Cast of Characters:
This year it finally happened. After several years of work, starts, do-overs, set backs, and dealing with life in general we finally got a chance to get to the salt.
Some might ask what took so long. There’s no short answer except to say there’s more to running a streamliner in a never before ran class at a location thousands of miles away with strict rules than most other motorcycle related endeavors. I mean, it’s not like picking up a box of parts at a swap meet, and cobbling something together. There’s rules, logistics, and most of all the time and money to get things done.
History of the streamliner
project and running updates on:
to get there, Rocky, had to figure out the best way to transport
the streamliner and all the equipment required out to the Salt Flats which
is around 3000 miles away from his residence in Pennsylvania. A few years
ago he and I were discussing this and I suggested buying a used bus. It
seemed like a good idea to me at the time but proved to be a nightmare
later on; draining money, time and resources. In my defense, maybe it wasn’t
too bad of an idea but the actual result of it was just plain bad luck.
I’ll get to my theory about this later.
I would be boring the reader to explain everything that lead up to now and why we didn’t make it until this year. What is more important is what happened within the last year and how we were all able to pull it together. In order to do this, I’ll back up a bit, but not for long.
When Rocky first conceived of Dream Catcher and bought the liner chassis, nobody including himself, knew the amount of work it would take to actually run the thing on the salt. At the time a few people threw in with him including myself. I had been working with him on another Indian related project and thought it would be a neat thing to do. I can’t remember who asked who to be “on the team” but somehow I ended up being one of the guys. But being from Minnesota, there was little I could do except to donate a few things here and there. It was the same thing for most of the other guys on the team at that time. Rocky had to do all the work as everyone else lived a thousand miles away. To make matters worse, Rocky’s normal job has him traveling quite a bit for long periods of time and therefore he cannot spend as much time on the liner as he would like to.
This is an example of how hard Landshark rides his Chief. He was charging up I-29 in South Dakota when the rear cylinder detonated. He told me the bike was still running when he shut it down. This photo was taken about a week before Davenport, Iowa and the BUB event at Bonneville. The Shark went all out to rebuild his bike to make the event.
one thing we did do together a few years ago was to visit the salt flats
during Speed Week which is an event put on by the SCTA,
the Southern California Timing Association. This is an event that is for
both cars and motorcycles. During this visit, We learned a lot about how
teams set up their pits, the staging area, general rules about parking
on the salt, etc. This was a benefit to us when we came for real this past
Getting back to how we got back on track, requires me to tell the tale of how most of us got together: My little brother Eric, who has a finer taste in motorcycles than myself, is probably one of the first guys in the US to own and blow up a Husqvarna Super Motard. As a result of this, he has a reputation of knowing how to sort out their problems and put them back together. A guy on the East Coast, Alex Pearsal, was having the same Motard problems my brother had and during the course of Googling Husky fixes, had come up with Eric’s name. That sort of lead somehow to Alex posting photos on my website’s BBS. Now, it’s an unwritten rule that when guys first start posting photos on my BBS, the rest of us will ride them pretty hard about whatever they are posting. This has driven a few guys away but it has also kept the hardcore guys around. Well, Alex, who at the time knew nothing about Indians and probably knocked American V-Twins as a general rule, stuck in there. Eventually, he actually started to haggle us back and got some respect. He even took it a step further and started driving down to Pennsylvania on weekends to help Rocky sort out some things on the liner. More than once he brought his uncle Ed White, an engineer who helped Rocky with the steering linkage and some of the other systems on the bike. I will say, if it weren’t for Alex getting things done on the east coast, we wouldn’t have made it this past summer.
With Alex and his uncle helping out, Rocky had more time to concentrate on the bus. As I said before, the bus seemed like a good idea, and it still is. But the problem was the particular bus Rocky bought on eBay a few years ago. It needed a totally new engine, brakes redone, and tires. Not to mention all the revamping of the interior and fabrication of a rear door to enable Dream Catcher to be loaded. Although I was not there, it’s my perception that most of the effort the past few years has been making the bus roadworthy. Although I’m really not too superstitious, I really think that bus is jinxed as we had nothing but problems with it during this trip which I’ll explain later.
