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Mods for long distance reliability #527058
02/08/14 6:43 pm
02/08/14 6:43 pm
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 67
United States
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David Reid Offline OP
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United States
Hi all, I have to admit that I'm not a very good forum user. Like a teenager, I only show up when I want to know something. On the other hand, at least people aren't being subjected to a lot of blather from me.
I have a 1966 T120R that I restored with the intention of riding a lot and long distances some time. I've put about 3,000 miles on it since I've had it back together. At present, it runs beautifully and I hate to mess with it, but I have some nasty oil leaks that need to be addressed. I have a pair of NOS low compression pistons that I have considered using. I have a second cylinder barrel that I can have bored and sleeved to fit these pistons. I'm thinking that less heat and vibration could be good. I would like to know the thoughts of those with more experience in these matters. At present my cylinder is bored .060 over with pistons of unknown compression. A TR-6 head with a single 389 Monobloc that has been shaved slightly. I have a thicker head gasket from CGU installed. The bike seems to have a ton of compression, (but I have strong legs) and she runs like a champ! I may be better off to simply clean up surfaces, install new gaskets, anneal my head gasket and keep going with what I have. Since I am contemplating some very long range touring with this bike I wanted to know what others think of the lower compression option.


Of course it vibrates…what of it? If vibration is so bad then explain how the adult toy industry has done so well.

2004 Harley Davidson Sportster
1966 Triumph Bonneville
1971 Bultaco Alpina 250
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Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527064
02/08/14 7:29 pm
02/08/14 7:29 pm
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Posts: 2,736
Bishop, Calif.
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desco Offline
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Bishop, Calif.
Best advice, keep it stock. An external oil filter and an EI to keep the timing spot on are good investments.
I regularly ride in some of the most uninhabited areas of the West.
With standard compression and perfect timing I can keep going on whatever fuel I can find. Long uphill pulls, no problem. High altitude or below sea level, not much effect.
Keep the valves adjusted. These old turds are made to be ridden and ridden hard.

http://www.gabma.us/page2.htm

The above site will answer questions you might never think to ask.


1968 T120R
1972 T120RV
Any advice given is without a warranty expressed or implied.
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527089
02/08/14 9:40 pm
02/08/14 9:40 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,698
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Offline

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Maui Hawaii
In '66 you still have mostly CEI fasteners. They started going with SAE a couple of years later and many of those fastener are thread locking of various forms. They did this for some very good reasons.
So... I've been using green penetrating loctite on my older bike. It's actually made by Permatex but before any of you get alarmed, this product has the strength roughly equal to blue loctite. It is not the other green for retaining loose bearings and such. It is applied after the fastener is tightened providing the threads are visible and accessible.
It's one of the best products I've run across in a long time.
You guys with later bikes probably wont' need it...
But if you are out on the road for long periods and don't want to re-tighten bolts all the time, then this is the way to go.

As far as other things to do. I'm not sure how to answer the lower compression question. Yes it has some definite advantages and I've done it on several bikes. Only problem I've had is that I seriously missed the power I once had. 8.5 to 9.0 to 1 ratio is a good CR and done right you can avoid the problems of pre ignition and pinging, running hot and being too sensitive to the gas you put in it. At 7.5 to 1 you can run nearly any gas and near is good enough on your timing and carb settings. You're just not going to get there very fast is all.
Cheers,
Bill


Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527101
02/08/14 10:34 pm
02/08/14 10:34 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 4,361
Owego, NY, USA
Mark Z Offline
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Owego, NY, USA
I'm with Desco and Bill on this; if you say "she runs like a champ", go with it. Reliability problems are more likely to arise outside the engine, in one of the peripheral systems, ignition, other electrical like wiring & switches, battery, charging system, sometimes carburation,...

Where are your leaks?

On the subject of hardware, yes, I guess Ny-lock nuts were not readily available or not in wide use in the sixties. I've replaced just about every bolt on my bike that has a nut on the end (i.e., does not thread into a part) with fine thread SAE stainless steel bolts and Nylok nuts. The CEI stuff will generally stay together if it's in good condition and thoroughly cleaned before installation, but some sort of thread locking compound is a good idea in certain places - check things over regularly and look for anything that tends to loosen.


