Wednesday, November 30, 2011


So since I put quality as a buzz word in my Overland mast head I suppose it would be appropriate to provide some examples of what I see is quality.  It's one of those things, like motorcycle porn, I know it when I see it!
If you have the time go here and go back in the older post for some great photos and words about a quality Trump build from Toddy.  No never mind just look and read anything that comes up on his blog.  You will know it when you see it.
Toddy is currently building an AJS 500 single twin port board track racer that is simply amazing.  Just go and look for yourself.

                                          The Trump that Toddy built at the RollerBurn. 
                                 Snagged this from ttp://


Go here for some fun;
Phantom roll out at RollerBurn.


It’s hard to see in this late night garage photo but I’m sure you’ll think of or have in your garage examples just like this.  Honda has always been perceived as manufacturing a very high quality and mechanically sophisticated motorcycle.  While generally that is true there are small things which don’t measure up to that quality reputation.  Since I’m working on cleaning up and modifying Honda hubs for the Privateer I noticed a few things. 

This is a view of the cooling ribs in the hub center.  I found that at three places around the hub the casting flash from the mold hadn’t been removed.  As you can hopefully see it really isn’t a lot of flash.  However I can see it and it just seems sloppy to me.  This is the front hub I’m re-lacing with a Boranni.  I also have found what seems to be, just like the rear hub, casting slag that was never cleaned up at the factory.

Yes I understand the whole concept of supply and demand, build to a price point in this ever expanding consumptive economic structure.  However I can’t believe that the myth of Honda quality was created based on product fit and finish like I’m finding.  I suppose I’m being overly sensitive and critical.

But this is my one and only Privateer so I’m still going to pay attention and try to do things on this build which I believe fit my idea of quality.  But you know in the end I could be full of shit and your mileage may vary!


So out came the die grinder and I went after the flashing left from the casting process.  I still have more clean up to do on the hub before lacing to the used rim.  But I also have work to do on the brake plate and the hub for cooling vents and just general racer holy work.  I guess I can understand not wheeling off the flash from the casting joints but what was left from machining the spoke holes on the inside of the hub flange was pretty careless.  Around each spoke hole are the remains of the flash left after the bit finished the hole.  Because the flash is on the inside it appears the process was to machine the holes from the outside in and the bottom of the flange apparently was never inspected.

The Bench

While cleaning and organizing, this past summer, I was able to put together a frame assembly bench.  Except for a few bolts all of the materials used where recycled or free-cycled from other activities.  It may not look like much and certainly isn’t complex or rock solid like a commercial bench but it should get the job done for one frame.  When the frame is welded up, the upright standards and the steel channel base will be removed and what will remain is a fairly decent height, rolling solid assembly bench for the final build. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011


I have no illusions that anything I do in this build will be new and different.  There will not be a ground breaking new design.  There will be nothing done on the Overland Privateer that hasn’t been done sometime, someplace else by a better specials builder.  I only hope that when it gets put together that all of my inspired ideas will result in a motorcycle that will accelerate, turn and stop without undue theatrics.   

So to try and get to that preferred end result I ask friends lots of questions and read books of all kinds to gain knowledge and insight which I hope can be turned into a working privateer racer.  So more for my own benefit than anything else I will be putting up some photos, links and information which I have found to be valuable in this process.  To that end is the following.

                                         This is what Jean Claude Barrois started with.

This is the cycle that was built by Jean Claude Barrois from the old Soyer.  The details can be found on the SouthSiders blog at  I’m not sure where it is inside the SouthSiders blog but there is also an entry regarding his build of a Rudge four valve and his taking it to the Salt.

Jean Claude is a most excellent builder.  What I find in his work is the ability to elegantly create solutions in a simple way with no huge fanfare.  He makes things work and flow together such that it all appears natural and correct with no big show.  No shouting out of “Hey look at what I did!”  He just builds and rides and seems to enjoy the results of his work.  Too me he is also the classic privateer racer.  The guy in the shed just trying to make things work the best he can so he can go out and go fast on two wheels.  Oh and at the same time look pretty good doing it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Back In Hand

Got my engine cases back on Sunday via my personal courier, also know as Casey my wonderful son-in-law.   So now more work begins.  I will be sorting parts and doing some hand work to be sure all mating surfaces are flat and square.  So it’s not as simple as just starting to dump parts and pieces into the cases to get a running engine.  So, now it’s time to get to work in the library at the drawing board.  So it seems that this was a 1952 engine which had originally been intended for a Cooper 500 racer.  That’s convenient information because it just so happens I know that’s where it came from.

