Thursday, May 30, 2013

Last Sunday was the fifth annual Steve Rossi Memorial Day Weekend Tiddler Tour.  I worked part of Fri. and all of Sat. trying to get my Moto Guzzi Airone back together to ride it Sun. in the TT but, alas, came up several hours short.  It was exactly one year ago that I took the motor apart when I realized the drive side main bearing was shot.  The clue was sparks coming off the outside flywheel because it was hitting the footrest. The conrod had been running off to one side of the crankshaft and both were badly worn.  It took a while to find and get a freshly rebuilt crank assy. from Italy and my friend Ken Rosevear went through the crankcases re-sleeving bearing to get everything 'square' and in line.
Not finishing it was not a big problem as Mike Peavey let me ride his 1975 250 Jawa Californian which  Scott Rikert brought down along with his own 250 Jawa.
Mike Peavey's '75 250 Jawa
This was the bike that spit Mike off at a Giro and broke his neck.  The dinged headlight rim is about the only evidence 
My brother's wife, Amy, rode the family '65 175 CZ.  So, there were 3 bikes from the Jawa/CZ family, two Hondas (a CB175 vert and an XL175), two Yamaha DT-1, an F7 175 Kawasaki, an R27 BMW,  Peter Davidson's C-15 BSA, Phil Turkington's beautiful Bultaco Metralla (Phil on his first ride since breaking his femur and foot a year ago), host Steve Rossi on his newly acquired 250 Parilla Trailmaster, Mike Peavey on his newly rebuilt Moto Guzzi Airone, my brother Doug on his 260 Benelli, and John Harris on his 125 MZ.  We had some non-tiddlers ride along with us: a couple of BMW boxer twins, a 900 Cagiva and a Honda FT 500 Ascot.
Phil Turkington Bultaco Metralla 
Phil names all his bikes
Host Steve Rossi's 250 Parilla Trailmaster
Steve says 'finally a bike off Ebay that's as advertised'
Brother Doug had just installed a Bridgestone TLS backing plate in his Benelli hub
Steve laid out what I consider his best route yet: great road with a bit of dirt and light traffic.  The 250 Jawa was great with great handling, decent power and brakes, a very comfortable seat and a good riding position.  These bikes have a automatic clutch release actuated by the shift lever, so one doesn't have to use the handlebar clutch lever, just bang the shift lever.  A great feature.
at the lunch stop with John Harris' MZ 125 in the foreground, he with the hat
We had lunch in Lebanon at an Italian restaurant, after which Mike and I switched off, he riding his Jawa, me riding his Airone.  Mike knew the Airone was low on fuel and I ended up running out before we found fuel.  Mike went off in search of fuel and Scott whipped off his belt to tow me part way.  Mike found someone mowing their lawn and got some gas from them and directions to the nearest gas station.  Having lost a lot of time, we jammed hard back to Steve's house.  The Airone was great other than the brakes, the front being weak and the rear sticking on.  Once he sorts the brakes, he'll have a fine ride.  The motor was smooth and absolutely bone dry after a hard flogging.
Mike Peavey's newly rebuilt Moto Guzzi Airone
Despite being slightly cool and having a few very brief showers, it was a great ride.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

And, another photo just sent to me.  Lou Caputo took this at Sears Point over the 8/9 July, 1994 weekend and Corey Levenson passed it on to me for Lou.  I'm futzing with the Team Obsolete 1959 Matchless G-50 with which I won the 500 Premiere race.  Corey's comment was that my hair color matched the fuel tank back then.

That's Larry Poon's Seeley G-50 (21X) in the backround.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Here are some photos that were recently sent to me.
Fred Sahms ( sent me three from NOLA 23-24 March, 2013
Here Andrew Cowell welds a broken engine plate that I discovered Sat. morn.

Here I am racing the ERTT Sun., after crashing it Sat.

