Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Sorry But...

I won't be posting for a little bit.

I'll be back.

Indian Summer

It's been really hot the last few days. We're about a mile or so from the ocean and escaped the summer's heat this year, but not now. It was 109º nearby on Monday. Downtown L.A. set a record at 113º, 6º warmer than some of the local desert cities.

Just a lame excuse to post this.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The El Camino Conundrum

El Camino can be a hard show to completely take in. The show opens at 8 a.m. and is basically over by noon. Yes trophies are announced around 2 p.m., but pretty much everybody else has split. Not a lot of time to fit it all in, especially when you get there around 9:00.

You don't really see things if your busy looking through a camera, so sometimes it 's best to put the camera down and just take in the experience.

Here's the drill. If I'm taking pictures, I'm really not checking out the show bikes. If I'm really checking out the bikes, I'm not taking pictures, or looking for parts. If I'm looking at parts, I don't have time for the first two activities. Then throw into the mix, running into friends every 10-15 minutes or talking with someone who is admiring the same bike you happen to be standing by. The day will race by, and later I'll think, what happened?

So here's my (limited) highlights of what happened.

A well restored early Sportster will always dazzle me. This '61 belongs to Glenn Bator. It started with 3 kicks and sounded real sweet. The overcast skies don't bring out the color quite as good as it really looked.

I didn't get a chance to read the board behind this bike.

The owner of this Super-Glide really wanted to sell it. It has a few incorrect items but is still very nice.

This black VL is refreshing.

Lowrider anyone?

It's nice to see old grubby bikes are still surfacing.

This was the first time I saw Keith Ball's Peashooter.

That tank art looks familiar? The fire extinguisher is actually an oil tank.

Original paint Sprint.

Police bikes shouldn't have whitewalls and look so much better without them.

Some probably hate the green. I like it much more than the typical red Injuns.

Can't go wrong with black.

These might be the best tank emblems HD ever offered.

Didn't see many vintage chops this year.

This sums up how this year went. I didn't take many photos, didn't really see all or check the bikes out that well, bought only one part, talked with several friends and a few other enthusiast.

Still a good time overall.

35 Years Ago Today

... I bought my first motorcycle.

I was stubborn. Right or wrong, I wouldn't by a motorcycle until I could afford a Harley. I thought spending a few hundred dollars on a Honda would be a waste of money and would just make getting a Harley take longer.

The day I bought it. Not much to look at, but I was jazzed.
Special features:
6 over forks and no front fender. In the early seventies, probably half the Sportsters sold had extended forks before leaving the dealer.

In the mid '70's, Harley's were in big demand in the LA area, so prices were relatively high for the times (especially when you didn't have a big network of bike riding friends). My outlook was pretty much limited to the local paper's classified pages.

Several weeks earlier, I had gone to the CHP auction and put bids on three bikes for $1,200-$1,500 each hoping I'd get one. I didn't, so the day I would have found out, I bought my Sportster. It was listed in the LA times. I was in Downey and it was close by in Paramount.

More special features: Radiator cap and dent in tank, Posa (or Lake?) Fuel slider carb, Braided vinyl fuel lines. The stock Tillotson carbs had a push inner coil for the throttle, so with this carb, it meant you'd rotate the grip forward to go. It was awkward.

The hillbilly who owned it, was the second owner and kept it in a backyard full of junk. It was only a 4 year old bike and the motor had already been rebuilt. By today's standards, the way it looked, you'd have thought it was a 10 to 20 year old bike.

I think I paid a whooping $1,300 for it, which was likely way too much, but I was getting impatient. Keep in mind, in 1975, new Sportsters were about $2,300 plus dealer fees and taxes at this time. Also, I had a friend with a '71 XLH who wanted about $2,000 for his bike.

More Special Features: Custom seat and sissy bar, a piece of cardboard for a battery lid, and no horn. Bonus feature: A tendency to jump out of third when getting it on.

In any case, I was happy, had plenty of fun with it and nine years later in '84, it got me $1500 credit towards a big twin.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

La Mirada, La Habra, El Camino?

The 35th Annual El Camino Antique Motorcycle Show is this coming Saturday. In some ways that statement isn't true. I don't know how many regular attendees know it, but it wasn't always at El Camino College in Torrance.

I first heard about the show in the Feb. '83 issue of Supercycle magazine (first one I bought), when they did a feature on the '82 show. It seems they usually had the show in La Mirada in those days. The first one I went to was in '84, but was held close by in La Habra. The following year it was again in La Mirada. La Habra, La Mirada... whats the difference?

