My CJS M1 (Timeline progresses from bottom to top.)
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Smoke break! Nothing gives a bike more character than multiple layers of road dust. I might wash the bike at the end of the season, but for now, I've been too busy riding it!
 
Two back-to-back days of winter riding puts everything in a nice perspective. (There's no better cure for cabin fever that we know of.) Meanwhile, now that this bike is back in action, a couple little projects have sprung to mind. The most obvious one is to finally replace the "temporary" sidecar taillight that's been on there for a couple years now. (Time sure does fly...) Also, after 15 years, my mind seems to be changing with regards to having a spare tire and wheel mounted on the sidecar. Okay, maybe on just one of the bikes. We'll see. And last, my theory about oil leaks that result from the higher oil pressure generated by a high-capacity oil pump seems to be bearing itself out, although it's still early in the game to be able to say for certain. All I can say for sure is that the outside of the engine is still bone dry, and the oil level hasn't budged in 250km. From past experience, it seems pretty encouraging. This might negate any need for a deep sump, too. Time will surely tell.
 
The rebuilt engine in this bike has zero miles on it, so today we're starting to get it broken in. That red Gore-Tex mountaineering outfit was won in a contest at work. It's perfect for winter riding (but it takes a good few minutes to put it all on!)  It's light, waterproof and super warm (as long as you've got all your layers on underneath).
Hmm, looks like someone's been here on a sidecar. The RPMs had to be kept down so the rings can seat properly. There's a very decent seasonal farm road not too far away that's ideal for this purpose. Although it's snow-covered, the bike handled it just fineand there wasn't another vehicle in sight. The bike is running like a Singer sewing machine...
...but now she's pretty dirty. It's way too cold for a wash, so she'll stay dirty. That temporary sidecar light really needs to go—soon!
 
Well, she's all back together now. (So much for this being a winter project!) Did a short test run and eagerly await an opportunity to get out on some back roads for a few hours. The new motor runs like a Swiss watch!
 
Almost done. Ran into a few stumbling blocks today, but everything is pretty well sorted now. Lots of extra time was used to clean and paint stuff that really needed it. Should have this baby out riding tomorrow, weather permitting.
 
And there's your final drive. Would have done more today, but decided to use the opportunity to do some cleaning and paint touch-up instead... loads of it. We'll get the bulk of what's left finished up tomorrow.
 
There. The gearbox is now bolted in place. Tomorrow, the final drive and rear wheel... and maybe some of the other stuff. Stay tuned.
 
Below: The replacement engine from Jimbo's Classic Sidecars arrived! It was included with a BMW-repowered CJ that Jim shipped to a customer in New Jersey. All I had to do was go pick it up.
This motor was built at State Owned Factory No. 52 in Hunan province and dates to 1976. It's from a retired police bike, and this baby has been rebuilt from stem to stern. We'll be using a stock oil pump and sump initially. I'm testing a theory that the "high-volume" oil pump contributes to oil leakage. We'll see.
I'm re-using my old timing cover because I like the CJ750 embossing on it. This engine even has new clutch disks! I checked some of the tolerances. The valves and points are all spot-on perfect.
One thing about this motor that really stands out is the quality of the cylinder castings. They're the cleanest and sharpest I've ever seen—significantly better than most of the PLA jugs I've seen.
A few years ago, I would have done the whole enchilada in one day. Screw that. Today I just set the motor in the frame. Tomorrow, the gearbox.
 
Cruising around on the tan bikeseems like it was only yesterday. (It was in fact, the day before yesterday.) The riding season may have come to an early close for this bike. (Click here for the story.) Meanwhile, I'll salvage what I can of this 1977 PLA engine.
The bike will be repowered using an ex-police engine that's being rebuilt by Jimbo's Classic Sidecars. This is probably an excellent opportunity to give the bike a beauty makeover. It hasn't had a proper cleaning and detailing in two or three years.
 
Below: It's late April and still plenty chilly, but today the sun was shining, so away we went to some logging roads in the Canisteo River Valley. The bike didn't skip a beat.
 
Here it is, December 5, and the temperature almost reached 60F. There's No need to ask how I spent the entire afternoon!
 
