Friday, May 28, 2021

Racing into the Past, Part 2


Make it Right, Make it Light

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

More to come...

Monday, May 24, 2021

The Fool

  Psalm 53 / The Fool

The first line to jump out at us in this Psalm is the statement that “the fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.”  That’s right, the one who created the world and all that is in it, describes the person who says there is no God as a fool.  But by the term fool, I might add this does not speak to a degree of intelligence, or lack of it, but rather to those who are foolish in their morality and without understanding in spiritual things.  This is confirmed by the very next sentence from scripture which states that such persons are corrupt and have done abominable iniquity, or abominable deeds as some translations put it.  


It would seem that this corruption and wickedness of actions is the natural result of a heart that treasures the thought that there is no God.  Looking at it from another angle, one could probably argue that the result of a man’s wicked and corrupt actions is a heart which claims there is no God.  Whichever of these is the cause, and which is the effect, it is clear that abominable deeds and a heart that claims there is no God, go hand in hand.


The world seems to have no lack of people who are corrupt and display it in their wicked actions, but do they really believe in their heart that there is no God, or do they merely keep repeating that to their heart in an effort to convince themselves?   I think there are many more who may say with their mouth that there is no God, but deep down they are unable to convince themselves.


When we read of this “fool who hath said in his heart , there is no God”, it would be instructive to consider him in the light of  Romans 1:18-20 which tells us this:

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth.  For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them.  For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.


So you see, those persons who say in their heart that there is no God, are only trying to fool themselves.  God has made his existence plain to them in the very creation and existence of the world around them. 


There is an example which I have often heard that goes like this.  I am wearing a wrist watch.  Where did it come from?  Most would agree that it was made by a watch maker.  But why wouldn’t you think that over the course of billions of years, it came into existence by the random aligning of atoms and molecules into the form of a watch. Ridiculous, right? And yet, there are people out there who claim that the world and all that is in it, came into being in exactly that way.  They would claim that the world, which is infinitely more complex than any wrist watch, doesn’t have a maker, yet they would scoff at the idea that my watch came into being the same way.  God rightly calls them fools.  But he also says that by their unrighteousness they suppress the truth that there is a God


Closely related to this person who claims to be an atheist or one who says in their heart that there is no God, is the agnostic.  They are the ones who claim they just don’t know whether there is a God or not.   There might be, but they just can’t be sure.  The jury is still out.  They would like to see some proof.   But that person is under the same indictment as the atheist.  God says they are suppressing the truth by their unrighteousness.


Back to our text in the Psalm, we read in verses 2&3 that, “God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God.  Every one of them is gone back: they are altogether become filthy; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”


Since these lines immediately follow the verse stating that a fool says there is no God, we might be tempted to read these verses as applying only to that fool.  However, in the book of Romans, the apostlePaul quotes these verses as scriptural evidence that all mankind is under the condemnation of sin.  He quoted it this way in Romans chapter 3:

 As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”


This means that even if we are not numbered among those who say in their heart that there is no God, it does not mean that we are off the hook.  God may not call us fools, but there is a great distance between merely not being labeled a fool, and having wisdom. 


 In Proverbs it tells us that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.” That is only one of a number of places that the Bible links wisdom with fear of the LORD. 


The problem is that we tend to live our lives as though we are fools.  We act much the same as we would if we said in our hearts that there is no God.  We go through life not thanking God for the many blessing that he showers on us day by day.  We go through life not acknowledging his power and majesty and glory.  And we go through life not showing enough wisdom to fear God.  Because if we really believed that the Bible is describing us when it says There is none righteous, no, not one ... none that understandeth ... none that doeth good, no, not one, then we would be trembling under the prospect of the just condemnation and certain judgment that we deserve.  If we really believed that God is as Holy as the scripture tells us he is, then we could not help but be afraid when we consider how we have continually offended him, over and over and over.  And that fear, ...that fear would be the beginning of wisdom!


This Psalm ends by alluding to the solution for our abominable deeds and our utter lack of righteousness.  Verse 6 says this: " Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When God bringeth back the captivity of his people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israel shall be glad."


That salvation is found in none other than the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of God who lowered himself to take on human flesh and perfectly fulfill God's law, and not only that, but who also took our sins and bore the punishment that we deserve on the cross at Calvary.  If only we will humble ourselves to turn from our sins and trust in him, then we too can rejoice and be glad!