Thursday, July 29, 2010

Bill Ray wasn't the Lone Ranger.........

While Bill Ray was down South photographing the Hells Angels from Berdoo, there were also two photographers in San Francisco not only chronicling the Hippie movement, but also the Frisco Charter of of the Club.

Bill Brach and Gene Anthony were photographers that along with photographing the Hells Angels, are probably responsible for 80% of all the San Fran hippies, bands, people, concerts, and event images that survive today from the Haight-Ashbury "Summer of Love" period. Here's a sampling of their HA photos.....

Hells Angels Frisco and Daly City Charters group shot, on The Great Highway, San Francisco, 1966. You might recognize the HA just to the left of the center bike. He's shown pretty consistently in the beginning of Hells Angels On Wheels, look for him next time you watch the movie. - Bill Brach

A couple Frisco Charter members arriving at the Panhandle, Golden Gate Park, 1967. Notice the HA's bike in the foreground is also centered in photo #1 (with its owner straight behind the sissy bar) by Bill Brach, and in photo #4. - Gene Anthony

Not sure who the two HA's on the trike are, but that's Hairy Harry Kott in the upper L/H of the photo, shortly after he got out of the Joint. Haight & Cole, 1966. - Gene Anthony

Hells Angels and El Forasteros in the Panhandle, Golden Gate Park, 1966. - Gene Anthony
Frisco Charter relaxing on Hippie Hill, Golden Gate Park, just off Kezar Dr. 1967. Chocolate George (w/helmet) is at the far right in the picture. George died a few months after this photo was taken, hit by a runaway car in front of the Straight Theatre on Haight St. - Bill Brach

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Don't throw anything away......

"Imagination is more important than knowledge" - Albert Einstein

Take one roached-out set of JayBrake forward controls, some 5/16" plate, 1" DOM tubing, a length of 5/16" cold-rolled bar, and a fancy-schmancy Joker Machine MX footrest, and aftermarket female peg clevises.

Disassemble the forwards, save the brake pedal and pivot, master cylinder, and the heim joint. Utilize the original bung mounts for the Hellbent pipes to mount the master cylinder plate. Do a little cutting , TIG welding, and a little time on the drill press, and voila! One set of mid controls for a client's CFL. I'll show you the L/H side when I finish it up......

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Early West Coast Choppers.....

West Coast Choppers print ad, from the Paramount shop era - 1998.

The WCC magazine ad that launched a 1000 angry letters in 2000. Jahluv will appreciate this one. I saw this bike back at WCC a couple years ago.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


No way in hell did I expect to put this here 4 posts later.

Larry Watson 1939 - 2010

More Vintage Indian Larry........

Indian Larry rebuilding an............Indian Chief - 1987

One of the coolest ads I've ever seen - 1988

Again, another ad - 1988......

I wonder if he ever did??

Thursday, July 15, 2010


Ok, after months in storage (see my Dec. '09 post here on the blog for the history and acquisition story), Part-timer Steve and I finally loaded up this lathe, and brought it down and set it up. Actually, I would have done this a long time ago, but I was just too busy putting out jobs this year to clear out all the motorcycle parts and stuff one accumulates over the course of years of building bikes, and fabbing things up. Well, I finally dove in, and got everything re-organized, moved, and tossed out to make room for it.

While this lathe, made by Harper & Reynolds in L.A., Ca. is well over a century old, it's still solid, and the tolerances of all the moving parts are as tight as a gnat's ass. In other words, it'll still turn out some pretty nice work, and it'll probably be turning out parts long after I'm gone. Originally it saw service in somebody's steam powered machine shop (look a couple posts back for an idea), it was converted over to electric power around 1924 or so, as many of these old lathes were.

We've done some peliminary cleaning and de-greasing, and as I go along, I plan on doing a full cosmetic restoration on it, as time permits. Who am I kidding? I think once I start running this lathe, it'll be hard to tear it down for it. But, there's plenty I can do,and still run it at the same time. I'll post up when I get more done on it, and get it all wired in and running. In the meantime, check out these photos of what it looks like today......

