Saturday, April 4, 2009

Buchanans extends a springer.....

This is an article that appeared in the Feb. 1968 issue of Choppers Magazine. It was an article going thru the steps that Buchanans took to extend a Harley springer.

Before Buchanans moved from their location at 629 E. Garvey Ave. in Monterey Park, Ca. (located just east of where the interchange for the 10 and the 710 is), up to Azusa, Ca., they were one of the premere specialty shops in the L.A. Basin. They offered frame straightning, front fork repair and extending on glides, springers, and girders, and frame modifications like lengthening and raking for all makes and models. They also offered both automotive as well as motorcycle wheel rim straightning, relacing, truing, and blank rim dimpling services.

All the custom frame and front end work, and frame straightning/repairing ended when they made their move up north, and they divested themselves of all their equipment used in those operations before the move. After the relocation, they only offered the wheel and spoke services for the automotive/hot rod set, and motorcycles - and they still do to this day.
Pay close attention to the extension piece for the back leg he's holding here. We'll discuss this further down the post....

Hey, I told you guys we weren't fancy in the old days! An adjustable needle pointer, a lead deadblow mallet, a carpenter's adjustable tri-square, and a trained eye were used to fine tune the final alignment. Also notice that Buchanans is brazing the extensions in place.
Check out the labor prices from a page out of my 1970 Buchanans catalog. A Harley frame could be raked for $50.00! You'll also notice that the price of extending a springer had gone from the price of "..... about $75.00 for a 4" extension" in the Choppers Magazine article to $100.00 for the first 2 1/2" of extension, and $15.00 for each 2 1/2" extension increment after that. Still pretty cheap.
Here's another page out of my '70 catalog. You can see an employee sitting at one of the frame tables, and there's a springer in the process of being extended to the left on the table. Buchanans other frame tables are also pictured, along with their spoke manufacturing and wheel lacing services.
If you read the small text on the last page of the Choppers article, you saw where the author states that Buchanans had developed the extensions they used, and that they weren't for sale without installation. In reality, Buchanans was getting them from Custom Cycle Accessories, in Cleveland, OH. I thought it was pretty clever that Buchanans made out in the article like nobody else had the materials to do the job. I'm just wondering how many hundreds of springers were sent to Buchanans for extending from all over the country as a result of reading the article?

I bought this above pictured Cleveland Cycle Supply extension kit at a swap meet probably 35 years ago. It was a NOS 8" kit, and came wrapped in the original brown paper. I always planned on using it, but I haven't gotten around to that yet. One of these days........

You can see how the kit was made. For the back leg extension, a round piece of DOM tubing cut to length had a couple of pieces of matching tubing of the right ID slipped inside, and then the whole assembly was ovaled in a big press. You slipped the ID pieces out, and slipped them into place on the back yolk, and into the original rear leg, and welded them in place.

The front extensions were made out of DOM tube, and they were full extended length, and slipped into the front forks' sockets on the yolk. The other ends were swedged, and drilled for the rocker bolts. The front leg looks bent in this picture, but it's just from the camera lens.

Pretty fucking clever! I understand that Bill's Cycle in Butler, PA puts these original kits up on Ebay from time to time, so you might get lucky.


J-Rod said...

The back leg extensions even have a beveled edge...nice.

John Copeland said...

thank you for posting this bit of history

Sel said...

Since the front extensions are merely two pieces of metal pressed to an oval shape, couldn't anyone fab these with the right diameter round tube and a press? Amy I missing something here, and after pressing that metal would this still be scruturally safe?

I have a heritage springer that took a little bump, and now would love to lengthen it for another project. Great article!

By Hand and By Brain said...

bloody clever!!