Final Assembly 2008
To see the final assembly of the Bullet as well as it's testing, and finally it's voyage to Bonneville, go to the Bonneville 3 web page. From the finishing of the 139" Turbo Orca motor, its installation in the chassis, and to the untold number of details that have to be done to get the Bullet operational, follow Mike Geokan on his final push to Bonneville.
Final assembly comes at the end of a long process. Scroll down the page or click on the links below to understand what it takes to build a Bonneville racer in the tradition of Burt Munro, The Summers Brothers, Sir Malcolm Campbell and many others. See the Bullett's maiden voyage to the Bonneville Salt Falts.
It took Mike a total of about 1500 hours of planning and parts gathering before he began construction of the Bullett. This is uncharted territory and you have to take what you've learned in hundreds of runs at Bonneville and factor in things like safety and course conditions as well as the dreaded Salt Bears before you start construction.
What you see here is about 50 feet of .125" wall 1.125" seamless tubing that Mike's Frame Shop has bent and welded into the initial truss structure. The design was first run through a computer FEA simulation and it's stiffness was verified. Inspected by the top SCTA/Bonneville National's motorcycle inspector it was deemed "The strongest motorcycle frame he had ever inspected".
Follow Mike Geokan on a long journey of determination. That light at the end of the tunnel may be an oncoming train or it might be a momentary flash where realization and reality meet. Damn the consequences.
The polished aluminum skin is hammered from a Viet Nam era F4 Phantom Wing Tank that Mike discovered in a salvage yard near Salt Lake City. Two wing tanks were purchased for the Bullett project. One was manipulated with a jig saw and an English Wheel into the Bullett skin and the second tank stands guard outside Mike's shop should close air support be required.
Mike has fond memories of Air Force Phantom pilots and sorties by "Puff The Magic Dragon" or "Spooky". Look it up. Mike's experience in Viet Nam was in Armor.
Shown here with a combination of cardboard and aluminum skin. The Bullett has 16% less frontal area than does the original record holding #226 Blue Bike. The rider is positioned behind the engine and the upper frame rails were later altered to clear the 139" ORCA motor. The stainless steel fuel tank is positioned to the front of the engine and stainless steel saddle tanks for oil and water are positioned in the rear flanks of the bike beneath the aluminum skin. The window is an XR750 item that Mike had used before. Wheelbase is 99" with a 45 degree rake. Seat height is 24".
"To the sculptor form is everything and is nothing. It is nothing without the spirit - with the idea it is everything." - Victor Hugo, May 13, 1885
The aluminum skin was formed at Mike's Frame Shop on an English wheel from a F4 Phantom wing tank. It is just wide enough to cover Mike's shoulders and hips at speed. The special Goodyear Land Speed Record tires get rid of the problem of using street rubber which isn't certified for these speeds. The engine runs a jackshaft which in turn powers the rear wheel.
Of course these days you could just go buy a Suzuki Hayabusa, add a turbo, and proclaim yourself a go-fast guru. In the period from 1988 to 1992 we did just that i.e. we turbocharged the first GSXR Suzukis and were the first to set 200 mph records at El Mirage and Bonneville. People did not believe us when we said we did nothing to the engines. We didn't. It's more fun to take pushrod dinosaurs and build things instead of buying your way to glory.
What are we anyway? Are we consumers, or are we builders, designers, craftsmen and innovators? Think about it the next time you climb into your Lexus, glance at your Seiko watch and speed home to stretch out in front of your Plasma wide screen TV. Somebody has to make things. Oh well! Let's just buy our way to happiness and hell if we know how things work or how to make them.
Bonneville is the last place left for fun....Power Seat!
Mike installed a power seat in the Bullett that flips forward to access the RSR Fuel Injection and the MSD ignition system, relays, fuses etc. The power seat allows Mike to scoot the seat forward to putt around on and then power it back to get his profile lower for the high-speed long course runs. Besides, it's a great conversation piece and the car guys love it. You gotta have a sense of humor, otherwise you might take this too seriously and then it would be all "do or die" and the fun would be gone. Get a grip on reality, step back from the insanity and realize the journey also has to be fun.
You can't do it alone
Mike Geokan flanked by master engine builder Carl Pelletier (left) of Competition Motorcycles and Bryan Stock (right) master Harley mechanic, welder and crew chief.
You need help on projects like these and whether it's the girls at the Torch Lounge, your fellow club members at Brother Speed, or hands-on people like Carl and Bryan, you just can't fly alone. It's always about the people. You can't talk to the walls when it's over with and when you go home you need people who care about you and the risks you've taken. Everyone has to lay it on the line whether it's g-strings, torque wrenches or welding torches. The road to glory is paved by pain and sacrifice and those who aren't around at closing time never know the meaning of brotherhood.
Salina, an exotic dancer, has lent her support to Mike's effort.
You have to start with the outside in place before you can build the inside. Bonneville is all about frontal area and you have to make the parts fit inside the fairing. Of course you have to worry about pushrod adjustment, hoses, connector pipes, plenums, and the like. Take a peek at what you are facing, screw up a 3D image and then take the fairing off and get to work.
This is the area where we get to build the exhaust manifold. You have to "see" the design before you start cutting and welding. Notice the curvature of the fairing as it folds around the 139" ORCA motor to reduce frontal area. The 12v oil pump for the turbo sits on the bench awaiting its place in the system. All the parts have to work together. If they do, you go fast and go to the casino for dinner. If they don't, you stay up all night wrestling with problems 1000 miles away from your shop.
We start with knowing where the turbo is going to be. In this case, Mike has the turbo mounted independently of the exhaust manifold with a steel Marman flange on the exhaust discharge and another machined plate holding the inlet bell...both mounted to a heavy aluminum base plate. We build the rear 2" primary pipe first, allowing for access to the pushrods and to clear the inlet plenum.
Next step is to visualize the front port to collector to turbo concept. Allowances have to be made for copper gaskets and also for enough wiggle room so you don't have to sign up for anger management classes everytime you try to tighten a particular bolt. This tight space called for 2" tubes on a 2" radius. Tight like, well...whatever. Yes, that is heavy steel to support the fairing. Think wind pressure at 200+ mph.
Parts tacked into final location. O2 ports, EGT ports and a few other points still need to be located.
Riders are always lurking, worrying, fretting, thinking, pondering, griping. It's only that moment when the man says go and they disappear into the shimmering white expanse, alone with themselves, that they are truly happy. You can relive the ride forever, with buckets of adrenaline freezing moments of time into a slow motion movie. The pain, the suffering, and the hardship slowly morph into an amusing prelude to glory where the years serve as a foundation for the final climb. No pain, no art.
Straight runs out of front and rear exhaust ports. Equal length primaries. Merge collector. Slip joint construction. Turbo not supported by the header. A fixture will be made off of the parts and duplicates will be made for spares. The tacked parts will not be final welded as they would change shape.
Fabrication done in 16 gauge mild steel. When things are finalized two headers will be fabricated in stainless steel and coated in silver ceramic coating. A secondary slip joint will be added to the front primary and stainless retention springs will be added. The stainless steel donut is 2" o.d. .065 wall 304 stainless with a 2" radius. You can get these at The Chassis Shop. Next we will show you how you fab up stainless turbo headers.
Get out your Miller Syncrowave, band saw, Burr-King, hand tools, fixtures and lathe and turn these bits into a turbo exhaust manifold that will take run after run with up to 1800 Deg F heat and never crack or break. Be sure to purge the tubing with argon. We bend a lot of mild steel, but no stainless, so we ordered up some parts from Woolf Aircraft. Slips, straight tubing, 3" radius u-bends, 2" radius 90 degree bends...about $500.00 total Stay tuned for the "after".
Fixtures, Bandsaw, Heliarc
Stainless is expensive and your fixtures have to be absolutely accurate unless you just like doing and redoing things. After 30 years of this we no longer like to redo things. Cut and precisely line the seams, tack welding with .040" 308 stainless rod. You should not final weld the seams unless you purge the inside of tubing with argon. That comes later. The RB Racing S&S SA B2 flanges and Turbo Venturis are mild steel so we had them chromed first for corrosion protection. Fixtures provide locations for front and rear O2 ports, front and rear EGT ports, as well as a single port to monitor exhaust gas pressure.
If it was Formula 1 we'd be using .020" Inconel and sweating bullets. Here we just use 16 gauge common variety 304 stainless. Stainless holds in the heat, doesn't rust or scale on the inside (the bike will be sitting for long periods). The header is only a conduit for the hot gases and is not structural in that it does not support the turbo. Two slip joints allow for expansion. Solid silver paste (expensive!) is used in the slip joints to prevent galling.
Argon flowing to inside of tube prevents oxidation / contamination of the stainless. Fixture allows rotation through the centerline of the tube. We lightly flare the tubing where it meets our chrome flange/turbo venturi to smooth the gas flow. In welding everything is preparation and position. Of course your best welds are often in a position where you can't see them. Zen.
Merge Turbo Collector
If you've done this hundreds of times it's a road well traveled. If you haven't, then it's a lot of expensive parts in the trash. Sliding bandsaw fixtures, high speed sanders and surfacers and a couple of deburring and checking operations later and you're ready to tig weld the high velocity merge collector. Two way 2" i.e. each of the tuned 2" primary tubes enter the slip portions and merge into what will become a 2" exit. The pulses are individual events.
Merge collector capped and purged. No weld burn through on the inside, just the mitered knife edges. No one ever looks inside, but we do. Exhaust tuning is terribly important with high output turbos. These aren't low speed diesel engines. Each pulse is an independent event but the high velocity merge sends strong signals back to the exhaust ports and header length has enough elasticity (volume) to prevent shocking the turbine wheel like a 4 3/8" jackhammer.
Fixtures. We've made thousands of them over a 30 year period. In this case we need to make a prototype, and then a part we are going to race with. The fixture allows you to replicate your work so you can make a spare part if something happens 1000 miles away from your shop. The parts shown will be purged and welded in sections.
Here's the welded part with two slip joints. The turbo is already supported by thick machined plates so as not to stress the header. The slip joints allow the manifolds to survive the extreme heat, expansion and shaking forces of the 139" ORCA engine. Spring retainers await location on final assembly as things get really, really, tight inside the fairing.
