Saturday, June 12, 2021

Racing into the Past, part 3

 A couple of the first items to receive attention in converting this particular Superglide into “The Beast” involved two of the major parts from the donor bike: the frame and the engine cases. Work on the frame was pretty straight forward.  The original Beast had a weld-on hardtail section added in about 1980.  A couple years later, still before its conversion for drag racing, I added the rectangular extensions to the rear section which lengthened the wheelbase a bit.  At the time, not a lot of engineering went in to it.  I had simply seen pictures of drag bikes in the magazines with that type of bracing so I copied it. Ironically a bit more “engineering” was involved in reproducing the long-gone original frame.  Lacking a good enough memory to come up with the measurements, I selected the best side view picture I had of the original, and scanned it in to the computer.  Then by enlarging the image, I was able to create a scale using a known measurement.  The 18” rear rim served as a good reference, and from there, a little math revealed the original wheelbase.

Now the stock swingarm frame is depressingly heavy from a drag racing standpoint, but there were no great weight losses to be found from these mods.  In fact, more than once when wrestling the frame back and forth between the bike lift and the welding bench I wondered if the finished product would wind up heavier that it started.  I had to keep reminding myself that part of the weight I didn’t remember “feeling” had more to do with the intervening 36 years than with actual pounds and ounces.  Bottom line; the finished frame weighs about 9 pounds less than the portly stock frame and swingarm that it started as, and that doesn’t even include the weight loss from eliminating the shock absorbers. 

 


Just as the original, the bike is black when viewed from the left side and orange from the right

 Along with the frame, work on the crankcase was one of the first things to be tackled.  The “left over” 3-13/16 bore finless Axtell cylinders would require a bit of work to the crankcases, and I don’t mean just boring for the spigots.  Stock cases get really, really thin behind the tappet blocks (particularly the rear cylinder) as well as at the front of the case, when opened up for these cylinders.  A goodly amount of time was spent building these areas up with weld and then re-machining. This is basically a copy of what I did on the original after a crack developed during the ’86 season, a crack that I still maintain was due to my own lack of checking the base nut tightness often enough.  You will note in the pictures that modifications to the rear lifter block are also involved so that it can “slide in” under the reinforced area.  

 


A substantial amount of aluminum was added behind each tappet block as well as at the forward section of the front spigot.
 

Which brings up another point.  On the original Beast, which was also a cone lower end, I ran a .600” lift Andrews “M” grind cam, but of course with the Knucklehead 1:1 rocker arm ratio, the big shovel cam only provided about .420 valve lift.  If you’ve never dealt with the idiosyncrasies of a Knuckle/Shovel hybrid, its not just as simple as using a Knuckle cam. For one thing, it would take a specially ground cam due to the larger journal on the outboard end of a cone Shovel cam, and even if you did machine a special cover bushing, the Shovel tappet block bores are not in the same plane as of those on a Knuckle so the cam timing would not be correct.  Then if you decide to solve that by installing Knuck tappet blocks, you will discover that only 3 of the 4 mounting holes are in the correct place, not to mention the vacuum passage to the blocks through the Knuck cases.  But that particular M grind was long gone, and has been absent from the Andrews lineup for decades.  Being always on the lookout for a deal, when a .620 Monster cam from Powerhouse went of sale last fall, I grabbed one.  That it is an Evo cam was of little concern, since the Evo lifter blocks are cosmetically much closer to that of a Knuck. 

One part that has survived through the years from the original Beast, is the rocker boxes.  In the ’87 version was a set of stock 1:1 rocker arms, with their resulting low valve lifts.  For the following year I performed a crude modification on the stock rockers to convert them to the Shovel rocker ratio.  At some later point in time, I had a set of Shovel rockers modified to fit the rocker boxes.  Those will be run on this incarnation, unless time (and valve to valve clearance) allows me to perform as similar modification using Evo rocker arms to get the full designed lift out of the cam.    

2 Shovel rockers lengthened, 1 shortened, and 1 as-is to make them all line up


 

 Needless to say, ...more to come.

