I've almost recovered from the event, certainly cherishing a lifetime of memories. I'll do my best to chronicle the events of the ride to get you up to speed. (I have copious notes and will transcribe them into the blog in the coming weeks). We elected to do short updates via our FB page because it was quicker and every waking hour was dedicated to the ongoing maintenance needs of the machine.
I NEVER BROKE A CRANKSHAFT as reported on the AMCA page!!! That was the good news along with several other good news items. I did however swell and seize the bronze bearings in the big end connecting rods (twice), wrist pin (once), scored one journal on the crank and ran a backup and broke one exhaust valve (just before crossing the historic wabash cannonball bridge).
The most unfortunate break (literally) came at the hands of the sweep trailer...somewhere in Kansas on a 102F day, my engine began to tighten (lubrication) so I shut it down after running 100 miles for the day in order to preserve it. The bike was loaded and on a bumpy country road a tie down strap broke, the bike fell over onto the fender of the flatbed and CRACKED the crankcase between the front motor mount holes...just getting into the drain plug threads and allowing oil to gush freely from the sump. Knowing welding an original case in the field was not the best option, we installed our backup cases that night, but they just didn't have the quality of the originals and we fought the machine the remainder of the trip.
We ran miles every day except one (only because our flywheel came loose from the taper on the start line that morning and we didn't fix it in time). We ran 3 FULL MILE days, including one of the longest days at 250+ miles. It climbed the mountains of West Virginia with little problem. We made a conscious decision in Lake Havasu City, AZ that we were going to only cross the start line under power each morning to get "starting credit" and 1 mile logged...we were out of bronze big end bearings and with 2 days left and no perfect score at stake the effort to hand fit new bearings were not enough reward for the efforts...plus we didn't want to grenade the engine.
We started the final day but then trailered to within a couple of miles of the finish line and rode the Douglas across the line under its own power. Many did not take that approach and only 48 bikes finished that final day crossing the line under their own power.
The Douglas impressed...many of the Harley & Indian zealots scoffed as we rolled in for the start in Atlantic City. Many side wagers were placed that it wouldn't make it to the New Jersey state line. In the end, I had countless positive/supportive comments, waves on the road and tips of the cap from ALL riders on the cannonball.
In the end the phrase I heard was "the little engine that could". Everyone knew we took one of the most challenging configurations and made a herculean effort with darn satisfying results.
We ran miles every day except one, we logged just at 1500 miles on the smallest & oldest class 3 motorcycle in the competition, and earned a TON of respect from the entire cannonball group.
The gearbox, which I feared for the most...never missed a beat even though we had a complete backup. The original Bosch magneto never faltered, even in the rainiest of days. I attribute much of that to the location of the mag, up high under the fuel tank with the aid of motor heat to help keep it as dry as possible. The adjustable V belts did fine in the dry, typically not requiring maintenance during a daily run except to clean off oil which caused some slip. We realized early that a pre-stretched belt installed each day eliminated the need to shorten a belt during a days run. Once the belts were shortened twice, we would experience pull through problems with the fastener and it was best to just install a new belt prior to that headache. Wet weather was not a friend to the v belt, we had 3 days of noah's ark level rains...I don't want to relive that memory, and as Forrest Gump said..."and that's all I have to say about that". :-)
I can only hope we made all of you Douglas owners and fans equally proud. We certainly feel good about our effort. For any interested I'll be starting the blog detailed chronology in the coming days and will notify back here.
As I often quipped as I would pass another motorist.... "DOUGLAS POWER, BABY!!!" :-)