söndag 5 november 2017

Racer number 2: The history comes full circle.

The last week has been fantastic in many ways. I had a very nice and uneventful flight to Los Angeles Wednesday-Friday and a nice couple of days off here at home during the weekend. The most interesting days were Monday-Tuesday as I went to Malmoe and spent a couple of days there with my wife who was working at an exhibition there and also to meet with Ebbe at EBOS/Eptune to fettle a bit with racer #2. 

So, I loaded my trusted Sharan and went south....

Ebbe had finished up restoring this beauty for me:
The extra H1R crank that came with the bike! We chose not to do it together with the rest of the engine due to me needing to spread the cost over time a bit. Now, almost a year later it was time. All the rods were shot on the old crank and Ebbe was able to source new ones. Not cheap, but sure worth the money! In this picture you can also see the dual oil seals used on the racer crank. They can be replaced by the street bike ones, but no....

What he couldn´t get were the Oil receivers, 13045-005 or-010 that goes on to the crank webs to keep the oil from the pump at the main bearings. Ebbe and I discussed the need for those and he usually discards them and recommends people to use premix instead of the pump. Since I need this bike and engine to be as close to stock as possible I opted to keep the receivers. It took me 2 weeks to locate 3 of them. One in New Zealand, one in Switzerland and one in the US.... Thank you, internet!

He did source the roller bearings, though, just as on the other crank in the rebuilt engine. Here you can see the SKF number. Picking up this little beauty was the main purpose of the trip (second to spending time out of the house with my wife, of course!), but I also left some parts to be cleaned and polished by Tommy Andersson in Hoerby at Proswede. As a bonus Ebbe made place and time on the Dyno for racer #2....

I had connected a fresh battery to the terminals back home and found the ignition to be OK, at least the beeping sound was there from the CDI boxes. Since there´s no kicker on it and I didn´t want to try and run start it this was an excellent solution. Here we´re setting the bike up on the Dyno with a good battery and cooling air. We refilled the gear box with oil and expected to see a large leak somewhere, but no.... It held the oil! Back with the center pipe on and put some gas in the bottle. No leak here either! Not even flooding carbs. Wow!

A dynamic test of the ignition revealed good, fat sparks on all plugs. We also changed the heavy race plugs in the engine to more normal NGK B9HS. No need for race plugs in this engine.
After a few tries to start, it was obvious the engine didn´t get any fuel.... It needed a carb cleaning. That´s not very surprising and to be honest I had been thinking about doing it before going down to Malmoe, but never got around to do it. Shame on me!

The great BINGs had to get off the engine for a bath in a special cleaning solution. A very secret recipe that would make any environmentalist cringe...
Luckily Ebbe is a law abiding citizen so the left-overs were collected and recycled.

Here they are, ready to be assembled after their "bath". Really big BING carbs and interestingly a little bit different. The one in the middle has a drain bolt in the bottom of the float bowl and also a slightly larger main jet, 155, compared to 150 for the right and left carb. Probably to give the middle cylinder a little more fuel due to poor cooling. I know, it is a myth that triples always seize on the middle cylinder but it has stuck over the years. We kept it the way it was.

The carbs are back on and we´re ready for a new attempt. And now it started! And it ran quite OK at once. Some small adjustments to the idling and we could warm it up for its first run on the Dyno. Ebbe didn´t want to take it too far since it had been sitting for over 20 years and he had not rebuilt the engine. The responsibility for these runs rested with me, entirely. I was perfectly fine with that. After a few runs we changed the pilot jets from 35 to 45 to get slightly better idling and a bit quicker throttle response at lower RPM:s I was seriously impressed that Ebbe had a box of BMW jets that actually fit these carbs. Now, that´s professionalism! Next is a couple of videos I recorded during our session. Turn the volume up!

After that successful Dyno session and startup it was time to pack up and go home again. I had a great couple of days in Malmoe. Dining with my wife, enjoying another hotel breakfast and then starting up my racer #2! And the best of the trip was still to come...

Remember I talked to one of the presumed owners/builders of the bike? That guy was not the correct one. Before going to Malmoe I had searched for the next guy that Leo, my good historian friend suggested, online and found him. Or at least I thought so. Here´s the story.

