Here's the story: My motor died back in 2003. Carl Vandre agreed to rebuild my motor, and I shipped it by truck out to Denver in October 2006. Carl rebuilt the motor, and I picked it up at the Davenport meet Labor Day 2007 weekend.
Here's the chronicle of putting the bike back together again.
Tuesday, Sept 4, 2007, 8 am GARAGE CLEANUP
Of course, the garage needed a little cleanup. And the Topper wheeled out to make some room. After sitting for the last two years, it started on the fifth or sixth pull! Then the KJ could be moved to the re-assembly area.
Tuesday, Sept 4, 2007, 9am DE-CRATING
I opened up the crate, and voila - a beautiful Henderson KJ motor awaited me. Out of the crate, and onto the floor.
Tuesday, Sept 4, 2007 11 am WEB POSTING, KJ CLEAN-UP, LAWN CARE
Put the first few pictures on the web site. Now comes the boring task of cleaning up the bike - stuff that I should have done months ago (duh), so it would have been all ready to receive the new engine. I'm interspersing boring cleanup with boring lawn-mowing. This will probably occupy the rest of the day.
Tuesday, Sept 4, 2007, 1:00 pm ENGINE IN FRAME
Mowing the lawn sure was boring. Plus, I wanted a beer with lunch - and I figured I should get the engine in the frame - before the beer. I had to take off the kickstart lever and carburator. Carl said to leave the oil pump on the engine when I put it back in, so I did. This required removing the rear fender. With a little grunting, the engine is in by 1:30. Ah, that cold beer sure tastes good!
Tuesday, Sept 4, 2007, 10:30 pm STARTING TO LOOK LIKE A MOTORCYCLE
Quitting time - but now it's starting to look like a motorcycle. I recently bought a tandem seat setup from Marty Megrarian, but decided to put it back the way it was for now. I'll tackle the tandem once it's running again.
Wednesday, Sept 5, 2007, 7:30 pm WHY DIDN'T I DO THIS BEFORE?
Today was spent running around, getting parts. A new chain, and misc nuts and bolts. Then off to the Honda dealer to get some copper exhaust gaskets.Then out to lunch with my wife.
Thursday, Sept 6, 2007 SAME DARNED PROBLEM AS BEFORE
After getting the exhaust system all cleaned up and was doing I final assembly, I found that the downtubes would not seal to the cylinder heads. Then I remembered that they never did seal right as long as I have owned the bike. During the past four years that the bike has been sitting, I just totally forgot about this one major problem.
So I marked and measured and came up with the conclusion that the downtubes are about 3/8" to 1/2" too short. Two choices - I could either find a welder who could do some precision work with odd size pipes and get a cruddy looking but functional exhaust - or I could try to find a new set of pipes.
Friday, September 7, 2007 PIPE RESEARCH
I posted a message on the KJ Exchange asking if any header pipes were available. I decided to keep going on other areas of the re-assembly job, while the exhaust system problem worked itself out. Friday night, and off to our "farm" for the weekend.
Monday, September 10, 2007 PIPE RESEARCH CONTINUES
I received a number of responses by email and on the Exchange suggesting that I try the Smith's out in Oregon, but several (un-named) people mentioned that they had to do a lot of "fitting" to get the Smith's pipes to fit correctly.
I checked out http://www.antiquemotorcycleworks.com, and found that they now listed a KJ exhaust system (stainless) for $700, where they previously made carbon steel systems. I called 503-655-5428 and spoke to Dennis, who told me that they didn't actually have any - they put them in the catalog in anticipation of finding a new welder person who could actually make them. He said there was a possibility of having an old carbon steel header pipe sitting around, and that he would check and call me back.
Several people recommended Brad Wilmarth in Richmond, VA. I called Brad (804)590-1445, and he will make a complete exhaust system, custom fit to the bike, nickel-plated, for $2500. Well, I don't need a complete exhaust system, and Brad didn't want to work on somebody else's bad job (and having been an auto mechanic, I can understand that!)
At this point, I realized that I was never going to make my Friday deadline (end of my 2-week vacation). So I kept working on other stuff, figuring that a solution would eventually come my way.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007 EXHAUST SYSTEM PAYDIRT!
