Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Jane and Lee's Big Adventure

Recently the wife and I took a weekend off to go to a drag race. The drag race in question (The Meltdown Drags) is an annual event which seeks to take the spectators and participants back to a mid '60s drag strip experience. Now, attending was kind of a "spur of the moment" thing.  When I brought it up a scant week in advance, I received absolutely zero resistance to the idea from Jane.  In fact, as I have mentioned to more than one person, Jane's sense of adventure is certainly alive and well - more so than my own in fact.  Since The Knuckledragger was built to be period correct for 1955, it would fit right in at the Meltdown Drags.  But in the spirit of the event, Jane insisted that we go the extra mile (or 385 miles to be precise) and put the bike on our open trailer and tow it behind our '46 Studebaker pickup.   I must admit I had reservations about taking such an antique rig from our home in Minnesota all the way to Illinois, but as is so often the case my wife was right and all went well.  So, a 770 mile round trip in a 1946 Studebaker (powered by a Studebaker flathead six I might add) towing a 1947 Knucklehead drag bike on a trailer built out of a 1941 Studebaker Champion frame, and somehow neither Jane nor I managed to snap a picture of it... go figure?
[EDIT- After mentioning here that we did not take a picture of the rig, Jay and Irish teamed up to get one to me.  Thanks guys.]
And here it is.
Wheelstands by straight axle gassers was the order of the day.  Very fun to watch.

The crew from the A/h Garage was on hand and made us feel welcome from the get go.

First start up of the Knuckledragger in over 2 years
This invention by Demaar of the A/h Garage, a dolly for the front wheel & towed by a three wheeler, was ingenious and very handy.  Since we were pitted all the way down by the time slip booth, the guys were kind enough to tow the Knuckledragger to tech and to the staging lanes
Jay from "Fear No Evo Drag Racing" along with Dash (?) and Motorman from "A/h Garage" in the staging lanes.  Big inch Pan versus even bigger inch Harmon. 
Another shot taken in the staging lanes.
Chris, also of the A/h Garage, on an Iron Head Sportster
Roller starting at the head of the staging lanes.  The Byron Dragway staff was very gracious in letting us set up the electric rollers near the front of the staging lanes so bikes would not have to idle excessively.
Jay and Deemar pushing me from the rollers to the burn out area - saves on the clutch don't ya know.

A little action shot.  In fact very little action.

Just a very small portion of the spectators.  Word was they had record crowds.

Did I mention that wheelstands were the order of the day?

Before anyone asks, I will come clean and admit I made a far less than spectacular pass on the Knuckledragger.  Shifting problems continue to haunt me.  I may have sorted them out in time for a last pass, but to my chagrin the batteries for the roller starter were too weak to fire the motor.  I should have paid attention to the CCA rating of the second battery (which was on loan to me).  Turns out it was only half of what normally supplies the second 12 volts for the 24 volt system.  Oh well...

A big thanks both to Jay and to all the guys from the A/h Garage who made us feel at home and helped us out at every turn.  Also a big thanks to the Meltdown Drags Association and to Byron Dragways for making this awesome event happen.


Thursday, July 17, 2014

If Yer Gonna Melt Down, Here's the Place

The weather prognosticators say it will be a perfect weekend. There are over 500 entries, a few of which are vintage bikes.  Billed as the World's Largest Vintage Drag Meet, this looks to be the closest thing to a step back into the '60s as a gear head is likely to find!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Better Country

The 4th of July
The fourth of July. It is the day that most of us, as American citizens, celebrate the founding of this nation called the United States.  Many Christians celebrate it in part because of the Christian roots of this country.  In fact, if I may be so bold, I would suggest that some Christians take patriotism a bit too far.  They read scripture, particularly prophetic passages, and find the United States front and center.  

You know, during the 15 years that I have been Christian, I have read at least a small portion of scripture nearly every day. In doing that I have read the Bible through from cover to cover enough times that I have lost count.   In all that reading, I cannot recall a single instance where the Bible talks specifically about the United States of America.  Now, that is not to say that we can’t find anything in the Bible which applies to our nation. In fact 2 Timothy 3:16 says "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"

If there is anything that this nation is in need of right now, I think we could argue that it is reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness! That is not to say that there ever was a time when our nation did not have this need, only that taken as a whole it seems that the United States is in the midst of abandoning all pretense of reliance upon the teaching of the Bible.

