Tuesday, July 6, 2021

An Update on the Race

 [As time allows I'll get back to the series on the actual build of this replica of my 1987 Pro Stock bike, but for now here is this]

Jane and I arrived home safe and sound from the Iowa Hog Drags, so I thought I should give an update on how things went for us and the replica of “The Beast”.  First of all, Jay Rogers did another stellar job of putting the event together, so thank you Jay and crew. I also need to thank my old racing buddy Aard for riding through two days of rain all the way from Phoenix in order to be mistreated as our pit crew. 

Before loading up to go to Humboldt, Jane and I had already come to the conclusion that we would need to add a little height to the seat in order for my aging knees to get my feet on the footpegs in time to shift. Jane cut some padding that we could take along and duct-tape onto the aluminum seat that I fabricated earlier in the week; I didn’t want to spoil the clean looks of the bike before we even arrived.

Friday afternoon, after Aard and I finished our entry into the world’s ugliest seat contest (complete with wrinkles in the duct-tape) we took the bike up for its first pass.  I was far from comfortable with the seating position which led to a lackluster burn out, but that wasn’t of much concern since it was essentially a shake-down pass.  Coming up to the staging lights I had to fight the urge to allow my legs to swing back into a lay-down position.  In retrospect, I realized that I have not ridden a sit-up drag bike since about 1991, which may explain a lot.  I think I had my feet only a couple inches behind the footpegs when I dropped the clutch, but the force of the launch immediately sent my legs backwards into a lay-down position.  Trying to pull my feet forward and onto the pegs shifted my weight enough that only one wheelie bar wheel was on the asphalt to do its job, so as you might imagine I was no longer going in a straight line.  Of course, when its well past time to shift and your foot is still not in position, the acceleration drops off drastically.  It felt like I was a quarter of the way down the 1/8 mile track before I was able to get my feet on the pegs and hit second gear.  The good news is that, though The Beast was still not going perfectly straight, it pulled really hard the rest of the pass.  The elapsed time was an embarrassing 10.20 but with a hopeful (all things considered) 90.37 MPH.  Unfortunately the 60 foot time clocks were not operational in the left lane

Later Friday evening, we attempted another stab at it in the right lane, but lost clutch release capability between the water box and staging lights.  Being done for the day, we got the bike back to the trailer and disassembled just far enough to confirm that it was probably the throw out bearing and not something more serious.  The next morning revealed that indeed a thrust washer on the throw out bearing had broken in half, and since I had a spare in the tool box, we were soon back in business.

Another round of test and tune on Saturday allowed us to get The Beast up to the line for a second pass.  While waiting in line to start I noted the track crew cleaning up a small oil spill in the right lane (with its functional 60 foot clock), so I opted for the left lane again.  This time I was very conscious of getting my feet ahead of the footpegs as I staged the bike.  The results, however were the same.  The bike launched so hard that despite my best efforts, the acceleration immediately sent my legs to the rear in a “lay down” position.  Once again it was far beyond shift time with the bike practically nosing over before I could get my feet on the pegs to shift.  The result was another embarrassing E.T. of 9.22, but this time at 97.1 MPH, …and another throw out bearing thrust washer broke as I turned off the end of the track onto the return road.

Now, living up north, I am no stranger to the phenomenon of a bike feeling really fast on that first ride of spring after a long winter storage, so part of it may be chalked up to that, but I honestly do not remember riding a drag bike which launched so “violently”. Obviously 34 years have passed since I rode The Beast in that particular configuration, so the old body is not as flexible as it once was, but I have to admit to still being a bit baffled as to why I was unable to get my feet on the pegs in a timely manner.  

We installed my last thrust washer onto the throw out bearing, pulled three springs out of the clutch for good measure, and waited for eliminations.  The only plan I could come up with was to launch the bike really softly, get my feet on the pegs and then, and only then, crank the throttle.  That worked, … sort of.  I’m not exactly sure why, but my test and tune passes were all on a .500 full tree, but the elimination run was a .400 pro tree. I’d like to think that’s what caused my reaction time to be .400 slower that my opponent’s .067 light, but part of it could have been my concentration on taking it easy on the launch – that just doesn’t come naturally.  Doesn’t matter though, Troy Fittro on the number 76 bike had me by .400 on the E.T. as well, so he earned the win either way.

Now for next year (God willing that there is a next year), in the interest of safety I may need to move the pegs back and make it a lay down bike.  There’s a little time to sort that out, …along with the clutch. If you think I’d be depressed with such a lackluster initial outing you would be wrong.  It was a great time, and the top end charge of the bike felt truly awesome from where I sat.  However, one of the best parts of the weekend was an idea that I came up with on the return road from the last pass.  I asked Aard to pull us (me and The Beast) over to where Pete Hill had his Top Fuel Knucklehead on display.  I asked Pete if he could give me some of his Knucklehead magic by autographing the gas tank on The Beast.  Gentleman that Pete is, he obliged and made my already good weekend even better! 


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!