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A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)
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Author:  ccrunner [ May 15, 2018, 1:27 pm ]
Post subject:  A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

A BERKELEY WITH BITE :shock:

5-15-2018

Time to start the build log for my 1959 Berkeley 492.. Up until now I’ve just been gathering parts for this tiny Frankenstein build, but in the last few weeks I’ve begun to tear into what I’ve accumulated, so it’s time to start documenting the process..

In the end, this tiny car will get a Honda VFR800 bike engine (1998-2001/ injected/ gear-driven cams/ non-vtec/ Dynojet V fuel controller with autotune/ 'open' exhaust via cutout/ aprox 110hp), 4-wheel disc brakes, 4-wheel independent suspension (Miata based), starter-driven electric reverse/ fold-down windshield (Austin Healey 100-4)/ inline guibo/ modified Sky driveshaft/ 8 gallon fuel tank/ 13" wheels, and coil-over R6 bell-crank shocks front and rear.. The body will become an unstressed member on a one-off frame.. The idea is that it will basically look as Berkeley originally designed it (no fender flares or crazy hood bulges); all of the big mods will be under the skin. No sound deadening, no creature comforts- all attempts will be made to keep it a 2-seater.. The goal is sub 900 lbs, with power-to-weight ending up at about 8.2:1..

These fiberglass cars are impossibly small, and have no frame. The construction is very clever, using folded aluminum, and 3 main body sections made of fiberglass, with very little actual steel to mount the engine and suspension bits.. Needless to say, you do not want to get into a collision while in one of these!

The stock 492 Excelsior engine was rated at about 30hp, and it was linked to the front wheels via chain drive.. an ingenious setup that actually works pretty well for this 800 pound go kart.

I love the shape of this wee car, and was very specific to seek out this model for my next project.. Over the next many pages, months, and likely years, I plan to resto-mod the car into something that I can use for some serious fun..

If you’re a Berkeley purist, you’ll want to dump out now, but if you’re into something a bit off the beaten path, you’ll probably groove on this build as it develops..

--ccrunner

Attachments:
berkeley black and white.jpg
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berk on 3 wheels.jpg
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berk left rear.jpg
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Author:  rx7locost [ May 15, 2018, 2:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

You have such cool projects! I can't wait to see this one progress.

Author:  ccrunner [ May 15, 2018, 2:39 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

The beginnings...

Over the last 6 months I've been out collecting the main bits to get this project started.. This summer (2018) my Volvo 1800 build will wind down, and I wanted to have the donor car and bike in hand to get started..

The Car- 1959 Berkeley SE492: Pulled it out of Arizona where it's been parked since 1967 when the guy I bought it from lost a ring, damaged a cylinder, and pulled it into his side yard. The car is a total basketcase (I'm breaking my own rule on not starting with a clapped out car).. The Arizona sun has taken it's toll-- the body is very brittle and fragile, and is in need of repairs due to cracks and breaks.. Other than that, it's a relatively complete car.. The reality is I just need the body, and maybe the windshield..

The Bike- 2000 Honda VFR800: It's a wreck that went down hard in the front (forks and plastics are shot).. The engine starts and runs fine; all electrics work as they should. Bike has 49K and runs well. In the end, I'm only after the engine and harness.. This is the same model engine I used in the Honda N600 project several years ago, and I liked it so much I've chosen to use it again.. It's about 105-110hp, and as this car will be about 900-1000 pounds, my power to weight should be about 8.5//9:1, which is more than enough for this project

--ccrunner

Attachments:
bike and berk.JPG
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r5.JPG
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bike 1.JPG
bike 1.JPG [ 144.14 KiB | Viewed 2543 times ]

Author:  ccrunner [ May 15, 2018, 3:32 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

Wanted to include a few pics of a nice Berkeley and a nice Honda VFR800 for reference..

The 5th gen VFRs don't fetch much $$ because of their age (1998-2001), and motorcycle technology moves on.. there is a small but loyal following for them though, and they're really nice 'all around' bikes.. If you're like me and you're just after the engine, it's got a fat torque curve, fuel injection, gear-driven cams, and a sound you won't soon forget..

The Berkeley (1956-1960).. Seems there were about 6000 made, and I think it's the aluminum and fiberglass materials that have aided in having the survivors last this long. The few metal bits on mine are quite rusty-- it's a good thing the whole car wasn't made of metal :lol: ...I'm not sure why, but as microcars in general seem to be going up in value, the ask on the Berkeleys has stayed fairly low; although there have been exceptions, the nicest examples seem to fetch the low teens (USD)..

**I guess the disclaimer needs to go here.. I like to cut and mod my projects to suit my whim, which some people find upsetting.. I assure that crowd that neither this bike nor this car were on a path to return to their former glory.. If this goes as I plan, when I'm done I will have created a unique little car that will be a blast to drive (on the big American highways :shock: ), and will bring joy to those that see it- no harm there :cheers: ..

...As a matter of fact, I'm actually planning on building a second modded Berkeley just like this one for the sole purpose of selling it.. More info on that later as my wife has given me a very specific reason to build one to sell- something I've never done before, as I just build this stuff for my own enjoyment and then sell only after I'm done with it... (Having said that, I'm currently on the hunt for another Berk body and another 5th gen VFR; if you have one of either please reach out to me 8) )

--ccrunner

Attachments:
berk done.jpg
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vfr 2000.jpg
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Author:  ccrunner [ May 15, 2018, 4:12 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

Scale

I included this picture to try and give scale to the car- the 'big' car is my wife's 2013 Beetle..

