Saturday, July 8, 2017

Meltdown Coming!

The view of "The Knuckledragger" that other bikes running the Meltdown Drags next weekend will become familiar with

In the time honored tradition of a little trash-talking prior to a race,  I submit the picture with caption above.  Truth is, I expect some memorable racing.  Word has it that Steve McGregor will be there with his double engine Triumph, as well Glen Kerr with his history making Dubble Trubble twin engine Triumph.  Right now it is a bit unclear whether Glen will be running Dubble Trubble or the new double engine Triumph he has been working on.

Dubble Trubble at Eddyville

McGregor's double Triumph at Eddyville

Glen Kerr's new ride in process

 Back in 2012, we made the trip to the vintage meet in Eddyville, Iowa. Despite my engine barely running well enough to engage the clutch due to an embarrassing bit of stupidity on my part, the highlight of the meet for me was going to be making a pass with The Knuckledragger alongside Dubble Trubble.  As it turned out, I had to wave Glen on to make a single pass when the Knuck engine stalled before even making it to the starting line.  Later that day I did manage to slip the clutch enough to get underway with Steve on his double in the other lane, but since his bike wouldn't shift and mine was running so poorly, it was hardly a satisfying match.  Hopefully all that will change next weekend at the 8th Annual Meltdown Drags at Byron Dragway, Byron Illinois.

Resting Comfortably

Meanwhile, The Knuckldragger is getting in a last bit of rest before the big event.  I pulled the cam cover and  pre-1940 oil pump this past week just to be sure all was well there.  A careful once over of the frame, checking the tightness of all fasteners, as well as chain, clutch and pushrod adjustment pretty well sum it up.  None of that seemed to disturb its sleep, but I fully expect The Knuckledragger to be fully awake come next Friday!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Bunyan on Old Testament Sacrifices

The following is a small section of  a dissertation by John Bunyan (1628-1688) on “Doctrine of Law and Grace” from volume 1 of the four-volume set: “The Complete Works of John Bunyan.”  I personally transcribed it from very old copy in my library because I find it quite helpful in understanding why some of the details of the Old Testament sacrifices were commanded to be as they were, so that they properly foreshadowed the cross of Christ.  I suppose it is hoping for much to think many younger will take the time to read it, given the ever decreasing attention span ushered in by Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and the like, but despite longer sentences and paragraphs than we are accustomed to, it is definitely worth the read.

Now though those sacrifices were offered, yet they were not offered to the end they should make the comers to or offerors thereof perfect; but the things were to represent to the world that God had in after ages for to do; which was even in the salvation of his creatures, by the offering of the body of Jesus Christ, of which these were a shadow and a type for the accomplishing of the second covenant.  For Christ was by covenant to offer a sacrifice, and that an effectual one too, if he intended the salvation of sinners: “A body has thou prepared me; I am come to do thy will.” (Hebrews 10)   I shall therefore show you, First, what was expected of God in the sacrifice in the type, and then show you how it was answered in the antitype.  Second, I shall show you the manner of the offering of the type; and so answerable thereto to show you the fitness of the sacrifice of the body of Christ, by way of answering some questions.

