Friday, November 30, 2012

"What's in store for Elizabeth," continued...

Hi guys,

I'm still feeling under the weather with my sinus infection...but on the bright side I have plenty of good medication to help me get rid of this crud. Hope to get healthy quickly, because we're having some warm weather this weekend and I'd love to go for a ride.

A sight that I'll soon be seeing again- my engine in bits
on the floor of Wedco Machine Shop in Jackson, Wyoming

 Anyway, in my last post I talked about diagnosing the problem with Elizabeth, which was determined to be extreme heat and lack of lubrication to the top end due to a sketchy oil delivery system. Now the question remains; what could be done to improve on this design flaw? While there are several possibilities for the rebuild, I feel that it depends on the intended use. Am I building a high-tech, redesigned race motor that can withstand great endurances, or am I building a reliable, every day machine? For the sake of conversation, let's say that I went with the former; what would a motor like this entail?

My dear friend Mike Wild and his heavily modified
Rudge Four Valve that he named 'The Bastard'
Now that everyone has had a bit of time to sit back and unwind from the race, there has been a small bit of talk on how the machines could have been improved- hindsight is 20-20, after all. I've recently been in touch with my speed demon friend and riding partner, Mike Wild, about how my motor could have been improved. Mike's own bike, a "1925-ish" Rudge combined a 1928 overhead valve engine and gearbox with 1925 frame and front end, and was heavily modified for the event. Mike modified his lubrication system to a direct feed oiler; instead of the crank and big end relying on "splash oiling", the big end is fed a constant supply of oil. Both he and I feel that this would have been a very important feature to have on my motor (considering that my crank seized the day before Yellowstone National Park due to lack of oiling). A direct feed oil set up wouldn't be that difficult to do, and would provide a much larger comfort shield around the big end. When my crank seized, I was able to buy a spare from my pal Jim Crain; designed by Atlas, the new crank pin operates smoothly and uses a sealed bearing cage. It required very little modification to fit in the crankcases (light sanding on the studs).

Fred Ham on his 1937 Harley EL. In a 24 hour period, Ham
rode 1,800 miles on this machine around a 5 mile track at
 Murdoc Lake. This Harley was mostly stock, with the
exception of polished engine internals and air filter snorkel


The next design improvement actually comes from my friends Dale and Matt Walksler at the Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley, North Carolina. In 2007, Dale built a 1937 Harley Davidson EL Knucklehead as a replica of Fred Ham's record breaking machine. For those not familiar with Fred Ham, on April 8, 1937 he took his 61 cubic inch Harley Knucklehead and set a new riding record: 1,800 miles in 24 hours around a 5 mile track in Murdoc Lake. This record stood for 70 years before Dale hooked Wayne Stanfield into riding an exact replica to beat the record. Well, they almost beat it... The thing that stood out to me was that in building the motor, Dale had the crankcase interiors and outer circumference of the flywheels polished to a high sheen. By polishing these internals friction would be reduced, thereby allowing the oil to flow smoothly throughout.

With these ideas swirling around in my head, I contacted my fellow BSA-er Jim Crain to get his two cents on what could be improved upon in the motor. One thing that we both agree on is that there is some valuable space in the combustion chamber that is being wasted; our flathead engines contain a hemispherical combustion chamber---yes boys, it's a hemi. Both of us used newly manufactured pistons from JP in Australia, but like the original, they have a flat top instead of a crowned shape. If you'll recall the new piston was also a bit heavier than the original NOS piece that was removed from my engine. So with all that being said, we both feel that having a piston designed and manufactured in line with the original dimensions and weight would be effective. These new pistons would be designed with more of a crown shape to take advantage of that hemispherical combustion chamber and would include narrower ring groves and provisions for a larger gudgeon pin. I also wonder if some modifications to the length of the piston skirt would be of good use.

In addition to modifying the piston design, another point that Jim brought up was that the connecting rod could be improved as well. Rather than using the steel connecting rods in the motor, Jim proposed that a replacement aluminum or titanium rod would reduce the weight and vibration. For the most part these modifications wouldn't be too costly, however the variances, tolerances, and measurements would need to be pretty much dead on, lest we face higher costs in R&D.
Titanium connecting rods and re-designed pistons....
both of these would probably shed considerable
weight from the inside of the motor.
Just as an overview, if the idea was to build this same motor for the same trip, I would build mine with a redesigned piston, titanium crank, Atlas crank pin, direct feed oil, and highly polished crankcases and flywheels. Okay, so what about for a classic that won't be subjected to such torture? Since I'm not going to push this bike across America again I'll probably rebuild it in this fashion, so I can't say whether or not I will go through with a newly designed piston and con rod. One thing is for certain; I will have a new piston manufactured to the weight of the original, and highly polish the internal cases. Who knows, I may even convert the big end to direct feed oil.


The Texan and his trusty steed
I intend to get Elizabeth back up in running order over the next month, though it will probably feel much different to have a proper workshop and workspace to rebuild it, rather than a parking lot. Recently I received new bronze bushings from the McCaster-Carr Company that will be machined to form the new small end bush. Once I receive a new piston and set of rings, it's down to pressing in the small end bush, balancing the crank, building the lower end, adding the piston/rings, putting on the cylinder, timing it, and viola! Not too much, right?  We will be back on the road shortly...look out everyone, Elizabeth's graceful self will be touring the countryside again soon!



Cheers,

Buck Carson
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

What's in store for Elizabeth? (Pt. 2 of "Looking towards the future")

Hi all,
The Cannonball Rig has found a new home..sweet memories
The holiday season has arrived, though it doesn't much feel like it here in Texas. Yesterday, temperatures were over 80 degrees Fahrenheit (upwards of 26 C). It's hard to get in the mood for Christmas when you're wearing shorts and a t-shirt just 29 days before the big day. Last week was Thanksgiving, and it was nice to spend time with friends and family. As usual, we gorged ourselves on turkey, stuffing, and all the fixings. My dad and I took a couple days and put in a new driveway at the shop. Now instead of having our giant trailer from the Cannonball in front of the building, it's tucked away on the side. A little thing in retrospect, but it brought back plenty of memories when it moved to its new home. Since returning from the road in September, we've all been pretty focused on finishing up the addition to our shop and getting things re-organized. Right now it's kind of like a bomb went off on the inside; things were a little messy from when we left in August but got progressively messier when we had central air conditioning and heating installed on our return. With everything nearing completion it's time to update you fine folks on what lays in store for our 85 year old beauty, Elizabeth. I suppose that I probably should have broken this part into several posts, and probably will.


