Darryl.Richman's picture


As mentioned already, we were unsure of what the best route and most expedicious fix for the leaking head gaskets might be. I decided not to try machining these complicated and, in our timescale, irreplaceable parts. The other choice at hand was to use some high temp copper RTV goop. One problem with it is that it wants 24 hours to set up, but we didn't even have 12...

The next day was a long, hot trip (279 miles) to Spirit Lake, IA, home of (the latest incarnation of) Indian Motorcycles, which was recently purchased by Victory/Polaris. In the morning, the bike fired up easily and sounded good, with no detectable leaks around the head/cylinder joint. Off we went!

...for seven miles. On the far side of Anamosa, I could already hear, through my helmet and earplugs, the death rattle coming from the left cylinder (the right seemed to continue on just fine). Before I could find a nice, paved parking lot to pull into, the left head gasket really let go, and I felt something on my left shin. I looked down, and what I saw was FIRE! It was coming out from the head/cylinder joint!

I stopped the engine and got off onto a dirt shoulder. I opened my tail bag and got out my "magic" wrench. (It has a 60 degree cranked head and allows one to almost always remove the bottom head nut from its stud without also removing the exhaust system and the floorboard.) I checked the tightness of all the nuts, but they were snug. The head had to come off, so I also got out a tire iron.

The tire iron allows wiggling the head, which must be done as the nuts are backed out a little at a time. I was able to get the head off before it was cool enough to hold. I scraped off the remnants of the RTV and the burned gasket. By this time, most of the bikes had passed and the checkpoint crew came by. Then the sag wagon, known as The Reaper, pulled up. I spent another 45 minutes with an emery board trying to clean up the head's surface and then installing another gasket, but when I fired it up, it was already leaking badly... So the bike and I ended up on the wagon.

There are a couple advantages to being towed home. Air conditioning is one of them. Another is company and conversation. We even got to the Mason HD Dealer in time to have some lunch. BTW, apparently, it is bad luck to mention the word lunch before actually arriving and getting it. We were nearly there when I mentioned that we might be in time for it, and was immediately shushed, but not five seconds later did we have to stop for a bike on the side of the road. (We still all made it in time for a burger or hot dog.)

Needless to say, that hardly replaced the disapointment of not finishing out the day on two wheels.


Daryl, I can't imagine your

Bengt Phorqs's picture

Daryl, I can't imagine your disappointment. Well, I kinda sorta can but I don't have near the time and effort invested in this worthy endeavor. So what's next? Can you get to Sturgis and do a full on 24 hour repair? What's causing the overheating? Possibly a blocked oil gallery? Keep us in the loop, we're behind you all the way and cheering for your success! -Mike

flatmotors and head gaskets

R66RODENT's picture

Damn-what a bummer after all your hard work. I was looking at the photo of the blown gasket and the inside of the head, and I had some thoughts: the gasket area doesn't look very wide-compared to what is common on English and American flatheads I've worked on. The head is secured by studs in alloy, rather than having through-bolts from the outside threaded into the iron barrel. Also, the finning of the head may be inadequate-not for heat disappation, but for the rigidity of the head.If these heads have been planed at any time, this could be another factor contributing to head gasket failure. I think this 500cc bike is at the limit at what it can do anyway in that heat, day after day. Even big flatties have problems with it. On the first Cannonball, Pete Young was on his third crankpin at the end of the run-he had two made by local machinists where he broke down-so soldier on, and good luck. You'll figure this out!


Good luck!

K100's picture

As a Harley rider turned BMW rider I am rooting for Daryl and his bike. Hopefully he can get the problem sorted out and back on the road for the duration.

Head Gaskets

Jim Hansen's picture

The head gaskets are blowing so quickly, there has to be something wrong. The obvious, of course, would be a warped head or uneven cylinder surface. Another possibility is that the head has been surfaced in the past, leaving the compression ratio too high (in relation to the head's marginal sealing capability). A fix would require a shim to increase the combustion chamber volume. Peak combustion pressures could be reduced by retarding the ignition timing a little, although this could cause the engine and exhaust valves to run hotter .