Racing the '46 Moto Guzzi Dondolino @ NOLA.  The silencer is beginning to fail

Brian Smith ( sent me this photo from Willow Springs Sun., 28 April, '13

This is from Sunday's 250GP race.  It looks like it's the exit to the Omega, turn #4, though possibly turn #6.  I'm on #7, Sam Yamazaki's DT-1 Yamaha.  I'm followed by Jason Lindquist #13 on his DT-1 Yamaha,  #184 Steve Gillen ( on his 200 Honda and #120 Raymond Demarest on his Honda.  Jason, Steve and I had a good scrap, with both of them getting by me at some point.  This must be the 7th of 8 laps and we've lapped Demarest.  I'm a little confused as I thought Jason, Steve and I finished in the order in the photo but, checking the results, Jeff Elings on his Aermacchi is listed as 2nd with Steve third and Jason 13th and last.  The lap chart show Elings passing Steve on the last lap, but I'm quite sure Jason finished behind me.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Mon. 13 May, I took the Dondolino up to the USCRA event at NHMS, Loudon, N.H.  It ran well the first practice but, starting the 2nd lap of the second practice, it suddenly started running poorly and I pull right off.  I found the high tension lead on the magneto loose.  That's got to be it.  I tightened it up and started it up again.  It would idle alright, but if I gave it throttle under load,  it would stumble badly.
Looking the motor over again, I notice the exhaust valve lash cap was missing and there was huge clearance there.  I started to replace the lash cap, but noticed the action of the rocker wasn't smooth.  I took the rocker box apart and saw the exh. pushrod wasn't sticking out as far as the intake.  I then took the timing cover off and found the problem.  The motor has roller rocker cam followers and the exh. roller spindle had broken and the roller was laying in the bottom of the case.  This allowed the rocker to bear directly on the cam lobe and galled it up.
Open hear surgary

the left (exh.) cam lobe worn by the rocker.  Mark Gibson photo

intake on the left and broken exhaust on the right.  Note the worn and discolored rocker were it rubbed the cam lobe directly.
It's not clear yet why it broke, but the Dondo was done for the day.

Henry Syphers let me race his 550 Honda four in the Heavyweight Super Vintage as he was just racing it in Super Masters.  My practice on it consisted of one 'scrub' lap and the ergonomics were all wrong as Henry and I are quite different sized.   But, I had a fun ride and finished a distant 3rd behind  Rabbie Demetrius and Rich Midgely and ahead of Kerry Smith on their 350 Honda twins.

To me, the highlight of the event was Jim Jower's recently acquired Rudge.  It's a 1930 chassis with a 1934 motor.  The motor is a 500cc four valve single.  The intake valves a parallel, but the exhaust are radial.  The exhaust pushrod opens the right exh. valve via a rocker.  This rocker also operates a second rocker which actuates a third rocker to open the left exh. valve.
Rudge valve gear

The bike has two front brake drums and twin carb floats.  I ran well in practice but when off song in the race with suspected magneto problems.
Another interesting bike was Frank Camillieri's Yetman framed 100 Yamaha.  Frank told me this was the first Yetman frame they made.
The Camillieri's also had an AT-1 Yamaha with a home made cylinder head.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sat., after racing at Sears Point, Kenny Cummings and I drove down to Carmel for The Quail Motorcycle Gathering.  This is a bike show/concours on the golf course of an upscale resort.  Gary Roper brought the '51 Velocette Mac that I had raced at Sears, and Ron Halem brought the BSA Goldstar that Kenny had raced.

with Gary Roper and his '51 Velo MAC that I had race the previous two days.
 There were many other competition bikes there including Fred Mork Lowboy KRTT and ERTT that Jim Neurenberg had raced, and the KRTT won a prize.