Mark Z

'65(lower)/'66(upper, wheels, front end, controls)/'67(seat, exhaust, fuel tank, headlamp)/'70(frame) A65 Bitsa.
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527109
02/08/14 11:12 pm
02/08/14 11:12 pm
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 67
United States
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David Reid Offline OP
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Wow! Thank you all for the great responses. I do have the external oil filter, Podtronics alternator w/ regulator, Tri-Spark ignition, LED tail light. As long as I run premium I don't get any pinging.
My fasteners are nearly all British Cycle Standard. I've used lots of blue locktite, but when I'm cleaning her up I do occasionally find something coming loose, but not as much as I used to.
The leaks seem to be mostly around the rocker box gaskets and the pushrod tubes. I had attributed this to inadequate crankcase ventilation but didn't know for sure. I have the stock setup coming from the timed vent on the intake cam, running up by a Tee to the oil tank. The line from the Tee keeps my chain in good shape.
I recently experimented with tapping a 1/4" barb in to one of the valve adjustment access plugs and for now I'm running the line out the back. I notice that she feels a bit smoother cruising. Vibration isn't at all uncomfortable on this bike. It's actually pretty subtle between 3,500 RPM and 4,000 RPM, but I can feel a slight difference with this vent installed. I'll probably keep the compression that I have. I do like the power. This bike revs eagerly and hauls @$$ when I twist it.
Does one company make better gaskets than another? I went through quite a hassle with the last rocker box gaskets that I used. They kept settling and I had to continue re-torqueing the head bolts and the nuts under the rocker boxes. I've been running my valves a bit loose because each time the gaskets settled, they closed up my valve clearances.

Last edited by David Reid; 02/08/14 11:26 pm.

Of course it vibrates…what of it? If vibration is so bad then explain how the adult toy industry has done so well.

2004 Harley Davidson Sportster
1966 Triumph Bonneville
1971 Bultaco Alpina 250
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527121
02/09/14 12:17 am
02/09/14 12:17 am
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,698
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Offline

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Maui Hawaii
I've had some success with the composite gaskets supplied via Coventry Spares. Seems they did their homework. This is a really challenging place to seal, but from what I've seen, these are the best going. They're stainless steel sandwiched between some kind of gasket material that is designed to be used without any sealer.

That's my understanding of them. If I'm wrong, someone will certainly correct me.

Other than that, I took to leaving out the gaskets altogether for quite a while and that worked better than any gasket that was available. But seeing how that could adversely affect rocker geometry, I'm all for using a gasket, just as long as it seals. With no gasket, there usually isn't any settling to account for. That's an advantage.

An extra breather on the exhaust rocker can help with leaks. I have period valve cover caps with valved breathers but only on the exhaust. I have a completely oil tight top end. I can't prove that the breather is responsible for that but I ain't gonna change anything now.

BTW The 66 Bonneville is one of the prettiest motorcycles ever made, that's for sure.

Cheers,
Bill


Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527126
02/09/14 1:04 am
02/09/14 1:04 am
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 3,549
Vic. Australia
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Pete R - R.I.P. Offline
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Vic. Australia
The engine won't necessarily run cooler or vibrate less with low compression.It might vibrate less if the low-compression pistons are lighter.
A high compression engine turns more fuel energy into useful crankshaft energy and less into waste heat.The exhaust temperature is cooler.About 70% of your cylinder head heat is absorbed from the exhaust port.The combustion chamber surface can get a little hotter with high compression,but the overall average head temperature is likely to be less.

As long as you have good fuel and no detonation problems,there's not much to gain by lowering the compresion much below 9:1.
Radius all the corners around the valve pockets on the pistons (about 1/8" radius where possible),and you'll reduce the chance of detonation.Make sure both pistons weigh the same,within 0.5 gms or so.

Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527128
02/09/14 1:21 am
02/09/14 1:21 am
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 630
SEATTLE WA
S
SEATTLE GS Offline
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SEATTLE WA
try taking off your rocker boxes and surfacing them on a sheet of glass and sandpaper.
#2 install a set of chromoly pushrods, about $50 from Johnson Cams and it will immediately run quieter. A lot less valve clatter. There are other performance gains but probably not so noticeable at cruising speeds.
#3 use stock compression.
#4 you may have to retorque the head 7 or 8 times before the bolts stay put
#5 Use a crankase vent called Krank Vent by ET products. About $100. with luck you will have a negative pressure in the crankcases. Where to vent is more difficult. I don't believe sufficient air will pass by the lifter blocks.
#6 Making your pushrod tubes seal is a bear on the pre 70 motors. Careful shimming is necessary...DO NO rely on the square section O rings supplied. This is so important that it would be wise to have custom made shims to fit around the lifter blocks and under the pushrods. There are many shim makers out there. The delux way to go is to get a 70 or later head with the deep pushrod tube pockets, a set of 70 pushrod tubes and I believe the 66 barrels can be retrofitted with the 70 lifter blocks. It took the Britts 35 years to figure out how to make the pushrod tubes seal.
#7 The TR 6 head is much better...much fewer carb problems.

Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527155
02/09/14 7:00 am
02/09/14 7:00 am
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,293
scotland
triton thrasher Online content
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scotland
Electronic ignition is pretty reliable these days, so they say, though I'm far from convinced.

Quieter steel pushrods don't sound like a reliability mod to me.

Sleeving a barrel is anything but a reliability mod for long distance!

I'm sure the standard breather works better without a hose directing it upwards. Oil gets trapped in the U-bend and gets pushed up and down in the vertical section, never escaping. I think a big ugly extra breather from the crankcase helps too.

You need the carb mixture to be correct and definitely not weak, in all ranges, on both cylinders, especially needle position and main jet. Needle jet size is important too, but less likely to be wrong. Test the inlet manifold for air leaks by spraying WD40 or something at the joints, while the engine is idling.

The thread is entitled "Mods." Fewer mods the better, I'd say. However, I removed all the gauze screens from fuel tap and carb banjos and fitted a big inline filter in the fuel hose. The filter looks big enough to be unlikely to ever get blocked and it's on its side, so water gets trapped too.

Take the bike for a dozen rides of fifty miles at your proposed cruising speed.

After any adjustments of anything, give it a shakedown ride before setting off on tour.

You could carry cables, solderless nipples, EI parts, tyre tube, nuts and bolts, depends how insecure you feel!


Last edited by triton thrasher; 02/09/14 7:06 am.

Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527159
02/09/14 8:10 am
02/09/14 8:10 am
Joined: Dec 2004
Posts: 9,224
Scotland
kommando Online content
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A good cell phone and a good toolkit and spares, the more you carry the less you need them wink

Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527160
02/09/14 8:12 am
02/09/14 8:12 am
Joined: Mar 2011
Posts: 67
United States
D
David Reid Offline OP
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Thanx again. Lots of good input. When I was putting the engine together, I had my machinist dynamically balance the crank. That included the rods and pistons. I've ridden another Bonneville that is a beautiful bike, but not as smooth as mine. So with what you guys are saying about compression I'm convinced to keep running what I have.
I'm not familiar with the shimming that is mentioned. Is this something that I can do with the case still together in the frame?
I do have a spare Tri-Spark stator that I can carry. Doubt that I'll need it, but I've got it.
Early after converting to single carb, I had the body warp and seize the throttle slide. I sent the unit to Lund Machine for the sleeving treatment. That was one of the best things that I've done. Nice idle, crisp response. My plugs are a nice ruddy color when I look.
I'm sure that the upward bend in the line from the crank vent is an issue, but I don't want to just go down the road blowing oil on the ground.
I'll investigate the quieter pushrods and the Krank Vent.


Of course it vibrates…what of it? If vibration is so bad then explain how the adult toy industry has done so well.

2004 Harley Davidson Sportster
1966 Triumph Bonneville
1971 Bultaco Alpina 250
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527161
02/09/14 8:18 am
02/09/14 8:18 am
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 5,963
NL
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Ger B Offline
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NL
Quote:
had my machinist dynamically balance the crank. That included the rods and pistons

This means that when you install the low compression pistons, the dynamic balance will at least "be influenced".


Ger B

Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527169
02/09/14 9:01 am
02/09/14 9:01 am
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,293
scotland
triton thrasher Online content
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Originally Posted By: David Reid
I don't want to just go down the road blowing oil on the ground.


