I don't have a speedometer on any bike I own, (except the Army bike, and it don't work).  This '54 I'm building has original H-D tanks, original H-D dash - and it seemed a shame to use a Chinese speedo, so I found an H-D Stewart Warner Police Speedometer (at a decent price, 'cause I'm kinda cheap).

Now here's the shitter . . .
Upon research, I found I had the wrong speedo worm gear pressed on my cluster gear for the correct 1:1 ratio for this speedometer.  I had a 7 tooth, and needed a 4 tooth . . .
I had the transmission all done and assembled.  Shit.  I had to strip it all down, and remove the countershaft and press off the old gear, and press on the correct gear - then we indicated the gear by placing the countershaft upright on-end . . .  on a machined/precision parallel bar. The speedo gear face was corrected (to minimal run-out) by lightly pressing and tapping at the high spots.  It runs true now. The correct 13T drive unit was installed and tested.  It runs nice, quiet and true.  This will extend the life of your gears, and possibly the speedo itself by allowing the cable to turn free with minimum vibration.
Now when I get hassled by The Man ...... 
they'll just get me for No Mufflers.

1937-1980 Big Twin 4 Speed Transmissions
1937-1961 = 11T Trans Gear  7T Speedo Drive 
(for 2:1 speedo with internal female threads)
1962-1969 = 4T Trans Gear  13T Speedo Drive (1:1 speedo male threads)
1969-1980 = 7T Trans Gear(fine tooth)  23T Speedo Drive(fine tooth)
(1:1 speedo male threads)
I believe all front wheel drive speedometers are 2:1  (corrections always welcome !)

NPR (National Public Radio) on Robert Pirsig

Robert Pirsig has a pre-recorded interview on NPR today.  They usually do the interview in the morning time (a couple runs) and then again in the afternoon.  Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was his book.  I've read it twice(as an adult), and still don't really understand everything.  It did help to explain a couple issues from my youth, that I always thought were kinda abnormal - but Pirsig proved otherwise through explaining the actions of his own son during the trip.  Publishers tried to persuade him to write many more books on these subjects, however Mr. Pirsig generally stated, "I said what I wanted to say about the subject, and my feelings towards it, and that's it, all I have to say."  A member of the Viking Chapter AMCA Club told me Pirsig still had his Honda !  Many offers from potential buyers - but he never sold it.
The motorcycle trip with his son across the USA, through national parks, camping, cold - and the maintenance on this tiny Honda, riding two-up, with all their gear (or lack of) . . . was a most remarkable adventure of hardship, triumph and tragedy.  The trip itself, and writing of the book, the aftermath of it's influence throughout his lifetime - and the "real" effect on Mr. Pirsig, himself . . . that which only he would ever know.

When your motorcycle is broken, or strands you . . .  the situation cast itself as a "zen" moment, now an opportunity to stop and "take in" the nature around you.

Blogs are up ! and so is King Kenny !

One thing my bud Jeff (COC) did that kinda surprised me. 
He kindly confronted me on why I hadn't posted anything on this blog for "almost a week."  I've actually felt kinda lazy and alone lately, that nobody cared really what I did, or how to do certain things I share with you.  His encouragement got me going, and gave me some motivation to keep moving.  I did some research, and found that blog readership is slowly increasing - it's true, blog readership is actually going up again.  About 15-20%, and more for certain areas of subject matter, mainly consisting of areas that offer "how-to" or educational programs, or on certain "sales oriented" blogger sites.  It also showed evidence where instagram usage is down - possibly 35%?   So as long as Kenny is in-the-air . . . I'm gunna load you up with photos, tech tips, and what's happening in the world of two-wheels and (sometimes Morty the Official Shop Cat) . . . .

