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Salt Torpedo Build Chapter 23--Prep for Runs

FINAL DETAILS BEFORE FIRST SPEED RUN

By Bandit with photos by Wrench
11/20/2019


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Atomic Bob recently completed another illustration of the magnificent Salt Torpedo in action!
Atomic Bob recently completed another illustration of the magnificent Salt Torpedo in action!



A week before the Bonneville International Speed Trials in warm Wendover, Utah, the wind was mild and the salt wet. It wasn’t a stellar year on the salt. Speed Week was shut down for 4 days due to rain.

The only pass we made was around the block and I was knocked out, but we weren’t going to make it to Bonneville this year. So, what was plan B. First, we deserved a glass of whiskey to celebrate. In basically eight months, we went from a trial mocked-up to a functioning streamlined trike.
 
 

 
I’ve learned so much, it’s been crazy, but I still had a list a mile long. We needed to finish up the seat straps, firewall and fire suppression systems (2).
 
 
 
We needed rear body brackets built and attached, a few repairs and to deal with a leaky gas tank. We also needed to add as much weight as we can to the front of the vehicle.
 

 
 
 

 
 
I needed to improve my skills at aluminum TIG welding, and I had one of those moments of clarity. I decided to strengthen the connections to the swingarm mounted to the front of the frame. At Phillips I bought a piece of 1/4-inch wall tubing for the center and machined it to fit. Andrew Ursich helped with the welding after I made the gussets.

 
 

 
 
 With some coaching from Andrew and my local Mathews Welding Supply I reset the massive TIG welder I got from Gard Hollinger or Arch Motorcycles and practiced aluminum TIG welding on the Torpedo firewall. I made pieces and welded. Sometimes I got sorta carried away.
 
 

 
My dad once said, “It’s all about the bead.” It’s mesmerizing. It’s just you, the spark and the melting metal, and when it flows it’s like something coming together in perfect unison. I cut pieces and fitted them to the frame.
 
 
 

 
 
Since the rules call for not being able to see any light through the wall, I needed to find a fire-caulking substance and found fire putty.
 

 
 
 
Also, I ordered two external marine-type vents. We had a number of discussions about venting, the engine heat and such. I gave in and bought two of the smallest clamshell vents I could find. We now have two vents on either side and a JIMS fan to blow between the heads.

 
When it comes to shaping, Jeremiah is the king. Give him a Makita with a flapper wheel and he can shape anything to fit. I welded and positioned the firewall puzzle and he shaped the edges to fit the body.

 
 

 
 
 

 
He also helped with determining where the hatch needed to go to reach the petcock and how to open the top hatch for access to the gas cap. Again, with a marine stainless hinge I mounted the petcock hatch and made a tiny door handle.
 

 
 

 
 I finally received the wrist restraints and they were another puzzle in the making. It took a while, but we finally figured out how to mount them.
 

 
 
 
 
Phillips Steel in Long Beach cut and bent our helmet guard, but I used my press to straighten the sides and again Jeremiah came back into the shop to finish shaping the piece, then I tacked it into place. Between Andrew and I, we decided to let me MIG weld the sheet metal in place.
 

 

 
 Okay, I ordered five bars of lead a foot long and 1-inch in diameter. They only weigh about 5 pounds apiece. We needed more and I discovered foot square plates, ½-inch thick. They weighed a monstrous 33-pounds apiece. Combined we were going to install almost 75-pounds in the front end. I used massive tubing to bend the sheets and it was a struggle to hold them in place for mounting. The deed is done.
 

 

While I was in Austin, I went to see Jesse James. He said I should have installed the tank bungs with Silver Solder. My bad bung gave me fits, but ultimately, I silver soldered it, and I sealed it from the inside. I’ve never encountered a problem like this in my biker history, but finally it’s sealed.
 
Jesse said to try silver solder, which I did, successfully over the brass.
Jesse said to try silver solder, which I did, successfully over the brass.

 
This week I ordered foam padding SFI 45.1 at last. We needed to scare up the thickness requirements and they finally surfaced. Should have it in the next couple of days.
 
 

 

 
I prepped for a scrutinizing inspection by one of the great racers, Tom Evans. As an SCTA official and VP for 25 years he inspected thousands of race vehicles. Today, he sent me the current inspection check sheet. He may come down from his shack in Tujunga to take a look. I had my work cut out for me. Nothing like deadlines to keep you moving.

 
 Okay, it’s about Thanksgiving and we need to make some serious test runs. With the help of Don Whalen, I now have access to an enclosed trailer. I need to finish up the fire suppression hoses to the engine compartment and some more firewall seals and we’re ready to rock.
 

 
The next report should be final touches and loading the Torpedo for a run into the desert for trial runs. If all goes well, we will come back, make any necessary mods or repairs and go to paint. Hang on.


--Bandit

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