A new old suspension

Posted on November 29th, 2008 by admin under Austin Healey, auto restoration.

Click pictures to enlarge
Here is a project that I have been seriously dragging my feet on. It’s a pretty loosely done replica of a Bugatti Type 35 Grand Prix car. The radiator, steering wheel and gas tank are authentic. As are the Marchal headlights (not shown). It was done with a Triumph Spitfire front suspension.

In this picture the coil over shocks, double A-arms and rack and pinion steering and the disc brakes have been removed. It was pretty hideous and the 13 inch wheels really looked out of place. I will say that it did work pretty well, though in typical Spitfire tradition it turned too far at full lock and just pushed down the road.

The owner asked “can you make it look a bit more like the original car?”

Well, silly me, how hard can that be? As it turns out, a lot!

I’ll jump ahead about 12 months and here it is as of now.

Here I’ve installed a 6 inch drop Ford axle. The hubs are also Ford, but they are upside down so I ended up with a manageable 4 degrees of positive camber. The originals had a ton more, but this at least looks right and won’t tear up the tires too fast (I hope) The parallel leafs are 26 inch hot rod springs with nearly all the arch removed. I added rear shackles from a MK 7 Jaguar. Originally the longest leaf just slid through a slotted receiver. I think there was less than a 1/2″ of spring flex. I think the only suspension was tire pressure!

The brakes are from an Austin Healey 100. That took a bit of machining! The wheels are MG TC wires and the tires are replicas from Coker Tire. This was the first screw up. I never considered the lack of offset in the wheels to accept the drum brakes. So track is wider than the rear axle. We can get some correct wheels made at a later date.

Here is some more hot rod stuff. Friction shocks. I’ll do some final shaping of the axle cap and other rough stage installations after it looks like it will all work.

This has been the most frustrating part. The steering gearbox. It must exit the engine cowling on the right side and connect to the steering arm at hub with a drag link off a Pittman arm. After scouring the world via Internet (as some of you know) I found a Volkswagen box that when rotated 90 degrees seems to fit the bill. A custom Pittman arm will have to be made. The connection from the steering column to the gear box was done with a couple bicycle cogs and some chain! The column now floats since it doesn’t terminate at the rack anymore. So I need to address that so it doesn’t derail the chain. Engineering at it’s finest…

I’ll measure up some numbers for the tie rod and drag link next week.

here’s the look I’m trying to achieve within reason and cost constraints..

Well, I got a bit side tracked with the track tandem bicycle project, sorry.

I have progressed a bit more towards making this project steer. I’m waiting for my machinist to produce a collar for the VW steering box to which I’ll attach the custom Pittman arm (also in the machinists hands).

I’ve got the tie rod arms and the steering arms attached to the hubs and the faux hand crank installed.

Here I have fabricated a chain guide between the column gear and the steering gear box input. I’ve also made retaining collars with roll pins through the column at the distal support. Would not want that chain to fall off at speed!

need more sheet metal

need more sheet metal

Now just need to make some more sheet metal panels  to cover the bare chassis and connect new brake lines.

new sheet metal

Finally getting pretty close. The brakes and brake lines are installed and functional. The original like spring clamps are installed. Only thing lacking now is the Pittman arm and the two connecting rods to make it all work.  Should know next week if the work was successful.

Hooray!  The car made it’s debut on the mean streets of Albuquerque yesterday. I must say that I’m pleased with the overall results. As expected, there isn’t much compliance in the suspension, but it goes straight and turns on demand. Seems to be about the right amount of caster to give the very light front end some “feel”.

project 1-15-09

The fenders are mounted such that they now turn with the wheels. Need some new leather straps for the hood and still have to mount the Marscal headlamps somehow. The rear fenders also need to be moved so they fit the new 19 inch wheels. The brake master is bleeding by and makes for a very nervous test driver.  I’ll rebuild it tomorrow and venture a little farther away from home base.

project2 1-15-09


I came across this picture, in the bowels of my computer, of the original configuration of the car. I must say the new version is a lot  more original in appearance.

The good news is that the owner was by today and was thoroughly pleased with the results to date. I’ll try to post a last photo or two after the lights are installed and the final dressing up is finished.

Here are the last pictures of the “Buggatti”  It still needs the leather hood straps, but the owner will take care of that. Hope you enjoyed following along.

finished replica


Time for a drive!

Time for a drive!

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No Surprise

Posted on November 27th, 2008 by admin under Bikes.

THE FRENCH IMITATE NO ONE! (And no one imitates the French)

This in today from another frame builder. He must be an American.

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NM Professional keirin

Posted on November 25th, 2008 by admin under Bikes, velodrome.

Here1www.ABQKeirin.com is a link to my life time goal of bringing true Japanese style Keirin to NM.

