My Cannonball adventure

My Cannonball adventure
Meet "Effie" our 1915 Harley-Davidson Twin 3 speed

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The Dirty Work

I really don't mind the dirty work, but it's nice to have a patient husband to help show me stuff I don't know.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

New tires

Getting the new tires on the bike was a learning experience. Ordered new tubes and tires from Coker. These will be for practice, since I think we will use newer rims and different tires for actual cross country ride.
Got the bike up and tires off. As you can see the right side gas tank is kind of messed up. It holds gas, but doubt it will after a few miles of vibration! Will see about changing the tanks.

The Work Begins

After making some calls and getting signed up for the Cannonball that starts next Sept. 10th, I have tons of work to do.
The first thing was to get some new tubes and tires for the bike. I'm not sure HOW old those tires were, but they had to go. My very supportive husband Pat and I started working on the bike back in November. We ordered new tubes and tires on December 2nd. We also went down to the auto parts and picked up two 6 volt batteries. ( One for my '34 Harley-Davidson VD, more on that later) The plan is to get the '15 up and running enough so that I can practice riding it here in Hawaii before shipping it off to the mainland to a real mechanic named Steve Huntzinger in California. Steve will go over the entire motorcycle to make sure it will be at it's best. I was invited to join a "team" of 7 other riders. Some of our team members are making some of the allowed alterations to make the bikes safer and road worthy for such a long trip. The rules being that the motor and transmission parts must be original or rebuilt original. We may add newer lights, better brakes and wheels, etc... safety is a real concern, as many of these early motorcycles didn't even have electric headlights. That didn't start until 1915, my model, the 11-J.

While waiting for the tubes and tires to come in, we jacked up the bike... had to hang it from the ceiling in our shop to get the rear wheel off. It was a bit of a pain, but we got it off okay.

Friday, December 11, 2009

We awaken the sleeping beauty...

A few squirts of oil here and there and on the top of the rockers where there is a small hole for one to manually squirt some precious drops of lubrication to the tiny pushrods… hmmmm seems like we have spark. We pull off the spark plug wires and lean them on to the heads, Pat kicks again… “Yes, I respond happily, we have spark”. Okay… must not be getting enough gas. It took a few minutes of figuring out the petcock wasn’t opened enough. It had plenty of compression, much more that I thought to my utter amazement. I was more used to my Low Compression “34 VD, which anyone could probably start with a little practice. Pat didn’t think the compression release was working right and it took a few minutes before the motor coughed a few times and sputtered to life. It was much louder than I had imagined it would be. Does this thing even have a muffler?” This motor has some power! I don’t know what I was thinking. It is a 61 cubic inch motor, though it resembles an old bicycle with the pedals. “Step Starter” is term Harley-Davidson coined for it, but it really is a kick starter with pedals. We got it to run, me… bravely having to squirt more oil into the tiny opening at the top of the rocker boxes a few times, all the while I’m praying the old metal holds up and a piston doesn’t fly out and hit me in the head! After a few adjustments the bike almost idles.

Next, it’s my turn to try and start her. I get the hang of it pretty quick and it starts pretty easily. Very cool, now I just need to train myself to remember to advance the spark I turn the handle grip away from me. When the bike starts I back it off and pull it towards myself. Boy, this is going to be a whole new way of riding a motorcycle and I haven’t even learned the foot clutch and tank shift yet! Very good… it was a very good day. We put the bike away and plan to take the wheels off tomorrow.

There's a cork in my oil tank! Really...

Today was the day, we were going to start "Effie". We pushed her outside, with her new tires all shiny and clean. For some reason, am I SO glad I did, I decided to take a quick look at the oil level. Looking into the dark hole, I thought I saw something floating on top. It looked like a cork, like out of a wine bottle. No way! Yes... way! I guess many years ago, someone must have lost the oil cap and put a cork in the opening. That's the only thing I could figure out anyway. I quickly called my husband Pat over, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. All I could think of what how are we going to get that out without having it break apart in a bunch of pieces. I'd thought we'd seen it all!

After a few minutes the shock wore off and we got to work trying to figure out how to fish it out. Pat came up an idea and ran into the house to get one of those little freebie sewing kits he gets at the hotels. He carefully "speared" it with two needles and wriggled it out of the tank very slowly. Of course it has swollen up so much that it needed extra coaxing to make it out through the hole. But he did it! My hero... with hands as steady as a surgeon.