Yes - but it was right down to the wire..
The TT1 motor being my first crack at building an 'old school' race engine, I didn't want to hit the track without setting the air/fuel and doing a few pulls on a dyno. Ottawa's not a great place for tuning resources with only one DynoJet set-up within 2 hours of my place and just to keep things consistently difficult; it wasn't available. That had me making calls and surfing local forums until I came up with LenTech / Richmond Motorsports in Richmond, Ontario (about 45 minutes from my place) - a performance automotive shop with a Mustang dyno modified for bikes. The owner's a bike fan, the dyno pretty sophisticated and although expensive (you have to pay for the tech), it was the only game in town. So I booked for the Wednesday morning before the TT F1 Symposium and figured if I got through the dyno session, then I'd be off to New Hampshire on Saturday.
If Chris had the bodywork finished..
That meant Tuesday evening I had to scramble to get some main jets bigger than the 250s that I was running in the 853 (just in case) and get the machine & gear set-up for the day's tuning.
So I cobbled together a temporary seat and rolled into Lentech early Wednesday
morning way more nervous than I've ever been with a new motor. Turned out
I had nothing to worry about regarding the staff or the equipment; other than having
to futz with an O2 sensor designed for a car exhaust, and wrestle with a
jetting set-up that would get us in the ball park - it was all pretty smooth
sailing. Disappointing at first though.. We kept throwing more fuel
at the engine, but it just wouldn't respond until I threw a 270 at it and
suddenly the thing pulled like crazy, came on the cam and showed 86HP.
Playing with the A/F via the needle returned excellent torque (albeit at over
6,500RPM), but the combination of Mike Weber's recipe and the J Precision
converted Alazurra heads returned numbers that just aren't seen that often from
a 750. And it didn't break or make any strange noises...
I installed the Weber TT1 exhaust system we made and was blown away by the instant positive effect it had on the power. Peak torque was now available at 5,500RPM and horsepower was pretty much unchanged. This put the 750 in the same league as the old 853 and banging on the door of the Yellow Bike. Amazing. Check out the YouTube video HERE.
A call to Chris from LenTech and his news that the bodywork would be done Saturday AM meant we were off to the Symposium.
It also meant that I'd be assembling the bike in the middle of the event..
And that's what happened. Weber set me up in the center of all the TT1s, Harris' and F1 racers and gave me a bench to share with F1 racer Chris Jensen and the bike got finished over the next 3 days. I arrived at NHMS late Saturday afternoon completely wired from the drive and all the stuff that preceded it - and immediately drove everyone nuts with my obsessive desire to start putting the thing together. Lou eventually talked me off the ledge, so I quit at about 8Pm and shared some pizza with the tribe - did a little socializing and eventually worked my way over to my hotel.
These Symposiums are different every year; loosely organized and with a different member of the group pulling it together each time. For the 4th Annual, Mike Weber had the ball and he did an excellent job of dovetailing us into a program of regional and vintage race events and finishing the experience off with a track day put on by Fishtail. We had two garages, plenty of room, and an almost equal mix of active race bikes, track day machines and static display bikes and a dynamic environment with a third of the machines going out periodically for practice or races - and in the middle of it all an old guy building a TT1. Legendary tuner Pat Slinn came over from the UK to join us as guest of honor, Ralf Stechow brought the newly restored Adamo / Leoni Cagiva 500 GP bike, Lou brought his newly acquired ex-Adamo TT1 and two Harris TTs, Warren dusted off the F1 he raced back in the day and all these cool machines were complemented by an incredible mix of TTs and F1s.
Lots of drama, good times, amazing machines and great people - but frankly, I
missed half of it 'cause it was a full day's work each day to try and get the
TT1 built and set-up for the Tuesday track day. But I found time to catch most
of the racing action and was so impressed by the field that I started to wonder
if it might make sense to go out and play with the boys next year. I also
found time to watch Ralf fire-up the Cagiva for the first time in 15 years. Check out the YouTube video..
At first I was kinda self conscious about working on the bike in front of everyone, but by midday Sunday I just got into a groove and enjoyed the experience.. I drafted Lou for the seat pad cutting, shaping and trimming. It's not like I haven't done a bunch myself; I just wanted to watch the master at work. And as I expected, he tackled the job with a grace and ease that I aspire to, but likely won't attain for years. It was when I had applied the contact cement to both the seat base and pad that I noticed we had an audience - and they all seemed to have their knuckles up to their teeth in anticipation; knowing I had only one shot at landing the two pieces in the right starting position. No pressure at all..
It was a wonderful blur with folks stopping by to chat and lend a hand (or tools), plenty of minor teething problems and a windscreen that wouldn't fit, but by Monday mid-morning the bike was rolled outside with its new clothes and taken for a run around the pits (my first ride of the year). Mike had arranged for a couple of parade laps during lunch and although the bike had run perfectly when I warmed it up, it didn't like anything under 4,000RPM when I fired it up and headed out for the parade. After a painfully slow first lap, we got a chance to stretch 'em out a bit and I came away from the experience with a sense that I could probably learn to like the track - and that I definitely liked the way the bike worked.
Back in the pits I started tearing off the bodywork so I could pull off the carbs and uncover the cause of the rough running (broken main jet, incorrect float levels and a dash of post painting stuff in the needle jets) and install the Weber system for the track day. I was half way through the process when Lou stopped by to tell me they were lining the bikes up for a group shot and that I shouldn't feel any pressure to put the bodywork back on and get out there.
And it was shortly after the group photo when I was taking a couple of pics of the bike that it finally made the transition from being a project to being an actual TT1 that I owned (and not a half-bad one at that).
Naturally, it rained for the track day on Tuesday.
Thanks to Marty for cooking burgers and dogs for all of us (I wouldn't have eaten otherwise), Jane for the fuel filter, Steve for the drill bit, Lou for the inspiration (and seat pad, brackets and fittings), Gary & Mike for the endless patience during all my calls for help while I built the top end, Patrice for the heads, Chris for the paint (in less than a week!), Rob for the oil lines & brake bits, Scott for most of the pics used in this post (I was obviously too busy..) and everyone for showing up and making the Symposium yet another priceless memory.
POSTSCRIPT: I finally finished the TT1 last weekend and took the opportunity to snap a few pics as I was moving it into my office for the winter..
..More pics on Flickr