Friday, May 1, 2009

Barber Motorsports Museum

Sorry about the delay in finishing the blog; the laptop I was using on the road died. And, while I could have used the computer at the hotel, I hate to tie the hotel computer up as long as it usually takes me to write and post nightly. So, I waited until I got home to finish. I'll start looking for a new laptop to use on the road.

I guess today, there were two significant events: Headlight repairs, and Barber Motorcycle Museum. I'll talk about the headlight repairs first.

We got up and went outside to the bikes, each with a burned-out right headlight bulb. Changing that bulb is a royal pain... We removed the right mirror so we could see under the dash a little. It's covered by a cup that makes the assembly waterproof. That was easy to remove. Then the wiring harness needs to be taken off the bulb. That was a little more difficult because where it's located, you can't see any part of the bulb. And the space through which you have to pass your hand is just larger than your hand. And, to make it even more difficult, it has to be done with the left hand.

After the wiring harness is removed from the bulb, there are two wire springs that hold the bulb in place. They have to be pushed to the front and to the outside to remove them. Then the bulb can be removed from it's place. Removing is not the hard part. Installing the new one is the hard part.

The bulb has to be oriented in a specific way in order to fit properly in its socket. And once the bulb is in its socket properly, you have to swing the springs down and pushed in to the front and then bent to the inside. Hard to do when you can't see what you're doing and can barely reach it with your bad hand!

While Gary was working on his, I started working on mine, which was made even more difficult due to the fact that the wiring harness had broken during an earlier bulb replacement. After fooling with it a while, I decided that I had to get more room and visibility, so I removed one of the fairings on the right side. That made it possible to see the area where the bulb was located AND to work on it at the same time. I also opened my tool kit to get some long needle nose vise grip pliers, thinking that maybe I could pull the wires off the bulb terminals. It worked!! And the pliers made it possible to put the bulb in place and to bend the springs to hold the bulb in place at the same time. I actually got mine done in about 20 minutes!

When I finished mine, I helped Gary to do the same with his.

I tested mine to see that the bulb burned properly; it did. Gary tested his, and the bulb-out light stayed on his dash. He thought it did not burn. Instead, the LEFT bulb burned out!! I don't know why, but the RTs are famous for blowing both bulb s at the same time. (It happened to me once).

So, another trip to Autozone to get anther bulb. We installed it in the parking lot; it worked pretty easy because you can see and reach it. That concluded our headlight work, a task that I don't want to deal with for a long time.

If there is a heaven for motorcycles, the Barber Motorsports Museum has to be it! I can't begin to describe the museum and how well done it is. A couple of statistics might help to explain: over 1,400 motorcycles from 1903 to today's newest. 700 on display. Buys 2 motorcycles and one car a week on average. Museum is 5 stories; all open-air and highly visible. Each machine is said to be able to run within 2 hours of the decision to run it. Machine shop in basement to die for. Clean. Bright. Every display is perfect!

I've seen it twice; the first time 4 years ago, when about 500 machines were on display. At the time, I thought it couldn't get better; yet, it is better today. If you're into motorcycles at all, this place is worth whatever trip you have to make to see it.

I'll post several pics on this post to give just a tiny taste of what's there. No matter how good I say it is, it's much better!

In addition to the motorcycles, Mr. Barber has a great collection of cars. Mostly race cars--Corvette, Porsche, Lotus, Ford, and other cars like Formula I and Indy cars. Quite a nice collection of neat cars as well.

One interesting thing they do is about once an hour, they start some machine (car or motorcycle) and rev the engine to make noise. Today they started a Harley drag bike and ran the engine about 2 minutes or so, pretty much wide-open. It was LOUD! The crowd loved it and clapped to show appreciation when the motor was shut down. The museum lives!

Rode 60 miles today. Also watched some bikes qualify, but the real show was the museum.

Tomorrow-day 1 of the Superbike races.

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