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on the Road
Lyle asked the question, "what advice can you give people who are going to make long road trips?". Sorry about the delay, but here is what I would suggest.
Vintage bikes have the advantage of being easily repaired along side the road, where modern bikes rely too much on electronic wizardry. Carry lots of tools to make the job simpler and easier. Most of these suggestions come from my observations of the bikes on the Century Ride. It's clear that we ALL underestimated the challenges this trip would present.
Tool selection can take a lot of thought,
and it should. Look at the bike and try to imagine every possible repair
that you could need to make, then make sure you have the tools for each
one. Carry extra wire, wire terminals, test light, Points/condenser, nuts/bolts/washers,
tape and tie wraps. A couple common failures on the ride were, fuel line
fractures, flat tires, lost battery clamps and failed charging systems.
I'm going to assume you don't have a huge support force following you with
lots of parts. Carry some fuel line and clamps. Remove your battery before
the trip and service it. While you're there, drill through the clamp and
into the adjustment bolt. Thread the hole you drilled in the bolt to accept
a small machine screw. Install a screw through the clamp from the underside
and into the bolt (use red Loctite), and tighten so the clamp and bolt
can still rotate. This will retain your clamp in the event the adjustment
bolt becomes loose (they all do eventually). Check your charging system
out for adequate output. Check all electrical connections and solder the
weak ones (at least). After I balanced my tires, I used a bottle of "Slime"
sealant on each tube. This isn't something I usually do, but for a long
trip, it's a good idea. This will seal about 99% of the road punctures
and avoid the nasty job of repairing a flat along side the road (always
at the worst possible place and time).
Be very aware of the fact that you can't usually travel as far per day as you can on a modern bike. Plan your trip with more time than normal to compensate for added fatigue, road side repairs, extra fuel & oil stops and generally slower speeds. Sure, you can push these bikes, but that will also increase the stress onthem, and usually cause some extra road side work (more time). Check for loose fittings and bolts each night (allow at least an hour of service time). Carry some spare bulbs if you run a 6 volt system (not every town will have the bulb you need). If possible, carry a small 6 volt trickle charger with you, just in case. Keep track of your fuel consumption (especially in the west). Most Chiefs will get around 30 mpg (conservative est), so with 3.5 gallons, you should figure on getting gas at about 100 miles. I can assure you, it can be a real long stretch between stations in parts of the west! Watch your oil consumption. When the temps start to climb, so does the oil use/loss on an Indian. You also have more internal pressure issues when running at higher speeds.
Moto Valves do a good job of controlling this, but you still need to watch your oil tank at fuel stops. Make sure you have good vents in your caps, since high temps will cause excess pressure build up and "force feed" your carb. Also be aware that if you are traveling in high heat, all of the grease softens and begins to ooze out of every grease joint. It needs to be replaced regularly. Check your wheel lugs periodically to make sure they are tight. Above all, be safe and have a great trip!
From: Thomas C. Cotten"
I am asked for similar advice quite often.
My usual answer is "Pack a cell phone". But naturally, I do not practice
what I preach. I still find fixing a gliche under a bridge abuttment in
the rain somewhat romantic.
From: Greg Walter
While thinking about tools to pack for
a trip once I was inspired to write an article for the AMCA magazine. Most
of the tool boxes; Scout, Chief retangular, the round VL tool boxes and
the common kidney bean? shaped used throughout the 40s-50s are all bout
the same volume. So, we were brain storming about what was the most efficient
combination of tools that could fill this volume. I would love to hear
some of the combinations that the readers come up with. Original tools
are nice for collectors but generally inadequate. No way to carry an original
intake manifold wrench with you. One combination I came up with called
for a braker bar which I wrapped in two spare rags then a plastic sheet
and zip tied together. Then mounted this under my Chum me seat undetected.
I could then use good quality sockets and a crows foot for the intake manifold,
mini chain breaker, spare wire, spare master and half links, hose, and
a laminated copy of the wiring diagram, the key switch diadram and all
the tune up specs.
From: "david hinshaw"
Stan you covered every thing very well
!!!! For you guys out there Stan was a great help to all of us in the Pokey
Posse. His help and knowlage saved us every time we had a problem or just
did regular maintence. And his Profesional king Clutch Tools did the job
correctly and saved time in most repairs. Lyle you should invite
Stan to go along with you on your next trip!!!!! And he and Greg are right
the motor valves do a great job, I left on the trip with the disc with
the hole in it on my breather and on my frist two days I went through 3
+ qt. and after changeing to a motor valve I cut the useage in half.
From: Stan Jessup
A cell phone will usually only get you a lift, but to where? When you are in the middle of nowhere (usually on a Saturday night), where is the nearest Indian repair facility..... The answer is, if you want to ride old bikes, you better have what you need and know how to use it. Prior planning prevents piss poor performance (the 6 P's). Cell phones are excellent tools when you are local enough to be towed home. I think most people would be pretty amazed at the number of repair items I carry on every bike I ride, yet you'd be hard pressed to spot most of them without instructions. Be prepared and the trip will be much more enjoyable. Stan
From: "Thomas C. Cotten"
From: Terry Duffy
From: Greg Walter
No question that a scoot boot, saddlebag
or sidecar will fix the problem but as a sort of mental exercise it is
nice to design a list of all the tools that will do 98% of on road repair
and still fit it in the tool box. Your right the feeler gauge for ignition
or tappets are a must as are ignition and tappet wrench and a piece of
emery paper. I have often wondered if you taped several 9 volt batteries
together in paralell would they get you home in case of a dead battery?
