Tuesday, September 30, 2008

California Dreamin

We are really looking forward to our Winter off time. Are missing our California Airhead Family. Friends above (L -R) Gil Lowe, Gil and I have shared campsites quite a few times. He is a retired former wardrobe manager at one of the Hollywood Studios. He had a bad accident la couple years ago but has healed up and is back in action. A few years ago I was fueling a little old antique Honda at a gas station in Columbus and began visiting with a guy on a Beemer at the pumps. I saw his CA. plates and found he was a friend of Gils' on a road trip. Small world. Next to Gil is B. Jan Hoffman, he is the founder of the Airheads Beemer Club and the editor of the magazine. We miss him and his better half, Di. Next in line is Gary Hanson. Gary was from Thompson Falls MT. and was one of the most gracious, giving souls I have known. We loved Gary Dearly. He fought health problems for years. About the time he was conquering his health issues and riding again he lost his life in a motorcycle accident in the Sierra Mountains. Gary is sorely missed. The cute little gal is Carin May. She and her husband Terry moved back east a number of years ago and they are truly missed by everyone.
Terry and Carin at a quiet moment at Agua Caliente in the Anza Borrego Desert New Years Rally. We hear they may come out to CA. for the Rally this New Years. We really hope they can make it. It will be like old times again. Terry has a massive collection of dialed in sport bikes and is a master of setting his bikes up. He is a retired Navy Man. Lucky bum retired in his late 40's. They have been in Florida and the Carolinas for the past 5-6 years. They threw a big going away party for us in El Cajon CA. when we moved from San Diego to Montana.
This was a typical Smith Campsite Bloody Mary morning during the New Years Rally. (L-R) Gil Lowe, Gary Hanson,Scott Kempton, Carin May, Bill Snyder, and yours truly. The Bloody Mary morning has become a tradition over the years. I am ashamed of myself for last New Years as we went to the Rally in our motor home. I had been very sick the previous week and just couldn't make myself sleep on the ground for three days. We will join the tenting crowd this year, I promise!
The guys here are the guys who take care of us for the weekend. (L - R) Kevin Kempton, chef extraordinaire, Kelly (Kellyhanna) Pixton master chef, sporting the hair sweater, and supreme glass artist, Scott Kempton. These guys are our best buddies and we really miss them. Scott has a glass blowing show every December at his studio in Escondido CA. We hope to attend again this year. There are about 40 more close CA. friends we miss and are looking forward to seeing them all this Winter!!!!!!!!
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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Indian Summer

Fantastic weekend here in MT. In the 70's all weekend. I received a new Jupiter windscreen from Florida this week so went ahead and installed it. Had to drill the plexiglass to fit the mounting holes on the sidecar. I am missing whatever windshield frame mounts that are original. I have never seen the original hardware so I don't know what I'm missing. I installed some trim around the bottom and then used a foam weatherstripping along the base to cushion the screen when it is tightened. I found some black allen head bolts and had some rigid black plastic washers to spread out the pressure on the plexiglass. I used lock nuts and just barely tightened the bolts to hold the screen securely with out stressing the plexi.
Darian wanted a lightly smoked screen so that is what I ordered. Gustauffson Plastics in Florida makes hundreds of different replacement screens. I was skeptical when ordering about fitment but the screen was near perfect. I let it sit in the sun for a couple hours to let it be a little more pliable before installing. It is three inches taller than the home made one but it leans back for aerodynamics so is about the same height when installed. I makes the cockpit seem a bit smaller since it leans back.
The weather was great today so I took one final ride before breaking down the rig to load into the trailer. I must pull the hack from the bike to fit it into my trailer. Only takes a few minutes. I need the rig removed anyway as I need to re torque the heads and then check the valve clearances again. Gave the bike one final cleaning to remove three months worth of bugs and road grime from our last three trips.
Here is the rig in its' travel place. I have large I-Bolts through the floor and simply ratchet strap the frame down to the floor, chock the wheel and secure the jack stands under the rig frame. I noticed one motorcycle frame mount was a bit loose after removing the hack so will need to re adjust and check all hardware before installing again. I removed all the upholstered sidecar components and Darian will take them to Billings and have them re upholstered in the next couple weeks. I have some nice white Ultra Leather material from the motorhome which should look pretty good. I was going to go with black leather but the consensus has been that white stands out and off sets the rig when I've asked other opinions. White it is. The weather will possibly change by the end of the week so sadly the side car riding is over for a while. I need to be ready to travel if the job locations change. Might be here another month but don't know for sure right now. Should have final directions sometimes this week. May be leaving the first week of October but nothing is for sure right now. I found a long, low pair of R75/5 mufflers on E-Bay. They are 70's vintage and appear to be in pretty good shape. I want to get the Dunstall pipes off the bike and install a lower muffler which is longer. These should work perfectly if I win them. The Dunstall mufflers now installed are quite loud and my passenger complains of the noise on long trips. Also they stop right under the saddle bags and always blacken the bottom of the bags.
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Saturday, September 27, 2008

