27 December, 2010

Mr. T. Intro (Fiat Topolino Hot Rod)

Mr A. (stepdad Jack) has had several vehicle projects over the years, including this hot rod Fiat Topolino. Without getting into too many details here (I'll be posting info about it on Jack's Sketchbook blog) this is a 1937 Topolino body sitting on an altered Fiat 508 frame. A Fiat 2000 Spider provides the powertrain, including a complete front double a-arm suspension and rear axle assembly, 2L twin cam, 5-speed trans, and 4-wheel disc brake setup.

Mr. T has been hiding in the corner of Jack's shop for many years, and has recently been uncovered. While up in Oregon for Christmas, we talked quite a bit about what it will take to get it finished. Amazingly, 90% of most of the major sub-assemblies are finished. It just needs some final fabrication to get it running, and even running around the block. So with that in mind, I'll be heading back up later in January to tackle some exhaust, fuel system, and brake projects with Jack.

In the meantime, here are some quick photos of the car as it sits now, with a few detail notes.

Center body retains original Topo sheet metal body, including front cowl, doors, rear deck. Body was widened roughly 6 inches down center. Front hood, fenders, and complete nose section is fiberglass, hand laid over carved foam. Rear fenders are also fiberglass construction:

Wheelbase was lengthend to 91 inches, all of it between the main cab at the front axle:

Entire front hood/fender/nose assembly flips forward for easy access to mechanicals:

Saab 900 aluminum radiator sits well forward, driving turn signal lights seen up front. Entire Fiat 124/2000 Spider front suspension was transplanted, including cross member, double a-arms, hubs, brakes etc., retaining stock geometry:

Fiat 2000 spider 2L twincam should produce about 120hp with headers and bigger Weber carb:

Lots of room to work in here:

Engine sits well aft of front wheel center-line. I'm curious to see what the weight distribution looks like when it is done:

Inside view of front bodywork. Fiberglass and epoxy construction, with numerous stiffening ribs:

Custom dash features millions of gauges, switches, and easy-to-access replaceable fuses for each circuit. Brand new Honda CRX Si seats provide a great fit even for my 6' tall frame:

In case you can't tell from the pictures, this is a small car. Think a 1st gen Miata about 8 inches narrower, and even shorter. We're thinking it will come in about 1,500 pounds, so 120hp should be just dandy.


The Frozen Water Pipe Dent Fixing Experiment - Updated

I read a post on the great interwebs about using frozen water to remove dents from a motorcycle header. The principle makes sense, and as luck would have it, I had a spare header pipe from a Bridgestone 90 with a nice sized dent in it, as witnessed below:

The process is to fill the pipe with water just past the level of the dent, and place it in the freezer. You don't need to cap either end (supposedly) as that may in fact cause the pipe to burst. Luckily my header pipe is small, and fit on the beer glass shelf:

I'll see what effect the frozen water has on the dent in the morning. It may be something I need to try multiple times.

Well, my result came out slightly different. The ice did in fact remove some of the dent, but in the process split the pipe open along an apparent weak spot/crack. I would say about 80% of the dent has been removed, and I can easily hammer the crack closed and stitch weld it.


23 December, 2010

Mud Bogging

I got home a bit early today, so I decided to take the Trials bike out for a short ride. We have a large plot of land east of our house a few blocks with all kinds of trails. With the recent rains, things were a bit muddy. Luckily the Trials bike can journey through some rather deep puddles.

The end.


Bridgestone Front Fender

I had been wanting to make up a small front fender for the Bridgetone, to keep road grime off the motor. The original chrome fender was in terrible condition, and frankly wasn't very cafe' racer looking. I wanted something simple and tidy.

While searching through OSH Hardware my eye caught a large 2" conduit sweep. It looked to have about the correct radius. After hacking it up, sanding the edges smooth, and contouring the front and rear lips, I test fit it. It was a pretty damn good fit! So I sanded it, primed it, and painted it.

It mounts to the small fork brace I built last week, using a rear brake rod nut for now. I seem to have used up my collection of M8 nuts.

I think it looks pretty good.


Homebrew Tasting

Susan mentioned I haven't been posting about my own brews, and I'm not sure why either. So here are a couple samples I've enjoyed lately:

Oatmeal Stout:
I used a standard Mr. Beer Stout extract kit but spruced it up with some chocolate grain and of course oatmeal. I use both Magnum (bittering) and Willamette (aroma) hops in whole leaf variety. It came out quite nice, even only at the two-week mark in the bottle. Very smooth with a thick mouthfeel and subtle chocolate and oatmeal notes. I was rather pleased with this one.

Irish Red:

I used a standard Mr. Beer Red kit as the base, but used quite a bit of Magnum hops to give it a good kick in the butt, which worked. I've also been using Crystal grains (60L in this case) in many of my beers for a while, to supplement the extract. This is a nice strong flavored Red, with plenty of hops up front, and a good bitter finish.

