måndag 5 augusti 2019

Starting the H1R for the first time and the premiere show.

It has been a very exciting week and weekend, to say the least! The day after my last post I prepared the bike for it´s very first start attempt for more than 45 years...

Yeah, it carries a burden just thinking along those lines, but the whole point of this restoration was to recreate this legendary racer to its former glory. So, it had to run!

My leakage testing went very well! No leaks from either the gear box, the fuel tank, the two stroke oil tank or the lines. A small but important victory. The guys at the track don´t fancy leaking bikes too much. That I know.

Yesterday I took it out for some pictures and this is what it looks like now. Today it was time to have it tested functionally...

Exciting? U bet!

Back in the garage, change tanks, fairing off. 

Another thing I had to do was check if I could use my old leather suit.

These leathers were ordered and tailor made for me by my parents when I was 18 years old, back in -82, and would start riding heavy bikes. A Kawasaki Z500 1981. They still fit, sort of. Very tight but I assessed they could be used during my track driving in Linköping.
 Boy, was i wrong... More about that a little later. You might find the profile of the 2 piece suit a bit strange?

Well, I would most often use only the jacket and figured we could make the jacket a bit longer and the pants a bit shorter at the waist. Worked great! But the waist line of the suit got very low. I never even thought about it, but here it looks odd.

OK, so I had that fixed. Nice. Let´s take the bike out and try a start. 

Here we are, ready to try. The pit starter I borrowed from Janne all hooked up and ready to press the button.

Here´s an unedited video made by my friend Roger Schederin, famous Swedish photographer of bikes, cars, weddings and what not...

It is 14 minutes long but I´ve been told it is quite entertaining, at least in Swedish, since Rogge is who he is...

Here is a shorter version containing the start only:

After that short spin around the neighborhood I felt confident enough to tell the organizer of the Classic racing event I would be driving the H1R on the track. It did start nicely once I switched the ignition on and got the power switch away from the aluminium tank... No worries in my mind what so ever!!

The only worry I had was if they would let me ride it at all due to noise restrictions on the track.

I was told the decibel measuring equipment would be Incapacitated at that time....

There was no way I would change my freshly restored expansion chambers in order to get some mufflers on there. No way!

I guess such an historic event would overtrump any sound regulations.

The next day it was time to get the bike, all the parts, a few tools etc loaded in my VW van.

 I had 10 liters of premixed fuel in the tank, 15 liters more of 102 octane racing fuel and a couple of liters Castrol POWER 1 racing two stroke oil. 

My "racing" gear and overnight bag. I felt like I was going off to work for a 3-day layover somewhere. In a very strange aeroplane...

Reaching Linköping and Sviestad race track Thursday  evening, Björn Fugel and a few other guys had already built the large tent in which the 500GP display would be during the weekend.

On the right here is the roll-up showing the event poster.

Makes you want to go, right?

All I had to do was unload the bike, mount the fairing and change to the display tank for the show on Friday morning. It took a while due to all people asking questions and admiring the bike while I tried to work on it...

Early Friday morning the other bikes arrived one by one. Here´s Janne´s H1R. He got the podium, of course.

Yeah, we figured that was most suitable since he wasn´t going to drive his bike this year. 

Super smart of Janne and Björn to decide his bike would be on display "naked" since mine was fully dressed with fairing and everything on for riding.

 After lunch, Friday, the chief technician and an inspection officer came to check the H1R for compliance with all the rules for racing..

It passed with flying colors!

"Beautiful safety wiring", they said.

Wow, Thanks!
They took their time placing the "approved" decal on the wind screen. It had to be straight and level. 

I´m not removing this sticker after the weekend. It is now a part of the bikes history and I am so proud to be the one having it once again approved for racing.

By coincidence (or fine tuned planning from the organizers...) "Esso`s" other well known race bike, his NORTON Manx 1962, was placed on display right next to my H1R.

The owner, Seved Karlsson, and I had many nice conversations about race bikes and restorations through the weekend. More pictures of this bike later on.

