Darryl.Richman's picture

BMWs in the Cannonball

I thought you might like to know more about the other two BMWs that are entered into the Cannonball. Both entries hale from Florida, and both are 750cc bikes: a 1928 R62 and a 1929 R11.


Entry #23, chosen to represent the 1923 entry of BMW into motorcycle production, is Team HMS (Historical Motorcycle Society, a loose knit group of vintage bike fans). Norm Nelson, the rider, is a retired fighter and airline pilot who is not only a vintage bike collector, but last year rode his 1958 Harley Sportster to Alaska and back.

They will be employing a 1929 R11 owned by Jack Wells. Jack, member #1081 of the VBMWMO, has an extensive collection of BMWs, including all of the air cooled singles BMW has produced. Jack just recently won the Prof. Dr. Gerhard Knöchlein BMW Classic Award for preservation and sharing BMW’s history with the public. Jack will also pilot the team’s support vehicle, an 18 wheeler that Jack uses to transport his bikes to shows up and down the east coast and points further when the interest strikes.

Team HMS has nine members in total. Besides Norm and Jack, there is team manager Bill Robinson. He is a member of the Iron Butt Assoc., as well as the BMW club of North East Florida (BMWNEF), the AMCA and a founding member and past president of Riding into History. Larry Meeker is the road manager and another Iron Butt member. Webmaster Alan Singer, an IT specialist and amateur car racer, will oversee the website.

Chief Tech Chris Alley and Tech Neil Fogelberg are charged with keeping the R11 on the road. Alley is a retired Mercedes Benz mechanic who did the wrenching on a 1969 Triumph Trident that completed the 2011 Iron Butt Rally. Fogelberg has spent over 30 years working on Porsches and BMWs. Technical Advisor Ed Miller and Legal Advisor John Duss round out Team HMS. Handy with a lathe, mill and a multimeter, the most interesting bikes to Miller are those that do not (yet) run. Although his day job is as an attorney, Duss is heavily involved in the vintage scene, working at events like Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance or judging at Riding into History.


On the other end of the spectrum from Team HMS, is rider #62, Joe Gimpel, Jr. Joe was fascinated by the 2010 event and, when the 2012 event was announced, determined to join in the fun. He is a capable guy who retired early after developing and patenting a class of quick closing valves for nuclear and steam turbine applications, has restored many vintage autos, such as an air cooled 1929 Franklin, of the type driven by “Cannonball” Baker in a race against the 20th Century Ltd. passenger train on its run from NY to Chicago; a 1925 Bentley GP and a 1934 Graham. Joe is the current president of the AMCA Sunshine Chapter.

In order to participate in the 2012 Motorcycle Cannonball, Joe started searching for a suitable mount. He found it in the collection of well-known BMW collector and dealer John Landstrom, owner of Blue Moon Cycles in Norcross, GA. The 1928 R62 had been in John’s private museum for years, after he bought it from one of Dr. Wernher von Braun’s team members in Huntsville, AL. Now it is apart and soon it will be renovated and ready. Joe has done extensive motor work, to ensure he has every one of the original 18hp available, including new pistons and main bearings, and he has updated to modern seals from the original felt items. The magneto has been overhauled and he turned a new driveshaft.

Joe has long experience with the so-called Airhead BMWs from the 1970s, but those are very modern bikes, especially in comparison to the R62, with their overhead valves, four and five speed foot shifted transmissions and modern niceties like 12V electrics with electric start and centrifugal spark advances. None of that will be on the R62. Its three speed hand shift transmission requires the same right hand, which must also manipulate the air and throttle thumb levers, to grasp the ball end of the shift lever and change gears.

Comments

Cannonball

R66RODENT's picture

The guy who won the Cannonball last time apparently just motored along steadily on his 1914 two-speed Exclesior V-twin, and barely put a wrench to his bike for the entire event. Didn't even change his plugs. Don't think he had much back up, other than his considerable experience and expertise. He prepared for the event by stripping and rebuilding his bike. Then he broke it in carefully (quite a few Cannonball disasters occured because owners were breaking their bikes in on the run!). Finally, he spent a lot of time riding the bike for two hundred and three hundred mile runs, getting the feel of the thing and its capabilities. I don't know this for a fact, but I bet he also did a fair amount of physical training in the lead up to the event. I did, in my late twenties, when I went across country on a 'modern' motorcycle, a 1951 Vincent, and it was a good thing too. We ain't as young as we used to be,and I think physical training for an event like this is indispensible for geezers, or those approaching geezertude.
Just my two cents worth.
Charlie

When will we see the detailed route?

