30 June 2013

photo shoot and ride review

Just finished up a photo shoot with my buddy Pat. I guess you could consider him a semi-pro photographer. Took a total of 113 pics, of which I've seen 3. Can't wait to see the rest of them, Pat enjoy the Rolling Rock!

That brings me to the ride review.

I never got a good opportunity to take the bike through its paces when I got it. It had broken spokes, oil leaks, and a bad tune. I took it around the block 3-4 times to check for any mechanical surprises, and then started work on it, so I really don't have anything else comparable to compare the current ride to. What I know now is kinda surprising to me though. I think I like this bike better than my cafe BMW R90/6. Don't get me wrong, for long trips and 100mph+ highway blasts, the BMW is my go to bike, but lately that hasn't been happening as often as I'd like. Instead I'm left with low mileage, varying speed jaunts to and from work which this bike is perfect for.

It's incredibly light, well handling, and shifts eons better than my BMW despite its relatively long throw between gears. It redlines higher than the BMW, but the top speed, despite all the weight I took off of it, is still in the 65-70mph range, and from what I'm told, it's really not good for the bike to stay up there too much - a direct contrast to the BMW which can stay 90-100 at near redline for hundreds of miles to no ill effect. I bought a Dunstall replica muffler for this bike, similar to the ones I have on my BMW and was looking forward to the performance gains and sounds realized on the BMW. I found neither performance gains, or that great of a sound, in fact it made the bike run super lean. I ran the bike with header pipes for a little bit, and while the sound was great, the low-mid range performance suffered. I ended up just cleaning up and putting back the stock muffler, this is the best solution at this moment - go figure. I didn't realize how far I had to tune the carb to run on header pipe only until I warmed up the bike with the stock set up and then had to wind down my idle speed another 3.5krpms to get a good idle!

While the short trips on my R90 were a chore, never really finding the appropriate gear for the traffic, and constantly longing for the highway, this is an absolute pleasure. It really is the perfect complement to my garage. My wife continues to remind me that I bought this bike to work on with my daughter (going on 3). She's right, this is my daughter's bike, and I fully intend to title it over to her when she comes of riding age, but this bike is gonna need service every 500-1000 miles. she's going to be wrenching on this thing faster than you can say righty tighty, lefty loosey (another win for the BMW).

Anyway, here's some pros and cons

* very light and handles like a dream
* the M50 seat with additional springs makes you feel like you're riding on air
* loves short trips and low speeds
* shifts very cleanly, despite a longer than anticipated throw between gear selections
* high redline
* has kickstart... really wish my BMW had one that wouldn't self destruct if I retrofit it (see Snowbum for the reasons)

* rubber mounted bars are a little strange, I may still work around that
* doesn't like long trips and generator fails at extended high speed runs (so I'm told)
* low wattage generator system
* compact size makes it very difficult to mount effective mirrors. Still haven't figured that out yet and am running without them
* kickstart only. though on a bike of this displacement that's not really a con. You decide

This bike is taking over commuting duties for the time being. We'll see if I still love it after the first break down or once the novelty of the new bike wears off, hopefully not for a long time. At the time being, I'm absolutely enamored, except for one thing. The lack of a project has left a void inside me that'll need to be filled soon. Maybe I'll finally get that Triumph project Chris keeps harassing me about... Time will tell.

Until the next time

27 June 2013

20 June 2013

Il "Veltro Nero" è quasi finito!

Took the bike into work today and had my first official test run exceeding 2 miles. Put about 10 on today and the bike performed brilliantly. Despite some cold start issues at 530 AM on my way to work, when it was time to head home the bike started with one kick. Excellent
The rest of the tank decals arrived today and I think they fit the look of the bike perfectly. The only thing left to do at this point is modify the M50 Sport seat that I have for fitment and maybe put on rear sets, but I may just hold off until the end of the summer for that, I'm thinking I'd rather just enjoy this for awhile. 
This is the deepest I've ever gone into building a motorcycle and am psyched to see 9 months of work finally paying off... Il "veltro nero" è quasi finito!
 Here's a sneak peek

18 June 2013

petcocks, lines, and mounts

With the tank cured, it was time to mount it to the bike. I removed the fabric bumper on the tank when it was powdercoated, and I wasn't happy with the rubber plug I was using on the frame, so I had to improvise. The solution was a polyurethane bump stop for a VW bug that I had laying around from my VW Thing project. Works like a charm.

