Motor Cycle Travel

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by rhmc24, May 18, 2017.

  1. rhmc24

    rhmc24 Well-Known Member

    Dec 1, 2010
    Ardmore, OK
    I was asked by a member about my motorcycle history so this is it from my Memoir, edited & modified from memory for continuity, beginning with my first ----->

    In Honolulu 1943 another Pan Am mechanic and I bought a 1929
    Harley Davidson in rather sad condition. The generator was bad,
    among other things. I was able to repair the generator and we
    got quite a few miles of touring out of it. It was Model JDH.
    The Harley JD was famous in its own right. The JDH was a racing
    version of the basic machine, few of which were made. Today it
    would be worth a small fortune. My partner in ownership got
    transferred to Canton Island and I eventually sold the Harley for
    $100. We had paid $80 for it and I sent him his $50. He was
    very unhappy that I had let it go but I was getting ready to
    leave for San Francisco and didn't consider it worthwhile to try
    to ship it back.

    In 1944 back to San Francisco from Honolulu, I bought my Indian
    new gov't shaft drive motorcycle. The war was on and cars scarce.
    Car ownwers had gasoline rationing. On my way to work I passed
    a car wrecking yard that had an old Studebaker out front. It
    appeared in good condition. I stopped and inquired if it
    was for sale. Well, yes and no. It was in an estate that should
    be settled any time now. I left my name and address and a week
    or so later I got a post card that he could sell the car.

    It was a 1924 Studebaker in very good condition, with two spare
    tires and eight ply tires on the ground. I was pleased that he
    only wanted $35 for it. Although in fine condition, it was a
    gas hog and the rationed two gallons a week wouldn't go far. I
    lived about seven miles from work and I could only drive it two
    days. I applied for more gas and got a minor increase because I
    had a rider who lived at the same place I did.

    Apparently in 1924 gasoline required a lot of coaxing to make it
    burn properly in cold weather. The primitive design of the old
    car was such that it had heaters that could pass the carburetor
    intake air over the hot exhaust pipe plus a means of warming the
    fuel-air mixture between the carburetor and the engine. I had
    heard of people running cars on kerosene but never met anyone who
    had actually converted a car to do it. I decided it should be
    possible and I would do it.

    Back to the place where I bought the car and bought a Ford Model
    T carburetor and intake manifold. I bored a hole in the
    Studebaker intake manifold, cut the mount flange off the Ford
    manifold and had it welded on the Stude manifold. This permitted
    having two carburetors. I added a one gallon tank made from an
    airplane hydraulic oil can, and rigged controls so the small tank
    and Ford carburetor ran on gasoline. Kerosene went into the
    original Studebaker tank and fuel system. The result was better
    than I had dared hope for.

    It had to start on gasoline and required that the engine be
    warmed up good to run well on kerosene. It was about three
    blocks from where I lived to the highway to work. I would start
    and run on gasoline the first few minutes, then start cutting in
    the kerosene and reducing the gasoline. This was done with the
    accelerator and throttle controls. By the time I had gone about
    half mile I was on kerosene only. At highway speeds it ran as
    well on kerosene as it did on gasoline. When I went into San
    Francisco, I had to cut in more of the gasoline because the
    engine lost heat at slow city speeds.

    Kerosene cost ten cents a gallon and was ration free. I had all
    the gas I needed for both the car and my motorcycle. I drove the
    old Studebaker for almost a year until I transferred to New York
    in 1945. I then sold it for what I paid for it, $35.

    I lived in San Mateo & shared a room with another mechanic who also bought Indian shaft drive motorcycle. With my kerosene Studebaker we were rolling in unused gas ration coupons & decided on a trip to Oklahoma.

    Sidebar Note: It was understood that the main reason for gas rationing was to keep people on the job in war production rather than use their new affluence traveling --

    On arrow straight & level Hiway 66 in So. California, I was tooling along at about 45 mph (war time speed limit was 35 to save wear of tires) when I was rear-ended. -- Fighting to regain control I came to a stop with my co-traveler just behind me. I asked what the hell happened, he says "I fell asleep".