British Road Racing Royalty

Ever notice how Mike Hailwood never looks as if he's going very fast?  Huh?  I think it's because he's just so smooth.  Effortless as a racer.  A natural.  In some photos, it almost looks as if he's smiling.  It's probably because he's controlling the pace, or ready to overtake you after he's studied your weakness through certain sections.  Then you could say, "I once raced with the great Mike Hailwood."   . . .  until he took me on the outside through the Esses . . . and I never got close again that day.  He went on to win, with a slight grin.


Me and the '52K did a sunny Saturday in Des Moines.  Jeff Wright has an opportunity to ride his shovelhead around the U.K., London . . . drink a couple pints, and follow Dicey Dean through the hedgerows.  We super-tuned it and gave it a test while chasing a Ducati to Kung Fu for tacos and cold Coca Colas (served in retro 8oz. glass bottles).  As you all know, FTWCO is moving to a new shop, and will soon be cranking out more custom shirts, sweats, bikes, moto-wear . . . you know it.  Ideas just keep flowin' from these guys . . . Fast & Fun times.  Great way to spend a Saturday. 
Today's cold morning coffee run is No Problem in my FTWCO pullover (good chill-blocker weave). 

John Parham

John Parham (Left) and Pete Hill (thanks Bill R.) 
The guy on the right could be any one of us.  It didn't matter to John Parham, because even though he was possibly one of the largest and most influential people in the motorcycle industry, he never let that status go to his head - and he'd still take the time to talk with you about motorcycles.  John was always right out there with everyone else, riding his bike, restoring stuff, and planning ways to get the parts to the riders.  J&P Cycles and The National Motorcycle Museum were his major creations.  He had a great team of people working for him.  He led the way and let us all in to enjoy the great sport of motorcycling.  My dad remembers one of his first shops, with a small sales counter, and Triumph motorcycles and parts . . . soon to expand.  I talked to him at the museum last summer, and he still had "irons in the fire" and he was glad I came down, and was happy I was having fun and buying parts, and "tell your dad hi for me" and talking about Jeff Wiley and George, and he always had good things to say about everybody . . . and that's what made John so successful as a business man, but even more important as a good friend to anyone who got a chance to meet him.  

Last year at National Motocycle Museum

I rode down and parked next to this cool van (Full Moon Nate) and sipped energy drinks, bought parts (from Jim Long RIP) and had a great time.  The blue skies eventually turned dark as I headed up north late in the afternoon . . . my bike now loaded with parts !  It was a grand day.  It was the first time I really hung around with Jim Long for a whole day.  I'd go look at his stuff, then he'd make a pile of parts, and he was selling me stuff cheap.  Every part had something wrong with it, but we both agreed it could be repaired "this way or that" . . . all usable, original H-D parts.  They've all be repaired now, ready to be put into service on my latest bike build.  The 1954 Panhead (I hate the word "Bobbed") so I'll call it "hacked"  . . . and I might name it The Rug Rat, since it has some ratty parts, and I've been sitting on the floor a lot, building this thing.  Anyway, it's a day I'll always remember, spending a lot of time with Jim for once . . . But Nate's blue van will be back . . . and I'm getting my own swap space this year !

Rainey again . . .

Maybe "feature winners" got peace-sign patches ?????

Wide Open

I'll bet this sounds great on a Half Mile.  Wow !

Grandmas's Old Bike

Doin' the Shovelhead Shuffle last weekend with an early model & a late model.  This kid's gram bought this Superglide new in 1976. 

Rainey keeps it in line . . .

 . . . Parker lets it all hang out !

Toby Davis' Old School Shovelhead

 . . . working on my friend Toby's '67FL over the weekend.  Gear cover stripped of crappy chrome job, wet sanded and buffed out.  Got his original pump all painted up, checked it out and assembled - she spins nice and smooth.  These cast iron pumps throw just enough oil, and they last and last.  Grab the rods and spin it over, it just turns so free-n-easy.  I could reach down through the tappets and I got the cam and timer gear with a perfect amount of end-play.  Reach in through the generator hole and the idler gear (with new, fitted oil-lite bushing) has just a tiny bit of end-play too. 

