Monday, March 30, 2009

Denver Dan takes a big get-off........

Years ago, the first two Sinners that ChopperDave introduced me to were CantstayJose, and Denver Dan. I love all my Brothers, but I'll always have a special place in my heart for those three guys.

Well, last Saturday Denver Dan was out riding with some of the guys on Cal Hwy 150. About 35mi. North of Ojai, Dan passed a truck, but hit a divot in the road that sent him skidding over 200 ft. Dan was wearing his full face helmet and a good leather jacket, but he suffered a broken collarbone, elbow, ankle, and thumb. They airlifted him to Ventura, and it looks like he'll be OK, save for a couple more operations this week, and another helping of plates and screws. Hey, it could have been a lot worse, but all his marbles are all still in the right drawers, so thank God for that.

Get well and heal fast - I love you, Brother. I'll be out to see all of you real soon.

Friday, March 27, 2009

More Dr.Sprocketness........

"I used to make my own single loop frames. Lot of guys early on loved to stick Knuckles in VL frames, but I didn't like cutting up VL frames. So, I made a few single loops that looked like Knuckles in the back, and VL's in the front."

Fitting a set of 3 1/2 gal. tankshift tanks to the single loop conversion.....
Installing the running gear........
You can see the good Dr.'s frame conversion made for a pretty nicely proportioned bike, even in the middle of this put-together.

From the Rich Ostrander Collection


I've been slacking a little on posting on the blog, because I have a lot of work in here for a change. Thanks to everybody who has been ringing my phone off the hook for work that needs to be done, and bringing it in.

I'm glad everybody is thinking about enjoying themselves this summer on their bikes, and not running around yelling "THE SKY IS FALLING!....." anymore. Fuck, we only go around once, do what makes you happy for a change, for Christ's sake! Go finish that build, and go take a long ride!

With that said, here's a nice selection of birdshooter pipes for you to think about. But, remember, if you dig this style of pipes, make sure you do your homework on bracing them. There's a lot of vibration in those pipes at highway speeds, and a tall sissy bar will amplify those vibes as well. Nobody looks cool picking their stacks up off the pavement after they break off, and a semi truck swerves to run them over for a laugh......

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Did you notice.........

Did you notice that the guy who built this bike, black powdercoated the Softail lower sliders, and powdercoated the cowbells to match?

That's OK, I didn't notice it, either!

A nice VL Knucklehead

Tom Shears, from Ft. Worth, TX sent me a couple photos of his Knuckle in a VL frame. Magneto -fired, of course. You gotta admit, it's a pretty nice, tight bike. Check the thru-the-primary foot shift. I also like the early dual disc narrow glide (with PM calipers), with the early smaller headlight hood, and the Duo-Glide tail lamp.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Beannachtai na Feile Padraig !

A sign in a 1800's New York City boarding house. It says "No Irish, no blacks, no dogs".
St. Patrick asks: "How many Irishman does it take to change a lightbulb? It takes six - one to hold the lightbulb, and five to drink until the room starts to spin!"

If you don't know what the Gaelic title means, it says Happy St. Patrick's Day! Here's another old Irish saying: Is minic a bhris beal duine a shron. It means "Many a time a man's mouth has broken his nose!"

Today is my birthday. March 17. I'm a proud Irishman, and a proud Mick, and come from a long line of the same. My reletives came over here first in the early 1800's, then they came in the second wave during the great Potato Famine. They were truly the " ...huddled masses yearning to be free", and the "wretched refuse" that the plaque on the Statue Of Liberty refers to. They came here with nothing more than what they had on their backs, and what little they could stuff into a little sack.

My family and my people scratched, fought, and yes killed to make their place in America. They built this country with the sweat of their brow, and the strength of their backs, and, I'll fight anybody who says any different. They dug the Erie Canal with their bare hands, pickaxes, and "Irish Banjos" (hand shovels). They built the Brooklyn Bridge and the Empire State Building. They laid the tracks for the Transcontental Railroad, and they built the city of Butte, Montana and died in the mines there. They labored in the steel mills, and the shipyards. They were both the cops on top the Paddy Wagon, and the occupants on the inside of it. They ran booze during prohabition, and slugged it out in the boxing arenas. They also fought and died in every American war with pride.