As long as the memory is fresh we went ahead and made a second header as a backup. Bye bye $660.00 worth of stainless.
Here is the turbo dump tube peeking out of the fairing. It's always exciting to take hundreds of hours of your work and cut a hole in the middle of it. Hey, showtime is coming and it has to be done. Why wait?
1000 Hp Fuel Pump and Radiator
SX Performance fuel supply for the Turbocharger. Stainless steel gas tank. Radiator for the watercooled cylinders and for the watercooled turbocharger. SX regulator will not cause a pressure rise as it will bypass enough fuel.
Emergency Fuel/Electrical Shut-Off
The rules call for a fuel shut-off valve activated from the handlebars. We use an AN8 Fuel Shut-Off unit from Enderle Fuel Injection. In addition to the shut off valve we have a handle bar kill switch that kills all electrical systems including the fuel pump as well as a tethered Pingel deadman switch, attached to Mike, that will kill all systems should the rider be separated from the bike.
Here's the Enderle 2-way shutoff valve installed on the base of the Bullet's stainless steel gas tank. AN10 lines lead to the SX Performance Fuel Filter. The shutoff valve is cable-operated from the handlebars.
Mike painted the handle for the shutoff bright yellow and will label the T-Handle "Fuel". To the left of the Enderle shutoff is the Pingel electric shifter that allows both up and down shifts and the touch of a button.
Turbochargers without intercoolers are about as stupid as Donald Trump getting married without a pre-nup. We have 500 hp+ worth of intercooler core capacity with machined 2.5" inlets and exits. The intercooler is rubber-mounted and is of the stacked plate design for maximum survivability. Discharge temperatures at 25 psi approach 300 deg F. With 200+ mph of forced air, and some other help from an intercooler spray system, we'll get back close to ambient. A second water injection pump to spray the intercooler.
Air is ducted to the intercooler core behind the 45 degree raked fork tubes. Dual steering dampers and minimal steering lock are requirements for long course Bonneville running. If you get into trouble at 200+ a tight turning radius is not a benefit. We will pre-chill the intercooler before runs.
You can never be too rich or too thin....
Everything, when it comes to top speed, is about frontal area. You can have all the horsepower in the world and it won't help if you have a "barn door" frontal area. Mike Geokan designed the Bullett where the width is defined by his shoulders and his posterior. Picture your legs folded up, wrapped next to the water-cooled 4 3/8" bore cylinders with your arms out stretched and have someone get out the tape measure and come up with a rectangular area your body fits into, then round the corners of the rectangle. This will ultimately be your limit. Mike designed the bike to fit his "limit" and rolled the aluminum skin to slip him through the air.
When you are after some really high speeds and your ass is in the seat you have to do some soul searching about tires. Mike designed the Bullett around Goodyear Eagle Land Speed Record Tires. He bought one set at the start of the project along with two 15" 300 mph certified Funny Car wheels. The Bullet is is heavier than rice rocket and the latest 17" modern motorcycle tires are really not designed for these weights and speeds. The loads, the weight, and the speeds dictated specialized rubber. A pair of these tires costs about $900.00. Buy one set for the design and fabrication stage which took a number of years and then buy a new set for Bonneville. Ouch! That's how they ship them. Slap on a label and off they go.
The Eagle LSR tires are certified 300 mph items. All you have is the contact patch between you and the record or trouble.
Goodyear and Firestone were the major players in Bonneville history as well as Avon and later on Mickey Thompson. Many of the older cars and bikes were designed around rubber that is no longer available. You just can't go out and buy a set of 600 mph rated tires anymore.
Both jackshaft and rear wheel adjusters are locked fore and aft to prevent any movement. Mike didn't want any question to arise in this area and his experience with large rock crushing machinery led to this well-proven design.
With a 99" wheelbase specialized controls are called for. Mike bent up and fabricated the stainless steel handlebars and Carl Pelletier machined the custom billet triple clamps. Heim joints connect the hydraulics to the levers. Upshifts and downshifts are by a Pingel electric solenoid shifter, or by manual foot linkage. A backup air shifter can be hooked up in a few minutes. The clutch is a complete custom sintered iron hydraulic unit by Carl Pelletier of Competition Motorcycles.
Old style analog tach mocked up. To be replaced by a billet ORCA Tachometer that has memory, shift lights and digital displays. A separate billet instrument pod is being prepared for the area beneath the tach so Mike can monitor two egt temperatures, engine manifold pressure, and battery voltage. A data acquisition system is also being installed.
And Me Without My Skin
The empress may have no clothes but she still has the goods. Lady in waiting. An unadorned warrior waiting battle dress. Tension in the metal.
Lower chain guide block fabricated from stainless steel and machined plastic blocks cross bolted into place. Jackshaft and adjusters. Right side saddle tank. There are two saddle tanks in the tail section. One for the dry-sump 139" ORCA oil system and one for the water injection. The tanks are stainless steel and are rubber isolation mounted.
Once the tanks were finalized they were polished. Since they are stainless, they will pretty much stay in this condition. The tanks were pressure tested.
the polished stainless steel gas tank. It's suspended on rubber
isolation mounts. If we choose to run methanol we can reprogram the RSR
ECU in a few minutes and switch to four injectors, 2 primary and two
staged. The stainless steel has no "issues" with the corrosive
methanol. Unfortunately two years later we found out that Mike Geikan
had never cleaned the gas tank and stainless steel shavings jammed our
SX Fuel Filter causing the bike to go lean and destroy two pistons.
Jackshaft mechanism transmits power from left side to right side and the intermediate sprockets allow tall gearing without going to an absurdly small rear sprocket. Visible are the left and right teflon-lined stainless steel chain guards. Bonneville SCTA/BNI Rules require guards 1.5" (38mm) in width. Mike made the guards so they are removable which entailed making removable brackets as well.
The jackshaft rides in Timken tapered roller bearings with seals on a 1" diameter shaft.
Final drive stainless steel chain guard, teflon-lined. Bike is being prepared for Jim's FAT 5 transmission in the super strong Delkron case. All final parts are being fit prior to any final fabrication/welding and then the bike will be disassembled for powder coating. The frame and supporting stands will be powder coated white.
Details of jackshaft mechanism. Note full triangulation of the final drive area. The engine and transmission will be trying to twist out of the frame. The engine, the transmission, and the entire drive mechanism are locked into a triangulated structure.
Unlike a drag bike where you are driving on the wheelie bars and the rear tire, Mike has to keep the front and rear wheels perfectly aligned with no frame flex. If the chassis tries to twist, the bike can get into a high speed wobble and spit Mike off. The entire rear structure is rigid and triangulated with the final contact patch running through Goodyear 300 mph LSR tires.
When Mike is not figuring out how the Egyptians built the pyramids (he has a model) he's either working on the foot shifting mechanism for the Bullet to supplement the electric shifter or finishing other items on his list. There's always a clock ticking however, and Mike calculates he has another 500 hours to go. As Joseph Campbell, in his PBS series with Bill Moyers, said... "follow your bliss". When you do so, the time passes quickly.
Wooden mock-ups translated into metal. Mike made triple-redundant shift mechanism...Pingel electric shifter backed up by a manual foot shifter which is, in turn, backed up by an air shifter. The electric shifter is the primary system. If it fails, the air shifter can be hooked up to actuate the same mechanism. A manual shifter remains in place at all times. Curvature of the aluminum skin dictated pump and filter location. Special AN10 stainless steel O-Ring fittings had to be fabricated due to the 3.375" centerline of the filter and pump ports.
When people look at the Bullett Mike tells them this is the new plastic turbo. Actually it's a magnetic drive water pump for the Bullett's water cooling system. Cute and expensive. Lots of people buy into turbo explanation.
Since nothing is standard on the Bullet you get to make things like fittings and hoses. Hoses are pretty simple. Just go to a large autoparts store, sift though page after page of a Gates catalog and buy a bunch of hoses you can cut up. Fittings are more of a problem as they have to work with the watercooled cylinders, the radiator, and the magnetic pump. Then there is the complication that the turbo itself is watercooled. Factor in that there is virtually no space inside the fairing with the radiator and it's fan assembly and you end up making the fittings.
The Bullet is designed from the outside first and then you get to do the packaging. The envelope, defined by the fairing, is designed to hide Mike's shoulders and ass. Frontal area is king.
Lawyers Pad their bills and Seats!
Bikers always seem to need a lawyer or two...It helps if they can do upholstery as well as prepare legal briefs. In this case the Bullett gets a seat and a chest/arm pad as part of Mike's defense team. One team provides comfort and security at the rear and the other keeps Mike's chin and arms from being rattled to death on the aluminum backbone plates.
The Bullett stripped bare and ready for final welding, blending, and powder coating. All the mounts have been removed and all frame tabs that were tack-welded into place have to be final welded. Mike and Bryan Stock will inspect all welds during this final go-over.
Master Harley tech and welder Bryan Stock has welded all the new tabs and inspected the welds. Mike and Bryan then spend two days prepping the frame for powder coating, dressing the welds and doing a lot of grinding and deburring . The bare frame came in at 125 pounds.
Back from powder coating. Mike chose to do the frame in white for several reasons. First, he just wanted it in white. Secondly, the heat at Bonneville in August can be a bitch and Mike didn't want any additional heat sinks. Thirdly, it makes it easier to spot and oil, exhaust, or fluid leaks and forces you to keep things clean. Fourthly, Mike wanted it in white.
Mike disassembled the Bullet for final finishing and made the comment..."It was like taking apart an old Buick!". He ended up with 75 brackets that were fabricated to hold all the guts, fairing etc. together. All the bolts, nuts, washers etc. went into boxes and bags... All labeled as to where they came from. Next step is new Bonneville rubber, installing the engine and lots of hoses and wiring.
While the rest of the world is out skiing, watching football, or holding down couches with piles of cheese nachos, those working on the project only periodically verify that there is a world outside of workshops. The sun comes up and the sun goes down. Except for forays for parts, the usual day to day crises, and a quick meal before they crash, the work goes on. The clock ticks for everyone. Exactly what time is is a serious question. For racers it is always something in short supply.
