First Track Test
At the start of this long holiday weekend the bike was about ready to go. The film crew had come and gone a few days before and we were left with a complete bike that had never been started. The plan was to fire it up on Friday on the dyno, do some tuning and last minute adjustments, and then take it to a track day at New Jersey Motorsports Park on Monday.
To add to our stress level Spannerland was going to be without power starting 6pm on Friday as the building was undergoing maintenance. We had to get the bike fired up and then out though the freight elevator before being trapped for the weekend. At 4pm the bike was strapped down to the dyno and we used the rollers to bump start the motor. At least that was the plan. Over and over we brought the rear wheel up to speed and dropped the clutch. The bike would fire sporadically but never really catch. Fuel was not the issue, and neither was spark… We checked the timing carefully but could not get the answer as to why it would not start.
Time was up so we packed the bike and all of our track gear into the van and hauled it over my own shop in Brooklyn. It had been a long day so we left the motorcycle for the night with the new plan to get in running on Saturday.
First thing in the morning we rechecked everything on the motor and put it on the roller starter that we would use at the track. It fired first time!!! The dyno never really had much torque, where as our real roller starter had dual starter motors from a truck and a marine battery. The high compression motor just needed more force to fire.
We weren’t done yet though… The front suspension was binding. A sure way to go down in a corner. We took it all apart again and found the right slider was marred. We honed it to clean up the inner surface, but the real cause was that the forks just needed to be spaced better at the front wheel to keep them square.
Next up was the brakes. We still had to put the pads in and bleed them out. While the rolling the bike around we found that the brake lever would still occasionally go all the way to the bar. Something was not right. After another hour or so of fiddling we found the rotors were not seated correctly… easily corrected with a few good whacks from a rubber mallet.
By Sunday we only had a few more items to cleanup. Setting the primary belt tension by reaming out the transmission mount, as well as drill holes all over our new parts to safety wire everything together. The van was packed up again and we were off to the track.
At the track on Monday we ran though tech with lots of praise from the inspectors. Kenny was going out with the expert class; except that everyone else was on modern bikes with an extra 100hp, as well as an additional 100lbs, than our Seeley Norton. We were a bit rushed with Kenny getting his gear on and putting a wrench on a few bolts to make sure were we ready. The bike fired right up on the rollers and we had lots of looks as it warmed up. Right as Kenny was about to make his way to the grid he started to hear a mechanical tick. It kept getting louder and he shut it down. Maybe the valves needed adjusting? We stripped the fairing and tank off and started to take the covers off of the motor. All while in the 90 degree heat.
We rechecked the valves which were maybe only off slightly. Back on the roller starter and we fired the bike again… but still the tick was there and getting worse. We did not want to press our luck. With the plugs out we pushed the bike around in gear and could still hear the mechanical tink deep within the motor. We took off the timing cover to see if there was an issue there… but it all seemed to be in order. It became clear that the motor had to come out and come apart. We packed the van up again and hightailed it back to Spannerland!
Once the bike was on the lift it was an hour to get the motor out. It was another hour to break it apart. The issue was evident. A minor hidden casting void in the cylinders resulted in stripped threads and allowed a fastener to loosen. This in turn caused the lifter assembly to miss-align with a camshaft lobe, resulting in the tapping noise and minor damage to the cam. We were lucky that the major parts were untouched. This was a big delay though. Kenny now had to break the motor apart, check for any other damaged items, and go through the head to check all the tolerances. We have a week to redo the motor and be ready for Road America. All of our padding in our schedule is gone and we have more drama than we need at this point.