We had so much stuff jammed into my truck I thought it'd be a good idea to take a photo so we'd know how everything was supposed to fit for the return trip. Note how the Shark allways packs the essentials.
rate, as the streamliner was becoming closer and closer to being “close
enough” for us to finish it on the salt we started to develop a plan for
all of us to get there. The crew was split up into 3 groups: the Montana
group headed by Mort, a friend of mine whom I invited onto the team a few
years ago. He was also responsible for getting a partial sponsorship from
Steel Tattoos in Missoula who bought the fire suit and contributed some
funds. Next to Rocky himself, he was the greatest financial contributor
to the effort. The Minnesota Contingency was headed by myself accompanied
by my brother. And the East Coast Team headed of course by Rocky. As it
turned out, Alex had some work constraints so he decided to fly to Missoula
and join Mort and FOE. Chris Biglands flew into Missoula from London, England
at Mort’s invitation. And FOE Bob, Mort’s Brother in law, joined their
convoy on the drive from Missoula to Wendover, where we were staying.
As I said, my brother Eric was supposed to help me drive. But as a result of having a knack for destroying motorcycles, he’s got a degenerative spinal problem and cannot handle long drives. After learning he wasn’t going to make it with me, I was in a quagmire on recruiting a co-driver at the last minute as I hate long drives alone. Landshark, the World’s Most Dangerous Indian Rider, is well known throughout the country and I decided to ask him if he was interested in making the drive with me as he lives just down I-29 from me. This was just before the big meet at Davenport, Iowa. He explained to me that the only way he would do it is if he had his Chief back together. He emailed me some photos of his rear cylinder exploding while he was riding up I-29 earlier that week. He said he’d get right on fixing his bike. At that time I knew I had hooked him.
Landshark and Lyle waking up after the first night somewhere in a parking lot in Wyoming. We spent a few hours on the phone calling around for gaskets before we hit the road again. Photo by Rocky.
this same time period Rocky had left for Davenport on the way to Wendover
. He had been calling me explaining the bus wasn’t charging and it was
using water. This was the first real drive the bus had been on since he
put a different engine in it. About halfway to Davenport he ended up putting
a new alternator in the bus. This delayed him the better part of a day
but it did get him all the way to Davenport, Iowa where he set up at Indian
Frank’s booth. It was there that he and Landshark introduced themselves
to each other.
Landshark and I were to meet at his house on Saturday night the same weekend as Davenport. Neil, FOE, Alex, Magoo and Chris, were to leave the next day, as their drive was shorter.
The Drive Out
The Shark and I did meet Saturday but by the time we unloaded his Davenport stuff and he took a shower it got to be pretty late so we didn’t hit the road until the next morning. We slept in late as we had a long drive ahead of us and finally hit the road on Sunday mid morning. My truck was pretty loaded down with our bikes, tools, water, camping gear, etc. I even had a mig welder behind the passenger seat. There wasn’t much room in the truck for us to stretch out but at least we were well rested.
Our initial plan was to sort of zig zag south and west eventually getting to West Wendover, Nevada where we were going to meet up with the rest of the crew and stay with Neil’s friend Crusty who lives there. But I had been in pretty much regular contact with Rocky who told me he needs to stop every 30 to 40 miles and re-fill the radiator and he has to keep the speed down in the bus so it wouldn’t overheat. The Shark and I decided we had best stay on I-29 and go south until we hit I-80 and then turn west so we’d get on the same route as he was and eventually meet up.
Meeting the Minnesota Boys.
We had been passing and getting passed by this trio of riders all through Wyoming. We finally caught them at a rest area in Utah where they wanted to check out our bikes. It was at that moment we sucked them in. Here is Landshark doing some of his PR work. Photo by Rocky.
did meet up somewhere near Sidney in west Kansas,. Rocky and his co-driver
were waiting for us at a restaurant. They told us the bus was running hot
and was using a few gallons of water every 30 miles. As we all ate we let
the bus cool down. After supper I went out to the bus and pulled all the
spark plugs. One of them had white calcium looking deposits on it and obviously
that cylinder had water leaking into it somewhere. While we were all standing
around the bus which had the rear doors open, and my pickup with
two vintage Indians on the back of it, we started to draw a crowd. Now
generally I don’t like much attention when I travel but this time it was
good as one family found out about our plight and went home and fetched
a bunch of water jugs for us. We ended up using these jugs thoughout the
entire trip. Thank you whoever you are.