John Ray had his Mk VII KTT Velocette and there was a very nice Yamaha TD-2B, RG 500 Suzuki and a Greeves Silverstone.
John Ray's MKVII KTT Velocette
the Greeves Silverstone has a great tech sticker

   There were plenty of MX bikes including an Islo.  But, perhaps the most special competition bike was Wayne Rainey's 1991World Championship winning YZR 500 Yamaha.  Wayne was there along with Kenny Roberts, Mert Lawill, and Jim Rice.  Paul d'Orleans, the Vintagent, was the M.C. and conducted interviews.
There was a very odd street bike which I had never heard of : a '47 Jordan, a twin crank square four of 1000cc with full body work.
1947 Jordan
the motor is 1000cc, twin crank, square four

 I have a soft spot for the Danish Nibus 750.
750 Nimbus
The frame is flat stock riveted together

There were several Cannonball bikes there including an Excelsior Henderson with a very neat and unobtrusive mechanical rim disc brake, a modern safety upgrade they're allowed to make.
With an excellent buffet lunch, it was a fine way to spend the day.
Randy Grubb had a number of his Deco creations there.  Note the helmet on the left
a twin pipe CZ motocrosser

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

From Willow Springs, I rode to Sacramento with Mike Bungay.  We changed the gearing on the bike and did some maintenance.  After changing the rear sprocket, replacing the wheel and wiring everything up, we found a broken spoke and had to take it all apart and dismount the tire to install a new spoke.
Wed. midday we drove down to Sonoma Raceway (it will always be Sears Point to me) to get set up and teched.  I first raced at Sears in 1978 (1979?) on George Vincensi's 900 bevel drive Ducati in the AMA Superbike race (I crashed out).  I last raced at Sears in 1997, winning the 350gp race both days on a Team Obsolete AJS 7R.  This years race was Thurs. and Fri., as the AFM had modern bike racing on the weekend.
In addition to Mike's 350 Aermacchi that I raced at Willow, I was racing Gary Roper's '51 350 Velocette MAC in Class 'C'.  I decided that I couldn't race Sam Yamazaki's DT-1 at Sears as I was 'bumping up' the Aermacchi to the 500 Premiere Class in addition to the 350gp and that three races a day was enough for this broken old man.  My friend Kenny Cummings ( flew out to race Ron Halem's Goldstar in the 500 Premiere class and I wanted to at least harass him.  Kenny told me that our friend Jack Parker had flow out from Knoxville, Tn. to ride Dave Pierce's 250 Canam, but a close friend of Dave's had just died and he wasn't coming.  This left Jack without a ride.  I was able to hook Jack up with Sam Yamazaki.   Jack had met Sam maybe ten years ago at Mid-Ohio before he (Jack) had started to race.  Jack was really taken by Sam's DT-1 race bike, took many photos of it, and it was his inspiration to build his own and start racing.  Now he was getting a chance to race the very bike that got him into it.
The track had changed some since I last raced there with a chicane in turns #1 and #9 and with the run to turn #11 being shorter.  Chicanes often ruin a racetrack and the old track probably flowed better but probably was a good deal more dangerous.   And, I didn't think these chicanes were bad.
In Thurs. morning practice, the Velo was good right off the bat, but the 'Macchi's clutch was slipping.  Mike figured out the problem and in the 2nd practice it worked fine until I finished and stopped for 'hot tech'.  When I left, the clutch slipped again.  Mike took the clutch apart again and with a change of spacers, fixed it for good.
Mike Bungay fixing the clutch on his fantastic 350 Aermacchi

I was out in the first race on the Velo, gridded in the second wave behind the 350 Sportsman class with the CB160 LeMans start class in the first wave.  I nailed the start and left Fred Mork's Garden Gate Norton and Ted Van Dorn's G-80 Matchless and Ralph Wessel's Indian from Class 'C' and picked off a few 350 Sportsman and 160 Honda's from the first wave, finishing 12th overall from the 21 starters.  During the race, I decided the Velo was undergeared and would pull something taller.  So, Gary geared it up after the race, changing both secondary sprockets.
Gary Roper on the left and his son Jon on the right changing the gearing on the '51 Velo MAC

