Monday, January 20, 2020

Back To The Beginning - Episode #45

January 20, 2020

By: David L. Morrill
       @Mototique - Ocala, Florida

When I first built the blanked off 1921 Harley-Davidson motor for my racer back in 2010, I couldn't make up my mind, whether to use the front, or rear cylinder. I mocked up the motor both ways, and really liked the rear cylinder configuration.

Rat Racer - Rear Cylinder Mock Up
My rear cylinder had a nasty gouge in the lower bore, where a wrist pin had come  adrift, way back when. That wasn't a problem, as I was planning to have the cylinder bored, and use a modern aluminum piston. I checked with my parts supplier, but they said they were out of stock on the piston I needed, and it would be at least 6 months before they got a new supply. I was impatient to get the project moving, so I searched through my parts stash, and found a usable original iron piston & rings, along with a front cylinder with a good bore. I ran a hone through original tapered bore, and everything fit nicely, so the decision was made for me.

Warren Lane's True Grit Vintage Bike Show
Destination Daytona - October 2017
Photo by : Michael Lichter
I ran the front cylinder set up in Sons of Speed races for 2018 and the March 2019 race. After the March 2019 race, I started looking for a little more speed. One day, I was digging through my spare parts, and found another rear cylinder. the bore on this cylinder was near perfect, but it had a crack in the exhaust valve seat.

Cracked Exhaust Valve Seat - Bottom Left

After checking with several knowledgeable motor builders, the consensus was that the cylinder could not be repaired. I had met Michael Lange at one of our races, and after seeing this photo of crack, he said he could repair it. Michael did a great job, and a very reasonable cost.

Rat Racer - Rear Cylinder Set Up
January 2020
I ran this set up in the October 2019 Sons of Speed races, and the bike ran faster than ever!

2019 Biketoberfest Sons of Speed Race @ New Smyrna Speedway
Photo by: Jim Dohms - Dohms Creative Photography

Once again in my heat race, I lined up against a field of V Twin racers with twice the engine displacement of mine. I held on to third place, the final transfer spot to the final, for 4 laps, before Shawn McLean passed me on his beautiful Indian Power Plus twin, and went on to third place. The March 2020 race will  feature a new 30.50ci. -500cc single cylinder class. Woohoo! No more chasing V twins with twice the motor!

Rat Racer - Race Ready January 2020

Come out and watch us:

2020 Daytona Bike Week Sons of Speed Races
Saturday March 7, 2020 - 5:00 PM. 
New Smyrna Speedway
New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Jim Dohms - Dohms Creative Photography

Michael Lichter

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Press Release #12 - George Albright's 9th Annual Car Show in Ocala, Florida

February 17, 2019

By: David L. Morrill
@ Mototique

I have been busy the last few weeks, preparing Rat Racer, my 1921 Harley-Davidson racer for the upcoming Sons of Speed Races on Saturday March 9th, @ the New Symrna Speedway. Friday morning, my lovely wife Kim received a message from her friend Tammy Albright, asking if we were going to bring Rat Racer to their car show on Saturday. Tammy's husband George, is the Marion County Florida Property Appraiser, and each year they sponsor a huge car show at the McPherson Complex just up the road from out house. I had to admit I had forgotten about the event, but told Kim to tell Tammy we would be there.

Saturday morning I scurried around getting Rat Racer presentable, and my friend Joe Niles rode over to help me load the bike, for the two mile trip up the road to the show. When we unloaded Rat Racer, we realized we had left the stand in my garage, so I ran back to the house, while Joe sat on the bike.

There were only a handful of motorcycles on display, including Rat Racer, and Joe's Ultra Classic Harley-Davidson, but the McPherson Center parking lot was filled with about 200 antique, classic, and custom cars. I did manage to get a short video of our end of the show.

Click on the link below to see it:

We spent the rest of the day starting Rat Racer for the crowds, and letting folks get their picture taken on both our bike. Kim showed up, and we finally got her photo sitting on Rat Racer.