Tom Lubben's picture

I'd love to see these machines go by, and live near to the route. I live near Madison, WI. But I don't know where to be to see this, since the route is currently 'drawn' with the equivalent of a Crayola on a US map. Since small roads are the obvious choice, the devil will be in the details, and I sure would like to see that detailed route. I realize there is still a wee bit of time before I need to plant myself by the roadside (with my 1955 R50), but I was just wondering.

Brad Wilmarth

Darryl.Richman's picture

Brad is the winner from 2010, and he will be riding his 1913 Excelsior again. He will be difficult to best, but we will all try! I'll tell you this: my bike is already well broken in and I will be riding it a lot to gain a level of comfort that it will perform as needed on this long voyage.

Even the riders won't know the detailed route until a short while before we leave the hotel each day. (How short is under debate right now, but the rules package said that the day's ride instructions would be handed out 20 minutes before the start. This seems likely to be changed, however.) Probably you won't be able to just meet us along the way, you'll have to be at the day's start or some publicized event. From the "Crayola" map, it looks like we will probably run south of Mad City.

Your best bet will be to contact the organizers a few weeks ahead of the run to see if there will be any events along that day's route. Maybe they will give you a hint of where to situate yourself.

--Darryl Richman
http://darryl.crafty-fox.com
"Bling is not made in Germany" --OTL, 12/05

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Darryl.Richman's picture

Final Entries Are In!

Lonnie Isam has said that the entry list is now complete. There are 72 entrants on board, which makes this year's event nearly 2/3rds bigger than the original run in 2010.

It's not much of a surprise that the bikes are dominated by Harleys. There are 32 of them entered -- almost all Js and JDs. Those big engines will be the least stressed of the entrants, except maybe for the sixteen Henderson 4s that are also entered. There is no replacement for displacement, so the little bikes, like mine, the solitary Triumph and braces of Rudges and BSAs, will be spinning up the RPMs to keep up. (The Rudges are race bred OHV engines, designed to rev higher and run harder.)

This is not to say that there won't be a grand selection of marques and models to see and hear, with a few that are less often seen. There are two Sunbeams entered, one to be ridden by The Vintagent himself, Paul d'Orleans. (If you haven't seen Paul's blog, you are truly missing out.) JAP, which stands for Joseph A. Prestwich, a firm that made motorcycles in the first decade of the 20th century and then switched to focusing on building engines for others, has a representative, as they did in the last Cannonball. And a Husqvarna, now a subsidiary of BMW after 20+ years of ownership and manufacture in Italy, whose original works on the shores of Lake Vättern conveniently close to a coal mine in Jönköping, was the royal forge and an arms manufacturer before making bicycles and motorcycles and then proceeding on to making white goods, chainsaws and sewing machines, has been entered as well.

There are three BMW entries, and I will be writing more about them in the future, but let me introduce them to you for now: Besides rider #52 (me) on my 1928 R52, a 500cc sidevalve making 12hp, there is #62 Joe Gimpel, Jr. on a 750cc 1929 R62 and Team HMS featuring rider #23 Norm Nelson riding Jack Wells' 750cc 1929 R11.

Joe's R62 is, with minor differences and 250cc more displacement, the same bike as mine. The running gear, excepting the final drive ratio, are all the same. The R62's motor has a "square" bore and stroke, 72x72mm and produces 18hp. Joe's bike was in Blue Moon Cycle owner John Landstrom's collection, and Joe is going through it now.

Team HMS, which stands for Historic Motorcycle Society, is composed of seven individuals led by Bill Robinson. All are veteran riders and collectors. Rider Norm Nelson is a retired pilot, and an Iron Butt Assoc. member with many riding exploits as well. Owner Jack Wells is a long time VBMWMO club member and he bought this R11 eight years ago.

Comments

This is a great event. I have

BMW mechanics's picture

This is a great event. I have heard a lot about this and looking forward to the coverage on TV as i cant make it there. Please include the reviews also. Looking forward to it eagerly.

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Darryl.Richman's picture

Other Cannonball Blogs

I hope you've read my Cannonball intro piece at the top of the first page of this blog, and visited the Cannonball web site. Lonnie Isam, the organizer of the event is constantly updating the site to add new history, video and event information.

One of the things on the web site is a list of the contestants' blogs. A link to this blog is there, of course, but you can read blogs from a lot of the other riders, and see what they're doing to get their own bikes in shape.

Some, like Jeff Alperin's blog, are pretty tightly focused on the event on getting his 1929 Indian 101 Scout, The Beast, ready. Jeff is Cannonball entry #101 (a natural choice, but the entry forms said choose a number between 1 and 99 - what's up with that? Smile ) from Florida.

