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SALT TORPEDO Chapter 21: Too Close to Bonneville

Or Too far, but We Will See

By Bandit with photos by Wrench

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I’m going to make this super quick. I need to get back to the shop. It’s Tuesday morning and George “The Wild Brush is about to show up to help with fiberglass and our canopy.

Actually, I spoke to him last week and he told me that no problem, he could help with the canopy. I’ve been sorta concerned about the canopy. It’s like a one-shot deal and must be cut from our precious body. Makes me nervous. We now have the body back from Aircraft Windshields. I picked it up last Friday.

Saturday George and Micah came to the headquarters and we put the upper and lower halves of the body in place. George sorta panicked. He didn’t like some of the angles of the top glass.

Micah agreed with him. I had been hoping that everything would be alright in the end, like we would keep making mods until the end and hope for the best outcome. Remember the adage, “Everything will be alright in the end. If it’s not alright, it’s not the end.”

But George was concerned that if everything wasn’t absolutely perfect, Micah would drive the puppy off a cliff. We mounted the top down and I cut out the parachute box. It wasn’t straight. And George coached me to make a couple more walls.

Monday, Micah arrived, and we waited for George. He didn’t show, but Micah and I weighed lead shot for the front tubes and tested the system to hold it in place.

After Micah peeled out, I nervously cut 5.5 inches off the bottom of the air tech fenders. Micah was heading to Arizona for the weekend to attend Papa John’s funeral. Papa was the founder of the Messengers for Recovery.

While I was carefully cutting thin fiberglass fenders with a cut-off wheel, capable of cutting all my fingers off, Frankie rolled in on the FXR I built for his dad. He was having frontend problems, and we spent the next two hours trying to dial it in. He still needs to have the front wheel checked and balanced.

George had a doctor’s appointment and couldn’t change it. It ate his entire day. He made it to the headquarters in about 45 minutes the following day. Keep our fingers crossed that we make some serious progress, we hit it.

I had to jam back to Llewelyn’s for more marine supplies, fiberglass, resin, hardener and epoxy filler. It’s like Bondo but stiffer and way more expensive. It’s also a 50/50 mix. So, you get a gallon of the goo and a gallon of the hardener for about $250.

I installed sound barrier material in the new Bikernet Van, while Jeremiah installed an Arlen Ness 15-inch rotor kit on his Dyna.

I was missing $140 and my Beretta knife. I'm constantly losing the knife. I got a hearing with the VA about my Vietnam disability claim. During my Saturday workout I found the money in my fanny pack and found my knife in a pot I replanted, because some homeless individual stole one from in front of the headquarters.

 The major of LA calls them homeless neighbors, but doesn’t a neighbor support the community? We’ve had our cars broken into, our friends attacked, trash is a constant problem from homeless and we’ve had our building damaged by the homeless. Great neighbors.

Today will be interesting. George came back to finish the body. Lupe is coming to discuss the epoxy primer and what comes next. We will hopefully install the Parachute box and discuss the canopy.

George made templates and I laid on the epoxy filler with the help of drywall master Jeremiah. This stuff takes overnight to cure, so it means, we lay on the filler one day, George comes the next and sands with 36 grit paper, while coaching me. We lay down another coat of filler and call it a day. Sanding starts the next day.

George did his best to figure out the center of the body, and then he drew a line down the body to dial in the fin. Many we should have ducked the fin altogether. The body is now dialed in and the parachute box is straight and strong. We came up with a fix for the nose of the Torpedo and I hope to start a firewall template. This is going to get interesting.

As you know, there’s an excuse for everything. We are scrambling very close to the Bonneville dates and still haven’t fired this puppy up. We’re still messing with the canopy and the body. I needed to take a step back and reassess how we were doing. I'm working on the wiring. 

I decided; we have made amazing progress this year. We are still concerned about the scrutineering aspects of running at Bonneville. I would have to haul everything out to the Salt Flats and have an inspector tell me I couldn’t run.

We also need to be able to run this around the block and test handling before we go. This puppy is new and different in lots of respects. We need to test its abilities before we load it on a trailer for the run to the salt. On the other hand, we are getting close to completion.

 Okay, it’s Tuesday and the Weekend Round-up is late. Fuck it, we’ve got shit to do and next Monday we need to pick up our windshield. Plus, a new leather shipment is coming in, including Micah’s race suit.

Yesterday, I had a long conversation with a DAV representative and there’s hope for me, maybe. George came over and we took the top off the Torpedo, so he could glass the back of the parachute box. Then Jane called. She’s a local antique wheeler-dealer. She wanted to bring a guy over who buys antiques and sells them to Japan.

Jane and Michele arrived and poked around, but I was scrambling to get shit done. He pointed at small shit and art and asked me how much. He wouldn’t make me an offer. I didn’t have time to fuck with negotiating with him, so I had to pass for now.

