I am the webmaster for SuperHunky.com. I've been riding on the street for about 15 years and playing in the dirt for four or five years. I currently ride an Yamaha XT550 dual sport, a Kawasaki GPz550 on the street and toy around with a bike that resembles a mid-80s KDX and KX powered by a modified KX60 power plant in a mini-GP style of racing with a loose-knit group of like minded gear heads.
I'm not sure where in my life I picked up the very useful skill of listening, deciphering and sifting the good information from "old timers". Maybe it was the result of my grandfather's stroke when I was eleven and his slow, steady downward spiral when the man who formerly tinkered with everything and was so willing to impart knowledge to others finally withered away at a mere 70lbs with only the slightest shadow of his former mental ability could be heard, usually because what ever was going on in the room irritated him so much he had to utter a barely recognizable outburst to express himself.
Over the years, I've used this many, many times. Be it the guy I buy used parts from a few miles down the road, who can occupy many hours of your time in exchange for a salvage part with a value of ten dollars, at no charge or the lawn equipment repairman who, by his own admission has "so much work, it would take him a week straight - just to fix his own stuff". But he also spent 15 minutes on the phone with me, a guy he's never seen, discussing the ins and outs to the 1/1000th of an inch of the 12 hp vertical shaft Briggs and Straton lawn mower motor and it's recent variants.
I "met" EC through SuperHunky about two or three years ago. A short conversation on how to use a publishing system I wrote instantly put me on EC's forward every humorous or whiny-ass liberal alert email received list. These always included some animated graphic, he must have had dozens, he'd always insert one or more.
I've had a pet project that I had little trouble modifying the suspension and the drive train to do all sorts of things beyond what it was intended to do, but when it came to the motor, anything beyond the common bolt on mods (which there are really none, I borrowed and adapted most of them from other similar machines), I was at a loss. As you may know, the two stroke machine is a very simple engine. However, with simplicity comes great misunderstanding some times. I asked EC for advice which started an all too short mentor-protege relationship I will treasure for the rest of my life.
It also put that "old timer deciphering skill" to the ultimate test. EC spoke English, but I have no idea what his native written language is, it sure as hell ain't English, or any derivative there of. Below is exactly what he wrote me, unabridged, unaltered.
"we can maybe get close with a turkey basseted hypo needle... then get dead nuts when burette comes in..." - EC Birt 1/31/2011
EC enlightened me to the process of porting and modifying and just plain bizarre, yet effective hop-ups to the two stroke motor. One of our email conversations is easily over 100 replies long and ends with "This should be enough to keep you busy for awhile and a good place to start...". That was well over a year ago and I'm still not even half way through it.
EC showed me that the job of porting is incredibly simple, the complexity is in knowing where to stop and the details of measuring are far more complex than most people have the ability or patience to keep track of.
It took me very little time to find EC had great disdain for the Metric system. So I could keep things straight, I'd measure in millimeters, convert to SAE and send it to him. He'd send me back suggestions which I'd convert back from English measure.
Even though I'm less than half way through EC's suggestions, the motor already makes twice the power as before. I was really looking forward to sending him the final result. I'm sure it would have been received with further suggestions, because in EC's own words, "you ain't fast till you lap the guy in second place".
The mentor-protege relationship is an odd one, and myself being odd, and EC being odd, the odd-odd odd mentor relationship was most odd. I could often see EC's vision and through his wisdom the path he would have taken. Occasionally, I questioned his experience because my experience on the same subject was the exact opposite. One of these was Boyesen's Dual Stage Reed. In his words "a scam deal". My dyno charts proved they were at the very least an improvement over stock and other than getting the reed cage out, were an easy upgrade. It's also one of TWO aftermarket upgrade parts available for this machine.
So during our conversations, he told me how to modify the stock reed cage. Lacking Karting suppliers locally, I opted to use the Boyesen reeds. I sent him photos. He replied "Send me a stock reed cage un touched and reed stop... I'll make you one that will work... Not picking on you... craftsman ship has to be perfect", he needed a "winter project". Then he sent me one of the photos of his Tillotoson carbs with the mirror finish, a work of art as much a work of engineering. Of course, this makes my dremel and chain saw file reed cage alteration look like a can of Alpo that was opened and sat in the sun all day.
Since I had already destroyed one spare reed cage and the other two I had modified, I hurried up and bought one on eBay and mailed it to him. I don't know if he ever got to working on it. I'm guessing not.
I'm not real sure about religion. I'm positive there's something larger than ourselves in the universe. I hold the belief that I'll see my loved ones again some day. If I'm right, and I do meet EC in the great beyond, you bet I'm going to demand that reed cage from EC because he would have had many decades of winters to finish it. And then, I'm gonna shake his hand, because of all the things I've done in my life, I regret that I never got to shake this man's hand.