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5 Ball Racing, Bonneville 2010, Part 12

Final Chapter - The Salt Kicked Our Asses

By Bandit, with photos by Sin Wu, and Scooter Grubb
9/22/2010


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What a year this turned into. Days before departure, a plane arrived from Australia with our Peashooter Pilot, Nicole Brosing. She immediately pitched in, since she's not only an Australian landlord, a tattoo artist and Owner of Studio 64 Tattoo, and a single mom; she’s also brilliant. She immediately lets you know more information than you ever bargained for, and if you're inaccurate on any topic, she points it out, gratis.


"Did you know that each month contains 4.3 weeks?” she’ll say. “There's not just four weeks in a month."

 

Getting ready. We're smiling now...
Getting ready. We're smiling now...

         

I received my long-awaited primary belt system from England, two days before salt departure, and the belt seemed too short. For hours, we grappled with alternatives, some downright scary, until I called Classic Cycles.


"You can get any belt, any length from McMaster Carr," Andy said, and I flew out to their Santa Fe Springs, CA warehouse. I grabbed a belt ¼-inch narrower, but five teeth longer and jammed, in rush-hour traffic, back to the headquarters.

 

Andy and his dad from Classic Cycles can order one of these set-ups for any British to American configuration, well almost.
Andy and his dad from Classic Cycles can order one of these set-ups for any British to American configuration, well almost.



Whatta difference a few teeth make. We were golden.

         

Nicole helped with alignment, and surprisingly, every extensively planned guess-work design was successful. Close, but they worked. Here's some of my enduring dialog with Andy Dunn from Classic Cycles:

 

On 7/6/10 8:37 AM, "Andy Dunn" classic-cycles@att.net wrote:

Bandit,

 
The bike looks cool!  That ought to be a blast on the salt for sure.  I got a couple of questions for the belt drive: Does the trans have a designated mount yet?  Or can we change it?    Are you sure the engine crankshaft is tapered?  Or does it just drive with a key?
 
 --Andy Dunn

 

Cool, the reason I ask about the tranny mounting is related to belt length.  There are only so many increments available. So we have to set up the mounts with a belt length in mind.

 

Hey Andy,

I can set up the trans for maximum adjustment. Here are some shots. Let me know if I need to send you a measurement between the shafts.

--Bandit

I figured right at 1 foot from center of shaft to center of tranny shaft. How’s that?

--Bandit

Bandit,

That sounds real close to a pre-unit triumph span. If you have enough adjustment, that should work.  The other thing to take into consideration is the front sprocket size and ratios.

Also, do you happen to have the stock front engine sprocket?

--Andy

 

This dialog continued constantly until the day before we were salt-bound. Ultimately, the Classic Cycle primary from England had a glitch. The manufacturer could not make the offset engine pulley and I spent a day machining and working with Golten's Marine machinists on the offset spacer. They bore the cylinders in ships. 

Rare, mid '50s BSA 4-speed transmission. Mounting was based on guess work, mixed with luck.
Rare, mid '50s BSA 4-speed transmission. Mounting was based on guess work, mixed with luck.



There's the Paughco sprocket mated to the 5-Ball machined spacer and the new belt pulley. Worked like a champ.
There's the Paughco sprocket mated to the 5-Ball machined spacer and the new belt pulley. Worked like a champ.



A machinist at Golten's offered me a chunk of round aluminum stock to work with. It was a perfect fit, but still needed extensive machining. The other major obstacle was machining the sprocket and drilling holes in it for bolts to hold all three pieces together.

I spent all day in the shop machining the spacer and all went unbelievably according to plan, until the lovely Sin Wu wandered into the shop, as the dogs barked to be fed and the sun began to fade.

"How's it going?" She asked

"Incredible," I said then gulped.

There's that Zen thing about speaking out before the job is completed and tested. If I open my fuckin' mouth, my foot usually ends up in it.

I gulped and muttered, "Almost."


I still hadn't drilled the sprocket, which turned into the most ardent task, since the Paughco 45-inch engine sprocket was hardened in America under strict U.S. standards. In other words, it was harder than the hubs of hell. I tried to drill it several times. No luck. I called
Gard Hollinger, from LA Chop Rods for a trained, experienced suggestion.

