Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes - Page 11 - The Jockey Journal Board

Go Back   The Jockey Journal Board > General Discussion > The Board

Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 07-18-2010, 02:44 PM   #201
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Patrick, it was great looking back at old pictures of Zach and remembering some of the the good times and also remembering the sad time. He had Hollywood looks while in his 20s and reminds me of Peter Revson with his wealth and bravery. Maybe some day a movie will be made of his life. It would be a good one.

On one of the pages of your link you will see Zach's twin engine airplane. In an earlier post I spoke of the '67 Daytona Bike week and meeting Danny Johnson for the first time and racing him there. Zach flew that airplane to that event. During the day we used an abandoned airstrip near Daytona to race the bikes that were not street legal in an "outlaw" setting. We heard what sounded like an airplane dive bombing and looked up just in time to clear the runway as the plane pulled up and buzzed the runway at about 50-100 feet... wide open, and at over 200 mph. It was Zach's way of letting us know he needed to land. Just the first of the Zach Reynolds stories.

Last edited by frank spittle; 07-19-2010 at 08:02 PM.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
Old 07-19-2010, 08:35 PM   #202
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

I raced the Honda for a year or two and built a Pro Stock Kawasaki. This photo was taken at the '78 Bowling Green race. It would be my last National event on a gas burner. I had been racing for four years the second time around and decided I would retire at the last race at Farmington in the fall. It just wasn't exciting anymore. Buying a Fuel Bike had not even crossed my mind. I was done with racing...I thought!! That frame of mind changed at the Farmington race.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	3111.jpg
Views:	569
Size:	862.5 KB
ID:	51599  
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2010, 08:48 PM   #203
chopdr230
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: peoria IL
Posts: 76
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes



I got this frame and need some help making it into a roller any one know what rear wheel i should run ?
chopdr230 is offline   Reply With Quote
 
Old 07-19-2010, 08:49 PM   #204
chopdr230
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: peoria IL
Posts: 76
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Also would like to make it period correct
chopdr230 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2010, 09:11 PM   #205
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

There are others who follow this thread that have a better eye than me but it looks to be a 20-30 years old frame that can use maybe up to an 8 inch wide slick. If you can verify what year(s) it was raced and class(s) then you can start looking for period correct pictures to go by for your restoration.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-19-2010, 09:30 PM   #206
chopdr230
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: peoria IL
Posts: 76
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

I got it on a trade . I really dont know any thing about it . I was told it had an ironhead in it and some guys on here verified that for me . I have plenty of projects but the way this fell into my lap it feels like fate to build it .
chopdr230 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-21-2010, 08:55 PM   #207
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

The time had come to enter my last drag race...I thought. It was in 1978 at Farmington Dragway near Winston-Salem North Carolina. It was at the end of the racing season and was one of the major local races of the year. Promoter Jim Turner always booked in at least a couple Fuel Bikes which I loved watching. Danny Johnson had not had a Top Fuel Bike in at least a year and I had not got wind of anything new in the pipeline from him. I was excited for this race because I knew it would be my last and I could devote all my time to my Antique Car business. I had experienced an excellent year and had built my inventory up with company profits. It had been almost 10 years since my last Fuel Bike and I was doing fine without one thank you. That frame of mind changed as soon as I entered the pits. Right there in front of my eyes in the "special attraction" area was one of the most beautiful Top Fuel Motorcycles I had ever seen. It was Candy Apple Red with gold alloy wheels and chromed everything. It was Danny Johnson's new machine, a blown and injected inline four. It really took me by surprise. As soon as I got parked I walked over to Danny's pit area. "I built this bike for you" he said kidding of course (I think). I couldn't take my eyes off it. It looked ready to make a pass. It's awesome I told him. When are you going to make your first run I asked. "It isn't quite finished. I am going to offer this bike for sale race ready and build me another one over the winter" he said. The wheels in my brain started turnimg. How much I asked. "$10,500" painted another color. Candy Apple Red is my color" he said. It was time for me to make the first run on my Pro Stocker but I just wasn't into it. All I could think about was that awesome Top Fueler. I walked back over and talked some more. When are you going to finish it I asked. "Next week. We are taking it to the Dragbike! finals in Gainesville in a couple weeks" he said. I looked at it more closely, really closely...like when your considering buying something. My wife was not with me so I had the freedom to spend ALOT of time looking it over. The bad side of my brain was telling me I was crazy. Then the good side told me I had the resources if I took a couple cars out of inventory. Then I had to get back to racing my Pro Stocker for the last time.

