Friday, June 29, 2012

Motorcycle Cannonball BSA Photoshoot

Sepia RacingDSC02601DSC02599SONY DSC428936_2916815777991_1676904601_n428911_2916808817817_588748392_a
376394_2916810737865_2056040634_nCannonball Number Plate

Here's a teaser of a few of the pictures from a recent photoshoot for the Motorcycle Cannonball with my 1927 BSA. I'll upload more to the album as time permits. The outfit I'm wearing is actually a period set: 1910 English Riding Coat, and 1920s helmet/cap. Only the English driving gloves are new.

Photo Credit: Barbara Jansa

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Team T-Shirt Design

  Here's the completed design for our team t-shirts. I'm really happy with the way they came out. Getting the two logos cleaned up was a long process, but they turned out great. These shirts will be on sale in the next two to three weeks at a price of $20. All proceeds from the sale of these shirts will go towards our Motorcycle Cannonball team. If you're interested, send me an email at, so I can advise you when the shirts are ready to be sold.


Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Pre-Cannonball Mechanical Adventures

  I must say, I'm quite glad that I have a complete, running machine with some time to spare before the Cannonball. During the Pre-1916 Cannonball, I know there were a couple of folks who hadn't gotten test miles on their bikes except riding from the trailer to the starting line, while still some were literally finishing their builds in the Kitty Hawk, North Carolina hotel parking lot. Adventurous, yes....but not my style. With a little more than 70 days left until the start of the run, I'm quite fortunate in having a bike that is Cannonball-ready. These days are giving me plenty of time to prepare and get in test miles. And believe you me, I'm glad the bugs are being worked out now. I meant to post this before my trip a few weeks back, since both of these incidents happened in the last week of May.

This would be the time for a few choice words...
  After putting almost 200 miles on the odometer with almost no issues, Murphy's Law dictated that it was time for the first one to pop up. On May 22, I went to fire up the bike to bring it to operating temperature so that I could drain the crankcase oil. Fuel on, drip feed set, magneto lever partially advanced, carburetor primed...Primer kick, primer ki------SNAP! An "Oh sh*t" moment if I ever heard one. My kickstart lever decided to snap right below the rubber. Well, what now? After a few choice words, I picked up the phone and gave my fellow BSA Cannonballer Jim Crain a call to see if he might have a spare lever. With no luck, it was down to pulling the old lever and re-welding it. I should probably mention that my shop has no air conditioning, and Texas is known for its oven-baking heat. So, I held off on removing it until the next morning when it was still cool outside.

  Once I finally wrangled the thing off, I examined the cause for failure. I knew that I wasn't at fault, since it was only a primer kick and the bike has a very low compression. It turned out that a combination of age and a poorly done weld on a previous break were the cause. Not being very proficient with welding, I took the kickstart lever up to a local shop that is very reliable. Very shortly after, I received it back and ground the weld smooth. I also went ahead and polished the piece up, since it's always easier to polish a part when removed from the motorcycle. And, as always, putting the piece back on is always many times more aggravating. Putting the kickstart lever back on was no exception to this rule- The return coil spring is actually operated by a simple tab that sticks out of the lever (my original intention was to use a kickstart lever from a 40's or 50's British bike, since they're easier to come by), and it decided that it would come unwound and pop out of the coil cover. Add another 30 minutes to the job, and the newly repaired kickstarter was installed.

A poorly done weld that had aged was the culprit

Ground down, sanded, and polished
Fellow Cannonballer Doug Wothke
said it best: BSA= Bring Some Air
  Smooth sailing from now on! Until May 31st, when I had the first flat tire. Luckily it was a mere 1,000 feet away from the shop where a new tube, tools, and a cold beer awaited. One of the features that I like about this bike is the foldable front stand to make tire changes extra easy. So easy, in fact, that I barely even sweated (okay, well maybe I did in the 100 degree heat). Turns out that the valve for the tube ripped right out. I sense a bunch of new tubes in the future..... Easy fix, and the front wheel was soon right back on. Also took the opportunity to adjust my front brake, change the oil over to 20-50 weight (the Texas head makes these machines very thirsty beasts), and change out all of the grease zerks to modern 1/4 inch fittings. I'm glad I changed out the fittings, because I've had a lot of trouble trying to find an adapter to fit the originals, and the bike took a decent amount of grease.
Isn't that front stand nifty?

All in all, these are small bugs that are to be expected with an 85 year old motorcycle. Nothing major, and nothing that can't be fixed. One thing I noticed is the smile that seems to have welded itself to my face, even with the ups and downs.

 In addition to doing normal maintenance and working out the bugs, my team and I are also working on improving the comfort and functionality of the BSA. One way we're doing this is by changing the seat to something more comfortable. The original seat on the bike has about 1/4 inch of original horsehair padding, with springs. Basically, it boils down to a comfort level of zero. So, while sitting around cogitating on it, we pulled out a brown leather seat that appears to be for a custom bobber or chopper. The seat is a new piece with a decent amount of padding, and heavy duty springs. I was worried about the condition of the original seat springs, as the metal looked very brittle.

