Monday, January 26, 2009

The Esses

Ever wonder what the two "S's" were in S&S? Well, they stood for George Smith, Sr, and Stanley Stankos.....and here they both are. Stanley Stankos was George Sr.'s partner when they started in '58. In '59, George Sr. bought out Stankos, and he kept the name S&S - with his wife Marjorie becoming the other "S".
Check this photo out. George Smith getting ready to make a run at Bonneville on Tramp I. Notice safety-minded George is getting some help donning his helmet, but he's gonna run the course in his T SHIRT. Also, look close at the lower tree of the K model front end. There's a loop there, with a rope running thru it. The rope in turn is attached to his tow vehicle. George wrapped the rope around the handlebars, and they towed him up to speed, then he dumped the clutch to fire the bike, let go of the rope, and he was off...........simple!
Not sure where I got this picture of Dick, but he's on Locomotion. If you look, he has the same style swazi clutch pedal on Locomotion as he put on the Dick Allen bike that Rich Ostrander owned. Go back down the posts if you want to to see Rich's pedal.
Here's a Dick Allen ad from about the time period when the lady ran the boulevard stop, and punched the engine right out of Locomotion's frame, along with Dick's Leg. You can see he's offereng his springer still, along with his 15" spun aluminum rear wheel conversion. There's no mention of the matching 17" front wheel, which he was also doing at the time, too.

Dick didn't use the Crager spun wheels exclusively. He did similar earlier wheel conversions based on the Centerline 2pc spun wheels, too. It's my understanding that he went to the Cragar wheels when Performance Machine and Sifton/Star started making their "version" of his Centerline wheel. He wanted people to know the difference between the three, so he went to Cragars because their Quick Trik 2pc. spun wheels were visually different than Centerline's were, but would convert just as well. The Cragar wheel is the one that's shown in this ad.

Oh, did I mention that I scored one of Dick's rear wheels - intact, with unused Grimeca 10 1/4" vented iron rotor with aluminum carrier, and an unused Circle Ind. 51 tooth aluminum sprocket, just like the one's pictured in the ad? I got it from - who else - Pat Leahy.

Two cool Bay Area bikes at the Oakland Roadster Show

Here's a couple Bay Area bikes in the original Oakland Roadster Show, before it became the GNRS, and moved to Pomona, CA. This picture come out of the 50th anniversary book on the Oakland Roadster Show by Andy Southhard Jr. and Dain Gingerelli. You should seek out this book, it's great.

They don't date the picture, but it's in the '60's era section of the book. It's funny, but they were saying that motorcycles at the time in the ORS didn't have their own class, but were classed in with the "special interest" entries - like mini bikes, go karts, etc. I can personally say from attending a couple ORS that the bikes also didn't usually have their own area, either. They were stuck inbetween the cars to fill the gaps on the floor, or they were all in an area that wouldn't display a car very well. Man, how times have changed, huh?

That aside, if you want a couple true examples of '60's Frisco/Oakland bikes, these two bikes are pretty good indicators. Too bad there wasn't a full shot of the Pan in the back, too.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

One of my favorite builds

When you build bikes for people, there's always a few that you really remember. This bike was one of them. It was a 103 Accurate Knucklehead engine with a jockey-shifted 5 in a 4 speed transmission. I had to shoehorn all this into a repop Knuckle frame, along with an electric start to boot.

This bike was scary fast! And LOUD! I put 4 piston Tokico calipers on it, but the repop Coker Firestones that the original client wanted wouldn't handle/stop for shit. You could definately out ride those tires. I tried to talk him into some tires that would handle, but sometimes you win some, sometimes you loose. I also lost out on wanting to mount a bobbed springer fender on the front, and going with a black leather seat instead of the brown.

I know the current owner of the bike, and he's made some minor changes in it, but it still looks good, and it's still loud. He also had some really nice light blue/dark blue pinstriping done on it (another thing I wanted to do originally).

I always secretly coveted this bike for myself, I guess that's the sign you did a really good job on it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The FXTT gets the March '09 cover.....

Yes, that's right......the March '09 Easyriders Magazine. I don't care what you personally think of this publication, they did an undisputed 1st class feature article on my FXTT bike. Plus, they gave me part of the cover to boot, and it's the very first feature bike when you read the magazine.

My good friend Mike Lichter shot this bike in his studio, and he spent hours and shot over a hundred pictures of myself and the bike. Mike is A RULER when it comes to photography, and he made my bike look absolutely fantastic. Mike has shot everyone - Jesse James, Billy Lane, Arlen Ness, Trevelen - you name them, he's photographed them. Thanks Mike, you went above and beyond on all this.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I always wondered about this......

