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5-Ball Racing, Bonneville 2010, Part 9

Assalt Weapan, Saddleman, Peashooter Rebuild, and Frame

By Bandit
6/14/2010 2:27:07 PM

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This is a wacky year. I've blown through half it, and now I need to scramble. At times, I feel like I'm wading through mud, and it brings me down, then something minute happened and I was reenergized. So here's the deal for June: Valerie Thompson is flying out next weekend for a final fitment exercise. We need to dial her in on the long and lean Assalt Weapan. We will bring you another report directly after the test at the Bikernet headquarters this weekend (6-12-10). Then we have two weeks to dial in her positioning, before hauling the bike to Bennett's Performance for tuning with Berry Wardlaw of Accurate Engineering, and Mil Blair from Pegasus Engineering.


PM master cylinder modified by Steve Storz

Before we pull up to Bennett's, I need a new Odyssey battery, and even that's been a challenge to buy. I also need to change the front lever master cylinder, which operates the rear brake. Steve Storz helped me with a remote reservoir that he hooked to a new PM hand master cylinder big enough to handle the rear 4-piston Performance Machine rear caliper.





In the meantime, I wasn't sitting idly by picking my sunburnt nose. I made a new seat pan for the Assalt Weapan, and Jeremiah Soto came over for the final shaping before I welded the pan together and turned it over to Greg Friend of Saddleman. Here's what they did according to Greg:


We started out with the metal pan that had already been fit to the bike. Weight wasn’t an issue—according to Bandit, the weight actually helps with traction, important on all that slippery salt.


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As this wasn’t going to be a comfortable seat per se, tons of foam and gel weren’t high on the list of necessary materials. A thin 1.5-inch layer of foam was glued to the seat pan as a starting point for the comfort section.


Using a flexible knife the carving process began…


…until the rough shape of the foam was readily apparent.


Knife blades leave sharp corners in the foam. An angle grinder with a sanding disc is used to smooth out the sharp corners.


In a short while, the seat foam had taken on an attractive, aerodynamic shape and was ready for its covering.


Instead of wasting good leather using the trial-and-error method to figure out exactly how much material is needed to cover the seat, Saddlemen covers the entire thing with tape.


The tape fully encompasses the seat, just like a real cover would.


Then lines are drawn on the tape where we think the seams for the covering should go. Next, the tape is removed and the leather is cut using the tape as pattern.


Before the covering can be attached, a final thin layer of foam is glued to the seat.


The leather is cut and checked to make sure there’s enough to make it look great.


Holes were drilled in the pan base and the cover was riveted in place.




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Some careful stitching and seams were required on the seat. The Saddleman team used the tape as a pattern for the leather.


Only the Queens of Saddleman can stitch seats with this level of quality.


Each element was hand fitted for a glove-like seal.


The seat pan was carefully drilled and the cover riveted to the base.


For a final touch, and to prevent damage to the seat bottoms, they are sprayed with an adhesive, then lined.


Final working the soft protective fabric into the seat bottom.







The Saddleman seat fit like a glove. Then I receive a call from the antique motorcycle mechanical master, Rodan. Tom "Rodan" Evans has been a Bonneville Racer and official for 30 years. He's built some of the finest antique motorcycle restorations and customs on the planet with his partner, Don Whalen. Don doesn't get his hand dirty, generally. He's the go-to, find-the-deal, and drive-across-the-country-for-the-part kinda guy.




maglightening holes
Check these lightening holes drilled into the mag mounting plate in 1932.

"I installed the mag today," Rodan said over the phone. "I think the motor is finished! It has a couple tight spots as I turn it over with a wrench. Not too tight; they will more than likely go away in the first 10 minutes of running."



Anyway, Rodan was given the Peashooter rebuild commission, but it turned into a much more involved process. I traded my 1913 Pope single to Billy Lane for a used 1929 OHV Harley Peashooter engine. They were called Peashooters, because of the engine, one-lung, exhaust pop. The overhead-valve configuration was the way to go, but the lower end was 350 cc and I just happened to have a Peashooter C model from Mil Blair, which was 500 cc. Rodan suggested we marry the two motors, for a stroked 350 cc engine, resulting in 467 cc and a motor that was 1-inch taller than stock.


Tom reworked the Sportster piston.


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"I took the Peashooter gear to the gear machining place," Rodan said of the too-tight idler gear. "They were very helpful, but the bottom line is, no soap. The gear would have to be annealed, cut smaller, and re-hardened. The heat-treating = $$$$$. Looks like we will have to try and offset it with a smaller bushing and offset shaft. Onward and upward."


We compared the idler gear out of the 500, with the 350, but it didn't help.


Handmade copper gasket.

There was nothing easy about this rebuild, from handmade copper gaskets to a 1-inch tall brass stroker plate, to a Sportster rod and modified piston. Rodan took some parts out of my 500 and worked them into the 350. He changed the crank pin, tried to improve on the lousy oiling system, increased the size of the intake valve, and rebuilt the larger M-88 Linkert carb.


Here's the gear case and the shaft for the idler gear.


One of the gears was lightened.

