Friday, December 19, 2008

German Military Sidecars

Not a very nice looking day on the Russian Front.
Photo of a German Sidecar crew in action firing an MG 34 from the sidecar mount at some distant target. They are hunkered down next to a bush and looked pretty exposed and nervous about their situation.

The German Military made extensive use of motorcycle sidecars during the 2ND World War. They went as far as to develop companies of sidecar rigs. Often they had a three man crew and carried mounted automatic weapons. From what I've read their strategic use was limited. They had a wide variety of different models. Early on many were civilian rigs which were confiscated by the government. Later in the war manufacturers were building rigs specifically for the military. BMW and Zundapp were the primary suppliers. I'm sure there were other suppliers too.
I don't envy the crews which were subjected to Winter conditions and all types of weather. Their standard issue was a rubber type cape over wool which doesn't compare to today's high tech materials. Those bikes (and riders) must have been tough to withstand the conditions and loads they carried. I wonder if they had chains or special snow tires? Some of the rigs did have a driven sidecar wheel and dual range transmissions ( w/ 2 reverse gears) which would greatly help out in the snow. The Russian built Urals' use somewhat of the same setup on some models.
When there wasn't an actual road it looks like a railroad bed would do. I've been on a few roads that felt kind of like that. These guys look like they are in for a bumpy ride. You'd think it would rattle the bikes apart.
The guy seated in front doesn't appear to be enjoying his ride too much. Probably isn't very warm, looking at the terrain and the gear they are wearing. I don't think the US military used too many sidecar rigs. They used a lot of bikes for messenger purposes, but not for offensive purposes.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Jupiter Side Car Project Progression

This is how it started with a "Craigslist" $1200.00 purchase. A sun bleached 1974 R90/6 with a 1974 Jupiter Sidecar. Had to really bite my tongue to put up the $1200.00, asking price was $1500.00. The bike was just so far gone. Showed 42K miles but hadn't run for 7 years. Originally I intended to get the bike running as it was. After figuring out everything needed to resurrect it I had a change of heart. I already had 2 1973 R75/5 Toaster BMW's and the thought of maintaining a 3rd one really turned me off. My wife suggested attaching the hack to my 1973 R75 Toaster. I thought why not give it a try.
I spent a couple of days rigging things up after a lot of Internet research on "side car attachment for dummies / rookies". The attachment was identical to the R90 but they used the lower foot peg flange for one of the mounting points. I've read that this is not a good idea but went ahead with it. After some trail and error the bike was manageable although as a rookie the first rides were quite a bit spooky. Pulled off a quick wheel bearing maintenance , tire replacement, 6 gallon touring tank, a home made wind screen, a quick bit of body work and a paint job. We then took off on a thousand mile shake down ride to an Airhead Rally at Death Valley Ca. This ride was an eye opener and brought forth the many weak points of an R75/5 tug.......too high geared, not enough fuel capacity, under powered, engine heating, to name a few. We had so much fun on our 1000 mile shake down run that the decision was made to keep the hack setup. I had planned on selling off the R90 to recoup some of the investment but after realizing the potential of using the R90 engine top end for more displacement / horsepower I decided to take the hack project up another level. I spent the next three months of off time hunting down spare parts and acquiring odds and ends to do the necessary upgrades. Also sold off unneeded parts via the Internet to help support the job. Found that the R90 top end was in great shape and required only a cylinder hone and valve regrind. I replaced the piston rings also. My original engine was due for push rod tube seals so an engine tear down was coming anyway.
Did a lot of scrounging and eventually came up with the majority of things I felt necessary. I originally rigged a spare BMW "R" Bike tail light on the side hack but my home made bracket was prone to vibration and broke twice on me during trips. I hunted down an old reproduction Hella tail light which worked fine. A lucky "Craigslist" purchase bought me a $100.00 1976 BMW R60 with a Heinrich 9 gallon fuel tank. The bike was quickly stripped of what I needed and sold off the next day.

