Wednesday, December 26, 2007

What You Pay For

I had been playing around (in my head) with a new slogan to use in my shop. Its based on the old saying "you get what you pay for". Obviously that works to use with persons who think my prices are too high. But, I think there is a danger in having my prices too low (besides not making a living). That would be the perception that if my prices are too low, my workmanship may not be as good as could be obtained at a higher priced shop.

A good example is the "Bare Bones" porting job I offer for Twin Cams. At $499, it is one of the best performance buys on the market for Harleys. When I developed this porting job, it offered outstanding flow for a very reasonable price. With the addition of the knowledge I gained during my week of school with Joe Mondello, they are probably some of the best heads available anywhere for any price! But that still doesn't stop some customers from wanting to upgrade to a more expensive porting job, even though they may not really be in the market for the higher performance potential that the more expensive porting job makes possible.

But now I have seen the other side of the coin. I recently had the displeasure of disassembling a Knucklehead engine that had been "rebuilt/restored" elsewhere. This engine had not been run since its "rebuild", so all of the sins of the rebuilder were plain to see. Though I have never met the person who performed this "restoration", it still nearly made me sick to my stomach to see his workmanship. If there ever was a case of not getting what you payed for, this was it!

Upon pulling the heads, the first problem was apparent. Rust pits in the fresh bore. I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt on this one. Maybe the oil consumption would not be too bad, and perhaps one could justify leaving the bore as small as possible, since it is for a restoration. Yeah, I'd be willing to give him that one, if that was the only thing I found. Pulling the cam cover, though, really told the story. The pinion shaft looked as though it had spent 50 years laying in a swamp before being bead blasted and then sanded. The shaft had deep rust pits over the entire surface. There was a good .002" wear on the end of the shaft that fits in the cam cover pinion bushing. That combined with a pinion bushing that had never been replaced (this was a 1938 engine) came to a grand total of .009" clearance. The factory service manual calls for .0005" (half a thou) to .0012" for that bushing clearance. Nearly 9 times too big!

Bushing end of pinion shaft

Splitting the cases revealed that the roller bearing surface of the pinion shaft was just as rust pitted as the rest of the shaft. It may have lasted a few hundred miles before disintegrating, but other things would have prevented the engine from ever running that long.

Roller bearing surface of pinion shaft

The cam was in similar shape. Lots of pitting on the cam lobes, along with .009" bushing clearance on one end and .006" on the other. Pulling the oil pump revealed a decent body and gears, but a pressure relief spring that may have come out of a ball point pen rather than the correct one. The check valve spring looked to be 70 years old, and in case it never dawned on you, springs do tend to loose some pressure with time.

About the only clearance that I found that was not way too big, was the valve to guide. And that was way too small! All four valves were fit at .001 clearance. Now, with the huge pinion bushing clearance and the way too weak pressure relief spring, there is no chance that the oil pump could have built enough pressure to get any oil to the heads, so the valves would have stuck anyway. However, at .001" valve to guide clearance on a Knuckle, it would not have mattered if the valves were submerged in oil, they would have stuck!

And then there are the rocker arms. New standard shafts in worn out rocker arm bores. One of the rockers is worn so badly that a +.010 shaft will not save it. That and rocker pads that show 70 years worth of grooving.

Wear on rocker pad

Like I said, it is enough to make me sick to my stomach. Work like this goes far beyond incompetent. Its is down right theft to charge any amount of money for this type of work!

You get what you pay for. Well, that is not always true. The person who did this to this engine proves that sometimes, no matter how low the price, you will not get any value for your money. I try to be at the opposite end of the spectrum. I do my very best to give the customer his money's worth and more no matter how high (or low) the price.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I Like Mike?

I need to make it clear that I am writing this "spur of the moment", and without any research, but here goes anyway.

A side bar on one of my favorite blogs had an "I Like Mike" link to the Mike Huckabee campaign web site. Now this particular blog is by a Baptist pastor who's viewpoints I appreciate, who's insights I find edifying, and who's doctrine I (as far as I can see) agree with. Mike Huckabee is also a Baptist pastor, but I know nothing of him outside politics.