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Aero frame & fork

Posted on November 23rd, 2008 by admin under Bikes.
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As promised, I’ve reunited frame and fork of a frame set that I always liked. It, unfortunately, never reached it’s possible potential. The rider, while on a Sunday training ride (his road bike) with the T-town guys, either crashed on his own or was helped ( I like to always add some speculation). So, his Olympic Pursuit trial the following day  was done in a good deal of pain. The bright spot, I guess, is that he managed a 6th in the Points race later in the week, which is all the more tribute to the rider and what is clearly not the best choice of bike for that event. It went to State track finals last year (2010), but was viewed in a poor light by the commissar’s. I was told that it “spanked” a lot of newer and lighter equipment. That is pretty reliable hearsay.

Here’s the general idea. It is Columbus EGO tubing. Mostly wing shaped. The chain stays, as I recall, were available in a couple of different shapes. I choose to use the triangular and have the fattest  side up, so it would help with the chokes, (actually these are venturis-note the cable guide air intakes on stays and the “calibrated” air jets in the choke tubes. Got to love those fat seat stays, even when they’re upside down.

It has a 101cm wheelbase, 77 degree seat, 74 degree head tube, 1.5″ rake (for stable steering on the measurement line) and a 10″ BB height.

These stays are wonderful for track use. They are so stiff, I was able to get the wheel very close to enhance the chokes effectiveness but, not worry that frame flex would cause tire rub. Luckily, that’s not much of an issue on a relatively smooth track. The tire shown is not original. We used Falcon ACCEL stretched Kevlar wheels with Continental Olympic tires.

Everything was done to keep the frontal presentation to the wind to a minimum. The top tube was kept as flat (parallel to ground) to decrease frontal area as the overall seat length would permit under a powerful rider. This is a constant in my racing designs, where the stays and top top rarely meet at the same point on the seat tube.

Here’s one of the old 60mm hubs. A Suntour Superbe. Double discs were used for the actual event.

Here’s the skinny frontal area. This has always troubled me some. Is it better to widen the spacing and just let the air pass through or close it down and use mechanical means to control drag?

This is the “business end” shot of the multi-choke concept. By the way, inserting tubes through tubes like this makes for a really stiff fork and decreases splaying in hard turns, Be careful if you try this, though. It can pull the insertion welds apart if you don’t use the right stuff, and I’m not giving any of those secrets away to my competitors. This one is illegal nowadays, so copy away if you want.

One can see the “calibrated” holes inside the chokes and the air inlets behind the BB shell. Well, they were, looks like some rust has changed the shape a bit.. It was painted black to help hide some of the trickery. Too bad because black looks heavy. A nice light blue metallic always helps the rider psychologically.

Well that’s about it. Have at it guys. Show me your better mouse trap. Incidentally, the frame was nicknamed “Squirt”  in reference to, well, one more squirt, if you get the drift…

One more caveat, This sort of bike is not for the casual customer. To make the details function, the bike must be ridden at over 28MPH.  Turbulent air starts at about 60MPH. So, that means at least 30MPH to get turbulence at the top of the spinning wheel.  I can just manage 26-27MPH for a couple of miles with someone chasing me. Not my cup of tea anymore. I should clarify a bit here, air can be turbulent at lower speeds, but it can remain laminar or in contact with the frame up to 60-ish MPH. All you theorists will argue that point , but my source was one of the smartest Indy car designers ever. I trusted him then and now, so get over it.. ;~)

Hope you enjoyed the pictures and oh, I’m working towards another unique frame set for a rather obscure record attempt. Know any really strong riders? See “new tandem project” herein..

Dave 11/23/08

Here’s another in the same vein. It has 45 holes through various and sundry locations. This was one of the, “well let’s just let the air pass though” versions. There’s another around here somewhere that had an eccentric BB so we could change the relative seat angle. I think that Kent Bostick’s wife set a Kilo record with it but the guys never liked it too much.. I’ll dig it out anon.

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Worth remembering

Posted on November 22nd, 2008 by admin under Civics.

Talk is cheap. It takes money to buy beer.  Blanch Barney, my 101 year old Grand mother.

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Aero forks

Posted on November 22nd, 2008 by admin under Bikes.

I had been doing a fair amount of time in the Galles Racing wind tunnel with various and sundry wind drag reduction ideas.

This fork was for an 1996 Olympic trials pursuit frame. It is sort of the culmination of all the good ideas. We figured it was good for over a minute or more in a 40K TT. Here’s some pictures (click to enlarge) click again for super close up.

Arrows 1 & 2 point to two different vortex generators. #2 maintains laminar flow past the blade rather than deflecting it up the frontal part of the blade. #1 Strips the boundary layer off the rotating tire and cleans up the following low pressure area.

