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Discussion Starter · #601 ·
Just a note saying that the Bultaco project isn't dead. It isn't undead yet, either. It's patiently waiting in one corner of the basement. The Bride of Bultakenstein is still getting my attention. The Bultaco was starting to feel futile and unrewarding; I'm having a lot of fun with this one. Not only is it much less ambitious in scope, but I'm much less emotionally invested. I don't have a bunch of bucket-list hopes and dreams on the line if it turns out crappy.

Since the most recent photo I posted, I have revised the down-tubes and cradle to fit the engine and CVT, and created a kart-style engine mount. I also had to modify the swingarm and add an idler sprocket to the swingarm pivot (visible in the first photo below). The engine is now in, and the chain lines up, so I'm making good progress. It's amazing what a difference not caring about elegance or aesthetics makes.

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Discussion Starter · #602 · (Edited)
Well, in less than 18 hours, at 11:31 AM tomorrow morning, this thread will be a decade old. The project is still officially ongoing, though I haven't touched Bultakenstein in six months. It currently sits in between a couple of other project bikes to one side of my shop. It's currently wearing its older BSA "mockup" tank; the pretty red one is safely in a box, wrapped in foam sheets.



Here's a larger, HD-sized photo of that first mockup. At the time, I called it "Project X." I won't rehash too much of how this project started; you can just go back and read the first post if you're interested. But I wanted to look back on this remarkable anniversary, and reflect on how far I've come and where I am on this journey now.



Looking back:
  • It's remarkable to me how totally foolish I was to attempt such an involved and audacious project. How ill-equipped I was to attempt something like this. I had very few tools; I think a bench-top Craftsman drill press was the most sophisticated power tool I possessed. I had never even attempted to use a welder, run a lathe, or tap threads.
  • My lack of skills caused me functional myopathy. Limiting myself to only those processes I understood and felt I could undertake successfully led me to take many of my initial steps the hard way, and I ended up doing a lot of rework over the years as I ran up against poor earlier choices.
  • I was really fortunate that I chose this forum to document this build. People such as Geeto, kenessex, o1marc and a host of others (mostly long gone) gave me great ideas, helped me cut through the fog of my ignorance, and kept me from building something rickety and dangerous. I am sorry this forum has devolved into a shell of what it was, but I am grateful for how instrumental it was to my early progress. That's why I feel compelled to keep this thread going for those who remain.
  • There were a few points where it became apparent that what I was building had strayed from the mental concept that was originally in my head. As hard as it was, I am glad I spent the money and effort to jettison parts and reconstruct assemblies to stay faithful to the bike I wanted to end up with.
  • This has been damned expensive. I intended this to be a spare-time/spare-money endeavor. I promised my wife this wouldn't spend more than $40/month or 8 hours per week on this. I thought I could do it in 2–3 years. My current tally is about $54 per month for ten years. And that doesn't include the lathe my wife bought me for my birthday during this time.
  • The unexpected expenses and difficulties usually don't hinge on the big components that make up the basic chassis. It's the stuff that wears out and has to be replaced with new on any old bike: cables, bearings, seals, and sprockets. Also, the paint stripper, the raw metal stock, the fasteners and hardware, the hole saws and cut-off wheels. Those are the expenses you never consider, and never recoup in any restoration's resulting value.
I am sure some people look at what I have, after so much time, and expect me to feel like a failure, or at least express some sheepishness or regret. Well, I don't. One of the traits this project taught me is perseverance. Sometimes, staying committed to a project with such slow, halting progress is mentally harder than a big, overwhelming push to see it through all at once. Also, I always knew this project was about what I would learn along the way. Even if it never runs, I have learned SO much! My fabrication skills are a thousand times more advanced than they were ten years ago, and it shows in just about every workshop project I do.