What better way to celebrate Thanksgiving than taking the missus out for a couple hours? It was a warm and sunny day, perfect. Let's roll.
The drive and sidecar tires are brand new. They saw pavement for the first time today. Remarkable as it is, this bike hadn't been run since early October, and it fired on the very first kick. (The other bike's a whole different story.) By and large, this has been a great bike.
 
While the other bike undergoes another beauty makeover, this one is seeing daily use. (The cutoff temperature for riding is 15 F due to frozen fingers.) It doesn't take long for the bike to get caked with mud, and in this case, less than an hour on one of my favorite roads. That drive tire needs to be replaced very soon. You really need decent tread this time of year.
 
Here's the ammeter installation... such as it is. This thing really lets you know what's going on with the charging system. Hopefully, it won't get vibrated to smithereens.
 
I just finished installing a pair of new P28 carbs (with 110 jets) mounted on Bill Taylor spacers. The carbs came from CJS in Beijing. They were a breeze to adjust, and hopefully, this bike will now be a stump puller like the other one since they're nearly identical. We'll soon see. Meanwhile, since I was on a decent roll, I installed a Dan Cason oil pump pick-up extender as well, followed by some fresh SAE40 and some new gearbox oil.

But the main objective was sorting out a problem with engine oil getting inside the generator, causing it to stop generating. The solution was to install a double-shielded front bearing with new felt seals on each side. In addition, I put two fat O-rings around the shaft of the drive gear. The aft one fits just snug against the generator housing. The forward one is just there to keep the aft one in position. Since they rotate with the gear, I greased the contact area on the housing. This surface will get plenty of lube when the engine is running, so the O-ring should last. It's supposed to deflect engine oil away from the shaft. Of course, with the new bearing and felt seals, it's probably not even necessary, but...

The electrical system on this (and the other bike) has never been perfect. Adequate, yes, but never perfect. Therefore, experimentation continues. The bike now has a Delco-Remy 575 cut-out regulator which required a slightly revamped wiring harness to accomodate it. It looks very promising... although it hasn't been shaken down yet. It soon will be.
This upgrade has a second feature which utilizes a SPDT switch mounted in the headlight bucket. (That's my ignition switch.) In one position, juice is furnished straight from the battery. Once the bike is running, you throw the switch and viola, all the juice is furnished by the "LOAD" terminal on the regulator. Yep, this regulator has four terminals instead of three, making it kind of idiot proof for the likes of people like me. Cut-out regulators have an additional safeguard mechanism to protect the generator from damage when its output voltage is lower than that of the battery. (Don't ask me...) If it's good enough for antique tractors, it's definitely good enough for a Chang (I hope). In the days that follow, I'll be installing an ammeter, too (once I come up with a decent location for it.)
 
Today's ride will probably be the last for a few days since we've got some nasty weather on the way. The fall foliage has peaked, and the Changs were there for all of it.

I've got regular stops on my favorite riding circuits, and this is one of them. It's a place called Brown's Crossing, located in the Canisteo River Valley of Steuben County in western New York State. In addition to the great scenery, there's a lot of history. In this location, settlers had winter encampments until the river ice broke up. They would then float lumber downstream, eventually ending up in the Chesapeake Bay. Local Seneca Indians joined these encampments in order to trade with the settlers. To this day, you can find artifacts, particularly in the spring when the fields are freshly plowed.

There's a Norfolk Southern Railway line that follows the river. Nowadays, you'd be lucky to see three or four trains in a 24-hour period. You'd never guess it was once the mainline of the Erie Railroad (and later, the Erie-Lackawanna.)
The railroad has been in service since 1850, and at Brown's Crossing, there are still heaps of cinders from the thousands of times steam engines passed by. The line's status as a major through-route disappeared after it became a part of Conrail in 1976. It declined even more when it was acquired by NS in 1999.
 
Mrs. Danno and I went for an awesome fall foliage ride today, mostly on logging roads and fire trails. On the way home, we stopped to check out some grave markers in an unlikely location—on somebody's farm, right at the edge of the road. They were probably there long before the road was built. We find these tiny cemetaries all over our area.
The last stop before home was a stone quarry on County Route 10 where they have some abandoned Euclids just begging to be photographed, something I've been meaning to do for at least ten years. Our ride wasn't without problems, though. The points required some attention midway through the trip.
 