I remember my family telling stories of each and every one of the above, and how my reletives all worked at those jobs. One story in particular I remember was the part of my family that landed in Deleware. The only job they could get was at the DuPont black powder factory. Nobody else would work there, because the death rate was so high for employees. See, they ground the gunpowder outside, on a bluff that overlooked the Deleware River. They worked in an enclosure that was surrounded on three sides, and open on the top. This was so if the gunpowder exploded while it was being ground (and it did, all the time), it would blow the workers out over the river, and not blow up the factory

Another story I remember was the part of my family who didn't have enough money to get to New York City, to join the rest of my family there. Some shyster ship captain told them he'd take them to New Orleans for the money they had. My family asked how far New Orleans was from NYC, and the captain told them "Oh, real close, you can walk to NYC from there easy!" Imagine being in a strange country, no money, knowing nobody, and being thousand miles or so from your closest family.

So, you'll have to excuse my Irish Mick pride on this day. God bless every one of my family members, past and present, and ........

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Barbara Gordon and her alter-ego Batgirl, together in one photograph. KA-POW! Holy Ta-ta's, Batman!
Batgirl waiting to haul (very cute) Bat-ass.
Nice color shot of Batgirl and the Batgirl Cycle.

I was reading the news today, and I ran across one of those filler pieces in the entertainment section. It was a short blip on a singer named Jimmy Boyd, who had died last Saturday at 70 years of age. Boyd's biggest hit was in 1952, when he was 13 years old. He's the kid who sang the original version of I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus. That song sold 10 million records in 3 months. That's a lot of records, but back then, an artist like that was lucky if they got a 1/2 cent per record, and when you add in the agents' fee, travel, publishing fees, etc, that wasn't a lot of dough

One other thing of note they mentioned was that Boyd was married to Yvonne Craig from '60-'62. Now, aside from co-starring in two Elvis movies, assorted B movies, and a stint in TV's Star Trek, Yvonne Craig is best known as playing Batgirl in the final season of the TV series Batman, in '68. She appeared in 26 episodes, as Batman was on twice a week in prime time.

The premise in the last season was that Batgirl in reality was Commissioner Gordon's daughter, Barbara. Barbara Gordon was a mild, be speckled librarian by day, and Batgirl crime fighter by night (although most of the shooting took place during the daytime). The coolest part was her transportation - The Batgirl Cycle (not to be confused with the Batcycle, that was a sidecar rig Batman drove. Robin's "sidecar seat" was actually a little go kart that could blast off of the Batcycle on it's own).

I was 16 in '68, and I thought Yvonne Craig was a hottie, and I still do. I mean, come on - a girl superhero that wears a tight, purple sparkle spandex Batsuit - with a mask, stilletto-heeled fuck me boots, rides a motorcycle, is 5'4" tall, and had measurements of 37-23-35? Are you kidding me? And, to top it all off, Yvonne Craig claims to this day that she did all her own riding in the show, they never used a double, or cut scenes.

Then, all of a sudden, it dawns on me while I'm reading Jimmy Boyd's short bio. If he just died at the age of 70, how old is Yvonne Craig now? So, I looked it up. She's doing fine, still looks not-so bad, and she'll be 72 this year on May 16! Holy Geritol, Batman! That can't be right! But, it is. Damn.

I don't think adolescent fantasies should ever be allowed to get old. I'm writing my congressman. He's probably about my age, he'll understand.......

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Did I ever show you these?

I guess not. These are my dual-carbed Pan heads. There's an interesting story behind these.

A few years ago, I had a set of decent Pan heads that I wanted to get converted to dual carbs. I looked for about two years for somebody to do them, and kept running into dead ends. Either people who did this no longer wanted to or weren't around anymore, or they wanted 2-5 grand to do the job, and they wanted complete control from start to flow bench.

So, one night I called Pat Leahy from High Gear Machine in Long Beach. I figured if anybody knew who could (or wanted to) do the heads, he would. So, I got Pat on the phone, and he says "Aw fuck, I got a set here already done! I just gotta find them....". Well, if you've ever been in Pat's old shop, there was stuff stacked, shelved, boxed, piled, and stuck in every nook and cranny in there. He had shit in there even he forgot about. I told Pat to dig them out, and I'd take them.