 The time for the first "superparade 500GP" riding session was approaching so I changed the fuel tanks and prepared to get ready.

When I see the bike like this I´m starting to think I should have the aluminium tank painted as well. Maybe, maybe not?! 

I will at least get the lettering on any day now...

Seved and Erik Stenlund, former champion in Speedway and Iceracing, are discussing the Norton and the riding session coming up.

Erik drove the Norton many times during the weekend and he did it in such a great way. The sound and the appearance of that bike is just fenomenal! 

Yeah, a bit off topic, but this bike bears its history with such grace and elegance. Nothing has been changed on it since "ESSO" raced it. It still looks exactly the same. All his small inventions are still intact, as the taps for fuel and oil. To avoid oil spills in the pits and in the garage "ESSO" put taps on the oil lines to prevent oil from dripping on the ground/floor. A big sign in the cockpit with bold red letters said "KRANAR" to remind him to switch them on before starting. Good idea!

One cylinder, 500cc, pure racing glory!

The tank also carries traces of use and abuse. 

I think it is absolutely gorgeous in its unrestored state. We can all rest ashore, Seved will never take it apart and restore it! He enjoys it this way and that is SO right!

 A few last words before starting up the bike.

Photo: Jan Isidorsson.
It was also my turn to get ready for the "Superparade 500GP"

Thanks you, Jan Isidorsson, for these pictures!

Here I am. Nervous as H**L, waiting to start the bike for the second time and actually drive it on a race track.

How it went?

Good and bad, mostly bad...

I should have tested the riding position with my leathers and boots on. 

Remember I took a spin round the block in my shorts and a T-shirt? Well, the leathers are old, very tight and quite unforgiving when you try to move or bend you legs. I did get the bike running, no problem there. And as I had already put it in gear (1st gear) before putting it on the starter, all I had to do to get moving was to let the clutch lever out and go. That was all very well. But as I tried to get my right foot up on the foot peg I noticed that it wouldn´t be possible at all. I had to lean ever so slightly to the right to even keep the left foot on that foot peg so getting the right one up was impossible...

What to do? 

I asked a spectator to help me push my right foot up on the peg while I drove slowly towards the track, through the pit. Imagine the glory in that picture?

Didn´t work either.

I had to try and stand on the left foot peg, revving the engine not to stall it, holding the clutch just right and then lift the right foot on to the foot peg and sit down again.

It worked! Heureka! Both feet on the pegs and I was all set to go out on the track!

Photo: Jan Isidorsson
 Here we go! The bike pulled nicely on first gear out from the pit lane. Second gear before the first two turns "The S". Took those two in second gear and when exiting the last one I pulled a little more and boy, did it accelerate! I hit third gear before reaching the next turn which is a bit wider and meant for higher speed. I took that in third gear and noticed that was a bit too high gear. I managed to get out of it and on to the straight where I could give more throttle and enter the lower part of the power band. Felt real good so far... And I geared up to the fourth gear. Not smart.

After ca 2/3 of the straight there is a small chicane to take the top speed down a bit. As I approached it I needed to gear down...

There was absolutely no way I could get my boot over the gear change pedal to push it downwards and gear the engine down. I tried to pass the chicane in fourth gear, rolled through it and as I tried to throttle on again the engine stalled, totally drenched in petrol. Luckily there was an exit for the pit lane just there so I could turn right and simply roll back to the tent and admit my mistakes...

Yes, I am a newbie at this business and, of course, I felt embarrassed and stupid for not preparing enough for this event. The nice part is no one in the pit lane, no spectators or others said anything condescending to me. They were all very supportive and kind. 

"It happens to all of us, we all goof up every now and then. Don´t think about it!"

Such a wonderful community! 

Friday evening was spent trying to raise the seat by adding a rolled blanket under an "Air Hawk" seat pad I could borrow from a  friendly fellow racer in the pit lane. This contraption was fastened by black duct tape to the H1R. Not looking good at all, I can assure you! Thankfully I have no pictures of these atrocities..
I also lowered the gear change pedal one notch and left it that way for the Saturday morning try outs.

