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1988-1989 Beginning 1989-1990 Mock Ups & Test Beds 1990-1992 First Streamliner
1992-1994 Second Streamliner 1994-1996 Third Streamliner 1996-1997 Fourth Streamliner
1997-1998 Fifth Streamliner 1999-2000 Fifth Streamliner 2000-2001 Fifth Streamliner
2000-2001 Fifth Streamliner 2000-2001 Fifth Streamliner 2002-2003 Fifth Streamliner
2003-2004 Sixth Streamliner 2004-2005 Sixth Streamliner 2005-2006 Seventh Streamliner
2006-2007 Eighth Streamliner 2007-2008 Eighth Streamliner 2007-2008 Visit to Thunderdome

2006-2007 Eighth Streamliner

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Build Diaries

After BUB Meet

Black Lightning's last performance was pretty spectacular in many respects, but quite dismal in the numbers she laid down. I needed to analyze and diagnose what ailed her--shifting problems, gear train problems, parachute problems, visibility problems, clutch problems, and the mystery of metallic particles in the oil.

During Hartmut's last run, the parachute predeployed off the line. The liner was pulling a one gear only, which consummated in the frying of the clutch. My drag racing friend, Boris Murray was in the pits; he said he'd never heard the stroker motors run, so I fired it up, and that's when I discovered that neither engine had an oil return. Not a good thing. Something was seriously wrong.

After the tear down back in my shop, this is what I found: All four of the high-dollar pistons were heavily scored on the skirt areas where the three zero clearance buttons are placed. The ring lands were all in good shape; all of the rings moved freely.

The engines had partially seized during one of the early runs, due to an extremely lean condition. The scored pistons hadn't seemed to affect the horsepower much at all. After I finally got enough fuel to it, the torque and power were almost unreal.

So here's what went wrong. Hartmut had taken the engines to 7500 rpm on two occasions--piston speed around 6500 feet per second. The piston speed spit the melted buttons out of their pressed fit in the skirts. They found their way into the skavaging side of the oil pump. The button particles are quite hard, and didn't compress, thereby taking out both the two start worm gear, and about 45 degrees of the teeth splines on the oil pump piston.

For 2007, I'll redesign the pistons, eliminating the dyke ring, going with a chrome top ring. The gapless second ring will be retained, as well as the same three piece oil ring. I'm having six pistons made, .005 over. The 90 millimeter bore will be taken out to give the new pistons an .008 clearance. The button type pistons won't be used. We're still under the 3000cc maximum by about 40cc, in accordance with the rule on maximum displacement. I've already ordered two new two start oil pumps from John Healey. I've got to go make a phone call to Arias Pistons to find out if they're going to give me the racer's discount price.


The one gear only talk last September was just that--talk. Even though it was proven that the Vincent streamliner has more torque than any of the three fast boys, and could pull a one gear off the line, the heat developed to do this has to go somewhere, and that is either driving the rear wheel to the speed of the gear ratio between the driver, i.e. 3000cc worth of blown fuel burning Vincents, to the 26.5" tall 9" wide Mickey Thompson Bonneville Tire, or into the slider clutch.

The friction coefficient of the clutch is determined by the actuating finger weights and the kenetic energy developed, which is proportional to the rpm of the clutch. To pull a one gear only, knowing that the power band of the power plant starts pulling like Jack the Bear at 3500 rpm, it is necessary to adjust the finger weights to best engage the clutch at it's best timing in order to take full advantage of horsepower and torque available. A taller gear requires more torque than a lower gear to accelerate at the same speed. Finger weights were removed to increase the rpm of the clutch before lock up to enable the engines to achieve the rpm of 3500, for best torque to accelerate the liner's mass. In retrospect, you might think that it would have been a better plan to leave the clutch finger weights alone, where the clutch actually started to lock up immediately upon launch. The acceleration would have been much less, but more than likely the clutch would have lived, even pulling the high-speed parachute. However, I'm glad that the weights were removed, as the scenario would have been, without the weights removed, that the engines would have reached the 3500 rpm power band, the clutch would have held--the rear tire would most certainly have broken loose, spinning the tire to distruction. The heat has to go somewhere. The tires are much harder to come by than the clutch plates, so all in all it was a good thing.

The friction coefficient of the tire, the horsepower and torque of the engines, when a clutch is properly adjusted, using three gears to accelerate, will not create heat enough to destroy any of the componants between the driver and the driven if we can solve any predeployment during power acceleration.

The three speed transmission worked just fine in 2004. I have found the shifting problems and will correct them.

Spark Myths

Since my interest in the mechanical aspects of the internal combustion engine tripped my trigger at an early age of about 13, I've tried to keep abreast by asking questions and reading tech manuals and so on. Some of the things over the years that were told, and considered "gospel" by all, differ from the facts.

Jumping a sparkplug gap, a high compression engine versus a low compression engine, is one of the myths. It is spelled out in Champion Spark Plug's "Tuning for Speed" as a myth, and they do use the word 'myth' in the book. They built the wherewithall to test what actually happens when compression ratios are increased. They concluded that all engines--a Hemi combustion chamber, a Squish Band combustion chamber, and a Wedge combustion chamber, though dissimiliar, showed no significant difference in the test results. Their conclusion was quite simple, and was proven again and again by extensive testing. So a Hemi, such as the Vincent, using 7.3's to 13.5 compression ratios, have a variance in cylinder pressure, I would guess, from 100psi to 160psi, so we're talking about 60 pounds pressure increase. The old wive's tale goes that the density increase in the air causes resistance, so the coil hasn't got enough ummph to jump to the ground electrode of the spark plug over the gap distance, due to the density of the air.

Pure hogwash.

The Champion test proved that the sparking of the plug only showed where air density started to affect the spark at around 1000 pounds pressure.

2007 Changes

In 2006, I put a great deal of thought into moving weight from the right side of the liner to the left side. In 2005, the liner required 50 pounds of lead, which was located in the lower main tube of the frame on the left side. Also, 45 pounds of weight, 4 half inch steel plates, were added to the left side. My objective was to eliminate the ballast, therefore making the liner 95 pounds lighter.

Well as it turned out, after the liner was finished for the 2006 Bub Meet I found that I had to add 50 pounds of lead shot ballast underneath the seat on the right hand side. Looks like I over did it a bit. So for 2007, I had to ask myself where could I remove 50 pounds of weight from the left side of the liner, and be more precise on it's removal? The obvious place was the lump itself, the engines.

The blower pulleys, which are on the left side, were made from cast iron and steel. There was nothing "racy" about them, as they were the run of the mill 8 millimeter toothed industrial units, readily bought anywhere. The two pulleys weighed in at 16 pounds. I've machined the two pulleys from 7075 T6 aluminum, and after the lightening holes were drilled, the two units weigh in at 6 pounds, a weight saving of 10 pounds.

