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5-Ball Racing, Bonneville 2010, Part 10

Dyno Run Pressure, Peashooter Deadline, and the search for Speed

By shop janitor, Bandit, with photos by Sinwu

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Famous 5-Ball racer, Valerie Thompson.
Famous 5-Ball racer, Valerie Thompson.

Okay, it's the first of a drizzling July, and we're flying at Bonneville like mad dogs. Plans for the Sturgis run were scrapped. We pondered our first Too Broke for Sturgis Run to Salome, Arizona, but our '53 Lincoln road test to the desert was delayed one too many times. We mailed out the press release: "We were too broke, and burnin' too much Bonneville daylight to produce the Too Broke for Sturgis Run."

Old magazine image of a stretched out rider from Chris Kallas.
Old magazine image of a stretched out rider from Chris Kallas.

But that's not bad news when our focus should be on speed and developing the first Assalt Weapan Panhead to hit the 200-mph mark. Plus, the excitement level was pumped up a notch, when Bikernet was plugged into the JIMS machine marketing meeting.

"Could Bikernet build a JIMS-powered Bonneville racer for 2011?" asked Jim, the boss.

During the same week, we had a conversation with one of the notorious members of the Chop N Grind Racing Team, who live in Tarantula Gorge outside Amboy, California, in a sulfur mine. I can't go into this conversation until the executive race committee meets for a slugfest fueled with Jack Daniels, but there's some exciting news lingering on the horizon.

Nothing like pure V-twin inspiration to kick up the Bonneville spirit, and the team began spending every waking moment in the shop preparing for September and the Bub Motorcycle Speed Trials. In the last chapter, we ended up with the new Bonneville seat from Saddleman, the Peashooter engine was complete, and frame modified. I purchased an Odyssey battery and was preparing for dyno testing at Bennett's performance.

Valerie and her boyfriend rolled up to the headquarters and she climbed aboard the long Assalt Weapan. She didn't fit. We discussed moving the bars back, the pegs forwards, and I smiled and nodded, like a pussy-whipped husband.

After the cute pro-drag racer departed, I went to work moving the bars back. All mods appeared possible, but then I discovered I needed to widen the stainless bars to allow tank clearance. That put the grips into the wind. Jim Waggaman stopped by with some friends, and he made a sticky comment.

"We designed the fairing to fit the bars."

His words stuck with me like gnat buzzing a piece of rotting fruit. I couldn't shake them. Moving the bars looked possible, but I was forced to widen them, which wasn't impossible, since I now own a TIG welder. But the wind issue bothered me. Everything I was doing with my precious Assalt Weapan was going to slow it down. Plus, the evil time constraint loomed on the horizon. How much time would it take to perfect all modifications? I took another step back and picked up a phone.

"Ray, what the hell are you doing?" I said to Ray Wheeler, a mad 67-year-old biker, who lives for Bonneville.

"I'm just back from a cross-country, motorcycle run. What's up?" he said of his current vocation. Ray pulls a truck all over the country picking up motorcycles from owners who are hard up for cash. Most are boxed and sold overseas. Sad days.

"Stop over. I need you to straddle the Assalt Weapan," I said.

"I'll be there tomorrow morning," Ray snapped, and I could sense his ear-to-ear smile.

The next day, Ray straddled the Assalt Weapan and fit like a glove. Our 2010 effort shifted from sexy to senior citizen. What the hell, let's ride.

I was relieved of one element of pressure, although I'll miss Valerie's delightful smile and shapely form. On the other hand, we have a new pilot flying in from Australia, Nicole Brosing, a island tattoo artist/biker, who was the first Miss Bikernet from Sturgis, a couple of years ago. She won the kickstart contest, and knew motorcycle components better than some of the guys. She's the pilot for the Peashooter, if I finish it in time.

PM master cylinder with a plug in the vent hole and a brass pipe fitting added to allow a remote reservoir.
PM master cylinder with a plug in the vent hole and a brass pipe fitting added to allow a remote reservoir.