Friday, June 4, 2021

Zion, Temple of God

 

“But ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect.”  Hebrews 12:22-23   

If you are like me, you may have had some problem pinning down just what Mount Zion represents, particularly in the New Testament.  Zion is mentioned over 160 times in the Old Testament, but only a few times in the New.  The very first time Zion is mentioned in the Bible gives us it's basic definition.  

 “And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spake unto David, saying, Except thou take away the blind and the lame, thou shalt not come in hither: thinking, David cannot come in hither. Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David.”  2 Samuel 5: 6-7    

This verse has the potential for some confusion, unless you realize that both Bethlehem and Jerusalem were called "the city of David; Jerusalem because he made it his capitol city and Bethlehem because it was where he was born. 

“And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” Isaiah 2:3

Interestingly, this was most likely the very same mountain where Abraham offered his son Isaac in a picture of God the Father giving his own son, Christ Jesus, which was the ultimate fulfilment of all the Old Testament sacrifices. But the reason I mention it, is that it pinpoints Zion as the house of the God of Jacob, or in other words, the temple.  To emphasize the fact that the temple was not only God's house, but that it was his dwelling place, let’s consider Joel 3:17

“So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.”

Just as God dwelt in the Tabernacle (literally “tent”) before, after Solomon built the Temple in Jerusalem, he chose that as his dwelling place here on earth.  Of course we know that God resides in Heaven, and he is present everywhere, but the Tabernacle and the Temple were places where God chose to manifest himself in a special way at those times.  Now let's look some verses that use Zion in a more spiritual sense.

“Therefore the redeemed of the LORD shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” Isaiah 51:11

”And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.”  Isaiah 51:16

Here we see Scripture refers to Zion as his people and as the redeemed of the Lord.  One of the Old Testament verses that is often quoted in the New, is this:

“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.”  Isaiah 28:16

One person who quotes that in the New Testament is the Apostle Peter:

 “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.  Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”  1 Peter 2:4-10 

 Note that Peter states that New Testament believers are built into a spiritual house, whose chief corner stone is Jesus Christ.  Keeping that in mind, and to clarify, let's look at something the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus:

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;  In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”  Ephesians 2:19-22

God chose to live in the Temple, also called Zion in Old Testament times.  Jesus Christ is the chief corner stone of that temple. Jesus Christ is also the chief corner stone of the New Testament Church which is also the place where God chooses to live.  Does this mean that Christ is the cornerstone of two separate spiritual buildings?  Paul give us that answer in that same letter to the Church at Ephesus.

 “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:”  Ephesians 3:1-6

(In other words, Old and New Testament saints are part of the same body!)

 In conclusion I would contend that the term Zion has several meanings.  First would be the literal physical place of the Temple in Jerusalem.  But Scripture also uses Zion in a spiritual way to describe the whole city of Jerusalem. In an even more spiritual sense, and perhaps most important, the Bible uses Zion as a name for the Old Testament saints, and later to describe the Church, two parts of the same body.

As with everything in the Bible, it is important to understand what the Lord means to be read literally and what he means to be read figuratively. With that in mind, contemplate the following scripture passages:

“For the LORD hath chosen Zion; he hath desired it for his habitation.”  Psalms 132:13

  

“Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.”  Zechariah 2:10

 

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.”  Zechariah 8:2    (note that Zion is referred to as she, just as Israel was often referred to as God's wife and the church is called the bride of Christ)

 

“Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt.”  Psalms 74:2

 

I would suggest that Zion, today manifested as the New Testament Church, remains the place where God lives through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in his people  Despite the many apostate churches which have abandoned sound doctrine and give Christianity a bad name; despite all the faults and shortcomings of those churches who remain faithful; Zion remains the place where the LORD has chosen to dwell!

