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Motorcycle Classics at Motogiro America - Day 3

by Richard Backus

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Dave Miller's riding this bike, a 1966 125cc Moto Guzzi Stornello
Dave Miller, our man at the Motogiro America and riding a 1966 Moto Guzzi 125cc Stornello, is still in the running, even though the Stornello has been giving him a few problems. Dave reports:
“Since I talked to you last night, they had announced results, and for me the highlight was that my running mate David Hills, riding a Motobi, is in third place in the vintage class and Stewart Ingram is in second place riding his Moto Morini. Our tired old hacks are in second and third! I love it when that happens.

“Last night I was up to midnight working on John Goldman’s bike, sorting electrical problems, so I didn’t get much sleep. We got it running, he made it about 40 miles today and the clutch quit, so it looks like I’ll be ripping into that tonight.

“My morning started with my roommate saying, ‘Hey did you know we parked next to a sprinkler?’ So I went down, and it didn’t look too wet, so I tried to start her, and she was mad at me and decided she was gonna become a two-stroke for the day; she promptly fouled a spark plug. Naturally, I didn’t have one, so I went rushing around looking for a spark plug. It takes an NGK B8ES, but somebody had a B5HS. I knew that was a lot hotter, but I stuck it in, it tried to start but wouldn’t, so I rolled it over to Stewart; it’ll always start for him because he owns the bike. So I pulled the plug, checked the gap, it was closed up. So I thought, okay, I gapped it again, stuck it back in, it started and ran for a minute, sputtered and quit.

“So now I’m late for the start. I told Stewart to tell john and Dave to go, and I pulled the plug and the gap’s closed up again. So I got the fouled plug I couldn’t clean, and I held them up to each other, and the electrode on the 5HS sticks out about 30 thou more, so I surmised the piston is just barely tapping the plug, just enough to close up the gap. So I ran around looking for a plug, but I couldn’t find one. So I gapped it again, took the sealing ring off the other plug, stuck it on, and it started and ran like a champ!

“I hot-footed to the start, late, and got on the road, and it’s just singing along. I made it to the first checkpoint, and made up the time, although I was till docked of course for being late. So I catch up with my running mates, and Goldman happens to have a brand new one of the correct plug. So I pull out this Mickey Mouse plug that was burning beautifully, stuck the proper plug in, and we go through our checkpoint. I’m sitting around, and all of the sudden Dave Hill asks, ‘have you seen my key?’ What’re you talking about? ‘It was in my bike when it was over there. I lost my key, what am I gonna do?’ It’s one of these Italian jobs, just a pin. I said I could fix it, so I took my fountain pen apart, my favorite pen, by the way, and it fired up, but the pen wouldn’t stay in there. So I took the pen, stuck it back in, and took some tape and wound it around to get it to stay in place. About this time he comes diddy bopping back with his key! After I’d wasted my favorite fountain pen from Matco tools.

“And about five miles later Goldman’s bike quit. So we kept going, and we’re going, and we’re hitting it pretty hard, so I came down this long hill, and I was ahead of Dave, and all of the sudden the bike’s losing power and dragging. And I stop and think, I think I just fried it. So I kick it over and it starts! It’s not seized. So I say go, let’s go while it’s happy. So we get going, and it’s running, not running good, but it’s running, and the further I went the more convinced I became that the points were welding themselves together and then breaking apart. So we made it to the lunch checkpoint, and I took the side case off and the shifter and got in there. They didn’t close up, but sure enough there were weld points. So I got out the trusty Buck knife and cleaned it off best I could, and it ran pretty good and made it through the rest of the day.

“It’s hotter than hell, by the way. I immediately went to NAPA and got some plugs and engine oil. I blew the freaking last field test. It was just a straight, go slow, 25 seconds, not a long section. So I’m counting to myself, and normally if I’m not going slow enough I can stop and balance, but I was too tired and I dabbed a foot, but I don’t know how they’ll penalty that. So that’s the story. I’m supposed to help John before I go to bed. If John needs me, I’ll do it. But he owes me big time.”

Dave was pretty exhausted when he gave me this report, but he’s obviously having a blast. With any luck, we’ll talk to him again tonight and get another report in tomorrow after Day 4 of the 2008 Motogiro America. – Richard Backus