From: Stan Jessup
Can't say if the 9 volt trick will work, but a lantern battery will. Just run a wire from the + side of the battery direct to the + side of the coil. You won't have any lights, but the bike will run a long time. Just ask Greg Johnson if it works! He did it twice (2 different bikes), once at night, during the Century Ride. Stan
u'll need about 3 amps. The generator can be easily be modified to put out a continuous amount of current but u'll have to keep the engine revving. If i remeber rite, just disconnect the field wire from the regulator and permanantly ground it to the frame or engine. U'll need enuf juice in the battery for an initial start or a jump from a car or other bike.
Carry some long #12 or 14 wire with aligator clips on each end as jumper cables. HEY, its small wire. Stash them under the seat or somewhere.
From: "Greg & Kelley Johnson"
I HAVE USED A LANTERN BATTERY SEVERAL TIMES TO JUMP START MY BIKES. IT ALWAYS GIVES YOU A GOOD FEELING TO KNOW THAT YOU CAN GET YOURSELF HOME. WHEN I HAVE MY SIX VOLT BIKE I CARRY ONE LANTERN BATTERY AND WHEN I HAVE THE 12 VOLT I CARRY 2. STAN IS INDEED CORRECT ABOUT THE TWO INSTANCES OF RUNNING DIRECT TO THE COIL ON THE CRH. THE JUICE IS ALWAYS HOT BUT YOU CAN GET HOME AND IN FACT RUN FOR A COUPLE OF DAYS LIKE THAT (500 miles or so i'm told). THAT IS WHY AN ALLIGATOR CLIP ON BOTH ENDS OF SOME IGNITION WIRE IS ALSO A GOOD THING TO HAVE IN YOUR TOOL POUCH. GREG
From: "andre de chartran"
When embarking on a journey, one should be prepared, as Stan mentioned, a sufficient quantity of tools should be brought along, depending on the lenght of the trip. Personally, I've used Greer head gaskets (Same ones for 4 years) without any problems. When I had to go in (changing springs due to new Ollie cams) a little silver spray paint on both side. Done! I also use a bottle of Prolong every 2000 miles, add a cap of synthetic 2 stoke oil to every gas tank at every fill up, got a Geo Metro altenator and run an S&S "E" type carb. Anyone who was on the Century Ride Home will attest to the strenght and reliability of my 47, still put an extra 4200 miles from Springfield w/out break down. But, every morning is routine check up, fluids, harware, wiring and valves ajusment every 500 to 800 miles (I do .05 on intake and .088 on exaust). there is no substitute for preventive maintenance and it should be done regulary, but if it aint broke, dont fix it! Also a lot of problems can be prevented by using loctite were possible. I do carry an xtra coil for journeys of 1000 miles+, but the ususal points ,condenser (2 or 3 xtra one, 99% of the time it runs pourly, thats the fault!) plugs and necessary wrench (all should fit nicely in the tool box or the wife's purse) bulbs, and the ever indispensable 6' lenght of wire w/gator clips. I never leave for long trips w/out a one gallon xtra gas can and my adress book. I also got my bike's rosary, but that's another story, ride safe keep the rubber side down. frenchy
From: ken smith
One other suggestion. You would be surprised
how far a little 9v radio battery will keep your ignition system sparking
if you jumper it to the coil. (O thank heaven for 7/11)
Saddle bags? Windscreen? Just carry all the spares and tools in the sidecar lol
<< I never
At a car swap meet last year, I found a set of cans, one for oil and one for gas with built in telescoping spouts . The guy said they were accessories for a model T. they are half moon shaped and fit perfectly inside one of my Nardinger saddlebags, work great for carrying extra gas in remote places. Now I know there aren't Model T parts stores on every corner,but they made a lot more of them than Indians, so should be around. Ian
From: Terry Duffy
From: ken smith
There r many places on a chief to carry tools, especialy small ones like fuses, points, condensers and so forth. U just have to look for them and remember where u put things.
i carry a 3/32 tow cable tied up under a solo seat. points, file and a few other small items inside the windshield bar which is hollow on each end. Spare bulbs inside the headlite (wrap them real good so they dont jiggle around and break).
i havent tried this yet, but i think a spare coil could be bolted to the INSIDE of the rear fender skirt utilizing the tool box bolts. IT IS IMPORTANT that if this done that the bakelite terminal top be wrapped sufficiently to keep keep stones from wearing it out. I routinely carry an el-cheapo leatherman type multitool attached to my boot strap even when going out on a date in my 88 ranger pic-up (the Packard is down for an oil pump).
I've got other places and things on the bike that i just cant remember rite now and sometimes cant remember when i'm out and have to actualy find them.
Just look around on your bike and u'll find several places to stash things.
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