The left hand engine cases, which are welded together to form a unit with a 5/8" thick aluminum plate, the three idler spindle support cage, the inner primary cover, and the outer primary cover, with the rear outer bearing support boss, weighed in at 92 pounds. After a week of milling, drilling, and hand work with a rotary file, I managed to reduce the weight by 31 pounds off these four pieces. I'll be removing one of the batteries from the left side and putting it on the right side. As the battery will be located adjacent to the parachute battery near the center line, I figure the weight will represent a 9 pound transfer--50 pounds of weight removed from the left side, requiring the 50 pounds of ballast to be removed from the right side, a net saving in overall weight of 100 pounds.

The 2007 fix for the three idler gears: The idler gear idea was a good one, eliminating the HYVO chain that coupled the front engine to the rear engine. However, the mounting of the three spindle carrier unit was inadequate. It had been drilled and bolted with 5 5/16" alan capscrews, and supported with three 1/2" steel dowels for alignment. An additional 4 5/16" alan capscrews were located through the outer primary cover into the unit. Since the gitgo this way of securing the spindle unit has been inadequate, causing down time on the salt. The capscrews had to be tightened on no less than 5 occasions on the salt, since it's inception, many times requiring the removal of broken bolts. Each time that we had to go in to the engines to fix this it took about 2 1/2 to 3 hours. So about 15 hours of down time during the last two Bub Meets, were devoted to fixing a bad design. And the design was mine.

The problem had to be solved, and the fix had to be bullet proof. Bolting the unit in place didn't work, so the thought of any additional pursuit by bolting was discarded. The spindle support had to be, as near as I could make it, a part of the engine cases. I decided the only way to go would be to pin and weld. The alignment of the front engine and the rear engine must be precise, so I first had to build a steel framework to bolt the cases to, as welding always produces distortion. The spindle support housing was then aligned so as to achieve proper gear lash between the front engine driver gear and the rear engine driver gear. Once this was achieved the spindle housing was then thoroughly secured to the engine cases. A half inch fillit weld was first run both top and bottom. Then a one inch fillit weld was made on the rear portion of the housing. As the front portion of the housing horseshoed around the front main bearing boss, with a half inch gap between the two parts, this was fillit welded solid. The Timpkin taper main bearing outer races were removed on both engines, as I didn't want the heat required to affect the temper of the races. Next I drilled and reamed 8 holes through the spindle housing into and through the engine cases and the 5/8" aluminum plate. Five were .600 in diameter, three were .700 in diameter. I made 8 pins with a .0015 interference fit and to length. Heated up the cases, pressed the pins in with a protrusion of 1/4". Three fell in the crankcase area between the webbing on the front engine. Four fell in the 5" plate area. One fell in the rear engine crankcase area between the webbing. I then welded the pins all on the inboard side. After this was done, I had to drill the front engine crankcase through bolts holes into and through the spindle housing, which covered them up. All fine and dandy on two of them, but the third one (there were three that had to be done) fell in the area of the lower idler gear spindle. There will be no through bolt there, but it will just have a threaded stud into the left hand case. All threaded holes have been helicoiled.

The fix is done. It looks real good, and better yet, it's going to work. If it doesn't, we'll be going home, as it will surely take out the cases. It's a good guess that the shear strength to move the spindle carrier would be around 40+ tons.

The next problem that had to be solved was the seizing of the pistons. There are only three things that I'm aware of that can cause piston seizure--running the engine without oil, running too lean a fuel mixture, or insufficient clearance of the piston to liner. Hartmut reported piston seizure on two different occasions during the Bub Meet. The first time, if I recall, he caught it before total seizure. The second time was when the engines actually seized and stopped running. That's when it took out the rear tire.

After thinking about this for the last month or so, I've come to the conclusion that it wasn't a lack of oil. The oil pumps were taken out with debris, and this was on the last run of the event. The lean condition is a possibility, but a remote one due to the fact that the fuel system, pills, springs, nozzle sizes, high speed pressure opening, and so on was the same as last year. So it had to be piston clearance. Last year remember it was a short course, and this year it was a long, long course. What I suspect, and am pretty sure of, is that the longer run time produced more heat and expansion of the piston. I gave the pistons .008 clearance. We were air cooled, and relied on the air scoop duct work on the sides of the liner to get enough air to cool 500+ horsepower of blown Vincents, which generate a lot of heat. After the tear down this year, I inspected the pistons and this is what I found. Going from the front, piston number one, to the rear, piston number four, the scoring got progressively worse, and number four was bad, bad. It would be a logical conclusion that it was a cooling problem, as the rear or number four receives very little air over the cylinder and head due to two factors--the distance of the cylinder from the air intake, and the angle of the barrel itself.

When I originally built the small motors way back in 1989, I water cooled the cylinder muffs. Never had any problems with overheating or seizure. I removed the water cooled muffs in 2003, and replaced them with over bore Terry Prince muffs and liners. A lot more finning on the Terry Prince muffs, so I thought that I could get by with them just being air cooled. It appears that I was wrong again.

I've spent the last week modifying the Terry Prince muffs from air cooled to water cooled. This, plus increasing the piston clearance at the skirt to .010 should eliminate any piston seizure, no matter how long the course.

The water cooled cylinder muffs are about 50 percent completed. I ran out of welding rod on Christmas Eve day, so I'll just have to wait until after the Holidays for the stores to open. Actually the cylinder muffs aren't that big of a trick to water cool, but finding a spot for a six gallon water tank is. There was no way that there were any voids without moving some stuff around. The only spot available is in front of the rear fender, above the swing arm and below the swing arm. It will require two water tanks, Siamesed together with transfer hoses to get the job done. I already said that the battery, which is on the left side will be relocated. I'll have to find a place for the air shifter tank, as it will have to be removed also. The top tank above the swing arm will have a U shape at the top large enough for the rear swing arm spring. The tank will be so shaped for clearance of the rear chain, and extend upward to the outer skin. The bottom tank will become a dual purpose fixture, as it will also serve as the fender below the swing arm. There's enough room to shape the tank and gain approximately one more gallon of water below the bottom three frame rails. The water pump to circulate the water through the cylinder muffs will be located between the two engines. There will be in the return line to the tank from the cylinder muffs, a valve system at the tank, which will serve two purposes. To regulate the amount of water passing through the muffs, this will serve as a thermostat so to speak. An additional by pass valve will be plumbed to the rear chain for cooling. The setting of these two valves will be adjusted during in shop dyno testing. One variable which has to be controlled is the chain cooler, as the system, when this is open, becomes a total loss predicament.


On the trip home from Bonneville this year I thought about the good things that went right, (which was short in duration) but I haven't quit thinking yet about all the things that went wrong. Certainly the shifting problem was totally unexpected.