Joe's friend Stephanie showed up with her dog Dura, and got her photo on both bikes.

There's a little surprise waiting for anyone sitting on Rat Racer. They look down and see Captain Cockroach, Ocala's fastest cockroach, our Mototique Racing mascot on the tank. It's a blast to watch folks reaction to him!

I got a trophy for best motorcycle, which really should have gone to Joe's Ultra Classic.

Once again, it was a great event which raised money for local charities. A big thank you to George and Tammy Albright for inviting us, and to all their volunteers, and sponsors. Great job folks!

Monday, May 7, 2018

Press Release # 11 Crossing 200,000 Page Views

May 7, 2018

By: David L. Morrill
@ Mototique

Just noticed that Mototique recently crossed 200,000 pages views. To all those folks who read, and share my episodes, thank you so very much! Never thought I would reach this point.


David L. Morrill

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Press Release #10

March 22, 2018

By: David L. Morrill

I am changing the name of my blog to Mototique. I will continue to share the lost stories of early American Motorcycling, along with modern events featuring Antique Motorcycle Racing.

Staging for 2018 Sons of Speed Heat #3
New Symrna Speedway, Florida

Monday, March 5, 2018

Press Release #9 Daytona Bike Week 2018 Sons of Speed Races.

By: David L. Morrill

Billy & Erin Lane's Sons of Speed Races are returning to the New Smyrna Speedway on Saturday March 17, 2018.

Many of the same riders are returning for this event along with some new ones!

Once again, the riders in the board track will be riding bikes powered by original engines built before 1929. There is also a new 45 Shoot Out Class for 45 ci side valve racers. If all goes well in practice I will be riding my 1921 Harley-Davidson in the early board class.

Come by and say Hi at the Meet & Greet with the riders starting @ noon.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Inside Rat Racer - Episode #44

By David L. Morrill
@ Mototique

2017 Sons of Speed Practice @ New Smyrna Speedway
Jim Dohms - Dohms Creative Photography
In the previous episode, I shared some inside details of Billy Lane's Sons of Speed races held @ New Smyrna Speedway during 2017 Daytona Bike Week & Biketoberfest. In this episode, I'll share some of the updates made to my 1921 Harley-Davidson blanked off single cylinder racer, known affectionately as "Rat Racer."

Rat Racer - 1921 Blanked Off Harley-Davidson Single
Michael Lichter @ 2017 True Grit Vintage Bike Show

Between the Bike Week race, and the Biketoberfest race, the only real changes made to the chassis, were to add a set of brass handlebar risers from Faber Cycle, along with a set of  Billy Lanes Choppers Inc. 1" board track handlebars. This allows me to adjust both the handlebar height & angle for comfort.

I also added a kill button, and a compression release, to the left side of the bars. A Biltwell throttle assembly from J&P Cycles along with a modified stock throttle cable gives a self closing throttle for safety.


My 21J motor is numbered in the mid 3400s of a total production of 4526 - 1921 Model J 61ci V Twins. It has been blanked off by removing the rear cylinder creating a 30.50ci-500cc single race motor. I uses a 1924 iron piston & rings.

Left Side
I shared the basic set up of the bottom end of this motor in Episode #8.  The female 21J rod was replaced by 1924-29 model J/JD drilled rod, which is longer than the stock 1921 J model rod.

Add caption

The longer rod had another advantage. While not changing the motor's stroke dimension, it does push the piston up to with 1/16" of the top (photo below) of the cylinder bore at top dead center. The stock 21J rod stops piston travel about 3/8" below to top of the cylinder bore, which greatly limits the compression ratio and performance. The longer late model rod solves that problem.

Through the Intake Valve Pocket
Exhaust valve at the top, Piston Crown at the bottom
I am currently running a standard 21J - 4 lobe cam, with a set of modified cam followers for a blanked off single found by Terry Marsh. I hope to have one of Matt Walksler's race cams installed for the next race.