Actually not too bad of a look. I kind of like the brown
 against the black and green
  Oh, by the way, our friends Ken Ashton and Phil Haywood from Vintage and Veteran, LLP sent me this picture a few days back. All of the high visibility vests for the three teams have arrived. Riders will receive two of them, as our machines will undoubtedly dirty them up. Every member of the support crews will receive one. A cool, and safety-conscious addition to our apparel.


Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer # 3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Monday, June 25, 2012

Back in the Saddle- The Texan Returns Home

3,859.5 miles of Cannonball Training in the books
  Well folks, I'm finally back in Texas, and more focused than ever on the Motorcycle Cannonball Run that is quickly approaching. It was nice to be away for a few weeks, and I got some really good seat time in. My trip tallied up to be 3,859 miles and took me through 11 states over the course of 17 days. I still didn't hit the mileage that is to be expected with the Cannonball run in September. It's amazing to believe that I'll be turning around in just a few months and making an even longer trip at extra slow speeds!

  Being on two wheels for all that time really made me think a lot about how to prepare myself and the bike for this long haul ahead. I think I'm up to the challenge physically and mentally, and I have faith in my machine. I'll admit, the unknown awaits, and it makes me nervous at times. Sometimes I wonder why I decided to do this- but I would never back out of it. As much as it makes me nervous, I'm infinitely more excited.

Found one of my flyers in Deals Gap, North Carolina
  Something that has helped my confidence is all of the new friends that I'm making in the motorcycle world. More and more great people are coming forward all the time wanting to offer advice and help. I've also been in touch with many of the previous Cannonballers. As a matter of fact, I spent last weekend in Maggie Valley, North Carolina at the world famous Wheels Through Time Museum owned by Dale and Matt Walksler. Dale entered the first Cannonball on his 1915 Harley and had a perfect score with the exception of two miles. Dale also entered the 2012 Barber Vintage Festival Race of the Century and raced against me (well, a better way to describe it would be that he flew by me on his 1907 Indian). I knew that if anyone could give me some advice and guidance, it would be Dale.

  After sending out a short email to the crew at Wheels Through Time to see if Dale would be there to chat (Afterall, it was going to be Father's Day when I went), my dad and I packed up our bikes in Nashville and headed towards North Carolina. We spent Saturday riding through the Smoky Mountains and the Tail of the Dragon (318 curves in an 11 mile stretch of mountain road- very cool!) A surprise awaited me when we finished the Dragon and stopped in at the Deals Gap Motorcycle Resort. Two of my Motorcycle Cannonball flyers were already posted in the building. And, there was plenty of attention around them. Sunday morning we had breakfast in Maggie Valley, and headed to the museum.

Hanging out with Dale and Matt Walksler and
the WTT Raffle Bike!
  To say the least, I was completely blown away by the hospitality that everyone showed us at the museum. We were treated as if we were honored guests by Dale, Matt, and everyone who worked there. Dale spent a huge amount of time in a one-on-one Cannonball Q&A session. He let me closely examine his Cannonball machine and the Harley ridden by Wayne Stanfield for ideas. Dale's machine actually used an auxillary fuel tank on the rear carrier- a 1960s Harley Super Glide tank. I really appreciated all of the time the crew spent with me. Dale even gave us a private "behind the scenes" tour into the museum workshop. All in all, I picked up an amazing amount of information, advice and tips. Before leaving WTT, I was also able to leave behind a thick stack of Cannonball flyers. A huge thanks once again to everyone on the staff there for their kindness and generosity. I will definitely come back soon.

Cris Sommer Simmons' new book
  While at Wheels Through Time, I also picked up a copy of Cris Sommer Simmons' new book, "The American Motorcycle Girls Cannonball Diary." If you get the chance, I heartily recommend this book to anyone. Cris crossed the United States in the Pre-1916 Motorcycle Cannonball aboard her 1915 Harley Davidson, "Effie." This book had excellent reviews, and I was excited to read it. Once I opened it up, I simply could not put it down. Many of my friends have encouraged me to write about this journey, and I've been back and forth in my mind on whether it would be worth it to write a book. After finishing Cris's Cannonball Diary and thinking heavily on it, I'm pleased to announce that I have decided to write a book myself. If nothing else, I would really love to document everything and share it with my friends and family, as well as anyone else who might be interested in this journey. Cris, if you read this, you were the inspiration for it!

  I'd also like to take the time to welcome a new sponsor for our Cannonball Team. The Indiana Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors very graciously gave the team a $2,000 sponsorship. Their sponsorship is greatly appreciated, and I hope to see some of the members along the route.

Until Next Time,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Holiday notice

Hi all,

Here's a little bit of my route- No directions,
no schedule, no worries!
I'm sure everyone is eager to hear more about the preparations and progress for our Cannonball Team. I haven't forgotten my followers out there, I promise! I'm actually on holiday at the moment- I've been traveling the backroads of the United States on my daily rider (2004 Harley Davidson Sportster) for the last 14 days. Getting lots of good seat time in preparation for my Cannonball adventures. I'll be sure to give more details and upload lots of photos as soon as I'm back in Texas!

Know that I've got a ton of updates for you all!