Well, a month went by, then 2, and about 3 months later, Pat calls and says " Hey, I found those dual carb heads. Uhhh.....only thing is, I never finished them". It seems Pat himself started these heads when he was at B&O Cycle 37 years previous, and had stuck them away, with the intention of getting back on them. He never did.

I told him I'd take them regardless, and what did he want for them, and Pat says " Aw, I'll just give them to you". I told Pat we weren't doing that, and he said he'd send them, and I could send him what I thought was fair after I got them. When they came, they still needed work, but they were a good base to work from. I sent Pat $200.00 for them.

I took them over to Rick LaBriola, and he refitted a different set of intake spigots on the heads. The original spigots were just tubes to rubber flange mount the carbs. Rick fitted a set of spigots he had cast up years before for another dual carb job. The spigots were flanged so I could run any late 2 bolt flange carb I wanted - S&S, CV, Mikuni, etc. He made me some really nice heat isolator blocks that would adapt the matched Amal 932's I had to the two bolt spigots.

The heads still need the ports finished off, guides, a Flo Headwork exhaust flange kit, and to be converted to outside oiler configuration. I'm planning on putting these heads on a 3 1/2" bore x 4 1/2" stroke Pan motor I have most of the parts for. This is the engine that'll go in the VL frame.

One last thing. It was like 7 months after I bought the heads from Pat. I was out in Long Beach, and as usual, I stop to see Pat. Pat takes me in his little office and says "Hey Rich, you sent me $100.00 too much for the heads, here, take this..." and he tries to give me back the money. I told him to forget it, but he insisted. Finally, I talked him into keeping the money, and using it to throw a BBQ after the upcoming Long Beach swap meet. Which he did, complete with a band, and I was able to attend, and I had a really good time, and so did Pat. And, that's what friends do with friends.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Speaking of nice VL framed bikes.......

Now, this is a very clean, detailed Knuckle in a VL frame, from The Four Speed Garage, in Japan. They do some nice work, you should check their website out. Unfortunately, the site is all in Japanese, and they don't have a translator feature. If you use Google's translator, you won't be able to open the thumbnails:

The last major repair area on the VL frame.......

Ok, to refresh your memory, originally I was going to take out this late 4speed trans plate, until I discovered that the frame had broken at both the front and the back of the original trans plate. Whoever in the past put this later 4speed plate over the top of the original to repair the area.

They tried to stickweld everything together to repair/reinforce the area. Also, there is a not uncommon diagonal break thru the left webbing area that was welded long ago. I've seen a lot of VL frames broken right in this area - see the arrows. But, I've never seen a VL frame that's been broken in front, or the back of the trans plate before.

The webbing, with all the nasty stick weld ground out of there. What I want to accomplish here is to clean up the area, reinforce the broken webbing, reweld the area, and try and do it so it resembles the original shape of the webbing. You'll be able to see this webbing behind the trans case, so it's important to me to retain as much of the original detail here as I can.
The pattern for the reinforcement plate.
Here's the finished rear webbing, with the reinforcement plate welded in and ground down some. After this area gets a slight coat of bondo, and paint, it'll take a good eye to tell the plates even in there. It still has plenty of the detail, and it's the forgings like this that give the VL frame it's character.
Next week I'll tackle trying to get this mess straightened out. I plan on boxing the lower section, where the forging broke, and plating the upper section after I grind out those nasty stick welds. I wish I didn't have all the grinding to do, but I have to know what's under those blobs. You can't redily see this area, but I want to make sure these areas don't break again.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More VL frame work........

I had some slack time, so I was able to do a little more work to the VL frame. I wanted to get the front mount straightened out next, because it was bugging me. Plus, I'm trying to work from the front to the back, taking care of all the fuckups and butchers as I go.