For the rest of the day I was thinking about the T/F bike, not racing my Pro Stocker. Finally, after much soul searching I decided to buy it. The excitement I felt is indescribable. The uneasiness was too! I was 34 with a wife of 9 years and two sons who depended on me. She would not like it but would support me. I had a wonderful mate. When we discussed it she insisted I get a $250,000 life insurance policy. I agreed and we made plans to go to Gainesville with my future crew chief and his wife for the debut.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	110.jpg
Views:	686
Size:	200.7 KB
ID:	51657  
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-23-2010, 12:51 PM   #208
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

I couldn't wait for the Gainesville race where my new Top Fuel Bike would make it's debut. Frank Norris, my crew chief in waiting, and his wife joined me and my wife as we started the 500 mile drive. Johnson and his crew had left a couple days earlier to have time to do some testing before the Dragbike! race. Frog Thacker, a hired gun who rode Virgil Naff's T/F Bike, was doing the testing for Johnson. My agreement to buy the bike was for it to be race ready when I paid the balance due and took delivery. I would not need to take my leathers (thankfully).

There was no cell phones back then so I didn't know how things were going until we arrived. On Frog's first pass the crankshaft snout broke. The engine was torn down and a Harley crankshaft snout welded to the original. That work was completed by the time we arrived. Another test run was being prepared. On that pass Thacker went to 1000 feet, straight as an arrow, and shut it down. He ran 160 mph and Johnson was jubulant (me too). The Dragbike! T/F mph record was 185. On the final pass Thacker ran it out the back door. The ET was an 8.10. The speed was an amazing 183 mph, only 2 mph off the national record on it's first outing. It was the talk of motorcycle drag racing just like "Goliath" had been years earlier. Johnson was in the spotlight again. I paid the balance due and Danny took it back with him to repaint it Candy Apple Blue, the color I had picked.

We left Gainesville on a high and very excited about the upcoming '79 season. However, our excitement came to an end briefly as we were traveling down the highway. A news report broke about the Jim Jones Guyana mass suicide. It was sickening news.

Next, I will start a series on my life as a professional Top Fuel Motorcycle racer in 1979. I hope you enjoy my experiences from that year as I relive them here. It was one of the greatest years of my life.
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	110.jpg
Views:	398
Size:	200.7 KB
ID:	51709  
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2010, 03:51 AM   #209
Keith Lee
Senior Member
 
Keith Lee's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: England
Posts: 268
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Keep the progress reports coming, Frank.
They make very interesting reading as you span the years.
Keith Lee is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2010, 05:41 PM   #210
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

After returning from the trip to the Dragbike! finals I was about as pumped up as I could be for the upcoming 1979 season. I had committed to buy a T/F Bike that I thought would take several races to get competitive. Turns out it was from the get-go. The only thing left to do mechanically was to make it self starting. It had been started on rollers at Gainesville. I would have to pay extra for that but I did not want to crank it on rollers. The only remote starters available were the ones for automotive supercharged dragsters that connected to the blowers and they were expensive. Over $1000.00 in '78 dollars. All the self starting drag bikes were using them. I told Danny I believed a smaller less expensive starter could be adapted. He said forget it. It will not spin the engine over fast enough and it will blow up while starting it. I don't know why I felt so strongly about it but I did. I talked to a local starter shop owner and asked him what he suggested. His thoughts were an older 6 volt starter on 12 volts...and I agreed knowing how fast an antique car's engine with a 6 volt system spins over with a 12 volt battery. We decided on a Ford starter motor from a '55 year model, the last year for the 6 volt system. I invested a couple hundred dollars in that project and it would not spin it over. I was believing what Danny's view was but wanted to try one more.. a Chrysler gear reduction starter. I would have to use a 12 volt motor because Chrysler did not make a 6 volt gear reduction starter. I invested another $300.00 bucks and was getting upset with myself because if it didn't work I had spent half of what a dragster starter cost.