 

"Try finding a pilot drill and working up slowly," Gard said, and wished me luck. I needed it.

Fortunately, I had a multitude of drill bits, and I began to scour them for just the right tiny fuckin' bit and I found one, after busting a couple. The 1/8-inch bit soared through the heat-treated sprocket. I backed it up with the ¼-inch carbide bit supplied by a Golten's machinist. I drilled four holes, since I could not find a bit to push the hole size to 5/16 for a larger fastener.

While we were scrambling on the Peashooter, the Assalt Weapan hung over my head. We were still waiting on parts from Accurate Engineering from the previous week. I offered to park my ass at the doorstep of J&E pistons the Monday after testing, but Berry Wardlaw, the Boss of Accurate was adamant.

 

"I'll take care of it," he said while dealing with his sick folks. Here's a comment from Berry and Dr. Stewart Prince regarding our Assalt Weapan test:


"7,000 rpm is not optimum for hp or torque, but rather it is our shift point if it will pull to it," Berry said. "If not, try 6,500 rpm. We know the engine will pull up through 6,800 because it did that at Bonneville and the computer showed no signs of the engine falling off. Wherever the best hp and torque reading is, set the shift point for 5-10% over that. Let's keep tuning."

 

"The engine was completely disassembled and gone through but we used the same components in assembly, be them new or used,” Barry continued. “The advanced timing we used at Bonneville was 32 degrees, but don't be afraid to try something different on the dyno. Step cautiously. The timing in the Pegasus was not changed from what had been initially set up by Mil. Experiment with it. The engine is timed at 35 degrees right now, but we did that just to get up and running, and were going to change back to 32 after everything settled in. I was just being cautious.

 

“Please just let the engine cool between hard pulls. This thing is going to be completely different when we hit the nitrous, and for sure will pull the 7,000 shift point rpm, but let's put the best tune possible on the natural aspirated engine first. We checked fuses and also ran a new battery completely disconnected from the wiring harness, but still had hard starting problems. We also checked the charging system while running and it was working back to the battery, so I don't know when the fuse blew again.

 

"The cam is as follows: intake 32/64,  276 duration, .588 lift with 1.5 rocker arm ratio. Exhaust is 70/30, 280 duration, .588 lift with 1.5 rocker arm ratio. Compression ratio is 12:1. Damn, I wish I was there. Tune, let cool, read plugs, repeat. The WEGO is a good idea. Keep me posted."

 

 

"Sort of what I suspected.....the engine is really designed to produce peak power lower than 7000 rpm," said Stu, the Pegasus EFI designer. “I don't know if the cam is considered radical, but we can find out from the designer when peak power should occur. Then we have the exhaust issue. Shorter pipes mean higher peak hp and larger diameter shifts the rpm even higher, but I don't know what rpm the pipe was designed for."

 

"Bottom line,” said Stu, “we probably won't see peak hp at much higher rpm than what we already achieved, but with better measurement of air fuel ratio, timing changes, and by balancing the cylinders, we might see higher hp at 5500-6000 rpm. So, we do what we can with what we have, get it right, and go on to nitrous."

 

"I didn't realize the Panhead needs to cool down between runs; we run Evos for hours on end. We'll do it his way."

 

"Timing....I didn't hear any pinging, so we can try increasing it. We should set the dynamic timing as well. Let me know when you're ready for more testing."
 
Bandit prays to the Bikernet Nerve Center. It's scary when it glows...
Bandit prays to the Bikernet Nerve Center. It's scary when it glows...

 

 

By the end of the following week, I was forced to make a decision and take the Assalt Weapan off the list. No parts arrived from Accurate Engineering. Berry has a cell phone with no message service, and it's hard to reach anyone at the shop. I sent an e-mail and stood by. Nothing.


"We ran the FedEx tracking number yesterday with no results, although our FedEx history shows it was shipped," Berry reported the following week. "We also sent more through FedEx yesterday. I'm sorry it got fucked up, but it was the best I could do under my circumstances with my parents. The guys here did do what I asked. I take full responsibility. I feel like shit. I'm very sorry." 