I snapped the tan bike while out pounding the mud today. It was a gorgeous, sunny autumn day, just like yesterday. The forecast calls for more of the same over the next two or three days, so you can probably guess where we'll be. The only problem is... there aren't any more new roads to explore.
 
Boy howdy, that new exhaust valve made all the difference in the world, just as you'd expect. We had a great (but slightly chilly) ride today, and the bike not only ran like a Swiss watch, but it also attracted gawkers like a magnet. In fact, we had to stroll around the parking area until the "coast was clear" to get on the bike and skidaddle, but more gawkers surrounded us before we could escape. Here's one of the old vehicles that participated in the parade. It's a 1924 Selden from the Cohocton Hook & Ladder Company.
 
We were past due for decoking (plus I like to pull the heads off every now and then just to keep an eye on things), and that's what I did today. However, it turned into a bigger event thanks to the port side exhaust valve being badly burnt.
I wish I'd had the foresight to do a compression check before pulling off the head as there would have been an interesting reading on that jug, perhaps as low as 10 PSI. This would surely explain why the bike hasn't been very peppy in recent weeks. As you can see, there's a lot of material missing.
Not only that, but the seating surface has all kinds of fissures, so even without the chink, this valve is in sad shape. (The intake valve still looks brand new.) The simple decoking task involved pulling the jug, removing both valves, replacing one of them, cutting a gasket, putting it back together, then adjusting the valves. (BTW, the starboard valves were fine)
As a precaution, I ditched my beloved straight pipes and stuck on a pair of fishtails. Even with 110 jets, she's still running hot. The carbs are set rich, so maybe these bikes just don't like straight pipes, period. This bike will be getting a set of PZ28D carbs like the other bike has. I've also ordered a set of Bill Taylor's fat spacers. This combination of parts has worked very well on the other bike, so we'll see if it's as good on this one. Tomorrow, I'll redo the carbs, and then the Mrs. and I are riding to Cohocton for the annual Fall Foliage Festival to take in an afternoon of corny, small town Americana (weather permitting, of course).
 
There was a small bike meet at the Glenn Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport today. We stopped by for a couple hours, then spent the rest of the day riding around the Keuka Lake area. Dozens of people took pictures of the Chang.
Here's a Norton Atlas. Commandos are still popular bikes, but you hardly ever see an Atlas.
Here's one for Jimbo. All I can tell you is it's a Beemer, circa 1965.
My favorite ride of the show was this H-D flathead 45. The owner puts many miles on it every year. It's really great to see an oldtimer like this still being used the way it was intended.
 
We went exploring the back roads of Avoca and Prattsburg, looking for abandoned migrant labor camps which were made obsolete by the mechanization of potato and onion harvesting.
In the Seventies, there were regular newspaper reports of stabbings taking place in these camps. They seemed to occur whenever the residents got into the hooch, and that was pretty much every weekend since they received their pay on Fridays. The Sheriff and State Police were kept pretty busy dealing with these folks.
Anyway, here's the bike parked in the driveway of one such camp. During the course of our expedition, I had to manage without the benefit of second gear. It took a dump a short time after we left home. Actually, it didn't dump completely, but only when up-shifting. The roads we were on were hilly, so second was sorely missed, especially by the clutch disks.
Once we got home, I fiddled with the adjustments, but to no avail. It looked like I'd be pulling the guts out of the gearbox, so first I removed the foot shifter to see if it was buggered up, and sure enough, it was. The culprit was of my own doing. The last time I had this thing off, I put it back on using gobs of silicone sealant in lieu of a gasket. True to form, I used way too much. Well, a respectable sized chunk of hardened sealant was stuck in the second gear notch on the up-shifting side of the ratchet doohickey. I got that sorted in pretty short order. This time, when reassembling, I used only enough sealant to do the job properly. The true test of my success will take place tomorrow when we head out for another ride, but I'm 99% sure this nailed it.
 
Some of the antique wire I acquired a few years ago hasn't withstood the test of time very well. But, it probably stands to reason since it was not made for vehicular applications. It sure did look cool, though. Anyway, in light of the myriad electrical problems I've been experiencing this season, I decided to get rid of most of the wiring with fabric insulation and replace it with stout, heavy guage stuff that won't give me trouble a few years from now. All the connectors are soldered and heat shrunk. I also tried something that may be of interest to others. One trouble spot for wiring tends to be where they are constantly flexed by steering.
To provide some protection, I ran rubber fuel line from the headlamp to a spot on the frame 8" aft of the neck. The wiring is routed inside it. It should prevent any problems that result from chafing and flexing.
 
