Monday, December 23, 2013

The Savior's Birth

Here we are at the time of year when the birth of Jesus Christ is commonly celebrated.  One of the most pertinent scriptures regarding that event is found is Matthew 1:21:

And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Amid all the hoopla and misdirected celebration, don't forget that the mere fact of his birth (miraculous as it was) did not accomplish that saving.  A better place to contemplate that aspect is found in the book of the prophet Isaiah.

Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.  As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:  So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?  For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.  He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.  

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.  All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.  He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.  He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.  And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.  

Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.   He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.  Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.   Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Now, if you just skipped over the scripture above, which is increasingly likely in this age when it seems that people are fleeing the oppressively long Blog in favor of the quicker (and necessarily  shallower) Twitter, then I urge you to reconsider.  Take a few minutes to read and contemplate what Christ endured as the sacrifice for sins.  If you can't take the time, I understand ...just pray that the one who poured out his soul unto death will understand why a little last minute shopping was more important.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Kaya on Job

Recently my granddaughter Kaya was presented with the task of completing a written essay test for her freshman Theology class at Southwest Christian High School.  The following is what she wrote.  Keep in mind that this was a classroom test, not a homework assignment.  I am very proud of her!

A little over four years ago I published the first  ever "guest post" on my blog.  It was a short piece by one of my daughters called "Our Medicated Society".  As it happens, this "second ever" guest post was written by her daughter.  It would appear that she is following in her mother's footsteps in writing prowess.

Job is a book of The Bible about a man who is righteous in the eyes of God. God wants to prove Job's faith to Satan, so He allows Satan to test Job. Job loses everything he has and all of his children die. His first instinct is to praise God. It takes great faith to be able to worship right after something terrible happens to you, but that's the kind faith Job had. We should have this kind of faith too. We need to be able to stand firm in our faith when everyone and everything is going wrong around us, and that is the theme of my essay.

Standing firm in our faith is one of the most important things about our lives as Christians. If someone around us is doing something wrong we need to be able to hold ourselves accountable, and not fall into the sin ourselves. Satan will try to tempt us, and he knows exactly how to get every one of us to sin. He knows what our weaknesses are. But the difference between God testing Job, or us, and Satan tempting us is that God longs for us to pass His test. Satan desires for us to fail. Standing firm in your faith in every situation means that you don't let Satan tempt you enough that you fall. You don't give in to the sin. The definition of 'standing firm' according to is, "1. stand up or offer resistance to somebody or something, 2. refuse to abandon one's opinion or belief." This is what we need to do. We need to resist Satan and the human urge to sin, and we must refuse to abandon our beliefs no matter who is trying to get us to give up on them.

For Job, his friends and his wife all urged him to give up on God. Job 2:9 says, "9 Then his wife said, "Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die." Job's wife was the first one who tried to get him to abandon his beliefs in God. For us it may not be a wife, since we aren't married yet, but it could be a best friend, a boyfriend, or maybe even another family member. These are some of the people that have the most influence on us, and they are the ones who may cause us to stumble in our hope of 'standing firm'. When it's someone we are close with who is tempting us, it's a lot harder to say no to them. But Job did, and I think this was a moment when his faith really shone through him. He tells his wife that what she said was not okay and she should be ashamed because of how foolish it was. Where this response is found is in Job 2:10. It says,"10 But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?" In all this Job did not sin with his lips." Job said these things because he was NOT going to falter in his faith, not even because that's what his wife wanted. By telling her that, and saying those things, he didn't stumble at all. He stood firm, didn't give in, and did not sin.

This theme reveals much about God's character, His eternal sovereignty, and human suffering. What it shows about God's character is that, he will test us, but since he wants us to pass the test he won't push us past what we can handle. He knows what we can handle because he is omniscient. He knows all. He knows exactly what would cause us to sin, and what our limits are, and he would never cause us to fall into sin because he loves us way too much to see us fall. What it shows of His eternal sovereignty is that, He is bigger than everything Job went through, and he ultimately has the say in what goes and what doesn't. Satan couldn't have done all this to Job without God's permission. What it shows about human suffering is that above it all, God has full control over the situation. If you stay faithful and 'stand firm' throughout the suffering He WILL reward you greatly. Job didn't ever sin by cursing God, he didn't waver in faith when his wife wanted him to or when he was with his friends. He stayed true to who he was in The Lord, and he was rewarded in the end. God restored him and rewarded him with twice as much riches, animals, and wealth as he had had before. He and his wife bore the same amount of children as they had had before. Job was fully renewed. All thanks to God's love, power, and grace in suffering.

In closing, I just want to remind everyone that this is how we should react during time of great need or suffering. We need to stand firm in our faith like Job did, no matter what is going on around us, and no matter who we are with at the moment. If we can't stay strong and true to our faith when we're with a certain friend or we're going through a tough time or situation, then our faith simply is not strong enough. We need it to be as strong as possible because we will be tempted and tested at some point if we haven't been already. God needs to be our strong foundation which will make our faith so much stronger. If you don't have a strong enough foundation on God you need to get to know Him, because standing firm and not giving in for God's glory is even greater than you can imagine.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Day of Thanksgiving

A Psalm of praise.

