Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fouling Sport            On a rec...

, 03814 On a recent Sunday afternoon the cell phone started buzzing on my soon to be shut off phone. Clicking the flap open and stating “ya,” it is Walter, Walter is my soon be to be ex-brother in-law. The call had an air of confusion, I started to sit straight up in my seat as if this was going to help me tune into the conversation better. “Looking for puppies…Sportster,” is what came over the wireless airwaves. Up here in the Mt Washington Valley, the signal of a cell bounces off mountains and hills to make conversation, out of norm, difficult to understand. Sitting straight up in my seat I yelled back “calm down man, what’s the deal.” “I just bought a 1970 Sportster” he replied. I pulled over in a shallow ditch on the side of the road that had better reception and slammed the gear selector in park. The conversation jolted me with surprise. Walter, not having much experience in riding road bikes not to mention a 900cc vibrating Sportster equipped with a spark plug eliminator Super B carburetor built by S&S some 30 years earlier, had just called to inform me of this purchase.
Walter managed to follow in the tracks that I made earlier in the day. During an earlier recent tour of the Ossipee Valley with nothing better to do than drive around dreaming of a trophy wife and what would I do if cash were plentiful? I came across the same Sportster. The bike was apparently involved in a panic sale. Priced at half true value. Stopping twice to have a good look at her. First time was to get a better look at the price that was spray painted on a piece of wood, fuzzy at best. Positioning my glasses in front of my eyeballs, I realized it was not a fuzzy blurred mistake, but a short sale. Second time was just to have another look. It was an affordable rig for most folks but my bank account, being negative, stated that there is not enough cash on hand to purchase this machine myself at this time. I talked briefly with the seller to check and make sure it wasn’t a clerical error with regard to the price. The price was correct and I chock it off as another missed deal. These types of deals you need cash in hand to make immediate purchase. I had none. Walter has plenty, he came across the bike and negotiated a deal that required him to drive to the bank and hand the cash over, in which the sell agreed. Not quite sure what he had just purchased; he commissioned me to have a better look. Jumper cables were dragged out from the back shed; we had drained the battery trying to start the bike. Fortunately it does have an electric start other wise the three of us would have been wiped out trying to pump it to life. When she fired, that familiar sound of a deep thump rang out that only a Harley Davidson Motorcycle is capable making. Harley once tried to patent the sound but was denied by the USCO. That deep thump indicated that compression was at a norm. Super B carburetors were fine back in the day but currently are completely out dated. Some folks refer to this model carburetor as a toilet bowl, referring to its fuel flushing capabilities. This particular specimen was in dire need of a rebuild, if short on cash. Most, these days are tossed into the nearest trashcan and forgotten about.
After a thorough look over I informed Walter that it appeared all the bike needed was an updated carburetor. It sounded fantastic as far as probability of running well with minimal time spent on mechanics. We started off to his home and I wound the throttle to Full Wide Open. The bike fell apart. At three quarters and WFO the bike lost forward momentum. There was also a bit of clanking coming from the front cylinder. The prayer is push rod trouble and not connecting rod nightmares. Rounding the final curve in route to Willies house the bike shut down. “We almost made it,” I yelled to Wally who was driving in his work van. At first it seemed as though it was electrical trouble due to the abrupt shut down of the motor. Most, but not all, mechanical failures will give warning. We were able to restart the bike but only had one lung functional (gas fouled plug). The carburetor was flushing fuel into the cylinders without throttling. It made it to Wallies shed on one lung with plenty of time in the day to make pocket money.
Looking the over carefully the classic lines that designers incorporated into the early Sportsters became evident. Some of those classic lines are making a come back. Visit your local Harley dealer and take a close look at the Sportster line-up. The cast-in the cam cover-housing name of Sportster is straight from the original Sportsters’. Some folks might be upset with Harley in rehashing the early look of the Sportster but it is working. A glance at the stock price is evidence. The Harley Davidson Sportsters’ are attractive like never before. The all black model is one that is particularly attractive to me.
Walter and I headed for the local dealer several days later to purchase a new carburetor. The fellow tending the counter announced the price, which is a bit pricey for my neighborhood. Hoping to save him money I began negotiations. My intent was to buy the carburetor minus the backing plate and air cleaner. Reusing the existing one. Completely complicating the negotiation with a confusing explanation of what I was trying to do, the clerk handed me the parts catalog. Not being in tuned with these parts manuals, I informed the clerk that I had forgotten my reading glasses and was becoming dizzy looking at the manual. He gave me an odd look and turned to Walter for some sanity. He told Walter he was willing to shave a $100 off the price for the complete kit in an apparent attempt to rid of me. Hearing this, I nodded to Walter in agreement with the clerk and wandered off to have a look at the XR1200.
The carburetor took a mare three days to arrive. Installation was immediate. The clanking of steel on steel turned out to be a simple adjustment to the front cylinder exhaust pushrod. After installing the carb and tighten of bolts a test ride was now at hand. Pulling out of the driveway and heading west the Sportster was ready for action. Rolling the throttle to increase RPM and forward motion, that familiar rhythmic sound that only a Harley could produce, came to life. Running up through the gears until fourth gear was reached. The only bad deal to the early Sportsters’ is that the transmission needed one more gear, fifth. The bike had minimal issues.
What started out as a test drive turned into an all day adventure. After several hours of roaming around I could feel the heat from the motor on my inner thigh. It was rumored that the top-end of the motor had been rebuilt. With fresh steel parts installed the motor needed to run cool. Deciding to pull over at a relaxing spot and take a look at the bike for any missing parts that might have vibrated off. The smell of an air-cooled motor running at 250 degrees is distinctive. The smell of heated gas and oil encased in aluminum awakens most motorcycle enthusiasts. Looking the bike over, while relaxing on a laid down tree taken out by a recent Tornado, I noticed the heat waves rising above the motor. The heat waves distorted the scenery behind the bike. This is a good indicator that the tempiture of the motor was well past 250-degree mark. Waiting for the motor to cool down took some time. When the heat waves were not evident any more I brushed my hand over the valve cover to check the tempiture. At 120 degrees I find that you can hold your hand on aluminum or steel for that mater, for several seconds or longer depending on your tolerance for heat. It was time to remount. My desire to ride again has come back to life.
Creative Commons copyright by
Dess Dermondy

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