Here is a quick little snippet of what is to come with the newly revived podcast. The current set-up may not function with iTunes, so I will be figuring that out in the meantime.
One of the things I learned is that the stock gearbox on the TR5T is somewhere between wide ratio and standard. The classic/cool thing to do would be to source a close ratio gearbox. This would be the gearbox run back in the late 60s at Daytona when the Triumph 500 was a bike to beat. The problem is the difference in the races being run. The first gear on a close ratio is too high for a speedy start that is so key to getting yourself out front for a short race. A longer race, like Daytona, gave you enough miles to make up for a slow start. The low 1st gear in the bike gave me some goods starts that the bike and rider were not up to task for.
Tracks like New Jersey Motorsports Park have a lot of twists and carousels that will keep you between 2nd and 3rd more than you would expect. My experience for the Triumph was that the distance between 2nd and 3rd was too great and that it left me at a great disadvantage.
The ratio for 4th stays the same Between the different wide, standard and close ratios. It was hard to see a considerable change in 3rd from the TR5T and standard gearbox, as well. The plan is to keep all other gears, but update 2nd to standard specs.
Part of getting into the gear cluster requires tearing down of the clutch. This is where I should mention that prior to racing I never saw the bike run for more than a couple seconds. It turns out that the clutch decided not to work on race day and I had to jam another friction plate in there to get anything to happen. The truth is that I had planned on rebuilding the clutch beforehand, but the parts never arrived in time. New clutch springs and friction plates await installation.
Getting myself and the Triumph on the track last season was an incredible experience. Starting to assemble the bike less than two weeks before racing was something I wanted to avoid the next time. If plans have gone, as planned, the bike would be done by now and already tested. As it stands, Roebling is about 4 weeks away and I am just starting to get to work on the bike.
There only thing I got done right away to the bike was putting proper exhaust spigots in. For some odd reason on the TR5T Triumph decided to use push in exhaust pipes unlike every other T100 engine. Last year at the track, I returned to the pit with a pipe dangling off the side. Many thanks to John Melniczuk for bailing me out that day and Tom Healy for getting the heads tapped for the spigots.
This engine was run as I got it. I have no clue what is really inside. My understanding is that it was raced on some local TT tracks. Having to remove the head to get the spigots in revealed some oddities. Stock valve guides were in the intake and some mismatched oversized guides were in the exhaust. Replacement guides and valves all around. For some reason I had been running lightened racing springs in my everyday T100 and those have been 'borrowed' permanently to complete the head. It also appears that whoever did the engine before me was using an earlier copper gasket that is thicker than the proper one (let's hope there was not a good reason).
I should be buttoning up the top end today and then will get on the gearbox and clutch next week.
Luca Cipolla is a four and two wheel moto addict going to school for film. A nasty incident with a car not noticing his bike put him out for more than a semester last year, but his love of two wheels lives on in this short film.
Unlike some hipster homage to grooming and pseudo manliness here is a simple vignette of a real person with their actual bike just getting as much out of a day as he can.
Last week I just finished up the custom wiring for a customer's Triumph. The bike is a 1963 TR6ss that came to him as a basket case in 1971. It came to me when something crazy went on with the wiring.
Along with a custom harness a new digital ignition was installed. This allowed us to swap things around and make the bike a negative ground system as per the owners request.
Early on the single carb TR6 was changed into a twin carb along with the standard 650 jugs being replaced with an oversized 750cc set. A belt drive and dry clutch is also hidden below the primary cover. As this bike is done for the guy riding it and not for anyone else, it contains a mix of styles that make it unique. Along with a mix of cafe and bobber elements, two of my favorite unique/interesting elements of the bike are the large tank and the Aermacchi front end. The owner says the front brake could be better (after some test riding, I agree), but at the time it was an easy way to get a set of Ceriani forks. The meager front brake has stayed on during the search for something better. TT pipes along with a bobber style seat, a custom oil tank, and pillion pad complete the look.
This bike is a good example of a personal project that will morph and change over time. It may send the critics into a tizzy over certain elements, but the performance of this bike is real and the ride is quality.
In the moto world it is de rigueur to wear a pair of jeans when riding. Points for style, sure - just don't count on them saving your skin. Much safety gear is angled towards touring or racing and does not consider style or comfort when off the bike.
