Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Old Irons 2017 - a report.

This was only my second attendance at the yearly Old Irons rally, and I think I'm starting to get what this is really about.

Ever since I gave up MC colors years ago, I also stopped going to rallies, because I got disillusioned with the former, and frankly bored with the latter, feeling that rallies no longer had anything to offer;
and I feel I have evolved along a transcendental path of mystical apprenticeship with every trip I've organized and been on with a close group of friends, chief among which is the Campotosto Mystic Trip.

But, somehow the Old Irons (so really the guys who make it happen) have managed to create a considerably large-scale event, with no "promotion" whatsoever other than word of mouth, that manages to be both a rowdy biker rally (complete with senseless brawl and helo ambulance), and an introspective powwow where people can put aside their differences and look ahead, beyond the mountains, to glean what will come in the future of our shared obsession with motorcycles.

I met up with Gianluca and his brother Pier and we trudged through 100km of boring stuff before rendezvousing with Marco and Roberto just off the autostrada where we took a nice route through the hills to reach the rally.

Ragno welcomed us with a huge smile, hugs all 'round and ice cold beer: it was exactly what we needed right then.

After saying hello to the others, we sat down for a kingly repast, then moved on to setting up our tents.

(meat is murder, you guys!)
It is remarkable how much more "at home" the chopper feels when it's immersed in nature like this:
I think that as soon as you go past 250cc, motorcycles hate cities, but this is especially true of choppers.
I'll walk you through some of the bikes that were there.
Here's a neat ironhead Sportster to begin with:
and another:
Shovelheads aplenty:
An interesting Evo with a noticeably big bore kit, gnarly sissy bar and thought-provoking paintjob:
 Here's a cool early evolution Sportster in flat track attire:

Peppe's M20, a bona fide daily driver, and Eddie's Atlas:
This Nuovo Falcone was really cool and roved about the mountains like it owned them:
Giordano's motorcycle was the perfect antidote to Shovelhead fatigue, a beautifully thought out one-off that looked like an elegant stock model, plenty of unique details showcasing his craftsmanship, bravo:
There was a tidy evolution Sportster chopper, very nice:

I saw a few guys carry these fuel cans, certainly very neat and they look the part, but I wonder what good is a liter and a half, really. I think I'll rig up a bracket for a 3 or even 5 liter can next time; there is nothing for miles around, and getting stranded up there is a real possibility (and real bummer):

At one point this dude showed up on what looked like another BSA chopper, imagine my shock! Aghast! But, it turned out to be something even cooler, and best-in-show as far as I'm concerned; a hardtailed Gilera 300:

For some reason I found this little detail to be quite a moving, nostalgic touch; it's an old public telephone token:
He'd had the exhaust system custom made, and used the same type of "cocktail shaker" muffler I have on the Rising Star, with the addition of a baffle wrapped in rock wool:
I have been looking at ready-made baffles and other solutions for my bike, which is far too loud, and after talking to the Gilera guy (and Eddie) I think I might have found someone that could do this for me. There are a couple of other things I need to do on the Rising Star, so let's see...
Things to expect/look forward to next year (we've talked about it with Marco and this is what we reckon): someone being dragged away from their tent in the middle of the night (and presumably eaten) by a bear; dragons battling over the hills and in the meadows as people flee in every direction on their choppers across the grasslands; extraterrestrials showing up in their sleek UFOs and joining the party, motives unclear.
Should be good!

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Old Irons 2017

It was awesome; I'll show you some photos soon...

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Other updates.

Marcellini have improved the prototype luggage plate for our BMW, a really well made part:

In other news, we have shipped this large crate over to SRM engineering to try out their brake refurbishment service:

The wheel belongs to our Matchless, and it sorely needs more stopping power, I'm sure the Welsh dragons will be able to sort it out and do a great job as always.

I might even send the Rising Star's front wheel as that too could work (a lot) better...

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Old Irons - the clock is ticking...

Time to get ready for the Old Irons rally!
I have hardly even seen the Rising Star since I picked it up from uncle Fester with its dope new sissy bar.

Time is short so I can only think about the absolute essentials. This includes an MOT, which I had planned to do about a month ago, only I couldn't get the damn thing to start and I mangled the kickstart cotter pin in the process.

You've heard the story of the last drop that makes the cup run over, well this was it for me, and it has radically and permanently altered my relationship with classic British bikes. For the worst.
I realize that this is quite the bombshell to drop in a post about getting ready for a summer rally, but that's it, I've had it with this nonsense.
I will refrain from ranting about this here and now because otherwise I'll go on and on, but make no mistake: I have totally and irreversibly run out of patience.

So, after MUCH cursing and about an hour beating the crap out of it with a heavy mallet, I managed to get the cotter pin out. Then I had to order a new one, wait for it to arrive, and finally fit it.

Of course this still required a power drill, more hitting things with a mallet, all to have it not fit properly anyway.
We'll get to why in another post, the bottom line is that these things are just badly made, and I mean these motorcycles, not just the cotter pin, there's no hiding from this anymore.


The carburetter received a very thorough clean, thanks to a surgical-grade ultrasonic bath (thanks dad!), limescale remover, air compressor, etc.

With everything back in place, and everything clean, it started on the second kick (still no excuse for being badly made). I quickly adjusted the idle air mixture screw, and the idle slide setting, so we're good to go.

The rest is all about selecting some spare parts and tools; I'm only carrying those things that I really ought to have: clutch and throttle cables, carburetter spares and little else.

If a clutch cable snaps and you have a spare, you can get going again in under ten minutes. If you have to call a tow truck because you left your spare cable at home, you're an idiot.
That said, if something goes hugely wrong, like the engine blowing up again, I'm not going to be able to fix it by the side of the road anyway, so no point lugging around spare engine internals and every tool from my garage.

Perhpas more important than putting together a small box of spares is going over the bike and checking that everything is tight.

It passed the MOT, with onlookers marveling at the sight of such an unusual machine:

Again, thanks dad!

On to luggage: everything is rolled up and strapped down tight, I'll check this as I go but it should be fine. Debriefing and photos as soon as I get back!