Tuesday, December 20, 2011

More from the Harrington 1/2 Mile

I recently sent the Harrington slides down to Larry Lawrence for his blog The Rider Files. He's a contributing editor at Cycle World, and has a superb collection of motorcycle racing photos taken during the 80's and up to current times. He also has an encyclopedic knowledge of the racers, down to the names of club level riders all over the country.

He had offered to digitize the slides for me, and if any were worthy he would load some on his site. Well he came through on both promises, as I just got the slides back along with a CD containing the digi's, and he did in fact publish many of the images on The Rider Files, including the identification of riders. I was pretty psyched to find out who I had photos of;

Here's Chris Carr riding a Wood Rotax sporting an amateur plate with Dellorto sponsorship.

Randy Goss, check the helmet sponsor!

Bubba Shobert on the RS750

I'll post more of these as I have time, but you can check 'em out at the rider files...

Big thank you to Larry for his work!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Great weekend

It would be hard to exaggerate how great this past weekend was! Scott flew up from Brooklyn, and Hannah was here, and we really packed a lot in. Some of the highlights;

On Saturday, Scott and Hannah and I met Seamus and Jay at Matt's place in Milton for some epic trail riding. Matt very graciously loaned Scott his YZ250F to ride, and Matt drove his dune buggy down to the moto track for a few laps. Seamus, Jay and Scott took off on the woods loop while Hannah and I did some laps on the track. Matt gave Hannah a ride in the buggy as well. When the guys returned I went for a ride on the woods loop with them and Hannah stayed on the track to work on her moto technique.

Seamus gettin' some on the powerline.

Group photo, taken by Jay.

On Sunday the family headed over to Hunter Farm to shoot some clays. In my case it was more like shoot at some clays, I missed most of 'em. Jay and Ben Danger eventually found their way over and joined us.

The latest fashion trend at the Gun Club....leather jackets

After shooting a case of 12G shells and a couple boxes of 410, we headed home for lunch.

Bonfire was next on the list, with some XR200 seat time thrown in...

Sandy got lots of garden clean-up done.

Who can resist a motorcycle fire jump? Scott couldn't.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

300 EXC rebuild

I finally finished the rebuild of my KTM engine. I had to tear it down because of a couple episodes of air filter leaks allowing unfiltered air, dust and sand into the engine. I had hoped that the damage would be limited to the top end, but the connecting rod had some play, so it turned into a complete tear down. I started on a Sunday a few weeks ago, and I had the cylinder off pretty quickly, but I ran out of time to split the cases, so that would have to happen on a Thursday.

Parts were ordered and the cylinder was dropped off at the Crank Shop on Kellog road Essex to be re-chromed. They sent it out and said it would be two weeks, which gave me some time to get the cases split. That job went pretty well considering I had no service manual. The rod took longer to arrive than I had hoped, but when it came in I dropped it off with the crank at the Crank Shop and asked if there was any chance I could get it back in time for the weekend. The nice young lady at the counter laughed and said probably not, but she'd ask. I got a call the next day saying it was ready, which was very cool since that would allow me to get the bottom end back together while waiting on the cylinder. Things went well until I realized that one of the new crank bearings was going to need to be pressed onto the crank, and I lacked the technology to accomplish that. I drove back the the Crank Shop with the crank and new bearing and asked if they could get it on for me. Five minutes later I'm walking out with the job done. LOVE those folks. And better yet, she called me the next day to say the cylinder was back.

Along with the new parts (crankshaft and transmission bearings, full gasket set, new reeds etc.) I ordered a service manual. Service manuals all seem to share a few common traits. They're often indispensable for certain procedures, but just as often they seem to omit critical information about how to actually do stuff. I ran into this with the transmission shift drum and forks. The instructions just said to install the forks on the drum and then install the pivot shafts. No specific reference or index points, but they did have some photos of the assembly. I did what the manual said, but couldn't get the transmission to shift into all the gears, just 1st, 2nd and 3rd. I was convinced I had done something wrong, and I proceeded to take the tranny apart. After several attempts to solve this with no better results, I just gave up and continued putting the engine back together with the hope that it would somehow find 4th and 5th gear once I had it running.

Sure enough, once I put everything back together and tested the bike, I had all 5 gears.

New piston from KTM.

This is my cylinder after the re-chrome job. Lovely.

Engine cases etc. Not exactly a sterile environment.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Somewhere in Charlotte...or is it Starksboro?

This past Sunday Art Clifford invited me to tour the Clifford Tree Farm with him and another couple. The tree farm is in the foothills of Charlotte and Starksboro, we rode Honda ATV's from his dairy farm up some logging roads and across some neighboring properties to get there. His family has logged the farm four times in his life, and it looks like nobody has ever set foot in it. Absolutely beautiful woods with mountain streams flowing through them, waterfalls, and some stone walls built in earlier times to line roads or mark boundaries that were washed away in the great flood of '27.

In the 70's, Art and his wife wanted to build a pond up on the hill. It would require a small dam to be built across a shallow little gorge. He went to the state and got permission to go ahead, with the proviso that the state would send somebody up periodically to check the status of the dam. The 4 acre pond is fed by a nearby brook, and drains back into the brook by a pipe that regulates the pond level. Quite an engineering feat. More recently, they built a small cabin with six bunks and a fireplace in it, a great spot to hike to and spend a night. The Cliffords don't discourage others from hiking there, they have an "open land" policy, as long as you respect the land and leave nothing but footprints.