Make a joyful noise unto the LORD, all ye lands.
Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.
Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.
(Psalm 100)

We I have much to be thankful for (I will not presume to speak for everyone).  Good health, a beautiful loving wife, a wonderful family who nearly all claim Christ as Lord and Savior (and live like they mean it), and a business that never seems to lack for work.  Add to that a good doctrinally solid church with a equally good doctrinally solid pastor.  Add to that a great place to live in the country.  Add to that food and clothing enough that I never go hungry or cold.  Add to that a dog who is the best dog ever (and possibly the smartest).  And that is only the tip of the iceberg!

Indeed Jehovah, he is God, and I am very thankful to be one of the sheep of his pasture for he is good. And I am so thankful that his mercy is everlasting, because I, more than most, am a debtor to that mercy!

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Big Stroker from the Past

I recently acquired a copy of a 1960 Hot Rod Magazine. I purchased it on-line because the description mentioned that it contained an article on a Harley drag bike.  1960? - Check.  Harley? - Check.   Drag bike? - Check!  Yep, sounded like it was right up my alley, and worth the price of admission just to see whose vintage drag bike it was.  A few bucks and a few days later I was pleasantly surprised.  Stan Dishong!  Truly one of the pioneers and innovators of the sport.  Here are a few highlights:

 Heliarc welded and low mounted fuel and oil tanks were certainly unusual for 1960, as was the fiberglass rear fender/seat combo

Knuckle engine was brought out to 100 cubic inches via custom built cylinders and flywheels.  Bore was 3-9/16" with a stroke of 5"

One of the coolest aspects was the starting system - a set of rollers powered by an Indian twin
Stan Dishong will be a familiar name to even freshman students of early drag racing history.  Stan was definitely not shy about trying out new ideas, and from what I have seen he always executed them with beautiful workmanship. His partner and fellow fabricator on this particular bike was Terry Hines .  As you may guess, pump driven fuel injection is used, which explains the low mounted tank.  The article suggests that the engine could be converted from 16:1 compression ratio for use with alcohol, over to 9:1 when using nitro.  In other words, a crazy compression ratio for use with a sane fuel, and sane compression ratio for use with a crazy fuel!  Makes perfect sense to me. (no - really, it does)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Sign of Jonah

Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.
Matthew 12:38-41

  The story of Jonah and the whale is one that many of us will remember from our youth.  The book of Jonah is only four short chapters, so it is fairly easy to summarize.  Jonah was called upon by God to go to the city of Nineveh to call them to repentance for their wickedness.  Jonah did not want to obey God in this matter so he got onto a ship to sail away in another direction.  But God sent a storm that threatened to sink the ship, which ultimately led to Jonah being cast overboard so that the crew might survive.

Then God sent a great fish to swallow Jonah, which, after he had cried out to God, delivered Jonah onto dry land so that he could fulfill his missionary journey to Nineveh. 

Today I would like to consider Jonah from the prospective of what Jesus had to say about him in the book of Matthew. 

First of all, let’s consider the context in which Jesus brings up Jonah’s trial at the hand (mouth?) of the whale.  Just before these scribes and Pharisees (leaders of the Jewish people) asked Jesus to show them a sign, he had healed a man with a withered hand.  That caused the Pharisees to hold a council on how they might do away with him.  Next Jesus went away and great multitudes followed him.  The Bible says that he healed them all.  Then Jesus cast out a devil from a person causing him to regain his speech and his eyesight. When the Pharisees heard of that, they concluded that Jesus had done this miracle by the power of Satan.  Now if all these other signs were not enough, Jesus "read their minds" and lectured them about what was wrong with what they had been thinking.  So is it any wonder that when they followed this up by asking for a sign, that he was a bit short with what could only be considered to be a insolent request?

I like what Matthew Henry says this about the passage: “Signs were granted to those who desired them for the confirmation of their faith, as to Abraham and Gideon; but were denied to those who demanded them for the excuse of their unbelief.”

The sign of the prophet Jonah;  as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  Now, not only is this statement a prophecy of what would soon happen to him,  Jesus makes it abundantly clear that Jonah being swallowed by a whale was a “type” or picture of the gospel.  The death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ, was foreshadowed right there in the Old Testament. 

Jonah was cast into the sea to suffer the wrath of God so that others would not perish.  In Jonah’s case the others were the sailors who had been idolaters, but before the storm ceased were calling out to Jehovah.  In like manner, Jesus suffered the wrath of God on the cross to save sinners of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues.

Jonah was “buried” in the belly of a whale for 3 days.  Jesus spent a corrsponding amount of time in the grave.  Jonah was spit out of the Whale’s mouth alive, resulting in the repentance and salvation of the city of Nineveh.  That picture was fulfilled when Jesus rose from the dead, resulting in countless numbers coming to salvation through repentance and faith.

Jesus said that what happened to Jonah was a sign.  Do you suppose Jonah may have told his story of deliverance from three days in the belly of a whale as part of his preaching to the people of Nineveh?   If they accepted his message, then certainly they must have understood that Jonah's deliverance from the whale was a sign of God’s mercy. 