Listening to conservative talk radio as I often do at work, I have heard the opinion expressed by one of our local talk show hosts that Mr. Huckabee is very liberal on every issue except abortion. Now given a choice between a liberal who is pro abortion and one who is anti abortion, there is no doubt in my mind I would chose the one who is against murdering babies. However, I would much prefer an anti abortion candidate who is also a conservative.

A couple days ago I caught a news snippet of a small portion of what I assume was the last Republican presidential debate. In it Mike Huckabee was being "hounded" for an answer about his belief as to the biblical story of creation. Mr. Huckabee would not affirm his belief in the Bible's version, that is, six days. The best he could do was to express his belief that God did the creating, but he did not know how long he spent at it. If I am not mistaken, his answer alluded to the "day/age theory." (in other words, each day mentioned in Genesis was a metaphor for an age or undetermined length of time)

I have to admit, this really gives me more doubts about Mr. Huckabee than the accusations of liberalism I have heard. I am perfectly willing to accept that someone can hold a different view on the proper role of government in our lives. As a conservative I am no fan of big, nanny state, tax and spend government. I may reject his political views for that reason, but could still "look up" to him for his stand against abortion and his Christianity.

However, his answers on the creation issue leave me wondering. There is little doubt that the bible describes creation as taking place in six literal days. The text explicitly states "and the evening and the morning were the first day" after each day of creation. Not only that, but if each "day" were indeed an "age" (what ....10 thousand years, 10 million years, or even 10 billion years?) then you may have a tough time explaining how the plants created in the third "age" survived until the sun was created in the fourth "age".

The possibilities as I see them are as follows:

1 Mike Huckabee as a Baptist pastor does not know the bible very well

2 Mike Huckabee as a Baptist pastor does not believe the bible to be reliable

3 Mike Huckabee as a Baptist pastor is willing to compromise his beliefs in order to not be looked down upon as a hopelessly uneducated hick by mainstream evolution believing voters.

Of these three possibilities I honestly can't decide which I would find most disappointing. Can anyone think of any other possibilities that would leave me feeling better about "Mike"?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Why St. Lee

When I first started this blog nearly a year ago, my wife Jane pointed out that I really needed to do a post explaining why I go by the pen name "St. Lee" in my posts. She pointed out that anyone seeing it might get the wrong impression. After all, many would think that you must have a pretty big head to assign the title "Saint" to your name. I agreed that it did warrant an explanation, but I am only now getting around to it.

If you have read any of my posts having to do with Christianity, I trust you will not have gotten the impression that I feel I have anything to boast of in either the fact of my being a Christian, or the life I live in regards to that Christianity. Any glory that is due is due only to God!

Quite the contrary, the moniker St. Lee came about as a result of a bit of satire that I had engaged in. Well before I started this blog, I was in the habit of following a number of other blogs regularly. One of my favorites was the now "retired" Purgatorio which managed to add a little humor to many people's day by bringing attention to some of the strange things done in the name of Christianity. Fairly early on, I read a post there about praying to Saints. I couldn't help responding to a comment by a lady who was obviously Catholic and wanted to explain the practice of praying to Saints. I have copied her comment here:

"Why? Because God has given his saints certain areas of expertise and dominion so that we here on earth can go to them for specific requests. It’s divine delegation, like the CEO of a large company. For instance, if someone wants to pray for protection during a long journey, he could pray to St. Christopher, the patron saint of travelers. His request goes straight to St. Christopher who has been given authority to answer that prayer (or not).It’s similar to the apostles ability to heal and cast out demons which was given to them by Jesus when he sent them out to preach the good news.It’s not mandatory that we pray to saints, but the option is open to us if we choose to do so.Please feel free to throw your stones now. "

My "tongue in cheek" response to her was as follows:

"Ok, I get it. In God’s business plan, he has delegated saints (like me) to answer the prayers of non saints. Wow, that’s quite a big responsibility. Kind of makes you wish the overworked CEO could find the time to deal with each of the non saints personally. "

And I signed my response "St. Lee"

Of course this nice lady's comment was based on her Roman Catholic understanding of the term Saint. If I am not mistaken, the Catholic faith has to officially declare a person a Saint, based on their good works leading to sanctification. My comment was based on the Baptist (and biblical I believe) understanding of the term; that is one who has been born again and declared righteous and holy due to the work of Christ completely separate from our own good works (or lack thereof).