A very special thank you to our family in the Confederate
 Chapter of the AMCA for this extremely special award

Our Cannonball bike has enjoyed a warm reception in the several motorcycle shows and events that she's been displayed at. Our very first event was the 2012 Barber Vintage Festival, where our extended family at the Confederate Chapter of the AMCA invited us to display our bike and mobile machine shop for the public to see. We were honored when the club presented my dad and I with the "Atta Boy" award for our service to other teams during the race. Next up on the docket was a local car, truck, and bike show where the BSA won the coveted "Ladies Choice" and first place trophy in its motorcycle class. Finally, my friend Joe Sparrow, who was a roadside savior many times during the Cannonball invited me to bring Elizabeth down for display at the J&P Cycles Storefront during the 2012 Lone Star Bike Rally in Galveston, Texas. Joe and the gang took very special care of her for the duration, and she received plenty of
attention from the crowds. Now that winter has arrived, I can finally give the bike the much-needed rebuild that it deserves.



I knew when I saw this sign that Elizabeth was in good hands....

On display in front of the J&P Cycles storefront during the 2012 Lone
Star Rally in Galveston, Texas. Special thanks to my friend Joe Sparrow
 for the invitation, and for taking such special care of my lady.

With the end of the race, Elizabeth lay pretty torn, tattered, and beaten. Over the course of 2,557 miles we burned through two pistons. The first of these pistons, a NOS original that was sourced in England, was removed in Sturgis, South Dakota. Excessive mountain grades, hard running, and high temperatures in the cylinder melted the oil ring and led to multiple seizures in under three miles. We replaced that piston and rings with the brand new machined setup from JP Pistons in Australia. An interesting note: the second piston was actually quite a bit heavier than the NOS unit, and JP rings haven't had the best reputation. When removed and examined, we discovered that this piston had gotten so hot that the gudgeon pin partially melted to the small end bush and the side of the piston skirt had been badly scored.
  • Motorcycle Mechanics 101- 
    • Question: "What causes a massive failure with the piston and gudgeon pin like this?" 
    • Answer: "Heat, obviously."
Piston number one: Note the melted oil ring...ouch!

Okay, so this kind of extreme heat can come from only three major areas. Firstly, a motor that is incorrectly timed will either detonate the mixture too early or too late, creating vast variances in the heat. A fuel and air mixture that is too weak can easily be a source for major heat, often leading to holing the piston. Finally, and the problem with Elizabeth, lack of lubrication is major no-no. That being said, what caused the oiling to be incorrect? Here's the long and short of it. Part of the blame probably lies on me, but a major reason comes from a design flaw.

And piston number two: Check out the small end bushing
on the gudgeon pin

 Lubrication systems on these 1920's Brit bikes aren't exactly up to snuff for a happy motor, and definitely don't like to be beaten up over 4,000 miles. Most early four stroke motors relied on "splash oiling," where the flywheels dip into the pool of oil at the bottom of the crankcase and splash it up. Not opportune. If you'll recall, the bike has a combination of manual and "automatic" oil pumps. In 1927, BSA recommended that riders utilize the automatic pump as a primary, with the manual oiler as a supplemental. Drip rates on the automatic pump can be set with the top mounted control knob, and I usually varied from one drip every three seconds to one every 6-8 seconds. Used in conjunction with the manual hand injector, the effectiveness on the oiling was minimal to say the least. What I found was that not enough oil was making its way to the top end of the motor and more often than not, the piston and gudgeon pin were under-oiled. Aggravating still was the fact that this condition varied without me even changing the settings; one day would have the motor running at a normal operating temperature with semi-effective oiling, then the next would have it way under-oiled. To try and combat the lack of oil to the piston, I used three different methods.
  • Usually with every fuel stop I would add about an ounce of 2 cycle engine oil in with the petrol. This small amount injects oil directly to the top end of the motor through the carburetor mixture, and also provides an efficient way to keep the slides and jets of your carburetor clean and lubricated)
  • With the small oil can that I carried in my panniers, I would douse my tappets, valve stems, and valve springs with oil at every few stops. This small bit of oil would eventually make its way to the combustion chamber.
  • While riding, I periodically closed the air and fuel levers momentarily. This lapse creates a vacuum that sucks oil from the crankcase and big end to the top of the engine.
Overall, the lubrication system on these old sidevalvers is pretty much "hit or miss." Towards the end of the race, after we installed the newly rebuilt motor, I learned something new about the oiling. At times, the drip rate will actually lie to you. What looks like one drip every 3 seconds will actually be a constant flow of oil. Five minutes after an easy start with no problems, the motor will start oil fouling plugs left and right. Upon further examination, you'll discover that your brand new crankcases will be completely full of oil, and your oil tank empty. It took several times of almost ripping my hair out before we finally figured out the cause of the problem. The exterior oil pump body contains a worm drive towards the bottom of the pump, which is what stops the flow of oil when the tap is turned off. During the rebuild, the drive had somehow worked itself loose and was allowing oil to bypass the pump. Once firmly set into place, it was back to life. It's always something with these old machines...probably why they're so addicting to me- how to solve problems

Overall, the problem was diagnosed...poorly performing lubrication system. Now, how do we go about addressing it? Well, I'm down with a sinus infection, so I'm feeling pretty beat at the moment. That'll just have to wait and be the subject of my next post. Stay tuned, caped crusaders.


Cheers,

Buck Carson
Cannonball Rider #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Looking towards the future (Pt. 1)

  Now that the greatest race of a lifetime is over, we Cannonballers must ask ourselves what's next. Like many, the preparations and participation in the event took more than a year. It's hard to believe that after all of the countless hours and late nights in the shop trying to prepare and stock up as best we could, that the whole thing was over in 17 short days. For some the Cannonball was simply another tick in their chapters of motorcycle addiction, while for others, it was the ultimate one-time adventure. Others still are now looking for bigger and better challenges with their two wheeled mistresses. Personally, I think I would fall into the latter....after all, Key West to Anchorage (or vice versa) sounds pretty nutty. That being said, what does the future hold for me?

  Well, firstly, I'm returning to finish up my last semester at Sam Houston State University in January. You may recall that I took the fall session off in order to participate in the Motorcycle Cannonball. Had I not chosen to do that, I would have graduated with my Bachelors degree in Business this December....but would have missed out on the real-world experience of a lifetime. It was a tough decision to take off time from school, but I know a chance like that doesn't come every day. Now that the race is finished, it's time to finish up my education.