The same is true of the preaching of the cross.  It is Christ's resurrection from the dead which is the ultimate sign that is given that we might believe!  It is the sign by which we may know that God the Father has accepted the sacrifice which Jesus made on the cross for our sins.  If you believe it, then surely you must understand that the resurrection is a sign of God’s mercy to you.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Almost 30 Years Ago...

Due to a series of unforeseen and insignificant events (too insignificant to mention here), I came upon a published class breakdown for the HDRA (Harley Drag Racing Association) circa 1985.  This was from back in the good old days when Red Roberts owned and operated the HDRA.  Though titled 1986 Classes, I think these are the same classifications that were used in 1985 (at least they are in regards to the class I was involved in back then).  As far as I know the 1986 HDRA national tour did not take place due to circumstances beyond Red's control. Unfortunately I don't know the name of the publication this came from, so I cannot give proper credit.  I offer it only in the interest of presenting a little drag racing history to those of the younger generation who care about such things, and to jog a few good memories for those of my generation.

1986 Classes

Professional Categories

Open Fuel Eliminator: Will consist of (double engine supercharged) (single engine supercharged nitro) (fuel injected single engine nitro) (carbureted single engine 2 speed nitro) (light nitrous oxide dragbikes, under 425 lbs for sportsters, under 500 lbs for big twins)

Hot Dragster Eliminator: Will consist of (carbureted single engine high gear nitro) (double engine gas or alcohol) (supercharged single engine gas or alcohol) (fuel injected gas or alcohol)

Dragster Eliminator: Will consist of (carbureted gas or alcohol 94” & up)


Sportsman Categories

Street Eliminator

Class A: 45”Harley; 2 and 3 wheeled 45” powered motorcycles modifications unlimited

Class B: Handshift FL; Any hand shift foot clutch 74, tank shift, jockey shift, or slap shift, Any engine or chassis modification allowed as long as 74” is retained, must be street legal.

Class C: Handshift Stroker; Any hand shift foot clutch big twin over 74”, modifications unlimited as long as it remains street legal.

Class D: Stock XL; Harley Sportsters close enough to stock as to not have a distinct advantage over a normal street stocker.  Any pipes allowed.  Harley carburetor only.  6” maximum swing arm extension.  Must have all equipment needed to pass state inspection & electrical charging system.

Class E: Hot Street XL; Harley Sportsters with performance modifications including light chassis or late model double carburetor XR-1000 models. 72 cubic inch maximum.  Must have all equipment needed to pass state inspection & electrical charging system.

Class F: Street Racer XL; Harley Sportsters over 72”.  Must have operable headlight and taillight, normally aspirated only.

Class G: Super Street XL; Harley Sportsters with fuel injection, nitrous kits, turbo or superchargers, must have operable headlight and taillight.

Class J: Stock FL; Harley 74’s close enough to stock as to not have a distinct advantage over a stock 74.  Any pipes allowed.  Harley carburetor only, 6” maximum swing arm extension.  Must have all equipment needed to pass state inspection & electrical charging system.

Class K: Hot Street FL; Big Twins that are 1340cc and highly modified 74” bikes.  Must have all equipment needed to pass state inspection & electrical charging system.

Class L: Street Racer FL; Big Twins over 80”.  Must have operable headlight and taillight, normally aspirated only.

Class M: Super Street FL; Big Twins with fuel injection, nitrous kits, turbo or superchargers, must have operable headlight and taillight.

Modified Eliminator

Class H: Drag Modified XL; Sportster dragbikes under 74”

Class I: X Drag Modified XL; Sportster dragbikes 75” to 93”

Class P: Super Modified XL; Sportster dragbikes with nitrous oxide kits, superchargers, or turbochargers, minimum weight 426 lbs.

Class N: Drag Modified FL; Big twin dragbikes under 82”

Class O: X Drag Modified FL; Big Twin dragbikes 83” to 93”

Class R: Super Modified FL; Big Twin dragbikes with nitrous oxide kits, superchargers, or turbochargers, minimum weight 500 lbs.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

How to be a Great Nation

How often do you hear a politician use the phrase, this great nation...?  But what exactly is the cause of a nation being great?  Wealth?  Power?  Freedom?  Security?

Well, I think I can provide a biblical answer.

Deuteronomy 4: 5-8  Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.  For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for?  And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

That's right, a nation's greatness is not found in its natural resources, not in its armies, or even in its political system.  It is found in the nation's adherence to Jehovah's law as found in the Bible. 

May I suggest that the inverse is also true. 

Deuteronomy 4: 9 goes on to say: Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;

What if a once great nation were to ban God's word from its schools and its government?  How long would that nation remain great?

Just something for us to consider next time we are feeling a little too patriotic.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


Well, its official.  Joe Taylor's 1939 61 cubic inch Knucklehead now holds the world record in the MPS VG 1000  class for the Bub Speed Trials at Bonneville!

The record runs were made on Tuesday with Terry of Gunner's Cycle piloting.  The record now stands at 123.526, just over 14 mph higher than the previous class record held by Sid Biberman's Vincent. 

Terry feels that there is  more mph to be found since the newly added AFR gauges showed the jetting still quite rich, however rain precluded any further attempt for this year.  Dyno testing was not in the cards for the Gray Goose this past summer, and though the speed is well short of the team's goal, they wisely decided to fore go any tuning changes until after the record was in their possession. 