Throughout the summer a lot of additions were made and we've racked up 6000 miles since February. Changes to date; R90/6 Pistons / Cylinders / Heads
Re Jetted 32mm Bing Carbs (took quite a bit of experimentation)
9 Gallon Heinrich fuel Tank, NOS fuel cap, used tool box cover
Period "Henry's" Floor Boards
32:9 Final Drive (replaced stock 32:10 drive)
2 additional quart oil pan. (4 quart capacity now)
Dip Stick Oil Temperature gauge
NOS MotoMeter Tachometer / Speedometer
1968 R60/2 US front fender and NOS Braces
Dual "QSL Tuetonic 1000 mile solo seats (stock seat sucked)
Luftmiester header / muffler shields
Bar End Mirrors
New Side Car Windscreen
New Ultra Leather Side Car Interior
Hella Reproduction 50's Tail light
Found some new "Nelson Rigg-Pak" Luggage very cheap on eBay which works great on the side car. I re upholstered a BMW Stock Long Wheel Base Seat to match the side car interior but did not like it. I still need to deal with the poor braking of the /5 motorcycle. These are good brakes for what they are but not suited well for a side car. I have an updated Russian Sputnik Sidecar wheel w/ drum Brake which will be attached as soon as I can. I need to have a new axle fabricated to accomplish that installation. I have practiced some panic stops with the bike and surprisingly it is not that bad, but....under a surprise panic stop it wouldn't be too good. I'm stating away from an Earls fork as I still ride the bike solo at times. Future additions: A luftmeister auxiliary fuel tank, modified side covers, upgrade alternator to a 280 watt ( have that from R90/6), some sort of driving light (after I have enough juice to power it). Who knows what else. A proper side car sub-frame would be nice but the attachment has so far been very stable and haven't had any issues after over 6000 miles of mostly crappy roads. Half the fun of the side car has been "personalizing" it. I took pride in my mostly stock Toaster BMW, but after 13 years just got bored and wanted to try something different. This journey is definitely that!

Loaded to the "gills" during an Arizona Road Trip. Covered 1500+ miles in 5 days. From Interstate to the crappiest two lanes imaginable.

Out in the middle of nowhere AZ. Poor old rig is packing a lot of weight.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Tractor/Motorman Badge / Cop Fuel Tank

Found this (WW2?) vintage Soviet "Tractor/Motorman's" Badge on eBay over in Russia. I thought that this would be appropriate to mount on the rear of the Russian Hack. Since the bike is now more of a tractor than a motorcycle. I have a small Russian wing decal there now.
We rode a 600 + mile trip a couple of weeks ago and the newly recovered seat just didn't suit me. The riding height is a couple of inches higher and my ass was killing me after about 150 miles. My old Tuetonic QSL 1000 Mile Solo Seat never caused me any pain even after an 850 mile day. ( I did that once) So the stock seat came off and the old reliable solo seats went back on. I have a passenger solo seat which is mounted on the large rear rack. The seats are their original brown color and are in decent shape. The off-white wouldn't look good on the solo seats. Maybe they will be black someday.
I'm not sure I'll ever use the stock seat again so I listed it on the IBMWR site for a fairly high price. Not much of a call for off white seats but we'll see....maybe someone will make me an offer I can't refuse. If not I'll just stash it away. This pair of "Tuetonic 1000 mile solo seats were on the bike when I bought it years ago. I absolutely love the seats. most comfortable seats I've used.
I'd looked for another 1000 mile seat for quite a while but the ones I found were way over priced. Found this one, needing a recover, on Ebay for $130.00. Not too bad considering the other ones I found were $500.00 for a pair. I'll recover this one in Black if I ever get going on the R100S sidecar project again.