Anyway, bravo to you! I hope that, despite the great difficulties, you are enjoying the adventure. And there always is another day.


Drew Grant's picture


The gaskets are blowing at the junction between the valvechest and the bore, suggesting the need of a greater sealing pressure at that point.

Would it be possible to fit a strongback over the head bearing down on the head just over those pointsand pulling down possibly on the lower studs for the exhaust and inlet manifold?.

Drew Grant

Head studs, torque, and good gasket seal

oligee7275's picture

Daryl, I feel your pain. Having had this very issue on old race bikes ( and modern ones as well) I have some thoughts that haven't been brought up thus far. (My wife says I can't stop myself) Sometimes in the heat of frustration we tend to not look at obscure possibilities. The fact that there are muliple burn throughs in the gaskets and that now you seem to be losing them sooner and sooner leads me to think that you are loosing torque force, hence sealing ability.
Could the studs be stretched in the head threads causing loss of torque and seal? Could the head nuts be bottoming on the stud threads under torque before the gasket is fully sealed? Are you not applying enough torque for fear of pulling the studs out of the heads?
Someone else here mentioned the gaskets themselves could be suspect (those kind usually are). A solid copper gasket with sealant would work much better.
Running the old bikes at speeds near their limits puts tremendous pressure on the head studs due to the constant pounding of the pistons.
Stay with it man, we're rootin' for you.

Blowing Head Gaskets

Pat Tobin's picture

I first place the head, sealing surface down, on a precision flat block or other very flat surface. Then go around the sealing surface with a .002" feeler gauge strip. If it will slip under the sealing surface anywhere, that's a leak.

More correctly, that's a spot which will put less pressure on the gasket, making that spot more prone to a gasket blowout.

Only rarely is it necessary to remove metal by machining, which does, as mentioned, run the risk of upping the CR. If it's not more than, say, .010", a workover with a precision flat block and abrasive paper will usually be enough. All you have to do is get it so that you can't slip a .002" feeler strip under the mounting surface at any place.

Pullin' for you, Bro.

Pat Tobin

I do really appreciate all of your inputs

Darryl.Richman's picture

Just got in to Sturgis less than an hour ago, after a successful, but not uneventful, run.

The head gaskets are burning through at the same location on both cylinders. You need to know that on these motors, there's only one cylinder and one head casting, and even though they are far from symmetrical, the intake on the left is the exhaust on the right.

I am certain I can beat the flat rate manual for replacing a cylinder head on a 1928-29 BMW. I did it this morning in ~25 minutes in someone's dirt driveway. I ran one of Vech's heads the rest of the day on the right cylinder, and the double gasket mess on the left cylinder.

I can answer a few questions from the comments above:

  • I'm not bottoming on the studs with the nuts, and belice me that I'm not holding back torqueing them. I am limited only by my hand wrench.
  • None of the studs are coming out of the heads
  • Typically, after installing a head and torqueing down on it good, and then running it for about 25-50 miles, I can put another quarter turn on the nuts. After that, it stays completely tight.
  • You can't do normal tests or machining on these heads. There's a "heel" that protrudes above the sealing surface that fits into the piston area to increase compression and, I am told, add swirl to the mixture. This, and the studs, prevent easy surfacing of the sealing surface. I'm sure that a good machinist could remove the studs and fixture the head, then measure and remove what's needed.

I'm fairly convinced that my heads are both warped. Not that it matters at this point. When I get home, I can have these machined flat and make some solid copper gaskets, that should be a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

--Darryl Richman
"Bling is not made in Germany" --OTL, 12/05

Sounds like a plan

oligee7275's picture

Sounds like the Vech on the right and the mess on the left got you by. Hope it gets you to the end of the rally.
Still pullin' for you.

blowing headgaskets

R66RODENT's picture

It's good to hear that you've made it through the day with only 'minor' head gasket adventures. When you get to Sturgis, you may be able to find a local machinist who can make you a set of .062" solid copper gaskets. Forget about flashing unless you're confident that the mating surfaces of the head and block are straight. It doesn't sound like they are. I know it'll be your day off...but. Keep on truckin'


Head Gaskets

Jim Hansen's picture

If Vech's head and the double head gaskets fail, trying copper gaskets sounds interesting. But if the head is warped, the copper gaskets will probably leak. People have mentioned the use of copper wire as a gasket. I like the idea of a copper sheet gasket with copper wire on it. The thickness of the copper sheet would reduce the compression ratio a little, and the wire would compensate for the head warpage. (I don't have any personal experience with this).

