Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Charm School

In today's culture, charm school usually has a somewhat negative connotation.  It varies in meaning from something that a beauty queen might need to, in corporate lingo, something for a bad manager.  The second one is familiar from my experience.  When a boss is perceived as having poor people skills and may even be abusing the people working for him, then he is sent to charm school to learn the play acting required to seem like a good guy, even when he is not.

That's why I found this place so ironic.  In this case, the Charm School is exactly that, the local school in the village of Charm, Ohio.  Charm is a mixed Amish and Mennonite village that is bustling with activity and very traditional in appearance.   One assumes, looking from the outside at a community like this, that there are no beauty queens or bad executives.  And that the Charm School is just for learning reading, writing, and arithmetic. 

It is a very pretty valley and worth the side trip.  Finding places like this are a big part of my back roads wandering.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Mystery of Buying Used

I have had a little time with the KTM.  When you buy something, you always wonder what don't you know about it and why is this guy selling it.  In the case of the KTM, the fact that he was selling a 2 year old bike with only 765 miles made that question even more prominent.

The guy did a really good job of cleaning the exterior, but even lifting the seat showed dirt covering everything.  There were other clues.  For example, replacing handguards, brake and clutch levers, the muffler, the skid plate, and missing graphics on the rear fender might suggest some light damage from an accident.  It also could mean nothing more than these are parts the guy wanted to upgrade, as the replacements are all premium quality parts.

Sidebar - The replacement muffler is quiet light and is made of titanium with carbon fiber ends.  Do you know the correct procedure for "washing" titanium?  I didn't.  The manufacturer recommends you use a cloth and WD-40.  And it works.  Apparently, solvents, even soap, can react with the surface of the titanium and damage it.

As I have dug deeper into the bike, I found a layer of stubborn NY dirt on everything.  This stuff is so tough that even Dawn dishwashing soap won't cut it.  The only way I have found to clean this stuff is using Simple Green.  Everything was coated.  Both sides of the fan blades.  The cloth wrapping the wiring harness.  Truly everything. 

I also found up to 1/4" of caked mud in the strangest places.  For example, the rear fender sits directly on the fuel tank and all the gaps between were filled with mud.  The area around the fuel filler on the top of the rear had mud caked around it.  The radiator still had mud in the fins.

I have finally gotten the thing cleaned up and have guessed at a reason for him to sell.  I think he was way out in the woods somewhere and got it totally stuck in the mud.  I think that when he finally got it out, he decided that this bike was too heavy for real offroad use.  And I concur.

Working on fitting the new low fender and will post some pictures when that is done.  Boy, carbon fiber is truly stiff stuff.

Sunday, January 8, 2017


Recently, there was an article in Racecar Engineering magazine about a 1964 Mini from New Zealand setting speed records in class I, 750 - 1000 cc engine displacement.  Their fastest record was 166 mph which is pretty good with some body modifications and a blown engine, free fuel class.  I was surprised how much modification they had to do for 166 mph.  The engine has a highly modified block, the head from a BMW K bike, and a billet crank.  They claim 370 hp on methanol.  That is both impressive from what started out as an A series block amazing to me how much extra horsepower is needed to get the speed.

I guess I'm comparing from a project I was part of back in 1988/89.  A bunch of guys at Subaru got together to go for the 1 liter production class which allows no body changes and a modified, but production based engine.  Our little Justy was so square that it makes the Mini look like a streamliner.  Even slammed, it must have had significantly more frontal area than the Mini.  In production class, we were allowed to change internal engine parts and carbs, exhaust, etc.  The engine head, and block had to remain production based.  So our 1 liter, 3 cylinder engine had motorcycle carbs, titanium intake valves, porting, and high compression.  Some mods were done on site at Bonneville, for example, a cowl induction air box was made of a Huggies diaper box and lots of duct tape.

The end result was an I class production record of 123 miles per hour that still stands today.  Not bad for pushing an origami body with a little 3 cylinder engine.