Next week my wife is going away for a few days on business. I’ll miss her, for sure. However her travels do often seem to result in accelerated progress on my various motorcycle restoration and racing projects. It seems obvious that a spouse’s absence can free up time that might otherwise be spent on family/household/social responsibilities. But the increase in productivity may result from something even more fundamental. What we may be talking about here is access to enhanced tools.
If you happen to be the spouse of a motorcycle racer/engine builder/restorer or even just a mechanically “handy” enthusiast then it may be best that you read no further.
Most guys have a passing familiarity with the battery of kitchen appliances found in most homes. They walk past them all the time. Did you ever think about the time, money and effort saving possibilities offered by those “tools” in the creation of racers, restorations, or just routine rebuilds of your favorite two wheeled toy? Listen up. Below are just a few of the myriad ways to effectively employ your household appliances and even your furniture in the creation of your next motorized masterpiece. However, should you undertake some of these activities under the watchful eye of a skeptical spouse, we take no responsibility for any unintended results.
Every home that I know has, at minimum, an oven. Turkeys at Thanksgiving. Roast beef. Mmmmmm. More importantly, when the service manual tells you to heat and engine case to facilitate the installation of some sort of bearing this is your tool. Need to bake some paint? There ya go! (Please turn on the exhaust fan.) Not sure that thermostat works? Boil some water on the cook surface. And on and on. Watch out for noxious smells and make sure you turn the oven off afterward.
Next up is your refrigerator, or more importantly the freezer. The most common application here is also related to the installation of bearings. You’ll may find that you need to both heat the case, or possibly a wheel hub in the oven as previously described and freeze the bearings here in the freezer. The resulting pieces practically “fall” in place.
Fortunate enough to have a dishwasher? This device can also be used to good effect in washing both large and small components. A couple of cautions here. Don’t count on your dishwasher to remove larger amounts of grease and grime. Also, be very wary of machining chips and tiny loose pieces – the internals of your machine don’t like that sort of stuff at all. Also, regarding detergents – some dishwasher detergents can slightly discolor aluminum bits. We’d suggest doing a test piece first. Also, there are aluminum-safe dishwasher formulas available for commercial kitchen applications.
In professional engine shops and race facilities you will often find a surface plate and precision measuring tools in play. Don’t have anything like that available? Maybe you could surprise the spouse with a stainless top kitchen island. This will gain you lots of points. It will also get you a worthwhile approximation of a surface plate. It’s probably not true enough to do high precision engine or transmission measuring bit it’s sure close enough to true-up the spoked wheels you just built. We’ll bet you can find some other uses too.
While we’re touching on work surfaces we may as well just jump into the really advanced stuff. Its not just about the kitchen anymore! My buddy Kerry Alter is an ultra successful National and World Record Holding Bonneville Racer. Kerry Alter Land Speed Racing has no huge shop so they utilize what they’ve got to maximum effect. Like the den. Here’s some assembly work on the BMW S1000RR that (hopefully) can carry rider Loretta Flores to Bonneville Records in 2015. All laid out ready to assemble indoors in a safe, clean environment, and a skilled engine builder on site.
Now back to another, very advanced usage of modern appliances. The old bike restorers among you will really warm up to this one. Got a nasty old gas tank with a light, or even moderately rusted interior? Don’t want to mess with noxious chemicals to try to clean it up? Some sources will suggest that you throw a big handful of nuts and bolts, or drywall screws, into the tank and shake it profusely. Great idea ‘cept for one thing. You can get pretty tired shaking a gas tank for a long period of time. But wait, we have the technology and it’s sitting in the laundry room. Load the loose hardware into your tank and seal up all the openings. Then pack that baby into your dryer with old blankets, towels, or rags. Pack it up nice and tight. Then put it on tumble (no heat!) and let it turn in there for an hour or two. Go do something else useful. When done make sure you open it up outside ’cause some rusty, dusty, and nasty stuff is going to come out. Don’t ask how I know this. The video at the link below will talk you through the entire process. It’s genius.
In the title to this story you’ve seen the legend NSFW – in this case meaning Not Suitable For Wives (or maybe Women.) That’s actually incorrect, unfair, and hells, maybe even discriminatory. The fact is that forward thinking women also clearly see the brilliance of utilizing everyday appliances for the important work of preparing racing motorcycles. My Texas friend Jaylin, another Bonneville Land Speed Record holder, rider, scooterista (and avid rescuer and foster parent for dogs- yea Jaylin!) has been known to effectively utilize all the appliance/tools at hand. Bake paint in the oven? Sure. Shrink bearings in the freezer? You bet. For Jaylin everything, up to and including including the kitchen sink, comes into play while prepping her rides. Gotta be pretty proud of a girl like that!
Two final thoughts. First, we take absolutely no responsibility for any damage you might incur to your rare motorcycle parts, your home or household appliances, or to any of your personal relationships while employing any of the above ideas. Use at your own risk. Secondly, we are sure that there are additional great ideas out there along these lines. We’d love to hear from you! And we’re just flat without a use for the microwave.