Saturday, January 12, 2013

High Flying Yamaha

Disclaimer:  I'm not a certified structural engineer, so do not try this at home...

In an effort to free up some more space in my shop, I decided to hang my old Yamaha CT1 from the ceiling.  My shop has 13' ceilings, so I don't have to worry about hitting my head on it when I walk under it.

The first step was to evaluate the strength of the ceiling and check the location of the ceiling center.   My ceiling was constructed with 2"x 8" joists, so I felt that they could carry the load without issue and the center of the ceiling was located between two joists.

When something heavy is going to be hanging over my head, I like to over engineer the mounting system.  I chose two 1/2" eye bolts for my mounts and used 2" x 2" x 1/4" steel angle to span the joists.  I also filled in the gap between the ceiling and the attic flooring with 2" X 6" lumber, so that the eye bolts would not be able to move from side to side during the installation of the motorcycle.  I then used a 12" x 1/2" drill bit to bore a hole from the attic all the way down to the garage ceiling.  Once the holes were drilled, I bolted up the eye bolts using lock nuts.

With the mounting system in place, I hoisted up the motorcycle with a chain hoist on the rear eye bolt and a rope and pulley on the front eye bolt.  I then ran a length of 5/16" chain through each eye bolt and attached it to the motorcycle's frame using shackles to connect the ends of the chain together.  

 As a final touch, I installed some blue lighting under the tank and seat of the bike.  I ran the wiring up the chain and through the ceiling, then down inside the wall to a blank face plate.  Then I mounted a standard female power fitting in the face plate which allows me to simple plug in the lights using a 12 volt power supply.

After the wiring was completed, all that was left to do was wipe down the motorcycle and enjoy my extra shop space.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Santa Clara County Hill Climb, Spring 1940

Here is a nice collection of photographs from the National Archives covering a hill climb event on April 5, 1940.  I've included the original photographer's notes which provide a good description of each photo. 

At the start of the course.  The going gets even rougher and steeper further on.  The crowd in the background is composed almost entirely of young fellows.  At the bottom of the hill can be seen the parking area.  Besides the automobiles, approximately 200 motorcyclists had come to this Sunday event.

His first hill climb.  The fellow on the left is fixing the gear shift for him while the other is explaining how to take the bumps.  The man with the goggles is wearing a shirt of a local motorcycle club.

Breaking the starting tape.

About 18 years old, and one of the most daring motorcycle riders at the meet.  He wears his own name on his sweater, and has a crash helmet fitted over his regular leather helmet.  Crash helmets are made of steel or a composition of Balsa wood lining.

This contestant watches another attempt the climb.  He wears a sweater which bears his motorcycle's trade name.

This young motorcycle enthusiast is a contestant in the meet.

On the way to the hill climb, this motorcycle party stopped by the roadside while one of the motorcycles was repaired.  The girls were pillion seat riders.

An apprehensive onlooker.  This woman is a motorcycle enthusiast and was among a group which came by way of motorcycle to the hill climb.

Indian Firecycle

This customized Indian appeared in the February 1947 issue of Popular Science.  It was used by the Douglas Aircraft Company at their facility in El Segundo, CA.  A motorcycle was chosen over a standard firetruck because it could fit down the narrow aisles and into other confined spaces of the large aircraft manufacturing plant.  It was outfitted with two 30 lbs Du-gas extinguishers, two 15 lbs carbon-dioxide extinguishers and two 2 lbs carbon-dioxide extinguishers.  The platform for this vehicle was a standard Indian Dispatch Tow, which used a 45" Scout side valve V-twin motor.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Thrills and Cash for Motorcyclists

This article by Theodore Hodgdon appeared in the May 1932 issue of Modern Mechanix.  It tells the reader how to prepare their bike for "Class B" hill climb events where they can win cash prizes for winning the event.  I've included scans from the original magazine, but if you scroll past them I have the text typed out so it is easier to read.

THRILLS and CASH for Motorcyclists

by Theodore Hodgdon

The author of this article, one of the leading authorities on motorcycle hill-climbing and racing, tells here how to prepare your motorcycle for Class “B” hill climb events, where you can win cash awards for your riding skill.

ALL the thrills of an exciting sport plus substantial awards, await the amateur motorcycle competition rider in 1932. During the last year there were 60 Race Meets held in the U.S.A., 160 hill climb contests, and 150 motorcycle polo matches.

In these events, held on Sundays, holidays and Saturday afternoons, only the professional riders were allowed to accept cash prizes for their winnings. However, for 1932 the rules have been changed to make the lot of the amateur or Class “B” rider more profitable. Now, if you prepare your motorcycle carefully and go out to win a hill climb, you can take cash for your winnings.

At many hill climbs the list of prize money totals from $300 to $400, while at some of the larger sectional or national championship climbs the prize money runs as high as $1600, all of which is split up among the riders who win first, second, third, fourth and fifth places in the afternoon’s sport.

You Can Make Your Motorcycle Pay!

