30 December 2012

Night shift can turn you philosophical. The world is still and you and a small minority of people are awake, left with nothing else but your work and your thoughts.

Every once and awhile I question paths my life has taken. While I have no regrets concerning marriage or becoming a father, my occupation is an entirely different bag of hats. Between operating pipelines out of two facilities this morning, I also had the displeasure of writing up three procedures and "best practices," to be read by my peers. They concerned new startup steps with new equipment coming online, how to interpret unfamiliar data, and tracking surge relief flow to prevent overfilling tankage and causing a release. Light reading...

They won't read them, but they'll sign their name and say they did. Then everything I outlined in said documents,  I'll have to explain repeatedly over the next few weeks and then maybe my point will finally sink in... It's not like we could kill someone or destroy an ecosystem by fucking up at this job right? Oh yeah, we can...

I left field operations for a supervisory role, so I guess it comes with the territory. I guess business owners deal with incompetence and apathy on a more regular basis than I do, but then again their employees likely can't blow something up or destroy a town's water supply with a fuck up.

I miss swinging valves, climbing tanks, I even miss what I thought was annoying PPE, and standing by for cuts while getting drenched during a thunderstorm. I'm imprisoned at a desk now, doing a thankless job.

I find myself taking walks around this facility when I can, going outside and looking up at what stars the light polluted NJ skies will afford me to. Orion is most reliable nighttime friend.

Someday I want to ride my motorcycle out to the desert, if nothing else just to see an unobstructed view of the heavens. I don't think I've ever seen that in my lifetime and as a human that bothers me. Though even in NJ, working out in the field on night shift for 7 years, I've seen more shooting stars than most people will see in a lifetime. I've seen glorious sunsets and sunrises from the tops of petroleum tanks, someday I'd like to enjoy that without the fumes and chemicals around me.

When I'm in my garage rebuilding carburetors, welding up something, putting a motorcycle together and all that jazz I feel useful and at peace. If I didn't have so many dependents and responsibilities in my life I think I'd get out of the pipeline world and open up a shop somewhere. Apparently making sure the Northeast's infrastructure stays afloat doesn't rock my world, but it does pay my bills and affords my wife to be a stay at home mom.

I always tell people that even though my job is really important, it's not the least bit rewarding. When I worked summers doing masonry, I could finish a day covered in sweat and dirt and look at the job and tell myself, "there, I MADE that today." My work could potentially stand for generations to enjoy. The same reward comes with working on my bikes. Moving hundreds of thousands of barrels of petroleum product daily doesn't come close to matching that feeling.

When a guy in this industry tells me an opportunity arises in their life and are questioning it, I tell them to jump at it as this industry has a way of trapping you. My shift-mate is doing just that and becoming a police officer, taking a serious pay cut, but good on him. I'm envious, and I tell him that.

I'm certain that when G-Wagen gets older, I'm not going to push her into college or what I consider to be a high paying field. That was the story of my generation. A generation that can't think or do anything for themselves. A lot of times I feel like I'm 20 years older than my peers because of just this. That's why G-Wagen's gonna have that Macchi, and wrench on it, and learn what it feels like to think and work with her hands. By the time she's ready for a career, the trades are going to be damn near extinct.

I don't want her to wind up behind a desk, on night shift writing philosophy to keep from going insane. I don't want her wondering what it'd be like to ride somewhere remote to see the stars the way we're supposed to see them. I don't want her to have to see the sun rise in a petroleum plant with Nomex on. Fortunately I don't think I'll have to worry.

She's already smart and defiant. She's gonna be the tattooed girl with a hot rod daily driver like her mother, kickstarting her Macchi with a blunt, independent attitude like her father... I hope so anyway...

See where your mind wanders when the rest of the world is asleep.

Now back to the batches, making sure the rest of the world stays cruising

24 December 2012

No presents for Christmas

Merry Christmas everyone, may your stockings be filled with rusty gold and forgotten relics

22 December 2012

Success! Kinda...

Needed to make a few modifications for fitment today. Drilled out the angle irons to accept a 10mm bolt, had to reshape the center stand's feet to sit at an angle, had to cut off a segment of angle iron on the right side mounting tab for engine clearance, and then I had to weld additional tabs on the stand to stop it from moving forward too much (I thought the angle iron top tabs would do this naturally, I was wrong)...

This pic was taken with the bike running, hence the rear wheel is in motion...

The only thing that kinda pisses me off is that I got rough measurements to build this from an old cached ebay auction and I think the guy wasn't using a 19/18 front/rear set up. There isn't a tire mounted on my front rim right now because I'm going to be switching to alloys, so on a naked rim I only have about 1-2" of room to lift the front end with the centerstand in use, that can't be right... Easy fix would be to cut the steel bar sides and weld extensions, but I'm gonna wait until the front and rear rims/tires are all replaced... in the meantime I still have the "jiffy stand"

21 December 2012

Aermacchi Center Stand & Google+

I really hate not having a center stand on the Aermacchi, this became even more apparent when I took the front wheel off. Why'd the European models come with one standard and in the USofA we're left with just a "jiffy stand." Bullshit.

Apparently aftermarket ones are a one man show, at $250... this is what I came up with with about $13 of steel and some scraps and a rough parts diagram pic of what it's sorta like

I don't know why it looks cocked in the pic, I measured twice and it's within 1/16" of parallel

Anyone who tells you you need a TIG to make a stack of dimes is full of shit

 Yeah yeah, I know, flux core. I may as well be using a stick welder, but it works, I just need to clean it up, a lot...

I didn't bother drilling it out for bolts yet, that would require a trip to the hardware store and I'm already in Dos Equis Ambar and PB&strawberry jam land. 