20-20 Hindsight....Barn Finds

Over the years I have found many, many old bikes, particularly in Arizona. The climate in Yuma AZ. is very dry and old bikes seem to sit in a state of "mummification". Normally the heat will deteriorate all rubber parts but all in all the arid climate preserves the major components. Above are a pair of Honda CA 95's. The blue one is a 1961 model. These are a 150cc engine. The blue one had around 6000 miles. The black one was a 1964 model and had some engine troubles. I purchased the pair from a former Yuma county sheriff who had the bikes in his back yard for 30 years or more. They sat with a piece of plywood over them. I spent 4 hours getting the blue one running after it sat all those years. A battery and fuel lines was all it took. The owner had drained all the gas when he parked them. I paid
$250.00 for the pair. He had the original owners manuals, titles and keys. The tool sets were complete and never appeared to be used.
This is a 1967 CA95 also. I found it in Yuma for $250.00 also. It looked terrible when I purchased it. A little elbow grease and major cleaning brought out a beautiful bike. It was a simple repair to get running. Battery and a carb. cleaning. Had the original white wall tires. I think it had around 8000 miles on it. Was a great running little bike.
This is a 1966 450 Honda "Black Bomber". I got it from the Yuma Sheriff also. It had only 3000 miles on the clock. The mufflers and all chrome were pristine. The original owner had chromed the side covers. I spent a few hours to get it running. The tires were original and had flat spots from sitting all those years. They even held air. Of all the bikes I've had this is the one I wish I'd kept. It only needed tires, seat cover, fork boots, and tank emblems to be complete. I now see them going for thousands on E-Bay. I sold it for $650.00 to a fellow Airhead in Sacramento.
This is a 1969 305 Honda "Dream". Paid a whopping $500.00 for it. It was a runner and had very low mileage. 5000 miles I believe. Was missing original mufflers, and carb. cover. It drove like new. I did a partial trade for a M.C. paint job with this one. The blue w/red seat was a rare original color scheme. I always ran newspaper ads in Yuma looking for old non-running bikes. maybe I'll run another ad this winter, you never know what might still surface.
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Thursday, September 11, 2008

466th Bomb Group 784th Squadron Crew #555

I've condensed a number of different 466th related Posts to: http://555navigator.blogspot.com/

Crew #555 taken in Late 1944, Attlebridge England. Planes flown, Damifino, Dixie!, Times-a-Wastin. Crew members as follows: Standing Left to Right: Pilot-Paul Bridgman, Radio Operator-Elijah J. Porter, Waist/Top Gunner-Corodon Norton, Nose Gunner-Wm. E. Gilbert, Co-Pilot- Wesley R. Vawter, Navigator- John Wm. Smith, Seated Left to Right: Tail Gunner-R.E. Weckerly, Bombadier-Tom Hallet, Engineer-Allen D. Miller, Ball Turret Gunner- James R. Attenholt.

My Father, J. Wm. Smith, has kept in touch with Co-Pilot Wes Vawter since the war. They lost track of all the other crewmen over the years. I imagine after surviving the war most of the veterans were happy to forget the things they witnessed , ready to put it behind them and go about their lives. My father never talked about his War experiences as long as I can remember while growing up. Upon gaining computer literacy (to a point) a few years ago I discovered some 8th Air Force Web sites which spurred me to begin asking Dad, then in his late 80's , questions about those experiences so many years ago. He opened up and told me many stories of those months in England. I was fascinated and was able to post a few photos and some of his experiences on a Web site. I later started my own Web Blog and had a couple of posts about the 466th Bomb Group. Finding these photos posted here, I was able to get Wesley Vawter to name all the guys in the photo. Dad had forgotten a few of the names but Wes had them written down.

Low and behold the son of one of Dads' Crew Mates saw my site and contacted me to let me know that another Crewman, Corodon (Buzz) Norton was alive and well and living in Florida at age 82. I excitedly contacted Dad (now 92) and gave him the news. I then called Mr. Norton and visited with him for 15 minutes or so. He was happy to find that Dad and Wes Vawter were still alive and kicking. Dad and Buzz will be talking soon. I am so happy that this series of events has occurred. Comrades from so many years ago will be reunited, at least over the phone. I hope that this event will not open old wounds. These men relied upon each other to get through those times and were closer than family, in a way. I am sincerely grateful that Mr. Nortons son, Greg, contacted me and helped connect the old pals after all these years. Thanks again Greg.

Navigator- LT. John William "Smitty" Smith w/ "Dixie!"
Crewman of crew #555 w/ "Damifino"
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Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Extreme Lows...........