Someone I know, who works as a machinist at a U.S. Army R&D Laboratory, knew someone who recently retired from a U.S. Navy R&D Laboratory - the same Navy lab that I used to work at. That somebody was a welder there for 35 years. These R&D labs produce models and prototypes - typically one-of-a-kind thingies often made out of exotic materials to exacting tolerances. This welder was always into side-jobs, and did a lot of street rods, Corvettes, and anything else that needed welding. This is the kind of guy spent his life welding cinder blocks to two-by-fours with .0001 tolerance.
I went over to his shop with my header pipe, and explained that I needed 1/2" extensions welded on. He said "no problem", and ordered the material while I was there. He said it would take two hours labor plus the cost of the material - which happened to be 1-3/8" stainless steel. He said the pipes would be finished so that you wouldn't notice it other than slight discoloration, and the copper gaskets would slide nicely over the welds.
Friday, September 14, 2007 - YOUR JOB IS DONE - COME PICK IT UP
Thursday and Friday were spent fixing my Oil Pressure gauge, and writing up an article about it. I also created some web pages for Ken Lee's Buddy Seat setup and Indnrdr's Oil Filter setup. Thus started the new "Miscellaneous" section of the KJ Web Site.
I also did a lot of checking on motor oil. Got a lot of opinions on the KJ Exchange, as well as reading lots of web articles and calling some of the oil companies. I'm pretty well sold on diesel-engine-rated oils (vs. car oils or even motorcycle oils). I've started writing up an article on this subject which I plan to submit to the AMCA magazine.
I received the exhaust system gaskets from Bill Klein in St. Louis. (I ordered two sets for safety). While researching motor oils, I also decided to replicate Indnrdr's oil filter setup. I checked Rocky Halter 330-832-1989 - one of Old Iron's distributors, and ordered the Indian Chief version of the oil filter. Heck, I have a brand-new engine, I really ought to protect my mega-buck investment with an oil filter - even if it's not quite stock. This will put me even further behind schedule, but haste makes waste, and I've waited four years, another few weeks won't kill me. Carl Vandre recommends an oil filter. Rob Olson recommends an oil filter. These guys know a LOT more than me...
I was cleaning the rain gutters on the garage and missed the phone call from my welder. It was late afternoon when I played the answering machines message and found a "Your job is done - come pick it up" message.
We were both going away for the weekend, and he has committments on Monday and Tuesday, so it will be next Wednesday or Thursday before I can retrieve it.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - GOT PIPES
I picked up the pipes from the welder tonight. The bill $150. I fitted them up to the bike, and the 1/2" extension was just the right size. Although he smoothed the welds, the copper gaskets would not slide smoothly. So a little work needed here. Too bad I didn't have the copper gaskets to give to the welder BEFORE he did the job.m
I also found a message from Dennis of Antique Motorworks on the answering machine.
Thursday, September 20, 2007 - FILE, FILE, FILE
A little judicious filing on the welds got the copper gaskets sliding smoothly. Looking more closely, the welds on the inside of the pipe are a lot smoother than the welds on the outside. The ones on the outside really could be smoother. Rechecked the fit on the pipes in the cylinder, and clearance from the motor mount pads, and it's just right! I really would have liked to see it a lot smoother on the outside, but I think the copper gaskets will seal alright. The welds will be covered by the packing nuts, and the whole think will look a lot better after hitting the buffing wheel.
I got a little education in Stainless Steel - SS comes in both magnetic and non-magnetic variants - actually there are hundreds of variants, although only a few are common in industry (304 and 316 are the most common). The bulk of my exhaust system is magnetic - probably a 400-series stainless. The extensions are non-magnetic, probably 304 or 316. This is pretty weird to touch it with a magnet!.
I called Dennis at Antique Motorworks, and he confirmed that there are "none left" of the header pipes except the prototype which they are not willing to part with (duh).
Saturday, September 22, 2007 - THE KJ RUNS AGAIN
FINALLY! After a four-year wait, the KJ runs again, and takes it's maiden voyage around the neighborhood. And it feels good - really, really good.