Friday, December 6, 2013

The Adoration of Potential

There is a phenomenon that has come to past in the last 20 years or so. It's a phenomenon I call 'The Adoration of Potential'. This is the phenomenon of the potential being appreciated for it's own sake thus becoming the end instead of the means. For example. At one time it was only considered cool to have a full blown completely polished and custom painted chopper or hot rod. Then as works in progress and rats started turning up more and more at events, slowly but surely, rough cars and bikes (primer, bare metal customs, and survivors), became admired for what they could become. Or to put it another way, seeing the 'Beauty in the Beast'.

Mix in the emotions of nostalgia that creep in as one gets older and you develop an 'adoration' for the things you once admired solely as potential. Now a days, all kinds of old beaters fall into this kind of adoration. 

For me, this occurred in the form of a growing appreciating of old Harleys and since many a custom was born from them, especially old police Harleys. Factor in, when I was young, sometimes the only Harley you might see on any given day would be a police bike.  Then in 1975 I myself went to the CHP to bid on some cop bikes with the intention of building a chopper.
From Choppers Magazine. Roth's 'Oink' likely came from this adventure. Big Bike magazine also did it's own feature on buying police bikes.
Who among us doesn't dig this old dog?

So now I have a thing for old cop bikes (especially the basic blacked out versions as shown), and have collected the parts to one day put my FL Panhead back to it's believed police origins.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Rooting for the Underdog

When I was young and first getting into choppers, I thought, for economic reasons, a 45 would be a good way to go. Flipping through the magazines of the day, besides trikes, you almost never saw any. This only added to their mystery making me like them even more.
One of the few good 45 choppers featured in a magazine. Roth's (Choppers Magazine).

I came to find out they were considered under powered, but being the underdog, they continued to charm me. Plus aesthetically, I really dig the little flathead. It probably doesn't hurt that my earliest (distinct), memory of a chopper was a 45.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Cacti Pan

Another clean build by Arte. 
Compare it with his '39 and the Electra-knuckKnuck. See what I mean about the way he details them?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sano Trike Origins II, Wild Child's Customs

Back in March 2010 I did a post called Sano Trike Origins which featured the Himsl bodies, Roth's Candy Wagon, Ed Newton, and the David Mann art shown below. I was wondering who was the first to come up with this style of trike and was leaning towards giving Dave the credit, but as many know, Dave had a habit of using real bikes for his art's inspiration.     
Detail from Dave Mann Painting, Ride Hard Die Fast.

I've been meaning to update this story for some time as I had found several photos of another trike that I believe to be the grand daddy of this style.

Three trikes from Jim Greene's of Wild Child's Custom Shop. The one in the foreground is the most famous and known as Wild Child, but check out the one in the back left! The body work is pretty similar to Dave's painting. I believe it predates Roth's Candy Wagon plus we know that Roth knew Jim and featured the Wild Child (foreground), trike in Choppers Magazine. Not to mention there is a photo of Roth with that trike that had circulated the blogs.

Here's a good photo showing some details. The body work is pretty similar to the one in Dave's painting, but features two pipes on each side. The pipes are easier to see in the photo below.

I rediscovered this old Street Chopper photo while looking up another article. If it has a single down tube make it a double. If it has a double make it a single. That's the custom way.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Artistic Knuck

8 posts down I featured my friend Arte's last build (Electra-Knuck). Here's a 1939 Knucklehead Semi-Bob Job he built. He has a way of detailing bikes that is his signature style. You'll see what I mean when I get around to posting more.

Monday, November 4, 2013

2 Out of 3...

... of these Goodies makes makes for a proper South Bay Chopper.
All 3 is even better! Love this Shovelhead.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

You Spoke Up

Most posts get none or maybe one comment, but the post on 12 spoke wheels got a few people interested. 
 This is the billet wheel from IK Works Japan that Irish Rich mentioned. 

