29 April 2009

Just A Quick Tip

In these trying economic times, record numbers of people are opting to drive without car insurance, that can be understandable, to a point.
The other thing that no one thinks about is having to put tabs on your car on a regular basis.
I have seen a serious uptick in current year tabs on our equipment come up missing.
Here is how to cure that.
When you put the new tabs on your plates, take a razor or a sharp knife and cut an X across the tab.
Then they can't just peel it off and put it on their car without considerable difficulty.

23 April 2009

The Great Escape, re-enacted

I was reading an article, sadly no link, in Cycle News about the new "McQueen Replica 650 Triumph Métisse Desert Racer" currently being offered by Métisse Motorcycles in England.

Years ago, the Rickman Métisse was the ne plus ultra of racing conversions. Basically, the Rickman brothers offered it as a chassis kit with motor mounts for whatever kind of engine you wanted to put in it. They would accept almost any suspension and wheels as well. I have an unrestored 21ci (350cc) Triumph Métisse Mk3 myself. "Unrestored" is the kindest term for it I can think of. One'a these days...

"Métisse" is French for "mongrel", by the way, and that's exactly what they were. The Rickmans had a sense of humour.

Anyway, the McQueen Replica sounded kinda interesting, and Cycle News printed out a URL that led me, after several attempts at typing it in wrong, to an article in the TimesOnline, with a video you MUST NOT MISS!!. Turns out them Limeys are good for more than just telling the truth about our politics. Heh.

I didn't know this, but even after 47 years there is a controversy over whether Bud Ekins made the famous jump in The Great Escape on a stock bike or a highly modified one. A "highly modified" Triumph in those days mostly referred to stronger suspension, maybe some gussets so the frame could finish a race all at the same time, and a reliable electrical system, so it sounds kinda silly to me. Ekins said it was a stocker and that's good enough for me. Excerpts:

In stunt-riding circles, the jump is still regarded as one of the most technically skilled — and controversial — performed for the big screen. Controversial because Ekins later claimed it was done on a standard, factory-built Triumph. Some film historians say such a jump could not have been accomplished except by special effects or on a highly modified machine. Forty-six years after The Great Escape was made, The Sunday Times has solved the mystery by reconstructing the jump.

But good though it was, by today’s standards the 1960s Triumph was a clunky old machine and quite unsuitable for jumping — all the more reason to marvel at Ekins’s achievement, if it was genuine. We were about to find out.

And find out they do! Note that the fence is held together with string, designed to fall apart if the rider hits it. The stunt rider's comments about Ekins would not be permitted in the U.S. press. Heh.

The fence Bud jumped over was made out of string with rubber bands for the barbs, not wire as stated in the article. He was fearless, not crazy.

I don't know how to snag the Times video, so please go see it.

Here's a Beeb video that I can show you. I wanted one of these gorgeous machines so bad my tongue got hard, but it went limp again when they got to the bottom line. Drat. I will gladly send my address to anyone who wishes to send me one of these things. Enjoy.

Note that the Métisse rep says you can't ride the machine on the road at the same time the test rider is riding it down the road. Catch me if ya can, coppers! Limey riders are just like American ones. Heh.

Thanks to screamingdj, UK.


Found the Times video at YouTube. Not quite the video quality as the one at the Times but plenty good:

Thanks to DoNotTreadOnMe.

03 April 2009

Couple things ...


Got a 10 year old Dodge van in with a wore out engine. Well, two lobes on the cam were flat but the motor (and vehicle) have 175K on 'em. Being the customer wants to keep the thing (it's a work vehicle) we explained that for a little more than the price of a camshaft replacement, we could put a new (rebuilt) motor in it ($1600 vs $2500). Well, he went for it so I yanked the old V-6 outta there (why someone would buy a full-sized van for commercial use with a V-6 in it is beyond me - way underpowered).

Now, if this was a hotrod or a classic, I woulda overhauled the thing myself but it wasn't worth the effort and we were doing it on a budget. Instead, we put a call in to Jasper Engines and they sent us a long block, complete with oil pan and timing cover.

As anybody who hangs around here knows, I hate working on vans because their ain't no room to work and you have to take half the fucking car apart to get the motor out.

The new Jasper long block in place.

I got it most of the way together by quitting time last night and I'll have it running this afternoon. In all, not a bad swap.

Tis the season

A couple of Nunzio's cousins own landscaping businesses (Guinea landscapers, go figure) and it's that time of year to get their vehicles ready for the season. Working on this big shit, I'm beginning to feel like Nucks. God bless ya, pal, I couldn't work on heavy duty trucks all day.


Or what passes for it at the NY State Department of Transportation:

The sign says: "Traffic Moving Well To Exit 64". Yeah, we're moving well ... at 4 mph.


Maybe it might not be a good idea to have this bumper sticker on your car when you don't know the political persuasion of your mechanic. Just sayin', heh ....

You never know

Being mechanics, we always (mostly) prepare for the worst case scenario, which is why we still have the snowblower handy even though it's been in the 50s and 60s for the last 2 weeks. Maybe by July ...

Yes, I know ...

I'm gonna be 47 years old this year and even though I've used Safety Seal products for decades, it always cracks me up when I get out the can of tire plug lube. Can't help it. Heh ...

Bing bong

Nunzio got a chime for the front door last week. It's good because if you're in the barn mounting a set of tires or doing something noisy in one of the bays, you didn't hear the front door open. Somebody coulda walked away with the office by the time we noticed. Thing is, it's annoying as a fuck, especially in the mornings when customers are coming in one after the other to drop their shit off. So I ask him "how much you pay for that thing?"

Nunzio: "$16, including tax at Home Depot."

Me: "Good, I'm putting a $20 bill in the top drawer of my toolbox. When you see the chime sailing across the Avenue and shattering on the curb, take it and buy yourself a new one."