The spark plugs were also removed and checked. They showed no wear or signs of the engine running way to rich. Just a lot of gas on them. My theory about drowning the engine in fuel seemed to be correct!

This is what the trailer looked like when I left for the hotel in Linköping. A trailer full of racers, worth probably around 3-4 million SEK...

After a good nights sleep I got back on the track Saturday morning and tried my inventions and alterations with my leather suit and boots on.

It worked a lot better! 

Fine, Let´s try it one more time. Seved and Erik started up the Norton Manx first and when it was my turn the paddock was full of people holding their mobiles up taking pictures and filming the great event...

I remembered the ignition switch this time, put the engine in first gear easily with my left foot from the raised seat. Backed the bike up on the starter, switched on the fuel and pressed the pedal. 


Tried a little choke.


Switched off the choke and gave throttle.


Suddenly a guy leaned up to me and asked.

- " I think you need to remove those"

Yeah, of course. The carb caps. 

Forgot them.

The engine was now seriously drowned in fuel and I would have had to crank it, plugs out, for a while, clean the plugs again and make another try...

And that was it. I had had it. I decided there and then I had made an enough fool of myself during this weekend.

No More.

I got off the bike, put it back on display, changed the tanks, removed the extra seat padding and went into display mode talking to people telling the story of the restoration over and over again, answering many questions about this and that concerning my bike and the other H1R:s imported to Sweden. In the end it was a super nice day just the same. No smirky smiles or mean comments from anyone. As I said. Such a great community, the racers!

Saturday quite a few really important people showed up to see the bike. This is probably the most important one. 

Ann-Mari Pettersson, the late Björn Blomqvist´s widow. She sold it to me more than three years ago.

This day was the first time she saw the bike since the day I picked it up at her place.

If she liked it? Yeah, she did!

And here´s another very important lady.

Iréne Gunnarsson Sjödahl. 

"ESSO´s" widow. We have become friends during the restoration and she has provided me with most anything I could possible need when it comes to information, things, books, decals, you name it! 

Tullar´n, Ingvar Larsson, also came to have a look at the bike. 

He was very pleased with the mounting of the wind screen this time!

There are lots and lots of people I need to mention when it comes to getting this project done and I will make a thorough list when the time comes to end this blog.

These are the guys that came to the show and had a look at the bike. Thank you for that!

Janne´s bike is actually for sale so he put a "For Sale" sign on it in the display tent.

I thought it looked kind of funny and when I saw the little piece of paper some one had attached to the bike as a response I couldn´t help taking a couple pictures...

If you want to sell something, it s always a good idea to indicate a selling price!

If not, you will probably end up with something like Janne got stuck to his seat.

The note says:

"How much??"

"Will you take Swish?"

Swish is a way of paying electronically through your internet bank and your cellphone. Different names in different countries.

Kind of funny since swish is most commonly used for very small sums, not buying H1R:s... 

The day continued in the tent talking to all kinds of people and racers. On the left here are three gentlemen I talked quite a lot to.
Erik Stenlund farthest to the left. Kåre Andersson in the middle, owner of a very unique racer, more about that one later... and finally my good friend, Stefan Pejer who really teaches me a lot about these racing events and has a great part in me daring to visit at all. Thanks!

And here he is again! Together with Peter Sjöström, Kimmo Kopra and Hannu Salakka. All these three guys raced the Suzuki RGB500 of different years during the eighties. All their bikes were on display in the tent and were used many times during the event. A true blessing to be there, that close to the bikes and their owners.

And here´s another rare find. Bo Granath´s Huskvarna 700 cc from 1971. He actually built this bike more or less himself. The frame was made by Seeley in England and the engine was very experimental from Huskvarna. 2 cylinders, two stroke, 700cc and an absolutely horrific noise. My H1R was silent in comparison...

Back to Kåre Andersson and his very special bike.

One of only 25 ever made Sparton triples from the seventies.

