Wednesday, 16 March 2011

I love this bloke..

Adam Cramer reminds me of Jim Campilongo - in fact what Campilongo is to guitar this guy is to bikes and wrenching:

Handmade Portraits: Liberty Vintage Motorcycles from Etsy on Vimeo.

Reblogged from the excellent Pipeburn at:

The great, intelligent, eccentric, passionate, obsessive American male spirit in full effect... Something we don't always remember exists from across the pond.

In fact what the hell:

Excuse the cheese, this guy is golden. A teacher and he doesn't care whether you get it when he goes "off-piste". That's a mark of the Greats, any fule kno that.

See here/hear also:

Nuff said...

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Looking back on a week in 'shackland...

So I'm back at work feeling that I have something to sustain me - a week doing project-related stuff was good for the soul. I made some stupid mistakes and then rescued them. I spent a lot of time pottering around. I had previously drained my tank and left it out to air for two days in order to lose lethal explosive fumes prior to transportation. As you can see Mrs Cutter felt it prudent to take shelter in the cluckbunker while I drained the fuel. The chooks had more faith...

The net is full of every warning, technique, argument, superstition, example, confusion and revelation you could imagine about dealing with petrol fumes in tanks; baking, dry ice, pumping with exhaust fumes, washing with water, detergent, acetone, thinners, blood of virgin jellyfish, incantations, dances, prayers, stuffing with tribbles or guineapigs dressed as tribbles. You name it there's a contradiction to it. In the end I thought; air it right way up for a day, wrong way up for a night, and on it's sides for a day/night. Sniff it. Fall over. Lock it in the boot. Warn the painter to warn the welder that a fool delivered it.

I visited Don at Boyz Toyz taking the tank and my designs in the car. What a gentleman - really friendly and helpful, and he even brought my phone back to life....  Yep the industrial estate where he's based is a bit of a bomb site, and as I opened the car door - PLOP! - phone makes a death dive bid-for-freedom into six inches of muddy water. I never would have believed  it could survive it, but it's fine after he applied his compressed air line to it, though the slide action is still a bit gritty. We talked about Ducati's at length as he's an air-cooled ducati nut too, and we worked through the colour swatches and the striping.

That night I was tossing and turning, had I really taken enough care picking the colours? As a friend pointed out, I hadn't seen the swatches in daylight only artificial light. Oh well, forecast was cold but sunny and the Firestorm needed a blat. I was on hols after all. The sun didn't arrrive until much later and I froze my butt off, especially as I took the wrong lane in some roadworks that dumped me past the right junction. I had been there the day before but still needed a warm evil McD and the fantastic googlemaps GPS implementation on my phone. Section 1. eat chips, Section 2 turn left and after 2.5 metres push, don't pull door, etc etc. The fact that you can type in just the name of a custom bike painting firm based in an estate mainly made up of old containers, and get precise directions is something to behold. What we take for granted these days is unbelievable. Science still a bit slow in coming up with immortality mind...

Don wasn't that suprised to see me, I think he's seen it all. I met a nice bloke there who was picking up bodywork from a previously white and blue 1800 Suzuki techno-muscle cruiser. He'd had Don spray it up in satin black with stealth artwork that only showed up at certain angles. WIth his moral support, I decided the colours I'd picked for the stripes were right, and spotted a Piaggio scooter Don was working on that had the right shade of vintage white for the base colour.

That night I was tossing and turning......had I really, really, I mean really, picked dark enough stripe colours to avoid the pizzabox effect? Mrs Cutter was now fixing to put one or other of us out of our misery....

Yes! I decided that even if the rich metallic green and red where more traditional than I had planned in their greeness and redness, I had faith that it was going to look very cool. The black frame and wheels would mitigate the Luigi's Deli sun canopy effect.

Then I tossed some more (they can't touch you for it you know), and I turned some more. Shite! Did Don think the drawings I gave him were totally accurate in terms of stripes being 90 degrees to actual tank mounting position??  A monster tank has every angle and curve you can think of on it somewhere. The next morning I rang him and did everything I could to assure him I wasn't some kind of paint-shop stalker. A discussion then ensued about taking reference 90 degree angles from fuel cap and original logo. I would get a call if this didn't sort it out, and would then have to collect tank and photograph in situ, on the frame sitting on it's wheels. I never got that call, so hopefully everything is fine. Turnaround is up to about 3 weeks, (including welding up the hinge plate on the base to cure the rust problems) so I am just waiting in great, great, anticipation. In the meantime a polished alloy, race-style keyless gascap has been ordered...

I started work on mating the airbox to the Keihin carbs. I had to do some cutting mentioned in the instructions. I had to do some cutting not mentioned in the instructions, or by anyone else ever as far as I could see. But then again, (and excuse the diversion from the carbs here, we'll get back to that in just a while), I thought I was the only one who had problems with a Cyclecat top yoke rubbing against ignition key block. That is until I researched some old posts on UK Monster Owners forum by a gent who inspired me with his blog right back at the beginning He mentioned in a forum post that a few 900s from around '95 to '97 had the frame mounting for the ignition in a slightly different place, so I was not alone. I ground the offending face, which includes the steering lock bolt, down a couple of mm. and it now fits fine.


Back to the carb/airbox union. I won't go into the full embarrasing details. Suffice to say that some cutting, and some hot gluing, and some foam, have allowed clearance for the carbs. This without totally obliviating the purpose of the K&N filter, and all the gasket and sealing gubbins, and other malarky that could have been wasted due to a fool and his 3000rpm hole saw.

In a medical analogy, it wasn't that that the surgeon cut off the wrong leg - no, no, it deffo needed to come off. It was just that while he was doing it he thought he was cutting off an arm. 'Nuff said. It all came together in the end. We'll see if the extra "intakes" affect performance further down the line:

Most of the rest of the week was spent trying to persuade the loom to go back in place in a slighty less visible way than it did originally. The project referenced above did this in a very precise and sublime way. I am not even going to think about achieving the same level of tidyness, as this continues to be a quick and dirty build. Well dirty anyway. The tango with the loom is given added spice by the fact that half of it is joined to the top of the air/battery box where the coils and ignition modules live. The other half has to fit under and around said box. Meanwhile the box and rubber unions have to be pressed unwillingly down on the carb manifolds squashin' said wiring and confusing and tangling it with fuel lines. This is stuff I hate and am crap at. Therefore I am doing it at a rate of five cups of tea per strand of wire, divided by the square root of the total sum of cable-ties, to the power of 10 trips to the loo with a bike mag.

Notice ID tags for wiring, most of which have now fallen off. The task is not complete. But I have faith. I am going to carry on low and slow. I'm going to meander it into place. Yep, a week in the shed endeth and the lesson is moderation in all things, including moderation itself. I haven't been back for a few days. And when that tank returns - all being well - I will be super-motivated. My mantra "there still lots of scary stuff to do" endures, but in the end, in the words of my keyboard player "it's going to be badass!"

Thanks to my good friend Shaun  for sorting out tickets for Maceo Parker last night, now that really was badass.....