First.  For the first of these, 1. God did expect that sacrifice which he himself had appointed, and not another, to signify that none would serve his turn but the body and soul of his appointed Christ, the mediator of the new covenant. (John 1:29) 2. This sacrifice must not be lame or deformed; it must have no scar, spot, or blemish to signify that Jesus Christ was to be a complete sacrifice by covenant. (1 Peter 1:19)   3. This sacrifice was to be taken out of the flock or herd: to signify that Jesus Christ was to come out of the race of mankind, according to the covenant. (Hebrews 10:5)
Second.  As to the manner of it: 1. The sacrifice, before it was offered, was to have the sins of the children of Israel confessed over it: to signify that Jesus Christ must (Isaiah 53:4-7. 1 Peter2:24) bear the sins of all his children by covenant, “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant” in his own body on the tree. (Zechariah 9:10-11)   2. It must be had to the place appointed, namely, without the camp of Israel; to signify that Jesus Christ must be led to Mount Calvary. (Luke 23:33)   3. The sacrifice was to be killed there; to signify that Jesus Christ must and did suffer without the city of Jerusalem for our salvation. 4. The sacrifice must not only have its life taken away, but also some of its flesh burned upon the alter; to signify that Jesus Christ was not only to die a natural death, but also that he should undergo the pains and torment of the damned in hell.   5. Sometimes there must be a living offering and a dead offering, as the goat that was killed and the scapegoat, the dead bird and the living bird, (Leviticus 14:4-6) to signify that Jesus Christ must die and come to life again.   6. The goat that was to die was to be the sin offering: that is, to be offered as the rest of the sin-offerings, to make an atonement as a type; and the other goat was to have all the sins of the children of Israel confessed over him, (Leviticus 16:7-22) and then to be let go into the wilderness, never to be catched again; so signify that Christ’s death was to make satisfaction for sin, and his coming to life again was to bring in everlasting (Romans 4:25) justification from the power, curse and destroying nature of sin.   7. The scapegoat was to be carried by fit man into the wilderness; to signify that Jesus Christ should be both fit and able to carry our sins quite away from us, so as they should never be laid to our charge again.  Here is grace.   8. The sacrifices under the law, commonly part of them must be eaten, (Exodus 12:5-11) to signify that they that are saved should spiritually feed on the body and blood of Jesus Christ, or else they have no life by him. (John 6:51-53)   9. This sacrifice must be eaten with unleavened bread; to signify that they which love their sins, that devilish leaven of wickedness, they do not feed upon Jesus Christ.

Now of what hath been spoken this is the sum, that there is a sacrifice under the new covenant as there were sacrifices under the old; and that this sacrifice did every way answer that or those; indeed they did but suffer for sin in a show, but he in reality; they as the shadow, but he as the substance. Oh, when Jesus Christ did come to make himself a sacrifice, or to offer himself for sin, you may understand that our sins were indeed charged to purpose upon him!  Oh, how they scarred his soul, how they brake his body, insomuch that they made the blood run down the blessed face and from his precious side!  Therefore, thou must understand these following things: 1. That Jesus Christ by covenant did die for sin.  2. That his death was not a mere natural death, but a “cursed death;” even such a one as men do undergo from God for their sins, though he himself had none; even such a death as to endure the very pains and torments of hell.  Oh, sad pains and inexpressible torments that this our sacrifice for sin went under!  The pains of his body were not all; no, but the pains of his soul; for his soul was made an offering as well as his body; yet all but one sacrifice. (Isaiah 53)   To signify that the suffering of Christ was not only a bodily suffering but a soul-suffering; not only to suffer what man could inflict upon him, but also to suffer soul-torments that none but God can inflict, or suffer to be inflicted upon him.  Oh, the torments of his soul!  They were torments indeed; his soul was that that felt the wrath of God: “My soul,” saith he, “is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death.” (Matthew 26:38) “My soul is troubled, and what shall I say?” (John12:27) The rock was not so rent as was his precious soul; there was not such a terrible darkness on the face of the earth then, as there was on his precious soul.  Oh, the torments of hell, and the eclipsing of the divine smiles of God, were both upon him at once; the devils assailing of him, and God forsaking of him and all at once!  “My God, my God,” said he, “why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46) Now in my greatest extremity; now sin is laid upon me, the curse takes hold of me, the pains of hell are clasped about me, and thou hast forsaken me.  Oh, sad!  Sinners, this was not done in pretense, but in reality; not in show, but in very deed; otherwise Christ had dissembled, and had not spoken the truth; but the truth of it his bloody sweat declares, his mighty cries declare, the things which and for what he suffered declare.  Nay, I must say thus much, that all the damned souls in hell, with their damnations, did never yet feel that torment and pain that did this blessed Jesus in a little time.  Sinner, canst thou read that Jesus Christ was made an offering for sin, and yet go on in sin?  Canst thou hear that the load of thy sins did break the very heart of Christ, and spill his precious blood?  And canst thou find in thy heart to labour to lay more sins on his back?  Canst thou hear that he suffered the pains, the fiery flames of hell, and canst thou find in thy heart to add to his groans, by slighting of his sufferings?  Oh, hard hearted wretch!   How canst thou deal so unkindly with such a sweet Lord Jesus?