 

I was on a mission to finish the Peashooter and afford Nicole the opportunity to make a pass on the salt. Then news came about the Peashooter configuration from Don Whalen and Rodan, of Sierra Madre Motorcycle Company, the engine rebuilder. Since the 1926 is a constant loss system, a five-mile, wide-open run would be out of the question. The lubrication would overheat in the lower end and fry the engine. I shifted to the run-whatcha-brung thought process, and only a 1-mile pass.


We were just a day away from departure. Eric Bennett, from Bennett's Performance, in Long Beach, also sat on the edge of his seat and pondered his salt fate on the new Balls Out Racing Machine.

It's owned by John and Dexter Yeats. Eric Bennett is the pilot. Their bike was scheduled for the aps pg 3000 cc class.

 

"The recorded record was 186 mph and change," said Eric.

The first goal was to break the record and be the first pushrod gas motor to go 200 mph plus.


Ray Wheeler was our transportation hook-up, since he was working for Two Dick Todd, a guy who buys used Harleys on Craig's List and ships them to Japan. Two Dick promised Ray the use of a big van until the night before we were scheduled to leave when Two Dick's wife put the Kabosh on our transportation.

Todd constantly complains about employees ripping him off, and Ray couldn't be a more trustworthy and efficient driving agent. In a matter of a few months, Ray Wheeler, the President of Wheeler Racing and former Vice President of Weightless Rotors, drove over 80,000 miles picking up, and paying cash for used bikes. If the owner offered a spare mirror or a manual, Ray made absolutely sure Todd received every spare part, paper work, or apparel. That night, Ray quit, drove to the Bikernet Headquarters, and we regrouped for plan B.

We checked U-Haul pricing, reached out to friends, then the obvious answer surfaced: Call Jeremiah Soto, the President of Soto Construction and the recently formed SoCal Working Class Industries. He was dying to go to Bonneville again, but he had a helmet ticket hanging over his head and was determined to fight it. He requested an extension, but was turned down.

Jeremiah Soto, on a Salt Mission.
Jeremiah Soto, on a Salt Mission.

 

"Fuck it," he said, "Yeah, I'm going."


Jeremiah is a can-do sorta Monster, as Nicole nicknamed the stout construction worker. He showed up around noon on Thursday. We loaded Ray's 124-inch twin cam, turbo-charged monster, the Peashooter and as much shit as we could pack in his Toyota crew cab pick-up.

Geared up for the road, with the official Bikernet Hearse. We were dead ready.
Geared up for the road, with the official Bikernet Hearse. We were dead ready.

 

I had the Bikernet Hearse serviced, a new water pump installed and new rear Monroe air shocks. The new ones installed in Ohio, before it was delivered, were shot already. The local auto parts store warranted the shocks and we were good to go. We loaded a Kendon lift, a scissor jack, tools, tents, two coolers, luggage, Nicole's leathers, you name it, in the back of the Hearse and rolled out.


By 2:30, we were tentatively on the road. A storm reportedly hit the mountains south of Las Vegas as we rolled into Baker in a downpour and attempted to fill up. The first station was toast.

"Our pumps are down, due to power outage," the clerk announced over the loud speaker and we kept moving.

I was concerned about my Hearse mileage. I tried to test my gas consumption around town and came up with dismal figures, maybe 13 mpg, so I watched the gauge closely as we rolled into Baker, California, a flat, dismal desert berg about 75 miles from the Nevada border. The rain slammed hard while I attempted to refuel, unsuccessfully. Finally we were able pay cash, load up like wet seals and peeled out for Vegas.


Since the Primm Casino system is in financial disarray, and the new bank-operated regime laid off my buddy, Joe Zanelli and all the Primm executives, including Indian motorcycle restoration nut, Nevada Bob, we passed on Primm and kept going. Our plan was to crash on the northern outskirts of Vegas, so it would be a shorter, comfortable run of 355 miles to Wendover on Friday. We ducked all the Vegas glitter and hit a travel motel north of town where we hooked up with Cigar Marc, the president of Bikernet Insurance. He rode his dresser from San Diego.

 

"I've ridden motorcycles for 37 years," Marc exclaimed as he popped the top on another iced down beer. "This was the hottest ride of my life."

He endured temps cresting 117 degrees. We had a helluva breakfast at the crack of dawn. The women were pissed at us 'cause they wanted to sleep in, so we let them. Ya got me, never understand 'em.