Here's CJ Allan on the cover of the December '71 issue of Choppers Magazine.
OK, now here's the June '71 cover of Man's Book Periodical. CJ says "Ahh, it's all bullshit...don't know nothin' about it!"

The History Of The Chopper

Yup, that's me in the middle of the picture. Too bad Discovery was pissed at Jesse at the time, and only showed his documentary twice. Worth adding to your collection -Discovery still has them in their store, though.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Thank you, thank you.......

To everyone who's taken time out of their day to Email me, and say how much they appreciate my blogs, a very grateful thank you to all.

I guess I never thought about how many people were actually reading and following them. It's fascinating to me that these blogs are read all over the world. With so many long-running, good blogs out there, it also surprises me to see many of those blogs linked to mine. I thank those bloggers for thinking that my blogs have enough good content that you feel others would find interest in them as well.

Not counting the good ol' USA, I've received Emails from France, Italy, Australia, Japan, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Canada, Norway, Sweden, and The Netherlands just to name some of the countries. Wow.

Again, thanks, and I'll try my best to continue to give everybody something that will entertain and interest you, and keep you returning on a regular basis for more.

Monday, January 19, 2009

More Ostrander Diaries.....

"Me and Tom Burke (ed. note-Tom Burke, owner of B&O Cycles - Alameda & Alamitos - in Long Beach, CA. Pat Leahy also worked there.) built this. My first Knucklehead. 18 over Wayne Engineering girder, Wassell peanut tank, '57 straightleg frame, jockey shift".
"Same machine - spool hub, Bates headlamp, Z bars".

"Same bike - Sportster tapered mufflers with the Sportster script stamped in them".

Rich also tells me that this is the bike that Choppers Magazine used for the lead-in photo shot, in their evaluation article on the Wayne Eng. girder. I know I have that magazine with the article in it somewhere in this firetrap, I'll have to dig it out.

I also wanted to tell you Tom Burke bought Von Dutch's XAVW from Randy Smith, and they used to display it in the front window of B&O. They also used to make Hessian Little Joe ride the XAVW to go get parts or whatnot, when he was just a kid.

Photos from Rich Ostrander's collection.

More Dick Allen goodness......

Joe Hurst was a friend of Dick Allen, and he worked with Dick at Transway Auto, a transmission shop in Lawndale, CA. They built quite a few bikes while they were there, and also several more together when Dick opened up his own shop in Redondo. This is a bike they put together for Joe himself.

This picture is from a May '68 issue of Roth's Choppers Magazine, and it always cracks me up. Joe has a big grin on his mug, but he's missing one of his front teeth. And, if you look close, there's a big thumbprint in the middle of the picture. They even made mention of the print in the article!

Check out Joe's sissy bar. It's a variation of the double loop bars Dick used to make. Instead of two bars right behind each other, Dick built this one with the second bar sweeping forward to the rear frame legs, for support of heavy loads when they traveled. Also, the SU carb conversion is an early version of the one's Randy Smith was working on.

Respect the trivia - The layout and art (a takeoff of Jackie Gleason's character from the movie of the same name) for this article was done by a young Suzanne Williams.

Here's a great shot of Joe's Dick Allen-built Springer, from the same article. This shot was used in a lot of the ads Dick ran for his springer at the time.

Here's a later version of the same bike, when Joe and Dick were still building some bikes together. Aside from all the Dick Allen-inspired framework and molding, how many of Dick's parts do you see? Well, there's the Dick Allen front end, the converted American 12 spokes, the 2 into 1 collector system, and a new Dick Allen-built sissy bar. Notice also that Joe's SU has been replaced by a pair of Posa Fuel carbs.

Look close, and you'll see a couple unusual things- Dick was a fan of the Sporty rubber mounted headlight, which was actually made for H-D by Guide, GM's lamp division. The headlight used here is a Guide headlight, but it only has one retention band for the sealed beam, not two bands like the Sporty used. Also notice that the collector system Dick fabbed up for Joe uses a "S" pipe, not a full "outside the frame" front pipe like you've probably seen before.
I wonder if Joe ever got his front tooth replaced?
This is Bob "Bender Bob" Olson's bike, that Bob built to promote his company, EME. Among other products, EME manufactured the girder that's mounted to this bike, as well as that collector system you see - it's the production version of the Dick Allen 2 into 1 system Dick designed. The sissy bar for this bike? It's a little higher version of Joe Hurst's, and this too, was made by Dick Allen for Bender Bob's bike.

And another trivia bit for you - "Bender Bob" Olson was CJ Allan's father-in-law. Yes, that CJ Allan.

