Interim Report Before the Third Race of 2008
With the steering bearings replaced and a pretty good idea of the misbehavior of the ignition system (toasted coil?) I decided to give myself a break before the next race. Getting caught up on revival bikes for resale, I decided to check my sponsors inventory to see what might trigger my old memory. While at the Sirius Consolidated Inc. home page, I noticed a notice posted about a new parts auction site. Sirius had made mention of the cost of listing items on eBay. They also had a link to eparts.us.
Being curious, I had to test the waters. A new auction site meant having to claim my Internet ID ASAP. In the late 1980s, I had failed to get videojack as my hotmail address, hence the firstname.lastname@example.org as my occasionally checked personal email address. So I hurriedly clicked on the link in order to register.
As soon as I clicked on the link, there it was. My destiny as a vintage race bike and GP350 racer. A beautiful 1964 CB77 rigged for racing. The ad read "Honda CB77 305 Superhawk, Needs a little TLC". http://www.eparts.us/101538,auction_id,auction_details
I scrolled down to the enlarged picture and had a mixture of infatuation and deja vu. A confusing mixture of "I gotta have it" and "have I been dreaming about this very bike" almost overwhelmed me. Funny thing about aging memory. Its like Alzheimer’s light. You have the ability to meet new people all the time, if you have forgotten that you met them before.
The auction had no bidders and the starting price was $.99. Knowing that the reserve was going to be outrageous, I still looked further into it. Then another weird feeling hit me, when I noticed that the bike was located in Ontario, Canada. Click! One of the neurons fired. I then recalled that Harry, at SCI, sent me a picture of the yet named owner of SCI’s race bike. I had tried to talk Harry into goading the owner to race with me at Gingerman Raceway in Grattan, Michigan. I mentioned that I was traveling 11 hours and that for him is would be less than 5.
This is the picture that Tim, a friend in New Jersey, and I had a discussion about the foam air filters and using them for street bikes. We had come to the conclusion that you really only have three common options for filtration of vintage CB350s. The foam filter types as shown on the CB77, K&N chrome backs that interfere with the battery box, or rebuilding the stock filters with Uni foam.
Now that bike that I admired was before me and waiting for me to bid on. A quick calculation of gas prices, round trip to Canada and back, the amount of bikes already spoken for by future buyers, and the amount required to pay for this years ambitious race schedule. As gas prices have shot up, yet again, I have a respectable surplus of race funds. So, I then had to make another calculation.
The "Justifiable" calculation. This calculation was a number that I could easily come up with and rationalize for a one time impulse acquisition. Then I had to restrict that and finally came up with $1,000. This was to include all expenses to get the bike in my garage. Trip costs, bike costs, and any investments into making it a running racer.
The "Needs a little TLC" meant no serious parts investment required. And, since bike was being sold by my sponsor, I had good reason to trust the information. Rough gas calculations and a little rounding gave me my lucky bidding amount of $777.77. I registered and did receive my videojack ID on eparts. Easily learned the differences between eparts and eBay. After logging into my account, I searched the CB77 and very carefully entered in my bid amount to displace the $.99 starting price.
My heart jumped when all of a sudden, as the only bidder, the reserve was met at $500. Now there was a reason to look into the realities of the concept. Now I had to do my research. But first, I had to also consider my actual chances. Realistically, if this bike was on eBay, I could kiss it goodbye. With hundreds of vintage bike enthusiasts drooling over another of the rare CB77 Superhawks, I would have been out of luck. All the right search information was included in the title. Everyone would see it.
Then I considered the fact that eparts was new to me and probably new to everyone else? Hopefully so. I checked 4 to five times a day for the next 6 days. At the last day, I checked and was still the only bidder. Tim was also checking. He would include a status report with each email question and comment about the CB350 project he was working on. I think he was checking more often than I. This bike meant something to him as well.
I had not yet met Tim. But we were scheduled to meet after building a great camaraderie over CB350 technology. Tim had graciously offered me his original CB350 motor for all the help I had given between the acquisition of his first CB350, the acquisition of his replacement motor and guidance on his parts CB350 that was previously headed to the race track. As such, I was scheduled to make a trip to his house before the Summit Point race. Knowing that, I had opened up my parts bike searches and Tim ended up picking up a bike for me across the river in Pennsylvania.
