This video was put together by some AZ vintage riders — Bill Ramsey of The Motorcycle Accessory Shop made the video, based on a technique he learned from Mark Smith. I struggle to start my old big-bore CZs, and have repeatedly ripped the buckles off my cool vintage Hi-Point MX boots. Not cool. Maybe this little trick will save my boots, until I crash and have to start it the old-fashioned way. Of course, this only works with bikes that have carburetors.

sandblasterOne of the tools I’ve always wanted is a blaster for cleaning metal. A blast cabinet would be nice, for doing small parts in an enclosed area. But I wanted a bigger unit that would also let me work on frames and bigger pieces.

A couple of years ago I bought a 60-gallon, two-cylinder, 12 CFM compressor that was on close-out (about $350, I think) at Lowes. I had an electrician come in and wire a 220 outlet into my garage and hook it up. But I never used it. Not even once. I never even turned it on except to be sure it ran. I didn’t have any piping or anything. So, like most of my projects, it sat for a year and a half while I went on to other things.

Back in the spring I bought a spinner bike that had been in a fire. It’s a nice unit — a Lemond Revmaster — but the paint was pretty badly smoke damaged. I plan to rebuild it and I have all the parts, but I needed to paint the frame. Before I can paint I need to get the burned powder coat off. Sanding it by hand was not getting me anywhere — there are just too many nooks and crannies and odd angles. I needed a sand blaster! At least, that’s what I told myself.

So I went to Tractor Supply and bought one of their 20-gallon pressure pots for $129. It’s made by Clarke Products and is, at best, a piece of Chinese crap. But I knew that going in. Really, it’s not too bad. I mean, a metal tank is pretty much a metal tank. It’s just that the fittings and manifolds and filter/gauge are junk. The pressure gauge was actually broken on the one I bought.

So I bought a better pressure gauge at Sears ($10) and, using some Black Diamond blast media I got at Tractor Supply I tried blasting. It didn’t work at all. Clogged up immediately and wouldn’t blast a wet paper bag. I was unhappy.

So I started reading the stickers on the side and one of them said, “Use only 80-grit or finer media.” I don’t know anything about blasting grit, but it looked to me that the Black Diamond I bought was pretty coarse. It didn’t say anything about grit on the package. So I dug around on the internet and found some info that said it was probably 30-60 grit.

Aha! I thought. I need finer material. So I did more research, talked to a couple of people, and learned that I needed something called Star Blast. It’s about 100-grit, and I bought it locally at a blasting specialty shop downtown for $10/50lb bag.

I came home and tried it again. It worked better. But after a little bit the sun started to set, the temperature went down, and suddenly my blast nozzle was spluttering, spitting, and spewing water. Bad. I Looked at the cheap Chinese filter and thought it was at least part of the problem (I can’t afford an $900 chiller/dryer right now.) The next day I had to go to a plumbing supply house so I stopped by Northern Tool on the way home and bought an Ingersoll-Rand filter for $50. I put that on and tried it again.

Sure enough it worked better. But the unit still didn’t work very well. It just didn’t put out enough volume and the pressure in the tank wouldn’t stay high enough to do the job.

When I hooked it up I used a 3/8″ ID hose, because that was all I had fittings for. I had a 1/2″ ID hose, just no fittings for it. So today I went to the hardware store and bought the necessary fittings and adapters to connect the bigger hose to the unit.

Voila! It works like it should now. 30% more air volume did the trick. The compressor is big enough to keep it full, but the little hose was choking it down. Now the unit will stay at about a constant 70psi, which is enough to do a decent job of blasting. I will eventually replace the fittings with American units of better quality, and maybe look for some way to replace the manifolds — which are threaded with straight 3/8″ threads instead of tapered pipe threads, so they don’t seal well. But as a blaster it works quite well now, much faster than before. At some point I might even try upgrading to an even larger, custom-made 5/8″ ID or 3/4″ ID supply hose.

Still, blasting takes some time, and some technique. Adjusting the amount of material that comes through the hose is important for both efficiency and effectiveness. I have learned there is an art to taking off as much material as possible with each pass of the nozzle. The angle matters a lot. And it is still tedious. Even though I believe I have the unit working at full capacity now, blasting a whole frame is quite the undertaking.

It could easily take 5-6 bags of media, which is $50-$60. I don’t know of any way to recycle media when you’re blasting outside. Not to mention the mess that much media makes in the driveway. I will probably just blast all the welds and hard to reach areas, then sand and feather the flat surfaces into the blasted metal.

The Star Blast does a great job. At 100-grit it doesn’t remove much metal at all, and it leaves pretty much a primer-ready surface — not at all the rough surface you see with commercial aluminum oxide blasting. I could basically wipe it down and prime it once I’m through. That’s nice.