Standard 21J Cam with Modified Cam Followers


My motor uses a standard 21J Intake Pocket , which has been slightly ported to remove the sharp edges, which impede gas flow. It has a stock intake valve, with a 1923-29 conical intake spring & collar supplied by Competition Distributing. The Intake valve spring is shimmed 40 thousands of an inch to increase spring pressure. A stock exhaust valve was used, along with a stock style exhaust valve spring also from Competition distributing. I am in the process of replacing the exhaust valve spring with a heavier spring from Matt Walksler of Period Modified.

Hood Intake Tower - Left           1923 Conical Spring Vented Intake Tower - Right

I have two different intake towers I've used. One is after market prototype make by George Hood, and the other is a later model vented tower for the conical spring. Both towers use the ball end JDH style intake push rod. 


Carburetion has been the single biggest challenge of this project. I went through several period Schebler & Linkert carburetors, with little success, and one carburetor fire. Most were for twin cylinder bikes, and could not be leaned down enough to perform well through the whole throttle range.

When I toured Billy Lane's Choppers Inc. and examined his Sons of Speed racers, I found he was using modern carburetors, so I decided to give them a try. The first Mikuni VM32mm was too large, and lacked mid range performance. I then settled on a round slide Mikuni VM26-606 carburetor setup for a small bore 4 stroke dirt bike.

Rubber Mounted Mikuni VM26-606 with K&N Air Filter

While tuning is still a work in progress, the current carburetor specs are:

190 main jet, 22.5 pilot jet, Air Screw 1.2 turns out, 1.5 slide, O-O Needle Jet, 5E75 Needle on the middle notch.

With this setup, the motor starts easily, idles smoothly , picks up rpm, when the ignition is advanced, and pulls well through the rev range. The carburetor is rubber mounted with a piece of high temp water hose, and has a K&N air filter installed.

The stock 21J cast gear case cover/oil pump was replaced with the stamped steel gear case cover/cast oil pump introduced in late 1922.

1922 Stamped Steel Gear Case Cover & Cast Oil Pump

I have used a total loss battery powered ignition system for many years now. It used a 1925 timing case with original points, powered by a small 12 volt Security System sealed battery. My most recent update was to replace the original points with a Gotronic Electronic Ignition. The points were replaced by a magnetic sensor, that triggers a small control box. A Dyna 12 Volt Single Wire Coil provides the spark. Ignition timing is set with the timer at full advance 9/16" - 40 degrees Before Top Dead Center.  The small green LED light on the top of the control box signals the triggering of the ignition as the timing lobe passes the sensor.

Modified 1925 Timer & Gotronic Ignition Control Box

These are the modifications I've used over the past few years. All seem to have worked out well on the street & track, so far!

A short ignition test video below: 


Biltwell Inc. -  J&P Cycles Destination Daytona - Ormond Beach, Florida

Choppers Inc. - Billy Lane - Daytona Beach, Florida

Competition Distributing - Sturgis, South Dakota

Gotronic Ignitions - Gelu Olaru - Romania

Period Modified - Matt Walksler - Waynesville, North Carolina

Terry Marsh - Klamath Falls, Oregon

Friday, May 19, 2017

Behind the Scenes @ Sons of Speed - Episode #43

By: David L. Morrill
@ Mototique

Updated: September 22, 2017

Author's Note:

Billy Lane
, and the Sons of Speed Racers, return to the New Smyrna Speedway on Saturday October 21, 2017 during Daytona Biketoberfest. Come out and see the Sons & Daughters of Speed!

Billy Lane @ New Smyrna Speedway in March 2017
Since I first threw a leg over a dirt bike in the early 70s, I have been blessed to have taken  part in many exciting motorcycle adventures; but in March, I had an opportunity to play a small part in one I will never forget.

Like most of the folks, who play with old racing bikes, I had heard of Billy Lane of Choppers Inc. plans to hold a race for recreated board track racers, and had followed his photo posts of the racers he was building, but knew little of the details for the actual race. When I left my place in Alabama, headed down to Florida for Daytona Bike Week, I was determined to make it to the event. I offered my services as a wrench to American Iron Magazine publisher, Buzz Kanter, who was entered in the race, and he graciously accepted. This was the beginning of a grand adventure!