  A few posts back I had mentioned that I was in the stages of writing a book about my experience. With the remaining time off from school, I've taken the opportunity to get a good start on documenting the whole adventure, as taken from my days in the saddle and nights in the parking lots. I really don't know if anyone would be interested in reading it, and I'm not really concerned with trying to make money from the endeavour. My main reason for writing a book about the race is to document what happened, so that I can give something to my family and friends. A few folks have expressed interest in reading what I have to say, which is really humbling and means a lot to me. No one has really given me any pointers or advice on how to proceed with writing, so I'm just doing what I do best: going with the flow. It's actually turning into a lot more work than I originally thought....kudos and a ton of respect to novelists and writers who do this for a living. The most important thing is that I'm having fun with it and keeping those awesome memories fresh.

  As of now, I cannot speculate as to a finishing date, or where copies would be available. Heck, there isn't even a title yet. I've had a few people tell me that they have recommendations or connections for a publisher when I get to that point, but any advice or pointers would be welcome. After all, I am a newbie with this sort of thing.

  So, back to school, and writing a new book...what else? Recently, I also mentioned my new involvement in the Antique Motorcycle Club of America's Youth Program. If you haven't figured out by now, I'm really into vintage motorcycles.....actually, addicted is probably a better word. The opportunity to help get other young people involved is a really exciting one for me. Since I was asked, I've been trying to come up with a plan of attack on how to get other youngsters involved. Mrs. Brittney Olsen, Youth Director, has been wrangling kids into the club by raffling off and giving away vintage bicycles and motorcycle parts. Personally I think that's an awesome thing to do, and would like to expand that. If you're interested in donating old motorcycle parts or vintage bicycles to the AMCA Youth Program, please contact Brittney at her email: brit.amcayouthprogram@hotmail.com.

   That about covers it for me...stay tuned for the next post about the future of Elizabeth.


Cheers,

Buck Carson

Friday, November 16, 2012

Motorcycle Cannonball Photography



This seems to have become a perpetual pose for me
throughout the race...hammer down at 40 miles per hour
 
Now that the great endurance race of 2012 is in the books, Cannonball riders and teams have gotten a chance to sit back and unwind from the event a little. Most teams, mine included, spent the greater part of a year to prepare themselves, their machines, and their teams for a 17 day adventure across this great country, so having some downtime takes some getting used to. With almost two months passing since the Grand Finale in San Francisco, we have all turned our eyes and ears to the rest of the motorcycle world to take in the firestorm of publicity surrounding the event.

Hanging out in the Black Hills while my overheated motor ticked and
cooled...ever the gentlemen, Michael Lichter and Dave Przygocki gave
 me a helpful shove to get her started again

A major part of the publicity around the Motorcycle Cannonball relies heavily on photos and videos, as many people probably wouldn't believe that a group of 70 Pre-1930 motorcycles would be capable of crossing a continent by simply reading an article. Luckily our group was fortunate enough to contain some of the most talented photographers and filmographers in the motorcycling world, who have now graciously begun to share their artwork with the world. It is my plan to compile as many of these beautiful photos and videos as possible, to share with my viewers here. So with that being said, be patient, and please keep checking back for more. As of now, two of the photographers have posted most or all of their Cannonball collections online.

Making new friends in Spirit Lake, Iowa with some fellows who
wanted to know "why in the hell anyone would do this."

Michael Lichter, who is well known throughout the motorcycle world for his beautiful work over the decades, was wrangled in by Lonnie Isam, Jr. to be the official event photographer. Michael has worked as one of the principal photographers for Harley Davidson for years and can be found at many of the legendary biker rallies and events here in the United States. What made his photos unique for this event is the platfom from which they were taken; most of his road-going shots were captured as he rode as a backwards-facing passenger on a 2012 Victory piloted by Dave Przygocki. While 19 entrants completed the full 3,956 miles, we riders joked that Michael compiled a -3,956 miles....trophy-worthy for sure. Posted here are a few of the wonderful shots taken by Michael, but for the full collection of more than 2,000 photos check out his website at www.lichterphoto.com

Fueling up with my pal Mike Wild outside of Graettinger, Iowa, where
the town closed up to provide us a welcoming paty

A smoky start in Mountain Home, Idaho with my dad giving me the "thumbs up"
Paul d'Orleans was also one of the great photographers on the event, but for a different reason. Paul runs a blog here called The Vintagent, and it is truly one of the masterpieces of vintage motorcycle journalism. His blog is primarily sponsored by Bonhams and Butterfields Auctioneers, and on more than one occasion Paul can be found lending a hand with detailing the history of rare and unique motorcycle marquees. For the 2012 Cannonball, Paul entered his 1928 Velocette 350cc single cylinder; a machine not to be underestimated....it has been performance tuned and has been clocked at speeds of more than 100 miles per hour in the past. Riding the Cannonball was definitely a huge interest, but Paul also was gnawing at the bit for the chance to document the event in a very different kind of way. His all-female support team brought along a vintage 1800s "wet plate camera" and they could be found photographing on a daily basis. His collection of prints is currently being uploaded to his newest website, http://mototintype.com/cannonball but I've included a few here that he took on my 21st Birthday in Murdo, South Dakota.

A 21st birthday I'll never forget...my gift- a one dollar bill ripped
 in half by my dad..."You get one half now, and the other when
 you get to San Francisco"

Checking out the beautiful countryside in Badlands National Park


Waiting for our police escort to dinner in Sheridan,
 Wyoming...I figured I should fog for mosquitoes
while we waited.
 
In the coming days, I'll be adding more photos from some of the other great artists who dug in with the rest of us for 17 grueling days across 3,956 miles from coast to coast. To check out some of the excellent video footage, visit www.motorcyclecannonball.com.


A very cool shot from Paul d'Orleans' vintage "wet plate" camera of me
enjoying a cold (and legal) beer on my 21st birthday in Murdo, South Dakota.
The rear stand on Elizabeth broke, so we leaned her against the nearest thing
we could find: a trailer that carried a pink elephant statue/fountain.



And now for your greasy, oily close up...




Cheers,

Buck Carson
Cannonball Rider #3
Carson Classic Motors Racing Team

Monday, November 12, 2012

Return from the Motorcycle Cannonball, Pt. 1 of......?