It sounds like you have become so incredibly proficient at changing head gaskets that you could simply incorporate gasket replacement as part of your daily mechanical maintenace scheme, along with changing the oil. The $64 question is, do you have enough gaskets? The fact that the failure rate of the head gaskets seems to have slowed (or maybe stopped?) is encouraging.

If you run out of head gaskets, just buy a roll of copper wire!

Pulling for you, Darryl

Monte Miller's picture

When faced with the challenges you are dealing with, Darryl, lesser men may have quit by now, pulled up tent stakes and gone home. Press on, amigo. Gotta feeling you're going to see that Golden Gate from the seat your R52.

Proclivity (!) For Blowing Head Gaskets

Pat Tobin's picture

Darryl, If you are you sure you have the aluminum alloy sealing surface flat and it still blows after a few miles, I would then begin to suspect too much heat entering the head at that spot.

We know about hearing the air squeek through a broken gasket. But have you listened closely to the exhaust at idle? Better yet, to a non-running kick-over.

My next stop would be at Radio Shack. WHAT? They don't sell motorcycle parts.

No, but they sell a dandy hand-held IR Temp Reader. They have two stock numbers

55039404 $40

55039405 $45

The instrument is made by HAWK;

Model Q31 - TH220, Cat. No. 55039404 $40

Model Q31 - TH420 Cat. No. 5503905 $45

More info on Hawk's site:


One of these can be aimed at the head from a foot away (non-critical) and will give a quick, accurate IR reading of temp.

If the heat peak is from the are of the exhaust valve, it probably means the exh valve can't get rid of its heat efficiently enough. That would be an expected case on an engine of that era. Here are several things to do: Some may be too much for a road repair; try your brain trust on these:

If the valve is not seating completely around the head or if the sealing surface is not pristine, the valve can't get rid of its heat.

If it were me, I would hie me to a RS and buy one of the handy pocket IR sensors. The web site hints that not every store stocks them, however.

First and foremost, is there enough valve stem clearance when the engine is hot? Things swell with heat and if excessive, the valve will be held slightly off its seat when the engine is pulling hard.

If the valve stem bore is worn, the valve can't get rid of the remainder of what heat passes from from the valve head. Here we have to dream of exh valves with sodium-cooled stems; for another day.

If the valve stem guide is simply a bore in the cast iron block material, as most of that era are, it might help to have modern valve guides installed. A silicon - alloy is often used; probably it will conduct heat better than cast iron. And it will definitively reduce stem-to-guide wear, substantially increasing heat transfer.

Remove the exh. valves for exam. The dimensions of the sealing surface are critical, yet often overlooked in 'valve jobs.'

Basically, it's a compromise: Seat contact area must be as wide as possible to enable better heat removal from the valve,

But not too wide or the sealing surface won't have enough pressure (force divided by area) to make a good seal. (If the sealing width is too wide, there's good heat transfer but not enough pressure on the valve to make a metal-to-metal good seal, which reqjuires a tiny bit of crush of the metsl. I would guesstimate that your engine should have a seating surface contact area of about 20% ~ 25% of the total seat width. This dimension is effected by doing a 'three angle' grinding of the seat.

Last but certainly not least, if none of the above is practical for the present time, You might try to reduce combustion temp by any of several means:

Retard max advance 3 ~ 4 degrees. Might be VERY helpful.

Add grain (wood) alcohol to the gasoline, if legal. That should reduce combustion temp.

Add some additive (not known to me) which might stand a chance of reducing combustion temp a little. You're in a position where it might be smart to sacrifice a little speed and fuel mileage.