So the bottom line for effective blasting is you need lots of clean, dry air. Getting that in a home shop is not necessarily cheap or easy. But it makes the job a lot easier. I have some old CZ engine cases that aren’t good for much so once I finish the frame I will try blasting those to see what it does to the aluminum. I also have some broken magnesium hubs that I might try it on, too. I will post pictures of the blasted frame before I paint it.

Note: In 2009 this website moved to WordPress and the system referred to in the post below is no longer in use.
New MuddyWatersMX reader Chris Wilson recently asked the following question:

The code used on this site exposes the email address of the registered commenters. In the item in the right-hand margin that says “Logged in as X”, the name inserted as “X” is a direct email link to the address used when registering to comment. That means that any email harvester crawling this site will be able to collect my email address.

Can you confirm or deny and/or fix?

I thought this was a good opportunity to explain how the system works for everyone. First, let me put your mind at ease. The content system used for MuddyWatersMX has been around a long time and its privacy features are quite robust.

The link you see in the right-hand column that says, “Logged in as YourNameHere” is only seen by you – and only when you are logged in. It’s just a link to your account settings, which are tracked by your e-mail address. No one else can see it. And no harvester can get to it. If you logoff the site you will see that your name and account info disappear.

The only place that your e-mail address is ever exposed — and this is exactly the same as Yahoo! and Google Groups e-mail lists — is in the FROM: address when your posts go out to the MuddyWatersMX mail list.

But we even give you control over that. The MuddyWatersMX system provides a completely anonymized FROM: address in outgoing list mails for any registered user who wants it. You can change this setting in your preferences.

I hope this clears up any confusion and thanks to Chris for prompting me to write it.

flip-out-tableTwo cool links today. First is another nice trailer conversion site I found while researching some RV awnings. I don’t know the owner’s name, but he’s done some really nice stuff inside his 7’x14′ tandem axle trailer. I especially this idea for a flip-out table that attaches to the E-Track cargo strips along the wall. He can move the table anywhere in the trailer. He’s also done some really nice stuff with heating, A/C, cabinetry, etc. Pulls the thing with a Toyota Tacoma with a 3.4L V-6. Says he uses it as support for his grandson who races 50cc and 65cc bikes. Cool. A great source of ideas.

Next up is my friend Tommy Montgomery, who has posted some good pictures from Diamond Don’s over at flickr. Nice job, Tommy!

2420830399_9f3d9347c5_mI’m not much of a camper. In fact, I haven’t camped at all since about 1982 or so. I’m just not into it, at least not as a lifestyle thing. My compulsion about hygiene and taking showers kinda keeps me in hotel rooms.

But with gas prices climbing to European levels, and the mileage in my old Dodge truck hovering just under the 10mpg mark, I can no longer afford to be so picky. If I’m going to make any vintage races this year I’m going to have to be able to camp at least one night because I just can’t afford gas plus a hotel in my race budget. Over the winter I began collecting a little camping gear with the idea that I would camp all weekend at the 6th Annual Diamond Don’s Riverport AHRMA National. Here’s a picture of my campsite.

On the left is my old Dodge 4×4 with a Sportz Truck Tent ($150 from Tenst on Trucks) setup in the bed. This worked great. I hate the idea of camping on the ground in rainy conditions. The truck bed keeps everything well above ground, and the tent overlaps all three sides of the bed to ensure that water doesn’t get underneath the tent. I set the tent up once at home to be sure I had all the pieces.

Once I got to the track and setup the tent I rolled out my air mattress. It’s a nice pillow-top full-size unit I got from for about $80 a couple of years ago and it just fits between the wheelwells. Before I left I wired a Xantrex 700w XPower inverter (from Amazon for $43) to my truck battery and used that to pump up the mattress. I also used it to run an electric drill so I could fit new number plates to my 250 before the race. All-in-all it worked just fine.

2421645040_e2757e818c_mWhat you see here is a shot of the campsite from the front, with my 10’x10′ pop-up canopy. That’s a Tipke Fold-It aluminum cart ($199 at Northern Tool)in the foreground. They’re pretty cool. I saw them in the pits at an AMA roadrace at Road Atlanta last year. It folds almost flat for transport, weighs very little, and can carry up to 300lbs. In this photo it’s loaded with buckets of water – something that was in short supply at DD’s this year. On the table is a little two-burner stove, a Mr Heater Portable Buddy heater ($99 at Northern Tool,) and a couple of gas lanterns. I had to take all this stuff out of the box at DD’s. I never used any of it before.

I can say that it all worked just fine. Except for when I went stumbling into the trailer, in the dark, Friday night carrying only a flashlight. I have a couple of aluminum cabinets mounted on the trailer walls and I forgot and left one of the doors open (sharp corners). While fumbling around to find whatever it was I was looking for (I don’t remember) I raised up and slammed my head into the corner of the open door. Ouch! My right eyebrow was sliced open and bled like a stuck pig for about 30 minutes. Everyone said I looked like a pirate the next day, with my eye bandaged and my do-rag on.