We knew we needed a couple of head and a manifold gaskets but this was happening on a Sunday night when no automotive parts stores were open so we decided to press on with a bunch of water. With myself and the Shark following Rocky pressed on. I guess our way of thinking was if he could make it all the way from Pennsylvania, he could make it the rest of the way as long as the bus didn’t overheat, hence the water. Our goal that night was to make it into Wyoming where hopefully we’d find a town the next day who had out gaskets.
Well, it turns out Rocky was right. We did have to pull over about every 30 miles, and refill the radiator. After driving about 50 mph with numerous stops to fill the radiator, we decided to call it a night sometime around midnight in Wyoming. Landshark and I being cheapskates decided to sleep outside. Myself in the cab of the truck and the Shark slept under a tarp between the bus and my truck. This was OK as he’s used to sleeping in a teepee (literally!) and I’ve slept in my cab plenty of times.
Snow in Montana
Although is was early September, the Montana crew had to drive through some snow to get to Nevada. Photo by Alex
and I woke up pretty early the next morning. We had parked underneath a
parking lot light to deter anyone messing with our stuff but unfortunately
the light shone into the cab of the truck all night. That combined with
not being able to stretch out gave me a lousy night’s sleep. Rocky being
the owner and crew chief stayed in the motel with his co-driver. During
coffee, the Shark and I started calling around for a top end gasket kit
for the bus. I called my brother in law, Caveman in Salt Lake. The Shark
called Kiwi Mike who was returning
to California from Davenport and was a few hundred miles behind us on I-80.
Kiwi was rolling through larger towns and had a better chance of finding
the gasket kit as we had a lot of nowhere ahead of us on the map. We had
already exhausted the local yellow pages in the last 4 or 5 towns we had
driven through the previous day. Remember, this was on the backside of
Labor Day weekend so many places weren’t open yet. After our phone calls,
and knowing we had made it this far we pressed on. We filled all of our
water jugs, the ice chest and hit the road.
All though the day, we stopped every 40 to 50 miles and had to refill the radiator and refill the water jugs if we got gas or there was a town or rest area that had water. In the meantime, the West Coast Crew consisting of Mort, FOE, Alex, and Chris, had left Missoula in two rigs: FOE’s bike hauler/camper and Mort’s truck and trailer. By this time, they knew of our plight and we figured we’d run into them somewhere in Utah. They were having no luck finding gaskets for us either. As luck would have it, it started to rain somewhere in mid Wyoming. This was actually good as the bus would run up to 60 miles or so between stops and travel about 10 miles an hour faster. Each time the bus stopped to refill water the Shark and I would pull in behind the bus and lend a hand. One time after the bus got started again and drove off we had just gotten back into my truck when the Wyoming Highway patrol pulled in behind us asking what we were up to. The officer was a young kid with a bunch of tattoos and looked like he rode a bike. We explained what we were up to: the bus, Bonneville, the bikes in the back of the truck, etc. and he let us go. I guess it wasn’t a good idea to stop on a bridge approach in Wyoming in a heavy rain but he was pretty cool about it.
Once we all met on the road, we stopped and took in the salt at first opportunity. Here is "Mort the Snort" getting a little too close; Proving the main thing was to have some fun.
What's the Bonneville Salt Flats?
hours later it was still raining and we were passed up by 3 guys on motorcycles,
A Honda touring rig, A Harley Road King and a Buell all loaded down. Landshark
and I commented they must be some pretty serious riders going like a bat
out of hell in the middle of a rainstorm in the middle of nowhere in Wyoming.
