Where to Start
Nobody knows how long it has been sitting, or how many lives it had since 1953 but if I get it running, it will tell me.
Where do I even start?
Where do I even start? Well you cannot tune a carburetor without perfect timing… so check the flywheels, find top dead center, and adjust the points (fully advanced). Do not forget to check for a wobble. Sure enough, I can fire the points just by pushing against the distributor… Good thing I have all these beer cans laying around… they make great shims. Oh, and you might as well check the condenser and coil for proper resistance. If you did this right, you can remove one variable.
Now move on to the valve train.
Pull the pushrod covers, rotate the motor to close the valves and check the pushrods for lash… a perfect spin with no vertical play. It takes a very personal touch… Not to tight, not too lose. If you do this right, you can move on to carburation. Finally, remove the carb and test for intake leaks at the manifold. Once the manifold is air tight, pull the carb apart and inspect it. Just as I thought, jets are clogged, nozzle spring is rusted, and the float needle will not seat.
Now we are getting somewhere!
Now we are getting somewhere! This kind of corrosion means it has been setting for decades. Perhaps because of the wobbly distributor, or maybe the owner died? Who really knows – either way, time to rebuild the carb… all if it – Gaskets, jets, springs, and butterfly… and triple check the float height! Put it back together and adjust your jets – four turns on the low speed and two turns out on the high speed (it’s just a starting point). Now I can finally start the thing and listen to what it has to say. It is a patient process but always worth the conversation.
Todd Blubaugh was born and raised in McPherson, Kansas. His earliest interests were in art and motorbikes and since the age of 12, Todd has been pursuing these two passions. He currently works in film, writes, shoots, and pursues collaborations with his roommates at The Chun, a motorcycle warehouse and art space in Los Angeles. The free-spirit artist shares his passion for open roads through aspirational imagery and poetic travel notes that resonate with Serengeti’s DNA.