The gearbox was shifted several times here in Wichita, but refused to perform in front of an audience.

Back to the liner. I got her in the garage and took the skins off for a serious look-see. Everything seemed O.K. I aired up the shifter tank, charged the battery to full, and shifted the transmission three or four times.

Then the trouble shooting began. First, all electrical switches and wiring were checked. No problem there. I reached in to shift it by hand, and the shifter linkage didn't move. What was going on here? I traced this to the air shifter cylinder itself. There was pressure on both sides of the piston, locking it all up solid. The problem was in the solenoid actuated air valves. The valves are made so that when the solenoid is energized, a piston moves over a ported body, and opens the port from the air tank to the air cylinder. When the solenoid is de-energized the piston moves, and closes off the port to the air tank, and a port is opened to the atmosphere from the cylinder. Corrosion was not allowing the piston to move far enough to dump the pressure from the piston on a given side, therefore when the next shift was made, (there are two complete solenoid valve systems, one to move the air cylinder one way and one to move the air cylinder the other way) both sides of the cylinder were pressurized, which locked up the system solid.

The fix for 2007 will be going to a totally sealed solenoid actuated poppet valve type, eliminating the cylinder port type. I've used these before with great success, and for the life of me I can't figure why I changed to the piston type. They must have been on sale.

One other thing that I'm going to do in regards to the transmission, is build a new shifter door from billet aluminum, which will have an external adjustable indent spring loaded ball to position the in gear solid.

Mods I

I finished up the water cooled muffs about a week and a half ago. They ended up looking like something off of an "A", lots of plumbing. The water inlet ports on the front engine enter the front part of the liner muffs at their lowest points, and exit the rear portion of the liner muffs at their highest points. The rear engine is just the opposite on the inlet ports, which are to the rear of the liner muffs. I manufactured eight special fittings, all different, to accommodate three things. They had to be made to negate any interference such as blower duct work and so on. They also had to be so located as to not interfere with such things as the distributor, so you can easily work on the bike, and it all had to appear cosmetically as if it was done in a factory. I finally selected the water pumps, and they're in hand. They are bilge pumps, of the type used on small boats. I had to go with two pumps, one for each engine, as the volume is five gallons per minute. So what we'll have in the two minute run time is twenty gallons of water passing through the water muffs. As the water tank will be around five gallon capacity, the BTU transfer should be adequate. If not, there's always a measured portion of ice that can be put into the five gallon tank. This will all be figured out during dyno testing. Two more water pumps of the same type will have to be purchased, one for the rear chain cooling system, and one spare. The spare is so that we'll have one extra 12 volt motor. The pumps come with two spare impellers, so plenty of spares there. Cost of the pumps: 80 bucks a pop.

Speaking of money, those two blower pulleys wound up costing a ton. I had to have a special cutter made for the 8 millimeter grooves; then there was the hassle of making a special index head spacing plate, as both pulleys were prime numbers. All of this was not cheap, the pulleys, with the material I had to buy, cutters, index plate, cost a little over $400.00.

For the last week and a half I've been attacking the clutch problem. When the clutch went south last year, a tremendous amount of heat was produced, bluing all of the basket threaded studs, melting the locking nut nylons, and worst of all, warping the basket backing plate. So the solution was singular. I was going to have to make a new clutch. Since a new clutch had to be built, I decided to improve the design. The old clutch weighed 29 pounds, as all the components were made from steel, except for the outer finger weight plate. The only thing that I retained was the outer plate. The rest I whittled out of 7075 T6 aluminum, which produced a weight savings of 6 1/2 pounds. The 6 1/2 pounds mostly came from the outer circumference of the clutch, which makes it "mo betta" yet. A new 42 tooth HYVO sprocket had to be bought. I'll get it tomorrow, cost: $260.00. After I bore it, it'll be somewhat in appearance as a ring gear on an aluminum flywheel. I'll give it a couple of thousanths interference fit to insure it stays where I put it, 6 horizontal pins, 1/4" in diameter, will be pressed between the aluminum carrier hub and the HYVO sprocket. The clutch is 90% finished. The new clutch is far more precise than the old one. The run out on the new clutch is within .001.

Mods II

Day before yesterday I picked up the wheel from Jerry Wilson. That would be the one that I promised to lace up for him in trade for the use of his dyno. About 15 minutes ago I finished the wheel. Got that out of the road.

Black Lightning was asked to attend the Legend of the Motorcycle show May 5, 2007 in California, as Vincent is one of the featured motorcycles. Mike Akatiff called me day before yesterday to say that he'd been elected by show officials to talk me into bringing the Vincent streamliner. He said that he and Denis were going to be there, but he didn't mention anything about Sam. He said that he and Denis would help with the expenses. Tempting. However I'm after the record, not the publicity. No time for both. I won't be going to the show.

I've spent the last three months concentrating on the engine package. I built a new clutch, it's complete except for balancing. I've completed the job of modifying the cylinder muffs, from air cooled to water cooled, and pressure tested them. The only thing left to do on the cylinders is to hone them. The hold up on that is I haven't built the torque plates yet. I went over to Jerry Wilson's to see if he had any torque plates used for honing Harleys that might work. None of them met my requirements. This will be a 1" thick aluminum plate, with four studs that hold the cylinder muff to the plate. The plate also has ears with 1/2" holes to bolt to the slider plate of the sun and hone. The top torque plate is so machined as to give the same crush effect as the head would. The liner when torqued, distorts by .003, to an oval shape. So after honing, when the liners are in a relaxed state, it will mic .003 out of round, but she'll be round when she's in the bike and torqued to 50 pounds.

One other thing that has to be done to the cylinder muffs is the installation of two additional studs, 3/8" in diameter, which are threaded into the aluminum muff N/C thread. These studs lie adjacent and outboard about 1" from the spark plugs. And are on the same radius as the four main studs. I'd made provisions for the studs in the heads and had them in the 1996 Black Lightning. The extra hold down studs will be utilized and reinstated for the 2007 Black Lightning attempt. As the studs are N/F on the hold down nuts, these will be torqued at 35 pounds. This will give it close to the approximate same torque pressure as obtained when torqueing the four main studs to 50 pounds torque. I need the extra hold downs because I plan to run as much as 50% nitro this year. Of course, during the dyno test, I might deem additional horsepower unnecessary.

Lots of work has gone into the mods on the cylinder heads. I've made provisions to keep the top valve guides from turning in the heads. I've radiused the forked ends of the rocker arms 1/8" further from the rockers pivot point, increasing the rocker arm ratio by 1/8". I redesigned the intake port, raising the port in the area of the valve guide and widened it by 1/4" in the same area. This gave me a 6% increase from the previous port design in CFM.