I spent a few hours assembling, and dis-assembling.  Measuring and checking.  Through a process of elimination, checking where I can feel a bit of binding.  What part is doing it?  Checking the cam and pinion bushings.  Checking oil passages and surfaces.  Eliminating burrs.  Making threads and fasteners perfect.  It takes time to do it correctly - so give yourself the time.  It's just a good 'ol Harley motor again. 

Jay Springsteen Wins Battle of the Twins !

In the early 1980s they had this "Battle of the Twins" class at Daytona.  It was dominated by Ducati.
Harley-Davidson race team director, Dick O'Brien dug out Brelsford's old XR and freshened it up, put Springsteen on it . . . and Jay went out and won the race in 1983.  Harley first.  Then Ducati, Ducati, etc . . . Way to go Springer !  I always thought Springsteen was under-rated as a road racer.  If he could have concentrated on road racing, like he did in dirt track - the possibilities for victories with his skill as a road racer were definite.  Jay Springsteen, one of the best motorcycle racers to ever throw his leg over a race bike.  I'm glad he went with Harley.
 . . . then in 1987 - Scott Parker said, "Let me give it a try !"
Parker scored a podium finish in his very first road race in 1987.  That's him No.114 on the Harley-Davidson.  His 3rd place (behind the two Ducatis of coarse) was a very respectable finish for a first-timer.  His efforts stayed with the Grand Nationals - becoming the all time winner in the history of the sport.

Clutch Arm Decisions

The first clutch arm I had was bare metal, and bent.  The square was all loose on the shaft.  Then I bought a new, chrome arm.  I didn't like it - the chrome was like "show chrome" and it looked too good.  I sent the arm (with a couple other parts) all the way to Illinois to get the chrome stripped off.  It cost me shipping there and back - and I got charged a pretty good fee just to strip all the chrome.(higher than last time) Then I had to bead blast and wash everything anyway.  Then I painted my clutch arm silver - and I still didn't like it.  Then I was told it's supposed to be BLACK !  So, I sanded off the silver and painted it black, but I used gloss black - and it was too shiny again.  Now I just got done rubbing steel wool on it - now it looks correct.  I need a serious evaluation.

Tank Dimples

Does anyone know what these dimples in factory tanks were for?  An original Sportster peanut tank will have these things near the rear bracket.  Maybe a method to hold the tank during die stamping?  Or to locate the tank in a fixture, etc.?????  It's an almost definite way to identify factory fuel tanks.

Water: The most corrosive liquid known to mankind.

My dad rebuilt this motor over year long ordeal.  He then got the title for it.  Then a local dude saved his pennies so he could buy it.  So proud.  Then the dude got it all bolted into his scooter.  Then a monsoon rain hit our area, he looked out the window, the water was close to his garage, but not there yet.  He looked out later and the dam broke, and the water was up to the rockers.  Shit.  It sat all Winter (after the water went down).  The guy had so many priorities with his home, etc, he couldn't do anything with it . . . and 7 months later, the motor came back.  Still full of water.  Pitting had already started on shafts . . . now it gets redone - AGAIN.  The power of water.

Round & Round

If you want to go around the track, you must have one of these things.  ( or like the old days . . . with a hacksaw blade with a wire soldered to it, held on with a small piece of tape, so when you fell off the bike would kill . . . and hopefully you'll live.  The best thing is to just stay on the bike at all costs. 


The '54 (middle cover) and the '65 (lower) covers were chrome plated.  I sent them to Quality Plating in Sterling, Illinois and they were stripped.  When they come back, you have to bead blast and wet sand, and then I use scotch-brite pads (red and gray) to get a smooth, uniform finish.  At this stage you can buff them with white jeweler's rouge and polish with Mother's Mag & Wheel Polish. 

