EVERYBODY SAID they wanted to see the iron piggy on video when I brought her back to life after this winter-long, 70,000-mile overhaul. So here we are! Going down the road for the very first time!
On a down note, you can’t really tell it’s me in the video. Pam made me wear the stupid helmet, stupid jacket, doesn’t fit right, bothers me, pfft…
Oh, hell, I don’t know anything about video, you know that. Take my word for it, the old iron runs, feels and sounds better than new. The machine work on the crank assembly made all the difference. Newly balanced for lighter connecting rods, this is one fine-running Harley “A” motor.
I installed a set of matched injectors, another huge improvement. My stock injectors were mismatched by 5 percent, 7 percent, even up to 10 percent on some of the dynamic and static tests.
The bike has been properly dyno-tuned for the first time. No popping on decel anymore. The new Twin Cam 88 makes all the torque I need. The sweet spot is sweeter and has moved up the scale. It used to be 67mph, now it’s more like 76.
I had the crank and dyno work done by Bob Johnson and his son, Robert, at Johnson Engine Technology, Westerly, RI. I don’t get free work to tell you that, I just mention it because I’d send a friend there.
Given that I had reassembled the bike, I asked Robert to inspect it to his own satisfaction before it went on the dyno or had a test ride. If some little misstep of mine was going to result in a failure, I would rather it was at my risk. But the piggy dynoed nicely at wide-open throttle, didn’t blow her gearset out through the case, rear wheel stayed on, I must have accidentally done something right.
This past Friday, Daughter #2 gave me a lift to Westerly and I rode the bike back up the highway for the 35 miles home. I almost never wear armor but that time I did, shoulders to shins, just in case. Critical fasteners are called that for a reason. I had a few non-critical ones loosen up, no big deal.
Here we are on May 17, going to Westerly to fire up the new motor on the dyno. My friend John Ross loaned me his Jeep as a tow vehicle.
Look how shiny. People probably thought I stole it.
Coming back up the highway a week later, May 25, the bike rode on rails. I had bought the proper tools for aligning the engine, transmission, swingarm and rear wheel, and spent the time necessary to get the alignment dead-nuts on. At speed and on cruise control, no hands on the grips, she goes straight as a laser. Feels great in a deep, fast turn, too. Holds a line perfectly.
So that’s about it. Not much more to tell. As you already know, the well-traveled ’04 gave up the ghost in the high desert of eastern Washington. Now, nine months later, I’m back on the road!
No one will ever accuse me of being a good American, though, because I did it without being impulsive and taking on years of new-bike payments. I’m all for new bikes and the boom after the bust, but to Simonize the point, and Garfunkelize it, even, I am just a poor boy, though my story’s seldom told. I don’t report to a newspaper cubicle anymore. I happily make my half-assed, hit-or-miss freelance living, and pay cash, avoid debt, otherwise it wouldn’t be possible.
I haven’t added up the numbers but I probably spent $7,000 on the bike this winter: Fresh motor and transmission, went through the calipers, master cylinders, swingarm, all new rubber parts, stator, rotor, regulator, sprockets, belt, tires, battery, cables, hoses… It ran me about 30 cents on the dollar compared to a new one. And no interest to sweat.
Some will say I’m a dope to bring back an 8-year-old ride. You could have had the bigger motor! (don’t need it) And the redesigned frame! (don’t need it) And the wider rear tire! (don’t need it) And a sixth gear! (don’t need it)…
What I need is to ride somewhere, brother. Somewhere far. To sleep on the ground, eat out of the saddlebags, sit by fires at night, talk to strangers, see what they know, be a free man on the earth.
Tony DePaul, May 28, 2012, Cranston, Rhode Island