Riding through the plains of South Dakota, on my
way to Badlands National Park. Photo Credit: Felicia Morgan
Well folks, I owe you all an apology. First of all, long before the Motorcycle Cannonball, I promised you guys daily video, photo, and written updates. I had no idea how tough the Cannonball would really be. The mountains of time that I thought we would have at the end of the days turned out to be non-existent. Each day turned into a constant battle with mechanical issues, and both road and weather conditions. These long days were followed by marathon sessions of nightly wrenching until the wee hours of the morning, just to grab a few hours sleep to be ready for the next morning. Essentially, there was no spare time, and I was usually so dead tired by the time I made it into the hotel rooms that the only thing on my mind was sleeping.


September 12th, 2012: Spirit Lake, Iowa to Murdo, South Dakota.
Celebrating my 21st birthday with a ride in the rain. This photo showed up on the
 Harley Davidson Facebook page. Photo Credit: Michael Lichter
All of that being said, I apologize to my fans for not keeping you updated. Now that things have quieted down, it is my plan to go back and review the whole event. I'm in the process of writing a book about the Motorcycle Cannonball Run before I go back to finish up my bachelors degree in January, so I have time to really detail things for you guys. To start it off, I wanted to attach a copy of the article that I recently was asked to write for a couple of national motorcycle magazines. I hope this gives an introduction into what we faced day in and day out for 17  wild days across the United States.

 
"I remember sitting in a pool of sweat and grease on the side of the road in Michigan, trying to re-time my engine. I was two hours and 60 miles behind schedule and that gap was widening every minute. Someone stopped on the side of the road to make sure I was okay and to offer help. The first thing they asked was “What are you doing?” It was at this point that I took a moment to ponder that question myself. Here I was deep in the middle of Michigan on a broken down 85 year old motorcycle up to my elbows in oil and grime, trying like mad to beat the clock for the day’s finish. “Well, I’m racing this 1927 BSA from New York to San Francisco with 70 other old motorcycles. We’re trying to re-create a cross country endurance ride from 1913,” I said. “You guys must be crazy….” was the response. Yeah, that’s closer to the truth than you might believe….
In September of 2012, 78 riders from 15 different countries congregated in Newburgh, New York with an amazing group of motorcycles, all of which were built before 1930. Our mission was simple enough: Over 17 days we would jockey our machines across 11 states through any and all weather conditions, headed west to San Francisco. Our route would take us through the Great Lakes, the plains of Iowa and lonely roads of South Dakota, the Rocky Mountains and Grand Tetons of Wyoming, and finally through the legendary Redwood forest on our path to the Pacific Coast Highway. All in all, our journey was set to cover 3,956 miles from coast to coast, with an average mileage count of 300 miles per day. This can be a long day on a modern bike, but on a machine that is 83+ years old it makes for a battle to beat the setting of the sun. Constant repairs and adjustments on the roadside, 50 mile an hour (that was the hope anyway) average speeds, and nightly parking lot rebuilds to be ready for the next day. Okay, so maybe it wouldn’t be that simple.
The idea behind this crazy cross-country run came from the history books. In 1913, Erwin “Cannonball” Baker set out on his brand new two-speed Indian Motorcycle to attempt a record for the fastest trans-continental journey by motorcycle. Baker and his machine faced incredibly difficult conditions and many problems along the way, but made the journey from California to New York in a record 11 days, 12 hours, and 10 minutes. In 2010 Lonnie Isam, Jr, a renowned restorer of early motorcycles, announced his plans to conduct a similar commemorative run from coast to coast. This Cannonball was open to machines manufactured prior to 1916, and a field of 45 entries soon joined. Due to the success of this race (more than 30 machines completed the journey from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina to Santa Monica, California), Lonnie opened up the competition again for 2012. This second race would allow motorcycles built before 1930; however the race was longer and crossed much more difficult terrain. By no means would Cannonball II be easier.
Entrants into the race were divided into three separate classes, determined by the engine displacement. Class I was for motors under 750cc and subsequently turned into the hardest class, as most competitors, including myself, were riding single cylinder motors capable of 45 miles per hour. Class II allowed bikes that displaced 750-1000cc; Class III, unlimited displacement. Competitors were allowed to modify and update the safety of their motorcycles by fitting new brakes and installing modern tires and rims, but the engines and frames had to remain mostly original. All entrants had to be licensed motorcyclists and all bikes had to be registered and insured with working lighting systems. While commonly referred to as a race, the event was actually an endurance run. For each mile completed riders receive one point, with a total of 3,956 points possible. Older bikes were placed above newer bikes in the classes, and tie breakers were determined by the age of the machine, then age of the rider. During the day, riders were unable to be helped by their support crews in the event of a breakdown. The only help entrants could receive was from passersby, other competitors, and official Cannonball staff acting as “sweepers.”
The 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball Endurance run has already been named as the “hardest race in the world.” (Bike UK, October 2012) 17 days of adhering to the mantra of “Ride, Wrench, Repeat” can take its toll. There are also the dangers of motorcycling itself; along the route, we had three accidents which resulted in twisted machines and visits to the emergency room. You may be asking yourself, “Why in the world would anyone want to subject themselves to a ride like this?” The answer is simple: we were time travelers, coaxing our antiques along the route in a journey to discover the back roads of this great country, as well as to discover a little bit more about ourselves. We set out to prove that antique motorcycles are still a very feasible mode of transportation. Plus, it was for the glory. As Buzz Kanter, editor of American Iron Magazine, said: “We are doing something that 99.9% of motorcyclists will never attempt or think about accomplishing.” It did help that we all were minus a few grams of sanity at the start…
Representing the great state of Texas, I entered into the Cannonball run with the rest of my team. My dad, Mike Carson, has been right beside me for years restoring and preserving classic motorcycles, and jumped on board immediately after hearing of the race. Like me, he is a little bit crazy too. The team crew chief, Shawn McGarry II, has been my best friend for years and has a passion for vintage bikes too. Our last team member was a close friend from England who was looking to see the USA…little did he know that a leisurely holiday was not in store. Looking to extend our famous Texas hospitality, our team offered to host two other international teams; the “Roaring Rudges” from Derbyshire, England, and “Southern Cross” from Melbourne, Australia. Our rig was elaborately set up to be a 30 foot rolling machine shop with a full complement of heavy manufacturing and welding equipment, air tools, and a few luxuries such as air conditioning, 12 bottle wine cooler, and refrigerated beer tap. Of course we had to glorify our Texas roots, so our truck soon sported a six foot set of steer horns and a giant Texas flag flying from the bed.
Entrants from all over the world brought out a variety of early American, German and British motorcycles in all kinds of conditions, from museum-quality to “barn fresh.” Marquees such as Harley Davidson, BMW, Indian, Henderson, and BSA were represented by a vast group of riders and teams of all different walks of life. Multiple-time inductees to the Motorcycle Hall of Fame could be found sharing wrenches and the same patch of ground with riders who had never ridden or worked on old motorcycles. High dollar semi truck RVs shared space with riders sleeping next to their bikes. Our group was a travelling circus that left a flurry of valuable parts, tools, and oil stains in its wake. However, we were a family; everyone helped everyone. Although it was a race, we all pushed each other (literally and figuratively) to make the finish line.
Our group raced through all conditions imaginable. Stage Two of the race in Pennsylvania saw freezing rain, flooding roads, and 40 mile an hour winds that nearly blew us off the road. Riding through the plains of Iowa and Wisconsin, we encountered blazing temperatures and blinding sun. Roads in Yellowstone National Park were blocked by 2000 pound buffalo, and freezing rain overnight dropped the temperature to a cool 21 degrees for the next morning. We crossed lakes, farmlands, deserted country roads, and 10,000 foot mountain passes. Along the route riders were treated to the landmarks of America; we passed through Badlands National Park, the Black Hills and Mount Rushmore, Devils Tower, and Yellowstone National Park. The race just didn’t stop rolling, and neither did us Cannonballers.  All throughout our journey, small towns welcomed us in with open arms. Businesses and schools shut early, just so folks could see the traveling motorcycle show. Mayors and Chambers of Commerce toasted us and treated us to homecooked lunches and gifts. Several prominent motorcycle museums and shops, including Orange County Choppers, Harley Davidson and the National Motorcycle Museum, opened their workshops and borrowed parts from bikes on display to keep us going.
I joined the race with two goals in mind; I wanted to make the trip of a lifetime, but more importantly, I wanted to get younger people interested in vintage motorcycles. It’s a good, clean hobby that is just as addictive as any drug or alcohol out there. Plus, the skills and knowledge to keep these old bikes alive won’t always be there unless younger people get involved and learn from the legends of motorcycling. As it turned out, I was the youngest to ever attempt a journey such as this; halfway through the race I turned 21 years old, celebrating by rebuilding my engine in a Sturgis, South Dakota parking lot. Happily, a ton of youngsters from all around the country have contacted me asking for help in getting their first old motorcycle. Additionally, I was honored to be asked by the Antique Motorcycle Club of America to join Mrs. Britney Olsen as an assistant coordinator for the club Youth Program. Now it is my hope that I can use an experience like this to promote the club and old motorcycles to the younger generations for years to come.
In retrospect, the race really can be considered the “hardest in the world.” No one was without problems. While some teams had multiple spare engines, other groups had few to no spares. My own motorcycle, a 1927 BSA S27 that I named “Elizabeth” was completely rebuilt from the ground up on two separate occasions with a small selection of spare parts. Night after night my team and I wrenched on the bike until 1 or 2 in the morning to be ready for the next morning. Memorable moments include seizing the engine four times in less than two miles in the Black Hills, losing my magneto points cover in the middle of a rainstorm, riding with one hand while holding loose parts on the bike with the other hand, and constantly being covered in black engine oil from the “total loss” oil system. Although I retained a smile through most of these setbacks, there were moments of complete and utter despair, to be followed by heartbreak.

