Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bull City Rumble

Labor Day Weekend!

Durham, NC: August 31-September 2, 2012 

Friday, August 31:

7:00 p.m.  The Green Room

9:00 p.m. 

Saturday, September 1:

11:00 a.m. Breakfast @ Parker & Otis
Event registration all day

1:30 p.m.  Main St.

2:30 p.m.  James Joyce
Tech Session I Beezalex (Wheel lacing & truing)

3:30 p.m.  James Joyce
Tech Session II Dave from Combustion Cycles(TBA)

4:30 p.m.
Awards and Raffle
If you want to enter your bike in the show but are not registered, you can enter for $5

5:00 p.m.  The Casbah


Plus Burlesque...

*admission is included with full registration or $7 in advance or at the door.

Sunday, September 2:

9:30 a.m.  James Joyce
Motorcycle Sundays Brunch

11:00 a.m. 
Country ride (about a 50 mile ride through the Durham county countryside)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Auxiliary Rear Lighting

Even though my bike has been upgraded to a 12 volt electrical system, the rear taillight still does not put out enough light to make the bike stand out from other highway traffic on a busy night.  I've seen several vintage riders who have added a pair of red bullet lights under their solo seat and this really seems to make a difference after dark.  The original owner must have been worried about this as well, because there was a light bar mounted on the rear fender with six additional running lights.

Although it was kinda a cool vintage piece, I really didn't like the looks of it and pulled it off the first week I owned the bike.  Like everything else I've removed, I left it on the shelf just in case I needed it for parts.  Well it turns out that the small bullet lights on that light bar are just what I needed for mounting under my seat, so I unbolted a pair and broke them down.

Next I sized up some possible mounting points on the T-bar under the solo seat.  My goal was not to drill in new holes in the T-bar.

It looked like I might be able to remove the front bolt on the buddy spring bracket and just replace it with the mounting bolt for the light.  Off came the seat for a test fit.

The light fit OK, but there was no clearance for the bolt that attaches the seat to the T-bar.  Looks like I'll have to mount the light inboard of the buddy spring bracket.  I went ahead and attached the buddy spring to check for clearance.  Everything looks like it will fit this time.

Now I just need to cut a set of brackets to offset the light two inches from the buddy spring bracket

Monday, August 27, 2012

Screamin' Eagle Nut Grabber and Lighted Pick-Up Toolkit

I received the Screamin' Eagle Nut Grabber and Lighted Pick-Up Toolkit as a birthday present from my Mom.  I wish I could have been at the dealership when she went to the parts counter and asked for a nut grabber.  Someone at Harley-Davidson must have a sense of humor because who can say "pass me the nut grabber" with a straight face?

The toolkit is made up of two tools, the nut grabber and lighted pick-up tool.  Turns out that both tools have LED lights to help you find your nuts when they have fallen into dark places.  The nut grabber consists of a hand operated plunger that operates a four armed claw at the end of a flexible shaft.  The LED is mounted directly behind the claw to put the light right were you need it most.  The batteries are mounted in the plunger and when you press in the plunger you are supposed to complete the circuit to turn on the LED at the tip.  Something about the design of this circuit is faulty, because it only turns on the LED about half the time.

The second tool is a much better design.  It is basically a small LED flashlight with a telescoping magnet in the center.  Works just like you would expect, turn on the light and pull out the magnet like a radio antennae.  The last two inches before the magnet are articulated, so you can angle the magnet if needed.

Both these tools will turn out to be useful from time to time, although I imagine there will be more times that I need them when working on cars than on bikes.  I think the lighted pick-up tool will make a good addition to my bike's toolkit since it can pull double duty as a flashlight and a nut retriever.  The nut grabber will be best left in the tool chest in my garage, as soon as I figure out how to fix the light...

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Searching For Breakfast

For a lot of riders, the Sunday Brunch Ride is the one time they get to ride during an average week.  Biker bars and restaurants have long encouraged this practice as it provides a bit of extra income on an otherwise slow day.  This morning I decided to check out a couple spots which I heard were popular with local riders, in hopes of finding some other vintage bikes.

First stop was an Irish Pub over in Durham called James Joyce.  I'd been told by a few other bikers that a group of vintage British riders met up there on Sunday's.  I've always liked old Triumph's and Norton's, so I decided to hit there first.

