Saturday, July 27, 2013


Well I guess my karma changed, I was just able to score a copy from the UK for a decent price.  So I have added to my technical library a book that everbody says is the best.

Any chance anybody has a spare to requirements copy of Tuning for Speed by the brilliant Phil Irving?  I keep getting sniped on the well know auction site, turn head and spit.

Drop me a note at if you do.

New Tool in the Garage

Lucked on to an Atlas drill press recently.  Nice older Model 1020.  The stand is a bit farm cobble but is sturdy.  Took some time to square it up and wipe it down.  Interesting bit is that at sometime in the past a second triple pulley was placed between the headstock and the motor.  I’m sure the thought was to get more speeds.  However with out some sort of rev counter I’m not sure what speeds it has with the modification.  Nice thing is the entire headstock and bearing got rebuilt and tuned up before the resale.  It also still has the original Atlas motor which can be wired for either 120 AC or 220 AC.  The story I got from the seller was that his friend was just going to take it down and recycle it.  Glad he didn’t.

Still need to get a good vise and was thinking of trying to find a cross slide milling table for some light milling of things.  But for now I have a dill press so I can put the hand drill away. 

Bit of an update.

This bike was ridden in the IOM TT Centenary in 2007 on the original St Johns Course, then displayed at Tynwald along with many other bikes including the original Senior Race winning 1907 Norton-Peugeot.

That bit of info was provided by reader No1Mk3.

Thanks for the info.  Any chance you know who owns the bike?  I would love to be able to talk to them about it and get more and better photos of the details of the bike.  While as you can see I'm not trying to replicate the Brough single I am still very intrigued by it.  Did you happen to see it run and of course how did it sound.  Yep I'm pretty much a geek.  If you don’t have more info do you think the IOM people might respond to a request for information regarding it?  Thanks for taking the time to look at my pages and the verbal wandering.  Any more photo or further info please drop me a note at  I couldn't figure out how to reply to you from the bolg.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Dawg Days in the Garage

Well summer has truly hit Montana and the temps are way above anything you would dream of in the deepest heart of winter.

Things have been slow so I decided to take on some garage help.  He sure likes the shop truck I can tell you.

Can’t get much work out of him because he always says he has to run and get parts. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Life does get busy!

Work, family and numerous miscellaneous things have kept me busy.  Busy not always doing what I want.  So first up I helped the Number 1, and only, son install the railing he built for his mother.  Great part is that the railing is up and everybody is happy.  Mom got her railing, son completed a long term project and I got the railing out of the garage.

Sort of hard to see without a back drop to give some contrast between the railing and the house. But the railing has several Montana inspired scenes of sunrise, sunset and moon rise over the mountains.  In person it is very nice and more importunately exactly what mom wanted.

Next up is Kiotee my 62 Rover.  I needed to replace the rear axle seals and do a general clean up on the rear since I had done the same on the front.  However getting the proper seals proved a pain and then when all was completed and a test drive was in order my karma ran amuck.  Going from 4th into Overdrive revealed that the synchro clips in the overdrive gave up the ghost.  So I walked home alerted my son and we drug Kiotee home. 

Got the overdrive out of the truck and started cleaning up and ready to install the new clips.  Seemed to be a pretty straight forward operation until I gave it a go.  No matter what I have done and no matter what tools I use I can’t get those damm clips in.  So far I have busted two clips and bruised the hell out of my hand.  So sitting on my bench is a very nice lump that is totally useless unless I can get those clips in.  To suggest that the mood in Kiotee Garage is poor would be an understatement.

In and effort to actually get something done I turned to more work on the JAP SV.  After Version 1 of the rear brake pedal failed I am now working on Version 2.  Getting closer and I think this version actually might work and not turn out to be too dangerous.  We will see.  With my recent level of success in the garage, I’m not putting bets on any of this.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

LEARNING, RESEARCH, TOOLS and other things of two wheels

I have been busy but don’t have much tangible to show for all the effort that has been expended.  After my first look at a Sonic-Weld like spine frame I decided I needed more learning about frame design and construction.  So I dragged out two fairly well respected books on the subject of motorcycle design and fabrication.