Messin' Around with My Front End

I don't have a Hydra Glide front end on anything, and I've never run one before.  (just on dad's '65)  I got all the correct pieces rounded up, and starting "fitting" everything.  When all the pieces have never been together before, they don't always fit . . . so modifications and adjustments have been necessary.  I've been trying to use original Harley-Davidson parts. 

Shea's Panhead

Everything on this has been kinda screwed up . . . but it's all fixable.  It has lightened flywheels.

Controlled Heat

It looks like the frames are all bolted in a certain position, then they light the torches and braze multiple sections at once?  Right?  Each guy with his own work station (but with no pictures of the kids, might catch fire !?!?)  What a nasty place to work . . .

Talkin' About Paint . . .

No masks, no respirators, no suits, no goggles and all that crap.  Hey, paint fumes ain't as bad as the state of California says it is . . . Here's Proof !  Shit, Bob Spina's got lead and all those chemicals in his blood for 60+ years and he's ok . . .

While You Were Out . . .

I've been really sick since last Tuesday (that's about when it started).  My life put-on-hold.  I sat under this light (sometimes off, sometimes on) for much of the time.  Not getting anything done.
I started reading these books I've had for awhile . . . My whole body ached.  My head throbbing.  I never felt so weak - and I lost about 6 lbs. in 6 days.  Not good.  The books both take place in California, in about the same county.  I bought Cannery Row on the suggestion of Max at 4Q - and I like the way Hunter S. Thompson writes.  I read Sonny's version (which is great), now I'm reading Hunter's version. 
Not one to lay around and do nothing, I made a few valiant attempts to do stuff.  I needed some sort of forward progress I could achieve inside the house without too much effort.  I was really sick and didn't feel like doing shit.
Maybe I could stripe my rims?  I'd been thinking about it - and I didn't want it too bright.  The One Shot paints are fine, but Fire Red is too orange, Bright Red is too bright when painted on black.  Their Maroon is too purplish.  I found this old can of Sherwin Williams - Carmine.  It's a very old can of enamel, but I shook it - and it sounds good?  A local sign painter named David Scrimger gave me all kinds of paint from his days of sign painting in Los Angeles, San Diego and here in Iowa. 
The can had the name Paul Pellner on it.  Who's Paul Pellner?  Maybe I should call Dave and ask him who he was?  So I called Scrimger, and asked him about Paul.  He told me Pellner was one of the best layout and sign painting artists he ever saw.  "You give him a sign job, or a banner to paint . . . and what you got back was a real advertisement !"  A beautiful piece of work."  Very detailed and perfect on proportion and style.  Paul was from right here in Charles City, and many of the signs throughout the city in the 50s and 60s were from Pellner. 
This old KEM Bulletin Color No. 106 Carmine is a beautiful shade of a classis evening lipstick red.  It striped great - and I didn't thin it or anything.  It flowed like genuine, old vintage enamel paint should . . . rims striped in the tradition, and with honor of Mr. Paul Pellner.


Barn Find El Camino

. . . from the home of a lifetime cigarette smoker (gave it some patina).

Brandon's 1976 Ironhead

A couple more parts, and it will be hittin' the street . . . It's ready for the frame.

Armor All Quick Silver

Of all my cleaning products . . . The Quick Silver wheel cleaner worked best.  Warm water with a scrub brush. 

Rode Hard & "Put Away Soaked"

My dad (and maybe Hawbaker too) rebuilt this thing 20+ years ago.  The owner showed it no mercy.  It came back for a refresher. (it looked pretty rough)  Ready to go again.

Anchor Moto "Chopped XL"

Ricky (Anchor Moto of Kansas City) is building a chopper.  Not just any chopper.  The powerplant will run a chopped 1981 Sportster set of cases, with the transmission portion sawed off.  This modification was all done by Lehmann Performance (Pat Lehmann of Minnesota).  It will run a belt drive primary, and standard FLH 4 speed transmission. 
These '81 up Sportster flywheels take a different pinion shaft and crank pin.  I trued each 1/2 perpendicular to the shaft, then assembled and trued the rotating assembly to "almost perfect" and 0 run-out on the sprocket side, and barely a flicker of movement on the (S&S)pinion.  Very nice set of flywheels.
The Last Word indicator don't lie . . .