This is the 6.2 Gallon German Police Tank I picked up recently. Traded my old Toaster Tank for it. Decided that I probably won't use it any time soon so listed it on eBay. It has a few flaws but is in overall good shape. Probably won't hold 6.2 gallons though as the tool box displaces a bit of normal fuel capacity. You don't see many of these around but I have yet to get any bids. Maybe someone will pay up to the $300.00 reserve I put on it.(?) It is a pretty nice tank and has a wiring tube into the tank from underneath for the cop radio wiring. There is a cut out for the master cylinder underneath so it should fit the later year /6's and maybe the /7's too. Kind of a poor mans Heinrich tank. I recieved the left side Luftmeister saddle fuel tank and unfortunately it doesn't clear my kick start lever. Might mount it on the left side of the sidecar. Not sure about that one yet. Maybe I'll cut the top off and hinge it for a baby beer cooler? Could use the petcock for the water drain. I think it would hold three / four cans. Ha, We'll see........ Won a pair of /6 sidecovers on e-Bay today. I will repaint them black and will cut a chunk out of the right one so it will clear the sidecar mount. I sold my "Toaster" sidecover panels on eBay last week. Couldn't bring myself to hack one of them apart. Besides they sold for nearly $150.00 and I paid $60.00 for the replacement /6 side covers. The chrome Toaster side covers didn't look right on the bike anyway. Too much chrome I guess. I've kept a running total of costs for the sidecar project since I started. Also have kept track of the profits from the eBay sales which has offset the sidecar project cost by over $2000.00. Out of pocket (after eBay sales) costs so far are only about $700.00 right now. Who says you have to spend thousands on a sidecar. Forever the scrounger I have kept the overall cost down and have done 98% of the work myself. ( machine work & tank paint farmed out) My eBay fodder is running a little low now. Still have a 71 R75 rolling chassis, al ot of engine and electrical parts. Will have to keep searching for another cheap basket case. I had been hoarding all these spare old parts for a few years and decided to start dumping the stuff. Figure if I need something I'll just buy if. I still have a good selection of worthy backup parts to carry on the road. Carb parts, electrical parts, cables, nuts, bolts and misc. small hard -to- find things. Hopefully I'll be able to bail out some other poor airhead who breaks down on the road.
Looking forward to the "First Chance Rendezvous" which will be the first weekend in Jan. The best rally ever out in the desert. Met up with one of the sponsors, Kevin Kempton, tonight in Las Vegas. He is here working, same as us. We went and had a couple of beers. Adios for now.....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Nevada, Arizona, California, eBay

Had a great Thanksgiving this year. Unfortunately we were not able to spend the day with family but we made the best of it. Darian captured a pretty rainbow from our room in Laughlin NV. We had a buffet type dinner there which was very good. Not home cooking, but good nonetheless. I was taking a nap before dinner and missed he rainbow! On our way over we saw an awesome looking cloud bank outside of Searchlight. The photo doesn't really do it justice.
We made our way over to Yuma AZ. to check the lot over there and unlock the gate so that the power co. & water co. would come in and turn on the utilities. Weeds had taken over the lot since last year so an hour was spent pulling weeds. Appears that everything survived the summer and things were fine. We visited with a few of the neighbors and checked on Ed Bergan, our neighbor to the north. Ed is 94 years old today and seems to be doing pretty good. Still on his own and driving his van. We made our way over to San Diego and spent the evening with our darling niece Julie and her husband. We had an enjoyable visit and Jujlie made some fantastic Tacos. Thanks Jules! From there we went over to Escondido and attended an art show that our friends' the Kemptons put on each year. Saw a lot of our Airhead friends and spent the night with Bill & Louann Snyder, airhead friends also. Bill & Lou were the first Airhead folks we met so many years ago. They are great folks and like family to us, as are most all of the Airhead Club friends. Sunday brought us home with no problems to Callville Bay.
I have been running a few more eBay sales this past week. Pulled a bunch of old spare parts from our shed in Yuma and decided to pass them on to new owners. I received the auxiliary fuel tank pictured above for the left side of the sidecar rig. Come to find out that the kick starter interferes with the installation. Not sure what I'll do with it. I don't want to remove my kick starter. I'm going to strip it down to the raw aluminum and see how it looks. I could mount it to the left side of the sidecar and it would function there. The height is good for use on the sidecar and it actually looks good when held up to a proposed position. It is missing the cap so it will have to be a future project. These tanks normally sell for $350.00 a pair. I advertised looking for one tank and this one came up for $75.00. They hold just shy of 1 gallon. Would be a nice little extra reserve tank as one can't have too much fuel when dragging the sidecar around.
This is a rare "Telfco" heel toe shifter I purchased for the bike also. Unfortunately it is for a later model BMW and won't fit the older bikes. I asked the seller to photograph it so I could make sure it was correct but he could never get a photo to me. He assured me it was for a /5 BMW. It wasn't, so now it is on eBay and hopefully I can recoup part of my cost. ($75.00) Just isn't worth the effort to return things for a refund etc.
We'll break down the sidecar this week and get ready to move everything down to Yuma . We'll take our car / trailer down next weekend and then the motor home and other trailer down the following week.
Darian will be flying to Billings on the 18Th. I will fly up on the 19Th for our Co. Xmas Party, then right back for work for Monday. Then back to Billings and back again for Xmas. Will have home base in Yuma so will be commuting to and from Las Vegas for a few weeks.
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Gila Mtns.

Gila Mtns.