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Inside the Patriot Missile

So, as with almost anything one might endeavor to write about, this one has a “back story” of sorts.  A number of years ago, I had an on-line discussion with the legendary drag racer Granddaddy Joe Smith.  In the course of that conversation, Joe told of one of the many engine configurations with which he competed in Top Fuel, that being a Shovel featuring one injector on each head.  The thing that caught my attention, was the way in which Joe achieved the individual intake tracts.  Ingeniously, he used two rear heads, turning one 180 degrees and mounting it in the front position.  What I found especially compelling of this set up was the how few special parts are required.  The cylinder base stud pattern on a Shovelhead is “square.”  That means rather than having custom built cylinders in order to turn the head around, one can simply turn the whole cylinder and head assembly 180 degrees.  Another neat little part about this method is that since the intake and exhaust ports remain in their original orientation with respect to the cam it does not require the use of a specially ground camshaft as some other conversions might.  One other note concerning this conversion would have to include a credit to Turk Dale, another legendary drag racer who also campaigned a Shovelhead in this same configuration.

Now, seeking to put into practice a principal presented to me by an early mentor in the field of Harley mechanics, the second thought I had (after, “I really want to build one of those!”) was, “who can I find to pay me to build one of those.”   That’s right, the principle is, “let someone else pay you to experiment.”  I even came up with cheaper way to build such a motor: start with an Iron Sportster.  However, after several years of the idea rattling around in my head, it became clear that I would find no one in the market for such an exotic piece, at least no one willing to spend more than nothing to make it happen.  But once my good friend Kevin “Teach” Baas let it slip that he had a Sportster motor that was destined to be a project for the students in Kennedy High School’s Chopper Class, the old light bulb started to glow.

If I couldn’t make any money building a cool conversion such as I envisioned, the next best scenario would be to donate my labor to a worthy cause, in what would eventually come to be the vintage style drag bike known as the “Patriot Missile.”

Kevin has been teaching a class designed to get his high school students interested in what we used to call “the industrial arts” at Kennedy High School in Bloomington, Minnesota.  To make the idea of learning how to weld and fabricate more attractive, Teach came up with the idea of building choppers as a focus of the class.  It has been very successful, to the point where the idea has caught on at various schools around the nation.  After all, imitation is the greatest form of flattery.  And I guess that makes this engine build a form of flattery aimed towards Granddaddy Joe and Turk.

In case any of you are wondering how well this conversion, pioneered by Turk and Granddaddy Joe on Shovelheads, applies to an Iron Head, the answer is, “just fine, thank you.”  There is only one caveat, and it actually makes the whole process even one step simpler.  Since the cylinder base pattern on a Sportster is NOT square, you can’t reverse a cylinder, but the beauty of it is that you don’t need to because on an Iron XL the headbolt pattern is square! 
Since this engine build was destined for the drag strip, I took the liberty of machining a goodly portion of the cooling fins off both the heads and the cylinders, however I did spend the extra time to mock everything up first with the fins intact to confirm that the conversion would also be viable on a flat tracker or even a street bike. If you chose to build your own version of this, you will also find that it will entail some trimming of fins for pushrod tube clearance and such, but that is a fairly easy hurdle to clear.  During the process, I even machined spark plug wrench clearance into the stock front rocker box, which because it now resides on a reversed rear head, has its spark plug on the pushrod side.  Using a front rocker box in its original orientation on a reversed rear head is not quite a bolt on.  Some of the rocker box mounting holes wind up being about “a 1/4 of a hole off” which is easily remedied with a long end mill of the correct diameter.  However, the two mounting holes closest to the center of the head do keep the rockers in proper relation to the valve tips.  Since this was to be a drag bike, before I was through with the rocker boxes, I split them, lightened and polished the rockers, and added grease zerks to the shafts to provide lubrication.