Next, OMG petcocks.

Ariete fuel lines, for period-correctness

I had some inline fuel filters for this too, but between the screens on the brand new petcocks and the new filter screen in the carb, I went without it. Unless the sealant I applied craps out, I can't imagine needing one.

Filled the tank with gas, kicked over the bike, and aside from a small hiccup, went for a short 2 mile test ride. Loving this bike, who would've thunk that doing 45mph could be so fun. The bike handles great and will be ideal for my short work commute, or just back road pleasure rides. As much as I love my BMW, this is going to be taking over a lot of riding duty.

In other news, I'm still waiting for the Aermacchi tank decals to arrive, and now waiting for another seat to come in.

I always loved the look of the Moto Guzzi Stornello sport seat (or the Ducati Diana for that matter), and even though I refinished the stock Bates style seat on the Macchi, it just wasn't doing it for me. I had almost made up my mind that I'd make my own seat, when I found a NOS Aermacchi M50 sport seat on Ebay and the measurements and aesthetics look perfect. For sure the frame will need to be modified, but I can weld, so no biggie. More to come later in the week.

14 June 2013

Caswell Tank Sealer Meets Benelli / Aermacchi Tank

Yesterday I got around to applying the Caswell Epoxy Tank Sealer to the tank innards.

Like I mentioned before, the tank was solid, but very rusty. Caswell is supposed to bond to rust, but they advise to throw in some sheetrock screws and acetone to break up the loose bits, which I did, but didn't feel like I got enough of the flaky rust off. I then decided on doing the vinegar trick, but instead of a day I just used it for half a day and then applied a pressurized stream of water for the rinsing and acid neutralizing (just used baking soda). That worked out much better at getting some of the stubborn stuff out and did a decent job of cleaning the rust - if I left the vinegar in for a whole day or two it probably would have cleaned everything, but this epoxy doesn't really care about rust so neither did I. As far as drying off the tank, I connected the hose for my vacuum to it's exhaust port, essentially turning it into a powerful blow-dryer, worked like a charm. Onto applying the sealant.

Caswell tells you to wrap the tank with glad wrap, followed by a layer of aluminum foil, and then another layer of glad wrap. As you can see above, I skipped the aluminum foil part and instead went with 3 layers of plastic wrap, followed by some masking tape for extra protection around the top of the tank where I'd be pouring in the epoxy. I found that this much protection was unnecessary (especially if you drain the epoxy out of the petcock holes) for the most part, but I did get a few drops on the masking tape part when I flipped the tank over after draining the excess sealant, let me explain. This Benelli tank's petcock holes are internal thread, so in order to protect the threads from getting epoxied over, I threaded in some M10x1.0 bolts wrapped with teflon tape and had to drain the excess out of the top which was a little messier. I'm confident that if you are careful and have externally threaded petcocks (like on my BMW) you could drain out of the petcocks and not spill a drop on the tank... but anyway...

The stuff is the consistency of a thick molasses or honey and must be spread around the inside of the tank slowly - Accomplished by sealing off all holes and sitting for 15 minutes with a tank in your lap rotating it around. They advise to do the job at a temp of 70F and that just happened to be the temperature inside my house exactly yesterday (we don't have central air). Caswell says half the supply they give you is good enough for a tank of 5 gallons or less - I found that to not be the case. This tank is 3.75 gallons and I got about 70% or so coverage, so I had to mix up the remaining supply and add it (I waited 4-5 hours after the first batch as the stuff was still tacky, but more or less set in place, Caswell says a second coat can be added within the first 24 hours as long as the stuff is tacky). After all was said and done, there was only 4oz. of excess epoxy using the entire kit, so I'd advise using the entire kit right from the start if you're doing a similar job. If this was the stock Aermacchi peanut style tank I think the half would have been fine.