In other words, the motorcyclist who starts out to ride his way to victory in hill climbs this year, can make his spare Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, profitable and filled with the thrills of an exciting sport.

“But how,” says the motorcycle owner, “can I fix up my motor to compete in the hill climbs and win?”

Stock Motorcycles Can Be Made Over As a matter of fact, the rules of the American Motorcycle Association provide for 1932 that every promoter of a hill climb contest must schedule on the program an event for Class “B” riders mounted on 45 cubic inch motors of pocket valve design, like the Indian Scout “45″ or any other stock “45″ motorcycle which you can buy, and such as many riders now own.

In other words, if you already own, or if you purchase a Scout “45″ or other 45 cubic inch motorcycle, you are eligible to compete in these contests subject to the rulings of the big governing body which rules over such events. (These events are also open to 30.50 cubic inch motorcycles of overhead valve design, if catalogued by the manufacturer.) What To Do To prepare the stock “45″ for hill climbing there are five distinct steps to follow, listed below:
1. Motor should be completely overhauled and “souped up” to deliver more horse-power. (Compression raised, alloy pistons installed, etc.)
2. All needless friction must be positively eliminated. Wheels must roll easily, transmission, chain and sprockets must be perfectly lined up to “roll free.”

3. The whole motorcycle must be as light as possible for hill climbing. (All excess weight such as head lights, tool boxes, front mudguards and all unnecessary fittings removed.)
4. Saddle, handle bars and foot-boards must be located to bring the rider’s weight quite well forward. (This is necessary for balance while riding up the steep slant.)
5. The rear wheel should be fitted with a skid chain as shown in the illustration, and the motor should be geared down to pull in high gear at all times. This is done by a large sprocket on the rear wheel of about 70 teeth on a Scout “45,” as shown in the illustration.

If you attempt to ride a hill in low or second gear, the gear box will be using up a fraction of the horsepower which you need to win. Therefore, gear your 45-inch motor about 13 to 1 in high gear, whereas the ordinary road job is geared about 5 to 1 for road use. Some hills will require a higher gear than 13 to 1 and other hills will demand a lower gear.

This change in gearing is made by putting on a larger or smaller sprocket on engine or transmission, say a 13,14, or 15 tooth sprocket.

Hints on Riding the Hill Climber After the motorcycle is in top notch condition, according to the above rules, the rider had best make some practice rides and tests on a short but very steep hill which he may locate in a pasture or sand pit, but preferably on fairly smooth hard ground free from rocks.

Straight Start Is Essential One of the first essentials for a successful straight ride over the top of a hill is to start squarely facing the course.

Sit firmly in the saddle, make sure your engine is thoroughly warmed up and that it will take full throttle without spitting or skipping. Then make sure your front wheel and the whole machine faces exactly the course you intend to ride over the hill. Then wind open the throttle and let the clutch in smoothly but firmly.

Balance Fore and Aft When you find yourself started up the hill, if your front wheel tends to “rear up” —climb forward on the machine—feet firmly on the footboards—don’t ride with your feet dragging!

For the first few rides you may find it almost impossible to balance the machine over the bumps and rough places without using your feet, but remember—when you stick out your feet to balance or get back onto the course you were not “riding it” and to win you’ve got to ride!

There is little more to say except that hill climb riders—even the best of them—take spills when the hill is too steep or the ground is too rough but a spill is just a toss —no rougher than the scrimmage football played by ten year old boys.

Never in the records of the sport of hill climbing has anyone been seriously hurt. It is just one of those thrilling sports which puts on a spectacular appearance but where the danger element is not anywhere near as” large as in a game like football.

Remember—to win you must ride, just as in a baseball game you must make hits and runs—and the harder and better aimed the hits, the longer will your runs be!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Max Bubeck and his Indian Chout

Max Bubeck started his racing career at the age of 15 in 1933, aboard a 1930 Indian 101 Scout.  Over the next 45+ years, he became a dominate force in enduro racing.  Winning events like the Greenhorn Enduro and the Cactus Derby.  In 1939, he purchased an Indian Four and began dabbling in speed trials.  He rode the Four to a top speed of 108.43 mph in 1941.

By 1948, Bubeck had moved to a new bike for running in speed trials.  It was a hybrid Indian nicknamed a "Chout".  The Chout was set up to run on methanol using dual Schebler barrel valve carbs and featured custom ground cams from Fred "Pop" Schunk.  In June of that year, Bubeck set a record of 135.58 mph out on the Rosamond Dry Lake.  This record still stands today, making the Chout the fastest unstreamlined, normally aspirated 80 cubic inch Indian ever raced.

But what is a Chout?  Simply put, it's an Indian Chief motor mounted in a Indian Scout 101 frame.  The more powerful Chief motor, paired with the lighter Scout frame makes for a potent combination.  The only problem is that the Chief motor does not easily fit into a Scout frame.  In the picture below, you can see an Chief motor mounted in a Scout frame.  Notice that the heads have to be removed from the motor for it to fit under the cross bar.