500cc three cylinder water cooled two stroke engine. 

Kåre bought this new in 1977, brought it to Sweden and raced it for six years until 1983 when it was put away in storage.

It has never been started since 1983 and now it was back on display for the first time in many, many years. Kåre said he would try and go through the bike for next years meeting and maybe have it drivable by then...

The container for collecting fluid from one of the vents on the bike. Very original Pripps beer can.

Oh, how my fingers itch to take this bike apart, clean it up, restore it technically and then run it! It would be such a nice job since everything is there. No need to hunt all around the world for parts no one wants to sell.

Look at that engine! The cases are based on Suzuki GT380 with a very special "block" cylinder, similar to that on the GT750, water kettle, but smaller and only 500cc. Mikuni carbs and a Kröber ignition.
And it´s all there!

All it needs is some TLC, taking apart, cleaning and putting back together. 

Here are the three Ignition boxes for the Kröber system, just below the typical square tachometer.

The cockpit of the Sparton. Nice redline on the tacho, right?

I told Kåre I would be more than happy to help out with whatever I can do to get it running next year.

Hopefully he´ll let me be of assistance!

Later Saturday evening they had a Line-up of all the bikes that raced that day on the grid and had an award ceremony for the winners in different classes.

That way the spectators could walk around and see all the bikes up really close. Such a great way to promote the sport and spark interest with the audience. All the drivers were available to talk to and take pictures of.

One of my favorites were Rudolf Gustavsson´s Kawasaki A1R replica from Åland. What a superb build! 

This bike is so beautifully finished and ran like a charm! Of course Rudolf is  a lot smaller and skinnier than me... Not much space here between the seat and the footpegs either.

Imagine this little guys feelings when he was allowed to sit on one of the race bikes during the line-up... 

If he won´t grow up to be a racer, what will he ever be?

This picture says a lot about the atmosphere during these days in Sviestad.

Here´s another picture for setting the mood of the evening...

I was later treated to a super nice BBQ with Stefan and his friends and family. You share what you have and find new friends that way.

Classic racing people are probably the finest and most easy going group of people I have ever met. Why didn´t I ever do this before?

I also like to show you the layout of the Suzuki RGB 500cc two stroke engine.

4 cylinders in a square formation with dual cranks and rotary valves for the carbs. Stunning piece of engineering!
Sunday was also race day, but not very many classes and not so many races. The "Superparade 500GP" made a couple of runs and my H1R ws still on display only. I didn´t change my mind on that one bit. I need to get back home and think this through thoroughly before trying again. I might just have to train our daughter, Wilma, to be my driver in the future! She said she would think about it. I hope we´ll be able to find a track day or something like that and try it out. She is a good motorcycle rider and only needs to get the two stroke thing right.

I also found me a nice pit starter! A few tents from the display tent  was a gang of people racing Ducatis and they had built a few starters. One remained and I could buy it! A bargain at 700 dollars here in Sweden and a nice quality build at that. I´m happy with that purchase!

Now I can experiment by myself back home without having to borrow a starter every time. Great!

Time to finally get back home. Everything is packed and loaded in to my van and I´m ready to go home after one of the best weekends I´ve had in a very, very long time.

It won´t be the last time I´m on a Classic road racing meeting, that is for sure!

Photo: Jan Isidorsson
Let´s end this post with this beautiful picture Jan took of the bike on display.

The bike is now back home. I´m going to look it over, clean it up and check that everything is still OK. 

I will start it up again at some point and take it for a spin around our island.

There will be a couple of articles written in a pair of magazines later on, during the autumn. I will get back with another post in the blog by then. Most probably the last one of this blog.

I will also try and write more about the different races the bike entered, here in my other blog:


I have just started on it and will try to keep working on it the coming weeks and months. I do need something to keep me busy during my sick leave from work. That and my H2:s will need attention. Those bikes are a completely different story and will not be portrayed in any blog. Facebook and possibly Instagram will have to do...

Until we meet again. Thanks for reading and keep safe out there!


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