"The offset shaft worked out great," Rodan reported about the idler gear. "It took a couple of fit-up tries to get it loose enough, but all's well that ends well. I wish I had about another 40 hours to get this dialed in. This kinda stuff does not go quickly; lots of trial and error until its really ready to race. It will start and run very well as is. There is no quick fix for the oiling, but it worked okay way back then, and will still work as good today as then. Oil quality is better today, too."


53 piston
Rodan cut into an old Sporty piston, so he could see how much meat he had to work with.


One-inch tall brass, custom made stroker plate.

Rodan warned me against running this vintage engine wide open for five miles.

"The oiling system is weak," Tom explained, "and heat is an issue. The bottom end basically is only oiled by a mist thrown around by the flywheels. There is an oil pump, but it only oils one gear in the gear case. That gear spreads the lubricant to the other gears."


As you can see, no direct oiling holes.


Tom Mackie with the rebuilt and modified 5-Ball Racing Peashooter frame.

Fortunately for my sorry ass, one of the masters of frame repair has a shop just a few feet from the Sierra Madre Motorcycle Workshop (Rodan's and Don's shop), Mackie's (626) 355-7058. Tom Mackie is the sole proprietor, and repairs vintage frames, sportbike frames, and airplane components.

I bought my Peashooter frame from back east, and it was a rusty, cracked and busted mess. The corroded seat post was locked in place. The seat tube was cracked and broken away at the bottom casting, plus we needed the frame to fit an inch taller engine. Fortunately, he was modifying another stock Harley frame and ended up with some spare tubing. He bent it to fit the frame and sweat-brazed it into the stock castings.

Of course, I still have several projects facing me. I need to build a tank to fit between the frame rails. I also need to carefully grind away at the rear axle slot until a stock ¾-inch axle will fit. That's just the start. Tom Mackie repaired the Peashooter frame with delicate class.

I need to pick up the engine and roll into Orange County to find Moore's Cycle, a classic English bike repair facility (714) 447-4402. My Peashooter ignition revolves around a vintage Lucas magneto, and I need the carbon piece that holds the single sparkplug wire to the case.

"I want to check out the tight spots before you pick it up," Tom commented this morning. "I'll be gone all weekend to El Mirage. Maybe I can get to it looked at before I leave. That motor really needs different cams. The ones in it must have come out of a school bus. Best fix is to put Sportster lobes on the peashooter gears. I've done similar grafts before. I'll look at the parts and see if it is easy or not, and let you know."

Shifting back to the Assalt Weapan, I have found a local fastener speed shop called Bakers on Signal Hill. They carry all sorts of brake lines, fuel lines, fasteners, fittings and Odyssey batteries. They just happen to have a PC 545 on hand. We've had some problems with our existing batteries, so I'm shooting for the best. Battery fitment is strange, and I wish I built some flexibility into my mounting system. A quarter inch here and there, and I could purchase a much wider range of batteries.



Since I'm shifting to the PM mastercylinder, I need to change the fitting on the end of the line. This is a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one run to Bakers (562) 427-2375.


This is a brand new Ceriani 1960s front end from Accurate Engineering. I can't wait to see this bike on wheels.

Okay, let's see if I have this straight: I need to fit the bike to Valerie, change the master cylinder, and decide on the peg placement. And set the bike up for dyno testing at Bennett's.

Next, I will hit Larry Settle of Settle's Cycles in Harbor City for help with the Peashooter front wheel. Then I'll jam to a bearing shop in Long Beach for new wheel bearings. I need to figure out the neck bearings and frame cups. I will either have to machine them and bore the neck, or find cups that will fit and machine a new fork neck. I can't wait to get this up on wheels, with a center stand and that hot single-cylinder OHV Peashooter engine in place.


Another project popped into the headquarters recently. Holy shit!

After much fumbling and consideration, I contacted Jason, the Paughco frame and front end specialists. He had all the answers. I ordered a set of 45 cups and bearings, then a 45 fork stem, which I will make work on the Ceriani. Finally, Jason assisted with a 5/8-inch axle. I will modify the Ceriani slightly to fit it, and I'll be good to go. Amazing.


We are force to panhandle and sell anything to make it to Bonneville. Recently, we launched our own line of 5-Ball Racing Hot Sauce. Click on the image for more info.

I ran into a guy at a local show who makes belt-driven primaries with Norton clutches. His primary drive will connect my Harley motor to the Norton transmission, and then I need to machine a mounting boss for the trans to the frame. If only I can find his card--I did, Classic Cycles Inc., Andy Dunn, (714) 974-1438. Then we're rockin'. Hang on for the next report.


I'm teaching myself to TIG weld, thank to Gard Hollinger, from LA ChopRods.


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Reader Comments

Thanks Bandit, it was great to hear fomr Rodan..I have wondered since we left Tujunga what had happened to great to see he is still out the on the flats.


darci devough
woodward, OK
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Editor Response No problem, always happy to hook folks up.
Glad to see Rodan still is out there,his shop use to be next store to where I worked in Tujunga..I worked at the Place and have great memories of Tom always working late on some bike..Tell Him Darci and Dan say hello!!

Darci DeVough
Woodward, OK
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Keith, I read the whole article and was very impressed. Its got to be a blast to be doing what your doing! As I was reading, I came upon a baby picture. Is that your new baby? Well, GOD Bless if it is.

Pam Karr
Hemet, CA
Friday, September 17, 2010

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