If I have any misgivings, it's how readily I've relegated this bike to the back burner, sometimes for years, to make other bikes my priority. Along the way, I completed my CL125S resto-mod and over the past six months, I've made comparatively surprising progress on my current CVT-powered mongrel. I don't know how long the current hiatus on Bultakenstein will last, but I still fully intend to get Bultakenstein on the road someday. In the meantime, I wouldn't have had the skills to attempt either of those bikes if not for what Bultakenstein taught me first.

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Discussion Starter · #603 ·
Just checking in. Looking at the projects I have lined up in my garage, I don't foresee any new progress on Bultakenstein for many months, perhaps another year. While I would expect to continue updating this thread whenever that happens, CR.net is pretty dead nowadays and I don't check in here very often. So, if for some reason this thread goes cold, I will direct you to my personal workshop blog, tanshanomi.com, where you can always check for updates on this bike, along with my other projects.
 

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Discussion Starter · #604 · (Edited)
I have realized that I'm not an engine guy; I don't enjoy rebuilding engines and I really don't aspire to gain skills as one. Attempting to build Bultakenstein's engine myself would likely keep it in limbo indefinitely. So, I've talked with Ralph Weidling of Ralph's Bultaco Parts, and I have decided to have the engine built by a pro. Ralph pointed out some show-stoppers with the mis-matched engine parts I've collected, but he's confident he can offer some solutions from his parts stock. I will box up all my engine parts in the next couple of weeks and ship them to him. My current CVT bike project is nearing the start-up and test phase, and I'm eager to turn my attention back to Number One Son.
 

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Discussion Starter · #605 · (Edited)
I can hear you all rolling your eyes. What can I say? creative conceptualization comes so much more quickly and easily than execution. I swear it's a groove, not a rut, and I'll probably never change. The Japanese have the perfect term for this, "mikka bouzu" (三日坊主 — literally "three-day monk").

But seriously, wouldn't an ATC250R-powered bike make a absolutely cracking vintage racer? The engine would be ineligible for most classes, but I could do SoS3 with a 300cc kit.

If it doesn't ever happen, it doesn't happen, no big whoop. Fortunately, I have a wonderfully patient and understanding spouse, so it's all good. Hey, at least I'll have plenty to keep my busy in retirement!
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Discussion Starter · #607 ·
I think when you set out to build a race bike you should gather all your bits together and put them on a weigh scale first to see if it's practical.
Practical, schmactical. Hell, an '81 engine in a '72 frame is already torpedoing any chance of being competitive. Besides, you're talking as though this thing would ever really run.
 

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Discussion Starter · #608 ·
I have a couple of XVZ1200 front wheels I originally bought for the CVT bike, which ended up not working out for several reasons. So, I've decided to repurpose them and go full hipster mode, giving the ATC250R-powered Benelli cartoonishly fat tires. At first I thought it looked silly, but I've gotten nothing but positive feedback from my friends who've seen it. Not my original concept, and not in keeping with my usual tastes, but I have to admit the vibe is growing on me. Plus, utilizing parts I've already paid for is always a plus.
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In the meantime, I'm not neglecting my other projects. Bultakenstein's engine is crated, waiting for a freight pickup, and I'm working on mounting The Bride's tank and seat.
 

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Discussion Starter · #609 · (Edited)
Bultakenstein's engine has been sent off to Ralph Weidling of Bultaco Parts US. He has suggested possibly swapping my incomplete and mismatched engine parts out for a different engine, possibly an earlier Astro 350 Mk6, which should provide about 45 horses—plenty for that bike's purpose. Unfortunately, that engine would need to have the cases notched to clear the swingarm in my late-model Pursang frame. That's not a big deal, but we're still working out all the details.

In the meantime, most of my attention has been focused on The Bride of Bultakenstein. Since I've chosen not to concern myself too much with aesthetics, this is coming together much more quickly. Since the last photo I posted, the tank, carb and intake, muffler, seat, fenders, and footpads are all complete. The front brake is rebuilt; I just need to hook up the line and get fluid in it.

I'm almost to the point of being able to give it its first test ride. It might be nothing more than a novelty, or it might be an entertaining neighborhood runabout. We'll find out soon enough.
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