We made it to West Yellowstone on Sunday afternoon after a great ride through the park. We had reserved a small one room cabin a week before as it only cost $20.00 more than a tent site. We went into town in the early evening to eat and the temperature dropped about 30 degrees in a few minutes and rain poured down. We hung out til the rain stopped and back to the cabin we went. It rained on and off all night but by 8:00 am the clouds broke some and the sun was coming through. We did a quick Macdonald's breakfast and headed out around 10:00 am.
Our route took us around Hebgan Lake and Quake Lake. Approaching Hebgan we could see that rain was imminent so we stopped long enough to put on more layers and some rain gear. As we hit the Quake lake the rain got heavier and then turned to snow. These photos don't do justice to the snowfall. I had to pull over as I lost visibility and between the fogging face shield and the wind blown snow I was blinded. I took a quick pair of photos' and we headed out and made it about a mile to the Visitor Center.
Uncertain what to do we sat for a minute. A couple of people in their cars were looking and pointing at us and photographing us as we were turning white with the wet snowfall. I decided to hell with it and we went onto the road again. The snow turned to rain in a couple miles and we breathed a sigh of relief. Within minutes we were back into a worse blizzard and I fought to see the road and the other traffic around us. This went on for 40-50 miles as we struggled along. The bike and sidecar windshields iced up and my face shield was iced over. This was probably the longest 50 mile ride of my life. I was able to ride a while with the face shield up and peered over the ice covered windshield. The snow turned into a sleet hail kind of stuff and I was blinded when the stuff went into my eyes. I had to shed my eye glasses early on due to fogging. We pulled to the narrow shoulder and I regained my composure before setting out again. We finally rode out of the heavy snow and pulled over near Cameron. The bike was covered in ice and snow and we were pretty well frazzled. The photo below shows the ice laded bike and passenger. Actually we faired well except for my frozen hands and feet. I could not unlatch my helmet as my fingers were useless. Darian finally got my helmet untied and we sat for a bit and regrouped. From there on out the weather was on and off rain which was not bad at all compared to the Sept. 1st. blizzard. It was nice to get home safe and sound. Definitely one of the longest hour or so rides of my life!
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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Geyser Basin

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Elk along the Madison River, Yellowstone

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Extreme Highs............Part 1

Saturday was a beautiful 90 degree day heading towards the Grand Tetons. We headed down I-15 South from Dillon and took a little cut across road over to Rexberg Idaho. Couldn't have been a better day for a ride. Sunny, warm, no wind to speak of. We headed towards Riggs Idaho and witnessed numerous grain harvesting operations in process. Very pretty farm country and a dispersed population. As you get closer to the Tetons we saw many more new developments going in with some audacious looking houses. Definitely look like they belong in Aspen Co. not Idaho. Definitely not the locals building new homes. I guess that is like the out of state money which is coming into Montana. We are seeing the same gaudy excesses here in our state. I guess they call it progress(?).
We stopped at a pull over spot here with a long distance view of the east side of the Tetons. A guy on a new big rental Gold Wing pulled up. He was from upstate New York and was a private jet pilot for some big money real estate developer from Florida. His job is to fly the head guys around to their resort spots and then he hangs out while they play and spend more of their money. Jackson Hole, Aspen, New Mexico are a few of their destinations. He was a nice guy and was up to 250 miles on the rental bike in a few hours. Cost him around $190.00 (with insurance) for a 24 hour rental. He also had a sidecar he mounted on his older Gold Wing at home but he couldn't get it set up properly and pulled it off. Our old bike tracks good and is fairly easy to ride. I do need to increase the lean out a bit more since we are loading the rig with so much gear.
We arrived at Jackson Hole Wyoming early in the afternoon and made our way to a campground about 10 miles south of Jackson. It was a real nice spot right above the Snake River which can be seen in the background. A pair of young families were camped in front of us and we had to ride between their tents to get to our site. We ran into Jackson for a quick bite to eat and then back to the campground. Tourists were thick in Jackson. A lot of bikes on the street. Saw a couple more sidecars around town. We went to bed early to watch a DVDmovie and at about 10:30 pm 5 motorcyclists (at least three with straight pipes) roared into the site above us. They also had to ride within a foot of the other tents. Each of the young families had babies and they immediately began squalling after the bikes roared in. They kept us awake for a while until they set up. Then it was Snore and Fart time for them for the rest of the night. A real nice lullaby to fall asleep to.
We awoke to cooler temperatures Sunday morning and rain from about 5:00 am til 7:00 am. The 5 Snorer/Farters next door high tailed it out of there while the rain was falling. I heard one of them yell "Pardon Me" as his bike roared to life and he pulled out within the foot of the now unsleeping babies in the tents. With that, the kids began to cry again and I had to get up. The clouds broke so Darian and I quickly tore down the camp and hit the road by 9:00 am. We entered Grand Teton Park and took a leisurely ride around the base of the mountains. Beautiful views and clouds rolling in and out of the peaks. The temperatures were now in the 50's and 60's. Perfect cool riding weather. We toured the park and then headed towards Yellowstone from the south. Darian took some movies while riding in the sidecar in Yellowstone but I haven't figured out how to post them yet. I'll work on that....................to be continued
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Gila Mtns.

Gila Mtns.