This is a hunting camp (Deer Camp as it's known around here), Art on his ATV.

A Sugar House that was built before the war. A family of 5 lived here for several years. The shed on the right is connected to the house by a covered hanging trolley, so that they can supply dry wood for the sap boiler.

The pond. Art's wife, Suzy, mows the grass and maintains the property. He claims it keeps her off the golf course...

During the construction of the pond, some nice rocks turned up. Art planted them and had an artist come out and etch these footprints for Suzy's birthday.

Suzy's Glen, she cleared the brush and saplings to open this view of the waterfall.

Ok, I forgot to talk about the ATV I was riding. It was Suzy's, a Honda 425cc utility type, automatic tranny, power steering, independent suspension, 2 or 4 wheel drive, quiet, comfortable. So easy to ride it was really almost cheating. The closest I've come to just floating over the ground. I actually want one.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

XC Trip final day

Sunday was our last day to ride, and another foggy day in S.F. We rode to the beach for the official water ceremony, which would involve collecting some water from the Pacific Ocean, which we will introduce to the Atlantic Ocean at a later date. We hadn't given much thought to the process of collection, and it was proving to be a bit awkward without getting wet. I summoned a passing surfer to help us, and he was very obliging.

That mission accomplished, we had a little more time to kill so we walked up to the Cliff House restaurant/bar/gift shop/historic site, and took a look around. Then it was a couple blocks ride to Paul's place where we would leave the bikes to be picked up by a shipping company.

Once the bikes were in the garage, and we'd had a chance to ogle Paul's collection of bikes, BMW R75, Honda VFR, Honda TransAlp, Ducati 916, we headed into S.F. for the afternoon. It turned out that S.F. was not prepared for the traffic on Labor Day weekend. Paul had offered to drive us over to a beer garden/hiking club type of place in Marin, but we couldn't get over the bridge because the traffic had come to a complete stop. We bailed on the beer garden idea and found a place to have lunch downtown. After lunch we ran into the same traffic problems, couldn't get anywhere near Lombard Street or the Wharf, so we gave up on the notion of seeing the tourist sites and went back to Paul's. Martha had been preparing a great meal for us, tacos with lots of different options, and we had a great dinner at their place.

The next morning we caught the shuttle to the airport, and submitted ourselves to the TSA and the airlines for the next 15 hours.

Vermont plates at the beach drew some attention from a few passersby.

Not exactly beach wear...

The bikes parked outside of Paul and Martha's place.

Paul and Martha, expecting their first baby very soon.

The total miles according to the Garmin. It's probably the most accurate over the two bike odometers.

Well, I've obviously left out a lot of the trip. I still have some of the songs running through my head that snuck in there on the slightest suggestion, and stayed for days. Some great moments on the road and in hotels, gas stations or park gift shops.

Thanks to Sandy, Hannah, Scott, Bill, Uncle Richard & Sandy, Paul & Martha, and friends who helped outfit us or work our shifts.

To paraphrase a great quote from a WW2 GI, I am one lucky son of a bitch.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

XC Trip day 14

Uncle Richard escorted us out of Santa Maria and onto the Pacific Coast Highway up to Ragged Point. This was a pleasant ride, we were expecting it to be chilly and foggy, and it was, but still a nice day. We stopped to look at Elephant Seals at one of the roadside pull-offs where they had signs saying we could see them. Cool.

At Ragged Point we warmed up with a cup of coffee and a danish, said goodbye to Uncle Richard and headed north on Rt 1. We soon fell in behind a little red Karmann Ghia, and had a very entertaining time following him as he carved his way through traffic. The guy driving (flogging) it was really getting the most out of that car, and in fact he got away from us. We caught up with him at one point, but then it was time for a lunch break and we never saw him again.

We had lunch in Big Sur, at a great restaurant looking out over the ocean. While we were eating we watched an Otter diving in the kelp beds and eating clams. More coolness.

After Big Sur Rt 1 gets a bit less scenic until you reach Santa Cruz, which was where we headed inland on Rt 17 to bring us into San Fran. I missed a turn that would have given us a nicer ride, but we still got to our hotel by the airport in plenty of time to check in and do some exploring. We decided to head over to Muir Woods, which meant crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. I wasn't sure what the best route would be, but I don't think it would have mattered, the traffic was pretty bad everywhere, since this was Labor day weekend.

Unfortunately, the bridge was wrapped in dense fog, so you couldn't really see much at all. I was bummed, 'cause this was Hannah's first time here and it would've been nice to have a clear day to see the bridge and the view. Anyway, we pulled off into Sausalito so that she could check out the houseboats in the harbor. Then we headed on to the entry road to Muir. This is a very tight and fun 2 lane road that winds down into the park. We got there with only about a half hour of daylight remaining, so we just walked into the main trail far enough to see and touch some Redwoods. It was dark by the time we crossed the bridge again, and we decided to call it a day and headed back to the hotel.

Unc. Richard's house.

Unc. Richard's BMW, custom paint and details, a pretty bike.

Ready to go.

One cool veedub.

We just saw a Sea Otter!