OTOH, Tim Drennen's blog emphasizes beautiful shots of all kinds of vintage iron, even though he is also campaigning a 101 Scout (but a 1928 edition). That's not to say that he doesn't show anything about his Scout, just that his posts are unfettered by the mere relevance to just the Cannonball.

Although I've mentioned a couple of Indian riders' blogs, it's the Harleys that are the huge plurality of entries. So, it's almost natural that Buzz Kanter, who is running a 1926 Harley Davidson Model J, has two blogs listed! (Links to blog #1, a real blog, and blog #2, a thread in the forum. Both are located on the Classic American Iron magazine website.) Classic American Iron magazine is one of two magazines that Buzz publishes, so it seems that a lot of what he does comes in pairs. Check out the video introduction to his J.

Jeff Alperin has just introduced another blog, which is not yet listed on the Cannonball site, but I'm sure it will get up there soon. Steve Rinker, entry #7, is also riding a 1929 Indian 101 Scout. Check out his site as well!

Comments

Thanks for explaining

guest's picture

Thanks for explaining information clearly and in a way which you have choose here, so easy
that even an absolute beginner as I can understand
without feeling overwhelmed by the dark terminology of
experts. I've really learned from browsing
your blog & reading post

We're Thrilled You're Entering The R52!

Marc St-Pierre & Susan Young's picture

Darryl; we're so pleased you're going to enter your vintage BMW that we hope to see you in Newburgh when you leave on such an ambitious trip. We tip our helmets to you as we can only imagine what it would be like to travel so far on such an early machine.

The JD Harley's and Indian Scouts may have a softer suspension but the reduced vibration of the BMW can compensate not only for comfort but also in significant reliability.

Who is your chase crew?

We're also glad Jack Wells is going to have a bike ridden in the event as well. It would be really nice if you guys put in a 1-2 finish in the class.

Marc & Susan

Thanks!

Darryl.Richman's picture

Nice to hear from you, Marc and Susan! I'm not trying to make excuses for the white and blue bikes, just trying to broaden my view and let you know what I'm finding out about the competition. I will be writing about my team and the other BMWs entered into the Cannonball -- soon! In a fantasy world, BMWs could now come 1 - 2 - 3; yes, there are three BMWs entered among the 72 entries.

--Darryl Richman
http://darryl.crafty-fox.com
"Bling is not made in Germany" --OTL, 12/05

Indians

R66RODENT's picture

Indians didn't do too well last time. A properly prepared 101 Scout is a formidable competitor. Beware!!

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Darryl.Richman's picture

Happy Holidays to you all!

Best wishes in the New Year! There is lots to do and see in 2012!

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Happy New Year to you, too!

Mary's picture

Happy New Year to you, too!

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Darryl.Richman's picture

What is the 2012 Cannonball?

In 2010, the Cannonball was all about making the complete coast-to-coast journey. There were 10 bikes that made it the entire way, rode every one of the 3249 miles between Kitty Hawk, NC and the Santa Monica Pier in California. Brad Wilmarth, who was the overall winner (and is running the same bike again next year, with the #1 plate), won out of those 10 riders by having the oldest bike and being the oldest rider.

Not too much has been said about how the 2012 version will be held. In the past, organizer Lonnie Isam has said that because of insurance problems, the Cannonball cannot be a "race". I'm in favor of it not being a race, not because I think I could/could not compete, but because of the huge opportunity that presents to give the motorcycling community a(nother) black eye. Trying to ride fast in poor conditions on an old bike sounds like a terrible combination to me.

Although there are 56 officially registered entries in the 2012 Cannonball (and a rumored half dozen or so more that will appear by year's end), we haven't really heard very much about how next year's ride will be organized. For myself, the challenge to ride an old bike across the continent in the company of so many like-minded riders grabbed my attention and made me focus on getting entered, regardless. Lonnie promises to send us a package at the end of January describing the rules and requirements, which leaves anyone unhappy with that situation a month to withdraw. Sounds good to me.

I just received the Winter edition of the AMCA's (Antique Motorcycle Club of America) The Antique Motorcycle magazine. There's a very nice, one page article in there about the upcoming Cannonball event. In that article, the 2012 version is described as "a true time-speed-distance rally".

You may have seen video from some of the offroad rallies run this way, they're pretty wild! However, there is a long tradition of TSD rallying on the public roads (at legal speeds). In the old days, the navigator in the car would work with a stopwatch and the car might be outfitted with a specially calibrated odometer. Now, there are integrated electronics units to do a lot of this work. A TSD rally can be decided by a difference of mere seconds!