Congratulations to Joe, Terry and John for reaching this milestone in only their second year on the salt with the Goose.  And if you would allow me to indulge in a little patting myself on the back, I would like to mention that I not only built the motor, but I also supplied the 2.060" valves and guides used to set this record. It is always a nice when you can add "World Record Setting" to a product description! 

Now, if the boys can just add another 16-1/2 mph next year...   

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Another Drag Racing Pioneer Gone

I received word about a week ago that Carl McClanahan had passed away. You may recall that I featured one of his last drag bikes here on this blog recently. Before commenting, I wanted to find an obituary online so I could link to it, however I have had no success.  It only seems fitting to at least provide some sort of words at the passing of one of the innovators and pioneers of motorcycle drag racing, so I have chosen to quote what is written about Carl on the back cover of his 1984 book "V-Twin Thunder."

Carl McClanahan started drag racing in 1958 on a 1951 74 inch Panhead.  Since then, he has collected record after record, trophy after trophy, and first place after first place.  Carl's bikes go fast because of the skills, techniques, and tricks he has learned over the years.  Among the records he has set and held are:
1963: Alton, Illinois. 11.75 seconds, 123.288 mph on a 66 inch Sportster with a lay down frame.  This bike ran 11.55, 125 mph later in 1963
1969: Alton, Illinois. AHRA world record A/Fuel 9.57 on an 89 inch Sportster in a Yetman frame.  This bike later ran consistent 9.30s to 9.40s.
1970: Gainesville, Florida.  Low qualifier Spring Nationals, at 9.44 seconds.
1970: Invited to Indy Nationals, Top Fuel.
1972: Assumption, Illinois.  Set IHRA record for B/Fuel on a 55 inch Sportster.
1972: Bowling Green, Kentucky. Ran 10.75, 130.62 mph.  Old record was 10.96
1972: Alton, Illinois.  Ran 10.47, 10.34, 10.33, 10.31, and 10.32, at 138 mph.
1973: Pevely, Missouri.  Ran 6.18, 119 mph in 1/8 mile race to win AHRA B/Fuel record on a 53 inch Sportster.
1974: Pevely, Missouri. Won AHRA A/Fuel record on a 108 inch (!) Sportster.
Carl also built what may have been the first twin engine Sportster, using a pair of 66 inch engines in line.  He fell off four of the first seven time out, and later dismembered the bike before it was able to dismember him.  In 1971, he built the first set of wheelie bars for motorcycles. 
A racer for 25 years, Carl still makes all the national events within 700 miles of his home in St. Louis.
Rest in Peace, Carl.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Is Jesus on Board?

And straightway he constrained his disciples to get into the ship, and to go to the other side before unto Bethsaida, while he sent away the people. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray. And when even was come, the ship was in the midst of the sea, and he alone on the land. And he saw them toiling in rowing; for the wind was contrary unto them: and about the fourth watch of the night he cometh unto them, walking upon the sea, and would have passed by them.: But when they saw him walking upon the sea, they supposed it had been a spirit, and cried out: For they all saw him, and were troubled. And immediately he talked with them, and saith unto them, Be of good cheer: it is I; be not afraid.  And he went up unto them into the ship; and the wind ceased: and they were sore amazed in themselves beyond measure, and wondered.  For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened.   Mark 6:45-52

Jesus walking on the water is one of the most well known miracles told of in the Bible. You may perhaps be more familiar with the way it is told by Matthew, which also relates how Peter started to walk out on the water to Jesus, but became afraid because of the wind, and had to call out for Jesus to save him as he began to sink.

I would like to just make a few observations about this miracle.

The first is that I love the way that anytime we read of Jesus performing a miracle, we are always given enough information to make it absolutely clear that it was indeed a supernatural event. In the text it tells us that the ship was in the midst of the sea when Jesus came walking toward them. The book of John tells us that the disciples rowed three or four miles. Jesus wasn't just wading out to the boat. He wasn't just walking out on a sandbar. They were in the midst of the Sea of Galilee!