The same group of riders passed us up a couple more times as we had to
keep stopping to fill the truck up with water and they must have stopped
for gas or at rest areas. At any rate, we stopped at one of the first rest
areas in Utah and as I was coming out of the building to return to our
vehicles, I saw the same group of riders surrounding my truck talking to
Landshark. They had noticed the Minnesota plates on my truck and saw the
Blind Lizards MC
license topper on my Chief. The Blind Lizards is a familiar name to any
Minneapolis motorcycle insider and they wanted to talk as they were all
from the Minneapolis area.
As it turns out they were on their way to BUB. Landshark had already told them we were too and had introduced them to Rocky and the liner. By then I had invited them to join our crew. I think I sweetened the deal by telling them we had a place to stay. What I didn’t tell them was I had never met our host and he didn’t know I was inviting more people. They asked if I was serious and we told them we were. I gave them my number and told them to call once they had gotten into Wendover.
After hitting the road again our greatest concern was the mountains east of Salt Lake. We knew they would be hard on the bus the way it was running. Landshark and I decided to pass up the bus which was running consistent but slow, to go meet Caveman in Salt Lake where the bus would catch up with us.
We met Caveman at a restaurant but he had no luck finding our gasket kit. Salt Lake is a real big town too. I don’t know if it’s a Mormon thing, but none of the automotive shops had the gaskets Rocky needed. The bus arrived about 30 minutes later and we all had dinner. By this time the West Coast Crew was approaching Salt Lake from the north. They had decided to keep pressing on and not meet us at the restaurant. During the meal, Rocky’s co-driver was expressing concern about how the bus was running, money, motels, etc. I personally thought it must be a case of two old dogs being in the same kennel too long together so after we ate, we swapped co-drivers. Joe rode with me and Landshark joined Rocky.
Lineup at Crusty's
Once we got to our host Crusty's house where we all stayed. The most important thing was to unload our bikes. Mort brought bikes for Chris and Alex to ride. The Minnesota Crew rode in from Minnesota, and the rest of us trailered. We had to bring all the support gear for the streamliner in various trucks and vehicles which we couldn't carry on our bikes.
this segment of our journey, I learned Joe was in it just for the drive
and Rocky was paying his way. Joe’s job was to help drive the bus. It was
pretty clear that he didn’t like what he was getting into with a bunch
of strange guys,. Joe isn’t a motorcycle man but is a retired guy who knew
Rocky’s brother and volunteered for the trip as a way to see the country.
I told Joe that I look at things as an adventure and the bus was going
to make it and we were about to meet some of the best mechanics around
and we’d have the bus straightened out for the return trip.
After eating, we were going to rendezvous with the West Coast Crew at the first exit west of Salt Lake. Caveman was following us in his vintage Bronco. As we pulled up onto the exit, I could see their vehicles parked and waiting for us. I knew Mort and FOE but had never met Chris or Alex. So we introduced ourselves. At this point Joe wanted to go back to Salt Lake and fly home. Caveman, who was not going to Wendover with us, agreed to give Joe a ride to the airport.
We were now finally all together in a convoy with only 100 miles or so to go to get to Crusty’s house in West Wendover where we were staying. At the first outlook over the salt flats we stopped, took some photos and proceeded to the first truck stop in Wendover where Crusty was waiting for us. Our convoy followed Crusty to his house located in a nice residential neighborhood.
I was a little concerned about a bunch of guys showing up with greasy motorcycles after being on the road for a couple of days. And more guys were scheduled to ride in. Gary was driving an RV in from Idaho too. When we got to the house, I explained to Crusty’s wife Jamey that 3 more riders from Minnesota might be joining us and she said that was no problem. There didn’t seem to be any concern with a group of motorcyclists taking over the house either.
This was our typical morning. From the front on left: Mort, Chris, Magoo, Alex, Gary. From the front on right: Myself, FOE, MN Mike, Ian, Jeff. There were a few not pictured as we usually were in a couple of groups.
had an RV set up in the backyard and FOE backed his into the yard as well.
Rocky had a motel room reserved so we could take showers. We unloaded our
gear and parked our bikes along the curb. Some of us went out on bikes
into town for supper while Rocky and I went out to find Kiwi Mike who called
and had found our gaskets.
