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GETTING BACK TO OUR ROOTS
GETTING BACK TO OUR ROOTS is the theme for the 2013 version of Boscawen Old Home Day. It is really a six-day event from Tuesday, August 20th (Elektrisola’s Famous Art Show), thru Sunday, August 25th (Merrimack River Kayak/Canoe Festival). In between we have the Boscawen Old Home Day Golf Classic on Thursday, August 22nd and, of course, Old Home Day itsownself on Saturday, August 24th. Watch for much more about the events of Old Home Day 2013 in future issues of The Voice.
In the here and now, however, we have two more BOSCAWEN BINGO events, on April 13th and April 27th. The BOSCAWEN BINGO season which began in January, will wind down in fine fashion in April. A Traditional Turkey Dinner, with all the fixins is on tap for the 13th and the extra-special Super Duper Cookout will wrap it all up on April 27th. BOSCAWEN BINGO is, above all else, fun for all ages and sexes; fulfilling for all who partake of the outstanding home-cooked meals (only $10.00); rewarding for a number of winners (great prizes and the 50-50 paid $82. last week); and neighborly (meet old friends, meet new friends). Buy dinner for a mere $10 and spend the afternoon enjoying a brisk game (or 20) of BINGO with lots of fellowship included for free! BOSCAWEN BINGO at its best. Hope to see you there.
A Senior Project or Something Greater?
How many times have you created something at school whether it be a project for a grade or extra credit to give yourself a little cushion? As the classes get harder and I grow older, the projects become more complex. Many of my projects have ended up on a shelf or in a box. My parents have saved every one and love each one I have brought home, but I want to do more. I want to create something not only for a grade but also for a personal achievement greater than the grade or something on the shelf.
When I was 8 years old, I got my first dirt bike for Christmas. It was a brand new Honda XR80R. My parents had it under the tree with all the gear ready to go. Now being an 8 year old kid, I just had to try it out. In three minutes on the driveway I had already dumped it on the ice. I was upset with the fact that I could have hurt my new bike. I was told it's a dirt bike; it can be fixed easier than I can. Needless to say, I was hooked. From there on out, motorcycling has been a major part of my life.
In the time I have had this bike, I have learned it's not the fall that marks you, but how to get up that defines you. My parents didn't pick me up; they taught me how to pick myself up. And they let me decide when I would get back on the bike. I wasn't as bull and jam after a fall, but I slowly worked back up to digging up the lawn and wheelies in the back yard, much to my mother's disapproval.
When I was 16, I got my DMV motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license so I could ride my mother's Ninja on the street. However, there was a parallel side to this, vintage road racing. Around the same time I got my motorcycle endorsement, I also earned my road racing license with the USCRA. I was the youngest kid on the track. Little did I know at the time, this contributed to molding me for something greater. I'm not talking about the AMA or anything like that, however, that would be nice. I'm talking about responsibility, fear, limitations, pushing the limits, courage and thinking ahead. I have learned that on the track your thought process needs to be a step ahead of what you're doing.
In the past two years, I have won a series of races and podium finished almost every event. I'm hoping to keep that record going. What I have learned from all the pro racers on the track and off, I have taken with me, to school and other places I'm going as I move forward.
So this brings me to my senior project. What can I do that I can use long after the project is done? What can I do that will carry on after high school is over? This is where my thought started when presented with this task. Then I started to think, how can I challenge myself to make something greater then a ceramic bowl? Then it came to me.
My senior project is to rebuild a vintage Honda motorcycle and turn it into a competitive race bike. The whole reason why I chose to rebuild a vintage race bike was because I was interested in racing more than one bike. Another thing that inspired me to create this one of a kind race bike was to make the image I had in my head a reality. When I started in June 2012, I thought it would be a challenging project that would take me most of the winter. I had no idea what was actually behind building a race bike, let alone a vintage bike. I soon found out that the parts were very scarce, some non-existent. The main thing that has kept me going was that I knew I would be racing this bike in the summer. And so it begins.......
It all starts with a vision. I would like to build the biggest and fastest vintage bike in the USCRA. However, I just don't have the money for that; so I have to build the best bike I can, as cheaply as I can. Understanding this is also a senior project, I can't get ahead of myself either. Looking through the rules book, I found the most economical bike on the track, the F160. The way the rules are written, I will be racing the rider and not the money, so this seems like the class and bike for me. Another thought behind my choice is my Mom has a red one in the living room and my Dad also races that same bike at Loudon so why not build one to race with him.