I'll be taking about half a dozen beers with me to Oregon for a bit of sampling with Mr A., so I'll report on those when I return.


Side Cover

I wanted to make a side cover for the right side of the Bridgestone. Normally this is where the oil injection tank mounts, but I'm using the spot simply for mounting the choke and on/off switch. So I cut a piece of acrylic, made some access holes, and gave it a quick hit of Bridgestone blue on the backside. I was amazed I still had a bit of that blue left after all these years.

I'm going to use a few of Susan's small rub on stickers to adorn it.


20 December, 2010

Dogfish Head Chicory Stout

Dogfish Head Chicory Stout
5.2% abv

Quite a nice surprise from Dogfish Head. I have to admit, I had no idea what "flavor" chicory was until I looked it up, so I had no idea what I was getting myself into. As it turns out, chicory is coffee flavored, and combined with the organic mexican coffee, this produced a very smooth and flavorful stout.

It poured very thin until I gave it some flourish at the end and got a great sticky, thick head.

Aroma is quite unique, with a bit of sweet and sour mixed in with coffee.

Flavor is all stout with some very smooth subtle coffee notes.

Extremely smooth finish bringing me back for more.

Overall, a nice offering.

19 December, 2010

Bridgestone Beauty Shots

I took the Bridgestone for another short ride this afternoon, once the sun popped out. I made a small change to the clutch actuator arm, and added a small return spring, so I wanted to make sure everything was working properly. It was. Random shots below:


18 December, 2010

Riding the Bridgestone

I swapped the throttle assembly from Salty, onto the Bridgestone this morning. Since it was originally built for the Bridgestone 3 years ago, if fit perfectly. So of course I instantly rolled it out, fired it up, and decided to take it down the road.

1/4 turn throttle:

It ran fantastic, for roughly 1.5 blocks. Then it came to a quick stop. I had no spark, so I hit up the wiring. For some reason a crimp connector I had put together came loose. So I fixed it. And it ran again. In fact, it ran great. I'm pretty used to my 50cc pushrod Honda four-strokes, so a high revving 90cc 2-stroke feels pretty damn powerful!

So I proceeded to rid the neighborhood of all bug life by blasting my smoke machine for a few miles. I never got into 4th gear, but 1st through 3rd went smoothly. I need to make a quick adjustment to the clutch lever arm, and fab up a small return spring.

I also fabbed up a front fork brace, made of 1/4" thick 1" strap that I bent around a 3" mandrel at work, on the rebar bender. Fit perfect.

But overall, I'm pretty pleased. This was the first time I've ever ridden a Bridgestone, after roughly 4 years of ownership.


New Belgium 2 Below Ale

New Belgium 2 Below Ale
6.6% abv

A great winter time ale that was perfect for a cold. rainy, windy evening. Nice hop aroma, with a good bite of fresh hop taste up front. But it quickly gets malty in the body and stays malty to a smooth finish. a very drinkable beer with a nice balance of hops and malt.


Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat

Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat
5.35% abv

Every Sam Adams I've had has been pretty bland. Even their offerings proclaiming strong malt and hops. So I wasn't anticipating much. It starts off with a very thick head, followed by a strong cherry aroma. Lots of thick syrupy cherry flavor fills the middle and end. Luckily is pretty smooth, but it is very strong with cherry flavoring.

Quite interesting.


14 December, 2010

Choke, Speedo, and "Seat"

I've done a few small things to the Bridgestone over the past couple evenings. In no particular order:

Just some 1/2" thick foam for a seat cushion:

I needed a way to operate the choke, but didn't have a way to mount the original lever housing up on the bars, so I mounted it on the "right" side cover area:

Original speedo cleaned up and mounted:

I also filled the trans and front forks with fluid. The end.


12 December, 2010

Foot pegs and brake arm

I never really fabbed up footpegs or a rear brake setup on the Bridgestone. I had the passenger footpegs installed on the swingarm, but unfortunately they were just a tad low to fit a brake lever under, yet clear the exhaust. So long afternoon made short, I made some.

Aluminum piece gets bolted into stock passenger footpeg location on swingarm. The right side bracket is drilled and tapped for a Honda footpeg, and for a mounting bolt that secures a Yamaha gearshift lever:

Left side bracket only contains the footpeg:

I also remembered that the Bridgestone uses a small support bracket, that goes from the frame neck down to the engine. So I cleaned one up and mounted it. Strangely, the two brackets I had, one for a Sport and one for a Trail, were made differently. I have no idea which one I used:

Doesn't seem like much, but it took a few hours to get everything fabbed up, cleaned, polished, painted, and mounted.


11 December, 2010

Holy Smokes!