Luckily, there are already mounting tabs and a nub for the spring on the stock frame, some old VW bolts threaded in nicely, don't even have to worry about welding in a nub for the spring to attach to

Also, what's the deal with this google+ thing>? I'm getting hassled to implement it all the time, is this a facebook substitute? another way to homologate google services? Anyone else using it?

Having gotten off the facebook black hole last month, the last thing I need is another one of those...

19 December 2012

More Tommaselli

Was looking for some vintage matador levers to complement the Condor bars and all I could find was the cheap pot metal repros. Then I scored this for a price I couldn't refuse, should be arriving any day now:

Not matadors, I think they're from a Ducati 900SS, but NOS and beautiful

The Macchi has a Tommaselli Super Practic throttle stock, thinking of replacing it with a QA type throttle, but not sure if I want to give up the vintage look and feel. The Super Practic would require drilling into the Condor bars and tapping a fine thread for the locking screw in the throttle housing, the Quick Action throttles just use a bolt to tighten on, on the fence... If I go new, I could probably sell the old one and come out ahead, decisions, decisions...

Also got a tach drive cable for the '67 for a whopping $14, again new old stock... MotoMacchi quoted me around 80 bucks for a German repro of one of these, so I planned on just welding a tab into my old one, 14 bucks saves me the effort

 I do have some welding planned in my future. Gonna be fabbing up a center stand for the Macchi, and since there's only one other guy making these (for $250), I think I might make a few and sell them for $100 each... We'll see how mine works first, more to come later

G-Wagen and the BMW, she calls the Macchi her "Hummmm"

I finally manned up and spent the 2 minutes to replace the lever bushings on the BMW (#5), got really sick of the slop.

It's amazing how much adjustment the cable were out when the levers are actually aligned correctly

10 December 2012

09 December 2012


There were 2 main reasons why I bought the Aermacchi. The first is that I wanted a departure from German stuff (mainly VW and BMW boxer engines) and a quirky Italian single fit the bill. Don't get me wrong, I love my German stuff, I love their elegance in engineering and function over fashion design, but I'm just a little bored with them right now.

The second, most important, reason is that I wanted a bike that my daughter could work on when she gets older, learning mechanical basics and then when she's old enough to ride, she'll have a vehicle that she not only would be able to work on, but it'd be something she built herself. A light Italian single seemed convenient in this respect as well.

Being that it's going to be awhile before she can ride on the street, like 14 years awhile, I'm gonna be riding this bike and working out the major kinks. I'm 6'2" and a tad large for the bike, but still don't like the cruiser riding position of the bike, I'm thinking rear sets and sport bars should fix that. Clip-ons worked out awesome on the R90, but a little too forward for this little bike, I have euro bars, but didn't like the look, and then I started thinking of angling clubmans to various positions. With this in mind I found a source for NOS Tommaselli Condor sport bars. The beauty of these is that they're fully adjustable. While I'm riding I can mount them tilted back and then pull back the bars, making a nice Z-bar kind of set up, when my daughter (or anyone smaller than me) wants to use it they can go with a race position, move the bars forward and have the typical cafe clubman look - they can be made to fit any riding position.

Test fit, not bad. A bit of a chopper look, but position is a lot more forward and comfortable for riding in a sport position

I wish I bought these for the Beemer instead of the clip-ons. These Tommasellis feel a lot better built, I like the adjustability and natural angle of the bars, and it saves you from having to remove the triple clamp and modifying the headlight ears - though I changed the triple clamp with a beefy, billet SJ one anyway so I guess that point is moot.

Too much information for handlebars, unless someone wanted to rip them off

The one issue with using these bars is that Aermacchi rubber mounted the stock bars and welded on a tab to secure the bars from moving forward and back. With the Tomms on there and tightened up I noticed just about as much play in the bars as I did with the stock, but I think they could still be studier either by putting in a couple spacers to further tighten the clamp, or by completing removing the top triple clamp, making my own, and then going to solid mounts, haven't decided yet.

Going to need to replace the levers/controls with the new bars and I've got my eyes on some 1960's NOS pieces, we'll see how that goes

04 December 2012

you know it's Christmas time when...

There's a K├╝belwagen on the tree

I took the tach drive apart on the Aermacchi since the tach wasn't working when I test rode it. Half of the problem was that there was no grease, that problem is solved

The other half, and main problem, is that the tach cable's end that connects into the drive is sheared off. Simple fix.

Wondering if I should lose the dash pod and get a nice Veglia race tach and just run that. This 250 is so slow I think I'd rather just know the rpms and listen to the engine, thinking I'm on at Bonneville. Despite considering all this I took apart the stock dash panel, cleaned up the instruments, cables, and wires, and then implanted all of them into a nicer '68 panel which I'm digging. The stock '67 was just plain aluminum and mine was cracked, chipped, and beat to death. The '68 is a little bigger and better designed, still aluminum but with metal hammered black paint on the top, and has an all important SS sticker. Same P/N and everything went in nicely.

Speaking of stickers

250ccs of Italian sex

03 December 2012

IM - practical welding

Grilled up some excellent flank steak for tacos tonight and realized the sheet metal around the charcoal grate has met its end.

I've been meaning to get a sheet of stainless and just make a new one of these things, but figured I'd cut out around the hole and put a band aid on it for now... This is the welding equivalent of treating cancer by taking tylenol.

 tons of tacks since I was still burning through rust, but it'll last me another few years I think... This is the kind of stuff Kenny would rag on me about, riding in 10 degree weather and putting bandaids to fix a severed head