Not much comes out.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527172
02/09/14 9:40 am
02/09/14 9:40 am
Joined: Jul 2009
Posts: 3,549
Vic. Australia
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Pete R - R.I.P. Offline
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Posts: 3,549
Vic. Australia
I can't see steel pushrods being quieter.The valve lash will increase much more as the engine heats up,compared to aluminium pushrods.Even if you set the cold clearance to zero,they'll be loose when the engine is hot.

Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: Pete R - R.I.P.] #527188
02/09/14 11:19 am
02/09/14 11:19 am
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 2,573
Illinois, USA
TR6Ray Offline

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Illinois, USA
David Reid, while you are thinking about all these mods for long distance reliability, one thing to consider is how you will carry your luggage, including spare parts and tool kit. When you get that figured out, please post up a picture. I, for one, would be interested to see what you work out. There are some ideas shown HERE to get you started.

Ray


'64 TR6R Plus some Twins from other countries (U.S., Germany, Japan)
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527191
02/09/14 11:35 am
02/09/14 11:35 am
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,293
scotland
triton thrasher Online content
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scotland
Anything that won't easily fit in a tank-top bag gets left at home.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: triton thrasher] #527197
02/09/14 11:59 am
02/09/14 11:59 am
Joined: May 2010
Posts: 2,573
Illinois, USA
TR6Ray Offline

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Illinois, USA
Triton thrasher, I tend to agree with that. But then I start thinking about things like flat tires. With a bike held together by metric or SAE fasteners, you can likely get help along the way even if you don't carry your own tools. It might not be so easy with CEI fasteners. Now, when you start carrying enough tools to remove the rear wheel, plus tire spoons and a spare tube, there isn't much room left in the tank bag for a camera.

Ray


'64 TR6R Plus some Twins from other countries (U.S., Germany, Japan)
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: TR6Ray] #527202
02/09/14 12:35 pm
02/09/14 12:35 pm
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 4,276
U.S.
Magnetoman Online content

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Originally Posted By: TR6Ray
when you start carrying enough tools to remove the rear wheel, plus tire spoons and a spare tube, there isn't much room left in the tank bag for a camera.
The next issue of the AMCA's magazine 'The Antique Motorcycle' will have an article by someone I, ahem, know quite well detailing the contents of a tools/spares kit he developed over the past decade. However, it's the antithesis of the philosophy that a mobile phone is all the tool kit that anyone needs. The kit fills a Moose 'Rear Fender Pack' and weighs 10 lbs.

Mobile phones are great, and I carry one when I ride as well. However, I prefer to be able to quickly fix my own flat tires, diagnose and repair electrical issues, etc. rather than stand in the rain for hours waiting for someone to rescue me.

Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527205
02/09/14 12:46 pm
02/09/14 12:46 pm
Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,293
scotland
triton thrasher Online content
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scotland
For big fasteners such as wheel spindle nuts, box spanners and a tommy bar take up little room and the box spanners can be filled with small tools. Two 6" tyre spoons don't use much space either. Does that remind you of something? Like a toolkit supplied with a new bike, back then?

A spare inner tube can be bungeed to the bike frame.

The phone is your camera.

I'm not trying to persuade you to do anything. I carry some tools and spares and I don't load the back end of the bike up with boxes of worldly goods, because that spoils the steering.


Amateur Loctite enthusiast.
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: triton thrasher] #527209
02/09/14 12:54 pm
02/09/14 12:54 pm
Joined: Nov 2011
Posts: 4,276
U.S.
Magnetoman Online content

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Originally Posted By: triton thrasher
A spare inner tube can be bungeed to the bike frame.
But a patch kit takes up a lot less room. The article I referred to describes how to properly patch a tube. This was included because the author has observed over the years that most people don't know how to do so.

Carrying a spare tube (or two, since the front and rear might be too different for a single one to do) is fine, but my observation is the number of times that people have tube-destroying flat tires is small compared to the number of times they just pick up a nail. But, either way, the rider will need tire spoons and a pump (or C02 cartridge kit).

Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527211
02/09/14 1:04 pm
02/09/14 1:04 pm
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 3,804
ohio
shel Offline
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ohio
A trick I learned from off road riding. Route spare cables along side existing cables, cap off the ends with saran wrap and tape to keep the crude out. It makes cable replacement a breeze and frees up space in the tool kit.


When given the choice between two evils I picked the one I haven't tried before
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527236
02/09/14 3:07 pm
02/09/14 3:07 pm
Joined: Sep 2009
Posts: 630
SEATTLE WA
S
SEATTLE GS Offline
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SEATTLE WA
while the chromoly pushrods do not add reliability, they certainly do not make it less reliable. The do make the top end less noisy and I would much rather listen to the exhaust than the valve clatter. The chromoly pushrods are racer stuff so most people never operate in the range to feel any benefit but they are cheap and easy to install.
Brand new tires and tubes are the way to go..and a fresh battery.

Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527264
02/09/14 7:05 pm
02/09/14 7:05 pm
Joined: Jun 2007
Posts: 5,698
Maui Hawaii
HawaiianTiger Offline

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In the early nineties, I built a '65 Bonneville for touring. I lowered the CR to about 7.5:1, installed new carbs and a Boyer, then geared up the final drive as far as it would go. I also installed a five speed and spin on type oil filter.

I went touring.

I experienced no failures. The tall gearing meant downshifting on barely any grade but I ran 70mph the whole time but drafted big rigs whenever possible. I got an average of 69 mpg with a best of about 71.
I didn't balance that engine but it was pretty smooth nonetheless and oil tight. Oh, right I did have one failure. One rocker shaft o ring failed and made a little mess.

That's not something I like to do actually. I did all subsequent touring in my '59 Jag Mark 1 saloon. Then I could cruise at 90mph.

Cheers,
Bill


Bikes
1974 Commando
1985 Honda Nighthawk 650
1957 Thunderbird/T110 "Flying Tiger"
Antique Fans: Loads of Emersons (Two six wingers) plus gyros and orbiters.
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527330
02/10/14 6:04 am
02/10/14 6:04 am
Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 3,555
Emsworth, sunny south of Engla...
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dave jones Offline
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Emsworth, sunny south of Engla...
The 4CA points that came with the bike (have fibre heels) are a bit of a pain to set up but when they are set they don't go out of time. In the last 20,000 miles my bike has had the clutch thrust washer break, a couple of loose electrical connections, some new swinging arm bearings and wheel bearings. Also the exhaust silencers sometimes break where the 1 1/2 inch pipe flares out into the "sausage shape" if the whole set up isn't tightened without straining anything. That would be annoying on a long trip if you couldn't find a place to weld it up. My odometer broke too but I guess that isn't too important. In the case of the bearings they were ancient before I got the bike and the clutch thrust washer was a crappy solid bronze one rather than steel backed. I use Mobil 1 15W50 oil and points ignition. (67 Tr6R)

Oh yeah, I have changed the rear tyre a few times but the front one lasts ages.

dave


Last edited by dave jones; 02/10/14 11:14 am.
Re: Mods for long distance reliability [Re: David Reid] #527390
02/10/14 4:58 pm
02/10/14 4:58 pm
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Posts: 67
United States
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David Reid Offline OP
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I am enjoying everyone's suggestions. At the moment, I'm traveling and haven't had a lot of time online.

Seattle GS, would you mind elaborating a bit more on the shimming procedure that you mentioned. I know nothing of this.

Hawaiian Tiger, Thanx, yes the '66 was a pretty year. She gets lots of compliments.
Regarding the gearing, I have gone up one tooth on the front to a 20T. I understand that it is the largest that will fit through the so-called "trap door" without having to cut it out any. I like this gearing. I still have good acceleration but I can cruise comfortably at 60 to 65 MPH.

I'm curious about the chrome moly pushrods. I don't see how they would be any more reliable than what I have, but a bit quieter might be nice. If for no other reason than I find it satisfying to make refinements to this machine. It is always a work in progress and a path of discovery.


Of course it vibrates…what of it? If vibration is so bad then explain how the adult toy industry has done so well.

2004 Harley Davidson Sportster
1966 Triumph Bonneville
1971 Bultaco Alpina 250
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