Friday, September 24, 2010

Speaking of Phil Ross and SuperMax........

The advertisement that started it all - the Aug. '77 issue of Custom Bike (formerly Custom Chopper).
Check out the address - 16501 So. Normandie, Gardena, CA. Just a couple blocks down the street from Dick Allen's shop. Dick's shop was at 18720. Also, note the 14mm "metric tooth" profile. I think Karata was the last primary belt drive at that time that still used the "Gilmer belt" profile.

Sneak peek in the Dec. '81 issue of Supercycle, of Phil's ready to go secondary belt drive kit for Harleys. Supercycle did a step-by-step installation of one in their Jan. '82 issue.

1982 - I dunno, I always liked this picture.....I think it was the SuperMax Tshirt with the Rick Griffin-inspired lettering (same as my AppMac mark).......then again, it might have been........

Nov. 1983 - SuperMax's ad showing both their primary and secondary belts for rigid framed Harleys.

June, 1983 - Mike Auerbach's Shovel, used in the above ad for Supermax's primary and secondary belts. Also check out the Performance Machine "center banjo" dual calipers, and the early Bar Enterprises solo seat and P-p-pad.

Phil Ross had it going on in 1982! A new Shovel FLH, his primary and secondary belt drives, and the most comfortable seat Harley ever made - the "Comfort-Flex".

I was fortunate before Gates Rubber Co. jumped ship in Denver for Arkansas and Canada, to know John Redmond, head of the Harley program for Gates, and Ralph Duke, head engineer in Gate's Pilot Plant (their R&D facility) in the Synchronous Belt Division, on old So. Broadway. I met Phil Ross several times over there, and I thought he was a great guy - totally into and loving what he was doing.

There's a great article from Easyriders reprinted over on the SuperMax website that gives the complete history of Phil's work with both Gates Rubber, and H-D in developing not only the primary belt drive, but the secondary belt drive that has been a standard on the full BT Harley line since '86.

Although Phil died in Dec. '09, after a brave battle with cancer, his wife still carries on the full SuperMax line. You owe it to yourself to go here:

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The first Primo primary belt drive......

In early 1975, two hard ridin' guys named George Lindberg and Mick Ream got tired of tearing the splines out of their front pulleys, and shucking the teeth off the then-available aftermarket primary belt drives, so they decided to do something about it. From this frustration came Primo Products.

The prototype Primo Products primary belt drive.

They enlisted the help of one of their other Harley riding friends, Bill Young, who just happened to be a aircraft machinist, to help them in designing and engineering a superior primary belt drive system. Young saw two big flaws in the then-current belt drive setups - the first being the machining of aluminum castings to make the pulleys, and second the belt tooth profiles.

Young introduced Lindberg and Ream to the rounded "metric belt" tooth profile, vs. the common square "Gilmer" toothed belt that was used in most of the current primary belt drive conversions. It was Young that suggested a 14mm profile, in a 1.57" wide drive belt. He also pointed out that most of the drag racers had already switched to the metric belt tooth profile for their blower drives. That was all the guys needed to hear.

Along with this new found belt technology, they decided to machine their pulleys from Young's suggested 7075 solid aluminum billets, not castings. They found the 7075 to be almost bulletproof for the application. No more ripped out splines in the front pulleys! And, just to make their front pulleys that much more bulletproof, they decided to machine and install a steel splined or tapered keyway center insert (depending on the application), even though the 7075 was more than adequate in that area.

And, as an added bonus, because of the 14mm metric tooth spacing, they were able to machine their pulley sizes to almost duplicate Harley's original primary drive ratio, something the currently available kits from others couldn't do. Most of the other primary kits were about a tooth and a half off the stock ratio.

Early production run Primo belt drive in service. Does the clutch dome look familiar? It should, it's one of Paughco's standard air cleaner covers! Yep, it fit, was held on with 2 self-taping screws, and one cover came with each original kit.

Lindberg and Ream made an initial run of 30 of their kits in '75, and with Carl's Speed Shop and Arlen Ness as two of their first three early distributors, sold out immediately. Another run of 200 kits were made, and they dissapeared just as fast. After the first two runs, Primo Products was a full time operation.

Their kit included the belt drive pulleys, 1 1/2" wide H.T.D. belt, chrome clutch dome, chrome upper belt guard, all necessary hardware, and instructions. Prices were $250.00 for the Knuckle and early Pan kits, and $275.00 for the Estart Pans and Shovels - the Estart Pan/Shovel kits also included the now familiar bearing support plate for the trans's mainshaft.

Primo offered the complete belt drive installation free of charge if you brought your bike in to them, and if you mail ordered the drive, and shipped them your clutch hub, they'd install the pulley on your hub for free. They also offered lightning holes in the front pulley at no charge, and offered black, gold, red, and blue anodizing of their pulleys at a slight additional fee. They also offered their customers a 6 month warranty on their drives, too.

Primo's ad, that ran in most of the custom bike publications in '76.

Primo's primary belt drives were an instant hit, and along with Phil Ross's primary drives, became the standards in the industry. In 1978, Mel Magnet, owner of Rivera Engineering, bought out Primo Products, Inc., and merged the two Whittier, CA-based companies under the now famous Rivera-Primo banner.