After wiring up the Bridgestone with a simple on/off rocker switch, and running a fuel line with a small filter, I put a qt of premix in the tank and fired it up. It literally fired on the first kick, but died after a couple seconds. With a quick adjustment of the idle speed, it fired up and ran quite well with just a bit of choke. After 30 seconds, it didn't need a choke at all, and took throttle with a crisp bark of that typical 2-stroke bite:

Unfortunately I apparently stole the aftermarket throttle assembly off the Bridgestone to use on the Honda C110 project, so I had to blip the throttle by pulling the wire. I'll need to order up a new throttle assembly and figure out how to mount up the choke cable.

In summary: It RUNS!!!!

09 December, 2010


How many tools does it take to troubleshoot no spark? Please to see below:

So, hear is the long story.

This model of Bridgestone uses a magneto ignition. It has a separate ignition coil and a separate lighting coil. For now, all I care about is ignition, as I likely won't run a headlight on it. Luckily, all of the Bridgestone service manuals are available online, including wiring diagrams. The diagram for the ignition circuit is very simple. Black wire from stator through a switch, and then to the black wire on the coil. Green/white wire from stator to green/white wire on coil. Coil is grounded to chassis through its mount.

I had no spark.

I took off the stator and gave everything a thorough cleaning. Removed a lot of rust from the flywheel, lubed the felt pad, and ran some emery through the points.

No spark.

I then decided to eliminate the stock setup and wire it up as a battery ignition, using a 12v battery and a 12v coil. This is very clearly shown in the factory Bridgestone Race manual, which is also online. So I did that, thinking maybe the stock coil was bad.

No spark.

All of this took place over the past few evenings. Today at lunch I came across an excellent tech tip on the Bridgestone forums. It discussed the full operation of points, and how even the slightest amount of oil on the points could make them not work. I realized I may have been too liberal with my penetrating oil when I was cleaning and lubing, so tonight after work I hit the points with electrical contact cleaner. I also ran a strip of paper that was soaked in acetone through the points to clean them.

I instantly had a fat spark. This was with it wired up in the 12v battery setup. I switched it back to stock wiring, and put the flywheel back on. Same fat spark!

Just to make sure I didn't do anything else to solve this, I ran an old piece of oily paper through the points. No spark at all. After contact cleaner and the acetone trick, big fat spark.

So, long story short, I had dirty/oily points.

Next step is to clean out the gas tank and run a fuel line and fuel filter to the carb. After that, I may be ready to try and start it.

Oh, but first I need to set the timing. I'll do that tomorrow night.


07 December, 2010

Dirty Stator/Flywheel

I had a note on the side of the engine case on the Bridgestone that read "flywheel nut is loose, never looked at stator." So I pulled off the side case, and realized I had no way to remove the flywheel. So I built a special tool!

Extra fancy washer with large nut welded to it. The eagle eyes will note that is a Subaru strut-to-hub bolt and nut. The three small bolts thread into the flywheel, and the big bolt gets tightened against the end of the crank snout. It popped right off with minimal fuss.

And much to my delight, the flywheel looked like this:

And the stator assembly looked like this:

I gave everything a thorough cleaning, a quick emery of the points (which looked quite new) and oiling of the felt. And I of course mounted everything back up after I forgot to snap any pictures of it all clean.

Next, I need to turn my attention to the wiring. I have a diagram in the service manual, and everything seems relatively straight forward. But I don't have spark at the plug.


06 December, 2010

More Scruff

respect the beard

Bridgestone Time

Many moons ago, I bought an old crusty Bridgestone 90 Trail from a guy in the Seattle area. An autocrosser from the area picked it up, and delivered it to me at the Atwater National Tour. I think this was in 2005? It was the year Sean and ran my STi at the ProSolo event the following weekend.

As you can see, this prime little machine apparently lived at the bottom of the ocean:

After an hour with the cordless impact:

I then proceeded to strip it, and paint it, starting with the frame. I also went through the basic running gear, including fresh tires/tubes, rebuilt front forks, and cleaned up brakes:

I then decided that the Bridestone was going to become a cafe racer, especially since most of the original chrome bits were in such bad shape. I formed up a cafe race seat/tail section, and mounted up a Honda S90 gas tank. I liked how it looked, so I continued the theme and got everything painted up:

Shortly after, I came across a Bridgestone 90 Sport on ebay, located in Visallia, CA. I ended up "winning" the auction for something like $52. Many months later, we ventured down to pick it up. It was actually in much better shape, including a sport engine (higher compression than the trail) that turned over and supposedly ran at some point. I have no photos of this beast though, but did end up breaking it down. It mostly gave me an engine, which I quickly had in the frame:

Then we moved. And I haven't touched it for at least 3 years. Until tonight:

Front and center! I finished cleaning the carb and mounted it. Now I need to turn my attention to getting it wired up, set the timing, and see if I can get spark. It turns over great and has strong compression, so I'm hoping to hear it bark at some point.

Strangely, just about all documentation for these old Bridgestones is available online in PDF format, including service manuals, parts manuals, old brochures etc., thanks to bridgestonemotorcycle.com

Lots of little things still to do on it of course, but I figured it was time to pay the Bridgestone a little attention.