26 May 2013

start-ups, decals, and nonsense

Well... I'm still without my tank back from powdercoating, so I threw the old one on to test out some things.

The video is short because when I went to lower the idle speed I accidentally stopped recording. I was too lazy to make another video so this is all you get... I didn't like the Dunstall replica muffler, so I took it off for shits and giggles and just ran the header pipe. The video doesn't capture the loudness of it, but I really love the sound, may even end up keeping it like that if the tuning isn't a nightmare. By the way, that blue beacon on the instrument cluster means my generator isn't charging, still have to figure that one out, but there's a really good electrical test process in the H-D service manual. For once that manual is good for something

Since I've been sitting on decals for over a month waiting for the tank to come back, I finally got a little antsy and put some on the rear fender. I was dying to get that Italian Air Force roundel on the bike somewhere given Aermacchi's aviation history.

Note the NOS tail light. In lieu of hunting down an unobtainium plug, I just soldered the wiring right to the bulb. It works, but it'll have to be corrected someday

Anyone else think this looks like it should be a box of condoms instead of gloves? 70% Thicker for NO pleasure

Also got around to welding up a new battery box. Smaller = less weight, and I still haven't even turned it to Swiss cheese. There's a certain charm about the old Italian bubble boxes, but on this bike I think less is more.

I had my wife sit on the bike so I could better visualize the lines with a rider on it.

Other than that dreadful stock tank, I think it's looking pretty good so far. It definitely needed those Condor bars and a more forward posture. The foot controls fit her pretty well, but I'm a bit taller and the bike is begging for rear sets when I'm on it. I'll have to weld on extensions onto the frame like the Sprint H had for the passenger pegs (my SS model was never intended for two-up use), and then find some nice Tarozzi's to mount on it. Money, money, money.....

It's beautiful out now though, I think I'm going to take the Beemer out for a nice midnight ride someone and enjoy this

22 May 2013

slow progress

well the stripped banjo bolt threads on the cylinder head got fixed. I actually disassembled the head the morning after I found the problem and 4 hours and $15 later I had a nice heli-coiled head in my hands. Even better, through this predicament I met a great machinist just three blocks away who will definitely be getting more work in the future - hats off to you Greg!

Today this arrived in the mail:

1960's NOS Delco Guidex tail light for the Macchi. This is the tail light that would have actually been stock on the bike, which is strange because most other years used typical Italian CEV lamps and this is Made in USA by a GM subsidiary. I'm psyched to have it, pretty psyched to add a little American accenting to the bike as well despite all signs of this build pointing to the contrary. As cool as the vintage NAPA one that came with the bike was, it really just was a POS, I'm glad to have a brand new, well built light. Now I just have to figure out where to find a vintage plug that'll work with it

Talked with the powdercoaters and was informed that the tank should be ready this week, I'm keeping my fingers crossed. While I wait, I ordered some new brushes for the generator in an attempt to quickly and cheaply fix this apparent non-charging issue with the bike. I'm really hoping this is the cure because I hate dealing with wiring, and I have no idea where to find a good used armature for this bike.

Any vintage electric gurus are welcome to throw fix suggestions at me, as far as I'm concerned electric works by magic.

17 May 2013

And the top end needs to come off again

Called the powdercoating place and found out that they haven't even started the tank. I was pissed until I put the old tank on the bike, started it up and noticed a significant oil leak out of the head-side oil feed bolt. Took that off and realized that the threads on the head were stripped out about 1/2 way deep. Ran a tap to see if I could salvage anything to no avail. Looks like that wacky head is going to need to come off again so I can heli-coil it and then figure out how to blow the metal shavings out of the oil passages... Big sigh

16 May 2013

Aermacchi brake arm and small steps

I noticed some fraying on the brake cable so I wound up replacing it with a NOS one. Upon adjusting the front brake to the proper tension (which I didn't do last week), I found the brake arm to be fairly useless under pressure. Took apart the brake arm and realized the square hole that connects to the drum looked more like a pentagon. Figured the best option at the moment would be to weld a little bead on the rounded out sections and then file it down. The job probably would have been a lot faster if I had a dremel, but instead I had to use a drill and the smallest file in my tool box to somewhat square it off again. This is what I ended up with.