We rolled off the 15 at the 93 and headed north through the Great Basin, a gorgeous valley beside the Sheep Range, through the National Pahranagat Park onto the 318 shortcut, to highway 6 and Ely, then back onto the 93. At Ely, I grabbed 9.8 gallons of gas after traversing 242 miles, for 24.6 miles per gallon. I couldn't believe it. Suddenly the gas gauge slowed to a crawl. The hearse liked the highway, or the majestic Nevada roads.

 

Bikernet Insurance Agent, Cigar Marc, gearing up for the storm ahead.
Bikernet Insurance Agent, Cigar Marc, gearing up for the storm ahead.


At the end of Steptoe Valley, we rolled onto the 93 alternate toward Wendover and the stormy front threatened. We stopped for Marc as he decided to raingear-up. Of course, you know what that meant. The clouds parted and not a drop marred his voyage into Wendover and the Wendover Nugget Casino. We survived the first leg of our Bonneville Journey.

 

The next morning, Saturday, the lovely Nyla, our supreme Bikernet trip organizer, and I headed to the salt early to grab a pit area near the starting gate. With Starbuck's coffee in hand, we rolled up to the line of trailers and trucks at 7:30 and parked.

Jim Guiffra was on hand from AFT Cycles. The line was substantial and growing behind us. It was scrutinizing and class sign-ups day. I didn't think much about it except the basics, since we were running in the run-whatcha-brung class. No sweat, right. Not so, and I will never enter a bike again without thoroughly researching the rules, which are available for download 24/7 on the BUB Speed Trials. You can also sign up for rule changes and updates. They will gladly send them directly to you via e-mail.

 

In the past, Rodan, a 25-year SCTA official would stop by the Bikernet Headquarters and inspect our vehicle before the Bonneville run. Even then, I've been surprised with additional inspector's rulebook demands on the salt. Ray immediately rolled into the inspection line, while I waited for pre-registration to end. It never did, so I jumped in line and used the Assalt Weapan registration to get me started. We found classes and rules that prevented us from running on the 5-mile course, and I shifted back to run-whatcha-brung. Finally, we rolled to the scrutinizing line and the volunteer officials started to peer at the Peashooter.

 

I was somewhat embarrassed by my lack of homework assignment scores, but what the fuck. I was there, I needed to step into the ring and take my lumps. We discovered first the fork stop rule. The steering damper cannot act as a fork stop. I also needed a lanyard kill switch. There was a new rule: all fuel lines needed to be covered with a fire retardant sleeves and no glass fuel filters were allowed. Plus we needed number plates with our class distinction of a particular lettering size on both sides of the bike. I was fried, but not out, and we peeled to the hardware store.
 
 

Ray faced a similar list, so I didn't feel too bad. He needed the same fuel line cover, a kill switch, axle safety wires, which we brought, and number plates. He had to tie up his kickstand at the starting gate and something to do with his primary.

 

The primary cover operation begins.
The primary cover operation begins.

 

Installing makeshift, but functioning, fork stops.
Installing makeshift, but functioning, fork stops.

 

We went after our missions with a vengeance, with trips to the hardware store to make fork stops, and we grabbed a Nugget casino gambling card lanyard for the kill switch. I stumbled with the Lucas mag and a kill switch for months. I was aware of that rule. As it turned out, this British mag from a Triumph or BSA didn't have a grounding lead. They used compression releases as kill switches during this era. I was sunk. So, we fastened the lanyard to the sparkplug wire. Holy shit.


The gambling lanyard strapped to the Peashooter sparkplug wire for safety, we hoped...
The gambling lanyard strapped to the Peashooter sparkplug wire for safety, we hoped...



We were also working with Geoff at the Joker Machine's pit. Seems Rodan set up the Peashooter with 14:1 compression, and it was a bastard to kick over. Geoff and his crew, with his famous rider, Billy Hamill, had a dual car-starter motor-roller system. We just needed to wait for him to make a pass; then we could start the Peashooter.

Then a front rolled in, ripped down our tent and sent us packing for the Nugget. The Flats are mercurial. One minute the sun bakes anything on the salt, then a front floats overhead like a bad omen, the wind picks up, tears down tents, and it rains cats and pitbulls. The team pits were empty in a matter of minutes.