The acquisition of the CB77 meant that I would probably hit Canada first and he would get to see the Superhawk up close when I came by to get the motor and my $63 parts bike. (A bike I have slated for a future racer just starting out in vintage racing.) Always trying to make a good deal even better, I had started tracking down other parts bikes to "amortize the trip".
The final day came. I was with my son at his brand new Boy Scout Troop and had to ignore the call. After meeting with Tom (Scout Master of the Year) and hearing of my future duties in the Troop, I listened to Tim’s message on the way home, I won and no other bids had been entered. I logged on and paid immediately. First commitment complete and details needing to be worked out, I had to call Keith.
Till this point, the acquisition was kept under raps. I didn’t want anything to jinx the deal, so I did not tell any of my fellow racers. Keith was the only one told before the bike was back at my place. Now that the word is out, "when are you going to have it racing" is all I hear.
I nonchalantly mentioned to my honey that, oh by the way, I need to make a run to Canada to pick up "the bestest deal on a race bike ever known to the whole of vintage racing". . . Yes Canada. As it ended up, I noticed one of the SCI correspondence included a Buffalo address. Since driving across the Canadian border requires a passport (mine is expired) or a driver’s license and birth certificate (whereabouts unknown) I was looking for an alternative. Martin agreed to bring the bike to Buffalo and we would exchange it at a post office there.
In the meantime, I had acquired another parts bike just north of Louisville, Kentucky. This meant that meeting Tim would have to wait. I had two days and about 2,200 miles to cover. As all this was evolving, a guy I had been corresponding with decided to take a project that I had put on the back burner. The KZ550 was in need of exploratory surgery to find the source of a nasty tapping. Steve was happy when I mentioned I could deliver at no charge if he would send a partial payment before my departure.
That made three points to hit in a short period of time, but Johnson City was on my way north. I delivered the 550 cafe bike, that worked great for the Bike Week of 2007 for me. I was ahead of schedule and heading north on I-81. Realizing the extra time I had and that the highway I was on takes me to within miles of my birthplace, I made a few calls. Instead of spending six extra hours after a good eight hours sleep, I decided to visit my cousin in Norwich, NY. He’s kinda my hero as a two time purple heart recipient Sergeant Major in the Marine corps, Chief of Police, and acting Fire Chief, (until a proper replacement can be found) as well as an all around good guy.
Joe and his lovely wife hosted me to about an hour of chatting and honey baked ham with sweet tea and it was off to Aunt Marge’s for a few hours sleep. I guess its easy for Joe to be a good guy when his mom is eligible for sainthood. She is wonderful about my surprise visits that are usually spur of the moment. Joe hosted to a quick breakfast before his 7 AM meeting and I was off for a quick four hour trip to Buffalo.
Martin called as I approached Buffalo. he was ahead of schedule as was I, but not as far ahead as he was. Pulling into the parking lot, I saw it in the back of his truck. Red paint and white numbers on a sky blue background. Looked just as attractive up close as in the picture. A big smile and firm handshake from Martin let me know he was all I had hope to meet. Some quick updates about the bike’s history followed some background similarities between us. In a short time I got to know him well. He explained the modified muffler welds for ground clearance, showed me the very nicely done Kreem lining in the tank that was completed and awaiting re-assembly, as well as a general overview.
Paperwork complete and a good transfer of information, Martin sent me on my way a happy man. He even included a my very own Dany Reid sexy calendar (available at dany-reid.com, check it out!). Meeting Harry, Mercedes, and the rest of the SCI crew will have to wait for another day.
Pickup in Indiana went smoothly, thank you, Tim (no relation). All said and done the 6:30 AM arrival completed a 46 hour, 2,200 mile trip in the little Ford Ranger with close to my 25 miles per gallon usual economical efficiency.
Next stop Summit Point, West Virginia. I should probably get those coils situated before I leave in a couple of days. More about this bike as the saga continues.