Of course this lead to other sources of information and so time just evaporated away like on a hot day in a draught summer.  But I have learned much and feel much better about what I’m trying to do.

As for the tools there has been a drastic management shift in the upper echelons of my employer so I will have to give up access to the TIG welder.  While this loss is semi-irritating I have stepped back and outfitted my UNIWELD Airline torch with more tips.  This range of tips will give me the right size for welding pretty much any type and thickness of material I’m likely to use on this build.  I haven’t given up on TIG just don’t have the kind of access I need to learn it at the moment.

I have had one bit of a set back regarding the JAP SV.  I thought I had a solution to the rear brake linkage.  I thought, but when put to the test the linkage failed semi-dramatcially and locked up the rear wheel.  All low speed and nothing got damaged.  Well only my ego because I thought it was a nice clean little bit of work.  Good thing I tested it down the alley and not on the open road.

As winter finally gives way to some sort of spring weather I have taken the time to get my other two wheeled passion in riding shape.  I also took the time to clean up and get prepared a loaner single speed that a friends needs the last bit of June.  Both pretty unusual bikes in certain respects.  Got them free of the winter storage and did a bit of clean up and tune up.  Along with some new tubes and tires.

                                         My Proteus

The Proteus started as a used frame I was able to snag.  It was silver brazed by the firm called Proteus someplace of the east coast.  I can’t remember all the details.  However were the first shop that an amateur could get small quantities of bike building supplies from way back in the 60s and 70s.  They also built custom frames.  This particular frame was built using a then new 531 Mountain Tube set from Reynolds.  Conventional wisdom suggests this frame would be too small for my 6’ 1 ½” fat old body.  However the top tube size is perfect and the bike rides and fits a dream.

And the unusual bit doesn’t stop there.  I’m running a set of Chris King single speed hubs on Rhyno Lite rims.  This gives me the same length spokes in the front and rear wheels.  I also am running 6 cogs on the single speed hub.  Because the hub is a full width flanged hub the spoke length is the same side to side because there is no dish.  Up front I have a classic set of Cook Brothers Dog Bone cranks on a White Industries TI bottom bracket with sealed bearings along with three chain rings and no shifter.  I’m lazy, old and not a racer so it’s pretty easy for me to read the road/trail ahead and decide which ring I need to be in.  Stop reach down and move the chain by hand.  No I don’t find it bothersome.  While losing on the fly shifting I lost the weight of the shifter on the bars and the front derailleur and cable.  The rear is controlled by a Sunture mountain thumb shifter and the brakes and levers are from Paul’s Components.  The seat post is a White and all of the skewers for the seat and wheels are something TI.  And of course the seat is a Brooks Conquest.  The bars are from Jeff Jones and are his H-Bar in TI.  The headset is a classic Campy off road bit that has been ok but a bit disappointing because I can’t keep it tight for some reason.  And the new tires are Fat Franks.   Love the tires.  They are a 2.35 and fill my fame but the ride is Most Excellent!

                                         Schwinn Paramount Mountain R30

This is the bike road in Baghdad for two years while on contract for NATO.  I did some research before I bid on this bike.  What I remember is that it was the mid range of the Paramount mountain line, I think in the 90s, and was silver brazed by a respected contract frame building firm on the Pacific Rim. The frame is Tange doubled butted tube set of Chromalloy.  It came pretty much as you see it.  Ryhno Lite rims, Avid Shorty 4 brakes and Paul’s CX levers.  The bars are an alloy Jeff Jones version of the H-Bar made by TiTec.  The hubs are from Surly.  All in all for a single speed messenger type bike I really still like it.  And the bottom bracket as a durable Tange.  This frame is sized about the same as my Proteus.  I didn’t care about any frame dimension except for the top tube length.  And of course it is perfect for me.  What I found is that with even moderately moving city traffic I could out maneuver and out run just about all of the big heavy armored traffic that was on the road in Baghdad.  It was also my escape vehicle.  That is a story for another time I think.