We found Kiwi behind the wheel of his rig. He had been calling everywhere along his route. He found them somewhere and gave them to us in the Casino parking lot. Kiwi Mike was scheduled to be at BUB for most of the week and volunteered his services which we ended up using a little later on in our story. We thanked him profusely and went back to Crusty’s.
The Minnesota crew: Mike, Jeff, and Ian, ended up riding to Crusty’s that night too. Mike was lucky enough to find a place in Crusty’s camper with Landshark and I. Jeff and Ian camped.
On The Salt
The following morning we started what turned out to be our morning routine: having breakfast at one of the casinos and discussing what was needed to be done that day. The main issue the first morning was getting set up on the salt and taking care of the bus. I volunteered for bus duty as I felt partially responsible for suggesting the bus a few years earlier. One of the Minnesota boys, Ian, just happened to be a heavy truck mechanic so he agreed to help out too. But the first thing was to unload my truck and the bus at the pit area on the salt so the rest of the crew could begin work on the streamliner. Once on the salt, Minnesota Jeff and FOE, lead the charge to erect the canopy. Rocky, Alex, and Minnesota Mike unloaded the liner from the bus. I unloaded my welder and some electrical stuff from the truck. I decided to keep my tool box as we’d need it for taking the heads off the bus. Most of this first day was just getting organized and getting the bus back to Crusty’s.
Lyle scraping a gasket while Ian holds the manifold. The bus was parked in a vacant lot across the street from Crusty's while we worked on it on and off for 3 days replacing the head gaskets.
during the day, Gary showed up and soon put himself to work in the pit
area. While Magoo tackled the bus with Ian and I. We spent the better part
of 3 days taking the heads off, scraping gaskets (most of the work) and
reassembling the bus with Mort lending a hand from time to time. The work
wasn’t really intense, but there was only room for two guys to be actually
working on the engine while the third guy scraped gaskets or fetched antifreeze
or did whatever needed to be done.
Normally when I’m involved with this kind of work, there’s a lot of cussing and anxiety going on. Not with these guys, I never heard anything negative from either Ian or Magoo. I think Ian was kind of glad to be working with the crew and was doing anything he could to help. Whereas Magoo is just naturally methodical and laid back. In the afternoon of each day, the 3 of us would ride out to the salt flats to see what the liner crew was up to and get an update of what needed to be done out there.
Out on the salt, we soon learned that Crusty was hands down the expert in hydraulic, pneumatic, and electric servo systems. He’s had extensive experience in this area as part of his normal job and previous experience with motorcycles and racing. We had further luck with Minnesota Jeff who is an expert with parachutes. None of us had any experience so what are the chances of finding a guy at a rest area who had this area of expertise and was willing to help us out? These two systems were the largest areas where the liner needed work.
FOE is an expert in electrical systems and a very good general mechanic and started doing wiring as per Crusty’s directions. There were a lot of little issues: “Where is the master link?” and, “Why doesn’t the brand new Pingel still in the box have any guts?” And so on. All of these little minor issues were resolved but did take up most of the first day.
The initial setting up of the pit area. We discovered that using plastic containers is the best way to haul tools, parts, and other things around. And they can be kept closed for protection against the salt. You are required to have a tarp over the salt when set up.
the race engine, Rocky had initially planned on using some fancy components
including titanium vales and some other exotic stuff but he simply ran
out of time prior to leaving and therefore had to assemble what he could
at the last minute. Unfortunately this resulted in us discovering
incorrect clearances between the rods and the cases. At Davenport, Rocky
had a dummy engine in the liner. The race engine was in the bus and while
installing it on the salt we discovered the rod clearance issue. This was
about the second day on the salt.
The following morning while going to breakfast, I walked into the cafeteria section of the casino and noticed a bunch of police officers surrounding Landshark’s table. “This can’t be good.” I said to myself as I tried to be nonchalant. Apparently the Shark had bitten into a sausage which had either a foreign object in it or a bone and cracked open a molar. He told the management that he wanted a free breakfast and his tooth fixed. I think they would have given him both but said they needed to take him by ambulance to Salt Lake City 90+ plus miles away. Well, he was having none of that so Mort decided to drive him to a local dentist who fixed the tooth.