Through an odd set of coincidences, after asking others their opinions on uglyBros jeans and pants, I received a call from one of their reps and now Quaker City Motor Works is their new Philadelphia area dealer.
UglyBROS has two basic offerings, jeans with a denim kevlar mix and pants with removable armor.
In the coming days and weeks I will be getting all of uglyBROS offerings up here for purchase as well as in the shop for you to try on. In the meantime you can check out uglyBros and ask us to order any specific pair you want.
While the sun never set on the British Empire, it also never set on a proper cup of tea. Somewhere in the 1600s this simple beverage arrived from the east and took that island nation by storm. This popularity was helped by the East India Trading Company and its hold on trade coming from India, China, and more. Advance ourselves forward a couple centuries and tea is as prevalent in the UK, but has lost out to coffee in many of the former colonies.
This leads me to the point of writing this. The inability for most Americans to brew a proper cup of tea. Let's not get hung up on whether you put milk and or sugar in it, I am talking about the tea itself.
So, here is my rant on/are some guidelines for a proper cup of tea…
Tea is black or green tea derived from cured leaves of the the Camellia Sinensis shrub/tree. All those others things are technically not tea. I am not some purist that will scold you for calling it tea, but if you offer me tea and serve me that swill I will think you a fool.
Orange Pekoe is not a kind of tea, it is a method of grading black tea. It is a medium grade also described as Broken Orange Pekoe (BOP) that uses the smaller middle size tea leaves. The "bud" or highest grade would be Flowery Orange Pekoe or Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe. The other bigger leaves up the stem are used for different teas like souchong.
Making the tea:
- Fresh water boiled to a rolling boil - this means there are bubbles and all that.
- Good tea - see above. A good black tea or Earl Grey are my go to teas. Loose tea is not necessary, but it will be a more flavorful brew. Lipton is only good for iced tea. PG Tips is a good economical tea with decent flavor. A true fanatic may scoff at the use of bagged tea, but I am a realist.
- Warm the cup or pot you will be brewing in - This is so your water does not lose its heat.
- Place the tea or tea bag in your cup. There are many different holders for loose tea, but if properly brewed, loose tea will sink to the bottom.
- Pour the hot water directly on the tea/teabag - Loose tea you can leave in, but I would remove bagged as it can get bitter (give at least 3-5 minutes).
- At this point you can add any bit of milk or sugar you desire and make it a builder's, but in my opinion a good tea straight is how to go.
There is something wonderful about a crisp morning and a cuppa with the steam coming off to start your workday.
For a proper British rant on tea and its preparation here is a little ditty from George Orwell.
It seems I am smack dab in the middle of the nostalgia years. A point in a persons life where what has passed is much more alluring than what will come. At points I understand this desire as it is part of what I do, but often I am at a loss for the desire to halt time and relive a part of your past. For some reason I understand this more with the motorcycles that get restored and resurrected at the shop as a means to preserve the past, than I do the constant barrage of reunion tours from the bands of my youth. Don't get me wrong, many of these bands I list among my favorite musical acts. I am just not as enthused about their revival as many of my compatriots are.
There is this intangible thing with a band and its music at that right point in time that transcends it from just sound to something, for lack of better terms, spiritual. Pan camera to some 80's cliché teenager sitting in their room listening to the Smiths. Each of those moments where we have put a soundtrack to an event in our life we can relive again each time we hear that song. Seeing that band live again lacks the authenticity of that original show or time you put that super cool record on before trying to impress that new girl with how cool you were. Along with you, these bands have aged, the emotions and desires that created that art have long since passed and now most are a cover band of themselves.
With bikes it is a similar scenario. Many folks coming in the shop are looking for that bike of their youth. Whether it was their first one or the one that really cool kid down the street had. Modern bikes and how smoothly they accelerate and adequately stop in time - fail in helping us relive that rush of our youth. The sound, the vibration, and feeling one is about to fall off the back - man that is a thrill.
With motorbikes, the revival is a much less authentic. The name of the brand remains, but the people, the designers, and engineers have all disappeared and been replaced. The modern revivals are just a Beatlemania cover band of the old moto brands. No heart, no soul, the only history is in their name.