A lot of work also went into the exhaust ports. I went to see the Wiz in town who does all the head work for the big guns. He had the heads off of a top fuel Keith Black engine. The rules for top fuel now are as follows: Gear ratio is fixed. Blower volume is fixed. Blower drive ratio is fixed. Percent of nitro is fixed. Engine cubic inch displacement is fixed. For a top fuel dragster in this day and age to compete and win, there aren't as many things to play with as there used to be. The Keith Black heads were undergoing extensive modifications. One being, the exhaust ports were in the process of being welded up, so when ported it would achieve a high D port design. I wouldn't think that this would make any difference on a blown nitro motor, but the fellow that was shelling out the bucks to get the Wiz to make the changes must think there's an advantage, as I'm sure the exhaust D port mods ain't cheap.

So in lieu of this new information, I have D ported the exhaust. I first entertained accomplishing the D port like the Wiz, by welding them up and reshaping. I discarded that idea to make the change due to warping. So I undertook the time consuming job of hand shaping aluminum slugs for filler material. These slugs were bolted in place, then I shaped the port. I don't know what the gain will be, but it certainly didn't hurt. Only time will tell.

I've got six pistons from Aries for the engine rebuild, two spares, two T/M two start oil pumps, three water pumps, one set of clutch plates, and as soon as funds permit I'll be getting one more water pump for a spare, and one more set of clutch plates for spares.

I've got to go give Jerry his wheel, then over to The Yard surplus store to pick up a chunk of aluminum to make the shaft, so I can balance the new clutch, and pick up a couple of plates of aluminum for the liner muffs torque plates.

Mods III

Lots and lots of things that were anticipated have been done. And lots and lots of things that were not anticipated have also been done. The clutch dummy shaft needed for balancing the new clutch assembly was made.

The clutch has been balanced at Jerry Wilson's shop, so that's out of the road. One major thing I did was to free up the water break needed for the dyno testing. It didn't require any parts. The seals had stuck much like a multidisk clutch. I finished up the torque plates for the cylinder muffs and sleeves. The sleeves have been honed to precise roundness. The clearance wound up at .011.

During cleaning and inspection of the rear engine timing side case, I found a major problem. The transmission primary cover which is welded to the rear engine cases, serves as an oil tight cavity for the HYVO chain. It also serves as a motor mount. There is a foot welded to the cover, which is the lower rear motor mount, also the inner wall of the primary cover, which is 3/8" thick, has two mounting bolts. When I designed and built the primary it appeared to be more than adequate in strength. I discovered that cracking was taking place at the foot mount and the welded section to the engine cases. It has taken a weeks work to reinforce and make the unit "bullet proof". This was one of the unexpected things.

Just about all of the pieces that make up the lump are finished. I should complete everything, including painting the cases and all of the parts by next Friday. Then the fun part, bolting it all together.

The next project will be to work on the transmission and the shifting. I plan to make a new shifting door and modify the shifter. When it's finished, it will be able to shift without lifting, as a momentary kill switch will be employed. The same set up as the drag boys use.

John Hanson was over at Al Teague's shop and came up with some tires that will work. The tires are Firestone 7.5" X 18" X 28.5" tall. They are the same tires that Art Arfons ran at over 500 mph. They're pretty old, but in good condition. Al said that he wouldn't have any problem running them at our speeds, say 375 mph. Al used the tires on the front of his 430 mph record run. I think around four years ago. John is checking out the details as to cost and is picking out three of the best of the lot. It sounds like he's got quite a few of them.

I plan to have a couple of wheels made that will mount to the existing rear hub and center spoke. That will give us two balanced, ready to go, 400+ mph rear tires, mounted, and one unmounted spare.

John is also checking out the wheel situation, as Tyler Wheels is only a few blocks from Al's shop. All in all, pretty great news, which has alleviated one heck of a problem. Thanks to John for the legwork.

Mods IV

This week I took a break from the engines, as I have about 95% of all the pieces done. So to prevent an interface problem, I've spent the week working on all of the chassis modifications, including a new parachute deployment system. I have to finish all the chassis modifications and paint the rear section of the frame before I install the engines. All of the components have to be completed prior to dyno testing, such as the water tanks, the new oil tank, and the work that will be done on the transmission shifter.

I've ordered all of the solenoid valves and air cylinders for the new parachute system. No springs or Mickey Mouse release mechanism for 2007. I've spent a lot of time thinking about the chutes, the deployment system of the chutes, and the rear doors, and I do believe I've come up with pretty much of a fool-proof way to do it. The pilot chute will be deployed with one 15" stroke air cylinder, and is so designed as to open the rear doors simultaneously. Either the low or the high speed chute can be independently activated and the doors will open. The new system cannot be affected by any type of vibration. No more predeployed parachutes or pre-opening of the doors. If the chutes are out, Don or Hartmut did it.

Mods V

A new parachute deployment system is about 50% completed. I should finish up all of that in the next four or five days. All of the pieces look pretty good, and should work much, much better, if not perfectly. The liner's never gone to the salt without some type of chute problems. Hopefully the new system will resolve all of that.

My pilots keep complaining about wanting to see where they're going (at 350+ mph). Go figure. :o) So I've decided to go at it like I did on the third streamliner I built, the one Don Vesco rode in 1996. That liner had a similar canopy design. I boxed the frame work up that year and sent it to a guy who formed windows for speed boats. I had him make two windscreens, and they were distortion free. The cost was (if I recall, it was a long time ago) $500.

Our windscreen is a lot simpler than Denis Manning's windscreen. He had a fellow who makes glider windscreens make his at a cost of $3500. He had two of those made, one for a spare, but I'm not in his league financially, so I'm looking for something a tad bit cheaper.


Still working on getting a windscreen that my pilots can see through without distortion. I guess I should start by giving more background as to what I've done in regards to the windscreen. As Jack Dolen has said, lexan is the way to go. Cheap, easy to work with, and in most cases distortion free.

For the last three outings I used lexan windscreens. In 2004 the lexan was 1/8" thick. It was hard to form the horseshoe shape, and it put a lot of stress on the canopy frame. I was told not to use any type of heat on the lexan to aid bending. In 2005 I reduced the thickness of the lexan to 1/16" thick. The 1/16" was a lot easier to work with. There are two horizontal aluminum strips at the bottom edge of the canopy. Screws go through the aluminum, then through the lexan, and are screwed into the canopy frame. I noted that at every location of the screw, the lexan sheet became wavy, quite noticeably so, when in the shop with the florescent overhead lights. I was able to get some of the distortion out by tuning the screw fastener tension.

Don Angel went 212.860 mph that year, and said that there was distortion, but livable. He mostly said that the shiny bits in the cockpit were not the way to go. The glare created by the shiny bits was corrected with a can of flat black paint. No more shiny bits.