Sometimes it is very true that reality beats fiction. This is one of those moments. Leo suggested two names that could be the driver in his picture. Remember it was taken in Karlskoga 1973, or that´s what Leo thought. The first name, Hasse Rutgersson, was not correct. He never owned nor built it....

Racer number 2 in 1973?

The second name was Erik Lundin, ESW. Now, what kind of a name is that? Well, I googled it and found a business in Eksjoe, in the southern part of Sweden, called ESW, Eksjoe special welding service. I thought I´d send a mail instead of calling directly this time. These guys are getting old and I am not sure everybody enjoys talking about old times. During our Dyno session I received a phone call which I didn´t hear for all the noice, but on the way back I checked it out. Erik Lundin! I called him right back...

He sure recognized the bike! He built most of it after he bought it in 1972 or 1973, he wasn´t quite sure. I still haven´t shown him this photo, but I´m positive it is him! He also told me that he built the exhaust system for the bike after measurements given to him by "Esso" from his new H1R-A! They are straight, just as on the later H1R:s and actually quite well designed and fits very snugly to the bike. I asked him about the front brake as well and he said that had been on the bike when he bought it and that he had no idea what make it was. He had no idea about the front fork either, but he remembered buying the fairing from Bo Granath in Stockholm, another world famous racer that also sold plastic motorcycle parts like fairings etc. The make is "Churchgate" and I believe it is that same fairing we can see in the picture above. And this is where the whole thing gets spooky...

"OK, who did you buy it from", I asked.

" From Björn Blomqvist in Åkers Styckebruk, and he had already built that front brake!"

How about that for a story coming full circle? Björn Blomqvist, who bought the H1R after "Esso" had driven it for two seasons, 1970 and 1971, owned this bike, racer #2, during that time... 

We had a super nice conversation on the phone for more than an hour during my journey back to Stockholm. When we finished talking I made another call to Mikael Berglin. Remember him? He is the guy that helped the family sell the H1R to me last year. He was also a very good friend of Björn´s and helped him out with his bikes during the seventies. It was Mikael that took the first pictures of the H1R inside the barn that I used and published in the very first post of this blog. I asked him if Björn had another Kawasaki before getting the H1R..

- "Of course he did! I sent you pictures of it. Don´t you remember? I told you about that bike when we looked at the H1R in the barn"

- " You´re kidding", I said. Goosebumps all over my arms!

- "Do you know what make that front brake is?" I asked.

- " Sure, I built that brake for Björn. I used two drum brakes from a Fiat 1100, welded them together and built that 4LS front brake"

So, the answers were there, right in front of my eyes, on my own computer....

In these first two pictures, taken by Mikael or Björn, the bike has just been bought by Björn from its previoyus owner, Hans Köpcke, another profile in Swedish road racing during the fifties and sixties. Hans bought a MACH III 1969  and built a racer for himself to use during his comeback after an accident in 1968. Sadly he had a car accident already in March 1970 and I guess that´s why the bike was sold to Björn. I need to figure out a bit more here about the bike´s first years! We can see here that the tank is the same, just a different color, the frame is not so badly cut yet and the front brake is still the original MACH III as is the front fork.

Here the right side of it. Stock carbs, stock swing arm and rear shocks. Real nice seat (can be the same as in the picture from 1973...?) and expansion chambers being built. I´m going to meet Mikael next week and ask him a million questions about this build! The tank emblems look like the ones used on the A1R/A7R. Not sure, though...

Here it becomes even more interesting. Mikael told me he built a not-so-good exhaust system for the bike. Well, that high position of the left pipe seems to create some unwanted problems. I can see the advantage, though, with only one pipe on either side of the bike´s rear wheel. But I bet you would burn your left leg on that chamber! Look at the front brake! There it is! My mysterious 4LS brake! Built by Mikael.... Two brake drums from a Fiat 1100 and manufactured brake plates etc. Genius, if you ask me! I still haven´t found the competition where #34 was used, but I´m looking....

