Thursday, May 17, 2012

Motorcycle Safety Course

  Well, my friends, I know that I posted a few months back about my quest to attain my motorcycle license. The State of Texas recently made a requirement that new riders must enroll in and complete a "Motorcycle Safety Course." In the beginning, I wasn't that thrilled with the idea of riding around a parking lot (car park) for two days in first gear. However, I recently took the course locally and found out that it really was much more than that. Plus, it was actually fun!

  The safety course is a two day event, which involves both classroom instruction and riding situations out on the "range." What's nice about the course (though at times, a bit tedious) is that it is designed to be a basic course. Someone who had never even seen a motorcycle before could become proficient in the basic art of motorcycling over the course of two days. I've had a bit more experience than a "greenhorn," but the reason I enjoyed the course was because of the new skills I learned in the process.

My 250cc, Fuel-Injected "hot rod" for the weekend!
There are so many dynamics which go into riding a motorcycle, that we often lose sight of some of the important ones. The Rider's Safety Course teaches these skills and improves basic handling of machines.  Riders aren't required to bring anything but themselves, a pair of pants, and some boots. Helmets, gloves, and even motorcycles are provided.

  I would heartily recommend that everyone takes a safety course, even if your state or country doesn't require one for a license. Number one, you learn a lot of great new skills, and improve your overall riding ability. And number two, most insurance companies offer a discount to riders who actively complete a safety course! I had a great weekend, and more importantly, I'm one step closer to having my motorcyclist license. Now the only thing standing between me and legality is a written test, which I'm going to try and do this week!

Cheers all,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer # 3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Motorcycle Cannonball Team 3 Logo

  Recently I completed the new logo for our Motorcycle Cannonball team. I actually used a combination of old adverts from the 1940s and 50's. This is still the rough sketch, as you can see the winged logo needs some digital clean up. What do you think? I'm in the process of having some t-shirts made up, as well as other promotional items. For the shirts, the logos will probably be in white, so that they can be set on a black shirt. I'll post some pictures of the shirt designs, which will soon be on sale! If you're interested in a team shirt, leave a comment here, or send me an email at

Kind regards,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer # 3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Oiling issues, the first ride and SHSU Photoshoot

What's missing here? Oh yes....the motorcycle to
put them on!

 After receiving my Cannonball BSA, it was hard to contain my excitement and not jump right on for a ride. Obviously, everything on this machine had to be done slowly, carefully, and according to instructions. With the extensive rebuild on the motor, frame, and gearbox freshly completed, the last thing I was going to do was to cause any damage due to rushing through essential processes. Before beginning any mechanical work, I decided to mount my newly received Motorcycle Cannonball plates, beautifully done by the Dutch Bros. Garage. For me, this officially tied the BSA to the Cannonball run.

 Undoubtedly, the area that I was most apprehensive about had to be the oiling system. On the 1927 BSA Model S27, everything is kept cool and lubricated through the use of two oil systems: One, the automatic oil pump that provides a drip feed line to the primary chain and crankcase, and two: the manual oil pump that sprays directly inside the crankcase.

  In order to operate the machine, you have to first prime the system with four pumps of oil into the crank- this gives the machine a healthy dose of oil to start on before the drip feed reaches the motor. After priming the motor, the drip feed is set by turning on the oil tap to the pump, and opening the control knob to start drips. I've found that optimal oiling is at the rate of about 1 drip every 5-8 seconds, or about a 1/4 turn of the control knob. Once the drip feed is set and you are motoring, I've found that a healthy squirt of oil about every 15 minutes is advisable.

  While getting to know the bike, I have gotten into the habit of completely draining the crankcase after each day of riding to check for any metal debris (pointing towards internal damage) and to examine the quantity of oil that comes out (optimal amount of oil is about a full cup) It took a while to get the hang of the dual oil system- first the drip feed wasn't set right, so the primary chain and crank were over-oiled. I actually had an air lock in the oil tank, because the pump was pulling too much oil (drained the tank below the manual and automatic pump feeds. Luckily, I wasn't motoring at the time, just had the engine running on the stand. A quick refill of the tank, drain of the crankcase and resetting the control knob fixed the issue. One thing that is for sure: my BSA is quite a dirty machine. I've gotten in the habit of using a light engine de-greaser after a ride to clean off the motor and gearbox. It seems to get on everything!