In lieu of the glare problem, I chose a tinted 1/16" windscreen in 2006. Both riders reported lots of distortion and said they couldn't safely ride the motorcycle. The entire canopy windscreen was removed so we could continue our shakedown runs. I sent Tom Murray to Salt Lake City to get another piece of 1/6" clear lexan, so we could make a new windscreen right there on the salt. I assumed that the tinted windscreen was just a bad run. The new clear windscreen proved to be no better. So we just simply cut a hole in the foreword end of the windscreen.

Sam Wheeler's streamliner windscreen is almost identical to ours, however, our windscreen is probably a good 10 degrees closer to horizontal than his. This means our pilots are looking through more thickness' of lexan than Sam is. One other thing that's worthy of note is that the first two feet of Sam's windscreen is different than the rest of the windscreen--two separate pieces. When I get a chance I'm going to call Sam and ask him about this. It's possible that the foreword portion isn't lexan, but Plexiglas. As the rules state, Plexiglas isn't legal, due to the fact it shatters. Possibly this is how he got by the scrutineers, as the Plexiglas is in the area of his feet. This is all conjecture, and I won't know the facts until I talk to Sam.

So as far as the canopy windscreen is concerned, it's on hold for the moment until I can come up with a workable solution.

Mods VI

Thanks to Lenny McKnight, who contributed to the purchase of the tires, and John Hanson, who found the tires, and also contributed to the purchase, Black Lightning now has tires for the 2007 LSR attempt. I received the two 18" X 7" X 28 1/4" Firestone 600 mph rear tires from John Hanson a couple of days ago. One of the tires appears to be like new. Al Teague apparently took pretty good care of them, as there is no weather checking. John still has the other two tires at his place, as it might be necessary to have a sample tire available for the wheel builder. Two things that will have to be done to mount the tires: build two narrower 18" rims, with rim lips the proper angle, and modify the rear swing arm for clearance for the larger diameter tire. There are no other interference problems.

Lenny McKnight is arriving next Tuesday to lend a hand for about a month.

The two rear body halves, which I made last year (with Lenny's help) from aluminum, hand forming and so on, required quite a bit of body putty to achieve a smooth, reasonable shape. They wound up almost as heavy as the old fiberglass ones. The new parachute door system that I've built for this year, requires a different shape on the two body halves at the rear. Also I water cooled the engines for 2007, so the air scoops can be removed for better aerodynamics. Therefore I plan to shape the two body parts without concern for body putty weight. The two halves will be used as a male plug. Two layers of thin fiberglass matt will be laid up over the male plug, with parting liquid between the lay up and the plug. The fiberglass then will be popped off. The old aluminum body will then be cut in order to form a ribbed aluminum support for the thin layer of fiberglass. I figure at least 75% of the old aluminum body will be removed, taking a lot of body filler with it, also the inherent stress in the hand forming of the two body parts will be relieved, and the new body will be able to hold it's shape, and not tend to spread apart as the old body did. It will be much easier to take on and off, and will have a much better fit.

Now to the canopy. There are several ways to go, but after talking to Sam Wheeler yesterday I've decided to go with his advice.

The first canopy that Sam built 16 years ago for the EZ-Hook computerized configuration streamliner started with a plaster of paris male mould. He took the mould to a fellow who had a large oven and formed a 1/4" thick piece of Plexiglas over the section where the windscreen would be. This proved to be unworkable. He said that there was so much distortion that he was even unable to orientate whether the liner was on it's wheels or not. He cut two feet off of the front of the 1/4"plexiglas, and had a local California guy who made motorcycle windscreens, (I can't remember the name of the company, but it started with zero) make a windscreen to fill in the two foot hole. After five tries they finally formed a single compound curve window that you could see through without distortion.

The main problem with forming a windscreen for streamliners is the degree angle. The less the degree, the greater the thickness you have to look through. Black Lightning has a lesser degree of angle than any of the streamliners, including Sam Wheelers, in the area of the rider's vision. I just measured the degree angle of our windscreen. It's only eight degrees off of horizontal. In checking with other people, the minimum angle to peer through 1/8" Lexan for good visibility, is twenty degrees. By shaping the canopy horizontally to the position of the existing tachometer, and starting the window at that point to the existing rear point of the window, this figures out to be a twenty-two degree angle, which is a bit better than the twenty degree minimum. So this will have to be done at the expense of sacrificing minor aerodynamics for the sake of visibility. The new canopy I'm making for 2007 won't be as aerodynamic as my 2004, 2005, and 2006 canopies, but will be an improvement over the dolphin canopy I designed and built which was used on the 1997, 1998, and 2002 attempts.


Last year and all the years before, problem after problem raised it's ugly head. First, a streamliner is oh so different than a sit-on bike. There's no problem in coming up with a brake system that will stop the fastest of the fast sit-ons time and time again. It can all be bought off the shelf, and only requires minor mechanical skills to make it all work.

A streamliner is an altogether different puppy to stop. There are several things that prevent the thing from stopping. Aerodynamics of course. They're sleek, and slice through the wind without effort. Then there's the weight. Black Lightning weighs in at close to 1600 lbs. wet, with pilot; and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Last but not least are the mechanical brakes. Mechanical brakes are useless on streamliners. About the only thing they're good for, in the case of the Vincent streamliner, is to hold the liner on station while starting, as we employ a slider clutch, and the machine is placed in low gear by hand prior to starting.

If I recall, Dave Campos, in one of the Easy Rider videos, I think it was on the return run for the record, couldn't steer to the right or to the left, as they had changed something in the front wheel department. Anyway, Dave knew that he didn't have enough time if he pulled the chutes, to repack them, and make the steering linkage change in the required time to make the back up run. The video shows Dave putting on the brakes, with the caliper and disk disintegrating into a ball of fire. Mechanical brakes don't work on streamliners.

So there's only one other way to stop one of these things, and that's with parachutes. The rules require that a streamliner must have two parachutes, a low speed and a high speed. The parachute system for 2007 is finished, has been tested 10 times, each time with flawless results.

I'm pretty sure Black Lightning will be a winner this year.

Mod Summary

The streamliner for this year is the best ever, I do believe. I've spent hundreds of hours on the engines, such as flowing and deporting the cylinder heads, modifying the upper valve guides, increasing the clearance on the cylinders to .010, redesigning lighter pistons, changing the top dike ring to a chrome ring, retaining the gapless second ring, an improved oil ring, new 2 start oil pumps, increased clearance on big end, many engine parts lightened, such as, sprockets, blower drive pulleys, primary covers, chain adjusters, and the engine cases themselves.

The cylinder muffs are now water cooled. In addition the liner now has a 2 gallon water tank, which is pressurized when activated to spray a mist of water on the cylinder heads. There are 2 other water tanks that operate the same, one sprays water on the rear chain, the other sprays water on the front tire--all for cooling purposes.