Honda launched the CB160 in 1965 and built it for three years. The bike was so successful I figured I could still get the parts for it. Little did I know at the time, there was one in the back yard. The problem was it wasn't mine . . . yet. This bike was a mess, so I assumed I would get it for free. Well that just wasn't the case. Buying something from my parents proves to be tricky for me. See money is no good at my house. So I ask, "Can I build a race bike?" Dad’s reply, "Sure, what are you going to build and how are you going to pay for it?" The blank stare didn't seem to work like I thought it would. So my parents once again state the same rules, "You can buy it with your grades. However, if you get a C or below in any of your classes, we own the bike. If you stay on the honor roll, we will flip the bill and the bike is yours." Well I can't beat that with a stick. The problem was, if I get a C or lower, not only do I lose the bike, but I lose my senior project as well. So, in between my Advance Calculus and Advance Accounting classes I have to build this vintage race bike. I drag the bike out of the back yard and basically take over the garage. Taking this apart was a nightmare. Everything was rusted together, the fuel tank was destroyed and the motor was stuck.
After the bike was completely disassembled, I figured this was a great time to see what I need to buy and rebuild. I basically left the wheels, motor and frame and went from there. At the time I thought my design was a final draft . . . not true at all.
I am finding that math plays a huge part in building a bike. And here I thought once I was out of school, math was a thing of the past. But without geometry and trigonometry, I don't think, in fact I know, this bike would not ride like it should. Each part of the build needed some sort of mathematical formula to resolve an issue or redesign for greater performance on the track not only for maximum performance but also for safety as well. It's all about the lines, front to back, for a straight ride with little resistance. Building the suspension, I learned a great deal about compression, recoil, and PSI. Then came the X Y configuration concerning the steering, and this was just the beginning.
The motor seemed to be just as challenging. I took a picture of every nut, bolt and part as the motor was torn down so I would understand how to reassemble with minimal confusion and loss of parts. Once the motor was apart, I found math was once again going to be a factor. I found not only a rebuild was in order but real work needed to be done. You see the pistons were frozen to the motor, this means I needed to bore the motor for bigger pistons. I had to be careful that they did not hit the top of the motor or be too big that the bike would be disqualified for the class I wanted to race in. This meant I needed to find another mathematical formula to measure how big I could go.
Once I had all my math equations and results, I gave my cylinder to the machine shop to do the motor work, as I couldn’t. I don't have the $100,000.00 machines to bore a cylinder or ream valves. But, with the mathematical calculations I had to complete, I was able to get the maximum legal performance out of the motor. I haven't even started on velocity for carburetion and exhaust yet.
The most time consuming parts of the project were the research for the new race parts and the clean up. Cleaning was a very difficult with 45 years of rust and grease throughout the bike. Once again, the learning curve was the research. I learned how to research how to build the bike. I understood I could use these researching techniques in all of my projects, whether it's a bike, a senior project, or picking a college. The format was the same; it's just all in how you base the structure of the research that you’re doing. In the process, I have found local businesses that could help with the some of the required tasks which are just way out of my reach, like sandblasting the old parts for repainting.
Once I had the bike disassembled, I sent the frame off to Zach Phelps in Concord for frame sandblasting. I don't have a lot of the tools needed to do the entire job on my own; so understanding this, a valuable tool I have learned was resourcing. It's not what you know but how to get the information to learn what you need to be successful in whatever you do. While researching the parts I found my design changing due to the available parts and cost. I know I told you how the cost was covered; however, I knew there was a realistic limit. Some parts needed to be reused, some re-machined, some just had to be replaced.
I also learned that there is a process that needs to be followed when building a bike. One learning curve was building the wheels before putting the rest of the parts together. It was like putting the cart before the horse; it doesn't work out well.
Once I had the wheels and frame back from blasting, it was time to start painting all the parts I needed to get the bike rolling. It took some time to learn. After all, it's not like painting a flat surface; there are tubes, bends and curves. This is where patience and sand paper come in handy. Paint isn't easy at all; yet the guys on television make it look simple. I have learned this is not the case at all. Not to mention, it takes a while to dry. This is where patience comes into play again.
In the process of rebuilding the bike, I found out that there were parts that needed to be replaced. Well if I'm trying to make the bike lighter and faster, why not replace the big heavy steel parts with light aluminum parts? I know a friend in the USCRA with a lathe. Why not learn how to use the lathe to create my own parts? So that's what I did. Spending a couple of days figuring out the math formula, I learned how to turn new parts on the lathe. Once I figured out how it works, it was pretty easy. This turned into a design change again because I could now machine parts from nothing rather than buying a replacement.