Mark also tell us that Jesus stayed on land while the disciples rowed toward the other side and that they toiled in rowing because the wind was contrary unto them. If you will allow me to turn that into a metaphor for salvation, then you might say that without Jesus on board, we are rowing against the wind. That is not to say that salvation makes life easier. It does not. But in the matter of knowing God, and ultimately spending eternity with him, the Bible says no man comes to the Father except by Jesus. Any other way is rowing against the wind.
I would also like to suggest that without Jesus on board, we cannot be close to God. That seems pretty self evident. Even the name Emanuel means "God with us."
We also find that when the disciples saw Jesus walking toward them on the water they did not recognize him; they thought that he was a ghost. I would observe that without Jesus on board, we may not recognize God when he is right in front of our eyes. How often we attribute things that happen to chance or good luck, when it is really the work of the God who has numbered the very hairs of our head! (Luke 12:7)
The Bible tells us that his disciples were troubled when they saw Jesus walking on the water toward them. Without Jesus on board, the prospect of him coming on board may be troubling to us. Salvation involves repentance, and repentance involves recognition of our sins. Certainly consideration of our sinfulness compared to a holy God can be nothing if not troubling to the soul.
When Jesus entered the boat, the winds stopped and his disciples were totally amazed and wondered. Well, calming the stormy sea is certainly a miracle, as much as walking on the water, so perhaps we should not be surprised at their amazement. However Mark comments that it was because they had already forgotten the miracle from the day before when Jesus fed 5000 with five loaves and two fish. It seems that even with Jesus on board, they were quick to forget his previous miracles.
We are prone to do the same ourselves. Day after day, don't we worry about what tomorrow will bring? Don't we fret about our health or our money or our possessions? Don't we quickly forget the miracles of Jesus, including the biggest one of all - that of salvation.?
In reality the one thing we really should concern ourselves with is whether or not we have Jesus on board. In other words, have we been born again; have we put our trust in the fact that Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins; are we truly followers of Christ?
If not, then we must follow the example of Peter when he began to sink, and cry out to Jesus "Lord save me."  (Matthew 14:30)
If you will cry out to him in faith and repentance, then you will get the same results. The Bible says that immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand and caught him. He will do the same for you!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Good Father

With Father's Day only a little over a month in our rear view mirror, it seems that the time is right to get around to posting the devotional from the June service at Friendship Manor.  As you may recall, I was likewise quite late in posting the Mother's Day version.

I would like to consider a father that is mentioned in the Bible. His name is Jairus. We learn about Jairus from this event recorded in the book of Matthew, and also in the book of Mark which follows.

And, behold, there cometh one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and when he saw him, he fell at his feet, And besought him greatly, saying, My little daughter lieth at the point of death: I pray thee, come and lay thy hands on her, that she may be healed; and she shall live. And Jesus went with him; and much people followed him, and thronged him.  Mark 5:22-24

Now, on the way to heal the daughter of Jairus, the Bible tells us of a woman who was also healed, almost as if by accident, when she touches Jesus garment. Here we have Jesus on his way specifically to heal Jairus' daughter, but someone else along the way is also healed Though we are not going to focus on that part of the story, it always makes me wonder how often it may happen that a Christian sets out to share the good news of Jesus Christ to a specific person, but a bystander overhears it and is likewise affected.

While he yet spake, there came from the ruler of the synagogue's house certain which said, Thy daughter is dead: why troublest thou the Master any further?  As soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken, he saith unto the ruler of the synagogue, Be not afraid, only believe.  And he suffered no man to follow him, save Peter, and James, and John the brother of James.  And he cometh to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, and seeth the tumult, and them that wept and wailed greatly.  And when he was come in, he saith unto them, Why make ye this ado, and weep? the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying.  And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment.  Mark 5:35-42

It says they were astonished at this act. Jesus raised this young girl from the dead. It was astonishing because there was no doubt that she had died. It was so obvious that the people present "laughed him to scorn", or as some translations put it, they ridiculed Jesus. We should be astonished too. It is no small matter to raise someone from the dead, and Jesus did it more than once. In fact he does it every day.

 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins   Ephesians 2:1

I would like to make a spiritual analogy to the physical event of Jesus raising Jairus' daughter from the dead. Just as Jairus' daughter was physically dead, until we are born again, each and every one of us is spiritually dead in our sins and trespasses. Each of us; that includes our children.

Like Jairus, the father here in this story, it is the duty of a father to seek out Jesus and bring him to their children. They should go to Jesus and pray for their children that he would come to them and raise them from their spiritual death.

Fathers should bring Jesus into their homes, as Jairus did. Fathers should make the Bible a focal point of the home. It should be read daily, because there in the pages of scripture is where the children will meet Jesus. In our text it says that Jesus took the young girl by the hand. That is a very good picture of how Jesus raises one from the spiritual dead today. He takes them by the hand and they are healed, they are spiritually re-born. Ephesians 6:4 tells us: And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  If fathers do this, Jesus will be right there in the home, ready to reach out and take the child by the hand and raise them up.

Now Jairus, the father in our story, is an example of a good father. He recognized the danger of physical death that his daughter was in. He sought out Jesus and begged him to heal his daughter. He brought Jesus into his home, to his daughter. He was rewarded with the raising of his daughter from the dead.

Some of us probably had fathers like that. They prayed for you and brought Jesus into your home and made sure that you knew him. They did their part and perhaps were instrumental in bringing Jesus to you. But some reading this may not have had that advantage. Perhaps your father did not know Jesus himself. Perhaps you were more like the woman who was healed by Jesus while he was on his way to Jairus' house. It seems that she heard about Jesus somewhere else, and sought him out on her own, trusting that he had the power to heal her.

Or perhaps you are still dead in your sins and trespasses.