Ruth is stranger than friction.....

Check the bar on the back of Dick Allen's bike Wheeler Dealer, his '68 slabside Shovel-powered predecessor to Locomotion.

It's a pretty unique design, as it's actually composed of two seperate bars - the main bar is 5/8" round cold rolled, with a second shorter bar made of 1/2" round cold rolled. Dick came up with that design because he was tired of having his sissy bars snap when he hit the road. If you've ever seen a picture of Dick's bikes loaded for a long trip, you immediately understand where he was coming from on this setup.

This picture isn't one of the outtakes from the feature article on Dick's bike for Roth's Oct. '68 issue of Choppers Magazine. In that article, Dick has a set of birdshooter pipes running up the bar, and this shot doesn't. Randy may have taken this picture pre-or post birdshooters. Randy used it in his article for the July '72 issue of Custom Chopper "Have A Safe Sissy Bar" under the pen name Jake Littlejohn, to illustrate a solid, safe sissy bar.

OK, now check out the sissy bar on the back of Randy Smith's sidehack rig called "Illean". I know that Dick and Randy were close friends, so either Dick made that sissy bar for Randy, or Randy repoped the design from Dick,'s the same sissy bar that Dick ran on his Wheeler Dealer bike. We might never know, unless I run into somebody by chance that remembers.

Also, if you look at the picture of Dick's bar again, you'll notice a Custom Cycle Engineering decal on Dick's back fender, right between the two bars.

A sidenote on the sidehack - I have an Easyriders full feature article on the rig, and in it it gives the manufacturer of the sidecar. I can't locate that issue of EZ, somebody probably stuck it in the wrong year in the bookcase. When I locate it, I'll do a post on just Illean for you.

The sidehack functions just like a Flxible sidecar does - it's hinged so you can either run with it straight up, or you can pull the pins, and the whole sidecar will pivot to follow the lean angle of the bike itself thru left and right hand turns. Hence the name Illean. Also notice the license plate says WE LEAN. Very cool rig!

Monday, January 12, 2009

More from Rich Ostrander.......

"My friend Paul Barber and his Pan, with SU carb, and a long girder front end".
"We found this '57 pan in an old barn in Redondo one night for $500.00. It was stock with flat tires, and a dead battery. We put gas in the tank, jump started it, and never aired up the tires. Rode it around the block all night until it ran out of gas. Picture with my ex-brother in law Greg, after we chopped it. 12 over springer, Sportster tank, fishtails, etc".

Photos from Rich Ostrander's collection.

Friday, January 9, 2009


I finished up some small fab jobs this morning, and left the afternoon for the frame. First, I bent the backbone. I came up the backbone tube 11" from the seatpost, and made the first bend at 10 degrees. I wanted a nice, long, straight section on the backbone for the gastank.

I know the frame looks like it's stretched up and out, but it's not. I used a neck/old backbone section that Dennis Goodson had given me a few years ago. The neck is welded lower on the backbone section Dennis gave me than the position of the neck on the VL forging . The neck height is only a 1/4" higher than the VL was, and the distance from the seatpost to the neck is exactly the same distance as the old VL backbone. I put the donor neck/backbone in the chop saw, and cut it to length, with a 45 degree angle on it's end.

After I trimmed the new 1 1/4" OD backbone to length, I slipped the donor neck section over it, and got the angle I needed for the new 1 1/4" OD downtube. I bent this to 15 degrees, and it was perfect. I layed the downtube up against the neck, and got the angle for the fishmouth joint on the neck. After cutting the fishmouth, it was just a matter of making sure all the new sections aligned and fit tight. Done!

Also, if you look right below the tranny plate, you'll see the sleeve for the downtube fishmouthed and cut on a 45 degree angle. That will slip over the downtube to give it the original look of the old VL downtube. The backbone and the downtube will both get shorter sections with 45 degree cuts added to those end cuts, to resemble the original double VL frame sleeves.
Some high-tech alignment shit going on here! Hey, plumb bobs, levels, tram gauges, and angle finders don't lie. They're a quick and accurate way to determine if you're on the right track as you're fitting everything up. What do you think we used before lasers and computer generated images????

And......we hit our neck angle at 35.5 degrees. Very cool. Notice the nice fishmouth for the downtube - that couple Hundred for the fishmouth jig was money well spent years ago, along with the hydraulic E-Z Bender for the tubing. You'll also notice I've ground out some of the weld on the neck - I didn't like it, and I'm going to go over it with the TIG. Now, I'll have to spin the table around, unbolt my tubing bender from the table, bolt the neck tower fixture on the table, and the hold-down fixtures for the frame so we can clamp everything in place, and start welding.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Oh Man, these are great.......

