The project didn't make much progress this year. It has been very challenging in many aspects. Part of it is that it was a one-off race bike so nailing down details for accuracy sometimes comes down to photo archeology. Forty years ago there wasn't a nitro top fuel drag bike catalog to order everything out of. Parts were picked because they were light, or strong, or whatever. For example, the fuel petcock is large ID to allow enough high volume flow for the nitro as well as being light weight so it's a titanium part from an airplane. What kind of plane? Figure it out from the photos. Right! You get the picture. The other reason it's taken so long is the researching of tolerance and set up information for the engine components. Running nitromethane isn't just adding different liquid. It burns different and everything changes in the engine respectively. Of course there have been a lot of other nuances run into which derailled the project along the way but they been overcome and the project pushes ahead. On a good not, the entire bike is now accounted for in parts but getting those parts to resemble a bike is the current challenge.
The cylinders and pistons are finally getting done! This has been a long delay for the project. Soon the restoration will begin moving forward again.
Not much has happened in 2007 on the restoration work of the machine. But the website has brought me into contact with some interesting people who have helped in sharing history and information. It was a good year for learning. We hope to get back to the restoration work in 2008 and include photo updates as the restoration work progresses.
In April 2007 I met Frank Camillieri. Frank worked with Dave Yetman of the Yetman Corporation, the original builder of the Dick Prime drag bike frame. Frank was the one that put all of the drag bike frames together. It was great to share the 40 year old frame with Frank who hadn't seen one of the drag frames in decades.
Frank holding his creation 40 years after it left the Yetman shop
In September 2007 I received an email from Dave Yetman himself. He's looking forward to seeing the restoration progress as well.
Some of the highlights from 2006.......
This was a VERY busy year for the project. The engine was built and is complete except for the custom finless drag cylinders. The cylinders are expensive so getting the funds together is taking some time. There was a tremendous amount of research done this year in order to make sure the drag bike is put back together accurately. Several in-person as well as telephone interviews were done with Dick Prime. Spoke with a LOT of racers and fans from the early days of Top Fuel drag racing.
Dick Prime in 2006 holding the frame, seat, and rear fender to his first Top Fuel drag bike
After stumbling across a vintage Yetman drag chassis it was realized to be the first Top Fuel drag bike used by Rhode Island racer, Dick Prime. The restoration project begins.