Many of our forefathers came to the new world seeking the freedom to worship God according to their understanding of the dictates of the Bible, rather than the dictates of the unholy alliances of churches and states. Later, when in the course of human events it became necessary for this people to dissolve the political bands which had connected them with England, they were careful to seek the guidance of Jehovah, the one true God. In making that declaration, they prefaced it with these words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed, by their Creator, with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

Noble ideas, and possibly the first government which was not a theocracy to ever acknowledge that rights come from the creator rather than from kings or governments. In fact, one of the battle cries from the Revolutionary War is said to have been: No king but King Jesus!

Today however, there are many in our country who would like to say that this nation was never a Christian nation, but if one takes the time to look at the writings of those we call the founding fathers of the United States, one would be hard pressed to deny that the majority of them believed they were founding a nation based on Christian principles and reliant upon God. For many people, this is one of the reasons for their sense of patriotism. The phrase "for God and Country" resonates because of their love for God, and out of that love for God flows a love for the country which holds freedom of religion as one of its pillars. The very first amendment in the Bill of Rights of the constitution begins like this:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Today, over 200 years later, this nation arguably still enjoys more religious freedom than any other country on earth.

All of this is good reason to celebrate the founding of this nation and to feel a sense of patriotism. On the other side of this coin, however, things don’t look so rosy. If you spend any time reading the Old Testament, particularly the books of Chronicles and Kings, one thing that becomes crystal clear is how God’s chosen people, the nation of Israel, were constantly in a cycle of backsliding, apostasy, and then finally a short lived revival. It played out over and over with the people falling into idolatry, often worshipping Jehovah alongside their false idols, and sometimes abandoning Jehovah altogether. If that happened in the nation which God chose for himself, why would we be surprised when it happens in our nation, no matter how good the intentions at its founding?

In fact, because of what they see taking place in our country today, many Christians have adopted this passage from 2 Chronicles 7:14 as God’s promise to them:

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

While I applaud the sentiment and highly recommend that we all do exactly those things: humble ourselves, pray, seek Jehovah’s face, and turn from our wicked ways, I am not sure of the long term results. That promise was made to Solomon when he was king of Israel but after the many repetitions of backsliding, apostasy and then revival, there finally came a time when no revival came. Judgment came upon the nation of Israel and it was scattered and remained that way for nearly 2000 years.

But we have a better promise than the one given to Solomon. We can find it in Philippians 3:20  "For our citizenship is in heaven; whence also we wait for a Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:"

You might say we hold a dual citizenship, like the apostle Paul who was not only a Jew, but also a citizen of Rome. As Christians, we may be thankful to be American citizens and for all the blessings God has blessed us with here in the United States, but our far more important eternal citizenship is found in heaven and our far more important allegiance is to Jehovah.

So let’s just quickly look at a couple of our fellow citizens of heaven:

"By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:  For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. Through faith also Sara herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised. Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable. These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.  For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.  And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.  But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city."  Hebrews 11: 8-16

In this section of scripture we not only have our nation put into perspective as merely a place of pilgrimage until we go to that better heavenly city, we also see how to obtain citizenship there. Unlike American citizenship, you are not born with it.  You can't receive it by passing a test and swearing and oath.  It is a citizenship which comes by faith. And this faith is not a insignificant thing for only citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem will be allowed in. If you have not already done so, won’t you put your faith in Jesus Christ, trusting that he has paid the penalty for your sins on the cross of Calvary? Won’t you turn from your sins and to Jesus? Won’t you make sure of your citizenship in heaven?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Viking Meet 2014

I just spend last Friday and Saturday in my booth at the Viking Chapter of the AMCA's (Antique Motorcycle Club of America) National meet in St. Paul.  Except to mention the fact that word had it all the swap meet spaces were sold (good news!) I won't bore you with a lot of details.  Instead I will share some pics with limited commentary.