Incidentally, I recall being taught as a young teen in the Lutheran Church something just about half way in between these two extremes. During a class we were told that a saint was not someone declared such by the Catholic Church, but actually any Christian who lived a very, very good life. When the class was asked to give examples of people they knew who qualified for the title saint, several of the other students agreed that my own mother fit the bill. I remember having somewhat mixed emotions at the time. Delight that my peers would see her in that light, but a bit wary because I knew she was not as perfect as they might think (though she really was a sweetheart). I still have somewhat mixed emotions, but I now have the clear realization that no matter how others may have seen of my mother, what matters is whether or not God saw her through the blood of Christ!

That is the story of how I became St. Lee on the blogosphere. It started as a bit of satire, but I decided to keep it since it fits only by the grace of God and the sacrifice of Christ. It was not until I had been using the pen name for some time that it even dawned on me that it could also be seen as a play on words ...Saintly ...St. Lee. As an adjective, saintly really does not fit, though by the grace of God that is slowly changing and some day will be an accurate description!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Oversize Valves in a Knuckle

(some of this post is taken directly from an answer that I posted on the FlatHeadPower bulletin board in response to a question about what was the customary way to modify stock Knuckle heads for a 2" intake valve. I thought I would add a little more info and make it a post here)

Vintage hot rod Harley's gotta love 'em! And one of the most popular motors to "hot rod" in times past was the venerable Knucklehead. If you have been around Harleys long enough, you have likely heard the stories, some might even say legends, of somebody that had a Knuckle that would "whup" anything around. Seems that every locality has at least a few of these stories that the graybeards can relate with a little prodding. Like all legends, the stories likely had their roots is some degree of fact.

So, what made these hot rod Knuckles so fast? Like every good motor, it was a combination of the right parts and the right modifications. Some of the most popular mods included installation of Flathead flywheels for an increase in stroke. Along with the flywheel change, often the flywheels were lightened to increase the rate of acceleration. A surprising number of Knuck heads were modified to run dual carbs. Cams could be re-ground for more lift and duration. And then there was porting and polishing along with an oversize intake valve. This last modification, the oversize intake valve is what I would like to focus on in this post.

A vintage modified dual Linkert Knuck

Back in the old days, the usual way to install a big intake valve in a knuck was to remove the old seat insert and grind the new seat right into the cast iron of the head (like an iron head XL). When you do it this way, a 2 inch valve is barely big enough, and many of them used a 2 1/32" or larger valve. For good flow you want the "choke" under the 45 degree seat to be a maximum of about 90% of the valve head diameter. If the stock seat insert is 1.875, then you can see that even the 2 1/32" valve would leave too large a diameter hole (90% of 2.031 is 1.828). On the other hand, low lift flow will likely be a bit better with the "too large" diameter under the valve, and lets face it, street knucks are for the most part limited to low lift. A bigger problem with using a 2" valve directly onto the cast iron might be any misalignment between the guide and the machining for the seat insert. If they are not close to concentric, there may not be much of the valve "catching" the head on one side.

valve seat cut onto cast iron of head after seat insert removal

A 2 1/32" (2.031) intake valve may have been the most common size used in the "old days" but there are some other considerations also. The valve pocket in the piston may not be large enough to give clearance around the edge of the valve. Even though you will likely be using a Shovelhead piston, remember that those will have been manufactured with a 1.940" (1 15/16) valve head diameter in mind. That means that if your intake valve and piston are coming close enough to each other (remember the intake valve will begin to open before the piston even reaches TDC) then even if there is plenty of depth to the piston valve relief, it may not be of sufficient diameter. The edges of the valve reliefs in the pistons can be opened up easily enough with a die grinder, but machining them on a mill will give a much more professional look.