While Mort and the Shark were at the dentist’s, the bus crew had gotten most of the bus reassembled and were able to spend more time on the salt. That evening Rocky took the race engine back to Crusty’s garage so we could tear it down and clearance the cases. Every night we ate supper at one of the casinos that has a nice buffet. Kiwi Mike usually met us there and sat with us. When he learned of our plight about the engine clearance issue, he agreed to follow us back and help us out. This was a good thing as none of us had a pinion puller. Kiwi followed our bikes back to Crusty’s and parked the Kiwi Truck out in front of the garage..
Another typical shot of the pit action. Gary is drillling something in the foreground.
who was heavily medicated under the dentist’s supervision, was providing
direction in between bouts of unconsciousness. We disassembled (Kiwi did
most of the work) the Scout engine down to the flywheels and Crusty started
grinding on each case half on the floor of the garage with an air tool
while someone else held the cases down. By the end of the night, we got
the engine’s bottom end put back together
The next day, Ian and I finished the bus and Rocky put most of the engine back together in the garage. We then left for the salt. Sometime during all of this, Lars showed up from Denmark. He was invited onto the team by Rocky who knew him from another online forum. Lars’s enthusiasm and hard work ethic was a huge benefit and really contributed to the spirit of the team. We finally had the liner together and it was close to being ready to run.
Earlier that week, Rocky and I had a talk and it was decided that I would be the rider. I already had my AMA card and just needed to fill out the medical and insurance information. I got into Rocky’s fire suit and practiced getting into and out of the liner. It’s tight. Really tight. This is actually a good thing in some respects as it minimizes getting tossed around if the liner goes down. But it also makes it extremely difficult to get into and out of.
One of the things that Rocky did while Dream Catcher was still on the east coast was to redesign the tilt-up steering and lock system. It used to have a cable mechanism but he changed it to all linkage. I got in and out of it several times. Each time FOE and Crusty had to make some adjustments to the steering pivot, the lock mechanism, and the arm restraints. Once I got in with full fire suit and helmet, they tried the canopy lock which required some adjustment as well.
My thoughts: this is not a motorcycle. It won’t handle like one as you cannot use any body English at all. It won’t steer like one and the controls aren’t configured like one. You only need to use the foot clutch to get into first gear and it’s an air shifter on the controls for every gear after that. There’s a gas pedal, the nitrogen powered outriggers and confirmation light. The parachute switch and ignition cutout switch. We also raised a horizontal bar in front of the liner while I was in it and the canopy to see if I could see the horizon. I could, but just barely.
Tight Fit! Here's a good shot of how tight a fit the cockpit actually is. I'm fully suited, except for gloves, in the cockpit. Shoulders are scrunched. The red arm restraint straps are hanging loose on the outside. Mort and Foe are stooped on my right making some sort of adjustment. Crusty on my left, was adjusting the clutch master cylinder so I would get enough movement at the clutch pedal. The guy in the cowboy hat on the far left of the photo is from Cycle Source magazine. You can also take a good look at the tiltable steering mechanism. This is the only way to be able to get out in case of emergency. It has a quick release mechanism. The same with the arm restraints and the canopy. Do I look worried?
when strapped down in a prone position I would be extremely claustrophobic.
As was the casewhen I had my knees MRI’d a few years ago or whenever I’m
in a commercial air liner. It was not the case with the liner. As long
as I’m busy with something to do, in control, and know I can get out if
I need to, I’m OK. This was my greatest worry but proved to be a moot point.
There’s lots of things to remember when you’re a pilot on the salt. Not only with how the liner works, the controls and such, but the rules of BUB. Earlier that week FOE, at one point a back up driver, and I drove the course in my truck as part of the course tour for participants. If you have problems and need to pull off and your bike isn’t losing parts, you pull off one direction, if your losing parts, you pull off a different direction, if something life threatening is happening you pull off another way. This is so the spotters looking at you know what the situation is and know what equipment to send out to you and your bike.
