I got an Email the other day, and in part, it went "I met Part-timer Steve in Texas a couple years ago. He passed me in the mountains at about 85 MPH, filming with a camera in his left hand......". The bike Steve was riding was this one, and it's now for sale. Steve has decided to sell his beloved chopper, to finance his new build.
Not so sad, Steve can ride the FXR he has, that he hasn't ridden in like 4 years. We just can't keep Steve off this bike. He's been to the four corners of the United States on this bike. Full details and sale contact info is available here:
Ok, I really don't know where to start on this, but we've fallen into what I'm 99% sure is an original Dick Allen-built frame. I'm still trying to fill in some holes, and I'm still not sure I have the whole story here, so you'll have to bear with me, and I'll be as accurate as I can in telling the story. Follow along.....
Is this frame light? Does Pinocchio have wooden yarbles? Part-timer Steve and I can both do arm curls with this frame!
About 3 years ago, I ran into Bill Mize at the 1/2 mile flat track races in Sturgis. We hadn't seen each other in a long time, so we spent a good deal of time catching up. In the course of conversation, Bill was talking of selling 2 or 3 of his choppers, and thinning the heard down to just one, and possibly selling some of his parts stash. Offhandedly Bill said "Hey, Rich, I have something you might really be interested in....a Dick Allen frame. Well, I'm pretty sure it one of Dick's frames, but I can't say for sure, I can't prove it. But, (El Forastero) Moose says it is, that's who I got it from". Well, that's all I had to hear. I told Bill if he did want to sell it, to give me first crack at it, and he agreed.
Profile shot of the frame. It has about 2" of stretch in the rear section, and the front downtubes are about the same length as stock are. The tubing is 1" dia., with the backbone at 1 1/2" dia. We're positive it's chrome moly (see above).
So, about another year went by, and I hadn't heard from Bill, so I gave him a call, and yes, he still had the frame. I told him that I still wanted it, and Bill assured me any time I wanted to buy it, it was mine. He said Moose had no qualms about him selling it to me, as long as it didn't wind up in Japan, and I built something with it.
Fast forward to this Summer, and Part-timer Steve and I were talking about Steve wanting to build another bike. I said "You know what would be cool? If you built a bike with that Dick Allen frame that Bill Mize has." Steve told me to call Bill, which I did, and we told him we'd take the frame, if he was still going to sell it. Bill agreed, and he and Steve worked out a price. I'm not going to tell you what Steve gave for it, but it was a good price....a very, very good price.
Stamped under the front motor mount "003". 003 of what - the 3rd frame Dick built? The 3rd of 3 frames in this style? Are there 2 more frames like this out there somewhere? Questions, questions......
Here's what we know, and I hope I've got this story right, because part of this was relayed to me by Steve, and part is what Bill has told me in the past - Bill got it from Moose. Moose had a Shovel in this frame, and he had it on the road for a while in the way distant past. Moose didn't like the way it rode - "Too flexy..." Moose said. But, then again, Moose is a pretty big guy. Moose said he got the frame from Crazy Frank - yes - the Crazy Frank of Crazy Frank Fenders. But, Moose says he can't remember when he got it from Frank. Crazy Frank said he got the frame from Dick Allen, and that Dick built it. Right there, on the word of those two men, I'd say Dick built it. Bill also told Steve that Tator Gilmore was pretty positive Dick built it as well.
Shot of the front neck section, and unusual top motor mount. The diagonal frame braces are 3/4" dia., and the rake on the neck is 38 degrees.
I purloined (fancy way of saying I stole) this photograph from Chris Kallas' MC Art blog. It's a photograph of Bruce Parrish, prepping Dick Allen's Blueprint frame. You can read Chris' original blog post here:
Dick was going to build rigid frames, and it was called, according to what Chris put down, the Blueprint Bike, because it was painted blue, and it was the model of frames to come. See if you don't agree with me on some of the features of the frame we have, and the Blueprint frame.......
First, I zoomed in on the axle plates. I know the axle plates are pointed, but look at the location/shape of the brake backing plate stud slot, the shape of the axle slots, and the way the back legs attach to the plates........
Now, look at the location of this backing plate anchor slot, and the shape of the axle slots - same "H" shape to the slots, and same location of the backing plate slot. Also notice that the frame rails where they attach to the axle plates are "swedged" to them in the same style, and the plates are welded in the same way as the Blueprint frame is. Moose also said that Dick didn't duplicate the overall shape of the axle plates on the frames he built, they were all cut in different shapes.
Ok, now look at the front motor mount, the plates for the forward controls, and the shape of the engine and transmission mounts on the Blueprint frame........
The top plate shape on the frame we have is very similar, and the holes for the front engine mounting bolts aren't 3/8" holes drilled through, they're tapped into the plate........
......and check out the shape of the forward control mounts, and the style of boxing that was used on both this frame, and the Blueprint frame. They are virtually identical in shape and construction.