Next race for me was the 500 Premiere.  We were gridded behind Bears and ahead of 500gp and Middle Weight Superbike, but all starting in one wave.  I got a good start and within a couple of corners I was 3rd overall behind Ivan Messina's 750 BMW (leading Bears) and Mike Gilkey, Ivan's protege, leading MW Superbike on a 850 BMW (a R65 with a big bore).  I got by Ivan and set out after Mike.  I understand that Mike is an AMA pro dirt tracker who met Ivan when he move near him.  Ivan introduced him to roadracing and built him a motor.  This was Mike 3rd ever road race event, but he had clearly got the hang of it.  I was close to him, but couldn't see a way I was going to get by when he broke near the end of the race.  So, I won the race overall, on the bike with the smallest engine displacement in the race

The last race of the day had 350 gridded behind BOT F3 (largely SV 650 Suzukis), Motard, and Formula Vintage.  It took me a while to get by a well ridden Triumph Thruxton which put me in 4th overall behind three SV 650s ( the 2nd ridden by former World Speedway champion, Billy Hamil).
I had been concerned about the rear tire on the Aermacchi as it was the soft (front) compound and was getting pretty worn and sliding a bit.  I considered changing it for a slightly used harder tire we had with  us, but I won my class by such huge margins in both races that I decided to leave it for Fri. and use it up.
The Velo was good in Fri. practice with the taller gearing, but the Aermacchi had a slipping clutch again.  This time, it just turned out to be a free play issue.
In Fri.'s 1st race, they held the 2nd wave longer than Thurs., so I ended up one place further back overall in 13th, but went more than 2 seconds faster on my fastest lap with the taller gearing.  My 1st race on the Aermacchi went much like Thursday's, but this time Mike Gilkey, on the middleweight Superbike BMW, didn't break, so I ended up 2nd overall.  My fastest lap was almost 1.5 seconds faster than on Thurs. and was slightly faster than Gilkey's, but I just didn't have enough of them.  By the time the last race came around, my rear tire was shagged.  I had to be very careful rolling on the throttle out of corners and again it took a long time to get by that Triumph Thruxton and this time I was 5th over all  with Mike Blankenship ahead of me on his KTM Motard in addition to the three SV 650s.
All together, a very successful meeting: six starts and six wins; the double Trifecta.
Some of my competition:
Ron Halem's 500 Goldstar which Kenny Cummings rode in 500 Premiere
Tom Marqurdt's Yetman CB77 based 380cc Premiere bike which Tim Sheedy rode.

Tom has extensively reinforced the Yetman frame
the 380cc CB77

this Honda Revival 4LS front brake gave them problems 
Tom also had a 350cc CB77 at Sears which Tim Mings rode in 350gp
an immaculate '69 H-1 at Sears
the fastest H-1 with the worst handling and worst brakes; what's not to like?
Three V-twins: an 1140cc flathead Royal Enfield, a Moto Morini 3 1/2, and an XR1000 H-D

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Last weekend was another successful one, but not without a lot of mechanical drama. In addition to having my semi-regular ride on Mike Bungay's 350 Aermacchi, Sam Yamazaki asked if I'd like to race his DT-1 Yamaha in 250gp at Willow Springs.

I was expecting to do a half day practice Fri. largely to get familiar with this new ride, but Sam didn't show up, and having raced Mike's Aermacchi many times at Willow, it didn't seem worth it to pay for extra practice.

the windscreen got broken loading the bike and we had to make a repair
We did run the bike around the pits and discovered we had a shifting problem, as it didn't want to downshift. We found the pedal was binding on it's pivot some, that the head of a clevis bolt was hitting something, and that the angle of the arm on the shift shaft wasn't ideal. Those items attended to, all seemed to be good.
Sam showed up with the DT-1 early Sat. morning and said the bike had a 'street' pattern shift at the moment, but he could change it over to a 'race' pattern (up fo 1st) if I'd like and I told him to do that. But on the 2nd lap of the first practice, the clevis pin fell out of the linkage and I pulled off. The Aermacchi seemed good except for some front end chatter which might have been caused by the tire having a bit of a bump in it which we tried to tone down with an angle grinder. Sam fixed the shift linkage on the Yamaha and I did 5 or 6 laps. I started to have some shifting problems with it and it seemed to want to pump out of 5th gear. I did a plug chop and coasted to a stop and then found it wouldn't shift at all in either direction. Sam dove into the motor and found there was almost no oil in the transmission. He took the motor out of the frame and totally disassembled it and saw the gearbox was fried. He thought we were done for the day but that he would go back to his home in L.A. and fix it. I suggested we first talk to my old buddy Jason Lindquist, who was also racing a DT-1. Sure enough, Jason had a complete spare lower end he was willing to loan us. But, Sam had to split those cases and put Jason's transmission in his case which were modified fir his frame. It was doubtful Sam could do all this before the 250gp race(race 5), but he'd try.
 I went out again on the Aermacchi and there seemed to be less chatter, but it was still there.
Sam modified the cases to eliminate the kickstart to get the gearbox sprocket as close as possible to the swingarm pivot