If that is the case, it is still not too late. If you will only consider your sins, confess them to God and turn from them, putting your faith in the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay the penalty for those sins, then Christ will reach his hand out to you and raise you up from spiritual death. You will be spiritually born again, and that new spirit will never die.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Vintage McClanahan Drag Bike Available

Recently one of the members of the NVMDRA bulletin board contacted me with information about a vintage drag bike that is for sale.  This particular bike could be best described as a rolling test bed for ideas from the fertile mind of one Carl McClanahan.  When I heard the name, it sounded familiar, but I could not place it.  A quick web search revealed that Carl is the author of V-Twin Thunder (subtitled "A Handbook of Inexpensive Performance Modifications for Harley Davidson Motorcycles.") published in 1984.  No wonder the name was familiar; the book graces a bookshelf here at my shop.  Another interesting thing about that search is that it turned up the fact that copies of the long out of print book are currently offered for sale ranging in price from $57 for a used copy, to nearly $300 for one in new condition.  That would seem to put Mr. McClanahan in some pretty exclusive company.  I can think of only one other author of performance modification books which command such large premiums for their out of print works.  The other author would be David Vizard; exclusive company indeed!

Carl McClanahan, now in his 80's, began drag racing in 1958.  He was one of the first to build a double engine Sportster, and may have been the first to build a set of wheelie bars for a motorcycle.  Looking over my copy of V-Twin Thunder to write this, I found a whole slug of performance tricks that I have used for years, but had forgotten where I learned them.  Looks as though I owe Carl a belated thank you.

The bike itself conjures up images of the glory days of motorcycle drag racing, when innovation was the name of the game.  Though Carl set numerous records and an untold number of wins in his long and storied racing career, just as with nearly every other long time racer, the bikes used were constantly being updated and/or replaced as technology advanced.  As stated earlier, this particular bike was used primarily to test new ideas and therein lies real the beauty of it.

A fuel Sportster with a tire that small probably needs all the down force a wing can provide

Pressurized reservoir supplied additional air to the intake

Anti reversion cones on the exhaust look as though they could have inspired the modern day Thunderheader

There is a modern "induction system" on the market which shares a similar shape

Note the dual float bowl conversion on the L Series Fuel carb

If you are interested in  purchasing this piece of history, send me an email and I will put you in touch with the appropriate party.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Elijah and the Bottomless Barrel of Meal

Well, here we are at nearly the end of June, and I am about to post the devotional that I delivered at Friendship Manor in early May for Mother's Day.  Yes, I am lagging that far behind.  Perhaps next I will get around to posting the Father's Day message from earlier this month!

The story I am going to share concerns a certain widow woman who lived in Zarephath a city of Zidon. Zidon, by the way, was not part of Israel, but rather a city of the Gentiles. We don't know this woman's name, even though Jesus himself mentions her during his ministry nearly 900 years later. The background is this: Because of the wickedness of Israel, God sent judgement by way of a drought pronounced by the prophet Elijah. This drought soon caused a famine in the land. This is where we will join the story.

1 Kings 17: 8-16  17:8 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.

This was quite a miracle. Can you even imagine it? This woman had only enough food left for one meal for herself and her son. That was it. There was no more where that came from. She was destitute, and knew that after that next meal she and her son would starve to death.

Now here comes this stranger, with promises that the LORD God of Israel would sustain them, but first she should feed him. And she does as Elijah requests! In verse 9 the bible tells us that God told Elijah that he had commanded the widow woman to feed him. Evidently God had already done a work in this woman's heart. We don't know if perhaps God had spoken to her in a dream, or perhaps she could feel the power of God through Elijah's words. We just don't know. We also don't know whether she prepared all of the flour and oil she had left at once, or perhaps she decided to save a little so her son could have another meal the next day. After all, Elijah had only asked for a little cake.

Either way, the next day she found there was enough flour and oil left to feed them all again. And again the next day ...and the next ...and the next! We don't know exactly how long this went on, but we do know that the drought lasted 3-1/2 years, so this small bit of flour and oil may have lasted the better part of that time by God's miraculous providence.

But the story does not end there.

1 Kings 17: 17-24  And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child's soul come into him again. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.

It seems that in the midst of this miracle of God providing food for this widow, her son and Elijah tragedy struck. The woman's son died. But Elijah, by the power of God, raised him from the dead.

Here is where I would like to make a few observations of how this relates to the Gospel. When the widow's son died, she immediately assumed it was because of her sin. Though she probably did not quite understand it all correctly, she made the connection that there is a judgment for sin, and that judgement results in death. The New Testament book of Romans tells us that the wages of sin is death. Conviction and acknowledgment of our sins is a prerequisite to saving faith.

But, you might wonder how this widow woman could help but have faith in God. After all, she and her son had witnessed the miracle of the bottomless barrel of flour and cruse of oil for a long, long time. But that was not enough. It was not until after Elijah raised her son from the dead that she said that she was sure that the word of the LORD in his mouth was truth.

In the same manner, it is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that gives us confidence that our sins are forgiven. You see, the widow woman had it almost right. Someone's son would die for her sins. But it was not her son, and it would not happen for nearly another 900 years. God's own son did die for our sins. And he too arose from the dead, but in the case of Jesus Christ, that resurrection shows that God has accepted that sacrifice in payment for sins.

Won't you, like the widow woman in our story, declare that you believe that the word of the LORD is true and fully put your trust in him!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Viking Chapter AMCA Meet this Weekend

If you are anywhere near Minnesota this weekend, come out to the Viking Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America's annual National Meet. 8 AM to 8 PM on Friday June 14th and 8 AM to 6 PM on Saturday June 15th at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in St. Paul.  Friday is traditionally the biggest day for the swap meet, though there will likely be some great last minute deals to be found on Saturday.