I guess I could make the soundtrack at the shop like most others and just play rockabilly, old punk, or hardcore - but, I'm not going to do that. Wax Tailor, for me is hard to categorize. Often it gets lumped in with Trip or Hip Hop and that is that. The pity is that categorization will turn off many who may actually really dig it.
Wax Tailor is technically just one French DJ/Producer named Jean-Christophe Le Saoût as he is the brains behind it all. What is most compelling is the collaborations and artists that he pulls in.
There are few artists that remain as strong through the years or inspire as much as Patti Smith. If you listened to college radio in the early 80s, like me, there is no doubt you heard her version of "Gloria". It has as much punch today as it did then, spine tingling and as powerful as the rest of the album Horses.
Late nights in the shop require a little more energy than what caffeine can provide and Patti can provide that energy with a soundtrack that has been keeping me going since I heard it on my local(ish) college radio (thanks WPRB).
If you do not know the raw power and glory that is Patti Smith or just need a reminder, give Horses a listen:
Over twenty five years ago I almost finished the build on my first race bike. It was a BSA A50 Royal Star that after an engine rebuild I started to hop up. It was a good runner that even without the long sought cyclone head (that never arrived). Well things transpire and that bike was used for tuition money.
Last year my good friend Matt went and got his race license through AHRMA. Being there, watching, and occasionally helping him got me back wanting to race myself. Less than a year later I am scrambling to get a Triumph TR5T ready to race for the AHRMA event at New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) on July 10th.
Things were progressing slowly through the spring and really did not get to where they needed to be by the end of June, when I had originally planned the bike to be running for a few test runs.
The week before I had enlisted my friend George (known to many as English George) to head up the safety wiring department and transit of the bike to the race. At this point we forward to the Monday the week of the race and there is some emergency ordering of clutch plates and a couple of gaskets, but getting things done by Thursday when I need to head down seems attainable.
The Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday pass and progress is amazing, this thing is going to happen. UPS at the shop usually arrives by one, but still no clutch plates. Thursday progresses as I give up on new clutch plates and finish welding the exhaust pipes. George is running late after packing and then calls around 4 or 5 saying he just got rear-ended heading to the shop. At this point is is probably worth noting that George is already in a neck-brace. Luckily he is fine and his transit is unscathed.
We load up the still not running bike and George starts on his way as I head home to pack. An half hour later I am on the road as the clouds roll in and the heavens open up on us with tornado warnings for the area we need to drive through. Somehow, I end up beating George to the track by 20 minutes.
That night I got things wired up, but we still had to mount pipes and finish up some safety wiring. Due to that we did not have the bike running in time for class. Luckily Matt offered up his CB175 for my use when needed. and I was on my way for the day and I was able to get my race license.
The next day had me finishing up everything and missing my practice sessions, but I was ready for the first race on an untested bike (excluding a few runs around the paddock).
The warm up lap on the first race felt good and riding a bike that felt more like what I was used to was reassuring. The first lap was good, and to be expected, the rest of my heat left me behind. With them in the near distance I hit the carousel and the bike chugged a bit as I opened up the throttle for the chicane and the front straight. At this point I was realizing my jetting wasn't adequate for lower revs and decided the next time round I needed to keep the revs higher.
In lap one the 500GP and Formula 500 heats started passing me and now a couple of turns into lap two my heat was gaining on me. With the carousel coming up I put on the throttle pushing myself to keep a better line and lean more into the corners. I was still getting passed, but it was taking them some time. Half way through the carousel I started to open the throttle to keep up. As I do I can hear the engine start to bog down as the exhaust starts screaming from the right. A quick look down and my right pipe is hanging off of safety wire and a p-clamp. Left hand up and into the pits for me.
At this point I was not totally dejected about todays performance, but I was starting to feel dread about not being able to get on the track the next day. In the process of blowing my right pipe off I lost a valuable home made spigot for the exhaust. I searched around the swap meet and checked the tech area if anything was found on the track, but no luck. On my search I talked to John Melniczuk, he thought he may have something in his shop six miles away and he would check later that night.
A couple of phone calls with John and some measurements taken, and he is throwing one from a 650 onto a lathe for my. This leads us to how amazing a community of people that gets created on track days, It is hard to understand and must be witnessed to be believed.
In the morning John shows up with a spigot that fits perfectly and I refit the pipes and secure them better. I almost miss practice, but get out there after some re-jetting of the carb. Little things on the bike get tweaked like the position of the shifter and some slack taken out of the cables.