I wasn't gonna do this... but I did it anyway. We were out on mud roads today. I didn't get to the car wash until close to midnight. Needless to say, there wasn't any waiting (and no gawkers).
 
This stopped oil leaking from around the generator. Since it's going to be permanent, it needed some cosmetic work, and here is the result. It may not look like it belongs there (which it doesn't), but most people won't notice it. What isn't visible in the photo is a 1/16" thick rubber pad between the bolt head and the dynamo. This gizmo is also adjustable.
 
This contraption applies forward pressure on the generator, the objective being to make the O-ring compress more, thus doing a better job of stopping oil from leaking. (This bracket came from the bottom of a 1958 Edsel grille. Imagine that.) If it works, I'll clean it up and paint it to look like it belongs there. (That yellow thing is my oil sponge.)
 
Back from a two-hour ride on a toasty 27F January day. I've still got oil seepage around the generator, but everything else was A-okay.
 
It's funny how certain, annoying details always seem to catch your eye. Lately, I've been obsessed with the goofy looking tabs for mounting the front fender to the forks. They'll be made less conspicuous through the miracle of black paint, the same as was done with the mounting tabs on the fuel tank.
Done, but it turned out to be more challenging than expected. The reason for that was the difficulty in getting a good paint line on surfaces made irregular by the welds.
Anyway, there she is. Now I'm thinking about just painting the entire bottom portion if the forks black, but not before looking through some books and digital photos for examples of how it might look. It may not be a very good idea. We'll see.
 
There. The last paint detail item in the list is done (although I'm still thinking about painting the taillight bodies black. Once I start thinking about something, it generally happens.) Anyway, the carriage bolts and flat washers on the headlamp were bare stainless and just didn't blend with the rest of the bike. Now they do.
 
This bike needed a little more black, so the past week was spent doing just that. (A couple more small items are presently in the sand blasting que.)
The front fender brackets are no longer tan. This change was inspired by the red bikewhich was inspired by Ross Kowalski. On the aft end, we now have a black rear seat pedestal which looks pretty nice with black saddlebags.
The front mounting bracket for the sidecar fender is also black, as are the three carriage bolts that secure it to the sidecar frame. Too bad I didn't think of this sooner. It looks a whole lot better than it did before.
Taillight bezels are now black. This was inspired by an M72 that was on eBay last year. I'm now thinking about painting the bodies as well.
Another detail that makes a difference—the forward mounting tabs on the gas tank. They're now painted to match the frame as was done on the red bike. When these tabs were tan, they were really prominent, and, IMHO, a little goofy looking.
 
I finally changed the tire on the drive wheeland perhaps not a moment too soon.
 
A week later and guess what? The tan bike needs a wash and drive tire even more than it did last week, but it's too busy being ridden!
 
The tan bike needs a good clean up (and a new drive tire!) It's been getting plenty of miles poured on it, usually in the afternoons after I'm done messing aound with the other bike. Today, I rode for about two hours and had some nice discussions with curious onlookers during an ice cream stop in Hammondsport.
 
Mrs. Danno and I spent the entire afternoon cruising back roads. We stopped for a picnic in the pioneer cemetery near West Cameron. What a nice way to celebrate the Fourth of July!
 
It looks like a storm beat me to this old road through the woods near Savona, NY. Luckily, I made it home just before the next one hit.
 
Here's a pair of low-budget tank badges I made from cheesy "rock star" belt buckles I found on eBay. I had to grind off all the crap on the backsides to get them flat. That was tricky because they're made of pewter which kept clogging up the grinding stone, but we prevailed.
 
Nothing beats a package in the mail! Miin forwarded these goodies from CJS. There's a pair of 28mm carbs, some 6V distributors and two sets of those great cloth spark plug cables. Now, to decide which bike will get the 28mm carbs.
 