Pat did a really nice job on these cases.  They look like Four-Cam drag racing cases Ricky will build the rear motor mount into the frame to match the case assembly.  I'll remove the races and rollers and have them blasted by Gelner, then assemble the lower end, bore the cylinders, do a set of heads . . . and hopefully it will go go go . . . .

It's the little things . . .

1952 K Street Bike: Good Rear Brake, Poor Front Brake, Mushy Front End(little rebound), Stable handling at speed, Greasy rear tire, Sticky front tire, Good power band 20mph-55mph zone, lightweight, easy starting, low maintenance. Left Hand Clutch/Right Foot Shift, CV Carburetor

1952 K Flat Tracker: Good Rear Brake, No front brake, Mushy Front End(some rebound), Stable handling at any speed, Good tires, Good power, Very lightweight, ok starting, Left Hand Clutch with Right Foot Shift, Dellorto Carb.

1952WLA: Good Rear Brake, OK Front Brake, Bouncy front end(no rebound), Twitchy handling at speed, Solid, Sticky tires, Great low-speed torque, lightweight, easy starting, low maintenance, Left Foot Rocker Clutch/Left Hand Tank Shift, Linkert Carburetor

1952FL Chopper: Great Rear Brake(but it can lock up rear wheel), No front brake, Good front end, Stable handling at high speed (but wobbly at about 30mph if you take your hands off the bars), Solid tires, Great power band, Ok starting, Left Foot Rocker Clutch / Left Hand Jockey Shift, Super E.

1961XLCH: Good Rear Brake(touchy), OK Front Brake, Mushy Front End, Stable at all speeds, Great Tires, OK Starting(but it is an XLCH, so that can change), low maintenance, Left Hand Clutch and Right Foot Shift, DC Linkert Carb.

1964XLH: OK Rear Brake, Grabby Front Brake, Ok Front End, Stable at speed, Great tires, Good Starting, normal maintenance, Left Hand Clutch, Right Foot Clutch, Super E.

1965XLCH Stroker: Good Brakes (front and rear are good), Stable at all speeds, Good Tires, Hard Starting (you probably couldn't start it), some maintenance, Too fast for braking (but they're all a bit like this) Left Hand Clutch / Right Foot Shift, Super E Carb.

I guess if you ride old bikes (which you do) you adjust to the conditions of the motorcycle?  It's a sub-conscience ability to know what's happening under you.  If you have multiple machines, and you ride them all regularly, you can jump on one and not miss a beat.  The more you ride it, the more you get in-the-groove.  There's not a (new or old)motorcycle that you'll just jump on and everything will flow perfectly.  I'll let someone ride my bike, and they're like - "That was fun."  We didn't go real fast, and we just cruised around. 

Vintage motorcycles, it's just a great way to spend your day.

Shinko Flat Track

Don't go buy 'em all . . . it'll drive the price up !

Front Runner

Rebuilt Star Hub
Kelsey Hays Rim
Cadmium oem Spokes
Tire "Made in South Korea" (fuck)
H-D oem Brake Drum and oem Bolts
Zeke mounted and balanced it . . .
Old Harley Parts on 100 yr. old flooring . . .

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait

It's a lot easier to just go buy an aftermarket part.  As my friend Nathan explained, "Noot, don't buy that import crap . . . it's like a slap in the face to the American worker that busted his ass to make you a good part.  So wait until you find one, even if you have to fix it up."  I had to fix all this stuff up a bit, now that I'm done, they're damn nice parts.  Some parts you just can't get here anymore, but I try my best.