It's not square per se, but it does work, and more importantly it'll do the job while I search for a new replacement. It amazes me that what should be 5 minute jobs on this bike keep turning into 2 hour jobs because I keep finding something else wrong.

I'm still waiting for the gas tank to come back from powdercoat and that's holding up a lot of things, namely seat mounting (and possibly more fabrication) and carb tuning, but I suppose you can't rush quality. Since I haven't found any oil or gas leaks after reassembling the top end and running the engine briefly, I figured I'd finally mount the front fender.

I still have to knock out welding up a new battery tray, that'd be a good little job while I wait for the tank to come back.

11 May 2013

the bike breathes again

Attached header and new Dunstall replica muffler

Typical of this project, looks like I'm going to need to modify some more. First off, I scratched the chrome on the muffler when I attached it as the centerstand tab was just touching the edge of the muffler. It was barely touching it, and I didn't even feel it or see it (it's behind the side stand bracket) when I assembled everything. Doesn't appear to actually go through the chrome, just looks kinda shitty, but it's out of view at least. The next issue is that other than the clamp to the header pipe, there's nowhere to attach the rear bracket to the frame. The stock Aermacchi clamp is too large, so I'll have to make one of my own as this is way too wobbly as it stands now. But hey, I finally got to use the exhaust wrap that I abandoned on my BMW build...

Also, since I ditched the stock battery and tool boxes, I'll need to make my own battery tray. No biggie, I think 20 gauge will do the trick

I worked out the cable issue by simply cutting off about 6-8mm off the end barrel on the cable. Cables are nice and smooth, and since I now have throttle, brake, and clutch control, AND the important stuff is assembled on the bike, I couldn't resist attaching the battery and trying to start it up.

Since I don't have my tank back yet, I siphoned some gas directly into the carb, gave it a little choke, and it started right up (well 3rd kick anyway)! The generator light that used to never light up which I wrote off as being broken, now doesn't seem to go out, but I didn't get to rev the bike enough before I ran out of gas so I don't know if it's really not working or if the generator just wasn't sending out enough charge yet. The wiring job I did for the headlights and horn also worked fine, and I'm glad I went through the wiring and replaced the bits I could.

Can't wait for the tank to come back and give this bike a proper test run

08 May 2013

new shoes, clean head, no-leak jug, and an entirely new set of problems

It's been a good few days of progress with the bike. First and foremost, I got the last wheel back from truing and got the tires mounted. Put them on the bike immediately. Also mounted the rear fender that was recently powdercoated, and now the seat won't fit. In fact, it's off by a good 0.25." Not sure how that's even possible, but I can either modify the existing seat (easy) or make a new one (not as easy). Once the tank comes back I'll decide on a course of action.

Otherwise, I'm liking the look already. By getting the wheels back on, the bike would be self supporting and I could remove the jackstand from below the cylinder, which, up to this point was the only thing other than the center stand holding the bike up.

Once I pulled the cylinder, I inspected the piston and con-rod. Turns out there is horizontal play in both the piston and the con-rod. In the case of the piston, the play was due to me being able to actually move the wrist pin with my finger (no heat applied) and seemingly the only stops on the pin were the snap rings. As for the connecting rod, there was only slight horizontal play. Figures the seals I was waiting on came in the same day, so instead of being able to reassemble everything I had to wait until the next morning to call Moto Macchi and see what he thought of the play. Apparently the play I noticed is normal, the con-rod is good since there's no up/down - forward/back play, and play with the wrist pins is hit or miss between batches but normal. It was good to hear that. If I saw that kind of play on the BMW I'd start disassembling the bottom end immediately.