Having been off the road for several days to rebuild the motor, I was disqualified in Fortuna, California, two days from the end. Even with this setback, I was determined to continue riding. Alas, it was not to be; my motor blew again on the night before the end. Our team had no more spare parts, and we put out an emergency distress call to all collectors on the west coast to no avail. With as much pride as I could muster, I put on my cowboy hat, attached the biggest Texas flag we had to the back of the bike, and pushed my mount 3 miles across the Golden Gate Bridge with my crew behind me and my fellow Cannonballers riding next to us. Our team finished the race, one way or another. In case you didn’t know, Texans don’t give up.
The conclusion of the event was an emotional one for our team. Unbeknownst to us, a secret vote had taken place amongst teams and riders to see who helped out others the most, and with more than a dozen documented cases of us loaning equipment, time, or other types of assistance, we were selected to receive the “Spirit of the Cannonball” award. During the closing banquet, we were called up to the front of the room to a standing ovation by the rest of the entrants and their teams.  Our prize was a handmade wicker sidecar body, crafted by Australian Chris Knoop. Looking back, I don’t think there was a dry eye on our team at receiving this honor.

The overall winner was Brad Wilmarth, who actually won the first event on the exact same motorcycle; his 1913 Excelsior 61 cubic inch twin purred all the way across the country for the second time. Coming in second place was Joe Gardella on his 1914 Harley Davidson that also completed the first Motorcycle Cannonball. In Class I, our very own Mike Wild from the Roaring Rudges race team grabbed a well-deserved third place on his 1925 Rudge Four. Regardless, everyone attained their own victory in reaching the destination; the ultimate bragging rights had been achieved. Happily, even the three riders who had been involved in accidents were at the closing banquet, casts, crutches and all! Everyone was extremely vocal at the idea of bringing the race back in two years, and there have been rumors of a run from Key West, Florida to Anchorage, Alaska. You’d have to be crazy to do that one…..but it’s a good thing there are others like us who consider sanity to be overrated. The show must go on."

Elizabeth and I have our own "Close Encounters" moment at Devil's Tower,
Wyoming alongside fellow Cannonballer Art Farley
 
Until next time,
 
Buck Carson
Cannonball Rider #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sick as a dog, but the show must go on

Definitely the coolest thing I've seen in a long, long time!
  It's been quite an eventful week. The interview on Fox 26 has sparked a lot of interest in the race, and I've gotten a ton of messages from well wishers out there. All of the support is a bit overwhelming, and completely appreciated. Sometimes in the midst of wrenching on the bike, or readying the trailer, I ask myself "Why is it that we're doing this again?" However, one quick look in my inbox answers that question. My original goal was to create more interest in vintage motorcycles, and this has already been achieved. Thanks to some great publicity, our team has really gained a good hold in the spotlight.
Absolutely cool--running in style
  I've been incredibly busy over the last two weeks. It's kind of like the last minute mad dash around here. With my dad traveling all around the country with his work, most of the prep has been left up to me. Previously I had mentioned that my to-do list has shrunk greatly. Here's an idea of what I started with---15 pages, all sectioned up into "BSA, Truck, Trailer, Purchases, Misc" categories. Happy to say that all together, I'm about down to half a page. Whew. Talk about a ton of work. With several major tasks left to do, my body decided to go ahead and allow a summer cold/flu to rear its ugly head. As I sit here writing this, I feel like death warmed over. It's been a liquid diet today. Doctors appointment this afternoon--come on, I've got too much to do and not enough time to do it!!  Sick or not, I'll be working in the shop and trailer today and this weekend. I suppose I should begin packing one of these days....