So, here’s my list for the next couple of days. I would like to meet with Lupe and discuss the Epoxy Primer again. I need to build a template for the rest of the firewall and figure out a plan for installation. I need to replace the Barnett clutch cable. I installed the wrong one.

I need to run to a small shop in Bell Gardens to have fold-up seats measured for the Van. I did and Gus wasn't prepared. I decided to go another route. I launched a small tech about my Grandson’s Dyna and how his thick-walled Lindby crash bar saved his ass in Northern California. Hell, I needed to clean the shop and prepare for Micah’s return to the mechanics of the operation.

I also hoisted the Torpedo, with the help of Jeremiah and took the bottom off for some final modifications. I spoke to Yelvington about their shocks. I may need to lengthen them, and Mike told me I could easily adjust them from 9.5 inch to 10 inches in length. That wasn’t the case, we ordered another set of 10.5-inch shocks. They are on their way.

In the middle of scrambling to the Bonneville Salt Flats, the new owners of Easyriders shut the magazines down. Easyriders cancelled event coverage including Sturgis. Hell, they canceled ER events. The new boss reconsidered Sturgis after Michael Lichter contacted his team. The new owner seems to be planning an apparel line or booze named after Easyriders, but little else is known.

I don’t have anything to do with ER or Paisano publications, but it had to do with my history, and I didn’t like to see the ER icon slip away. The more I heard about the deal, the more it smelled.

What else. Fuck it, I’m burnin’ daylight. I took the Redhead to see the documentary, "Maiden." It's about the first women to to man a sailboat in the most brutal round-the-world race in history. They said the broads couldn't do it. Tracey Edwards was the powerhouse behind the operation at 5'2". She found a used boat and her team went to work refitting it for this race in 1988. Talk about an odyssey, this team of girls broke records and won two legs of the race. Made me think about this effort. 

This is a critical week. We are still messing with the canopy and the top of the body. We’re close, but everyday adds elements. George keep bringing up the inspection process and how we need to have someone come over and see what we are doing before we head to Utah. That means we need to finish the body, the canopy and the firewall. We need to safety wire some fasteners, which reminds me. I believe we need to drill holes in the oil and tranny drain plugs.

I need to install a couple of components, like the regulator, but I can’t find the bracket I made. Then I need to start the wiring and finish it this week.

There are so many ifs, but tomorrow, Monday July 29th, I need to hit True Value Hardware for more body fasteners, 10/24s, and hope more packages arrive. I completed some of the missions yesterday, found and mounted the regulator, the JIMS head fan, the head breather kit. I called about the front tires and Angel Hernandez told me they would arrive tomorrow to Performance Plus Tire. That’s great news, now I just need the mudguards, which should arrive any day. They did!

I stopped working on the Air Tech half fenders. George was getting to me with his discussions about how critical the body needed to be. If that was the case, I would triple the concerns with two more wings over the front wheels.

We will need to adjust the trail and the toe-in on the front wheels. Every time we adjust the front end, we will be adjusting these wings. Each adjustment could mess with handling in adverse ways. I needed to eliminate one more potential hazard, or two. The mudguards won’t have aerodynamic impacts on the Torpedo.

Ya see, once the handling is dialed it, next year we could add the Air Tech fenders for more slippery enhancements. We still need to install the Dacca vents and the fire suppression system. They cost $500 apiece and we need another one. Micah had a line on one, but the guy never got back to him, so I need to order another one today. I’m hoping to cut the lip for the front end today and the mudflap for the rear wheel.

Okay, George is due back today. We need to have a Pow-wow about our time, goals, the body and canopy. George want to continue to refine the body, but at this point, we need a couple of coats of primer, some stickers and a run at the salt.

George isn’t the only challenge we have face in the next couple of weeks. We still have a few mechanical issues, wiring and the dread firewall. Ideally, if we could paint on the primer and make an acceptable firewall in the next week, and then hopefully we can for a ride around the block. Hell, we need to start the Eddie Trotta break-in system. First, we need a ride around the block test and tune. Then maybe, we roll for a mile and test the handling. Then maybe we could get it up to 40-50 mph and test some more.

Then, if we can have someone stop by for an inspection and we pass… If all goes perfectly, the following week we could find a trailer and make plans for the run to Bonneville. If all goes perfectly…

There’s another side to this equation. If we don’t make it, then we have a year to dial in any aspects and opportunities to take it to El Mirage for test runs and scrutineering exercises. So, from a Zen prospective, we’re all good, just keep chugging away.

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Reader Comments

Good god man! this has been a heart-pounding adventure!!! are you there at Bonneville!

Koz Mraz
La Quinta,, CA
Thursday, August 15, 2019
Editor Response Speed Week, the SCTA Sanctioned historic event is taking place now. Although, it has been delayed four days, because of rain. Racing won't start until Tuesday.

I generally attend the International Motorcycle Speed Trials late in the month. It's sorta 50/50 that we will make it this year. We're cranking along, as you will see in the Bikernet Weekly News tomorrow, but we still have some bridges to cross.

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