Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Caption time.......

Can you supply me with a good caption for this photo? Ok, I'll kick it off.....
"This is gonna be good....Frank's gonna tell Tiny he has to prospect for another 6 months!"

Sunday, January 23, 2011


A little while ago, I sent Steve Clements in the UK a Goodson cast magneto cover. I got an Email from Steve, with a photo of the cover after his buddy Tosh engraved it for him. What would be more appropriate than a lightning bolt pattern, emanating from the plug towers?

If you're interested in some nice engraving, and you're close to the UK, you can contact Tosh at:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gary Hetrick followup......

Almost a year ago, I did a post here on Feb. 20, 2101, entitled Magazine Trifecta, featuring Gary Hetrick, and his motorcycles. You can see the post in its entirety here:

Gary's bike was always one of my favorites, and I came to find out that Grant Peterson and Harpoon had always liked the bike as well. What we all had was a mutual appreciation for the fact that Gary had virtually built the bike from the ground-up, and had made almost every single part on his custom. Hetrick's bike was Light Years ahead of everybody else's choppers at the time it was built.

Well, a little while ago, Grant was poking around at Garage Company in L.A. when out of the corner of his eye, he sees a familiar front end poking out of a lineup of bikes. He walked over, and sure enough, it's Gary Hetrick's old bike. Where did Garage Company get it? Who knows where Yoshi gets any of the bikes and parts he has. Grant was kind enough to snap some photos for me on his last trip down there, and he said it was OK if I posted up a couple for you here. Thank you Grant, we all appreciate it.

Photo courtesy Grant Peterson

The bike is in remarkably intact condition. Bikes like this usually wind up get "cherry picked" for all the cool parts as they go from owner to owner, then the carcase sits out behind the garage for decades. The only things that aren't original on the bike - save for the nasty paintjob - is the seat, carb/air cleaner, the R/h foot control, and the handlebars. All of Gary's meticulous hand-machined, hand-built parts are still there, right down to the gold anodized Cragar Super Trick wheels.

Photo courtesy Grant Peterson

It's my opinion that 99% of all motorcycle tank and fender murals blow chunks. This one is no exception. The devil looks to be inspired by the one in the Dante's Inferno/Ave Maria segment from Walt Disney's Fantasia. What does somebody do....walk into the mall to the airbrush kiosk with his gas tank under his arm, and say "Do something really crappy on here for me"?

Not exactly sure what's bolted to the center of the outer primary that Hetrick spent hours machining. There was a smoked inspection panel inlayed there originally. Maybe a vent for an enclosed belt drive - the primary was originally a sealed wet chain drive.

Photo courtesy Grant Peterson

Here you can see someone has replaced the R/H foot control with a Perf. Machine unit. Those yellow "scallops" are, uh.....oh boy......I'm amazed the gold anodizing on all the parts has held up so well over the years. I sure hope Yoshi plans on bringing this bike back to pristene original condition again.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Crossmember almost finished.......

Materials: a couple feet of 2" x 1" x .120 wall square tubing, a couple feet of 1/2" x 1 3/4" flat stock, and the old pivot shaft from the original frame.

Part-timer Steve came over today, and we tackled the rear crossmember/transmission mount for Wade's TC B Softail. By the time Steve got here, I had the crossmember cut, notched, and in place between the rails. We made our preliminary measurements for the uprights, and Steve cut them. We found the C/L for the pivot shaft, and marked the location on the plates. The pivot shaft is an oddball diameter - larger than 11/16", but not quite 3/4". I used an 11/16" hole saw to drill the shaft holes in the uprights, and with the kerf of the hole saw's teeth, was the perfect size for the shaft to slide right through.

The jog in the left upright is so the chain has adequate clearance on the lower run. The top run is just fine. When I send the frame out for powdercoat, I'll take the pivot shaft over to Bob Schenck, and have him shorten and re-thread it, and it'll serve as the mounting bolt for the transmission.

The jog was formed using a vise, an oxy-acetelne torch with a rosebud, and a big Crescent wrench. I heated, Steve bent. I still have to box the back of the uprights, but I'll wait until I take the engine and tranny back out, and finish the inside welds on the uprights, and the bottom of the crossmember. All and all, I'm pretty happy with how it came out. Simple, yet very strong.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Son of You'd do it in a heartbeat......

Who says no mail comes on MLK Day? Well, OK, it was an Email......Dave, a reader of this blog saw the post below, and sent me two pictures of another Triumph-powered go kart he saw at an event this summer.

Thank you ,Dave, the photos were most appreciated.

Look at the little placard, it says: 1/4 mile ET....12.3 sec. 106 MPH

Sunday, January 16, 2011

You'd do it in a heartbeat.......

A couple years ago, I grabbed this photo off the Jockey Journal. Somebody posted it over there, looking for more info on it. It's a pretty well thought out go kart, powered by a BSA vertical twin. You just gotta admire a guy like this, that would build something as slick as this kart turned out. Your immediate thought when you see the photo should be "I wanna drive it!".

I'm not sure what year or magazine it came from, but from the photo itself, I'm guessing that George Barris shot it, because Barris used those two models in a lot of his photo features, and it looks like his style of photography.