You can see in this picture, that whoever did this the first time was a moron. They ground the back side of the mount for clearance (?????WHY?????), so when they went to drill the R/H hole for the case ear bolt, they broke thru the edge of the pad. Plus, the hole isn't even in the right place, either. They must have had a set of cases that had the ear repaired on it, and they didn't get the ear back in the right place again. go a set of mock-up cases, to see exactly how much repair it's going to take to get a solid mounting surface. I dropped in the rear mounting bolts, and torqued them to 35 lb/ft, then checked out the front mounts.
Once the cases were bolted in, you could tell they also cut off (???) the R/H side of the frame mount. You can see where the white arrow points, that the R/H case ear hangs over the mount unsupported by a good 5/16" We'll have to build that up, too. Actually, the L/H mounting hole almost lined up enough to drop a bolt thru it.
Adding a 1/4" x 5/16" piece to the back of the mount. I haven't added the repair piece to the side of the mount yet, or welded up the right pad hole yet.
.......and here's the finished front mount, material added, re-drilled correctly, and all draw filed smooth. Usually on these frames, you'll have to add a spacer to the front mounting pad between 1/16-1/8" thick. But every one of these frames I've done have never been the same. This one is only going to need a .020" shim under the front case ears.
From the right, the pad goes all the way under and gives full support to the right case ear now.
Here's a little teaser. I got one of my NOS Wassell tanks out of my stash, dropped the tunnel, and relocated the filler. These tanks are cool, but this tank is 42 years old, and people don't realize that when they were new, they were made out of God knows what kind of crap steel, and they vary in thickness from 18-22ga. They SUCK to weld on.

I was too pissed-off to take pictures while I did the tank surgery - it was a lot of frustrating work. The original tunnel was welded in off-center, and the tunnel was 2 1/2" wide - my backbone is an 1 1/4" in dia. I had to add strips to the bottom of the tank to narrow and center the tunnel space, in addition to the filler plates in the front and rear of the tank, before I could weld in the new shallow tunnel.

Part-timer Steve was watching me weld all this in, and he said it looked like I was welding it with a Bernz-O-Matic torch and a coathanger. You'd be going along OK, and then fffzzziiitt, it would spark out, and melt away. You'd look at the tungsten, and it was all fucked up. I finally got it finished by switching from a thoriated tungsten to a ceriated tungsten, that seemed to do the trick.

It was worth the hassles on the tank though, I think it looks pretty good up there, and it'll fit in with the build.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Rooster's Shovelhead.

This is the other faded picture I had in the garage, for inspiration. Originally, I scanned this picture from Rooster's Feb. '76 feature article in Choppers magazine, and posted it on Nelson's message board almost 10 years ago. I see this picture all over the net, and I know it came from Nelson's board. How do I know when I see it? Because, if you look at the R/H and L/H lower corners of the picture, you can see my thumbtack holes. Next time you see this picture posted on a blog or message board, look for the holes.

This bike just blew me away when I first saw it. There is just something undeniablely right with the whole bike. This bike was cool 33 years ago, and if you rolled it out today, it would still be cool, just as it sits. That's a timeless classic. It just looks like it's waiting for it's owner to kick it to life, and hit the road.

Here's Rooster's bike as it appeared in the June '77 issue of Easyriders. It had changed a little, but not much. The square Caddy sealed beam is replaced with a traditional 5 1/2" Bates lamp, the drag bars are gone in favor of Flanders #1 wide bars, and the pipes were chrome now. You can also see the classic "point" molding job on the doglegs where the sidecar loops used to be, in these pictures.

Also, Rooster had taken the Trans-Go auxiliary automatic transmission cooler he was using for an oil cooler, and put it back behind the rear pipe, from its former location on the front downtubes. This is a great shot of his hand-fabbed outer primary with the smoked plexi derby cover, the shaved off inner primary, and the high mids. I'm also thinking that the Lake Injecter didn't stay with this bike for long, either.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Barry Feinstein photography

Von Dutch, pinstriping a ladies high heel shoe - Reseda, CA 1966.
A pair of Von Dutch-crafted black powder pistols, the top a caplock, the bottom a flintlock.

Feinstein did a whole series of photographs of Von Dutch working at his Reseda, CA home/shop in '66 - including a photograph of Dutch painting a bass drum front for The Byrds, as David Crosby and Michael Clarke watch the work progress.