The last race of the weekend is at hand, the test lap feels good. We line up at the grid and are off with the second wave. The race goes well, I am still not leaning as far as I should, I realize second is much to low and third a stretch for some turns, have a blast the whole time, and amazing don't come in last (but, I am not sure the person behind me losing his carb and not finishing counts).
The bike needs some finagling and the rider, well, I need to get some more track time.
In this episode of In the Shop we chat with Leon Stanley of the Badger Corse. Based out of Trenton, New Jersey - Leon has recently been on Cafe Racer TV. He is also anticipating the release of a film about his race efforts with the Badger, a modern Royal Enfield.
In the past couple of weeks two different photographers have swung by the shop and forwarded us the results of their visits.
The first was Jared Sloan ( one91 ) who happens to be in the neighborhood.
The next was from F James Conley ( regardingphilly ) who showed up at the Swap Thing & Vin-Moto Show.
Great shots the both of you and thanks for swinging by the shop.
We start out 2014 with Nikki Neuman an accomplished rider and scooter fanatic. Nikki has ridden solo on vintage motorcycle across the US and traveled throughout Europe and England on hopped up scooters. We get to talk about these adventures and the upcoming CORSA and CORSette that Nikki is planning.
Or, a list of things we should have done last year
For many of us this crazy weather has kept us off two wheels and allowed for too much of that year end introspection. Here are a few things we all should consider as the new year and the next riding season rolls in.
Get in shape
Add this one to 2013's top 10 of broken resolutions. Being fit is an obvious one of course, but you do not have to be one of your annoying facebook friends that only post updates on how far they ran, etc. I thought burpee was a seed company and why are you sending these updates at 10 am, get to work you lazy bastards.
Ride Apart has a pretty good article with more factoids than I care to type. Read it!
Be an example
In the shadow of the insanity that transpired in New York this past year and all the 180 mph videos on the internet, we need to present a better side to our fellow road users. This even goes into us taming our response when those we share the road with endanger our lives. We all need to show the world that we are not the stereotypes the media make us out to be.
Wear your protection
This goes for all the scenarios that pop into your dirty little mind. I don't care how it feels or how it makes you look, get over yourself and show the ones in your life that want you around a little respect.
Need I mention we offer 15% off MSRP on Vanson Leathers? Give us a buzz and we can order one for you.
Buy more vintage parts from QCMW
Really, how else is the shop going to afford Supercamp this year?
In other shop news
The daily running of things this past year has seen some of our side projects pushed to the side. I have been asked about them enough to make sure they happen again. So… In February we plan on reviving the fortnight series of shirts - new shirts will be offered at least every month and our 'In the Shop' podcast should be getting updated monthly as well.
In March look for the return of our our First Friday events as well as the Return of Swap Thing (our swap meet).
Have a good new year!
This is part two of my chat with Doug Wood.
It was last year sometime when Bryan at Vanson sent me a sample of their new jacket. Within 24 hrs of it being at the shop there were a bunch of folks clamoring to get one of their own.
Besides trying this jacket on in the shop and using it on a couple test rides I had not yet taken it for a long spin until the other weekend.
The jacket has a great fit without giving you the 80s power suit look. Off the bike it gives a flattering fit to everyone I have seen try them on. The cut is flexible enough that it is attractive on women as well. Two white leather stripes down the sleeves add a nice retro look to the jacket.
The cut is a little generous compared to Vanson's other offerings. Usually a large, the medium fit my size 42R comfortably.
Stock, it comes with CE approved shoulder and elbow armor held in place with Velcro. Back armor is optional.
The jacket scores with all its pockets, 4 out and 2 inside, give ample space for a phone, wallet, and a tool or two.
Saturday was slightly muggy and holding in the mid to low 80s. Two rear vent zips open up the back, as well as grommets in the pits adding to ventilation. Despite this the temps were on the upper end for stop and go riding. I await some below 80 days and maybe some rain to give jacket a full try.
Overall this jacket gets a thumbs up. I need to dig up some back armor to make this jacket my regular.
A month or so back I had the opportunity to chat with Doug Wood. Besides being well known as a Lucas magneto rebuilder, Doug is a wonderfully down to earth guy who is a pleasure to chat with.