Team American Iron @ Sons of Speed
Photo Credit: Jim Dohms
On the Sunday before the race, I took Rat Racer, my 1921 Harley-Davidson racer to the True Grit Motorcycle Show @ Rossmeyer's Destination Daytona.

When we arrived at the show, Warren Lane, Billy's brother, had his Atomic Metalsmith's 1917 Indian Sons of Speed racer on display. I parked my bike next to Warren's bike, and left my buddy Joe Niles to watch it, while I went to park the truck and trailer. When I returned, Joe told me Warren had invited us to take part in a Sons of Speed closed practice session on Wednesday @ New Smyrna Speedway.

Rat Racer & Warren Lane's 1917 Indian Racer
@True Grit Vintage Bike Show
Photo Credit: Jack Mcintyre
Buzz on Rat Racer @ the True Grit Show
Photo Credit: Deadly Dave
The chance to ride my old racer on a modern half mile banked speedway, was just too big a temptation. My buddy, John Melin volunteered to go along, and help me with my bike, and he also ended up on Buzz's Team.

With much effort, I squeezed my big grit eattin butt into my old race leathers, and hit the track, for the first time since the mid 90s. Riding a bike with tall skinny tires, a 96 year old engine, maybe 8 horse power, no suspension, brakes, or tranny, is a very different experience, but something I will never forget!

Rhett, Buzz, Paul, and Dave
Photo Credit: John Melin

After I came in from a few laps, Buzz arrived with his bike. A careful inspection revealed a problem with the rear wheel, and we jumped into action to get it fixed.

Buzz's Rear Wheel Minus Two Sprocket Studs
Photo Credit: John Melin

Buzz, Jim, and John remove the rear wheel
Photo Credit: Deadly Dave

Rear Wheel Repairs
Photo Credit: John Melin
By Thursday, Buzz's bike was track ready, and Buzz was working up to speed on the track. John, and I needed to stay in Ocala Thursday, and take care of family obligations.  We returned on Friday for the practice day. All went well until the final practice session, when Rhett Rotten went down hard coming out of turn 4. Rhett was pretty banged up, with a couple of cracked ribs. Buzz came into the pits, and I noticed his front tire was nearly flat. Turned out there was a missing rim strip, and the clincher rim had cut the tube causing a slow leak. John grabbed his giant roll of duct tape, and a new tube, the front tire was soon fixed. The rear wheel was found to have the same problem, and was also repaired.

Dave warms up the #15 Team American Iron Racer
Photo Credit: Amy Jacques

By race day, I found myself drafted to assist with event scoring. Thanks to a great group of volunteers, who stepped in at the last moment, the event took place without a serious incident.

Flagging & Scoring
Photo Credit: Amy Jacques
Buzz went out and won the first Sons of Speed heat race on his Team American Iron 1915 Harley-Davidson.

#15 Buzz Kanter takes the lead from #1 Billy Lane
Sons of Speed Heat #1

The race finale came down to a battle between young Brittany Olsen on her 20th Century Racing 1923 Harley-Davidson, and Matt Harris on his 40 Caliber Customs 1923 Harley-Davidson. Brittany took the checkered flag first followed by Matt, with Shelly Rossmeyer-Pepe third, and Buzz Kanter 4th.

Sons of Speed Winner Brittany Olsen
20th Century Racing 1923 Harley-Davidson
This event was covered by the motorcycling press from around the world, and I will let them fill you in on all the personalities involved, and numerous twists & turns throughout the event. Thank you to Billy Lane for sharing you dream with all of us!

More behind the scenes photos of Team American Iron @ Sons of Speed:

Photo Credit: Jim Dohms

Dave & Buzz
Photo Credit: Jim Dohms
Unidentified Videographer & Dave

Buzz & Paul Ousley
Photo Credit: Jim Dohms

Buzz & John
Photo Credit: Jim Dohms