Sunday morning was the first day of time trials, but it rained all night and the salt wasn't ready. We blasted to the pits, and made a deal with Geoff for the use of his roller system. Ray borrowed a tent from a piston manufacturer and our pit area was in full swing preparing the bikes for speed runs. It was overcast and not looking good, but finally in the mid afternoon Leslie made a pass, blessed the salt and augmented racing action.

The Joker Machine roller system about to take action.
The Joker Machine roller system about to take action.


I finally begged for a run-whatcha-brung booklet and read the rules in the blistering afternoon sunlight. I thought I could dodge one of the AMA class rules requiring a primary cover, but nooo. Nicole, the mastermind of everything, immediately threw out notions of baking tins and pie pans for a primary. Kevin, Steve, and Joe rolled in from San Jose from Ray's shop, Hardtailz, and watched Ray make his first pass. At 5000 rpms under a bright sky, Ray rolled into a high-speed wobble.

"I tried to back off and hit it again, but it got worse," Ray said and shut down.


He rode his bike into the pits, the San Jose crew threw the scissor jack under the frame, and discovered a very loose front end. They tightened it up and the turbo monster was seemingly ready to rock the next day.

Know-it-all Nicole from Australia ready to make a Peashooter primary cover
Know-it-all Nicole from Australia ready to make a Peashooter primary cover


In the meantime, Nicole discovered a No Parking aluminum sign at another pit and talked the boss out of it. She cut a pattern with cardboard from a case of bottled waters and started to saw the form out of No Parking. With the help of Cigar Marc, they duct-taped a handle onto a hacksaw blade and went to work. They were making headway, but I wanted to see the 1926 PS start and begin to break in the engine.   

Nicole checking the aluminum sign for primary size. Anybody got an English Wheel?
Nicole checking the aluminum sign for primary size. Anybody got an English Wheel?

 

Anything is possible on the Salt.
Anything is possible on the Salt.

 

It's as if this year was jinxed.


Eric Bennett said of the salt, "Some years the salt is good to you, some it kicks your ass. The Balls Out Racing machine had a shifting problem that would not allow us to make full passes. We needed passes to tune the engine." It was back to the pits for Eric and his crew.

Monday was the day, purportedly. We had a deal with Joker to fire the Peashooter. The bulk of the safety requirements were successfully addressed and we were ready to rock. As the sun warmed the salt and Scooter shot photos of all the celebs on the salt, the Speed Deacons arrived in a rental car. The two brothers and dad, Deacon, flew in from Hawaii. The island shut down the only drag strip, and the Speed Deacons (their shop name) were jonesin' for a race. The two brothers, Chase and Ben, run the shop and dad tinkers in the back with the high-speed shit. Bonneville is always intriguing. They swarmed the Peashooter, and handled the carb adjustment until it fired.

It didn't fire the first time, and Deacon pulled and checked my M-55 carb rebuild. Seemed okay, maybe an air bubble in the fuel line. Next run, with the roller, it popped, once. Ben straddled the Peashooter with only a rear ISR brake from LA Choprods, which makes a roller start tricky. What's to keep the bike from firing to life and clamoring out of the roller system and …

 

He grabbed hold of the bars, pulled in the Norton clutch, reached down with his right hand, and slammed it into 2nd gear. He dropped the clutch and the piston started to pump in the cylinder, the exposed tappets clicked at the valves, and Deacon cupped his hand over the Linkert for additional choking. He spun the main jet needle to add fuel until it fired, and it did. It hit like jacking rounds in a pump shotgun. Each compression stroke was followed by a solid blast. Then Chase hollered to shut it down.


"It blew a head gasket," he said.

 

Deacon, from Speed Deacons Hawaii, in surgery on the Peashooter.
Deacon, from Speed Deacons Hawaii, in surgery on the Peashooter.


In a matter of minutes, they yanked off the head and the Bikernet pit was a buzz of projections, possible remedies, solutions, phone calls and drug runs. There was a plan. Besides, the gang from the Salt Lake City Barbary Coast Bar was headed our way on Tuesday for a barbecue. But the more we looked at the engine, the more work was destined to take place to lower the compression, face the cylinder, bore the barrel, make a thicker head gasket and a base gasket, plus the Deacons didn't like the steel-on-steel Sportster wrist pin without a bushing, and a tappet was riding on the valve retainer and not the valve. We were done.