A 2 1/16" (2.0625) intake valve will come closer to the ideal size for cutting the seat directly into the head (at least from a flow standpoint), but if you are still running a 3 7/6" bore, then opening the diameter of the valve relief in the piston will put you perilously close to cutting into the top ring groove. With anything larger than a 1.94"intake valve it would be a really good idea to mock up the motor with clay in the valve reliefs on the pistons. That way after you have gently rotated the engine a couple revolutions, you can see (and measure) the actual valve to piston clearance via the flattened clay. Don't forget that it is best to use light springs on the valves to avoid deflection of the valve train during this check.
Many of the large valve conversions done in times past used what I assume to be a tractor valve. That involved cutting down the valve head diameter as well as cutting a new keeper groove to shorten the valve. If you have to shorten the stem, then you should use a lash cap so that the rocker pad has a hardened surface to ride on. The added thickness of the lash cap should be considered when determining valve length. Whatever valve is selected should have a fairly minimal tulip or you will have to shorten the bottom of the guide for clearance (something a knuck can little afford; the knuck guides are already too short for good longevity!)

An example of a valve that will work (though far from ideal) is a Perfect Circle (brand name) 211-2455. It is a 2 3/32" with a 3/8" stem and not much of a tulip. The stem length is plenty long for mounting in a lathe to cut a new keeper groove. This valve also has a 30 degree seat angle rather than a 45. If you plan to use a 30 degree seat, then you are already there, but with the extra diameter there is enough material to allow you to grind it to a 45. One of the drawbacks to this valve is that the stem diameter is actually .3725". A stock Knuckle intake valve will have a stem diameter of approximately .375" so unless you are using guides that leave a little extra meat in the I.D. for fitting, you will likely wind up with more clearance than you might want.

When machining an oversize valve for use in a Knuckle, your first steps would be to cut the head diameter to size, grind the 45 degree seat on the valve, and then reduce the margin (which will have become wider due to cutting down the diameter) back by cutting the face of the valve. Once you have all of that taken care of, you are ready to cut the new keeper groove. You will want to mount the valve in the lathe by the stem end and cut the groove as close to the chuck as possible to keep everything concentric. The groove only needs to be "squared off" on the top edge, since that is where the spring pressure will apply force to the keeper. The very last step is to actually shorten the valve. This can be most easily accomplished by cutting the stem an appropriate distance above the new keeper groove with a cut-off wheel, leaving a small amount of extra material to face off on your valve grinder's valve stem tip refacing wheel. Don't forget to take into account the height of the lash cap, and where it will ride in relation to the valve keepers, when determining where to cut the valve.

note the keeper groove is only squared on tip end

Rowe replacement Knuckle intake has overall length of 3.575" with about .090 of that being the margin. I have cut 2.060 intake valves for use in Knucks using 3.585 as the overall length with .050 of that being the margin. This length does not take the needed lash cap (Crane # 99422-16) into account; it will add .060" to the effective length. If you are working from scratch, the 3.585 length (or 3.645 if you are having custom valves made: 3.585 + lash cap) may be a good place to start. If you start with the same length as a stock valve you will have to sink the valve quite a bit to get the stem protrusion in the ballpark for proper rocker arm geometry, and that will lower the compression ratio and tend to "shroud" the valve hurting flow.

Another option would be to install an oversize seat insert and use a 2" iron XL valve. This valve is readily available as a 1/16" oversize for a '70 to '84 XL. It is approximately the right length, so you don't have to mess with shortening or lash caps. The drawback is that you need to come up with a 5/16" I.D. valve guide and suitable springs, top collars, or keepers. The FHP knuckle heads used an "off the shelf" 1 15/16" XL intake valve, but I never did see where they offered the guides for 5/16" stem in any oversizes. Their spring kits should work for such an application, though the lower collar may be a problem.