Read the Rule Book
Read the SCTA-BNI Rule Book and there is a paragraph about no all-white or no all-silver bikes. Rather than get to Bonneville, get out the Krylon paint and some tape, Mike chose to use a tough, gold powder coat that matches the Summer Brother's famous Four Hemi-engined streamliner (see Heroes link top of page) on the lower section of the streamlining. The rest of the hand-rolled F4 Phantom aluminum skin will be highly polished. Mike drew about two dozen sketches before he made the decision. A black stripe will separate the gold lower section and the polished aluminum.
The bike has full bellypan that has a rounded, not flat, shape. Think low and no lift. Next up are all the Dzus fasteners which must be installed.
Numbers and Karma
The F4 Phantom wing tank that Mike and Bryan Stock shaped into the Bullett's skin had a serial number of 0228 so Mike checked with Bub Speed Trials and found out that the #228 had already been taken. Mike then contacted the SCTA-BNI and checked on numbers as he had retired his old #226 and found that #8228 was available so Mike blocked the #8228 with the SCTA-BNI. Bub then called back and said the entrant with #228 would let Mike have the number as he was battling cancer and could not make it to Bonneville and would be honored if Mike would take the number. Bub and Mike settled on the #8228 so the graphics could be completed for both organizations. Mike will be honored to run the "8228" for both his Viet Nam comrades and the SCTA member who is fighting cancer.
The Bullet is narrow and long. Long for stability and to position Mike as low as possible without him laying down. Only as wide as Mike, as he opted not to use the bandsaw to improve on the human form. Mike tried on all sorts of new helmets to find one that had a large enough vision port that he would be comfortable with. Fred Wiley, Mike's fellow club member and owner of Big Twin Cycle Center in Boise, found a helmet that Mike liked and ordered it in the white color that Mike preferred. Fred is a Bonneville 200 MPH club member on one our GSXR Suzuki Turbos.
A new Gustafsson smoke XR windscreen being installed. Mike has always used windscreens from Gustafsson at Bonneville.
Heavy lifting and photos by long time friend Walt Hennig. It's not a one man job when it comes to taking the Bullett apart and putting the main pieces back together. As Mike says it's like taking apart a Buick.
Mike got out his Dzus tools, measured the thicknesses at the desired locations on the skin and played around with some of the scrap F4 Phantom wing tank aluminum and finally decided to take the Bullet to a professional race chassis fabricator in Boise, Blackstone Race Cars. Mike did not want to screw up the skin that he and Bryan Stock had hundreds of hours invested in.
Dzus Fastener Tools
These are tools used to countersink 5/16" Dzus fasteners. After some trials Mike decided to let Blackstone Race Cars do the job. In the end, they decided not to countersink the fasteners as the aluminum was too thick. The F4 Phantom skin was happier with rounded head fasteners.
Blackstone had all the correct length fasteners and special epoxy for bonding aluminum. The thickness and temper of the skin called for round head fasteners. You need the specialized tools to bend and adjust the spring heights for the different locations. One day later, with two people working on the Bullett, all the fasteners were professionally installed.
With the skin buttoned down the bike can be stripped for final assembly. The clock keeps ticking.
Six Hours and $300.00 Later
After years of construction Mike hired a professional metal polisher to come over and polish the aluminum skin. Six hours of buffing with one break for a sandwich that the guy's wife brought over and all the scratches and nicks of endless fabrication were gone, not to mention all the local and foreign travel that the F4 Phantom wing tank had gone through.
Mike felt a bit guilty watching the guy work so hard so he freshened up the Goodyear logos on the new tires. Mike ended up with a bit of white on his fingers and brushes and the polisher looked like chimney sweep from all the buffing.
Peg of My Heart
Pegs. backup pegs...floorboards...You name it and Mike made it. They all bolt into the same place. You never know what can happen in inspections or other calamities....Then there is the actual racing. 35 years of hardcore chopper riding and a few trips through fences and telling doctors to get bent makes for interesting early mornings. Like a pair of comfortable shoes Mike is looking for a set of comfortable places to plant his racing boots.
Soon to be made non-slip and all-tricko, Mike likes these "Rocketeer" floorboards, cum footpegs. Something to do with them not folding up on him and a couple of crushed vertebrae.
Here's the finished "Rocketeer" floorboard. Sort of like going to a shoe store and trying on box after box of shoes...then walking out because you couldn't find the right pair. After going in and out of the shop and fabbing up pair after pair, these are the ones that fit Mike's boots.
At speeds where a modern jet liner leaves the runway the forces get pretty serious. Mike has constructed triangulated structures that will hold the fairing in place and him on the bike. The pile of parts are migrating back to their home just like in the Terminator...or in the spectacular animated film The Iron Giant.
Harleys use a separate engine and transmission which are sort of held together by the inner primary. The O.E.M. die cast part is not strong enough for a Turbo ORCA, so Mike specified a Delkron A356-T6 cast part. Delkron also supplied the early style 1989-1993 FXR D5030 Transmission case for the same reason, i.e. it's stronger.
If you have 1000 lbs or more bouncing down the not-so-smooth salt you need a strong transmission to carry the load. Mike chose a Jim's Fat 5 transmission which is the toughest 5 speed you can buy. The average "buy all the trick parts" mega engine "look at me" collection of parts custom bike might have one-half the horsepower the Bullet will be seeing.
Jims FAT5 Transmission
Every clown that went for a 360 tire, a Bandit clutch, the widest belt drive he could buy, and a monster engine, was shredding fragile 6 gear units. Jim's came up with bigger, stronger, wider gears to carry the load and stayed at a sensible five-speed design. Hell, all the Harley's come with six speeds these days...there goes the aftermarket upgrade transmission market. Next stop seven speeds and automatic transmissions. Don't laugh, Baker Drivetrain is making a seven speed unit. We'll stay with the Jims Fat 5.
Jims FAT5 Hydraulic conversion
The clutch cover shown above is a stock late model six-speed oem Harley-Davidson part with mechanical cable actuation. The inner plate rotates on three ball beaings. As you pull the clutch level the cable rotates the plate and the three ball bearings slide up a machined ramp. The assembly moves about .130" to cause the diaphragm spring to deflect, releasing the clutch plates. The problem for the Bullett is that Jim's FAT5 Transmission only ships with a system like the oem Harley above, i.e. no hydraulic leverage.
Mike faced the same dilemma on his famous #226 Blue bike...It tooks a gorilla pull to actuate the clutch so an external hydraulic slave cylinder was added.
The Bullet's clutch has very strong springs, sintered iron plates, and a lock-up mechanism, all of which require too much pressure for a mechanical cable system. To covert the Jim's FAT5 cover we simply take a late model sport bike clutch slave cylinder and adapt it to the Billet Jim's FAT5 outer cover. You can't buy a cover that fits right on as the FAT5 has a unique cover pattern. Hey!!! If you want fat gears and a hydraulic clutch you just do it. Of course if you bought a Hayabusa and credit-carded your way to speed it would already have one.
The first step is to make a fixture to do the machining. We want to locate the center of the actuator rod so we machine a plug to fit the cavity of the Jims FAT5 regular cable pull mechanism. This plug is bolted to the fixture and two additional points to locate the cover bolts are drilled and tapped. After that, it's a series of spot drilling, milling, taping, and boring operations to locate the slave cylinder and machine a recess for a silicone seal. The slave cylinder is a slight press-fit into the hole. We have to be careful to not scratch the chrome or the judges will subtract points.
Kawasaki slave cylinder to the rescue courtesy of our friend Freddie West who keeps everything on two wheels running and has every motorcycle part made in the last 40+ years stored in his memory banks. Like Freddie said...."You want a Kawasaki part for a Harley? !!!!". We specified Kawasaki as "Let the Good Times Roll" seemed appropriate. One step closer, a few more aluminum chips and not much sleep. The clock ticks faster and faster.
Did I shift into 5th?
On the Jim's Fat 5 transmission there is a ramp that trips the neutral light. We added a second ramp so we can illuminate a Bright Red L.E.D. on the Air Fuel Ratio display when the bike is in 5th gear. If you remember all those times you went for the next gear and you we already in high, you'll understand. At Bonneville missing a shift is like slamming on the brakes due to the wind pressure.
We had to come up with a narrow profile clutch for the Bullet as we are running a chain primary without the compensator sprocket. We didn't need a wide drag racing primary belt drive that will suck in salt debris and increase frontal area. Chains are more efficient and a hell of a lot narrower. A Turbo ORCA under full boost will kill about any clutch. We have a very special clutch for Mike's wet primary drive system. Sintered Iron. Stay tuned.
It's all based on ancient history, Sportsters and Nitro racing....This time with a Bonneville twist.
Hubcap, sintered iron plates, Sportster basket to a big twin adaptation...dry clutch in a wet primary. Next step is a lock-up mechanism with an outboard support on the FXR Primary. Stay tuned. The Hub Cap gets replaced with a machined 6061-T6 assembly that seals the clutch from oil and features an outboard support bearing with access to the centrifugal lock-up. Big-time complicated, but this is new territory with heavy loads, a lot of horsepower, hammer-like engine pulses, and weird traction conditions.
Mike Taylor of Barnett is supplying the special sintered iron clutch internals and the billet primary cover and Bandit Machine Works reworked the modified clutch basket for the additional width to accept a lock-up outer plate. Mike Taylor of Barnett is no stranger to Bonneville having raced there himself. Mike stepped up and got us our parts in short order.
Start out with several chunks of 6061-T6 aluminum. Stay tuned as Carl Pelletier of Competition Motorcycles builds a clutch basket to cover the sintered iron plates in a wet primary drive.
Carl Lets Chips Fly!
Carl Pelletier always has a plan. Always. When you've been at the top level of racing for decades and have built complete Top Fuel, Pro Fuel, Pro Drag and Pro Stock motorcycles you develop the skills, amass the machinery, and learn to think on your own. What you see here is something you can't go out and buy, and it's something that only existed in Carl's mind, and was hiding inside the chunks of billet aluminum a few days before these pictures were snapped.
It's not fun standing at the lathe late at night while you know customers will be screaming in the morning for "their parts" and you're checking measurements and not trying to screw up on something that is headed for the biggest dyno in the world....Bonneville. An outboard support bearing awaits the Barnett Billet cover.