I will be set up in the Progress Building alongside the antique bike show.  Stop in and say hello!

Friday, April 19, 2013


For those of you old enough to remember, Johnny Horton famously sang, "when its springtime in Alaska, its 40 below."  I could not help but hum a few bars of that song  as I took a break on the deck in my back yard here in beautiful downtown Minnesota on April 18th.

I was not there long before I was joined by an old friend.  From the frown on his face you can see that he too was a little taken aback by the snowfall so late in the year.  The fact that he had already switched over to a straw hat, clearly shows that like so many others, he had assumed spring was here.  As with most friends, it was good to have him stop by for a chat, but we hope that he doesn't wear out his welcome.

Clearly, more proof of Global Warming!

Friday, April 12, 2013

Another Age Old Problem & Another Cheap Tool To Fix It

Spring is in the air.  The birds are chirping, the breeze is finally warm, and you can hardly wait to get your Harley out for its maiden voyage of the season after its long winter rest.  You went and bought a new battery in anticipation of this day, since you once again left it go all winter without any preventive maintenance.  But what's the price of a new battery when you will soon be back in the saddle, enjoying the wind in your face?

You kick the engine through once ....twice, ....(what is that gurgling noise?).  On the sixth kick, Old Reliable catches, and with some quick finessing of the throttle, comes fully awake.  But, now what?  Suddenly you realize that your garage floor is rapidly being covered by a pool of oil.  You quickly shut the engine down.  Dead silence, except that the gurgling noise which nearly caught your attention before is still emanating from the bowels of your beloved steed.

A seeping oil pump check ball has struck again.

It is pretty much inevitable that if you own Harleys for long enough, you will become accustomed to this scenario, though you may never get to the point of actually remembering to plan for it in advance via a pan to catch the oil. 

What has happened, of course, is that the spring and check ball in your oil pump has failed in its duty to keep oil from gravity feeding from the tank, through the pump, and into the lower end of the engine while the bike was at rest.  With the return side of the pump unable to scavenge the excess oil quickly enough, it takes the path of least resistance and exits through the breather. The longer the bike is at rest, the more likely this will happen.  I would go so far as to say that for it to happen over the course of a whole winter may not even be a sign of anything amiss to the point of worrying about, anything except how to clean up the mess that is. 

On the other hand, if you get a similar result after giving your ride a two week vacation, then it may be time to address the situation.  The Motor Company used to tell us that the fix was to remove the check ball and spring and then take the bike for a good ride so that the oil flow could "flush" out anything that may have gotten between the ball and its seat.  That's fine as far as it goes, but if this is a re-occurring condition, you may have to do more.  A new ball and spring may be in order, especially if they are original equipment - I don't put a lot of faith in springs in their old age.  But, assuming you have tried these simple fixes with no success, now what?

As you might expect, any shop dealing with rebuilds on older Harley motors has to address this issue.  The older the engines you rebuild, the more often it will be an issue.  For years and years, I have lapped the check ball seats in oil pumps as a matter of course during a rebuild.  What I did was take a new check ball and braze it onto the end of a screwdriver, dip the ball in lapping compound and lap away.  One problem though.  The heat from brazing took the hardness out of the check ball, causing it to "wear" away from the lapping rather quickly, especially on cast iron pumps.  Frankly, it has been one of those little annoyances that has bothered me for years (like each time I need to replace the ball). 

Bug, a fellow long time HD mechanic mentioned to me that he uses JB Weld to attach the ball to a screwdriver and it works fine.  And here I though JB Weld was only good for gluing broken crankshafts back together (do they still use testimonials like that in their advertising?).  But just as I was prepping my cheap screwdriver to glue, rather than braze, a check ball to it, I had a thought.  As any good mechanic with hoarding tendencies, I have a whole bunch of stock Evo pushrods gathering dust on a shelf in my shop.  The ball end on them is 3/8" just like the check ball.  Hmmm....

So, out came the torch one more time, but this time only to heat the shaft of the screwdriver enough so that it would pull out of the handle.  Then a quick trip to the lathe to bore the hole in the handle to the proper diameter, and for good measure to put a little taper on the recently cut-in-two pushrod, and oh boy howdy ....another cheap special tool.  Best of all, not only does it make for quick replacement even if the ball does wear rapidly (which I don't think it will), but finally a good use for some of those worthless parts that were cluttering up my shelves!

Sunday, March 31, 2013


Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.  And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.  And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.  And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:  And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?  He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.  (Luke 24:1-7)


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Aftermarket Knuckle Heads

This is not the sort of post that I enjoy writing.  I would much prefer to write a glowing report on a good product.  On the other hand, these things are not cheap, so I do believe it is reasonable to sound a warning so that buyers can make an informed purchase. 

Reproduction Knuckle heads from V-Twin Manufacturing.  The "issues" I will list range from minor annoyances to full blown problems.