Who doesn't love a Knuckle bobber?
1942 Sunbeams had a nice shape to their air cleaner
And by 1956 it looks like it could have inspired our friends in Viola

1970 Harley Sprint Flat Tracker
When I was younger most of us biker types considered Sprints to be a joke.  Well, when considering this one, the joke would have been on us.  One of three built to this spec, it will tach up to 14,000 RPM putting out 72 HP with a top speed of 137 MPH from 350cc.  Local racing legend Billy Hofmeister rode it to three consecutive indoor flat track championships.

This Indian inline 4 cylinder is nothing short of a masterpiece.  Note the air intake of the carb.

 1939 BSA M20 is a 500cc Flathead Thumper

Its easy to see the family resemblance between the '39 and this 1953 Gold Star
Note the crossed rifles cast into cylinder: BSA = Birmingham Small Arms

1953 BSA Gold Star

Yes, it looks German, but how many of you recognized this as a 1954 Honda Dream?

1960 Triumph Tiger Cub may be small, but the aesthetic appeal of the engine is large

Billy Hofmeister's vintage Flat Track bike

The last picture for this post deserves an extra footnote.  It is a 1975 XR750 rolling chassis which was once campaigned by AMA National Champion Gary Scott.  Later Billy Hofmeister rode it to a Canadian National Flat Track Championship.  The bike is still owned by Billy, though these days it is used for vintage racing powered by a 1969 XLCH motor.  The Sportster motor is no slouch either with porting work from some guy who won a couple National Championships in drag racing.
One last note: this is a very small percentage of the bikes on display at the meet.  To see more, make it a point to come to St. Paul next year for the event.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Multiple Valve Job Low Down Performance Blues

The term "tired" is one often used to describe the engine condition of our antique (or on the verge of antique) bikes.  Often times that is an apt description.  Worn cylinders/pistons/rings/valves/guides and pitted valve seats all take away from the performance we originally enjoyed.  Most of the time a fresh top end rebuild would be all it would take to return the old girl to her former [performance]glory.  But with the passing of the years and the oft repeated "freshening" we may wake up one morning (after an evening of thrashing gears with buddies on their Twin Cams) thinking that maybe the old girl never was as quick as we thought we remembered.  Perhaps you've heard of the syndrome: "the older I get, the faster I used to be..."

But wait, ...maybe it's not all due to a faulty memory.  What if your trusty old steed really has lost a step or two over the years despite a fresh top end rebuild?  This could creep up on you slowly (like most everything else that creeps up on you).  Repeated valve jobs can actually decrease performance despite sealing the combustion chambers better than the tired condition it was meant to improve upon.  The reason is compression ratio.  Compression makes power!  That's not a secret, but sometimes we forget that each time we grind our valve seats we are also increasing the combustion chamber size and lowering the compression ratio. 

As a matter of fact, I have previously written on this subject here.

One valve job; no problem.  Another couple valve jobs -still maybe OK, ...depending on how much it takes to clean up the seats each time.  And that is often where things can get quickly out of hand.  Take a cheap, generic valve guide of unknown origin.  Is the bore of the guide concentric with the outer diameter?  If not, then when you install it and start to grind or cut the seat, you will be off center from the last valve job which will force you to cut deeper to get a good seat.

This Shovel shows evidence of multiple valve jobs, but it is not uncommon to see seats considerably deeper than these

Just to reiterate, and to give you some examples as to how this works out, I have made a few calculations.  One thing that these calculations take into account  is that the deeper a valve is sunk into the head, the more likely that there will be additional material removed from the head so that the valve is not shrouded by the chamber, which would otherwise disrupt air flow.  The figures given assume that at a depth of .050" deeper than stock, no un-shrouding was done.  Further, they assume that when sunk .100" deeper than stock, the valves will have been un-shrouded.  The additional amount of material removed for un-shrouding purposes was determined from actual measurements using 1-3/4" diameter valves.  Of course your results would vary somewhat unless you used the same tooling and dimensions for the un-shrouding process.

So on a 61" EL model Knuckle which had a 7:1 compression ratio in stock configuration, sinking both valves .050" would lower the ratio to 6.78:1.  Not so bad.  But sinking the valves a total of .100" past stock would result in 6.33:1.   At this point you have a lower compression ratio than the low compression E model's 6.5:1.

