Tuesday, January 31, 2012

#104 (December 2010)

After all the upheaval and discord of the past few months, I’ve decided to take a radical break this issue, and talk about motorcycles! Even better... MY motorcycles.
Hammer mentioned in his editorial a couple of issues ago that my 1982 Triumph T140ES managed to lock itself up solid after a ride to Detroit. The issue being; the alternator has become so hot, the insulation had turned into molten plastic. This was apparently OK as long as the engine was running, but when I shut it off and went for lunch, it had a chance to cool and the goop set up around the alternator rotor, gluing it solid! Of course I was unaware of this and thought something had come apart in the bottom end, so I dropped it off at Manx Motors in Auburn hills, and Brian (the able mechanic/owner there) called me to tell me the relatively good news. So, a new alternator and it was back on the road! The rotor having an incorrect air gap usually causes this overheating condition. Other than that, it's been really good, the rocker clearances need to be adjusted, but I keep forgetting to order the rocker cover gaskets and I KNOW they will fall part when I remove them… unless I buy new ones first, then they'll be fine.

My 1971 “Resurrected” Tiger, which graced the cover of issue #74 hasn’t quite fared as well. I was forever having problems getting it to start and run well. I cured that by getting a pair of new AMAL concentric carbs from Tyler over at Lowbrow Customs. This got me out and about on the chop, but it certainly highlighted another problem... Handling. I did a quickie measurement of the trail on the front end, and ended up with 9 ¼ inches! This makes it a real pain in the ass to turn, it’s almost like a trike at low speed, having to muscle your way around the corner, and at higher speeds it is really stable, but I find I have to make difficult corrections just to keep going in the center of my lane. Reducing the trail will make this a lot easier, but it’s easier said than done. Ideally, I need to move my front wheel axle out about six inches, but if I just make a longer rocker for the springer, the leverage will lower the front of the bike. I asked Sugar Bear what he would recommend; after all, he makes probably the best springers around for choppers. His answer was simple, dump the DNA and buy one of his. So that’s my plan. I know he pays more for chroming than a new DNA costs, but I think it will be worth it. I got to ride a bike equipped with a Sugar Bear Springer in Sturgis this year, and once I got over the initial oversteer problems I had, I was impressed how light the bike felt and how well it handled. I can’t wait to get one on the Triumph!
Also, I had to snag the magneto cap off the Triumph when the aluminum one I had on the Shovel finally shorted out. I guess it was only a matter of time, but it lasted several years at least. I went back to Tyler at Lowbrow Customs to get a clear magneto cap; they’re just so cool! Look for an update in a future issue when I receive and install the new springer!

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