Barnett Billet Primary Cover
We chose a Barnett Scorpion Billet Primary Cover because the derby cover is repositioned to center on the clutch assembly which makes it a lot easier to access the clutch and allows us to machine an outboard support bearing. The cover is also "deeper" as racing clutches have additional frictions and the lock-up mechanisms add to the width. Barnett's part number for the polished FXR version is 648-30-41670. Nice part, just shy of $1,200.00. Barnett makes some really nice parts. Beats the hell out of trying to redo a stock die casting.
Stay tuned and come back as Carl Pelletier will show you how to build a 139" S&S TURBO ORCA motor that will put out a reliable 3 hp per cubic inch. If you think this is bullshit then you weren't paying attention when Carl built Mikes 104" motor in his #226 Bonneville bike that made over 255 rear wheel horsepower..that's 2.45 hp per cubic inch...and it ran over 100 runs at Bonneville and did street duty and made the show circuit, all with 100% reliability. See if you can name a gasoline powered Harley that makes 250+ hp that has been running around for ten years and is still running.
The finless cylinders are drag racing items that we used for prototyping.
139" ORCA: Top of Food Chain
This is the air-cooled street version of Mike's 139" ORCA water cooled engine. Bonneville is used to prove the internal components...The only difference between a street 139 and the Bonneville 139 is the method of cylinder cooling.
4 3/8" bore with notches for piston oilers. S&S custom made these air cooled cylinders for the 139" ORCA motors. They are set up for the 1/2" A1 Technologies studs. No head or base gaskets are used. Special metal seal rings and O-Rings are used. External Oil lines are used.
Shaker Nitro Rods by Carrillo
Reciprocating mass, the heart of the 139 Orca Engine. You've got the forged pistons, the crank and the rods. Every one of these points represents potential failure. Getting a set of rods that will withstand 400+ horsepower is a bit of a pain in the ass. Carl Pelletier built the first 139 Orca engine with McClure 8" rods. They were the only rods that were proven to take the pounding that Nitromethane hands out. The McClure rods were nearly impossible to get and we were not able to build backup motors for the Bullett project due to the inavailabilty of the McClure rods. We ordered them but none ever arrived. Carl had to buy a set from a third party to get the engine finished.
Terry Stewart of Shaker Products , a Carrillo distributor, faced the same dilemma and had Carrillo make up these "Shaker Nitro Rods" for us. Now this isn't exactly a big business for Terry or Carrillo but he put in the effort to get us our rods and to be able to supply rods on a regular basis for our 139 Orca Motors. Carrillo made a sronger rod than the McClure rods and their production techniques are more refined. Rods are just one part of the picture in a large scale project like the Bonneville Bullett, but an important one.
In the early 90's we ran 7.440" Carrillo rods in Mike Geokan's famous Blue Bike #226. They were ok but finally broke taking out the entire engine. These "Shaker Nitro Rods" have much thicker cross sections and are designed for nitro burning Pro Dragsters. Turbos are a bit easier on the rods, so these new "Shaker Nitro Rods" will not be a weak point in the engines. Contact Terry at (714) 398 7952 and be prepared to pay in advance for a set of custom rods. For us it's a no brainer...no 8" rods, no 139 Orca engines.
If you order a set of these have Carl Pelletier set up your entire lower end. He can keep your dragster alive for the season, not just a few passes. That's what we do.
139" 400hp Turbo Pistons
4 3/8" pistons relived for the 2.220" and 1.800" valves of the S&S B2 heads. These are under 500 grams and feature a lot of tricks we have learned over the years, not all of which we will show you. Heavy wall .927" piston pin, variously held in place by buttons or wire clips depending on our usage. CP Pistons. We had CP put in anti-detonation grooves to protect the top ring land and an accumulator groove to cut down on blow-by between the top and second ring. Due to the large bore and high boost we increased minimum crown thickness from .195" to .285".
The piston skirts are anti-friction coated after the boring and honing operations. You cannot accurately match a piston to a bore once it has been coated. The tops of the pistons are thermal barrier coated. The days when coatings flaked off are long gone.
With a lot of boost you cannot have a weak piston crown. One the 139" ORCA we specify a minimum thickness of .280". CP Pistons moved the top ring land down further than normal to provide extra strength. 23-25 years ago we saw enough collapsed ring lands and sagging piston crowns. Quote Mike "Never more". One time at Bonneville Carl Pelletier welded a hole shut in one of Mike's pistons and Mike went on to set a Bonneville record.
Custom 1/2" 4340 Studs
A1 Technologies makes our 1/2" ORCA studs. These are precision ground 4340 steel, oxide coated with rolled threads and special nuts and ground washers. S&S machined a SA case for the 139" engine to our custom stud pattern.
The 139" ORCA pushes the SA cases to the limit but we still have room for a base gasket O-Ring seal. Cases are tapped 1.625" deep for 1/2" x 13 studs. We have custom turbo pistons made up for these. CP Piston's Jacqui Garcia handled our order. She worked for a number of years with our infamous friend "Honda Jim" who we first met back in 1974. Honda Jim always took care of our piston needs and offered great advice whether it was at MTC, JE, Arias, Ross etc. We knew him when he was racing his Honda dragster in the 1970's. Jacqui and the engineers at CP can take care of your requirements. Honda Jim retired to Palm Springs.
These are the air cooled cylinders for the street 139" ORCA. The Bonneville Bullet of Mike Geokan uses watercooled cylinders, fed by a special pump and cooled by a radiator/fan combination. On the long course at Bonneville there will be so much heat generated that air cooling would not keep things stable when we are pumping 670 cfm of pressurized air in with the turbocharger.
139" ORCA Lower End..Carl Pelletier "Pro Rods"
With all the boost pressure pushing on the CP Pistons though the heavy wall wrist pin and the 8.0" McClure ( now Shaker Nitro Rods), the antiquated roller bearing big end of the rods needed an upgrade. Stock Harley Evolution rods use 1.250" crankpins with 17 needle rollers (rightmost design above). S&S Racing 1.5" crankpins for both the Evo and Twin Cam Special Application race engines now use 19 needle rollers. They used to use 21 rollers! These designs from both S&S and Harley use rollers that are .1875" x .294" on the female rear rod and .1875" x .585" on the male front rod.
Carl Pelletier of Competition Motorcycles builds Top Fuel, Pro Fuel and Pro Dragster engines that run 400 to 800 horsepower. Carl, frustrated at this "less bearing for more power scenario", worked with a major bearing manufacturer to come up with the solution involving custom races and rolling elements. The tolerances in this full compliment style bearing are unbelievably critical, as is the initial break in procedure. He calls the assembly his "Pro Rods". Tested for over two years without a failure on high output turbo and nitro motors. Lower end rebuilds used to be every couple of races. These lower ends went the whole season.
The 139" Turbo ORCA engine (far left design above) is pushing the limits of the 100 year old design so Carl uses 28 custom dimension rollers on the S&S 1.5" crankpin that are .1875" x .325" on the female rear rod and .1875" x .660" on the front male rod. You do the math. We gain a big advantage in load capacity. Those poor 28 rolling elements will have to endure run after run on the great white dyno. It also helps when we use a welded and trued crankshaft with under .0015" run out and side play. Timken Case bearings have been upgraded to take any side load. No TC pressed cranks!
Carl has over 30 years of machining and engine building experience as well as Top Fuel, Pro Fuel and Pro Dragster wins. He also built the 104" Bonneville engine in Mike Geokan's original #226 Blue Bike that ran flawessly for years at Bonneville with 22 lbs of boost.
Whatever it takes. If you want a bulletproof lower end call Carl. Get your cases, lower end, and reciprocating assemblies set up for high horsepower reliability. We did.
Prepping a 139 ORCA for Bonneville...Deja Vu
We decided to turn back the clock 34 years to when we first dealt with Jerry Branch of Branch Flowmetrics. We first visited Branch Flowmetrics in 1974 and Jerry personally ported and flowbenched our Kawasaki cylinder heads that we took to Le Mans, France for the Bol d'Or in 1977. Sometime ago Jerry sold the business to Mikuni who in turn sold the company to Jerry's 30+ year employee John O'Keefe. John moved the business back to Signal Hill where we first met Jerry in 1974. Jerry set up his original flowbench himself in the new facility. We met with John and his excellent crew and discussed the S&S SA B2 cylinder heads and the Bullett project. We knew they had been to Bonneville running 197 mph on a gas powered Sportster but were unaware they had done extensive development on the B2 heads.
Branch Okeefe is preparing our S&S SA B2 cylinder heads. We are familiar with the S&S SA B1 heads but have only recently started using the B2 versions. John O'Keefe showed us some interesting stuff, so he got the job. You have to go with the best and, well, 34 years later we're back in Signal Hill and Jerry Branch himself will be checking out the crew's work. Contact John at Branch & O'Keefe Co for excellent cylinder head work.
S&S stainless steel 1.800" exhaust valves have been replaced with higher temperature alloy items from Ferrea. Stainless will stretch sooner or later while on the long course at Bonneville. We've done that before. Since the exhaust valve will bear the constant pounding while glowing red hot we increased the exhaust stem diameter from 5/16" to 11/32" and had the tip cut to accept standard S&S Titanium retainers.
Like Yogi Berra said "It's deja vu all over again".
John O'Keefe...Branch Flowmetrics
Put a challenge to John and he delivers whether it's our raw casting S&S B2 Bonneville Bullet heads or classified development projects for OEM's. John took our parts and worked his magic with the S&S castings blowing away any figures he ever had seen on his flow bench. John manged to work the inlet and exhaust ports and chambers so the port velocities maxed his bench instruments and did not drop as he brought up the flow numbers. Normally you can't get away with this, i.e. as you increase the port sizes the flows increase but the port velocities drop.
It was totally new territory and John worked back and forth from one head to the other keeping the port velocities high until he was happy and then matched the two heads.
John is pointing to the 300 feet per second mark that the modified heads blew past....way past.
Branch O' Keefe Exhaust port in left photo, inlet port in right photo. We doubt you've ever seen that big an exhaust port that was a "high velocity" port. Normally the velocity falls off and scavenging suffers. Issues related to reversion crop their ugly heads and power falls off. John O'Keefe and Jerry Branch settled on exhaust port flows for the Bonneville Bullett on the North side of 80% whereas a normally aspirated exhaust port might be targeted at 65 to 70%. John was able to work the exhaust and inlet port shapes so there was no compromise.