 Rich and Zeeman both mentioned this wheel from W&W. It will be produced in sizes 16"and 19". Whats' up with all those hub holes? That looks like a problem waiting to happen. to be fair, read the latest comments from the source.

Here's the Performance Machine billet version Rich mentioned seen here on Cole Foster's Special K. I'd forgot about them until Rich spoke up. From the Joyrides Art Co. blog. 
Besides the trouble to manufacture, to me, they don't cut it. The center hub where the spokes connect is very narrow making the two side's spokes almost inline which defeats the dimensional look of the originals. Instead it produces a less interesting wagon/stage coach wheel effect. From the Joyrides Art Co. blog. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Blower Fever

Joe Hurst won't rest until he builds a blown Shovel. He mentions it all the time. It's a disease he aquired from working with Nez at Phase 3.
I believe Nez took the blower from The Force and put it on this Sportster. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Fake Harley Chopper

I found this on some blog. It was in the background from a photo of another bike.
Bolt on push rods! It looks to be made from a Yamaha Star 250. It's funny the trouble some people will go to.

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Elusive 12 Spoke

When it comes to motorcycles, I generally prefer traditional spoke wheels, but when it comes to mags, nothing beats the look of the classic American Racing 12 spoke mag. I've liked them since the early 70's for their 3 dimensional aspect instead of the flat 2-D designs of other early cast or later billet mags. It's also because of their drag racing heritage and how they impart that drag/competition look on any machine running them. 

With today's resurgence of vintage choppers and the increased re-interest in these wheels, I thought a few out there might be interested in an old article about the ones distributed by Performance Machine in the August 1978 Street Chopper.

Before we get to that, there's some confusion about their origins, manufacturers, sizes, and versions of the design.

 Looking them up on the web I found some info that kind of adds to the confusion. For example:the 1973 ad below ( posted awhile ago), says these were made by U.S.Mag Corporation of Long Beach. Now I thought I remembered U.S. Mags as a competitor of American Racing around that period, but a source (below), explains how U.S. Mags was started by Parnelli Jones and his crew chief Art Hale Jr. in the mid 60's. The idea was to sell wheels that would fit the large performance tires Jones was selling at Firestone tire stores. It then states that Art Hale and U.S. Mags bought out a bunch of mag wheel companies including a small bay area company called American Racing and combined all of them under that name.

EME-Ad.jpg (1200×923)
So, who was U.S. Mag Corporation? I know American was once in Long Beach. It, also states these are aluminum like the later Cal Mags (in the Street Chopper article below), not magnesium like the earlier Americans.
Jerry Mills of Cal Mag with Perry Sands. Over the years there were slight differences like ribs on the back of spokes or shape of the hub area . Note that the pattern in the back has the flower shaped center hub that many early ones have.
Although most folks associate these as being made by Performance Machine, both the caption and the article states that the wheels were produced and machined by Cal Mag and that PM distributed them along with brake kits.
An very unusual use of these mags.
Radir Wheels  introduced their own version a few years ago. There's two problems, they are only sold in pairs and only size 18"

There are different sizes mentioned from time to time. Most people know of the 15" and 18" sizes, but there was a 17" shown on Rigid Hips blog. Then there's this quote by Jesse James on the Jalopy Journal 2-21-2009 : "I have all the Original hand carved wood patterns and pour molds for 15" 16" and 18" American/Performance Machine 12-Spokes....."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Manuel's "Blue" Chopper

Tom Endres, who's bike is featured a couple of post down, writes: 

Manuel was Fats' runing mate. Another close freind of Manuel's, the Noriega's, and mine has Blue now in San Diego, and is an everyday runner. (the extra wheels/rods and cylinders from my most recent build are in Blue's power plant now). But Blur is in-tact as fats and Manuel built it in 1963-ish.
Looking good, but I'm sure Tom meant 1973-ish. 

