"BRIT IRON" takes you behind the scenes at

August 2011 - Issue #5

* I got my bike running!
Got the clutch done & mounted a cool new megaphone.
* New Video of my lap of Laguna Seca on my Triumph.
* 2 classic motorcycle auctions back-to-back and I'm going. Pebble Beach & Carmel Valley.

I've been busy on many fronts this week, not all related to this website. But I got my '79 Triumph T140D Bonneville running & still managed to built 4 more pages on Triumph TR6's, 1966, 1967, 1968, and 1969. Photos have to be found, tagged, cropped & sized, specs & history must be looked up in whatever reference material is available. It's a big job, but one I relish. My goal is to build one page for every year of every model of every major make of postwar Classic British Motorcycle. I plan to develop CBM into the world's foremost resource on, & a true online index of these wonderful machines. I started just 9 months ago with my first page & now have 166 pages built. One method of measuring success with websites is to track how many unique visitors find your site each day. I broke past 600 unique visitors per day last month & today so far, every day this month has been solidly in the 600's. My traffic has been growing by about 100 each month. At this rate, I should be close to 1,000 by the end of this year, which was my short-term goal for the site when I launched it, last October. I'm also expanding into covering more classic motorcycle auctions, shows, rides, clubs & events. In fact, I'm riding my Triumph to two such events, the first of which, the California BSA Rally in Visalia CA, is just a month from now. So stay tuned...the best is yet to come.


Last week, I was chest-deep in clutch parts for my '79 Triumph T140D Bonneville Special. I didn't like the way it felt, it wouldn't engage until the last 1/4" of travel & had no real progression to it. When I pulled it apart I found that it had been changed out for an odd-looking 7-plate Norman Hyde clutch (stock has 6). The inner clutch drum was badly worn & needed replacing, but everything else looked pretty good. Putting a clutch together in a Triumph twin is an interesting exercise that involves packing 20 individual bearing rollers (cylindrical, kind of barrel-shaped & about 1/4" diameter & about 1/4" long) with grease & lining them up just right on the clutch hub. Since the primary chain is endless, you take the engine sprocket, the chain & the outer clutch basket & install them as a unit. Of course, the engine sprocket is a tight fit & must be tapped on, the chain must get clear of the tensioner, while carefully fitting the hole in the center of the clutch hub over the grease-packed bearings. And it's really easy to knock one out of place, which means you need to take the whole thing apart again, which takes a puller for the engine sprocket, then set up the bearings & do it all again. It took me 5 or 6 times to get it right. Then, once you get it all together, you need to check the basket for free play. If there is too much (more than about .030") you need a thicker thrust washer, which means taking it all apart again. Anyway, I got it all done & the clutch works well.

As I've mentioned before, my bike has been a real 'gutless wonder' (not much power). I've played with the timing, the plugs, the carbs & still it runs weak. The boys at Raber's Parts Mart mentioned that the stock muffler (silencer) that came on the '79 T140D was very chocked down, in an effort to pass strict noise legislations. So, I bought a new aftermarket megaphone, shorter, & with very little baffling, in an effort to free up the breathing & with it, some horsepower. It took a couple of custom-fabricated mounts (made 'em myself), but I got it on & it looks great. As you can see from the photo above, the old muffler lying on the ground is considerably longer & much heavier, in addition to be very restrictive.

With my new clutch & cool new pipe, I choked it & gave it a kick. It fired in one kick! It was a bit cold-blooded, but once warm, it ran pretty well. I took it out for an extended ride & found it to be much faster than before, although it's still not terribly fast (I've got to change the cams). But, it pulls much harder in the lower rev-range now, where it just didn't before. I'm pretty happy with the way it's running & after an hour on the road, I'm convinced it's reliable enough to make the trip to Visalia CA in a month for the California BSA Rally (Sept 8-11) & the San Luis Obispo Classic Motorcycle Show in October. Even if I'm wrong, there's always the chase truck...
As part of the Quail Ride, a 120-mile loop through the Carmel Valley on vintage bikes (part of the Quail Motorcycle Gathering) we finished at the famous Laguna Seca-Mazda Raceway to a 'touring lap'. I used my new helmet cam & filmed the entire thing. It came out great & now it's on my channel on YouTube. Check it out, here's the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cce7FQU9zMY

They're both in the Monterey CA-area and that's in my backyard! The first one takes place on Thursday, August 18 at the Quail Motorsports Gathering at the Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley CA.

What makes this Bonhams & Butterfields Auction so special & worthy of a trip on my part to a 'motorsports' show (not specifically motorcycles), is that an ultra-rare 1954 AJS F3 Grand Prix bike is expected to break the record for the highest price ever paid for a motorcycle in auction. The record currently stands at $556,400 for a 1915 Cyclone Board Track Racer sold by MidAmerica Auctions. One of only 3 examples remaining, this winning racer is expected to bring $750,000!

The second auction will begin the next day, Friday, Aug 19 & end on the 21st. It's MidAmerica Auction's second-largest annual auction now, behind their huge Las Vegas Auction. With well over 100 incredible classic motorcycles, a professional staff & a high-energy environment, like all MidAmerica Auctions, this promises to be a good one. But, it's even better than that. Because it's held at & during the world famous Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance (one of the world's leading judged classic car shows.) I'm staying in the area somewhere, possibly in Carmel. I don't think I'll do all 3 days of the MidAmerica Auction, but I'll certainly be there for most of it. Hope to see you there. For more info, contact MidAmerica Auctions at (651) 633-9655 or email to midauction@aol.com.

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Enjoy the ride,