But is this type modification worthwhile at this late date? That depends. By far the majority of Knucklehead owners today are just thrilled to have one to ride. Many would probably be horrified that anyone would consider modifying an otherwise stock Knuckle head, despite the fact that this particular mod can't be detected externally. Of course all of these modifications can easily be applied to any of the reproduction Knuckle heads, such as those from V-Twin and those from Flathead Power (now part of S&S). And, there are always those people who just can't leave things alone. I am one of those. There is hardly an engine I own that has not been modified for more power, and just being a priceless antique is not enough of a deterrent to keep me in check. Are you one of those people too?
If your goal is to build a Knuck that will dominate everything around, just as those of legend did ....well, that probably isn't going to happen. On the other hand, there are a whole world of bikers out there who will be totally blown away by just how strong your Knuckle can run! In my book, that is just one of life's little pleasures.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Whats so Amazing about Amazing Grace, part 7 and final

The song Amazing Grace continues to be an all time favorite of Christians everywhere. Today I would like to finish up my commentary on the song by looking at the final verse. If you missed the rest, you can find the first installment here.

This following verse was not part of the original song written by John Newton. Though the author is unknown, I believe that he has managed to give one of the most striking descriptions of eternity you will find this side of heaven.

Verse 6
When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’d first begun

Picture this if you can. You have been in heaven for ten thousand years. That is an amount of time that most of us have a tough time grasping. After all, many of us may live to be 70. Some may reach 80 or 90, but few will reach 100. Ten thousand years would be a hundred 100 year lifespans. That is a long time in any one's book. But after the equivalent of that time in heaven, the amount of time you have remaining to spend with God .... has not decreased by a single day! There is no end, it just continues forever and ever. Like I said, its hard for us to fathom.

Revelation 21: 2-4 tells us; "And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away."

No death, no sorrow, no crying, no pain; only the glorious presence of God. And it will go on forever. I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty good to me.

The only trouble is, that same description of how long eternity in heaven lasts also applies to how long an eternity in hell is. That should be a sobering thought for us! If you are reading this and you have not been born again, then this description of eternity should cause you to fear God.

As Jesus says in Matthew 10: 28; "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

If on the other hand, you have been born again, it should lead you to re evaluate your efforts to spread the gospel! Certainly if we consider those who will spend eternity in hell, we can well understand the statement that "God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes"

Amazing Grace, what an amazing song! Not only is Amazing Grace full of good biblical doctrine, but one cannot help being be inspired by it. In fact, one of the few things I find more inspiring than the song itself is the amazing grace of God that the song is based on!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Whats so Amazing about Amazing Grace, part 6

If you have not been following my commentary on the beloved Christian song Amazing Grace, by John Newton, you can find the first installment here. Now on to verse five.

Verse 5
The earth shall soon dissolve like snow:
the sun forbear to shine
But God who called me here below,
Will be forever mine.

The earth shall soon dissolve like snow:

Here again, it is easy enough to find scripture to support the lyrics. When the day of the Lord comes, this old earth will be purged by fire. All of what so many hold precious will be destroyed

2 Peter 3: 10-11 says; "But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,"

the sun forbear to shine

Revelation 21 tells of how the holy Jerusalem that will descend out of heaven from God, will have no use for the sun because it will be lighted by the glory of God
Verse 23 of chapter 21 states; "And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof"

But God who called me here below,

1 Peter 2: 9 tells us; "But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;"

Certainly those who have been born again, have been called by God out of spiritual darkness into the light of Jesus Christ! And let us not forget the title of this song. Amazing Grace. 2 Timothy 1: 9 reminds us of how that calling relates to grace; "Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,"

Will be forever mine.

1 Corinthians 1:9 "God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord." Keep in mind that our calling is by God, and it is him that is faithful. Praise the Lord that our continuing fellowship does not depend upon our weak flesh. It, like salvation is by God's grace.

1 John 5: 13 "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God."

We are all going to die physically, unless we are still here when the Lord returns. Obviously our physical life is not what John is speaking of here. The "eternal life" in view is spiritual in nature. When you are saved, born again, it is a spiritual birth. Before that point a man's spirit is dead, dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2: 1). But the spirit that is born in salvation is an eternal spirit. Eternal life, once bestowed, can never be withdrawn or thrown away, else it never was eternal life in the first place!

Eternal life is one of the great promises of God's amazing grace.