Modifying the cross bar to allow room for the heads leads to another problem.  Now that the cross bar has been moved higher, it interferes with the mounting of the gas tank.  This can be solved by using a set of Scout Junior tanks, which are two piece and can be mounted on either side of the cross bar.  The next picture shows two Scout frames.  The one in the foreground has a modified cross bar and the one in the background is a stock frame.

Once the engine is mounted, you'll still need to move the kicker stud back so it is not too close to the pinion gear and then you can move on to the front end, exhaust, brakes, etc.  Again, parts from various Indian models can be combined to finish off the remaining tasks and in the end you are left with a beautiful custom Indian.

For those of us that don't own an Indian parts warehouse or are not independently wealthy, Kiwi Indian builds a reproduction Chout that you can purchase for a fraction of the price.  This also saves on the incredible amount of time needed to actually find and purchase all the original Indian parts needed to build a Chout from scratch.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Harley-Davidson Package Truck

After a short two year run, Harley-Davidson canceled production of their motorcycle truck in 1914.  For the next model year, they debuted their second attempt at a commercial motorcycle, the Package Truck. 

In comparison to the motorcycle truck, the package truck was a very basic design.  Harley's engineers used the sidecar frame which they had developed for the previous model year and mounted a cargo container to it.  This made production of the package truck both easy and cost effective since it shared most of its parts with a sidecar.  It also could be attached to the same low compression models recommended for sidecar use.

When the package truck first came available in 1915, Harley sold them for between $70 and $72.  Customers could also request custom lettering for 10 cents a letter.  Ninety-eight package trucks were sold that first model year and due to their continued success, they were available until 1957.

Like a sidecar, the package truck could be easily removed from the motorcycle.  This was a great selling point since the owner could use the motorcycle commercially during the week and then remove the package truck for recreational use on the weekends.  The simple design also lent itself to customization right from the start.  The stock cargo container was often discarded in favor of a custom built container of the owner's own design.  This led to numerous variations of package trucks that were often a mix of specialty transportation vehicle and rolling advertisement.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

10,000 Miles on a 1915 Indian

When the Panama Canal opened in August of 1914, several port cities on the southern California coast became part of a new international shipping route overnight.  This provided a much needed economic boost after earthquakes in 1906 and a stock market crash in 1907 had left many of the cities in financial straits. To celebrate the completion of the Canal and to increase tourism, San Francisco and San Diego held large Expositions or World Fairs, which lasted up to two years.  These events were major undertakings similar to when modern day cities host the Olympics.  The San Francisco Exposition, for example, covered 635 acres.

Of course, news of expositions of this magnitude spread like wildfire and it wasn't long before two young men in Washington, DC were making plans to ride out to the west coast.  Dick O'Brien and Bud Baker decided to embark on a 5 month, 10,000 mile trip across the country and back, riding tandem on Baker's 1915 Indian.

They left Washington, DC on May 3, 1915 and headed for San Francisco.  It's reported that their fully loaded bike (including both riders) weighed in at a mere 809 lbs.  Compare that to a new Harley Ultra Classic which weighs 889 lbs just by itself.

I've not found a lot of information about their trip, but I did come across a few interesting facts.  The boys reported seeing more motorcycles east of Ohio than they did in California.  On a days ride from Albany to Buffalo, they counted 116 Indian motorcycles, half of which had sidecars.  I bet those sidecars looked mighty tempting to O'Brien as he hung onto the back of that Indian...  

It is also noted that the original Goodyear front tire made the entire trip and the front tube made it to San Francisco and as far back as Fremont, Ohio before needing air.  Based on the Goodyear Tires advertising on their motorcycle, I bet that Goodyear must have partially sponsored the ride and probably got some great advertising out of it as well.

When they returned, the Washington Post did a short article on their trip.  I've included a copy along with a couple more photos of the pair.

Washington Post, Oct. 4, 1915.

Two Washington Boys Back Home After
Trip to Pacific Coast.

Two former Washington high school boys -- "Dick" O'Brien, of Technical, and "Bud" Baker, of Central -- reached this city yesterday after a trip to the expositions in California on a motorcycle. They were gone five months to the day, and 10,000 miles were covered. The boys left this city May 3. At Denver they gave an exhibition of their proficiency by riding up and down the steps of the statehouse.

"We were, I believe, the first to cross the continent on a motor-driven tandem," said young O'Brien, "and our experiences will prove mighty interesting when we start to tell them. We were stopped for five days by reason of storms in Kansas, and at other points our patience was severely tested by poor roads. The roads of the East are far superior to those of the West, and the installation of the Lincoln memorial highway from coast to coast will go a long ways toward opening up a new country.

"In Reno the thermometer was 110 as we passed through, and an hour later we were throwing snowballs at each other on top of the Sierras. We stopped at the fair for some time. We are glad to get back home. But it was a great trip."

"Dick" O'Brien is the son of Richard E. O'Brien, inspector of plumbing in the District building.