The iron heads were where most of the time was spent, and indeed the area that requires the most modification for the conversion.  Rather than simply welding an extension onto each intake port, I chose to build separate “manifolds.”  The extra length required to provide carb clearance would have made it very difficult to do a good job of porting, so fabricating a couple extra flanges to make the extensions removable was time well spent.  Since porting work is one of my specialties, this project was a good opportunity to push the envelope a bit for Iron heads.  This began with a 2.060” intake valve, a full 1/8” larger than the largest valve Harley ever put in a Sportster.  To compliment this larger valve, the port diameter was also increased from its stock 1.565” to 1.680”.  The large intake valve resulted in the need to cut down a 1-3/4” exhaust valve to a more “valve to valve clearance” friendly 1.650”.  The use of hotter cams would have necessitated either an even smaller exhaust valve or perhaps a 2 inch intake.  If this was to be something other than a drag bike, I would have needed to convert the heads (or at least the one in the front position) to external drain lines, but because of its intended purpose that step could be ignored here.  As previously mentioned I fabricated steel flanges to weld onto the cast iron heads, but then switched to aluminum for the actual intake port extensions.  During initial mock up, I found that a straight port extension would not provide carb clearance without making them considerably longer than a theoretically correct tuned length called for.  Since a curved port extension would be difficult to come up with, I chose to put a 5 degree angle on each end of the extension, knowing that was a small enough change of direction to cause little loss in air flow.  The old round slide Mikunis, being narrower, would have been a better choice here, but I was fresh out of them, and have been for a couple decades.

As for the flow figures, the heads came up to 267 CFM at .600” lift (at 28" test pressure) on the intakes, and though they were still gaining at that lift, I didn’t bother checking them past that point since we were stuck with the .400 lift “P” cams anyway.  Curiosity may have gotten the better of me, but checking them at higher lifts would have necessitated shorting the tops of the guides.  The 267 figure comes out to be about 45 CFM more than a stock head of similar vintage, and even the .400” lift figures showed nearly a 40 CFM gain.

A bit of further explanation may be in order here before continuing with the engine description.  The Patriot Missile project, despite its name, did not have the luxury of being funded by the U.S.  government.  Most of the parts were either donated, “scrounged” or purchased by Teach.  The motor had reportedly been recently rebuilt before it was donated, but to stock specs.  The pistons showed this to be the case, being new +.040 JCC reproductions sporting stock compression ratio.  Stock Sportster “P” cams inhabited the cam chest.  Since high compression pistons and hot cams were not in the non-existent budget, I decided to do what drag racers did in the days before specialty parts were readily available and success depended less on cubic money
The cams would have to stay, but there was one thing I could do about the pistons.  After all, electricity, argon and filler rod all add up to peanuts compared to custom made high compression slugs.  After a goodly amount of time welding, grinding, machining and measuring, the domes came in at 60.7cc, which put the final compression ratio at just over 11:1.  Not surprisingly, the extra material in the dome added a fair amount of weight.  To avoid the necessity of splitting the cases to re-balance the flywheels, a like amount had to come out of the bottom of the piston domes, along with some other strategic areas of each piston.  Leaving out the middle ring also saved a little weight, while decreasing frictional losses at the same time.

In that same vein, selection of carbs was based on two criteria; price and availability.  Several years ago, I purchased a box full of old OEM butterfly Keihin carbs that another shop had designated as parts carbs.  That fulfilled both points of the criteria.  The Keihins were in hand and for all intent and purposes they were free.  Once a matched pair of them were separated from the herd, all that remained was to clean them up and find a way to get some air through them.  Never having bored one of these before, I decided to creep up on the maximum size possible, and found the 38mm carbs could be taken out to 41mm, though that was certainly pushing the limits. 

At this point in time, I have to say that I am quite pleased with the results, especially considering the extremely low cash investment.  Given the dead stock lower end, I don’t expect to see record setting performance, but I do expect to see a smile on Teach’s face when he takes it down the track at the Meltdown Drags in July, ….and I hope that it puts a smile on the faces of a couple of legendary drag racers who provided the inspiration!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

If One Return From the Dead

Luke 16:19-31

There are a number of things we can glean from the story of Lazarus and the rich man, as well as a number of things we might get wrong unless we view this story in light of the rest of what the Bible teaches.  

One thing we could come to the wrong conclusion about is what gets a person to heaven.  From this story, taken alone, one might think that poor people go to heaven and rich men go to hell.  We could surmise that this story teaches that one who suffers hunger, disease, and hardship during this life will go to heaven because of that suffering.  And, of course the reverse of that would also be seen as true; that the rich will necessarily suffer condemnation for having lived a life of luxury. We might even find other scripture passages that at first glance might seem support that mistaken view.  After all, didn’t Jesus say, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”?  Didn’t he also say, “For it is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”?