Here we see the bronze nameplate of the manufacturer Harper & Reynolds Co. Los Angeles, Cal. , and the screw and thread pitch guide plate, which is brass.

Harper & Reynolds made lathes, milling machines, drill presses, and also sold wholesale and retail blasting supplies and other mining equipment. They had two big warehouses/manufacturing plants within a couple blocks of City Hall, right in the heart of downtown Los Angeles.

Look at the Patent dates, cast right into the lathe bed Pats. Sept 21 1880 Feb 15 1887.

This is the contraption that holds the lathe pulleys, and doubles as the electric motor mount. It mounts to the back of the lathe on a 3/4" dia. bar that runs the length of the lathe's bed. While it functions, it looks like a farmer with three fingers and one eye put it together, and welded it with a blowtorch and a coathanger.

You can also see the woven fabric drive belts (I'm keeping them), one of which needs to be replaced. Fortunately, Western Belting is right here in Denver, and they can make me any belt I need for this application.

I wish my setup was like this........
......but it isn't, and so I'm going to fab something similar in style and function out of steel plate, tubing, and flat stock.

This is how everything gets rolling. There is a belt that runs from the motor to the main pulley on the left, marked with an * in the above photo. That pulley freewheels under power, until you grab the lever (A), and pull it to the left. When you pull that lever, it moves a shaft that has the throwout arm/tapered bearing on it (B). The tapered bearing moves into the pulley hub, and forces the pulley's spring loaded lockup hub arms (C) to engage the main pulley and shaft, and away you go!

To disengage the lathe, you move the arm (A) to the right, and it'll coast to a stop. Too cool, right?

This is the big-ass motor that powers everything. It runs like a champ still. It weighs in at about 35-40 lbs., is single phase, and you can wire it for either 110v or 220v, I'm going to run it on 220. I believe this is the original motor they used when they electrified the lathe. The date stamped on it is April 14, 1924.

Here's the gears that drive the two travel and threading screws. It came with another set of different ratio gears, too. No mercy if you get too close to these teeth. I may have to make some type of guard to cover these, but I really hate to do that. Maybe one with a plexiglass end plate, so you can see them whirling around?

I still need to pick up a 5/16" lathe chuck key for it (it has a nice four jaw chuck), have a new pulley belt made, and a couple drill chucks, of which I'm fortunate in that it has the standard Morse taper. Those are my goals for the next couple weeks. After that, I'll start running the electrical wiring, the breaker, and the new on/off switch for it. I'll also be scouring the steel yards for rems to make the new back hanger for the pulleys and motor.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

L.A. blows........

Just another typical weekend in Paradise, I guess. Not only is the Mikuni Calandar Show at the Queen Mary in Long Beach going on this Sunday the 18th, the Mooneyes "makeup" show (because of last Dec.'s drenched event, see my earlier Dec.'09 post) is happening on the same day, up at Irwindale (Toyota) Speedway!

But, what I really hate to miss is Big Iron Joe and Tay Herrera's 2nd Thy Will Be Done art show, in Orange. If you're in the L.A. area, make it a must on this Saturday night. I guess I'll have to hit the one in December. The info's below......

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

CNC ???

Machine shop vo-tech training, 1917, in Washington, DC. Check out the nattily-dressed instructor, then check the tie on the student. When's the last time you saw a machinist wearing a tie? What's really cool here is the cast motor cover, with the venting done in a basket weave pattern. Pretty ornate for a basic working machine.
Machine shop training in 1919. That guy on lathe #2 better not bend over too much further, or he'll have lathe #1's cogs and belt ripping him a new asshole.
Check out this shop in Pennsylvania in the late 'teens. Street shoes, no earmuffs, no safety glasses, no guards on anything, no benefits, just work, work, work.........
Here's those sweaters, celluloid collars, and ties again! It had to be for the photo, because I'll bet it was about 100 degrees in that shop when they shot this picture in Wisconsin in the early 20's. At least this shop was somewhat brighter to work in than some.
"All machine operators are required to watch what the fuck they are doing at all times. Loss of limbs are grounds for immediate dismissal." "Hey Lloyd, go change the belt on Lathe #23....."
OK, this has got to be a Monday morning!