Dig the owner of the kart checkin' out the blondie's push-ups. Too cool!

In the same thread, Wes From Four Aces posted up some photos of a Triumph-powered go kart he acquired, that some maniac built in the '50's. It was built to accept a pre-unit engine and transmission. Probably one of the world's first shifter karts, I'll bet.

Right hand closeup of the "business end" of Wes' Triumph kart.

Last time I was out at Four Aces, Wes still had the kart, stuck up in the storage racks, sans engine and transmission. Wes told me he stuck that engine and tranny in there to snap some photos of what it would look like. He also told me he had plans to actually power it and restore it eventually. I have no idea if he ever did, or if it's still in the rack, or if he sold it.....I'll have to ask him. I hope he still has it, because I was looking forward to taking it for a spin! Well, wouldn't you? Hell yes, you would!

And, speaking of go karts, I remember when I was 12 in '64, seeing a photo in Car Craft of a guy named "Capt. Jack" McClure, piloting a kart with a Turbonique turbine engine putting out a 1,000 lbs. of thrust, beating "TV" Tommy Ivo's Top Fueler off the line at a drag strip in Tampa, FL. The story went on to say McClure exhibition raced TF guys like Ivo and Don Garlits all over the country, and hit constant top speeds of around 150 MPH. I thought to myself "How fucking cool would THIS be to do?". Of course, I'd have probably killed myself then, but that's besides the point......

The famous " 'Capt. Jack' McClure beats 'TV' Tommy Ivo" photo.

It wasn't until years later that I found out that the whole thing was staged. On the exhibition run before McClure was supposed to run Ivo, he broke the turbine. Not wanting to waste the photo op, McClure's crew talked to Ivo, and asked if they could just line up with him on the start line, and shoot that. Ivo's crew thought if they put the kart out a couple lengths from the start, Tommy could really get the slicks smoking, then they could snap the photo when he got up next to the kart, and it'd look like a real run off the line.

Well, they put McClure out on the strip, and Tommy Ivo fired up the fueler, and smoked the tires pretty well. What Ivo didn't know, was that as soon as he started smoking the tires, they shot the photo! It looked like Capt. Jack had pulled a hole shot on Ivo, and was beating him off the line. Tommy Ivo never lived that photo down.

Early Turbonique ad, featuring an engine similar to the one that powered Jack McClure's "sit up" Kart.

Evidently, Capt. Jack felt that man could go a little quicker in a go kart, so in the early '70's, he had Arvil Porter build him a turbine engine, fueled by hydrogen peroxide, that put out over 1,500 lbs. of thrust. Now he could run the 1/4 mile a little faster than he did before.......

"Capt. Jack" McClure getting ready to make another pass down the 1/4 mile, in his hydrogen peroxide-fueled "lay down" kart.

"Capt. Jack" consistently made 200+MPH 1/4 mile runs @ 6.00 sec. E.T.'s with that hydrogen peroxide-fueled kart. Wow. Remember, this was the '70's! McClure would slow this kart down at the end of the run with a parachute, until he could hit the 4 wheel disc brakes when he slowed to around 100 MPH. Capt. Jack also wore a personal parachute just in case things got out of hand during a run (?).

Thursday, January 13, 2011

You can't say......

.......that this isn't going to be a good foundation to build a pretty nice fatbob custom. Wade says: "I'm thinking David Mann centerfold...."

Part-timer Steve and I got the drivetrain into the frame today, and we did some peliminary alignment and took our measurements. The rear wheel lined right up on the backbone centerline with a minimum of fuss, and chain and sprocket alignment was a piece of cake!

Next, the rear mount for the transmission.......

" It happened on the strip, where the road is wide....."

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I snapped this photo at the end of the day, and I wish I'd taken a couple, but I was tired, and you'll get the idea. Wade's '05 Softie frame, for the most part, is hardtailed. All that's left is the rear crossmember for the transmission.

Part-timer Steve's been under the weather the last couple days, but he'll be here tomorrow to help me get the engine and transmission back into the frame again. From there we can size up the final transmission mount location, get it made and welded in, then it's out with the engine and trans again for the final welding underneath, then in with the engine and transmission one final time, to set up the rear wheel, drive sprockets, chain, and to locate the OEM rear caliper's brace location.

We'll also have to locate and weld in new rear oil tank mounts, mount the rear fender, and fab up Wade's sissy bar, but that's a little ways off.........

Monday, January 10, 2011

Look at this guy......

Part-timer Steve TIG 'ing together the halves of his new tank for his chopper re-do. Steve was adamant about doing every bit of work he felt he could accomplish on it this go-round, and he did a knock-down job on his tank today. The weld beads were good, and the penetration was ideal.

Steve started with a Paughco standard-sized Sporty tank blank, then he took a wedge cut out of the shell, from 1 1/4" in the front, to zero in the back. I tacked the shells together, did a little preliminary hammer & dolly work, and Steve took it from there. I had him use a .040 thoriated tungsten, and a # 5 cup.

