The radial engine powered motorcycle Jesse James built and displayed at the recent concours drew a lot of attention, as it should, you just don’t see radial motorcycle engines every day, or any day for that matter. But for those of you who are more mechanically inclined, you might look at the bike and say, “Hey, wait a minute. The prop is powered from the front of a radial engine, how do you drive the bike from the back?”
Good question, and the answer is you find a radial engine mechanic and ask him to extend the crankshaft out the back where the auxilliary drive is usually located. Enter, Mike Redpath.
Mike (that’s him on the left in the photo, the engine owner on the right) has been restoring and repairing old airplanes for about 20 years and a fellow with this radial engine has the bright idea of putting it in some kind of motorcycle. He heard about Mike and his aero motor skills so he brings the engine over, points to the front and says, “Wrong end.” Mike, who is getting a little bored only doing things the FAA will approve, scratches his chin and says, “Hmm …, gimme a wrench.”
Taking an engine designed to drive a prop from the front and reversing everything takes some disassembly and reengineering but Mike pulled it off. The engine eventually found its way into the hands of Jesse James who built the motorcycle around it. The photos below show the starting and end points and a few shots in between. Awfully neat and all pretty ingenious.
Mike got the itch to stretch the envelope a little bit after this because he told me he’s planning to open a speed shop very soon. It will be named, Musclerodz and Customz. His web site isn’t up just yet but as soon as it is, we’ll point you over in his direction. Nice work, Mike!
All engine photos courtesy of Mike Redpath. Lots of photos below:
Photo #1: This is the front starting point, notice the prop drive.
Photo #2: This is the front partially disassembled.
Photo #3: This is the back before modification.
Photo #4: This is the back partially disassembled.
Photo #5: This is the back finished, note the drive extension from the crank.
The Kneeslider: Radial Engine Powered Motorcycle