Notice the detail work on the valve guides. The idea is to give full guide support and make them transparent to the flow. You do not compromise reliability. John treats every cylinder head like it was his own. That is the philosophy that John learned in his 30+ years with Jerry Branch. Jerry always took the time to do it right and would, at great length, explain what he had done. He simply loved motorcycles.
Modified Combustion Chamber
Normally someone might just "Hemi" a chamber with a round 30 degree angle and leave it at that. The problem with this is we are starting with a 4 3/8" bore that does not want to burn very quickly. Dual plugs will help this situation, but a pure "hemi" chamber would only slow things down again, requiring more ignition advance, and be more prone to detonation. John came up with smooth contour, dual-quench, design that will promote better mixtures and a better burn. John managed to get full valve guide support with no compromise in flow. No sharp edges to initiate pre-ignition.
Final S&S SA B2 Branch O'Keefe Heads
John gradually opened the chambers to get the desired cc's leaving a squish on the periphery with a slight shape to push the compressed mixture to the two spark plugs. The chamber has one 12mm plug as pictured and a second 12mm plug is to be installed in the center of the casting in lieu of the S&S compression release.
John cc's the chambers to match our deck heights and piston design based on calculation for the 4500 foot altitude of Bonneville. Total package. Normally Branch Flowmetrics provides a matching head and piston as this is the only way to correctly control the combustion process. You can't buy pistons from "A" and have "B" do the heads, run to "C" for the valves, and throw in "D" camshaft. Branch Flowmetrics, with John O'Keefe and his crew, have complete cylinder head, valve, camshaft and piston solutions for your engine whether it is an 88, 95, 103 or 110 cubic inch. Best deal with one source and get something that works. Did you know that Harley recently changed certain rod lengths by .004"....John does. Did you know that the new Mercury Marine castings can't be welded...John does. Experience comes with time and numbers. It's always about the airflow. These are just air pumps.
Run some numbers
In this case, we showed up with the basic piston design, a flat top with a minimum surface area and a .280" thick crown thickness and John worked up the correct cc chamber from there. If you are a professional this is what you do. Since we are running 120 Octane ERC A-8C Leaded Race Gas we can approach the combustion process a bit diffrently than a street engine. For starters we are running water injection with water mass to fuel mass at anywhere from 20% at the highest load, moderate rpm (4000-5000 rpm) and moderate boost (12 psi), to 13% at the lowest load, peak rpm (5500 to 6500 rpm) and highest boost (18 psi) which cools the inlet charge and keeps any detonation or hot spots in the combustion chamber at bay. In addition, we are running at 4500 feet altitude in hot weather with far less dense air than sea level. Finally, we are running late closing cams with inlet closing events 60 degrees ABDC. To see what all of this means we need to run some calculations:
As you can see John has planned the cylinder heads for the intended application taking into account the altitude, the boost pressures and of course the special porting requirements of a turbocharged high output engine.
If you are planning on getting serious it's better to go to the guy with 30+ years of high end experience. For your Twin Cam or your Evo give Branch Flowmetrics a call if you want to run with the big dogs. John has welded up about 50,000 Harley cylinder heads...That is not a misprint! Think twice before you send your heads off elsewhere. As they say talk is cheap. We went to Branch everytime we had a major racing project. Normally we are sort of apolitical about recommeding this or that cylinder head specialist...except when we race ourselves.
Design for Reliability..Speed of Sound
The definition of "Engine RPM" can be simplified as "ruins people's motors". It's a simple fact if you want to get more work done in a unit of time you up the rpm, which is why we have 20,000 rpm F1 engines and why Honda built those 5 cylinder 125cc engines back in the 1960's. With Harleys and their 45 degree engines, which neatly fit in bicycle frames a century ago, we are dealing with a long-stroke design that limits piston speed and which has insanely long pushrods pointing at all sorts of angles. Four cam Sportster engines try to get around the pushrod angularity problem but you still have long pushrods and the stroke to deal with.
The 139" ORCA motor is designed to keep the piston speeds within reason by limiting the peak rpm. You want to limit the rpm to not overtax the rings and not to send the g-forces out of bounds. When you throw two 4 3/8" slugs of aluminum through sudden stops at top dead center and bottom dead center they act like sledgehammers trying to pound the rod bearings out, bend the wristpins, and tear the crankshaft apart. Pushrods flex and the rocker assemblies and valve springs try to keep up. It's like an orchestra without a conductor.
The Bullett's design is more locomotive than drag race. The valves, the cylinder head, the turbo camshaft and the turbocharger are designed for the intended 6000 rpm target. If it were a drag engine we'd up the bore size, put in monster cams and 2.600" inlets, install a Jessel valvetrain , and put in ports you could put your fist into. That won't work at Bonneville. The engine is designed to use boost pressure to provide the power increase and to use the large displacement to provide the torque so we don't have to spin a 100" engine 8000 rpm. Keeping the rpm to 6000 we are searching for reliability. Piston speed will be held to a conservative 4625 feet per minute. A high speed figure for racing engines is generally accepted to be about 4950 feet per minute.
At 6000 rpm our calculated inlet mach index is .597 which is right at the point of maximum volumetric efficiency. Think truck. Think locomotive. Think Harley. Mike headed for the floating mountain at mile six and his digital tach hovering at 6000 rpm with the wind pressure trying to rip things apart and a symphony of pushrods and pistons amplified by the aluminum skin. Focus.
2400 Deg F Exhaust Valves
You can't run regular stainless steel valves in the 139" ORCA motor because they will go soft and stretch while glowing bright in the turbo exhaust. We run Ferrea 2400 Deg F exhaust valves custom made for the Bullett engine. The poor valves will have to survive testing and multiple full power testing on the long course at Bonneville. We've been through this many times before, and it makes no sense to be 1000 miles away and have a valve problem. These are zero problem.
When you have a specialized vehicle like the Bullett you need to figure out things in advance because it's not something you are going to take for a short spin, except at Bonneville. We do our fuel delivery predictions and ecu calibrations in Autocal.V6 before we run. In addition, we will verify idle ccm predictions (above) on a flow bench even before we run the engine. The typical method is to guess, run, adjust, guess again, run, adjust, then blow up the motor. Some people think this is normal. With electronic fuel injection and high output turbos you literally have hundreds of entries involving the "fuel map" and hundreds more which act as modifiers. It's way too complicated and you really need to know that the correct amount of fuel will be present before you run.
We will enter in to Autocal.V6 the expected horsepower and torque curves for idle, full power, 0"Hg, 8 psi, 15 psi and 30 psi and verify these numbers on our wet flow bench with the actual RSR EFI Ecu. In this case, the Bullet is running two 1600cc RC Injectors custom modified by our friend Russ Collins. We can set all of the parameters for temperature, manifold pressure, rpm, throttle position, etc. and verify the horsepower outputs on the flow bench before we ever run the engine. We can even verify the idle ccm requirements.
Billet Water Cooled Cylinder Blanks
We're prepping a second 139" Water Cooled ORCA for the Bullett. Four cnc machined billet slugs have been prepped for the next stage which involves turning and milling of the internal water passages and reliefs for the tappet blocks and pushrod clearance. Ductile Iron, centrifugally cast, are machined as wet-sleeves for maximum cooling.
Bye Bye fins. Back-up parts for water jacket on 139" Bullett.
In preparation for the water jackets. These are back-up parts for the billet water jackets.
Positioning the water inlets and outlets. Top edge welded shut. Base gets welded after the water spigots are put into final location. Cylinders are final honed after all welding is completed.
Water goes in low, comes out high. Cool goes in. Hot goes out. Bullett has a radiator, fan and overflow/catch tank. Here the spigots are held on by tape.
These are the final welded water cooled cylinders. Next step is honing the barrels for the turbo pistons and machining the groove for the nitrogen filled, silver plated, Inconel seal ring. Clearance for pushrod access. A nice way to spend about eight hours instead of going to a Sauna.
Boost Pressure Seals
Inconel, silver-plated, 600 psi nitrogen-filled seal rings on the 139" ORCA water cooled cylinders. The cylinders are grooved for the seal rings which mate directly against the Branch Flowmetrics modified S&S SA B2 heads. Copper gaskets and standard stainless steel wire seals will not hold the pressure and tend to leak. The energized Inconel seal rings prevent any compression loss and "blowtorching" of the head and cylinder intersect. If you do not properly seal this area, the flame front will cut a path between the head and the watercooled barrels like a cutting torch.
Viton O-Ring base seals require the cases to be counterbored. Like the Inconel Cylinder head seals, these rubber O-Rings are "energized" and are not subject to fretting as a paper gasket would as the mass of aluminum expands and contracts. Unlike normal turbo applications the 139" Bullett ORCA motor employs a GZ Motorsports vacuum pump which lessens guide seal, base seal and breather oiling issues.
The boost is regulated by a stainless steel 0-25 PSI instrument grade, corrosion resistant, pressure regulator. Expensive, but trouble free in a wet salt environment. Mike can adjust the boost on the fly if necessary.
The Bullett's Boost Master Wastegate has an investment cast stainless steel valve body and an all billet, hard-anodized, construction. This is a Bonneville proven part that will take the salt air and extreme exhaust heat. The stainless steel 0-25 psi regulator controls the pressure on the top side of the internal Flurosilicone and Nomex diaphragm in the Bullett's Boost Master wastegate. Mike can adjust the boost on the fly if necessary.
Cylinders have been honed for the 4 3/8" Turbo pistons. A1 Technologies 1/2" studs are perfect. Next step is turbo porting the S&S SA B2 cylinder head and preparing the lower end with McClure 8" rods.
Here's the 139" ORCA with its water jackets mocked up into the Bullett frame to complete the upper motor mount and to finalize header and turbo location. When all the peripherals have been finished the Bullett will be stripped down to it's bare frame and all the final welding will take place. Bryan Stock (High Desert HD) has handled this chore for Mike on all of Mike's racing efforts. The frame will then be blasted and inspected and powdercoated white.
Bonneville is a different animal than a seven second Pro Gas ORCA. Carl Pelletier will putting special full-compliment bearings (more rollers) in the lower end and assembling the cases to his 400 hp Pro Dragster specifications. RB Racing has prepared the water cooled cylinders to include final boring, honing and machining operations.
ORCA Charlie Alpha Two.