My list for the Assalt Weapan was trimmed some, but I needed to set up my new Performance Machine brake master cylinder, bleed the brakes, install the new battery, switch out the bars for tuning, remove the front fender, and make a decision about the oil bag. I carefully considered using a remote oil bag to prevent damage to our aerodynamic underbelly oil pan. Plus I needed to build a new chain guard, but fuck it, I shifted to the Peashooter.

This is unlike any project we have faced before. Nothing fits, unlike the V-twin components we've been working with for 40 years. Plus, I was trying to install a metric Ceriani front end from the '60s. Nothing fit. First, I attacked the axle by dragging the whole tamale to a bearing supply. I thought it would be a breeze. We live in LA. If it exists, you can find it here. Not so fast, kimosabe.

The brother at the bearing supply in Long Beach looked at the standard sealed bearings, at my dinky metric axle and went hunting through hundreds of bearing catalogs. He could find the bearings for the wheel, or the bearings for the axle, but nothing fit both. We made an executive decision to go with a standard heavier duty 5/8 axle for the metric front end. I dug out all my old springer axles, and Sportster axles, and checked my options.

I used a level to keep the leg straight and true.
I used a level to keep the leg straight and true.

I machined an axle to fit the bearings perfectly, then bored out the lower legs to accept the new axle. Then I machined the axle spacers and drilled the threaded portion for a cotter key.

Then I shifted to the neck. I ordered 45 neck cups from Paughco, which had to be machined down to fit the Peashooter casting, about .050. I used a JIMS tool to install the cups. I gotta tell you, I was nervous about the machining tolerances. One cup hole in the neck was .002 different from the top hole. I didn't want to machine them too loose or too tight. Wish I knew what the hell I was doing.

We wrapped the cups with masking tape to prevent chuck jaw damage to the Paughco chrome.
We wrapped the cups with masking tape to prevent chuck jaw damage to the Paughco chrome.

Next, I had to machine the Paughco 45 springer neck bottom to fit the Ceriani lower triple tree. That was easy, but then the neck wouldn't fit through the cups. In the process of driving them into the neck, they mushroomed just a couple of thousands to the inside, and I was forced to use a brake cylinder hone to clear the way.

Then I tried to mount a set of 7/8 bars and they wouldn't fit. I dug around for a 13/16 drill bit and augured the hole for clearance. It took some time, but I was getting closer to setting the Peashooter on wheels. But that wasn't the extent of my fitment obstacles. I needed to figure out how the bike would set and whether we needed to cut the stem down, or machine the Paughco stem nuts. Plus, I needed to bore the stem to fit the original Ceriani damper system in place.

The first complete shot at installation.
The first complete shot at installation.

The long Paughco solid 45 neck, next to the tubing Ceriani neck and the steering damper rod.
The long Paughco solid 45 neck, next to the tubing Ceriani neck and the steering damper rod.

I shifted to the rear of the frame and ground and filed out the axle adjustment slots to fit a .750-inch axle. I decided to use the front 19-inch Renegade wheel; that's about as aerodynamic as a wheel can get. I had to cut my axle and TIG weld the nut to the head, then machine several spacers.

The next weekend, I rolled to Dixon for an antique meet, and I studied the early axle fasteners and adjusters. I'm still confused. The open slots allow the rider or mechanic to remove the wheel quickly, without removing the axle, but early bikes had large flat circular washers around the axles to prevent rear wheels from escaping. They were connected, I'm not sure how, to the axle adjusters.

I actually think the best option is to leave them open and safety-wire the axles to the frame. Another vintage dilemma solved, I hope. I'm hoping I can attach an ISR sprocket brake to this wheel to solve two issues, braking and sprocket. I dug around the shop, and fortunately, I never throw anything away. I discovered a short chunk of a classic ribbed fender. It fit the contour of the 19-inch Renegade perfectly, and I went to work mounting it and practicing TIG welding. I like working each puddle for maximum penetration and weld strength. I stumbled into another stash of brass hex rod and decided to make fender struts.

Another TIG welding learning experience, not bad.
Another TIG welding learning experience, not bad.

Then Dr. Nuttboy called. "I've got to escape the home front. Can we work on motorcycles?"

"Hell, yes," I said.

We installed drag bars for dyno-testing maneuverability. That's the remote reservoir from Storz Performance.
We installed drag bars for dyno-testing maneuverability. That's the remote reservoir from Storz Performance.