  Anyway, this week also had another wonderful highlight--thanks to my local graphics company, the race trailer is glistening with new graphics. It really was a great feeling for me to see my computer design come to life. Clarence Russo and the team down at Signs and Printing in Livingston did an absolutely amazing job, and literally dropped everything else they were working on to make my trailer a priority. In addition to doing the trailer graphics, Clarence also printed up two magnetic signs for me, that I can stick on the truck doors. Another one of our supporters has sent the same door logo design to a printing company, and we will shortly have 300 decals made up. Great stuff.
 

 
 
Oh, I should probably mention the other exterior addition to the truck. Remember, the Motorcycle Cannonball has entrants from all around the world- 15 countries and 4 continents represented. Being from Texas we have to represent the Lone Star State in a big way, right? That being said, one thing that immediately comes to mind when people think of Texas is our longhorn cattle. So we found a shop in West Texas that deals in taxidermy--specifically Longhorns. Gracing the front of our Dodge Ram will be a 6 foot long set of real Texas steer horns. Obnoxious...? Possibly. Over the top...? Undoubtedly. One thing is for sure though--the Cannonball doesn't know what kind of shenanigans are coming its way with us Texans involved.

  6 days left, and we're rolling for the East Coast. Time to head over to the shop and get some more things accomplished. I'll put a more detailed post up tonight or tomorrow.



Cheers,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Cannonballer #3 hits the big screen......

Hi all,

Things are getting crazy here with 8 days left. I'm happy to say that my list is being worked through by leaps and bounds. I haven't had time to finish up my "long" blog posts, but wanted to put a link up and share my most exciting recent news. Last week the team and I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Don Teague, an anchor for the Houston-based Fox News affiliate, Fox26. This interview was possible thanks to my friend Jennifer Gauntt, who wrote the wonderful article for Sam Houston State University and pre-released it to Houston and College Station-based news outlets.

I had a great time with Don and the team, and was blown away by the amount of time that they spent with us. The interview was, for lack of a better description, kick ass. Without further adieu, check out our first foray into television. More updates as soon as I get the chance!


Lone Star Spirit - Young man takes history on the road, across the US: For most people, history is something we may think about, but we don't always feel a real connection to it.In tonight's Lone Star Spirit, we meet a young man who is more than connected to history. He's about to ride it across the country.



Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Elizabeth's Final Touches

  As I write this, we have exactly 15 days left until our big ole' rig is headed towards New York. Wow. I'm not sure how it got to be this close so quickly. With 12-15 hours of daily work on the bike and trailer, I haven't had much time for anything else except sleep. The past month has been a complete blur, and the next few weeks will blow by. Happily, I'm able to say that my master "to-do" list is getting pretty slim. My last few posts have really focused on the bike, and working through the bugs. Now that we're so close, it's nice to say that everything is just about complete.

  In one of my last posts, I included a picture of the "Texas-style" saddlebags that we had sourced. These bags were actually meant for a horse, so the strap between the two was going to be too long for the bike. Marking off where the material needed to be cut and re-sewed, I dropped the bags off at a local leather tooling shop for alteration. This should have taken about an hour or two to finish.....note the word "should."   Three weeks and daily phone calls later, I was finally able to pick them up. If we weren't in such a time crunch, I wouldn't have worried about it. Happily, the bags fit right on, and look absolutely perfect. I love the way that they match the color of the new seat. A quick addition that we made was to the saddlebag lids was to include two Texas star leather conchos. Hey, I have to make a statement somehow, right?

  My saddlebags were the last major addition to the bike, and really finished things out. I'm pretty sure that just about everything has been lock-tited, though I plan to sit down with the rest of the team this weekend to do a final check. Yesterday, my crew chief Shawn built a small "pigtail" electrical connection for the battery so that I can have a battery charger quick connect. In reality, I'm not exactly sure how well this will come into place--the original plan between Ken, Mike, and I was to utilise two separate 12v batteries. With our updated LED lighting and horn systems (we all have the same) Ken came up with a figure of 8 solid hours before the batteries would need re-charging, at which time we could simply swap out batteries. So having a quick connect may, in fact, prove useless, but I won't know until we're out there.


Santa Claus came early...

  Recently, it was like Christmas morning here at the house. Up to now I had waited on buying all of my "techy" and comfort equipment because I was busy readying the bike and trailer. A couple of weeks back, I went on a bit of a shopping spree for these needed items. Here's a look into what I purchased:

  • Airhawk Motorcycle Seat cushion- My friend Cris Simmons used her Airhawk cushion on Cannonball I, and said that there was nothing else like it. Airhawk cushions are made from neoprene rubber and feature interconnected air cells that act as an additional shock cushion. Mine takes up basically my entire seat (which isn't that graceful for the aesthetics of the machine), but improves the ride by 10,000 times.


  • GoPro Hero 2 Motorsports Video Camera- GoPro cameras have been the leader in outdoor camcorders for years. While not exactly cheap, at $300 a piece MSRP, the photos and videos that it presents are absolutely unbelievable. My camera came with multiple mounting options, making opportunity for differing shots possible. What's nice about the camera is the high definition quality photos and videos that it takes. I have the option of shooting in 1080p, 960p, or 720p and can take 11, 8, or 5 megapixel photos. I tested it last Friday, and was completely blown away by the quality (video to come soon).

  • SPOT Connect Satellite Tracker- After doing quite a bit of research, I kept getting sent back to the SPOT Tracker. I've been telling my fans for months now that I'd like to keep them posted on my progress along the run, and this is the way to do it. No larger than a deck of playing cards, this satellite device is connected to my iPhone, and will provide fans with a real-time progress track of where Elizabeth and I are in the US, presented on a "Google Maps"-type display. In addition to tracking my progress, there is an SOS feature which will allow me to send out an emergency distress call to my crew or local rescue workers if the need arises (which I hope it doesn't!!!!!) With this tracker, I also bought a "RAM" Mount for it to fit securely into.

  • Twin fire extinguishers- Something that I hope I will never have to use, but a needed item nonetheless. The extinguisher material is designed specifically for motorcycles or automobiles, as to preserve paintwork and not leave behind a filthy mess. I'll carry one in my saddlebags, and one as a spare.

