Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tank a Shot at It

Can you put the right year with each of these tanks?
Answers are shown at bottom of this post

Some of H-D's best. This post started with me seeing this photo on the COC blog.

H-D sort of lost it. They use to do cool combinations of tank paint with emblem/badge design. I'd say the golden period of emblem and two tone paint was the period from '61 to '70 (photo above). For the most part, after '70, they dropped two tone paint and used decals for the additional color.

Wall of fame and possibly a few shames.

The '72-'81 AMF bar emblems were pretty uninspiring.

After about '71, I can't think of any memorable designs until '79-'81, when they re-used the '36-'39 speed ball graphic with the AMF bar. Doesn't help it much by showing it here on one of their worst tanks in a bad color.

It's good to see that in the last 10 years, H-D has once again installed emblems on some selected models. Is it me, or are the new badges just not as inspiring or memorable as the classics?

By coincidence, just a few minutes ago, I saw a late model bike with the '61-'62 badges installed. Which brings up, will anybody be nostalgic for todays badges and install them on new bikes in the future?

Some more recent Badges. Are these the classics of the future?

I always thought for the price paid for a new H-D, you wouldn't mind spending a few extra bucks to get tank emblem/badges. I thinks a good marketing/brand strengthening move. Now, if they only (instead of adhesive tape), screwed on.

How'd you do? The newest design shown is the '71 Superglide (upper left), the only FX in this bunch.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Jarkki in Finland sent some photos of his rare 1942 Knuck. I say this because, research shows that only a total of 1,793 E's and F's (Knuckleheads), were built that year. Shit, now days, Harley poops out more than twice that number of bikes weekly! Civilian sales were limited to law enforcement and those who worked in the defense industry. Even the cops had to make a federal case to buy one.

Jarkki bought it from a guy in Sweden 3 years ago and he's proud to say it's built with a combination of genuine H-D and vintage custom parts, no Taiwan crap!

Special Features include: '61-'62 H-D tanks, VL Springer, pre-40 rectangle footboards, Flanders short risers with Apes, (AEE) King and Queen seat, Vintage S&S L series carb, '55-'64 primary cover, Mouse trap with foot shift, Triumph Triton front fender used in back, Lucas taillight, and Anderson passenger pegs. Pekka Mannermaa (Wizzard), gets the credit for the pinstriped fuel and oil tanks.

Jarkki signed off, "What the F#@k, Ride a Knuck!" In his case make that a FFFT.... Finnish-F'ing- Forty-Two!

April's Mate

Before it's too late

No Motorcycle? I didn't think you'd mind.
Drag cartoons 1967

Monday, April 27, 2009


Yesterday, once again I went to the monthly swap meet in Long Beach. Turn out was less than normal because of the giant automotive Pomona swap meet and the Laughlin Run but, as a seller/buddy said, "the diehard garage builders always show up."

Semi of typical of the "blend" bikes you see at the swap but with a build quality that is better than most.

This spartan Shovel has been on the blogs.

You might have also seen this shovel "long neck" on the Born Loser blog. I finally met the BL himself, Mike.

Many guys park their bikes in friends space. That means somebody has to say, "not for sale", to the constant stream of passers.

Two very creative guys. Slim and his brother Wes are practically fixtures at the meet.

Blurry but I like this shot. Slim has plans to make his van a wheel stander. Soon, a big block will be going in the back.

A small crowd was gathered around this pan. It looked too clean and new to be in the parking lot. On close inspection it featured a '56 motor with outside oilers in a earlier chassis. Other than the chrome hubs, it was parkerized and cad plated as original. It's a bit puzzling why you'd go to so much trouble to emulate a stocker's fit and finish with the wrong year engine. That would automatically kill any chances of placing at an antique meet.

I wasn't in the mood to do much photography, I was concentrating on scrounging for parts and scored a few. In retrospect I missed the opportunity to shoot a few really cool bikes.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

This Month's Header, The Chopper Dog Phenomenon

I chose this art to represent this time of year. A time when one's interest in the opposite sex seems to be heightened.

Back around 2001 I started making black and white prints to sell at swap meets and shows. For each show I came up with a new piece of art. For the 4th or 5th design I decided to create a Rat Fink type character. A cartoon half dog/human seemed to be the perfect choice for exaggerating it's features and the name Chopper Dog automatically came to mind. It just sounded right.

Then a funny thing happened. When I started to display the prints at the shows, people seem to be compelled to say "Chopper Dog" out loud when they stopped by my booth. It was like they couldn't not say it! This continued to happen all day at every show I've ever done. I guess it's just a fun combination of words to say.

This is a one of 3 "hand colored" prints I've made and sold. If you're interested, I can make you one. Contact me for details.

Another thing. Around 2001-02 I sent out promotional packets of art samples to builders and publications in the motorcycle industry and this included the Chopper Dog art. One of these people was Jesse James. I never heard from him but, a little later he started a membership website called Yes, it was dogs , not dog but, I sort of felt ripped off. Did he knowingly adopt the name or was it a unconscious/subliminal suggestion?

Last Note: I sold the black and white prints with or without Kitty (the woman). The ones with Kitty seem to be a little more popular and I still have a few of each left. Also, I may make some Chopper Dog T-shirts. Would any of you be interested if I did?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day, Ecology, and Ron Cobb/Art Hero

Originally I was just going to post this image. This sticker is still on the old art supply tackle box I used for school in the early '70's.