    In Oklahoma stayed with my G-Parents, my Parents working submarine construction at Mare Island CA, No. San Francisco Bay, we were welcomed by girls I had graduated with. We enjoyed great popularity, supply & demand wise, being that most males our age were drafted or away in war work. On the return, we went thru Colorado & our puny 45 cid engines gasped for breath at the 12K' altitude of Monarch Pass.

    I had traded my gutless Indian shaft drive (even after machining
    .050" off the cylinder heads) for an almost hot-rod 1940 Chief.

    I transferred from San Francisco to New York in June 1945 and
    went to Africa in June 1946. During the time I was in New York I
    lived in a boarding house and spent my time working, studying,
    playing with motorcycles and with girls. I had brought my Indian
    motorcycle with me from the west coast and bought a 1930 Nash
    sedan so as to have a car. The boarding house was overlooking La
    Guardia airport where I worked. Most of the occupants were young
    workers at the airport, both men and women. Food was good and
    the price was affordable, $12 a week as I recall. That sounds
    cheap today (1996) but when one is earning only about $50 a week,
    it is a sizeable portion of total income.

    I had fhe 1930 Nash for "formal" and for work my 1940 Indian Chief
    motorcycle. I rode my motorcycle most of the time.
    I only had about a mile and a half to go to work and could make
    that in a short time. An exception was in the winter. I rode it
    in ice and snow, but very slow and carefully. Fortunately it was
    easy to start in cold weather. The car would start OK but
    driving only three miles a day would not keep the battery up. I
    recall driving the car to work two or three times only in the
    worst weather. Thinking back, at age 76, even now I can recall
    how invigorating it was to ride the motorcycle when the
    temperature was ten or fifteen degrees, sometimes with ice and
    snow on the streets.

    Just before I went to Africa in 1946 I rode my 1940 Indian Chief
    to Oklahoma & back. Note worthy, on return somewhere in PA nowhere
    my engine quit. Dead battery. Past several miles nothing so I
    walked ahead, fortunately there was a general store over the next
    hill. I bought a 6 volt fence battery, with my emergency kit wired
    it in for ignition & hit the road again. I had a leak in my big
    tank & had to fill the small tank every 50 miles or so. On the
    the new PA Turnpike I laid down on the tank & opened it up for its
    150 or so miles. Paying my bill on exit the clerk remarked "71 mph,
    fastest so far today" -- that after a couple fuel stops.

    Sidebar Comment -- Back in the day we got transferred around a lot
    & often left our car or cycle with someone to sell. I did & did
    the same for others several times, no documentation, just trust. I
    never heard of a default.

    I think 1949, back in NY a while, someone left his Indian mini military bike for me to sell. I rode it for a while & its 30.5 engine was all the more inpotent in its military config.

    No motorcycles till my second childhood sets in, 1982 retired back in OK built my house on the lot where I was born, G-Parents old house torn down years before. The long-dormant motor bug comes alive & I buy a 500 cc Yamaha with far better performance than my old shaft drive Indian. Soon I traded it in on a 750 which was a good performer but still wanting more & better went to a Honda Gold Wing that I rode 13,000 miles. Local narrow country road an oncoming truck hogged the road & I moved over almost to a six ditch, down to slowest, I saw the driver's eyes as he passed, obviously stoned out of his gourd, probably didn't even see me ----- That brought back to mind a couple other close ones & decided to heed the apparent message & sold it in 1986, thus ending my motor adventures ----->
    ysacres, tuckerd1 and BlueDragonLair like this.
  2. bumblebee

    bumblebee Well-Known Member

    Feb 24, 2013
    Great read! I have continuously owned a motorcycle of some kind since 1965. I have visited all 48 contiguous states on road trips over the decades. I have made the trip to Sturgis 26 times and have been to Daytona Bike Week 35 times. I currently possess 3 motos, a 2004 Honda F4i crotch rocket, a 1978 Honda 750A and a Yamaha 250 dirt bike. I don't remember life without a two-wheeler

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