I arrived just after 9:00 to find the place completely deserted.  Not a single bike in the parking lot, in fact the bar was not even open.  I asked a couple people walking by if a lot of bikes showed up here on Sunday's, but no one seemed to have a clue.  Checking their website, I found that they opened at 10:00.  I figured bikes would be showing up soon, so I grabbed a drink from a nearby gas station and sat down across the street to wait.

The minutes ticked past 10:00 and there still wasn't anything sign of the bar opening.  I spotted someone working at a restaurant down the block and asked about when the bikes showed up.  I was told that the bar now opens at 11:30 on Sunday's and that the bikes don't show up anymore.  So it was back on the bike and on to the next stop.

My second stop of the day was the Village Diner down in Hillsborough.  I'd seen advertisements all summer about a biker brunch at the Village Diner and figured there had to be a least a few bikes still left, even though it was getting close to 11:00.

Pulling into the parking lot, I was the only bike to be seen.  At least the restaurant was open this time...

So today's search for vintage bikes was a total bust.  Hopefully I'll have better luck next Sunday.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Panhead Engine Breather Bypass Install

I recently decided to upgrade my 1964 Harley-Davidson Duo-Glide primary from a chain drive to a belt drive. This upgrade provides two major advantages over the stock chain drive, less vibration at higher speeds and less maintenance. My main motivation was less vibration to make highway riding a bit more enjoyable. The less maintenance is also a big plus because adjusting the chain drive is a long process. If you haven’t adjusted a chain drive on a vintage bike, it’s hard to imagine it is a big deal, but on these older bikes there is not a primary chain adjuster like on late model bikes. Instead, you have to adjust the position of the transmission to adjust the primary chain. After you finish adjusting your primary chain, then you have to readjust your clutch and rear chain.

On a stock bike, the primary chain is lubricated by engine oil that is sprayed into the primary by an engine breather. To keep excess oil from building up in the primary, there is a drain at the bottom of the primary which allows the oil to drain out and down a tube onto the rear chain, thus lubricating it as well. This is one of the reasons old bikes seem to be constantly leaking oil, but it’s actually not a leak it’s a self oiling chain system.

Since you cannot just block off the engine breather, I decided to reroute it around the new belt drive, using a variety of copper plumbing fittings that I picked up at the local hardware store. If you know how to solder copper pipe, this is a very easy way to make a breather bypass. If you’ve never soldered copper pipe, then I would suggest checking out some of the “Do It Yourself” type websites before starting this project.

To get started, you’ll want to pick up the following:
1′ length of 1/2″ ID copper pipe
two 1/2″ ID copper 90 degree elbows
two 1/2″ to 1/4″ ID copper reducers
6″length of 1/4″ ID copper pipe
2′ length of 1/4″ OD copper tubing
6″ length 1/2″ ID rubber hose
two hose clamps
Plus standard tools and materials for soldering copper pipe.

Now comes the fun part, getting all of this to fit inside your primary cover. It took a lot of trial and error until I got everything to fit just right. Before you start cutting pipe, you’ll want to remove the small elbow on the end of the engine breather, so that you are left with just a straight piece of pipe running into the primary.

The first step is to cut about 1/4″ off the large end of each reducer. Without this step, the reducer plus the 90 degree elbow will be too long to fit inside the primary cover.

Trim reducers by at least 1/4"
Next I cut two pieces of the 1/2″ ID pipe to fit in between the reducer and the 90 degree elbow. You’ll want the reducer and elbow to fit together flush to elminate as much extra length as possible. Once ready, you can solder the two joints together and set them aside to cool.

At this point you can save a little time fitting the main length of pipe, if you can get someone to give you a hand. Basically just hold the two finished reducer/elbows at the correct locations and have your helper measure the distance between them. Once you have a rough measurement, you can start fitting the pipe, trimming as necessary, until the top reducer lines up with the engine breather and the lower reducer lines up with the drain hole. Make sure you do not solder the main pipe to the reducer/elbows until you finish the next step.