I had my new T/F bike in my possession now and when I plugged my homemade starter up it spun over as fast as a big starter. I was relieved and very proud. I squirted some gas in the injector and it fired and ran for a couple seconds. But I had not cranked it on nitro and did not want to without Danny around. I called to let him know I had a starter made for it and wanted to come to his shop and crank it. He told me to come on. I was there in a couple hours and when he first looked at it he was disappointed I had done something he did not believe would work. "It won't work" he said. I squirted some gas in the injector and fired it. I will never forget the expression on his face. "Let's try it on nitro" he said. I had not cranked it on nitro since I purchased it from him and would not have the first time without his supervision. We cranked it on nitro and before I left that day he ordered one for the bike he was building for himself.

Pictured below is the very first Chrysler gear reduction starter ever used on a race bike. If you click on the picture a couple times you can get a detailed look at it. I sold them for a couple years until others improved on it. You know how that is. Even Danny started building his own. It upset me that my idea was making others money but that's business. I would have done the same. 30 years later I still have special parts I had made to adapt those starters. Hundreds if not thousands have been used but this was the first. I was still using that starter after 4 years of racing that bike and it went with the bike after my ownership.

Oh well, getting back to my story it was still late '78 and I knew it was going to be a long long time til spring. I was ready to get it on!!!
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	601.jpg
Views:	619
Size:	98.8 KB
ID:	51807  

Last edited by frank spittle; 07-25-2010 at 10:12 PM.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2010, 09:14 PM   #211
Calkins
Member
 
Calkins's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Iowa Falls, Iowa
Posts: 82
Send a message via Skype™ to Calkins
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

I have a question. I have read a few times, maybe even on here, about the use of a two speed tranny, maybe even an automatic. What's the story behind that?

I have a strong urge to build a bike with an old Triumph twin on alky, and maybe later on pop. So, the tranny question came up when I was trying to decide to go with a unit or preunit engine. Shit, maybe I should just use a new style Trumpet...

This is my motivational photo:

__________________
Justin Calkins - Iowa Falls, Iowa
2007 Triumph Bonneville America
2006 Triumph Speed Four
Calkins is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2010, 09:32 PM   #212
FearNoEvo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Iowa
Posts: 370
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

I'll throw out a quick, only tempered by 30 years of fuel answer, then let Frank give ya the correct answer.

Fuel is a fickle mistress. There are as many opinions on tuning fuel as there are guys tuning it. But, one thing everyone agrees on, is that its hard to make a fuel bike go like hell for a full quarter mile. I have alluded to this in other posts. See my posts regarding lean outs. Its almost as dangerous trying to make a fuel bike shift through the gears as it is to try and make one get through the traps in a single gear by carb and timing tuning.

So, eliminate a couple of gears, shift it once(which is still popular today, but more likely done via a combination of multi stage clutch and tranny) and hope for the best.

You have to take an aside here. Funny cars and T/F rails have an advantage over bikes. A shit ton more room to build a whopper of a clutch. Todays fuel cars run a 5 or 6 stage clutch, every increase in distance, and at timed intervals, more clutch is added or taken away to compensate for track conditions and to get the mail to the other end. This is really hard to do with bike parts, even harder in Frank's era then today. Step in B & J. They develop a 2 speed tranny that is about as big as your common sporty starter. Now your A fuel class is born, when I started there was top fuel, which was anything you were dumb enough to build and try and ride, B fuel which was carbureted, high gear only, and A fuel, carbureted and a 2 speed or injected high gear only. For the guys that could keep the 2 speed together, and tune the clutch, and the timing and the leanouts, you could out run almost everybody.

For the rest of us broke fuckers, it was a Bonnie Truett single stage clutch, a carburetor, and the occasional explosion. But we still went faster than they did. Every now and then.
FearNoEvo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2010, 09:48 PM   #213
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

FearNoEvo has gone into great detail so I will be brief.

The 2-speed transmissions I have refered to are B&J 2-speeds used almost exclusively for drag cars (T/F and F/C) and Top Fuel Motorcycles. They are planetary gear transmissions in which the first gear is direct drive and second is overdrive. They are shifted either by air pressure or air over hydraulic pressure with a push button located on the handlebar.