Here´s another view of the bike. I see a two stroke oil tank from an A7R mounted where the battery is today. I also see the foot pegs are the same today with the same mounts. The swing arm has not been lengthened yet nor has the rear shocks been changed. Is the RPM-indicator the same? Not sure. The scoop on the rear brake plate is in place and looks the same as today. I wonder who the guy walking past that car is. The letter "K" on the license plate indicates it is from Blekinge, a county far south in Sweden. That is actually where me and my wife both grew up!

The last of Mikael´s pictures shows the left side of the bike during another race. #17 was used by Björn during two races in 1971. First at  Anderstorp, 8th and 9th of May and again at Kinnekulle Ring the 22nd and 23rd of May. The really cool thing here is that during both these races "Esso" and Björn competed each other! The two Kawasaki racers I now have in my garage have actually met in at least two races! In Anderstorp "Esso" came in second on the H1R and Björn didn´t finish. At Kinnekulle "Esso" and the H1R won and Björn came in 11th. Not bad for a bike like this.

As you can understand this investigation in the history concerning both my racers will go on for a while. The goosebumps have left my arms and I am coming to terms with what I have in my garage. There were lots of road racers built here in Sweden from standard street bikes during this time by young, eager guys who wanted to race. I´ve talked to a few of them and the the more I learn about it the more fascinated I am over their drive and ambition to do something fun and cool. Today´s racing is far more serious and it takes a whole lot more money to reach the top even in a small country like Sweden. The search for more interesting things about my bikes will go on! I will continue telling the story about racer #2 parallel to that of the H1R. It all became so much more interesting when I found out they are "cousins" 

Update number 1, 2017-11-06:

Today I met Mikael Berglin here in my garage! We talked about the bike, Björn and their friendship and lots of other stuff as well during his stay. He definitively confirmed that racer #2 was Björn´s first Kawasaki and that he, Mikael, had built the front brake. He was actually a bit disappointed I hadn´t taken it apart yet, because he would like to see how he had constructed it. Bear in mind this happened at least 45 years ago!

Here he is, seeing the bike for the first time since 1973 or so... Mikael is a wonderful guy full of humor and lots of good stories from the racing tracks of the day. 

He built a total of 3 brakes based on car drum brakes. The first was used on Hans Köpckes Norton, early during the sixties. This was a single drum with actuators on one side only. Mikael was only 16 years of age and attending mechanical workmanship school when he built this first brake!

The second is the one on my bike. It was made of 2 Fiat 1100 drums with milled "cooling fins" and a spoke "rim" on the edge. bolted to a hub cast in aluminium at "Beckmans Gjuteri" in Nykvarn, just 50-60 km from Stockholm. Mikael used the cable to even the "pull" between the two levers (from a BMW-bike!). These "levers" used ball bearings on the inside instead of the "cams" used on ordinary brakes. The result is excellent! Easy to use, perfectly centered brake linings at all times and super smooth action when you pull on the brake lever. Björn actually complained the front brake was too effective! He risked locking it if he pulled too hard! Not bad for a home made front brake... The brake was altered at a later restoration and painted black. The "cutouts" visible at the top and bottom of the brake plates were also made later. Probably to increase cooling. It is a great thing to have on the bike. Makes the bike absolutely unique. The third "Berglin brake" was also made for a Norton, but Mikael wasn´t sure it ever got used. It was made slightly different from a steel hub with a welded bracket for the two aluminium drums. Where it is today, no one knows.

Mikael was very happy to see the bike and his drum brake! He pointed out lots of things he didn´t recall at all and some of it I could confirm had been built or changed later on by Erik Lundin or the guys owning it after him. The search for more information continues!

Update number 2: 2017-11-14.

As I was reading through some magazines from 1970 in the hunt for more information and stories about my bikes I came across this ad from Flöter (the Swedish Kawasaki-agent, remember?).

This is the body set that was bought for racer #2! I believe Hans Köpcke bought it from Flöter and built the bike to a racer in 1970 but I need to get that confirmed. There might be another owner before him. 225 plus 105 SEK in 1970 must have been quite expensive for fiber glass parts. Now I need to find out about the seat and oil tank on the bike today. When and who added these parts? 

Stay tuned, guys!


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