of his training previous to that - no one in my family thought this was important to tell me either. I chalk it up to my Dad similarly not teaching us too much about dry cleaning and tailoring trade (he was 3rd generation) because he didn't want us to enter the trade...

I'm pretty upset with myself about this too. I spent a tremendous amount of time with my grandfather, whether it be car shopping (he really got a kick out of fighting with salesmen), building balsa wood model airplanes, helping with yardwork, or just being around for Sunday fun days (an Italian thing) and never really knew that much about his past. On the the contrary I know tons about my other Grandfather's past (German side of the family), which could be because I'm seemingly drawn to German stuff and was generally more interested in the genealogy of that side of the family.

I could've been making expert welds since I was 6 if I had known about this instead of making average ones at 28. Instead of making model airplanes we could've been brazing tanks and learning all the old school methods of welding various metals. I got really sad after finding out all that family history, but at least I know now.

On a positive side, check out my buddies' blogs, they do much cooler stuff than I do

Shane von Cycles and his Asphalt Redemption
who just conquered the East Coast on his BMW R100GS P/D


Chris von Kool with Rust is Gold who besides owning a shit load of cool machinery, is now building another pre-unit Triumph

21 November 2012

Nearly killed myself twice while test riding the Aermacchi. I thought I was cool and would immediately get used to the shifter being on the right and the brake being on the left. Downshifting when you want to brake is no bueno. At least I got it on the road finally, now it's time to really start messing around with it

20 November 2012

BMW motorcycle owners, women want you and men... want you

18 November 2012

Gerry Anzovino showed me this years ago, still awesome

14 November 2012


1967, NOS, NIB, MADE IN ITALY, 11 Harley guys just spontaneously combusted

Dropped off the seat at an old school auto upholstery place in South Amboy. Turns out my Dad went there once when he was a kid. I'm gonna have to take pics of this place when I pick up the seat. Total time warp. Front window full of drag race trophies, vintage hot rod magazine write ups hanging on the walls, and the type of disrepair and general disorder you often see with old shops owners whose work, instead of shop appearance, sells itself

11 November 2012

You meet the nicest people on a BMW, even after a hurricane

I haven't talked much about the hurricane that hit NJ last week, somewhat because my family got lucky and only lost power for 3-4 days and only had minimal damage to the house, but mostly because everyone in the area has been assessing the damage and trying to recover. Alot of my friends have had it much worse than me, some just got power within the last couple days. I intentionally didn't travel down rt. 35 because I didn't want to get in the way of the cleanup, or clog up roads for people/emergency services that really needed to get somewhere. Gas rationing didn't help either, and we're still in conservation mode. This weekend "normalcy" has sorta been established and we ventured off into the harder hit areas.

Yesterday while my wife was getting her haircut, my daughter and I went through South Amboy and Perth Amboy to walk along the waterfront. Unfortunately we couldn't really get that close to it in either town. In South Amboy Police were blocking access to not only the waterfront, but all the blocks (maybe 5-6 or so deep) in from the waterfront. We had looked at a house in this area a couple weeks ago, now that house will need to be torn down as the basement and foundation have collapsed, the surrounding houses were also devastated. There was a Red Cross station on the block, and we didn't stop to take any pictures considering we weren't even supposed to be there in the first place. This is from two blocks away though, and was taken by a friend who used to rent on this block:

Now imagine collapsed homes that washed off their foundations and you get the picture of the block where we checked out the house. It should be noted that the owners of the house lived there for 40+ years and didn't have flood insurance. They assured us when we viewed the house that they've never seen water reach the house since they'd owned it, now they have nothing.

I knew Perth Amboy was hitting equally hard (the towns are only separated by the Raritan River), but headed there to try and take a walk along the water. We were able to access certain points, but the once beautiful dockside area was completely off limits. The ice cream parlor could be viewed from afar and you could see that the front had fallen off, fishing piers were demolished, and the restaurants along the Arthur Kill weren't that much better. Going down High St. there was access, albeit fenced off, and that's around where these pics were taken.

not the best pic, but those boats are toast, as is what used to be a nicely paved waterside walk

That was about as close as I could get to anything worth seeing, the police were blocking everything else off.