Pullin' for you, Bro!

Pat Tobin

head gaskets

guest's picture

Darryl, I don't think they're the same, but if you need me to FedEx out my R12 cylinder heads to a specific location, let me know You have my card from the send-off at Motorcyclepedia.
Shawn M.

Head gasket failure

Buddy Vitt's picture

When an air cooled engine is going through high heat combustion stress, it is going to get warped . If I may suggest something to do in tandem with the copper head gaskets or you may want to try with the original gaskets and that is o-ringing the cylinder head gasket surface with .025 or .032 copper wire, you can use a wood plane with the blade sides ground down to the width of the wire and adjust to half that for the depth, a machine shop mill would make things easier but it can be done by hand in a parking lot and if the head is really warped badly go to thicker wire and make adjustments in the depth and width. Cutting the groove 1/4 to 5/16 out from the cylinder bore will work ok (that's where I put them on both normally aspirated and turbo charged @20psi race and street engines with zero failures) but in the case of your alloy head it may be better to run the groove near the studs /bolts to get better compression of the copper wire . I have done this to a lot of Triumph's , BSA's Norton's with great success. There was one BSA that blew the cylinder off the cases, the flange of the cylinder was still there and the head gasket was still intact.

I like Dean's suggestion that

Pat Tobin's picture

I like Dean's suggestion that the heads may already have been machined down (some way or another). Mindless raising of the CR was, for decades, the first step in coaxing more horses out of an engine.

Darryl, you may not need or want this info, but I'm trying to cover all the bases in case something, not necessarily an idea of mine, will suddenly give you a "EUREKA!" moment.

So here's my method for checking CR. It depends on the spark plug bore being vertical, which may be damned inconvenient. Anyhow, here goes:

Put the piston at TDC. Pour a solution of light oil (further thinned with gasoline) into the combustion chamber through the spark plug hole. (Sometimes it is convenient to fill clear to the top of the spark plug threads; in that case subtract 1.0 cc from the measured quantity poured in.) I use a cheap plastic vial calibrated in CC's. You can get them at any serious photography store; that is, any which still support chemical darkrooms.) And often larger pharmacy departments in drug stores.

When you have the chamber volume, then calculate the swept volume of the cylinder, using the standard formula for the volume of a cylinder given diameter and length. (I'd write the formula but I'm a little shaky about the memory, and am trying to hurry this.)

Then calculate the CR as (V1 + V2) / V2
where V1 is the calculated swept volume, V2 is the chamber volume.

I'm pullin' for you, Bro!

Pat Tobin

head gaskets

R66RODENT's picture

The rear head on my 11-50 JAP was planed so many times that I had to make a copper gasket 1/8" to restore the original compression ratio (5:1). The front required 1/16". I cc'd the engine on the bench. Even that wasn't easy. Hope you get some well deserved rest in Sturgis. Sounds like you're closing in on the gasket problem anyway.

Soldier on, old horse!

Martin Lodahl's picture

We're pulling for you! And just think of the bright career ahead of you, changing head gaskets on R52's! Customers will be lining up ... -Martin

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Darryl.Richman's picture

Workin' for a Livin'

Here are some photos Don snapped of me working (in the shade, at least) at a gas station in Shullsberg, WI to replace the burnt head gaskets. I think I beat the "flat rate" time.

(Photos courtesy of Don Cameron.)

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Quasqueton, Iowa-I have pics of the group

guest's picture

Hi! We were delighted to have your group ride through our little town of 500 and took some pictures of some of you riding through we were parked next to the road and if anyone would like some pictures-just e-mail me and I would be happy to share them. Happy riding!

It Ain't Easy...

Monte Miller's picture

. . .If it was, anyone could do the Cannonball.

We are very proud of your efforts and the positive attitude of both you and your marvelous crew. Hopefully, the many positives vibes being sent your way by those of us vicariously living your adventure with you, will see you through to the finish line. -Monte

Head Gaskets

Jim Hansen's picture

That's really tough. It's enough work just riding, without having to replace the head gaskets every day. I hope you have LOTS of spare gaskets.