Another challenging part of this project was the assembly. You would think it would be easy. Well, another lesson learned. I found that it's very easy to scratch a newly painted part if you're not careful. So even something like putting the bike together needed preparation. Well it's also cold out in the shop during the winter months. So take a guess where I decided to build the bike. That's right! On the dining room table. What? Doesn't everyone? While assembling the bike, I found yet more design changes. Each change was carefully planned out so I get the best results from details as small as wire routing to something as big as relocating the hand controls for high speed stability. Once again math came into play as I also have to calculate stability, weight, and weight distribution for a safe transition when shifting from corner to corner on the track.
Well it has been almost a year since I first started this project. What I thought would be a simple project of building a race bike for the track and using it as my senior project had turned into so much more. The learning experience was tremendous. I remember my freshman math and science teachers telling me I would be using what they were teaching later on. I didn't believe them for a second, and again with my sophomore and junior teachers as well. However, with the roll of the eyes, I blew their statements off. I focused on the work at hand so I would stay on the honor roll, not only for personal achievement but so I also wouldn't lose any of my stuff due to grades lower then a C.
The project has proven that math is everywhere, in everything I do. I will have to work with math. So to finish this project I know I'm going to use more math. It is time to embrace it as I was always told from my parents.
I also understand the limitation that weather can have on a build like this regardless if you are under cover or out in the driveway. Cold temperatures played a factor in how the project came along. This was the deciding factor in taking the project to the dining room. This move took month of delay off the table and put the build back on track. I was able to get the shell ready for the next stage.
So then it was off the dining room table and onto the living room floor so I could put the motor in the bike without having the bike fall through the table. The motor was the most challenging part of the build. Although the motor needed to remain stock, to stay within the rules of the class, the motor was a mess. The challenge taught me patience. Reliability and safety were key. Since I couldn’t really modify the engine beyond the legal specifications, the rule book left the math in your hands. With a little research and calculating, I was able to build the motor to its maximum mathematical allowable tolerances.
The next stage was the electrical components of the bike. Again this was something I didn't think I would need long after my science class was over. It turns out this was required in order to build my own wiring for the bike. After laying out a complete wiring diagram for the bike, I included new parts that the street version of this bike never had 45 years ago, such as parts like a tachometer and new sleek light weight battery. I tested this with a portable power supply. It turns out, size matters. The size of the wire affects how each component works with each other in order to use the maximum power that the bike will generate.
On the final assembly, I found that I'm redesigning small parts of the bike again. You can pre-fit and pre-plan a build for months and still find that something is missing or a design could be build just a little bit better. I have also learned when you think you are done with a project, you will always think about something you could have done differently or something you could have improved. I see a few things I would like to change still; however, they will have to wait. After all, I have a deadline I have to meet. Who knows what I will get into if I decide to make changes now and when will it end. I find it's good to keep thinking of the next big thing, however. I know now that I'll keep using the math and science I was taught in my four year of high school and beyond. I just would never have known that the basic text I learned in class would lead to this. I guess it also helps to have a Dad that has done this before, and parents that have 100% faith that I can do something this overwhelming while being sideline coaches.
Well, the bike is done and it's time to fire it off for the first time. My Dad always said, "If it doesn't start on the first bump then you did something wrong." He holds himself to this so I know I have to get it right. While the policy has always been, measure twice and cut once, I re-tested and re-tested the bike in anticipation of firing it off for the first time.
Fuel, timing, compression, power??? Check, check, check and check. It's time to light it up. So we open the door for the bikes run in the driveway. What? I can't start it in the house? Fine. With the bike in the driveway, I have no starter, no key and no kick start. Ionly have a couple of feet to push this bike before I bump start it. On the first attempt the bike starts. Finally after more than a year of planning and design, it all pays off with the sound of power through the pipes. With a run up and down the street, I see that there are some small tweaks to do so I can get the maximum response from this bike. Now it's time to build my presentation. However I can't get the thought of racing this bike on the track out of my head. I understand this is a senior project and what the bike has done for me in such a small amount of time, but I have to get out there. May 13th is coming so I have a while to wait. In the meantime, I can enjoy the work done while it sits in my living room waiting for life. It sure is funny how a senior project can go way beyond the scope of a simple paper due on Friday or another class lecture. What this bike and project has done for me is tie in
everything I didn't really know I have been learning throughout the years, from science to math to patience.