2420832969_dcbee57c1c_mThis was the first outing for the Mean Lady, the Sportsman-class 250 I bought from PSL in Canada last Fall. It was in storage and I picked it us just before the race. I wasn’t at all sure I would ride her, because I hadn’t done anything at all to get her ready. But Texan John Putkey, who with his wife Laura put me up Wednesday and Thursday nites in Houston, cajoled me into working on her and then pitched in several hours of his own labor to help get her ready. Here you see the aftermath of the first, muddy moto. What a mess. She ran great in the first moto and, had I not stalled the rear wheel in a corner on the third lap I would have finished quite high. As it was, I finished 6th in Moto 1. But in Moto 2 she died in staging, re-fired after about 25-30 kicks, then died again about 2/3 through the first lap. Leaving me with a long push back to the pits. A little work on waterproofing should help me do better next time.

2420834127_2da825ef74_mThis pic is Lil’ Red, a “new” 1972 CZ 125 I picked up from Weedhopper Joey Poole of Arkansas. Joey made a special trip down to Jefferson, TX just to deliver the bike. A close friend of Joey’s died unexpectedly the day before and he had to cancel his plans for the event. But he brought Lil’ Red down for me anyway. Thanks Joey.

There are a few more pictures in my flickr photostream, including a few of a really cool custom tow vehicle a guy made from two 1950’s C600 Ford truck cabs. Just click on any of the pics to go there.

Update: Tommy Montgomery has posted more (and better) pics of the DD’s event over at his flickr page. Check them out.

dualsport_trailer_interiorHere’s another very nice example of a rider-modified trailer. This one by the owner of the web site. It’s a little Wells Cargo flat nose, looks to be about a 6’x10′ or maybe 6’x12′, he doesn’t say. He started out to make it camping trailer because he didn’t even own a bike when he bought it. Later he got into dual sport riding and converted it to haul bikes. But he did some really neat mods, including:

  • deep-cycle battery powered electrical system
  • custom-built cabinet with refrigerator and microwave
  • 1,000 watt DC/AC inverter
  • Solar Power
  • custom stereo

kreem_comboI have a very nice, low-hour 1974 Yamaha TY250 trials bike. I bought it last year and it’s in good shape but has two issues I need to fix – it leaks oil from the bottom of the motor somewhere, and the fuel tank is full of crap that keeps clogging the petcock. We’re going to have seven trials events within a 2-hour drive of the ATL this year so I want to get it ready to ride.

The problem with the fuel tank is two-fold:

  1. it’s full of rust that is sluffing off
  2. the rust is underneath a very bad KREEM sealer job that has detached from the metal and is actually making things way worse.

After digging around for a few weeks trying to figure what to do with it I pretty much decided to just buy a Sammy Miller fiberglass tank/seat combo, as I need to replace my trail kit seat with a trials unit anyway. But those SM units are over $400 here in the US, and you still need to coat the inside of them with POR-15 or something to keep the alcohol in our gas away from the resin. Anyway…

That spending $500 thing made me go back and look at the original tank again and I finally found a phone number for KREEM Products Inc in Somis, CA. I gave them a call and the tech there told me that if I fill the tank with acetone or MEK the KREEM sealer will go back to liquid. Of course, MEK and acetone will also eat the paint off the tank. Sadly, the tank has a very nice, resto paint job that someone paid pretty good money for. And was one of the reasons I paid a little more than I should have for the bike. And there’s no way I’m going to be able to get the crap out of the tank without messing it up. I don’t think.

Still, I thought I’d post the tech info here, in case someone else needs to undo a really bad KREEM job in the future.

hydrosorbentHere’s a nifty little item you might find helpful if you live in a really humid area like I do – hydrosorbent packs from The self-contained, rechargeable moisture absorbers come in a variety of sizes , change colors to let you know when they’re full, and can be recharged with a few hours in an oven. I put them inside the RubberMaid containers I use to store engines and engine parts, clamp the lid down tight, then slip a big 2ml garbage bag around it. Any moisture that gets in the bag gets absorbed by the gel pack. Over time it will even suck out whatever moisture may be in the engine and really keeps the rust out of the internals. Good stuff and pretty cheap insurance if you’re going to keep a good motor on a shelf for a year or two. (I know, who does that?) From $5-$12 depending on size. Oh, don’t eat them.

tedstrailerWhile on the subject of workshops and trailers and such, here’s a link I found a while back to Crazy Ted’s Motorcycle Trailer page. Ted is just a guy whose wife got him a trailer for Christmas one year. He was so stoked he made a web page just to show off the stuff he did to it. That’s my kind of guy.

Ted has some nice, cost-saving mods, like the tie-down hanger made from conduit, and the rubber mat he uses for cushioning the floor. I also like his setup with the little Mr. Heater Portable Buddy Heater and the insulation. Lot’s of other tips here, too. Nice stuff.