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Most Excellent Gift!

No excuse for not mentioning this sooner.  But as a Christmas gift I got a new winter coat from my son Ian and Bree, my esteemed daughter-in-law.  Of course for me the very special part was the embroidery of the JAP company logo that Bree spent a great deal of time and with great skill rendered perfectly.  Bree, I apologize for not acknowledging your great work sooner.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Recently I have been messing about positioning the big bit of the Overland to get a feel for what the frame will be.  In the process the gear box and clutch basket and the drive cog on the engine needed to be lined up for the first look.

All went smoothly until I got to the chain cog on the engine main drive.  I had a splined stub and a nut but no obvious way to secure the cog.  Well at least obvious to this novice but aspiring garage monkey.

I couldn’t even figure out what type of fixing I should be looking for in the spares.  So I grabbed a photo and put out a query to the JAP engine experts who read a JAP engine facebook group.  Sure enough I got several quick replies regarding how the splined stub, nut, cog and the missing fixing, a circlip, should work.

Well I found the packet of circlips in the spares and fitted one up.  Now here is the explanation of this arrangement for the JAP.

Speedway bike frames are designed with a bit of flex to them.  Something about the torque, no gear box and turning left.  Well that’s what the experts said.  Anyway so as a result of the frame flex the main chain cog splined stub was design such that the main cog could float a bit on the splines as the frame flexed and keep a straight chain line with the jack shaft.  The purpose of the circlip is so you can quick change main cogs rather than having to deal with dismounting the rear wheel to change the hub sprocket.

It sure makes sense to me once it’s all explained.  Never would have thought of that but I’m not a speedway person; just barely a motorcycle guy.

Sunday, February 24, 2013


This is just a start of the frame build.  This entire project has been about using what is available first and then filling in the gaps as I need things.  As a result of also imposing the one-off criteria the frame jig will be used once.  So it has sort of a DIY look to it.

The bench was an old TV stand from a friend that I put wheels on.   The main beam is folded steel left over from a Land Rover project and the upright was snagged at the recyclers.

So here are some numbers.  The base is 3 inches in height.  The rear wheel is a stock 18 inch Honda DID rim.  The upright is 2 inches wide.  The height from the bench to the rim gives me a starting tire sidewall of 3.  So to get a feel of the placement in relation to the spine tube the distance from the back edge of the spine is about 5 5/8 inches, which should give me plenty of room for a tire side wall of up to 4 ½ inches.  Of course I have to do some more checking on available tires before I commit to those dimensions. 

The gear box and engine are going to be close coupled with alloy plates with the gear box adjustment for chain tension to the engine main shaft on the top.  The bottom of the box will pivot on a mount point near the base of the spine tube.  Well I hope.  If things work out the general gear box engine ground clearance should be a bit over 3 inches.

What I’m trying to get is a fairly short and stiff rear triangle.  I’m not flat tracking this so stiff in the rear hind quarters should build in less flex in a light weight frame.  At the front end will be a head tube rack of from 20 to 28 degrees.  From the head tube will be a down tube to a bracket which will carry the front engine plate.  So the engine and the gear box bolted together will become a stressed member of the frame. 

With the girder fork at the front the trail should be in the range of 31/2 to 4 inches with the 19 inch front rim and a tire side wall of from 3 to 4 1/2 inches.

We will see.  There is much work, fiddling, blocking, measuring and such before tubes start getting cut and welded along with cutting alloy plate and the list goes on.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tool Time!

While my brain processes all the possible frame style options and choices it seemed reasonable to think of special tools for the garage.  So here are some additions to the tool box for Kiotee Garage.

First up since I sort of got side tracked by an inquiry regarding a possible spare magneto I realize that when it comes time to put some fire in the cylinder of the JAP it would be nice to know if the timing for the points in the mag would be to spec.  So I scored, with a Christmas gift card, an Aircraft Tools single cylinder magneto test light and buzz box.  In addition I also scored a nice 1 inch micrometer while pawn shop crawling with my son.