Monday, September 16, 2013


I have what you might call some swap meet friends. You know, friends that you pretty much only see at the swap meets. One of these guys, I've probably known for more than 20 years and we jokingly fight over parts every time we bump into each other. In the last year we've become closer and I finally made it over to his pad to see what he's been up to.

Arte is a somewhat quiet guy who keeps to himself. He's restored several bikes, but also builds customs that you might call Blend Bikes and does just about everything himself, including the paint. Once upon a time he had a few of his builds featured in magazines, but doesn't seek attention or need to be part of the 'cool crowd'.

His latest build is totally within his personal code. That is, to build bikes from mostly a blend of Harley parts from all eras. Parts he already has or happens to find a good deal on at the swap meet.
 If you knew Arte or his other bikes, you'd probably recognize this as one of his machines. Yes the style of the collector exhaust is a nod to Dick Allen. 
Alternator left side case. Classic style with modern touches. The trick is...  make them blend together.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Another Keeper of the Torch

Tom Endres of Seattle has a few South Bay Choppers. Here's his latest unfinished Fat's inspired Shovelhead. Tom was a little late to the South Bay Chopper scene (1989), but became friends with Fats and his brother Ramon back when he lived in SoCal.
The bike will be now be broken down for paint and chrome.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Black Bear Resurrection

A few weeks ago I spent some quality time with Joe Hurst and Dick Doughty. 

So yeah, the black bike hasn't run for some time and desperately needs many details to be right again. That will be dealt with, but for now... get her running.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Don't Get Burnt!

I found this cool old CHP publication on the Vintage American Motorcycles website. The crude art work is both funny and an interesting view on how the CHP viewed choppers. I'm guessing a CHP officer drew it. The publication is probably from around 1970 and is available as a download. It has valuable information on how to detect bad numbers. On the other hand, you might say it tells thieves what and what not to do.

Some of the stuff in the glossary is amusing and really has nothing to do with the rest of the pamphlet. It's funny to see what definitions they chose to put in or left out (like Panhead). It really should have been titled as a glossary of Outlaw Terminology as opposed to Motorcycle Terminology.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Loco-Motion's Tank

Dick Allen's Knucklehead Loco-Motion still exist or at least parts of it. These are the original tanks that date back to Nez's purple knucklehead and later were on the Vincent experiment, the Rat Bike, and the Ratty build up of White Bear.  I've never seen this version of paint with script lettering with a train behind it. The former and more familiar paint was sort of wacky lettering with a hyphen, no train with wavy lines surrounding the indents. They are being repainted by Dick Doughty an old time South Bay painter and the current owner wants to retain the side panel's since this is how Dick last ran it.  

Not only is the left side different from the right, it's indent is smaller.
Note the unusual frisco mount at the front.
This is the best photo that I could dig up (previously posted), of the most famous design. It was basically a black version of Nez's design (below on the Vincent). Sadly there aren't any really good photos of Loco-Motion.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Brothers Noriega

Last March I posted a photo of Fats on his chopper and explained how he was another important figure in the South Bay Chopper scene. Click Here to see it. I also mentioned that I had a magazine that featured his and his brothers bikes. Here's the complete article from Choppers Magazine December 1972. 

Though similar to Dick Allen's, the lower spring perch is the give-away that these are Fats built springers.
Joe Hurst says Ramon's Sportster was a fast one. I believe it's the only bike he ever lost a street race to.

This last image was found awhile back on the Jockey Journal. I believe it's from Street Chopper.  It's been enhanced and reformatted for this blog.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Born-Free 5 Part 4- More Bikes

 Oil's in the left tank.

Rigids are easy, Swingers are harder to get right. 

Dirt Bike? Sorry, I just don't get knobbies for street  bikes.

Keeping it simple.

I like grey. Except for the cool factor, the Evo is likely the best motor Harley ever made and actually quite a cool runner.

More Knobbies. I guess this time it's a Flat Tracker.

It's OK, I think it's hers.

More simple.

We'll end it in (South Bay), Style.