Ol' Nuttboy has like three PhDs in various fields, plus he's a nut. We went to work returning the Assalt Weapan controls to their originally designed configuration. I dug out another set of handlebars and started to attach the Performance Machine master cylinder and the Storz Performance remote cylinder.

Then I tried the bottom-up system of bleeding. I have a bleeder kit stuffed into an oily zip-lock bag. One of the elements is a simple squirt bottle with a tapered top. I filled it semi-full with DOT 5, attached the pointy top and the black nipple. It popped cleanly over the bleeder nipple on the brake caliper. I loosened it and squeezed gently, so I didn't create too much pressure, explode the junction and make a mess. I pulled on the hand lever to release air with my right hand, while squeezing with my left.

Dr. Nuttboy building a very fast chain guard.
Dr. Nuttboy building a very fast chain guard.

At first, I didn't think it was working, so I loosened the cap on the master cylinder and fluid spilled out. It worked, and in five minutes, I had pressure and a filled remote reservoir. I capped off everything, bled the caliper a couple of times, and she was good to go.

The good doctor Nuttboy ground the stock chain guard to fit between the frame and the fender, and we initiated a system of grinding, fitting, selecting brackets, tacking, and back and forth, until we had a solid chain guard built and installed. I will ultimately have it powder-coated at Worco in Long Beach. He always has the latest magic flat black finish. Nuttboy and shifter

We went to work refitting the shifter to the original location. We machined a new brass bushing, then went to work on a new linkage. We dug around in the Bikernet scrap metal department for the perfect rod or tubing. I decided on some light stainless tubing, machined some hardened Allens, and pressed them into the tube. linkage

Then I called Kent, from Lucky Devil's in Houston, a very sharp welder. Because of the carbon deposits in steel, I could use the stainless rod to weld the two pieces together. Then I discovered the large wind grabbing pegs mounted to the shifter and transmission. I scrapped them for some smaller, more aerodynamic Dewey shifter pegs, and then bent the rod to clear the starter bung on the BDL primary.

I kept digging around the shop for something I could use to act as a remote oil bag; then I started to reach out to pals in the industry. Gard Hollinger of LA ChopRods came up with a Moon Eyes tank that mounted easily on the side of the beast. I charged the Odyssey battery and installed it. I didn't safety-wire everything before the dyno runs, but wish I had.

Last week, I was faced with the Bennett's dyno run deadline, and I was apprehensive. Mil Blair, the boss of Pegasus Fuel Injection, asked me not to start the bike, because we weren't sure what Berry Wardlaw, the boss of Accurate Engineering, accomplished on the east coast.

Eric Bennett, of Bennett's Performance manning the shop dyno.
Eric Bennett, of Bennett's Performance manning the shop dyno.

The Odyssey Battery had a problem turning over the big 120-inch Panhead, even with compression releases. Eric Bennett messed with the system, jumped it, and we got it to fire, and then discovered that the charging system wasn't working. As it turned out, the fuse was blown. I installed a new 15-amp fuse today.

The Pegasus Fuel Injection masters, Mil Blair at the computer and Professor Prince checking the dyno readings.
The Pegasus Fuel Injection masters, Mil Blair at the computer and Professor Prince checking the dyno readings.

We made five sets of pulls, which took us from 112 hp and 120 pounds of torque to 118 hp and 123 pounds of torque as we made runs to 5000 and 6000 rpms. According to Berry Wardlaw, the master engine builder, the engine and cam timing are capable of 7000 rpm. Mil Blair and Steward Prince, the Pegasus principles, were on hand for tuning and here's professor Prince's assessment:

My thoughts on the test.....
·118 hp @5500.Very good.If we could run it to 7000, we would be around 140 hp.More tuning needed.
·Electrical systems sucks.The charging system must function correctly for EFI and the battery and starter have to turn the engine over at least at 300 RPM for reliable starting.
·I know I'm spoiled when it comes to dynos, but that facility was pretty bad.No air circulation means we're breathing exhaust, plus the room temperature rises after each run, and no fresh air for the engine to breathe either.This is why the power went down after each run, even though we changed nothing. We should have been able to do 15 runs in 2 hours, not 5.
·We need to measure real air/fuel ratio in each exhaust. and what we were using won't cut it.I suggest calling Daytona Twin tech and asking for a free one.You know Alan Alvarez?If you can get a system, I will install it and weld the bungs into the pipes.
·Looks to me like we have different air/fuel ratios in each cylinder.Could be because the engine sat around for 2 years and an injector got clogged, or because the tank and filter are dirty, or because the injection timing is wrong. We can fix this when we get the wide band.
·Lots of things falling off the bike.Do you need some help changing the nuts to nylocks and re-locking all fasteners?I could come out Wednesday to help.
·No reason to try nitrous until the bike is perfect, but I am working on some electronics to interface with the PFI unit to make it work.

--Stewart Prince

You can tell he's a college professor, and my report card wasn't up to snuff. Actually, since the dyno testing, I rebuilt the Spyke starter, fixed the fuse for the charging system, and I will safety-wire or fix the two fasteners that loosened up. Plus, I've ordered another battery and starter from Spyke to be on the safe side.We are also looking into adding a Daytona Twin Tech Wego III system to monitor the fuel mixture with 02 sensors in the exhaust system.

We took a couple of degrees out of the timing. I was surprised that the Pegasus system couldn't accurately tell us where the timing was set. I may replace the wheel bearings with high dollar, slippery ceramic bearings, because I noticed some rust on the races (from the salt). We also discussed Compu-Fire high-speed charging systems. They drop all resistance at 4200 rpm, so no drag. We made another dyno pass at 117 hp and 127 pounds of torque.

Regarding the Pegasus system, it's amazing for a system that's as clean as a pin and not a closed-loop unit. It is capable of changing any aspect of tuning, fuel delivery, nitrous, etc. We just needed to know where the timing was set in Alabama.

It was Friday before the 4th of July and we needed to peel out by about 2:30 to miss traffic, so we shut down, loaded the World's Fastest Panhead and head for a cold beer. I really appreciate Mil and Stewart for their time in Bennett's smoky dyno room. I also want to thank Eric Bennett for operating his dyno for us. He has tremendous experience at Bonneville with his dad, and he's riding a performance monster at the Bub meet this year. We also had a problem with the throttle cable stretching and giving us just 90 percent throttle. That last 10 percent could give us seriously erroneous readings, and kick our butts on the salt.

So, we survived Dyno Friday and returned to the headquarters with our tails between our legs. My homework was cut out for me and Dr. Nuttboy, the next time he needs to escape the confines of home.

Here's my report to Professor Prince:

Hey Mr. Professor, sir.

I have reached out the H-D and Big Boar about batteries. I reached out to Allen Alvarez about the Wego system. I tore the starter apart, cleaned all the fittings/connections, checked it, and put it back together. I'll fix the fasteners and secure the remote oil bag. I will safety-wire some fasteners for the next dyno run. And there's a car dyno very nearby. I can hear it running many evenings. I'll see if we can use it. I have also reached out to Berry Wardlaw for answers about tuning and the cam.

I'll report back when my homework is complete. Thanks again, for your time. I'll let you know when the Wego arrives.

The Humble Bikernet Mechanic, Bandit

I switched back to the Peashooter with a vengeance. It was time to fly or fuck off. This last weekend, I faced a daunting list of Peashooter projects from building the super short single exhaust, making a magneto spark plug wire with the help of LowBrow vintage wire, finish the fender struts, mount a seat, and grapple with the gas tank.

I've never walked the sheet metal plank, or studied with the masters, although I've skimmed through a couple of Wolfgang books and came close to building an English wheel once. Gard Hollinger offered to let me use his English wheel, and I will take him up on that offer when I make my final aerodynamic heat shield before we head to Bonneville in September.

I dug all over the shop for tanks and discovered a Sporty tank. It belonged to Mark Lonsdale, who spends most of his time training security troops in Afghanistan. We had performed a flush-mounted gas cap tech on it for Easyriders, 12 years ago. When I held it up to the frame, it seemed to fit the line perfectly. I just needed to cut out the bottom, replace the bottom, add rubber-mounted bungs, the petcock bung, and I would be good to go. Plus, I needed to move that custom application cap over three inches. This is going to be fun.