A new oil leak developed this week. Since it rained today, I took the opportunity address it. The leak was the most common type associated with CJs, a bad rear main seal. It's also the biggest pain in the patootie to fix. These are "before" pictures.
And here's the new seal, in place. I use high-temperature silicone sealant, and make sure everything is as clean as possible before installing it. (Always put a dab of grease on the inner part of the ring so there won't be a "dry moment" when the bike is fired up.) Dinnertime caught me before the job was finished, so tomorrow I'll put everything back together. The weather forecast looks pretty decent for the weekend, so I'll hustle to get the bike buttoned up in time for some riding.
 
I took a couple hours out from messing around with the grey bike in order to spend time riding the tan one. When I got home, I took a photo. This bike won't be going off road, that's for sure! She's got a new oil leak which is coming from the rear main seal, so the next rainy day will be used to replace it.
 
Tim Lagonegro was visiting his family in nearby Elmira, and since it was a toasty 36F, we got the bikes out and rode them to Hammondsport for some lunch.
Tim was amused by the reactions we were getting from a few pedestrians and motorists. Was it the bikes, or was it because they just thought we were nuts? Either way, it was a nice time.
 
I also received a package from Jimbo's Classic Sidecars. I needed to stock up on a few extra M1 distributor caps and some of those very excellent, old-style plug wires, and here they are. But wait, there's more...
Jim tossed in one of the new patches from Beijing Dragons MC. But wait, there's more...
Inside this pouch is a superb, waterproof cover that's custom tailored to fit a CJ. On a bike with a rear seat, spare tire and dual mirrors, these covers fit like a glove.
Since my bikes don't have all of those things, the fit is a bit loose. These covers are really, really nice. I recommend them.
And finally, one of Jimbo's new T-shirts with a fine-lined, engineering rendering of a Beemer air head on the front, and the JCS logo on the back.
These babies are very cool.
 
Well, here they are, gigantic handlebars, just like they used on bikes in the olden days.
I test rode this bike for a couple hours and the new riding position does require some getting used to, but it's not at all uncomfortable. You tend to sit more upright with these babies, very appropriate for riders my age. Anyway, I like 'em a lot.
 
Oops. I nearly forgot the fender reflector.
It's on now.
 
There. The original handlebars are back on until I can get some longer cables.
I'm really pleased with the new rear fender.
I logged quite a few kilometers on this bike yesterday afternoon.
I couldn't resist snapping a few more photos when both bikes were outside.
The grey one sees the most service these days.
It's a filthy mess, unlike the tan bike which is nearly spotless.
 
Before: The original, badly canted fender. It has to go.
Out with the old and in with the new.
Viola. Nothing beats a well centered, vertical fender.
I'm not so sure about having high handlebars on this bike though. I may revert to the originals. One problem is the spark advance cable is too short, so I can't ride it like it is anyway. Does anyone out there have a 1m spark advance cable for sale?
 
Viola. Fender now painted and in a day or two, it'll go on the bike.
Ditto on the handlebars.
 
Two handlebars and one rear fender, sandblasted and ready for primer.
But not just any primer. I like to use zinc-chromate because it etches the metal.
Paint really adheres to this stuff.
It may not be essential for sheet metal parts, but for chrome items like these handlbars, it's a must. Tomorow, paint.
 
Time to get crackin' on that lovely new fender I got from Freddie at the CJ Parts Depot. It's a beauty, but since I won't be using turn signals, those brackets need to go.
And what better tool for the job is there than an air powered die grinder? The metal bit (in the chuck) is for the coarse work. The stone bit is for the not-so-coarse work, and the sandpaper flapper thingamajig is for finish work.
There. The turn signal brackets are history, and you'd never know they were ever there in the first place.
This fender is extra-nice beacuse it wasn't pre-drilled for a taillight, so no holes to fill. I punched two holes for a Model A taillight and a home-made bracket. It'll be mounted using carriage bolts which means these holes need to be squared off.
And this is the baby for that, a three-sided hand file. When it's sharp, you can square off a hole in less than a minute. This particular file has been used on at least 50 holes and it's still plenty sharp.
The result—with a carriage bolt in place to check the fit.
The rear seat pedestal will also use carriage bolts, so there's four other holes to square off.
Done, done, done and done.
What about the two pre-drilled holes for the taillight wiring harness? Since I'll be running fabric wire on the outside of the fender, I'll just need four small holes along the fender's edge. The two existing 13mm holes won't be used. Instead of filling them with a welder, I just popped in 1/2" button caps. They'll be inconspicuous once the everything's painted.
 