Arrow #3 points to a series of chokes which also remove the boundary layer from the rotating wheel. They limit the rotating air from adding turbulence to the on rushing wall of air.

here’s the back side of the 26” (so-called) wheel fork. It was also a 60mm wide hub. The crown was cut away at the rear to allow the use of MAX blades.

I just got the original frame back a few minutes ago. I’ll clean it up and look around for the wheels and get a picture or two of it up. It was Columbus EGO . Wonder if any of that stuff is still floating around?

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Posted on November 21st, 2008 by admin under Bikes.

From the south end of the city looking NW back to the Rio Grande Valley and downtown.   (Click on photos)

The Sandia Mountains from mid town looking North.

From the valley looking NE

Canadian Geese on their migration south.

View along the Bosque bike path through the city center.

here1//maps.google.com/maps?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&hl=en&tab=wlhttp: Control C this 2909 Arno NE, Albuquerque, NM, 87107 then Control V it into the Google browser. The shop is the building with the black coyote fetish on the outer wall. The house sits way back from the street.

Here’s the shops (near end) and house after a big snow storm in Dec. of 2006.

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Dolling up a Jag XK engine

Posted on November 18th, 2008 by admin under Austin Healey.

This came in for inspection and pre startup testing. It sat outdoors for a long time and had a lot of dirt in the intake and exhaust manifolds. Upon head removal, I found all pistons to be in backwards (anti-thrust side). So now I’ll HAVE to remove the pan and make sure the rods are in correctly. (Click to enlarge-click again to zoom in)

Here’s the head after clean up and painting. The Cam covers were painted silver and the 9:1 head was correctly blue. It is from a Mark IX donor and is going in a 140 FHC.  So, we have decided to paint the head red to mimick a  3.8 C type head from the earlier car. We know it’s not correct, but it’s not going to Pebble Beach, maybe Tingley Beach in Albuquerque…

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Here the head is back on. The pistons are correctly installed, even a couple of the rods were reversed. A proper flywheel has replaced the Mk IX flex plate. The cams were removed and everything pre-lubed again. Need some long studs for the 2″ carbs intake manifold. I’ll soda blast the distributor base and overhaul the guts tomorrow.

Here it is, ready for pickup and start up after the owner comes up with a bunch of non Jaguar stuff to make the aux. carb drain somewhere and a upper radiator/thermostat housing and either a way to use the Jag otter switch or a hard switch on the dash. I think the temperature sender will screw into this manifold on the bottom side.

Click to enlarge

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Using a Pino Morroni Frame Jig

Posted on November 14th, 2008 by admin under Bikes.

Picture 1: When doing a fillet joint (BB) I cut the ST miter and using a machinists square adjust plumb. I then install BB shell and center using vernier caliper (pic #2). Keeping the seat tube vertical I then braze to shell. You can use the movable distance gauge (Delrin spacer) to assure plumb.
I then rotate BB/ST to desired angle using the angle finder. Note: Seat tube offset can also be measured to determine the angle (thanks Omar). I then miter chain stays with dropouts already installed. Set your BB height and braze to BB shell.
Pic#4 shows the relative axle position if the wheel was installed. This for setting/marking the nominal bottom of the head tube.
(Click on pictures to enlarge)

In this set of photos, I’ve set the top tube height and top tube length as per design drawing. The miters are cut and the head tube angle is set. At this point I’m doing a cold fit to make sure that the miters are correct and nothing is binding. Last I’ll cut length and miters for the down tube. I’ll finally disassemble, flux everything up and reinstall in the jig for brazing. Presto-change-oh. I have a nice, straight, and fully brazed frame ready for any necessary cleanup of the welds.

(Click on picture to enlarge)

In these three above I’ve reinstalled it in the jig, fluxed up the joints and brazed up everything. Tomorrow the seat stays and dodads, a little clean up and it’s off to the paint booth. This is the first time for using Fred Parr’s Brazage Pro silver for lugs. It’s also the first frame since I lost an eye a year ago. I’m getting better at putting the rod at the right spot at the right time, but as you can see I did get a couple spots a bit hotter than I needed to. I’ll soak it over night and see how it looks in the morning.

(Click on picture to enlarge)

Well, after an overnight soak and a few minutes with a stiff wire brush the frame is ready for a little dressing around a couple spots on the lugs and a bit of radius clean up work on the fillet. I said last year about this time that I didn’t think I’d be able to build bikes with one eye.  I wouldn’t call it a miracle by any means but, the progress has been good. However, this little article was about the Morroni jig and  as you can see after a days work and little fuss  I have a fixie I can sell.

I spent a day on the fork, mostly fretting over what to use and dinking around with the blade length cutting fixture (scroll down) and another with the frame assembly and a third (today if I remain engaged) to do the seat stays and braze-ons.  I’ll put up a picture or two when its got the next day into it just to make the process complete.