Nothing New Under The Sun
A watercooled Knucklehead from the past, in this case, used in a midget racing car. There's always a past to build on or rediscover. In our case we knew the late Bob George and worked on his streamliner and on his famous "Double" that Dave Campos still holds a Bonneville record at over 230 mph about 30 years ago. Bob made water jackets as he couldn't keep pistons alive with a load of Nitromethane on long course.
Bob Geroge also made the water jackets that were used on the Easyrider Streamliner piloted by Dave Campos which still holds the class record at 322 mph and still remains the world's fastest Harley-Davidson. We come along and repeat the process with our 139" ORCA motors. Nothing is new, although, with turbos, water injection, and electronics it is a bit more controlled that running liquid horsepower i.e. Nitromethane. Same thermal problems, same solution, even for Knuckleheads.
Bullett Water Injection
You have no business running high boost at Bonneville without water injection. Increased density, lower inlet temperatures and the resulting greater reliability are all benefits. The Bullet will be using water to both cool the engine and to spray the intercooler. Injected water ratios, i.e. mass of water divided by mass of fuel, will peak at about 20% at the highest load and taper off to about 14% at peak rpm.
Two 220 psi pumps will be used. One for the engine and one for an intercooler spray system. The new instrumentation will allow Mike to monitor and record egt and charge cooler temperatures. Water injection is a must.
Jeff Hartman's New Turbo Book
Jeff Hartman's new book features Mike's 139" ORCA engine on the cover and some pictures of the Bonneville Bullet. Very professional turbo book for those interested in the technology.
New billet motor mounts were fabricated for the left and right sides of the motor. With 139" of ORCA power under 18-25 psi of boost the engine needs to be locked down. You can't rely on the case bolts alone and the frame is also triangulated by these to stiffen the structure. Things twist, bend, shake and vibrate all at the same time. You have to lock things down tight. The engine will use a balance factor for the target 5500 to 6500 rpm. The mount is locked down fore and aft, up and down so there are no residual stresses. Mike has already been through this before.
Here the inlet plenum is notched for clearance. The front primary tube is close to the inside of the fairing and the rear primary tube is far enough out for pushrod adjustment.
Might as well polish the part. The plenum serves several functions. First it breaks up the direction of the high velocity airflow exiting the intercooler and connecting tube. Secondly, it allows for additional length or "ram" in the inlet bore which is fed by an internal radiused 360 degree entry. Thirdly, it houses idle air control and turbo bypass / blowoff functions. Made out of 6061 aluminum it is designed to "balloon" and not explode into pieces like a casting would.
Go Fast Studs
A1 Technologies makes the studs for the 139" Bullett. We dealt with A-1 back in 1977-78 when we had them make studs for the Z-1 Kawasakis. These days A1 is a large international company with both European and US operations with strong ties into Formula 1, NASCAR, NHRA, CART, Indy Cars and even V-Twin Dinosaurs that race at Boneville. Tatoos and FOCA passes. Expensive or cheap depending on your perspective. We just do it.
Come back and Carl will show you more details on how he builds a 139" S&S TURBO ORCA motor...that you can use in your next project bike. This motor has a 4 3/8" bore and a 4 5/8" stroke. The stuff that it takes to keep a 400 hp Harley motor together on the long course at Bonneville. Tough parts, all Bonneville proven. S&S has been going to the Bonneville Salt Flats since 1954 and RB Racing has a 20 year involvement in wrestling with the Great White Dyno. Most people tech on Sunday and are headed home by Tuesday with a bunch of broken parts...We run all week.
Mike specified a separate dry sump system for the Bonneville Bullet. This keeps the engine oil and the turbocharger oil separate and allows engine to be shut down without damage to the turbocharger. In the event if engine failure, debris cannot migrate to the turbocharger. A separate, rubber-mounted, baffled oil reservoir is used.
This is the separate stainless steel oil tank dedicated to the turbo. It is nestled next to the electric oil feed pump and has a multiplicity of bosses for various in and out activities as well as vents, temperature probes and we forget whatever else. Keeping the oil separate from the engine has numerous benefits, the main of which is keeping the turbo alive no matter what happens to the engine. In the case of complete shut down the oil system will run for an additional time to prevent damage during "spool down".
The engine has its own stainless steel saddle tank which feeds a large size Oberg filter. In addition, there is an FXR filter in the system. The FXR filter can bypass debris to the tank. This is where the Oberg takes over.
Mike specified an "Oberg" type oil filter. These units have a large stainless steel screen and can be taken apart to check for debris. This is easier than cutting a filter open to see what particles or chunks of metal are circulating about. We remember these from a long time ago. First they were Oberg...then they were Racor/Parker and now they are Oberg again. We are a bit confused about the history. We bought this one off of EBay.
Mike's #226 Blue bike has one on it and during it's career all sorts of interesting bits showed up. The good part is you don't have to keep buying filters. For the ORCA it represents next to zero restriction. Mike is using it for the engine, not the turbo, which has it's own oil system.
Burt Munro used corks from a wine bottle. Mike opted to use freeze plugs for the filler and drain spouts for the dry-sump oil system for the turbocharger when he was designing things.
To tidy things up a bit some easily removed (no tools) stainless and rubber expanding test plugs were chosen. They will be safety wired into place on the two oil dry sump tanks and the water injection reservoir. The wine and the corks are still going to Bonneville rain, shine, records or not, and a toast will be made to Burt Munro. Mike could have designed things with a screw on cap but Burt used a cork. Salt Bears will respect corks. They have seen them before.
"Green" is Back...formerly known as Kendall
In the late 1970's and up until 1997 "Green" Kendall Oil was the Racing Standard. It was the only thing we ran in our Bol d"Or 24 hour endurance racers and it was the only oil we ran at Bonneville. We flirted with synthetics but nothing ever was as good as the "Green Stuff". Time after time we saw major racing efforts pouring "green" oil into their race vehicles when the sponsors were "yellow". In 1997 the name Kendall was sold and the "Kendall" you buy now is no longer the Kendall you used to know.
Brad Penn is the new name for your beloved "green" oil. We use Brad Penn Penn-Grade1 SAE 20W-50 in our dry sump turbo. Our 139 ORCA motor uses their SAE 30 Break In Oil for initial ring sealing and protection of internal components. The break-in oil is specially formulated to hold the small metal particles in suspension during this critical running period. For the actual racing we run Brad Penn Penn-Grade1 SAE 50 Racing Oil. When you are pushing 200 hp per hole against some antiquated roller bearings in the August heat at Bonneville there simply is no other oil that we trust.
It's the last great Racing Oil from an American refinery.We buy ours from Iskendarian Racing Cams but more and more serious speed shops are starting to carry the oil. "Green" is back.
I saw the car guys do it!
Serious four wheeled drag racers have been using vacuum pumps forever and formula engines have been using multiple stage scavenge pumps to pull vacuum as well. We decided it was a decent idea as we are going to push the special 4 3/8" turbo pistons pretty hard. Maintaining oil and ring control are paramount and we don't need boost pressure causing havoc with a poor 100 year old oiling system. Give the dinosaur a break. Pump from GZ Motorsports.
When the Bullet was initially made it was designed around a particular FXR sprocket offset and there was no provision for the GZ Motorsports vacuum pump pulley. A stronger Delkon inner primary required a different sprocket offset of .230" so one sprocket carrier had to be shifted. Like most projects you get to do everything twice, so we get to make another jackshaft assembly. We'll rough it out of a piece of 7075-T6 billet on a manual lathe just to get some chips out of the way.
Here we have the piece roughed out with about .100" extra material in all directions. Next step is to put it on the cnc lathe to finish the part. After that, the jackshaft goes to anodizing as it will be receiving a salt bath at Bonneville. We'll press in the new bearing races and grease up the new Timken roller bearings that have integral dust/water seals. A day here, a day there...time never stops.
Final machining completed and ready for anodizing, minus a lot of 7075-T6 aluminum.
Here's the completed jackshaft assembly with the new GZ Motorsports vacuum pulleys. Since we were anodizing the jackshaft parts we went ahead and hard anodized the sprockets. Aerodynamic Plating does all our anodizing...aerospace and Bonneville quality work. All those wild colors in the 90's done by the late Boyd Coddington were done by Aerodynamic Plating.
The old Timken bearings did not have seals so we bought some new Timkens with integral water/dust seals. Mike has switched many fasteners to chromed steel instead of stainless steel as the stainless ones tended to gall. Mike will set up the internal spacer after he presses in the bearing races.
Carl Pelletier remachined the internal stainless steel bearing spacer for .0035" sideplay. Mike put in new bearings, grease, and shaft seals.
Another week, another part. That light at the end of the tunnel might be Bonneville. Here we have the assembly ready for insertion into the Bullett frame. The jackshaft and the pump run 1:1 and can peak out at about 3000 rpm which should pull around 18" Hg of vacuum. Installed in the Bullet the primary and secondary drive chains lined up perfectly and Mike machined the final rear wheel spacers for final drive alignment.
The vacuum pump will be connected to a distribution block Mike machined that ties in the upper and lower ends of the 139" ORCA Motor. Another day another part.
What chain do you put on the Bullett? Well, you don't need a triple side plate Tsubaki Top Fuel Chain that weighs about as much as a track off a Caterpillar D9. What you are looking for is the lightest strongest chain that will do the job. If you look at the specs you don't need a 630 chain, but a special 530 chain. When it comes to 530 chains you have to go with the EK530ZZZ. It has the strength and the Bonneville credentials.
That little black dot in the sideplate is a hole. Anyone knows it must be a racing hole and racers love racing holes. The sprockets have holes. The vacuum pump pulleys have holes. The chain has holes. The planets are in alignment. Where does the what was in the hole go...we don't know.
500 Horsepower Bullett Intercooler
We fabbed up two of our large charge cooler cores to form one large 500 hp intercooler. Everything is thick 6061 plate and seamless machined tubing. Harleys have a nasty habit of vibrating things to death...so this one is built to survive. Mike will fab up some some vibration isolation mounts so the Bullet doesn't chew up mounting tabs and gnaw its way through 3/16" plate. Placed in front of the motor, this piece is destined for 200 mph of air and a steady stream of salt.