What about on a 74" FL Knuck?  .050" lowers the ratio from 7:1 to 6.78:1, but sinking them .100" makes your motor 6.45:1.  (disclaimer: your 74" Knuck is probably not 7:1 anyway, since the pistons available today are unlikely to have the same dome volume as the original Knuckle piston)

Now Panheads are going to be especially prone to this scenario since seat replacement is, shall we say, ...problematic.  The FLH's 8:1 compression ratio drops to 7.7:1 with the valves sunk .050" and to almost exactly the same as the low compression FL model when sunk .100".  If you start out with the low compression FL you will end up with Knucklehead type compression ratios: 7:1 when the valves are .050" deeper and 6.65:1 at .100".

With their larger intake valve, Shovelheads suffer from the effect even more.  A 74" with 8:1 ratio will be reduced to 7.66:1 if both valves are sunk .050".  Make that .100" deeper than stock and your motor is all the way down to 7.18:1.  An 80" Shovel also rated at 8:1 will similarly be reduced to 7.69:1 with a .050" deeper valve job, and down to 7.24:1 at a depth of +.100".

One thing you might take away from all this is that there is very little reason to buy the low compression version of the replacement pistons on the market today.  In fact, it may cause you to select higher than stock compression pistons for many applications, especially if hotter cams are being employed.  Remember, compression makes power, and if you want old reliable to be as fast as she was in her younger days, you need some of that.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Jacob's Mom

The theme of a woman being barren; unable to conceive children is a familiar one in the Bible. We see it with Abraham's wife Sarah, who in God’s timing bore Isaac. Rebekah, Isaac's wife, was likewise afflicted.  A similar circumstance would play out for Jacob’s wife Rachel before she finally bore Joseph. We read another story from ancient Israel about a woman named Hannah, who also prayed for a son, and was answered with the birth of Samuel the prophet. Finally, we read in the New Testament how a woman named Elizabeth was barren, but in her old age bore a son who we know as John the Baptist. 

One common element that we see in all of these situations is how these mothers were instrumental in carrying out Jehovah’s plans for the nation of Israel. With some of them such as Hannah and Elizabeth we hear only of their obedience and faithfulness. In contrast, both Sarah and Rachel, in their impatience, tried to help God out in the area of providing offspring for their respective husbands. Of course God used their interference for his own purpose despite what we might see as their wavering faith. Rebekah's story, on the other hand, played out in a manner that is a little more difficult to label.  In light of the fact that this weekend we celebrate Mother's day, let's consider the motherhood of Rebekah.

Genesis 25:19-26 And these are the generations of Isaac, Abraham's son: Abraham begat Isaac: 20 And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. 21 And Isaac intreated the Lord for his wife, because she was barren: and the Lord was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger. 24 And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. 25 And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. 26 And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau's heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.

Now when I alluded to the fact that Rebekah's story seems a bit different, those familiar with the story will rightly guess that I refer to how she was instrumental in Jacob obtaining his father’s blessing.  But to rightly understand all of that, we need to remember a few things about Esau.

If we were to read on in scripture we would find that at one point Esau sold his birthright, that is the benefits he would have as the first born, to his brother Jacob. In doing so, the Bible says that he despised his birthright. Later Esau went against the wishes of his grandfather Abraham who specifically commanded his son not to take a wife from among the Canaanites who were known for their idolatry. This admonition seems to have been passed down by Isaac because Genesis 26:35 tells us that Esau’s marriages to two Hittite women were a "grief of mind" to Isaac and Rebekah. It is very likely that Esau joined his wives in their idolatry, since it is clear that he did not worship Jehovah. Those things, along with God’s promise at the time of their birth that the elder would serve the younger, would seem to be enough to clearly make Esau the black sheep of the family.

And yet, when Isaac was old and thought he may die soon, he still loved Esau enough that he attempted to bestow the ceremonial blessing on him, though Jacob had purchased the birthright. This may have been a case of Isaac’s natural affection getting the better of him. After all, what father doesn’t want his son to be a manly man, and Esau certainly was that. As the Bible tells us, Esau was a cunning hunter, a man of the field; and Jacob was a plain man, or as some translations make it a "simple" or "quiet" man. So, despite all of the strikes against Esau, his father Isaac called him in to bestow the blessing on him. But first, he requested that Esau would bring him a meal of his famous wild game pot roast.