First let's look at the annoying things.  The black paint on the heads is thin to the point of being translucent in many places, except of course in the areas that have runs.  As it turns out the runs are just as annoying as the see though if you opt to blast it off for a full refinish since the runs do a pretty good job of resisting removal with glass beads.

Speaking of paint, the heads were obviously painted before machining operations were performed, leaving large areas of bare cast iron.  Notably missing paint are the large spark plug "wells" and the tops of the rocker box supports.  Perhaps for this reason the machined surfaces were not deburred leaving sharp edges, many of them sharp enough to cut you quite easily when handing.  As it turns out, that can be VERY annoying.

The set I purchased was the version without rocker boxes and shafts, so they came without the upper rocker cover tins installed, but gaskets for them were included.  Upon inspection, they found a new home in a trash can, since they were so dried out and brittle that clearly  any attempt at installation would have been an exercise in futility.

The spring cups, or lower covers as they may also be called, have a nice Parkerized finish, and seem to be fairly good stampings (better than those from the same vendor a number of years earlier).  The brazed in oil return lines, however, have a copper plating which does not "take" the Parkerizing.  That may be a good thing in some ways, since the color may discourage some from trying to pass them off as originals.

On to what I consider a little beyond annoyances.  The valve spring are green.  So, what do you have against St. Patty's day, you might ask.  Well, green is not my favorite color, but this goes a little past interior decorating choices.  The valve springs are painted green.  In fact they are thickly painted green, possibly with a brush from the look.  Thick to the point of chipping off.  I can't say just what chunks of this green paint would do to an engine, or where it would ultimately wind up, but its certainly not something I would want to take a chance on.

The heads come with plumber style intake nipples installed.  In fact, they are installed with a "stock style" rivet to keep them from turning.  And when I say "stock style rivet" it is because the rivet is of the 1/4" diameter oversize normally reserved for a damaged hole on a used and abused head.  Too bad about that too.  Once the oversize rivets were removed, the nipples could be removed easily enough, meaning they were not installed very tight to begin with.  That added to the fact that the nipples had been installed with no type of sealer, leads one to conclude that the possibility of intake air leaks would be somewhere between likely and inevitable.

Next up is the alignment of the spring cups.  Keep in mind that these are held in place by being sandwiched between the valve guide and the head, so they need to be in the right position before the guide is installed all the way.  I keep a spare set of rocker boxes (knuckles) with shafts (no arms) among my special tools for just this purpose.  That way, I can insure that the spring cups align properly with the holes for the rocker shafts and that the other end of the cover fits into the hole in the rocker box.  In the case of this set of heads, not only did the rocker box end of the spring cups not line up with the knuckles, there was a good sized gap between the cup and ear on the head where the rocker shaft  passes through it.  Any attempts to correct this without driving the valve guides partially out would result in bending the lower spring cups, possibly with further damage.

Hard to tell form the poor photo, but this shows daylight between the spring cup and the rocker support ear on head

Going a little deeper yet, I found that the I.D. of the valve guides to be abnormally rough; not necessarily a good thing for longevity.  But, as it turns out, that would not be a problem after all, since the valve to guide clearance was too tight, meaning that by the time you honed the guides for more clearance, they would likely have a smooth interior.  Measuring the valve to guide clearance with a dial ball gauge showed .0022 to .003" on the intakes and .0034 to .0055 on the exhausts.  However, the fool proof final check for guides (at least in my book) is checking with a plug gauge (also known as a go/no go gauge).  This takes into account a valve guide bore that is not straight, something the ball gauge will not tell you.  In this case, a plug gauge .001" larger than the valve stem diameter would make it through one intake and and .002" larger on the other intake.  On the exhaust side a plug gauge .002 larger would go through one and .0025 larger on the other.  Stock clearances for a Knuckle are .004 to .006" clearance on both intake and exhaust.  I cannot imagine that these heads would have lived at these clearances.

The next item is only a problem if you plan to use these on a 61 inch motor.  The counter bore for the fire ring in the head is a slight interference fit on an OEM 61 inch Knuck cylinder.  That doesn't affect you if you have a 74 inch since there is no fire ring on the larger cylinder. 

The last item on my list does not really fit into either the annoyance or the problem column, and so possibly not worthy of mention, but I won't let that stop me.  Both exhaust valves had been treated to an approximate 45 degree cut on the combustion chamber side of the O.D.  I have seen the claim in print that this enhances flow.  It does not.  My guess is that this is an old wives tale started because someone saw a set of high performance ported heads with this modification and assumed it was for better flow.  In actuality, this extra angle is a last resort option for valve to valve clearance during overlap.  If one had a finished set of ported and flowed heads with less than the minimum required valve to valve at TDC, one might cut an angle on the margin of the exhaust valve only (because the resulting flow loss would less costly there).  Many years ago I tested this on my flow bench, and the result was so profoundly bad that it made an impression.  The margin thickness on a valve can have a large effect on its flow characteristics.

That pretty well wraps up this product review.  As I stated at the beginning, I wish I had better things to say about these heads, but there is this:  I think we can all be thankful that V-Twin put these heads into production.  The supply of repairable original Knuck castings is fast dwindling.  I believe they would be a better value if they were available as bare castings, but still, better something to work with than nothing at all.