I was all set to just do a simple Earth Day post and thought, with all the talk of green these days, why don't you see the ecology symbol or flag any more? I always thought it was a cool flag so I thought I'd look it up for today's post. To my great surprise I found that the symbol was designed by one of my all time Art Heroes, Ron Cobb.

Ron Cobb's original design (October 25, 1969).

Here's what it says on Wikipedia: Ron Cobb created an ecology symbol and published on October 25, 1969, placing it in the public domain. The symbol was a combination of the letters "E" and "O" taken from the words "Environment" and "Organism", respectively. Look magazine incorporated the symbol into a flag in their April 21, 1970 issue. The flag was patterned after the flag of the United States, and had thirteen stripes alternating green and white. Its canton was green with a yellow Theta replacing the similar Cobb symbol. Theta was used because of its historic association with the Greek word “thanatos” (death), in the same way that skull and crossbones are used in modern times; the symbol would later become associated with Earth Day.
I'm not buying that last part about theta, thanatos, and the skull and crossbones.

Old timers might remember this Ron Cobb album cover for the Jefferson Airplane (After Bathing at Baxter's 1967).

Ron is a great but little known artist. He's worked on Disney animation, underground cartoons, Famous Monsters magazine, and has designed sets, creatures, costumes, and hardware for a ton of films.

I have this long out of print (1981), book on Cobb's art. If your into art, try to find one.

LA Earthquake poster 1968. I remember seeing and digging this poster way before I knew who did it.

Here's a link to a bio:

Ron's website is under construction but I found this back door link that has a time line of his work and contains a few gallery images:

To see more, I suggest doing a Ron Cobb Google image search.

Ron did the aliens in the Star Wars famous cantina scene.

List of notable films Ron has work on: Dark Star, Star Wars, Alien, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (Special Edition), Conan the Barbarian, The Last Star Fighter, Back to the Future, The Abyss, The Rocketeer, True Lies, The Sixth Day, and Red Planet.

Preliminary art for the Back to the Future Delorean.

Our Legacy? Ron's concerns reached farther than just the planet.

I know this got a little off the topic of Earth Day or bikes but, it's a good reason to spread some info about this great but for the most part unknown Hero/Artist who's influenced our culture even more than I realized.

Ron's cartoons were always concerned with social and environmental issues.

Sometimes we forget, the planet isn't just ours.

Think Green. The planet you save may be your own!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Iron Cross Inspector

I was going through the LIFE HA photos (mostly checking the ones with bikes), so I buzzed right pass this one. Keep in mind, this was 1965. From the 100+ photos, this is the only one I saw featuring our hero.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy 4/20!

Almost forgot to post this...
too much partying back in the day

It's my wife's Birthday today. I made her this card years ago. Anybody know these characters?

There's always some crazy shit going down around this time every year, stuff like Columbine etc. This year it's record breaking heat on the west coast. It's about 92° right now and I'm about a mile from the ocean.

An Old Man Ponders

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sportsters are for Sissies

Girlie Bikes? Apparently these guys didn't get the memo.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Spring Broke

We took the MC Art Express out for Spring Break the last couple of weeks. During a thunder storm, our mobile control room suffered a massive failure. The satellite, GPS, and computer systems were all affected (thank goodness the bar and other life support systems remained intact). This effectively meant no updates for the site. We are now home and ready to resume programing. Thank you for your patience.

Don't leave home without it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Last Week's LB Swap Meet

Last week's Long Beach swap meet seemed to be as busy as ever. Every available vendor space was filled and the bike and car parking were both jam packed. For what ever reason, this seems to happen about two or three times a year. This wasn't a particularly sunny day so who knows?

I was in a hurry so, I didn't read the info. I'm guessing it was a cover bike.

I normally don't go for turned around front fenders but, liked this one. I dig this seat. To match the rainbow effect of the paint, the beading was made from several different colored metal flake pieces.

I had to stop and see if this was some kind of decal. It wasn't.

This '70 was an ex-Whittier CA Police bike. Asking price was $12k. Seller didn't realize there were a few non original parts on the bike. Only fanatics like me would know. It doesn't hurt that I own a '70.

Although it still retained the Police Special Speedo and kickstand, the later style petcock, '79 recall type fender (chrome mount with screws instead of rivets), and later model tail light, indicates that all the sheet metal has probably replaced. Seller knew about the tail light.

The guy leaning on truck has been trying to sell this bike for awhile.

Don't remember the make on this one. looks German.

KR top on a WR bottom with RL forks. Tanks were normal tanks that were narrowed, not the H-D racing types.

Same guy was selling this '25 JD. It's pretty amazing what shows up.

I was worried the lousy economy might kill this monthly event. More people cleaning out the garage for money combined with more people looking for bargains seems to have done the opposite.

Besides getting there late and hunting parts, I didn't shoot as many pictures as planned. Oh well, there's always next month.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Harley to Start Big Rig Production

Harley has just released an announcement to shareholders that due to a slump in recent motorcycle sales they are diversifying the brand and will enter into manufacturing big trucks starting this fall.

.... RUN OVER MOTORCYCLES! Just another lame co-branding venture. You need to read the real announcement with it's official and typical marketing B.S.

I guess it's hard to resist other companies throwing money at ya.