A few weeks back, Dan Daughenbaugh’s 1951 BSA Star Twin custom bike generated a ton of buzz and picked up the 1st Place People’s Choice Award at the Triumph National Rally in Oley, PA. To hear the story of how the charred engine was literally plucked from the ashes of a garage fire in Philly to be reborn as the Greasy Gringo is pretty cool. In Dan’s words, “They had a Fire Sale, and there it was blackened and charred. All the pot metal parts had melted off but the cases were still good!” He took it home and dedicated himself to machining it into a land speed record bike in his barn, and mostly on a mill dating back to the 1940s.
Then fate struck– driving with his family in the Pennsylvania countryside, Dan stopped when he noticed a motorcycle that had wrecked. He thought nothing of taking the guys and their bike back to his barn where he kindly fixed them up. He also showed them his BSA barn build bike and shared his humble story which amazed them– and led to a joining of forces to make it to Bonneville together and document the Greasy Gringo’s attempt at setting a new land speed record. Obviously this takes money, and so they’ve started a campaign on INDIEGOGO to raise funds to get them to Bonneville and make a film on Dan’s inspiring story.
Dan Daughenbaugh on the build– “The motor is a real mongrel inside. The stock crank had been known as a weak link and at the power levels I wanted to make, they would surely fail. So I machined a crank to fit from a ’70s BSA Lightning. With that done I wanted to use longer rods to lower piston speed and take advantage of less rod angularity. I settled on Carillio Triumph 650 units hat were 1/2 inch longer than original. These had to be narrowed .160 to fit…nothing like milling away on brand new $600 rods.”
“I’m running Triumph trident pistons in STD size with a .063 spacer under the barrel to keep the pistons from hitting the head. Compression comes in at 13.6:1 and I run it on a Methanol/Nitromethane mix. The camshaft is a Harmon and Collins roller unit that was made in the ’60s, I have never seen another one. I made the pushrods out of aluminum and the valvetrain is a mix of modern Ford (mustang) V8 parts and Titanium pieces. Since the bike’s first record-breaking run (90.142mph at the ECTA Ohio Mile in May 2014) I have rebuilt the top end, made a new stainless 2-1 exhaust, rebuilt the trans completely, machined the trans case for better bearings and upgraded the wheel bearings. I’m hoping with the new upgrades and additional room we will go well above the current 111mph record.”
Here’s my favorite of the videos on the project. The Greasy Gringo getting lettered and numbered by Philadelphia’s master sign-painter, Gibbs Connors–