  • NGK Spark Plugs- For some reason, walking into the local auto parts supply place with the exact make and model number spark plug seems to stump the employees with computers at their fingertips. No one could seem to understand "I need to order NGK A7 plugs..." and would usually respond with "NGK makes spark plugs?"

  • Camelbak Personal Hydration System- While I've never actually used one of these devices, I've seen and heard great things for years. Fitting on your back like a child's backpack, the Camelbak is a flexible water bladder with hydration straw. Filling this with ice and water will keep me plenty cool and hydrated throughout the day.


  My last major item on the list to order is spare chains and links for the timing chest, primary, and final drive. Other than that, there's really nothing left to do. I think Elizabeth is finally as ready as she'll ever be to cross the continent.

Look mom, no exhaust!
As a side note, I've only had a couple of minor repairs. In one of my previous loc-titing binges, I neglected to think of the downside of putting the stuff on my crankcase drainplug. Engine heat actually caused the threadlocker to pool into the bottom of the plug and melt itself together--inside of the plug tube. Of course, the newly melted threadlocker wouldn't come out with a set of picks, so I had to remove the exhaust and pull the entire plug assembly to clean it out. Beyond this small lack of thinking, the only other mechanical issue that I've had came from the manual oil pump. Recently, I trailered the bike down into Houston for a sponsorship interview. All of the jostling from back to front and side to side on the trailer created an air bubble inside of the manual oil pump, breaking the vacuum seal to the crankcase spray line. By removing the three brass screws securing the pump to the oil tank, and disconnecting the crankcase spray line, I was able to fill the pump back up and get the air out.

And this time, I do believe I'll put teflon tape on it....

I think Elizabeth is anxious to make her debut on the big scene, and is raring to go--more than I can say for me!


Cheers,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Cannonball Road Training Video

video


Here's a short video we shot last week on the first road run with the BSA. In this video, you can see that the speedometer on the Victory reads 50 miles per hour, and I quickly pull away. This was a great run, and I'm really happy with the operation of the machine. Oh, and by the way- NO, this is not my Cannonball safety apparel. Haha.



Cheers,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Veteran Motorcycle Adventures (Part 3)-- Fuel and seating modifications

My pal Dale Walksler and his 1915 Harley. He suggested that
 I do something similar for extra fuel
With Elizabeth chugging away once again, it was time to continue prepping her for some long days of touring again. In Part 1 of this series, I mentioned how the main fuel tank would give me enough supply for 45 miles between fill ups. The days of riding on the 'Ball will already be long enough without stopping every hour or so for gas. My dad and I have been trying to decide the best way to add extra fuel capabilities. When I spent some time with Dale Walksler in June, he recommended that I follow his lead from the pre-1916 Cannonball. His entry, a 1915 Harley Davidson, had the same problem that I face in fuel consumption. Rather than tying a jerry can on the back, Dale installed a 1960's Harley Super Glide fuel tank on the rear and plumbed the fuel lines directly into the carburetor. While this idea is very utilitarian, I wasn't too fond of having a huge fuel tank strapped up high on the luggage rack. Enter Rotopax.

Made in the USA, Rotopax fuel cells were
developed for off-road vehicles

Following along with the conversations on our Motorcycle Cannonball Facebook page, I noticed that several of my fellow riders were going to use Rotopax fuel cells as a spare jerry can. Rotopax were developed for off-road enthusiasts, and several different models for gasoline, diesel, and water were offered. The innovative mounting system for the cells allows for easy removal. After discussing it, my dad and I ordered two of the Rotopax to mount on both sides of the BSA. Rather than having all of the weight up high, like Dale did, our packs would be mounted low.

Then came the thought: "Instead of pulling each one off and filling up the main tank, why couldn't we tap the bottom of the cells and install a petcock?"   Bingo. With a little Texan ingenuity and elbow grease, we installed two petcocks, then reamed out a 45 degree banjo fitting for plumbing the lines into the carburetor. A little black plastic furniture paint, and Elizabeth had two extra gallons of fuel added that would be very functional, but disguised well. Even better, the two saddlebags that we bought for her would cover up the majority of the cells.

Re-designed fuel system...check out the petcock and
 fuel line coming out of this puppy!


Already pretty well disguised, my Rotopax will be
 hidden further by this gorgeous set of hand-tooled saddlebags
The search for saddlebags was long--finding the "right" one was fairly involved. The first set of bags we bought online were actually vintage World War I German cavalry saddlebags that were entirely too big. Shortly thereafter, my dad found a great set of brown leather bags in Oregon on eBay. These bags were hand-tooled with some western influence. We had to say that we're from Texas somehow, right? This set will work beautifully, and is off at the local leather shop being altered. The bags also match the custom seat we installed.



Rotopax and custom seat..check out the Touratech route sheet
 holder that is alst mounted to the front
It didn't take too long of riding with the original, horsehair-padded seat to decide it was time for a change. I took a look through our pile of seats and found a brand new brown leather sprung seat for a custom bobber or chopper. Surely that doesn't sound like a very good idea---but after laying it on the frame, we all knew it was meant to be. The brown leather compliments the black frame and green gas tank very appropriately. Upon installing, we found that the springs were too long, and instead bought a pair of 3 inch brass springs. When we put them in, everything clicked. More importantly the comfort of the ride improved greatly, and putting miles on the bike didn't leave a dull pain in the rear.

In addition to installing a new seat and springs, I also ordered an Airhawk seating cushion. My friend Cris Sommer Simmons rode her 1915 Harley Davidson across America in the Pre-1916 Cannonball and used her Airhawk all the way. Originally I had considered using a gel pad, but was advised by Cris that the gel can get extremely hot in the sun. Steering me towards the Airhawk, she told me how easy it was to install and adjust the unit. Unlike gel pads, the Airhawk has multiple neoprene rubber air cells that are interconnected. With a mouth valve, the AH can be adjusted to any rider. All of the air cells double as shock absorbers, which is much appreciated by my rear end. Another great feature of this cushion is that it is ventilated and doesn't absorb heat.

Airhawk Cushion will make my ride quite a bit more comfortable



More soon,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Veteran Motorcycle Adventures (Part 2): Breathing fire back into the beast!

