Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Born With It?

The conversation about whether "gearheadness" is environmental or genetic has come up numerous times recently in multiple different settings. My youngest son is hardcore hard-wired but it's just not really my older kids thing. Flathead Rob has two boys that so far are not really bitten by the bug and Rob is about the strongest argument for environment there is. In all honestly I believe I'm a gearhead because I grew up as Rob's little brother. It amazes me when I meet guys become "gearheaded" without any mechanical mentors. I'm very thankful to have had strong mechanics in my family growing up. Even today I'm amazed how much my Dad knows that I still don't. He's an extremely rare combination of a Ph.D engineer that started as a thoroughbred "gearhead" mechanical tinkerer as a very young kid.   

Earlier this week I forwarded a The Old Motor posting to my dad featuring Portland, Oregon. Having grown up in and around the Portland area I suspected he'd appreciate it. I never expected a response quite this good. The fact that I had been chatting with a friend, in Portland, about how much I learned from my dad mechanically earlier in that week was just the icing on the cake.

Dad & Bunk - Model B Roadster
"The MV Inspection Station brings memories.  I remember my dad talking about brakes on the 1932 Ford Model B roadster.  He would keep driving around the block, crawling underneath and readjusting the old mechanical brakes until he finally passed inspection. Sometimes it would take 3 or 4 tries. He traded for a 1940 Ford, 2-door sedan in 1941.  Ford had mechanical brakes up thru 1938.  The 40 Ford was a bit of a shock.  I remember him looking at the speedometer, and he was going close to 85 mph.  After the Model B, the 40 Ford engine sounded like it was loafing."

Grandma, Dad with unknown rooster & Uncle Doc - '40 Tudor sedan
First of all the story is just awesome. Factor in that my dad is recalling that sort of mechanical detail from events that happened when he was as young as he was really illustrates my Dad's "born with it" aptitude. Thanks to Flathead Rob for supplying the wonderful supporting photos.

It could well end up a legacy my youngest carries on.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Blackbird T-Shirt

It frustrates me that corporate Triumph and Lucky Brand have such depth of subject matter (Lucky Brand has Triumph, Indian, Velocette, Johnson Motors) yet I feel that their merchandise offerings are generally pretty lame. Add to that a complete disregard for historical accuracy and a price that is twice what anyone could consider reasonable for a t-shirt means I look from time-to-time but rarely buy anything. This shirt is an exception, in part anyway. I'm not sure I'll be dropping $50 on one immediately. Granted, I'm probably not the target customer though...
One more comment on motorcycle t-shirts. If your business offers t-shirts/hoodies that are actually intended for the greasy-handed vintage motorcycle riding masses we belong to please don't offer them in white exclusively. I hate having a motorcycle shirt I can't ever wear anywhere near my bike or shop without immediately turning it into a shop rag.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Show Class Magazine - North West Issue Release Party

As promised, here are photos from the Show Class issue release at See See Motor Coffee (thanks Sydney). Awesome event at a super cool venue. It was a blast to be a part of it. Once the placed filled up it would have been tough to take photos of the bikes. As is sort of the point, all the bikes that were there are in issue #22.  Quit being cheap and go buy it!

Thanks Billy and Mark for including me & Olivia. Thanks to Joey, Sydney and Vaughn for tagging along with us.

I absolutely loved this helmet. I wonder if there's a deliberate Charles Wing Kraft influence.

Chris Sharper's killer skinny Triumph

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Brampton Recreation Update

As I mentioned some time ago my old friend Michael Breeding has been working on better-than- original Brampton grider forks for several years now. He was kind enough to forward a photo and commentary following the first successful test ride.

Took a 50 mile ride today with speeds up to 70 mph. Took my hands off the bars and the Shadow kept going straight and didn't want to lean over! The assembly to the bike took more time than I would have guessed but there were no glitches. A straight forward bolt up with lots of subtle adjustments (as with an OEM fork).  This has taken years.  A very good day.
A very good day oondeed. Quite an accomplishment. The Brampton looks so good on his '51 test steed I'm not sure I could bring myself to reinstall the original Vincent Girdraulic.

Mike also sent me a photo of his recently completed 1928 Harley Davidson JD. As I'm sure people are painfully aware I have been absolutely smitten with JD's for the last couple of years. Needless to say I approve of the new bike.

Show Class Magazine - North West Issue #22

Issue #22 of Show Class Magazine is out. Thanks to Mark Kirkland for taking the beautiful photos. Pictures of the issue release party at See See Motor Coffee will follow soon.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Car Chasers

I was channel flipping the other night and was pretty surprised to see John Stromberg's Gilroy Indian powered custom on Car Chasers.

John has painted some beautiful stuff but the paint below still has to be my favorite (I might be slightly biased).

John told me his then very young daughter said my tank looked like "Princess Jewelry." These Christmas ornaments he pinstriped are pretty damn cool to.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Dirt Quake

Flathead Rob had a pretty darn good time at Dirt Quake in Castle Rock, Washington last year. The video below shot at the Norfolk event is a pretty good indicator of why.

Monday, December 8, 2014

More on the ST165

As you may or may not recall Flathead Rob and I assisted in the restoration of a 1958 Harley Davidson ST165 last year. The bike was purchased new by his wife's Uncle Wally.

I really grew attached to the bike while working on it for three major reasons:

1) The bike is a somewhat rare example of a time when economical did not equal cheap. Some of the elements that were designed to be inexpensive but functional and durable are sheer genius
2) Uncle Wally and his family are amazingly cool
3) The bike was incredibly original and had the sort of history you just die for in an old motorcycle. Add to that the fact that countless Seattle area kid's learned to ride on that bike.

 That's not to say the bike was just a toy though. Wally used it as daily transportation for years.
Rob ran into Wally's wife/widow at a family event recently and she brought along the original owners manual. We're really thankful she did as it's just a feather in the cap of the bike's history.

If you look closely at the handwritten maintenance notes you'll notice that in November 1975 (just a tad shy of it being 20 years old) the ST165 had 20,000 miles. The majority of guys I know who own HD Road Kings don't put 1000 miles a year on them...

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Lloyd Ensminger 1948 Harley Davidson WR

Thanks to Flathead Rob for pointing out a post on Facebook by Lloyd's Grandson Mike. 
Lloyd Ensminger 1948 Harley Davidson WR - #70 Haxtun Colorado

Lloyd Ensiminger in 2008 at the Sturgis half-mile on his WR making some hot laps. He was 93 at the time and in phenomenal shape. He still had all original gear (boots, socks, pants, helmet and goggles) except for his jersey he wore while racing in the '40's and '50's.

Air Knuckle

When did you last jump 5 guys on your stock Knucklehead?