We’re having a great mid November weather weekend for riding so I haven’t been as diligent as hoped finishing up this frame. As promised here’s the finished basic frame, except a couple braze on bits still to add.  I haven’t decided if this will go out as a plain vanilla variety or if I’ll doll it up with some silver smithing adornments.  In the mean time..(Click on Pic to enlarge)

Here I’ve coal slag blasted the raw fillet to expose any gaps, pockets and wrinkles, then I shape and file to taste. This is like blocking done on body panels. The change in color helps to show high/low spots when a file is pulled across the dull surface.

Here is the last set of Zeus track drop outs in the world..maybe? Dave Bohm at Bohemian Cycles tells me he has near copies available. Thank God for artisans.

Here’s the head tube detail. I used an old Columbus groove tube. It may end up as a brake less fixie but I’m not going to mess around with liability issues by not making it brake compatible.

Here it is.

The crown is an 7mm offset Cyclo (?) for track blades. Old GPM brake bridge re-enforcements. MAX chain stays

and I don’t know what the seat and down tubes are.. Hey, it’s a mutt, but I love it so far.

Specs. are 54.5cm seat tube; 55cm top tube; 73.5 degree seat angle; 74 degree head angle; 5.6 cm drop; 95cm wheelbase; fork rake 32mm plus offset


And here is the frame painted, decaled and awaiting it’s new home..

(Click on photo to enlarge-click again to zoom in

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This about sums it up for me

Posted on November 12th, 2008 by admin under Civics.

Subject: 545 PEOPLE

545 PEOPLE By Charlie Reese –

Politicians are the only people in the world who create problems and then campaign against them.

Have you ever wondered why, if both the Democrats and the Republicans are against deficits, WHY do we have deficits?

Have you ever wondered why, if all the politicians are against inflation and high taxes, WHY do we have inflation and high taxes?

You and I don’t propose a federal budget. The president does.

You and I don’t have the Constitutional authority to vote on appropriations. The House of Representatives does.

You and I don’t write the tax code, Congress does.

You and I don’t set fiscal policy, Congress does.

You and I don’t control monetary policy, the Federal Reserve Bank do es.

One hundred senators, 435 congressmen, one president, and nine Supreme Court justices – 545 human beings out of the 300 million – are directly, legally, morally, and individually responsible for the domestic problems that plague this count ry.

I excluded the members of the Federal Reserve Board because that problem was created by the Congress. In 1913, Congress delegated its Constitutional duty to provide a sound currency to a federally chartered, but private, central bank.

I excluded all the special interests and lobbyists for a sound reason. They have no legal authority. They have no ability to coerce a senator, a co ngressman, or a president to do one cotton-picking thing. I don’t care if they offer a politician $1 million dollars in cash. The politician has the power to accept or reject it. No matter what the lobbyist promises, it is the legislator’s responsibility to determine how he votes.

Those 545 human beings spend much of their energy convincing you that what they did is not their fault. They cooperate in this common con regardless of party.

What separates a politician from a normal human being is an excessive amount of gall. No normal human being would have the gall of a Speaker , who stood up and criticized the President for creating deficits. The president can only propose a budget. He cannot force the Congress to accept it.

The Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land, gives sole responsibility to the House of Representatives for originating and approving appropriations and taxes. Who is the speaker of the House? She is the leader of the majority party. She and fellow House members, not the president, can approve any budget they want. If the president vetoes it, they can pass it over his veto if they agree to.

It seems inconceivable to me that a nation of 300 million can not replace 545 people who stand convicted — by present facts — of incompetence and irresponsibility. I can’t think of a single domestic problem that is not traceable directly to those 545 people. When you fully grasp the plain truth that 545 people exercise the power of the federal government, then it must follow that what exists is what they want to exist.

If the tax code is unfair, it’s because they want it unfair.

If the budget is in the red, it’s because they want it in the red.

If the Army & Marines are in IRAQ , it’s because they want them inIRAQ.

If they do not receive social security but are on an elite retirement plan not available to the people, it’s because they want it that way.

There are no insoluble government problems.

Do not let these 545 people shift the blame to bureaucrats, whom they hire and whose jobs they can abolish; to lobbyists, whose gifts and advice they can reject; to regulators, to whom they give the power to regulate and from whom they can take this power. Above all, do not let them con you into the belief that there exists disembodied mystical forces like ‘the economy,’ ‘inflation,’ or ‘politics’ that prevent them from doing what they take an oath to do.

Those 545 people, and they alone, are responsible.

They, and they alone, have the power.

They, and they alone, should be held accountable by the people who are their bosses –
Provided the voters have the gumption to manage their own employees.

We should vote all of them out of office and clean up their mess!

Charlie Reese is a former columnist of theOrlando Sentinel Newspaper.

Thanks to Al from the Austin Healey owners list for this quote attributed to John Adams:

In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress. – John Adams

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