Sunday, November 13, 2011


There are many definitions of flow.  Flow of liquid is not the direction I want to go at this moment.  The flow I’m talking about is that which occurs as a result of a coming together of the intellectual, physical and mechanical.  Flow has been referred to by athletes, artist, mechanics, mountain bikers, and racers of all kinds.  Flow is that moment when things just happen and they happen in such a way as to produce an ultimate result.  They happen with no obvious effort on your part. Some people can experience it at will, others such as myself, wait patiently and hope.

I experienced flow today!  I have been cleaning my library and sorting things so I can have space for a drawing board.  I reasoned that since my cases where in-bound I better get ready to come up with a frame drawing to put them in.  I needed more light directly on the drawing board so I reasoned that my ancient Luxor lamp would be perfect.  But the clamp had gone missing and I had no base for it.

But I did have a spare JAP SV head and so I stuck the stud of the lamp in the spark plug hole; it fit loosely.  I then looked in a box of miscellaneous stuff destined for the garage and found a piece of copper pipe the right size for a slip fit to protect the threads of the plug hole.  In the same box was a tube cutter.  Shortly I had a perfect lamp base and no JAP parts were harmed.

That was my micro-flow experience and the type of flow I wish I could experience all the time; especially with my Privateer build.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thinking Out Loud

Very shortly I will have my repaired case on the bench.  When that happens I will have in hand all of the big bits that are needed to make decisions about the frame.  I have looked at many frame designs and been inspired by many old racers, new racers, notional racers and racers that are perfect.  Very early I decided the Overland had to be a hard tail and use a girder fork.  The Overland also has to be stable yet be a reasonable curve carver.  I realize that any design will have compromises and as a result I’m trying to shoot right for the middle.  This is the engine and the gear box I’m using.  The gear box is a Norton Atlas box. 

After much looking and thinking and reading I have come up with the following frame design outline.  Wheel base will be between 56 and 58 inches.  Wheels will be the 18 inch in the rear and 19 inch in the front.  There is to be a single down tube and single backbone frame with almost bicycle like bends in the rear triangle to accommodate the tire width. 

My idea is to use the engine and gear box coupled solidly as one unit and then use the combination as a stressed frame member to provide a stiff front triangle. I also want to use alloy plates for the engine mount to front down tube.  I’m also planning on using a chromalloy sub-frame to couple the box to the engine and then the sub-frame would be welded to the seat down tube and the rear triangle.  I also want to keep everything as narrow as possible. 

Just some first thoughts and soon I hope to have some sort of a first drawing of what I have in mind.  So anybody have any thoughts please chime in.  I’m not opposed to considering alternate ideas.  I pretty much have one chance at all this and I really don’t want to fuck it up.

While waiting for all the bits and pieces to land in my garage I have built a frame jig which is not perfect nor meant for anything but this one frame.  So after I do some drawing I’m going to start putting things on the frame table and trying to nail down the final shape and orientation of things.

Black Bird

                                                       This is my Black Falcon. 

History of Things

For some reason I like to know the history of things.  Not sure why.  To that end this is a photo of the Sonerai II light aircraft that my POSA Fuel formerly metered fuel for and from what I’m told had about 150 hours worth of metering.  During the hay days for POSA they provided modified carburetors for various companies that in turn provided engine kits for home aircraft builders.  The POSA I have was one of those and only became surplus to the pilots’ needs when he upgraded the power plant to a larger capacity.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

IT’s Back in One Piece

Chad from Custom Machining,, called and informed me that my case has been repaired and is ready to be shipped.  First he joked me by saying he had bad news and that all that was left of my 1932 JAP magnesium cases was a puddle of molten metal.  Of course that was my fear when I first contemplated trying to repair the case.  But his quick laugh got my heart started again.  Chad says the structure and the case fit is perfect and ready to rebuilt into a race engine again. 
If you ever need any specialist welding and machining done you can’t go wrong with Chad and Custom Machining of Dallas, Oregon to do the work for you.  I should have the case on my bench by Turkey Day.  So pictures with circles and arrows and a description of each one on the back will have to wait.