The front tire cooler was advised by Sam Wheeler, when we were talking about his tire problems. And by the way, Sam will be running the original all aluminum front wheel, which he designed and ran when E-Z Hook was first built. He told me that he went 225 mph with the wheel, experiencing lots of salt in his wheel compartment. He is redesigning the front wheel by making the tread grooves deeper, and by milling horizontal grooves to help the friction co-efficient aluminum to salt.

Other improvements to the engine package include a new slider clutch, made primarily from aluminum, transmission casing has been lightened some 10 lbs. The input shaft in the transmission had an aluminum sleeve betweem the shaft and it's support bearing. During teardown this was found to be "giving up the ghost". The sleeve is now steel, and made part of the shaft by welding.

The 2 primaries, one which couples the engines, the other, which covers the jackshaft chain to the transmission, are all Siamesed by drilling and using the cavity where the transmission used to be, as an additional reservoir. By doing this oil capacity for the primaries has doubled. This will surely help keep the oil much cooler during a run.

As I said before, the liner now has 4 water tanks: a 2 gallon tank, which is used for the water spray on the cylinder heads, a 4 1/2 gallon tank, which is not a total loss tank, as the others, 2 water pumps, one for each engine, circulates (if my calculations are correct) the 4 1/2 gallons 4 times throughout the cylinder muffs. The chain cooling tank has a capacity of 1 gallon, and the front wheel cooling tank has a 1 1/2 gallon capacity. Each tank has it's own on/off switches on the dash. These will be turned on in a sequence yet to be determined, ie the pilots will turn on the chain cooler, at say the 1 mile mark, maybe sooner, and so on.

There is an air reservoir tank, which is pressurized to 160 lbs. pressure. From there it goes to a regulating valve. From there the air is plumbed to the four 12 volt solinoid operated poppet valves. In addition, there is a small 12 volt air compresser, which aids the reservoir tank to maintain adequate pressure. The 3 water tanks that are total loss are pressurized at approximately 25 lbs. when activated. The tank's discharge plumbing exits the bottom of the tanks.

The parachute deployment system is completly new, using air cylinders to eject the pilot chutes. Air is probably a wrong term, as CO2 will be used. Far less corrosive that air. CO2 will also be used for the air shifter. There I go again. :o) The same type of 12 volt actuated poppet valves are used. This reduces the spare requirement down to one additional unit. The poppet valves are quite expensive, but were donated by a local enthusiast. His cost, over $500.

The frame for 2007 has been highly modified to accept the new parachute deployment design i.e., rear door aerodynamic enclosures, and the 29 1/2" tall Firestone 600 mph rear rubber, which required the swing arm to be modified a great deal. Bullet proof rear axle adjusters were made, and salt splash shields, I guess you could call them "fender shields". The rear suspension has been stiffened. The shocks for the suspension were relocated, much like those on a standard Vincent. The shocks are the coiled over type. I did this to increase the stiffness.

The pivot angle of the swing arm was not correct last year. When I made the frame last year, I miscalculated by 1". The pivot hole was too high in the frame for proper swing arm angle, driver to driven sprockets. The new, larger diameter Firestone makes all of this moot.

The frame has also been strengthened. I found that there was unwanted flex when the liner was under full load.

A new body, or should I say practically a new body has been built. The only body portions that were retained is the fiberglass portion around the cockpit area, and the nose. The canopy has been changed to a dolphin type for visability purposes. And from the rear roll bar back, a new fiberglass body has been built. The liner is now 15" longer than last year's, narrowing down the tail area to a knife edge. The shape is better than ever, extremely aerodynamic, and the best I've ever done. All I can say is--it really has a pretty shape. Removing all of the airscoops helped a lot.

It looks like about the third week in July I'll be attacking the dyno end of the 2007 project.

Almost Ready For The Dyno

I just finished up the transmission and all the shifting linkages and CO2 system today. I found quite a few things wrong, and I definitely know why it didn't shift last year. I've corrected all of this, and I don't anticipate any problems for the pilots in finding the gears. When I get the bike on the dyno, the shifting will be tested several times under load.

I've finished all of the pieces on the engines. It's really no big deal for me to put it all together. Two or three days maximum for this, and that's taking my time, and being very careful with the assembly.

Lenny McKnight will be here next Wednesday, four days from now. I'll probably have the engines in the bike by then. I plan to tune them as best I can by checking the spark plugs and sound prior to hooking up the dyno. Lenny will be a big help on getting the dyno all hooked up. I've got to build some frame work supports and a coupler. Anyway, all of this could take as much as five days.

So it looks like I'm about ten days to two weeks off from putting the Vincent power plant through it's paces on the dyno. I've done a good job on all the pieces, so I think that all of the testing will go off without a hitch.

I should be ready to take a week's break this year prior to the long trek to Bonneville. A thorough compiling of all of the spares and things we possibly might need is also in the works, and nothing will be forgotten.


The Muncie transmission in question was given to me by Don Vesco, who had gotten it from Bob George. Low and reverse have been removed, and the housing is a six piece box, the four center pieces are of 5/8" aluminum. The ends are steel. We'll be trying the air thing to hold it in high tomorrow. We'd thought about that a few months ago, and built in the electrical switches to do just that. Anyway, I'll know more tomorrow.


The liner is 99% done, and it's all together. We built a framework, which supports the liner about 1 1/2' off the ground. The water brake is attached to the frame in 4 places. A drive off the transmission to the brake was machined and works great. The dyno could be removed, framework and all in 20 minutes.

I didn't have the CO2 hooked up on the initial dyno testing to the air shifter. With some linkage adjustment, and using the system redesign which, when both Don and Hartmut shift to second and high, the air shifter cylinder will hold it's pressure and wont dump until the next shift is made, thereby holding the transmission in gear, both second and high. Yesterday for further tuning, Lenny made the bracket and we added cylinder head temperature gauges. The cylinders are pretty close right now, but I just want to see what's actually going on. I ran it up twice to check the transmission, starting off in low. It pulled 350 ft. lbs. of torque. I was at the throttle and the water brake, I nodded my head, and Lenny made the shift from the handlebar dash. The shift was made with ease, and again It pulled 350 ft. lbs. of torque in second. I held the torque at 350 lbs. for 15 seconds, backed off the throttle, nodded to Lenny, he made the shift to high, and again 350 ft. lbs. for 15 seconds. No jumping out of gear. It shifts really smooth and positive. We did this twice.

We're still messing with an exhaust system to get the fumes out of the small garage for longer run ups. It's been really hot the last few days, temperatures in the 100's all the way up to 109 degrees.

Anyway, things are pretty much on schedule, and things are going quite well.

One thing came up, when we tested the outriggers, one of them had rusted quite badly in the up position. The rusted area didn't provide a seal, and leaked quite badly. About a week ago I ordered the same type of cylinder, only this time with stainless steel cylinder shafting. Picked them up today and they've been fitted.

