Billy Lane Brings The Past To The Present
Article and Photos By: Will Ramsey
Originally Published In The November 2016 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
Writing for Cycle Source Magazine over the years has certainly had its perks. As tech editor I have a unique opportunity to help publicize pertinent and accurate tips and techniques for our loyal readers. The search for both relevant content and reputable contributors is a monthly process that has allowed me to learn as much from other builders as I have ever taught through my own writings. I always enjoy the opportunity to travel to another shop in search of the next killer tech tip. This month Chris asked me if I would like to venture down to Florida to spend a day with Billy Lane at Choppers Inc. and check out his new project… Well let’s just say it was without hesitation that I packed my bags… Billy needs no introduction from me, his work and success speaks volumes to his skill and ingenuity as a fabricator and builder. And there are few people in this industry who have not been influenced by his bikes. From his long and sexy hubless choppers to his timeless old school bobbers, Billy’s style and work are unforgettable. But it may come as a surprise to some to see what he is W Article and Photos By: Will Ramsey www.faithforgottenchoppers.com up to these days. On Saturday, Oct 15th Billy will be hosting and participating in the Sons of Speed Vintage Motorcycle race at New Smyrna Speedway during Daytona Biketoberfest. This unique race will feature 8 racers riding hand crafted board track style racers powered by pre-1925 1000cc motors. For me, this is a must see event! While spending an entire day at Choppers Inc. not only did I realize what an intoxicating passion Billy has for these old racers, I also discovered that he is a walking encyclopedia of most all pre-1925 bikes. The history lesson I received at Billy’s shop rivaled any college course I ever sat through. Of great interest to me was the exposed valve train on the Perry Mack. Billy explained to me that the valves were left exposed in order to be air cooled while speeding around the board tracks in the early twentieth century. The rockers and valves were simply oiled by hand between races. As I continued to ask questions about this design Billy decided to simply show me how he adjusts the entire valve train on this vintage motor.
This 1913 Perry Mack was built by Billy for the sole purpose of racing. But before this bike can hit the track, Billy is going to install the intake pushrods and demonstrate how to adjust and maintain the open valve train on this century old motor.
As you can see, the rockers on this motor are fully exposed and held in place by a single threaded shaft. When loose, the rockers can rotate to the side. This makes installing the pushrod quite easy. The non-adjustable pushrod simply indexes into the rotated rocker arm before being aligned over the valve.
On this 1913 Perry Mack, it is the height of the rocker that dictates the valve adjustment. This height is adjusted and maintained by two nuts on either side of the threaded shaft.
The adjustment is similar to setting up mechanical lifters on a Panhead or Shovelhead. With the valve closed there should be no end play in the pushrod but you should be able to spin the rod between your fingers with slight drag.
Billy takes great care to align the rocker over the center of the valve so that the force is distributed evenly to the valve.
Here you can see how the rocker is held in alignment while the adjustment nuts are torqued to hold everything in place.
Once the adjustments have been made for all the valves, Billy oils each rocker by hand. It might look messy to some modern day riders that cringe at the sight of oil on their bikes but this is how it was done by real men brave enough to tear around the 60° board track walls at speeds approaching 100 mph. At the end of the day, Billy took the Perry Mack outside and let me hear what she was made of. I’m not even going to try to describe what it feels like to hear this motor run. Instead I will simply conclude this tech article with a strong suggestion… Do not miss the Sons Of Speed races in Daytona on Oct 15th. Check him out at www.choppersincshop.com