Tuesday, September 28, 2010

everything is always 85% done

      Knowing that I'd lose access to a really awesome workshop when I left EMP|SFM, I tried to make stuff that I knew I was going to use at some point but probably not right now. Plan B is certainly going to get a inner-rotor ignition at some point, ala ciaociao. A standard Puch flywheel weighs about a pound, a standard Vespa flywheel weighs just under three pounds. -And for a 'race' bike, thats like riding with the brakes on. Which I do enough of, already.

     If you want a ciaociao flywheel fan, you'll need a plastic kinetic TFR fan. The guys at Cosmopolitan Motors were very helpful locating one for me. You'll also need an inner rotor ignition, probably off of a smaller CC dirtbike. PVL makes some really good stuff. Just make sure its a 2 stroke not a 4 stroke. I got started by eliminating 1.5mm thick disc from the underside, inner portion of the plastic fan. I did this using lather-beams. Using that as reference, I drilled a .5" hole in a piece of aluminum, and fitted a hex bolt & nut through the hole- which is the same diameter as the crankshaft- to then set up in the lathe. I lathered the aluminum to the same diameter as the underside of the plastic fan, then took that down to 1.5mm thick. I stepped it out to then match the inner diameter and thickness of the plastic fan's hole, and also stepped another 1mm as a spacer. There is something really satisfying about the look and feel of freshly cut metal. -and I'll just let that last statement be creepy, whatevs. This project still has aways to go, but I think this is the only part that I could not do at home. We'll see.

I also made a rear wheel alignment/ adjuster do-hickey, because Plan B could use it.

       I've been screwing around with a vacu-forming rig in hopes of maybe making some transparent flywheel covers. So far I've been close but no cigar. I believe I need better suction to pull out the wrinkles. I have one more modification to try on the buck before I rent a Shop-Vac and try that. Work harder, Dirt Devil!!

        Finally, I have just moved to Portland. Thanks to basically 100% of people that I have talked to about or during the move, I am yes aware that Portland has an inordinate number of excellent coffeehouses, strippers and microbreweries. The move was bittersweet, mostly because I liked Seattle a lot, and because my career seemed like it was getting a toe-hold as an exhibit designer/fabricator. Portland is known as a design-savvy town, but unless I work for MotoCzysz or Nike I don't know who would hire me? plaid pantry?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Mexicana 400

    Le Mans. Isle of Man. Baja. Laguna Seca. Dakar. Mugello. Bonneville. The Nürburgring.  Daytona. Some race events throw such a wide net on our imaginations that the location itself overwhelms the record books, the teams, the engineering and transforms a location on a map into a symbol for humankind's unending quest to redefine the physical limits that shape our lives. Missing from that short list is a flat, grassy field in New Somerset, Ohio where Man and machine struggle against one another -and themselves- for Glory and Victory only known to a special few. The event is, of course, The Mexicana 400.

    When I reach back through the sundered veil of time, and recount my misspent 20's; many of the most grotesque moments of pitched debauchery and frivolity were had at the annual Band Camp rally, hosted by The Pittsburgh Vintage Scooter Club (PVSC). Every year, they rent an isolated marching band practice field, and create a vast, drunken slumber party for anyone with a penchant for underpowered italian machinery. One highlight is the Saturday afternoon games. The most epic of which being the Mexicana.

    For the un-initiated, let me explain the event. The Mexicana combines a flat-track circuit race, an eating contest, and a drinking contest. Before the race, the scooters are lined up on the track, engines off, with racers gathered off to the side (LeMans -style start). Racers must wear the ceremonial garb to compete: 1. Sombrero -large, caricaturesque & 2. A Curly Moustache - Optional for those already with Mustache. At the word "Go!" racers must start by eating a foul, uncooked burrito. Once they have finished -with an empty open mouth, a judge approves them to go. They run to the scooter, start it up and complete one lap around the track. On returning, they now must drink one Corona -no foaming or overflow allowed, the beer must be drank in entirety. A judge again validates the drank beer and the racer heads out for a second lap. On completion of the lap, the racer drinks a Margarita, and after the judge, leaves for the third lap. Upon finishing the third lap, the racer takes a shot of tequila and heads out for the fourth and final lap. The first racer to cross the line wins, unless they puked -in which case, they have to restart the entire event. Its tons of fun to watch and race in, but it is serious seriuzz business if you're trying to win.

Let's Review:

PRO TIP: Bring a Napkin, Burritos are slimy, the napkin helps you keep hold of the damn thing, and keeps the slime off of your throttle. 

PRO TIP: Relax/Sustain your swallow reflex, and exhale out of your nose -it will allow you to pour the whole beer down your throat. 

PRO TIP: Even seemingly dry grass is very slippery, use the rear brake only and sparingly. 

PRO TIP: Cheating is not permitted, but highly recommended, check your fuel tap Noob!

    The only reason I won the Mexicana the year I did was a combination of good luck and tenacious effort. I had been trying & failing for several years in a row. Losing because certain racers would start the first lap without finishing the burrito, simply shoe-horning it into their mouths and taking off. Then around corner 3 on the other side of the track they'd spit it out. Creativity has its rewards. The year I won it, was the first year the PVSC judges were very strict about finishing the burrito in front of them. I know I wasn't the fastest on the track, and not the fastest eating the burrito, but I was the fastest of both. I also benefited from Nak'd Dav "stalling" in front of my nearest competition, Greg McCormick who still nearly caught up to me. Whew!

    The burrito and the corona are what really decide the race. Some people think I was working at Zoot Scoots because I needed a 'job' or was good at 'mechanics'. In reality, I was studying at the foot of a hyperbolic drinker, A Shaolin Monk with a sixer of Becks. He guided my path towards enlightenment and got my Corona-Chug-Time (C.C.T.) under 8 seconds, which was still pathetic compared to his own C.C.T. of approx. 4.3 seconds.

Here's a clip of me getting p'wned back in '06. I got way far back by my borrowed machine refusing to start, then stalling around turn two of the first lap. Note my obvious annoyance with the "burrito wedgers". Also, near the end of the clip everybody "OOhhhhs" at Joe Casola (on the green bike), nearly passing Greg, but then wiping out on the last corner, unfortunately off-camera.

Here are some other random pictures of PVSC Band Camp silliness, of which I am very nostalgic for: