Some­thing of a mile­stone mo­ment in any build. Now all that re­mains are the hun­dreds of tiny jobs ready to cause un­due ag­gra­va­tion as the build nears com­ple­tion

Practical Sportsbikes (UK) - - Contents - Words: Gary Hurd & Alan See­ley | Pic­tures: Alan See­ley

Our low-rid­ing Suzuki gets a bit of a move on (on the bench)

Every project hits prob­lems which seem to have a dis­pro­por­tion­ate ef­fect on the build’s progress. In the case of Project Drag Bike, our stum­bling block has been a snapped­off ex­haust stud on our Ban­dit 1200 en­gine which was fol­lowed by a messy at­tempt to re­move the re­mains. Should have de­ployed the ti­ta­nium drills straight off to take the stud out. In­stead the drill went off into the ally of the head and by the time the stud was out, we’d re­moved a large chunk of the casting too.

There was no way we could fit the en­gine into the frame in that state – re­pairs are far eas­ier done with un­fet­tered ac­cess – and we strug­gled to find some­one lo­cally with the time to weld up the ex­haust boss and cut a new thread. Be­ing a bud­get build we re­ally didn’t want to take the head off be­cause that would have meant buy­ing a new head gas­ket (£60), not to men­tion the time and has­sle a top-end strip would en­tail.

Even­tu­ally Gary’s mate Jim King in Not­ting­ham agreed to take on the re­pair with the en­gine still in one piece, so the big man chucked the mo­tor in the back of his Citroën hatch and headed up the A1. Jim did his thing, weld­ing up the hor­rors and cut­ting a new thread for the stud. A quick blow over with rat­tle-can black and at last the en­gine was ready to go into our GSX1100 frame, re­s­plen­dent in its lightly metal-flaked black pow­der­coat cour­tesy of our friends at Triple S. Gary had hung onto an old mount­ing kit of un­known prove­nance that mem­ory told him was for the con­ver­sion we’re at­tempt­ing. How­ever Alan wears a mask when he it was soon ob­vi­ous that ei­ther G’s mem­ory works be­cause al­though or th hee’ sm caol lu endt‘ihn ga pk pitywa el arne’ ,im per­fect. While the low her’ ssaid­c­teu ma lolyunotts and rear up­per s were spot-on lon­gi­tu­di­nally, the rear low­ers weren’t, and in any case we were lack­ing front mounts.

We were pre­pared for some mess­ing about and fab­ri­ca­tion as first we wanted to sort the al­limpor­tant chain run. G wielded a flu­o­res­cent tube act­ing as a straight edge, much like Darth Vader with his lightsabre. Once sat­is­fied the en­gine was where it should be in the frame, we mea­sured

the gaps be­tween the plates we did have and the en­gine to es­tab­lish the widths of the spac­ers re­quired. Then we trot­ted over the road to visit Gary’s neigh­bour Chris Whit­worth, oth­er­wise known as “the engi­neer­ing depart­ment”.

Re­tired en­gi­neer Chris doubt­less has bet­ter things to do, such as his own projects like this month’s Spe­cial Brew (see p67), but he in­dulges us any­how. Gary has a se­lec­tion of old spacer tubes sal­vaged from var­i­ous bikes he has bro­ken over the years and Chris turns these down on his lathe. These al­low us to get the en­gine mounted up se­curely enough to es­tab­lish the di­men­sions of the tri­an­gu­lar steel front plates and rear alu­minium tabs we (or more ac­cu­rately, Chris) will have to make to com­plete the mount­ing.

Get­ting an en­gine in a frame re­ally can be the turn­ing point for a project. We’re feel­ing pretty in­spired now and about time too. The big event we’re aim­ing for this year is the Brighton Speed Tri­als in Septem­ber, not least so that G can en­joy fish and chips be­side the sea­side for every meal. As­sum­ing we get an en­try.

The other big de­ci­sion we made for Project Drag Bike this month was a swingarm swap. We’d pre­vi­ously mocked the bike up with a mas­sively over-long swingarm G had found at the back of the work­shop but af­ter some con­sid­er­a­tion we con­cluded it was just a lit­tle too long. Given that the 8-inch over JMC unit we’ve robbed from Gary’s Kat to re­place it with looks al­most stock length by com­par­i­son, it cer­tainly was a lengthy old unit.

The shorter, but still long swingarm will al­low the bike to sit a lot lower which is key to our dra­grac­ing am­bi­tions. Now we have to find a source of short enough shocks and we’re pretty much there chas­sis-wise.

As well as the swingarm, Gary’s Katana will be do­nat­ing its air-shifter. At this point we still have no idea whether or not the en­gine is any good. We’re re­ly­ing on the fact that it’s pretty dif­fi­cult to ruin a big Ban­dit mo­tor. Al­though with luck like ours... No mat­ter, if there’s some­one who should know how to fix a Suzuki oil-boiler and source the parts re­quired, it’s Gary Hurd.

We still need to sort out the mat­ter of foot con­trols. They need to go a lot fur­ther back for drag rac­ing so we’ll prob­a­bly be an­noy­ing Chris Whit­worth once more, pes­ter­ing him to make up some plates we can graft some rearsets on to. The dan­ger now is that we fool our­selves into think­ing we just have a hand­ful of de­tails to sort out. None of the tasks left to com­plete are mas­sive but the list re­mains very long.


En­gine in, chain run done, time for three pack­ets of Garibaldi

Gary had no grey hair be­fore he be­gan the bud­get drag­bike project in earnest

En­gine plates from Gary’s neigh­bour Chris, aka The Engi­neer­ing Depart­ment

It’s not done till it’s done. But at least it’s look­ing ad­ja­cent to close now

Chris cour­te­ously ma­chines up spac­ers when he could have been watch­ing TV

Darth Vadar naked with­out his trusty lightsabre

Shorter long swingarm, not the long, long swingarm

Fits like Cin­derella’s glass slip­per first time round ...

... coz ev­ery­one paid at­ten­tion at mea­sur­ing time

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