At this time, most machine shops were steam-powered. A steam engine would power the massive shafts running down the center of the roofs you see in the photos. And, as you see, leather or heavy woven cloth belts ran from those upper shaft pulleys to power the machinery itself.

Usually, all the lathes were in one row, all the milling machines in another, all the drill presses in another - all powered from those elevated driveshafts via belts. Dangerous? Fuck yeah, it was dangerous. But, this was also a time where people were a little sharper than they are today. I know people today who can't operate a cordless screwdriver without seriously injuring themselves.

Henery Ford had a standing rule in his machine shop and assembly line, that anybody who stopped work to extract a fellow employee from the machinery was to be fired on the spot. Ford had "special people" whose only job was to remove guys from the assembly line and machines they got caught in. Think about that next time you head off to work......

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Larry Watson

Larry Watson wasn't all about painting cars.........

Friday, July 9, 2010

Confucius say........

" Man can own too many screwdrivers, but man can never own too many Vise-Grips "

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Walt Seigle

This is what Walt Seigle was up to in issue 163, Nov. '98 of Iron Horse magazine, with the photo shoot and story done by English Don. This bike has always been there in my mental "most favorite bikes" list over the years.

What always appealed to me about this bike is the overall Frisco look of it, mixed with that hard-edged New York City style of lane-splitter. You can see that Walt took a lot of his styling cues from Sonny Barger's "Sweet Cocaine" bike, and added his own typically NYC twist on the project. The stance is perfect, and it looks to be charging thru Manhattan traffic just sitting there in the photo.

Originally, this photo was printed backwards, and was really muddy in print. I tried my best to trick it up a little so you could see the '64 (w/S&S internals) bottom end, Shovel top, Morris mag, and routing of the front pipe. Note the unusual location of the voltage regulator, on the bottom of the gas tank.

Speaking of the gas tank, Walt sculpted and extended the steel Sporty tank's tail in fiberglass, then mounted it Frisco style. But, he didn't drop the tunnel or move the filler neck up to increase his gas capacity. He did, however, relocate the petcock to the Lt. rear of the tank. Strange setup.

The other thing I've always noticed on most NYC bikes from the likes of Seigle, SD, Psycho, and Indian Larry, vs. the Frisco bikes, was the use of forward foot controls, over mid pegs/controls. Both the NYC and Frisco styles of bikes developed from a need to cut a fast trip thru heavy traffic and splitting lanes. Just another regional preference, I guess.

Picking up any ideas? Again, this auxiliary automotive transmission cooler (doubling as the license plate/tail light mount) pressed into service as an oil cooler, reminds me of the later version of Richmond Rooster's bike, where he used a Trans-Go cooler for the same application. Walt's seat was an early Paul Cox piece.

Here we get a good shot of the trees Walt made for the 35mm front end, and the again typical NYC use of a steering dampener on a chopper- in this case a pair. Note the use of a FXWG front fender, to accommodate the 21" front wheel. And, Walt chose to mount his headlight to the lower tree, in leiu of using the headlight hood.

Too bad that the photo reproduction in IH was so crappy. This bike is a stone killer, or as Jesse would say "So angry....."


I didn't look at my Email yesterday, but my niece Amber sent this to us.

Yesterday was the day that Marty McFly arrived 25 years in the future, after hitting 88 MPH in the Delorian, in 1985. Wow, another event that makes me feel even older!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Made me think......

.........of Jeff Wright and Fatty.