Bates Seats

I'd never seen this ad before . . .

Drove the Chevy today . . .

An older (gray haired gent who says he was a Chevrolet mechanic) at the coffee shop told me my "current draw on my battery" may be from my dash clock?  If it's parked for days on end - the battery gets drawn down to 11.5 volts or less.  I started un-hooking the ground, and now - no problem. 
Old guys rule.

. . . a 1954 Panhead." said Fred.

I've never had a "fat bike" . . . so here goes.   Trying to use original (mostly battered and bruised)H-D parts, but man it's so easy just to let-your-fingers-do-the-walkin' and buy aftermarket parts off the internet.  If you want original H-D, you just have to sit back - and wait.
I like the handlebars - Sportster Buckhorns (2 piece) with a special, press-in and weld spacer in the center.  I can now run the '49 style risers.  Rims are original Kelsey-Hays.

Gene Romero: 1970 Grand National Champion

What track had that stained glass off the grandstands?  Romero is ready for a start.  No gloves, with barely a face shield . . . no chest protector, neck ring, no pads.  Probably wearing common engineer boots with a Maely skid shoe?  Lightweight as possible to use every available pony from that Triumph in a valiant attempt to defend that No. 1 Plate. 
Note: He'll lose that #1 to Dick Mann in 1971, racing his same, trusty BSA, which I believe was the same bike he won the championship in 1963 !
Gene Romero is one of the best things that ever happened to motorcycle racing in the USA.  He raced a long and successful career, promoted and represented many brands, and started his own racing series.  Photo above: He can't get much more tucked in baby . . . .
Gene was the best on the Miles.  The faster the better.  This led to road racing - and more wins.
On any given day, Gene Romero could lead and win against all the greats . . . Baker(above), Sheene, Roberts, Skip and Nixon.  All competitors have great, mutual respect for Romero.
Visiting an injured (but, still smiling!) Barry Sheene . . .
 He also won the 1975 Daytona 200. (back when it meant something)

Filthy Rich $$$$$$$$$$ 3,819.99

This was most likely the outcome of a couple rich dudes battling it out to see who has the most money.  A 1936 Knucklehead air cleaner (which I guess they maybe just came factory with an air horn?) . . . so this thing was obviously kinda rare?
I feel great for lil_simsy !  The buyer will pay almost $20 bucks shipping.  You could fit this in a Flat Rate $7.80 Priority box and make another +$12.15 ?  Bonus !
I can relate with "What's $5,000.00 in our pockets, is like $5 bucks in other people's pockets."

Panhead Police Front Brake Lock

Anyone have one of these boomerang deals around?  There's a spring thing(possible wave washer) underneath too, and I can get the snap ring.   I have the rest of the parts (not shown) 
Old Dude (parts house) is looking for me too.

1966 Sportster and Late 1966 FLH

These Tillotson carburetors were standard equipment on Harley motors in the years between the Linkert(M and DC) and the Bendix.  They had a unique feature, never before seen on a Harley carb:
The accelerator pump !
They "lacked" another feature the other carbs had . . . now it was gone.
The float bowl.
Gravity feed fuel flow from the tank.  Starting meant a few squirts, a choke, a couple kicks and it was running.  A simple design, with a hell-of-a-lot-of-parts !  There's more parts to these things (just look at a parts book).  I restored this one and still need the throttle cable holder metal strap deal and bolt that goes off the wood spacer block.  The bolt's hex head is displaced in the drilled recess in the spacer block.

You can buy these carbs at a swap meets sometimes for about $5.00 . . . But the carb kit is about $40.
The diaphragm is the weak link.  Big Noot said these things actually work pretty good, are tunable and have decent throttle response, and make power (at least on ironhead Sportsters).  The carb body came standard with a "racing bombsite fuel atomizer" that you pay big bucks for if you want one now.
You ever see those "vent tubes" sticking out the bottom, right side of Sportster tanks?  That tube fits a hose that vents to the top of the Tillotson fitting.  You don't need to run it.  I believe it was more of a gas vapor emission tube to keep it from venting to our squeaky clean atmosphere.


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.