 If that were what those verses were teaching, it should be cause for great alarm for every one of us living in the United States today, because compared to much of the rest of the world, and especially compared to most people throughout history, we are rich and live a life of luxury! But, when we consider the rest of God’s word, it is plain that the point of this story of Lazarus and the rich man has nothing to do with what caused their eternal destination, but we’ll come back to that.

One thing we can safely take from this passage about the Lazarus and the rich man is that riches in this life is not necessarily a sign of God’s special favor on a person, nor is sickness and poverty a sign of God’s judgment. 
We have enough examples from scripture to show this to be obviously true.  In fact, we might simply consider a portion of Matthew 5:45. Your Father which is in heaven “… maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” 

Another thing we might rightly glean from this story of Lazarus and the rich man is the horrific circumstances of hell.  Here it’s portrayed as being in flames, suffering such that even a drop of water on his tongue would provide some relief.  Suffice to say that Jesus tells us that it would be better to remove your right eye or your right hand than to enter this place of torment.  Perhaps even more alarming is the impossibility of improving on that situation.  As our text says, “a great gulf is fixed” between heaven and hell, which it is not possible to cross.

The next thing that might strike us from this story is that the rich man, once he realizes that his fate is fixed, seems to suddenly become evangelistic.  Obviously, the rich man regrets being cast into a place of torment, and one might even be tempted to think of it as a form of repentance, but in reading a number of the saints of the last several centuries, they seem to agree that his motive was less than purely charitable.  John Bunyan, John Gill, and John Wesley all point out that the presence of the rich man’s brothers with him in hell would add to his own torment. 

Regret is not the same thing as repentance and I think it is likely that the fires of hell did not change the rich man very much; his primary care was for his own comfort, just as it had been while he was alive and living in luxury while Lazarus laid hungry and suffering by his gate.

But what of this plea that Lazarus would rise from the dead to warn the rich man’s brothers to repent?  He is told that they have Moses and the prophets to warn them.  Moses and the prophets, … that is God’s word, the Old Testament scripture.  The rich man’s brothers had the Old Testament, so they were without excuse.  We have not only Moses and the prophets, but also the New Testament.  If the rich man’s brothers were without excuse, then we are doubly so!

But no,” the rich man says, “if one went to them from the dead, they would repent!”  The answer, from verse 31, is wonderfully profound.  If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. 

Think about that for a moment.  What if one rose from the dead?
That bring us to the day we celebrate this weekend.  Easter.  Resurrection Sunday.  One did rise from the dead.  Yet many, in fact most, will not be persuaded.  

On Good Friday two thousand years ago Jesus Christ, the unique Son of God, fully God and fully man, after living a completely pure and sinless life, was whipped and beaten nearly to death and then went to die in our place on the cross of Calvary.  The righteous wrath of God was poured out upon Jesus so that we might receive mercy.  At the same time God’s perfect and holy justice was upheld because our sins received the proper punishment.  Then the dead body of Jesus was buried in a tomb, but three days later he rose from the dead.  The only question is, are you persuaded? 

Let’s finish with this.  Remember earlier I said that the point of the story of Lazarus and the rich man has nothing to do with what caused their eternal destination, but we’d come back to that?  Well, now we’re back.  Lazarus, despite his poverty, clearly must have had one thing that the rich man lacked. 
That thing is faith.  In the book of Hebrews chapter 11 we read of the faith of the Old Testament saints of God.  Some were rich, some were powerful, some were leaders of armies, … but some were like Lazarus.
The Bible tells us some were tortured, some mocked and beaten, some imprisoned, and worse.  Some were ill clothed, destitute, mistreated and afflicted, but what marks all of these mentioned in the book of Hebrews, whether rich or poor, is faith.

Poor health is an affliction.  Disabilities are an affliction.  Old age is an affliction.  Whether rich, young, and healthy, or poor, old, and sick; none of these things have any bearing on whether our destination is one of being comforted along with Lazarus or tormented with the rich man.  Those eternal matters are determined by faith.  If you already have that faith, I pray that it would be strengthened.  If not, won’t you trust in Jesus, that his suffering paid for your sins, and that his burial and resurrection proved it?  Won’t you be persuaded by the fact that he rose from the dead?