I know this is a bodge, but what if you tried using double gaskets? This would give more conformance, and would lower the compression ratio a little. And then check the torque at stops during the day. Just a thought - I know, this might make things even worse. But if the situation gets desperate...

If we were paying you for this, you would get a HUGE bonus for your efforts! But under the circumstances, sorry...

Hi Darryl, This is a really

Erik Bahl's picture

Hi Darryl,

This is a really cool event you are participating in. Thanks for posting it. Looks like you are having quite the adventure.

Erik Bahl


guest's picture

Congratulations on being in the lead, and on overcoming your headgasket problem. Coppercoat generally does the trick. Interestingly, a number of the 101 Scouts seem to be having the same problem. The only real long term solution is .062 solid copper gaskets-and a light coating of coppercoat on both sides. Milling the heads should be a last resort-because it raises the compression ratio, which creates more heat, which sets up a vicious, er, cycle. Plenty of those on this run!

head gaskets

brown3459's picture

Here is the cure for your head gasket woes. carefully draw file the head surface loading the file with chalk and cleaning every few strokes. cut a set out of solid copper gaskets ( even roofing copper will do ) then spray each side and the head and cylinder surfaces with permatex copper head gasket sealer. Let the copper spray set up then torque evenly. I have been using this method on everything I build and never had a leak. those composite gaskets in the pictures were never any good from day one. The KR flathead Harleys use no gasket at all but I use the copper spray and have never had a leak with these either. sorry to hear about your woes but congrats on a great effort so far. Back to the leader board!


guest's picture

I admire everyone who has the pluck to participate in this event. It has been over 40 years since I ended up making my own gaskets out of sheet copper for a 52 Matchless twin because the composite ones that were avaiable did not last. The copper ones lasted without failure. Nice to hear others have arrived at the same solution but trying to do this on the road would be impossible until a shop is available.

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Darryl.Richman's picture

Day 4 - Milwaukee, WI to Anamosa, IA - 214 miles

Today was the "short day", only 214 miles. But this was the first day with a "hosted lunch", at Kutter Harley Davidson in Monroe, WI. This changes the equation a bit, because at the hosted lunches, where someone is paying to feed us, we are required to show up and hang out for a specified time. So far, I've been riding straight through the day with only gas stops, bio breaks and maybe time to munch some gorp (I keep a bag in the tankbag). My concern is that if there's some mechanical problem, it can eat up too much time to make it in, in the evening, during the specified time window to check in. It could easily take me an hour to repair a tire puncture. So, by requiring me to hang out, the day is essentially split and the extra time I can save by not stopping for extraneous things is cut way down. Today was a perfect example.

I think I've mentioned that the bike has been making a chirping noise. After lunch today -- when, btw, I had my first opportunity to try and enjoy cheese curds, a Wisconsin specialty I've long heard about -- the chirping came to a head, so to speak, when I stopped for gas. Actually, it came to both heads. Both head gaskets were burned through. I keep an extra set of gaskets on the bike, but it's a fussy job. You have to undo each of the seven nuts a bit, so you can move the head out some, and then undo them a bit more. I was able to do the job in something like an hour. But did I have that much time left? I left Kutter just after 1:30, and the check in window opened at 4:40 (and closed at 5:25). It was all I could think of as the bike struggled up each rolling ridge along US-151 against a 30 mph headwind. It was rare that it was worth shifting into 3rd gear, because I could attain nearly the same top speed in second, about 40-45 mph, and didn't lose time and momentum as I went through the motions to shift up and then down.

I got in at about 5:10.

And by then, it sounded to me like the left cylinder head was leaking again.

I know it sounds ungrateful, but I really wish I could just go out and ride the day through. The people at Kutter were lovely and gracious, and at the time I very much enjoyed it.

Otherwise, the weather was absolutely perfect, high 70s and clear, with beautiful back roads and nearly no traffic.

We had a hosted dinner at the National Motorcycle Museum in Anamosa, and I got to chat outside with a lot of people who were genuinely interested the event and the bikes. There was a huge crowd at both Kutter and NMM.