Steve's plans call for a Frisco mounting, a rib down the center, rear mounted L/H petcock, and one of Dan Collins' new fillers. It'll be pretty nice when it's all finished. Man, if Steve keeps this up, I can drink coffee and watch Judge Joe Brown all day!

From the pen of Rudy Navarro........

When people talk about illustrators for the various custom bike magazines, usually names like Mann, Robinson, Duggan, and even Bode are sure to be mentioned. But, very seldom do you hear the name Navarro.

Rudy Navarro's main body of work was used in Supercycle magazine, and more than likely his illustrations were used to open up, or set the mood for the magazine's fiction stories. Maybe Navarro isn't mentioned because his art was of the darker, grittier, surreal biker world than the others previously named. Always done in pen and ink, and more often than not dark and complex in their execution. Whenever I looked at one of his works, I often got the feeling that Navarro was sitting in the middle of an opium den as he sketched away. Here's a couple quick examples of Rudy Navarro's work for you.....

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Coming along just fine.....

In the mockup photo below (and closeup above), you probably noticed that the lower frame rails are a little short of matching up with the hardtail section. Matter of fact, they're short by approximately 1 " to duplicate the wheelbase of the original Softail. This is because I had to cut the original lower rails right in front of where they welded to the frame's rear swingarm uprights.

Also notice that the Softail's frame rails are 1 1/4" OD, and the hardtail's rails are all 1" OD. So, we can either make the Softail's rails longer to match up, or make the hardtail's rails longer. I split the difference, and made mods to both of them, and they should be as strong as was the original structure.

To mate the hardtail to the lower frame rails, I turned a combination 1" long x 1" OD spacer and sleeve to fill my gap, and extended it inside the original frame rail 2 1/4". Next, I turned a 3/4" OD slug down to fit the ID of the hardtail's legs, and made it long enough to extended through the 1" spacer sleeve, and into the original frame rail. Everything slid right into place, and the alignment was almost automatic - the frame length measurements were within 1/16" side-to-side, and the axle plate height was the same on both sides. Doesn't usually go this quick, I'm stoked!

Next, I cut an exterior sleeve to cover the splice points underneath it, and gave it a slash cut to give the transition from 1 1/4" frame tube to 1" hardtail tube more eye appeal. We'll do the same slash cut to the socket/sleeve that we'll need for the top rail junction of the hardtail, so it'll visually match the lowers.

Tomorrow, or maybe Friday, I'll get the top of the hardtail all set up and aligned/mated to the backbone section with it's related sockets and sleeves. Then, I'll disassemble the mocked up sections, clean them, drill the necessary plug welds, then tack and weld everything up solid. With that done, it'll be back in with the engine and transmission, and on to fabrication of the rear trans crossmember and mount.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Mating season.......

If you went over to Part-timer Steve's blog from the previous post, you'll see he makes mention of the frames stacking up in the background of one of his photos, waiting to be hardtailed. That's a sure sign that the "mating season" is in full swing. Looking at the photo below, can a 4 speed hardtail section canoodle with a '05 Twin cam Softail front section, and be happy? Yes, it can.....

This belongs to Wade, from Flagstaff. Wade wants to run a 150/80-16 on the back, with chain final drive. While we're at it, we'll mount a 7 Metal West ribbed English-style aluminum ducktail fender, bend him a nice sissy bar, and we're also going to convert his TC B FI motor over to a carb, and put in an Altmann P-3 ignition, along with a complete rewire. When it leaves here, Wade will have himself a pretty nice minimalist roller to continue on with when he gets it home.

The TC B counterbalanced-motored Softail doesn't have a seatpost, because of the "unit" engine and transmission. Well, it sorta has a seatpost, but it's just a C channel that bolts in with a couple of 5/16" bolts to the tranny case and backbone. It's mainly for looks, and it mounts the coil and the front of the oil tank. And, the rear mount for the transmission case is set up almost like the rubbermount case is - the pivot shaft for the "swingarm" section goes through the rear frame upright, through the swingarm, through the back of the trans case, and out the other side.

So, we're going to have to come up with a rear crossmember/trans mount that'll allow the transmission to mount solid, and still allow the trans to be removed without pulling the motor if necessary. Plus, we'll need to get the strength back into the mid section (no seatpost, remember?), to prevent flexing. Stress bars (ala Paughco's rubbermount rigids) would work, but I want to leave the lines of the hardtail section uninterrupted. We got it all figured out, and you'll see the finished frame, complete with engine and transmission mounted when we're finished. Should be interesting.....

"Beat me Daddy......eight to the bar!"

Part-timer Steve took a short photo essay while we were mounting Donnie's rear fender and making up his sissy bar for his '99 Softail we hardtailed a couple weeks ago. You can see the sissy bar story here:

People always ask if I can make and send them a sissy bar long distance. I don't have any jigs that I form my bars around, I free-hand bend each bar I make to fit the client's exact fender, frame, and wheel component combination. I figure out how high the bar needs to be, cut my material to length, make a soapstone center mark, fire up the torch, and go from there. That's something I can't do from 1,000 mi. away.

No two sissy bars are ever bent the same, or mount the same - they're all just a little bit different from each other, and that's what makes them unique.