Today I installed a set of black leather saddlebags that came from John Heim. Whattayathink? (I think the grey bike needs a set.)
Thanks to Freddie B. at the CJ Parts Depot, my canted rear fender crisis will be rectified once and for all. This baby is made from heavy guage steel and hasn't been pre-drilled for a taillamp assembly. I won't need to fill any holes.
And from Luke at Sidecar Solution, two pairs of high handlebars, one for each bike. These puppies will be painted black, but first they'll be sandblasted and primed with zinc-chromate.
 
This sidecar cover celebrates the 50th anniversary of our beloved bikes.
If you'd like one, contact Red Star Troop.
He's the moderator of the Xitek CJ board, China's #1 CJ750 discussion group.
 
These were sent to me by Red Star Troop. They are very clever spacer kits that completely isolate the carbs from the cylinders, studs and all.
On hot days, CJs have been known to experience trouble with fuel boiling in the bowls. This arrangement keeps the carbs cool via a thick rubber "manifold". Notice that the carburetor mounting studs are also isolated from the cylinder. I just installed these on the tan bike and will be testing them over the summer.
 
I decided to replace the vintage style headlamp visor that came with this bike.
A single screw attaches it to the headlamp bucket. 30 seconds and it's off.
I use a screwdriver to pop off the clips that hold the lamp in place. Those babies will fly 50 feet if you're not careful.
Here's a couple clips. I love the simplicity of this. It's definitely not rocket science.
There. Lamp removed from the old bezel...
...and lamp installed in the new one.
Viola. I really like the visored bezel because it's not only quite strong, but more so because it's unique to Chang Jiangs. This one came from Jim Bryant at Jimbo's in Beijing.
 
Riddle me this.
Q: What's slower than molasses in January?
A: Valvoline VR1 straight 50 weight racing oil (in January.)
 
By the way, this '32 Indian Scout is what provided the inspiration for painting the bike tan.
 
Forgive me. Today the sun was shining but the roads were too wet (and salty) to ride...
...so I was obliged to take pictures instead. (I don't think they'll be the last of them, either.)
 
In order to have a proper unveiling, you need to have something to unveil with. Check out these awesome, custom fitted CJ750 bike covers from Jimbo's.
On a CJ with a rear seat, spare tire and dual mirrors, these covers fit like a glove. Since my bikes don't have all of those things, the fit is a bit loose, but far better than anything else that's available. These covers are really nice. I recommend them to anyone.
Tada. Due to the overcast, the color doesn't come across totally accurately in these photos. The color is a tan that was used on cars in the 1920s.
I like it because it goes with the black frame and wheels so well.
See the black headers and fishtails?
I'm pleased with the outcome of this project. Too bad the roads are wet with salt today or I'd be out riding for sure.
The color is quite similar to Afrika Korps Desert Tan.
Looking down from a step ladder.
And again.
Whattayathink? The bike has all my trademark personal touches, that's for sure.
I'm a fanatic about using carriage bolts. These are all stainless steel.
The taillight is from a 1930s car or truck. It came from eBay.
And so is the taillight on the sidecar. It's similar, but not identical. It's mounted with stainless carriage bolts.
There's the amber bullet lens for the sidecar running light. You can find these at NAPA stores. They fit perfectly.
Here's the duckboard. I got it from Jimbo's.
Here's the tank badge. You can get these from the CJ Parts Depot.
I even used carriage bolts to mount the headlamp. I painted the flat washers black for no particular reason.
These are my home-made, slim line front fender brackets. They're so easy to make, even a caveman could do it. (Note that beefy Russian tire, too. I sure do love them.)
Look at all the $#@% carriage bolts.
Here's some antique automotive wiring for the taillight, routed externally along the fender the way they used to do it on M72s and early CJs. It really makes more sense.
The horn is mounted in the traditional M72 location.
Boy, I can hardly wait to ride this thing.
The two bikes are nearly identical except for the color.
Black rims and black spokes give the bikes a really strong vintage look.
And there you have it. Next up, some work on the grey bike.