After dinner, we got the bike out of the van and tore off the heads again. Sure enough, the left side was already burned through again. Maybe I didn't get the head torqued enough... or maybe they're warped. The Iowa Airheads Airmarshall, Kevin Kelly, was at the museum and heard my tale of woe, and managed to russle up a phone number of a machinist, but it's difficult to hand over your heads to an unknown person for a job that isn't trivial. (These heads can't just be surface ground, because there's a "heel" that protrudes into the combustion chamber. It has to be set up very carefully in a mill to get it completely level -- the other side of the head isn't flat or even -- and then machined to take off just enough metal to get it to flat again.)

So, we're trying chemistry first. I have a tube of high temperature copper RTV on both sides of the gasket. Hopefully this will completely seal the combustion chamber. We'll find out tomorrow. Stay tuned!

(BTW, all photos below courtesy of Steve Woodward.)


The San Jose "Groeger contingent" is rooting for you!

Barbara Ross's picture

Congratulations on making it to the top of the Stage 3 standings, Darryl! That's despite being forced to eat lunch! Enjoying your daily blog. We'll be at Dudley Perkins to welcome you back, so may you have many effortless miles beneath your wheels. Happy Trails, Barbara R., Alan & Carol H., Dick Z.

We're rooting for ya Darryl!

Melena's picture

We are watching your progress with much enthusiasm. I've just ordered some stickers to help out a bit. It's great that so many people are helping out. Especially that crazy R65 group!

I just realized last night that you are in Cotati on your last night. Woo Hoo! We will be there to watch everyone come in. How fun! But you aren't thinking about that right now. One day at a time. Good luck with those head gaskets!

Another day another gasket (or two)?

Guy's picture

Another interesting day as it sounds, Darryl, but sounds like you're still having fun. Did I mention that you're actually in the lead after stage 3? Hope you'll find some more permanent fix for the gasket problem. Sounds like a time consuming challenge, especially when both are affected.
Do you get some sleep at all? Hang in there,


videos of arrivals and departures in Monroe

lubbeth's picture

I have videos of the arrivals and departures in Monroe, at Kutter's HD. I have uploaded the arrivals to YouTube and will upload the departures shortly. In the departures video, you can clearly hear the chirping of Darryls R52 as he starts it and rides away. Shullsberg, WI, where he changed the head gaskets, is not that far from Monroe. It was a phenomenal sight to see all the old iron (or aluminum, as the case may be (!)) the arrivals address: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q9kMqwAc1A or search for "motorcycle cannonball monroe" and you should find it (and find both, once I can upload the departures)


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Darryl.Richman's picture

Day 3 - Sandusky, OH to Milwaukee, WI - 300 miles

Sorry about the short report yesterday. We had two consecutive long days, and when you toss in a bit of wrenching besides, it can raise the priority of getting some sleep in. The relining the rear brakes got finished relatively late, and I was on the bike again this morning at 6:45. I don't think the sun was actually up yet when I checked out and rode off from Sandusky.

Although a lot of the route in Ohio was freeway (OH-2 and I-90), I still enjoyed cruising along the Lake Huron shore. I saw geese and egrets flying and, I believe, swans on the water. The route got onto some very nice backroads just before the Ohio-Indiana border, and we rode over rolling hills and past small farms and hidden communities. In some places it would be hard judge just what year it was.

The bike hummed right along. The list of minor ailments changes from day to day, although the oil weep from around the magneto seal with the engine case is the most annoying, as after about 75 miles of riding, enough oil accumulates in the right footboard that I have to hold my right foot in place there, lest it slip back and off. There's also a chirping emanating from the right cylinder which seems to be a minor head gasket leak, so minor that it goes away as soon as the revs are up or the motor is completely hot. We've cinched the head nuts, but they are as tight as we judge prudent.