They used to make some pretty cool posters each year. This one from 82 was printed in the Feb. '83 Supercycle. Check the credits for technical assistance. I have a couple of nice posters from some later years.

Any way, it moved to El Camino in 1986 and has pretty much been there ever since. One year it didn't happen as there wasn't a promoter to pick it up (I don't know the politics or how or if the So. Ca. Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America works with the promoters these days). It also, sort of got rained out one year (2007).

I do know that Glen Bator kept it going for quite awhile. At one time he was putting on the Del Mar show too, which was some years, only a week apart.

I forgot that '84 was my first year until I dug out this old shirt. Notice it was a two day event. The show bikes were invited to a ride. I only have a few other year's shirts. Most year's designs weren't to my liking.

In those days, it was like Antique M/C Season here in So Cal. Sometimes El Camino was on Saturday, and Sunday was the Long Beach Swap Meet. Other times they were a week apart. Some years all three events were in a week's span.

Two years ago Glen announced at the show, he's moving on and not doing it anymore and the show was going to die if someone didn't step in. It was strange as it had the largest attendance ever. It didn't seem right, everyone was in disbelief and disappointed.

When the current promoter (Classic Cycle Events), took over last year, he stated he's keeping the traditional date in Sept. but up until a few years back it was always on the first Saturday in Oct. Then it crept up to the last Saturday in Sept. Now it's in the middle of the month. So much for tradition.

The old shows were quite different for better or worse. The better, it was a free event held in a shopping center's parking lot and more like a field event with riding games/contests. The worse, the bikes were roped off from spectators. It was still that style of show the first few years at El Camino where they also first began charging admission ($3.00), in '86.

I've never missed a year yet, and don't intend to miss this one.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Before & After

Here's a couple of pre-White Bear shots in it's silver phase before Joe went all out custom on it.

...and after he sold it.

Correction to the post below. It was Dominic Rutigliano not Bob Olsen who bought the bike. Dominic worked at EME. Joe 's built many versions of each bikes he 's owned and has been telling me so much information, it's hard to get it all right the first time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Puzzle Solved

This ad always puzzled me. I remember seeing it and wondering, could this possibly be White Bear repainted with some minor cosmetic changes or just a very similar machine? It seemed too soon to be the same bike but, at the same time, too similar.

Full page ad from the back cover of the Nov. '73 Custom Chopper. White Bear was in the Aug. '73 Street Chopper, not much time had passed between seeing both bikes published.

Same stance, mags, forks, bars, magneto, and tank with indents. Some other things while similar, are a bit it off? Sportster headlight wasn't chrome, exhaust are slightly different, the engine was not bead blasted but polished in places and sporting a SU carb. But, there was a small nagging similarity. It had exactly the same Harley-Davidson decal on the top edge of the oil tank.

37 years later, puzzle solved. I showed Joe the ad and finally got the answer. He sold white Bear for $1800 as a rolling chassis to Bob Olsen, owner of E.M.E so he could buy a Porsche 911. Pretty decent money for a roller back then.

Final Notes: Joe did later run a SU on White Bear. He knew and still knows the girl (Cindy). in the ad. He never saw the photo of her that they mention in the ad. The wheels advertised (U.S. Mag Corp.), aren't the same as the ones on the bike. They are the original American Racing Wheels.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Two Today

That's not a peace sign... the blog is 2 years old today.

Friday, September 3, 2010

This IS Dick Allen

In a former post on the Choppers Magazine July '71 issue, I commented that I thought this was Dick Allen, but it didn't quite match the versions of his chrome frame bike I knew of. After meeting Joe Hurst, I asked him about it and he confirmed it. The other day I looked at a larger scan of the image. If I had spotted the clutch pedal earlier, it would have left no doubt.

Knowing who this is helps, but I always dug this photo anyhow.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

This Month's Header

This month marks a couple of anniversaries.

Thirty five years ago, I bought my first motorcycle, a 1971 XLCH Sportster.

September 19, 1975. Downey, Ca. This photo wouldn't exist if it wasn't for my friend Zach Ananias. I was taking pictures the day I bought it when he happened to be driving by. Also, In the background is my first car, a '71 VW Super Beetle. In many ways, the Seventies, for better or worse was my era.

I therefore dedicate this month to First Rides and that great feeling you got when you took your first ride or finally got a bike of your own.

...and oh yeah... it's 2 years for the blog on the 8th.