 

The front end was damn loose. Kevin and the San Jose gang, with the Speed Deacons attacked.
The front end was damn loose. Kevin and the San Jose gang, with the Speed Deacons attacked.


Just then, Ray made a pass after waiting three hours in line. It looked good from a distance, and then he stalled out, tried again and pulled off the track. What the hell? It took him a while to ride back to the pits. Disgruntled, he dismounted and complained of a wobble again. His San Jose crew along with The Speed Deacons, was all over that bike like locust on ripe wheat. Kevin, the stout leader, safety-wired his rear spokes before the last pass, and as he suspected, the wires were loose. The rear wheel was failing.

Dismayed, Ray muttered, "More than one rider told me to run a mag."

That statement hit a cord like the lead guitar player kicking off a Hendrix song, and the mission was etched in the salt. Find a wheel. Strange times. Steve from the San Jose gang muttered that he was losing a job to be a team member on the salt. He needed to peel home.


"I'm going to jail, if I'm not in court on Thursday," Jeremiah said and we loaded up the Peashooter for the return run.

Black leather and hot salt don't mix. Drink lots of water.
Black leather and hot salt don't mix. Drink lots of water.

 

Eric Bennett's magnificent motorcycle, seemingly ready for a run.
Eric Bennett's magnificent motorcycle, seemingly ready for a run.

 

Eric Bennett finally made a pass, but that was the extent of his runs. On the return run, the bike quit in the middle of the timed mile and he coasted to the end of the track.
 
Eric Bennett making a pass
Eric Bennett making a pass


"We ran out of time," Eric said. "The bike did go through the timed mile twice not very fast, 128 mph and 118 mph. On the last pass, the bike died in the mile, I think the bike was going 165 to 170, but we were done. We will be back next year, and we did learn a lot. That's Bonneville!!"

"That puppy will fly when they have the bugs worked out," he said and looked at me with that look. Sometimes the salt treats you right, then others…

We had our asses handed to us on the salt this year, but it wasn't all bad. I always learn from a salt experience. I'll never come to the salt without reading the rulebook thoroughly or with a bike that hasn't faced a break-in period. We need to sign up for the rule updates and keep an eye on those e-mails. Even before we left, exciting news regarding future runs surfaced. I'm hesitant to mention them now, I don't want to jinx the concoction, or get ahead of myself. I want the Assalt Weapan tuned and seriously ready for some solid passes, maybe the Mojave Mile. So the adventure continues.

 

"A bad day at the races is better than a good day at work,"

--Ben from Speed Deacons
"A bad day at the races is better than a good day at work," --Ben from Speed Deacons

 

 

The notorious sticker tagger, Jeremiah Soto, considering his next mission.
The notorious sticker tagger, Jeremiah Soto, considering his next mission.

 

Aerodynamics are a key element...
Aerodynamics are a key element...

 
The Goldammer Crew and their Stealth racers.
The Goldammer Crew and their Stealth racers.

 
Lambky Liner
Lambky Liner

 
We rolled out of Wendover at the crack of dawn in 30 degrees. Marc stopped at a 6100-foot pass on his 2004 Electra Glide and packed on all his warm gear. "Three cars stopped to see if I was okay," Marc said. "I've been riding 40 years, and that was the coldest stretch I ever encountered." He survived with old rain gear patched with tire patches, and we stopped at the Prospector Cafe for morning vittles, before rolling toward Vegas.
 
Greg Watters - Fastest bike on the salt, 217 mph.
Greg Watters - Fastest bike on the salt, 217 mph.

 
Salt Distortion. They brought some strange bikes.
Salt Distortion. They brought some strange bikes.

 
 
A special thanks to those who made it all possible:


--The End

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Back to 2010 Bonneville Effort, 5-Ball Bonneville Racing




Reader Comments


Code of the west .....never give up..... get the machines dailed in and hit it next year

hank hill
bethlehem, GA
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
Editor Response You hit the nail on the head. Never give up.
--Bandit

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