Rivera-Primo has continued on for the last 32 years, still located in Whittier, and still leading the way in innovative primary belt drive technology and applications. It's the only belt drive system I'll use on my personal bikes, and the ones I build for my clients.

It's hard to find......

......a nicer looking front end, than an extended OEM Harley springer.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

40 Years? Not possible......

11/27/42 - 9/18/70

"If I don't meet you no more in this world then uh.......I'll meet ya in the next one, and don't be late...........don't be late......"
Voodoo Child (Slight Return)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Hey, I got to do something for me again!

If you've been following my blog, you'll remember when I posted pictures of my Harper & Reynolds lathe when Part-timer Steve and I moved it from his garage in Boulder where I had it stored, to my place. One of the things that needed to be re-manufactured was the framework that held the lathe motor and drive pulleys.

In the above photo is what originally came with the lathe. It was done decades ago when it was converted to electric power, done pretty crudely, weighed a ton, and had a lot of flex in it. In between bike work for everybody, I've been making parts for the new one when I could grab a few minutes, and I finally got some spare time to weld all my components together.
Here's my new framework to hold both the lathe motor, and the drive pulleys. I wanted something that was strong, and "fit in" design-wise with the age of the lathe itself. The sides are 1/4" steel plate that were a little narrower than I needed. I welded two sections of plate together, made a full-sized posterboard pattern for the plate's shape, then traced it on the plates with a soapstone.

I was going to cut them out with Dennis Goodson's plasma, but it was on the blink, so I cut them out with my torch. Let me tell you, it's been a long time since I've cut plate this way, and it took me a while to remember how to set my bottles to do it! But, they came out great, with little "kerf" to smooth out afterwards.

The main crosstubes are 3/16" wall x 1 3/8" dia. DOM tubing, and the front crossbrace tube is 1/8" wall x 7/8" tube. The uprights were done in 3/16" wall x 1 1/4" square tube that I fishmouthed to fit around the 1 3/8" main tubes. The pulley and motor mounts were made out of 2" x 2" x 1/4" angle iron. I TIG welded the whole thing together. This new framework is actually lighter than the old one, and there isn't any flex to the framework at all. I met all three of my goals - weight, strength, and style - and I'm pretty happy with it!

I have the pivot tubes cut that will go on the ends of the sideplates (you can see the cuts in the plates for them), that will actually mount/pivot the frame on the back of the lathe, but I didn't get a chance to weld them on before I took the photos. I'll post up pictures with the whole thing mounted on the back of the lathe, so you can see exactly how Harper & Reynolds mounted the steam-driven pulleys when I'm finished.

Before, the lathe motor sorta flopped off the back of the framework on two sets of ancient heim joints bolted together, using the lower two motor mounting pads. The weight of the motor "kept" the drive belt in tension. Now, the motor bolts on the framework with all four of the motor's mounting pads. The motor's new mounting plates are slotted, so to tension the drive belt, all I'll need to do is slide the motor down, and tighten it in place with its four 7/16" dia. mounting bolts.

Once I get the frame's pivot tubes welded in place, I can mount the frame to the back of the lathe, and figure out the new length for the primary and secondary drive belts, and head for Western Belting here in town, and have them shorten the secondary belt, and make me a new primary belt 1 1/4' longer than what I have. Lucky to have a place locally to do this - as Part-timer Steve always says "Where the fuck do you FIND all these places?". Well, over the decades, you amass a pretty good file of business cards for hard to find things just like these belts - and craftsmen like Dennis Goodson, Rick Labriola, and Bob Schencks have passed along their sources to me as well......

But, Don't tell Steve, he thinks I'm like a Yoda or something......OK?

Our Fathers, who art in Heaven........

Friday, September 3, 2010

Whaaaa??? Sgt. Joe Friday was wrong????

FRIDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A new report casts doubt on the argument that marijuana is a "gateway drug" that plays a major role in leading people to try other illegal drugs.

Researchers found that other factors, such as ethnicity and stress levels, are more likely to predict whether young adults will use other illegal drugs.
Even unemployment appears to be more closely linked to harder illicit drug use than marijuana use, the study authors noted.

"Employment in young adulthood can protect people by 'closing' the marijuana gateway, so over-criminalizing youth marijuana use might create more serious problems if it interferes with later employment opportunities," study co-author Karen Van Gundy, an associate professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, said in a university news release.

The study findings are published in the September issue of the Journal of Health and Social Behavior.

I used to love it when Joe Friday went off on a toot.
"I'm the expert here........."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The King Of Kalifornia.......

"Bitchin'....", so sayeth the King. Formally The Pope Of Burbank.
Photo coutersey Wes D Photography

99% er......

"Alvin in AMA Land" .

I have a friend in New Jersey who has a pearl white leather tuck&rolled Elvis ass-sofa that he bought at a swap meet, that has "Sweet Al" done in kelly green script across the back, right where Alvin has his name. "I couldn't help myself, it was so......funky. I had to buy it!"

June, 1970

VP Andrew Horn's funeral procession, Dago.