The Motorcycle Cannonball 4,000 mile cross country endurance ride is less than three weeks away so many of the riders and builders are feeling the crunch. I thought I had my 1929 Harley JDH pretty well dialed in and ready for this amazing ride until I re-read the rules.
As far as I can tell I have everything done on this bike to make it legal for this event EXCEPT a functional brake light. I have the original tail light on and working, but it is more a running light than anything else and the rules require a functional brake light. And it is a good safety upgrade too.
I dug through my boxes of spare parts and found a wonderful reproduction of the famed STOP light used on the British Vincent motorcycles in the 1950s. It was about the right size and looked cool. I’d need to figure out a way to mount it, wire it, and activate it from the foot brake.
One other thing I was concerned about was my mounting of the route sheet holder. I had it mounted but was not confident it would hold up for the next 4,000 miles I’d need it for.
I am a fair mechanic, not great, but fair. However I know I am a lousy fabricator, and to do these two items right I am lacking the skills needed. My friend Pete Minardi, owner of Precision Custom Motorcycles in Whippany, NJ has these skills and more. So I called him a few weeks ago and asked if he could slide my bike into his always crowded schedule. He did.
A few days later I got my Harley down to Pete along with a box of parts (including the STOP light, a brake light activation switch for the brake rod, and a few other bits and pieces. I told him the Motorcycle Cannonball was starting in less than 4 weeks, and politely asked if he could please move this up in priority if possible.
Yesterday I picked the bike up from Pete’s shop and could not have been more pleased with his craftsmanship. Much of this rare old Harley is original and correct. Pete and I share the belief that we can modify broken or incorrect parts but to never damage stock and original old parts if at all possible.
So he hand fabricated a mounting bracket for the new STOP light and bolted it on top of the stock original one, then added a clamp from the back of the light to the luggage rack for extra stability. He installed the brake light switch on the rear brake rod and wired it all up nice and neat. Looks great and works fine.
In addition to this he fabricated a stronger mounting system to hold the route sheet holder in place. On the Motorcycle Cannonball we are given the next day’s route the night before. It is on a number of paper sheets that we need to tape together and install into this route sheet holder. Without the instructions, we are bound to get lost (we might any way, but this lessens the odds).
Starting with an old Harley crossbar brace (thanks to Dale Walksler of Wheels Through Time museum) I found an old bracket in my spare parts box that fit nearly perfectly on the brace. It was originally a horn mounting bracket from an Indian 101 Scout.
This horn bracket is the base for the new mounting design. Pete crafted the rest of the bracket to bolt onto the Indian bracket and to attache to and stabilize the route sheet holder. Very nice work Pete.
In addition to this Pete redid some of the wiring around the battery and back to the rear lights on my Harley. He remounted the ignition coil and improved the mounting system to hold the battery box cover in place.
I feel the motorcycle is about as prepped and ready for this 4,000 mile ride as can be. Now I have to finish gathering all the spare parts, tools, and riding gear in one place.
Thanks to all my sponsors who are helping make this possible. They include (in alphabetic order) American Iron Magazine, Amsoil, Coker Tires, Heathers’ Leathers – for the saddle and cover, Nolan helmets, Vanson Leathers - for my riding jacket, Precision Custom Motorcycles and Wheels Through Time museum – for doing most of the mechanical work. And to everyone who purchased a Team American Iron Motorcycle Cannonball Support Staff T-shirt.