Not only that, but unlike SCTA’s Speedweek, there’s no black line that delineates the edge of the course. They have a cone periodically and 3 cones at certain intervals. There is a line that starts at the measured mile but there’s a lot of distance between the cones. Being from Minnesota, if it wasn’t so hot out, it would almost look as if your on the surface of some giant frozen snow covered lake. It’s pretty wide open.
After I practiced getting in and out of the liner a few times and had familiarized myself with the controls we took it to technical inspection. Earlier that week, a driver had died in a streamliner on the course and the scoop was, the inspectors were getting stricter about some of the inspection items.
The Minnesota Crew was so wound up about having worked on the bike all week that they didn’t wait for Rocky to hook up the trailer to my truck, they pushed the trailer all the way from our pits to the inspection area.
Engine Bay. In Rocky's words:
Stock stroke, standard bore, original engine placed second at langhorne in 1946. Upgraded with titanium rods, special Murdaugh racing heads, lightened flywheels, Murdaugh Climax cams, alloy roller lifters. We use the Warpath crank races so the crank bore could be honed in line with deck plates, Special Landstrom Warpath cam cover that lets us use the late aluminum oil pump as modified by Donald Skidmore, 5 speed transmission, King Clutch.
rules roughly follow the Southern California Timing Association rules but
are a little looser. The streamliner class has the most rules and is by
far the toughest to get thru inspection. This being our first time out,
we really didn’t know what to expect. So it wasn’t too surprising the inspector
found some things. FOE was keeping a list and here are some of the items
we needed to correct:
1. Install a firewall between the front
wheel and the driver.
This is only a partial list. And there weren’t rules covering all items. As far as I know, there isn’t a complete list of everything streamliners need as the rules are constantly changing. Rumor has it next year requiring leg restraints and a few other things.
In short, they didn’t allow us to run and we ran out of time. Probably better than half the items on our full list we could have corrected given a couple of more days. None of us were sore about it as it was all for our, and especially my, own good. The guy who was killed died as a result of his rear tire breaking apart at over 200 mph then hitting and destroying, the parachute tube. The driver was unable to deploy the chute and he went into a tumble. Once in a tumble, his arm restraints broke loose (hence our D-ring change) and I don’t need to explain the rest. His liner was built by one of the best and most well-known guys in the sport. Things like this hit a little close to home as the driver was within a year of my age and was from Montana where Mort and Magoo are from. Rocky also knew the owner and builder of the liner.
But as a result, there were some items the inspector was very strict about. Some items were not in the rules, others were. Overall it was a good experience for us that will have us better prepared for 2009. There were other liners on the salt that couldn’t run either.
Already, many of the issues have already been addressed. Magoo has fabricated a quick release bracket, Rocky is building a tire guard to protect the parachute tubes, and he’s fabricating a water drip system for the rear chain. He is also going to later model wheels with a higher speed rating and larger disk rotor. I am going to fabricate the front firewall. We have each started to kick in a kitty of money to buy a completely new parachute system. The parachute system was not overly scrutinized by the inspector but we’re anticipating it next year. As we are on most of the other issues in this paragraph.
Adjusting the Canopy
I was inside. Foe is kneeling at the canopy adjusting the latching mechanism. Seated in the forground is Chris. Standing from the left are: Magoo, Crusty, and Landshark. As usual, Gary is adjusting something at the front. This is a typical picture showing the pit action. Photo by Rocky.
also going to need to buy a fire suit that is tailored for me and a helmet.
The good news is that this year we can concentrate on the liner more than
the transport bus. Last year most of the money and effort was directed
at getting the bus ready and drivable. Rocky bought rear end gears and
tires for it to make it drivable on the interstate. This cost him several
thousand dollars that could have gone into the liner. This year, the only
thing the bus really needs is a radiator. There was so much goop put into
the old one to try to seal the engine that it got plugged. Rocky had to
take his time on the way back so it wouldn’t overheat but at least it wasn’t
leaking into the cylinder. Finding and installing a radiator shouldn’t
pose a problem.