To say this car is small is an understatement.. it is tiny.. How in the world this British car ever got approved for import to be driven on the big American highways is beyond me.. Driving the finished N600 in traffic with big modern cars could at times be a little spooky, but this car will sit even lower (38" at the top of the windshield) :shock:

**So another disclaimer.. I know it's dangerous.. It really must be driven as if it's a motorcycle, the most vulnerable of all vehicles in traffic.. People simply will not see you, and that must be assumed.. It is at once the most visible car (freakshow camera magnet), and the least visible car (low and tiny)..

...An aluminum and fiberglass car with no frame.. what were they thinking?


--ccrunner

Attachments:
berk to bug.JPG
berk to bug.JPG [ 107.37 KiB | Viewed 2543 times ]

Author:  TRX [ May 15, 2018, 4:25 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

Check the valve lash while the VFR engine is out; it's so time-consuming and expensive to set the valves in ordinary circumstances that many (most?) owners push the service intervals.

Good engines, though.

Author:  ccrunner [ May 15, 2018, 6:03 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

Thanks TRX for the tip on the valves-- so much easier to do with the motor out :cheers:

Almost forgot to include the super interesting pics of the new build table :lol: .. I went back and put wheels on it to make shifting it about easier during the build..

--ccrunner

Attachments:
bench 2.JPG
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bench 1.JPG
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Author:  RichardSIA [ May 15, 2018, 7:53 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

I had a Berkeley many (too many!) years ago.
Maybe the dumbest deal I ever made, trading it for a boat. :BH:
Mine was actually very clean but missing the engine.

Will you retain the front-drive and torque steer? ("Character", it's what makes vintage cars vintage!)
Wheel and tyre size?

There are folk looking for that original engine and cylinders can be re-sleeved.

Author:  GonzoRacer [ May 16, 2018, 7:47 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

Oooh, another CCRunner voyage to the brink of insanity... I'm in!!! :mrgreen:

The Grassroots bunch did something with a Berkeley a few years back. Not sure what, exactly. They called it the "Bezerk-eley"... Heehee...

Can't wait to see where this one goes. Good luck with it, and keep the pictures comin'!

:cheers:
JDK

Author:  TooBusy [ May 16, 2018, 9:10 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

This is going to be fun to watch. I saw a Berkley a while back with a Honda CB750-4 grafted in and still using the front chain drive.
Torque steer and tub flex are real in these little cars. It will be interesting to see you stiffen it up for the extra power.

:lurking:

Author:  ccrunner [ May 16, 2018, 11:13 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

Thanks for chiming in guys :cheers:

January, 2018 (winter break)

A little time warp here as I go back to 5 months ago when I sourced the car out of Phoenix, AZ, and picked up the bike from Hayward, CA..

I wanted to include these pics because this is truly the beginning, before I knew about the 652 problems that await me :lol:

--ccrunner

Attachments:
car when bought 2.JPG
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car when bought 1.JPG
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bike when bought.JPG
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Author:  ccrunner [ May 16, 2018, 11:21 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

RichardSIA wrote:
I had a Berkeley many (too many!) years ago.
Maybe the dumbest deal I ever made, trading it for a boat. :BH:
Mine was actually very clean but missing the engine.

Will you retain the front-drive and torque steer? ("Character", it's what makes vintage cars vintage!)
Wheel and tyre size?

There are folk looking for that original engine and cylinders can be re-sleeved.


Hey Richard.. I'm going up only slightly in tire size- 155-70-13.. I have to get away from the stock drum/wheel setup as they are funky-monkey and won't work well for the suspension I'm planning..

This will end up as a rear wheel drive (IRS) car with a mid engine (mid engine is just a fancy way of saying the motor will be crammed in just behind the front axle..)

As it turns out, my stock 492 Excelsior triple 2-stroke (yes, these cars were made with 2-stokes-- so cool!) found a home with a Berk owner back east (USA), so hopefully he'll get it into his project and have it singing again soon 8)

--ccrunner

Author:  ccrunner [ May 16, 2018, 11:53 am ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

That stock engine...

30hp of 2-stroke brute hanging over the front axle.. I've researched and studied this setup, and I've come the conclusion that while is uber-cool, and I really want to use it, it's just not right for what I intend with this project.. In my case, I'm in the central valley California, and out summers are brutally hot, usually 100 degrees or more from mid June to early September.. This little 2-smoker just won't tolerate the 2-plus hour drive that it takes me to get anywhere that's not here (e.g. down to Los Angeles, or over to the coast..).. I like to drive my stuff, and I don't want to build something that has to be trailered to where I'm going..

So in my mind I've justified the want for a bigger, more modern, more reliable power plant.. To be honest, I engine-swap pretty much everything I build, but in this case I really did want to keep that 2-stroke... but I legitimately can't see doing it- this car needs to be able to hold freeway speeds without me worrying about it coming apart..

And so it goes.. This little motor will live it's life under the hood of a different Berkeley, which makes me happy.. You can see the damage that resulted when a ring let go on the right cylinder.. Also note the tiny chain-driven differential to make this a front wheel drive car.. mid-50's technology that I think is way cool 8)

--ccrunner

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ex4.JPG
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ex1.JPG
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Author:  TooBusy [ May 16, 2018, 12:48 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

Did the chain drive diff go with the motor?

Author:  ccrunner [ May 16, 2018, 1:11 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: A Berkeley with Bite! (ccrunner)

TooBusy wrote:
Did the chain drive diff go with the motor?

Yes, the diff went along as a package deal..

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