As Scooby Doo would say:  "Ruh roh, Raggy!"
Months back, I had mentioned that magneto failure was the biggest cause of problems during the pre-1916 Cannonball. Most of this was due to the extreme heat along the route, namely in Texas. For a bit of background, magnetos built during the early 1900s, especially Bosch and Lucas, utilised a non-conductive resin to encase the coils. This material, known as bakelite, was literally melting in the Texas heat and forced riders to do multiple rebuilds along the way. Proper magneto rebuilds do not use bakelite these days, rather other materials not prone to melting. Knowing that my Lucas magneto had been rebuilt in England before the bike was re-assembled, I wasn't sure what kind of internal material was used and thought it could have melted. Had this been the case, it would have been "bad ju-ju" to say the least.

Instead, the cause of my power loss was actually quite simple to diagnose. Removing the timing cover, I found my timing chain laying slack and the exhaust cam sprocket almost completely off of its shaft! It turned out that both of the machine screws that hold the timing chest to the motor, as well as the sprocket nut hadn't been loc-tited and therefore backed right out. Where most applications like this would use sprockets with keyways, both the exhaust cam and mag shaft sprockets are actually sitting on tapered shafts with no key ways, making it relatively easy for them to pop off in a situation like this. It was relatively simple fix--except that it would require re-timing the motor, which is something I had never done. (Insert comment saying "What kind of mechanic doesn't know how to time a motor?")
This tiny little machine screw was the cause for all my failures!
 A quick call to my friend and fellow C'baller Jim Crain provided some great advice on how to go about this. Not to be discouraged, I was determined to teach myself the right way to fix the problem, and would use the "roadside" method as if I was broken down on the roadside during the 'Ball. What makes this motor a bit more difficult to time is the fact that she's a four-stroke. For my non-motor fans, the way that Elizabeth's motor works involves four strokes of the piston.

  • Stroke 1: Intake-- intake valve opens and fuel air mixture from the carburettor enters the cylinder.
  • Stroke 2: Compression-- both intake valve and exhaust valve remain closed as the mixture is pushed towards the top of cylinder, to the sparking plug.
  • Stroke 3: Combustion-- a correctly timed spark from the magneto travels through the spark plug and detonates the fuel/air mix. This detonation must occur a few degrees before the piston is at the very top of its stroke (known as Top Dead Center), and forces the piston back down.
  • Stroke 4: Exhaust-- hot exhaust gasses from the detonation are expelled from the motor as the exhaust valve opens. This process then repeats.
Poor quality picture, but shown here is the spark
plug, nickel-plated valve caps, and compression tap in the background.


The trick to correctly timing the motor involves finding TDC by removing the compression tap and sparking plug screwed into the top of the motor, inserting a rod inside the cylinder. Because the valves are on the side of the motor, as you rotate the engine, the different strokes can be determined easily. As the piston comes to the top of the compression stroke, the rod will rise up and pause momentarily before moving back down. This is known as TDC. Next, you must remove the points cover on the magneto. Elizabeth has one set of platinum points, and the gap between them is .0013mm--otherwise known as not much. The exhaust cam sprocket needs to be tightened, and the magneto sprocket loose. With the motor just before TDC, you rotate the mag shaft and examine the points spining inside the casing. Just as the contact is about to break, you tighten the mag shaft back up and make sure the timing chain is tight. Rotating the engine, you should note the position of the points and make sure they break at the same point. Re-installing the compression tap and sparking plug, the motor should fire to life. Well, three days and two sleepless nights, hundreds of curse words, several thrown wrenches, and a lot of sweat later, I figured it all out and Liz roared back to life.

I rewarded myself and the BSA by going on a threadlocking binge that lasted three days. Now, just about every single nut and bolt has been removed, cleaned, threadlocked, and re-installed. She's a happy girl.

All tidied up and re-assembled


Cheers,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Veteran Motorcycle Adventures (Part 1)---Rockin' Down the Highway

A few more days have passed than I intended before I posted this, but I'm sure you can all understand how busy everything is getting. 25 days left after today. Whoa.... Anyway, this update is pretty long, so I've got it split up into a few posts.


The end to a long battle with government...finally mounted.
Previously I had talked about finally getting Elizabeth legal here in the USA, and what a hassle it was. After 7 weeks of dealing with bureaucracy, I finally had a legal Texas license plate. An hour later, I had bent up a piece of aluminum flat stock for a license plate mount and the BSA was sporting a Texas registration. Whew....finally. It wasn't long before I stapped on my helmet and hopped on for the maiden voyage on a pulic road. Talk about a successful feeling; plus it was nice to know that not only was the bike legal, so was I!

With my dad following behind on his Victory Crossroads to warn motorists of my slow moving vehicle, we set off. With the amount of vibration coming from the motor, I learned one lesson really fast: invest heavily in threadlocker. In the span of 15 minutes, two fairly critical components vibrated off and found their way into the black hole on the side of the road. I lost the float bowl cover for my Amal 276 carburetor, as well as the velocity stack. Oy vay...hopping on the Victory, I ran back to the shop and borrowed the parts from our 1935 Norton 16H and 1946 Norton ES2, as well as picked up some lock-tite. With Elizabeth running again, we set off as evening approached to put some more miles on her in the first major road test. Happy to report that she chugs along quite nicely at 50 miles per hour, which is the Cannonball minimum speed requirement. Up til now, I had been slightly worried about the capability (I had only been able to reach speeds of the low 40's in my neighborhood). As a matter of fact, I even recorded a top speed of 58 miles per hour--with plenty of throttle left to go! Overall day number one was a wonderful first showing for Elizabeth and I, successfully completing 40 miles.
Amal 276 carb with borrowed parts: Float bowl cover,
and velocity stack. Stay tuned for more info about the dual fuel lines.


Trust me when I say it was difficult to come back and get some sleep that night. I spent about 5 hours in the shop cleaning everything and examining the operation of all critical points. Plenty of time was also devoted to removing nuts and bolts, cleaning the threads, and threadlocking them before re-installation. Hitting the sack around midnight, I knew road test number two would come quickly.

Day number two saw about 35 miles completed before a decently-sized problem decided to rear its ugly head. Having just filled up the fuel tank (my consumption rate is about 45 miles to the gallon, or about 45 miles between fill ups, according to our calculations.), we were homeward bound. Suddenly, I lost all power. Pulling off to the side of the road, my first assumption was that my high tension sparking lead had broken or become disconnected. Finding it attached, I went through a mental checklist to see where the problem might lie. One can only sit out in 108 degree heat for so long, so it was another jaunt on the Victory to swap for the truck and flatbed trailer.........


This little Trelock bicycle speedometer has been
working quite lovely, and is very accurate


Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team