That is where Rebekah stepped in. Knowing God’s words concerning the two boys; that Esau would serve Jacob; knowing the contempt Esau had shown for his birthright in selling it; knowing Esau’s worldliness in marrying idolaters, she decided to make sure her son Jacob received the blessing which Jehovah had declared he would receive.

Rebekah, plain and simple, engineered a way for Jacob to obtain the blessing by deceiving his father Isaac. She instructed Jacob to bring her two young goats which she prepared so that they would taste just like the dish that Esau was known for. No surprise there; who else but his mother would have taught Esau how to cook? Then Rebekah helped Jacob to disguise himself as his brother and instructed him to go in to his father pretending to be Esau and receive the blessing. The trickery was successful, and Jacob obtained the blessing, fulfilling the words of Jehovah at the birth of the two boys.

The question then comes up: was Rebekah justified in using deceit in this instance? Some propose that she should have gone in to her husband and reminded him of God’s promise concerning his two sons; reminded him that Esau sold his birthright; reminded him that Esau turned his back on them to marry idolaters. Certainly she should have been able to reason with him to make him understand that the blessing should go to Jacob!

Well, ...maybe that would have been the right approach, but if we are to give Rebekah the benefit of the doubt we might consider that she probably knew her husband’s disposition better than we do. Scholars seem to agree that Isaac was likely 137 years old at the time of the giving of the blessing. Since the Bible tells us that Isaac was 40 years old when he married Rebekah, that means they were soon coming up on their 100th wedding anniversary! I think by that time Rebekah probably had a pretty good handle on what she could or could not convince her husband to do!

So rather than speculate on whether Rebekah could have, or should have done some things differently, let’s celebrate her faithfulness. Rebekah received Jehovah’s promise that her son Jacob would be blessed. She held on to that promise and did not let natural affection for her other son get in the way of her love for God and respect for his decree. In fact, Rebekah not only respected what God had told her, she did what she could to carry out Jehovah’s decree. 

We each have a mother, and I have no doubt that many of them have also done their best to follow Jehovah’s decrees. Many of them did what they could to fulfill what is written in the book of Ephesians to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Most of our mothers did as the book of  Proverbs teaches and attempted to train up their children in the way they should go, so that when they are old they will not depart from it. Certainly some of our mothers have done what they could to make sure that it could be said of their children what was said of Timothy: that from a child they knew the holy scripture which was able to make them wise unto salvation through faith which is in Jesus Christ. 

All of these are reasons that we honor our mothers.  And all of these are a product of our mothers love for her children , but even more importantly her love for God.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Earth Day 2014

 Here in Minnesnowda we are just wrapping up one of the coldest winters in recent memory. As much of the world commemorates Earth Day, today April 22, 2014, I could not help but think back to less than one week ago to an overnight snowfall here.  Lady, our shop dog, and I were spared the 10" of snow that fell about 1/2 hour north of here, but still had our hopes of spring dashed with a fresh covering of the white stuff as shown in the photos below.

And the (not so) good news?  The weather prognosticators say we may get a repeat next week!

"...but I thought you said spring was here..."
Lady shivering from the combination of more snow and a recent outing to the beauty parlor for a haircut (she has only herself to blame - I told her she should wait)
All of this leaves us with just one question:
Seriously folks.  We had one month this winter that our heating bill was north of $1500 while the thermostats were set so low that it remained long-johns and sweatshirt weather inside both the house and the shop.  My wife's legs were nearly crushed from the weight of extra blankets on our bed all winter.
So PLEASE, do your part to promote Global Warming.  Drive more ...and faster; preferably in your pre emissions vehicles.  Do more smokey burnouts! Have a camp fire in your back yard every night, and if you need to use all your trash to get the fire going, so much the better.  Don't worry, those big garbage trucks will still come around burning diesel fuel whether there is anything to pick up or not.  If you have room, you might even consider getting a cow.  It is said that their flatulence is a major cause of Global Warming.  I say a pair of vintage muscle cars idling in every driveway and a cow in every backyard!  With your help maybe we can get enough Global Warming going to save the planet for humanity!