Now, if that wasn't enough for everybody, I forwarded some more photos on to Joe Hurst, and asked for his opinion. Joe wrote back that what we have here is most likely a Dick Allen frame. Joe went into some construction details for me that Dick used on the frames he built, and some of the work on frames that Dick did for Joe and others, and the fact that it was a cro-mo frame, and it had the 1 1/2"-2" rear frame stretch that Dick liked to do. Joe was pretty sure that we do, indeed have an unusually rare Dick Allen-built frame. Joe Hurst's opinion was just the cherry on top of the sundae for me!
I'm still digging, and I'm still trying to find all I can on this frame. Whatever I turn on this, I'll pass along to everybody as I can. Feel free to Email me with ANYTHING pertaining to this frame PLEASE!
Is this frame for sale? FUCK NO! Don't even ask! This is going back on the road, right where it belongs. That's what Dick built this frame for, and that's what's going to happen. We already have a few lines out on a Dick Allen springer, and a set of Dick's 12 spoke American wheels. I think Dick Allen will be pretty proud when he sees this bike finished. We're gonna try and get as close as we possibly can to a bike Dick might have built with this frame.
I remember Ronnie Paugh (of Paughco fame) telling me one time when he (Ron) was a young guy, he and his family would stop at Norm's parents house in The Valley, and buy eggs from them, from a little roadside stand they had. That's the Grabowski chicken ranch property where the famous photo of Norm laying under the "Kookie T", with that huge wooden A-frame engine hoist behind it, was taken.....
Just about every link you'd want on Norm Grabowski:
Norm on his red metalflaked Pan chopper with the jugs and heads painted white, at the drags. Check out the sissy bar - it's a combination beer can holder/"church key" beer can opener....too fucking much! Now everybody will have one by Born Free 5.....
Norm's monster, The Corvair-powered "Six Pack". Neil East (another rodding icon), owned AutoBooks in Burbank, CA, and Colorado Carbooks here in Denver told me that Norm used to come to L.A. Roadster club meetings on the Six Pack, and he said Norm had no problem kick starting this bike, when it was time to leave. It had no electric starter!
I appreciate it when people send me Emails about the work that I've done for them, and how it's met their expectations. But I've never gotten an Email like this one. I'll let Wade take it from here:
Wade's Softail TC 88B that I hardtailed for him a couple riding seasons ago....
I laid the TC down yesterday. Busy highway (Rt. 66 actually) out of
Claremore, OK. Heavily traveled four lane (particularly in the 5:00 hour)
with a grass median. Headed home from work, suddenly I see the headlights
of an elderly Continental (and, turns out to be an elderly driver) coming at us
splitting the yellow line in our inside lane. The girl that is the first to
meet her stops, in hopes of avoiding a head on as does the lady in the outside
lane. The girl that's stopped get's rearended by a 3/4 ton van that had been
punched by a Durango. The van loses a front wheel then careens across the
median, both lanes of oncoming traffic and ends up in the trees on the far side
of the highway."
Wade's bike in progress - hardtail done, sissy bar & fender finished, and the license plate frame started.....
"I am in the middle of
this chaos; for a fleeting moment I thought I might make it between the two
cars but instead (and in retrospect wisely) I laid the bike down and
thankfully, the slide stopped just before I reached the two cars in front of
me. As soon as I got stopped, I jumped up, as my greatest fear was getting run
over from behind as it was still a very active scene."
Wade's license plate frame after skidding on it at 65 MPH........
"But I didn't, and
once I figured out that everyone was shut down I picked the bike up and
remarkably the only damage was to the footpeg, handlegrip and the point of this
e-mail, your license plate bracket. As you can see from the picture, it ground
some steel off, but there was absolutely no bend or other damage to the bracket
(and I slid a good long way on it; we were running about 60-65 when the show
began). Nice work.
The bike fired up, and two hours later, I rode it home. Wade
BTW, I am pretty scuffed up from butt cheek to shoulder, and my left arm above
the elbow, but overall, considering the number of vehicles flying around, I'm
pretty damn lucky."
Fortunately for Wade, this whole sceneario could have been a lot worse, and I'm glad he's able to send me the above Email.. You know, I've always stressed on my blog about using sound fabrication practices, the importance of selecting quality raw materials that go into your work, and the importance of the (and my) never ending process of mastering and executing welding and the other skills involved in building motorcycles. As the above illustrates, you never know when your work might be put to the ultimate stress test.
Irish Rich is the owner of Shamrock Fabrication/Irish Rich Custom Cycles, a "no frills" custom motorcycle and fabrication shop. Rich has been involved with custom motorcycles and hot rods for over 44 years, and is a member of the Sinners, out of Southern California. Rich and his motorcycles have appeared in Street Chopper, DicE Magazine, The Horse, Easyriders, IronWorks, S&S Performance Times, Bigtwin, Show Class Magazine, Jesse James' documentary "The History Of The Chopper", One World Studios' "The Harbortown Bobber", and Joyrides Art Co.-"The Photography of Mark Kawakami". He also currently writes, and has written tech articles and feature stories for most of the custom motorcycle publications, and wrote an ongoing column for the first 16 issues of Greasy Kulture Magazine.