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A ride to Texas

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I recently returned from an approx 3200 mile round trip motorcycle ride to Jefferson, TX.


My neighbor, Jay, is a classic and antique motorcycle affecianado, and has been bugging me for the past several years to ride with him to far East Texas, where he has been attending a Norton Owners Rally, at "Lake 'O the Pines", near Jefferson, TX. for the past 30 years. For reference, Jefferson is approx 35 miles NE of Shreveport, LA.


The last 3 years, Jay has attempted unsuccessfully, to make this trip with his 1955 BSA "B-33". He's had the engine "professionally" gone through for each of the last 3 years, but in each of these years, some major engine component has failed, denying him even reaching Jefferson and the Rally, much less the completion of a round-trip.


During this past year, I sort of got drug into assisting with which and how much of what components would/should be replaced or rebuilt, and as a result I felt that I had a personal stake in helping Jay see it through this year.


SO… I loaded my Goldwing with tools (and a healthy dose of 200MPH tape, bailing wire, bungee cords, and tie-wraps, fluids, etc.), hooked up my little camper trailer, and tagged along as the support vehicle. (remember the bungee's. then come into play soon…):P


Anyway… We departed Wickenburg, at day break Monday Sept. 29th, with the goal of reaching Socorro, NM by nightfall. I should add a little information about the BSA B-33… In 1955, the BSA model B-33 had a compression ratio of 8:1, and was rated at a paltry 23 HP. What this means in laymans terms, is that our trips top speed would be limited to not much more than 60 mph in ideal conditions, and that "normal cruise speeds would be in the 50-55 mph range. Again in ideal conditions. IE: ideal conditions means that essentially at or near sea level, & not in the mountains where we would be losing ~3-4% of available HP for every 1000 ft gain in altitude. Also, there would be no steep hills, and finally no winds to deal with. :P


Anyway, we began "following the yellow brick road", where we were finding major storm runnoff damage and detours thru Cave Creek and into Fountain Hills, finally making it to the Chevron on the Beeline, across from the Ft. McDowell Casino, where we made our first "necessary stop", prompting big smiles to replace the tight lips of having "held it" for the past hour or so.


Ready to head out, we donned our helmets, and started the machines back up to begin the ride to Payson, where we were to meet our traveling partner, Jay's BIL, Everett.


Smiles quickly turned to frowns, when the little B-33's kick starter arm failed to return upright after it started. BAD Omen I'm thinking…:eek:


However, it became quickly apparent that all that was wrong was the kick starters return spring had after 59 years, given up the ghost and broken. Since it is internal to the transmission, but walled off from the running gears, thus not likely the pieces would become entangled in the gears, we sought a "patch" to allow the trip to continue. Out came the stack of trusty bungee cords, and voila, within a few minutes we had rigged a patch and we were on the way to Payson.


The little B-33 struggled up onto the Rim, but no further issues caused any delays in meeting Everett in Payson. However, Everett had been online checking weather, and warned us of impending rain to the East, so out came the rain suits, and we began the slog East to Showlow, and beyond. Luckily, we encountered only light showers, starting about 15 minutes out of Payson, and finally ran out of the rains and into clearing skies as we entered Springerville.


A quick lunch and we were back on the road, passing by the VLA, and pulling into Socorro, just before dark. YAY ! ! ! Day one was a success !!! :D


Next morning we headed to Capitan, NM, to meet one of Jays old friends for breakfast. Capitan, NM is the home of "Smokey the Bear". In the early 1950's, a forest fire in the area, resulted in a small bear cub being found badly burned. A local veterinarian nursed the cub back to health, and he attention of the national press brought about the creation of "Smokey the Bear". There is a national landmark commerating Capitan as the birthplace of "Smokey"…


While we had given ourselves an extra day to cover the event of problems with the B-33, we had in mind a goal of making it as far as possible, so we said our goodbyes, and continued eastward on US380 towards Roswell, NM. For Jay, Roswell is a special kind of hell, as two of the three previous trips have ended in or near Roswell. :( However, the "Jinx" of Roswell held nothing for us this day, and onward we pressed, making it as far as Aspermont, TX for the night.


As we approached Aspermont, I did however, notice that the little B-33's headlight had gone from dim, to non-existent. Being a 6V system, the headlights were never much more than a bright candle, but now they were off altogether.:rolleyes: We removed the seat, and discovered a popped fuse in the charging/headlamp circuit. A replacement fuse was found, and it too popped as soon as the lights were turned on… Hmmm???


After looking over the removed fuses, I noticed they were both 5 amp fuses. I'm surprised the first one lasted as long as it did… I scrounged through my handy electrical tool kit, and located a 25 amp fuse, and voila, no more popped fuse.:)


However, the headlight was pitifully dim… SO… Out came the Volt meter, and it was determined that the battery only had 3.1V charge level… Even after starting the engine, the battery only had 3.1 volts, indicating the battery was not being charged. The good news is that the ignition runs off a magneto, so the bike was runnable without a battery, it would just not have any lights.


SO, out came my little battery charger, and we would leave it and check it in the morning. Next morning, no improvement, indicating the battery was too badly sulfated to accept a charge.:( No biggie, weather for today's ride was clear, so no lights would be legally needed. We would simply have Jay ride between Everett & I. So onwards we went, to Jefferson, TX with no further issues.


One of the highlights of crossing the plains of Texas (other than the EVER constant wind :( ), at least for me was an artist creation just outside of Throckmorton, TX. There about 10 miles West of Throckmortn, was the largest welded steel Longhorn bull I've ever seen, with the tip of the horns on the order of 30-35 ft high… :eek:


After the obligatory photo op stop, it was back on the road to Jefferson, and once there we set up camp, and headed to town to see if we could locate a battery for the B-33, with no luck. So we simply relaxed and awaited the rest of the Rally's participants. We enjoyed the next few days of the Rally, visitng with Jay's old friends, and seeing some incrediblely well maintained old iron, then began the ride homeward.


Am not sure how I did it but I no longer have many pictures of the camp or the show…:( Just a couple of camp, and one of a SWEET Ariel Square-4 that rode into camp just before the show judging started…


At any rate, the trip home was uneventful, with no further issues with any of the bikes and GREAT riding weather. In Payson, Everett peeled off south on the Beeline, to head home to Goodyear, while Jay & I elected to come home to Wickenburg via: Camp Verde, Jerome, Prescott, & Yarnell.


We arrived home Tuesday afternoon Oct. 7th, ~ 3:45PM, and toasted a cool beer in celebration of a successful and safe trip. :D;)







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Looks like a great trip! You sure don't sit around much,do you? Thanks for the write up.

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Great write-up! I miss my motorcycle. :(

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Thanks for sharing the story with us! That's a looooong way on a motorcycle, for sure. Glad your friend finally made it to the event.

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