I worked on the last remaining body part today, (the belly pan). It's outside underneath my shade tree. Debating whether to paint the sucker.


We finished all the dyno testing yesterday. All of the oil leaks are stopped, and all the systems have been thoroughly tested

All cylinder head temperatures run within 10 degrees under load I built a new clutch for 2007, and it's pulled 25 run ups on the dyno--torque readings 300 to 385 ft. lbs. and shows no sign of wear. The transmission shifts really well, and stays in gear. No problem there.

I've dialed in the fuel curve, and the engines are running far better than they ever have. Smooth and powerful. Making lots of horsepower. Originally I intended to run a bit of nitro, but after attaining high horsepower readings on alcohol, I found that it won't be necessary.

There's always that bit of information in my head that makes me excited--during the wind tunnel tests conducted in Vancouver, Canada in 2002, the engineering students from the university determined that it would take 425 hp. to go 400 mph with the shape of the liner as it was then. Aerodynamics have been improved since, and this last week it has been proven on the dyno that the coupled Vincent engines make more than 425 hp.

I'll be setting ride heights today, as the dyno rig has been removed from the liner. All the nuts and bolts will be safety wired, oils and fuels have already been drained for transport to Bonneville. Still have to check wheel alignment and rear chain alignment, also I have to shave some rubber off the two front Goodyear tires, and get both of them rebalanced.

On The Salt


The course is terrible. Don said he experienced a lot of wheel spin.

I had a 350 mph gear on it. Took the lay shaft and gears out of the transmission and locked it in high gear. Don Angel pulled the 350 mph gear from a dead stop. Off the line he went 199 mph on the first run. I was going to gear lower, but I had the lowest gear I own on it. To improve the performance I'm leaning the motors out. They're running rich. I'm taking the weight out of the fingers of the slider clutch to increase the rpm on the initial acceleration.

Rocky crashed the Ack Attack on their second run. No one is going to go 350 mph on that course.

We'll make another run in about an hour with Hartmut in the cockpit.


Hartmut's run was 181.235 mph by the timing slip.

The motors, by leaning it out, and taking some of the weight off the clutch, improved the acceleration a lot. The bike is not handling like it used to. I'm raising the axle on the rear wheel in relation to the chassis, which will improve the C.G. The front coil over gas shock will be stiffened on the front. The wheel alignment checked thoroughly. It appears it's going to take another 20 lbs of weight on the right hand side.

The motors are running strong--real strong. Hartmut reported that even with the poor salt conditions, and the one gear only, the bike should go 250 to 300 mph.

I had ordered spare parachutes sent to the hotel, which haven't arrived as of yet. Mike Ackitiff generously loaned me a high and a low chute, in case the others don't arrive. Great guy. He'll be leaving the salt tomorrow, done for the year, due to extensive damage to his motorcycle.


Wheel alignment has been done. It was off. I'm setting the ride height now, which will improve handling. We'll make a run as soon as the weather permits. Hopefully today. It's windy.

JC left. He couldn't take it.


Hartmut will be making a run in about an hour.

We're just sitting in the truck talking. We had gone to the line just for a handling run, when an official came all the way (five miles) from the prestage area to tell us that we hadn't notified the officials that we were about to make a run. The officials have to be told in advance when you're going after a record run. We were next in line when this happened, and lost our window because of the hassle, which placed several others in front of us. We finally got it straightened out, when a thunderstorm came up. It looks like it's passing over.

Now we're next in line. Again, for a handling run. I would need a gear box to go for the 350 mph record.


At point zero.

There are about 40 motorcycles in front of the Vincent streamliner, and 6 other streamliners. Denis Manning is in line next to them. It's too windy for the streamliners so it's a waiting game. Cloudy.

But that's Bonneville.


The Vincent streamliner has been ready to run since 9:30 this morning, but has been waiting.

Hartmut is next in line, however, Denis just took all the streamliner pilots in a couple of vehicles to inspect the course. Another 30 minutes probably.


Hartmut made the run. Took it to 188 mph but couldn't open it up, as the liner is still experiencing handling problems. We're back in the pit working on the the handling. Hopefully will get another run in today.


Wind came up again. Only 10 minutes till meet closes for the day.

Denis says the streamliners will be first in line at 7:00 am.


The meet's almost over, so the plan is to make a run. If it's over 200 mph, make a return run and walk away with an AMA record.

Made the first run. Don piloting. Speed 221 and change. Made the return run within the time required. Speed 214 and change, setting the AMA record at 217 and change.


The meet ended two hours ago, but I got permission to have Hartmut make a run just to check the handling. I can't afford private time on the salt, which costs thousands, so I wouldn't have been able to test the handling out for another year without this chance.

We took the liner to the zero. They informed me that all the runs after the 1 o'clock deadline would have to start at the 2 mile. Hartmut's run was actually started at the 1 and 3/4 mile, giving him a 2 and 1/4 run in before the traps. He accelerated better than ever before, pulling the 1.46 top gear only. Hartmut reached 4500 engine rpm just prior to entering the traps. Speed 250 mph. The clutch, after a lot of heat build up, due to clutch slippage to accelerate in that manner, disentegrated the center friction disc. He coasted through the timed mile at 116 mph. This was actually our best run of the meet, proving the Vincent streamliner has more torque than any of the big three.

When Don piloted the Vincent streamliner he took the AMA Blown Fuel Vintage record at 217+mph.

The officials have now asked me to tear the engines completely down for engine displacement proof. I might not be finished in time to make it to the banquet tonight.

Final Words

Man what a year!

All in all it's been the best year ever in accomplishments needed to reach the goal of "The World's Fastest". Thousands of hours went in to the building of necessary design changes, all proved to be very workable, and bullet proof.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone in the crew and all of the well wishers who took time to give the Black Lightning Project a vote of confidence, and in many cases their financial support.

The six runs, two of which were made by Don Angel, consummated in an AMA record of 217+mph. This record is the second fastest record ever set by a Vincent. The fastest still being the SCTA/BNI 225+mph record set by Dave Matson. The golden scroll was further polished by one of the legends of Vincent lore when Marty Dickerson, (age 80+) straddled Steve's Hamel's mighty twin and came away with another new vintage record. WAY TO GO, GUYS!

The week, for the Vincent streamliner crew and myself, proved to be as usual, a continual learning experience. Prior to taking the liner to Bonneville, I performed a pretty extensive dyno testing of the engines. The crew (with the exception of Lenny McKnight) having never seen the 2007 liner, looked it over with a critical eye. Some pointed out the close clearance on the right hand coil over shock to the rear tire. They thought it would be a good idea to fire the beast up and run it through the gears to determine tire growth. It seemed like a reasonable thing to do, however I hadn't planned to do it, as Al Teague had given me his assurance that there was very little tire growth with the 600 mph Firestones. Going through with it anyway proved to be a bad decision on my part.