3 Phase Compufire Charging System
Compufire has the best charging system to support the Boneville Bullett. We've got an ignition that will pull 10 amps @ 6400 rpm, a fuel injection sytem that will pull 12 amps, an electric water pump for the ORCA Motor, a separate 12VDc Turbo Oil feed and scavenge system, plus a few other electrical draws....it all adds up.
The Compufire 40 AMP 3 Phase charging system provides 25 AMPS at idle and 40 AMPS continuously above 2800 RPM. Mike is also running a large automotive battery as weight and space is not an issue on this bike destined for the long course at Bonneville.. The voltage regulator output is calibrated to 14.25 volts from idle on up.
If you get involved with Fuel Injection and have headlights, high output ignitions, accessories etc. you need one of these systems. Fuel Injection requires a steady electrical system....anything below 11VDc and the fuel pump simply signs off. Fuel pumps alone draw 6 to 9 amps.
Bullett Power Grid
Mike loves electrical relays and circuit breakers. The store that sells them loves Mike. The Bullet is like a small city and the Department of Power is located beneath Mike's well traveled, high speed, Bonneville proven, 35+ years of choppers posterior. The grid has to feed and protect the Bullet community of high energy devices like the fuel pump, the water pump, the MC4 Ignition, the Bosch coils, the Water Injection, the Pingel Shifter, the RSR ECU, the various gauges and the infamous powered seat. Momentary 40 amp surges from the Pingel shifter require electrical isolation. A plexiglass cover keeps dropped wrenches from shorting the power grid. The 40 amp Compufire 3 Phase charging system will be fully utilized.
MSD MC4 Ignition
We're running an MSD MC-4 ignition with Dual spark plug cylinder heads (12mm/10mm). The MSD provides multiple sparks at low revs and a single powerful CDi spark at higher revolutions that won't be squashed by boost pressure, allowing us to run larger spark gaps. This is the top of the line, stupidly expensive, ignition system that you will find typically on Pro Stock motorcycles and high end turbo drag bikes. It has enough features to confuse about anyone. Luckily we sort of know what to do because we've already been to Bonneville with big twins and have been turbocharging Harley for more than 25 years. In reality you just need a good magneto, set the final advance for the peak boost and stand on it. This is the computer age and we're a bit busy to engineer a magneto to fit the Bullett. Figure on about $1,000.00 by the time you buy the box, the wiring harness the MAP sensor and some coils. Some of the features are:
* Computer interface for easy programming
* 0-25 degree start retard
* Mapable run timing curve
* Launch ramp delay by time 0-2.5 seconds
* 3-step retards by rpm or switch
* 0-2.50 second step retard off delay for precise nitrous control
* Progressive timing retard by time for progressive NOS
* Launch timing curve to prevent tire slippage
* Individual cylinder timing when optional cam sync sensor is used
* Gear retard--retard a different amount for each gear
* Shift kill feature with programmable delays 20-99 milliseconds
* Shift kill modes for manual, auto 1, 2, and auto 1, 2, 3
* Optional boost retard curve when used with an external MAP sensor for turbo applications (2-45 psi)
* Built-in rpm-activated window switch--turn "on" any device up to 3 amps at any rpm, then back off at a different rpm
* Sequential shift light--turn on an optional shift light at a different rpm for each gear
* Sequential shifter turns any air shifter into a fully automatic shifter (3 amps max)
* Tach output wire for tachometers or data recorders
* Monitor mode for easy setup or 3-step switches
If that's not enough crap to confuse you, we suggest you head off to Caltech and brush up on Quantum Physics. We used MSD ignitions on the older #226 Blue Bike as well as on other Bonneville and El Mirage bikes. Compared to their widely distributed car stuff these are really expensive.
Here's the MSD MC4 mounted next to the RSR ECU behind the fold up powered seat. To the right and left are the quick release pugs for the gas tank and the oil tank.
In that we are running a total of four spark plugs we opted to run a coil from Bosch Motorsports. Dual towers in one compact package. Serious stuff. .5 Ohm, waterproof quick disconnect. No chicken shit brass terminals and crimp-on connectors. Expensive.
$570.00 worth of Spark Plugs...NGK or Nippon Denso
We are running dual plugs per cylinder due to the large, inefficient, two-valve combustion chamber. Once you get past about 4" of bore diameter you get sort of limited as the flame burns at a certain speed. Two plugs insure a burn and stabilize things like idle. One 12mm on the left and one 12mm centered in the rocker covers.
When you get into high pressure turbos you are better off on NGK plugs with angled ground straps. NGK Racing plugs which come in 9-10-11 heat ranges with 11 being the coldest. We will use 9's for start up and system testing and 11's for actual competition. The 12mm plugs are Platinum. 5/8"hex. About $30.00 each.
Nippon Denso also has special racing plugs that are available in various heat ranges with angled ground straps. They are about 35.00 each.
We have had good luck with NGKs and Nippon Densos will take both types to Bonneville. At Bonneville you aren't going to run down to the auto parts store for specialized racing plugs. We run special "hot" range warm up and break-in plugs and colder ranges for high boost runs.
Spark plug wires a can be a major reliability issue so we skip these issues by having Magnecor make our plug wires. We are running the 8.5mm wires.
We have done a lot of development to provide the Bullett with a full complement of digital instruments. At the center of Mike's line of vision is the ORCA Turbo Dash which monitors front and rear cylinder EGT's, boost pressure and also indicates H2O activation and high gear activation. Four other gauges give readouts of front and rear O2 readings, fuel pressure, oil pressure, and system voltage.
Here Mike is laying out the gauges to determine the best position. First with the skin off and then with it on.
Mike will be able to adjust boost pressure on the fly and use boost pressure and rpm to balance his traction and monitor his actual over the salt speeds. Can you chew gum and walk? Well, Mike has done this more than a hundred times so the answer in his case is yes... After a few shake down runs. Shit happens on the way to records and there are strange noises that come from nowhere to spook you. You have to sort through the clutter and make the correct decisions. Everyone who crafts his own vehicle becomes a test pilot of sorts. Velocities are beyond normal take off speeds.
This is the final position of the gauges with the machined and fabricated location points. The Orca Turbo Dash showing boost and dual egt readings is positioned top center. Below and to the right will be the ORCA Digital Tachometer with 6500 rpm at the 12 o'clock position. To the left of the ORCA Tachometer will be the ORCA GPS Speedometer which links to four GPS satellites to give Mike a real-time readout of his mph unaffected by wheelspin or changes in gear ratios and tire growth.
Support gauges to monitor pressures, air fuel ratios, and voltages are to the side and can be checked while riding.
Orca Turbo Dash Development
The Bullett will have full on-board digital displays with memory function for dual egt and 3 Bar boost pressures. This is a prototype pcb undergoing early developmental testing. Exhaust gas temperatures of front and rear cylinders are monitored . Low oil pressure and H2O injection event lights are in the center of the display. The display monitors all of these. L.E.D. colors are for testing only.
Front and back awaiting final pcb to finish machining and anodizing operations. Enclosure is 6.5" width x 2.5" height x 1.9" deep.
First pcbs for testing in final assemblies. Dual EGT's (Deg C or F), dual scale 3 Bar both in digital BAR 0-3.0 and with 30 led scale from 30"Hg to 30 psi. Warning lights for water injection activation and oil pressure . Reset dimming and high recall. Last digits are being switched to green for the Deg F or Deg C.
Testing of first production boards. There won't be any brightness issues. -30 In. Hg to 30 psi (0 to 3 BAR) and two egt readouts. Here operational code is being tested.
This is the final dual pcb design undergoing final testing. Two microprocessors and specialized display driver peripherals. Enclosures are being final machined and anodized. Assembly fixtures are being prepared. Operational microprocessor code is being tweaked. The unit has been in continuous operation for four days to test thermal and stability issues.
The display will connect to the Bullet's two Type K Thermocouples as well as to the 3 Bar manifold pressure sensor and the water injection system. We will be posting a movie of the gauge in operation. Digital displays have been finalized and operational limits have been hard-coded into the dual microprocessors. Final operation testing is being done on two other applications and will be transferred to the Bullett. Mounts have already been designed for the Bullett from the first machined enclosures.
We started work on these many years ago and made many prototypes before we began the final design. More of a case of having to build something after you were dissatisfied with everything else. If you race you will understand. Laser cut stainless steel face plate with anti-reflection coated surface.
Final testing in progress on bikes. Enclosures anodized. Last tweaks to embedded code being done. Final adjustments to l.e.d. brightness for optimum viewing under all conditions. Mounts on Bullet finalized.
New Dual O2 Meters
For the Bullett we'll be using our new RSR Dual Air Fuel Gauge to monitor and tune the fuel mixture in both the front and rear cylinders. The gauge is housed in a hard anodized round enclosure in a standard 2" format with a 2.250" bezel, center back mount, with a 5/16" x 18 stainless socket head cap screw. The gauge will show fuel ratios from 17:1 to 12.0:1 (or richer). The gauge is visible in daylight and automatically dims for nighttime operation.
Scale is, left to right, lean to rich: three greens, three yellows, two orange and two red l.e.d.s.
The white arrow indicates the maximum power mixture, the second orange light, which is 13.2:1. Transitory enrichments should not, if the engine is warm (>200F Oil temp), go past the first red light. Readings at the far right side of the scale, the second red light, are simply too rich. Proper closed loop operation will cycle back and forth from green to orange around the center of the display.
At Bonneville we will be targeting the first red light (slightly rich) for our initial runs.
Bullet ORCA Tach Testing
Same goes for the tachometer. The ORCA engine has a redline starting at 6500 rpm where piston speeds are around 5000 feet per minute with it's 4 5/8" stroke. With all the clatter, wind noise and bumping around we are using a digital tach that is still undergoing final testing on various bikes. It records peak rpm and acts as a shift light with digital updates every 50 rpm. At redline the first red l.e.d. is lit at the exact 12 o'clock position. Visual interpretation of colors under stressful conditions, and different lighting conditions, is being extensively evaluated. Here two prototypes are being tested on a bike and on a test bench. Takes time to get it right.
Final Bullet ORCA Tachometer
This tachometer ran most of the Summer of 2007 in actual road testing and is now being installed on the Bullett, it's final home. 3" in diameter.