It's been close to 24 hours of curing and the stuff is rock hard. They recommend letting the epoxy cure for 24-36 hours before adding any gas to it, but it'll probably be 48 hours before I get a chance to gas it up. I couldn't get a good picture of the coating, but it looks like a layer of glass, probably a a couple millimeters or so thick. I love the thickness of it, but I don't like the fact that it's clear, because ignoring the gloss finish of the sealant, it still looks like a shitty tank on the inside (i.e rusty, even if encapsulating and no longer rusting). I wish they added a black dye to the epoxy or something, just to mask the appearance of the tank inside. Oh well, as long as the stuff works and it definitely seems like it will.

I'm still waiting for the Aermacchi tank side decals to arrive, but I couldn't resist adding the ones I bought for the stripe area.

It's looking good and now I really can't wait to get this thing back on the road. We're in the home stretch!

12 June 2013

generator, tank, and stove

I think I got to the bottom of why the generator wasn't charging. Having read on an Aermacchi yahoo group that the most common cause of generator problems is the generator warning light grounding out, usually happens during restorations. Well I started at the generator and worked my way through the wiring, up to the warning light and sure enough, I forgot to put the plastic insulating washer back on when I switched dash pods. It amounts to a thin, white piece of plastic that fits between the light socket and the aluminum dash pod, and there it was sitting in the bolt dish I have on my workbench. Put it back in and it appears that I'm getting a charge again. Haven't taken the bike for a test run yet, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed...

Powder coating is finally done on the gas tank

I still have to put some epoxy sealer on the inside (no holes, but a lot of rust), but today was so nuts I didn't get a chance to - maybe tomorrow during the apocalypse storm the weather man is predicting. I did clean up the loose rust on the inside with some acetone and dry wall screws, and while that was drying I test fit the tank on the bike

Bad photo, but it's looking good. I found the vintage Aer Macchi decals I bought from MotoMacchi to be too small for this tank, so I went ahead and ordered these on eBay. I don't like the design as much as the MotoMacchi ones, and I'm not crazy about the gold lettering, but they're still nicer than the Harley Davidson decals

Also got a bid on a Guzzi Stornello Sport style seat, we'll see how that goes...

In other news, my buddy Joe was getting rid of an Elmira Stove Works 1850 range that came with the house he just bought. Not his style, but definitely my wife's, gave me a killer deal on it, all 500lbs of it that we had to move. Now it's just going to sit idle in storage at my parents' place until we sell our house and move into a new place, whenever that will be...

Hoping to have the Macchi back on the road by next week, maybe the next update will be a good one

01 June 2013

aermacchi generator

I disassembled the generator today as the armature I got off eBay arrived. Still waiting for the field coils, but I had the house to myself so I figured I'd get an early start.

I bought this nifty puller months back. It has the left hand thread to secure it self into the threads for the tachometer drive slot and then presses the rotor off the crankshaft. 

The old armature was well worn and scored up, but I've been advised that these are German built and almost never fail (don't know why the BMW bosch ones suck so bad then...), but also to buy another if you find one to keep as a spare because these are pretty rare. The problem is, I was supposed to be measuring 1.5 ohms on the slip rings and I didn't measure that on the old one or the replacement. The new one is in much better condition so I'm hoping that I just received the wrong info. The part is guaranteed if it doesn't work, but I just really want to fix this problem.

The replacement was then mounted on, awaiting the field coils/housing I bought off eBay which were described as testing good and also carry a guarantee. We'll see what happens...

Now the old BMW one has company on my bookshelf. Maybe I should start a collection of scrap rotors. They do make excellent paperweights