  Finally after correctly setting the oiling, it was time to take off for the first ride. The only word I can think of to describe it is "Wow!" I'm very impressed with the power range and ease of operation. The area around my home is full of hills of varying steepness, and she has tackled them all with ease--in middle gear, nonetheless! She is quite sprightly and is energetic. Operation is smooth and quiet. Can you tell I'm infatuated?

  As of yesterday (16 May), the odometer reads 202 miles. 200 miles in, and my conclusions all boil down to one thing: The seat and springs need to be addressed, rather quickly. My arse feels every bump and pothole, and seems to bounce for five minutes after. I'm actually kind of concerned about the condition of the springs- they seem very brittle, which I can understand. To begin with, metallurgy in the 1920s was nothing like it is today, and count in 85 years of aging. I've decided to change out the seat springs, as well as bring along another mount (it too seems brittle and weak). For comfort, I'll take the seat cover to a local upholstery shop and have it re-padded with memory foam and possibly gel inserts.

My "hi-quality" iPhone camera shot on SHSU Campus
  Recently I also had the long-awaited photoshoot with Sam Houston State University's Communication Department. Thanks to the delays presented by United States Customs, I had limited time to become familiar with the operation of the BSA. Regardless, I loaded her up on the truck and trailer, and we ventured to the campus. I quite enjoyed the looks that I was getting by college students walking to class, as well as the crowd that came around as I pulled the BSA off the trailer and fired her up. The photoshoot was a bit unique, as it was held close to the center of campus, where motor vehicles aren't allowed. I was actually given permission to ride the bike through campus to the shoot location--imagine the surprise of students and professors when I came riding past amid a cloud of white smoke. All in all, the shoot went wonderfully, and I had a great time. The story will be released on the website as we get closer to the event, to help gain greater awareness and attention.

Best regards,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer # 3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Back in Business (Cannonball BSA Arrival)

Hi all. I know it's been several weeks since my last post, and I apologize for keeping everyone in the dark on the "goings on." These last few weeks have been jam packed with milestones and progress. To update everyone, I'll go ahead and break everything down into a few posts. Without further adieu, I present "Cannonball BSA Arrival."

  I'll always remember May 2nd, 2012 as the day I fell in love--with an 85 year old woman. This day marked the first time I saw my Motorcycle Cannonball entry. Now, the process to get a motorcycle shipped to the US is not exactly quick, easy, or fun, but in this case was a necessity to make my Cannonball dreams come true. After several weeks of price shopping and comparison, we actually found a pretty good deal for air freight. You can probably imagine my excitement was pretty hard to contain. The seven days that it took to collect the bike, crate it, and ready for shipment seemed more along the lines of two months!

  Anyway, after a few more days of shipping and clearing through United States Customs (don't even ask me how much of a hassle the government red tape is.....) I finally received the call that she was free for pickup and ready to come home.

She came in a BMW crate...if it's good enough to hold the
 "Ultimate Driving Machine", it'll hold my BSA.

Just before uncrating...Notice my protective footwear and headgear?

Didn't even move an inch in the crate

Seeing the light of day

  It was definitely hard not to rip the crate open like a little kid on Christmas. Luckily, nothing had moved during the 4,500 mile journey and she was completely secure. The hardest thing to do (and still is to this day) was to wipe the smile off of my face. I realize that in the scheme of things, this is probably a pretty small event, and maybe not the most important to the overall event, but I was really proud and excited to receive my BSA. It marked the end of a long journey- from the decision in December to enter the race, to finding the bike, to all of the long emails back and forth with Ken and Phil about the rebuild, and of course, the wait.

Finally home

Till Next Time,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer # 3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team