The unforeseen problem was that the heavy mass of the new wheel and Firestone tire caused the destruction of low and second gear.

The engine response when throttle is given is instantaneous. Idle speed is around 1800 rpm. When throttle is opened the tachometer reads 6500 rpm in probably less than a second. Hence, when the transmission is in gear, the rear wheel is accelerated instantly, and likewise decelerates instantly on throttle closing. This starting and stopping, and an approximately 80 lb. flywheel, i.e. the rear wheel assembly, proved to be too much for the Muncie gears.

Keep in mind the Muncie gears are more than adequate to hang in there under normal acceleration when making a run. Normally, during acceleration, it transmits 385 ft. lbs of torque without a problem, and decelerates the rotating masses, i.e. rear wheel and engine parts. The key here is the time factor as to mass acceleration and deceleration.

The most exciting of the runs was the last one. Hartmut Weidelich was the pilot. That run answered the main question of the dedicated Black Lightning crew.

"Does she have what it takes to set the record?"

Black Lightning exhibited her awesome power when she accelerated to 250 mph in 2 1/4 mi. pulling a one gear only run. That gear being a 1.46 ratio with a 30" tall rear tire. It is highly questionable whether any of the "Big Three" have ever performed such a feat.

350+ MPH?

(The following article, by Max, appeared in the Bonneville Racing News)

For about two decades now, it's been my goal to reclaim the title, "The World's Fastest Motorcycle" for the Vincent marquee. From the beginning my goal proved to be a formidable one indeed. Not having first hand knowledge of all the whistles and bells required to build a world class streamliner, coupled with my lack of a realization of the financial cost, the thousands of man hours it would take, and the gargantuan learning curve that it would entail to compete in this ultimate arena of speed, off I went like a duck to water, finding out it was going to be more like a duck to molasses.

Murphy's Law, (if something can go wrong it will) in conjunction with the unforgiving Great White Dyno, in my experience has been proven over the years. No myths or old wives tales here. For an in-depth detailed account of the trials and tribulations encountered in my building of the eight streamliners, while taking six to the salt on seven different occasions, go to Black Lightning's website, www.vincentstreamliner.com, then click on to "new website", which is at this time unfinished. Stephen Doherty, and I are working together to hopefully get the new website completed soon.

That's enough yakking about some of the history behind the quest. Now to the BIG STORY--the future.

I named the Vincent streamliner Black Lightning out of respect for the bikes that rolled out of the works at Stevenage, England some 50 years ago and set the motorcycle racing world on it's ear.

In 2007 the Vincent streamliner earned the credentials to potentially regain the title, "The World's Fastest", verified with Black Lightning's speed and reliability on the salt, and with engine dyno testing results.

During dyno testing it was proven beyond any doubt that two 1500cc supercharged Vincent engines on straight alcohol, can and do produce more horsepower and torque than would be required to accelerate a 3.8 square ft. frontal area with aerodynamic shape, to speeds far in excess of 350+mph, which is now the current FIM record. Dyno test readings were 573 hp, 385 ft. lbs. of torque.

Two back to back runs in opposite directions with Don Angel as the pilot brought home the bacon for the Vincent marquee, setting an AMA National record of 217.9215 mph (pending ratification by the AMA). To all of those who only understand the numbers, i.e., 217.9215 mph, versus the current record of 350+ mph, one could say with conviction, "What's the big deal? The Vincent streamliner didn't even come close to becoming "The World's Fastest."

Here are the facts. The 350+ mph record was set under perfect salt conditions in 2006. The distance to accelerate was probably 5 and 1/4 miles before the timed mile. The current record holding streamliner, Denis Manning's "Lucky Seven" was towed up to I believe 60 mph, released, then went on it's own power, accelerating to 350+mph, using all gears in a four speed transmission.

The Vincent streamliner made all of it's runs on a bad course, which was quite wet in spots, offering up poor traction. Only four miles of acceleration was made available prior to entering the timed mile. The thing that affected and gave Black Lightning it's worst handicap, was that prior to making any runs during the first day of the meet, human error took out first and second gears in it's three speed gear box. All runs were made with high gear, pulling a 1.46 top gear, with a 30" tall rear tire.

One other handicap was the Vincent's poor handling, which was never a problem on any of it's previous outings. My pilots, both Don Angel and Hartmut Weidelich, reported that on the first five runs the liner was falling side to side each time digging the skids into the soft salt which scrubbed at least 20 mph off the speed with each dig. The pilot would have to back out of the throttle to get it back on it's wheels, and start the acceleration process all over again. This happened at least 5 times on all of the first five runs.

Now to the sixth and last run of the meet, which closed the chapter in the quest to be the "World's Fastest" for 2007. The official timed runs were closed at 1:00 pm on the last day of the meet. However, they were allowing timed runs until 3:00 pm. I decided to make one last run to check out whether I had corrected the handling problem. This run would be a "go for broke" run. I leaned the lady out, this being the third time during the meet, took some clutch out of the slider for more slip, and we took her to the line for her last run of the year. When we got there, we were told that all of the remainder runs of the meet were being launched at the two mile marker. Damn! That would mean we would only have a measly two mile run in to the timed mile. I almost said, "Well, it's over. Let's pack up and go home." My crew wanted no part of that idea. So I said, "What the poop? Well o.k. Let's go for it."

Pilot Hartmut Weidelich was strapped in, we'd fudged a little and started the run at the 1 and 3/4 mile, giving the liner a 2 1/4 mile run in before the timed mile. We fired her up. The Vincent sounded crisp. Real Crisp. Hartmut nailed it full throttle, with that tall high gear. The 1600 pound 23 1/2 foot long liner raised it's nose cone a couple of inches, and was off accelerating harder than ever before. About three hundred yards out of the gate, it disappeared instantly in a rooster tail of salt, out of sight.

After the run Hartmut reported that the acceleration at around the mile marker was unreal. The tachometer was climbing at over twice the speed of the second hand of a watch, before he reached the timed mile. The clutch couldn't handle the 385 ft lb. of torque at 4600 rpm. It gave up and fried big time.

The sixth run proved to be the highlight of our week. Black Lightning achieved a speed of over 250 mph, pulling high gear only, in a tad over two miles. Truly a remarkable feat, which proves that the dark horse Vincent steamliner may well surprise a whole lot of people when next the "Big Three" meet to find out which is the "World's Fastest Motorcycle".

I want to finish this up with a great big thank you to the crew and to all who have supported the Black Lightning project through the lean years, and especially the pilots, Don Angel and Hartmut Weidelich, who are finding it old hat to lie on their backs two inches off the salt, while achieving "go fast" speeds.


Since this was written back in October 2007, the AMA as ratified the record.