Sunday, May 13, 2007


Saturday's ride wound through the hills east of Atascadero, taking in the towns of Creston, Santa Margarita, and Pozo, around 100 miles of riding through rolling hills, vineyards, wildflowers, and sometimes amazing twisty roads.
Top pic shows yours truly on his mount of choice for the weekend, the '28 Sunbeam TT 90. A few of the Harley faithful expressed surprise that such a small machine could move so quickly and handle so well. See you later boys. I had a little trouble with a fix JP made to the rocker gear two years ago; one of my pushrods was slowly eroding an end, and I had to adjust the tappets several times a day. The grease around the rocker looked like shiny grinding paste, which is exactly what it became. I swapped my exhaust and inlet pushrods in the town of Creston, which bought me the rest of the day's ride, at the expense of now needing to repair both pushrods.
Second pic; an original and unrestored Yale, showing the primary side, and that fabulous clutch setup. No worries about tight cable runs, or even a clutch lever! The large arcuate slot along the side of the tank controls how much grip or slip; the clutch is has a typical plates and spring arrangement, AND a servo-type band of friction material. Where the lever sits determines which one is engaged, or both. The plates are all metal, and intended for slipping as the bike gets underway or is moving off from a slow corner, or just to drive very slowly. The friction band is more positive, effectively locking the drive in place. Complicated, but its just one big lever.
Next pic shows a trickster in the midst; while this may look like all the obsolete-by-1928 'clincher' rims, its actually a new DID rim from a Kawasaki, in aluminum, wm2 x 21", so modern tires can be fitted, as this Avon Speedmaster shows. Very clever, this was on a '15 Harley and if I hadn't seen the Avons, I would never have known. The owner, Fred Lange, actually replicates entire 8-valve racing Harleys, so has a clue about engineering. Ah, the most naughty bit; he painted the rims with a high iron-content paint, then sprayed them with an acid to make them rust up, matching the rest of the bike. Cheeky! Next pic is the entire '15 Harley with Fred aboard, the rusty wheel rims gleaming in the sun.

Most of our riding group can be seen in the pic in front of the LC saloon in Creston. I'm in the middle, working on my Sunbeam! The photo was taken by Clement Salvadori, author and
'moto-phot0-journalist'. Very nice fellow too, and I seem to see him at all the vintage motorcycle events, taking pix of the good bikes. He took the pic of me at the top, and the group shot here in front of the LC.
We travelled next to Santa Margarita, a cute little town with a couple of good espresso shops. These riders like to ride for 30 miles or so, then stop and jawjack in some picturesque spot. I suppose with nearly 100-year-old machines, this is a good idea. In fact, very few of the bikes had serious mechanical issues, and I ended up doing more work on my Sunbeam than they did on their older machines.
Next pic is a belt-drive Harley single-cylinder machine, ca 1912, of approx. 500cc, with a single coaster-type rear brake. Called the 'Silent Grey Fellow', these belt-drivers have no transmission noise (chains are noisy), only the puff of exhaust, so are actually very quiet and smooth - they just sort of puff along down the road. The belt on this bike had been on for 10 years, with no stretching, as its a sandwich of nylon webbing between two layers of leather.
Pozo Saloon! Founded in 1858, and much of it is original. I love the dollar bills tacked to the ceiling, they look like green butterflies.
Sitting inside the saloon are 'von John' Parker, organizer of the Primer Nationals custom car events, and Red Fred. Beards aren't required in the bar, but they help, apparently. The saloon laid on a big bbq for us, as they have tables and acres of lawn out in the back, and a porch for the band. They've hosted innumerable well-known acts, from Steppenwolf to the Grateful Dead, and Lynyrd Skynyrd is playing in July. Did I really write that? I had to look up the spelling. The bar is in the middle of NOWHERE, and is an oasis, serving really good beer (try the 'Pozo Martini' - beer with an olive!).
Next pic shows a really good story being told; not the rapt attention of listeners. This fellow, who shall remain nameless for the moment, had his driver's license revoked for a year for 7 seatbelt infractions in 30 days. Of course, the Indian 4 he was riding had a one-year expired tag on the plate... I didn't ride near him. Still, he told the best tales, very rapidly, prefacing every one with 'I'll tell you a quick story...'
The weather, by the way, was perfect, so it was hard to come back to sunny and cold SF.