Monthly Archives: May 2011

Clean Room


I tend to have multiple projects in the works at any given time. Over the last 2 weeks I have been working with my friend Scott to build a “clean room” in my shop. This is a sealed off area to assemble engines in, allowing me to use my saws, grinders, sanders, etc outside and not contaminate engines that are in various states of completion. Over the years almost all the failures I have seen in engines have either been from simple negligence in assembly or foreign materials getting inside the motor. (I know another local shop where you can get both!). Anyway, I am still trying to perfect my engine assembly skills, but at least I will have the clean part taken care of. The room is air tight, literally. I have a filtered air line coming into the room from my outside compressor, keeping a steady 1 PSI air pressure inside the room, keeping me from passing out and making it impossible for dust to enter when I open the door to the rest of the shop.

In the bottom pic you can see a knucklehead I have bagged and tagged for re-assembly. This one is getting dual carb heads and a fresh rebuild. Every single part has been cleaned, inspected, bagged and labelled before it enters the room. Remember, when you go looking for a shop to rebuild you engine, look at the work area. Does it look dirty? Are their random people walking around unfinished engines? Is the shop open to the outside? Engine building is like open heart surgery -any foreign material gets in there and its all over. Believe me, I know from experience “cleanliness is next to godliness”.


Cam Update


I was doing some research on material for the camshaft. I first emailed Andrews cams to ask them what they used, but expected no reply. In the meantime I searched the internet and got varied results. Various types of hard cast iron were mentioned, as well as a few tool steels. Then the other day I heard back from Andrews, and they said they use “8620”. That was cool of them to reply. So now I am looking into whatever that is (I assume a tool steel). If that is unattainable, I will go for 01 tool steel, my favorite for knife making. I have also made progress on the heat treatment front. About a year ago I acquired a used pottery kiln. It was always my intention to use it for heat treatment and casting, but I had not wired it until now (it is electric, like a giant toaster). I figured this is a good excuse to get it going, so I wired it and turned it on. It gets hot, but there is no way to tell how hot! I guess pottery is really forgiving in the heat department, as there are no gauges or even accommodations for one. I went back online and began to research thermometers for these things. I found a company that supplies equipment like this through a knife making forum. The company sold me a “probe” that goes through a tiny hole into the kiln, and a digital thermometer that is supposed to be very accurate. The probe is made of a special metal, tungsten i believe, that won’t melt along with everything else inside the kiln. When this arrives, I can (hopefully) get a max temp for this kiln. That temp needs to be in the 1600 degree F range in order to heat treat the majority of tool steels, including o1. I have used a oxy acetylene torch for years but there is a problem with that method uneven heat soak. In other words, the metal isnt evenly hot, because the torch has to be waved back and forth over the metal object to heat it. That can lead to an uneven hardness, or a warped part, when finished. The kiln should do a perfectly even heat soak if it gets hot enough…. I’ll report back. Oh, and if anyone out there is a cam or heat treatment expert, comment with your contact info so I can pick your brain.


Daddy go Hard


I finished this bike just before Daytona, but didn’t have time to get pics taken. After I got home I cleaned her up and left her in the skilled hands of my photographer, Bruno Ratensperger. I don’t have the full set of pics yet, but he sent me a teaser. Check it out. I always strive to re-invent myself a bit with each bike build. I am proud to have no “signature style” of bike! I want to be able to make ANY type of bike, and be satisfied with the results. This bike was my version of a throwback to the biker build off era-  right in between the hipster bikes we see now and the pro street choppers from the early 2000’s. I did a bit more body work than usual, around the seat and fender area. I love how it turned out! It is also a little bit larger than my usual bikes, wheelbase wise. I have also never used a girder before (or even ridden one). This one was made by George from Spartan Frameworks in Arizona. Needless to say he is a stand up guy and produces a very well-engineered product. This thing works and is extremely laterally stiff, yet still compliant. I also tried a new painter, Bill Connelly, another CT friend of mine. He had a big shoes to fill (my usual guy is the legendary Robery Pradke), but he totally killed it. The paint is flawless, but most importantly to me is his ability to listen to what I want , understand it, and follow through in a timely manner. The bike will be back in the shop in a week or so…and she is looking for a home! Call me to set up an appointment 203 315 9908


Yesterday sucked, today is good


You may have noticed that I have not posted anything about my hybrid motor bike “icarus” lately. The reason is, for the last 5 months I have been patiently waiting for the custom camshaft to arrive. Out of respect (for now) I will not mention the company’s name, but suffice to say it arrived yesterday and it is incorrect. Mind you this is the second cam designer I have dealt with. The first one just stopped returning my emails. Man I must be more of a jerk than I give myself credit for! Fuck it- I have finally decided to do what I should have done in the first place- make it myself. Now I have embarked on many ambitious projects, but a camshaft? This should be good. Lets see… has to open valves…has to do so at precise times….has to be made of hardened tool steel…has to be perfectly true…has to be degree’d with a drive gear… spins at blazing speed in a tumultuous, hot, vibrating environment under extreme load… should be easy. Oh yeah, I will make it with hand tools.

Anyway, here is a pic of what I got after 5 months compared to a regular evo cam (“custom” cam on left). Notice anything different? me either. How this would operate a v twin with two Continental heads (similar to two rear harley heads, port wise) is beyond me.

My wrist is healing up, sun is out, shop is clean- today will be a good day! Stay tuned!


This bike again


I know I posted a pic of this one a while ago, but this pic is way better. I love this bike for some reason!


Occupational Hazzard


So yesterday I was hard at work on my seat pan for my latest bike, and managed to stab myself with a piece of sheet metal. Every once in a while I will hurt myself in the shop, but this one really sucked. The metal entered my wrist and stabbed long ways up into the base of my hand. When I pulled it out I could see the inner workings of my wrist like I was a robot or something- kind of shocking but cool too. Anyway, I ran to the bathroom and stopped the bleeding with some tape- then drove to the clinic down the street. It was closed of course- shit! The initial shock was wearing off and it was really starting to hurt now. Then I went to Guilford and they were open. They put me back together, and I even got to watch OCC in the waiting area! check the pics…

This is where it went in…

it went up into my hand…you can see where it is bulged up.

Doc stitching. Finally gave me some novacane, much better….

finishing touches…

The culprit.


More pics from Fantasy of Flight


I still have a few more cool pics from the museum I visited in FL a while back. These are a few antique aircraft engines. I don’t recall the exact years or makes, but they are WWI era.

Check out the pushrod /rocker arrangement on the second pic. Looks like the outside of the tube acts as a “puller” rod for the intake, while the inner rod is a “pusher” for the exhaust strange but cool. Id like to see the cam compartment on this thing. Liquid cooled too- done in a very logical way. Too bad it wasnt running- I bet it’s quite a sight!