Conclusion & Next Year
Wow, what an experience. I cannot express how much everything seemed to fall into place on the way out and once we got there. I’d like to think the several years worth of bad luck due to the transport bus got all balanced out in one week of good luck and an uncommon series of events. This experience to me was more about finding new friends and reinforcing old ones than working on some bike on the salt. Things like meeting the Minnesota crew who were just riding out to check the action at BUB and maybe got a little more than they bargained on. The same goes for Chris and Lars. We all made some new friends and friendship is worth more than any bike, any day.
But for next year, Rocky and I are going to try to trial run the streamliner on the east coast somewhere prior to BUB. I think just getting the feel for it with the body off will go a long way towards success next year on the salt.
For BUB 2009, the Indian Tribe is coming back en masse. Mort is putting together another of Rocky’s bikes and building his own to run. It’s rumored that Kiwi Mike’s son is going to be racing a 741 out of the Indian Pit area too. Lars is building some unworldly supercharged Scout and judging by his preliminary photos, is off to a good start. I think he’s going to be raising the bar for the rest of us.
We’ll be back for sure, but I’ll never forget what happened this year. I would like to list the folks in order of appearance and write a few sentence about each one.
Rocky and his dream. Photo by Cycle Source.
The eternal optimist and story teller of the group. Some of them are almost surreal. The one about him hitting a giant raccoon and splitting it in half while riding his Chief in a rainstorm on the way to visit his brother in Minnesota. Later to be verified as one of the largest raccoon road kills in the state. While driving on I-90 on the way back in South Dakota he’d point to underneath a bridge and tell me how he waited out a storm there. Or this was the exit he blew his sidecar Chief’s engine on the way back from Sturgis, etc. The way he got his bike back together for BUB was almost superhuman. He had just blown the real cylinder off it when I first called him. He still needed to install the generator belt and pulley when I first picked him up and he taught me a little trick about how to do that too. His personality made him the unofficial PR person and the group made a new friend with everyone he met. Thank you Landshark.
Rick (Rocky Dillinger)
Landshark telling a story to Mort and Gary. Mort has a look of disbelief, while Gary who's been around, is just taking it all in.
A self proclaimed goofball. The list maker, the guy who kept us on track and was responsible for soliciting most of the funding for this experience. He introduced us to Crusty who’s house we stayed at. He was also the main “Go for” while at Wendover. He provided bikes for Alex and Chris, to ride while they were with us. Neal also has the ability to look at a seemingly complex scenario and simplify it with one or two sentences whereupon everything seems so simple. Nothing rattles his cage either.
Bob (FOE) Morril
Chris (The F’ing Duke of Sheffield) Biglands
Neil on his 45. One of the bikes Mort brought was his 45 Harley. He let most of us ride it around including Lars. I need to point out that Lars also rode my Chief and now he's an Indian convert..... Photo by Mike.
Without him driving down from Connecticut to Pennsylvania and helping Rocky out on weekends, this would have not happened this year. Of that I am certain. All of us are old enough to be his dad but he was the most important contributor to the group. And, did I mention as a result of all of this he’s going to move to Montana and take another big step in life?…….
Jim (Crusty) Christie
Jamey (Mrs. Crusty) Christie
This woman is a dream. Anyone else would have thrown us all out. Photo by Rocky.
One of the guys we met on the road while on the way out. Another example of things seemingly falling into place. He had the parachute experience that none of us had. And enthusiastic worker and A hardcore rider. I’m sure I’ll be running into him again.
Michael “Minnesota Mike” Wend
Dave "Magoo" Retallack
Mike “Kiwi Mike” Tomas
I was trying to be taken seriously by dressing up with an Indian Themed Mohawk. Here I am with Jeff and Minnesota Mike. It wasen't all work on the salt.
Prior to Crusty grinding on Rocky's cases, the Dentist did some grinding on Landshark. Here is Kiwi having a little fun at the fully medicated Shark's expense.
Usually we'd meet in the evening at Crusty's to discuss the day's activities, what still needed to be done, and by whom. Photo by Alex.
We weren't the only Indian guys on the salt. We spotted this Chief out there too. I don't know who's it was but maybe someone else does. It was a nice machine and you could tell it was being ridden.
Landshark and his Chief on the salt. He built this bike from parts. Two weeks prior to this it had detonated alongside I-29.
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