The last piece to fit is a short section of 1/4″ ID pipe. This will fill the gap between the lower reducer and the drain hole. It is essential that this piece fits exactly. If it is too long, the lower elbow will not clear the primary cover. If it is too short, the inside of the lower elbow can contact the belt.

Here are all the pieces, cut and ready to assemble
With the last two pieces of pipe cut, dry fit everything together and mark the rotation of the elbows on the main pipe. Fit the primary cover back on the bike and make sure that nothing is coming in contact with the belt and that you can screw the cover down. I used a pair of channel lock pliers to slightly crush the lower elbow to gain more clearance between it and the belt. When you are satisfied that everything is going to fit, solder it all together.

Soldered and ready to install
Bending the length of copper tubing which will go from the primary drain to your rear chain is the next step. It took three attempts for me to bend one that I could cleanly route to the rear chain.

Copper tubing used to route oil from the primary drain to the rear chain
Keep in mind that the copper tubing will have to be soldered to the lower reducer after it has been installed on the bike. I chose to maximize the distance to the first bend, so that I could have the copper tubing stick a few inches outside of the primary for assembly. Make sure you use something to protect your belt while soldering this last joint. I covered mine with a welding glove and made sure to work as quickly as possible with the torch.

Copper tubing positioned to oil the rear chain
The last step is to cut a short piece of rubber hose that you will use to attach the upper reducer to the engine breather. The distance here is critical, so make sure that the reducer butts up against the engine breather when fitting the rubber hose. A couple of clamps will hold it all together and then your breather bypass is complete.

Engine breather bypass installed and ready for primary cover to be mounted

Carl's Cycle Supply Fuel Valve Install

The fuel valve on my 1964 Harley-Davidson Duo-Glide, tends to leak a little now and then. It’s not a major problem, but I decided it would be a good idea to fix it before it dumps a couple gallons of fuel on my garage floor. The original valve uses a metal tipped rod that is tightened down against the lower tank fitting to shut off the fuel. This tip has to be carefully lapped so it seals perfectly with the brass insert inside the lower tank fitting. Use and age slowly wear out the tip and brass insert until fuel can start seeping past the valve, even when it is tightened down.

 If your not interested in learning the fine art of fuel valve lapping, then I suggest you do what I did and call up Carl’s Cycle Supply. They have a new fuel valve that uses a tip made from Peek. For those chemistry buffs, Peek, which is short for polyether ether ketone, is a semicrystalline thermoplastic with excellent mechanical and chemical resistance properties that are retained to high temperatures. The bottomline is that this tip will seal better and last longer than the original without the need for periodic lapping.

New fuel valve from Carl's Cycle Supply
The first step to installing the new fuel valve is to drain the fuel tanks. An easy way to do this, if you don’t have a siphon, is to detach the fuel line down at the carburetor and add a length of rubber tubing to the end of the metal fuel line. Then you simply route the rubber tubing to a gas can and open the fuel valve. Make sure you pull the knob all the way up so that it is on reserve. Once the fuel is drained, remove the crossover line where it connects to the right side tank. At this point I went ahead and removed the tanks, but that is an optional step. If you do plan to remove the tanks, it’s a good idea to loosen the lower tank fitting while the tank is attached, so you can get decent leverage on the fitting.

You'll need a 1" wrench to remove the lower tank fitting
Now you can disassemble your old fuel valve. Use a 1″ socket or wrench to remove the lower tank fitting. Next unscrew the knob that operates the valve, at the top of the tank. My bike has what seems to be an “accessory knob” which isn’t listed in the parts manual. Once the “accessory knob” is unscrewed, you will be left with two knurled fittings. If you don’t have the “accessory knob”, then you’ll just have a screw which holds the top knurled fitting to the fuel rod. The top fitting is pressed onto the end of the fuel rod and should pop right off. The lower fitting is screwed into the tank and may need some careful persuading with a pair of pliers to loosen. With the lower knurled fitting out of the way, you can remove any springs, washers or seals that are on the fuel rod.