Today while my daughter was napping, I took a trip on the Beemer down to Morgan Beach and Keyport to see how those areas made out. Keyport's always been a nice place for our family to go for a quick walk, or an equally nice place to go for a ride and stop for a drink. Most of these pictures aren't mine, my cell phone wasn't taking very good pictures in the dusk, so I'll expressly say when they aren't my pics and where they are from:

this is the Steamboat Museum (right) and the bar I frequent on late night mid-week motorcycle rides. Not my pic, via Frances Micklow/The Star-Ledger

Ye Cottage Inn, landmark restaurant, Sara and I had Valentine's day dinner here once. This isn't even the brunt of the damage. The dining area is to the right of this picture and was washed away, while the floor above it collapsed on top of it. Not my pic, via Heavy Staff (http://www.heavy.com/news/2012/10/hurricane-sandy-nj-photos-best-jersey-shore-flooding-damage/)

Another one from Heavy (http://www.heavy.com/news/2012/10/hurricane-sandy-nj-photos-best-jersey-shore-flooding-damage/). This is the Morgan bridge, right by the Morgan Marina on the way down 35 toward Laurence Harbor.

 It was surreal heading into Keyport. Boats were all over the place, places you didn't think a surge could even push them. The Blue Rock Cafe had three boats thrown into it, both marinas were destroyed, the hot dog shop opposite to the Keyport waterfront was flattened. All the images you've expected to see from hurricanes on TV, but which, when seen in real life, don't seem to compute mentally. These are the areas you don't see on the news, these aren't the popular vacation spots or famous shore towns. In fact, these are all in Middlesex County

While I rode into Keyport, I saw an old BMW RT airhead parked, so on my loop back toward 35 I stopped to meet the owner. These folks are Laurent and Valerie, with their 82 BMW R100RT. There were down in Keyport surveying the damage just like I was and it was great to meet them amidst all of the devastation. We exchanged contact info and I may have found another riding buddy. In the pic you can see two beacons, those mark the entrance to the parking lot to Ye Cottage Inn. I kinda wish I took a more wideangle shot so you could see this happy couple in contrast to all the destruction around them.

This is the area I surveyed, only about 10 miles, and with the exception of Staten Island (immediately east of Perth Amboy), these are well away from all the new coverage.

10 November 2012


Rebuilt the stock Dellorto UB24 and reinstalled it on the bike with a velocity stack in place of the air filter. Jetted up the main from 100 to 108, can't seem to find the needle jet for this bike in any other size other than the stock 260. Replaced all seals and did a good carb clean, didn't replace the float... When I bought the bike the guy had a really hard time starting it (I think it was because the valves were out of adjustment which I fixed), but he only filled the float bowl with gas, he didn't put any in the tank. Once I got the tank and put a little gas in it (today) I found the carb was flooding big time, despite the float arm being set at the right height. Since that's the only thing not replaced, I think I'll go ahead with that, there's plenty of NOS ones around. A couple hours after this vid I kept the petcock closed and started the bike (third kick), and everything sounded great, idled nice and steady as well. The second I opened the petcock the carb flooded and bogged the engine down

Additionally, getting the bike running revealed an exhaust header leak at the flange, noticed a little gas along the intake elbow as well, but that might have been from flooding the float bowl

Took the seat to my retired tailor Dad for some reupholstery help. Decided the foam padding was too far gone so never got around to riveting the new seat cover, this got me weighing out some options with the seat, mainly to keep it stock or go custom. There's a professional auto upholstering guy a mile away, going to check in with him to get some opinions and prices.

04 November 2012

25 November, I should be able to actually make it this year

Should be a nice ride after that bitch Sandy stopped by. We lost some aluminum flashing which I recovered during the storm (stupid) and power for awhile, but things are back to normal. Glad I prepped by getting a generator and supplies beforehand. Next time I need to get a heavy gauge chain and more ammo, I found out I'm the only one that was prepared in the wasteland. I also discovered that babies love generators, this will be the only jap machinery she'll get to play with.

As much as I trash Hondas, all the characteristics I hate in their cars and bikes are ideal for an emergency generator. Interesting generator facts: valve lash is the same as my '75 R90/6, uses same spark plugs and gap, has aluminum cylinder lining (weight savings I guess), has a plastic cam (so says the internet), and takes normal 10w30 oil. I find all that to be fascinating

Unfortunately some buddies down the shore are still far from normal, heavily intoxicated and armed to the teeth to battle looters. I'm kinda envious, except of Ranger... his place is being gutted- at least he and his Triumph are safe.