And as long as I was thinking of things for the engine I realized I needed a purpose built valve spring compressor to fit the JAP head.   With the help of my son I cut an 8 inch c-clamp in half and added a two inch bar.  Then ground and shaped one end to take a valve stem.  I also added two bits of oak tanned leather on both the valve stem side and the face so the valve won’t get scuffed or scared from installation.  Seems to work just fine.  Need to do a bit more clean up finishing but for now it will do.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

A Question of Magnetos

I received a query out of the blue regarding the SEM magneto that was part of the JAP parts stash.  Four magnetos came with the engines but there was no information regarding which of or even if any of them would still spark.

Other matters pushed that question into the background.   However the offer to buy sort of forced matters and I felt that, at least, a basic test of function should be done.  Of course this was done just to try and make up my own mind as to selling on one of the four.

                                         PAL magneto from a JAWA.  I think!

                                         The SEM and the two BTH Dirt Track mags.

Since this last two weeks has been very, very cold here in the Big Sky Country the test was pretty down and dirty.  Grab the mags, freeze hands, figure out how to drive them with the drill , clamp each down on the bench, freeze hands, ground the plug to the mag, freeze toes, jiggle wires on the drill to get it to run, freeze everything a bit more, try and capture a photo of the spark for a record.  Success!!!!

While I got a spark from three of the four it was not the best or most accurate test.  I didn’t do any clean up of the points or set the points and the plug wire wasn’t the best connection in the world.  So pretty much all the vital bits that make a magneto spark where a bit jury rigged.

So the results are:  SEM – sparked, BTH – sparked, BTH – sparked, PAL – no spark.  I may not have been testing the PAL correctly so still not sure about it.

Not knowing anything about magnetos and what really constitutes a good spark a bit of research was called for.  Went to the books on the shelf first and then to the web.  Found that roughly, with no proper test gear, if you can get a spark across a ¼ inch gap the magneto can be considered good for use.

Ok so back to the cold garage, temp at 0 F today, and try the test again but with a bigger gap.  I really need to build a small bench fixture so I can get a proper gap on the plug but I did the best that I could to satisfy curiosity.  So I gapped the plug to a bit over 1/8 inch.  Success!

So the results were the same as before but I still have some questions to be answered.  I read a reference that if the spark was red or yellow that is a weak spark.  From the looks of my sparks they seem to all be white/blue in color.  There is a bit of red in there also but not sure if that’s because of crap on the electrodes or what.  But mostly blue white, which seems to be a good sign.


Sunday, January 6, 2013

Proof of Concept

It really doesn’t seem like much progress is happening in the Kiotee Garage but there is; just not big huge things.  Small steps at a time is the motto around this place.  So I scored some 4130 tube for the frame and have decided to go with a Montana version of the classic SonicWeld frame.

Well to move that idea ahead I had to have a fork I could use as place keeper when I start to build the front end.  To that end I made some new links for the girder along with flanged oil lite bushings and some hefty ½ Grade 8 bolts and nuts to hold it all together.

I also needed to engineer a solution for fitting some headset bearings and a handle bar clamp which in turn will determine what size head tube I will have to source.  Having never attempted anything like this with girder forks it has been interesting solving problems and looking forward to solving other problems as the build continues.

This fork has a 1 1/8 hole in the bottom cross tree for a steer tube.  The stem I got with the fork has been necked down to 1 inch to take a standard tapered roller bearing and race.  The top cross tree is 1 3/16 with a shim collar for the top spring clamp.  The only clamp I had is for a 1 1/8 stem so I cut and slotted a bit of chromalloy tube for a shim.  Put it all together and it looks like it will work.

Well it will work well enough so I can use the fork and some bars to build the front end of the frame.  I’m sure there will be changes down the road; especially when I can get more experience with the lathe.  Little steps!

Having been away from the blog for only several weeks I now find I can't upload photos.  So it seems that until I can find an answer I won't be sharing any photos of the snail pace of Kiotee Garage.  Well I guess this is what comes of expecting something of nothing when it's free.

Actually I was able to figure out how to load photos now.  Very round and about and I'm sure it isn't the way they want you to do it.