Best regards from two wheels

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer # 3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team

Friday, June 1, 2012

Houston Area BMOA Rally Follow Up

Interview with Thunder Press Magazine (Photo Courtesy of Linda Filla)
  A few weeks back, I had mentioned in a post that we had been invited to attend the 28th Annual Houston-area BMOA (British Motorcycle Owner's Association) Rally in New Ulm, Texas. A lot of attention had been focused on our Cannonball team, trailer, and bike. Well, first off, I want to heartily recommend this rally to anyone who has an interest in seeing REAL vintage enthusiasts--what do I mean by that? Many of the shows that are out there and open to the public are composed of mostly "trailer queen" bikes, which are perfectly restored 98-100 point bikes that are pulled out of the trailer, excessively cleaned, and placed right back in.

Loading up..notice the abundance of straps!
  The beauty of this rally is that 90 percent of the bikes in attendance were actually ridden to the show, some from several hundred miles away. Some of the machines were beautiful restorations, while some were original pieces lovingly tended to, while still some were "rat bikes" that hinted of a deep love affair with the owner. I'm of the opinion that all of these machines were made to be ridden, and seem to be happier when plugging away down the road. Our machines were trailered, only because we packed 7 classics into the new race trailer. However, plenty of time was spent riding around the event and up and down the local country roads.

  All that being said, we certainly had an adventure throughout the weekend. This trip marked the first "outing" for the race trailer, so certain bugs were bound to come out- and come out, they did. Before leaving the driveway, one tire valve stem went bad. Several more stops were made to pick up groceries and supplies for the weekend, which went uneventful. Luckily none of the bikes had moved, which is always a concern. At the last stop, I noticed that one of the trailer tires seemed to be low on air- when we started to add more, the whole valve came loose. Normally this makes for a problem, however this happened a mere 500 feet away from a tire center. All was well and right with the world. That is, until we opened the trailer door at the rally. Our 1952 Ariel Square Four Mark I decided that it wasn't comfortable being strapped down, and wanted to smack the Concours-restoration 1935 Norton 16H sitting next to it. So, now a lovely little crease in the tank of the 16H is on the list for repair. Ah well....

Carson Classic Motors vintage display set up
  While getting set up, I was amazed at the crowd of people that showed up to watch, lend a hand, and offer a cold drink and condolences about the Norton. Previously I had talked about how great friendships are often started around a vintage motorcycle or machine, and this weekend was no exception. Within 5 minutes of arriving, it felt like we had an extended family.

Answering questions from some interested fans!
(Photo Courtesy of Jamie Farquhar)
  It seemed that my 1927 BSA was a huge hit at the show- a lot of questions were asked about the operation, history, and its upcoming adventure. A bunch of people wanted to get some pictures of the bike, and smiles were abundant. We even received several hundred dollars of generous donations from people who wanted to follow along with us. So if you're now reading this after meeting at the rally, a huge thank you for your kind donations, words of encouragement and friendship on behalf of the Carson Classic Motors Race Team.

Getting some quality miles in: Stopped at the local store
 to pick up some small odds and ends
  I had a great opportunity to put some more miles on the bike, as New Ulm is centered in a "no-man's land." Luckily, the country roads were well kept and very smooth. Smooth enough, in fact, that I was even able to squeeze 50+ mph out of the motor (I try not to push the motor too much in the break-in stage).

  Another great part of the weekend was having the pleasure of being interviewed by Robert Filla and his wife Linda. Robert is the Southern Editor for Thunder Press magazine- a very popular motorcycle magazine. I had a great time with them, and I'm looking forward to seeing the article in an upcoming issue. I was also approached by Mike Brown, a writer for Walneck's Classic Cycle Magazine (If you're reading this, I apologize if I get your name wrong- I accidentally lost your card. Sorry about that!!) who set up an interview for a later date (which was on Wednesday of this week.) Overall, it was great weekend for publicity.

Member Jamie Farquhar participating in the
barrel racing on her slicked out BSA!
(Photo Courtesy of Steve Myers)
  On Sunday of the rally, the annual bike show was held. This year was "The Year of the Royal Enfield," so there were many Enfields in the respective categories. I enjoyed the way that the BMOA organized the bike show- basically, you could enter your machine into whatever category you felt it had the best chance to win. Our bikes came away with four trophies in their respective categories- my 1927 BSA S27 brought a First Place in the "Miscellaneous British" section, the 1952 Ariel Square Four Mark I brought First Place in the "Concours" category, our 1951 Vincent Comet Custom scored a First Place plaque in the "Customs, Cafes, and Choppers" section, and our 1973 Triumph Bonneville Custom brought Second Place in the 1971-83 Triumph category.

  All in all, it was a wonderful weekend. A good outing for the trailer, plenty of great food and drink, and countless new friendships. Thanks again to our new friends with the Houston-area BMOA for the hospitality and kindness. You'll definitely be seeing us again. Finally, a special thank you to everyone for supporting our Cannonball team with your generous donations and kind words of encouragement.

All the best,

Buck Carson
Confirmed Cannonballer #3
Carson Classic Motors Race Team