Put everything back together this afternoon. Between a brand new cylinder base gasket, upper and lower pushrod tube seals, valve cover gasket, and the permatex silicone sealant I used on top of everything, this bike shouldn't puke oil anywhere other than the breather (I hope anyway)... I know I praised the design of the Aermacchi cylinder head in my last blog entry, but I retract that statement now. Having to shim the rocker ends on assembly, while holding the pushrods (which cross), and then drifting the rocker shaft on a horizontal head is not fun; in fact it downright sucks. I had to re-shim the rockers because I used new thrust washers and trying to check alignment with a mounted wheel getting in the way constantly didn't help either... But it's done now, just waiting on getting the tank back, making a new battery tray, and attaching the control cables and the bike should be pretty much done. Shit pic, but it doesn't hide the old oil stains

That reminds me. While I was waiting for the remaining seals to arrive, I mounted the bars, controls, and the dash pod.

This introduced an entirely new set of conundrums.

First, I didn't want to drill into the new Tommaselli condor bars, so I relocated the headlight/horn switch to the top of the dash. Because it was a new switch I had to solder up some new connections so I hope everything works right once the battery is hooked back up, otherwise I'll have to cut and re-solder again.

Next was the controls themselves. They look nice on the bars, but they definitely weren't intended for Aermacchi cables.

Tommaselli barrel on left, stock Verlicchi barrel on right, Aermacchi clutch cable below. The Verlicchi one won't fit into the Tommaselli controls, and although the Aermacchi cable can make it into the new barrel, the cable end is too long to fit into the lever. I think the easiest option will be to trim down the cable end and pray it doesn't come apart. To be continued...

Another smaller issue that arose was with the Tommaselli QA race throttle. I knew when I bought it that it was reduce the "pulling" distance of the cables for faster application of the throttle, but they really weren't joking... It's probably only 1/4 turn of the throttle and the slide is fully opened. I'm not sure how I feel about this just yet, I'll need to test it on the bike first to check the response, but I have a feeling I'll be reverting back to the stock Super Practic B throttle.

02 May 2013

fork seals and cylinder heads

Still waiting for the gas tank to come back from powdercoat, but the decals for it did come in, and more importantly so did the fork seals.

Not stock, but apparently this is what Moto Macchi offers. New and Made in USA which is a plus. but I've never seen seals like these. For one, they're considerable smaller that stock seals and are intended to "float" along the stanchion tubes - secured by a 30mm washer that rests below the circlip on the sliders. I guess it'll work, and there's a lifetime guarantee (although I guess that's kinda useless if they don't work)... Now with the seals in, the sliders went back on and I can go ahead and mount the tires on my rims - I'll get to that on Monday.

While I was waiting for parts to arrive, I figured I'd address the oil leak on the bike. Appears to originate from the head and more specifically the upper pushrod seal.

Off with it's head

I like these heads better than BMW ones. Very easy teardown and rocker play is taken up by shims instead of pillow blocks. Those pushrods are weird though, I wasn't expecting the cam followers to be horizontal but the pushrods aligned vertically, they criss cross at a point and the exhaust is larger than the intake to accommodate the difference in distance to the rocker arm (because it's on the outside of the head and the intake is on the inside). I don't know why but for some reason I thought the cam was vertical, driven by a gear attached to the horizontal crankshaft, don't know where I got that idea, but that's what I was thinking.

oil leak confirmed, good thing I ordered new pushrod tube seals. That being said, the other seal is at the cylinder base, meaning that needs to come off too and I didn't order a cylinder base gasket (d'oh!). I could probably make one up with an xacto knife and gasket material, but there's supposed to be a dowel pin in the head that is missing and some other crap here and there so it looks like I'll be putting in another order with MotoMacchi in the near future.

high(er) compression piston... Aermacchi went up to 9.4:1 this model year

Didn't bother taking the piston and cylinder off yet, that can wait till I get the wheels back on and the remaining seals in. Overall, things are looking pretty good. Don't really see any valve recession (but I will be doing a proper leakdown test), no pitting or scoring on the piston or head, and nothing else immediately visible. Will definitely check con rod play when the cylinder is off, but if that checks out I don't think I'll dig any deeper. I want this back on the road, not under a microscope.

Kenny (referenced in a previous post) told me I'm the kind of guy that'll take apart a watch. I denied it, but he's probably right