The knurled portion under the knob is a separate piece, the knob screws into the end of the rod
Once all the parts are removed from the top end of the fuel rod, it can be dropped out of the bottom of the tank through the hole left by the lower fuel fitting. To install the new fuel valve, just reverse the above steps. Take note, that there is a small length of threaded rod which screws into the end of the fuel rod and is used for attaching the “accessory knob”. You’ll need to reuse this piece from your original fuel valve, along with the knob itself, but everything else will be replaced with the parts from Carl’s Cycle Supply, including all the necessary seals. As an added precaution, I used a dab of loctite blue on the threaded rod. I hate to loose that knob on the road!

The top valve is the original, the lower is the replacement from Carl's Cycle Supply
Before installing the new parts, I took a few minutes to compare the new and old fuel valve. My original fuel rod tip, had plenty of wear as well as some pitting. No wonder I was getting the occasional leak. Besides the difference in tips, the two fuel valves are identical in construction. Every hole, thread, etc, matches up perfectly to the original.

The tip on the left is the new Peek tip, on the right is the original metal tip
After everything is reassembled, don’t forget to reattach the crossover line to the right side tank. Then make sure all your fittings are snug and refill the tanks with fuel. My last step was adding a genuine Carl’s Cycle Supply sticker to my oil bag…

This sticker says it all...

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

1961-1964 Panhead 12 Volt Coil Upgrade

The 1961-1964 Harley-Davidson Duo-Glides used a dual circuit breaker ignition system (often referred to as a dual points ignition) with a manual advance. This arrangement meant that each cylinder had an individual circuit breaker that was timed to fire that cylinder’s spark plug. This also meant that there were two 6 volt ignition coils, one for each circuit breaker.

One common upgrade for motorcycles from the 1960′s and earlier is to change the electrical system over from 6 volts to 12 volts. When I purchased my 1964 Duo-Glide, the original owner had already made this conversion, but had used a set of 12 volt ignition coils from a Volkswagen. This arrangement worked fine, but the larger coils needed a “custom” oversized cover to hide them from view.

In keeping with my goal of creating a bike that retained as many correct parts as possible, yet was a reliable rider, I decided to try and install the correct coil cover. I quickly purchased the cover on eBay and then started looking for the right size coils to fit under it. The original 6 volt coils were 4″ high and 2″ in diameter and looked very much like a minature version of the 12 volt coils used on most cars in the 70′s and 80′s. I searched the web for part numbers for a correctly sized replacement, but information on this upgrade seemed to be non-existent.

Next I decided to give Bosch a call, figuring they could just look up what I needed in their vast selection of ignition coils. This turned out to be a waste of time, because they could only search for coils based on the make and model of a vehicle. A couple more calls to Bosch Racing and some of their distributors also yielded nothing, so I contacted Dynatek.

Dynatek did not have a coil that was the same profile as the original 6 volt unit, but they did make a pair of compact 12 volt coils with 5 ohm resistance that would work with my dual circuit breaker ignition. Realizing that this was probably my best option, I decided to take a chance and ordered the Dyna DC10-1 coil set.

Once the new Dyna coils arrived, I removed the “custom” coil cover, old blue coils and bracket from my motorcycle. I played around with positioning of the new coils until a found a way to mount them which would allow the stock cover to be used. Basically, I positioned the coils using the original mounting bracket, but with the spark plug wires exiting behind the bracket.

Since the front spark plug wire exited very close to the rear cylinder and the rear spark plug wire exited very close to the oil tank, I added a nut and washer to the mounting studs of the coil mount to space it out ~1/4″ from the motorcycle.

I also felt that the coils did not mount as securely as they should and was concerned about vibrations causing one of them to slip out from under the hold down plate. Using some 1″ aluminum bar stock, I cut two brackets to bolt the upper and lower mounting tabs on the coils together. This really made a big difference in how the coils felt when mounted in the stock bracket.

With the mounting complete, I rewired the ground and power connections, attaching them to the coils with the included ring terminals. I soldered these connections which should help them stand up to vibrations better than just crimping on the terminals.

The final step was to cut two custom length spark plug wires. A quick tip on making custom spark plug wires is to check with your local auto parts retailer. In my case I stopped by Autozone and picked out two of the longest single spark plug wires which had the correct ends for my application. The cost per wire was only $5.99. When I got home, I carefully removed the terminal from one end of the spark plug wire, cut it to the length and crimped the terminal back on.

The final touch was to install the correct coil cover and fasten it in place.