Photo #1 - "I'm in a chair with a body cast (lower half). This was a Dick Allen-born machine. My buddy Rich added the dildo jockey shift handle,' finger footpegs', and the swastika clutch pedal. 24" over Model A wishbone springer. I bought it from Dick Allen in 1970 for $750.00 - my first H-D".
Photo #2 - "What it looked like 6 months later. Stock forks, stock '57 straightleg frame. Same drivetrain, though.

Photo #3 - "Same machine as photo #2"
Above photos & words from Rich Ostrander

Holy Shizznet, somebody stop this guy!

Oh man, there's no turning back now! Today we cut the complete backbone and neck off the frame, and took part of the downtube off as well. As you remember from before, there was no saving any of this. Now you can see how important it was to repair the seatpost before we went any further. Before I cut the frame, I bolted in a cradle I made a long time ago to keep this area square during extensive repair work like this. If you remember from before, there was a Big Twin engine in here at one time - most likely a Knuck or a Flattie, and 3 of the 4 engine bolt holes actually lined up with my cradle, so that makes me happy!

You can see the remnants from the weld I talked about cutting out previously. Actually, the webing area isn't that bad, but we need a structurally sound area here when we're finished. We also need a way to attach the new backbone to the web area itself. The old socket won't work for that. Why? Because the way a VL backbone is made, you have the outer tubing, then you have an inner split sleeve, and it's sandwiched together with furnace braze. We can't weld over braze, remember? Braze + weld = CRACK! If we ground out the inner liner and the braze, the socket would be way too thin to use, so........

The socket gets completely cut off, and we lay a piece of 5" long tubing (half the length into the webbing, half extends past the webbing) into the webbing to take it's place. Then, a 1 1/4" OD x 1/4" thick ring for the outer sleeve to fit over snugly and fill the back of the outer sleeve, and then the tubing slug is welded in place. The new 1 1/4" OD x 1/8" DOM backbone will slide over the 1" tubing slug, and butt up flush to the ring.

With a scrap piece of the same tubing I'll be using for the backbone slid into place, and the sleeve over the top, you can see where we're heading. It's starting to appear "stock" again in this area, which is the whole idea of going thru all this - looks nice! Next step will to fab up the backbone, and get the new neck into place.

More Electric Chair, and The Mailbox Trike

The Electric Chair
Ed Roth's Mailbox Trike
Photos Courtesy of Rich Ostrander

From Rich Ostrander:
"Irish, Loved the piece on the Electric Chair. Enclosed you will find color photos of it, and Roth's 3 wheeler w/Crosley motor, that I took in '69 at the L.A. Custom Car and Motorcycle Show in Downtown L.A. just before I left for 'Nam. When you walked in the show, one was on each side of the doorway".

The pictures were a little faded - the color inks weren't the best 40 years ago, so I did a color correction on them, and they came out killer. Rich had sent me a bunch of pictures a little over a year ago from "way back when", and I scanned them all. I was trying to decide the best way to present them, and I think I'll scatter them in from time to time here. Rich even included a short description to go along with each picture, and I'll be including those notes just as Rich wrote them, too.

I didn't color correct any of those pictures, so they'll all have that "old timey" feel to them. A very special thanks to Rich for trusting somebody to copy all those irreplaceable photographs like the above. I appreciate it very much!

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A little progress on the VL frame......

Remember this nasty seatpost?
It took a little work, but it's finished. I needed to get this repaired first, so I'd have a solid, square foundation to work from. I wound up replacing a 3 1/2" section of the seatpost tubing.
I've got the backbone/neck section removed now, and I'm cutting the material to replace them. Then, I'll bend the replacement backbone, and the new front downtube. I have the new neck and backbone sleeves made already. We're going for a rake around 32-35 degrees when we're done.

Whenever I replace or add a section, I'm going to duplicate the double tube sleeves, like the "double 45's" right above the rear motor mount, for example. Those will be on the backbone near the seatpost, the backbone at the neck, and on the new downtube from the neck.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Check this ad out, part 1

Looks like Buzzard was "......goin' to the can".
Roth's Choppers Magazine, February '68 ad. Was this when David Mann bought Buzzard's bike?
Buzzard filled the seating area pretty well on his bike!

Check this ad out, part 2

Henry Vestine - The Sunflower, lead guitarist for Canned Heat. One of my top 5 bands of all times. ".......and DON'T forget....... to boogie!".
Easyriders magazine ad, February '73
The Sunflower blows the crowd away at the Wiskey A GoGo, Hollywood, in 1968.