This makes the event even better, I think. I only hope that the rally rules will allow me to use a bicycle speedometer; otherwise I fear I will have to do a lot of multiplying by 1.6 to convert my Kilometers only speedometer and odometer to mph and miles, in order to follow the rally directions correctly.

In addition to the extra difficulty of trying to always cover each segment at the correct speed, the AMCA article also says that "the 2012 route will cross the northern Rockies over three passes ranging from 8,400 feet to 9,600 feet above sea level." I have been mentioning this aspect to people when I talk to them about the Cannonball.

There are two days I look at with trepidation on the proposed rally route. The first is the day that goes from Sheridan, WY to Jackson Hole. Most of this day will inevitably be at 6,000 feet or more. The AMCA article pretty much says that we will be riding over the Powder River Pass on US-14, outside of Ten Sleep, WY. I have ridden that pass before with no problems -- on a modern, fuel injected bike. But I know how my slide carb bikes react to the similarly high Sonora Pass in the Sierra Nevada; they don't like it much at all and require me to drop a gear or two to get over. I have a lot of concern about having to ride the Powder River Pass in 1st gear. That also means I will be speed limited to about 25mph; that might put a crimp in my TSD score that day.

The other day of concern is the second to last day, which runs from Alturas, CA to Redway, CA, near the coast. The last part of that day could run CA-36 through the Shasta-Trinity Wilderness. That will involve nearly 100 miles of no gas availability and three mountain crossings. I'll be in 1st gear for some of that, too, because of the steepness of the road. (CA-36 from Red Bluff to Alton involves something like 10,000 feet of elevation gain and loss.)

The Cannonball is still more than 9 months off, and yet it is already getting very interesting!

Comments

test runs

guest's picture

Darryl
Is there a chance that you can do some pre-running, or similar passes and work on a main jet/needle position/slide cutout package that works best for just those days?

Ideas

Darryl.Richman's picture

I have done some research and have some ideas about this.

First off, the carb used has to be the original design, according to what rules are available so far. The stock carb for this bike uses a BMW designed unit that is pretty odd. There's no needle, only a main jet.

In the day, BMW supplied jets in sizes 80, 85, 90 and 95. The 80 was for the R52 and R57, the 90 for the R62 and R63. The 85 and 95 jets were "sport" jets for racing. So, my R52 already has the smallest 80 jet. Dreher Oldtimerteile in the Allgäu has 80 and 90 jets available.

I was thinking of ordering several and trying to solder one closed (they're made of brass), then drill a 75 or 77 sized hole. (I haven't measured, but I presume that the number is hundredths of a mm in diameter.) Replacing a jet on the side of the road is amazingly simple, so If I took the bike up to some pretty high pass area with some new plugs, I could run some tests and see how rich/lean something like that runs.

--Darryl Richman
http://darryl.crafty-fox.com
"Bling is not made in Germany" --OTL, 12/05

test runs

r50us68's picture

What would the penalty be for running a pair of Bings for those few days? Or if you have the option, Amal-Fishers. Would this give you more options for jetting, and better breathing overall?
I followed the Cannonball last year and a penalty was assessed once, and not a second penalty for the same offence. (Shinya and his partner Nimme(?) switched every other day, but were only penalized one time for exchanging riders.
Taking a penalty for something that will make for a safer (for rider and engine) and more pleasant experience might be worth it.

Interesting idea! As

Darryl.Richman's picture

Interesting idea! As mentioned above, the definitive set of rules hasn't yet been released, so I don't know if it will be the same this time around.

The last BMW sidevalve, the R71, came with a pair of Graetzin carbs, if I recall right. But it was a 750 and the R52 is a 500, so finding the right sized carbs, at least from the BMW world, might be problematic. I would think that the carbs used on the singles would be set up for an engine that had much better breathing (OHV), so there might not be the needed velocity through them to do the job right.

Also, installing a pair of carbs on this bike would require adapting the thumb lever throttle with a cable splitter in the middle someplace, or changing the handlebar to accept a twist throttle that pulls on two cables.

It might be possible to set up one carb to replace the stock BMW carb, avoiding the hassle with the throttle cable arrangement. Maybe one of the carbs intended for an R50 or an R60 would match closely enough to be tuned for the R52? One annoyance is that the mounting flange for the BMW carb is horizontal, not vertical as at the heads on any two carb BMW bike. So an adapter would be required there. Another is that, with the gas tank hanging down from the upper frame rails as it does, there isn't a lot of vertical clearance, and the Bings are fairly tall.

--Darryl Richman
http://darryl.crafty-fox.com
"Bling is not made in Germany" --OTL, 12/05

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