Friday, May 28, 2021

Racing into the Past, Part 2

 

Make it Right, Make it Light

So, once the project to replicate the 1987 version of The Beast started, a few parameters needed to be decided upon.  But before I get to that, let me just clarify something: when I originally built the bike, it was NOT named after the Beast mentioned in the Bible’s book of Revelation; nothing so nefarious ever entered my mind. Neither was it named after that most famous of early ‘50s Knucklehead drag bikes (also nicknamed “The Beast”) built by its equally famous owner Chet Herbert.  My version was named after the “jalopy” with which my friend Rex’s older brother mildly terrorized the neighborhood back in the summer of ’60 or ’61.  As a boy of about six years old, the sun faded black late 1930s Chevy with little or no exhaust and “THE BEAST” lettered on its doors in white house paint, left a strong impression.

That settled, let’s get back to the parameters of the build.  When I converted my ’75 Superglide for drag racing in the early 1980’s, one thing that was very apparent was that it was done on a tight budget. That was something I planned to replicate in reproducing the bike, partly because of a strong tendency toward frugality on my part.  The next decision was just how accurate the reproduction would be. A more or less exact duplicate would be great, but would it even be a reasonable goal, especially given my desire to keep the budget low?  Or should I approach it with the idea of keeping with “the spirit” of the original build at the expense of absolute accuracy in the parts used?

To a certain extent that decision was made early on, when, after spending some time looking for a reasonably priced 1975 donor bike with no luck at all, I stumbled on a beat up 1979 Superglide.  All I really needed as a starting point was the frame, engine cases, and transmission.  The ‘79  was complete, though the heads and various other parts had been removed and were in boxes.  The $1200 price tag was the deciding factor, and from there on, the spirit of the original build became the focus rather than the accuracy of each and every part.

Another example of how that played out is the front fork that graced the ’87 Beast.  It came from an early ‘70s Yankee 500cc 2-stroke dirt bike, which even then was a rare, but today is as scarce as hen’s teeth (not that I have any insight into the actual rarity of hen’s teeth).  Originally, I had taken the Yankee in trade for painting a motorcycle, so I had little money invested.  For the new version, it was just not feasible to consider finding another of that particular fork, so I briefly considered purchasing another dirt bike front end to modify.  In the end though, I decided to just go ahead and use the existing Superglide fork, doing all the lightening modification that I could to take some weight off the heavy stock piece.  This included removal of the full length rebound springs in favor of a couple Evo valve springs under the now defunct "dampers" to provide the requisite 2” fork travel, an aluminum stem, and turning excess brackets off of the legs.  Together with shortening the tops of the fork tubes and machining a few other aluminum pieces, that resulted in just a few ounces short of 8 pounds of weight reduction to the fork assembly.

Speaking of weight reduction, we can all agree that it is a key factor in drag racing, but it takes a certain mindset to practice it effectively, especially when there is a budget involved.  We might all like to be able to purchase every super-lightweight trick component, but for most of us who are in it for the fun and nostalgia factor, that simply is not a practical option.  My days of riding a credit card while I tried to chase down racing success is long over, and truth be told, all my real success came before credit was an option.  But making it lighter remains a worthy goal, so  I like to look at every part with this question in mind: how can I lighten this part without sacrificing too much strength?  The pictures that follow represent a few of those efforts on this build.


 

With its hardened gears, the inside of a transmission is not where one would normally look to reduce weight (at least not with normal tooling), but it turns out the shift drum, as well as a few other parts, is quite susceptible to an attack by a drill bit 


Purchased a complete front wheel for $10 at an antique farm parts swap meet several years ago, sold the 19" alloy rim for $50 on Ebay, which left the hub to lace up to the original 21" rim from The Beast. ...but not before spending at little time on it with a ball end mill      
 


John, the original owner of Precision Metal Fab Racing, told me how to modify front forks for racing and its applicable to most front ends.  It involves eliminating the long spring from on top of the damper and replacing it with a short spring (or in this case 2 short springs) under it


This is what the assembly looks like ready to install into the slider. In this case a few more parts inside the bottom of the tube were eliminated by way of welding a large washer to the bottom of the tube


I was able to find a used fiberglass tank on Ebay that is very similar to that on the original Beast and for only about 10 times the price. Happily the new fiberglass rear fender from Airtech is lighter than the original version while being a good match.  

More to come...