Saturday, December 13, 2008

Vintage Dragbike Update

What with all the computer problems and such, I have not posted much lately. That doesn't mean I have been on my couch relaxing though. I have actually made a bunch of progress on building a "period correct" Harley drag bike. I use the term period correct here with a little trepidation, because by some people's standards, that would mean little or no use of reproduction parts. I just plain can't afford to do that, either from a monetary or a safety standpoint. My plan is to build a bike that is as period correct for the mid 1950's without "breaking the bank".


As I alluded to in an earlier post, I plan to build a Knuckle using a set of dual Linkert heads that I already have. The first thing I did after committing to building this bike was to order a set of new STD replica Knuckle crankcases. I know, I know.... I've already ruined it for some of you! Sorry, but there is just no way I can justify the cost of a set of original cases, not to mention the inherent weakness in an aluminum casting that has seen at least 60 years of abuse. I hope that you purists will find it in your heart to forgive me.


Another major piece has been donated by my good friend Watso. After reading my blog he called me to offer a replica Panhead frame. Needless to say, that is a major step forward in the project, and Watso's generosity makes the whole thing much more financially feasible for me.


Sorting through my stash of used parts I came up with these to be added to list of parts I plan to use:
  • a set of XA (pre '74) rods which I will have shot peened and rebuild

  • breather and circuit breaker drive gears

  • a pre 1940 oil pump (customarily used for drag racing because of their lower volume)

  • 3 out of 4 rocker arms and all 4 shafts

  • a front rocker box

  • a front lifter block

  • 16" spokes and rim for the rear

  • a few Linkert carb bodies to experiment with

  • the complete vintage drag racing 2 speed transmission from Don Jone's 1950 drag bike, "The Gorilla". I will need to freshen it up, but it will be the real "centerpiece" of the bike.

  • a clutch hub and basket

  • a new reproduction Panhead rear cylinder

  • damaged inner and outer primary covers to be modified into a primary chain guard

I have new Rowe exhaust valves and guides. On the intake side I have a set of Screamin' Eagle 2.080" valves (selected because of their shallow tulip and being the correct size for the existing "choke" in the heads). The 5/16" stem diameter of these valves necessitate fabrication of custom valve guides, for which I have already obtained the blanks from Rowe. I have also ordered a set of flywheels from Truett & Osborn .

That still leaves me searching eBay for a few items:

  • a rear exhaust rocker arm

  • a rear rocker box

  • a rear lifter block

  • a cam cover

  • a magneto (though for the price they seem to go for it may make more sense to buy a new one from Joe Hunt rather than buying used and then sending it out for a rebuild)

At this point in time, my plans are to buy a reproduction springer, which will help to give the bike that real vintage look. I will also likely buy a pair of reproduction star hubs, since it seems like you always have to take five used ones apart to find one good one. Rear fender will likely be a cut down reproduction. Cam? Leineweber without a doubt. The only question is whether it will be the #3 or the #5 grind. I plan to get a little further with the heads before making that decision.

One thing I am still up in the air on, is what fuel tank I should use. I toyed with using a Hummer tank, but seeing what they bring on eBay may have ruled that out. Thoughts?

By the way, this bike has found a nickname before it has even had its first two parts permanently bolted together. Vinnie.... short for vintage drag bike.


5 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like its coming along, can't wait to see the progress...and some pics!

St.Lee said...

It is coming along pretty well. I plan to put a picture or two with the mnext update.

Anonymous said...

Nostalgia drag racing is heads up ? and how are the classes determined?

St.Lee said...

Since these nostalgia drags are put on by different entities, the rules may be different from one event to the next. I don't think many of these events include bikes. I believe this particular nostalgia event at Union Grove will be heads up, at least as far as motorcycles go. I think some of the events lean more towards index style racing. For myself, I am not too concerned with winning, but rather with a chance to run a period correct bike. If winning was the only object, then obviously everyone would run bikes with the latest 1972 (the cutoff date) technology. While I certainly would not fault anyone for building a bike like that, my interest is in a slightly earlier time in drag racing history.

St.Lee said...

Sorry, I got windy and forgot to answer the other part of the last question. There is only going to be one bike class at the Union Grove event.