Sunday, August 26, 2012

Group Chop

"It's that time of year once again, when the 555 zombie-takedown squad hits the streets, this time searching for a two-laner to Portland, Maine.

Yes boys and girls, keep your hands and feet inside the moving car and your eyes on the horizon, because they're coming. They are today's nomad. Modern day, do it yourself bikers out for nothing more than good times, a long ride, and in turn, delivering a caffeine addled, alcohol fueled cacophony of mechanical blasphemy to small town USA. Oh yes,"

Our social lives have taken a nose dive as we spend our nights in flourescent lit garages churning over ideas of how things can work.  The smell of burning metal from grinders, sanders, and welders drift over beats from the juke box and the pervading wail of loud devices that can be used to destroy metal or shape it into a perfect piece.  
Most of the guys are using the same bike, more or less an early 70's Honda CB350.  Its amazing to see how many different bikes are being created out of the same basic form. 
The work is difficult, tedious, slow, sharp, and confusing.  Things get done though because with a group of us, we can put our heads together.
It is also very helpful to have extra hands to hold things as you build, or at least tell jokes as the night digs into the morning.
Bikes from left to top:  Pistol, Jimmy, Glenn (Slappy), Mikey
Stepping outside is a huge breath of fresh air.  Its easy to forget that it exists.  The Runt sits behind a couple of 555 retirees (that are still daily runners).

As if stepping outside is a breath of fresh air, when some friends stop by to visit, our strange efforts seem justified.  Especially if they're really pretty girls.  Cindy Lou owns the "Chop Shop," a kickass local salon.

JimmyB's bike is coming along nicely, right. 
A little blurry and faded, but at 1am after a full day of work before starting to build, it honestly starts to look like this. 
Mikey's Queen...not Glenn and his sour face, the other one.
"So, this guy in Jersey..."

Glenn is tall.

Cafe bars?
Meanwhile, back at Cycle Stop, the other building post, Mike finds he must split the case to deal with a stuck kickstarter.  He split an extra engine for the parts, but tearing out his own engine's is not too exciting.  So the outlaw must decide upon splitting the case or pop-starting the bike all the way to Maine and back.
This mission we've embarked upon is not for monkeys.
Tank's bike had a serious mess of corroded carburators.  There are also four of them, and they were missing many pieces.  Finding some online, which were also missing many pieces and came to me in pieces, I had a very complicated puzzle to deal with.  I had access to parts from other carb sets from another buddy's scrap parts too, so the puzzle grew, but with more hope of making it work.  So I sat in the corner for hours. 

Now here's a small, yet huge piece of the magic.  All put together (I hope), I was missing 3 of the 4 needles and seats which play a huge role in the gas delivery.  They are tiny.  Located in the back of the shop is the "junk yard", a bunch of random parts and pieces of mostly Harleys that are for sale or free.  I started digging with no hope that I would find not one, but three tiny needles for an old 70's CB500, which I'm finding out as I go, is a bit more rare than its cousin the 750 or even the 400.  And then, like Charlie unwrapping the Golden Ticket to the Chocolate Factory, I found an air filter cover with tiny Japanese parts.  In that, I found not one, but three brand new ones in little plastic bags.  They were exactly what I was looking for. 

I finally got them together and we were curious if my girl had it in her to run.  I had serious doubts due to the amount of rust, dirt, and cobwebs that I found in every other part of the ol'girl.  But the magicians began their surgery with spare wires, jumper cables, batteries, and years of experience with motorcycles.
They began slowly hooking up a bike that is not even built yet.  They loosely wrapped spare wires to the places they needed to go.  I will find out those places soon when comes the time for me to wire her up for real.  I don't think I even had the engine mounts in the frame.  So the doctors set to their work.  Touching the baterry to the starter, the action began.  The points started snapping furiously and the alternator spun into a blur.  Mike and Slim quickened their pace tweeking this and that as the mechanics clattered and flew around in a whirl that is surprising after working for so long on a "dead" machine.    Nothing happening except the snapping and spinning led the boys into a rapid scramble of this and that, these and those.  Under Mike's touch and Slim's tinkering, the snapping points began sparking blue life, she coughed and then ROAR!!!!  It came to life in a scream and smoke pummelled out filling the shop as the engine burned away 40 years of neglect to show us that she may just be a screamer.  As I hooted and hollered, smiles creased the faces of the boys that only a mechanic of old machines will understand.
And that's a damn good feeling, especially since I haven't yet replaced the points, adjusted the valves, or timed it.  Plus, the carburators I frankensteined together didn't even leak.  We might just make it to Maine.

So, there's Mikey's house garage, Slim's Cycle Stop, and Mikey and Jimmy Barillaro's Speed Emporium where the majority of the work is happening, especially th group chops (both have links on the side bar of the page).  If there are very special things that are needed, the Barillaro brothers have the tools to literally create something form nothing.  The Outlaw's Green Pile sits under there jokes above.

For example, an axle from some oversized rusted metal scrap.  Seems easy right?  Not so.

It took at very least an hour to machine this one piece which is my front axle, a part that will never be seen.

Chop Chop.
Who needs that stuff.

Mikey and Tank show off the shirts of the previous 555 events.
No trouble here.