"BRIT IRON" takes you behind the scenes at

April 2012 - Issue #26

MY BUSY SEASON - It’s one event after another!
PROJECT ROYAL CLONE PROGRESS - Blacking out my engine.
WEIRD STUFF - My old buddies would appreciate this one!

While I haven’t quite gotten around to changing the logo on this newsletter yet, I recently changed the masthead/logo for my website Classic-British-Motorcycles.com. On it I feature my dynamic new logo (I’m very proud) over a closeup of a gorgeous pre-unit Bonneville, along with an overview of what the site is all about.

While I like it, I’m not sure it’s exactly what I’m looking for. What do you think? Please email me with your opinion. And any ideas would also be welcome. Thanks.

May is always a crazy month for me. First off, my birthday as well as that of one of my daughters’ is in May, and of course, so is Mother’s Day. It’s also the beginning of the really good weather for riding, and I start doing lots of it. In addition, there are several shows & events that I attend, or try to attend.

Starting this weekend, April 28 & 29 was the Pacific Coast Dreams Machines giant motorcycle/car/airshow at the Half Moon Bay Airport. I was going to go, ride there with some buddies, but all our plans fell through & I decided not to go this year. I’m still thinking I should have. It’s one heckuva show! Next weekend, on Saturday May 5 is the Quail Motorcycle Gathering at the Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley, and it’s one amazing classic motorcycle show in a beautiful location. I will be going to this one-day show. Then, a couple of weeks later on Saturday, May 19 is the Hanford Motorcycle Show, now in its 44th year in my hometown. I haven’t been back to Hanford in several years now, so I’m looking forward to it. I plan to see some old friends, one of which is another Andy who now works with Brit bike restorer extraordinaire Don Harrell, and he’s invited me to an impromptu party the night before the show with some other Brit bike nuts. I plan to arrive on Friday & meet up with my old boss Ron Clawson. I worked for him in high school in about 1970-72 in his Triumph-BSA-Norton dealership. He was a legend then & he is still. Today he owns a Kawasaki-Suzuki franchise in Tulare CA & at 71 he still races old-timer motocross. And knowing Ron, he can probably still ride circles around most hotshoes half his age!

Then, in mid-June, I leave with about 8 or 9 other bikes (all Harleys) on our annual weeklong camping trip to Yosemite. Actually most of us stay in little cabins, I’m getting too old to sleep on the ground. But it feels like camping, and it certainly smells like it!! I’m looking forward to getting away, out of cellphone range, no computers, no clocks...

Progress has been slow lately. Rabers finally got my crankshaft back from the balancer & most of my other parts were in. Now it was all just waiting for me to paint my engine cases & get them all back to them. But, with CBM’s big Clubman’s Show booth & all that it entailed in preparation & follow up I had to set my little Triumph T140D to T140LE Project aside for a bit. Biut now I’m getting back to it.

To replicate the look of the ’81 Bonneville T140LE Royal Wedding, the engine must be painted a satin black, not high gloss and not flat. Painting aluminum can be tricky, but cast aluminum that has been saturated in oil most while being heated & cooled gets very tricky, because a certain amount of oil is absorbed into tiny pours in the surface of the metal. This makes it tough for the paint to stick. I had all these castings ultra-sonic pressure washed under high heat several times, then oven baked, then cleaned. This was all done at Rabers before I ever even got the stuff. Then, I sprayed it down with electrical contact cleaner (a non-oily solvent that evaporates completely) to make certain there was nothing left on it. Then, I preheated all the parts to 150 degrees F, then primed them with a very light coat of self-etching primer. They got warmed in the oven again for 15 minutes at 150, then I sprayed them with the satin black high-temp engine enamel out of a shaker can. I applied several thin coats, allowing each to dry completely. I then oven baked them at 150 for 15 minutes again, then repainted as needed & baked again.

No, I’m not talking about making celebrities out of people from Finland. I’m referring to the process of removing a small amount of the black paint I just put on certain engine parts along the tops of the cooling fins, revealing the aluminum underneath, then polishing it so that it stands out against the black engine. Also part of the Royal Wedding look. I plan to accomplish this with slow, tedious and careful work with a rubber sanding block. But, that’s next time...

If any of my old Hanford buddies are reading this, they will certainly appreciate this next one. What attracted me to this photo is that, when I was a much younger man, I myself was a disciple of the “drill-for-lightness” order. I drilled holes in everything, only to save a couple of grams of weight on a 350-pound bike. I wasn’t even particularly good at it, often doing a sloppy job of it. But done right, I did indeed save precious pounds on race machines & the like & could be made to look very cool. I was always fascinated by the concept that if you drill precisely the right-sized hole through your cooling fins, you can actually gain cooling surface, not lose it. It’s not too hard to figure out, it’s based on the thickness of the fins. But, I digress...

Jim Wulzen of Ocean View, Hawaii sent me a batch of nice photos of his gorgeous 1962 Honda Superhawk & this was just one of them. When I saw all those lightening holes I had to laugh. Of course Jim has done a fine job of it, and it came out prefect. Of course, I couldn’t run a full article about a Honda, but I couldn’t resist sharing this one. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone take the concept to this extreme before...and I love it!!!

About all of this, Jim writes, ”I love to drill holes, goes way back to the 50's when I was racing British bikes. I was inspired by a man named Phil Cancilla who was a Triumph dealer in San Jose California and built fine race bikes with lots of holes everywhere, he said unsprung weight was the enemy. Mount your shocks upside down and get the drill working.”

As you may know, I'm now a Motorcycle Correspondent for the Bay Area for Examiner.com. I've written several articles on bikes so far. I get rated by the number of people who read my articles and give back good feedback. Please, if you get the chance, please visit my page on Examiner.com, and tell your friends about it. Here's the link:

And please pass it along to your friends...


Hope you enjoyed this issue of "BRIT IRON" as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please tell your friends about it, and my website, Classic-British-Motorcycles.com. And please urge them to subscribe to this e-zine. It is my hope that the right people will discover this website & tell the right people, who will then pass it along to more of the right people, and...well, you get the idea.

Thanks for all your interest & support,
A.C. Tallone,

PS: I'd love to hear from you, get your comments, ideas, suggestions, criticisms, whatever. Please contact me. And above all, enjoy the ride...