Some days, we stumble into the shop and fly through projects like shit through a goose. Other days, I can make a simple 5-minute bracket, fuck it up, make another one, do it all wrong, scrap it, start over, and burn through an entire day unsuccessfully. This was almost one of those days. I cut the pipe elements several times, marked them carefully and tacked them in place.

Tacking is a factor of confidence. If I'm over-confident or in a hurry and go too far, I risk ruining the entire product. I started to tack the pipe elements together and got carried away. Of course, I placed the puzzle piece with the mounting bracket welded to it, into the mix upside down. If I had truly tacked it, then tested it, I could have popped it loose, turned it over and been golden. No fuckin' way.

The new, stronger, cleaner pipe bracket.
The new, stronger, cleaner pipe bracket.

After tossing a section of the pipe across the shop, I started over.

A stepped pipe, what could be better.
A stepped pipe, what could be better.

It's all good, though. The next pipe was a better product, with a more refined mounting system. Next, I mounted the M-88 Linkert carb. In this case, nothing I did went according to plan. I'm not sure if Billy Lane supplied me with the carb when he shipped the engine, but I ended up scavenging the entire choke system off another Linkert. carbs

For some reason, this float bowl was turned so that the float valve was accessible without removing the bowl, under a brass cap. I was fortunate to find the cap through the Wheels Through Time Museum gang, but it needed a seal brass or thick fiber washer. I dug around the shop until I found a perfect sealing fiber washer, except it was too small by a hair.

I tried everything.
I tried everything.

There's that little fiber bastard.
There's that little fiber bastard.

I used at least four grinding tools and a good hour carefully increasing the ID of this washer. Then I had to form a three-hole carb gasket out of a 4-hole Linkert unit. I spent at least two hours mounting this carb. The choke arm hit the frame, so I had to hit my parts carb again.

We even shaped the venturi.
We even shaped the venturi.

Can't ever use this carb on a bike. It's strictly for parts.
Can't ever use this carb on a bike. It's strictly for parts.

When you work by yourself in a shop, it's always a good ideal to walk away from time to time. I always return with a fresh prospective. The seat operation was a damn good example. I had a solo seat pan and wanted to attach it low and as far back as possible. The seat post was operational due to Mackie's efforts, but I pulled it. I made a bracket for the rear with minimalist suspension, but still some rubber mounts. Then I was going to run a brass lever up to the original pivot location. That pivot tab wrapped around the frame, and it was my sole stumbling block to shaping the gas tank because it wrapped completely around the frame and protruded 3/16s into the tank area.

So I mounted the seat at the rear and walked away. Later that night, I returned to the shop and discovered my folly. I disbanded the notion of running the pivot to the original position and discovered a much tighter location, which allowed me to remove the original and the only obstacle to completing the tank project. Yippee, goddamnit! Hopefully, by the end of this coming weekend, the 10th of July, most elements of the Peashooter will be fabricated. I can't wait.

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Reader Comments

Great article, all the time I spend in the garage on projects I feel like a dunce at times, your take on these projects had a real perspective. Nothing fits the first time, it takes ingenuity and patience to persevere. The sole satisfaction of the results are often the only reward. I wish you the best in Bonneville.

houma, LA
Sunday, July 11, 2010
damn it, i am missing all the fun of the build....
sad face, i love that stuff. thanks for the pics.
i hope wifey is looking after you and feeding you while you build this exciting little project.

brisbane, Australia
Sunday, July 11, 2010
Editor Response I am... Looking forward to you getting here!
EXCELLENT stuff here Holmes!

Sorry to hear of Val's departure...but moving forward, the way it should be. I hope things are ok on both fronts.....she's a hell of a racer.

I love the way you wrap words of wisdom in a comical sum things up nicely.

Enjoyable reading, and good pics too.

Your 5' 7" expert licensed friend, with a broken rib, possible punctured/rubbed lung, a 12 of Heineken, and a bad attitude right now.

Talk to ya soon. Go get em!

charlie young
Atlanta, GA
Saturday, July 10, 2010
Editor Response Thanks!

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