ORCA GPS Speedometer
On Harleys the speedometer is usually driven off of the transmission. If you spin the tire, change gear ratios, or even change tire sizes the speedometer is no longer accurate. Then there is the issue that the speedometers surely are not designed for 250 mph or even anything past about 120 mph. This situation is not exactly made for Bonneville where you are running past 200 mph, spinning the tire, searching for traction, and putting 300 mph Goodyear Land Speed Record tires to the test.
We figured the best way out of this was to equip the Bullett with a GPS (Global Positioning System) speedometer. When we checked around we found some GPS units for boats but nothing made for a 250 mph Bonneville Harley. The only option was to make a GPS Speedometer. Four satellites will triangulate the Bullett in three dimensional space and Mike can have a dead accurate speedometer that never needs to be calibrated.
200 mph, as determined by four satellites, will be the first red light at the 12 o'clock position. High recall, dimming and reset functions are handled by the three momentary buttons. Pressing the blue and red buttons simultaneously will switch the display to kilometers/hour.
A little bigger than an iPod, this camera system will be along for the ride during testing and actual competition. You'll be able to see and hear what it's like to be riding the Bullett. Maybe you got a taste of it in The World's Fastest Indian with Sir Anthony Hopkins. Mike does not plan on sliding down the salt like Burt Munro but you never know.
Mike will need to review his run and he can watch it as soon as he stops...way before anyone else. He can watch his boost, egt readings, speedometer, and other data while sitting on the bike on the salt or later on at the casino while sipping wine and eating shrimp. One never tires of one's own stories. Some memories will not fade and it's nice to be able to share them with those who could not be there.
We have data acquisition but video is the standard these days. We ended up replacing this with a GoPro.
Christians and the Lions, Nascar on the final lap and the Bullett heading for the floating mountain. News at 11!
Always Use Water Injection
RB Racing has always run water injection on the Bonneville bikes. Mikes famous #226 Blue Bike ran water from the get-go and never lost an engine running 22 pounds of boost on the long course. Our RSR Water Injection Calculator shows you how we plan our introduction of water to the power equation. 4 3/8" pistons wailing along at 6400 rpm, even with high octane blower gas and intercooling still need water injection to survive. Mike has constructed a stainless steel water reservoir to hold the water (gas class) or water/alcohol (fuel class).
When you head off the Bonneville you will be driving up and down the salt flats all week which means you sort of submerge your vehicle in salty slush. Everything, including the inside carpets, and every nook and cranny gets coated in salt. We bought a used Dodge 1 ton van to tow the Bullett trailer and to have an air conditioned place to sit and put our coolers, leathers and crap. Not a good idea to take your pristine whatever there, although the true hot rodders do.
Rental car agencies in Salt Lake City are wise to racers headed for the salt. Just lie about it and say you're thinking about becoming a Mormon. Be sure to pressure wash the salt off at the car wash in Wendover.
Pit bikes, tools and 99" wheelbase Bullett with no ground clearance...best to have something large enough to hide everything when the monsoons and winds peak at the Salt Flats. Something with a long ramp with a beavertail lip. It's a 24 foot Haulmark. Big enough to hold Mike's #226 and #228 Bullett bikes as well as pit bikes, tools and whatever.
The rules have changed if you run at Speed Week. You can no longer drive a race vehicle back on the return road so Mike has a small trailer and truck to bring the Bullet back to the pits.
Large area where we are installing a work table and all the tools you need to work on something 1000 miles away from home. Oil spots are pre-Bullett. Trailer in it's previous life made trips to Terra Haute and Indianapolis.
Mike has constructed a crank system to raise the Bullet in the trailer. A winch, front and rear, allows the Bullett to be raised for servicing. The stands have been powdercoated white.
Drive in ramp for the Bullet and pit bikes. Mike is installing interior lighting and some custom shelves and doing the interior wiring for the 110V outlets.
Workbench, vise, tools, generator, wheel chocks for Bullet and pit bikes. Things like nitrogen bottle, water supply, tarps, chairs, ice chests, plastic tubs for spare parts, lighting systems, heli-arc welding equipment, etc., etc. You work for years and spend all your money for a few moments of zoom. In the end no one gives a shit except you...and you get to live with it.
Somebody has to do it. We all can't sit on the couch and criticize. Someone has to be on the stage.
Power of Blue
Everything we weld is with Miller machines, usually big Syncrowaves. The Bullett frame was put together with a Miller welder and so we only thought it fitting that a Miller Econotig make the journey with the Bullett. There are no power outlets at the salt flats but since TIG welders are single phase our Honda generator will provide the juice. If anything breaks or cracks we can fix it there and not have to drive off to parts unknown. If you have a welder everyone is your long lost friend.
The welder came from "Al" in San Diego who knew Don Vesco and Rob North. Don rode one of our Suzuki GSXRs at Bonneville and we worked with him on a Bonneville streamliner project. Rob welded up many of Don's projects. It's a small world.
Power Away From Home
Mike wants to run lights, battery charger, welder and who knows what all. We picked up a very quiet Honda ES6500 liquid cooled electric start generator and made a 25 foot extension cord for the Miller Econotig. Very little time is spent racing. Like sex, the time in the saddle is brief.
Battery, oil, fuel, clutch, instruments, ignition (MSD Pulse), clutch, transmission...all on it's own cart. You can start and adjust idle and free rev the engine to test transitions, oil pressure and assembly issues. High compression 113 ORCA in engine cart.
Mike grew up near Wendover and the Bonneville Salt Flats and saw Donald Campbell's Bluebird and even the 300SL Mercedes that the factory brought over. He saw Mickey Thompson's Challenger and all the extra Pontiac engines they had on pallets. Big iron, big wheels, and hand hammered aluminum skins trying to cheat the wind. It was an era of innovation and individuality. Perhaps this is why the Bullett exists and why Mike and Bryan Stock made an English wheel to form the Bullet's skin. It isn't a store bought piece of "Busa or TZ"engineering from Japan, but something that an individual hammered and cut and welded into existence with his own hands, in the same tradition as the English craftsmen who built Sir Malcolm Campbell's Blue Bird.
For those of us who know a little about the history of Bonneville Salt Flat speed records, there is a long line of famous vehicles and drivers. Here are a few of them:
Mike was here when Donald Campbell crashed. He also, as a kid, was teaching the crew to play baseball instead of crickett.
Malcolm and a young Donald Campbell. The English are madmen whether it is trekking across the Arctic or pushing the limits of speed.
The famous Bluebird at the Salt Flats. Hand hammered aluminum and big wheels and a leather helmet with goggles. Balls.
Ab Jenkins Mormon Meteor hit over 200 mph and set 24 and 48 hour speed records running a closed course on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Deusenberg powered, it was tested at Indianapolis before it's trip to Bonneville. Not all records were set in straight line. Think about the driving at night.
When Mike was a kid he saw the Meteor at the State Capitol. It was recently restored after relatives of Ab Jenkins accidently discovered it was abandoned in a Salt Lake City truck wash.
The Summer Brother's Goldenrod. Four inline Hemis. Probably the best engineered piston engined, normally aspirated, vehicle to hit the Salt. It set the record, went on tour, and now resides in Henry Ford's Museum. Even with Chrysler Hemis Ford knows how important it is.
Like the Goldenrod, Mike Geokan's Bonneville Bullett was designed for minimal frontal area. Four Chrysler hemis inline or one 139" ORCA Motor, the object is to get though the air.
Mickey Thompson's four engined Challenger. Four Pontiacs side by side. Mike was there. It's been restored and may run again.
Bye, bye, Baby Blue
Compare the frontal area of the old bike and the new Bullett bike. It's all about power, traction and most importantly frontal area.
The God of Speed
Piles of dead pistons. Shattered engine cases. Snapped connecting rods. Broken main shafts. Burt had his display and Mike felt it necessary to take the time to build one. Perhaps the God of Speed will feel the offerings are sufficient and let Mike pass unharmed.
It is said the worst thing you can do at Bonneville is go too fast too soon. Invariably the God of Speed extracts a vengeance on those who pass too easily though the 200 mph portals. Rain, wind come from nowhere. Bikes crash. The entry from the access road floods. Arrogance lets those who pass too easily, too early, achieve a self-proclaimed "know it all" status. Soon others see them as just lucky and no longer pay attention to them as their ignorance and puffery is exposed. There is no free ride. The God must be appeased.
Burt Munro in 1962. Some people say when you're too old to race you go to Bonneville. Burt Munro was always young. The faster you go time slows down relatively. Einstein and Burt Munro. Burt always came back younger at the end of the long course. Grit.
Take a close look at Burt and his bike, running without the fairing. Go take a look at what people are running these days nearly 50 years later. Think hard. Burt did.
Bonneville Speedweek (SCTA-BNI records/sanction) 18-24 August
Bub Motorcycle Speed Trials (AMA or FIM Sanction) 2-7 September
World of Speed (USFRA Sanction) 17-20 September
World Finals (SCTA-BNI records/sanction) 8-11 October
If Metal Could Talk
It all starts somewhere. Like fires begin from an ember...some go out and others keep burning. If you have the guts, and the luck that goes with it, the fire still burns. If metal could talk.
If you wondered, Mike wrote the book on choppers.... Custom Chopper Cookbook.
Dual Carb Therapy
Mike even goes hunting periodically on his progressively engaged dual-carb big inch Panhead. It has surprised a few big tire, store-bought, choppers. The famous #226 Blue Bike sits, watching the torch being passed to the #8228 Bullett.
The famous #226 Blue Bike is being retired from competition and has passed it's heritage and lessons learned on to #8228, the Bullett. The Blue Bike had a blue color scheme to honor Sir Malcolm Campbell and Sir Donald Campbell for their efforts with the famous Bluebird streamliners at Bonneville. Mike actually met Donald Campbell and his crew in 1961 as he grew up near Wendover, Utah, the home of Bonneville Salt Flats racing . The new bike will be polished aluminum, not painted lue like #226, but still crafted like the Bluebird.
The polished aluminum skin is shaped on an English wheel out of a Viet Nam era F4 Phantom Wing Tank that Mike discovered in a salvage yard near Salt Lake City. The serial number on the tank was 0228. The polished skin will represent and honor those comrades of Mike who served in Viet Nam where he earned a Purple Heart and two Bronze Stars as a tank commander. Never give up....never forget.