Added to the list is that the kill button doesn't reliably ground out the magneto, so you can't actually stop the engine when you want to. Don's magic fingers worked their magic on the button, however, and now it has the opposite problem -- it grounds out all the time. I've taken the cover off the button (which removes the always grounded problem) and have a quarter handy that I can use to short it as needed. We'll fix the button tomorrow morning.

OTOH, the rear brakes that we did last night seem to be working as well as they ever have (not saying very much, really). One must be extremely cautious about overriding them, as I did this afternoon when I practiced a complete emergency stop because a light changed in front of me. The bike decelerated agonizingly slowly and then finally came to a stop part way across the intersection. Samantha, who was following, taking video shots from time to time, said she missed it too, but of course, it was no problem for her on her R1150R Rockster and its marvelous disk brakes.

The ride went north from Indiana to Muskegon, MI, where we boarded the Lake Express ferry. I was the first entrant to arrive at the ferry terminal, but only because of my penchant to avoid lunch. Norm Nelson, the rider for Team HS #23 on their R11 and I were the first two bikes onto the ferry. It was a bit of a rough ride across Lake Michigan. On the other side, Jon Diaz was waiting at the ferry terminal, and I waved at him as I got off the boat, but unfortunately, we didn't get to connect. We got a police escort through downtown Milwaukee to the Harley Davidson museum, where there were hundreds of people and bikes waiting. We were treated to a very nice dinner there. Thank you very much, HD, you treated us very well!

Tomorrow is a much shorter day, about 214 miles, and the start isn't until 9am. This will give me the chance to fill up beforehand and then get the warmed oil changed out. We have been changing the oil each day, and it looks normal each time, I'm very pleased to report. We did the final drive yesterday while working on the brakes, and it too looked good. We will drain the transmission tomorrow morning or tomorrow night, just to get a secure feeling.

Overnight Rush: Martin Fischer, who is covering the Cannonball for the BMW RA's OTL Magazine, sent me a couple photos that I'm adding in here (though they are from earlier in the event), so look to the bottom to see them.


head gasket

terry gower's picture

Hi Darryl......yes the crossing with that north wind would toss the ferry about a bit.....I have had good luck using hylomar blue from permatex if the head gasket leak becomes a problem.....clean it with a good lacquer thinner or brake cleaner first of course.......watching with envious eyes....regards terry


guest's picture

I was looking at the results so far on the Cannonball page. Is it my imagination, or are 40 bikes tied for first place?

Way to go!!!!!

Mike Fugere (nhmaf)'s picture

I am REALLY enjoying reading about your daily adventures and wish you fair weather, no traffic jams, and good luck for the rest of the journey! IT was very nice that the H-D company and the folks in Milwaukee were so welcoming, even to a "non-American" marque. Sometimes, old iron just brings out the best in everybody. I've ordered a t-shirt and sticker to help with the cause, too. As much fun as I imagine it would be to ride in this event, I am thinking that riding along in the support team with P Glaves would be extremely educational and entertaining as well. We're all rooting for you! Cheers!!!

How Was the Weather on Day 2?

Marc St-Pierre's picture

I know you mentioned bad weather going to Sandusky, but how bad was it? When Susan and I left you and the TBR team in Wellsboro to head home to Montreal, we hit a wall of wind & rain & tornado alerts as we got to Syracuse. Susan had a small branch bounce off her head as we got on the 481 ring road around the city. We couldn't get off the road into shelter soon enough that day. We wondered what all the Cannonball riders were going through that morning.

Keep up the great ride! All three BMW's seem to be going great.

--Marc & Susan

Way to go Darryl

A. Zorat's picture

Thanx to Samantha who pointed me to this blog, so I can follow your progress.
It will be my daily routine now to start the day checking Darryl's and the bike's progress.

Proper Preparation...

Monte Miller's picture

... prevents piss poor performance.

Hat's off to the entire Team 52. Keep 'er smooth n' steady, Darryl, smooth n' steady. Nice blog report. Feel like we're almost right there with you.


Keep it going !

guest's picture

Just another rider saying GO ! Keep up the good work you guys !

Thanks all!

Darryl.Richman's picture

We all very much appreciate your support!