Earlier bikes using a two speed used only two gears in a stock gearbox, usually 3rd and fourth. My first Harley dragster used the stock gearbox with 3rd and 4th on gas and 4th only on nitro. The Freight Train and the Inline 4 I am presently writing about used a B&J. I like that picture you posted.

Last edited by frank spittle; 07-25-2010 at 09:56 PM.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2010, 09:48 PM   #214
Calkins
Member
 
Calkins's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Iowa Falls, Iowa
Posts: 82
Send a message via Skype™ to Calkins
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

FearNoEvo-

I hear ya. Dale taught me a ton the three years I worked on his fueler. With that info, I have a general knowledge that I think I can use for most applications.

Have you talked to Kurt lately? Has he ran his Buell yet this year?

Frank-

Did many people use a Lenco? I have heard that the B&J is a Lenco, better more refined.
__________________
Justin Calkins - Iowa Falls, Iowa
2007 Triumph Bonneville America
2006 Triumph Speed Four
Calkins is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2010, 10:01 PM   #215
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

The B&J is much smaller than a Lenco. I remember one of the first IHRA races I raced the I-4 at in '79, one of the T/F car guys came over to look at my bike and was really surprised I was using the same trans he was. I don't remember any bike guys using a Lenco because they weighed so much.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-25-2010, 10:25 PM   #216
FearNoEvo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Iowa
Posts: 370
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Its actually funny to see a B&J. They are tiny. To the point of wondering how in the hell they could hold up. But they do. Most times. The first A/fuel, and actually the first fuel bike I helped on at all, ran a B&J. He kept 2 spares just in case. Griz Huxell out of now where Iowa ran an injected shovelhead, A/fuel bike in the late 80's. He let me help change the oil and the plugs. I was never so proud of anything in my life. But when it came to that tranny, him and Bobbo were the men.

To calkins, I haven't heard from Kurt in almost a year, I used to help him out with the Buell and he has always said he wants to buy into my fueler, but you know how time is. I don't get to the places I used to, old age and kids and all. He has my number, I would love to hear from him again. I have all the big pieces bought, I just need a good back and a hungry mind to help me out at the track. The ol lady says I can't let the boy ride it until he's 18. There is only so much my tired ol ass can do and still get it down the track without dying.
FearNoEvo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2010, 06:12 AM   #217
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

Joe Smith is the guy who would know on this trans issue and just about any other T/F Bike issue. The B&J Trans in both my bikes never broke so I never saw the internal parts.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2010, 06:49 AM   #218
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

One thing I should clarify about the Chrysler gear reduction starter I developed for my Fuel Bike is that it would not work on a v-twin. Bob Spina purchased one for his Fuel Harley early on and it would not start it. But it worked great on every single engine British or Japanese race bike...or to the best of my knowledge.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2010, 09:49 AM   #219
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

What a great story Joe. I am soooooooooooo glad we have you adding your experiences to this topic.

Another clarification about cranking on nitro. When I state cranked on nitro that means you are going to let it run on nitro. A nitro powered dragster is NEVER cranked on nitro. You always prime it with gas or alcohol and then turn the fuel pump on to allow nitro to start entering the combustion chambers. With carbs you filled the float bowls with gas or alcohol before cranking.

Last edited by frank spittle; 07-26-2010 at 10:02 AM.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-26-2010, 11:23 AM   #220
frank spittle
Senior Member
 
frank spittle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: cornelius nc
Posts: 743
Default Re: Vintage Fuel Drag Bikes

I guess I was more cautious than you Joe, at least with the first Fuel Harley I had. After each run I would drain the fuel tank and float bowl and then fill the float bowl with alcohol and then put the 65% nitro/ alcohol mixture in the tank and prime it on gas to start on the rollers. I am sure Danny Johnson did the same with his carbed bikes because he taught me how to do it. My last two nitro bikes were fuel injected and I started them like you did with nitro in the lines and gas as a primer. I guess the point I was trying to make to our readers is I did not fire it on nitro as a primer. It was just too dangerous.

Last edited by frank spittle; 07-26-2010 at 11:43 AM.
frank spittle is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 02:58 AM.