Working out in the sun on his knees, Sam pluged away and got the bike back together minutes before the race. Jason's gearbox was wider ratio and had a 'taller' 5th gear so we didn't know where we'd end upon the overall gearing. I got a good start and got in front of the 21 250gp entries and only Ari Henning, from the 2nd wave 350 sportsman class came by. But,the race seemed to go on forever and, two corners after I got the white flag indicating the last lap, the motor died--out of gas. When the crash truck came to pick me up, Jason Lindquist an his DT-1 were already in it. He had been given the 'meatball' flag while not far behind me. He mistook it for the Black flag, and pulled off I turn one. They told him he was in the wrong race, but he wasn't and a mistake had been made. A while later, when I checked the results, I found another mistake hade been made. The white flag had been thrown on the 8th lap when the checkered should have been thrown, and I had run out of gas on the cool-off lap, not the last lap, and I had won the race.
The 350gp race was the last off the day and was guided behind Battle of the Twins F-3 (SV 650s and the like), Formula Vintage (the biggest,fastest vintage bikes, and Motards (modern singles of any displacement), but all in a one wave start. I got a great start and the bike was working great and I was leading my class and well up into the bigger bikes. I started to have shifting issues and at about the half way point the gearbox got stuck in 3rd gear. I had such a big lead that it was only just before the last lap that the next 350gp bike came by and I ended up second despite having done about help the race stuck in 3rd (of 5) gear.
 The tach had also stopped working during the race and we found the battery that powers it had fallen off. Mike took the clutch and primary/timing cover off and found a screw had come out of the selector mechanism, causing it to stop selecting, but causing no further damage. He was able to get it back together and relocate a spare battery for the tach, and we were in business for Sun. I just did a short practice on the Yamaha Sun. morning. The tach stopped working on the Aermacchi again, but it shifted fine. We found the spare battery was dead, so charged it up for the 2nd practice. But again, it stopped working and Mike decided it was shot and found a newer and bigger one for the race.
 Again, I got in the lead of the 250gp race, it on the 2nd lap, Jason Lindquist in his DT-1 stuck a wheel in on me . A lap later, Steven Gillen, on a 200 Honda came by. I got Steve back, but both he an Jason drafted by me on the straight. The three of us swapped back and forth going through a couple of corners three abreast. The bikes were quite evenly matched and Jason and Steven both riding excellently. I managed to gap them a little bit a couple of laps from the end but Jason made a big effort on the last lap, turning the fastest lap of the race, and close to within a bike length (0.149 sec.), but a little too late and I won again.
the DT-1 has a Japanese aftermarket 4LS brake

but only used one backing plate for this very light bike
I blew the start in the 350gp race when I tried to put the bike in gear with the rear brake pedal (the Yamaha shifts on the other side), but quickly got in the lead and started picking off the bigger bikes. The Aermacchi was working great and I thought it could have pulled even taller gearing. I ended up 5th overall with two SV 650s and a Vintage Superbike Heavyweight bike ahead of me. I'm not sure what the overall winner rode, but apparently it was very fast. So, it was the Year Of The Gearbox, but never say die, and it all work out well in the end. On to Sears Point tomorrow.

Paul Montgomery's Moto Guzzi Dingo Corsa in the show

a Royal Enfield V-Twin also in the show

A Lilac? that a spectator rode to the event