We are perhaps less prepared than it appears. My spare magneto is still wandering somewhere in the USPS; I very much doubt it will be available at any point for the run. I really hope I don't need it.

The rain we encountered was, at first, reminiscent of the gentle rains of Seattle. It was cool, drizzly and not really a problem. But then the skies opened -- and I didn't have the waterproof liner for my riding pants. Are you aware that Gore-Tex boots keep water in, as well as they keep it out?

The standings are being posted over on the Motorcycle Cannonball site. They are in standings order, by points total, class, age of the bike and age of the rider. There are indeed a number of riders with perfect scores... so far.

--Darryl Richman
"Bling is not made in Germany" --OTL, 12/05

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Darryl.Richman's picture

Short Entry Today

Not that there isn't plenty to write about, but it's already 11pm and there's another long day tomorrow. The R52 went the distance, including torrential rain, an accident that closed I-90 in downtown Cleveland, and another road closure in Huron, OH. I don't actually know how many miles I rode, but it was more than advertised.

The bike got another oil change, and we tore into the rear brakes, which had become quite floppy. This turned out to be due to several factors: the brand new linings are wearing very quickly, so they were replaced, which also allowed us to drain and refill the final drive, since it had to come out. (The R52's final drive only has a fill port, just like the modern BMWs!) Also, there's a small, strong spring that holds the inside brake shoe in tension away from the driveshaft brake drum, but it seems to have departed somewhere enroute (replaced temporarily with a zip tie, in which I have little faith). I just have to leave more room in front...

Tomorrow we take a 300 mile route along the Ohio-Michigan border and then follow the lakeshore up to Muskegon. We must arrive by 4pm to get onto the ferry over to Milwaukee. Not making the ferry is really, really bad.


Muskegon meeting.

guest's picture

Hi Daryl,

I am hoping to see the BMW crews and all the other bikes as well tomorrow. I only live 80 miles from there. I may ride my "new" relatively 1953 R68 there. Haven't driven it much so may have to ride something else. Hope to see you all there and good luck to all the entrants.

Dale Monson

Hi Darryl, Good to hear

guest's picture

Hi Darryl,
Good to hear things are going well despite less than perfect circumstances. You'll do well and so will the R28. How are the 2 other BMWs doing? Nice to meet you at Motorcyclepedia.
Shawn M.

guess for alternate routes from MKE to Anamosa

lubbeth's picture

OK, here I'll go out on a limb, and say what I think should be the route. 59 seems OK, but the miles don't add up to 215 (222 miles). There is a big jog north just out of Milton. An alternative, which is close to 215 miles, (213) goes on the old National Rd (ave), which becomes ES, going through Mukwanago, thence to East Troy, Elkhorn, Delavan (on 11), then on County X (old WI Rte 15, the old MKE-Beloit rd before I-43), and then back up towards Monroe on 81. Then 11 out of Monroe to Iowa.
A very close alternative (214 miles) using primarily 59 is to use 26 out of Milton, then to Janesville, then A to rejoin 59 at 104 just south of Evansville.
I guess we'll find out tomorrow!


Go Daryll, go!

2dogs1cat's picture

Dropping you a note from the Great White North (it's not snowing yet) wishing you the best on your epic journey; don't forget to wear your favourite boxers!
Take care,

Go, Team!

Paul and Voni's picture

Sure wish we could time travel and be with you! Go, TEAM! You're doing GREAT!

Go Team52 !

mookie58's picture

Just got my Magazine today. Finished your article and went online to your blog. Sorry I didn't know you were ridind around Cleveland , would have loved to see your bike and meet you. Good luck , ride safe !

More Ideas on Leaking Heads

Pat Tobin's picture


Just an observation. The fact that the blowout is between the cylinder and the exh. valve, and I believe you said that all replacements blow at the same spot, tells me that it is a heat problem involving the exh. valve, not on the side of the much cooler-running intake valve.

Hey - is there any 'extra' exh. back pressure in the pipes and mufflers? It wouldn't take much to keep the exh. valve hotter than it should be.

Pullin' for you Bro,

Pat Tobin

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